Today, we celebrate Heritage Day in South Africa. It’s a day to both honour the rich cultural diversity of our nation, and to consider and celebrate the family and societal influences that have shaped us as individuals.
Many of my fellow South Africans speak of it as “Braai-Day”, a braai (or barbeque) being a common culinary event in our warm, outdoor lifestyle, and a big part of our shared cultural heritage (a township style braai is called a shisanyama, the word literally meaning ‘hot meat’).
But I chose to make today about more than just ‘pap, chops and wors’. I used it as a time for reflection. I looked backwards at the heritage passed down to me as a child of immigrants from the Netherlands. I also looked forwards, reflecting on the heritage I hope to leave my children and grandchildren. Then I dreamed bigger still, and envisioned the legacy I hope we South Africans can collectively leave to the generations that follow us.
In the last month I’ve listened to two sermons where the minister said, “I’m a recovering racist.”
The words were followed by an almost palpable, collective intake of breath. A small shock charge seemed to run through the congregation. I felt it in myself—a slight internal cringing. Should you be saying that? Here? In South Africa? In 2017? Two white ministers. One nearing retirement. One a young father. Both confessing a struggle with racism. Continue reading
Everything conspires against my calling myself an African.
To begin with I am White when the very word ‘African’ implies Black. Even Americans who have added the word African to their identity, seem to have a greater claim on the continent of my birth than I do. To complicate matters, I am the child of European immigrants, always suspended between two cultures and two continents, never fully belonging to either. Continue reading
“Are you going to emigrate?”
This is the question on everyone’s lips since we returned from our trip to Australia and New Zealand. It’s a valid enough enquiry, given the statistics showing that over a million South Africans have done just that.
It is also one laden with emotion. Emigration divides families and friends physically, but in many ways, also emotionally. There’s a sense that the pioneers taking the plunge are ‘braver’ or ‘wiser’ than those that stay behind. For me, the most difficult emotion I wrestle with is the idea that I am doing my children a disservice by choosing to stay in South Africa. Continue reading
There was a time when quoting Nelson Mandela could lead to a prison sentence. Under the Apartheid regime, the quoting of banned or imprisoned people was a criminal offense. Yet today, Mandela is one of the most quoted people in the world. His words are wise, compassionate and often funny. Reading them, one gets a sense of his respect for all people, his humility and his deep love for South Africa.
So today—as our beloved Madiba faces the last great hurdle of his life—I want to share just some of his words of inspiration and insight, maybe even a warning or two. His words, just as his life, are a legacy to us all. Continue reading
In March I went on a Christian Writer’s Conference hosted by A Rocha and MAI. It was a turning point for me as a writer as I came to realize that, in God’s hands, my writing can be a tool to reach others with His message of love and salvation. This was where I heard about MAI’s writing contest with the theme “Blogging for Global Impact.” There were several question prompts to kick off your 300 word entry, one of which was “Why is it important that more Christian authors in your country write and get published?”
This is my entry called “South Africa’s Big Five.” Continue reading