WHY ‘SOUTHEEL’?

Firstly, it’s SOUT – HEEL, rather than SOUTH – EEL. I know you had visions of an underwater snake from the South. That may be an accurate description of me, but it wasn’t what I had in mind – tho’ I have got rather scaly dry legs…

A ‘Soutpiel’ is someone who lives neither “here” (that’s South Africa) nor “there” – generally assumed to be England, tho’ honestly, it can be anywhere. The UK seems to add a piquancy to the expression because of the historical antagonism between the Boers and the English… Anyway, ‘there’ has to be somewhere ‘overseas‘ because ‘soutpiel’ translated is ‘salted penis’ ie: you have one foot in South Africa, and one foot in say the UK, and, well, your willy’s in the water! In the salted seawater to be precise…It’s one of those Afrikaans expressions for which there is simply no other word. It labels a person who lives mostly away but doesn’t really belong in either place, has neither fully accepted where they’ve gone as ‘home’ nor rejected their homeland …isn’t sausage or boerewors… It’s a chronic disease amongst the South African diaspora, and it captures many things about my relationship with Home.

That is, apart from in one rather crucial aspect. I’m a girl. SO, I dangled my high heels and takkies in the water, and came up with “SOUT- HEEL” instead.

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