Mandela 20 years on

As South Africa celebrates the 20 year anniversary of the release of  Nelson Mandela,I’m not going to go into a diatribe, there is enough of that already on the Internet today, but  I  do reflect back on those 20 years and the years before that, and I must say there will never be another Mandela. Every so often there are extradonary men and women who grace history, Shakespeare, Dickens,Churchill, Mother Teresa, Marie Curie, Anwar Sadat,Pope John Paul  to name a few – and Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela 1990 South Africa

 A man who gave up 27 years of his life for others. People praise him as a man of vison, a man of peace and love, a man almost god-like, It wasn’t until June  2008, however,  that U.S. lawmakers erased references to Mandela as a terrorist from their national databases!!!

He believed in something, so strongly he was willing to do anything to make it come true, a very noble thing, it wasn’t just his dream, like Martin Luther King fighting for the same thing in the USA, it was the dreams of a nation, he was fighting for, he not only made his dream come true for himself but for all those who dreamed it too.


Anti same-sex marriage?

I am an old woman, raised in a certain way, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, I cannot say that I completely understand or support unions between people of the same-sex, even though I have a nephew I adore who is that way inclined.

This doesn’t mean however that I despise gay people, want to see them burnt at the stake, run out of town thrown in prison, whatever nonsense some people spew. I truly believe this is against God’s teachings, and as I feel that way I will let God deal with them as he sees fit, if at all, just because I believe this doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, I am no saint I am sure I have not lived my nearly 70 years without sin. I do also believe judge not lest ye be judged, how can I throw the first stone when I myself am not sinless.

Who you choose to love and spend your life with is between you and your God, I have a friend, married for many years, I didn’t like her husband very much, I didn’t think he was suited to her, but did I have aright to ban her from marrying him, just because I didn’t agree with his lifestyle, or his politics, or the colour of his socks? South Africa is one of the few countries that allows same-sex marriage and I am proud of that fact, yes I can be proud of something and not believe it to be right at the same time, don’t ask me how but I can.

Before some of you more God-fearing, readers chime in, I do not however believe that a person’s sexual orientation is out of their hands, that they are born to be gay, I am not talking about transgender here I am talking about fully equiped males and females who are sexually attracted to other fully equiped males and females.

Sexual attraction is a choice, a decision you make, I do not for one moment believe that I was born with some gene that would only allow me to be sexually attracted to mildly good-looking doctors who would later go bald and grow a beard. I made a choice I decided this was the sort of person I was attracted to, just like some men like blondes, some like brunettes, some women like bald men others like tall dark and handsome and some men like men, that’s it, I really do believe it is as simple as that, some men and women are sexually attracted to the same-sex, it’s nothing to do with genes, or the way they developed in their mother’s wombs, it is a simple choice they make, they choose to be attracted to men or women, just as us “straight” people also choose to be attracted to men and women. Physically there is nothing different between a straight male and a gay male, they are the same person, each one has just made a decision as to what “turns him on” sexually, the same with straight men and women. Sometimes I feel we “straight” people have badgered ‘gay” people for so long that they have tried to come up with an excuse for their “gayness”. You do not need an excuse, this is your life to live it how you please, if you believe in God then you will have to meet your maker one day and explain, if you do not believe in God then you have nothing to worry about, maybe.

In short, I do not have a problem with gay people, I do not have a problem with them wanting to marry and constructing stable lives for themselves, I do however have a problem with gays claiming they have no choice they were “born” that way, because frankly I am sorry I do not believe it, I believe you acquired your sexual preference not that you were born with it, but I wish you all the best in your marriages/relationships and hope you managed to figure out the secret of successful longevity in relationships, us straight people seem to be losing that battle.

Christmas tree.

I decorated the Christmas tree alone this year, it’s quite a preparation it takes me almost a week. I first have to get the decorations from their boxes and unwrap them all, as I use crystal figurines, each one is wrapped separately and stored in a small box. I also like to polish them before I hang them up, I wear cotton gloves while handling them, it’s quite a long process. Some of the ornaments are 175 years old.Ihave gradually been building up my collection over the years. lots of them are old crystals from broken chandeliers, some are worth 2000 Rand others only 2 or 3 but they are all special to me.                                                                                       

The tree this year is a 7 foot imitation Fraser fir, Hillary had brought to us from the Mother City. And our wonderful gardener stripped trimmed and set it in place in the front parlour.I decided to use white LED lights, strings of crystal beads and silver ribbon along with my figurines, I choose not to use tinsel this year. These are some of my favourite pieces.

