A few weeks ago my two friends’ and I embarked on a short trip to the beautiful Kingdom of Swaziland. Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa and it is a landlocked country. We filled up the tank and drove for about 8 hours, making two stops along the way. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way, we had great conversations, great music going, and yes we did ruffle each other’s feathers here and there but overall our road trip was amazing! We finally arrived in Swaziland late in the evening and we were so tired and hungry. Since we only had a breakfast booking at the lodge and we were on a tight budget, we really couldn’t afford to waste money on restaurant food. But fortunately, one of my friends mum had been so kind and cooked us Breyani to enjoy for supper when we arrived in Swaziland Friday night.
But we encountered a slight problem. We arrived a bit later than planned in Swaziland and the Breyani was cold. When we asked the lodge staff to heat it up for us, they indicated that was against hotel policy. We were obviously irritated by this and one of my friend’s who can be dramatic at times (you know who you are, lol) kept insisting that they will not eat cold food. So, with our Tupperware container filled with Breyani in hand, we decided to go to the nearest shopping centre with the hope of finding a Woolworths food. The strategy was we were going to buy something at Woolworths that we could heat up in the customer microwave. We were going heat that up, and then quickly sneak our Breyani inside the microwave whilst we surveyed the place, making sure none of the staff caught us. Needless to say, we got to that shopping centre, we didn’t know where Woolworths was and we were too tired to go around looking for it. The closest place we could see was Shoprite. We had a bit of a discussion on who would be brave enough to ask the people at Shoprite to heat it up for us, I don’t recall an agreement per se, but all I remember was here I was with the Tupperware container in hand, charged with the responsibility.
So here we were at Shoprite, two of us because the other friend decided this was too embarrassing and she will disappear into the supermarket to get a few cosmetics. So we went by the hot foods section and of course we couldn’t just ask we needed a strategy here as well. Our strategy; first we had to pretend like we were interested in buying some of the hot foods, we looked and the cheapest thing we could buy was ‘vetkoeks’ (doughnut like cakes). We ordered, the lovely lady gave them to us and then she asked, “Anything else?” of course that was our opportunity. I tried to have a poker face as I explained our predicament and asked if she would be so kind as to heat up our food in the microwave. She looked at me and looked around, there was a moment of hesitation in her eyes I could tell, and then she finally gave in – she agreed. She did a rushed job but I suppose she wanted to help but was afraid of what her colleagues might say, so the Breyani was not heated to our liking. We had to have another game plan as I couldn’t ask her to heat up again but thanked her for her kindness.
To cut the long story short, we saw a Mugg & Bean just opposite Shoprite, ordered coffee and hot chocolate and when our waitress asked, “Anything else?” My friend grabbed the opportunity to ask them to heat up the Breyani for us.
We finally enjoyed our Breyani back in our hotel room and laughed about this incident and never in our wildest dreams did we think we will heat up a home cooked meal in a fancy coffee shop in another country at that. But as we laughed about this, I love the lesson my friend shared and she said, “This just proves that there’s still goodness in humanity. Despite the fact that we have crossed the border, we don’t even speak the language well, they don’t know us but they willingly went out of their job duties to satisfy us their customers.”
When I got home and was thinking about the highlights of the trip, from the road trip, to the wonderful hike/workshop we facilitated on Saturday unlocking greatness in Africa’s future leaders. The hospitality at the Saturday afternoon event we attended, and of course the gorgeous boutique hotel we stayed at on Saturday. I just started reflecting generally on the warmth of the Swazi people and the warmth of the people from some of the African countries I have visited. I recalled Mahatma Ghandi words, “The greatness of humanity isn’t in being human, but in being humane”. And as I prepare to enter the global stage, I will parade with great humility and realise that this is one of the reasons why I love being African.