The Lost Treasure of Storytelling

Women drinking tea

My Weekly Musings #13/2017

 

I am from the lucky generation who still grew up without a TV. Well almost. TV arrived in our town in South Africa in 1976, when I was in Grade 2. Or it might even had been a year earlier. I can’t remember. My dad didn’t buy one, “because they didn’t show the rugby”.  Actually that was his way of saying that he didn’t have the money to buy one. Not that I held it against him. We never had money, but we always had food, shelter and clothes. And love. We, television-less children had to gather at a house that had a TV every Tuesday at six to watch Haas Das and Heidi. I had to wait until my oupa sold his second-hand TV to my dad years later to have the privilege of staying at home to watch it alone.

I only realised much later in life that not having a television set in the house was actually much more of a privilege than having one. We ate together at the kitchen table, where we talked about our days and then listened to the aandgodsdiens (Bible message) and the ten minute story on the radio. And then we washed the dishes and we all retreated to our rooms to read.

Don’t get me wrong – I love technology to a point where I have to admit that I am addicted. I struggle with it and hope that when our living arrangements change in a year or so, that I will be able to be less dependable on social media and will thus use my phone in a more constructive and balanced way. But for now, I have to live with the addiction, because when you live abroad, that piece of electronics is your life-line to family and friends back home.

One thing that technology killed in our day, is the treasure of storytelling. It’s no shock anymore that when you go to restaurants, you find that people are there to work on their laptops. If they aren’t working, you find big or small groups sitting together, but conversing inwardly via their phones with other people than the ones they are physically with. The same thing happens when children visit each other. They ‘play’ with each other through phones and gaming equipment. Parents prop iPads and tablets into two year olds’ hands to keep them busy, instead of teaching them to play and use their imagination. We had become a strange lot.

When we grew up we still knew boredom. We had no entertainment at home or at school. If we wanted to be entertained, we had to do it ourselves. I came late into our family, so I didn’t really have siblings to play with. My dolls became my friends and all the trees in our garden had names. I could sit for hours in my tree and watch people in the neighbourhood go by – without them spotting me. I loved it. I even packed rations to spend afternoons in my tree. I also made a ‘saddle’ for my tree trunk ‘horse’, because otherwise my bum got numb. And I always had a kettie (slingshot) with me, because the Sering tree (I don’t believe the word I found in English is the correct one) provided me with green, round, hard seeds as ammo. (As the only young girl living in the street I learned to be prepared at all times.)

In that tree I dreamed up stories by the hundreds. My mother was the busy sort, so I don’t remember her ever telling or reading me a story. But there was a lot of storytelling around me – not as much as I wanted it to be, but nevertheless. I went to the farm on some Tuesday nights with my grandparents, where my grandfather, grandmother and uncle played cards. Nothing fancy – just boring Rummy. But they played while drinking very, very strong coffee. I drank with and was always sorry afterwards when my stomach cramped. But I loved it, because I loved sitting there, listening to the old people talking.

My brother, Willa, was the first one to read me stories. He read to me from the Bible and he preached to me and my dolls after school in the sitting room. I loved listening to him and the stories he told me. I think I became a Believer because of him. He practiced so well, he became a pastor in real life.

My Grade One teacher, Juffrou Ieta Boshoff, was another first of the great story tellers in my life. She had the most soothing voice and some out-of-this-world stories. She would let us lie down on the carpet in the classroom and tell us a story. And if some fell asleep, she let them. But I never fell asleep. Stories awed me too much to let my brain go to rest. Instead, it triggered my imagination and I would later play out the stories in my room or in the garden with my dolls, my trees and characters who eventually took permanent residence in my head.

In Standard 2 (Grade 4), we had a teacher, Miss Paul, who told us a story once a week. We nagged the whole week long, but she never gave in. We had to wait for Fridays. Her stories never disappointed.

Both my primary school teacher – who later became my sister-in-law, Hessie (De Clerq) Breytenbach, and my high school teacher, Attie Saunders, were good enough storytellers to get me interested in history and to this day I still love the subject and it had quite an impact in several of my life choices.

I started writing my own stories and in high school a few of my friends and I even had our own little ‘library box’ with self-written stories, which could be borrowed by others. I’m not verbally good at storytelling, so I am in awe by people who are natural oral storytellers. But they had become very few. And if they still exist, there is no real place for them to practice their art in everyday life anymore, because story time is now watching-TV or spending-time-on-our-phones-time.

