(c) 2014 Edward C. Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed
It was eight years ago, in Kirkwood, that I first realised that there was something wrong with me.
Last Wednesday Pera and I drove past Kirkwood, on our way north to the Graaff-Reinet district. It was school holidays and we were taking a break – a bit of a road trip, some would call it.
I laughed at the austerity measures undertaken by our roads department when it came to painting the white lines on the road – just two thirds of each white stripe has been re-painted. I wonder how much that saved the tax payer in having to buy less piant! A nice exrcise for a maths class, I thought!
We had 5 days and in that time we
* travelled about a thousand kilometers on gravel, tar and cement roads
* first north, then west, then further north, then south east
* through the Noorsveld, Camdeboo, Great Karoo
* arrived at farm gates that read Tandjiesview, Kareepoort and Doorndraai
* visited the Harris’s, the Wrights, the Swarts, the Watermeyers and the Ogilvie’s
* saw my ex 1974 Headgirl Lorraine Swart (Myburgh) and her husband Dawie Swart after 40 years
* passed through Jansenville, Graaff-Reinett, Aberdeen, (almost) Beaufort West, Miller, Fullarton, Steytlerville, Baroe, Wolwefontein and Uitenhage
* slept in three different lovely farm homes
* ate copious amounts of lamb, mutton, beef, steak, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, veges, deserts, biltong, chips
* drank volumes of coffee and other more alcoholic drinks
* saw springbok, kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, mountain tortoise,likkewaans, warthog, goats, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats
* chatted XXXXX number of words to old and new friends – in English and our best Afrikaans
We socialised, talked, walked, rested, slept and ate. After all, we are all social human beings. No man is an island and I am most definitely not!
Braai the beloved country!
We experienced Peace in the heartland of south Africa. They call it Africa – we have the privilege to call it home!
But, in the peace, I am becoming ever more concerned about our home. I hear the concerns and see the deterioration and degradation happening all around us. I am worried! Are we are busy fracking up, not only the Karoo, but indeed our whole country?
Cry the beloved country!
©2013 Edward C. Lunnon
Monday 16 December 2013: 7 years 3 months on …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce
Tata Madiba, Nelson Mandela, the Father of our New Democratic Nation, was buried yesterday in Qunu in our (and his) home Province of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
It brings to an end the official ten days of national mourning since his death last Thursday evening 5 December 2013.
Much has been said and written, and for many of us, I guess, it has been a time of great introspection.
During this time there have also been other events that we have attended and which have provided food for thought.
Last Friday morning (6 December) I attended Christopher Ross’s funeral in St Francis Bay. I had taught brothers David and Chris in the late eighties and Chris had passed away the previous week at age 40 after suffering an aneurism.
David has asked me to say a few words at the memorial service. However, because I am finding it increasingly difficult to see and walk, I declined the offer. David has asked me to say something of the “good old times”!
It got me thinking of how we can’t live in the “good old times” – the past is gone. We can’t live in the future either – it is not guaranteed. We only have the present to live in, and we have to make the most of that moment and every moment we have.
Madiba surely taught us that, too. After spending so much of his life in jail, it is just unbelievable how much he achieved in and made of the 14 years he had between being released in 1990 and finally retiring from public life in 2004, when he famously told reporters that, if needs, “Don’t call me. I’ll call you!” (I sometimes feel that the time is fast coming when I shall have to use that quote myself.)
Anyway, we did raconteur and reminisce at Legends Pub at the Wake after the memorial service. So much so, that we only got home after four and had to postpone our trip to Graaff-Reinet which was scheduled to commence at 14h00!
We decided to leave on Saturday morning instead, and thank goodness we did! I woke up to water running down through the ceiling and cupboards – a water valve had burst in the roof! So, our departure was delayed until the plumbers had sorted that out, and then, delayed yet again, as the garden services (on whom I had been waiting for the last two weeks) suddenly arrived to mow the lawns.
Who said life is easy and runs smoothly? Certainly not Nelson Mandela!
But he taught us that too – that one can rise above the difficulties and stumbling blocks that life places in our way. He taught us to forgive those who have wronged us – that’s the one with which I still have enormous problems – and I still don’t know how he managed to forgive those of us who had a hand in putting him into captivity!
