Today I’m thrilled to bring you this interview with the wonderful se7en Family from Fish Hoek, South Africa.
I know you’re going to love hearing from them!
Have fun reading about this family of ten, the baboons that visit their garden, and the eleven languages spoken in their country:
Tell us a little bit about your family:
We are a green-living, homeschooling family with eight kids, ranging from the oldest, who is 18, down to the youngest who is 6.
Most folks think that with eight kids we must have a huge house, but we don’t … we have a two-bedroomed house – that might be why we have a passion for getting outside and for being tourists in our own town.
Otherwise we all love reading and good books are a huge part of our life.
Hood 4 (age 13): “It’s nice to have a big family, there is always someone to play with.”
Tell us a little bit about where you live and how long you’ve lived there:
We live in Fish Hoek, which is a small beach town about half an hour drive south of the city of Cape Town, which is on a peninsula, at the southwestern tip of Africa. Our home is very close to the beach and on a mountain slope, so we have the beach to play on and the mountain to climb behind us.
South Africa is a country filled wth a rich diversity of cultures and contrasts. There are big, first-world cities that feel like any western country and then very rural and third-world areas, often right next to each other, where there are small houses made of whatever folk can find and no running water or electricity.
Hood 7 (age 8): “I was born and I live in Fish Hoek, we live right at the beach and I love it.”
What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?
For us the proximity to nature and the great outdoors is the most special thing about where we live … we have Table Mountain and Nature Reserves and beautiful beaches on our doorstep. And if you need a fine coffee shop, or a good book store, or a fabulous market, we have cosmopolitan city life close at hand too.
Most people expect that we have elephants and rhinos, but no, those are all in game parks and quite unaffordable for most locals to visit. We do however have baboons that visit our garden; they especially love our vegetables.
Otherwise we live very close to a beach that is famous for its penguin colony, and they love swimming in the waves as much as the children do.
Hood 6 (age 9): “We have so much nature, we live on the mountain and we are close to the beach.”
What languages are spoken there? If it’s different from English, can you help us learn a few common phrases?
South Africa is a country with a rich cultural diversity … there are eleven official languages.
Almost everyone speaks English, but that is not their first language. Afrikaans, a language descended from the Dutch settlers, is taught in all schools, so everyone knows at least a little Afrikaans.
And then each region has its own traditional local language. Our local language is Xhosa.
Words we use:
– “Thank you” is Dankie (done key) in Afrikaans and Enkosi (en kos (o as in orange) i) in Xhosa.
– “Yes” is Ja (pronounced ya) in Afrikaans and Ewe (pronounced e for egg) and we (as in went) in Xhosa.
Meanwhile, our English is not quite the same as English all over the world, because we have smatterings of all our languages thrown in together:
– Howzit? (hard z as in zoo) means: How is it going?
– Lekker (lack ur): Means nice or sweet, anything sweet, not just candy, even though it is the Afrikaans word for candy. So we will say that a good book “was a lekker book” or a movie, or our day, or a friend.
– Takkies (tack keys): sneakers, or sport shoes.
– Gogga: (the g is pronounced like the ch in loch)… means small insect or bug.
– Shame: We say shame for almost everything, it’s our go to comfort word. if you lose your car keys, “shame”, if your child does something cute, “shame.”
– Eish: (I sh) exclamation, good or bad) meaning I just can’t believe it.
Hood 7 (age 8): “I speak English and I am learning Afrikaans and a friend is teaching me Xhosa.”
Time is probably the most confusing thing for foreigners trying to understand us.
We live in Africa – time is fluid and appointments can be somewhat vague. When you are ready, then it is time to go. Not necessarily a specific time.
So a meeting might be scheduled for 9 a.m. but it only begins when everyone is ready, which could be anytime before lunch.
To demonstrate this we have at least three versions of the word now:
– Now: Usually said strongly and means immediately.
– Just now: Means sometime in the future (in ten minutes, later today, tomorrow, next week… never).
– Now now: Means sometime really soon like in the next few minutes… or sometime before the end of the day.
What are some of your traditional foods?
Typical South African food would be pap (pronounced pup), a mielie (pronounced me lee)/maize meal porridge that almost everyone has eaten at one time or another. It is cheap and eaten plain or with relish or gravy.
Otherwise we are a nation of meat-eaters and really if you can cook it on an open fire then we probably do, and we call it a braai (sounds like: brrrr – eye).
