Load shedding is defined as ‘action to reduce the load on something, especially the interruption of an electricity supply to avoid excessive load on the generating plant.’

In contrast, loadshedding (pronounced hastily, with aggravation and an implied curse) is South African parlance for Eskom’s ineptitude, evidence of the ANC’s corruption and verification that South Africa is on a steady course towards becoming a Third World country.

The typical Westerner has no concept of what it’s like to live without electricity for 4-6 hours in a day, and yet this dilemma is exactly what South Africans of all creeds and classes have been faced with since Q4 of 2018. The majority of South Africans have weathered the inconvenience bravely and with little complaint. Those who hail from the rural areas – where electricity remains a novelty – have noted their amusement about their urban counterparts’ mewling with regards to the loss of power.

It is not uncommon to hear an exasperated caller on SAFm’s open lines point out that “We grew up without electricity. What is the big deal?” and to have that caller reminded that the South African economy’s growth is heavily dependent on a regular and reliable supply of power. In a country where a fair number of elementary school aged children still face the risk of drowning pit latrines, phrases like “economic engine”, “artificial intelligence” and “global stage” mean very little. Nevertheless, it’s a problem that South Africa needs to get under control, and quickly. Experts say that load shedding costs the economy R2billion ($144M) daily.

As most of you know, I grew up in Ghana, West Africa, where we in the city have never enjoyed neither a reliable nor regular supply of electricity. Our provincial countrymen are far more fortunate than us in this way. It’s very rare to experience blackouts (what we call dumsor) in the villages, because the demand is so low. Aspiring politicians don’t bother to run on issues like electricity and water in Ghanaian villages, because few people have indoor plumbing and their never miss their favorite TV shows. The city is a horse of six or more different colors. Accra remains the commercial and administrative center of the nation, so when the power goes out here, all commerce is retarded. I have felt that pain; it still echoes within me. This is why I am better prepared for loadshedding than the rest of my family.

Oh, I wish you could see them.

The kids have educated themselves about the various stages of Eskom’s timetable, stages 1-4. Stage 1 means that the power will only be cut off once in a day, usually for 2 hours. Stage 4 means that there will be no electricity for four (sometimes five) separate portions of the day, also for 2 hours at a time. (There’s a joke that says Stage 7 is when Eskom comes to your house and blows out your candle.) The children jubilate when they hear the refrigerator kick back into action. They run to the nearest outlet to recharge their devices. They work themselves into a near nervous breakdown if they fail to do so before the next round of loadshedding hits. I try not to laugh, but I generally fail.

I also enjoy listening to white South Africans complain about loadshedding. As far as they are concerned, the power utility’s incompetency is proof that the ANC is ruining the country for selfish gain. Never mind that Eskom was unregulated for years under the apartheid regime or that infrastructure was built primarily to service the white minority or Blacks in close enough proximity to them. It doesn’t matter that Eskom was never structured to service an entire nation. The way some of the folks I’ve spoken to see it, loadshedding is a ploy to destroy white owned businesses and force white South Africans out of their country. It’s a conspiracy theory I have yet to form an appropriate response to.

We are taught by bible scholars and motivational speakers alike that it’s not the challenges in our lives that matter, but how we rise to meet them that does. In general, South Africans have responded to this challenge with humor, which I think is a testimony to their tenacity. As for us, when we have to eat our dinner in darkness, I don’t refer to it as a power outage; I call it “mood lighting”. And when the kids are forced to play a game of Uno rather than watch the same episodes of the same 3 shows on Cartoon Network, I call that a win.

Have you ever gone 24 hours without electricity? (Besides camping and other self inflicted forms of punishment.) How did you handle it?



Surprising List of Things You Need on the Mission Field

When we moved last year (can you believe we’ve already been in SA for 17 months?), a lot of dear friends and family wanted to send us of well prepared for life in “wildest Africa”. We were gifted with coffee (Gevalia for me), socks (for the kids) and advised to bring our own water filtration system. (Marshall saw to that.)

