1948, South Africa. During the colonial era, the Cape was a center of Colonial expansionist interests in Europe. As a result, first the Dutch captured South Africa followed by the British in 1806. Hence South Africa had many white people in its population.
This was a huge cause for apartheid Racism between 1948 and 1966. Racism was like a norm, each white person followed it. The blacks were not allowed to sit in the same buses as whites and they also had to maintain a distance from them.
Mr.Lethabo, a fire safety officer, used to work at the Berea Fire Station. He was a huge, dark complexioned man, and looked about the age of fifty. He was a brave officer and had saved the lives of many people, even though he got a very less pay compared to other officers due to his colour.
One day, while returning home from a garden, he heard a lot of noises from a house nearby. Mr. Lethabo went to check and saw that the first floor of the house had burst into flames. A huge crowd gathered there, shocked to hear that there was a boy of nine, all alone in the room from where the fire and smoke could be seen.
Mr. Lethabo saw a lady shouting, “Someone please save my boy! He cannot walk. He is physically disabled.” Mr. Lethabo could feel the pain in the mother’s eyes. He went closer to the lady and said, “Don’t worry ma’am. I’ll make sure that your son isn’t harmed.” Taken aback at seeing a black man so close to her, the lady took a step backwards with a disgusted look on her face. Mr. Lethabo understood. Without saying a word, he rushed towards the burning house.
It was quite difficult for him to reach the room though, considering his hugeness. He tried opening the door, but it turned out that the door was stuck because of the soot collected at the hinges. There was no other choice. Mr. Lethabo, with all his might, broke the door open with his shoulder. He looked across the room to see a boy, scared and hopeful.
Mr. Lethabo came and knelt down in front of him. With a smile he asked, “ What’s your name, boy?” To Mr. Lethabo’s surprise, the boy replied, “ My mother told me not to talk to blackeys like you.” Mr. Lethabo felt horrified at seeing children like these being such racists! He then thought for a while and, and smiled. “Look boy, I am here to save you.” The boy, full of hatred, replied unwillingly, “My name is Amahle.” Mr. Lethabo gave his hand to Amahle and asked him to try and get up from the wheelchair. Amahle was not ready to touch the black man. Mr. Lethabo took out a piece of paper cut from a magazine and showed it to Amahle. It was a picture in which a group of men, of different races, were standing together. He asked, “Do you know Amahle, why the native Americans are reddish, Chinese are yellowish, Indians are wheatish, I am dark and you are white?”
Amahle shook his head. “Well, its because God is a painter, he painted all his children using different colors. He thought it would be confusing if everyone was made the same,” said Mr. Lethabo. He offered his black hand again and said, “Don’t worry Amahle! It’s just the paint.” Amahle felt as if he had regained vision.
He said to himself, “This man here is trying to save my life, even when I insulted him so much, that too on the basis of something which is not under his control. I have been rude to so many people like him till now. I don’t even know what kind of things I said. My mouth kept moving and my mind let it.” Amahle cried.
He pulled Mr. Lethabo closer and hugged him, “I am really sorry Mr. Lethabo. I have been rude to you. I won’t hesitate to realise now that you have a golden heart.” Mr. Lethabo smiled. He was very happy and said, “ It’s alright Amahle! Come let’s go!” He lifted the disabled child in his strong arms and brought him out of that house. He left Amahle there, and left, probably because he didn’t even expect a word of thanks from his mother.
Amahle’s mother was so relieved to see her son safe. But the first thing she asked was whether Mr. Lethabo had hurt him or not. Amahle said, “No mother. That man is a visionary. That dark man just killed the darkness of my soul. He saved my life and I’ll be forever grateful to him. I’ve realised that judging people on the basis of color is a huge sin. Mr. Lethabo is a hero. He made me realise something.” “ What?” asked his mother. Amahle replied, “God is a beautiful painter, and people like Mr. Lethabo are His most beautiful paintings.”
“Hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which colour does the hating. It’s just plain wrong” - Muhammad Ali