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A South African romance in Germany . 2003

In July 2003 I arrived in Germany for my training in various cities, including Aachen under the auspices of InWent. The name of my programme was called “Local Agenda 21 in Practice: Sustainable Infrastructure Development” focussing on water, sanitation, waste, energy and residential development methodologies for municipalities.

On arrival in Germany I went to Munich to attend a conference on renewable energy & energy efficiency for industrial use for two days and thereafter proceeded to Saarbrücken where I would spend one month at the Carl Duisberg Centre (CDC), learning professional & technical German language & terminology for the workplace, before going to Aachen and other German cities where I would be placed as part of my training.

It is at the CDC where I met a young lady – Nomfusi – who would later become my life partner, wife and mother of my children. She was on a programme with InWent which focussed on quality management systems and would later be placed at Bayer Industries in Leverkusen for her practical training after completing her course at the CDC. 

Our romance started in the class room where we sat next to each other and sometimes the class was expected to work together in pairs even after hours on projects and do presentations the following day. It was a coincidence that as two South Africans we met in Germany so far away from home. Had we not come to Germany we would never have met because in South Africa I stayed in Cape Town and she stayed in East London which are two cities more than a thousand kilometres apart from each other. It seemed like a divine arrangement that we would be at the right place and the right time in order to meet this way. In class we worked very well together and enjoyed each other’s company and often took long walks after class to talk and get to know each other better. We discovered that we shared the same interests and values and began to see each other as good candidates for a lifelong partnership when we returned to South Africa. In Saarbrücken we went to Church together, sang in choirs and went on many excursions.

I am very grateful for the Aachen-Cape Town Partnership, without which I would not have gone to Germany and would never have met my wife. We are married more than 15 years now and have 2 daughters age 14 years and 12 years. Since our daughters were young they always enjoyed to hear the story of how their parents met and fell in love in Germany. It is the most romantic story they have ever heard and wish the same for themselves when they are old enough. We enjoyed seeing snow for the first time in December 2003. We look back with great fondness to our time in Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark and Luxemburg in 2003 and 2004. Germany is the foundation and vision for our marriage and family; that’s why we look forward to going back there together soon with our whole family.

Duke Gumede

I was born in 1972 into a music loving big family of five children where I was inspired by the music of Hugh Masekela to start playing the trumpet. 

I studied Civil Engineering at the Peninsula Technikon which has also led me to a fulfilling career in community development since the late 1990’s in the City of Cape Town municipality. In 2002 I attended the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg which led me to the USA in 2003 then to Germany on an exchange programme for 6 months where I spent one month in Aachen as part of the Aachen-Cape Town Partnership.

In Aachen I was very lucky to borrow a trumpet from Josefine’s son Felix and we all played every Friday in her orchestra in Kelmis, across the border in Belgium. 

I lost contact with the partnership over the years, but got back in touch in 2019 during the Mayors delegation visit, where I played the trumpet with my band at the closing dinner function.