Water for Peace: I have time

Mar 22 / Aldert
As we dive deeper into the theme "Water for Peace" in this series, let's shift gears from personal experiences to a broader reflection. Bennie's call for mindfulness and Francois' glimpse into inner-city water struggles have laid a powerful foundation. Aldert explores the symbolism of rivers – life-giving forces that embody the very essence of peace in their movement, connection, and boundless nature.
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Water for Peace: I have time

De Rivier

On my go-to playlist you will find a song by Dutch South African artist Stef Bos. Being an exceptional poet and musician, his lyrics and melodies are something to behold. In his song, De Rivier (The River), the lyrics are a personification of a river introducing itself to us, "I am a river". The melody always gives me the impression of a river flowing past me coming from somewhere and going somewhere else. In the recording on the album Van Mpumalanga tot die Kaap (From Mpumalanga to the Cape) it is as if the river is coming towards the listener (instrumental), introduces itself in passing by (lyrics) and flows away again (instrumental). The instrumental piano-intro and coda takes up almost half the song. It gives a feeling of peace and tranquility, like sitting next to a rapid staring at the water and letting it tell you its story.
Give Water a moment.
I tried to translate the song into English, with deep appreciation and apologies to Stef.

Listen to the song on Youtube while reading the lyrics or head over to your favourite music platform and support Stef Bos. 
De Rivier on Deezer
De Rivier on Apple Music
De Rivier on Spotify
Today (22 March) we are celebrating World Water Day and the theme for 2024 is Water for Peace. Listening to The River with this in mind placed five things on my foreground:

Water is boundless

Ironically, though rivers are used as boundaries, they themselves don't recognize them. Boundaries are man-made, but rivers flow through different countries and territories, ignoring political divisions and borders. This symbolises the universal value of water and the need for cooperation across borders. Boundaries and borders can cause conflict, or we can try a more fluid approach to life and work towards peace.

Movement and change

Rivers are constantly moving and changing. They have been transforming our world for billions of years, carving canyons and shaping landscapes. They can change an unforgiving desert into an agricultural paradise like the Orange River in the Northern Cape. Rivers can symbolise the constant change in the world and our need to adapt towards peace.

Life force

Water, the lifeblood to life on earth, runs all over our planet in rivers like veins and arteries in a body. Rivers are living legends. Think of all the things a river would tell you about life if only it could talk. It would grant support in times of sickness, give advice on love, and offer wisdom to attain and sustain peace. Perhaps rivers don’t need a voice, it just needs our time and attention, and it will teach us about life.


Rivers flow past castles and cities, through countries and provinces, and connect people in all kinds of ways. Carrying ships on their backs and providing water to build civilisations. It provides abundantly and selflessly loses itself in the ocean. Selflessness is one of the main principles to build peace. Learn from the river to live as if every day is your last day.

Caring for one another

Rivers generously serve us, carrying our waist to who knows where. Enduring neglect and abuse like humble slaves. This puts rivers at risk. They need our help. Human waste, trash, and toxic materials are degrading our rivers at an alarming speed. Willingness to help goes a long way, and it's an excellent point of departure towards peace.
In the entire song the River introduces itself to us, except when telling us what it sees when observing people. Almost squarely in the middle of the song it asks: "Where are the people and why do they not have time anymore?"
No time for water?
No time for nature? 
No time for self reflection? 
No time for each other?
No time for peace?
It is time to show up on the river bank. Take action. Make time to care about water, peace, and everything in between, because flowing through the ages the River says:

- Aldert

In case you missed it, you can read the other articles here:
"Water for Peace: What Does It Mean?"
"Water for Peace: Inner Sanctum & Inner-City"
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World Water Day 22 March 2024

About the United Nations World Water Day 2024

Key messages for World Water Day 2024

  • "Water can create peace or spark conflict. When water is scarce or polluted, or when people struggle for access, tensions can rise. By cooperating on water, we can balance everyone’s water needs and help stabilize the world."
  • "Prosperity and peace rely on water. As nations manage climate change, mass migration and political unrest, they must put water cooperation at the heart of their plans."
  • "Water can lead us out of crisis. We can foster harmony between communities and countries by uniting around the fair and sustainable use of water – from United Nations conventions at the international level, to actions at the local level."
Visit the UN World Water Day 2024 website for more information:
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