I always vowed that should I ever moan about the mild Irish weather and “soft” days, then I might go back to SA.
Simple really, just like most people here in Ireland get quite excited about 2 days of sunshine in a row, so too do the farmers and people from the Great Karoo when they are blessed with a bit of rain.
So having had the fortunes of living in both weather extremes, I can today categorically confirm that sun beats rain.
No brainer says you, but take into consideration that the Great Karoo is always sunny, and at the height of it could be 45 degrees in the shade with water not even there to evaporate.
I never acclimatised to that heat and weather, but did enjoy like so many playing, laughing, singing and splashing with my bare feet in the welcome reprieve that was a drop of rain.
So after 14 years of never complaining about Irish Weather, I am now finally ready to take my next step not only in this walk, but indeed in my journey of becoming proudly Irish.
“Ah Jaysus, what about that weather. Will the rain just ever go away!”
When I set out on this journey, and decided on the dates – I never took into consideration the dates, and as it happened I crossed the border today from Northern Ireland to the Republic on another Iconic South African Election Day. My first time legally crossing the border and not having to worry that I “Was not allowed there”
I was in bits – I had a battle to get going, as both my spirit and body was battling to get started, and the weather forecast in advance did not help. Rest assured, I don’t mind a bit of rain, but add harsh winds to that, and it’s another picture altogether.
But as I approached the border from the North, miserable, I started to reflect on what a wonderful life I have had, and what astounding bits of history I have already been part of.
I remembered what and who shaped me, and I could not help but think of my late Nanny, Annie Grootboom, and the wonderful gentleman that was Arrie Jooste that were my caretaker parents – so much more to me than history will bestow on them.
I recalled how Annie, who could not read or write, but could always draw a cross to make her “mark” went to vote in 1994. She was quite old, and as a pen did not rest naturally in her hand, I recall how I helped her practice to make her cross within the box, and how important it was that she did not spoil it. I did not care who she voted for – simply that she could, and that I could serve my small part in it.
I remember the emotions that washed over me when I finally felt so very connected with my country of birth, and how I would NEVER take the right of equality as anything but with the highest responsibility.
To respect the freedoms that are bestowed on us takes courage and involvement. A responsibility to vote and make your voice heard. It’s a right that so many had to wait for such a long time.
So today when I felt sorry for myself, miserable and wanted to give up, I thought of all those days my Annie would walk miles to come and look after me, no matter what the weather. In the Karoo that could be -10 in crisp early mornings of winter, or 40 degrees in the scorching summer February sun.
The times that she would leave her own family behind and come to serve us and treated me as if I was the most special person in the world. Oh, and she spoilt me rotten – something like an Irish Mammy if I think about it now.
I remember all those who also got caught by the wrongs, the rights and the indifferences of our past, and celebrate the possibilities of the future, no matter how dark it might seem at times.
Tonight I am proudly Saffa-Irish. I am blessed by the lessons of my past, the possibilities of my future, but most importantly the Freedom of my present.
Below are two links of two songs that inspired me for the day. Say no more.