Sala Kahle, Hamba Kahle


The Amazing RESHI Vuvuzelas: Jacus, Anthony, John, Leslie, Michael, Renier, Lehlohonolo, Kgomotso, Rosanne,Thandeka


I’ve never been sure which one is which, but apparently this does not matter. What matters is to reflect yourself in the other. Ubuntu. I am because you are.

Maybe you have to go to the other side of the Earth to hear this loud and clear. Maybe you can just stay home, ride your bike and look around with a more open heart and mind.

This is my last post, my last reflections on this amazing year. I can’t sort the emotions out in a coherent way, it seems, so here are a few very random thoughts:

  • When I am asked about the bad stuff here, like xenophobia, violence, racism, sexism, inequality, corruption, rhino poaching, I have learned just enough to say “It’s complicated”
  • In Canada, social housing buildings fall apart as they age and all the various forms of water take their toll. In South Africa, social housing buildings also contend with: paint peeling because of the wind blown tailings from mine dumps; the copper plumbing risers getting stolen if they are on the outside of the buildings; security cameras zapped by lighting every summer and hail smashing all the windows in a building overnight.
  • I think this is the 27th blog post and I share the credit with Debbie on some of them. I trust they’ve given you a taste of  S.A. and Joburg and I’m glad if you were informed and at times amused.
  • In S.A., you can get your car washed by hand, inside and out, for the princely sum of R30 ($3 CDN). So, if you can navigate the complicated immigration systems and don’t mind living behind walls and electronic fencing, you would do well to retire here, even with only OAS/CPP.
  • On Friday when I came back from visiting SHI’s in various cities, I was picked up by Thuli from Cabs for Women. Two weeks ago, when she came off the night shift and parked in her driveway, bullets started flying around her and then a stolen bakkie (4×4 truck) rammed into the wall of her living room. She showed me the pictures of bullet holes in her windows. As I was flipping through the pictures, I saw one of her daughter’s graduation, cap and gown. Thuli said “That is life, there are good things and there are bad things”.  When she dropped me off, we had a big hug and she asked me to pray for her. I said I would.
  • When you order coffee, they bring you a little pot of warmed milk. And when you (polite Canadian) say “thank you”, they say “pleasure”.
  • I might have to get a cellphone when I get home. Eish!
  • The ANC is not what everyone hoped for. There is a “my turn now” attitude among many of the black elite as well as the Born Frees (post ’94). Lots of BMWs and AUDIs in the mall parking lots. Aspirations to own and have status prevail. Disheartening for many who fought for so long.
  • Don’t try to diet while you’re away in a foreign country for a year.
  • The dung beetle should be part of the Big 6. It uses the Milky Way as a navigation tool!
  • I have to do a dog/pony show at the Canadian Consulate this week. You can download the PPT if you want:Canadian Consulate Pres
  • I might have to come back.


Hlanganani, Johannesburg Housing Company

Hlanganani, Johannesburg Housing Company

Beaver Barracks, Ottawa, CCOC

Beaver Barracks, Ottawa, CCOC

That’s really all for now folks!


18 thoughts on “Sala Kahle, Hamba Kahle

  1. mcpeakie701

    Hi Catherine,

    Joburg’s loss is our gain! Looking forward to seeing you but will miss your lovely blog! When do you get back?

    Love W


  2. Cyd

    Dearest girl. Every post has been a real pleasure to receive and read. You are very accomplished. As hard as it is to leave there you are missed here and your presence is happily anticipated. Love you,

    Cyd xo

  3. Wendy DesBrisay

    Great PowerPoint, hope you have a good discussion.
    “Starts to make the NDP more tangible.” Did I miss something? Is there another NDP, or are you campaigning already😎?

  4. Chris & Laurie

    As usual Catherine another great blog! Very inspirational. It really makes me (us) want to visit SA. Thanks for sharing your most amazing adventure with us. Safe travels…

  5. Paul Rainville

    Allô Catherine – what a delight to read your thoughtful, entertaining and insightful missives from the other side of the world – stay well, go well and be well too till we see you again
    Love Paul

  6. Karen

    What will I read now? Your blogs have been so wonderful… I’ve found myself looking forward to reading them. You are going to have to drop by the CCOC office frequently while we all get through our blog withdrawal.Looking forward to seeing you and giving you a great big hug!

  7. esarnold

    Merci, merci! A year of wonderful and insightful tales of life in SA. Can’t wait to hear more when you are home, and plotting your next adventure. Safe travels…
    miz E

  8. Bill Rooney

    Dear Gugu,
    A great last post. Can’t imagine all the mixed emotions you must have. Your experience reminds me why we venture- we learn more about ourselves as we experience and learn from others. So plan on going back But know it will be a different experience. Can’t wait to see and talk with you post 25 May…
    I guess this means you’ll miss the AGM….
    Safari njema

  9. debbiebarton2012

    Not an ounce of maudlin, my dearest… (for those of you who read the comments: on our daily skype talk yesterday, Catherine was struggling with the content of her “last blog”, fearful that it may turn out to be too maudlin…anything but.

    Your ability to capture the essence of the complexities of this amazing country, once again, comes through as beautiful and bold shweshwe colors. It’s been a long year with lots of learnings…Can’t wait for your return, my dearest… Debbie xoxo ________________________________________

  10. Sue Lott

    Have enjoyed every minute of your and Debbie’s posts – you really captured the beauty and complexity of life there – you will be missed greatly I am sure but I am really looking forward to seeing you and hearing in person about all of it!!! See you soon!!

  11. Maria

    Hi Catherine. I am trying to reach you to ask about using one of your pictures on our research project website. I can tell you more about us. Can you provide an email where you can be reached? Thanks so much.

  12. cboucher143 Post author

    Hello Maria. Sorry, but I rarely check this blog since I’ve now been back home for over a year. Let me know more about your request if you’re still interested in the picture. Best. cb

  13. Dumie

    I would like to contact Namukolo Mukutu for orders. Would you have any contacts cause I’m out of Johannesburg.

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