The reality is, South Africa is far more developed than most people realize. We have great roads here (although a consistent four-lane system on the national highway would be much appreciated), access to nutrition is reasonably priced and electricity is supplied with few interruptions. That’s not to imply that everything is all roses and lavender, however. Crime and corruption are rampant in many sectors, rape culture is pervasive and many people still live in abject poverty. Nevertheless, moving in South Africa remains what I refer to as a ‘soft landing’ into a life in Africa. As someone who grew up in and visits Ghana on occasion, I can confirm that it can’t get any ‘easier’ than this. Many of the things we had shipped – or were gifted to us prior to arrival, like the coffee – are already manufactured and readily available right here. South Africa even has a well-run online market center called Takealot.com. It’s our version of Amazon.

A few people have asked on occasion if there is anything we lack here in SA. The short answer is “no”. There really is nothing that we lack. Admittedly, however, there ARE some creature comforts that we miss. When we were living in America, there are items that we took for granted and have only come to appreciate them now that we have no access to them. This list may surprise you, but here a few of the things we have discovered that we need on the mission field.

Neosporin:  You don’t know how much power this little tube of healing carries until you discover that it has no equivalent. Whether it’s a mosquito bite, a scrape or a 10-inch gash, Neosporin can fix it all! And there IS none in South Africa.

Rubbing Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is ubiquitous in America, right? You walk into Wal*Mart, it’s right in front. You walk into Kroger, it’s over to your left. Even if you’re not sure if you have rubbing alcohol anywhere in your house, chances are there is definitely rubbing alcohol in your house! Whether you use it as an astringent, to clean your tools or to clean behind your ears (or in your navel, like I do without shame) rubbing alcohol is life! And there is NONE in South Africa.

Marshmallows: You read this and you snigger. How is a marshmallow a necessity? Well, it is if you’re on the mission field with four children and those children bring home a bake sale sheet requesting rice krispie treats and then you go to the store and guess what? Gotcha! There ARE marshmallows in SA, but they are absolutely awful. You haven’t seen struggle until you’re in the kitchen mixing up marshmallow mix by hand for 1 hour and a 250g yield.

Spices: Y’all just don’t know. Living in a place called the Garden Route with no spices (besides salt, pepper and vinegar) is an oxymoron. It’s disorienting. I haven’t had properly seasoned food in 17 months and my taste buds are despondent, dispirit and dejected. I miss crab cakes, y’all. I miss seasoned crab cakes. I miss properly seasoned everything.

Nachos; or more specifically, Tostitos:

Does this really need an explanation?


Have you ever lived/worked on the mission field (or military, or service project) for more than 6 months? What things were on your wish list that surprised you? For us, I think nachos was definitely the most curious of all. Go figure!

I Suppose We Owe Everyone An Explanation For the Extended Silence…

Greetings, 34 DGZ Family!

I trust and pray you have been well. I know we have not given an update in quite some time, and that is because the site admin (moi, Malaka) has been out of commission for some time. For those of you who are moms on here, you know how it is. Even though everyone in the family thinks it’s a marvelous idea to get that dog/take that vacation/start that family blog, yours becomes the sole responsibility for making it all a reality and breathing life into it on a continual basis.

If you are a reader of my personal blog – Mind of Malaka – you may know that I discovered in early February that I had a meningioma. It was a non-cancerous brain tumor that had grown to the approximate size of a golf ball. One doctor estimated that it had been growing undetected over the course of 10 years. Evidently, meningiomas are fairly common and doctors perform hundreds of operations every year to remove them. That’s a pretty scary thought, actually….

This is not my brain. Image source: Neurosurgeryblog.com

It was a trying time for the family, naturally. The kids didn’t understand why I was so lethargic all the time and I didn’t understand why I was less able to tolerate their noise levels. The constant headache was a monster to deal with. And while it was a relied to discover the cause of my anguish, the diagnosis was incredibly frightening. You hear the words “brain” and “tumor” and confidence (or in our case, faith) shrinks considerably. It’s sad to admit, but it’s the truth. As Christians, I believe we like to think of ourselves as spiritual leviathans, and oftentimes it’s easier to have faith for someone else in the midst of their trial than it is for yourself. When someone else is being challenged with health or finances, we can smile and offer platitudes in ready abundance. The flow of blessed assurance is not so steady when you’re forced to turn it inwards. Or at least that was true in the Grant family’s case.

