I am proud to be a Tredoux. I had a different surname for a few years, and it wasn't pleasant. So I took back my name.
It's quite a family. My mother was a Tredoux as well. My father called it "Good line breeding".
The Tredouxs arrived in South Africa in 1788 on the ship "Meermin". The paterfamilias was Jacques Gideon, a lawyer who worked for the Dutch East India Company. He then opened a practice in Cape Town. The family came from the Netherlands, originally from Switzerland. In Switzerland they were known as Tridot, but then frenchified the spelling, probably because the Dutch didn't pronounce Tridot correctly. They had been in Holland for two generations, and so they did not arrive in South Africa speaking French. Jacques Gideon wasn't just a lawyer. His passion was drama and he started two drama companies. He also performed and even did ballet in his productions at an advanced age. Jacques Gideon clashed with Lord Charles Somerset over the playing of "God Save the King" at his performances. He was adamant that his audiences were Dutch and would not take kindly to the British national anthem being played at concerts. Lord Charles responded by revoking Jacques' license to practice law. He later restored it, but only after Jacques had agreed to sell his charming home to one of Lord Charles's friends for a pittance. Corruption is nothing new in this country.
In spite of the ballet, there were soon many Tredouxs.
My father was Nic Tredoux. He was a noted figure in the advertising industry, becoming a director in the company VZ in his early thirties. The company later became Ogilvy and Mather, and many of the advertisements my father produced became iconic. He was known for his insistence that the Afrikaans advertising copy needed to be original, successful in itself. He was against straightforward translations from English. He managed the stress of the advertising industry by farming - he soon had several farms. Sheep, cattle. trout. It required a lot of traveling managing so many farms and my mother had to hold the fort on the farm where we actually lived. At about 53 years of age, my father decided that his quality of life was suffering, and he promptly purchased a farm on the West Coast - Jacobsbaai. Within weeks they moved there, livestock and all, and sold the farms in what was then the Transvaal province. There was no house on Jacobsbaai, just ruins. They rented a house in Vredenburg while my father restored a ruin on the farm for them to live in. The restoration became a passion and he restored several other ruins, such as "Huis du Bois" and "Huis Baard" in Jacobsbaai, as well as another house in Parkersdorp in Saldanha. All done with beautiful carpentry and masonry, in the typical West Coast style. He later obtained development rights for Jacobsbaai, which is now a beautiful town with strict building regulations to maintain the West Coast architecture. Nic also wrote several novels and poems, some of which were set to music by my mother.
My mother is Marie Tredoux. She briefly worked as social worker and taught for a while, but her passion was drama. She trained at the "Akademie vir Dramakuns" under Aletta Gericke, and created the part of Maria in Bartho Smit's "Moeder Hanna", alongside Milla Louw. This is an important Afrikaans play. Marie also became known as a comedian, taking part in radio shows. Her performances usually included some of her own songs, humorous or sad, often reflecting her Cape Town origins. Marie recorded an album called "Optelgoed", and later wrote an autobiographical novel "Flentonsie". I illustrated and translated it, so it is available in English as well, on Amazon. Marie still performs, now aged 87, and she still writes and composes. She still lives in Jacobsbaai.
None of my parents' siblings could be described as ordinary, and neither could their children.
It is intimidating to grow up among people who cast such long shadows. But I am proud of them, grateful for the genes and the inspiration.