Connecting to my South African Roots: The Importance of Culture

South Africa. The country that rests at the tip of a strong, graceful, and vast continent full of an amazingly broad array of cultures, humans, music, clothing, customs, and food. My father is an immigrant from South Africa. The first in his family, my dad traveled across the briny Atlantic years ago to escape military assignments in his homeland and to attend university in the states. My father's noble homeland has endured a rocky history of racial injustice, war, corruptness, violence, and crime, but it still shines through with vibrant, happy, and active people that truly live life in the biggest way possible. Women walk the streets in extravagant threads. Market stands offer beautiful plump fruit to quench the uniformed schoolboys' thirst on their way to morning class. Vast arrays of land are dedicated to preserving native flora and fauna. Cliffs, beaches, mountains, rolling hills, skyscrapers, and farmland fill the space within the borders of South Africa with charm.

 

Ancestry and family are incredibly important in many African cultures, and South Africa is no different. My father has five elegant and courageous sisters and one quick-witted brother, all of whom were raised by a benevolent, tender mother and a thrifty architect in the busy coastal city of Cape Town. Growing up, family has been such a central part of my upbringing, and having such characters to look up to has definitely shaped my view of life and my personality today.

Being lucky enough to travel to South Africa 3 times in my life so far, I have seen things and gained experiences that I will never forget. There is something about walking where you know your family has walked for years and years, generations and generations. Learning about my culture, eating local foods and dishes, exploring beaches and safari land, and walking through streets at sunset are memories that I dream about. I hope to able to return as often as possible to the beautiful land and people that I come from.

 

Connecting to your roots and learning about where you're from is so powerful. It provides a confidence and grounding that fills your everyday life with additional meaning. South Africa forever has a place in my heart. I can’t wait to explore more and at some point share my heritage with my future family. I encourage you to learn about your culture, embrace your nationality, and connect to your roots.

 

All images are credited to the author