When we were taught poetry in primary school, my classmates and I were encouraged to learn verses by heart.

The teacher would call upon us during a lesson to stand and recite a poem or a verse.

The teacher would call my name: “Mamabolo a re ye, Polokwane…” [Mamabolo, let’s hear it, Polokwane…]

And then I will get off my desk, stand in front of the class and recite the poem Polokwane…

I will hesitantly start:

“Polokwane….Ga bo Maraba’ Sekwala. Polokwane gabo ngwana’diroko. Polokwane ga bo kgarebe ya matanyetša. Polokwane gabo Maria Sesi………. [silence]…………”

And then will I get stuck along the away because I forgot the rest of the poem and then…. the teacher will “lay his hands on me”… and I don’t mean pray for me.

Life was tough back then 🙂

This was how we learned the words that were written without understanding the depth of their meaning.

We knew the poems by heart, but we did not know what to make of them or why they should matter to us because we never learned to say them with heart.

You can do many things by heart, following the step by step instructions by heart, knowing the right words to say by heart, following the recipe by heart.

You can do many things by heart, but without heart.

We grew up doing many things by heart, but not with heart.

So today, we have the opportunity every day to work by heart or to choose to do it with heart. To love with heart, to say what you mean with heart, to sing with heart, to lead with heart, to listen with heart.

We have the opportunity to write with a heart, to teach with a heart, to care for people with heart, not just follow instructions by heart like reciting the Polokwane poem in primary school.

The more often we choose to do things with a heart the better for all of us.

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