Marshall and I were apprehensive about telling the kids the gory details about my diagnosis and the procedure to follow, but the kids were fine. Better than fine, in fact. After describing how the doctor would have to slice open my head and remove the tumor, they made sure to pray for me every time we spoke on the phone. (I left South Africa alone in order to go and get treatment.) Then they had their friends at school pray for me as well and waited impatiently for me to return home. My husband, Mr. Cool Water Pastor Grant, didn’t handle it quite as well. LOL! His faith was in a different direction. His expectation was that based on his prayer and hope – frankly – that I would go for my scheduled MRI and that the tumor would be miraculously removed. That turned out not to be the case, to his admitted disappointment.

That’s what I meant when I said faith was a challenge for us in our house over the previous 2+ months. In our ministry, it seems we are always looking for the Big Win. We expect the supernatural to work in our lives because we serve the God and Creator of the known and unknown universe. But as far as I was (and still am) concerned, those sorts of miracles are not for Believers. We have the word of God and the Holy Spirit, and that ought to be enough. Personally, I have always been wary of harboring after the Big Spiritual Win because of what I read in Matthew many years ago.

Matthew 12:38-40 says:

38 One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”

39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

Do I think it’s perverse to look for a miracle? No. But I don’t think that my walk as a believer should hinge so heavily on it, to the point that if it does not come to pass exactly as we imagine it that it becomes a hindrance to your faith. My prayer was that the doctor would do his job and that he would prove himself worthy of all the glowing reviews he’d racked up on Google.

At the end of the day, both the surgeon and the master architect who designed my brain set everything to right. And now I a fantastic testimony to share. The best part about it is that it’s not my testimony alone. So many people globally were praying for me and by virtue of the fruit of their lips, I am walking and still in my ‘right-ish’ mind.

Now that I’m on the mend and re-united with the family, we can get back to sharing with you all the awesome work that’s being done in the ministry, as well as the quirky aspects of living in Plett. There’s a lot that has happened since February and I hope I can catch you all up!

Thanks for hanging in there with us as we serve the Lord to the best of our abilities in this grand experiment. We love you!

A (Treacherous!) Stroll Through Storms River Mouth

Of all the days for me to leave my camera at home, this would be one of them. I can’t tell you all how much I regret it. I doubt there are words adequate enough to describe the gasp-inspiring beauty, the awesome splendor and terrifying visions of danger and DEATH that overtake you as a sojourner through Storms River Mouth…! But I shall try.

Now that the kids are in school, we’ve found ourselves in a familiar rhythm. Get up, drop them off, wait for them to come home, do homework, do work that pays the bills in the hours between, go to church on Sunday, repeat next week. It’s a pattern that is comfortable – and incredibly dissatisfying – and one I hope that we utterly abolish with immediacy. I don’t think there is any existence more dull and soul crushing than the Western Hamster Wheel we just abandoned. This is why my spirit was gladdened when Marshall suggested that we go on a mini excursion on Saturday.

We set off east for Tsitsikama with low expectations. Marshall had been to Storms River 12 years ago when he came on a mission’s trip with Goshen International, and was ‘excited’ to share the adventure with us. Aside from the “highest suspension bridge in southern Africa” he gave no indication about what we might see while we were there, so the kids and I got into the car with very low expectations. Our journey took us down a narrow, tarred road that eventually gave way to a muddy pathway guarded by slender South African youth. They wanted money – all KINDS of money! – to enter a ‘nature reserve but what looked like a grand cow pen being circled by well-fed vultures. And my husband was willing to pay! I rubbed my temples and waited for the ridiculous fiasco to come to an end.

Let’s just go see this bridge and go back home, I thought to myself. It turns out the two older kids were cycling similar thoughts in their minds.

Eventually the muddy path gave way to a newly tarred road through dense bush along a mountain pass. The bush soon cleared at presented us with a view of the great, open sea.

“Whoa!” the peanut gallery exclaimed, and for good reason. The waves were high and the water was Microsoft Word blue. It was phenomenal.

We passed cabins and a handful of hikers along the way before the road ended at a boundary of volcanic rock at the ocean’s edge. We parked and Aya squealed.

“Look! Loooook! It’s so adorable!”

