What South Africa means to me

Table Mountain from Blaauwberg Strand. Photo by Tony McGregor December 2008
Table Mountain from Blaauwberg Strand. Photo by Tony McGregor December 2008
My mother with our cat Freddy on the verandah of the first house I remember in Blythswood
My mother with our cat Freddy on the verandah of the first house I remember in Blythswood

Early memories

Lying in bed on a hot summer's night, hearing my parents talking in the sitting room nearby, and from far away across a valley the sounds of drums and people singing rhythmically and in complex harmonies, I remember feeling a sort of thrill, a frisson , at the realisation that the two sounds meant such different things, and that I was connected to both.

That is an early memory. Was perhaps four or five at the time, and did not have the insight or the vocabulary to make much sense of what I was experiencing. I knew that I liked it, though. It felt so right to me.

Later I came to realise that I was indeed in a privileged position in history – that I was waking up to a world on the cusp of a historical evolutionary moment. My parents represented the last of a breed, the last of a type, the type that was caricatured in so many cartoons of missionaries braving the jungle, pith-helmetted with Bible in hand, cutting their way through the dense jungle, surrounded by danger, to bring the “Good News” to the “heathen savages” who were “outside the fold” and in need of salvation.

As I grew up, the scenes of my youth, the pleasant walks in the forests surrounding our home, the hearty meals cooked by mother's “treasure”, Mariah, in a kitchen dominated by a large, black, wood-fired stove, were already anachronisms, already doomed to extinction.

The world was just coming out of the dreadful cataclysm that was the Second World War, and Africa was just starting to see the possibility of shaking off the yoke of imperialism that had burdened its people for centuries.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The spiritual connection

We at the southern tip of Africa were faced with some tough choices. I can remember my father's intense dismay at the victory in the elections of 1948 (ironically, they were held on his birthday, 26 May) of the National Party under prophet of apartheid Dr D.F. Malan. I remember, too, that I, all of four years old, picked up on his feelings of anger and disappointment, and pleaded with him that we should go and live somewhere else, like Scotland, perhaps.

Already I was feeling the almost schizoid pulls of Africa on the one hand, represented by the night music I was hearing, and Europe on the other hand, which I saw in some romantic way as an alternative home, perhaps. But the vague safety of Europe was no match, really, for the intense reality of the rhythm and the harmony, the bright days and fragrant nights, the rolling, grassy hills and the wonderful, warm people of Africa.

And so as I played with my Dinky Toys on the dusty pathways around our house, my head was being filled with the stories of David Livingston and how he battled against the slave trade, of my father's experiences during the war when he was stationed on Robben Island off Cape Town, and I also started to develop some awareness of the horrors that had been going on in that war.

Over the years since then my sense of Africa has, I think, deepened and become more realistic, less romantic. And yet I still feel the intense pull of this place, its seductive beauty, its fecundity, and the depth of the spiritual connection that can be felt here, if one is open to it.

Language and respect

I do not mean “spiritual” in any religious sense. I mean “spiritual” in the sense of the intense humanity of the people, especially of South African people. Some people call it “uBuntu”, the spirit of African humanism. And that feels right to me, as the root of the word “uBuntu” is the word “umntu” which means “person”. It is a term of deep respect.

This philosophy is expressed in the saying "Umntu ngumuntu ngabantu" - a person is a person through other people. This expression I first heard in Afrikaans, - "'n Mens is 'n mens deur mense" - when spoken by my philosophy lecturer Dr Johan Degenaar at the University of Stellenbosch almost 50 years ago now. It is a saying that is the inheritance of every South African.

The people of South Africa were subjected to one of the most intense programmes of dehumanisation ever implemented. Even that wonderful word “umntu” was turned into a derogatory term, and deliberately mispronounced by many whites, who would refer to their black compatriots as “munts”. So a word with a profound meaning to blacks was debased by whites into a term of disdain, of complete lack of respect.

