Rod MacKenzie

Me? An SA refugee somewhere between Vreksonderwater and &*%$

It’s sort of fun being a virtual South African refugee. You never quite know which country you are going to be in next. And let’s face it: most people’s sense of peace and assurance is a false sense of security. Heck, your wife could die in a car accident tomorrow, or you find out you…

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Hey Dutchman! The dignity and self-discipline of the Afrikaner

Crruuncch! It was like crashing against a concrete pillar. The Dutchman, erm, Afrikaner kid shrugged me off and ran towards the school rugby field touchline, the crowds roaring. I lay on the spiky grass, dazed from my attempt to tackle that big bastard. I was thirteen then and to this day I swear blind it…

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Could ‘Shoot the Boer’ trial bring SA back together?

Readers who have followed my writings for a while will have picked up some of my history. I pretty much did not have, for various reasons, including deaths, any real family until I met Marion some eight years ago. For the most part I did not mind; I had a good circle of friends and…

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Willow pollen and Llewellyn Kriel abused by SA cops

Amazing grace … The pollen twirls around me, brightening the canal with an extra layer of sparkle. They are clots of whitish-grey and pucker against my skin. Tiny elven fingers and thumbs, they are silent, as if they are hands clasped over tiny furry mouths. If they could make a sound it would be children’s…

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How to love people who are a pain in the arse

Pssshhhhhh … the toilet flushing in our apartment was the most beautiful sound I have heard in a long time. I sat in our lounge, revelling in its bubbly, splashy song, grinning at myself for finding this somewhat stercoraceous moment almost sublime. We have been living in Suzhou, China for just over the month and…

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Nations, being spied on and paranoia

The windows shattered a few feet away from me and the stranger, a blonde, petite young lass dressed stylishly for revolution in South Africa, 1990. A horde of people charged towards us amid the thud of rubber bullets and teargas smeared our faces. It was the day of Mandela’s release and first appearance in the…

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Free beer and free insults on Paddy’s Day in China

In one of my current teaching jobs here in Suzhou I teach primary school children. The text books have improved over the years during my stay in China but still have some quirky English. One is teaching learners how to describe other people. But the cultural appropriateness is shatteringly absent in the text books and…

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Revolutions in Africa and my new home China

School one: As I approached my very first classroom now I am back in China, some children saw me through the window and let out a whoop as the bell rang. They surged out of the classroom ahead of their smiling teacher to swamp me with their bodies, hellos! and thumping my hands and arms…

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Christchurch earthquake – what if that happened in SA?

How it works here in New Zealand is that when a disaster occurs, not even anywhere near as horrendous as the recent earthquake to devastate Christchurch, it floods the news. Regular TV shows and even adverts are cancelled. There is an enormous sense of a village community in New Zealand. It can be summed up…

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Prejudice and the smug self-satisfaction of feeling offended

The issues of identity and name-calling seem to emerge from the very core of our being. An Australian in England recently sued the town council of Dymchurch for being “racist”. Apparently Geoff Stephens’ work colleagues kept imitating his Aussie accent and ragging him with cliched myths like, “is your girlfriend called Sheila?” It must have…

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