There was some sort of half rat, half rabbit, half gopher, and part beaver thing nibbling on the grass next to a trash bin. Naturally, the kids expressed a desire to take it home as they cautiously approached it. The rat-gopher stopped eating its food long enough to stare them down and give them a chance to back off before it attacked. Fortunately, violence was avoided when Marshall instructed the kids to come along so that they could come see the bridge. It was just as well, because there was a whole family of rat-gophers nibbling on the lawn adjacent to the parking deck! Grant children went squealing and cooing everywhere.

“Those are gussies – rock rabbits,” said a salty South African man in dark sunglasses. With his black leather jacket and weathered skin, he looked like he’d just stepped off a futuristic pirate ship and was in search of a jug of rum in port.

“They don’t look much like rabbits though, do they?” I wondered allowed.

That’s when he dropped a Popeye-ish chuckle my way and wished us all a good day.

By now that kids were at the water’s edge, completely enthralled by the sand, the sea and the beige colored foam riding its crests like the head a freshly poured mug of root beer.

Marshall was pointing out to the horizon. “See how the water looks like it’s above our heads? Isn’t that cool?”

I had to admit that it was pretty cool. The point we were standing on was below sea-level and it was impressive to see how gravity, the hand of God and unicorn magic all conspired together to provide a barrier between us and the deep brown sea.

But wait, didn’t you just say the water was blue?

Yes, I DID. Only on this side, the water was seaweed brown, an illusion courtesy of…

“A waterfall! Oh my goodness! It’s HUGE!”

Again, Grant children went squealing and cooing everywhere.

Just 50 ft or so from the beach stood waterfall hidden in dense vegetation. A cave that resembled a hollowed out ribcage of a theropod bordered it. We would’ve stood and admired it forever, but we were being hurried along by Liya who has yet to learn how to stand still and appreciate things. It was just as well, because we had a long trek ahead of us.

Honestly, it wasn’t that long. The distance from the waterfall to the bridge turned out to be .75 miles, but most of that distance was vertical, on a slippery wooden path, overlooking the side of a mountain that was at least a 500 foot drop, straight down. If you weren’t impaled by a tree on the way down, then the jagged rocks below were sure to finish off the job. And if your body wasn’t carried out to sea by the furious waves, then the daggum rock-rat-gophers were certain to finish up the job by consuming your mortal remains.

It was in this environment that my children skipped merrily along, racing each other and imploring me to “hurry it along” as I took one ginger step after another.

Fresh-faced hikers kitted with professional cameras and NorthFace parkas smiled sympathetically at me.

Forget them. Me and my fat body don’t need no sympathy!

Anyhow, the treacherous ramble was made more pleasant with presence of fragrant flowers in bloom. It was a delicate scent that was carried by the wind rushing in from the coast. We passed trees that had knotted and bent themselves into strange shapes, and listened for wood frogs who suddenly went still and quiet when we did. We walked and walked and suddenly, without any warning at all the bridge appeared!

image source: places.co.za

It looked like a long march to the gates of Hell.

I consider myself an adrenaline junkie, but nothing in me wanted to cross that bridge. Marshall and the girls raced off, leaving Stone and I behind to navigate another set of steps that were built at a 90* angle. (That’s no exaggeration.) Nevertheless, this is what we had come for and cross the bridge we must! We waited patiently for a family to finish taking their pictures on the chain-link, wood and wire construction swaying 23 feet above swirling ocean waters below before crossing to the other side.

We didn’t.

And we didn’t die.

Now what?

Well, there was another beach on the other side of the bridge, only this one was comprised of rocks. Glabrous stones that glistened and clattered against each other under the weight of the waves. Every time the tide came in and retreated, it sounded like…




I have never seen or heard anything like it. It was akin to standing on a mountain of solid hominy grits. My greatest regret is that we did not have a camera to capture that setting.

The sun was setting, so we decided it was best to get back to the car before Africa Dark set in. There was a second suspension bridge that looked like it would cut the distance by 1/5 if we took it. But as the book of African Proverbs says, shortcuts are dangerous. The shorter bridge led us to steps…about 450 steep steps that burned the buttocks with every effort. Stone and I – the two least fit people in our family – were weeping and sweeting by the time we got onto the main path. His father soothed his breaking spirit by telling him about his own struggle to conquer Table Mountain 3 years before. It seemed to calm the boy down. It did nothing for my racing heart. Again, the girls left us behind and were dancing back at the car park when we emerged from the jungle trail.

