Author Topic: Soapbox, Sales Floor or Front Porch?  (Read 5306 times)

Jabulani

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Soapbox, Sales Floor or Front Porch?
« on: February 01, 2012, 01:06:41 am »
Mike, I really enjoyed your nostalgic meanderings  8)  I suppose that's mostly because I've finally grown old enough to get a bit nostalgic about my own youth.

When one mentions South Africa's history, most people would immediately think about the white supremacist ideology, the Apartheid system & the Black Liberation Struggle that, I suppose, will always define the macrohistory & socio-cultural relationships & identities of my country. That is as it should be, of course, lest we forget our past & make the same mistakes once again.

But on the ground, things were not always so easily categorized in 'black-&-white' terms. In the eastern districts of the old Cape Province (today the Eastern Cape Province), the Afrikaner people & the local Xhosa people have always interacted with each other intimately. I come from a working class background, & my grandparents lived in a 'mixed' neighbourhood. I suppose that, as working class whites, residential segregation just wasn't such a huge issue for the government. Our neighbours were for the most part fellow Afrikaners, Xhosas & Coloureds (mixed-race). Everyone spoke Afrikaans, with lots of Xhosa words & phrases added. Sundays were family days, with huge family get-togethers over truly monstrous Sunday lunches. In summer, not a evening would go by without at least two or three families in our street having a barbeque. And everywhere & always, hordes of kids would be running & screaming & just having fun.

I still rememberhow the house-wives in our street would get together to gossip over tea or a sigarette, whilst sitting out on the lawn or the porch to make sure that we kids didn't get up to too much mischief. And when we did - as would inevitably happen on an almost hourly basis - any adult was free to call us to order. And if our transgressions were bad enough to deserve punishment, the whole lot of us would receive a hiding. That kind of collective parenting is something that was very much an everyday part of our lives. No one ever questioned it. After all, since we kids were all friends & did everything together, then it would have been highly unfair to single out only the actual miscreant.

Sadly, one simply does not see that kind of communal life anymore - at least, not in the cities. Life has become to frantic, too dangerous, for parents to entrust their children's safety (never mind, their upbringing) to people they hardly ever see & more often than not, have never even talked to.
I'd rather enjoy life...besides, it costs nothing to smile!!!

Mike Briggs

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Re: Soapbox, Sales Floor or Front Porch?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 08:21:01 am »
That sounds like an amazing childhood Jabulani.  You're right, when I think of South Africa, what comes to mind is the footage of apartheid clashes and Black liberation.  And of course, even that was filtered through the lens of the USA's own racial tensions.   The news skews things, because they show the violence and protests, anger and unrest.  The news van probably never stopped to film a dozen kids playing in a peaceful neighborhood with a few watchful adults looking on from the front porch.  Even though there were thousands or millions of scenes like that for every scene of unrest.  Kind of sad, really.

That communal life was very different than my own childhood (though we had good neighbors and lived a few miles outside of a very quiet little town), but I saw some of that when I lived in Venezuela.   I really missed the neighborhood barbeques, just two or three families cooking food, and sharing with anyone who wandered by (especially if you wandered by with a side dish).  That probably happened two or three times a week.  I'm a lousy cook, so I thought this was a grand way to live!   LOL

Thanks for sharing Jabulani!  Now I want to visit South Africa!
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Jabulani

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Re: Soapbox, Sales Floor or Front Porch?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2012, 09:06:36 am »
Mike, WHEN you & Patty come down, please do let me know. I am her most avid fan, & I've become rather a fan of your 'front-page articles' as well, so I'd love to meet you guys. South Africa continues to suffer from tremendous unemployment & poverty, but under our new political system there have been incredible improvements as well. It's a wonderful land, with the friendliest people imaginable.

My ouma's (grandmother's) neighbourhood was very much how I imagine small-town America to be. Honest, sincere, straightforward, compassionate & very committed to the community's overall welfare. Conservative too, of course, but I have always hesitated to equate 'conservative' with 'fanatic'.

As for the barbeques, well, it was kind of expected that everyone brings at least something along - if only a garlic loaf or a milk tart. Or, if someone was unable to bring something along, the unspoken understanding was that they would stay afterwards to help clean up. That way, everyone contributed in some small manner, which only strengthened that sense of community.

Of course, we kids being the rascals we were, were always pestering the older teenage boys (and girls) to sneak us a glass of beer to the backyard, & many times I ended up with one heck of a hangover from two or three sips...
I'd rather enjoy life...besides, it costs nothing to smile!!!

ratkinson

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Re: Soapbox, Sales Floor or Front Porch?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 11:33:12 pm »
oh how i miss those days, as i read through the post and recalled how it was like during those times when everyone in the neighborhood new about each other and that every housewife was having tea and talking about random stuff while waiting for their husbands to come home from work, this was really a very simple and safe feeling that people felt more secured during those days even though we have a lot more security advancements in the present, it felt so different then. i do hope that people would still be able to take time to appreciate our surrounding and be friends with the neighbors so that in that way one can build a better community for the family as well.