Anyway, we eventually arrived at Tandjiesview in the district Graaff-Reinet at 14h00, in time for lunch and in time to celebrate Helen Harris’s 50th birthday with the other 80-odd friends and family who gathered there on Saturday evening. Some 35 of us also stayed over on the farm, and we got to share the mountain cottage with Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie.
We woke up to the most spectacular view of the Camdeboo Plains and Tandjiesberg; however, we ourselves certainly didn’t look as good as that view!
And the party continued into Sunday, and we and some of the stragglers only left on Monday afternoon! We went on to Aberdeen for a quick afternoon tea with John and Jean Watermeyer and then to Doorndraai, in the Vlaktes between Aberdeen and Willowmore, for the next three days with Colleen and Dickie.
Doorndraai was the first Karoo farm that I had the privilege of visiting. More and more I’m starting to think that it will also be my last visit.
It rained and rained, and we ate and ate …
And we watched the memorial service for Madiba, and we watched and we watched! I learned so much that I didn’t know before! So many lessons to be learnt from one unbelievable person. So many people around the world whose lives he touched.
Many of us talk the talk, some just walk the walk, but very few – like Madiba – walk the talk.
As human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed, we have so many things that we have in common and so many things that we have learned along the way – our CULTURE – that makes us so different from each other.
We all celebrate life and death, birthdays and funerals, marriages and “coming of age” parties, friends and family, music and religion, but we do it in such different ways. If only we dedicated more time to learn from each other and to appreciate each other’s cultures.
This afternoon, I have started reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. With my impaired concentration ability and my sight problems, this is going to be a long read to finish!
In the meantime, since coming back from the farm, we attended a “European” style 50th birthday party of Rocco at St George’s Park on Friday and Xolani’s African style wedding in Walmer Township on Sunday.
Celebrations, worlds apart, in our part of this earth which fate has ordained us to share with each other. We have always so easily shared the air, with Nelson’s intervention we learned to share the water, but when it comes to sharing the land, things are not so easy. History will tell us what happens in this regard in the post mourning era!
My status this week on Facebook read:
The World, aloofly and often somewhat judgmentally and disparagingly, simply calls it Africa.
We call it our Home.
This week, from Qunu in our Eastern Cape Veld, we shared our Home with the World – thanks to Tata Madiba.
He transformed our South African Home and made us part of the World.
We are privileged to have lived in his time and shared in his world.
We are obligated to learn from him and to continue his legacy!
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God bless Africa!)
©2013 Edward C. Lunnon
Monday 10 June 2013: 6 years 9 months on …
Yes, we had no turkey!
But we did have Karoo mutton and lamb and chicken and eggs and chops and pizzas and red wine and Guiness and Castles and …. in fact, we had far too much.
However, this is Karoo hospitality and whilst we had too much to eat and drink, one can never complain about the Karoo hospitality that one experiences when visiting Graaff-Reinet! There is so much of it that one must be careful not to drown in it.
So this weekend resulted in a very unplanned and hurried visit to Graaff-Reinet. We haven’t been for a while, so it was great seeing the Karoo Clan – the Harris’s and their whole netball team of daughters (thanks for putting us up and for putting up with us!), the Wrights, the Bouwers, the Prices, the Beaumonts, Pieter and the guys at The Graaff-Reinet Club, the people at Polka, etc etc …. And apologies if I have not mentioned your name! (Please add it in a comment below and I will rectify my omissions!)
The reason for our hurried trip was indeed a thanksgiving: to give thanks for the life of Richard Clarke who died in the most bizarre set of circumstances on the national road between Graaff-Reinet and Aberdeen last week.
I first met Richard “online” when he started commenting on the blogs that I had written about fracking in the Karoo. Then, one day, we met face to face at that rather hospitable Graaff-Reinet (Mens?) Club where there always seems to be a reason for saying thanks and for saying “Cheers”!
Richard and I discussed numerous issues – he liked that and so did I, and sometimes it was necessary to have just another ale in order to cool down the intense debate!
And whether we met at the Club or on the street of Graaff-Reinet, there was always that blue-eyed smile and those deep words of discussion!
