A South African Love Affair

Ahhh, South Africa. S.A.

South Africa means different things to many people depending on what era they were born in. For some, it’s the Rainbow Nation. For others, it’s the newest destination for the World Cup. As a more macabre individual, “South Africa” conjures up images of apartheid, rape, murder and injustice for me. If anyone is unfamiliar with this country’s history, let me give you a brief synopsis of how the country was formed:

Let’s say you’re at home in your very cushy house that your family has lived in for hundreds of years. A bedraggled homeless guy stops by and asks for a glass of water. Being a good Samaritan, you offer him not only water, but food as well. The homeless guy leaves, and comes back every few months to abuse your hospitality, demanding  more food, water and clothing. YOUR clothing. One day, when your back is turned, he asks you to pray with him. He wants to bring you the “good news”. When you open your eyes, he’s got your ancestral home and you’re the homeless guy now…only you’ve got a Bible to console you. That’s how the Dutch Boers colonized the nation. They were a bad guest that just never left.

I’ve never had the fortune of traveling to South Africa, but my husband did 2 years before we got married. In the 2 weeks that he was there for a mission trip, he fell in love with this country, townships, Afrikaans, social injustices and all. He loved the people. He loved the land. He could completely understand why those Europeans never left 300+ years ago.

A mutual friend of ours runs a school in one of the townships.She’s back in Atlanta this week to visit her family. She and Marshall chatted briefly after church this past Sunday.

“Why don’t you just pack up the family and move down there?” she asked him.

“Believe me, Nicole…I would,” he replied wistfully.

Later on that night, he told me about Nicole’s challenge to move. As we lay in bed twirling each others chest hairs, I asked him why not? Why not pack up and move to South Africa?

“Are you serious?” he asked. “What about Ghana?”

“Ghana will always be there,” I said. “Besides, my dad can come and visit us anywhere on the continent. He doesn’t need a visa like your silly American government refuses him.”

My husband’s breath quickened. He began to recount all the things he had seen and done in the country seven years ago. As he talked about the crags and panoramic mountain scenes, his voice got an octave deeper and he had a far away, misty look in his eye. It was as though he was talking about some hot ex-girlfriend that time and circumstance had separated him from much too soon. His amour for this country has me willing to give her another look. Perhaps she is not the evil whore I’ve presumed her to be.

It’s been refreshing to see him so excited about something these last few days. Who knows? If the winds blow right and with good fortune, I may be blogging from our new home in Port Elizabeth in 2011.