Where do the days go?

“OK, let’s look at highlights of the past year” Jacques said and gave en enthusiastic smile, but that’s where it stayed, unfortunately.  The year had simply “swooshed” past in spectacular fashion and there wasn’t much to remember.  How bad is that?  365 days gone and I can’t think of much.  There was 22 June (when I recommitted my life to Christ), 11 August (when I was baptized), 14 September (when I decided to sign up for the Bible School Degree), 4 December (when Ps Danny took a bulldozer to my self-belief system) and 20 December (when I made a very important, life changing, decision).  What happened to the rest of the time? 

So, if for no other reason than convincing myself that I was in fact not abducted by aliens and lost days, weeks even, somewhere in 2014, I have decided to do a yeah- and nay-moment of the day for every day this year.  At the very least, I will be able to look back at the end of the year and know what I did with the time.

1 January 2014

My yeah-moment and nay-moment unfortunately surrounds around the same event.  In South Africa (probably other places in the world too) Christmas day, Boxing day and New Years day are dedicated to going to the beach.  For years (in Apartheid times), this was a tradition reserved to “Whites Only”.  Since 1994 however, it is a completely different picture altogether.  Now everyone have access and it’s the perfect way to spend time with the family.  I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on all three these days on the beach and had a whale of a time.  Families start arriving as early as 7 am to ensure they get a good spot.  Sleeping in is not an option – if you arrive any time after 11 you are guaranteed to not find a spot.  It is an experience and they make a day of it.  Some come with pre-made breakfast, lunch, snacks and (in most cases) even dinner.  Others opt for take-outs from the number of restaurants lined up along Beach Road.  Others yet, opt for gas braai’s (barbeques for my international readers).  In no time umbrellas, gazebo’s or even tents are set up and the kids dash off to the ocean while moms, aunts and grannies get settled for a long day of chatting.  Dads, uncles and oupas (grandfathers) set up tables with domino’s, cards or any variety of board games while the teenagers, not sure where they fit it, get stuck in their phones – listening to music while chatting via BBM, WhatsApp, Viber or what-have-you with the equally bored teenager sitting within spitting distance from him / her.  All around there is a sense of family, of togetherness.  Not a minute goes by without the sounding of laughter mixing with the song of a seagull or the crashing of waves.  As far as you go, people will smile and greet you, passing along season’s greetings and blessings for the new year.  Just in case someone decides to step out of line and bring alcohol along, the police officers tirelessly patrolling the shoreline is quick to confiscate the offending bottles.  Peace, joy, love, laughter – that’s what it’s about.  That, in case you were wondering was the yeah-moment – being among all these people, soaking up the sun and the feeling of it all, yet perfectly alone within my thoughts.

The nay-moment revolves around a very unfortunately mentality which have crept in became firmly settled amongst whites in SA.  I’m ashamed of it really.  I’m going out on a limb here and unfortunately a lot of my white friends may not like this next bit, but you know what, I don’t really care!  Whites in SA seem to be of the belief that it is no longer “safe” to go to the beaches on these days.  There are just too many of “them”, they say.  Excuse me?!  Here is just a quick reminder of Census 2011 statistics:

African (black) population – 79.2%

White population – 8.9%

Coloured population – 8.9%

Indian / Asian population – 2.5%

Other – 0,5%

Did you honestly think that you will have the beaches to yourselves for all eternity?  To white South Africans who choose to withhold this tradition from their children, I have one thing to say: WAKE UP!!!  We’ve just entered our 20th year since our first free democratic elections were held; it’s about time you get with the program.  I spent those days on the beach alone, one of about 10 white South Africans who chose to “brave” it and felt like part of the family.  I was in fact, offered lunch or snacks on no less than 3 occasions.  You’re not doing yourselves any favours.

