Candice Swanepoel shared via Tropic of C a handwritten letter of love to her homeland; Africa.
Africa. A distant and intimidating land to many, untouchable in its vastness, wild to its core, where weakness flounders and strength essential for survival. An unforgiving land where poverty and hunger are a daily struggle, a country plagued with troubles and strife. South Africa, my birthplace, my home, sits at the southern tip of this land. A country with a resounding heartbeat, and soulful energy where beauty is illuminating and sorrow so vividly present.
The unspoken truths of children taking care of children in the many shanty towns scattered all over the country, where ‘sangomas’ witch doctors offer superstitious remedies and where colour and religion a bloody battlefield for hundreds of years…
But Africa is where I grew up, where my family grew up and where their parents’ parents made their home. The pulsating beat of the African drum lives inside of me, and when I hear that soulful beat, I could be anywhere in the world, my spirit ignites, the music carrying me home, where my senses engulfed with the sights and smells of this special land.
It takes me back to the smell of the summer rains…
… A feeling that always humbles me. A feeling that makes my soul smile.
Africa has a vibration, a racing pulse, a living energy which can only be felt and not fully portrayed in literature. You have to experience it to truly know its sensation! I remember the hot African sun on my skin and the cool mysterious nights that followed with whispers of history and wonder.
It’s impossible not to feel grounded in Africa. I grew up knowing and experiencing firsthand that we are just a tiny speck of an overwhelming ecosystem in which we are powerless in God’s great land. Africa can be relentless and unforgiving, yet so sensationally beautiful and nurturing in the same breath.
I would sit at night and listen carefully to each amazing sound as night fell. If you are from Africa you know the lion’s roar, a sound that fills the night sky and makes every hair stand on end. A chilling yet beautifully powerful pant that announces his reign of the savanna. The hyenas’ cackling laughter that sends chills down my spine followed by a rush of adrenaline. The silence and serenity of Africa’s giants, the elephants as they move gracefully in their herds, their eyes always sparkling with the truest and most profound love. This is the Africa I love. Raw. Exciting. Soulful.
Then you experience the warm, spontaneous smiles of its people, its vast array of cultures, its rainbow nation. Different cultures, tribes, languages and beliefs, yet we all are bound together as one calling Africa home. With that feeling we can unite. We can find power in our differences and diversity!
I left South Africa when I was 16 years old to pursue my career but It never left me. You do not choose to live in Africa, Africa lives in you, and I carry Africa with me every day.
Africa taught me to be strong, very strong, resilient and curious. Very curious. I grew up seeing life, and death and rebirth consistently. This taught me to be at one with Mother Nature. Living and experiencing that level of nature will no doubt make you believe in a higher power. A God. Africa is what earth in its perfection looks like in God’s eyes. The animals run free and wild in the vast grasslands. The colors of the sunrise and sunset so vibrant and clear, painting the sky in reds, pinks and orange, showing the world its golden glow.
I remember it all so clearly. Its landscapes, its people, its songs. I have lived so far away for over 14 years, but I still feel the African drums beating in my heart, engulfing my soul with its rawness!
I had a farm in Africa, my home, where nature and culture molded me. I am eternally grateful to have been born in such a place. A place where if you want to ever believe in magic, it is here, in the winds, in the currents, in its heart!
Read the letter here.