Nicole “Nicky” Cohen moved to Canada from Johannesburg when she was five years old. Thereafter, her family went back several times. Her last trip back as a child was at age twelve. It is from these trips that she has her earliest memories of South Africa.
In 2008, Nicky returned to South Africa with her husband and children for a cousin’s wedding. While back, they visited the apartment where Nicky’s mother had grown up. As luck would have it, they made the acquaintance of the maid taking care of the apartment and who turned out to be the daughter of Nicky’s own nanny, Ruth. Ruth met with the family several times and the two sides stayed in touch for many years.
Ruth has since passed away, but Nicky hopes to return to South Africa with her husband and children in the near future.
Cape Town (South Africa)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Soweto (South Africa)
00:30 Nicole "Nicky" Cohen outlines her family history. Her great-grandparents came from Lithuania. Her paternal grandfather was born in Cape Town and her paternal grandmother was born in Johannesburg. Her maternal grandmother was born in Namibia. He maternal father and step-father were born in Germany and immigrated to South Africa in the 1930s.
01:40 Nicole discusses the birthplaces of her family. Her parents, Nicole, and her older brother were born in Johannesburg. Her younger brother was born in Toronto.
02:08 Nicole, aged five, immigrated to Canada with her parents on 19 March 1977.
02:23 Nicole recalls few memories from living in South Africa but shares some memories she gleaned from return trips and photographs.
03:37 Nicole recalls that her family would take four-to-six-week trips to South Africa every two years from 1977-1984.
04:52 Nicole's mother was a physiotherapist and her father was a travel agent.
05:30 Nicole explains why her parents decided to emigrate from South Africa.
06:58 Nicole discusses the maid (i.e., nanny), Ruth, from her childhood.
10:55 Nicole recalls other South African family friends they maintained when they moved to Toronto.
11:34 Nicole discusses living arrangements when her family came to Toronto. Her family settled in Thornhill.
13:15 Nicole discusses her education.
14:00 Nicole discusses the challenges of adjusting to a Toronto winter.
15:42 Nicole fondly recalls return visits to South Africa with her family.
16:45 Nicole describes attending a cousin's wedding to South Africa in 2008, twenty-four years after her last visit. She discusses the trip.
21:06 Nicole discusses the high crime rate in Johannesburg. She cites some specific examples.
00:00 Nicole continues to discuss the high rate of crime in Johannesburg. She discusses driving through shanty towns in Cape Town and Soweto.
02:05 Nicole recalls visiting the apartment where her grandmother had lived. She discusses some of the security enforced by gates and guards. She shares an anecdote involving her family's maid, Ruth. She describes how she reconnected with Ruth and her daughter while visiting her grandmother's former apartment.
13:00 Nicole expresses a desire to return to South Africa.
13:55 Nicole discusses relatives who remain in South Africa. She notes her father's first cousin and daughter who live in Johannesburg. She discusses where other relatives are currently living.
00:00 Nicole discusses the close relationship between her family and their maid, Ruth. She describes how her family supported Ruth and her family.
01:20 Nicole explains how her parents and grandmother remained in contact with Ruth even after her grandmother immigrated to Canada. She recalls an anecdote involving her family arranging for Ruth to visit Toronto when she was temporarily working with a South African family in New York in the late 1980s.
02:54 Nicole discusses the difficulty her father encouraged when he initially attempted to immigrate to Canada in 1976. She cites a fictitious letter of employment for her father that enabled her family to immigrate. The letter is on file in the archives.
00:00 Nicole describes photographs. Some of the photographs were taken during former and recent trips to South Africa. Some photographs include images from shanty towns, Soweto, Sun City, relatives, Nicole's grandmother's apartment, etc.