I am a traitor. A traitor to my country. To my countrymen. To South Africa. To my beloved South Africa. And to every South African out there in my home country. I hang my head in shame.

It started off innocently. Like all sins. Like all traitors. I did it once. It was easy. I did it in South Africa. When no one was looking. I actually felt good about it the first time. My wife didn’t notice. My daughter was to young. They trusted me. But I just wanted to give them everything they wanted. I did it for them. And I did it again. And again. And again.

Some of my friends started noticing. They looked at me with new eyes. They knew I was wrong. That I am going to a dark place. And that it can never be forgiven. But they were my friends. And friends stand together. Stand together even in the difficult and impossible times. In those dark days when you know you should say something. But you don’t. Because the shame would be too much. So I moved away from South Africa. Because of this dark past of mine. I just couldn’t look my friends and countrymen in the eyes anymore. Because I know they knew. And those who didn’t will find out sooner or later. And they wouldn’t react the same way as my friends did. No. For them it would be too much. For them I would be nobody. Nothing. They would disown me. I could lose my citizenship for this. And that could well be the least horrid thing that could happen to me. I know of people who disappeared and never showed up again. For South Africans it is the sin of all sins. Treason…

And now. Now I have gone down the deep end. I stayed away from it in England. I did the little things. You know. Just to stay afloat. Just to take the easy road. But never the big sin. I thought I was at least strong enough not to cave in to that. No one will forgive that. No friend will look the other way. Not this. Not this. I am ashamed. Because… Because…

 I bought a gas barbecue…

Yes. Yes. I did. I bought the Perfect Flame Three Burner Gas Grill. And she is powerful – 42,000 BTU’s. A full 640 square inches cooking area. Push and turn ignition. Can you believe that? Push and turn ignition. Porcelain heat tent AND porcelain cast-iron cooking surface. And here is the big one… 28 burger capacity! This baby sings. Whooo-oo!

You might think this is funny. But it isn’t. Not for any South African man reading this. I can just see them reading this. Shaking their heads, winching as if hit by a sucker-punch and saying either “Eish“, “Donner“, or “Jislaaik boet. That’s no joke man“. For them I am not a man anymore. Not a true man. I have gone soft. But more than that. I have denied my heritage. My blood. My South African roots. The fire. The braai.

We don’t call it a barbeque. No. We call it a braai. But a barbecue isn’t a braai. No way dude. There are very strict rules that apply to a braai. Break any of these rules and you might just as well start running. Away from South Africa. And as far as possible and as fast as possible. Because the braai police (Fierce Braai Inspectors – FBI) will come and hunt you don’t. And they won’t stop until you denounce your citizenship. Oh, they have their ways and means to get you to do that. It involves fire…

These are serious things we are talking about. South African men and the braai. You can talk about politics. But the Democrats and Republicans are like two lovers on a first date compared to South Africans and messing with their braai. And you can talk about sport. But the Yankees and Red Sox? Puh-lease. Kids stuff. Mess with the braai and you mess with the most primitive parts of the South African soul.

We can argue politics in South Africa. It doesn’t matter. As long as we can sit around the fire and have our braai together. We can support Chiefs or Pirates, Province or Bulls, argue about rugby or cricket or soccer being the best – but we are united around a braai. But there are rules. And if you break those rules… You are an ex-South African. You are so outta there. Faster than you can say “light me”.

I won’t go into the culture or rules of a braai. That needs a blog on it’s own. It makes chess look like Tic Tac Toe. I’ll just give you a quick insight to the BOERIE Hardware Section – the first two rules. (BOERIE stands for Braai Official Executive Rules In English – not to be confused with the Boerie which is a South African braai sausage).

Rule 1: Get wood

Always, but always braai with wood. And I mean always. No really. Always.

The biggest braai debate in South Africa is not whether to use wood or not. That is a given. The biggest argument is about what wood to use. Rooikrans or Wingerdstompies? Two different types of wood. One from a specific tree and the other from the vineyards. I won’t even go into what I used when I was still straight. But, you see, gas is out completely. My original sin was to use charcoal. And that is bordering on treason. It can tear families apart. We even call it donkey.. hum… droppings… (Donkiedrolle.) Charcoal… That was my first step into the dark side of the braai.

Rule 2: Bricks and mortar

You can’t just use anything to braai in either. No sirree. You need to have an area that is build with the same stuff you build your house with – bricks and mortar. Designs vary. Some have a small little squad braai a few inches off the ground. Others have a whole room developed just around this braai with with multiple braai areas and storage sections. There is one exception to this rule (or First Amendment) – the oil drum rule. You are allowed to braai in an empty oil drum cut in half. You can modify this, but it must always be clearly defined and recognized as an oil drum. I mean really. Even a Weber is seen as going over the edge. I used a Weber AND charcoal back in South Africa. That wasn’t edgy. That was just plain stupid. Denying my people. Denying who I was. People frowned. So you can imagine what my gas griller will do to South Africans – especially South African men.

There are other BOERIE Hardware Rules, but these are the first two. And the foundation of any braai. It’s like free speech and gun ownership in the USA. Without those two there can be no America. Without wood and a bricks and mortar braai you can not call it a braai. And without a braai you can’t call yourself South African. You’re just a guy burning some meat. And if you were born in South Africa? You’re a burned guy and a piece of meat.

So you see. I am a traitor. The people in South Africa is ashamed of me. They will deny knowing me. They will call me names. They will tell their children and the children of their children what happens to people when they leave the hallowed shores of South Africa. The softening of African men. The shame it brings to families. The weakening of the bloodline. The acts of a traitor…

I am sorry my fellow South Africans. I am truly sorry. I beg you for forgiveness. I am but a weak man. Who gave in to temptation. A man who knows to little. A pathetic excuse of a man.

And don’t forget lazy. The gas griller is just so much easier. No firelighters needed – or as we call it blitz. Just push and turn baby. And bam! I got fire. No smokey eyes. No flicking matches. No burned fingers. No wet wood. No spark flying. No waiting for the wood to turn to coal and ash. No ash blowing in the wind. No burned meat. Or ash tasting meat. No bricks cracking and popping in the heat. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Just push and turn baby. Just push and turn.

Note: Can someone tell the guys at Lowe’s to please tell South Africans that the gas tank (liquid propane tank) they buy with the gas grill is actually empty? It took me an hour of connecting and disconnecting, pushing and turning, checking and wiggling, before I realized that the tank they gave me was empty. I went to Home Depot to get a full one… And yes, we ate hours later. It would have been faster just using wood I guess.

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