You only live once – English

What does really matter in life? [Guideline]

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South Africa, Cape Town

Summer 2018


Für Lehrende: Je nach Entscheidungspfad können Situationen auftauchen, in denen die Hauptperson der Story über einen Suizid nachdenkt. Obwohl dies nicht der Fokus der Story ist, bitten wir um einen sensiblen Umgang mit dem Thema im Unterricht. Beispielsweise kann auf die auf der nächsten Seite aufgeführten Hilfsangebote verwiesen werden.

Für Lernende: Je nach Entscheidungspfad können Situationen auftauchen, in denen die Hauptperson der Story über einen Suizid nachdenkt. Obwohl dies nicht der Fokus der Story ist, bitten wir dich, vorher darüber nachzudenken, ob du gerade in der Lage bist, dich mit dem Thema auseinanderzusetzen. Auf der nächsten Seite findest du eine Auswahl an Hilfsangeboten. Bitte zögere nicht damit, diese zu kontaktieren, solltest du Hilfe benötigen.


Hilfsangebote können verschiedenen Formen annehmen, von anonymen online Chats, Kontakt über Mail oder Telefon oder persönlichen Beratungen. Sie können bei ALLEN Problemen und rund um die Uhr kontaktiert werden. Hier findest du eine erste Auflistung bekannter Angebote:

Telefonseelsorge Link (Telefon, Mail, online & vor Ort Beratungen).

Nummer gegen Kummer Link (Telefon, online Beratung): 116111.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Suizidprävention Link (kurze Auflistung weiterer Angebote, u.a. Datenbank von Selbsthilfeunterstützungsangeboten, Internetforum).

Ich habe die Informationen gelesen und verstanden

You are standing on top of Table Mountain at your favorite spot and are watching the port in your hometown.

Small ships, loaded with tourists, are rocking in the water, which sparkles in the sun.

Their goal is to reach Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. Nelson Mandela, a South African civil rights activist, was imprisoned after he stood up and advocated for equal rights of Black people in South Africa during time of Apartheid. Apartheid describes a time in South African history in which Black people were systematically oppressed.

Follow the ships with your eyes

Among others, you have him to thank for the possibility to grow up in a democratic state and visit school together with white and Black teenagers.

However, just because the system of “apartheid” was officially abolished, does not mean that everything is great in South Africa. A walk close to your home – in the township Philippi – is enough to convince you of the opposite.
A few of your friends, with which you played with in elementary school, now are homeless and sell drugs.

Think about the future

You want to take a different path and live in a better society.

You wish to provide a greater life for your mother, when she grows old.

Your biggest dream is that people will look up to you and are proud of you.
But how are you going to reach your goals?

Work hard and become rich
Stand up for the local community
Great-Britain, Oxford

5 years later

You can’t believe that you were accepted into a British ivy league.

It is a wonderful day in September and the sun is warming your face. Still, you feel nostalgic.

You are alone in a foreign country and you feel like people on the street look at you strangely, like you don’t belong here.

Stare at the grass

You think of your mother, who did her best to provide you with the opportunity to visit university. It wasn’t enough, so you had to borrow a lot of money to pay the fees.

She just wants you to be happy. But what is happiness? How do you imagine your future?

Which degree should you choose? You know that this decision will change the course of your life.

Walk slowly across the grass

Physics has always amazed you. You even dream of a noble price.

On the other side, chances to get a job are high if you study business management.

Study business management
Study physics
Great-Britain, Oxford

40 years later

A letter from a big energy company reaches you.

You suspect to know what they want…

With a team of international experts, you managed to create plans for a profitable nuclear fusion reactor.

This could be long sought the solution to the energy problem of humanity.

Open the letter

The company offers to buy the rights for your plans. They are ready to pay vast amounts for them.

Whit the money you could finally fulfill your childhood dreams: yachts, huge houses near the beach and a life full of luxuries.

On the other hand, you planned to make the plans public so everybody could use them.

Decline offer
Accept offer
South Africa, Cape Town

2 years later

The money came to late to help your mother. Just when the villa near the beach was finished, she died.

Now you are standing all alone on your yacht. You feel lonely. Many people don’t trust that you came so far as a woman of color from the townships just by working hard.

White man, who are posting picture of champagne-parties, are being celebrated. You only receive hate mail.

Look at the port

Behind the luxuries yachts there is the Table Mountain, which you loved to climb.

You always dreamed of being rich.

Now you don’t even know what to do with all your money. Still, you lost alle your joy.

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South Africa, Cape Town

10 years later

After you received the noble price in physics as the first South African woman, your hometown nominated you as person of honor.

You returned to the township you grew up in, but it isn’t the same anymore.

You made your invention available to the public on the condition that the energy which was created with your reactor was made available to the public for free as well.

That is why energy is now a public good.

