Posted tagged ‘South Africa’

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”

October 12, 2017

My friends have left, and my house is ever so quiet. As always we had the best time together. On Tuesday we had a ride along the ocean, and I took them to my favorite spots. The sun was glinting off the water. It was so warm people sat on beach chairs in the sand sunning themselves. It was a summer day in fall.

We ate appetizers on the deck. The birds had found the filled feeders, and they flew back and forth from feeders to branches. Most of them were chickadees.

Peg had brought dinner, shrimp pesto. She had also brought vegetables, a cheese log dip, crackers, some fruit and dessert. The brownies had chocolate chips, and there was a thick fudge sauce to put on them adding to the chocolate overload though I would contend there is really no such thing as a chocolate overload. I am just using the term to give a vivid picture of how wonderful dessert was. Gracie was restless that night. At 1:30 she wanted food so I fed her and I had a brownie. Afterwards, we were both quite content.

Bill is a talented furniture maker and handyman. He did some repairs in the house, a few of which have been driving me crazy. Some of the fixes include the toilet upstairs which now flushes, the toilet holder downstairs again secure on the wall, my old curio cabinet repaired and my front storm shutting automatically.

Bill and Peg brought gifts. One was a wooden Red Sox peg board. Another was a framed silhouette of a boxer. There was homemade grape jelly and African coffee. The dip was in a pottery bowl and the bowl was also a gift. I can’t think there are better guests than Bill and Peg.

Last night we had dinner at Karoo’s, a South African restaurant. It is one of my favorite places. Bill and Peg had been there before and requested it for this trip. I had monkey ribs and beef samosas for appetizers. The drink I ordered, the speciality of the night, was amazingly refreshing with vodka, grapefruit juice and a simple syrup. My dinner was bobotie beef, a curried meatloaf served with turmeric rice and chutney. Bill and Peg both had West African peanut soup with pumpkin added though in Ghana it would have been groundnut soup. Peg had a falafel sandwich. All of us had come to love Lebanese food in Ghana, and we ate many felafel sandwiches, all wrapped in foil.

This morning was leisurely. Sadly, at close to eleven, Peg and Bill started loading up to go home. Gracie and I went outside to say goodbye. My house feels empty without them.

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“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

December 6, 2013

The phone woke me up close to eleven. I just let it ring. It was a telemarketer who left no message, an assumption on my part but I think I’m right. I heard it all, including the click of the receiver, as I didn’t even bother to move to answer the phone. (I’m going to complain a bit here so skip down to line 9 if you want to miss the groaning.) My back is horrific every morning. I wake up, crawl my way to the edge of the bed and wait until the stiffness goes away. Mornings bring the worst of the pain. I wait, patient and still, until I can move without the neighbors hearing me scream. Gracie looks up, sees me sitting, decides all is well and lies right back down on the bed. Fern meows, turns on her back and expects scratches and pats: so much for their sympathy. Meanwhile, I am Igor working my way to the bathroom. As I move around, my back starts to feel better but the pain stays all day, just a bit abated. Monday I’ll give the doctor a call though I’m not sure which one-I guess the surgeon. I call them my stable of doctors.

(Line 9 for those skippers among you) Today is another rainy, dreary day, but I don’t mind a day like today in winter. Summer, though, is far different. I always think I’ve been cheated if a summer day isn’t perfect, but my standards are much lower for winter when a day can be anything. If I assumed for a moment the guise of Pollyanna and played her Glad Game, I’d say, “I’m glad it’s raining. At least it’s not snowing.” That almost makes me gag. I think I’m long past my Pollyanna days.

When I was sixteen, my family dragged me to Maine for a few days. We were at a friend’s cottage. One of the neighbors came in to say hello. She was from South Africa. I was intrigued and a bit jealous and told her Africa was one of the places I’d most like to visit. She asked if I was talking about colored Africa. Seriously, I missed entirely what she meant. It wasn’t naivety. It was just I hadn’t ever heard that term before. Into my head popped green tropical forests, cloths of patterns and colors and fruit: yellow, red, green fruit. I told her yes. She explained that my life would be in danger, and I would be a target, a white target. I started to argue because I then understood what she meant by colored Africa. My mother put a stop to my rantings and shooed me outside.

When I was in Ghana, we were told we could anywhere except South Africa. No one needed to explain why. South Africa was apartheid, and Peace Corps espouses the opposite. In all its literature, Peace Corps calls the commitment a cross-cultural experience, but it is so much more. For most of us, Ghana became home. We absorbed all we could and became part of the whole landscape of Ghana: its customs and its people, the wonderful colored people of Ghana.

Nelson Mandela guided South Africa from apartheid to multi-racial democracy. He served 27 years in prison and turned this imprisonment into a tool to create political change and national liberty. In 1993, Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy.

On December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. President Zuma released a statement later that day, in which he spoke to Mandela’s legacy: “Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society … in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.”