I wrote this post as a note on Facebook exactly five years ago, 6 July 2010. I’m often ashamed when I read my past writings, but this isn’t one of those times. I’ve left it exactly as is. I’m not sure how much sense it will make to people who are not familiar with South Africa, but I decided to share it here in any case. I’ve hyperlinked some things for comprehension’s sake.
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The extravagant price-increases as brought on by the hosting of the FIFA World Cup recently necessitated a 12-hour road-trip to Cape Town, as opposed to the usual 90-minute flight.
A cold and dark 05:00 morning progressed just as we progressed through the land of memories.
Memories of debating trips – so many debating trips.
Here we debated.
Here we lost.
Here we won.
Here I learnt that the line between conviction and contradiction truly is a fine one.
On this road four of us shared one iPod with t.A.T.u.’s Malchik Gay blaring, egging us on to speak a battle; afraid of our beloved coach’s wrath.
Here a new team stood for hours at roadworks.
Here we bonded.
Along this way my family rushed to each other one tragic Spring morning. Oblivious to the fresh beauty around us, our hearts were black that day.
In this little town we sought the history of the orphaned child who would later become my father.
Here, my friends and I mused over the dusty beauty of Ms Martins’ artwork.
Here I rummaged through the ruins of Saint Matthew’s Mission, trying to understand the concept of Shades – both theirs and mine.
Past these dilapidated houses we drove one early morning to a karate competition. There I got my first gold.
Over this bridge walked my mother and her sister to school every morning.
Grandpa built that church’s roof.
Ouma worked in that hospital.
Here my parents met.
Here, Mom supported Dad while he earned his degree.
Here I was born.
In this settlement along the road I learnt what poverty meant. There too I learnt the value of community and service.
Here we travelled, my family and I. Here we quarrelled about the middle seat. This view we enjoyed.
This trail we walked. It was muddy and Dad who can’t see was in tow, but walk it we did.
On this field, battles took place.
Here, nature claimed lives.
Here, once, the last of a species walked.
As the landscape changed, the mountain came into sight.
Once I hated this mountain for being flat, for being an autocrat, for not being the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape.
But this mountain has consoled a broken heart.
At its foot arrived my ancestors, nearly 150 years ago.
Here the Call to prayer – virtually unheard where I come from – enabled my tears to come.
Here I have loved and here I have lost.
Here I have made memories and I have made friends – some for a lifetime, others merely for a while.
On a recent trip abroad I met amazing people. I saw beautiful scenery and experienced amazing things not found in South Africa. It was safer there. In many aspects, it was more efficient too.
But home is still on this little Southern tip of Africa. I pray that my country will remain safe for my people and for the generations to come.
Truly, this land is embedded in my soul. This is the place of my Shades.