You only live once

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 oder das Tod thematisiert wird. 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 Selbstmord nachdenkt oder Tod thematisiert wird. 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 Mandelahuman rights activist and former president of South Africa was imprisoned for 27 years. Nelson Mandela, a South African civil rights activist, was imprisoned after he stood up and advocatedpublicly supported for equal rights of Black people in South Africa during time of Apartheidthe systematic separation and oppression of Black people in South Africa.

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 townshipin South Africa: areas in a town set up during Apartheid that are marked by poverty and criminality 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 leagueold, well-respected and prestigious college.

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

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 make sure you could 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 dream of a noble price. On the other side, chances of getting a job are good if you study business management.

Study physics
Study business management
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 reactortechnical facility in which energy is generated by the fusion of atomic nuclei.

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

Open the letter

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

With 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.

Accept offer
Decline offer
South Africa, Cape Town

2 years later

The money came too 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. A lot of people don’t believe that as a woman of color from the townships, it’s only through hard work that you’ve made it this far.

White man, who are posting pictures 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. Somehow you have lost your happiness.

Finish story
South Africa, Cape Town

10 years later

After you received the noble price in physics as the first South African woman ever, 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 inventioncreation/ innovation available to the public on the condition that the energy which was created with your reactor would be made available to the public for free.

That is why energy is now a public gooda good that is provided to the public for free.

Look around

The sun has 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 solidarityunity/ cooperation of the people.

Finish story
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 schedule. Again.

Check your mails

Since you became the manager of a big fashion company, you always feel 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 through your position. You love flying business class and visiting 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 flooded at some point if the world continues going on like this.

Yet, it is hard to change your way of life. Giving up flying would mean giving up everything you’ve 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.

Garbage is piling up in the streets and is turning into stinking masses due to the heavy rains.

People suffer from malarialife-threatening diseass that is common in the (sub)tropics and spread by mosquitoesflabbergastedsurprised you stare at the pictures of your hometown, which are broadcasted mercilesslyrelentlessly/ ruthlessly/ remorselessly by news stations.

Put your phone aside

With every meter that the water level of the Thamesriver in London continues to rise, your home loses value.

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

People are on the edgeirritable/ grumpy and moody. They direct their feelings against foreigners. Although you’ve lived here for over 30 years, you no longer feel welcome.

Open the windows

You look down on the brown water of the Thames.

One step, fall into the water and come back up at the coast of Cape TownOne of the three capitals of South Africa. That would be wonderful.

Despite the horrible situation, you miss your hometown. However, most planes have stopped flying due to the radical climate safety measures.

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

Finish story
South Africa, Cape Town

3 years later

Proudly your mother shows you the self-made dress with its bead embroidery after Xhosaethnic group, found most commonly in the East of South Africa tradition.

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

Examine the dress

Your mother leaves to get water from one of the issuing pointshier: Ausgabestellen.

The townships struggle with the scarcitylack/ shortage of water, the desalination plantsmachines that turn seawater into drinking water by removing salt in front of the coast are still not working properly.

The women from the townships, who used to be unemployed before you hired them, complain that energy is scarcelacking/ short/ meagre/ sparse 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 reputationthe way other people see a person 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.

Finish story
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 slumspoverty stricken area in front of your nose!”, she says.

“You are exaggeratingmake something seem better or worse than it is!”, 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 the 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 Townone of the three capitals of South Africa”, she says quietly.

“And if you had a shreda little bit of responsibility, you wouldn’t leave it either. With every trip, every flight, the climate crisis gets worse and worse. The people in Cape Town will suffer, 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 farewellgoodbye party together with the woman you love in your favorite bar.

Since your mother married a leading member of the government partyofficial political group (Partei) you can afford every luxury, even the trip around the world you have always dreamed off.

And now Leyla is playing a do-gooderbelittling term: someone who naively always wants to help other people but whose help is seen as not useful.

Empty your glass

How are you supposed to change the world if you haven’t seen it?

