Life, Love, and Passports

Posts tagged “south africa

What is this life…

if full of care we have no time to stand and stare. This is still one of my favourite poems even after all these years.

The last seven days have been a really good time to reflect and be thankful for all my many blessings. There are many things I long for but for now this is where I find myself miles from the place of my birth. It’s the hardest thing to explain to people who’ve never left their country just how difficult it is to adjust in a new country. Yes, you’re right we do choose to up sticks and leave though I do take every opportunity to remind my dear husband that if it wasn’t for the love I have for him I wouldn’t have made this choice on my own! Packing up your life and leaving for distant shores always seems so romantic and adventurous to the ones waving you off.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in the UK for just over five years now. I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long! It’s been an absolute roller-coaster of emotions. After each bout of homesickness I give myself a massive pat on the back when I realise I haven’t returned. At this moment in time I feel marginally qualified to give the misguided newbies a few tools to help them through the rough patches after what seemed like a good idea at the time.

I spent a couple of days with my aunt this past week and realised that you just can’t put a physical value on the importance of family. Spending time with family reminds you that you belong and that is enough to give you strength to carry on when you’re in doubt about so many things.

So, I’ve taken the time to stand and stare and I feel somewhat revived and ready to go on and face more challenges because there’s no shortage of opportunities to learn and grow and of course it’s a sure sign that I’m alive and well!
Go on…take the time to stand and stare.

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The last supper

Tonight we had our last dinner with my parents before they head back to South Africa tomorrow after gracing us with their presence for one whole month. The primary purpose of their visit was to celebrate my birthday with me because apparently it wasn’t just any birthday it was a big birthday.

Counting down made me realise that I spend a large part of my life counting down days and always looking forward to the next big event. So once we wave them off at the airport and have shed those departure gate tears. Have I ever said how much I hate that goodbye gate and just watching loved ones looking back and waving until they disappear into what seems like a vapour. Departure sounds so final and can leave a person feeling empty and disorientated.

We’ve had a great time with my parents and it was good just travelling around the UK. The summer holiday has been full of activity but we’ve also had many pause and enjoy moments. Now for the final goodbyes until we meet again!


Two weeks notice

It just dawned on me that I’ve not blogged for a fortnight and I’m placing the blame squarely on procrastinations shoulders. I’m not sure I have any other excuse but I realise that I’ve missed writing terribly.
Since my holiday to South Africa in December I’ve really struggled to hone my writing skills after that short break. It’s become quite apparent to me now that since I didn’t use it I started to lose it. To be honest I’m quite disappointed with myself but thankfully it’s never too late to pick up and move on.

The last couple of weeks have been quite busy with the arrival of my parents, my brother and his family and some good friends dropping by to remind us what we’ve left behind in South Africa. After a whirlwind visit for just three days they headed back to the land of beautiful oceans, breathtaking mountains and the world famous big five!
My parents will be here for another fortnight and we’ve been fortunate to celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary with them. It’s hard not to think about their time coming to an end because it’s become quite apparent that children don’t just need their parents but that grandparents have a special place in their lives as well.

The summer holiday is now in full swing and I’ve managed to do some baking and even squeeze in some reading and those are still celebrated as achievements to me. I look forward to exercising my writing muscle once again and building a fit mind!


Broken South Africa

I went to bed with a very heavy heart last night. The news of police brutality and subsequent death of a Mozambican national a few days ago have left me reeling. The country and indeed the world has reacted with outrage at this blatant act of police brutality. Alas, I fear it may just be a knee-jerk reaction because soon enough we’ll all move on to something else that gets our backs up. A family is in mourning and I fear they may not get the justice they seek.

I am proudly South African and that will never change. Sadly many people have no idea what a paradise our beautiful country is. I take every opportunity to let people know what an amazing country we have and I’m often asked if I’ll ever go back. My answer is always the same…absolutely yes! It breaks my heart when I’m forced to defend our country and its people.