Otherwise, because there are so many diverse cultures here – you get a lovely array of flavours. Typical Cape foods are rich spicy foods like curry and bobotie. Milk tart, which is a baked custard pie and koeksisters (cooked similarly to donuts but they are dipped in a spicy sugar syrup when they are done).
Otherwise South Africa does have some pretty weird food choices:
– Mopane worms are fried caterpillars
– Tripe is a collection of all the bits and pieces of meat like brains and intestines, cooked together to make a stew
– and I have to mention smileys (not for the faint-hearted) These are sheeps’ heads cooked on an open fire.
Hood 5 (age 10): “I love to braai (a very outdoors rustic barbecue), it is always in the wild outdoors, there is lots to eat and all our friends.”
Tell us about the climate.
We have a Mediterranean climate which means rain in winter and hot dry summers.
Because we live in the Southern Hemisphere our winter is during your summer, and our summer is during your winter.
Our winters are mild compared to most of you and we never have snow on the ground. There is no such thing as central heating, most people don’t even have free-standing heaters as electricity is expensive.
Hood 3 (age 15): “Lovely hot summers. My favourite weather is a berg (mountain) wind, that blows off the country towards the sea. It is hot and dry and warms everything up.”
What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?
Most kids here go to school from 8 in the morning till about 3 in the afternoon. After school they do sport – this is a truly sport-mad country. All school children wear uniforms.
A funny thing about school here is that even though schools have a uniform quite a few schools don’t insist on shoes. Many children don’t have shoes! It isn’t necessarily a financial thing – it’s just that children here are expected to not have to worry with shoes, so they don’t!
Our schooling begins around about age 5 or 6 with a preschool year, called grade R, then there is primary school from grade 1 to grade 7 and finally, secondary or high school from grade 8 to grade 12.
Hood 3 (age 15): “My friends have to get up really early for school and get home late after sport. And then they have tons of homework to do before the next day.”
What does school look like for your family?
We are a homeschooling family, which is not the norm here at all. When we began homeschooling 15 years ago, it was hard to find other homeschoolers … but they are becoming more of a trend.
The great outdoors, the local library, and opportunities to volunteer: Those are really the three pillars of our school. Our children also do masses of making and creating everyday, but they don’t call that school … that is just playing.
Hood 8 (age 6): “I get up, have breakfast … do school … I do two pages of math, and my mom reads to me … lots of books.”
Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?
We do have national holidays, but they are mostly seen as a day off work to relax rather than the big holidays we see celebrated with parades and festivals overseas.
South Africa is such a wildly diverse country. We are not called the Rainbow Nation for nothing! So it is quite hard to unify the whole country to celebrate a particular holiday in a particular way – other than to relax or head to the beach. All South Africans are good at that!
The one thing that all South Africans are unified on is National Braai Day. A braai is similar to what you would call a barbecue, but a lot more rugged. On National Braai Day, in the spring, the whole country will pretty much have a braai and celebrate with friends and then continue with braais throughout the summer.
Hood 2 (age 17): “Once a year we have a kite festival, where kites are flown all weekend and you find all sorts of weird and wonderful kites.”
If you ever had to move away from where you live, what do you think you’d miss most?
We have traveled quite a bit as a family and the first thing we miss when we are away from home is the diversity, the many languages and cultures. We love our colourful country and the wonderful mixture of people we find here.
While we love traveling and seeing the world, Cape Town will always be home.
Hood 4 (age 13): “I love knowing all about the wildlife in my surroundings, I would miss our nature the most.”
Do you have a favourite book that takes place in your region/country?
Train to Kalk Bay by Graham Isaacs and illustrated by Katrin Coetzer is our hands-down favourite local book. It exactly encompasses the cultural feel of our city.
We are lucky to live beside the beach, but most people in Cape Town do not. It is tradition for many families to head for the beach the day after Christmas every year.
Another favorite is Goal by Mina Javaherbin. Set in a dusty township alley, it depicts an aspect of life under an African sky, that can be understood universally – soccer, big dreams, bullies and overcoming … you will need tissues every time.
Hood 1 (age 18): “Tolkien was a South African author who wrote the Lord of the Rings, one of the most famous and influential authors of all times.”
Find out more about the Se7en Family on their blog–thank you all for sharing your life with us!
Fast Facts About South Africa
- The flag is made up of red, white, yellow, green, black and blue.
- South Africa has THREE capital cities – Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial) and Cape Town (legislative)
- Want to learn more? Check out this South African family adventure tour: