Last week, South Africa heard the cry of her women who have had enough. Rape story after murder story plastered the news and angry ladies marched the streets, proclaiming that they would not stand for cat calls, male expectations on them, rude or stereotypical comments made about females.
The injustices done to women because they are women hit a peak when a beautiful young lady was raped and murdered in a post office. The outcry was immediate and the women finally screamed, “This isn’t our fault that these incidences keep happening!”
There were news reports, poster boards, new hashtag movements and social media posts colouring South Africa in deep shades of angry red.
I love how our generation know how to speak up. Older generations criticize us for being idealistic and individualistic, but our parents always told us to follow our dreams and always be on the look out for ‘stranger danger.’ Well, this generation are now fighting for their dreams; dreams to be able to safely mail a letter. This generation are now screaming because they know that both strangers and friends are danger, and they are willing to scream until they are heard.
However, in the midst of blasting canons full of sore words and angry tones, I sat in the back row in church on Sunday and listened to one girl’s voice. It was strong and rich and said things that unraveled things in the hearts of her listeners. Waterfalls of words splashed the cheeks of the people listening with their ears, their eyes and their hearts.
She spoke a poem that she had written to herself on her twenty- first birthday, ‘Daughter.’ She described her beauty, her curly hair, and rich dark skin, her worth and her place in a white city. She asked white women to raise their daughters to see all the different shades of skin colour and to love the rainbow that they create. She promised to raise her daughter just the same.
Her audience could not sit down at the end of the poem.
Through the chaos and the desperate screams of a desperate country, the #menaretrash and #aminext movements fell away. Men looked at her in awe and wonder over her incredible gift (not at what she was wearing or what she owed them), and I think many women answered her request with a solid ‘yes.’
Whenever I speak about it, my words ironically gush in nonsensical rapids of excitement over just how beautiful, powerful and defining it was.
If you happened to be situated near a river on Saturday, heard high pitched squeals, saw a boat continuously spinning in circles, and watched as a man had to keep coming to the rescue of the only two- girl boat… you might have seen us.
We take birthdays very seriously in our house. The morning must contain some type of delicious, calorie- laden breakfast and bottomless cups of tea. There must be noise and smiles and tearing wrapping paper, and shrieks of, “Oh no, I’m going to be late!”
We took the celebrations to a new level, by chucking streamers and balloons all over the beams in our lounge, and leaving multiple cards around the room, each one holding a reason as to why we love the birthday girl.
Each birthday person in the house gets the question, “Would you like a really nice birthday present, or would you like an experience?” We’re not rolling in money, so there has to be a choice. We all know what the decision will be, but we ask it anyway.
It took us about thirty days to come up with our genius plan, but we were pretty proud of it once we had it.
On Saturday morning we told our birthday girl to outfit herself in gym clothes and old takkies. “If you feel like wearing a cap or some sun cream, we won’t stop you.” Five people then piled into the car, with some great tunes pumping, and we drove a little roadtrip to our surprise destination.
“We’re white river rafting in winter?” was our victim’s first question when she saw the sign to her experience. Our hearts plummeted a little, as our skin was tickled by goose bumps. Maybe there was a flaw in our perfect plan after all.
Luckily the lady of the company was highly professional and highly convinced that we would soon forget about the winter winds and would prefer not having jerseys on. We got all geared up in life vests and Powerpuff Girl helmets, and bounced along in the back of a bakkie to the river.
Our instructor didn’t take much nonsense, except for the moment where he was teaching us how to help someone if they accidentally fall in…Maybe it was a joke, maybe he was daydreaming out loud, I won’t go into too much detail.
The obvious “Paddle Puff Girl” was taken by our resident male and then everybody paired up into teams of two for a harrowing ride. One of my housemates declared that she couldn’t possibly go with me because my reaction time is slow.
Yes. You can be offended with me.
