I lived in Bloemfontein for 21 years before leaving. This means I was born here (in the National Hospital), went to nursery school here (the now nonexistant David Davidson), attended primary and high school here (Eunice Girls’ School) and studied here (I’m a proud Kovsie!).
I love my hometown. Wherever I’ve lived in the world during the past 10 years away from home, people have always had to hear the strange word ‘Bloemfontein’ because I’m forever talking about it. I love how everything is 10 minutes away, friendships are incredibly tight, you’re on a first-name basis with your pharmacist (hi Uncle Gerald!), you still get to hang out with your headmaster (Mr Cassar, I wish you would dance though!), you can walk to the shops, cycle to the gym (I don’t do this – in fact, I don’t even belong to the gym – but it’s possible), and meet friends for a spur-of-the-moment coffee without planning it weeks in advance.
I love the familiarity of faces and places, not being skeefed out for being weird when I recognize an Afrikaans song on OFM or when I say that I’m dying to sokkie (guys in Bloem are always keen for this). I also love that Bloem still possesses the party streak I grew up being influenced by. Barba’s Cafe still has its Saturday night dancefloor, Die Mystic Boer still welcomes the alternative crowd with loud open arms, Cubana’s house tunes can still be heard from the stop street alongside the entrance, and Wiesbaden is still apparently cooking (for those into vasdans).
At the same time, I love the relaxed lifestyle here. It seems people are forever going out for tea and cake – hence the multitude of coffee shops in town; Oliewenhuis always has people picnicing on its lawns; friends are forever hosting dinner parties (no, actually, they prefer to braai); and Bloemfonteiners always greet you with a smile (must be because they’re never stuck in traffic).
Back in Bloem for two months, I want to show it off to those who are a bit wary of its offerings. The Bloemfontein Blog is my gift to my city and its people – for moulding me and caring for me and teaching me how to enjoy a good brandewyn en Coke while langarming to Kurt Darren.
Postdated PS. See my mother’s comments below for corrections (oops!).