Eastern Cape

My thoughts on moving back to South Africa

We waved goodbye and boarded the Air Malawi plane one last time. Soon we’d be back in South Africa and living in my home town, Ixopo. The kids would start regular school and I’d finally be free to do what I love doing (opposed to homeschooling) and focus on my photography and writing and naturally become outrageously rich and happy!

But since being back, I’ve buttered more peanut butter sandwiches in the last 3 weeks than in all my life, I’ve clocked up some ridiculous miles playing taxi driver for my kids and there have been a few days and nights that I thought I just might freeze to death. As I type, my fingers feel like they are in the advanced stages of arthritis; stiff, cold and slow. I’ve got socks on and a scarf. My dogs are huddled in a corner, clothed with army printed dog jerseys and in a semi state of shock after having been caged on a flight from Malawi to South Africa and going from temperatures of 40 degrees to almost zero.

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St Isidor dam, Kings Grant Country Retreat

Moving is never easy, especially when it is from one country to another. It’s a whole new start. New bank accounts, new phone contracts, new bills, new cultures and ways of life, new weather , new challenges, new friends, new car, new staff and a list of DIY issues that would turn anyone into a quivering, dribbling wreck!

Coming back to my home town strangely, comes with a big question mark. I have absolutely no idea how the future will pan out, even though it should seem so familiar. I have fleeting moments of thoughts, in-between the current chaos of ‘relocation.’ I really want to capture those thoughts that belong to being in a ‘new place’ and the images of ‘coming home.’

There are also other issues that have arisen, typical of South Africa. My 6 year old daughter came home yesterday and told me that her friend’s dad was shot in the face today but that he is still alive. I’ve never hidden the realities of death from my children; they’ve been exposed to all sorts of harsh realities in Africa. But the violent crime in South Africa is definitely something new to them and something that I have not addressed. And of course, all the race issues. South Africa is buzzing with racial issues right now; people of every colour are firing from every direction – ready to fight, to defend, to curse, to ignore and to instigate. It’s a complex country on edge and I can feel it!!!

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon

I’ve loved our untamed and authentic life in Africa, north of the Limpopo River! We’ve experienced the hyper-inflation of Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabes dictatorship. We’ve lived many happy years in Mozambique but ended our time there with the flare up of Frelimo and Renamo political violence and receiving a frightening call that encouraged us to leave Mozambique very quickly. After that, we moved to Malawi where we enjoyed a peaceful and interesting 2 years.

And here we are, back in South Africa.

I know from experience that moving countries and homes takes time to adjust, that initially it might be difficult and in our case, flipping freezing! But the biggest challenge we face is coming from relatively peaceful, non-complicated countries in the way of race issues to South Africa – a country with an edgy vibe , accustomed to aggression, racial distrust and fear. But also a country that has come so far and a country that can and does display vibrant, goose bump moments of unity.

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“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

I hope to tap into that part of South Africa– the stuff that brings us together and that does not segregate us.  I’d like to share with you the common ground between ‘Mrs Ndlovo and Mrs Verwoed’ and bring to you the uplifting stories of South Africa that fuel growth, acceptance and love for our country. While the politicians stir up race issues to win votes, instill fear and hatred towards people different to ourselves, I’d like to write about and photograph the everyday South African, the South African that we need not fear or despise. I’d also like to take you on a tour of South Africa and share with you this beautiful country as I rediscover it.

Once I have settled, there will be more stories and pictures of Malawi and in July, a trip to Madagascar to warm up our frozen and brittle winter bashed bodies!

I hope you enjoy part 3 of this blog! Join me on this journey of rediscovering South Africa and finding those people with an interesting story or simply a story that gives insight into the lives of every day people; of black, white, Asian, Zulu, English, Afrikaans, Chinese, African immigrants and last but not least, the purple people!

“We see in order to move; we move in order to see.” – William Wordsworth

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19 replies »

  1. Great article. I currently live in Melbourne Australia, originally from Durbs and lived in Joburg for almost 20 years. Everytime I return for a visit, it gets harder to leave. SA has a soul that other countries can’t match. I would love to return one day to make a positive contribution. I can only wish that it will happen in the next few years when my girls have finished their education here.

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  2. Good luck, home is where the heart is – but I think there is still too much emphasis on “colourful” arguments. Rather, people in South Africa should shift their focus and have discussions about actual problems and issues that have nothing to do with “race” or “colour”.

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  3. Popped over from https://theearthbeneathmyfeet.wordpress.com/ and I have really enjoyed reading this post. I wish you well in your return to SA. I lived there many years ago and will never forget it. Africa somehow manages to steal your heart. I must admit I wouldn’t live there now, but plenty of South Africans I have met through my daughter, who came over to London to work for a while, have returned to start a family life there. I hope you stay safe and I look forward to reading more about YOUR Africa.

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    • Thank you Jude 🙂 Yes there are certainly many ‘ifs and but’s’ when making the decision to move back and a whole heap of risks involved. I’m keeping all my fingers crossed that this becomes a positive experience for our family all round 🙂 Thank you for reading and for your message. We’re settling down slowly – still adjusting to the weather though – and blogging will start up shortly again 🙂

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  4. I’ve just browsed the photo album. Nice aspect of the blog. Your photos brought tears to my eyes! Who can forget those smiling faces and open hearts? And the wide open spaces overarched by an endless blue sky? Africa is in our hearts and under our skin. It populates our dreams and calls to our souls. I miss my Africa!

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  5. What a beautiful post! I am eager to see my homeland through your eyes. Your photos are wonderful and your spirit uplifts those around you. Blessings on you and your family in your newest venture.

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    • Thank you for those very kind words Margie 🙂 I’ve got a good feeling about being in South Africa even though it is currently going through some very difficult times! The kids have settled in beautifully and I am as eager as ever to get exploring! Blue skies coming your way!

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  6. Captured beautifully. Looking forward to your positive blog. South Africa is a beautiful country. Praying we can all move forward peacefully.

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  7. Oh yes, YES, YES! I hope and pray for your life there in South Africa, The New, new, messed up place it is, to be safe. Your children have adapted before and will again, but protect them and look out for the hidden issues that are new to you in South Africa. I look forward to reading your future; stay as brave as you are but take care and may your new home produce wealth of a different kind too, like PEACE, FREINDSHIP AND TRANQUILLITY. Your follower from old Park Rynie (long ago Café Erica), Liz

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    • Thank you Liz 🙂 I hope for all that too and I hope South Africa strives for healing opposed to going backwards with its racial progress. Thank you for all your kind wishes, I hope my blog brings back some good memories of South Africa for you 🙂 Hopefully we will get down to the South Coast soon for some sunshine and warmth!!!

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  8. Beautiful! I’ve been here nine months now, first time to SA and have found it a fascinating country to live in. But as you say, this is a country on the edge, something I had absolutely no understanding about until we moved here. I’ve also absolutely loved exploring and hope to see more before we leave. As for the cold, it wouldn’t be a problem if the houses were properly insulated and heated! 🙂

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    • You’re so right about needing to be here to actually understand that edgy vibe. As someone said to me tonight,”it’s a country with many different cultures, races, income groups, languages and experiences – all coming together.” South Africa is a mix of so much; there is some really good stuff happening and some really, really bad stuff happening, but it’s impossible to say she is one thing, one experience. As for the houses not being properly insulated, you are spot on about that! I have an extra high roof, one heater and not enough warm clothes in my wardrobe to keep me sufficiently insulated! I’ve got to get organised quick! They say this winter is going to be a long and very cold one!!!

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