The mouth-watering smell is heavy in the air. The roasters are discussing deep issues around the coals. At the back kids are playing on swings, a seesaw and climbing frame. Coolers are unpacked and a CD player provides great Afrikaans background music.
Typical South African? Yes, except for the fact that this scene took place at Stockbury Memorial Hall in a small village in Kent, England on Saturday, 7 May 2016.
The fact that it was a warm spring day in England certainly contributed to the jollity. About 60 South Africans and their offspring came together to socialise and relax around the fires.
This skaapbraai was the brainchild of Simon du Plooy and Ben Earle. When they heard that Flip Buys, Chairperson of the Solidarity Movement, and Alana Bailey of AfriForum were going to visit England, they started planning this South African event. Pieter and Mariaan de Lange helped by renting the cricket club house in the picturesque rural village for the festival.
Complete strangers of all ages and from all occupational fields became friends within minutes and were chatting away like old friends. English spouses also easily connected. Anecdotes were exchanged, photographs taken, and later some tears were shed – the visit was cheerful, festive and sociable, but the longing for the beloved ‘at home’ in South Africa never fades. Of course family history was also explored. As one of the guests said, ‘I don’t know anyone here, but I just walk forward and say “Hi Jaco, hello Johan,” and we become friends, because there always is a Jaco and a Johan!’ And he was right!
Old British men walking their dogs gawked at the South Africans at the spit braai. It surely was their first encounter with Bok van Blerk’s music!
Just after four in the afternoon Flip elaborated on the activities of the Solidarity Movement’s institutions and Alana invited everyone to become part of AfriForum’s worldwide family. Pieter displayed the history of South Africa’s flags. Sue Ann de Wet of Worldwide could not be there because her daughter was due soon, but the gifts that she had sent, was snapped up quickly.
At first everyone nibbled on the boerewors Pieter had ordered and braaied for the early hunger pangs. Mariaan, Ursula and Sonja prepared delicious side dishes and eventually the sheep were ready to be served. Everyone queued politely to be served but fortunately no one counted how many times you went back to the queue! Especially when the malva pudding appeared! The British learned how much better malva pudding is than sticky toffee pudding, but the Boers lost their hearts to elderflower cordial.
With delicious plates of food on the table all jumped at the chance to do something for underprivileged South Africans. Simon and Ben had dreamed of raising money for Helping Hand’s Lunchbox Project and their dream has come true. At the end of the day they collected R13 000 in cash at the braai and the money was paid to Helping Hand.
At dusk everyone greeted sadly. Plans are made to make the visit a regular event. All interested persons may contact Worldwide to be included in the mailing list for future functions
We thank Simon, Ben and Henco van Rooyen and their families for the bright ideas and hard work to braai, as well as Pieter, Mariaan and Sonja for organising and preparing the delicious side dishes. Thank you to everyone who attended the braai. We wish you only what is beautiful over there in England and we hope to see each other again someday!