Today is Heritage Day in South Africa. Prompted by one of our South African sistafriends, Aliyah, we wanted to honour this day and celebrate right along by creating a synchroblog and inviting you to link up with your own “I am From” post here. There are three of us sharing here today and we look forward to getting to know you better through your posts. Here’s a really fun template we’re using, based on the poem by George Ella Lyon. Download the PDF here: I-AM-FROM-template

I-AM-FROM_8001-100Just recently, I facilitated a session at The Journey, a three-day retreat for women from Vancouver’s inner city, also known as the Downtown Eastside, at Linwood House. I loved being with the women and the writing was so raw and beautiful. I asked Phoenix, with her soft sheepskin slippers and long braid, if she would please send me any of her writing. So she did and I am thrilled that she’s leading us out with her post today.

I Am From
By Phoenix

I am from
Glasgow, the land of friendly people and gorgeous
pink-tinged sunsets.
I’m from chocolate-covered ginger and hot caper pickles,
sauerkraut and coconut butter and German smelly cheese.

I am from
beatings and fly swatters and silent screams
I am from piles of ground beef curry and chicken so gristly
we’d hide it in our hands and toss it into the garbage
our backs turned.

I am from
us suffering like Jesus with our backs raw from beating
I am from
the German “w”s being pronounced “v”
like Vinter

I am from
frostbite and snow tunnels and longing to play
I am from
maples and oaks and backyard tomatoes

Mrs. McKinnon and shillings in the electrical meter
Scotland and Goa and Germany and Portugal
and other jumbles of nationalities

I am from
Sundays in church with little girl ribbons
I am from
baseball bats hidden in the trunk of my father’s car

I am now from
shared pain in the streets of the Downtown Eastside.

About Phoenix:

Cheers, I’m Phoenix and I’m grateful to the wonderful people who cross my path in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. They have helped me when I’ve been crazy, homeless, or just fine. My son who lives far away is also a huge source of inspiration.

2-100In May, Claire and I facilitated a three-day Writer’s Track at Amahoro Africa and we asked participants to write their own “I am From” pieces. This is where much of this started.

I Am From
by Claire DeBoer

Claire-heritageI am from four walls
From pictures that became windows
Into a life longed for, a life far away.

I am from unspoken words beneath higher screams of despair
I am from solemn silence, empty tables and liver on Thursdays
From dungarees, bowl haircuts and the pungent country smells of farmland

I am from song without laughter
From a journey without a roadmap
From chocolate under my pillow
From “chill out” and “calm down”

I am from Bronte and Lloyd Webber
Piano and dance
From “who am I now?”
To “who will I be next?”

I am from water and mountains
Privilege and blessings
Love, protection, gentle whispers to my soul
I am from God.

3-100At the beginning of the month, I promised I would share some more of my story. So, here we go!

I Am From
By Idelette McVicker

Heritage_Idelette-800I am from small
I am from white
I am from tight.

I am from milktart and buckets of ginger beer fermenting on the back cement stoep
I am from bobotie with yellow rice, Mrs. Ball’s chutney and stewed apricots.
I am from, Ag nee, Idelette!
And watching the boys play rugby on Saturday mornings.

I am from a double-storey white house on 15 Christelle Street and a Geralton wax flower in the front yard.
I am from a swimming pool and too many lonely days in my room.

I am from a yellow formica table, silent meals and drying dishes.
I am from pannekoek with cinnamon sugar when the first rains of winter came.
I am from Wielie-Wielie-Walie and “We are the Scatterlings of Africa.”

I am from a mustard-yellow school uniform and Bata Toughees with white socks.
I am from homemade apricot jam with cheese on my toast and milky rooibos tea for breakfast.
I am from reading under a blanket and eating Niknaks in a bowl.

I am from Apartheid.
I am from evil.

I am from watching Buck Rogers in the TV room on a Saturday night
And going to church every Sunday morning.

I am from small and white and tight.

But I am also from Large
And fierce
And revolutionary.

I am from loud singing voices
And angry shouting fists.

I am from bold colours and even bolder prints.
I am from feet that dance and wild waves that crash on untamed rocks.
I am from the southernmost tip of the African continent

I am from lions and jazz and biltong.

I am from Fear,
A Long Walk to Freedom
and the Cape of Good Hope.

I am from Ida Gertruida van Papendorp
And three generations of Ida.
I am from a Ma who sat at her Singer sewing machine, creating my designs
until long after I went to bed.

I am from Love.

I am from finding Jesus in a circle
Then losing him in a stiff church.
Then finding him again amidst the temples and noise
And stinky tofu carts on the corner of Chung Shan N. Road Sec. 6.

I am from history and injustice
And from finding myself on a stairwell, broken and beaten, knowing right then: This is not ok.
Not for me, not for any woman.

I am from three children, an old puppy and a husband who loves to have fun.
I am from Africa and Taipei, the suburbs and a minivan
I am from a new story.


We can’t wait to read your posts and learn where YOU are from. We’ll choose a few of our favourite lines from your link-ups to add to the zine at the end of the month, so be sure to link your posts up asap. We can’t wait!

Happy Heritage Day!

much Love,