(Non)Ordinary People

Port Elizabeth was not named for either Queen by the same name, but a woman who died and never made it to this land that was named for her. The monument in the photo was built in her honor and the place is called Donkin Reserve. Briefly, she died in India from malaria. Her husband was on his way back to England, with her heart in a box to burry it in their home country. He was asked to stop here and meet the traders landing in South Africa. Still grieving her, he built the pyramid and asked that no other buildings be allowed on the land. However when South Africa hosted the World Cup, the space acquired many beautiful pieces of public art.



The story about Elizabeth Donkin got me thinking about ordinary people’s influence on our daily lives.

So often we are dismissive of the people we meet in everyday life. Unless we are told by the title or station that they are important, we ignore them. However, it seems that traveling shakes you from this mindset and you become aware of all of the people you meet. You become aware of the taxi drivers-their music, ambition to get the next rider, how they work with the guys helping to get more riders, or their willingness to help you get where you’re going (when you are a foreigner and possibly lost). There are shop clerks who have helped me feel at home in this new place, when everything makes me feel foreign, by simply relating to me as they would someone else. Sometimes when we go to the store I feel like we are both a total annoyance and completely stand out as foreigners, which gets us long stares. Yesterday at the mall we couldn’t help it because we were dropped off at the mall in the middle of our city tour, so we all had our backpacks on walking around the mall. We couldn’t help but to stand out and yet, there were people who didn’t treat us as though we were completely out of place. It reminds me how small acts of kindness can have a large impact on someone’s life.


2 responses to “(Non)Ordinary People

  • akarags

    How interesting, I feel ashamed now, I am South African and I never knew that was how Port Elizabeth was named!

    • Lizzie

      When I was getting to know some of the international students today who are at NMMU to study English, one of them said, “We are in your city.” Made me laugh!
      Its funny though, sometimes we live somewhere or see something everyday and don’t take the time to appreciate it. I know people who live in Washington, D.C. and have never been to the monuments. Don’t be too hard on yourself…

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