Today, we live in an instant world, where entertainment is literally at the tip of our fingers wherever and whenever we want it. We don’t have to go somewhere to a social gathering or wait until it is dark. We push a button wherever we are and have choices. Too many choices. We actually have so many, that we can’t always make up our minds.

I’m not against it. I do it too and I enjoy it, but I think that we have lost something very important with the way we are entertained in our day. We don’t need our imagination so much anymore, because all the imagining is being done for us already. That book that we should have read and the world in it we should have imagined, is now a movie and we don’t have to go through the trouble, because someone else have decided for us what it looks like. We just have to sit back and watch without any effort on our behalf. And then forget it again. Because tomorrow I will have some more choices and I will be bombarded with some more special effects and I’m getting so overly stimulated, that my brain didn’t have any time to enjoy and process the last thing I’ve watched, watching the next.

Our friend, Abri, is a good storyteller. He can entertain one in such a way in telling one about something happening to him that it feels as if you have experienced it with him. He also tells his sons stories. One of the ‘series’ he tells them is about Buks, a farm dog. Buks is an awesome dog. He can make plans and fight lions and nothing ever gets the better of him. The stories are entertaining and get made up as Abri goes, which sometimes are very, very funny. When he goes away, he records a few stories, so that his sons can listen to them. They love it! And not only does it stimulate the boys’ imaginations, but it tightens the relationship between a father and his children.

In South Africa, as I believe in other cultures too, we still have a few storytellers. They are mostly humorous and are limited to a few TV shows and yearly cultural festivals and people have to pay to hear them, but at least they still exist. Are there still people telling ghost stories for fun and for free around a camp fire like we did when we were children?

God is a great storyteller. He created billions of characters throughout history and has ‘scripted’ their stories for them. I wonder how many of us live out our stories as He has originally plotted it out. Or how we deviated from His script for our lives to instead live our own, ‘better’ versions through the choices we make? He also made sure that a lot of His stories got written down for us, so that we can learn from the lives of Adam and Noah and Esther and ultimately, Jesus, and that we can have a ‘compass’ to live our own stories by. Luckily it is also electronically available…

I sometimes ponder on how much we miss out on because of the entertainment we choose thanks to our technologically advancing lives. I wonder how many unsaid words there are between us because we choose to live virtually with our eyes glued to a little electronic devise in our hands, instead of looking around in awe at the world and playing out the ‘scripts’ we have with our loved ones.

Unless we switch off that little device every now and then, we will probably never know.

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ek bepeins dié week in Afrikaans

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Foto’s: OFM News

My Weeklikse Bepeinsing #12/2017

So, gister was die groot ‘It’s Time’ gebedsbyeenkoms in Bloemfontein en daar was ‘n mag der menigte Suid-Afrikaners wat gaan bid het vir verandering in Suid-Afrika. Hier is net drie Skrifte (van die baie) waaruit Vader ons uit die Bybel leer oor gebed.

…en (as) my volk, oor wie my Naam uitgeroep is, hulle verootmoedig en bid en my aangesig soek en hulle bekeer van hul verkeerde weë, dan sal Ék uit die hemel hoor en hulle sonde vergewe en hulle land genees. (2 Kronieke 7:14)

Waak dan en bid altyddeur, sodat julle waardig geag mag word om al hierdie dinge wat kom, te ontvlug en voor die Seun van die mens te staan. (Lukas 21:36)

…terwyl julle met alle gebed en smeking by elke geleentheid bid in die Gees, en juis daartoe waak met alle volharding en smeking vir al die heiliges… (Efesiërs 6:18)

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So is ons land al vir baie lank al op die afdraende pad en toe hoor ‘n gewone, onvolmaakte  man (soos wat die Mosesse en Dawidde en Elias van die Bybel ook maar was) dat hy ‘n gebedsbyeenkoms moet hou waar mense van Suid-Afrika hulleself kan verootmoedig, Vader se wil vra en bid vir die omstandighede in die land. As ‘n mens die boonste Skrifte lees, sou jy dink dis heel  eenvoudig. Bid vir almal en oor alles en te alle tye is die basiese boodskap. Maar o, wee! Ons is mos (Suid-)Afrikaners en oornag was die land in rep en roer!

