I find it amusing how we Africans tend to test our dignity with the way we express ourselves towards others in society regarding mannerism. Some of us are wise thinkers then there are some of us who are hard workers. But why is it so hard to learn a simple, “thank you” or “please”?

Respect and dignity are very important mechanisms in this human race, regarding your ethnic background. It helps us to reunite in one heart, one love. I adore Africa. I love South Africa and I love the Black and White people, I am a proudly Black South African.

Today I asked my mother for a R10 note to buy some snacks at the local retail store. Not those cheap snacks on cheap paper, but the real snacks which are tasty from the last bite simply because they are made with pride, courage, dignity and respect. I walked up to my mother, while she was watching television with my younger sister.

“Here, it’s my last.” She said, handing me the note.

I grabbed it with both hands, respectfully.

“Thank you, mama.” I said.

My mother watched me walk out of the kitchen and she smiled. It was clear that accepting the note with both hands and saying thank you, pleased her. I would not blame her, she was the one who taught me.

I walked with my phone, I held onto it tightly. It was not safe to cross at the middle of the road, cars were speeding. There was one driver who was speeding, he could not see me nor could he see the old man beside me. It was a lousy scumbag, texting while driving.

“Arg.” I said as I moved backwards warning the old man to move away.

The driver pulled out his slovenly hand on the driver’s window, waving his chicken nails like a taxi driver in need of passengers.

“I’m sorry young feller.” He said disrespecting the old man.

I walked through the pedestrian crossing, shaking my head. His apology helped him look less of a fool to me. That was fast, smart thinking or else I would have stereotyped and thought all coloured people were bad drivers.

I came out of the retail shop and noticed a white woman in need of help. I assisted her with her groceries inside her classic car, a BMW. I admired her car and thought to myself how much dignity it took to claim such a prize. She dropped her wallet and I quickly picked it up and gave it to her.

“Thank you.” She said looking at me and blushing like a teenaged girl.

She went through her wallet, searching for loose change. She couldn’t find her coins. She got inside her car and looked for coins, but still found nothing.

“OK. Here you go, boy.” She said, handing me a R100 note.

I looked at the note, blankly. Before I could even say anything, or think anything she started her car and drove off. I was left staring at the note. I was shocked. It was too little money for the old white lady, but too much money for the young black kid.

I could not believe she would give me that much money for such a small thing I did. I then walked away happily. But then…I remembered.

“I forgot to say thank you!” I shouted, running after the BMW.

It wasn’t that far away from me, so I ran, taking the shorter route through the informal market, to the main road. The car had already passed the road. There it was next to the corner shop with its South African colours. I didn’t lose hope. I needed to say thank you. It showed that I was a hard worker, not a wise young boy.

I shouted, “Thank you!” from across the street.

But the white lady couldn’t hear me. I wondered if she was deaf. She then drove along first avenue road, I could see her car.

The sun was trying to block my sight but I didn’t let it take away my respect, our dignity – my black pride. This could overcome every young black boy out there. I owed the white lady a “thank you.”

On my way, I bumped into a man on the main road begging for food.

“Hey.” I said.

“What?” He replied harshly.

I said nothing and handed him some snacks.

“Thank you.” He said blushing, ashamed that he was not kind in the first place. He then sat down and enjoyed the snack.

What happened next might shock you. But her me out, I wasn’t stealing his bike I was lending it, so that I could catch up with the white lady to say thank you.

“Hey! Hey! Young boy, get back here!” He shouted.

He chased me with snacks in his mouth, the same snacks I was once selfish of, but he needed them more than me.

I rode on the fast lane, trying to catch up with that old woman.

“I’m sorry.” I said, like that lousy coloured guy earlier on.

There was only one route that led me on the three way street to the free-way. I went down the bridge, taking the stairs.

Luckily, I saw the BMW coming straight towards me. The old white lady was shocked, eyes wide open but surprised to see me again. She pulled over.

“Oh! Darling!” She expressed.

“No, madam, nothing wrong.” I said, with my broken English.

She was still staring at me in shock.

“Thank you!” I finally said, showing her the R100 note.

She couldn’t believe it. The fact that I did all this effort just to say thank you amazed her. She was quite emotional. Tears rolled down her chin.

“One day you will be a very good leader, boy.” She said, smiling.

She went back to her car and came back again.

“Here.” She said.

“Thank you.” I said smiling, looking at the present. It was big.

When I looked back up, she was gone.

“Thank you, old lady. I can’t chase you forever.” I said, slowly pushing the bicycle.

It was now already late so I rushed home. My mother was standing by the door. She opened the gate, looking at me.

“Thank you!” I said, smiling at my mother with so much love in my heart.


Tell us what you think: How do you feel about people who don’t say ‘thank you’ or ‘please’?