More than nostalgia and the sweet ache that comes with remembering. It’s the blatant lack—snowflakes in place of scorching sun, sparse winter trees instead of rocks and dry scrub, and the peripheral murmur of medieval architecture rather than crickets, barking dogs and hum of traffic along Roberts Avenue. It’s like looking at a strange copy of home through the lens of another life.Read more
"I can only tell you things that happened as I saw them, and what the rest was about only Africa knows." – Oom Schalk Lourens
We built a guillotine. And thus was born “the guillotine party” in celebration of the French Revolution. Vive la France, Vive la liberté. But as Dickens said, it was the best and worst of times…Madame had her own Reign of Terror in sunny South Africa.
We were visiting my grandpa Ray at his plot in Ashburton, Natal. And it was raining worms—thousands. No, millions. Look down and a worm could drop on your head, look up and you’d burst a bunch underfoot. I’m from Joburg, the suburbs—we have parktown prawns but mopane rain…jislaaik.
Linah and her husband Phineas lived with us all those years. My black mama and pop. Sick children who had to be taken to hospital in the middle of the night… there I was, in my pyjamas; Phineas driving my car whilst I looked after the child who was ill, and Lina staying with the other one at home. That was our normal.
My school adventures began with a mega satchel, army green with reflective orange lights on the front straps, which spanned the breadth of my shoulders; I was ready for battle and also likely to topple over if a strong enough gust of wind took me by surprise.
My dad took me to the principal’s office, which smelled of leather and wood, and introduced me to Mr Frank Braun; a man of huge physical stature whose mere presence demanded respect. It turned out they were acquainted from when dad had been a South African boxing champion and Frank Braun had been head of the South African Amateur Boxing Association, as well as president of the South African National Olympic Committee.Read more
So Miss Priss proceeds to regale about Buckingham Palace and patronises the kids with babyish questions, like “Do you know who lives here?” Sick of being treated like morons from darkest Africa, the Saheti kids decide to take the guide for a ride: “Yes! This is BECKingham Palace and David Beckham lives here”. And of course everyone finds this quite funny except for the horrified Miss Priss…
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?
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.
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.