Hello! My name is Andrea. I am South African—sometimes proudly, sometimes embarrassingly (it was our president who washed AIDS off in the shower) but always unavoidably. I live in London. I’m a writer, a talker (observing—not my strong point), a bit of a bull-in-a-china-shop (mind the crockery, seriously) and a mom of five (F*I*V*E) very cool, albeit anglicised, children who flit between “ya” and “yeah” depending how long the school holiday has been. And right now, I’m on a mission.
I love to tell stories. Over and over. My poor husband and sisters-in-law will attest. And when my two younger brothers (also expats) and I are together we cry tears of laughter (literal hysterics) at the same freaken stuff—that time when the cat ate all the crabs that we fished out Rhodes Park lake in Kensington and when mom walked into the glass door and when I told Christopher a crocodile was chasing him in the river in Underberg and he cried (he really did)…
…I don’t even mean to start telling the stories; it sort of just happens.
And so I thought I’d write them down. For my children—as a sort of legacy. The more I wrote, the more I realised that this ‘thing’ or mission is bigger than me blabbing on about crabs and crocodiles. This is not merely me engorging on the past (although it totally is), this is about preserving a tradition that is integral to the fabric of the land that courses through my veins. Stories told around fires, in books and letters, around dinner tables, in cars…people’s lives—the little moments and the big ones. They all matter. They’re all part of a great tapestry that will unravel if no one weaves it together. It’s bigger because South Africans are scattered all over the globe, missing home – the soil, the sunset, the spirit, the people – but also not wanting to live at home. It’s a tough thing to navigate; for all South Africans, home or away.
I have chosen somewhere else, and yet South Africa is my childhood, my family, my heart and, yes, my home. I want my children to know her. I want to remember her. So, this is my mission. To preserve her stories. It might also be yours and if it is, I would love to hear from you.
Think of me as a collector.