I grew up with three siblings. One sister and two brothers. I was the youngest. I am the seventh generation with our surname that immigrated from Germany in the early 1800s. Although we have a German surname we do not speak German anymore. We grew up with Afrikaans as our home language. I only learned English when I went to school. In primary school, we never spoke English. But I was an avid reader and picked up English quickly. My memories were of carefree days. Hunting, fishing and looking after the livestock on the farm. Because my brothers already left for the hostel I was left to make friends with the colored kids on the farm. I remember all the fun we had.
Then I went to primary school and I had to go to the hostel as a small child. I was only 6 years old and I was dropped at the school on Monday and only picked up again on Friday. This was the time of segregation and I still remember how the colored people were not allowed in the parks and beaches. We never knew that this was wrong. It was just expected to be like that because who would question their parents. But I can say this that on our farm we never experienced the evil of Apartheid.
I remembered that my mother tried to get me to be cultured from a young age. I was forced to play the recorder and then I had to upgrade to a saxophone but never got the hang of that. But she did get me in the end by enrolling me in the only art school in Pretoria. These were great days. I remember learning all about drawing. Our teacher forced us to look twice and draw once. We had to learn how to draw negative shapes to train our eyes. Then we started working with paint. This was such an exciting time. Many of the principals of art I now practice were instilled in me during that time. Our school also gave music and ballet. But we had to choose only one of these directions. I had a place in the school hostel and we lived in old houses in one of the suburbs in Pretoria. In my second last year, my Mum and stepfather moved to Rhodesia and asked me if I wanted to join them there. I missed 3 months of school back in Pretoria and had to catch up after my time in Rhodesia. Not long after I moved back to Pretoria Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and my folks had to leave quickly because my Stepfather was involved with the military and became Persona non grata overnight. More about my further studies in the next blog.