Remember Salty the South African pirate? Well, before we parted company, he told me that the whales had been jumping earlier in the day.

“You’ve just missed them!” he said with a wry grim.

“Shame,” I replied.

I looked out to sea, grateful that none of my children (or I) had slid down the mountain and that we were truly standing on good ol’ manmade terra firma. The kids were chasing after rat-rabbits when Marshall hollered excitedly.

“Look! Come up here quick!”

I turned just in time to see a mighty splash in the water.

A whale!

image source: watersportsmansp.com

And then another, and another, and another…and yet a few more!

The last whale we saw breached the surface and did a half spin in the air before disappearing back into the depths. That’s when we decided it was time to go home. What a perfect ending to the day.


“What will you do for work when you get there?”

“What school(s) will the kids be in?”

“How often will you come back to the States?”

“Where will you be living?”


These four questions usually make up the meat of the interrogative gumbo that we were served before we left the States. Of the four one has been really (really) hard to answer. I’d like to give you the chance to guess which of those it might be, but you probably only have a few minutes to read this and may not be in the mood for games today. Besides, the title of this post has most likely given you an indication.


Housing has been incredibly difficult to procure in this part of South Africa. When folks back in Atlanta would ask me where we were going to stay and my reply was a nonchalant shrug, I wasn’t being glib. I literally didn’t know! When Marshall and Stone first arrived in the country ahead of us, they were “homeless” for about 2 weeks. They stayed with friends in Port Elizabeth, shuttled between one bed and breakfast to the next before finally finding a house for rent, albeit it for a short term lease. Sensing our desperation and seizing on the opportunity, our previous real estate agent drew up a contract that was designed to squeeze us for every cent she could shake out for the homeowner. She was NOT working in our best interest. There are plenty of homes for sale in Plettenberg Bay, but the rental market is a desert. Despite the ridiculous clauses in our contract (including, but not limited to forcing us to hire a housekeeper of the homeowners choosing and increasing our rent once the agent saw the sum of our income) we took a house in River Club because we needed a place to stay. River Club is a swanky subdivision in Plett wherein the houses remain vacant until the holiday season save for the retirees who live there year round. We just moved out of there on the 30th.

But…Malaka? Didn’t you guys JUST get to South Africa at the beginning of June? How are you moving out of one house to another after just 30 days?

Did you not just hear me say our rental agreement was crazy? The lady who owns the home was willing to lease the place up until October at the latest. We, on the other hand, will be here for a little longer; A few years, at least. So when another property came open we had to give a 2 week notice and high tail it out of there before someone snatched it up!

All over this city, there are For Sale signs in front of stately and modest homes alike. Some have been on the market for years. It appears that homeowners are reluctant to do long-term leases for a number of reasons:

  • A few bad renters have created a stigma for the renting population, driving the myth that 90% of all renters are “bad people who destroy your property because they have no regard for it” (I heard a woman in town rattle off this non-scientific statistic) and therefore it’s better to sell.
  • The majority of homeowners are of the staunch opinion that they can get more bang for their buck if they charge $500/week during the 3 month holiday season rather than $800/month for a year long rental.
  • In some cases there is prejudice against rentals of a certain ethnicity.

Personally, I found it hard to believe this final point, but the individually recounting this tale did so with such earnestness that I found it hard to conjure up a reason as to why they would lie about it. Fortunately, there isn’t too much of that blatant racism going around. Instead, certain real estate agents and the homeowners collude to rob you unjustly.

Finding a place to live – a house that would accommodate our family of six comfortably – has been no easy task. That’s why I think it is imperative that I give a HUGE shout out to Christine and Ingrid at Century 21 for their professionalism and the attention to detail over the past few weeks. They’ve really come through for our family in a crunch time situation. If you’re visiting Plett and need accommodation, you should definitely call them first!



Don’t ask where you can mail letters and packages to us. Getting a mailbox in this town is 7 times more difficult than finding a house!

The Saga of my #Lost(GhanaMustGo)Bag

Travel is often difficult. It is made even more so when the carrier responsible for transporting you, your loved ones and your luggage loses any one of those entities. (My brother was one lost for 36 hours while flying as an unaccompanied minor on KLM when he was 6.)

