Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting to Know This Wedding Planner

I was fortunate enough to attend an advance screening of the new Clint Eastwood movie, Invictus, last night and it prompted me to write a more personal post about my heritage, since it is so important to me and because not many of you within the wedding world know all about me! {Side note, go see the movie, its fabulous and very poignant to the history of South Africa}

I was born in Durban, South Africa into a family whose history is very ingrained in Durban {ps: Durban is the largest port city in Africa, but if you're not from there, don't waste your time visiting!}. Both sides of my family had settled in South Africa long before 1900 from Scotland, England, Wales and Germany. While I don't know exactly why each of my ancestors wound up there, my family has a strong foothold in the local community and would never consider themselves anything but purely South African. I come from an extremely small family given the fact that my father's older brother married my mother's older sister and well that tends to keep things really small. After my parents got married in their early 20's, they had the opportunity to travel the world for a few months before settling down in London in 1969. After a year in London, they moved to New York City (86th and 3rd to be exact) and a year later they wound up in Montreal. They finally moved back to South Africa for 6 years, which during that time, I arrived. Quite a few years before, my families' company had been sold to a US conglomerate {now known as Unilever} and apart of the deal was that my dad got a job in the US. So when I was small, we moved over to NYC for my dad to work.

Despite growing up in America, I've never actually felt that American. Yes, I had my South African accent practically beaten out of me in grade school {but, its still around - especially after a fun night out or when we go back to the home country}, but my core values are very much influenced by my family and my SA heritage. I've been extremely fortunate to be able to return home yearly {and did 9th grade there} to see my family and friends and am really lucky to be married to a Michigander who loves the entire country. By going back yearly means that I have lived through Apartheid {it means apartness in Afrikaans} - and have first hand experience with how the country has transitioned since Mandela's election in 1994. Even if you aren't schooled in South African history, its hard not to be aware of the difficulties that the country has faced for over 60 years {Apartheid was from 1948 to 1994} - the high levels of crime, the political and economic problems - but - to me, its still home. Its the place where I can have a meal comparable to Per Se but at Chipotle prices, the place where I can drink the most amazing wine of all time {personal rec: try anything by Mulderbosch}, the place where I can go on Safari and spend time in the bush, and most meaningful of all the place where I feel the most comfortable in the entire world. I am proud to be South African.

So, go and see the movie. Its a feel good film with three very important messages for not only South Africa, but for life in general: Truth, Reconciliation and Hope. How one man {Mandela} can inspire 43 million people to be better human beings is one gigantic lesson that we can all learn from.

If you are thinking about visiting the country, let me know! I'd love to give you the 'insiders' travel information!

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