A similar thing happened with the plural of “umntu” which is “abantu”. The apartheid regime used the word “bantu” to mean a black person, and whites would even speak of “bantus” not realising that “abantu” is already plural. (The anthropological term “bantu”, especially as denoting a particular family of languages, is less objectionable, though personally I'm still suspicious of it).

The implication of this rape of a language, this complete disrespect for it, is that the people to whom the language is their language, are not worthy of respect or acceptance. It is a display of ignorance, a kind of knowing ignorance, which implies that it is not worth really knowing anything about the language. Just bastardise it for one's own purposes and don't think about the people to whom the language is important.

The massacre at Sharpeville, 21 March 1960 epitomised the inhumanity of apartheid
The massacre at Sharpeville, 21 March 1960 epitomised the inhumanity of apartheid
Woman searching for food on a landfill site
Woman searching for food on a landfill site
Businessman Kenny Kunene celebrating his birthday
Businessman Kenny Kunene celebrating his birthday

Trends in South Africa

In South Africa today there are many cultural and social currents flowing, some quite close to the surface and so noticeable, others submerged and so less observed. I just want to highlight two contrasting currents or trends which I am observing as being at play.

The first trend is the tendency on the part of some whites in South Africa to minimise the evil that was apartheid. There is this effort to say that apartheid was not so bad, really blacks under apartheid were better off than blacks in the rest of Africa, owned more cars, had better houses, and so on.

Even if blacks under apartheid were materially better off, which actually I doubt, the real evil of apartheid was not the material disadvantages that blacks suffered, though these were not inconsiderable. The real evil of apartheid was at a spiritual and psychological level.

Blacks were told, directly and indirectly, that they were second class, not so good, had no culture, needed whites to guide them. This is dehumanising, this is disempowering.

So the trend of minimising the evil of apartheid is a lie. For a white to really understand what apartheid meant to a black would take mighty acts of will and imagination. And unless we do use our imagination, unless we consciously decide to really understand how apartheid was for a black person we have absolutely no right whatsoever to try to say that apartheid wasn't that bad. It was bad, so bad that whites I think will always struggle to understand how bad.

The other trend which is defining something in our society is that of conspicuous consumption on the part of some blacks who have “made it” in the money stakes, and the defence they use of their blatant and vulgar displays of affluence: that criticism of it is somehow the result of a refusal to accept or acknowledge black success.

South Africa is the most unequal society in the world as measured by the Gini co-efficient. The wide disparity between the wealthy and the poor is acknowledged as a reality and a serious problem by the government. The wealthy are mostly, though not by any means exclusively, white. The poor are mostly, though, again, not exclusively, black.

In the face of this kind of inequality, the widely-publicised eating of sushi off the bodies of scantily-clad, beautiful young women is just obscene. It is degrading to the women, and insulting and insensitive to those who struggle to find a meal, any meal, each day.

There are people who live on land-fills and rubbish dumps, scratching for morsels of food discarded by others. There is a point to celebrating success, but one has to look at the nature of the celebration in the face of the extreme deprivation suffered by so many.

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Tecomaria capensis, one of my favourite South African flowers. Photo Tony McGregorKalk Bay fishing harbour near Cape Town. Photo Tony McGregorWaterfall at The Hogsback, Eastern Cape. Photo Tony McGregor 1989Former president Thabo MbekiFormer president Nelson Mandela signs the South African Consititution into law in 1996, watched by Mr Cyril Ramaphosa
Tecomaria capensis, one of my favourite South African flowers. Photo Tony McGregor
Tecomaria capensis, one of my favourite South African flowers. Photo Tony McGregor
Kalk Bay fishing harbour near Cape Town. Photo Tony McGregor
Kalk Bay fishing harbour near Cape Town. Photo Tony McGregor
Waterfall at The Hogsback, Eastern Cape. Photo Tony McGregor 1989
Waterfall at The Hogsback, Eastern Cape. Photo Tony McGregor 1989
Former president Thabo Mbeki
Former president Thabo Mbeki
Former president Nelson Mandela signs the South African Consititution into law in 1996, watched by Mr Cyril Ramaphosa
Former president Nelson Mandela signs the South African Consititution into law in 1996, watched by Mr Cyril Ramaphosa

Knowing where we have come from, where are we going?

