I am delighted that I have such a crystal clear and detailed recollection, of the past seventy four years. I plan to share my incredible journey with you all. Growing up as an infant during the “Apartheid” years in South Africa, that the world remembers. I would like to share with you, a “joyous” account, of what it was like, having an African “nanny”, looking after an infant white child! One could never imagine what a significant role she played in my life, during my infant years.
Mum and Dad, owned and operated a bakery, in the small coastal community of Scottburgh, located on the south coast of Kwa Zulu Natal, thirty seven miles south of Durban – South Africa’s premier vacation destination. Scottburgh was also a very popular vacation destination for families from Johannesburg – Surfing, Fishing, great hotels and a great golf course – where I honed my golf game, at the young age of five years old!
I would like to share with you all, how fortunate I was to have a “nanny”. Our nanny had been with our family for some twenty three years – She also happened to be my elder sisters nanny – my elder sister is thirteen years older than I am. With Mum & Dad both working, Nanny was my source of joy – she played “maternal” role during those infant years. Carrying me on her back, as she would her own child, wrapped in a blanket – the Zulu word for carrying their child, was known as “ Beh – Leh – Da” talking to me, singing to me in the Zulu language, while she went about her daily household chores, washing dishes, ironing, vacuuming, and dusting. (this is how all African mothers would transport their infants around while working) Turned out to be the start of a beautiful friendship that I have treasured ever since! Something I will never forget, and have been eternally grateful for.
Growing up in South Africa was a blessing for me. A country that was without Television, fast food outlets, crazy about their sports, we learned at a very early age, that it was always about “playing” growing up. Lots of friends to play with. I learned at a very early age, the value of developing good strong friendships.
It was an adventurous life – growing up living on the ocean, being able to enjoy the vast beaches and sand dunes to explore, learning how to swim on my own, I started collecting local tropical birds eggs, climbing mango trees like little monkeys, we would feast on mango’s that happened to be growing in our own yard at home. Living in a tropical climate, we also had trees bearing, papaya, lemons, and a strange local fruit called “martingulu’s”. Yes, a small wild fruit, growing from thorny hedges, about the size of a pigeon egg. Probably our most popular find, when we were able to find them! When ripe, they would be of a reddish colour – anything not ripe, had a bitter milky taste, which we immediately spat out!!
Friendships lasted a lifetime – starting in kindergarten right up to first grade, onto junior, and finally High School. Some of us were able to be together for all those early, but important “growing up” years! I suffered as a child with hooping cough, and our family doctor, suggested to Mum & Dad, that I attend a Boarding School in the interior of our Province (Natal) where the higher altitude would certainly make an incredible difference to my health condition.
When sharing with friends on my arrival in Canada, that I went to a “boarding school” – both junior and high school – they were mortified. “How cruel that must have been for me”? On the contrary! It was a spartan school for kids, starting at the age of 8, which I was at the time, starting my junior school years. We were all accommodated in dormitories, played all the sports – rugby, tennis, cricket, swimming and soccer. We also had a choice to enjoy other curricular activities such as, piano lessons, horseback riding, as well as having your own personal little garden! Our history and art classes were conducted outdoors – most in local historic foothills which surrounded our school. This provided us with a “real “environment” for our history lessons, as well as going down to the local river for Art classes – sketching willow trees, river rapids – great subject matter. I’m am sure that this is where I developed my “people” personality. Little did I realize at the time, the incredible role it would play in “this life well lived”!!