She looked up at the high ceiling of her room and smiled at the chandelier. It was golden in color but wooden and shaped like a cow boy. It reminded of a recent Clint Eastwood cow boy movie. I think I need a cow boy like that. She decided.
Her hazel eyes travelled from the ceiling to the sky blue wall that was directly opposite her bed. It had two paintings. One of them was sunflowers, by Van Gogh the Dutch painter. The other one was nyumba, depicting an African hut. It was her favorite. Like a typical hut, it was grass thatched and mud-walled. But the tip of its roof spread out towards the sky, leaving a lightning, stars and rainbow in its trail.
She often thought about this painting, whether she was in the bathroom or watching Bayern Munich’s games with her father. The door of the hut in the painting was closed and she usually wondered what lay beyond the door. Were there sofa sets, like the one in their living room? Was there a television, like the one in her bedroom? Was there a fridge, like the one in the kitchen?
Who was in that hut? Were there young girls like here and what were they doing? Did they speak German and English like her or did they have their own African languages?
She wondered how it felt like to live in a grass thatched house and concluded that it must be a great experience. There was something so simple and beautiful about that hut and she wanted that something for herself. Her name was Maya.
Fifty-seven years after Rudolf Steiner breathed his last, Maya breathed her first. She was born in Oettingen in Bavaria, but grew up in Schlaitdorf a pretty little town thirty-five kilometers from Stuttgart.
Maya joined Waldorfschule, a Rudolf Steiner school that aims to develop the child’s entire personality. One evening in March 2006, Maya went back home in high spirits. Spring, her favorite season was approaching and the art teacher had given them a fabulous assignment. They were to paint a piece entitled, ‘angels.’
On arriving home, the thirteen-year-old girl immediately went to her study room and began doing the assignment.
“Mama!” she shouted as soon as paintbrush hit canvas.
“Yes darling,” Maya’s mother rushed into the study room.
“My black paint is finished, can you please buy me some more.”
“I will buy it tomorrow when I go for the weekly shopping.”
Maya’s index finger stroked her chin as she thought for a while then said with finality, “Tomorrow will be too late mama. I need the black paint now.”
Mama raised her voice. Her daughter could be too stubborn at times. “Just use the other paints that you have darling. You know that I only go for shopping once a week.”
“But I need black paint now mama. I must hand in this assignment tomorrow.”
“What is the assignment about?”
“It’s about angels. I want to draw seven angels sitting around a huge campfire, and singing Hallelujah!”
“But what do you need black paint for then?”
“I want to paint black angels.” Maya said with an intense look on her young teenage face.
She added with a sweet smile, “my angels are African angels.”
Mama was touched. So touched that she cried as she drove to the supermarket to purchase black paint for her daughter. The following day, Maya’s painting scooped a prize – a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ painting.
In her acceptance speech, she said proudly and resolutely, “One day I will go to Africa to meet my African angels.”
P/S Most people in Africa’s 54 countries don’t live in grass-thatched houses but those that do enjoy the natural cooling systems of those houses. They remain some of the most sustainable buildings ever..