The other day I was at the grocery store. The woman at the till greeted me in Sesotho (Le kae?) then looked up at me, only to discover that I'm white. She immediately switched to Afrikaans and greeted me again (Goeie môre). I smiled and answered her in Sesotho (Ke teng, wena? Le kae?). She smiled, and then we both laughed.
When I left, I thanked her in Sesotho (Ke a leboga), and she responded in kind. We both smiled even bigger, and I left the store feeling somehow more... human. But why?
Here in South Africa - especially here in South Africa - one is constantly in contact with different cultures, different levels of class, education, society, political affiliation, worldview... you name it. It is easy to be distrustful of others, as nearly everyone has been hurt or offended in some way. The walls go up without us even noticing, and we live in isolation despite being surrounded by such diversity. But that day at the store - there were no walls. We were as different as could be in nearly every regard, but we had one thing in common which overrode everything else: we were both human, and that was something we could celebrate together.