“The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can rule them all.”
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016, Penguin Random House Canada)
The opening lines of of Trevor Noah’s memoir is a perfect introduction to the story of his childhood growing up in South Africa. The anecdotes told in this book reflect both his humour and the experience of so many South Africans during the time period described. An interesting read for both South Africans and non-South Africans alike.
What do you think of the introduction to Noah’s memoir? Would you continue reading?
This morning I picked up a new read to begin today – The Illegal by Lawrence Hill. I bought this book over the Christmas period last year and placed it on my TBR pile. It is my intention this year to read as many of the unread books lining my shelves as I can. My visits to the library therefore need to be limited – it is difficult not to turn in its direction as I pass the building while on my errands!
What was your first adult job?
My first job ever was when I was 18. I had just completed high school and was eagerly waiting to begin university in February (in South Africa the final exams for grade 12s finish near the end of November). My mom had heard that there were cashier jobs available at the OK Bazaars, a department store at that time. The store was the large one in Eloff street in the centre of Johannesburg. When I arrived, the hallway was filled with young hopefuls eager to begin work during the Christmas season. The resume which I gripped in my hand turned out to be unnecessary. The woman hiring came through the crowd and randomly picked out people as she passed. Luckily, I was one of them. My first job experience was a tiring one – I stood for 8 hours a day ringing up purchases during the busiest time of the year. My supervisor was happy with me as she kept me on for a month after Christmas to work for the Back to School purchases (the school year in South Africa begins in January). My experience working at the store where we used to shop was a positive one. Never again, however, did I work as a cashier.
What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
Growing up, I remember my mom cooking us porridge for breakfast. As we got older, she began buying Rice Krispies and Cornflakes. We did love these cereals but the best, for me, was Pronutro. Pronutro is a South African instant cereal that is maize-based. I loved eating the plain whole wheat one. I would mix in not only milk, but flavoured yogurt as well. This tasty cereal would fill me up until lunch time and keep me going until long after noon. Now that I live in Canada, I am unable to buy my favourite cereal from the supermarket. Every time I go to South Africa, however, I eat Pronutro for breakfast.
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?
The milder weather during the past week definitely made me smile – and many other people walking on the streets in the city. It is such a pleasure to leave my boots at home and walk hatless for a bit. I love that another winter is nearly over, and that the birds are chirping early in the mornings.
The Gold Reef City theme park in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been modelled on the structures of a Johannesburg long gone. Riding the train around the park, I took this photo from my seat. The time period seems magical and as you stroll around the re-invented streets, you can almost imagine what it would have been like living there decades ago.
Do you enjoy strolling through the streets of a time long gone?
It was never my intention to migrate and leave the land of my birth. I had lived through the change in South Africa: through the tensions leading up to the release of Nelson Mandela; through the burning in the townships; through the mistrust among the various political parties. I had lived through the change – and had continued to live my life within the environment I had been born into.
And then something changed within my own life.
I married and had children. I became responsible not only for my own life, but also for the lives of the two girls I had brought into this world. I became protective of them and wished to give them the best that I possibly could. I had married a man who wished to do the best for his children as well. Our combined desire changed the path our own lives had been following. We talked about leaving the country in order to provide for our children in a safer environment; and even made an application. I knew the crime rate in South Africa was high. And yet, I had hope that things would improve for I wished to stay.
And then one evening in February we were startled by a discordant sound. The images flickering across the television screen were ignored as a group of young men appeared suddenly in our living room. My fear for my children overshadowed any thought as I cradled my daughter in my arms, hiding her eyes from the waving guns. To this day, I am thankful for the calm my husband exuded and the way in which he spoke to the volatile men. The end of the experience could have been a lot worse.
The next day, we made the final decision to move to another country.
While growing up there were not many raggae songs I listened to. There was one artist, though, whose songs I enjoyed: Eddie Grant. I remember singing (especially the chorus!) and dancing to the song I don’t wanna dance:
There was one song, however, that was not played over the airwaves in South Africa because of its lyrical content: Give me hope Joanna. The song refers to the Apartheid regime that was in place at that time in South Africa (Joanna being a reference to Johannesburg). I first heard the song when I was in Mauritius and we were dancing in the evening at the hotel. We had so much fun dancing to the rhythm and, of course, singing the chorus. What was ironic is that most of the guests at the hotel were South Africans – the very people that the government did not want to hear the song.