Nevertheless, my other housemate said she’d happily go with me, and we started the paddle with a weir. Approach it head- on, make sure the canoe is straight and watch out for rocks at the bottom. We, and everyone else, crushed the first weir. The second weir was a little steeper, and we all plunged canoe nose- first into the water, only to bob up again a few seconds later, drenched.
The rest of the paddle had our one instructor continuously speeding up to our canoe to get us out from between the rocks, or out of the quicksand. Poor man!
Birthday girl was beyond happy, with laughs and highly awkward moments, and tons of photos (Thank you dry bags!), and she even forgot about the cold as the blinding sun and the exertion from paddling played a collab part in warming her, and everybody else up.
We were lucky to have my two British cousins in our car. The big old Prado bounced around the Kruger roads while the inhabitants laughed and blasted music and fought within. The other car completely contrasted ours, somber and serious, searching for African creatures hiding in the bush veld.
Our first full Kruger day held eight hours with these two contrasting cars zooming about the roads at a whopping forty kilometers an hour, stopping every now and then when a passenger shouted “stop!” All other passengers would magnetize to the side of the car closest to the creature of interest, a picture or two was taken, and then we would continue on with our journey.
We were kept highly entertained by the little British voices next to me. One comment that came from the young teen was, “imagine if a guy lived on his farm and had to help his wife have their baby because they can’t get to the hospital in time. He would see a lot more of his wife than he’d ever bargained to.”
We saw a jackal, a hyena, hippo and some birds of prey. Other than that, we came across a momma ellie (might even be scarier than a momma bear) eating leaves hanging over the road with her two little babas next to her.
An infantile bakkie driver (bakkie is a pick up truck in South Africa) roared past in his haste to get to wherever he felt necessary to roar off to. Momma elephant flapped her ears, desperately wanting to protect her calves, while our cars desperately reversed backwards to get away from momma ellie.
My cousins and I, who aren’t much in the way of brave hearts when it comes to elephants in their best moods, lay as low in our seats as we could. What you can’t see, you can’t fear, according to us.
Squeaks and squeezed tight eyes happened behind my parents as they tried to assess the situation, deciding when the best time to pass the elephants would be.
Eventually momma and baba ellies crossed the road and headed further into the bushes, and we were able to get out alive and tell this near death story to others.
We, again, ended our first full Kruger day with GnTs with the sun setting over the quelea- munching crocs in the dam below us.
Post awkward reacquaintance with my overseas family, we were woken early by our parents, squashed into our respective cars filled to the brim with holiday food and luggage, and hit up a young convoy- type road trip.
We stopped in a small town with quaint restaurant, and my “I’m not really hungry” was squashed by the array of delicious breakfasts, I spent the time picking bacon off my little cousin’s plate.
The closer we got to Kruger, the more layers of clothes we shed, as it got hotter and hotter the higher into South Africa we drove.
By the time we got to Phalabowa gate, temperatures were reaching 35 degrees Celsius- disclaimer, it’s winter this side of the hemisphere. In the park, on route to our camp, we came across tons of ellies grabbing partial tree branches, steenbok hiding in the tall grass, and the usual impalas grazing all along the road.
When we arrived at the cabins, we didn’t even go inside, we all (adults included) ran to the main deck. Sipping GnTs, we stared at the massive dam in front of us, accessorized by crocs, water buck and the African sunset. My near- hypochondriac mother went around spraying everyone with mozzie spray, fearing malaria around every corner.
Out of nowhere, the Kruger silence was broken by millions of flapping wings overhead. Little birds known as quelea flew down to the water in synchronized movements. They danced as a unit along the surface of the water, every so often being disrupted by hungry crocodile (who felt like a tiny snack) leaping from the water to catch two or three.
Week four of the viral plague and the progress is slow.
The flu began taking a hold of my physical being on Monday, 17th June, and I, being the work martyr that I am, went to work the next day, talking over the ‘cheese grater’ in my throat, and swallowing coughing fits threatening to betray me to my employers.
