Words to live by in a time of war

 
 
 

“It’s war as the gang-related death toll mounts,” the voice on the radio rumbled. Earlier this year, politicians debated whether to deploy the army into the Cape Flats. It seemed the only way to combat the violence was with more violence. Earl Mentor has also been facing the fight against gangsterism, but with words as his weapon.

The writer, poet, and musician began his mission after he lost his best friend in 1998. “He died a gangster, with nothing,” Mentor says. The ordeal set him on a path to save himself and his community. Mentor picked himself up and penned a new mindset. Armed with his book, Cape Flats Karma - Biography of a Coloured Seed, he now coaches high-risk communities in the Western Cape. The core message is that there are alternatives to a life of drugs and gangs. Mentor’s goal is to enable others to aim for happiness and fulfillment outside of toxic influences.

“I strongly believe that we are beautiful people and we need to start believing that we are worth more,” Mentor says. The pride he feels for his home and community speaks volumes. Despite the dangers, he refuses to leave. Mentor is driven by the desire to encourage others, showing people they can rise above social ills. For Mentor, liberation doesn’t require weapons and war. It begins with words and stories.