I love travelling and all things strange. I’m adaptable to most situations (apart from sharing my shower with a spider!) and strangely enough I do like change. With that said I have posted a status a while back on Facebook on how lucky I felt to currently live in such a lovely country (the UK). After posting this status a so-called ‘friend’ lashed out at me by accusing me that I have ‘forgotten’ where I came from. They went on to say that there is nothing better than having a glass of red wine in the South African bush watching the sunset and basically that the fact that I chose to live in a different country makes me a traitor to my country.
Now that hurts. Intensely. Therefore, I would like to air my view on this as they promptly blocked me on Facebook (no loss there) before listening to my side of the story and I would like to share it with you today.
9 Years, 6 months and 18 days ago I came to a faraway city called London to use as a base to see Europe over the course of two years. I wanted to drink in every second of this extraordinary opportunity that I had and I did so with great enthusiasm.
Then life happened. I was offered a job (with a visa sponsorship) after a year of travelling and doing supply teaching to fund my travels. After much thought and deliberation, I took the job thinking it will be a short-term thing. For me, it just meant a couple of quid extra so I can experience a whole lot more. But life threw me a curveball: I met my future husband…
For obvious reasons, my two-year plan changed slightly. I stayed on in England and I went through hell and back to fill in visas, pay for solicitors, sitting English test after English test, doing the citizenship test and seeing my hard-earned cash depleting after each visa application. All in the name of love. I fought hard to keep my South African passport as I became a British Citizen.
I am South African, through and through. To tell me that I’m a traitor to my heritage is making a judgement based on your own opinion. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my heritage, that I don’t miss my family or that I don’t read in my language. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t tell people about my beautiful country and encourage them to go and visit it when they have a chance.
If you think I’ve forgotten my heritage I invite you to come and have a look in my kitchen cupboards: I have samp, maize rice, braaipap, braaisout, boerewors, biltong, droëwors and so much more that I use in my cooking every single day. I cannot imagine a day without Mrs Ball’s chutney!
If you think I’ve forgotten my heritage, why would I even bother with buying a potjie to introduce my friends to my culture. Or cooking Bobotie and Geelrys on a regular basis.
If you think I’ve forgotten my heritage, why would my husband know that Ghostpops is a sure-fire way to cheer me up after a nightmarish week.
Why when would I even bother trying to master the art of baking koeksisters?
I agree with you: sunsets in the South African Bushveld is hard to beat, but so is the smell of the first roses in spring, exploring the stunning Cornish coast during the summer, a walk along the Long Mile in Windsor in autumn and waking up to a snowy Christmas morning.
The thing is, I didn’t forget my heritage or where I come from. I’m embracing what I have now and intertwine my daily living with who I am and where I’ve been. I’ve had to overcome so many obstacles to keep my identity and I am so proud of who I am. Until my last breath I will continue to drink SA wine on any given opportunity, encourage my friends to try my banana salad, take my husband to explore my beautiful country once a year and most of all teach others that it is normal to have a braai in both rain and shine.
At the end of the day I may be a child out of Africa, but Africa will never leave her child’s heart.