back to my roots

18 Oct

Once upon a time a man called Jack from Somerset, England went to South Africa to fight in the Anglo-Boer war. He signed up for the shorter of a year or the duration of the war and when his time was up, Jack and his best matey (also Jack) took themselves to a deserted, but beautiful corner of southern Africa: the Waterberg. He arrived and bought a farm and promptly set about courting the prettiest girl in the district: Rhoda. Over sets of tennis in her parent’s garden, Jack beat off Rhoda’s suitors and the two of them married. They had four children: Marjorie (Marge), Kathleen (Kay), Rupert and Mabel (Mabs). Marge was my grandmother.

Those four children must have had an amazing bond. They cared deeply for each other well into their old age. More than that, they insisted that holiday time should be shared together. Husbands and wives and countless offspring were dragged to holidays at their siblings’ homes. More often than not there was at least one gathering per annum at the family farm in Vaalwater where the cousins caused all manner of havoc. Children were swapped over school holidays and my mum can remember few school breaks when she did not see at least one of her cousins.

Of course, the cousins they grew up and reproduced as well: giving birth to a generation of second cousins. Although we never spent quite as much time growing up together, I count my second cousins as some of the most interesting people I know. Some of them I see often, some I have only met once. Pretty much all of them are spunky and caring and make a mark in their community.

This weekend my cousin Lindsay married her Pilot beau in Vaalwater* and a stack of the cousins were invited: well, at least one for every branch of the family. I hadn’t been to the Waterberg since early high school (I think) so Stof and I turned the journey into a bit of a pilgrimage.** It is marvellous that a small town plays such an important role in my family history: and that my family played an important role in that small town. It is even more splendid that two branches of that family are still firmly represented in Vaalies (Rupert and Kay’s descendents respectively run the family farm and the old trading post turned awesome lil’ shopping centre). They’re about the most cosmopolitan small-towners I’ve ever met.

So this weekend we’ve been in the bush. Hanging with the cuzzins (and other family). Celebrating a beautiful and graceful woman’s marriage to her love and saluting four siblings who had an amazing bond.***

* A lunch-time wedding (my first)! It was pretty fabulous: so relaxed. I reckon my favourite kinds of party happen during the day (with the option of stretching into the night, of course). The other thing that must be said about that wedding was the deliciousness of the wine which was made by the Pilot’s family. How awesome? All I want to say is that if you get a chance to get your hands on a bottle of Rico Suter wines, do it. Immediately.

** On our way up to Vaalwater, stofnsara enjoyed a delicious and drunken dinner with some of my fav Jozi girlfriends and their partners. Then in our babalas-daze, we visited the Constitutional Court (because it is worth it on so many levels. If you go to Jozi, visit the Court, ok?) and Maropeng. Maropeng is the Cradle of Humankind. Maropeng is a most satisfying word to repeat multitudinous times. As a place, it is fascinating and brilliant and interactive and you even get to go on a boat ride and walk through a trippy vortex! And then we spent a night in the Waterberg mountains for Stoffel’s birthday before heading to Vaalwater.  Once again I apologise for the lack of photographs, but the new camera has been ordered and we stand to be among the first owners of a Canon G12 in South Africa. In about 6 weeks time. Sigh.

*** The thing about four siblings with an uber-strong relationship that makes me so jolly excited is that Stoffel is also one of 4. That we might be able to give our children (and their children) a community of cousins is one of the most wonderful legacies I can imagine.

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