More Facebook trouble……..

Recently Thandiswa Mazwai posted her (negative) feelings about singing Die Stem part of our anthem on Facebook. Yup. Another person getting into trouble over Facebook.
And my, what trouble it was.

It was published in the papers, became big news and white people everywhere went crazy. (As if our country needs Thandiswa to sing that part! I mean, have you heard it being bellowed out at the rugby?) Predictably, the general rant was something along the old lines of: Apartheid is, like, so in the past. Get over it already. How dare you still be upset about something that happened, like ages ago! It’s been like 15 years! Gosh

By that reasoning we should’ve stopped hearing about the Holocaust in 1960. But those damn Jews just don’t want to get over it. Bloody crybabies. And anybody still feeling emotional about the Anglo Boer War more than a hundred years later must be a total nutcase. Which makes all those DeLaRey fans even bigger crybabies.

But seriously. I have a lot of sympathy for Ms Mazwai. Hell, I’m white and I don’t sing that part. Nor do any of my friends. Because it reminds us of a dark, awful time and frankly, just creeps the hell out of us.

To borrow a phrase from my youngest son, Apartheid sucked. And I’m not even talking about the true horrors of the past – as a privileged suburban white woman I don’t feel I have the right to lament the injustices done to the majority of South Africans. I’m talking about the sheer banality of the vanilla existence I grew up in.

Do you even remember South Africa in the eighties? The endless insane propaganda in our schools, the hate speech, the semi war torture that was Veld Skool, the crazy patriotism that had 11 year olds raising the flag at 7 am in the middle of a Transvaal winter. No, jissie. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Those were the days when male teachers were allowed to spank 9-year-old girls with wooden implements, boys were forced to play rugby and do “Kadette” in order to be “paraat”, and girls were taught how to make a peppermint crisp tart without electricity (I kid you not) so that we’d be prepared to flee and survive in the wild when the black masses finally got fed up and decided to cook us all in a pot.

Remember at midnight the TV would switch over to the rippling flag with the names of all the boys who died on the border?
“ons sal lewe
ons sal sterwe
ons vir jou Suid Afrika” indeed.

All that Afrikaner Nasionalisme, Christelik Nasionale militant mumbo-jumbo that made me want to kots in my taal. The NG Church has since apologised for actively condoning Apartheid but sadly, Afrikaner Nasionalisme is still limping along just fine.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m proudly South African,and with regards to our anthem: I quite like the fact that it’s so patched together. But whenever I hear the bars of Die Stem after that weird bridge part, it sends shivers down my spine. Because people don’t change overnight. In fact, they don’t change much in 15 years. I refused to allow my children to sing Die Stem when they were growing up because even as  children the irony that it was only 10% of the country’s voice didn’t escape me. I love my country and its people – all its people – but my white Apartheid chip on my shoulder make the words of the old anthem taste like ashes in my mouth.

Our past isn’t magically going to disappear. And it shouldn’t. So instead of saying it’s time to “put everything in the past” or “get over it” or whatever other lame platitudes people spout, we should rather make peace with the fact that we all come with different sets of baggage. And to tolerate, hell, maybe even respect that.

So, if your baggage allows you to sing all parts of our anthem with equal gusto – good for you. But be fair, and allow people like me and Thandiswa our different sets of baggage, which might make singing those words more difficult for us than you could ever imagine.

