It has been the strangest thing. I can't decide if it is ironic or fitting or whatever, that on my last flight out to my new home of Australia, and although I booked on Qantas, because of a coach sharing arrangement between the 2 airlines, I will be flying out on SAA. It is almost as though Africa knows of my indifference and like a reluctantly ditched lover is trying to delay the inevitable final severance by a protracted last goodbye. There is no way of my knowing what my feeling will be when the wheels of SAA 344 lift off and I leave this soil for the last time with, in all honesty, no intention of ever returning. And yet. I would be lying if when I read or listen to those who love this land, the open exhuberant warmth of the vast majority of her people and the quietness of the bush that something, however small, resonates faintly within me and I glimpse what it must be like to experience a sense of belonging. I grew up here and places will always harbour memories that will echo throughout my life. This country and those within it deserve, if not my affection, at least a nod of gratitude. I have often said that I have never experienced what it is to be patriotic and that hasn't changed, but if you will excuse me huge poetic licence to mutilate 'Intimations of Immortality’ by William Wordsworth just this once, to say thank you.
This is but a sleep and a forgetting;
And the wild sun of Africa that, as I grew, daily rose with me,
Will now, for me, elsewhere have its setting.
Off a gentler island in the East
Where I hope one day to pass;
In the peace in which it lately allowed me to live.
In coming from afar, I arrive;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But thankful and trailing clouds of the continent of my birth
Africa, my first home.