Why shouldn’t you be allowed to travel to faraway places like all the other white kids? Why shouldn’t you be able to Work and Travelstay abroad that combines 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-vusthe feeling that the situation you are in has already happened before.

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

“Well, our people are more conservative than we thought. I mean the ANCAfrican National Congress: former liberation movement that is now the leading political party is still in power. But that’s good for you, isn’t it?”. She smiles wrylyin a way that expresses dry and mocking humor.

Nod grumpily

With 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 next 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, separation is not 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

In order to be accepted by the majority 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 have again started to mistrust people who are thinking differently.

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

Kiss her – for the last time in a long time
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, fix streets by raising taxes on millionaires and help people find new ways of living.

Take a look at the ocean

A South African way of life which focuses on respect.

Respect for life, for the fragilebreakable/ delicate ecosystemCommunity of living beings living in a certain area, and for the needs and desiresstrong wish of fellow human beings.

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

Maybe next time you can run for presidency with Leyla by your side.

Finish story
South Africa, Cape Town

10 years later

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

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

Catch your breath

Since you ended your political career, you have been working as a social worker.

You are tired of complaining about the incompetence of your former party colleagues. Now, you are trying to make a difference on the groundlocally/ where the real, practical work is taking place.

The youth club offers young people the opportunity to realize themselvesto fulfill their potential (sich selbst zu verwirklichen: tools, paintbrushes, books, balls and a working internet connection. They are able to escape from reality for a few hours, have fun and dream.

Take Leyla’s hand

You are happy and contentsatisfied/ pleased/ fulfilled.

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 appear together with Leyla

Finish story
US, New York

2 months later

You walk down Fifth AvenueShopping street in New York and are overwhelmed by the booming stores of the “Big Apple”nickname for New York. You feel like you are in a time lapseZeitraffer.

Hydrogen-poweredWasserstoffbetrieben cars drive along the streets. You can hear the roaring of helicopters landing 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 turns cold. Your limbs become stiff. You freeze. Behind you, somebody curses.

“… What?”

“She was infected with AIDSname of a life-threatening disease”. You feel like you have been punched in the gut. “AIDS!? Why didn’t she tell me?”

Clench your hand

Only now do you learn that your mother worked as a sex worker to provide for you and send you to a better school.

She did it behind your back for years until she met your stepdad. One of her clients was HIVvirus causing AIDS positive.

“She didn’t want you to think she was a hookernegative term for sex workers”, your stepdad whispers.


People stare at you. You have the feeling that the ground is tremblingshaking under your feet.

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

Run onto the street

Everything is foggy. The image of her dead body blinds you. You start crying.

You can hear the voice of you stepfather from far away. Around you, people are honking their cars. Then something comes at you at a high speed.

Jump aside
South Africa, Cape Town

20 years later

The servicereligious ceremony (Gottesdienst) is over. Men and women are standing together in small groups and joke around.

The sounds fade into the background while you enjoy 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 overwhelmedhave a strong emotional effect you again and again.

You decided to distract yourself and travel the world. You have experienced the wonders of the world and its devastationgreat destruction or damage, the suffering of people and their happiness, the joy of love and the pain of separation.

You understood that the beautiful and the terrible in life are inseparableunable to be separated.

Walk home

After a while, you managed to deal with your feelings. Religion gave your life meaning again.

You returned to Cape Town and became a pastor.

Now you want to pass on everything that you have learned. Everything that helped you understand that you are loved: your faith.

Finish story
South Africa, Cape Town

20 years later

Around you, your community claps and dances as your stiffnot easily bent (steif) fingers dance on the kalimbainstrument, similar to a small piano.

The band goes wild, drum solos take turns with the smokey voice of the lead singer.

You feel intoxicated, carried away by the music, in tunein harmony (im Einklang) with the band. You forget the fact that they are standing around you while you sit 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 blocked out thoughts of 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.

Finish solo

People cheer you on and happiness flows 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 rise of drug addiction.

You want to live like this: To sit in the dust with a kalimba and be in tune with music, joy, and people.

Finish story

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