An Anniversary and a Link to the Past

6 Dec

Madiba’s face on our notes takes on a new meaning now, doesn’t it?

Madiba note

Today, December 6, is the anniversary of the day I returned the car that inspired the creation of this blog last year. This time last year, I drove my Range Rover Evoque back to Land Rover’s offices and left it there.

I still don’t own a car. I very nearly bought a Subaru XV this year, but panicked at the last moment and decided against it. I’ve had friends try to persuade me to buy a Fiat 500. I’ve borrowed Fords and Citroens and loved them very much. There’s still that car blog I need to get around to launching. If you’re wondering, I use my grandmother’s C Class when I need to. It has less than 14,000km on the clock despite being more than four years old.

Do I miss the Range Rover? Yes, of course. I miss having the freedom to drive up mountains. I miss the thumping sound system. I miss the space for transporting easels and artworks. But sometimes it’s necessary to part company from the objects you love in order to open up space in your life for other things.

Instead of cars, I spent much of today thinking about Nelson Mandela – as I imagine most of the world has done too. I watched the tributes on the TV as I lay in the dentist’s chair, and fired off emails and texts to clients and colleagues as we tried to navigate the challenges of running campaigns when the world in which they were planned has been turned upside down.

There was a link between the Evoque and today, though, one that goes beyond an anniversary. On the way back from the dentist, I thought about how I could try to emulate Madiba in small ways. I thought about the campaign that triggered this blog, where I was going to hand out money to beggars at intersections in an effort to compensate for the luxurious car I was fortunate enough to drive for free.

I passed Madiba on to this beggar, who is usually found at Hyde Park Corner. While I waited, he told me that he is from Orange Farm and has two kids. Unlike most of the beggars I’ve met on the streets of Joburg, who are Zimbabwean, he’s South African.

Beggar 1

Around the corner from where I live, I gave another note bearing the image of Madiba to this regular:

Beggar 2

I see him often, and he waves and wheedles and who can blame him? Today he scored. Tomorrow my heart my harden again, and I’ll do my best to make him invisible. But today – today I wanted to pass Madiba on.

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