Happy Day

Its already a year on since I wrote my appreciation of Australia Day.

It seems that my opinion is not shared by all. There are some that say gday mate

celebrating  the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales is not OK – that ultimate New Age condemnation.

 

 

So sadly, there will be some people who will say that celebration of the arrival of a different culture is in fact a celebration of the subjugation of the Aboriginal people who were already in Australia and apparently owned all the land and resources thereon.

This is a common theme of native populations who were affected by the arrival of more technologically advanced and powerful colonists. It is a sad fact that in Australia and the Americas, by and large, the people who were there were defeated and subjugated and those who were not successfully incorporated into the new societies still suffer diminished and pathetic lifestyles and the disappearance of traditional cultural practices.

In Africa and Asia, the colonists were expelled after a century or two of domination and exploitation, leaving modern technology, knowledge and infrastructure and some vicious struggles to achieve power and the benefits that flow from the dispensation of favours. The eventual collapse of economies and reversion to tribal conflicts is frequently blamed on the historic, invasion of the colonists.

That is a digression which may make some people hot under the collar – we don’t really need that as the southern part of the continent is stricken by a heatwave, leading to the cancellation of many functions. But let me hasten to add -NOT THE CRICKET!! australia day cricket

(On second thoughts, given the success of the Australians against the Poms, maybe it should be cancelled as a threat to national morale.)

No doubt this viewpoint of the mainly left wing and some indigenous people will  gather momentum, like the #Me Too movement, notwithstanding Germaine Greer‘s opposition. (Who would have thought of her on the right side of the spectrum…?) .

Me? I am not an Aussie mate, but I love the country. I thought the day was meant to celebrate Australia, not some ancient event invested with political significance.

Pick a day which doesn’t create too many bleats and change it. Celebrate the day like the popular song says:

Australians all let us rejoice 
For we are young and free 
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil 
Our home is girt by sea…

Look forward, not backwards!

Advertisements

Girraman-dha

currimundimouth

… that means  ‘Place of Flying Foxes‘ and that’s where we were yesterday. Not a dark, stark, spooky swamp, but a sunny, sandy beach and tidal estuary.

 

 

It’s now referred to as Currimundi, an Englification of the ‘foreign’ local dialect, no doubt. That’s an interesting digression: how the first ‘civilised’ or ‘literate’ visitors to a new land transcribe the local language… it has significant political effects. But that’s for another day.

I have been moved to write about the unfettered happiness and  evident joy of visitors to this natural playground, having been infected there last Australia Day.

currimundi under treesWe got almost the last space under a shady tree, which was lucky as the tide was high and thus the beach diminished. Gazebos and sun shelters were filled with coolboxes, the sand littered with lilos, floating unicorns, paddleboards, spades and frisbees – all the paraphernalia of dedicated beach experienced holidayers.

Nearly everyone wore a hat or cap and most wore ‘rashies’ as sun vests are called; the slip-slap-slop of sunscreen application was audible  – the summer sun is mean here!

Children splashed in the shallows and chased bream and garfish, idly watched by bikini’d grandmothers and ignored by teenaged siblings. Dads stalked the river channel with their one time a year fishing rods and mudprawn pumps; children plunged off the riverbank into the water with Tarzan yells, others rode the incoming tide at the rivermouth.

Paragliders sailed out of the sky onto the beach as the coolboxes were opened and serious relaxation started, to be followed by a gentle snooze.

BeachFunLaughter, squeals and smiles were the order of the day. It remains a seriously positive experience, despite some sunburnt edges and the loss of my sunnies when tumbled in the surging riverstream as the lake ejected its water back into the sea as the tide turned.

Oh happy day!

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

 

 

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