Look around

The sun already set. The townships are shining in a new light.

Actually, they are no longer townships.
The neighborhoods are brightly lit, clean, and modern.

The only thing that stayed the same is the solidarity of the people.

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Great-Britain, London

10 years later

The shouts of protestors are echoing in the airport lounge.

They scream: “Climate killer”, “Don’t melt our future” and “Climate Justice”.

With the help of your bodyguards, you reach the terminal and step on board of the plain all sweaty.

You are behind in your time schedule. Again.

Check your mails

Since you became the manager of a big fashion company, you feel permanently stressed.

You don’t even get to see your mother anymore, who moved from the township to London with you.

On the other hand, you enjoy the respect you gained through your position. You love to fly in business class and visit new countries.

Answer mails

Still, the accusations of the protestors hurt.

You know how bad your lifestyle is for the environment and that your hometown will be overflooded if the world continues going on like this.

Yet, it is hard to change your way of life. To stop flying would mean to give up everything you worked for.

Keep going like everybody else.
Risk a radical change of your lifestyle
Great-Britain, London

20 years later

The power supply broke down.

Trash is piling up in the street and is turned into smelly masses through the heavy rain flows.

People suffer from malaria – flabbergasted you stare at the pictures of your hometown, which are broadcasted mercilessly by news programs.

Put your phone aside

With every meter the level of the Thames keeps rising your flat is losing its worth.

London is drowning and with it it’s riches: the Buckingham Palace, the financial center, the expensive properties.

People are on the edge and moody. They turn their emotions towards foreigners. Although you’ve lived here for over 30 years, you don’t feel welcome any longer.

Open the windows

You look down on the brown water of the Thames.

One step, falling into the water and coming up at the coast of Cape Town. That would be wonderful.

Despite the horrible situation, you miss your hometown. However, planes mostly stopped flying because of the radical climate safety measures.

Additionally, it is unsafe to live in Cape Town now, if you are rich. Actually, it’s unsafe everywhere.

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South Africa, Cape Town

3 years later

Proudly your mother shows you the self-made dress with its traditional South African pattern.

Since you returned to Cape Town, she seemed to have recovered her energy. She even helps out in the small, sustainable fashion company that you founded.

Examine the dress

Your mother walks away to get water from one of the issuing offices.

The townships struggle with the scarcity of water, the desalination plants in front of the coast are still not working properly.

The woman, who used to be unemployed before you hired them, complain that energy is scare as well.


On some days you miss your old life. In the beginning you felt like a looser when your returned to Cape Town.

Your image as a self-made woman, the little luxuries – everything gone. All of the sudden you feel your mother’s bony hand on your shoulder.

“I’m proud of you Yannie.”, she says quietly. You smile and for a moment you feel all the joy of the world running through your body.

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South Africa, Cape Town

5 years later

Leyla’s deep blue eyes turn dark. “You cannot go out and travel the world while people are dying in the slums in front of your nose!”, she says.

“You are exaggerating!”, you scream. You are trying to push back thoughts of your early home.

It’s not my fault they are poor! Do you think you are allowed to travel to world just because you are white? Do you think you are better than me?

Bite your tongue

She looks at you strangely. “I will not leave Cape Town”, she quietly states.

“And if you had an ounce of responsibility in you, you wouldn’t leave it either. With every trip, every flight the climate crisis gets worse and worse. People in Cape Twon will suffer under it, especially the poor!”

“Your dreams against the suffering of all those people – are you really ready to make that exchange?”

Clench your fists

It could have been so wonderful: The evening of your farewell party together with the woman you love in your favorite bar.

Since your mother married a leading member of the government party you can afford every luxury, even the trip around the world you have always dreamed off.

And now Leyla is playing a do-gooder.

Empty your glass

How are you supposed to change the world if you have not seen it?

Why should you not be allowed to travel faraway countries like all the other white kids? Why shouldn’t you be able to Work and Travel, enjoy local food, and find yourself? Leyla or seeing the world? Is that really the decision you’ll have to make?

Cancel your plans and stay in Cape Town
Stick with your plans and ignore Leyla
South Africa, Cape Town

20 years later

The same bar. The same woman is sitting across from you. You hate Déjà-vus.

“That can’t be true!” you shout angrily. “It is 2043, why is a lesbian president still unmentionable?”

“Well, our people are more conservative than we thought. I mean the ANC is still in power. But that’s good for you, isn’t it?”. She smiles wryly.

Nod grumpily

Whit the help of your charm, your talent in public-speaking and the support of your influential stepfather, you have worked your way up in the ANC, the African National Congress.

You could become the presidential candidate and the chances that the ANC will win the elections are high.

Order another drink

Oh, and there is so much to do! It seems like apartheid has returned to South Africa. This time however, there is no separation based on skin color, but based on how much money one earns.

