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Spirit of Ubuntu returns to Boven

Michael Tellinger – bank-hater, pseudo-communist, anarchist, failed politician, author, revolutionary, philanthropist, maverick, part-time messiah and tireless, new-age, globe-trotting proponent of “Ubuntu Contributionism” is back. After more than 10 years of circling the globe and spreading the doctrine of Ubuntu, he has returned to Waterval Boven – and has already set to work with a vengeance.

Love him or hate him, believe in what he stands for or dismiss it, the facts speak for themselves. Initially approaching ELM for permission to utilise stagnant and vandalised municipal assets for the good of the people of ELM and receiving no response, he, in inimitable Tellinger style, just went ahead and did what he wanted to do anyway. Starting with the long-derelict Nicholas Ndlovhu Community Hall in Boven, Tellinger, in a matter of weeks – and using his own funds – has transformed the venue. The mountain of garbage was removed, the drunks and the layabouts chased away. Vandalised plumbing has been fixed, ditto electricity and numerous, doors, windows and assorted fittings. The kitchen now works again for the first time in years and provides simple but filling meals for volunteers doing the hard yakka.

Among other things, Tellinger has also already got a soccer tournament going, held a volleyball tournament and secured the free services and use of a sawmill (valued at a not insignificant R250 000) with a view to producing low-cost building material for future projects and as a plough-back revenue earner for the Ubuntu Movement. In a recent interview with THG, Tellinger (as usual, bubbling over with plans and schemes, some completely off-the-wall, others eminently feasible) told of the next “big project” that he and Ubuntu have their eye on – the currently derelict Boven “fish farm”, situated on the right as one crosses the Elands River to enter the town. “The property and its infrastructure were purchased by the government and handed to ELM some time ago,” said Tellinger. “Since then, nothing has been done with it. This is an asset that belongs to the people. If ELM is not going to do anything with it for the good of the people of ELM, then the people and Ubuntu will put the facility back to work!”

Whether Tellinger’s unorthodox methods are necessarily the best way to tackle the multiple problems of poverty, hunger and unemployment that are a day-to-day reality for many of ELM’s citizens – given his “damn the torpedo’s, full steam ahead, I’m right and I’m gonna do it my way”(sorry Frank) style, is neither here nor there. At least, if nothing else, Tellinger is doing something real and concrete – instead of sitting back and watching the world go by. That alone, if nothing else, gets a “two thumbs up” from THG. We will follow future developments with interest.

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