Tag Archives: South Africa

Road Tripping: The Seven Essentials

The road to Witsand, Northern Cape (© Briony Chisholm)

The road to Witsand, Northern Cape (© Briony Chisholm)

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X Marks The Spot

There couldn’t be a more electric time to be in this country than right now, today. It is, pretty much, the best place to be. In the whole wide world. And I seriousy feel like that. You see, it’s Election Day. And I absolutely love Elections. Even more than chocolate biscuits.

I’m of the fortunate generation in this country who are ‘post-apartheid’. Yes, I was here for it, and was surprisingly aware of it, considering my age at the time, but I turned 15 in 1990, the year they released Mandela and unbanned the ANC (on my 15th birthday, actually – how auspicious), and was able to vote in the first democratic elections of this country (1994). Along with hundreds of thousands of other South Africans, it was the first time I voted too. Auspicious indeed, and I felt (and still do) incredibly privileged to have been able to do so. Standing in that queue for hours, snaking down our small university town street to the Great Hall was electrifying. And getting the ballot paper with Nelson Mandela’s name and picture on it… Inexplicable.

And, yes, these elections are the most important since. I guess that’s the nature of elections – each one has a glimmer of hope – that we have the power to change what hasn’t being going right, to show the politicians where they stand, to vote out the corrupt and vote in the less-corrupt. I’m under no illusion when it comes to politicians.

The rosy glow of Mandela’s term has faded. His legacy lives still, though, a warm heartbeat from deep within this country’s soul, despite him not being with us anymore. There have been scandals, our current president has done things that defy description in their horrendousness, but we hope this’ll be a wake-up call (again, I’m under no illusion as to what the results will be, from today’s election). If we don’t put our faith in that, we may as well pack up and leave.

Essentially though, this country is ours. We have the ability to vote in a decent opposition. We have the power to change things ourselves. We need to stop sitting back and blaming the ‘powers that be’. Oh, there are so many tangents I could go off on here but I must put on some sun cream and amble down to vote.

I just needed to get it out there that, right now, in this amazing country, I couldn’t be prouder, or more excited to go and make my X. My tummy is positively burbling with glee.

Tannie Anna And The Wheat Fields

I received a letter on Stalkbook, from a friend from ‘varsity days, someone I’ve had no contact with for… ahem… years. It was a sweet, encouraging, letter and it was just what I needed to boot me up the arse and get me back onto this blog. I’m cheating a bit, and using some old writing, but I’m here. This is from a weekend trip I did with one of my best friends, a while ago:

I loved the window in the bedroom. It was tall and thin, like everybody in my family. Outside the window, which had shutters on the inside, was a white wall with the tendrils of a new, growing creeper peaking up and the branches of a big tree above in which birds tweeted.

That’s all we woke up to, the birds tweeting and the wind howling through the enormous eucalyptus trees in the garden. I could’ve sworn I heard Tannie Anna’s voice too, singing, carried on the wind, notes from her red guitar dancing like leaves on the wind’s breath.

We’d met Tannie Anna outside the Spaza shop when we drove into the town on Saturday. The golden wheat fields spat us out into a tiny town with a good feeling. It was like coming across a kindred spirit. There are fifty houses there, the Spaza shop, a bottle store (synonymous with Small Town South Africa) and a tiny restaurant. If you need petrol, you have to go 20km down the road to find it.

Tannie Anna and her husband are a tiny, wizened pair. They could be 40-years old, or 60. The cheap wine that they sell at the bottle store – in a plastic bottle resembling those containing vinegar – has turned their skin wrinkled and their eyes rheumy. She carries a red guitar that makes her look even smaller. As we stop the car, she comes up to it. The pair launch into an old Afrikaans folk song, their voices thin, but her strumming beautiful.

That evening I watched dusk come over while I read my book with a glass of wine outside on the stoep and G watched rugby upstairs in the bar with some locals. After the match they joined me, pulling me from my book.

What can be better than a Blue Sky Saturday trip on an open road that stretches as far as your eye can see?