A Letter in the 10/24/06 Tomahawk Leader
Thank you for the article you included Oct. 3 on our trip to South Africa! We are very appreciative to the Leader for telling our story, not just for our sake, but more for the potential that this relationship has for Tomahawk. With the wars and terrorism of our time it is very important for people in our world today to work at understanding other cultures and at developing relationships with people in different lands. We also are hopeful that some of the people from the village of Lekubu will be able to visit here and we want all of Tomahawk to be able to share in that visit when it happens.
We do have a few corrections on the article. We point this out because in spite of our supposed “diversity” in the United States, we Americans struggle to understand and to appreciate other cultures, as we learned in our experience in South Africa. Thus the quote about their now knowing what to do with their freedom and looking to us, was not entirely accurate. They have waited so long and fought so hard that they are most appreciative of freedom. Respect, responsibility and hope run high there. We saw it in the classroom, in worship, homes and in casual conversations throughout the village. It was we who learned from them the gift of freedom and the importance of seizing the opportunities that freedom brings. Their question is whether the next generation will appreciate the opportunities that freedom brings and the sacrifices that were made to obtain it.
The way we refer to people conveys our attitude and at times our prejudice. We met people with laughter and soul and imagination and heart and pride. After living with them, the word “tribe” does not fit them any more than we would use that work to refer to ourselves as the Tribe of Tomahawk or our ancestry as from the German tribe. They are South Africans, with Tswana ancestry and language, living in the village of Lekubu. Though we may have used that word before this trip it no longer fits for them after having met and come to know them.
Our trip was a “friend-finding” trip, not a “fun-finding” trip. We did do a safari and some sight-seeing, but the true power of this experience was not in the fun we typically seek. We had fun of a soul-filling kind that will stay with us forever, but more importantly, our living with the people of Lekubu established a relationship that we trust will remain between the people of Lekubu and Grace Lutheran for many years.
We point out these corrections because it emphasizes the point we learned in our experience which is that we have much to learn and to benefit from relating with people on other cultures. Thank you again for telling our story as we hope our story, this pioneering effort at Grace Lutheran, and the future visit of the people of Lekubu can be of benefit to all of Tomahawk.
Pastor Mark and Claudia Ziemer