This Eddie Grant song holds many memories for me: the time spent with people I love in Mauritius, the fun we had dancing the nights away while we were there, the parties we had at home with family while singing and moving to this beat (of course we brought a copy of this song home).
My children were impressed by the toys the voortrekker children used to play with. The girls used to play with hand-made dolls (shown above) and the boys used to take the jaw bones and teeth of animals that had been killed and pretend they were wagons and oxen (shown below).
In the days of the voortrekkers, people used to use gunpowder in their guns. Hollowed out horns were used to store the gunpowder in. These were slung over the hunter’s shoulder.
Even the guns they used were a lot different from what we see today:
The one display case held an array of interesting objects. The wood was all hand carved and the objects looked more unique than those we find today. Here is a shaving kit used by the men:
Some embroidery samplers were laid out to show the women’s skill at sewing;
Each family would have a Bible from which they would read every night:
In the front of each Bible, the family tree would be inserted:
The writing implements they used to use were a quill and ink. It is amazing how beautiful the penmanship was:
Clothes during that time were handmade. Christening dresses were used more than once within a family:
Hats and personal items were uniquely embroidered:
The voortrekker women wore hats that protected their face and neck from the sun:
There was a display up showing us what the men and women wore during that time. My picture is a little fuzzy as the lighting in the basement is not very bright. The picture, however, does give you an idea of the clothes they wore. The ones pictured here would have been their Sunday best – the clothing they would have worn to go to church.
The men wore shoes (veldskoene) made from the hide of the animals they had killed for food.
On display was also a Zulu shield, assegai (spear) and animal hide that the warriors would use in battle.
We enjoyed strolling around in the basement and looking at these items. They helped to give us a sense of who the voortrekkers were. My children enjoyed their mini history lesson and came out of the monument asking many questions about the past.
(This post was created as a response to a comment made by Belinda at Busy Mind Thinking on one of my Voortrekker Monument posts. The weekly photo challenge at WordPress encouraged me to complete the post that had been sitting in my draft box.)
One of the things one has to do when visiting the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa is to climb to the top of the building. From the top, one looks down and is about to see the beautiful patterned floor.
They have recently installed a small elevator so that those who are unable to climb the steep, narrow stairs can still look down from high.
While at Gold Reef City (in Johannesburg, South Africa), we took the train ride that weaves between the sights created in the amusement park. My favourite view from inside the train was when we passed the buildings of a time gone by that had been restored.
Later on in the day we went to walk around the area we had caught a glimpse of.
Do you enjoy views from inside a train?
(This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: Inside)
When the Voortrekker’s (pilgrims) left the Cape in the 1830s for The Great Trek (journey), their mode of transport was the large wagon which was pulled by oxen.
These wagons became the homes of the men and women who were looking for land on which to settle.
The oxen were driven by the men over land that had never felt the rumbling of large wooden wheels.
The wagon was large and had plenty of space inside.
The women and children would ride in the back of the wagon that also carried their supplies and belongings.
My family and I had the opportunity to look at these wagons when we visited the Voortrekker Monument. It was interesting to see these lifelike displays of a moment in South African history.
These men and women travelled great distances using this mode of transport. It was not always easy: wheels broke as they traversed rocky land, and difficulties occurred as they crossed rivers and climbed mountains. Today, motorists can cross the same distance in cars using smooth highways and roads that have been carved into the landscape.
Would you have ventures out in these wagons?
(This post was inspired by Jake’s prompt: Transport)
I have come to learn that taking pictures of objects from different angles can give one a different perspective on what is being photographed. On a visit to Gold Reef City in Johannesburg, South Africa I took pictures of the exhibits that are littered aound the amusement park.
I was intrigued by the old steam engine that had been fixed up as a decoration. It reminds one of days gone by when trains were moved with steam and not electricity. I was pleased with the following picture I took highlighting a different perspective of this relic.
I took many pictures of the rides we took during our day at the park. My favourite is of the Ferris Wheel which had been done up in honour of South Africa hosting the World Cup for soccer that year.
Looking up at the big wheel was different to looking at the seats head on.
And nothing, of course, could equal the view that one sees when looking down from the top.
Since I began blogging and sharing my pictures in weekly photo challenges, I have started thinking about the photos I am taking. No longer do I just stand in front of an object and take what is in front of me. Instead I look at different ways in which I can capture what I am seeing.
Do you think of taking pictures from a different perspective?
(This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: Perspective)