Twaddle & Twak

Rants, Raves and Everything Else!

When Grieving is a Luxury… December 1, 2010

Filed under: South Africa,Uncategorized — natalian @ 12:57 pm
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I have an amazing friend, we studied together, celebrated the end of each semester with a glass of white wine and a toasted cheese and mushroom sandwich and completed  our degrees together.  She went on to complete her Masters in Psychology and qualified as a Counselling Psychologist, I dabbled in the world of advertising, human resources and ended up with motherhood as my fulltime career.  I admire her.  She’s my angel friend and its a title she deserves.

Life is very busy for both of us but we seem to make a moment for a very lengthy annual phone call and this year after we had spoken I was humbled.  I always knew she was doing work with the Hospice down the South Coast of Kwazulu-Natal but never fully understood what it all entailed.

She works on the “Memory Box Workshop” and I am going to copy the description of what its aim and purpose is from the website.

”HIV/AIDS is having a devastating effect on families in SA today and children are paying a heavy price: they are experiencing multiple losses as their circles of care break down. These children are highly traumatized by the loss of parents – many of them witness the physical deterioration, even the actual deaths. Ordinarily, children’s natural bonds with their parents provide them with their personal, social & cultural identity. After the trauma of death many children face severe emotional instability; the risks include withdrawal, destructive behaviour, learning difficulties & depression. A solution showing significant positive results in increasing resilience in affected children is engaging the children in a memory work programme. A Memory Box workshop develops the children’s psychosocial well-being, essential for their survival. Also, the children whose needs have been met can help by providing emotional support to siblings & peers; they will also take part in other activities encouraging them to realise their full potential. The essence of memory work rests on the idea that it is good for the child to know his family story, however painful, on condition that this history is recounted in a warm, non-judgmental setting. They access this knowledge through memory & for the grieving process to unfold in a meaningful way the children’s perceptions & feelings need to be validated by supporting adults. The main aim of this intervention is to provide AIDS orphans with life skills that enhance their resilience so they cope better in life. A 5-day Memory Box workshop will be held in the school holidays following funds being received; 15 children will participate under the supervision of 2 qualified staff. Transport will be provided to & from their homes to a community hall where the workshop is held. All materials, memory boxes, Duduza dolls, photos & 2 meals/day will be provided.”

My friend explained to me that in our society we see grieving as a right, but in these rural areas where poverty is high, grieving is a luxury

“When you are the 5th grandchild to sit at Gogo’s (grandmother’s) table and needs to be fed, Gogo has no time to worry about your feelings, she is too busy being worried about finding more food to feed you and the rest of the children.”

I admire the work that this organisation is doing for those left behind, they are taking little lives and hopefully providing them with a turning point.

So today, as we remember those who have lost their fight with HIV/AIDS and support those who are living with HIV/AIDS , I want to remember the angels out there, who are dedicating their work, to making a difference in the lives of those whose worlds have forever been changed due to this devastating virus.


Marketing Seasons August 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — natalian @ 12:27 pm

Winter is always marketed so beautifully.  It always fascinates me how all the ‘rag mags’, from mid autumn, start choosing warm red, orange and chocolate-brown fonts for their front covers, advertising recipes for stews, pot pies and homemade soups and the freebies included are lozenges with extra Vitamin C, packets of soup and lip balm samples.  You almost can’t wait for the cooler weather so you can roll up in a comfy blanket and wrap your hands around a mug of  hot chocolate!

But with winter comes bugs and not the type you can keep away by lighting a Calendula candle. I am talking about the type that gives us the common cold or the flu!  Over the past two weeks I have been  introduced to another horrible virus called Conjunctivitis which swept through my Wee One’s playgroup like wildfire!  Wee One started with it, three days later Eldest had it and while I was patting myself on the back for dodging this particular bug, it caught me off guard and kept me in quarentine too! 

