Saturday, 25 February 2012

"If there is something inside us that we don't know about, such as hidden resources, unsuspected guts and cunning, or nobility of spirit in the face of sorrow and pain, it will come out if we are confronted by the unknown while we are alone, without friends, without familiar boundaries, without support." Florinda Donner, The witch's dream

It has been a while since I posted an entry. I must be honest, these last few weeks have not been easy. My friend Cristina and my goddaughter Angelina had to return to Cape Town as she lost her job at WETA due to money and work shortages.
I heard somewhere that moving countries has equivalent psychological trauma to getting a divorce, and in these last two weeks I can really vouch for the relevance of such a seemingly bizarre statement.

After my loved ones left, I most definitely felt a void; loneliness and a longing for the sweet smell of Namibian rain, my mother's soothing words and encouragement, the bustle of Cape Town streets, my position at Ecole Francaise du Cap in which I felt successful, proud and happy and most importantly, loved ones at the end of a phone line or street, happily ready for a tea and a chat.

Perhaps I am crossing a line here, but it is true enough in my personal experience and thus I feel it deserves a space in this blog... I miss Africans.
I miss Constantia, our beautiful help back home in Namibia whose quiet and loving demeanor never fails to help me put things into perspective. She has always been a constant throughout my childhood, patiently and lovingly soothing our home atmosphere and attracting me like a magnet to her presence. She is still working for my mum and I have known her for as long as I can remember.

As a young school girl, I was always in the minority when it came to colour. When I think back to it now, my schools were palettes as colourful as can be, ranging from charcoal, clay, loam, dust and lastly, chalk. My African friends felt connected to the land and had a groundedness and realness that I realise now is difficult to find in people. I was very naive when it came to colour and was quite shocked and thrown off when I went to South Africa to study and realised that different colour groups were divided and formed cliques that were hard to penetrate unless you were the right shade of caramel, chocolate or cream.
Here in New Zealand the predominant colours are green and white (in that order.) The land most certainly dominates. There are also (almost) only white people.
Russell told me that shockingly enough, New Zealand was very hesitant to let anyone other than white people enter its borders until the 1970's, when it introduced its non-racist immigration policy where right of residence became based on questions of skills and qualifications, not ethnicity or national origin. This explains a lot in the sense of the pale population.

I know that this must sound strange, but the Africans of all shades that I grew up with felt like fire, earth, endurance, hardship and courage and with a twinkle in their eyes they went about life in their way. British people (and I realised recently that the majority of kiwis are ex-British immigrants) feel very different. Perhaps it is just my background that makes me susceptible to the slightly uncomfortable feeling in my belly when I interact with a society that is insular, distant, coldly efficient and in my opinion, even unintentionally arrogant for their rich heritage, privilege and history.

I do not mean for the above to convey a message of negativity and regret; to the contrary, I feel for the first time, more sober when contemplating my roots and feel a true appreciation for my childhood. We chose New Zealand for so many reasons and I still feel in my heart that it was the right decision. This time of trial and transition I am meeting with fierce persistence and effort and am attempting to achieve the eternal patience of my beloved Constantia. Besides, I know for a fact that one can never tar an entire nation with the same brush (ha ha, no pun intended!) There are countless human gems out there; this I know for a fact. I just need to be patient for things to fall into place.
It is such an interesting exercise when you become the warmth, encouragement and strength that you so crave from the outside, for yourself. It reminds of the quote I typed at the top of this post.

Anyways...I am not quite sure where all that ramble came from. Let me now tell you of the beautiful adventure Russell and I had last week. We went to the South Island by ferry. Our brave little Dorothy drove us down the West coast on impossibly windy passes through dense forests, to the little town of Nelson, where we backpacked for three nights.

I shan't say too much of the beauty we experienced and how healing it was to both of us to venture into nature and get perspective on things again, but will rather let the pictures tell the story:

 Tiny, round finned Hector dolphins. Very rare and endangered, this is the only place in the world where they can be found:

 My dearest Riley, how would you like to live THERE?! :)




  2. Those houses are in an awesome location aren't they?! I must say, I have fallen in love with the South island properly. It is true paradise. We'll most definitely do a proper South island road trip when you guys come. :)