IN THE 70s, my parents were a young couple on vacation in Johannesburg. They liked it so much, they packed their stuff and moved there from Switzerland. Soon after, I was born on a cold, rainy, winter’s day in Cape Town.
When I was learning to talk, my parents spoke to me in their native language, Swiss-German, but when I started nursery school I got very confused with having two different languages, so we switched to speak English all the time. Back then it was still apartheid, but I was too young to understand and it was normal to be surrounded by white people and immigrants., It was also normal to me that my mum would drive me to school with a loaded gun in the car. It was normal that when friends visited us, they would put their guns on top of the fridge, so we kids couldn’t play around with them.
It was also normal to have black servants ; a maid and a gardener, but my mum insisted on running the house herself, and the locals couldn’t understand it. We did however hire a gardener, Elliot. He worked in our big garden and turned into a play-buddy, driving me around in a wheelbarrow.