 

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2 January 2014

Starting a trend here, but again my yeah- and nay-moment revolves around the same event.  Admittedly, I’ve not gone to the effort to check on holiday road death statistics for other countries, but the South African figures are tragic.  In May 2013 we came up as the worst out of 36 countries in a global road safety report.  For the period 1 December to 31 December 2013 a total of 1 184 lives were lost due to road accidents and many injured.  That is 1 184 family members, loved ones and friends who will never be seen again.  The reason attributed to pretty much all of these accidents? Tiredness, recklessness and drunken driving, quite frankly all human error, all due to ignorance to warnings or having a sense of being untouchable.  Not to mention the fact that holiday makers are only due to start making their way back home over the next couple of days and the amount is expected to escalate drastically.  Due to all these accidents, the South African Blood Transfusion Services are in desperate need of blood.  The Western Cape Blood Services set up their station on the beach front today and I did my bit.  Your blood can save the life of up to 3 people.  What if it is one of your loved ones in hospital, desperately waiting for blood?  Please take the time, it only takes around 30 minutes for the entire process and you get (very yummy) biscuits and fruit juice / water too!

I took a picture of me donating blood to post (here), but WordPress deems it to be illegal (?).  Sorry folks, no image for today 😦 (hey, maybe that can be my nay-moment instead)

Apart from my yeah- and nay-moments, I have had a pretty good start to the year.  I’m sun-kissed, happy and relaxed.  2014 promises to be a good one and I’ve had several confirmations from The Word in this regard:

Jeremiah 29:11

Psalm 37:34

Psalm 37:4

Philippians 4:13

Four promises from the Word in 2 days!  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will hold!

Later friends, Be Blessed!

Happy Birthday Madiba!

happy birthday

 

Today marks the 95th birthday of South Africa’s father of democracy.  Happy birthday Madiba!

Thank you for all the sacrifices you made to bring us where we are today!

Thank you for all your selfless acts, acts which brought democracy and unity to our country!

On this day I can’t help but think about the 27 birthdays you spent incarcerated.  I wonder how those birthdays were spent?  I wonder how you felt when you had your first birthday as a free man in a democratic country?  I wonder how many of us would have the strength to leave the bitterness behind and do all in our power to move the country forward, in unity?

Readers, here are my Top 5 Madiba Quotes

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Far From Home

Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home.

hennenman train

It’s really difficult being the perpetual traveler in your soul, but not ever having done anything about it.

I have never left South Africa, let alone the continent and there are so many places I would love to see.  Jacques and I are planning our first road trip to discover all the hidden secrets of South Africa, thereafter we plan to venture into Africa and next, conquer the world!  You have no ideal how my feet itch at the idea to take a back-pack and just head off in a direction.  There are only two things which would make me happier than that materializing!

For the sake of this post I am not counting moving house from Johannesburg to Cape Town, which would have been the longest trip I ever took.  When I think of travelling, two memories jump to mind.  I think it must also have been these which cultivated a wandering spirit in me.

hennenman to durban

Hennenman to Durban

 

When we were little, June school holidays meant one thing and one thing only – the long trip to Durban.  First we would spend 2 days preparing snacks and all sorts of finger foods.  The packing happened by magic (thanks Moekie!).  The next step was to get my great-grandfather on the train to Witbank for his annual 3 month retreat to warmer climates.  Finally, the early morning trip.  My gran would usually bundle us into the car at around 4 am.  With all the excitement, there was of course was no sign of sleep.  Every now and then my grand-father would stop to stretch his legs and we would tuck into the choice of snacks, topping it off with hot, sweet Rooibos tea.  Yummy!  My gran sure could bake up a storm!  Halfway there we would stop for a barrel Kentucky Fried Chicken.  At the time they gave it to you in this huge Styrofoam container – I miss those!  After about 6 and a half hours, which felt like an eternity, we would reach our destination and the holiday could begin: sun, sea, rickshaws and curry pineapple on a stick!

hennenman to johannesburg

Hennenman to Johannesburg

The second journey that comes to mind is a completely different one.  It’s the one where I left home at 18, leaving the dust of the Free State behind to start fresh in Johannesburg – the City of Gold, the city of opportunity and hope!  I traveled by train and thoroughly enjoyed the knowledge that every second the train moves gives me a bigger distance between where I’ve come from, bringing me closer to what I want to be.  I’ve loved train rides since that day.  It’s been far too long though and I should definitely make a plan some time soon!

