Unyawo alunampumlo

By: Richard Raber

When a man in Durban once told me “Your feet have no nose,” it meant something I was already familiar with – wanderlust. It has been well over a year since I had a solid geographic base to call home. As a recent college graduate, I spent roughly one year in South Africa involved with the Rural Women’s Movement, a few months looking for work in New York and will now be studying in Venice for a few more. I live out of two bags and have little idea as to where I will be next, but I have, and always will move with a sense of what is possible and an enlarged sense of community.

One message is clear: there is no need to oversell yourself, you can be appreciated simply for being human, for being present and willing to take part.

Artists, hawkers, musicians, grandmothers, community leaders, writers, poets, taxi drivers, a self-ascribed reggae preacher and a martial arts expert have all become friends and sources of endless humour, inspiration, humility, empathy, bravery and even love.

Relationships have begun from the outrageous, to the absurd, all the way down to the frankly earnest “How’s the family? Your brother, Chris, is it? How’s he keeping?” (yes, I’m Jewish.) Wielding accurate information or otherwise, our innate humanity is reflected in these actions; a blanket of warmth, encouragement, curiosity and a desire for genuine human exchange offered by others. One message is clear: there is no need to oversell yourself, you can be appreciated simply for being human, for being present and willing to take part.

Bonga Jwambi and Richard Raber in Cape Town.
Bonga Jwambi and Richard Raber in Cape Town.

Few things are better than meeting someone proud of their community as they share what, in their eyes, makes their home a place like no other. It is here where we let go of relational or static conceptions of time. Together, acting through the present, we transition from stranger to friend; affection is organically expressed over homemade ujeqe or to the rhythms of 90’s kwaito. Trust is gained as we tenderly invite each other through a door into our lives, regardless of the shapes our paths have taken thus far.

Wherever you are, you’ll find your way home. Just remember as you walk through life that unyawo alunampumlo.

Instagram: Richard Raber

Twitter: Richard Raber

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