A while ago I watched a documentary ‘Miracle Rising’ and it brought tears to my eyes watching the bonds of friendship, the tenacity of those who fought for political freedom and the hope people spoke of on the day of the first democratic elections in South Africa. Sadly that’s where the documentary ended and if watched in isolation it comes across as a success story and it is in part.
I couldn’t help but feel we gained political freedom yet many of us lost our freedom of movement and with it our spontaneity. The freedom to do things on a whim has been critically diminished. Things seem to have become unhinged and the lifestyle of the lawless and their lack of punishment by the courts has led to many losing hope in our legal system.

Are we really a broken society? What is the way forward? What changes should be made now? Is it naïve to continue to dream of a country where all of our basic needs are met not just those who can afford the necessities of running water, electricity and sanitation. We need the freedom not just to live, work and vote for who we choose but the right to move about without fear of attack. In the event that we may be attacked it should be such a rare occurrence as opposed to the crime stories we’re constantly exchanging with family, friends and even strangers. We need to get back to the place where crimes shock because they are a shame not just when we realise the world views us as barbaric and lawless.

While the police happen to be under the spotlight in this particular instance. It is a fact that they are not the only government officials who are stepping out of line. The natural response is to point a finger at the ruling party and while they have a responsibly of care towards us we can’t really blame them for wrong attitudes of citizens though many will argue this way of thinking is filtering from the corridors of parliament. Corruption needs to be rooted out on so many levels it makes my head spin. Starting from the very top with members of parliament, judiciary, education, transport, social welfare, health and many other government departments.
How and when is this change going to take place? Honestly, I don’t have the faintest idea but I’m hoping that the unfortunate death of Mido Macia will be the catalyst that brings about the much needed change we so desperately need. Corruption is ruining our beautiful country and it’s hurting us all of us.

Though my heart is sad I have not stopped believing that things will get better.We are the powerhouse of Africa and a symbol of triumph over evil. We will overcome again!

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika – God bless Africa


So long farewell

A couple of days ago my friends and I got together to celebrate our friendship with special friends who are returning to South Africa. Life has a way of getting you to believe that good things will last and I wish they would. Experience tells us that nothing lasts forever not the good or bad! I have to admit there are days I feel like life is an absolute party pooper.

So we ate, laughed and reminisced about the past but also looked to the future and where the road leads not just them but all of us. It’s hard to believe that our paths crossed just over two years ago and we gained a new family away from the comfort of home.

It will be sad when they finally step on that flight in about two weeks. It’s by no means the end of our friendship but we will miss them all terribly alas life’s many roads require us to take them.

God speed my dear friends!


Celebrating our heritage

South Africans are celebrating Heritage day today which is one of many public holidays. This is a day set aside to celebrate our diversity and the contribution of South Africans in building our rainbow nation. It is traditionally celebrated by citizens having a braai (barbecue) with family and friends. This is our most cherished culinary achievement. I’ve been gone so long I hope I’m not too brainwashed by the British version which consists of grilled hot dogs and burgers.

I’ve done my bit by opening a can of All Gold super fine smooth apricot jam (serious patriotism!) because there’s no chance of me having a traditional braai in this rather morbid weather anyway. So while I snack on a piece of toast I’m actually dreaming of sitting around celebrating instead of preparing to do homework.

I’m a proud South African making my way in a foreign land. It’s weird but whenever a stranger recognises my accent I feel like I’ve brought all of me on my journey. I’ve had to drop some typical South African words and phrases most notably the phrase ‘just now’ and robot (traffic light). Otherwise I’m trying to keep it real because I’ve got so much to be proud of.

Happy heritage day! Here’s to continuing our contribution to our heritage wherever you find yourself in the world. Consider yourself an ambassador I do!


Without a trace

It’s estimated that about 200,000 people go missing in the UK each year. Those statistics are quite shocking when you consider that for every adult or child who goes missing that an entire family are left in limbo. My biggest concern is that the authorities get frantically involved and search relentlessly for a specified period. Thereafter the family use their own resources to track down their loved one and the financial costs escalate. While we remember the missing person occasionally their absence haunts their family daily.

It’s been nine months to the day that Bianca Couch a young South African disappeared without a trace. I cannot begin to imagine what helps her family to get through these dark days. Unconditional love, devotion and hope are no doubt their daily bread while they dream of the day they will wake up from this horrific nightmare.

