Two Tercets To Remember

Everyday is our day.
The fact that I know you’re alive and breathing
is like sun, moon and star (to me).

So much begins with your smile and laughter.
Your sadness and blues is what makes me believe in prayer.
Your beauty will always be my path to God.

– Ethelbert Miller

cloth 3Yesterday I went to listen to some poetry and music at Potchesftroom university. I was invited by Lerato of Muse Poesy – the poetry group I recently got to know – they agreed to recite some of their poems at our Software Freedom Day event at the OpenCafe.

I was treated to a real cultural experience with poems, stories and songs introducing the various languages and traditions of South Africa – very much an event I could attend regularly – best would be if I could just subscribe to the groups’ blogs and podcasts so that I can listen to them online whenever a new entry is posted.

Phuthy opened the evening – and kept it going throughout the show with taking his time explaining all about the members of the groups – Muse Poesy and the Serenaders – and kept us entertained with whatever came to his mind after hearing each poem.

While I was sitting there listening to the poems of Muse Poesy I kept remembering my visit to Howard University in Washington DC – where I ended up with the help of my aunt’s friend who used to work at the library there.

I was in the USA to do a summer job in New Jersey – I worked in Seaside Heights – a small holiday town by the ocean – I was selling ice-cream at a shop called Cohr’s Custard. I really didn’t enjoy my time there – however once my 3 months work was over – my aunt’s friend came and took me to Washington DC where I was to spend a few days before my return to Budapest. The next day she took me with her to work – which happened to be at Howard University. Once on campus she told me I should really visit Ethelbert in the library – he would be able to give advice on what to do and see at Howard so I set out to meet Ethelbert not knowing at all who he was.

cloth 3In the library I met Ethelbert – who was very keen to find out what I was doing there and all the things I wanted to find out about his university. Since I was interested in the music classes and African language classes he explained where I’d find the music department and also how I could attend Swahili classes.

Then I set off to explore the Howard campus. I had never been to an American university and since most people on campus are African-American – at first I definitely felt a bit out of the crowd – but still enjoyed the experience of exploring a place so different from any other place I had seen before. I went to the music department where I attended a few violin classes – then I found myself some Swahili classes – so I was having fun listening to all the students learning the very same thing I learnt at the University of Budapest – but this time the American way. After the classes I often went back to the library and told Ethelbert all about my experiences. My time at Howard was just a few days long but those were definitely days that I will always remember.

Ethelbert kept in touch for quite a while – sending me his book of poetry and other materials – so in Hungary I could spend some time finding out more about who he was. I realised that till today he plays quite an important role in his community and university – he spends a lot of time teaching young poets and other artists, encouraging them to excel in their crafts – he is a real role model to many – to find out more about him, his students and community – click to visit his blog.

….. so while Phuthy was talking about his experiences and about the poets and artists that took part in yesterday’s performances, I couldn’t help comparing him with Ethelbert in the way he was relating to the young poets and singers here on the Potch campus.

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