Chapter 2011: South Africa

‘Siyabonga’ means thank you in Zulu. In post apartheid South Africa, a ‘siyabonga gakulu’ coming from a ‘whitie’ at the checkout counter of the local supermarket earns you a wide-eyed and earnest smile from the (black) teller and perhaps a giggle. It always brightens my day, this nano-attempt to bridge the invisible color/culture divide still alive and kicking in the rainbow nation.

Siyabonga was the first word in Zulu I learned and it is a testament to this new chapter of my life called South Africa–the most challenging place I have ever attempted to call home–but also the place I am growing in the most. I thank you Africa for allowing me to plant a new seed in your earth and to this red earth a.k.a “Mama Afrika” for allowing me to take root.

Rainbow nation was a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa after the first democratic election in 1994.

I have decided to create a blog to honor my current challenges, musings and transformations. Every single one of my identities (I’m a Gemini so I have many) has been confronted by this new place: I am a soul-seeking Jerusalemite in exilic Johannesburg, a liberal California girl in the twilight zone of a country attempting to  make the shift towards a radical new equal opportunity and open society, a sophisticated New Yorker excited by the trends of social entrepreneurship and social change at the grassroots level and a Jewish woman who has found herself in the midst of a Jewish community that from a sociological perspective is a ghetto–both physically and in its collective intellectual and spiritual evolution (in my humble feminist opinion).
What I have discovered is that fascinating South Africa, a country cut-off from the rest of the world during the era of Apartheid, has a lot of catching up to do in many areas, across many communities and regarding certain mindsets that do not serve the good. I look forward to being a part of her transformation as I undergo my own entering into my second year living here and share with you in the journey. Siyabonga Gakulu!

“Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.” -Nelson Mandela


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