African Odyssey

 

We took off from Perth at 20 to midnight and landed in Joburg at 10 to five – but flew for 11 hours overnight, during which sleep was elusive.

Immigration was quick and impassive, baggage delivery slow but effective: all there and undamaged. Customs alert and easy going. Friends beaming at the gate – AT 5H30 ON SUNDAY MORNING!! Such love!

Car hire…eish! system is down… but sorted and 4 suitcases, 4 hand luggage squeezed in and away we go. At garage exit, we are stopped by a slovenly policeman. (Rat smell!) – kept cool and stared him down, he checked driver’s licence and let us go: Welcome to Africa!

Things have changed and we got lost in Boksburg North and stopped to listen to hadedas and then arrived at Bridie’s. Last home of Mum and Dad, with same furniture, curtains, vases. Watched the rugby test, specially recorded: boring draw! Grand breakfast.

Little snooze and in walk Jeff and Gail, besties from the ou dae! Beer and braai and a bietjie wyn! Heart full as I thought we might miss them.

Early bed – to awaken at 2am – ain’t jet lag grand!

Lingering, languid lunch with Jen and Rich – awake at 2 am again! Aaarghh!

 

It was about here that I realised this could turn into an epic requiring undue perseverance by my faithful few readers, so ……. I wrote a sort of travelogue poem, condensing our trip while trying to cover itinerary, cast list and feelings about what we saw and did.

Here is a link to the poem, which I called Second generation Souties

 

 

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Going back to Africa

I must confess to mixed feelings now.

It has taken some time to get to this point. Nearly twenty years in fact.

This has been quite a sudden realisation; not so long ago I wrote a poem about returning my spirit to Africa, where I grew up and where 10 generations of ancestors are buried:

Journey

Like a boomerang, we go forwards to go back

to our hearts home where our mum’s wombs rest.

From light to dark and smooth to shoddy.

People simple but direct, not so friendly.

But it’s the home of our heart and soul,

darker Africa, so far and so near.

The warm people now despondent

about unrealised comforts, leached away by lazy overlords,

Maybe blamed on us, who give, build and take.

 

Where I die, twirl a thorn twig,

catch my ghost and take it home,                                         

like a boomerang, back from where we came,

to the bosom of the family we left.

Then maybe I will rest.

 

Now our near family is here, not there. Without a doubt, feelings are mixed.

But now I feel as if I am leaving home, not going home.

I am happy and sad.

(The picture is a twig from the Umlahlankosi tree that can be used to carry the spirit of the deceased from the place of death to a new resting place).

There is no stillness in life

The morning is cool almost clear, quite crisp;

There’s a hint of mist on the calm sea.

Grey clouds muscle up above the island –

Gold rimmed as God looms over them

Surveying the creation, glowing heat and life.

sun clouds

 

 

 

 

The birds whisper: we all pause.

It is early and fresh and promising;

The beauty of the moment is short.

Another wishful dawn flowers.

Nothing stops until your own light sets.

AUSTRALIA DAY

Having grown up in  Africa with its history of different loyalties, ethnicities, languages and monarchs, it is refreshing to experience the casual pride and almost universal pleasure of Australians on the national holiday.oz-flops

The weather is invariably hot, so outdoor visits to bodies of water are mandatory. Beaches, rivers and pools are soon surrounded by near naked flesh and flimsy gazebos.

Childreniced beer.jpeg frolic and squirm away from suncream lotions and sun hats; adults expose their tattoos and drink beer from as soon as the tent is up.

Even the roads are relaxed and festive with a number of cars festooned with national flags, fluttering in the slipstream.

prawn ice bucket.jpeg
XXXX, Jimmy Barnes and iced prawns are the iconic choices of the majority.

The day is probably the best part of Straylya!

Goodonyer!

What makes me happy?

jumping-for-joy

The casual affection of a grandchild

The crooning of our puppy

Picking fruit from my fruit trees

My wife’s smile

The chatter of family at a braaivleis cold-beer

Songs that snare memories

The colours of new leaves … old leaves … most leaves

Condensation on a glass of cold beer

Chewing biltong

The call of the Piet-my-vrou

take-a-smile

 

What am I grateful for today?

The just enough breezebee-happy

The blossom bending under a bee’s knees

Our solitary pineapple

Doves cooing

The yellow green of leaves on the unidentified trees against the ever so slightly faded blue sky

The droop of the fuchsia

That I am far away enough not to smell the rotting fruit of the cherry guava tree.

The relative silence of obscure suburbia.

The pelargonium red that almost pierces my eye

The fat smile of the Buddha my son gave me

 

There are more – these are some I perceive from where I sit on my verandah at home.

choose-happy

Just another tequila sunrise

nasturtium-hybrid-colour

There must be a price to pay for a balmy spring, tequila sunrises, arrays of visiting parrots  and the clear, bright colours of the nasturtiums in our garden. I can’t get enough of the scenes, sounds and scents of this Spring.

Maybe my sense of awe is exacerbated by the banality of the national news. Last night we were treated to some variety  from the usual house fire, convenience store robbery and road crash,  – a story on the condition of city roads, which required 86 000 potholes to be fixed last year!

Spice is also provided on occasion with the mandatory attempts at courthouses to get a response from head shaven, tattooed bikies … are you sorry for what you did?zenasturtiums

I suppose it is a reasonable counter to the 20 odd years sprinkled with bombs and bodies before I left Africa

This sort of karma thinking is unsettling. How can life be so good for me when there are people being washed away in South Australia, blown away in Syria and unable to get any money to buy necessities in Zimbabwe.

Ice cream anyone? I’m afraid there’s only vanilla…

Please let there be no payback – I’ve been a good boy, really!

Let us give thanks and praise.

The Death Of A Tree

 

When I see a tree cut down
whose life was not yet done
I look upon it with a frown
and then look at the sun.
For the sun that nurtured every limb
and every leafy branch
has one less tree to care for
that never had a chance
to say to man
‘Don’t cut me down.
Don’t let me die.
Don’t let the sap
within me dry.’

For every tree that’s been alive
that’s grown upon this earth
is a gift from nature to us all
that’s always known its worth.
The problem as I see it
is man who cannot see
just what it probably feels like?
To be the cut down tree.

It took less than 20 minutes. A man with an orange vest and a chain saw climbed the 30 foot tree next door and sawed it down into mulcher size portions. I heard it grinding up all the good green stuff.
I also heard a sunbird trilling shrilly in dismay. Two other birds whose names I didn’t know, had to veer off in disarray after flying up to land and take a rest at a familiar spot,  then found it gone.
Where will bluebird hide or the pheasant coucal skulk?
It was evergreen and bore delicate mauve trusses of flowers which attracted honeysuckers and lorikiets.  I regret I didn’t know its name.