Helanya and I, with Willem and Zorada, in Berlin

Reichstag selfie: Helanya and I, with Willem and Zorada, in Berlin

I’m officially on leave from today. It’s been a good year; a busy first six months of teaching followed by a productive second half of research. I presented in Barcelona in September and at the LSE and Sussex in October, but these were mostly opportunities to meet old and new friends (economic history is like that). It’s fantastic to see African economic history take off, and it is thanks to a dedicated group of great people. The 2014 South African Economic History Annual will be online soon, but a sneak peak can be found here. There are many exciting things awaiting in 2015 too. More research, more workshops and conferences in places I haven’t been before, and more good times with good friends.

But first it’s time for a holiday. I’m off on a golf tour for four days. I don’t play golf, so it promises to be memorable and hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Robin Williams summarized the rationality of golf best, I think. Then it’s Christmas, which in the southern hemisphere is associated with sun tan lotion and ice cream and hours spent in front of the TV watching the Proteas play cricket. It also means time to reflect on the year that’s been, and appreciate those around you. There are many people who have made this year special. Our parents and parents-in-law enable us to travel to and spent time in some of South Africa’s most exotic locations, like the southern Cape coast or the Kruger National Park. We spent a wonderful time with Willem and Zorada in Berlin and then Barcelona. Alfonso Herranz-Loncan was very kind to host us in this wonderful city. Pim de Zwart invited me to Amsterdam, Leigh Gardner invited me to London, and Alex Moradi and Felix Meier zu Selhausen welcomed me in Sussex. This year, for the first time I think, I’ve learned more from my students than they from me. My colleagues and co-authors have been kind and encouraging in their advice, and many have become role models that I hope to emulate in some way or another. Special mention must go to Ina Kruger who organizes my jumbled admin, Hanlie and Carine at the university library for fielding urgent requests, and Di Kilpert for her hard work in fixing my sometimes dodgy English. I still don’t get English grammar, and play it all by ear.

Many close friends became married: Willem and Zorada, Anne and Rohan and, this coming Saturday, Dieter and Marisa. Others found new jobs, or graduated (well done Wynand – now can I finally see some returns on my investment, please?), moved to a new city or into a new place, or welcomed new members to the family.  There was sad news too, and this year was the first time I had to preside over the funeral of a close family member. None of the ups and downs, though, would have been possible without the support of my wonderful wife, Helanya. She puts up with being woken (very) early and runs our little household like a “well-oiled machine”, while also having a full-time job with far more demands than mine. Thank you for the good memories.
On 2014, and the possibilities of 2015!