At the lodge where I began my practical, I worked with many native South African staff members. They knew that I was from overseas and had no family members in South Africa. When I started university in 2008, one of the families took pity on me not having a ‘home’. They invited me to live at their house.
Skeptical at first, the Grandmother and leader of the household treated me differently. I am white and she’d never had a white guest in her house. At first, treated me like royalty. Soon she grew more accepting of my presence and learned I wanted to work in the family environment and did not need, nor desire, special treatment. I cleaned, cooked, and helped the kids with their homework. They brought into their family and acted as if I was one of their own. During the months I lived with them, they made me a necklace of their clan, symbolizing my acceptance into the family. The necklace is beaded, 3 white then 3 red. The white symbolizes the beginning of a new stage in life. The red mixes in as the family’s choice colour.
These necklaces are made by families that follow tradition very closely. They are made for several different reasons and in different ways. Necklaces can be pure white, white with trimmings from a cow’s tail or even a full necklace from trimmings of hair from a cow’s tail, depending on the person and what stage they are going into. These are only a few of the styles one could find.
Sadly, on Friday morning my South African grandmother passed away . She will be missed by not only her true relatives but her ‘adopted’ one as well.