It was only later that I “discovered” that Richard was my radio interviewer, Lance du Plessis’s, cousin.
So it came as a shock last Wednesday, just as we were about to go on air, that Lance informed me of Richard’s death.
My sincere sympathy and condolences go to all his family and friends.
I shall miss his sharp intellect, his fine debating skills and that blue-eyed smile. I shall have another reason to drink an extra Guiness when next I visit the Graaff-Reinet Club.
Despite the sad circumstances of this visit, it was really great being back in the Karoo and seeing you all. And it was great to experience the drop in temperature from 22 to -2! (just a little exaggeration!)
A little of Richard’s writing:
I attended the meeting on fracking at the Graaff-Reinet Town Hall on Thursday 18 April and I did not hear anything new from Shell. It is almost two years ago that there was a massive meeting at the same spot and Shell still have no answers to the questions about water and about jobs.
There are no guarantees about jobs or water. There is no certainty that there will be jobs and no certainty that the water is safe and won’t be contaminated by chemicals used in the drilling process.
Shell SA is a part of Royal Dutch Shell which as a Multi-National Corporation is there to make money, otherwise it does not exist. Shell is not terribly worried about whether people in the Karoo get jobs or whether they can continue to drink their water.
There is shale gas in the Karoo and that can be turned in to money. This is the bottom line in any calculation or analysis by Shell. The same arrogance and even contempt for the Karoo locals was on display yet again as we were told that people concerned about chemicals are being “emotional”.
At question time this lack of respect was shown in the contempt with which one of the Shell delegation fobbed off a question around the recent article in the National Geographic about the ever present dangers in mining and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
The presentation itself has not altered much in two years and Shell simply speak of job possibilities in the “multiple 1000’s” like a lottery which of course means that they are not sure and don’t want to be caught out.
The local community has become split over fracking with some irresponsible people encouraging the split along racial lines with whiteys anti because they don’t need jobs and blacks pro because they want jobs.
This is simplistic and done purely for political gain. The reality is that both of the groups should be together pressurising Shell to come clean on these issues of jobs and water.
There is no guarantee that there will be jobs and no guarantee that the groundwater will survive this Shell onslaught.
We have an elected government in this country whose job it is to protect the citizens of South Africa against this kind of invasion by a Multi-National Corporation that is richer than many countries.
An elected government that should controlling and monitoring the process by which rights to mine are granted. Controlling and monitoring the process that Shell seems to running on its own.
Shell at this meeting looked like a player in the game and the referee as well.
There is still a long way to go in this fight and people that support Shell and fracking because they believe it will bring jobs should beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
RIP Richard Clarke
PS >>>>> Happy birthday John!
Monday 29 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED
(* Karoo-style Kindness, Neighbourliness and Kinship!)
A year and a half ago, in January 2010, I wrote I Was So Glad that I had Come!
It was about a trip that I had made to the striking Karoo, and last year’s SA Town of the Year, Graaff-Reinet, in order to watch Sean play cricket. I hadn’t been back since.
However, that changed on Thursday afternoon last week.
I had asked Gordon Wright if he was coming to PE in order for us to have a reunion of the previous weekend’s rugby celebrations! Instead, he invited us to Graaff-Reinet in order join in on the last hunt of the year (before the end of August signalled the end of the 2011 hunting season).
But Pera had a teachers’ conference on Saturday, Sean had a rugby braai and Phil had school commitments, so they could not go.
Gords suggested “come by yourself then”!
But I couldn’t drive by myself – Gords had a lift for me!
But I’ve never been a hunter (not before and not since the one and only springbok I shot and wounded at Doorndraai at dusk, and then found and killed the following morning, led to my having to eat warm raw liver and having my face blooded!) – Gords suggested “just join in for the walk and the atmosphere”!
But I’m ill – just park that in the garage for the weekend!
So within minutes my schedule for the weekend was arranged.
