13 June 2012


Actually we've been back from our Bulgarian trip since Monday night, but between sleeping in our own bed, laundry, and UEFA Cup soccer, I haven't got around to looking at the pictures. Seems that I didn't go completely snap-crazy though, so editing shouldn't take too long.

The soccer (or football, whatever) has everyone around here very excited. Flags are hanging from balconies and windows, and flapping in the wind from their perch on the back windows of cars. Yesterday I saw a dual supporter with one German and one Croatian flag for each side of the car.

Another thing that has kept me occupied is reading Sometimes There Is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider by Zakes Mda. You need to add it to your essential-South-African-reading list today. In high school I studied the periods 1924–1948 and 1948–1976. The history curriculum required that we study two out of three periods, the final one that we didn't do being 1976–1994. Between Nelson Mandela's The Long Walk to Freedom and John Carlin's Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (also retitled after its film) I thought I managed to absorb a lot of the details I hadn't been required to study, but I'm really pleased to be filling in even more gaps with Mda's book. I'm not only learning more about Lesotho, which I really knew nothing about, but I'm also seeing the birth of our democracy through critically informed eyes. Much of what is still wrong—and getting worse—in South Africa started under Nelson Mandela. Even our biggest heroes do not have perfect legacies.

Of course I'm also enjoying Mda's unflinching honesty in the telling of his life story. That, and hearing even more about South African theatre—something that I also studied in high school, but could probably never learn enough about!

So maybe next time someone asks me, "So what's the deal with that country inside your country—what's it called again?" I'll have a better answer than, "Lesotho? It's small, and, uh, in the mountains."

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