Fortunately, none of my children found themselves misplaced during our transit between Atlanta and South Africa, but the airline(s) DID manage to lose the ONLY bag containing ALL of my shoes, my First Lady hat, my pale blue pashmina, my Blue Magic, my wide tooth combs AND my professional grade flat irons. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my shoes.

I am DISTRAUGHT…but I’m trying to keep my head up and be a “strong Black woman” and a “soldier for Christ”. (Really, all I want to do is go to Heathrow and sort through their luggage hull and find my bloody bag myself. If that’s an option, someone please let me know! )

I have been chronicling my pain for posterity. Meanwhile, both Virgin Atlantic and South African Airways have adopted a policy of ignorance or nonchalance where my plight is concerned. I can’t tell you which, because they won’t answer me. I don’t know how this tale is going to end as I am sure there are more acts to follow, but take a few minutes to entertain yourself as you click these links and catch up on The Saga of the #LostBag in 4 Acts!:

Act 1


Act 2


Act 3


Act 4



Sabona! Greetings from the bottom of the world

One of the greatest thrills of international travel is observing customs and human quirks that are foreign to the observer. If you can’t travel internationally, however, people watching at the mall provides you with similar rewards. Recently, I’ve found myself absorbed with greeting rituals. From dap, to a simple handshake, the ubiquitous Black nod or White folk’s tight-lipped half smile as they pass one another in the park, it’s all totally fascinating to me.

A few days ago I found myself in the midst of an awkward greeting ritual during my early days in the country. I passed a fashionably dressed man in a stairwell. We made eye contact. I smiled.

“Sabona”, he said in a creamy baritone.

“‘Sup”, I replied awkwardly.

We gave glimpsed at one another in confusion and then carried on our way. Ah. At least we had spoken and were cordial. But it was in that moment that it struck me: EYE am an immigrant. I’m the kid everyone else is going to have to show how to use the water fountain or explain that you don’t have to pay for re-fills at McDonald’s to!

Time constraints won’t allow me to write about the experience at length, so here’s a quick vlog on the delightful subject of greeting folk in the capital city and the literal translation of “sabona”.


SAA and the Franken-Air Hostess

“What do you mean that I cannot speak my language? If I want to speak my language, I will speak it!”

Our flight had taken a scheduled detour to Ghana’s capital – Accra – where the cabin was being cleaned by the local ground crew and a new set of meals, blankets and headsets brought on board to accommodate new passengers. I stood in the aisle, gazing out of the windows at Kotoka International’s arrival terminal and the numerous mansions that had sprung up all around it. They looked out of place, cuddling the tarmac so tightly. They bothered me, but something else had me ill at ease.

In the early moments after landing I was dumbstruck by a sensation I was experiencing. Or a lack of a sensation, I should say. I was shocked by the absence of a need to bound down the rolling stairs and run pell-mell towards to arrival hall in a desperate bid to get “home”. My pulse was surprisingly steady. My breathing easy. I demonstrated none of the physical reactions of a person who missed home, was close to home and yet so far away. I exhibited none of the frustration and sadness of being kept at bay from a desired target. What was going on here? When did the sight of Accra inspire such little arousal in me?

I didn’t have time to examine my (lack of) perplexion further. A woman’s shouting had drawn me from my thoughts.

“Even if I want to talk about you in my language, I will still speak my language! You see? This is what I don’t like about West Africans.”

The rest of her discourse was carried out in her native tongue, so it is rather unfortunate that I cannot recount in what way(s) we West Africans have grieved Sister Mfofo, whom I believe was speaking Zulu. Meanwhile, a small army of flight attendants from the forward cabins came walking purposefully to find out what had set Sister Mfofo off. She sucked her teeth and pointed to her right, presumably at the object of her verbal assault. Judging from the slumped shoulders of a young woman of about 20, the tightness around said woman’s lips and the even tighter grip she had around the handle of a mop, I’d say I was right on the mark with my assessment. The young(er) Ghanaian woman was dressed in jeans, a white t-shirt protected by a smock, hair braided into cascading extensions woven with gold Yaki number 144 and plastic gloves on each hand. In terms of airport crew hierarchy, I’d guess she was at the bottom of the totem pole. You know: Pilot à everyone else à bathroom cleaner.

