When people meet me, they don’t realise straight away that in fact I was born in South Africa. I arrived on the shores of the UK twenty one years ago.
People make fun of my accent often saying “You hardly have an accent?” and “I could hear a slight twang but couldn’t place it. You don’t sound like my other South African friends?”
For a long time, I would just change the subject, or just smile and laugh along. However, the reality is I choose to soften my accent, because after only being here a few months, I had been spat at, pinned up against the kitchen wall by colleagues and accused of being a racist because, without even knowing me, my birth place made me one.
I became so anxious about my accent and further problems I decided that I had to change my accent to try to fit in.
What no one knew, was yes I was born into a very turbulent, and awful time in South African history, but I was the most accepting and loving of all people, race, colour, culture.
I will never be a part of something that values one life more then another.
Growing up in South Africa, during the apartheid, was traumatic. I was exposed and witnessed things no child should, and it very much is part of my Complex trauma that I am still working through.
It is however, because of those actions of others I found so brutal that even at 6 years old and watching someone being murdered in front of me that I made a pact that I will never be a part of something that values one life more then another.
So this month, I will pay tribute to one particular South African that gave my birthplace hope. One of the more prolific members of the hall of fame within this category is the beloved “Madiba” Nelson Mandela.
I was 11 years old, when the tides of change gripped South Africa and for 8 years before I came to the United Kingdom, I saw how much hope, one man gave a broken and weeping country.
I was inspired to always speak my truth for the voiceless!
Shout out for justice for the beaten down!
Know that even as just one person, I can make a change, inspire a change.
With Africa in my blood, it reminds me that all it takes is one small pebble to break the surface, and cause a ripple.