Monday, September 23, 2013

"My South Africa...."

This was shared on Facebook today, I loved it.

Being away and hearing foreign news reports about home - it's easy to see why the world has such a distorted view and why people are wary.

But this is my home - and will always be my home and I share these sentiments and I wish more people knew the real heart of the people there who care deeply for their country and the welfare of all cultures who live there.

'My South Africa' by Prof Jonathan Jansen.
“My South Africa is the working-class man who called from the airport to return my wallet without a cent missing. It is the white woman who put all three of her domestic worker’s children through the same school that her own child attended. It is the politician in one of our rural provinces, Mpumalanga, who returned his salary to the government as a statement that standing with the poor had to be more than just a few words. It is the teacher who worked after school hours every day during the public sector strike to ensure her children did not miss out on learning.
My South Africa is the first-year university student in Bloemfontein who took all the gifts she received for her birthday and donated them – with the permission of the givers – to a home for children in an Aids village. It is the people hurt by racist acts who find it in their hearts to publicly forgive the perpetrators. It is the group of farmers in Paarl who started a top school for the children of farm workers to ensure they got the best education possible while their parents toiled in the vineyards. It is the farmer’s wife in Viljoenskroon who created an education and training centre for the wives of farm labourers so that they could gain the advanced skills required to operate accredited early-learning centers for their own and other children.
My South Africa is that little white boy at a decent school in the Eastern Cape who decided to teach the black boys in the community to play cricket, and to fit them all out with the togs required to play the gentelman’s game. It is the two black street children in Durban, caught on camera, who put their spare change in the condensed milk tin of a white beggar. It is the Johannesburg pastor who opened up his church as a place of shelter for illegal immigrants. It is the Afrikaner woman from Boksburg who nailed the white guy who shot and killed one of South Africa’s greatest freedom fighters outside his home.
My South Africa is the man who went to prison for 27 years and came out embracing his captors, thereby releasing them from their impending misery. It is the activist priest who dived into a crowd of angry people to rescue a woman from a sure necklacing. It is the former police chief who fell to his knees to wash the feet of Mamelodi women whose sons disappeared on his watch; it is the women who forgave him in his act of contrition. It is the Cape Town university psychologist who interviewed the ‘Prime Evil’ in Pretoria Centre and came away with emotional attachment, even empathy, for the human being who did such terrible things under apartheid.
My South Africa is the quiet, dignified, determined township mother from Langa who straightened her back during the years of oppression and decided that her struggle was to raise decent children, insist that they learn, and ensure that they not succumb to bitterness or defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It is the two young girls who walked 20kms to school everyday, even through their matric years, and passed well enough to be accepted into university studies. It is the student who takes on three jobs, during the evenings and on weekends, to find ways of paying for his university studies.
My South Africa is the teenager in a wheelchair who works in townships serving the poor. It is the pastor of a Kenilworth church whose parishioners were slaughtered, who visits the killers and asks them for forgiveness because he was a beneficiary of apartheid. It is the politician who resigns on conscientious grounds, giving up status and salary because of an objection in principle to a social policy of her political party. It is the young lawman who decides to dedicate his life to representing those who cannot afford to pay for legal services.
My South Africa is not the angry, corrupt, violent country whose deeds fill the front pages of newspapers and the lead-in items on the seven-o’-clock news. It is the South Africa often unseen, yet powered by the remarkable lives of ordinary people. It is the citizens who keep the country together through millions of acts of daily kindness.”

* * * * 
Yes, our people are warm-hearted, colourful, generous, compassionate and open-handed. 
I am proud to be South African.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Instant Recognition Factor

If one had to stick the outline of say, Australia, or the UK, onto a shirt, they would look like you spilled gravy on your clothing and tried to wipe it clean - probably...

But stick the outline of Africa onto a shirt and it's instantly recognisable. 

I have a story to back this up.  These are both mine and worn often. 
In this account I was wearing the one on the right with the colourful stripes.