When I am finally allowed to roam amongst civilisation and replenish the grocery cupboard which is “Hubbard” in appearance,  I will stand in the check out aisle with anticipation, hoping  to see the rag mag covers sporting turquoise blue, lime green and strawberry pink fonts on their front covers, recipes for crunchy salads and summer fruit Pavlova’s, and this years ‘fool proof’ 2 week diet promising to awaken my inner bikini body from under my winter fat.   

Yes, I think I am about ready to be sold on summer…


Mommy Moments June 28, 2010

Filed under: family,Motherhood,Parenting,Uncategorized — natalian @ 6:34 pm

To keep the fine balance of sanity in our home, especially during these extremely long school holidays, we have something called “quiet time” which starts around 1pm when Wee One starts hitting his peak of  exhaustion after a full morning of running around trying to copy his older brother.  Eldest, sits quietly in his room ‘reading’ a pile of his books and Wee One, after a bit of protesting, heads off to the land of nod.  I escape to my room and gleefully pick up my book, enjoying the few moments I have off duty as “Supermom”!

Yesterday, Eldest decided that instead of reading, art was the order of the afternoon. 

With my nose firmly in my book I heard a strange shuffling noise at my bedroom door and a little voice announcing I had ” Post!”.

Under my door, I found a folded piece of paper, decorated with butterfly on the front. 

“What a beautiful butterfly!” I exclaimed.  “Is this for me?”

“Open it up Mommy!  Open it up!” replied the little voice at the door.

Inside, in his best 6-year-old scrawl was ” I love U M m” and his name written below.

So we left out an all important “o” to complete my name but as it was his first  attempt at a card, not instigated by a teacher around Mothers Day, this was the best present I could have received!  It was one of those precious “Mommy Moments” where you feel like all the nose wiping, sandwich making, juice pouring and the many other duties one performs daily are all worth it!

I hugged him tightly, praised his socks off and placed the special card next to my bed on top of my book pile.

Today, I received an additional three cards and  I am running out of space!


Ayoba Deutschland! June 16, 2010

Filed under: Durban,South Africa,Uncategorized — natalian @ 5:31 pm
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The day had finally arrived and we were on our way to watch Germany vs Australia in the first FIFA Soccer World Cup match, played here in Durban at the new Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Armed with our German flags, ear plugs, painted faces and my Eldest son sporting a striped mohawk of black, red and yellow, we headed out four hours before kick off.  The atmosphere was electric as we neared the stadium with both Australian, German and South African supporters walking around.  Some wearing official gear, some wearing next to nothing but body paint in their respective countries national colours and I think I saw nearly every type of wig, hat, cap and Makarapa hat (a hat fashioned from a hard hat that has been cut out into elaborate designs and colours, representative of the wearers team.), imaginable!

As night fell, we made our way towards  the stadium lights that glowed in the distance.  Vendors were selling flags, a lady walked about on stilts greeting everybody and people who had spotted a gap in the market were selling  a “Shushuzela”, (ear plugs to combat the dreaded Vuvuzela!). 

Walking up the stairs I caught my first glimpse of the pitch and the enormity of the stadium and couldn’t help but let out a whoop of joy!  It was beautiful as the white arch of the Moses Mabhida stadium crossed over against the dark sky.  Fans were singing and flags from all over parts of Germany and Australia were hung from the different levels. 

I may not be a soccer fanatic but I enjoy the game and watching the fans was entertaining!  A block of German spectators, a little way off from us, got the Mexican Wave started a few times, singing songs and doing “magic fingers” towards the goal.  It must worked, considering Germany won a 4 – 0 victory against Australia.

We were lucky to have only a few Vuvuzela enthusiasts around us and even they did not blow their horns the whole game. For the first few minutes of the game I thought I would not need the earplugs I had hastily purchased the day before, however the constant drone and not the volume of the Vuvuzela eventually had me digging around for them!  The noise became so irritating,  it was as if  I had a swarm of bees buzzing around in my head.  Hubby also pointed out that it was a shame that we were unable to hear the songs being sung by the German and Aussie  supporters around us.

