I am haunted: There’s a landscape behind my eyes. It’s the backdrop to everything I see. A longing, emotional landscape... While looking out at inner city squalor, bleak buildings, traffic and cement... I am also looking inward, at mountains, forest walks, beaches of whitest sand. One, my current neighbourhood in Sydney, Australia - the present. The other, one of the most beautiful corners of the world, the Western Cape in South Africa. The past. Aside from missing friends and family in the beautiful country of my birth, I always knew I would miss the spectacular beauty of the place we called home for over 3 years. But other priorities, other considerations, of which I have written in many of my previous blog posts, caused us to make this move – back to Australia, where we have citizenship and lived for many years before too. We have good reasons to be here. And we won’t always live in this inner city suburb. Sydney, and Australia, has many beauti


"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." - Nelson Mandela That quote from the much-respected Mandela is all well and good, but if you can conquer that fear by moving somewhere else, for your own safety, and for the sake of your child’s future...then I don’t see why you wouldn’t grab that opportunity. Background: We left South Africa at the end of 2012, for a variety of reasons (already explained in previous blog posts). However, the escalating crime rates in the country, and the alarming degree of violence and cruelty, especially towards women, children and animals, were a huge factor in my own decision not to raise our daughter in our so-called ‘home’ country. Instead, we returned to Australia, to Sydney – a large city with many issues of its own, and of course crime is still a fact of life for people living here, as it is in cities anywhere i

What I loved about living in South Africa, pt2

Following from my previous two blog posts in this mini-series about my recent decision to leave South Africa, country of my birth, and return to Australia where I had lived for many years... Here is the list of the main things I loved about living in South Africa (again). The first three are also the reasons we decided to move back there in the first place.... 1.  Family and friends Of course. It goes without saying that it’s much nicer to be closer to family and friends and have the opportunity to see them more often. The opportunities I had to reconnect after 10 years living out of the country I grew up in were much treasured, and I have so many happy memories – including our wedding on Noordhoek beach; my best friend from school days flying down to help before my wedding, and again to meet my newborn daughter a year and a half later (this could not have happened if I was still living overseas); my surprise baby shower with family in the Eastern Cape; a Christmas in our

What I loved about living in South Africa, pt1

After my last blog post, it might seem as if the decision to leave South Africa was an easy one. It seems I have only criticism and scorn for the country of my childhood and family. This really isn’t true. I do believe you should be able to honestly critique your own country, your own background and origins though. It’s like being able to love your family or friends completely, yet still see them for who they honestly are – imperfect, fallible human beings. Sometimes even downright annoying... as we all are. And yes, sometimes we even need to head out into the world, leaving them behind for time, because we need a bit of ‘space’ to grow (this usually happens after leaving school). In other words, I am not trying to say that one country is better than another, just different. Since countries are made up of people, it’s not surprising that they will not be perfect either - and anyway finding your way in the world is a constant negotiation between your own needs, and those of ot

Brick walls, culs-de-sac and closed minds

I can’t say I am sad to see the back of 2012. One absolutely mind-blowingly amazing thing happened – I gave birth to the most gorgeous little girl in the world (and I am not at all biased, of course). Other than that, however, and even in part due to that, it was a very difficult year – stressful, tiring, challenging, demanding…all those sorts of words. And at times heart-breaking. Why? Well, a few reasons – some of which were simply the unsurprising results of being a new mum: adjustments in my own selfish little world, and my marriage (reasonably new, at 2 years); sleep deprivation; various anxieties (big and small) about whether I was doing the right thing; and often feelings of isolation and loneliness (despite having a loving, involved husband to share the journey with). But we also packed up our lives of over 3 years in Cape Town , South Africa , to move back to Australia , via 3 months in New Zealand . With four animals and all the logistics that involved (quara

reactions to a massacre

My last few blog posts have been discussing ‘what’s wrong with shooting a bunch of protesting miners’… and the bigger picture considerations when assessing what led to the massacre at a Lonmin mine in Marikana, South Africa a few weeks ago . Previous posts in this mini series covered: 1. Democratic principles; 2. Human Rights; 3. Cultural violence; and 4. Structural violence. In the final post in my short series, I will be exploring the reactions of South Africans a bit further – at least the aspects that have amazed and concerned me. I might be throwing the cat among the pigeons, but here goes... 5. ‘us’ and ‘them’- or ‘ubuntu’ vs ‘white guilt’ The term ‘Nation-building’ is frequently bandied about in political and intellectual circles in this country. I would prefer to speak of community-building, since national identity and patriotism are problematic, twentieth-century terms more likely to start wars than build a sunny shared future for us all. Disputed term

Digging even deeper - Structural Violence

Continuing from my previous blog posts, this is the fourth installment in a short series discussing the massacre of a few weeks ago at a Lonmin mine in Marikana , South Africa . I have felt that the general discourse (if discussed at all) among average people has been ‘what’s wrong with shooting a bunch of protesting miners, when they had been violent and even apparently committed murder (two policemen were killed in the preceding week)?’ Well, a lot, actually. In my previous posts I have discussed the most obvious levels first: 1. DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES; and 2. HUMAN RIGHTS. Then the previous post started digging a bit deeper into.... 3. A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE In this post, I will be digging even deeper… and this is where I start to really step on people’s toes… 4. Exploitation and ‘Structural Violence’: Taking another look at my admonishment in the preceding post to ‘build peace’ rather than ‘increase security’ (i.e. arm yourself/ protect your property/ militari