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From the Crucible | #MyFridayStory No. 142

From the Crucible | #MyFridayStory No. 142

The environment you grow up in is a great predictor of your worldview.

My ancestry stretches back to faraway lands with tales of romance, tragedy and survival.

My Father’s ancestry can be traced back to The Vikings. Their exploits of raiding and plundering throughout Northern Europe can be traced from Scandinavia to Ireland, on to France and finally, arriving at the Cape of Good Hope with the French Huguenot settlers in 1687.

My Mother’s lineage traces back to The Netherlands. My ancestors took part in The Great Trek of 1835 to 1846. The Great Trek was a movement of Dutch-speaking colonists who famously trekked into the interior of southern Africa in search of land. Amidst great challenges and hardships, my family travelled through South Africa finally settling in the Northern Cape.

My heritage is steeped in Afrikaner history.

My Parents were born and raised speaking only Afrikaans. When they were both sent to Johannesburg to complete their training, they had it tough. My Mom went to the Nursing College and my Dad to the South African Airways to become an aircraft technician. All their textbooks and lectures were in English.

Before they married, they swore not to let their children ever suffer as they did.

Through a combination of living in a city like Johannesburg, and not in the platteland,’ and going to English schools, with English friends, reading English books, and English being the main language spoken in our house, but retaining our conservative God-fearing Afrikaans religion, my siblings and I acquired a different perspective or worldview to others born of Afrikaans or English heritage.

My older Brother and two Sisters and I have lived a life without an identity. It’s been a life of discrimination from our kind as well as our ‘adopted’ culture.

Our English friends called us names like ‘Dutchman’ – a derogatory term for white people of Afrikaans heritage. Our Afrikaans family and friends called us traitors – ‘verraier.’ Most of the animosity between white Afrikaans and English speaking South Africans stems back to The Boer Wars of 1880 and 1899. But, one can argue that before our first democratic elections in 1994, the Afrikaner nation’s decades of ‘dominance’ in South African politics played a major role.

Forged from this crucible we gained a unique worldview.

My Parents were genius in their approach to how they raised their children. There is little doubt their worldview was influenced by what they experienced while away from their conservative upbringing. By sticking to their belief in what they saw as being ‘the right way’, or ‘a better way,’ they charted a new path for our family.

As the offspring of a Father and Mother who left behind their families to start a new life, I have benefited immensely. Having a foot planted in each camp – a liberal English influence and a more pious Afrikaans culture – allowed me to understand our differences more deeply.

Our Afrikaans heritage is forged in our deep devotion to God and our family. The influence of our English upbringing helped to open our minds to things on the fringes. Our hearts led by love and our minds by common-sense has pushed us to question our prejudices and biases. We can question the inherent problems of our past histories while also being proud of those pioneers that came before us.

My siblings and I all have children and grandchildren of our own. They will go on to forge their path into the future with traits from their upbringing.

My only hope is we have spared them from the crucible.

Have an awesome weekend and have fun! 😄

As always, thanks for reading 🙏

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