My Motherland

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The rules of the Afrikaner have no boundaries; the morals of my people remain steady in me, help everyone, never close your door to others, and above all remain loyal to God and the motherland to name a few. Never was there a heat that radiated so from the sun than that of my motherland. South Africa has always been the land of my people, the Afrikaner. For generations my family has lived in South Africa taking frequent trips to the sandy beaches, the open air markets, and the wildlife parks. My mother and father, both from Durban moved to America to receive a better education and as we as a family grew stronger, however, our hope to one day return to our true home also grew stronger. A few members of my family moved to America after my parents did, but the overwhelming majority of my family continued to live in South Africa. We frequently returned to South Africa to experience the daily life that my parents grew up in and learned from and sought to instill the lessons that my parents had learned in me.

At age seven my final trip to South Africa was taken. In the middle of June the weather for the beach was beautiful, at seventy degrees and low winds, my parents would take me to the beach and afterwards visit my family. Every day we would meet some new family even though we spent a majority of the time in South Africa with my mother’s parents, Gran and Gramps in their massive two story house on the bluff, or the highest spot in Durban. Constance, my family’s maid, had a flat, or a small house, on my grandparent’s property and always kept working above and beyond anything that I could imagine, keeping the whole house clean, and fussing at my family and grandparents when we cleaned up after ourselves. My grandparent’s house, made of brick, had many rooms, and black iron barred windows and a black iron fence around the house and Constance’s flat to deter thieves. My uncle Quinton, now deceased as of five years, lived with my grandparents, and would always take me to the beach and play with me when my parents became too tired.

The last family members I met were Oupa, which in Afrikaans means “grandfather”, and Nana, which in Afrikaans means “grandmother”. Oupa and Nana were my father’s parents, Oupa slightly overweight with grey hair, and Nana a blond woman who didn’t look like my grandmother. When I met Oupa and Nana, they immediately treated me as their own, and always laughing and playing with me, in fact, we got along so well, Oupa offered to let me stay with him for the night, and I was only too happy to oblige. I immediately went home with Oupa and Nana, and driving up to their stone-walled, single story house. There were lion heads carved, popping out of the stone wall that surrounded the house. In front yard there were gardens and a walkway to the house, and in the backyard, a massive pool (that occupied the whole area) with the lion heads spitting water into the pool with white and blue tiling surrounding the pool edges. Oupa and I swam in the pool until I was so tired I went inside and immediately went to sleep the moment I sat down. The next morning I woke up to Nana making me breakfast, an egg and cheese omelet, toast, and orange juice. After eating with Oupa and Nana, Oupa and I went outside to clean the pool, but about halfway through cleaning, my parents picked me up to come home. A day passed at Gran and Gramps house, and my father took a day trip with his brothers to Pietermaritzburg, just south of Durban, leaving my mother and I to go to the beach. After coming home for lunch, my mother received a phone call from my father. Oupa was dead.

I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand, but still, I understood. Oupa was no longer alive and my parents refused to believe that I fully understood the gravity of the situation, constantly telling me that Oupa had gone to heaven. I believed them, and I still do. Oupa was found dead, of a heart attack in his chair at Paper Companies where he was the head of the building. The tea lady had left to get Oupa some tea, and when she came back, Oupa was dead. After my family organized the funeral, we attended, the funeral was held at the same bluff church that all of my family had attended. Oupa was cremated and his ashes scattered on the rugby fields of Durban. But something that always rang true, I would always cherish the little time I had with Oupa, and I knew that he would always stay with me.





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Darrell said...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 10:31 am
This is an excellent essay Blake.  You blended a personal perspective well with the South African historical context.  Great work with a family connection.
 
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