Being in numerous acrimonious Ghanaian settings, I’ve seen these sorts of “African” exchanges before. There is a rhythm to them. Sister Mfofo, who was seasoned and magnificent with her cornrows braided into an up-do and a blue uniform that hugged in both the right and wrong places without discrimination was relentless in her verbal assault. The rest of the South African cabin crew looked at Sister Milicent (that’s the name we’ll call the cleaner) who had backed herself into a corner, imprisoned by the stares of these foreigners. This had gone on for about 75 seconds, which is generally when an observing Ghanaian would jump in and beg Mfofo to cut Milicent some slack had they both been Ghanaians. You know…”for the sake of peace”.

But the South Africans did not.

Chei! They let Mfofo deride Milicent, hanging on to every scathing word. How could I be sure her words were scathing? I believe the sneer of Mfofo’s lip and the cutting of her side eye were a dead giveaway. To my utter shock (and I don’t know why I was shocked, because Ghanaians are notorious cowards), not a single male airport worker came to Milicent’s aid.

Not to guide her away from the corner.

Not to inform Mfofo that Milicent had a job to do and was on a tight schedule.

Not a word in support.

IN FACT, when Mfofo proclaimed that she did not like West Africans, one Ghanaman grinned sheepishly, flashing all 64 of his brilliant white teeth. I hated him for it. I hate the way Ghanaians turn into spineless, Black versions of Judas Iscariot whenever their integrity comes under assault; particularly if a foreigner is responsible for launching said assault. It’s the most cooning coontastic display of self-hatred you’ll ever see, and it’s precisely why the Chinese and the Nigerians are colonizing the country today.

Anyway, Sister Milicent finally did manage to make her escape, cleaned the second bathroom in ‘economic class’ with waste and exited the plane. Mfofo glared at her back the entire time.

I wondered how Mfofo felt having to serve all these West Africans she loathed so much. But who can tell the private thoughts of flight attendants (unless they work for Delta, where they express their disdain for their passengers sans reserve) while they are on duty? When I tell you Mfofo gave us some of the greatest personal service, I say that with no exaggeration. She joked with Liya, called her “my angel”. She served every Ghanaian with the gentleness of a Ga grandmother: assertive, but caring. She made eye contact with us as if we were actual human beings and not subpar versions of humanity that had to be tolerated.

She was a Franken-Air Hostess.


On my previous trips to South Africa, I had heard tell South Africans distinguish themselves from “the rest of Africa” with vehemence. There’s up in Africa and then there’s South Africa, you understand. South Africa is modern, sleek, developed and civilized. Up in Africa, there is famine and ignorance; it’s primitive…All of the negative things the Western world associates with the idea of “Africa”. And then of course, there are the Nigerians who have single handedly ruined an entire district in Jo’burg, at least according to two of the natives I had the opportunity to chat with while en route to our hotel for the evening.

Mfofo’s outburst made me question whether the idea of African unity will ever become a reality. There’s a lot of work to be done if we are ever to collaborate and cooperate as a people on the Continent first, and as our assigned nationalities second.

First we have to agree that unity is something we actually want to strive for. Immediately after that, we have to answer the very serious question of what it means to be “African”. Because honestly. We can’t have Milicents running around telling other Africans that they can’t speak their language in mixed ethnic company. That’s just stupid.


I’m curious as to whether Mfofo is in the minority with her feelings, and I’m looking forward to interrogating the notion further. Has there been any healing since the recent xenophobic attacks against other Africans? It’s doubtful. I believe there has been more of a sweeping under the rug than an addressing of the wounds. In order for there to be healing, we have to first see each other. I’ll tell you what I learned about interpersonal connections and sight tomorrow!

You’re Moving to South Africa! Are You “Excited?”

Ever since our family announced the decision to move to South Africa in order to work in ministry and pursue a change in scenery, everyone (not just a few people…literally everyone) who’s caught wind of the news has had one, singular question.

“Are you excited?!!”

Initially, the easy answer was to reply with a hearty ‘Yes!’ and force a smile before answering the next series of uninspiring and now-expected questions: “What will you be doing when you get there?” and “When do you come back?”

