USA11 – Ik ben een Afrikaan

December 31st, 2015

New Year’s Eve 2015

Today marks the 11th anniversary of our arrival in the USA. I can say with pride that I speak English like a Californian and Afrikaans like a Bolander. I am also now the proud owner of a Blue as well as a Green passport, and have citizenship on two continents, on both sides of the Atlantic, and indeed on both sides of the equator. At times this balancing act resembles the wild ride on two circus horses, an unrehearsed trick that threatens to tear you right apart.  Contrary to Fiddler On The Roof’s Tevye, I cannot ‘tell you in one word’ that it is Tradition that allows me to keep my balance in this wild gallop, this treadmill around the sun. It is rather a tedious process of molding around a central core, chiseling and grinding till you become a changed person from the one that arrived here 11years ago, and also different from the one you would have been, had you never taken that giant leap acrosse the ocean. In one of the most complex societies and the most multiplexed cultures in the world – this life in Silicon Valley – one has to decide who you are and what you strive for, and I ofen reflect on the words preached to us in High School ‘you have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything’. I now recognize how my family has gradually shaped a South-African-Californian fusion in our taste of cooking, reading and activities. This is not a true fusion of cultures. Culture is one of the qualitative aspects of humanity which is hard to  define, and impossible to quantify – especially in an era where data and computational significance are increasingly demanded. Through trials and tribulations, often treading water in a raging current, my changed form has been molded and my new being is gradually crystallizing. Above all I have new clarity, and it dawns on me with every new sun. I know my foundation, I am comfortable with my inner core. I cannot deny it. Ik ben een Afrikaan. And I agree with Chris Barnard who describes it so eloquently: it is not a uniform I am wearing, it is a roof under which I find shelter.

May this great Afrikaan rest in peace.