When I finally got home at the end of the day, I burritoed myself on the couch and let the warm burn of the flu take over. I gave in and messaged my boss, telling her that I would have to take the following day off, but fear not, I will be better by Thursday.
Cue the montage of Jordy, wrapped in puffy duvets, surrounded by what would look like an attacked bird’s feathers (in actual fact they are used tissues) and a sniffling red nose attached to her face.
On Thursday night, I was kept up by the dark grips of a coughing fit. Like a trouper, I stayed at it, believing that it would eventually subside and sleep would take me. Alas, sleep did not show up, and our little cat cuddled up next to me because an awake human means tickles, and that’s what she got all night as I begged the coughing to stop.
At five am, I finally gave up. In true adult fashion I sat on the couch and called my mom, asking her if she thought I should really go to a doctor. “Jordy, the emergency room is open now, and medical aid will cover it. Just go.”
I waited for my roommate to wake up to let her know where I was going, half hoping she would offer to come with me. My hopes turned to beautiful relief when she said that there was no way I was going alone.
You guys, I actually adulted. I went to a doctor when I was sick and I got meds. True true, I was much too scared to go alone and my mom had to convince me… but it’s a step in the maturing direction, I’d say.
The doctor took one look at my pale, shivering being and croaky, frog voice and gave me the antibiotics, nose sprays and pain killers I needed to stay alive. She also booked me off for a few more work days.
It has been almost three weeks since my doctor’s call, and the nose still sniffles and the coughs still cough every now and then. When I said in my last post that I deserve an award for the longest flu in the world, I wasn’t kidding.
Maybe you’re thinking that you haven’t read a more pathetic, sorry- for- herself post before; maybe you’re thinking you’ve had a longer flu and I must just get over myself. But if boys are allowed man flu, then I’m allowed to be dramatic.
I fell off the face of the earth for a bit there. Space was fun and all, but I’m happy to be back… kinda.
There was a trip to the sea, there was the longest flu in the world (I should win an award or something), there have been friends who returned from Brazil, and a brother who crossed the sea to try make it in another country, there has even been a few dates with a certain young man… but we’ll get to that part at a later stage.
I’ll start my return post with a long weekend. It was good. Very good. Great, in fact.
We woke up at 3:30 in the morning and left the city at 4. My friend drove, and I was in charge of the music. Classic
We stopped halfway for food and fuel, but the negative numbers showing on the temperature gauge had us grabbing coffee and hurtling back to the heater of the car. My friend felt so betrayed by the audacity of the town for being so cold, that she couldn’t even eat breakfast there.
We arrived at my baby brother’s hockey match just in time to watch him assist in a beautiful goal, and then magnificently score another one. Proud sister moment right here.
We stayed at my parents’ friend’s beautiful house, in a beautiful estate, on a beautiful hill, with a beautiful view. It was good. So was the food. I don’t understand how home cooked food makes life so so much better, but it just does. The soul feels completely satisfied.
The next morning, my dad begged me to go for a walk with him, and I begged baby brother to join us. Alas my young screenager would rather lie on the bed behind his phone than hang out with his awesome sister and obviously cool dad.
After dropping off the little spice cat, that is my baby brother, at school, we headed back home, where a more post- pubescent brother and a vast empty beach was waiting for us. We got Afros (look it up next time you’re in Durban… You’re welcome), and drove to see the sea, and sandy our toes, and eat our favourite meal while listening to tumbly- turning waves splash around in front of us.
It was comfortable and beautiful and soul- fill fulling and heart- warming. All the happy feels.
At home, we ate chocolates and watched John Tucker must Die, because when I’m home, I’m the queen and everyone in the house must watch what I want to watch, and no- one must complain.
On Monday morning, it was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to my parents for two months, and goodbye to my brother for a year or more (He’s the one who moved across the sea). The car journey back could have been fun, only the ache in my throat could have rivaled that of serrating it with a blunt knife, and the longest flu in all the land began settling in.