RECONCILIATION

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– A Historic novel- By Valerie Goliath In Cape Town Issie can hardly hide her excitement about developments within her own family. Thanks to timely religious intervention, her immediate family has agreed to meet with the Silaners. “My children you will never know how good I feel about your decision. I and your father would never have found peace for our souls had you not all agreed unanimously. God bless his soul,” says Issie in a shameless emotional outpouring to her children who helped bury their father more than a month ago. In her mind’s eye she vividly remembers excerpts from some of the church counselling sessions she and her family members attended since her triumphant return from the Karoo. “By acknowledgment and acceptance of the Silaner family your initiative can serve as a practical pioneering example for other Afrikaner families struggling with the same problem, reconciliation, with which many of our people are today still struggling with,” said ds. Barnard of the NG Church. And in the wrap- up session on camera, the participants gave their views. “…the acceptance of Doedoes’s family presents a challenge and an opportunity to us as an Afrikaner family for personal emancipation from the apartheid syndrome,” Issie recalls her daughter, Frieda, saying … “…we have realized that white people are not a single group alone and not such an exclusive nation as what we were made to believe…” says Fred, Issie’s eldest son. “…we now feel ready and better equipped to make our humble contribution towards the building of the rainbow nation we all have been hoping for…” says Pietie the strongest initial opponent of reconciliation between the two families. A telegram with the message, ‘The De Hagens will meet with the Silaners. All travel and accommodation arrangements have been made. Tannie Issie,’ is postman-delivered to Wellie in Beaufort West. * Saturday 16 December is about to be eternalised in the history annals of the De Hagen and Silaner families. On this blue, cloudless day, there is a lot of activities taking place on the De Hagen estate a few kilometres outside the Mother City. Arrangements for an estimated one hundred guests are underway in all sorts of forms and shapes; fold-up tables, chairs, cutlery, porcelain, flower pots and bouquets and even a podium, specially provided for the occasion by a city-based catering company, are being decorated and arranged under supervision of Issie and daughter, Frieda, on the lawns. Other arrangements include a local boere musiek band, a fire-eater, a mime artist, a clown, a modern dance troupe and trapeze artists to provide top class entertainment. Invitations have also been extended to friends, neighbours, radio stations as well as the biggest newspapers and also overseas media organs. It is important that the whole country and the world at large be informed about the reconciliation efforts of the families as an example to others. An hour later the moment of truth dawns with the arrival of the guests, the Silaners in a specially hired bus from Beaufort-West and private cars – the children, their parents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren enter the estate, festively decorated with colourful balloons and the whole happy lot that goes with it. At the entrance the guests are welcomed with a bold lettered banner, “Welcome Doedoes’s Children.” Emotionally touched by the occasion, but proudly the Khoisan descendants of Oupa Kallie de Hagen and Ouma Ansie Silaner take hands and together they cross the lawn to meet with their counterparts, the white part of the family at a designated spot on the lawn. It turns out to be a perfect match and balance of a rainbow family: red, grey, frizzy hair, sharp and flat noses, white, dark brown skinned move towards each other in unison. Cameras flash to internalize the occasion. Simultaneously one hundred white doves are being released as a token of peace together with colourful balloons shooting skywards. The Xhosa neighbours of the de Hagens are perfectly clad in bright traditional costumes and equipped with vuzukelas, a type of musical instrument used to encourage soccer teams on the field, with which they welcome the Silaner clan. Then the two sides meet in a kaleidoscopic of colours and greetings. On both sides people shed tears, including some of the men, who for the moment putting away their pride, cry. “Come now, it’s no time for crying. Dry your tears and let’s start knowing each other,” Issie diplomatically orders the crowd. The formal introductions and know-each-other parade starts. One by one each offspring family of Doedoes and Janus respectively appear on stage and identify themselves until every family had been introduced in this fashion. When the greater part of the programme is covered, the two matchmakers are formally ushered to the podium in a show of collective support by all present, shouting loudly. “Issie, Wellie, Issie, Wellie.” The two confidently take up their respective positions to in turn address the audience. “Today is our most beautiful and unforgettable historic day. Wellie I want to say, we unconditionally welcome you in the bosom of our family,” Issie says with a knob in her throat, confirming the general feeling among her family. “Yeah, yeah!” Issie continues. “I must admit the fact that we have initially been in denial. We had been caught unawares, we were divided and some of us had been bitter about our own origin and existence. Thanks to your efforts Wellie, we today acknowledge openly that we all share a common ancestral bloodline, something we are not ashamed, but eternally proud of. “Yeah, yeah!” “Long live the de Hagens and the Silaner families,” the crowd echoes. Then Wellie takes to the podium. “Today all the honor and glory is given to the dear Lord who made this gathering possible. We bring honor to two brothers who endured instead a lot of stress, heartbreaks and humiliation – they and their families had to endure for years. I wish to thank you all for contributing towards this long overdue reconciliatory gesture. In my humble opinion all praise should go to Ouma Ansie and Oupa Kallie, who in life heroically proved to the whole of South Africa that no one can dictate whom to love. “I wish to thank tannie Issie from the bottom of my heart for her contribution towards this reconciliatory process between our two families,” says Doedoes’s eldest daughter with a sense of triumph and pride. Issie then invites individuals to express their views on the collective achievements of the two families. Frieda de Hagen, the rebel in the family takes the microphone to say her piece. “What is transpiring here today should be attributed to the willingness of all concerned and involved in nation- building. I am particularly proud of the fact that my family have moved beyond the confines of a destructive political system that has caused so much pain and devastation among thousands of people in this beautiful country of ours,” Frieda ends her moving contribution. Then follows a feast of exotic and traditional cuisine, never experienced before by some. The best quality wines are served as well as desert. People also enjoy themselves on the dance floor on the beat of the local band till late in the night. Tired, but happy, the guests depart early the Sunday morning with a formal pledge of meeting the following year in Beaufort-West. Epilogue ISSIE had the photos of Doedoes, Janus and Pa Kallie scanned to appear as one unit. Presently she holds it in her hand and observes to herself in her home on the estate outside Cape Town. Clutching the photo in her bosom she says with a sigh of relief to herself “Doedoes’s children have come home where they belong. * In Beaufort-West Wellie talks to herself, a custom she inherited from Ma Ansie. “Doedoes, I am really sorry about the reason I have committed, but I had to break the promise, not only to compensate for the pain your origin caused you, but also to purify myself from apartheid and all its evils. My beautiful father, Doedoes,” she says taking up a seat in a relaxing chair. “Thanks for saving my life with cat skins. That I will remember for as long as I live and generations to come. Your prophecy that God has spared my life for a great purpose, has come true. Your efforts and contributions towards reconciliation will be formally documented in the history annals of this country,” Wellie nestles herself deeper into the relaxing chair to take her customary afternoon siesta. Her sleep is instantly interrupted by something-soft landing on her lap, a cat, to whose entire species she pays tribute and homage on this day. “Had it not been for your ancestors, I wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale,” she says lovingly stroking the animal’s furs with sweet and fond memories of Doedoes. END