The elections of 1948 (in which only whites voted, apart from a handful of blacks in the Cape, where a different franchise was in operation) ushered in a period of turmoil and suffering and the determined attempt to impose a racial system of great cruelty.

The elections of 1994, in which all South Africans across the land participated, ushered in a period of a different kind of social experiment, a social contract based on human rights, non-racialism, non-sexism and a broad inclusiveness which deliberately cut across the divisions created and maintained by apartheid.

In 1996 the country's Parliament adopted the SOUTH AFRICA CONSTITUTION ACT 1996 which entrenched in a legal instrument the hopes and aspirations of the South African people in all their rich diversity.

On the occasion of the adoption of the new constitution in May 1996 then-Deputy President, later President, Thabo Mbeki made a speech in the Assembly which has become known as the "I am an African" speech and is justly celebrated as one of the greatest ever made in South Africa.

In ringing cadences typical of black oratory Mr Mbeki claimed the right of all South Africans to the title "African."

Some excerpts from this classic speech:

I am an African.

I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.

My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightening, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.

The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld.

The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of our day.

At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito.

A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say - I am an African!

I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the beautiful Cape - they who fell victim to the most merciless genocide our native land has ever seen, they who were the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and dependence and they who, as a people, perished in the result.

Today, as a country, we keep an audible silence about these ancestors of the generations that live, fearful to admit the horror of a former deed, seeking to obliterate from our memories a cruel occurrence which, in its remembering, should teach us not and never to be inhuman again.

I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me.

In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their proud dignity informs my bearing, their culture a part of my essence. The stripes they bore on their bodies from the lash of the slave master are a reminder embossed on my consciousness of what should not be done.

I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.

My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandhlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as the Ashanti of Ghana, as the Berbers of the desert.

I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena and the Bahamas, who sees in the mind's eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk, death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads, a dream in ruins.

I am the child of Nongqause. I am he who made it possible to trade in the world markets in diamonds, in gold, in the same food for which my stomach yearns.

I come of those who were transported from India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we could both be at home and be foreign, who taught me that human existence itself demanded that freedom was a necessary condition for that human existence.

Being part of all these people, and in the knowledge that none dare contest that assertion, I shall claim that - I am an African.

Mr Mbeki also stated the clear hopes for the future that most South Africans share, the hopes that were struggled for during the dark apartheid years, the hopes that we strive for today, that were bing embodied in the constitution adopted that day:

I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa.

The pain of the violent conflict that the peoples of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, Burundi and Algeria is a pain I also bear.

The dismal shame of poverty, suffering and human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share.

The blight on our happiness that derives from this and from our drift to the periphery of the ordering of human affairs leaves us in a persistent shadow of despair.

This is a savage road to which nobody should be condemned.

This thing that we have done today, in this small corner of a great continent that has contributed so decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes.

Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now!
Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!
However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!

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Puddy on his skateboard
Puddy on his skateboard
Puddy on his skateboard

So where are we now?

I am not a romantic idealist who is blind to the many faults of this country, South Africa. There is too much violence against women and children; there is too much crime, and frequently violent crime, for any of us to feel complacent; there is too much poverty, and the school system is woeful. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has left communities ravaged, the number of child-headed households proliferating, and the provision of health care, especially to the most vulnerable, almost hopelessly inadequate.

There is corruption up to the highest levels of government which is sapping the moral fibre of the people and providing an incredibly bad example for young people to follow. Added to this is a lack of accountability, almost an avoidance of accountability, in all levels and spheres of public life.

