Nicolette Writes

Professional Freelance Writer and Stay-at-Home Mom

Archive for the month “May, 2010”

EXCELLENT: “Behind the polished panelling an ant eats away the wood…”

I think that this quote from Alan Paton’s ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ is excellent! Well written.

“In the deserted harbour there is yet water that laps against the quays. In the dark and silent forest there is a leaf that falls. Behind the polished panelling the white ant eats away the wood. Nothing is ever quiet, except for fools.”

Ooo I love this kind of writing. At first, I had to read this twice. So, the context of this extract is (pre)apartheid South Africa, 1940s. This extract is preceded with a description of how South African policemen and state departments were at ease about the possibility of black resistance, as long as none of the ‘black meetings’ led to violence or any noticeable disruption. Everything to them, the governing white South Africans at the time, seemed to be under control… but in the silent forest a leaf falls, behind the APPEARANCE of polished wood, an ant eats away at the wood. And today, we have so much hate between races, because ‘fools’ thought everything was quiet – that they could just continue as they did.

Excellent writing Mr Alan Paton!



I just ‘concocted’ (is that even an English word?! I might have translated it directly from the Afrikaans ‘konkoksie’ Or perhaps the Afrikaans word comes from the English one… hmmm – something to look into on a rainy day.) But talking about rainy days, here is the ‘recipe’ for my very own hot beverage! (Okay, someone has probably already done this, but allow me to revel in my moment of ingenuity!

Let’s see… I will call it…

CAPE BAY COMFORT (We live at Cape Bay, Somerset-West, SA)

1 teaspoon coffee
1 teaspoon milo
1 teaspoon condensed milk
1 block dark chocolate
a little bit of brown sugar to taste

Fill the mug up to half with hot milk. Fill rest of mug with hot water from the kettle. Stir until all is dissolved. Froth some milk to make foam and add to the top. Sprinkle with milo. Tadaa! Put on your rain boots and your mittens, go sit on the stoep and smile to the atrocious winter weather. Alternatively, enjoy inside the comfort of your home while reading a book or watching a movie.

Hmmmm… ENJOY!
Comments welcome!!

The history of photo stories in South Africa

“The great popularity of photo-stories in the 60s, 70s and 80s seems to be a particularly South African phenomenon…” (Martin 48)

I briefly refer to photo stories in my thesis (“Grace and The Townships Housewife: Excavating South African Black Women’s Magazines from the 1960s”,) and from there my interest in this topic…

A few points on the South African photo/picture story:

(Source: Martin, Lianda. “Republican Press – The Picture-Story as Africana?” Bibliophilia Africana 8 – From Papyrus to Print-Out: The Book in Africa. Ed. Cora Ovens. Cape Town: National Library of South Africa, 2005. 48-54.)

* The Photo story as form of story telling goes back to the mid 17th century

* It was Hint Hyman from Republican Press who made it a veritable industry in South Africa

* Together with Sep Schmidt, his first two photo stories were birthed, called: “Kyk”/ “See”

* In 1964 Dr Hertzog affirmed: no question of television being introduced in SA. This contributed to the popularity of picture stories

* SA writers of photo stories at the time (60s): Andreas du Plessis, Lucas van Vuuren, Gerrit van Zyl (pseudonyms: Gerrie Radlof, Dirk Lubbe)

* Some titles of stories: “Ruiter in swart” (The Black Rider); “Grensvegter” (Fighter on the Border), “Tessa”, “Die Sabouteur” (The Saboteur), “Mark Condor”, “Louise”

* Many such stories also focused on the black reader: “She” (first appearing in the magazine True Africa, 1964 – see photo), “Chunkie Charlie” and “Samson”

When doing research on Grace and The Townships Housewife (two black women’s magazines published in South Africa in the 1960s, see abstract from my thesis), I ‘discovered’ another picture story that seems to have been quite popular among black South Africans: “Sister Faith” (see photo)


Some of my favourite extracts/ quotes from Alan Paton’s ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ so far (busy reading it):

Paton, A. Cry, the Beloved Country. A Story of Comfort in Desolation. 1948. London: Penguin, 1988.

“Then she sat down at his table, and put her head on it, and was silent, with the patient suffering of black women, with the suffering of oxen, with the suffering of any that are mute.” (12)

“Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at end. The sun ours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart.” (66-67)

“…it is nevertheless foolish to fear that one thing in this great city, with its thousands and thousands of people.” (67)

“We do not know, we do not know. We shall live from day to day, and put more locks on the doors, and get a fine fierce dog when the fine fierce bitch next door has pups, and hold on to our handbags more tenaciously; and the beauty of the trees by night and the raptures of lovers under the stars, these things we shall forgo. We shall forgo the coming home drunken through the midnight streets, and the evening walk over the star-lit veld. We shall be careful, and knock this off our lives, and knock that off our lives, and hedge ourselves about with safety and precaution. And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings;… (73)

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear…” (72)

PEANUTS: Franklin on the Lawn Chair

This is a shortened version of an article I did (quite a while ago) on the black character in ‘Peanuts’: Franklin. If any one is interested [halloooo…anyone out there reading my blog?! – contact me for the ‘full version’) 🙂

With regards to the pic below: I am not sure whether I am infringing any copyright laws! This is a photo of one of my colouring books I got when I was little. I still guard this, and others, with my life! Let me know if I am not suppose to have this pic up, and I will take it off immediately (don’t want to sleep in jail for the sake of PEANUTS Snoopy I love you, but not THAT much!)


