Wednesday, July 20, 2005


African SunsetI feel a little melancholy today and seem to running low on quick, witty comebacks.

Maybe it's because the sun is shining outside and I'm stuck inside an office (although I happen to know for a fact that even though it looks nice & warm outside, it is probably only around 16 degrees out there... Oh well, warm enough for just a t-shirt, anyway!).

Or maybe it's because I'm running low on caffeine (highly unlikely since I'm on my third cup and I've only been awake for 3 hours).

More likely, it is because I'm bored and homesick - a lethal combination that has me seriously wondering just what it would take to get a flight home today. I was listening to the song Africa (by Toto... ) on my headphones on the way to work this morning, and as always it made me think of home, almost as much as listening to my Juluka/Savuka* collection does.

They (those mysterious, anonymous, beings who seem to know everything... hm, maybe they're the ones who founded Google?!) say you don't appreciate properly what you have until you don't have it anymore. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"; "The grass isn't always greener on the other side", etc, etc. Well I have to agree.

Now, I know there are people who live in SA who would tell me how bad things are there - Crime is rampant; The cost of living is astronomical; There are no jobs out there; What is there to come back to? etc.
What they don't understand is just how much of a trade-off it is and what has to be sacrified in favour of a lower crime rate, better salaries and a bigger selection of jobs on offer.
From what I've seen, most South Africans can stand to be away for 3 1/2 years and then the need to go home becomes almost unbearable.

Why? I can only give you my own thoughts on that:

I miss the way the sky looks bigger there and I miss the startling blueness of it and the dazzling brightness; here the light always seem slightly muted.
I miss the spectacular multi-coloured sunsets; they make the soft pale pink-and-blue evening skies here seem so bland.
I miss the dusty, earthy smell of Africa; here it is all exhaust fumes, stagnant water, sewers and stale cigarette smoke.
I miss the rhythm of the place. If you don't know what I mean, listen to the music of Juluka/Savuka...or Toto's Africa :-)... Or maybe it is something you only realise is there once you've been away for a while.
I miss the wildness of the country - the pounding surf, craggy mountains and thick, thorny bushveld; the rolling green hills of Ireland just don't compare.
And I miss the people, not just my family and friends, but my people; people who grew up where I grew up, who think the same way as I do and understand me because of it and speak the same language. I miss being able to use words like "lekker" and "dof"** in everyday conversation.
Over here, we 'Saffas' have a reputation for not having a sense of humour - we're considered very serious people. Personally, I think we have a great sense of humour, but it is quite subtle and very localised, so 'non-Saffas' just don't get it most the time!

So to all of you back home, try to appreciate what you have, okay? And the next time you look up at a starry night sky, take a moment to think of me and see if you can spot the Southern Cross - 'cos I can't see it from here.

*Juluka and Savuka are South African bands formed by Johnny Clegg, a Brit who grew up in South Africa and as far as I'm concerned he is as South African as if he were born there.

** Meaning 'good' and 'dim' respectively, but really, some Afrikaans words lose a lot in translation.


DelBoy said...

Eish. Aggenee.

What's the matter bokkie? Are you moeg of living overseas already or is PE soeking you? Ireland is such a lekker place to visit even if it's a little bit cold sometimes. But don't worry man, now now it will be time for a jol back in SA for a lekker braai and a couple of Castles or a bottle of Tassies.

PS: Johnny Clegg played over here in London while I was in Spain!! Now that's kak!


LiVEwiRe said...

I'm not sure how you've made it so far from SA but it sounds as if your connection is still strong. Even when things aren't ideal there, our home will always be just that... home.

chitty said...

Terri, hang in there babe. All those great thing you talk about will be here when you get back. We may have our fair share of heart-ache and discontent, but So Africans still live a relatively good life.
Ons Saffas het 'n sense of humour... ons gebuik dit sparingly and save dit net vir mense wat ons regtig like.

kyknoord said...

I have quite a few friends in the same boat as you. Commiserations and so forth. If it's any consolation, it's pouring with rain outside at the moment.

Terri said...

LOL! Thx for makin me laugh, ppl!

Del now that's what I'm talking about, Cuz!
Bummer 'bout Johnny Clegg - I had thoughts of going to see him myself but by the time I got to hear about it, flights for that weekend were a little pricey.

LiVEwIRe you're quite right. I carry my home with me in my heart & no-one can take that away from me.

Chitty: Thanks for the encouragement... but jy moenie jou language so op-mix nie!

KN: Your sympathy is touching. And yes, it is a consolation cos here, right now, the sun is shining... at least for the next 20 minutes or so! ;-)
But enjoy the rain, I believe you guys need it.

Underachiever said...

Hey, I can make up words too. Look! masfhf or almfslfjf, and the ever popular urhafinc,mamftjah(which means: fmasdfakjf)

Kidding, of course

Terrence:(I nickname, its annoying)

South Africa sounds great. One day, I'm going to visit that exotic continent, and I hope to enjoy it as much as you.

Your lekker friend,