Sweet pepper and stampkoring salad

500 ml stampkoring (crushed wheat)
1 large lemon, juice
65 ml seedless raisins
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 red or green chilli, finely chopped
olive oil for frying
1 large onion, halved and sliced
5 ml each ground cumin and coriander
5 ml vegetable or chicken stock powder
2 each, red, green and yellow sweet peppers, seeded and cut into strips
250 ml diced okra or baby marrows
30 ml white wine
45 ml water
salt and milled pepper
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Cook wheat in boiling salted water until tender. Squeeze orange juice over raisins and leave until plump. Peel and chop 1 garlic clove and, using flat edge of a knife, press down on remaining cloves to crack skin and bruise flesh. Sauté garlic and chilli in heated oil for about 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté until glossy. Stir in spices and stock powder. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add vegetables, toss to coat and add wine, water, raisins and orange juice. Cook for a few minutes, vegetables should still be firm and crisp. Adjust seasoning, remove from stove and fold into cooked wheat. Stir in coriander and serve at room temperature (best this way) or chilled.


Aged 11

Aged 11

As parents, we always wonder how we’ve raised our children, have they become the people we had hoped, are they the people they had hoped to be.

My son Hillary is a wonderful father and husband, very loving, a dedicated doctor, I can see he is the person I hoped he would be. I can see it in the loving face of his wife, the adoring expressions of his children, the grateful thank yous of his patients. Sophie is still too young I do not believe she has yet become the person she wants to be, but I think she is on the right path.

With Grayson it’s so difficult to know, he’s so private, and he’s been away for the last 3 and a half years, I used to think he was a person I could be proud of, but now I know he is. The overwhelming response the flood of emails, asking about him, while he has been ill has touched me very deeply. He has always been popular with the ladies, young and old, he has that certain je nais ce quis, a charisma, that attracts them, and he is down right too handsome for his own good!

But I have received communications from people who have only known him for a few months, from people who have never met him, and while the words are different and the expressions used variable, there is one underlining theme. That he is a compassionate, caring, person, that he is a great friend, and would do anything for his friends, in the real world or the cyber one, that he is funny, a good listener, gives sound advice, passionate, and some what of a rebel ( that part I already knew ).

From L-R, Greg, Grayson, Donnie

From L-R, Greg, Grayson, Donnie

It feels my heart with joy to know that, people love my son, that they care for him, he has always said he wants to do something great , something to be remembered for, and I think he has accomplished that, true he has  solved no conflicts, nor has he discovered a cure for deadly diseases, he has not unmasked the mysteries of the universe, but he has touched lives in a way some never do, he has left his hand print  ob this world in the way that his friends, love and care for him, and when all is said and done,  when the books are opened and the judgment begins, I think that is the most important accomplishment he has achieved.

Just a few exerts from emails I have received :

Ash, NYC: “I must confess to you something, tears are rolling down my face right now..tears of joy and gratefulness. Im so overwhelmed with emotion that if Gray were here he would try to crack a joke just about now to change the mood. I miss him as he and I share a strong bond.”

Janna, Tasmania: “He saved my life, I almost drowned and he gave me CPR and brought me back, a world with no Gray would be a terrible placed to live’

Stephanie, Australia: “I’ve only known him a short while, but he is a wonderful person, he makes me smile, when I am sad, he’s not afraid to show his tender side, and be silly, make faces or crack jokes, even at his own expense”

Alejandro, Spain: ” I ‘ve never met him in person, but the dedication he has shown our cause, is overwhelming

Michael,England: ” All i can say is you must be very proud to call him your son

Jean-Paul, France:An amazing man, a caring nurse, a devoted friend, I do not take to people so quickly but after a few moments I felt as if I had known him all my life”

Helle, South Africa: ” We chose him to be our volley ref, not just cuz he’s so gorgeous, but cuz he treats us with so much respect

Jenny, South Africa: ” he made me a better nurse”

Phil, Namibia: “he puts others first, his selflessness is unparalleled”

Cara, Los Angeles: ‘ the first time I saw him he was drunk as a skunk, with a beer can stuck to the bottom of his shoe, and a mustache and goatee, he’s drawn on himself with an indelible marker “

Shannon, Dublin: ” he comes up to me and says, “Crikey and I thought I was good looking, lol, how could I resist?

Bryan, Chicago: ‘ lol he gave  me this scowling look and said, “Bru, she’s someone’s sister, knock it off! I have admired him ever since

Donnie, South Africa: ” so i says to him, bru you trying to look like me or what, and he says yea I’m trying to be ugly, lol but he shaved the beard off anyway”

On this day – September 28

1066 – William, duke of Normandy, invades England and claims the English throne.

1542 – Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrives at present-day San Diego.

