Tuesday, 16 August 2005
Back from Southern Africa
I'm back from two weeks of vacation at Silver Bay and six weeks travelling in Africa, mostly in South Africa but also briefly in Swaziland, Mozambique, and Qatar.
The trip was, above all, thought provoking. The slogan of the South African government tourism promotion board, SATOUR, used to be, "A World In One Country". The intended reference was to the size and geographic diversity of the country. But even more, I think, the issues facing South Africa today, as a country that contains both First World and Third World (but still, so far as I could tell or most people we met seemed to think, little middle ground) are a microcosm of those facing the world at large. Some travellers eschew comparisons, lest they become unfairly judgmental, but it's almost axiomatic that we travel to learn about ourselves and our homelands as much as to learn about the people and places we visit. On this trip, I constantly found analogies -- albeit not the easy answers I might have hoped for -- to issues within the USA, and even more to those between the USA and the rest of the world, the global North and South, and the First and Third Worlds.
I'll be posting updates shortly on what's happened while I'm gone with respect to some of the issues I've been following.
[Addendum: The Hasbrouck family in America are all descendants of two brothers who came here in the late 1600's, and were among the dozen founding fathers of New Paltz, New York. So I'm at least a tenth cousin of any Hasbrouck you might have known in the USA, although there are now tens of thousands of Hasbroucks, concentrated in New York and New Jersey. Seven generations and more than 200 years after the family's arrivial, my gradfather was born less than 20 miles from New Paltz. And I'm in the first generation of my father's family not to have been raised in the Dutch Reformed Church. This is me in front of the stone house in New Paltz built by my 7-greats paternal grandfather, Abraham Hasbrouck. The Hasbroucks were Huguenots from the town of Hazebrouck (between Calais and Lille, and of later historical note mainly as a railway transport and supply hub just behind the allied trenches in World War , and the target of an unsuccessful German attack in 1918) who fled France after the St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre, a state-sponsored pogrom of Huguenots (Protestants) by Catholics in 1572. While two Hasbrouck brothers went via Holland to the Dutch colonies in America, other Hasbroucks stayed in Holland, and at least one, Leendert Johannes Haasbroek, eventually went to the Dutch colonies in South Africa, where there is a separate branch of the family to this day. We happened somewhat accidentally on a memorial to Leendert Johannes Haasbroek in the old Dutch Reformed Church in Tulbagh, in the Cape Province wine country. And I found to my surprise that my surname was immediately recognized by many Afrikaaners as an old and honorable South African Huguenot family name, albeit with a different spelling. They were generally quite surprised that someone with my name -- and with my appearance and what they took for an ultra-traditional Voortrekker beard! -- didn't speak Afrikaans or Dutch.]Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 05:50 ( 5:50 AM) | TrackBack (0)