Wednesday, October 18, 2006


In my post of October 5th I invited anyone who might have wanted to, to ask me a question. Here are my answers:
“Here is a question for you. I have read several English blogs and several South African blogs, and I feel that it is actually easier for me to relate to the South African blogs than English ones. That really surprised me. Does it surprise you? Why do you think it might be true?

I lived in England for 7 years. It took me quite some time to get used to their sarcasm. It was really only after a few years there that I learnt to not take it personally and I finally understood that it is deeply entwined with their sense of humor. The English humor is like no other and for me there was most definitely a learning curve involved in how to interact with them on a frivolous, day-to-day basis. What I have learnt since living in the USA for five years is that a lot can be lost in translation even when both parties are speaking English.

South Africans are by nature far more open and warm towards strangers than most cultures, particularly the English. I think their general light and easy disposition might make it easier for you to relate to them. South Africans wear their hearts on their sleeve and represent a very, “What you see is what you get” attitude to life and how they present themselves to the world. The English on the other hand are far more guarded therefore making it harder to know where and how to plug into them.

“ … If you were invited to appear on the Oprah show, what little pearl of wisdom do you think you could offer to Oprah and her viewers that would alter their current point of view on who we are as a human race?”

I am flattered that you think I might be able to alter people’s point of view, be it on OPRAH or otherwise – I will take that as a compliment and thank you for it. I am going to give you a comment more than an answer to your question though.

Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a huge fan of OPRAH so this is by no means OPRAH-bashing. I would however like to tell her that her claim to being African American really doesn’t sit well with me.

The work she has done and no doubt will continue to do in South Africa is incredible and thank G-d for her and her contribution. I would however like to see her spend one night in Soweto or Alexandra township, as opposed to the
Saxon Hotel, for example which she apparently frequents.

It is in those areas where OPRAH will get to the heart and soul of black South Africa and those are the roots she lays claim to. I just question how many black South Africans have had the pleasure of enjoying putting their heads down in a room the likes of which are to be experienced at the Saxon? If she has perhaps done this, then I will be the first to retract my comment and apologize.

I just feel that I am more African-American than OPRAH will ever be and I find her claim to it seriously lacking in authenticity.

I doubt that this comment will be of the magnitude to shift points of view, but I thank you for asking the question and creating the platform for me to express my comment on.

“My question is why are you making me think of questions???”
I don’t know – good question!

“What does purple smell like?”
My answer to this was instant and I love the question because purple is my favorite color. For me, it smells like FANTA GRAPE. My earliest clear childhood memory is from when I was 3 or 4 years old at Astra Nursery School in Kensington, Johannesburg. Going as far back as then, I can remember my favorite soda being FANTA GRAPE. I can still feel the ripples on the lower part of the bottle and I totally recall how my top lip used to get stuck in the bottle if I drank without a straw. (It still happens to me as an adult – my sister always laughs at how I drink bottled water.) I used to love the smell of it then and I can still smell it now – and that to me is how the color purple will smell, for ever.

“Does Ross know any Afrikaans? Do you tell him about South Africa?”
The only Afrikaans I spoke was at school and most of the Afrikaans I was exposed to on TV, I didn’t understand. In spite of that, even after 13 years of living away from South Africa, the slang I talk is still predominantly Afrikaans. There is a strange phenomenon that takes place when South Africans abroad meet up or at gatherings of friends – we use a lot of Afrikaans, even if just in jokes or as slang. I have no desire to lose my accent either.

In the same way that my parents would speak to each other in Yiddish when they didn’t want us kids to understand what they were talking about, so do Dan Dan and I communicate in Afrikaans. Ross is both fascinated and amused by it. He has picked up, *“los it!” He constantly asks me to teach him Afrikaans and given how much he has heard Dan Dan and I use it, is confused when I say to him that I actually don’t know enough Afrikaans to teach him the language.

I do tell him about South Africa but more in the context of how I grew up as compared to how he is growing up. What makes me very sad is to think that when I do bring him to South Africa, there will be very little to show him of the country that I knew. While I love the fact that I will bring him to a liberated South Africa, there are aspects of what I call the good old-bad old days of South Africa – that my child will never experience.

As we say in South Africa, that’s my five cents worth –
I hope I did justice to your questions.
*"los it" - roughly translated - leave it, forget about, stop it.