These queries were predictable. In fact, there was one couple in our church who asked us these same three questions Sunday after Sunday until I paused and tilted my head mischievously one day and said “You know what? I’m not sure!” I quickly made it known that I was joking. The last time I made that sort of joke I was reported to the authorities in our church and it cost my family thousands of dollars in dunce taxes.

Moving is an arduous enough task. Moving to another country is a hellacious one. Had it not been for assistance of MX5, Rose, Tia, Karim, Amira, and a whole list people who helped us to the very last second of our departure, we would still be cleaning and prepping for departure today. Therefore I have no designs of packing my family up and returning to the United States without the assistance of an efficient relocation firm anytime soon. The recollection of cleaning toilets hoarder’s homes gives me more pleasure than considering this future task. It was so much easier to answer the question “So! When are you coming back?” before we’d packed our first box.

“Three years!” was our honest reply. But now? Now I can’t say this without feeling like a fraud. The thought of shutting down another house in 36 months doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to mentally prepare for the exercise. I think it will be good practice to lay a timetable at Jesus’ feet and respond with a hearty “When God says go!” the next time we’re asked.

Yeah…we’ll lay any potential blame for tardiness on the head of the Messiah. Didn’t He advise us to cast all of our cares upon Him?


As I said before, getting here was no mean feat. First we had to shut down our house, a process made more difficult than necessary with the sudden bursting of pipes in both the ceiling and kitchen floor; the cracking of drywall in our stairwell (the eventual result of the kids’ gymnastics exploits); the painting, the cleaning, the appliance replacement…that was all before we got to putting our stuff in storage and/or packed up for shipping across the sea.

Did any of these activities inspire “excitement” within my children or me? In a way. Remember that scene in ‘Missing in Action’ when Chuck Norris was hung upside down with a burlap sack over his head and his prison guards dropped a giant jungle rat in there with him? Shortly afterwards there was a struggle that ended with the sack drenched in blood – presumably Chuck’s? And to the watching crowd’s amazement, the sack was removed from his limp body and Chuck Norris had eviscerated that rat with naught but his teeth? Equate that to our feelings about this move and you have a baseline to determine our level of “excitement”.

We were anxious.

We were terrified.

We were apprehensive.

At times we were melancholy as the day for our departure drew near.

All these are valid sorts of excitement – just not the gushy, happy ones that most people associate with the word. But praise God, we’re here! And as I type, the stars are twinkling in the sky and the kids are happily enjoying their new space. But before I get to the stars and these amazing blue skies, you want to hear all about our trip, don’t you! Of COURSE you do.

As you can imagine, traveling with 3 kids (Stone had already left with Marshall) and 12 pieces of luggage is no stroll in the park. I have therefore broken down the process in chart form to make it easier for you to digest and understand our collective pain. Below is a pictorial representation of our journey in 3 phases:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.26.45 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.46.01 AMScreen Shot 2016-06-03 at 7.02.51 AM

There is a Phase 4, which includes discovering my actual purpose for being here (something Marshall has already done), but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Back to our flight.

Our cabin crew on South African Airways was wonderful. They made the journey as pleasant as possible. That said, I would like to advise that if you are ever considering flying South African Airways in economy class: don’t. The armrests do not fully retract in economy (or as one attendant said over the loud speaker, economic) class. The malfunction limits the passengers already limited range of motion in the seat, and the protrusion of the perpetually suspended armrest into your ribs is akin to what I imagine the sensation of an elephant erection jabbed into your side for the duration of a 17-hour flight might feel like. Not that I can say that for certain, of course. After watching an elephant urinate with enough force to put out a small forest fire, it’s just what I imagine.

As I said, the crew did their best to make us comfortable, and it was a jolly (albeit sleepless) flight. After 9 hours in the air, we stopped in Accra to let a few passengers off and onboard a few more. It was here that the cabin crew changed shifts and we got a new head flight attendant. I call her Sister Mfofo, the Franken-Air Hostess. (Her real name is Debbie, I later discovered.) Sister Mfofo – like a fair number of South Africans, I hear – does not like West Africans. You’re curious to know why. Find out tomorrow on: SAA and the Franken-Air Hostess!