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En so analiseer en kritiseer en oordeel dit te lekker vir ‘n klompie weke lank.  En dit gebeur toe gister:

Een groep gryp die geleentheid aan, ondersteun dit en gaan bid. Die wat nie Bloem toe kon of wou gaan nie, het op hulle eie gebid of byeenkomste gereël waar hulle saam met ander kon bid – selfs in die buiteland.

Sommiges het gewonder of hulle kerke darem vandag ook vol sou wees en ander het die inisiatief uitgekryt as “nie van Christus nie”, as ‘n “die mekka van satan” vanweë “die oorvloed vals profesieë” wat daar uitgespreek is en so meer. En die onvolmaakte man wat dit gereël het, was volgens baie onder andere “geldgierig”, “net agter getalle aan” en “die anti-chris”.

Dan was daar die natuurlike reaksie van die ateïs dat mense net gaan om goed te voel oor hulleself en dat niks gaan verander nie.

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Ek reken in ons quick-fix wêreld sal baie die hele gebed-ding as ‘n flop sien as daar teen môre niks verander het nie. Ek wens ons kon almal saam met dieselfde energie saamstaan wat deur sommiges gebruik is om te kritiseer en verdeling te veroorsaak. Dink net! Maar ons is nog hierdie kant van perfektheid. En dis hoe dit is. As ons dit tog net kan onthou.

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Gister se gebeure het my beide hoop gegee en hartseer gemaak, maar dis maar net nog ‘n teken dat ons in onvolmaaktheid leef. Deur Vader se genade is ek nie deur al dié dinge verwar nie, maar ek dink die optrede van baie Christene die afgelope tyd kon tot redelike verwarring by jong/nuwe gelowiges lei, wat ‘n jammerte is.

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Die Skrif uit Openbaring het weer gister telkens by my opgekom. Leef ons reeds in dié tyd?

Wie onreg doen, laat hom nog meer onreg doen; en wie vuil is, laat hom nog vuiler word; en laat die regverdige nog regverdiger word, en laat die heilige nog heiliger word. (Openbaring  22:11)

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As jy ‘n gelowige is, besluit maar self volgens die Skrif oor gister se gebeure. Te veel ‘geloof’ word in ons dae op opinie gebou.

 

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan and Times Forever Gone

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My Weekly Musings #11/2017

As a lot of authors and would-be writers, I am fascinated by the writers from the past. I read up on them and read some of their works to try to learn from them. I have great respect for the way they wrote and how prolific they had been in a time before the technology we have today to make writing and publishing easier, was available. (Although I haven’t personally experienced this ‘easiness’ of getting published in the mainstream yet.)

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Agatha Christie. She wrote wonderful stories that are still enticing today. I have read many of her books and watched more of her stories onscreen and just when I think that I’ve read or seen everything, something ‘new’ pops up. Here, where we are currently living in Egypt, bookstores stock her books and I indulge. She wrote so many stories, that one day if I manage to get through them all, I can just start over and read them again if I want, because they will be as good as new to me.

Another fascination of mine is Ernest Hemingway. (I’m currently contemplating naming our next dog Hemingway. Or Blue. Or something totally different.) I love his writing – some more that others, because let’s face it – in the times that he wrote, not too much happened in most works of fiction and it took a long time to happen.

Although a fan, I’m not blind to these old writers’ weaknesses. There was a lot of drinking and substance abuse involved in the lives of some of these authors and though I don’t condone it, I also don’t judge them. (Today it’s well known that writers and other artists are prone to mental illness and substance abuse.) And in Ernie and his friends’ case I suppose they were pretty much products of the war they survived.

So, even though Ernest and the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein and the likes lived their lives as if there was no tomorrow, I can’t help to romanticise the period and circumstances they lived in just a little bit. Although conditions were still volatile during and after the war, things got simpler after that. There was class and style and ambience and boredom about the way they did their day by day routines.

A few weeks back while on a Nile Cruise, we visited the old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt, for the third time since we live here. Being there, walking through the big corridors, riding the old, slow wooden lift and sitting in the stylish library, makes one daydream about a time and innocence gone forever. In my mind I can see Aggie sitting in her suite, with her desk moved to in front of the open double doors, feeling the desert heat breezing into the room, stroking her cheeks and causing tiny drops of perspiration on her forehead underneath her neatly waved hair, while she is tapping along passionately on her typewriter – creating the circumstances for Hercule Poirot to solve the four murders in Death on the Nile.

