I used to think I was ‘dere wid d yout’- as someone put it -‘the cool aunty’.
I prided myself on being relatable and non judgemental and an open book. I did their fashion in my own unique way and looked way younger than my years-or so I thought!
This down with the homies -delusion was dashed to pieces when my son innocently enquired the other night ‘do you know a family where the children do more house work than us?’
My answer was an ashamed whimper ‘no’. He smiled knowingly.
At this point, the true Afro centric me was made known to me. It was a difficult admission to make after spending 20 plus adult years carefully deceiving myself .
Mental souvenirs of my first visit to family in soweto as a 19 yr old who had never cleaned or cooked flooded to the fore front of my mind. The Zulu mixed with xhosa mixed with sutu mumblings of family and neighbors in disapproval of my non existent home making skills burned my ears as if it were happening right now.
I did not understand a word but knew exactly what they thought.
Being the arrogant Cambridge undergraduate I was – I took no notice of this deficiency that created pity and disbelief from my new found elders.
Infact once my inferiority was confirmed through the accentuated disgust at my white knees that had not been blackened by polishing the stoop at 6am every morning without fail, my meagre and pathetic attempts to wash dry and polish the stoops… well it became evident to my now ignorant oxbridge persona -that any iota of respect in my new south African family was based on successful stoop care.
Well I wasn’t having it! I wasn’t going to be filed and labelled according to some alien criteria of success.
I didn’t attend a comprehensive in murder mile for nothing living off second hand clothes from ‘spastics society ‘, befriending the dominant culture of cockroaches jumping from my books and enjoying heating from a brick in my bed to stay warm at night as we had no form of heating -for nothing.
I didn’t end up with grade 8 violin and a much sweated for place at a globally renowned institution of learning to be slighted because I was below par on my stoop care!
(Stoop in the OED
“a raised platform or verandah running along the front and sometimes round thesides of a house of Dutch architecture”.)
I got on the defensive… Tbc