No one ever explained to me in any way what Apartheid was! I just thought it meant certain people were more qualified than others for certain jobs and got better opportunities. Boy, was I wrong!
The horrors of that insidious and soul destroying and life limiting word, would be explained in detail to me, a little later by a lovely work colleague and friend from Nigeria. A moment in time that changed my life and my career path forever!
Up until this point I had never suffered discrimination or been ignored completely. You see it wasn’t only indigenous black people, it was anyone that wasn’t an Afrikaaner or South African, that got that “lower than me” treatment too as I was to find out first hand.
But first let me take you back to the 1980s when my South African adventure began.
My father at that time was an electrical engineer and used to look after the power grid covering all of Lincolnshire and the rest of the UK. He always loved Africa and the thought of Africa, as did I also, and the open spaces and the wilderness. So much so that he applied for an electrical engineer post over there and got the job!
This entitled him to bring over his family and get jobs there too if we fulfilled certain entry requirements. Luckily I did and was accepted first of all as an accounts clerk.
I arrived 6 months later at Johannesburg airport excited and apprehensive about what the future would hold and was hit by a wall of 32 c heat!! On the way back from the airport to my father’s new house in Germiston just 30 kilometres from Jo’Burg we stopped at the supermarket.
Wow I had never in my life seen 3 full shopping trollies of food being dragged around before, and it wasn’t a white person who was pulling around the shopping either! Something at the time I thought a bit strange!
Discrimination crept up on me at work almost instantly, it took the form of not acknowledging me when I spoke English, which for the first 3 months was very depressing and frustrating! I was always good at languages so it only took me a short while to learn Afrikaans and get accepted!
The most annoying thing was once I stormed into the office and said to my boss that if they don’t start speaking to me in English then I am off, he then turned round in English and welcomed me to the firm!! I vowed then at that moment I would never be constrained by limitation or discrimination ever again or have others think that way!!
The thing is that when you are not exposed to certain things then you carry on your life as normal!
I spent as much time as possible seeing South Africa and it really is beautiful! There is an energy, call it primeval, that calls to me and makes me one with the earth!
Africa does something to your soul, you breathe it in and you feel it and it becomes a part of you! I realised then that my heart and soul belongs to bringing out the best in everyone, and never being suppressed by other’s ideology or hate or limitations!
When you picture Africa you always think of lions roaming the plains and hot arid surroundings! At least that’s what I thought before I got there!
But the reality can be an eye opener! Johannesburg was at the time in the 1980’s as sophisticated as London. The IBM building that I worked in had smoked glass windows and was 20 storeys high and had the latest computer equipment!
I worked for South African Breweries at that time as a computer programmer, and as part of my salary, which always made me smile, I would get 6 dozen 33cl Lion largers or 7 dozen Castle largers! But they came in handy for my brother as I don’t drink!!
It was on a cold sunny day talking to my friend Seate about places I lived, that the bombshell dropped about the horrors of Apartheid!! A day that is forever etched in my mind!!
You see there were certain areas of Johannesburg that anyone who was not white could live in. There was an horrendous government law called The Group Areas Act that meant anyone who was non-white had to live at designated places!
Now these so called hostels were populated with thieves and gangs of hooligans ready to fight!
Seate told me he had to bribe the hostel owner every month with a crate of whisky to lie and say that he lived there! If he was ever found out he would be thrown in jail, and his fate would not be worth thinking of!!
Eventually and gradually my love affair with South Africa waned, as I became more and more disillusioned with the insidious and blatantly open practices of Apartheid in daily life!
It was time to leave Africa and never again suffer the indignity of suppression and limitations and how some humans can treat others!
I believe in the spirit of humanity to shine and be part of a caring and sharing world! It’s my raison d’etre and the way I see life now. Forever changed from that one moment in time!
Africa has made me the man I am now and for that I thank it, as now I transform people’s lives as a passionate and caring Hypnotherapist, to never accept less than they can be! So that everyone can Extra their Ordinary!!