In my mind’s eye, I can see Mister Hemingway standing alongside the chest of drawers, hammering the keys, thinking of rather having a cold beer down in the garden, whilst the current woman in his life is still in bed, nursing a hangover and moaning about him not attending to her immediate needs – to his utter dismay.

I can imagine the buzz in the dining room when the famous well-dressed Who’s Who whom chose to cavort in Egypt at the same time appears one by one or couple by couple in their evening best. They would look way different than our group of whom only some had bothered to follow the smart/casual dress code.

I hear Aggie and her hubby converse about the newest archaeological finding at a site nearby, contemplating from which dynasty it might originate. Over dessert, she wonders if she shouldn’t have stuck to only one murder in Death on the Nile, instead of the four, because “you know, Darling, I don’t want to contribute to the world becoming a more violent place”.

With war clouds still hanging over Europe, Winston Churchill decides that he has to come up with a strategy for the coming Armageddon.

And in another few years, Mrs Fitz frowned upon her husband’s alcohol intake, wondering aloud if it was Ernie’s bad influence on him or the other way around, while she remarks how she can’t grasp why she came to feel so lightheaded so swiftly.

Fast forward to a time the world became enchanted by the people’s princes, who, while smiling her shy smile to the world, is crying within her heart over her broken dreams and recent divorce and wonders what the future will bring as she listens to her Arab lover’s plans for their next holiday together…

Sitting on the lawn, having coffee at sunset with a group of people from all over the world – some of whom we know and more that we don’t know – it is so easy to being translated into another era filled with well-clad creatives looking at the same sun setting where cataracts form down under in the river. Watching the falloukas with their majestic sails on Egypt’s Nile of the Bible passing by, I sat back and dreamed that one day my name will be mentioned as a famous writer who loved visiting the old Cataract Hotel and that a book of mine will sit there on the library shelf next to my fellow South African, Andre P. Brink’s book. Wink-wink.

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PS: Google the Cataract Hotel to read about its history and about the famous ones who frequented there. It is an interesting place and if your travels ever bring you to Egypt, make sure to put Aswan on your itinerary as a must-visit place. There is a lot to see, including the Aswan Dam/Lake Nasr, the Nubian Village, the botanical garden Lord Kitchener planted from trees soldiers brought from all over the world and the Philae Temple – the youngest building from old Egypt’s history. It is also a four-hour drive/50 minute flight to the temple at Abu Simbel.

Cataract Hotel

© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Daydreaming

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My Weekly Musings #10/2010

 

I had a Writing Club for Children for years before we moved to Egypt. A few of you reading here had children attending, or may even have attended yourself. (I hope at least some of my old students read my blog.) I enjoyed it immensely and plan to revive the clubs when we are back home. Not only did I enjoy teaching writing to the children who were in my groups, but I enjoyed learning from them.

One of a series of workshops we did in in The Writing Club, was journal writing. These workshops were preceded by a lesson on daydreaming. My first two writing clubbers were home schoolers* who grew up on a smallholding and whose mom raised them to question things and gave them playtime. They made the lesson fun and easy and it became my favourite workshop of all.

With the next generation of clubbers it was a different ball game. They were only a bit younger than my first club members, but these days behaviour can change very quickly. The main difference between the two groups was that technology became more advanced and more easily available – and was quickly becoming popular toys for children rather than only work tools for adults.

I found this workshop to become more of a challenge every year. My first group simply listened to what I taught them and followed my guidelines to go home and spend some time deliberately doing nothing, while daydreaming a bit. But with the next groups, l suddenly found myself looking into pairs of eyes looking at me in confusion and perplexity. I got reactions like “How do you daydream?” and “l don’t have time to do nothing, because I have too many schoolwork and activities.” It saddened me that these words came out of the mouths of ten and eleven year olds.

Initially, when these children from the second ‘wave’ started writing stories, l could identify their story lines from the movies they watched. They couldn’t dream up their own stories. Thankfully that changed with time, practice and skill development.

