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Out of the Blue: Laguna is Little Cape Town

December 19, 2013|By Billy Fried

Westminster has Little Saigon. Artesia has Little India. Even Anaheim got in the act by declaring a section of Brookhurst Street as Little Arabia.

It's high time Laguna memorialized its very prominent South African community and officially declare itself Little Cape Town. It could be great for business. More people would see us as a smaller version of that gorgeous resort town on the tip of Africa's Southern Hemisphere, where the dramatic, rugged mountains cascade to the sea. Where there's great surf, amazing wilderness, plus Boervorst (farmer sausage), Peri Peri and lamb curries (all available at Mozambique).

Truth is, Laguna is a South African colony, with hundreds of South Africans raising families here. I was lucky enough to have five of them on my radio show last week to talk about the passing of Nelson Mandela and the impact he had on their lives.

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It was riveting radio, if I say so myself. In fact, I was so terribly excited to have these five illustrious folks on with their mellifluous accents that I forgot to record the show, so for those of you who missed the live broadcast, I now will do my best to recollect the proceedings.

Our panel included Beverly Walker, proprietor of The Flower Stand, and Debbie Naude, a community volunteer, both from the warm Indian Ocean city of Durbin.

From the business capital of "Jo-burg" (Johannesburg) were Leon "Meschi" Schmidt, a management consultant for a firm called Madiba (Mandela's tribal name), and Cindy Newman-Jacobs, an educational consultant.

And from glorious Cape Town itself was longtime Sawdust Festival glass blowing artist Gavin Heath. All are raising children here. The perfect mix of folks from three of the more prominent cities in the country.

Each recounted stories of growing up under apartheid, and how normal it seemed because society was so well ordered and managed. Most had black servants — but they were loved and treated like family. Plus they were taught that segregation was simply part of their history.

Most of them came of age in the '60s and '70s, when South Africa was isolated in every sense from the rest of the world. They didn't even have television.

But slowly, surely, the walls of segregation began to crack as they got a glimpse of the outside world. For Heath, surfing introduced him to international travelers seeking South Africa's perfect waves. They were Aussies and Euros, and they exposed him to '60s music of protest, from Dylan to the now famous Rodriguez.

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