Life Is Colourful
Recently, I was the guest speaker at the Benoni Pages & Wine event. While most people were interested in my story as a mother, or my family, or about adoption, one person stood up and asked the only question I had not been prepared for.
“While other people are running away from South Africa, how come you decided to run towards us?” he asked. I sat there for a moment a little fearful of my answer. I had not left South Africa because of South Africa. I had left because my nomadic genes had been switched on. My ancestors had been travellers. Movers of home and country. Traversers of deserts. Settlers in foreign lands. Mostly they moved for safety. Sometimes they moved for profit and I am sure there were a few odd ones who moved for love.
For me, it was the adventure of life that had called me. And so, when the adventure brought me to one of my loves, it did not take long to decide to come back to where I began.
“I know there are problems here but let’s face it, these days which country doesn’t have problems?” was my response. Relieved, I received a hand of applause.
I am loving living back in Africa. The other day we took a drive, and about 20 minutes away from our front door, we found ourselves in an area called The Cradle of Humankind. In the early 1900’s people found fossils of humans from before we understood ourselves as human. It was a huge find, but that’s not the point. The point is that along the way we drove past some monkeys, a few buck and a giraffe or two. I used to laugh when non-South Africans asked me if animals walked in the street. I’ve settled in the Highveld. It is an area that is about 1500m above sea level and is very dry and sunny. The grass is that golden-yellow colour that a lion can hide in nicely. I’m still waiting to see a lion walk down the street of Jo’burg, but the truth is that wildlife is very accessible.
Life takes on a distinct colour in this part of the world. On my recent trip to Eswatini, a man parked next to me at the border post. He got out of his car wearing traditional Swazi clothes, the brightly coloured red fabric tied over one shoulder, the other shoulder bare, a leather apron around his waist and an animal skin armband. He reached into his metallic-grey Mercedes Benz and grabbed his passport and smart-phone before joining me in the queue.
Things are definitely different for me here. These days, I feel that I am not juggling the work/home-life balance according to the accepted norm. I’m at work more than I am at home. But am I allowed to relish being overworked and blissfully overwhelmed? Is it bad that I am enjoying it? Am I permitted to say that I am happy? Who is happy these days, anyway? Surely I must be punished for being one of the rats that actually enjoys the race. In fact, I am loving what I am doing and who I am working with. It feels wonderful to be useful and to learn new skills and embark on new projects. So why did I come back here? I came back to live life.