A Blast of Cold Air

I leave Bloemhof just before sunrise. The velvety night sky slowly transitions into a dark explosion of colour. South African sunrises and sunsets are fiery, intense and spectacular. It has a dramatic flair that echoes the temperament of its inhabitants.

The cold of winter seems to intensify the colours, and as a bright pink sun pops over the horizon, I feel grateful for the warmth in the car, sheltering me from the icy air outside. The dry, yellow grass of the savannah landscape stretches towards the horizon, and the monotony of the terrain is only broken by clumps of green thorn bushes, farm fences, and an army of ochre anthills.

The black asphalt road barrels towards Johannesburg through towns that quickly become a blur in my rear-view mirror: Wolmaranstad, Klerksdorp, Stilfontein, Potchefstroom. I use the time to reflect on the past three weeks. A whirlwind of social interaction has left me feeling slightly exhausted, yet exhilarated. I was trying to see as many friends and family members as time would allow, and it has left my head whirring with news.

Being ‘home’ is a bit like putting on an old, comfortable pair of jeans I haven’t worn for a while. The South African sky is still a deep, bright blue, the people are still friendly and warm, and the roads are still pot-holed and deteriorating faster than new political parties can sprout.

I always have mixed feelings when returning to my country of birth. As much as I sometimes want to deny it, I am a child of Mother Africa. The blood flowing through my veins is tinged with the passions, disappointments, hopes and aspirations of a nation that bickers endlessly, yet stubbornly believes in a future that would bless everyone.

Being an expat is an interesting opportunity to discover cultures different from those I grew up in and I am grateful to be returning to the UAE, a country I, for the moment, call home. Revisiting the past is a bit like looking through a magnifying glass at the present. It is a great way to put life with all its blessing in perspective.

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