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"I can only tell you things that happened as I saw them, and what the rest was about only Africa knows." – Oom Schalk Lourens

The neighbours

Kensington Chronicles: Kate & ‘the nextdoors’ #6

I’d sneak into her garden by climbing over the low stone wall that separated our houses, then, using the Jasmine bush that flourished against the front of her house as a physical shield; I’d peer into the lounge window, my eyes barely making it to the glass, to catch a glimpse of my pal.  I mean, why just knock on the door when ‘walking to the neighbours’ could be turned into a game of espionage?

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Orange Grove Hill looking up towards Berea off Louis Botha Ave

A journey down Louis Botha

I’d roll by with my window down in anticipation of the familiar greeting “Hullo Mees Unives!”. With his winning smile and smooth talking, I have no doubt that in another life my friendly pedlar would have made not only a fabulous pageant judge but an excellent salesman in  a corporate conglomeration. In this life his office was the pavement and his clients were surly drivers on the way to somewhere.

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William Kentridge South African artist

A lament

Fireside stories. Warm, fuzzy—the kind of tale you want to use as a nice, comfy pillow when you drift into dreamland under a magical star infused sky. The reality is, though, that when talking about South Africa, about home, it’s not all warm and fuzzy—is it?

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Moving day

Thirteen years ago, we arrived in London with a suitcase each and have there since morphed into a family of seven with stuff to match. It’s LOL funny, when you don’t have to pack and carry it.

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Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding

There it was. Delicious, spongy, oozy, drippy, squidgy Malva Pudding. And then it was gone. Obliterated. Not by an army of South Africans ‘after the braai’ but by one wily 20-year-old.

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Chappies South African sweet

Kensington Chronicles #4: chasing Max, the Mielie Lady & sweets from Spar

We’d head towards Jeppe Boys; turn right into Good Hope, left into Roberts and then carry on straight down the main road, past the Marymount Hospital on Albemarle Street, where Roberts Avenue becomes Commissioner trailing into Joburg CBD – deep in conversation, constructing our respective shopping lists, with the occasional whack or shove to keep the expedition alive – until we saw the fizzer-pink elephant trumpeting outside the Jumbo Liquor store that neighboured the Spar shop…

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Bronze statue in Marseilles

The immigrant’s void

Often, I have to fight the feeling that I am passing on to my children a vague silhouette, an inkling, a ghost, of something that shaped me, that is important to me, that lives in me but is not really real, anymore. And yet I need it to be real. I need to remember…

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