Are you one of six humans?

It’s in our Hands

By Justin Foxton

This monthly feature was conceived as our response to the President’s invitation: “Thuma Mina – Send Me”. It is a toolkit of easy ideas to help our readers respond to that call. However, given the fact that we are an apolitical publication – and the ANC has decided to use Thuma Mina as part of their 2019 election campaign – we have decided to change the name of this piece. It will now be called: “It’s in our Hands”. Here is why…

I recently attended a function at which our former Public Protector Professor Thuli Madonsela, was the guest speaker. She quoted a very powerful poem written in the 1960’s by a little know American poet named James Patrick Kinney. It is called The Cold Within.

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back.
For on the faces around the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face spoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.

The words from Hugh Masekela’s song quoted by our President – Thuma Mina, Send Me – is for us, another way of saying what Kinney says so beautifully in the poem above. We all have something in our hands that we can offer to ignite the fire in South Africa. The two questions each of us must consider are: What do I have to offer the fire and what stops me from offering it? The log need be no larger than a twig because 55 million twigs would make a massive fire.

For me, it begins with seeing people and greeting them. This is something we can all do; the simplest of actions that has a profound impact on the human psyche. You see, we are hard-wired for connection so when people connect with us, our spirits literally rise. Once we see how human beings respond to us reaching out to connect with them in small ways, we are inspired to do more. This is how peace is created, as we sow seeds of connection daily.

Let’s make this simple habit part of our daily lives.

“It’s in our Hands”.

I would love to dialogue with you around the call of It’s in our Hands. You can contact me on