Relocate to a new old place –
TV came late to South Africa, so when it arrived in 1975, I was enthralled – finally, we were in the 20th century. My mom and dad were the owners of a hardware store and amongst some of my father’s innovative ideas was to have a show and sell approach to TV. We had three of them lined up in our lounge and any customer who didn’t know which model they wanted to buy, would be invited into our home for one of the two hours that programs were broadcast. I of course knew that if I was going to buy a TV it would be a Dekka. Why you may ask? Well it was obvious to me; you see, the slogan was “I’m a Dekka Goggle Box Gazer” and for a short time, the TV came with a T-shirt. Need I say more?
I would watch anything and everything. But one of my fondest memories was sitting on the couch with my mother on a Saturday afternoon, eyes transfixed to the screen while costumed men wrestled with each other. It wasn’t about the sport; it was about spending time with her and watching her face go red as her body convulsed with girly giggles at the entertaining display of these brawny men. Every now and then she would shout out, “Bliksem hom,” just before a grown man climbed up the rope and jumped on top of the person who was writhing on the floor. Oh the pain he would pretend to be in. It was too much for me, and I would join my mother’s mirth. “Slaat hom,” I would add. For some reason, shouting at the TV with such gee-filled violence was always done in Afrikaans.
Having grown up in South Africa, my repatriation back is an easy move. When I see the familiar brightly beaded artefacts on the side of the road, I feel stimulated. When I hear the sonorous crashing of thunder and lightning flashes across the sky while the rain bangs down on the tar road, my heart sings. When I drive towards the orange sun setting in the distance, my soul knows its place in the world, and I find myself saying, “Hello my love. It’s good to see you again.”
Although, my homecoming is not as simple as you would think. I am an outsider. At home and yet not at home. A slightly lost creature. I left with Kwela music playing in the streets and I reappeared to Kwaito music playing on the radio. I departed “Joburg” –and returned to “Jozi” The roads have changed. The buildings have amassed in areas that once before were open. And even what was the most common brands are no longer common.
For a person like me, being a global citizen does not mean that I know where I am going, it just means that I can get misplaced in yet another way. But I do well with change. It is the mundane and everyday life that gets me stressed and I find this mix of old and new exhilarating.
I have a process for settling down in a new place. I go for strolls in supermarkets. I drive around getting to know what coffee shops are in the area. I notice all the comfort zones that are missing and then I look for the new ones that will fulfil me. I take a deep breath and remind myself that what was comfortable in the old life may not be comfortable in the new one. I mourn the loss and then I rejoice in the gain of my new situation.
This time, I know that gone are the days of selling TVs in my living room to strangers, yelling at grown men on tv screens and products being sold with provocative clothing, but I know that I will fit into my new way of life here. Old, new and boundaries loosened. I am looking forward to working with you, my South Africa.