On July 31st 1968, the character Franklin makes his first appearance in Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts. Usually shown in school with Marcie and Peppermint Patty, on the baseball field as center-fielder on Peppermint Patty’s baseball team or engaged in deep conversations with Charlie Brown (both liked to talk about their grandfathers) or Linus (both of them quoted from the Old Testament), Franklin is first introduced in a beach scene with Charlie Brown:


Schulz insisted that there was no political motivation behind Franklin’s introduction (Bowles). Yet the presence of Franklin in Peanuts poses a refreshing challenge to racial discrimination in America at the time. Besides contradicting the stereotypical ‘black people can’t swim’ belief, the first strip in which Franklin appears also contradicts the reality of black people’s absence on public beaches in America at the time of the strip’s publication (Lehman) (more in full article). Thus, by being on the beach, and of course by swimming, Franklin becomes an antithesis to the African-American accepted by many white Americans (more examples in full article).

The following strip from the beach-series in which Franklin first appears is also loaded with ‘race meanings’:


Whilst African-Americans like Franklin’s family were struggling at the time against race discrimination in the US, they had to fight in the Vietnam War (America’s first racially integrated conflict) on the side of a country that would not treat them as citizens. According to Lehman, Africa-Americans (and this is also true of working class whites at the time) served as infantrymen in Vietnam far beyond their relative percentages in the American population. Many black people were also opposed to the Vietnam War for the reason that it took the attention away from the Civil Rights Movement making way at the time (Vietnam). The above-given information considered, Franklin’s dad being “over in Vietnam”, is thus probably not an unloaded fact provided by Schulz. [Another ‘loaded’ strip is a 1969 one in which Franklin says to Peppermint Patty: “Any rule that makes a little girl cry has to be a bad rule.” (more in full article)

On the other hand, many people have argued Schulz’s racist attitudes by referring to a notorious scene from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Charlie Brown’s friends arrive for a thanksgiving celebration and as all get seated, the only chair left for Franklin is a broken lawn chair (see link below) (Lifejournal). Not only that, but Franklin sits alone on one side of the table… An upset reader argues that “Even Snoopy gets to sit in the Whites-Only section, but poor Franklin sits alone” (Lifejournal)…



This mug has a story… unfortunately I can’t remember all the detail, but my grandmother told me that it was a present from someone to my grandfather. The mug originally had two attached, swinging breasts! My grandfather, shocked by this ‘obscene’ present, decided to cut off the ‘boobs’ 🙂


I am busy baking rusks (they are in the oven right now!) and it is my first batch – ever! As I was opening the carton of buttermilk (see pic), I remembered my grandmother. She used to drink the buttermilk just like that – it was probably her absolute favourite treat. I guess it is quite normal to drink buttermilk, but I have always thought of it as sour milk or ‘milk gone bad’! I would look at the white chunks in my grandmother’s glass and not understand how she could love this so much.

So all of this put a whole train of thoughts going in my mind. I was reminded of the ‘praise poem’ something I learned in my creative writing honours year. The ‘praise poem’ is “an African tradition used by a tribe, so that young adults begin and continue life knowing who they are and that they belong, that they are loved and that they each have special gifts.” (quoted from my class notes!)

Roughly, the format of a ‘praise poem’ is:

1) Your lineage: I am… daughter of… who was the son of … (or similar)
2) Physical description: I am tall, with dark hair, full wide hips, my belly is round (you can go all out!)
3) Who are you? You can say whatever it is that makes you you – that which is special about you or important to you

Well. I think a rusk-baking, buttermilk afternoon is the perfect time for writing a praise poem, the perfect time for thinking about where I come from and who I am!

I am Nicolette Ferreira.
I am the daughter of Mary,
granddaughter of Mary Victor,
who was the daughter of Mary Marais,
daughter of Katherine Fowler.
I am pale-skinned and hazel-eyed
with wild red hair.
I am from the south of Africa
from everywhere –
the ocean, the fields, the dust, the mountains.
I have tiny feet and tinier toes,
my hands are made of ice.
My belly ring,
my wild hair
are stamps of defiance –
I am not to be captured in a cage.
Nicolette – I’m like a cat
I come out when I want to
I leave when I have to
I sleep curled up,
but I do this to protect myself.
I struggle to exercise –
lifting my head slowly at the suggestion to run.
I send my cries to ‘God’ with a capital ‘G’ –
not to any ‘higher power’:
the God of Jesus and the Holy Spirit,
of Adam, Moses and John,
Esther, Maria and Martha.
Of Kathleen Fowler,
of Mary Victor,
of Mary Louw,
of Nicolette Ferreira.

You are so welcome to place your own praise poems here!!

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