Just the other day I was walking through the city wearing this shirt, and a black guy with a beautiful face, big smile and bright eyes was standing outside a restaurant handing out flyers to passers-by for the eating place.

As I approached him, he called out,  "Hey Africa!"  I smiled, waved and walked towards him.

Our conversation went like this:

Me:   "Hey, yes - Africa!  Best place ever!  Where are you from?"
Him:  "I'm from Ghana!"
Me:   "Oh! I loved your soccer team in the 2010 World Cup! When we were out, I supported Ghana!"
Him:  "Where are you from?"
Me:   "South Africa"
Him:  "Ahhhhhhh --- Bafana Bafana!"

We both laughed together, and I said ---- "Yes! Sometimes very good, sometimes very bad!"
He agreed.

I took the pamphlet, we said good bye and wished each other a good day.

It was just a precious minute or two in a day that left me smiling, feeling all warm and fuzzy.

* * * 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The "British Ladies Club"

I read Heathcote Safari's blogpost this morning and she pretty much stole my thunder  ;-)
A snippet is this, but read her whole thing - it's a great read.
"When we moved here, we could have decide d to do things ‘the ex-pat way’. It’s not necessarily completely straightforward, but it does make life easier … you send your kids to an English-speaking school, you go to an international church, you buy your food in Lidl and Aldi and when you want to go out, you go to hotels or restaurants where you know they speak English. Hey, I’m not knocking it; there’s something to be said for making yourself understood.
It’s just not what we want. The focus of our ministry here may not be local, but our lives surely are. Clearly, we’re never going to pass for Spaniards but we still want to be able to talk to our neighbours, to understand why things work the way they do, to shop and eat local food."
(Obviously nationalities are different to ours, but the heart intention is the same)

The 5c worth that I would like to add for me, is this. A few of the English speaking people I have met here have said to me that I must join the "British Ladies Club" as it will be a good way for me to make friends.

I know that these people have only good intentions for wanting me to fit in and be involved, and I am grateful for their enthusiasm. At the same time, anyone that knows me will know that any of those three words would be enough to make me break out in a rash - and the three together would have me running screaming into the hills.
  • British - I have nothing against Brits. Except their cricket team.... ;-)  So it's not the nationality.
  • Ladies - Never ever do "Ladies" things, ladies breakfasts, Ladies Meetings, Ladies Bible Study.... Ladies Gym even - big no, no for me. I don't know why, I just feel a bit like a man there!   :-)
  • Club - Usually, but not always, too exclusive. Look at each one on its own merit, but when combined with "Ladies" --- no.

If we were to join any group of people, which we would actually like to do, they must be local people or families, so that we can feel that we are doing everything we can to embrace our new home.

It's not always easy. Especially when you are always surrounded by conversations, at bus stops, in buses, in shopping queues, restaurants....everywhere, and you realise you don't have a flippin' clue what they are saying. Whereas back in SA, I would happily initiate conversations with perfect strangers in any of those places.  

So there are language challenges, but in a way they are good because it keeps the desire to learn the language, fresh.  So far I can pretty much:
  1. greet and thank
  2. ask for bags at the supermarket
  3. get tickets for the bus
  4. ask for a burger with cheese 
  5. and (drumroll) ask for red and white wine!  HAHA!  (and beer when it's really hot!)
We are just waiting to hear which language school comes recommended from My Mans employer and then we will begin evening school together.

* Disclaimer: 
This post is in no way meant to knock The British Ladies Club or those who are part of it. Each to their own! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Picking up the Signals

A couple of things we've noticed between last week and today:
  • There were lots more people on the bus to work this morning, (and wearing coats),
  • The heaters were on in the bus,
  • From the morning bus ride, I noticed that some of the trees had lost all their leaves over the weekend,
  • The forest around us is not the overwhelming green anymore, but rather beginning to look a little more golden in patches,
  • The leaves in our garden are beginning to turn  from the greens to red and orange.

I don't think we are anywhere near the winter that I am half excited / half terrified about, but today I definitely felt the signalling in of autumn, and am definitely looking forward to the colours that will emerge in this most beautiful season!