Barbara Creecy: ‘You can make a difference if you want to’

Barbara Creecy, the minister of environment, forestry and fisheries, likes to watch the British medical drama series Casualty, she tells Sheree Bega. It’s become a family joke. “I tell my kids that my life is one series of crises and that when I watch Casualty somebody else has to deal with the crises. That’s very relaxing for me.”

How did you become involved in student politics?

My family was active in politics, but not in a high-profile way, and as a child, you could never get through a meal without all the reference books being on the table … You know we had something called an encyclopedia before Google. 

You think today the concept that the world’s knowledge could be contained in 12 books is an entertaining thought but that’s how it was. We were brought up that you had to put forward a coherent argument and defend your position.

My father died when I was eight and my mother raised us. It was tough. I think I was the only child at school who didn’t have two parents. When I got divorced I asked my children: “Do you feel strange at school because your parents are divorced?” They said: “No, everybody’s parents are divorced. We felt odd when you were still married.” 

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Sheree Bega
Sheree Bega is an environment reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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