We’re celebrating #HERitage with Pond’s by showcasing the diverse and beautiful women of South Africa and telling their stories.
From our culture to our traditions, our memories and our beliefs, it’s our uniquely South African stories and experiences that make us so beautiful. Woman & home editor, Frith Thomas, talks about a blending of cultures that make her so proudly South African.
Like so many other people in our beautiful country, I’m the product of a blending of cultures.
On the surface, half English (from my dad), half Afrikaans (from my mom). Dig a bit deeper, though, and the cultural threads that hold our little family together become even more diverse. My father’s Le Roux ancestors arrived in SA by boat from Europe as part of the Huguenot settlement in the Cape.
With farming a strong part of the culture, it’s no surprise my father yearned his whole life to farm, eventually in his fifties buying a piece of land in Magaliesburg, where he planted fruit orchards and, along with my mom, raised my two young sisters and I. My mom’s maiden name of Vorster is pure Dutch, with all my uncles bearing strong Dutch names, Willem, Stefanus, Coert, Jan.
My personality and traits are forged from a long line of women with steel in their backbone, not afraid to take on life’s challenges, always discovering the bright side that will lead them forward into a better tomorrow.
My parents were academic, eccentric and liberal, with a passion for arts and culture.
They kept some of the family traditions they liked, and wove in new strands. So, strains of Maria Callas would wake us on Christmas morning before we set off to the NG Church, then home for a lunch of turkey and fruit mince pud, my father reciting lines from Shakespeare.
Growing up far from shops and tarred roads, ours was a world where water gushed from a borehole my dad helped sink, veggies were plucked out of the ground minutes before being prepared for dinner, and electricity was an on/off affair.
Nature dictated every part of our lives – every family holiday, for instance, was planned around fruit season – and taught us both elements of fear and marvel. Out there, where views are impeded only by distant mountains, sunsets are a splendidly panoramic affair to be relished every evening.
Big storms are thrilling events, and all of us learned to be able to smell rain a day before it arrived. On the flipside, raging veld fires presented a monstrous threat, and I still can’t see a plume of smoke rising in the distance without feeling panic set in. With such strong ties to the earth, I will always be at my absolute happiest out in nature, sunshine on my skin, listening to the wind.
It indelibly shapes you when you live far from city conveniences and support services, and teaches a certain resilience and ability to make do with whatever is at hand. The Afrikaans saying: ‘A boer maak ‘n plan’ becomes a MacGyver motto you live by. I can whip up a delicious meal out of the oddest assortment of store cupboard ingredients, and come up with ingenious ways to quickly sort out little home emergencies!
Despite the fact that my background is such a melting pot of cultures, certain elements come through in each offshoot of our family tree: men and women who are tall, strong-willed, and, quietly determined to forge ahead; a love of nature and adventurous travel; the ability to thrive under hard, or foreign, circumstances.
It’s a unique genetic product of people who came to this land and loved it, bearing their own generations from the very nature of its soil. And undoubtedly, like so many of the incredible women in our country, my personality and traits are forged from a long line of women with steel in their backbone, not afraid to take on life’s challenges, always discovering the bright side that will lead them forward into a better tomorrow.