Around the lunch table, one rainy afternoon:
N (11) to A (8): I’m going to make a card for Nelson Mandela. Because he’s sick.
A: Who is Nelson Mandela?
N: Oh God. Don’t you know what apartheid was?
N: Okay, see a long time ago. There were San people…
A: Sand people I know that! I read it in a book…
N: Not Sand people. SAN people.
AM (4) (Interrupts): I KNOW that! In school they showed us that! They are yellow people!
A: No! San people, not SAND people!
N: No. He’s right! They are yellow!
AM (4): Yes, they showed us in school! And there were aliens also! So good they could fight! And so strong!
At this point I get a little confused myself
N (in authoritative voice): Anyway, the Europeans came to our country and made the San people their slaves! Can you imagine someone coming to your house and just taking over! (A’s eyes widen). They made the black people their slaves. And then they brought Indians from India and also made them slaves. And then in the schools the children fought because they didn’t want to learn Afrikaans. Even if they spoke Zulu or something they were forced to learn in Afrikaans. So they shot the children because they didn’t want to listen. And Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid. He was in prison for more than 30 years! For us! And now he’s very old and sick. He’s 94 years old. (Gasps all round). And it will be very sad if he dies!
(All 5 kids are on the floor making cards)
MZ (8): A, you can’t rub in your card like that!
MZ: It looks ugly!
A: So what. It’s my card. I can do what I want.
MZ: But it’s a card for a very special person!
MZ: Stop copying me. I wrote ‘My hopes are up’ and so did you!
A: Okay, I’ll rub it out. But can I just copy your sun?
N: Don’t copy each other! Nelson Mandela will know if you copy.