Where you are nobody: INTRODUCTION

Sometimes you need to go where few people know you, in order to develop a better sense of who you really are, or want to be. Where you are nobody is the record of a person who had found himself in more than one such a place.

Notes from Stellenbosch

This part mainly consists of fragments of notes dating from the fall of 1994, my last year at Stellenbosch University.

Notes from Pretoria

Journal entries from the period when I was held up in my older sister’s living room in Pretoria waiting to go to Korea – middle April to the end of June 1996.

Notes from South Korea

On 29 June 1996, I took a Cathay Pacific flight to Seoul, South Korea. The thoughts contained in the notes of two years prior to my departure was a big motivation, and the 22 months in Korea would in turn influence what I would write later.

To go to Korea was a way to escape the dead-end in which I had found myself after graduating from university. I did not know how things would work out in Korea. I didn’t know what to expect. All that was important was that I would be earning money, and I would be able to give at least a preliminary answer to the question of what I was doing with my life.

What awaited me was a plethora of new questions. One theme stood out: place and identity. Until that point I would have been able to formulate an intelligent thought on the subject, but I had never previously been confronted with these concepts in a social context as challenging and demanding as in Chonju City – apart from the pressure I felt as an ethnic and cultural outsider in Korea, there were also Americans and Canadians, and British and Irish people, and Germans and Australians and New Zealanders who constantly challenged each other with questions about who they were, to determine whether or not someone were acceptable to their social circle.

It would take me years before I would come to a better understanding of the issue of place and identity, and to understand why I had asked some questions with such passion, and examined matters with such enthusiasm.

Notes from Johannesburg (and other places)

After almost two years in Korea, and four years after the “Testament” of April 1994, I was back in Stellenbosch. A few weeks in Coronation (outside Vryheid, in KwaZulu-Natal) would follow, and then a few months in Johannesburg.

This section dates from the period May 1998 to February 1999 – a few weeks after I had arrived in Taiwan.

The Appendix contains a few conclusions and some new insights – written in Taiwan in February 2004, after I had processed the material for this project.