After the final whistle blew and the stadium was vibrant with the colours of the German flag, we slowly made our way back home, falling into bed well after midnight!

Ayoba Deutschland!  Ayoba!

* Tonight I will be changing my colours to those of Bafana Bafana as they play their second match against Uruguay.


My FIFA World Cup Check List! June 11, 2010

Filed under: Durban,South Africa,Uncategorized — natalian @ 10:34 am
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This morning at 6am, I woke up to the distant blare of a Vuvuzela but instead of feeling annoyed, I woke up feeling excited!  It had finally arrived!  The first day of the FIFA Soccer World Cup which has managed to excite even those who are not avid football fans.

My husband’s family is German and so our family, although proudly South African, have placed our feet in both camps.  Today we will watch the opening ceremony and cheer Bafana Bafana but on Sunday we will head out to watch Germany play against Australia at the new Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban!

My FIFA World Cup list is as follows: –

German Supporters shirt – check

Face Paint – check

Flag – check

Learn the words to the German National Anthem – check

Ear Plugs for Vuvuzela onslaught – double-check!

Let the countdown begin!


Flagtastic! June 7, 2010

Filed under: South Africa,Uncategorized — natalian @ 7:38 am
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I only really cry if something moves me on a deep emotional level, emphasis on deep. So the odd movie or book can move me to tears, however this morning it was a flag.

My country has brought me to tears many times due to crime, corruption and the poverty that exists in our society, but this morning I was moved to tears by national pride.

We, South Africa, are about to kick off the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and although we can boast new stadiums, it is the people of South Africa, that have moved me.

For the first time, in many years, South Africans are uniting with national pride. Yes, we are supporting Bafana Bafana – our national football team, but most of all I think South Africans are proud to be South Africans and want the world to know it.

Driving my children to school this morning nearly every second car and taxi had a South African flag on it and houses have South African flags tied to their fences.

This morning I felt my eyes well up with tears, because today I am proudly South African and can only wish that we, as a country, can continue with this unity from 2010 and beyond.


Tough Questions May 13, 2010

Filed under: Motherhood,Parenting,Uncategorized — natalian @ 1:04 pm

As parents we are often faced with questions from our children which we may find difficult to answer.  There are the “Where do babies come from?”, the embarrassing ” Mom, why don’t you have what Daddy has?” and then there are the more difficult questions like “Why is the sky blue?” and  “Where is heaven?”  All which you can talk your way around or divert their attention with “Hey!  Who would like some chocolate?”  and promptly raid the easter egg stash you’ve been hiding in the back of the grocery cupboard!

This month I had to answer difficult questions from my five-year old which no amount of chocolate could solve. Because this month his childlike mind had to deal with the fact that human mortality has no age restriction.  A little classmate, who suffered with severe epilepsy, passed away suddenly after he experienced intense seizures that could not be stopped.  The school flag flew at half mast in honour of this brave little boy and a school went into mourning. 

“Mommy, why did he have to die?  It’s so unfair!  He was only 7 years old!” 

“Mommy, I think he is missing his Mommy and Daddy in heaven….”

“Mommy, can his Mom and Dad have another baby and call him the same name?”

“Mommy, I’m sad, I’m sad I am not going to see him again.”

All these questions I answered to the best of my ability while holding back the tears, because although I may not have known the family extremely well, as a mother, I couldn’t even try to comprehend such a loss.


So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen,… AGAIN! March 30, 2010

Filed under: family,Immigration — natalian @ 6:41 am
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It is almost a year ago that I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend of mine as she and her family departed for Australia, now I have to do this again and this time I have to say goodbye to family as they leave for New Zealand.  The people are different but the reasons are still the same.

So this week will be all about our last braai together, our last drinks together and our last Easter together.  It’s not a nice thing to do and normally I handle these things like a complete coward by sticking my head in the sand and waving them goodbye as if I am going to see them next week. 

It works for me.


Turn Out The Light. March 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — natalian @ 6:32 am
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There are 365 days in a year and some are more special than others.   We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays and public holidays. 

Tomorrow, March 27th, is not a special day but a special hour.  Earth Hour.  Those two words have so much meaning.  For one hour, starting at 8:30, every household and business are encouraged to turn out their lights, televisions, computers etc and give Mother Earth her hour to be the most important thing on our minds, so we can focus on climate change and what humanity is doing her resources. 

I took part last year and will be doing so again this year.  I love the fact that it is proactive.  We, as individuals, for that hour can collectively stand together and say our Earth comes first.  Because without our Earth there is no ‘us’ and it is time that Governments, Countries and its people start realising this very simple fact.  Let’s stop taking, the fresh air we breathe everyday,  for granted.


Uncomfortable March 20, 2010

Filed under: South Africa,Uncategorized — natalian @ 4:07 pm
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As a South African there are times where one can experience incredible highs, like watching Nelson Mandela become President of South Africa, the run up to the FIFA World Cup with its  awesome stadiums and marvel at our rich culture and beautiful landscapes .  There are incredible low’s as well, these are generally related to issues of crime in our country, especially when it touches your life or the lives of your loved ones.  These are things that you tell yourself can happen anywhere and in any country.

Over the past week I have started to feel uncomfortable and that has never happened before.

A very vocal youth leader in our countries governing political party, Julius Malema, has at gatherings and social political occasions enjoyed singing “struggle songs”.  Julius has recently sang, what the ANC has tried to placate us with as another hit from way back then, a struggle song with the lyric “Kill the Boers, they are rapists.”

For those who are unfamiliar with South Africa politics, struggle songs  were sung by those oppressed by the white regime that  governed South Africa during the Apartheid years.  They were sung to empower those who were oppressed and had lyrics which spoke of the Whites and Boers of South Africa as well as referring to the war which they were fighting against Apartheid.  The term Boer, which in the Afrikaans language refers to farmers,  is also used to refer to the minority white population of South Africa with Dutch Heritage and who speak the Afrikaans language.

The minority referred to in the struggle song sung by Julius Malema are not pleased, firstly they see this as “hate speech” towards them as a cultural group in South Africa and secondly the farmers in South Africa are unhappy as the farm murders in South Africa are on the rise.

We have been told by our South African government to not take these songs literally but understand that these are the struggle songs that they sung during the Apartheid years, that even their ‘white’ freedom fighters sung along with them.

I have only one thing to say to the South African Government who have been in power since 1994.  The struggle is over.  The Freedom Fighters of the ANC are now the ministers that are sitting in parliament and who should take every South Africans concerns to heart under the banner of the Rainbow Nation that we profess to be.  Those struggle songs were rightly sung in the Apartheid years, the government of the Nationalist Party brought strife and heartache to the lives of many in South Africa, but the ‘war’ has been won, those who were in power and brought Apartheid into South Africa are dead.

In our current Democratic South Africa  do these ‘struggle songs’ still have a place, sung in our present context do they not constitute hate speech towards certain groups in our South African population?  Is racism still being allowed by our current Government?  If we continue to refer to the past how can we possibly move forward?  If we continue to lay blame at the feet of the sons of the ancestors of Apartheid how can we grow as a country? 

This week my father, who is of Anglo ancestry, was referred to as a “drunk Boer” by a Zulu man in his place of business when a disagreement arose.  It makes me question just how damaging these struggle songs are in the “New South Africa”?

Yesterday, the Afriforum Youth tried to deliver a Memorandum to the ANC Youth League at the ANC Headquarters ,Luthuli House, to bring to Malema’s attention that words had consequences.   They were not allowed access and their memorandum and list containing the names of 1 600 victims of farm killings was thrown to the floor. 

Tomorrow, South Africa is celebrating Human Rights Day, it begs the question whose Human Rights are we celebrating? If it is not every South African in the Rainbow Nation and speakers of at least one of South Africa’s eleven official languages then it is a damn shame!  Or is it sham?