This prompt have awakened an anew itch in my feet and it’s time for my travelling shoes to be dusted off, soon!

What other bloggers had to say:

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  3. Understanding dreams | flow of my soul
  4. Distance | The Magic Black Book
  5. Cagsawa, Springs, Mayon, and Our Other Home | Daily Prompt: Far from Home | likereadingontrains
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  7. Far away from home… | The Rider
  8. Distance | windandlaughter
  9. Not Very Far | downtownnokomis
  10. Nothing Is Farther Than Loneliness And Death | The Jittery Goat
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Mapped images from Google Maps

What happens when Madiba dies?

Today 18 years ago old President Nelson Mandela lifted the Word Cup trophy at Ellispark. It was a triumphant moment, not only in terms of rugby, but also as a symbol of how far we have come as a country in 5 short years.

Today, South Africa and the world wait with bated breath for news on our Madiba. He is spending his 17th night in hospital; his condition critical. It is time to let him go; he has done his job well and needs to rest.

The question on everyone’s lips: what will happen after he dies?

Everywhere you turn it is the topic of discussion. Everyone hopes that we, the rainbow nation, will be able to carry on his legacy. Everyone hopes that we will be able to honor his ideals and mourn his passing in peace. Sadly though, the underlying common thread is fear. There seems to be a general feeling that the country will fall into a state of chaos. It is feared that his supporters might revolt against government and against anyone who is not black.

My mind went back to the day of his release in 1990. Despite my best efforts I cannot remember the momentous day; I was only 13 at the time. So where does that leave me, my generation and our kids?

I had no part in apartheid. I grew up in a home where “the help” Saartjie and Kerneels were as much part of the family as I was. They were treated no different from a white person. They were not mistreated and called names. They were people just like me and you. Saartjie and Kerneels, to me, were just people being paid to do a job. I knew they lived in a different part of town. I knew they had schools in the area where they lived. As a child I was not really allowed to watch TV, so I never saw anything on the news. I suppose, in a way, I was much shielded from the atrocity that was apartheid.

Just before I went to high school, I asked Saartjie’s daughter, Selina, whether she will be going to the same high school as me. She laughed it off and I didn’t understand. It was around this time that my grandparents could no longer take care of us and I moved back to my mother. My mother shares the same sentiment as I grew up with, which is also the one that I am carrying over the Luke:

When we cut ourselves it is the same colour blood that runs through our veins, our hearts beat in the same way and our brains functions exactly the same. No one chooses to be born into a certain race and no one has the right to treat you different because you are white, coloured or black.

Sadly though, it is at this time that I also came to know about apartheid. Her husband at the time was a racist through and through. The hate he displayed towards anyone of a different colour was sickening. I remember Elias, he lived in a small room next to our garage – nothing really, just space for a bed and a cupboard with an outside toilet. Elias never complained and always greeted with the whitest and brightest smile I have ever seen. He had a roof over his head and had work, which meant he could send money to his family. Every Friday night Elias would step out, dressed in his best, freshly ironed shirt and left. I never knew where he went, but in my mind he was going to see his family. On Sundays Elias went to church and returned, bible in hand with a smile bigger and brighter than before he left. To me, Elias was just an honest, hard-working Christian man. My stepfather hated him with every fibre of his being. I could never understand why.

I think back now at the Mandela speeches I have read over time:

“I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”

“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

“The struggle for democracy has never been a matter pursued by one race, class, religious community or gender among South Africans. In honouring those who fought to see this day arrive, we honour the sons and daughters of all our people. We can count amongst them Africans, Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews – all of them united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this country.”

“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.”

