‘Toe ons kinders was’ (When we were children)

by Naretha Pretorius

My memories as a child, is that of protection, fun, freedom and play… But I also remember going to school in a uniform, going to church with my best dress my mom made me…  having to sit still for more than an hour waiting in anticipation for the sermon to end, just so that I can go play outside.  As children we learned to conform, without knowing it.  We were oblivious as children, we did as we were told, we learned what the elders tought us of what was good and right.  We followed.I have fond memories of my childhood; growing up on a small holding outside Pretoria (Gauteng Province in South Africa).  I belonged to a safe Afrikaner community.  I had no idea of any political unrest, I did not know that racism existed, I had no idea that there were any other religion other than Christianity… I did however know that some children enjoyed the pleasures of receiving gifts from Santa,  we never even had a tree… But my world changed as I grew up… my mind developed and it changed everything. My whole identity shifted.My childhood is what made me the ‘I’ that I am today… although I no longer believe in what I used to believe in then.   I no longer follow the confirmation I belonged to then…  I lead.  

I am now a parent, and I hope I guide my child in a way that allows him to decide for himself in what is good and right.  It’s a difficult task. 

Below are images of us as children (in memory of once being a child: the bond between siblings and the sharing of a household)… the series was inspired by the work I made for my brother’s 4oth birthday (see the post titled ‘Boetie’).  These images are engravings into jesmonite blocks stained with oilpaint… more to follow soon…Thank you to my brothers and parents for our childhood.  I might not always agree with everything we were taught in our shared past, but I do treasure it.  




'Naretha in haar skool rokkie' (Naretha in her little school dress)

'Cobus is sy Safari Pakkie' (Cobus in his 'Safari' Suite)

'Willem is sy skooldrag' (Willem in his school wear)

'Hein staan met sy hande in sy sakke' (Hein is standing with his hands in his pockets)

'Rietsiepop in haar kerkrokkie' (Rietsiepop in her little church dress)