One recent Saturday, mid-morning in Villiersdorp, I watched a group of inebriated farm workers gathered at the bottle store, having spent the better part of their meagre wages on drink.
With them were their children, seemingly resigned to the undignified behaviour of drunken parents and the routine start to a weekend that would probably contain a measure of violence and abuse.
Not far up the road, at the local library, another group of parents had their children in tow, experiencing something altogether different. They’d gone to choose story books and before them lay a weekend of good tales and pleasure.
What if, I thought to myself, a van pulled up outside the bottle store and two story tellers leapt out, threw mats on the ground and pegged out a story-telling zone?
What if they blew a whistle and summoned all the farm workers’ children away from the harsh exterior of the bottle store and into a place of wonder and excitement as they told a story, recited a few poems and sang a song or two?
What if the van came by once a week, giving those children something to look forward to outside their milieu of poverty and drunkenness?
And what if those two story tellers brought others on board, regularly delivering flights of imagination to deprived children way beyond Villiersdorp, planting seeds of fancy and fantasy into lives dulled by poverty?
In such childhoods made desolate by relentless, inescapable cycles of poverty and addiction, such a fantasy might seem improbable. Yet it’s one not impossible to construct. I invite you join me making this vision a reality.