Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’



American speling irritates me.

I hope that doesn’t offend you, but it really does. Take the word ‘colour’ for example. It’s like Americaland took “There’s no ‘I’ in team” to some kind of crazy extreme and added their own little corollary of, “Oh well, if that’s true, then there is no “U” in ‘color’ which makes no sporting analogy sense whatsoever.

It’s “Colour!” Deal with it.

But you know when American speling really gets me mad. When they’re right. [fortunately I don’t get mad very often]

A chief example [of the two I can think of] [yes, only two! That’s it – it’s like the extent of American success in Word War I and II] is the word ‘route’.


I just realised what irritates me even more. That I just now realised the point I was wanting to make was about pronounciation and not spelling at all. What a waste of a witty and insightful introduction. No, screw it, I’m leaving it. No ways am I going to be able to be that creative on pronounciation.

As a good descended-from-the-British South African, I pronounce the word ‘route’ as Americaneses would pronounce the word ‘root’ hence my title having the same self pronounciation for us as ‘Money is the root of all evil’ [it’s not – money AND raiSINs perhaps, but not money alone].

So it really bothers me when I hear Americaneses pronouncing the word as a word that rhymes with “out” but starts with an ‘R’ but only mostly because they are correct. I have no idea how ‘ou’ became ‘oo’ from us between the paper and the tongue. It makes absolutely no sense and now I feel like I’m on the losing team. I’m one of the last two left in the picking teams game and the other captain just said, “Ah, you can have both of them.”

Have me? You got to earn me homie! But I digest.

So I will concur for now that ‘route’ should be pronounced like ‘shout’, ’bout’ and ‘doubt’ and not in the same way as you would say ‘hoot’ ‘boot’ or ‘shoot’ but I will continue to say it the wrong way. I’ve moved my driving over to the wrong side of the road, so you will have to be content with that.


The second Americanese speling thing that irritates me, I just now realised is a different word usage thing [Man, I did not think this through!] but again, the intro was pure literary brilliance and it is too late to veer over and drive on the right side of the road. [the left side being the ‘right’ side, if you get my Tokyo drift]

It happens in morning prayer which we do every Friday. Part of the devotion is two people reading Bible passages. The South Africans will take chapter 1 verse 1-10 and day “I am reading chapter one, verse one to ten” whereas the Americalanders will say “I am reading chapter one, verse one through ten” which sounds completely stupid to me, but only because I grew up doing the other one.

And once again, they are correct. Because ‘to’ to me suggests until, upto, to the point of. If I drive you to school I don’t drive up the steps and into the building – I drive you to the very edge of school and you take over from there. And so 1 to 10 really should mean I am going to read verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 and then I got you to 10,over to you. Right? Sad face!

Again, I’m probably not going to change because it feels so wrong to me when I hear it and when I say it [I’ve never said it!] But every time I hear someone else do the reading and they say “verses 1 through 10” I look up and give them a little victory acknowledgement nod.

But we still have colour! And you can’t take that away from me. No matter which root you try to take.

[For last Friday’s Everything happens for a reason, click here]



I just had a bit of a back and forth Twitter chat with my good friend MJ from back in South Africa and it was really great and lifted my spirits.

Although speaking of spirits, MJ was also the one who gave me the Nachtmusik bottle of chocolate liqueur [my favourite!] for my birthday back in Jan.

In terms of the Five Love Languages that Gary Chapman speaks about – namely Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch – I would say that receiving gifts is up there for me. I think perhaps the idea of receiving gifts might be more exciting for me than the actual receiving of the gifts, as that hasn’t always been the most positive thing for me in life, I guess. [I tended to run with ‘the helpful socks’ crowd over the ‘tattoo of Marvin the Martian on your butt’ crowd, more often than not].

So Presents vs Presence, which one is it?

Well, having just chatted to the Majay, it is quite easily a non-contest. Presence will win out every time.

I had a bit of a rough time earlier this week and what made it so much harder was I reached out to a few of my key people [plus a general shout out to see if anyone was around] and due to a 9 hour difference in time between South Africa and Americaland [where I currently stay], everyone back home was asleep.

So it was a little bleak. For a short while at least. But then as people started waking up and receiving the messages [the first one I think I got was at 6am South Africa time from my buddy Dreadlocked Mike] they responded in message and Facebookwall comment and Skype invitation and suddenly I was reminded just how much I am loved. It was the arrival of Presence. And suddenly everything didn’t seem so bleak any more.

I feel so thoroughly privileged, almost guiltily so to have SO MANY good people in and around my life. A quality wife and just some really incredible people and so many of them. I am just so thankful and appreciate. There really is absolutely no contest at all. Thank you friends, who hopefully know who you are. And quite possibly some who don’t.

Give me Presence every time. [Maybe with a little bit of Nachtmusik thrown in for good measure]

[For  next Friday’s Well maybe I SHOULD jump off that bridge, click here]

[for last Friday’s Get Your Fax Straight, click here]

A few weeks ago I joined some friends from Oakland and we went and participated in a night-time peace walk around a few blocks of our neighborhood known for violence and a high murder rate. Just being a presence as a crowd of pastors and lay people, greeting people, holding up signs saying ‘an end to gun violence’ and letting the people know we had had enough and were not going to simply sit back and accept it any more. It is something I definitely want to get more regularly involved with.

Then yesterday I had breakfast with one of the leaders of the City Team and just got to hear some of his heart. I was given a brief tour of their downtown building where they host a homeless shelter and a clinic and recovery meetings and and and [Three full-time staff and hundreds of volunteers]. He told me that Oakland is the second biggest city in terms of human trafficking in the country and shared some of the insanely ridiculous legislation that is in place which tends to victimise the victims while protecting the perpetrators [or at least treating them a lot less harshly]. They just scored a small victory in getting part of that changed and are working towards greater justice there in weeks and months to come.

I think back to a response I got to posting the South Africa meme that ends with pictures of township life and the harsh face of reality for so many people, instead of the more popular one which shows ‘What Living in South Africa is really like’ as wine tasting and people on beaches watching sunsets [which it is for like 5% of the population].

Lastly my mind wanders back to the strong reaction [often from people who self-identify as Christians] I get any time I write a status or post suggesting that international sports stars or musicians get a disgusting amount of money for what they do and imagine if their out-of-this-world salaries were rather put to good use affecting hundreds or even thousands of people.

And I don’t know how to say what I want to say without coming across as judgemental. [Because, let’s be honest here, I probably am, and it definitely starts with me and my life held up to the mirror, and then it most certainly does extend to you!]

Perhaps the best word and image I can use to explain it is hungry. I am hungry for people who want their lives to make a real difference in the world. I am hungry for people to look around and not be okay with the state of the world until every single person has justice and is able to experience the kind of freedom, opportunities and perhaps comfortability that we have [realising that perhaps each of us will need to sacrifice a measure of our own comfortability to help redress the balance].

Which, I think is why I am so attracted to people like Ben, who I got to breakfast with. Like Marci and Nathalie who I got to meet from the ‘Common Good’ Foundation at Common Ground church in Cape Town. Like my wife Valerie. Like the folks from the Steps Ministries in Buffalo or our friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and their community, Rutba House, in Durham, North Carolina and others.

None of us can change the world. But each of us can do something.

Poverty. Homelessness. Human-trafficking. Racism. Illiteracy. Malnutrition. Crime. Refugees. Street children. Orphans. AIDS. Rehab.
The list goes on and it really isn’t about you wiping out that list by yourself or becoming overwhelmed at the magnitude of it.
It’s about you listening, looking, finding one of those areas to get involved in. Joining some mission that is already on the go. Or starting something new [but there is a lot on the go].

It’s about not being okay with being okay with not being invested in a greater cause or mission than yourself.
It is not about feeling guilty. It is about being invested. This is a call to action.

The Truth and nothing but.


[For next Friday’s Fitting Things into the space that Time permits, click here]

[to catch up with last Friday’s Getting Busy With It, click here]