Funny start to an enduring transcontinental friendship

South African Marshagne Smith and Canadian Karen Macleod with the T-shirts that Macleod brought for Smith's children.
South African Marshagne Smith and Canadian Karen Macleod with the T-shirts that Macleod brought for Smith's children.

Marshagne Smith of Northwold and Canadian Karen Macleod are long-time friends. This after the two women found each other in the penpal section of Archie Comics in 1976 when they were still teenagers.

Both were comic fanatics and pen pal collection was their hobby. Mail, audio cassettes, cards and videos kept them together until they met for the first time in person in 1995 when Smith flew to Canada to meet her friend. They were both new mothers at the time.

Penpals South African Marshagne Smith and Canadian Karen Macleod at Smith's home in Northwold.

Penpals South African Marshagne Smith and Canadian Karen Macleod at Smith’s home in Northwold.

“I was quite nervous, as writing is completely different from meeting someone, and I did not know if I would like my pen pal,” Smith said.

They kept in touch until the Internet made communication simpler and faster. They then started sending each other emails and connected on Facebook.

“We’ve always cared for each other. Every now and then we call each other and send emails,” she said.

Now, 21 years later, Macleod visited her friend in South Africa and spent about two weeks of her Christmas holidays with Smith and her husband Graig.

They also travelled to Cape Town Macleod went back home on 6 January. This was their second meeting in person since they started writing letters to each other. “The experience was unbelievable. I loved the vegetation and birds, as well as the friendly people,” she told Randburg Sun.

The mother of two, who is a teacher, said she was looking forward to sharing her experience with her pupils back home in Canada. “I have a passion for people from around the world and always hoped to meet my pen pals. I only met two, one back home and Marshagne,” she said.

Macleod often travels to the Caribbean during holidays, and she decided to visit her friend in South Africa about two years ago instead. “I thought, why don’t I save more and have one big trip when schools are on holiday?” she concluded.

An article that was published in Canada when two penpals met for the first time.

An article that was published in Canada when two penpals met for the first time.

 

  AUTHOR
Phathu Luvhengo
Journalist

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