I was shocked at these little person’s reaction, because as a child, daydreaming came as second nature (or in my case – first nature) to me (and all of my friends), but of course times and circumstances have changed and I can’t help to feel a bit sorry for our privileged children today. It is not all their fault. Technology is fantastic. I love it. I love gadgets and apps. And I have to admit that I too am addicted to my phone. Even if I try to spend less time using it and more time doing ‘real life’ stuff, I struggle to get out of my virtual reality. Because these days, one’s whole life is in your phone. My books are on there and so is a lot of my entertainment. And there’s a camera and some memories and – because we live abroad – my family and friends are in there too. It is difficult not to lose oneself in the virtual world. And with that, l realised that I struggle to be creative if it is not on an electronic device. My hands had become impractical. My imagination had become useless as a pencil with a broken point. Maybe that is why I reverted to writing weekly blogs instead of finishing my novel.

I sometimes wonder if people still daydream? Through daydreaming we learn a lot about ourselves. When I look around and see young people (and older ones) hovering over phones, worsening their bad posture, I can’t help wondering if this wonderful technology we have, will not do more bad than good. If one reads statuses and comments on social media, you have to wonder where common sense had gone. The more knowledge we have available, the less knowledgably we seem to get.

I sat behind a family at a wedding in The Netherlands last year. The seven or so year old boy was glued to a phone, playing a game during the service, his neck eerily bent in a very unnatural way. I could imagine him at 19, walking like an old man. While waiting at an optometrist’s room in New Zealand a few weeks ago, a boy younger than two years was playing games on an iPad, so engrossed in the little device that he almost fell off the chair he was sitting on. Whenever one sits in a restaurant, you see people having coffee with one another, while in conversation with other people elsewhere through their phones. What is the point of going out with someone if you are conversing with someone else the whole time?

We are certainly living in a strange world that is getting stranger every day. It is a world where the real makes room for the virtual increasingly. It is becoming a place where I can testify first-hand how I am becoming less and less social, while spending more and more time ‘engaging with’ a little device that doesn’t love me, can’t talk to me or listen to my feeling and cannot hug me. And it quite scares me, because even if I try, I fall back into the bad habit of spending hours per day on it every time. I keep telling myself it will be better when we are back home again and closer to everyone and everything we miss. I really hope so. In the meantime, I will try my best to spend less time in the virtual and more in the real. I miss my daydreaming and my creativity. I want my hands to become usable again.

Do you still daydream? Do you take time to just sit and do nothing? Or are you also a victim of your busy schedule and the little thing in your hand that keeps you awake at night and can’t hug you back? Tell me if you feel you want to. And in the meantime, read a book printed on real paper, plant a herb (and don’t forget to water it regularly), talk to your spouse while having a glass of something special over a home-cooked candlelight dinner, look in your child’s eyes when he or she talks to you and go lie on the grass somewhere and stare at the clouds and dream…

* In case you thought that those first home schoolers were idlers: They moved to England with their parents for a while. The boy joined the British Air Force teen cadets. They moved back to South Africa, went to public schools and the girl went to work and travel abroad and is now back and studying in Stellenbosch. The boy had become an engineer, got married and builds and flies those little drones (or quad copters I presume they are called.) The little sister who later joined the club with our son, was a good daydreamer too and is finishing her public school education this year.

You can like and/or follow The Writing Club/Die Skryfklub on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thewritingclubdieskryfklub/

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I’m not sure if it really was his words, but if it was, he was a true prophet 😉

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

My children’s’ book, Yeovangya – a Princess’ Quest for True Love, and short stories are available at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=riette+de+kock&rh=n%3A154606011%2Ck%3Ariette+de+kock

Uprooting

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My Weekly Musings # 9/2017

Recently, we have been visiting our friends who now live in New Zealand. They might or might not stay there forever. Or they might. I don’t know. They don’t know either. They live in an area to where a lot of Asians had emigrated to. And a lot of South Africans too. (I think for the South Africans, the choice has to do with the weather, because the north island’s weather is much warmer than the south island’s.) They live in the Auckland area which looks a lot like a mix between the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. That might have something to do with it too. In recent decades a lot of South Africans have immigrated to especially countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. Very few had returned to their ancestral countries of origin, which were mostly The Netherlands, France and Germany.

The reasons for South Africans emigrating is mostly the unacceptable crime wave which are causing people to look for safer places to calm their nerves and also because of work opportunities, due to many people being laid off after becoming BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) victims. It is not only white people who emigrate though. The world is full of young black South Africans making their mark elsewhere in the world too.