“Take your guns, your knives and your pangas and throw them into sea. Let’s unite with peace in democracy”

So where does this leave us? Where does this leave my child?

We had no part in what happened. I don’t suffer from white guilt as it is called.

Yes, I agree that what happened was inhumane and wrong in every sense of the word.

Yes, I can see why the older people might still carry some resentment.

Yes, I know that we have a very long way to go to right all the wrongs and to live in a completely free and democratic country.

The quest for equality is one which leaves a huge responsibility on the shoulders of my generation. Whether you are black or white, you have the responsibility to teach your child that we are all one. Race, gender, religion – none of that matters. The mistakes of the past can never be made again.

Should I, too, then be living in fear to hear the news that Madiba has departed to the heavens? I refuse to do that.

The legacy of this great man needs to be carried forward into every tomorrow of South Africa.
I refuse to let the years Madiba spent on Robben Island be in vain. I refuse to be afraid because of the colour of my skin. I refuse to let Madiba’s vision for this beautiful country die.

Before I am white, I am South African! And that is something that I am prepared to die for.

Tata Madiba for Person of the Year

You’re asked to nominate someone for TIME’s Person of the Year. Who would it be, and why?

nelson mandela

I am completely flabbergasted at the fact that our beloved Madiba have never received an individual Person of the Year award!  In 1993 he was co-recipient as Peacemaker with Yassar Arafat, F.W. de Klerk and Yitzhak Rabin.  As far as I am concerned he should be knighted and receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for all that he has done.

In his lifetime he has endured a lot of pain and suffering, yet he stood up for the dust and came out triumphant.  There is a lot to be said about him and whether you love him or not (which I can’t see possible unless you are still stuck in a racist frame of mind) you have to agree that he has been instrumental in turning this country around.

I still remember his release and the first democratic elections.  I grew up not knowing about the atrocities of apartheid, until my stepfather came along.  My grandparents loved “the help” and treated them like family.  My stepfather on the other hand was a racist through and through.  We were dragged along to AWB meetings and Kommando camps.  I think it is out of sheer defiance of his views that I actively decided to not be racist.  At the first democratic elections I was too young to vote and remember how disappointed I was that I could not vote for him.   When he lifted the 1995 World Cup I don’t know whether I cried because we had won or if it was because he had the honor to be there.

Mandela-pienaar

Our Madiba is not doing well and, I am sorry to say, I don’t see him making it through this year.  I wish he could live on forever, but it is time to let him go.  He is not a relic that we can hang onto.

It is a sad thing that his family is desecrating his legacy by bickering and in-fighting over who should have the rights to artwork, etc.  What a shame.  Unfortunately they have become so aware of the fame that goes with the name, that they have forgotten his work and what he stood for.

It is time for the nation to reflect on what Madiba had in mind for us.  I shudder to think what his thoughts are on where the nation is now.

Make Madiba Person of the Year before it is too late.  Give him the honor while he is still around so he may see the fruit of his work.  South Africa, let’s remember what he had in mind for the country and live towards those ideals.

Hamba Kakuhle Madiba.  Ndiyabulela!

I made Chippa cry

Remember the young taxi guard who made me cry?

His name is Chippa. I asked around and found the reason why he spoke Afrikaans so beautifully. For some obscure reason the poor man stutters incredibly when he speaks his mother tongue, Xhosa. When he turns to Afrikaans however, the stutter disappears completely! How astonishing is that?!

I am taking my Xhosa learning serious and already have Michael (my morning taxi driver), Cornelius (security guard at work) and Patrick (cigarette, fruit and vegetables vendor) in on the act.

I ran into Chippa again on my way home today. It must have been very comical for anyone who walked us. This is how the conversation went:

Chippa – face lit up with a huge smile – in Afrikaans: “Good afternoon lady!”

Me – in my newly acquired Xhosa skills: “Molo buti! Unjani?” (Hello, how are you?)

Chippa – blank expression, turning to confusion – still in Afrkaans: “You really started to learn!”.

