Tag Archives: colour



During our writing workshops this week at the Amahoro Africa Gathering in Kampala, we were given the task of writing prompted by the word ‘table’ and then choosing one word from that piece to write further. This is what I came up with.


As I come to this Amahoro table, a place of discussion and conversation, am I really welcome here? People smile and greet me warmly and yet at different times there are things spoken about colonialism with a negativity of damage caused, arrogance flaunted, of lines drawn in ignorance and presumption. There’s conversations of greed in the West and the lack of willingness to share. Do I represent all that to them?

I see all this, I can see it in history and yet here I sit in my own skin, feeling a little ashamed, wishing I was a little darker. Wishing my skin colour didn’t associate myself with so much injustice.

But is there something positive I can bring? Even something positive my colour can bring to this table?

I love this continent and feel more at home in South Africa than in the nation of my birth, a truth about me that a first glance wouldn’t tell you – people only get to know that when they get to know me well. Luckily this is a space where that can happen.


Colour. Bright colours: a rainbow striped umbrella used as a sun shade, a red tomato, green trees, blue skies, painted houses, patterned clothes. Where colour is an indication of life, of joy, of fun, of child-like exuberance.

And yet colour in South Africa seems almost a dirty word. Something that should be about beautiful diversity has become boundary lines of difference, of fear, of pride, of separation, of anger. Lines drawn and scratched in deep with injustice.

As I sit in my own skin, my own colour, I find myself sitting on one side of a deep line and wishing the lines were dissolved.

I wonder how it can happen. Maybe it starts with real relationship, real friendship, knowing individuals until you see the inside of them more than the outside.




Photo credit: weadapt.org

“Life is made of contrasts, that’s what gives it colour”

This was the phrase given as a starting point in our creative writing group at the weekend.

I wrote the first poem and my friend Dale Taylor wrote the second.

A home, made of cardboard and dirty blankets, a sooty spot for the blackened kettle

Big hugs

A warm, genuine welcome.

Smart restaurant, sea view, white tablecloths, delicious but expensive fish

A nod of the head

A stiff, polite, required welcome.

A conversation with a friend at the traffic lights

Selling his handmade jewellery

Snippets of his life: the pitfalls, the disappointments, the hopes.

A conversation at a party

wine glass in hand, taking in the view

Light superficial conversation: A new car or house, ‘that’s a pretty dress’, blinkered

This is Cape Town life.

Contrasting lives

Contrasting temperature of relationships

Contrasting depth of conversation


And colour


The regal mountain and the Cape flats.

The people who live on the mountain,

And the people who live on the flats.

Massive houses, empty part of the year;

Corrugated iron huts, brimming with people.

People behind security systems,

People living in community.


South Africa has the largest inequality quotient in the world.

Apparently the demographics and proportions of income levels in Cape Town pretty much reflect that of the world as a whole. We have the privilege of seeing the real situation. Others aren’t exposed to the poverty that exists and therefore can be lulled into a false sense of security and comfort. I like this city of contrasts, of colour. It’s real.

South Africa: Colour and Hope


Rambling with a Cantankerous Old Mule

South Africa

The rainbow nation

Black and white in living colour

At war with itself


A democracy. A country I’ve called home most of my life.  A diverse nation of more than 50-million. Multicultural. Multiracial. Distinctive cuisines. Lush, tropical coastland; verdant bushveld; jagged mountains; virgin beaches; abundant wildlife. Mineral-rich.  Eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Warm. Colourful. Hope-filled. “The rainbow people of God.”

And yet. Tragically, sadly, it’s tearing itself apart. From the inside out:

Gross corruption and irregularities at government level. An education system in turmoil. Self-seeking politicians. Income-equality rising. Increased lawlessness. Violent strikes. 24.9% unemployment rate. 5-million to 8-million illegal immigrants. One quarter of the adult population and around 40% of the children on anti-retroviral drugs. An estimated 885,000 orphans. Over 1300 rhinos lost to poaching in three years. And the list goes on.


As emeritus Archbishop…

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