My name is Sonja Kruse and I am a South African dreamer, adventurer and Ubuntu ambassador. I did what many would think impossible and travelled solo 13,685 km around South Africa, arriving unexpectedly at the homes and hearts of my fellow South Africans.
In 2009 I set off from the Eastern Cape carrying a backpack, a camera, a phone and R100 (about $10) and walked and hitchhiked for the next year through the rainbow nation of South Africa. Without a tent or even a sleeping bag, but with a belief in the spirit of Ubuntu and an excitement to engage with my people.
On this journey, an Ubuntu slogan became my mantra: ‘I am because we are’. 150 families took me, a complete stranger, into their homes and provided me with food and shelter as I had no means of supporting myself. Even greater than this sharing of accommodation and food was the gift of my hosts welcoming me into their families. This was a sign that South Africa’s journey of forgiveness and unity is real – as families of all backgrounds, many Black, welcomed me, an Afrikaaner woman from Eshowe in KwaZulu Natal into their homes. 351 days later, I arrived home safely, but changed forever by the 114 communities I met along the way.
From Townhouses to Townships; from Shacks to Millionaires; from Pensioners to Students; from the ANC Youth League to the AWB; from Hunters to Vegetarians; from Long Drops to Bidets: from Christians to Muslims to Rastafarians and from Curries to Chicken Feet – I experienced the joy of them all! From my very first night when a Xhosa woman from Scenery Park Township near East-London slept on the floor and allowed me to share her bed with her 2 children, to my last night when I met the only white Induna in the history of the Royal Zulu Household.
My journey brought me into contact with people like Portia Mahange, who graciously and wisely taught me to keep an open mind about people from all cultures; I shared an afternoon with an ex security policeman, who explained what it was like working under the Apartheid regime. I stepped into the shoes and vehicles of others, often when people U-turned to find out what this woman was doing at the side of the road. I sat intrigued as an 11 year old street child drew me a picture of a house when he found out that I was homeless. 351 humbling days on the road taught me about the generosity of the human spirit.
Why did I wander off into the South African wilderness? I wanted to experience the true South Africa and meet its people beyond the doom and gloom in our media. I wanted to meet a cross-section of all South Africans; I wanted to find out if ‘Ubuntu’ is a reality in modern-day South Africa. I wanted to touch the hope and love in the hearts and minds of our people.
What is Ubuntu?
In the words of Giants:
I have written a manuscript, ‘the UBUNTU girl’ which has been edited and is being graphically designed. The dream now is to return to the 150 families and gift them each a copy of the book by way of thanks and so that we can have an INDABA before our story enters mainstream publishing. The UBUNTU families must have the opportunity to say whether they want their part in the journey published or not.
The reason for self-publishing is that in this spirit of Ubuntu and Indaba, the vision for this journey is not to make profit. Together with a group of like-minded and like-hearted individuals, we’ve registered a Non-Profit Organisation in South Africa, called ‘the UBUNTU effect’ [105-510 NPO] and the book will belong to this Organisation
The book will be filled with stories and photos from the journey (with a selection of over 14 000 images, we are spoilt for choice). We anticipate that the full colour book will have around 240 pages. Here are a few pages from the 'dummy' book - pages that we've designed to date
Our time has come: I am because you are because we are
Each member of the team are change agents, ranging from published authors to spiritual leaders; business entrepreneurs to incredible storytellers. We are blessed to be connected in our aim to build social bridges
Sonja Kruse ~ 'the UBUNTU girl' and Co-Founder of 'the UBUNTU effect'
Sarah-Leigh Watson (nee Paul) ~ Co-Founder of 'the UBUNTU effect'
Kirsten Pearson ~ Board Member of 'the UBUNTU effect'
Philen Naidu ~ Board Member of 'the UBUNTU effect'
Mongezi Mtati ~ Board Member of 'the UBUNTU effect'
Carrie Buckmaster ~ Adventurer and Videographer
Peter Bosman ~ Graphic Designer from Guineafolio Design
Alan Storey ~ Friend and Mentor
What We need
The $ 15 000 required from this Indiegogo campaign will cover the graphic design and ready-for-print costs as well as the print costs for the hard copies made available through this campaign.
If we exceed the target, then we will be able to print additional hard copies which we will gift to individuals and organisations that actively ignite the spirit of UBUNTU.
Your contribution will help make this book a reality, but we also want to give you something back (please see the perks!)
If we fall short of the target, the funds will go towards the graphic design costs. We feel confident that we will still be able to honour the perks as we will also be launching fund-raising campaigns for ‘the UBUNTU effect’
Our Combined Impact
Together with your help, we will be embarking on a journey of reconnecting a country with a story that reveals the true heart and souls of its people. This is a story about fuelling the dying embers in tainted hearts and about inspiring a nation to find new ways of connecting with one another.
Other Ways You Can Help
We know it is not always possible to contribute funds, but you can help us considerably if you forward this link to your network via Facebook, Twitter, Blog, E-mail, Tumblr, Reddit or ANY other social media outlet.