There is still too much poverty around - too many people are still excluded from the benefits of the democracy and freedom that has been so hard-won. Too many people go to bed hungry at night, too many people don't have a decent shelter or a piece of land to call their own, too many school children still attend classes under trees instead of in proper classrooms, and too many of them still have to walk many kilometres to their schools, leaving them vulnerable to unsrupulous people and the ravages of exhaustion and hunger.

For all that I remain optimistic about South Africa. I agree with Mr Mbeki, that given what we have come through, "Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say - nothing can stop us now!"

I am optimistic because I believe in the strength of our democracy and the readiness of people to debate issues, to talk out and to be vigilant.

I am optimistic because, for all the difficulties we have face in the economy, we are resourceful and, as the old Afrikaans saying goes, "'n Boer maak 'n plan (A farmer will make a plan)".

I am optimistic because I encounter daily evidence of the goodwill of the majority of people, without regard to colour, language or social class. I am constantly amazed at the level of acceptance we show each other.

I am optimistic because people still rally around worthwhile causes, like the "16 Days of Activism agains Women and Child Abuse" which happens each year.

There are still people like young Puddy Zwennis who recently rode a skateboard from Johannesburg to Cape Town, a distance of 1800 kilometres, to raise awareness of poverty.

Puddy wrote on his website Skate for Change: "I had everything I could wish for, even the things we took for granted, like a warm bed to sleep in at night and a delicious plate of food every day... Life has always been good to me, I never had any shortcomings... That is why it is time for me to return the favour."

How can I not hope when there are young folk who can think like that?

The kind of South Africa I can believe in

I have just found this excellent piece by Professor Jonathan Jansen of the University of the Free State called "My South Africa" which I thought readers here might also appreciate. It was posted by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson on his personal blog.

Please hop over there and read it. This is the kind of thing which makes me happy to call myself a South Afican!

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2011

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Comments 54 comments

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Wisdom is a common rarity,tonymac,as your rare wisdom is uncommon;)


Scarlett My Dear profile image

Scarlett My Dear 6 years ago from Missouri

Tony, I very much enjoyed this article! Beautiful photographs depicting South Africa's pride, joy, and the shameful! Well done.

Mr Mbeki's speech, I am an African ~ Inspiring.

I will share this with a close family friend of mine, also from South Africa. I am sure he will love it.

Thank you! ~Scarlett


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Tony, this is a wonderfully written hub about your memories of growing up as a child amidst all the changes in South Africa. Former President Mbeki's speech is very spiritual. Hopefully things will keep going in the direction of improvement for Africans who have been long suffering in so many areas. It is easy to see where your heart lies. Going to twitter this and also rating this up, useful and beautiful.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Nice to read about your memories of South Africa.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Tony. Great Hub! Your love of Africa and your pride in being African shine through this story.

I did not know about "uBuntu", what a great word to describe the spirit of African humanism!

This is such a rich and multilayered Hub, that I will come back to reread it...I find it hard to comment actually because there is so much detail and history that is important to read to understand Africa! Great writing!


Rose Ella Morton profile image

Rose Ella Morton 6 years ago from Beverly Hills, Michigan

You talk about the changing of the words. The word "negro" was also change to hurt those of the black race. which made it way to the southern states. Here in America we a moving fast away from the past.We now have a black President. Most think lest about the Past. But this was the past of our ancestors as the saying goes you must forgive those who hurt or do you wrong or you will become their prisoner for life. you will stop living for youself. I never been to Africa but it sad to say, I really don't care to go.


Rose Ella Morton profile image

Rose Ella Morton 6 years ago from Beverly Hills, Michigan

And what with calling this guy a busness man. He's a prevert and he probably has a wife. In America this would be called a after hour's Club or a Strip Club.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Acer - thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated, friend.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Scarlett - thanks so much for stopping by and I hope your friend enjoys the Hub. Let me know, if you can, what he/she thinks.

Thanks again.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Peggy - thank you so much for your kind words and deeds! I appreciate it very much indeed. I guess I do rather wear my heart on my sleeve?