We South Africans had become used to ‘losing’ friends to emigration. It is a touch phenomenon to get used to, because parents have to let their children go, adult siblings get separated and, with young children and new-borns growing up in a foreign country, young South Africans become estranged with their families back home. It is indeed a challenging situation. But, thinking about it, I also realise that migrating is sort of a ‘natural’ thing throughout history. It was after all how we got to South Africa. Our ancestors from The Netherlands sought new trade opportunities and the Christian French Huguenots fled from religious persecution, just as some South Africans now leave the country’s shores in fear of their lives and/or looking for jobs.

And of course the uprooting of families is not unique to South Africa. South Africans are at least still doing it by choice (although I blame no one who emigrates due to the fact that they had been high jacked in their own drive-way three times, or whose parents were brutally murdered on a farm or in a city house or whose daughter were raped and murdered when she went for a jog.) Our TV screens are filled daily with displaced people who flee for their lives from places where the blood hungry murderous make it impossible for them to live. One of the drivers we use when we go to Jordan told us that he is Libyan. He spent a few years working in South Africa (nogal!) and then ended up in Jordan. His brother lived in a few other places and currently stays in Israel. Across from our house in Cairo is a small Catholic church. The congregation is made up of expats working here, Egyptians – I presume and Sudanese and various other refugees. The international working force of Egypt is from all over the world. We lived in a displaced world full of displaced people.

So back to my pondering this week after a very long start. While we were in New Zealand, we saw lots of Afrikaans speaking South Africans in the streets, malls and on the beaches. Within ten minutes’ drive there are three shops selling South African products. We had wonderful boerewors (sausages) and biltong (dried meat – like jerky, but better)! The South African numbers are so many there that Browns Bay is referred to as ‘De Bruynsbaai’. And all the time we were there, I tried imagining how it feels to uproot yourself – knowing that it is going to be forever – and go and live in a strange place, building a new life so totally different than the one you had, away from your family and your friends.

We are only temporary living abroad. We are now here in Egypt for three out of a four year period. It had been wonderful and crazy and difficult and frustrating and emotional and a lot of other things too. I really miss our pets, our country, our food, our language, our culture, our ways and especially our people. Whenever we go through passport control at OR Tambo, I want just want to hug and kiss the person behind the counter, but I know I would probably be arrested for it, so I refrain from doing it.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone deciding to emigrate to New Zealand – just because it was the country many South Africans choose and we were visiting it. It is a wonderful, first-world, effective, beautiful place with nice, warm, down-to-earth people. It is also a very, very, very expensive country where some of the products are just plainly over-priced. I think it must be difficult in the beginning especially. I wondered if you ever stop missing the rugby fights, the fact that there is a joke minutes after any bad thing happening, the Nando ads, the excellent and the poor Afrikaans songs, the biltong, the South coast beaches, the clean, unique smell of Cape sea air in your nostrils, the shenanigans of politicians (okay, not really that, because now the rest of the world had caught up with us too) or the smell of fresh beskuit and bread of your aunt’s house. I wondered.

We met a young South African girl our son’s age who worked at the supermarket we went to. She heard us speaking Afrikaans with each other and immediately started a conversation. While ringing up our things, she told us that she was living  there with her parents for twelve years now. I commented that she must be full blown Kiwi by now, seeing that she was so young when the moved and probably didn’t remember ‘home’.  Her smile vanished and in a soft voice she said:

“I dream of Cape Town all the time.”

We met with quite a few emigrants from different countries. They told us that the divorce rate under uprooters is quite high. Listening to them a few things came out for people to consider before they make the decision to emigrate. These are:

  • Don’t emigrate to run away from your personal problems. If your husband has a wandering eye, it will be going with him. If he is an alcoholic, he will still be one on the other side. If your wife has a money spending problem in South Africa, you’ll have bigger problems living in a country where the currency is ten times (yep!) stronger.
  • Sort all medical stuff out before you leave. A lot of medical issues can get your visa delayed or even cancelled.
  • Don’t lie about anything on applications.
  • Plan. Plan. For everything.
  • You need a lot of initial capital to move to and settle in another country. (Hundreds-of-thousands-a lot.)
  • Moving countries causes immense stress – for every member or the family. Don’t underestimate that factor. Prepare for it. Change is never easy. Uprooting is up-there on the stress list. This counts even for ‘short’ stays abroad like ours.