Me – “Ewe!”

Then turning to Xhosa, testing me, he says “Ndipilile enkosi! Wena unjani?” (I am fine thank you. How are you?)

“Nam ndipilile enkosi!”. (I’m fine too, thank you!)

At this point we both started laughing, realizing how it must look: – a busy taxi rank on a Friday afternoon; white girl speaking Xhosa and black guy speaking Afrikaans! Other Xhosa speakers were questioning him about me speaking Xhosa, several of them patting me on the back. I have not felt that much unity between people in a very, very long time!

The taxi was ready to go and we didn’t have more time to talk. Throughout the ride I could see him looking at me from time to time. When I got out I greeted him with “Ndiyabulela! Hamba Kakuhle!” (thank you, go well!)

Chippa put his hand on my shoulder, tears glistening in his eyes “Thank you Momma!”

We have a lot to learn yet in South Africa. Small acts can forge friendships. Reach out to the people you see daily. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone wants to be heard.

There is hope for South Africa yet!

On being hugged by a black guy

South Africa, the country of my birth. The only country, in fact, I have ever known. I have always been proudly South African; I love this place, truly, deeply and passionately. Sure it has it’s problems, but then again, as does all countries, hey?

Our land is filled with a multitude of races, religions, cultures and languages. We don’t have only “Africans” and “Caucasians”. We have Blacks, Whites and Colored natives. We also have Indians, Asians, and many more – we embrace them all. It is the multitude of languages (we have 11 National Languages), however that reduced me to tears this afternoon. Language and shame left me standing there at the side of the road next to a taxi with a young black chap embracing me.

Let me start at the beginning.

When I got to the taxi rank this afternoon, this young black guy, about 25 years old, was obviously upset and very animated in the way he expressed himself. This young man was the guard of one of the taxis. In case you don’t know, the taxis operate with a driver and a guard. The guard’s job is to collect fares and direct the driver to where he needs to stop. None of the taxis were prepared to drive out to the Bay for 4 passengers, as it already was too late. What upset him was the fact that they (the driver and him) were prepared to go, but they had to wait their turn. I was listening to him venting his frustration, in Afrikaans, at the rank master. After about 10 minutes of this (in which time 4 taxis had been loaded and left) the rank master caved and allowed them to jump the queue.

We loaded the taxi with a mix of passengers for different areas, the Bay being the last stop. En route I continually caught myself listening to the way he spoke Afrikaans. His pronunciation of words and grammar was exquisite, to say the least. He had this beautiful way to make the words roll of this tongue. I decided to compliment him on it when I got off. As the ride continued, he kept talking, and it got me thinking about the many languages of our country. I felt ashamed. How “proudly South African” am I if I can’t speak any of the other languages, other than my mother tongue (Afrikaans) or English? I have never attempted even to learn and traditionally African language. Does that not make me a hypocrite then?

My stop was the last on their route. I got out and this is how the conversation went (only it was in Afrikaans):

Me: Excuse me, I know you are in a hurry, but there is something I want to say to you.
Young Guard: Yes Ma’am?
M: I have always said that I am a proud South African, but today you made me hang my head in shame.
Confusion and shock washed over his face. I started to speak and could feel the emotion well up in my throat (I am very connected to emotion and it does not take much to drive me to tears)
YG: I don’t understand Ma’am
M: You speak Afrikaans with such love, so clearly, yet it is not your mother tongue. (At this point the tears started rolling). I claim to be proudly South African, yet I have never even tried to learn your language.

That is how language reduced me to tears, it left me standing at the side of the road next to a taxi. The next moment this you guy embraced me, softly patting me on the back. His parting words to me:

“Don’t worry Ma’am. I appreciate your kind words. We have a long way to go in this country yet. You will learn my language, of that I have no doubt. The fact that you can not speak my mother’s tongue does not make you any less my sister.”

South Africa, motherland, I love you and all God’s people.

Goodnight everyone.