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Sandy - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Scribe - thanks so much for your great comment. I really appreciate it and I'm glad you found the Hub interesting.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Rose Ella - thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, which means a lot to me. Sorry you don't care to come to Africa - it's a wonderful place!

Yes, I think Kenny Kunene is married! I'm not sure I would call him a pervert though! Just rather insensitive.

Thanks again

Love and peace

Tony


Makiwa profile image

Makiwa 6 years ago from Australia

OMG Tony - this sais it all. Everything in my heart and soul you have layed bare. I have read bits of that speech but never it all. We can only hope and I beleive like you that there is hope. I see it everytime I return home to see my family in The Eastern Cape. The eyes say it all, they are confident and sure of their future now. I know there is still the dark shadows. You have made me stop crying - thank you


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Makiwa - your words have moved me very deeply! Thanks so much for the thoughtful and heaertfelt comment. I really appreciate it very much.

Love and peace

Tony


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago

Tony, I have been waiting such a hub from you. At last, you wrote it. It is such a beautiful piece of work. Excellent work.

South Africa is the most eye-opening country I have visited so far. There are so much stories to tell, so much to do, and so much to pray for a better day to come for South Africa.

I hope you will write more of such hub. I can't do much for South Africa, but the least I can do is to pray for the country and its people.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Inspiring and beautiful Tony. The depth and sensitivity of what you've written is amazing. I'll want to read this again and share it. L&P - Peg


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 6 years ago from Sweden

Great hub Tony. It is both a very sad hub, and at the same time, there is hope! Humans have many old and evil deeds that some try to minimize or repress. And that is almost as bad as when the injustice was commited. The least we can do is to recognize and be able to learn something from history! You have wrote a vivid and emotional image of South Africa, and your love for the country shine true! Since I know little of your country I found it useful too! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ingenira - thanks for stopping by and leaving such a wonderful comment! Your prayers are appreciated also, thank you.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Peg - I thank you for your very kind words. I deeply appreciate them

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Thougtforce - I'm really glad you liked this Hub and got something from it. It was both a pleasure and a pain to write, but I felt some things had to be said. I believe in this country and its people very passionately.

Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

Love and peace

Tony


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

Tony, what an awesome-awesome hub! Thank you so much for publishing the "I am an African" speech - getting hold of this beautiful speech was for a long time a wish I've postponed to realize due to too many other priorities. Do you by all means know where I can get hold of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech? The one that includes his famous words in Afrikaans: “Wat verby is, is verby....”

I love my ancestors, but I am so ashamed of their racists philosophies, and also of my fellow-countrymen who are still nurturing the same thoughts and believes. Their arrogance and self-exaltedness, and on top of it their audacity to ground it in Christian ethic, can not be justified or respected. We’ve started over in 1994, building from scratch what we all want – a prosperous country - but sadly, it seems to me the foundation is once again in sand. But, and this I hope with trust, ’n Boer maak ’n plan. I’m not talking about a silly AWB-plan, but a plan equal to that of F.W. De Klerk and his allies in 1993.

I’ve said it before: You are a brilliant ambassador, completely objective and without any preconceptions. I’m so proud to be your fellow-country(wo)man. Take care!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is a wonderful story and you told it so well.It is so sad that people are hungry in the world.The speech,"I am an African",was so thrilling to read.The comment,"Nothing can stop us now" is wonderful.The whole world needs to come together to do something about the homeless and hunger.It can be accomplished if the world leaders would feel the need.My prayer is that will happen.Thank you Tony.

Love and Peace


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago

Tony, another rich hub about S Africa. I find myself reflecting again on how significant our cultural experiences are. I'm also wondering if there will ever be a day when countries aren't fighting each other and defending themselves from threats; and when we are supporting each other in growth and toward reaching full potential. My prayers for reverence and prosperity throughout your great nation.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Martie - thanks so much for your very kind words. All of Mr Mandela's speeches are available here: http://www.search.gov.za/info/vql.jsp?s=true&rx=tr... as far as I know. Hope you find what you are looking for. Otherwise try the Nelson Mandela Foundation at http://www.nelsonmandela.org/index.php

Thanks again for the thoughtful comment and kind words!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ruby - you thoughtful comment is wonderful - thank you.

