A Family of Migrants

My wife Jean and I, both South African, are of English descent – despite her being a Roux, which sounds Huguenot. Her father’s family came from England we know not when. My parents emigrated from cold post-war England to sunny southern Africa in 1958 when I was a toddler. Southern Rhodesia provided a home for them at Plumtree School, a government boarding school for boys in Matabeleland on the then Bechuanaland border. Jean migrated to what had become Zimbabwe when we married in 1983, and we migrated with 11 month old Andrew to South Africa in 1986. My brother Peter followed us here in 1992 with Caroline and baby Sarah. My two sister have migrated to Perth, Australia in the early years of this Millennium. And in 2008 our parents emigrated from collapsed Zimbabwe to join Peter and me in Cape Town. In doing so they passed through the place that they originally emigrated to and spent 39 years teaching in – Plumtree. You can see some photos of them saying farewell to the place that gave us and them so much and to which they gave most of their working lives, Plumtree School, at http://picasaweb.google.com/westwoodfam/PlumtreeVisit2008# .

Jean’s family have spawned two migrant families: sister Anne to the USA in the 90s and niece Bronwyn to beautiful Ithaca NY 9 years ago. Subsequently brother Stephen and and his wife Tammy have re-located to Texas, and my brother Peter’s daughter has teamed up with Eugene in North Carolina.

Southern African people of English descent are not un-touched by the world view of the British Empire, moving around, settling and adapting to local conditions, perhaps thanks to the English lingua that is more and more the franca.

My Rhodesian legacy has deep effects on who I am. I reflected on this in front of my paediatric colleagues at the University of Cape Town recently, as you can read here.

Read my reflection on my migrant father’s life – a Eulogy given at his funeral in 2016.