The smell of a dirt road after the rain I will never forget. Likewise, every South African had experiences they can’t help but miss. It doesn’t matter what they say, South Africa is unique. There are not many places in the world where you can look across so many beautiful plains, or roar with laughter for an Afrikaans joke. But what do South Africans miss most? Is it only Bovril and Mrs Ball’s chutney, or is there more to it?
One thing is for sure: if South Africa’s political and security environment were different, much less South Africans would seek greener pastures, because culture is something from the heart. It is not only a braai and malva pudding, but a sense of belonging one misses most. So, what is it that you not only miss as a South African, but as an Afrikaner?
1. Laurika Rauch and Afrikaans poetry
To watch the stars on a quiet night while humming Laurika Rauch’s Mannetjies Roux or Bloubergstrand. Or to pick up an old book from your bookshelf and it’s Die mooiste van Van Wyk Louw, a poetry collection by Peter Louw. You scroll through it and shiver while reading Nagwaak and Seekoeivlei again.
2. Big family gatherings
Karen Zoid sings Afrikaners is plesierig. That is true, especially on Christmas Day, or any holiday. The family is the core, and no Christmas Day is complete without all distant cousins and a leg of lamb. Hospitality is the love language of Afrikaners, and everyone is always welcome!
3. Catching crayfish and open Bushveld fires
It’s not just playing kleilat in the farm dam or catching crayfish in Lamberts Bay that one remembers, but especially the freedom to be adventurous. A wood fire in the Bushveld is different from a coal fire or a gas grill. The closer to nature, the better!
4. Work ethics and good manners
One can certainly not generalise, but there are still young men who touch their hat when they greet older men, or who opens the door for a lady. Nowadays, work ethics are as rare as good manners. South Africans are hard-working employees. No wonder Afrikaners long for each other’s company!
5. The tradition of a meal
South Africans abroad do miss a braai with a decent steak dipped in Jimmy’s sauce, koeksisters for dessert and a bowl of hot melkkos with cinnamon, because for South Africans and Afrikaners food is an experience, a way to spend time with family and friends. It’s only us who can sit at the fire all night and always prepare enough food for twice as many people as there are. The Boers were known for having six to twelve cups of coffee before leaving the breakfast table; similarly, we have always been lingering over a meal as long as possible!
Life in South Africa isn’t rose-tinted. Each country must bear its cross, but being part of a borderless community is invaluable. Culture is merely a shared history with all sorts of unique and sometimes silly cultural practices. But no matter how small it is, that is what makes us who we are. Culture is celebrated by experiencing it, remembering it and retelling it. Celebrate it as much as you can with Liewe Heksie, Tolla van der Merwe jokes, tolletjiebrei, marshmallow braai and drinking moer coffee!
This post is also available in: Afrikaans