Heritage Day. Germiston Style.
On Heritage Day last year, the following slight differences between myself and my neighbours became apparent. The neighbours were: young, Zulu and stone cold sober. Moreover, they had a sparkly blue pool and I did not. It was a very hot day, even in the shade of the mulberry tree. “Let’s ask the neigbours if […]
On Heritage Day last year, the following slight differences between myself and my neighbours became apparent. The neighbours were: young, Zulu and stone cold sober.
Moreover, they had a sparkly blue pool and I did not. It was a very hot day, even in the shade of the mulberry tree.
“Let’s ask the neigbours if we can go over for a ghoef, like when we were small.” I say to my group, suggesting we go and take a swim at the neighbours. “No, Vivienne!” my sister groaned. “Please don’t bother those poor people and don’t embarrass us.”
Too late. I was already negotiating terms across the barbed wire fence.
“Happy heritage day!” I said to the friendly young man. “Can I come over for a quick swim?”
“Cool!” he said.
Imagine the rest of his group’s surprise toe die dronk wit Tannie met die belaglike hoed shows up with a bottle of Absolut.
They were very gracious, I must say. They were playing 30 Seconds and had much better music than us. Even though the cards were in English they spoke only 100% Zulu throughout. I don’t know how, but through a weird sign language and charades system, I even got an answer right in Afrikaans.
(I have since started learning Zulu through the Wits Language School as it is not lekker to be the stupidest person in a 30 Seconds game. Also, it is probably a good idea to learn to speak the language most of your fellow countrymen speak, not only as a sign of respect, but as an act of utility and quite frankly, I should have done it many years ago.)
I said I would leave them in peace, on condition that one of them joins me for a dip. The group had a vote and laughingly sacrificed the bright spark who let me in in the first place.
We giggled and whooped and performed flying bollemakiesies (somersaults) into the pool. Splash! Ghoef! Done. I went back to our braai under the mulberry tree.
I left the bottle of Absolut there. I thought life was tough enough for a young Zulu in South Africa to have to go through it without vodka.
Jan van Riebeeck made me do it.
Fellow South Africans, Heritage Day, formerly named Shaka Day after a famous Zulu leader means many things to many people and no doubt it will evoke all kinds of reactions and emotions. I simply encourage all of us to see if we can overcome some kind of (barbed wire) fence and break through any kind of (language) barrier as we are all in this (fire)pool together.
Catch Viv Vermaak on Edenvale Radio Station or follow her on Facebook.