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After A While

I used to love this poem when I was younger and I came across it again today. I’m not posting much at the moment, due to thesising, working and other commitments, so at the very least I can share this with you guys:

After a while

After a while you learn the subtle difference between

holding a hand and chaining a soul

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and

company doesn’t mean security

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contacts

and presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats with your head

up and your eyes open with grace of an adult

not grief of a child

And you learn to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s grounds is too uncertain for plans

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if

you get too much

So plant your own garden and decorate your own

soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers

And you learn that you really can endure

that you really are strong

and that you really do have worth

And you learn and learn

with every good-bye you learn.


By Veronica A. Shoffstall


Na-eem se droom

Na-eem is 12 jaar oud. Hy is maar een van die seuns wat rondom ons huisie bly. Gister het ek die voorreg gehad om saammet Na-eem te sit en lees in ons library, toe praat die jong seun bietjie sy hart uit. Hy het vir my probeer verduidelik watter sussies en watter boeties aan watter pa en watter ma behoort, maar ek konnie bybly nie. Ons se maar, tussen sy ma en sy pa (wat lank nie meer saam is nie) is daar BAIE kinders. Na-eem bly saammet sy pa in iemand anders se huis, ek is nie eers seker hoeveel kinders en grootmense in die klein dubbelverdieping huisie ingeprop word nie. 

Hy vertel vir my dat hy ook ‘n pa wil he wat omgee oor hom. Hy wil nie net dat hy “…’n 5 bob in die hand stop en vir my se om te loop nie. Ek wil he hy moet regtig interest in my he. My vra hoe my dag was”. Hy vertel vir my dat hy bekommerd is, omdat die oom wat die huis besit hulle weer uitgesit het. Na-eem se pa bly amok maak in die huis en die oom is moeg daarvoor. 

As ek vra hoekom hy steeds in graad 4 is, vertel hy “…dis die tyd wat ons mos so baie getrek het. Ek het nie geweet waar ons gaan bly of wat ons gaan eet nie… My lewe is nogsteeds deurmekaar. Ek weet nogsteeds nie”. 

Na-eem se droom is om ‘n lawyer te word, want hy wil “…uit hierdie plek uit. Hier vang mense net junk aan”. Hy vertel hoe hy droom van soms net weghardloop. Hy wil skool klaarmaak en dan net werk om sy eie geld te kry. Ek vra hoe hy dan ‘n lawyer gaan word as hy nie gaan swot na skool nie, klap hy sy hand teen sy voorkop en se “Ai, ek het nie daaraan gedink nie. Dan sal ek maar colledge toe gaan”. 

Na-eem gaan tien teen een nooit ‘n lawyer word nie. Daar’s ‘n goeie kans dat hy nie eers skool klaarmaak nie. Met die lot wat aan hom gedeel is, is dit nie verbasend nie. Maar hy glimlag nog, teken vir my prentjies vir my yskas en speel sorgvry bal in die straat. Sy drome oor eendag hou hom lewendig. Sy glimlag hou hom sterk. Selfs al word hy nie ‘n lawyer nie, die droom is nie verniet nie. Elkeen het iets nodig om aan vas te hou. Image


I don’t think in statistics. I don’t think in years and numbers and time past. I often can’t recall the dates that things happened, how many people did what and exactly where. I’m never sure of the extent of the problem or how things came to be the way they are. Somehow, my brain has no file for remembering these things.

I do however, think in pictures. I think in memories and stories and the way someone looks when they tell me of their life. This is how I remember things. This is what adds value to how I perceive things.

I’ve recently realised I have so many conflicting stories in my head. People who are technically on different “sides” but with whom I both sympathise.

Recently I watched a show called Kat and the Kings at the Athol Fugard theatre. The theatre is situated in the old district six and the show is about a vocal group during the apartheid era. This show filled my heart with empathy for what happened to so many families and dreams that were lost in the process.

Just before the show my friend told me he watched a TV show on a crime that was committed a few years ago, when two white guys were shot and left naked by the side of the M5, by four coloured men who were high on Tik at that time.

I read newspaper articles of how the ANC is messing things up in different parts of the country. How all the shop owners in Pilgrim’s rest lost the tenders to their shops, which have sustained them for years, and with this, their livelihood, to black empowerment companies with no capital to support their new ventures.

I hear of boere that are shot on their farms. I listen to stories told by family members who live in the Northern Province. I look at the faces of the young men from Heideveld that I am interviewing for my research. I hear how their fathers abused their mothers, how they got involved in gangsterism and left school, of how they are now unable to find a job. Of how all they want is a wife, a house and to be able to support a family.

I hear these stories, I see these faces. I look at Tafelberg and I remember the hills in Mpumalanga. For me, these aren’t conflicting stories. They are part of South Africa. All of them. No one’s story trumps someone else’s. I don’t know who said this but I love this quote. “Be kind to one another, for we are all fighting a difficult battle”.

In South Africa, I believe, we all suffer from a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have flashbacks of painful pasts and walk around fearful of our futures. We do not know who to trust, where we can go to safely and how to plan for what might happen. We are all in the same boat. Our lives don’t look the same. We are not all fighting the exact same battle. But we all live here together. We all suffer from what happened in the past, and we all need each other now, more than ever. This is how we overcome, this is how we move on. By listening, by acknowledging pain and by stepping up and taking responsibility for change.

At the beginning of the year the Cape Town Carnival was held in Greenpoint. I loved this. I loved it so much. It made me so, incredibly proud to be South African. We are such diverse, strong-minded, dynamic, talented, amazing people. We all have tons of strong qualities that can over shadow our weak ones. I loved standing there, seeing how magical and beautiful we look when we throw this all together. I mean, no other country boasts with 11 official languages, people of all flavor and colour. We are still alive and standing and beautiful and diverse. This is my heart’s wish, that we can all meet each other. That we can all acknowledge each other as human beings and worthy of being here. With that thought, before I become completely sentimental I will leave you.

Claude (middel) en Oliver (agter)

Claude (middel) en Oliver (agter)

All smiles



Beauty personified

Abubakker (Noem hom sommer Bakke)

Abubakker (Noem hom sommer Bakke)

‘n Glimlag wat enige hart kan sag maak




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