Greed and violence cause so many problems for us all.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Kim - thanks for the thoughtful comment and for the prayers! Nations like people seem to have great fears which leads to great follies!

Thanks again.

Love and peace

Tony


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

Tony, you communicated beautifully your love of South Africa. I am so glad I visited South Africa and read Mandela's autobiography before going there. It was a fascinating trip.

Thank you for quoting Mbeki's speech. It was quite powerful!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Mysterylady - thanks so much for the very kind words. I appreciate your visit very much.

Love and peace

Tony


lionel1 profile image

lionel1 6 years ago

I can see that you're one deep man, as I've said already your Hubs are amazing, thanks for another great Hub, really appreciated.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Oops! I missed this one. It's beautiful Tony. You and Africa have a great history. God bless you Brother Tony!


ValerieH profile image

ValerieH 6 years ago

Mr Tonymac you write so beautifully and explain things so well. I enjoyed this hub tremendously. Peace.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Lionel - thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a super comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Brother Micky - it's always so good to see you! Thanks for the kind words.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Valerie - what a joy your comment is! Thank you sincerely. Glad you enjoyed the Hub. That has made my day!

Love and peace

Tony


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Wearing your heart on your sleeve is a good thing!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Peggy - thank you! I appreciate your comment.

Love and peace

Tony


ed77burns 5 years ago

Pics portrayed what all you wanted to say.wonderful story.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Tony, what an educational hub, I never gave Africa any thought past the slave trades to America or perhaps getting a chance to go on a hunt there. I'm so shallow in knowledge of Africa that I'm totally impressed. It's late in the day for me now and I'll never get the chance to come see, so from your articles the experience makes me sad that I had not spent the time I had the chance to go. I have a club of some kind of wood, thin handle and bulbous end that was given to me by the people who invited me to tag along with them. I was told that holes were dug and food was placed in them and monkeys would reach into the hole and once they grabbed the food their hand was to large to retract and the club was to knock them in the head. It is a strange looking thing but I've had it 20 or more years. Since reading your hubs I've come to realize that you live in a unique place that I could have been born into as easy as not and life would have been different but really as things are relevant, I wonder how different as you show things in word that run parallel with America in so many ways. Thank you, God Bless, Dusty


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

ed77burns - thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dusty - thanks so much for that comment, which I really appreciate. The stick you have is called here a "knobkierie" and is a "traditional weapon" used for more than hitting monkeys over the head with! It is often the weapon supplied to night watchmen, among others.

There is a lot of South African history which does seem to run in a way parallel with that of the US.

Love and peace

Tony


Linda Myshrall 5 years ago

Tony, this was absolutely riveting. First to experience the chaos and confusion of such a troubled time through the questioning eyes of a thoughtful child, then to see it all over again through the sames eyes, now wisened and pragmatic. There is an indescribable beauty in this. Regrettably, it seems that every country has its historical warts. We need (as you seem to) to love our place enough to try and make it right. I would love to visit South Africa someday; even more so after reading this. Best, Linda


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Linda - thank you so very much! I really appreciate your words and feel very happy that you found this Hub meaningful.

I think you are right about all countries having "warts" in their pasts. It's the effort to put things right that makes life worth living!

Please do come and visit South Africa - we are all very welcoming here and the country is beautiful, as are its people.

Love and peace

Tony


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50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Tony, thanks for the word "knobkierie" now when asked I can answer with a bit of information. It is hand carved out of some dark wood that is heavy and dense. It has little saw like teeth on the ball end and I'd hate to get thumped with one, I think it would ruin ones day! Dusty


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tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dusty - you are most welcome and thanks for coming back. Yes, they are usually not nice to be thumped with! Not sure what kind of wood that one of yours would be made of but could be stinkwood which is dark and dense. Will think about what other wood it could be and let you know if I come up with anything!