Families are meant to be together and while certain people choose not to be part of their families at least it is their choice. When you’re taken against your will and your family are left to suffer and wonder about your well-being that is the cruellest of acts a family should be forced to deal with. What kind of monster would do this to a family?

Here’s hoping that family and friends of Bianca and the multitudes of missing persons never tire of keeping the hope of their safe return burning until they are home where they belong.


Curtain call

Today marks the beginning of the first full school week. Monday’s always seem to arrive sooner than any other day of the week particularly after a busy weekend. I’m glad to report I survived Monday after taking it head on.

This weekend also signalled the end of the London summer games. All across Britain its citizens have been declaring how proud they are to be British. I guess you can’t deny the team’s success both in the Olympic and Paralympic games.
I have also been very proudly South African because while we didn’t win bags of medals we gave our very best and I have been overcome with a weird sense of patriotism.

So after a summer of lazing around and cheering my countrymen on, the fun and games have ended. While it is only September it feels like the beginning of something new. I love new beginnings!


Wave your flag

It’s that time in the sporting calendar when the world gets very patriotic about all things patriotic. Whilst strolling around London yesterday I guess we must’ve seen just about all the countries represented at the Olympics the only ones I wouldn’t have recognised were the same ones who seemed totally made up at the flag procession!

My girls were very ecstatic whenever they spotted the South African flag and were well aware that we had earned a gold medal on Sunday of course my hoarse voice was testament to that fact. I swear Cameron van der Burgh could hear me willing him to break the world record in the 100m breaststroke as I’d done when he broke the Olympic record the night before in the heats.

Last night we attended a dj bash in London at Ekhaya (home away from home for South Africans during the Olympics). The moment I walked in I was transported to another place a place where everybody was backing the same team. The spoken word, poetry and house music provided by The Indigenous were phenomenal. I loved every minute of it and felt totally ‘Africanised’ after the event. Though I still feel a bit foggy after a late night I can’t wait to get my flag out and give the biggest, proudest wave.

Proudly South African!


Honeymoon Murder – What really happened to Anni?

In November 2010 news broke that a British couple had been attacked while on honeymoon in Cape Town,South Africa. Sadly the wife had been shot and died at the scene.

As the story unfolded and the groom Shiren Dewani began to give an account of the circumstances and in my mind he went from grieving groom to highly likely suspect. At the time of the incident I remember going out on a limb and stating on a social networking site that I smelt a proverbial rat. People probably just thought it was my South African cynicism but it was actually just common sense. There are things you just don’t do when in a country that is known for carjackings and senseless killings. Driving around in townships late at night and hiring a taxi tout at the airport just to name a couple. A few months after the world cup in South Africa and more than enough negative reporting from the British press you would’ve had to have been living under a rock not to know the dangers. Then again a couple who choose their honeymoon destination based on their initials leaves a lot to be desired. I have no doubt that it was the grooms idea!

After many contradictions in his account the groom quickly became a suspect. Then he did something I will never understand he a hired a well-known publicist Max Clifford to speak on his behalf. A rather strange move considering this publicist is usually associated with high-flying celebrities.Surely this heart-broken man should’ve been home mourning his bride privately. Instead he put on a show of grief that even a blind man could see right through. Everytime he opened his mouth another contradiction followed. Truth is if you are going to lie you’d better have a good memory.

Days after Shrien had returned to Britain the South African police request that he returns to answer a few questions as they now had a suspect in custody. A taxi driver who claims that he was hired by the groom as a contract killer. After this revelation the businessman from Bristol has what it seems is post traumatic stress. He is then sectioned under the mental act and has been fighting extradition to South Africa based on health reasons and human rights issues. He will appear in court on the 31 July for another extradition hearing where his attorneys will ask for their clients safety to be guaranteed.

This story is really sad for all parties involved. I guess it’s the ultimate betrayal when you commit to spend your life with someone and they have no thought for your well-being. Selfish people should never marry that is a fact. Anni’s parents have lost their beautiful daughter and the one person who really knows what happened refuses to appear before the court and give his side of the story under oath. No doubt that Shrien’s family want to see the case resolved and this state of limbo they live in resolved.

I wait with bated breath to hear the outcome of the extradition hearing.