The reason: Increasing scarcity of resources and growing injustices. The richer the rich, the stronger their fear of poverty.

Clutch Leyla’s hand

To be accepted by most of your party and society, you would have to keep your relationship with Leyla a secret. You might even have to end it.

Times are extreme and people start to mistrust persons who are differently minded again.

At the same time, you wish nothing more than to start a family with her.

Kiss her – for the last time in a long time
Nr. 1.1.1: Vacate your political career and move together with Leyla
South Africa, Cape Town

1 year later

It worked. After a long campaign you won the elections with a vast majority. The first woman in office in South Africa!

You still can’t believe it. The people are putting their hopes on you and you don’t want to let them down. Finally, you are able to follow in the footsteps of your childhood idol Nelson Mandela.

You want to transform the Townships, renovate streets by raising taxes for millionaires and support people to find new ways of life.

Take a look at the ocean

A South African way of life which focuses on respect.

Respect for life, for the fragile ecosystem, and for the needs and desires of fellow human beings.

You wish that the rich and the poor would talk to each other, that old and young people would learn from each other and that love would be accepted in all its forms.

Maybe you will be able to run for presidency with Leyla by your side the next time.

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South Africa, Cape Town

10 years later

You climb the Table Mountain. Leyla is by your side.

Today was hard. Especially, when the young boy came into your youth club after he had to flee from his aggressive, drug-addicted father.

Catch your breath

Since you vacated your political career, you are working as social worker.

You are done complaining of the incompetence of your former party colleagues. Now, you are trying to make a change locally.

The youth club offers young people the possibility to fulfil themselves: tools, paintbrushes, books, balls and a working internet connection. They are able to flee reality for a few hours, have fun and dream.

Take Leyla’s hand

You are happy and content.

You are not famous, but the children in the Townships worship you and you are respected by their parents.

You are proud of what you have achieved and of the fact that nobody makes a face anymore when you show up together with Leyla.

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US, New York

2 months later

You walk down Fifth Avenue, overwhelmed by the booming business of the “Big Apple”. You feel like you are in a time lapse.

Hydrogen cars are driving across the streets. You hear the roaring of the helicopters, which land on the rooftops of the skyscrapers above.

Your phone is ringing.

Answer your phone

“Yannie!” It’s your stepdad. Something is wrong.

“I… your… your mother is dead.” Your blood runs cold. Your limbs turn stiff. You freeze. Behind you somebody curses.

“… What?”

“She was infected with Aids”. You feel like somebody punched you in the gut. “Aids!? Why didn’t she tell me?”

Clench your hand around your phone

Just now you learn that your mother worked as a sex worker to provide for you and to be able to send you to a better school.

She did it for years, behind your back, until she met your stepdad. One of her clients was HIV positive.

“She didn’t want you to think of her a hooker”, your stepdad whispers.


People stare at you. You feel like the ground beneath your feet is shaking.

So did she do it for you…? What are you? Who are you from? Was your father HIV positive?

Run on the street

Everything is cloudy. The picture of her dead body startles you. You start crying.

You can hear the voice of you stepfather from far away. Around you people honk their cars. Then something is coming towards you at a high speed.

You freeze
Jump aside
South Africa, Cape Town

20 years later

The service is over. Man and woman are standing together in small groups and joke around.

The sounds fade into the background while you are enjoying the fresh air.

Pictures appear before your eyes. Pictures of Leyla, your mother, and your stepdad.


It hurt when they left your life so quickly. The sadness kept overwhelming you.

You decided to distract yourself and travel the world. You experienced the wonders of the world and their devastation, the suffering of people and their happiness, the joy of love and the pain of separation.

You understood that the beautiful and the awful in life are inseparably intertwined.

Walk home

After a while you managed to deal with your emotions. Religion gave your life back its meaning.

You returned to Cape Town and became a pastor.

Now you wanted to pass on everything that you learned to the people. Everything that helped you to understand that you are loved: your believe.

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South Africa, Cape Town

20 years later

Around you your community is clapping their hands, dancing, while your stiff fingers are dancing on the kalimba.

The band goes wild, solos on the drums are taking turns with the smokey voice of the lead singer.

You feel intoxicated, taken away by the music, in tune with the band. You forget about the fact that they are standing around you while you are sitting on the dusty floor.

Start solo

The car didn’t kill you, but it was enough to crush your legs. The pain was so strong it even pushed back the thoughts about your dead mother.

In the hospital you met a musician. She introduced you to the kalimba and you discovered the magic of South African music.

End solo

People are cheering you on and happiness is flowing through your body. It connects you with the audience and the band.

You forget the sadness, the tsunami that hit the city and devastated parts of it, the rising of drug-addiction.

You want to live this way: Sitting in the dust with a kalimba and in tunes with the music, the joy and the people.

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