The decision was made. The flight booked. And into the unknown-somewhat known I jumped.
It is an odd feeling to be somewhere familiar, yet not. I had been away from the country for 18 years, and I anticipated both a feeling of familiarity AND a feeling of being a stranger in a new country. I was not proven wrong. Apparently, like Madonna, I have an accent best described as “Huh?”, an amalgam of the rather proper English, for which even my own family would tease me, saying I had a ‘hot potato’ in my mouth, and the nearly 2 decades of blunting that same accent by living in America. To Americans, I sound “kinda English, but not quite”; to South Africans, I may as well be a blue-blooded Yankee-almost. Suffice it to say, it’s a curiosity. As am I. For many South Africans, the idea of leaving seems to be the goal to work towards, so for me to have lived in another country and then return? Shocking! Yet, the longer I paid attention to what was going on in US politics, the more I’m almost amused at the outrage of South Africans paying attention to the corruption! Cronyism! State capture! Almost every one of the scandals perpetrated by the SA government would barely raise an eyebrow in America – it’s called “lobbying”, and “representing your district” (also known as “pork barrel spending”). The fact that these actions are given constant scrutiny and politicians held to account makes me so very proud of our young democracy. Keep fighting, people. You don’t want to end up like America.
My goal in returning was to launch a publication. A crazy notion by anyone’s estimation. Presently, journalism is dying a rather painful death. Consumers demand information about their country and their world, and yet refuse to pay for it, the business models are rapidly becoming defunct, with journalists hanging on for dear life, growing more dependent on grants and fellowships to survive. And here I come, wanting to do something that is out of the mainstream (no Kardashian scandals, sorry!), and focus on the current affairs of our times. The issues and humanitarian news that have far more impact on everyone than whether Brad and Angelina are splitting this week, or not ... yeah, that’s me. Doing the unpopular with no support, no money, no publisher (well, long story) – just a whole heap of gall and spine and courage to try.
Three issues in, with contributions from writers and photojournalists around the world, and “Perspective: Africa” is well and truly launched. Will it survive? Who knows. But, if these are the last days of my life, what better way to go out than to say to the world: I did it. I did something that truly makes me proud. I did not falter. I stepped up and produced something worthwhile. I made a contribution to the world.
Was it easy? Let's see now: I launched a publication on zero budget with international writers and renowned photojournalists focusing on humanitarian and current affairs issues while I was moving my life back to South Africa, and doing an awesome, solo, 5-week road trip. Yep, a woman in her 50’s, driving alone through the country, and loving every freaking minute of it.