My hope is that we will always have the choice to live in South Africa. I love my country. I miss my beautiful country with all its ups and downs. I hate the violence and the corruption. I hate it to be scared at night. (I sleep like a baby in Egypt – and everywhere else we go.) So, I know I will have to face my fears again. I will worry about Michael driving alone at night. I also realise that he might be forced to seek greener international pastures and leave us behind.  I’m not blind for all the challenges. But I miss the good of South Africa. The good things as well as the good people. And for that I hope to stay.

We will just cling to our Protector and remember that ‘Elohim has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of self-control’. I hope our faith and love and self-control will be enough in the end.

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping my Mouth Shut

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My Weekly Musings # 8/2017

I have so much to muse about. About so many things. But I can’t muse about them out loud. The reasons preventing me to say whatever I want to say is always one or more of the following:
It’s not diplomatic.
It’s not politically correct.
Or it’s insensitive towards religion/s.
It’s not in line with popular opinion.
Or in line with liberal belief.
Or with conservative belief.
It’s hate speech.
It’s offensive.
It’s racist.
Or sexist.
Or not gender sensitive enough.
And always too Biblically literal.
And too old fashioned. (Ah, and there were simpler times, weren’t there?!)

Anyway, my father taught me that actions always have consequences and that you don’t utter words if you are not prepared to have them testify against you in the black and white of ink on paper. A wise man he was indeed. I lived my life by those words. And it didn’t only teach me a lot – it saved my butt many times. I even treated love letters I wrote during my younger years according to that principle. (Of course when I write to the beloved I throw all caution to the wind – just because I can.)

But I’ve learned over the years that living by a rule like that not only saves one embarrassment, it also builds you up. It makes you think before you speak your mind. Because even if I have an opinion about everything under the sun, it doesn’t mean that the world needs to hear it. That also doesn’t mean that I may never air an opinion, because that would just make me spineless. But there is a time and a place for everything under the sun, and sometimes it is time to keep quiet.
Fortunately, there is One Who is always listening and to Whom I can talk about the undiplomatic, politically incorrect, unreligious, unpopular, unliberal, unconservative, offensive, racist, sexist, gender insensitive, too Bibilcal and old fashioned stuff all I want. It’s called prayer. And it is private. And it can be done any time, anywhere. Nobody has to shout at me to do it. I’m not restricted to a time or a place. I can do it anywhere, all day long, without anyone realising. There is also no paper trail so that this post-modern society can accuse me. I’m only left with the relief and the knowing that He has it all in Hand.

The defiled one destroys his neighbour with his mouth,
but the righteous is delivered by knowledge.
(Proverbs 9 verse 11 – From the Bible)

© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Friendship

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My Weekly Musings #7/2017

There is something as precious and beautiful as gold and very often as rare. It is free and yet it costs much. It starts with the utterance of a single word and yet is not to be found in every easily spoken one. And like gold, the real thing only becomes better when tested. Other than family, it might just be the most important thing us humans are being blessed with while we live our earthly lives.
Friendship doesn’t always come easy. Not all friendships last. Not everyone calling themselves ‘friend’ is one. Sometimes friendship comes from strangers or people we don’t consider friends. Some friends betray, let down, lie, don’t keep their word, walk away, fade, can’t stand the heat or just don’t care enough. They hurt you, but when the hurt subsides, one realises that it happened for the better.
There are friendships though, that last. They are formed between people who never stop caring and never will – no matter what happens or how difficult circumstances become. Because real friends never quit on each other. They always make time. They walk the extra mile. Sometimes friendship takes hard work, perseverance, forgiveness and being forgiven. It takes unconditional love, keeping secrets and speaking harsh words if it means helping and not contributing to a path that leads to destruction.
This week we are visiting friends who we haven’t seen in a few years and who (literally) live on the other side of the world. We have made many wonderful memories together in the past and we have shared quite a bit of heartbreak too. And it is when the conversation just continue as if we saw each other the previous day, and you still laugh at each others’ silly jokes and have made a new worth-to-remember memory within the first few days together, that one realises how blessed and fortunate and lucky you are to have real friends. And to be called someone’s friend. And that’s how they say you get real friends – by becoming one.

Thank You, for giving us friends.

Ointment and perfume gladden the heart. So one’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
(Proverbs 27:9)

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.