Love and peace

Tony


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James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this personal and national history. I enjoyed reading it. Compared to its neighbors in Africa, your country is very wealthy and modern. Why do you think this is? Didn't the majority of the sub-Saharan population immigrate to South Africa in the 20th century because of its relative prosperity? Just curious.


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tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

James - thanks so much for stopping by and leaving an interesting comment and questions.

The relative prosperity of South Africa is due mainly to the mineral wealth under the ground and the very favourable agricultural possibilities above the ground.

South Africa has very big proportions of most of the minerals sought after by the rest of the world and supplies substantial amounts of gold, diamonds, copper, coal, and the rarer minerals. According to Wikipedia, "It is the world's largest producer of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculite. It is the second largest producer of ilmenite, palladium, rutile and zirconium. It is also the world's third largest coal exporter."

The country is also a net exporter of agricultural products and has a very favourable climate.

Many people from sub-Saharan Africa have migrated here in part for the economic opportunties and in part because of the relative social stability. Since the advent of democracy in 1994 social conflict has declined dramatically, although there is still some due mainly to the huge discrepancies in wealth that still exist.

Those who came to South Africa though are far, very far, from being a majority of the population of the rest of Africa. Estimates vary but of the total population of South Africa of almost 50 million, under 5 million are foreigners living and working here. Africa has a total population of around 1 billion.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Barry Adkins 5 years ago

Came across this while browsing, I am a missionary living in Mthatha, grew up in butterworth, really enjoyed your writing. Just got back after 3 months in USA, glad to be home, no desire to leave RSA at all.


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tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Barry - your comment is a delightful surprise! Did I or my parents ever meet you in Butterworth? Wish you had left contact details - would love to be in touch!

Thanks again for the comment.

Love and peace

Tony


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elnavann 4 years ago from South Africa

Thanks Tony - I can relate to so much in it. Now I feel we need a common vision in this country. I remember when all of us were involved in the development of the Reconstruction and Development Plan - I could relate to what the (then future) politicians wanted to achieve, which now seems lost between the cracks of personal ambition and corruption. In 2010, just before the World Cup, when racism was up there in the news (Eugene Terreblance death and Malema's Zim speech), I thought we were going to explode. Then we had the Bulls rugby supporters getting a spontaneous reception in Soweto, and all of us waving our flags all over. I started to hope that the ordinary people of all races may still experience a feeling of shared citizenship. I still hope that


Suelynn profile image

Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

Tony: I am a newcomer to HubPages and linked to this article through one I wrote about the Jacarandas in Johannesburg. What incredibly deep and intelligent writing! Bravo!

I was born in South Africa and left for American shores in 2000. I carried Africa with me, in my heart, and it will always be so. I have often wanted to write about life in South Africa, but it would only be from my limited perspective. It is such a complex, layered society.

One of the things that marched across my mind's eye on reading, is that people move, migrate and conquer all over the planet, and have done so throughout history. I am not saying it is right, just that it is human behaviour. Better technology is what allows people to conquer, but nothing can ever conquer the human spirit.

I have learned from your writing and can only say that I share what is in your heart and that of every other South African regardless of their origins. I look forward to reading more of your work as time permits. Voting up and awesome!


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evelynsaenz 2 years ago from Vermont

I have long wondered what it was like to live in South Africa. Growing up across the ocean, in the opposite hemisphere, it is difficult to imagine despite reading news accounts. Thank you for sharing your story.


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Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Tony, this was a wonderful piece to talk about your native country of South Africa. Your poem was wonderful as well. Voted up!


Johan Smulders profile image

Johan Smulders 9 months ago from East London, South Africa

Great hub Tony. We shared many common experiences and times and all I can say is amen.

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