1687 – Turks surrender Athens to Venetians, but retake it a year later.

1716 – Treaty of Hanover between England and France leads to Triple Alliance with Holland.

1781 – American forces backed by a French fleet, begin the siege of Yorktown Heights, Virginia, during the Revolutionary War.

1787 – Congress votes to send the just-completed US Constitution to state legislatures for their approval.

1850 – Flogging is abolished as a form of punishment in the US Navy.

1915 – British defeat Turks at Kut-el-Amara in Mesopotamia.

1920 – A grand jury indicts eight members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team, accused of throwing the 1919 World Series and dubbed the “Black Sox”.

1924 – Two US Army planes land in Seattle, Washington, completing the first round-the-world flight in 175 days.

1939 – Germany and Soviet Union agree on a plan to partition Poland.

1941 – Nazi German terror campaign begins in Czechoslovakia.

1950 – Indonesia is admitted to United Nations.

1958 – The new 5th Republican French Constitution is approved.

1961 – Syrian army officers lead a rebellion against Egyptian domination of the Syrian Region of the United Arab Republic because of the nationalisation and socialisation programs Egypt was trying to implement.

1965 – A volcano 55km south of Manila in Philippines erupts, killing at least 184 people.

1970 – President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt dies of a heart attack. Anwar Sadat replaces him.

1972 – Japan and Communist China agree to re-establish diplomatic relations.

1977 – Japanese terrorists hold 156 hostages on hijacked Japanese airliner at Dhaka, Bangladesh.

1980 – Iran rejects UN Security Council resolution to end the war with Iraq, stating Iraq was violating its territorial sovereignty and fomenting rebellion among Iran’s minority population in the Khuzistan and Kurdistan provinces.

1984 – Indian authorities order temporary closure of Sikh shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar.

1987 – India and Sri Lanka’s Tamil guerrilla group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, agree to an accord that gives the Tigers a council majority to administer the semiautonomous northern and eastern provinces in Sri Lanka.

1990 – Three Philippine military officers and 13 soldiers are convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1983 murder of opposition leader Benigno S Aquino Jr.

1991 – Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko agrees to form a coalition government with opposition leaders after five days of rioting, the first time in his 26 years of rule that he agrees to share power.

1992 – A Pakistani airliner crashes into a hill as it tries to land in Nepal’s Katmandu Airport, killing all 167 people aboard.

1993 – A natural gas pipeline explodes beneath a busy highway in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, killing 50 people.

1994 – The ferry Estonia sinks in a storm in the Baltic Sea, killing more than 900 people.

1995 – Israel and Palestinians sign a historic accord at the White House, Washington DC, to extend Palestinian rule on the strife-ridden West Bank.

1996 – Palestinian Authority police stop Palestinians marching into Israeli army posts and Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

1997 – Swiss voters overwhelmingly approve their country’s liberal drug policies, including the dispensation of heroin to addicts.

1998 – Serbia’s premier Mirko Marjanovic says Kosovo’s armed separatists have been defeated and special police units will be withdrawn from the province.

2000 – Thousands of angry students clash with security forces after a court dismisses charges of massive corruption against Indonesian ex-dictator Suharto because of failing health.

2001 – The UN Security Council ends sanctions against Sudan. The sanctions had been imposed in 1996 after Sudan refused to extradite suspects in a 1995 attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Both Egypt and Ethiopia, where the
assassination attempt occurred, wanted the sanctions lifted.

2003 – Pope John Paul II appoints 31 Roman Catholic prelates to the College of Cardinals, entitling most of those selected to vote for the next pope.

2005 – The US administration’s public relations chief meets with Turkish women activists and stresses the need for better dialogue between the two countries. The activists respond with a barrage of criticism of the US war in Iraq.

2006 – Russia recalls its ambassador from Georgia and announces a partial evacuation of diplomats and their families from the former Soviet republic a day after Georgia detains five Russian officers on spying charges.

2007 – Soldiers in Myanmar club and drag away activists while firing tear gas and warning shots to break up demonstrations, and the government cuts Internet access, raising fears that a deadly crackdown will intensify.

2008 – Austrian 16-year-olds vote for the first time in parliamentary elections under a new law.