And after having coffee and croissants at Vovo Telo with Annette Jones and Liz Findlay on Friday morning, it was the packing procedure, which for me has become quite stressful:
Bag – check
Undies, warm socks, shoes – check
Pyjamas – check
Warm shirts, jeans – check
Warm jacket – check
Scarf, gloves, beanie – check
Toiletries – check
Wallet, wine, cell phone, charger – check
Pills, pills, pills, pills – check
More check and more check …
And then we were on our way – headed north on the R75: destination Graaff-Reinet. We being me and the newly acquainted Neville (at the wheel) and Lee-Anne Jones and their two sons. Before long, I discovered that Neville was the uncle of Craig Jones who was at Grey and played rugby with Sean – small Eastern Cape world yet again!
We arrived at the Wrights at about five pm– the ‘we’ now being some more couples staying the night and some delivering children to be baby-sat and collected, and just what appeared to me as a railway station of people arriving and leaving!
I was going to be sleeping at the Wright’s Andries Stockenström Guesthouse just down the road from their own home, so we off-loaded my bags there and then returned for drinks, dinner, drinks, discussion, drinks, discourse, drinks, dessert, drinks, drinks …
Plans were put in place for Saturday’s hunting excursion. Drinks.
We would be going to the Harris’s farm Tandjies View to hunt. Graeme and Helen Harris (nee Watermeyer) have been friends since I first moved to Port Elizabeth in 1984. Helen is Colleen Ogilvie’s sister (Dickie and Colleen farm at Doorndraai in the Aberdeen district) and it was at Helen’s house in Port Elizabeth many years ago that I swallowed the 20c piece in a game of quarters that subsequently became stuck in my intestine! To this day I have the X-rays of that meddlesome 20c piece! Drinks.
The Estimated Departure Time would be eight am! That meant that I would have to get up at six thirty so as to ‘defrost’ my body and get the limbs moving. Gordon was put in charge of phoning me to wake me up. Drinks.
Peter and his wife were only staying the night before heading off to New Bethesda on Saturday. But when he heard the plans being made, he decided to stay and hunt instead. Then, later, he decided not to go.
Well an early start to the morning required an early ‘go to bed’ – so after just one more drink for the road, I headed off to the Guesthouse round about 1am!
At 6h45 I received my “wake-up” call. I missed the “Wakey wakey, sunshine!” SMS at 6h16 because I had put my cell phone on ‘Phone calls Only’ sound mode and therefore did not get a beep from the Blackberry at 6h16!
‘Quick’ shower, tea, and I was collected at eight and ready to go … off to Tandjies View in Gordon’s Jeep known as the Man Van. Peter was there – he had changed his mind and was to hunt after all.
The hunters gathered at Graeme’s hunting lodge, a yet unnamed newly-renovated Italian prisoner-of-war built stone house with a magnificent view over Spandauskop, the Tandjiesberg and Camdeboo. In sharp contrast to the brown and aridness of last year’s ‘in the drought’ visit, the Karoo is the greenest I have ever seen it. In some places, it looks like a lush green carpet that has been thrown out over the land. And put that with the bright orange of the flowering aloes, then what you have is a postcard picture of the glorious Karoo that the oil companies now want to frack-up in their exploration for gas!
Whilst the hunters did the hunting thing, I was given the more genteel version of breakfast with Helen and Graeme and their four daughters, Carmen, Lee-Anne, Michaela and Christine, and two of their boyfriends from Port Alfred. Then followed a bakkie tour of the farm, offloading of sheep, checking of water troughs and dams, windmills, and snacks and drinks.
Then back to meet the hunters at the lodge and drinks. Then we got a phone call to inform us that Peter’s wife who was coming to fetch him to head off belatedly to New Bethesda had experienced a mishap – the sump of the car had been “holed” on the gravel road. (They then had to stay with the Harris’s, and arrange to be collected from Uitenhage on Sunday and for the car to be towed to Graaff-Reinet on Monday to be repaired.)
At dusk, we headed back to the Guesthouse for drinks and dinner, prepared by Gordon, who within minutes had changed from hunting guide to sous chef and from camouflaged hunting gear to a white chef’s outfit! Gordon calls it “from veld to fork!”
Beetroot soup, drinks, kudu steaks, mutton, drinks, dessert, drinks …
Then at midnight we headed for the Graaff-Reinet Men’s Club (now also allows ‘ladies’!) for post-dinner drinks.
There we met up with the stragglers from a Club soup evening that included Helen’s cousin, Julian Murray, and Johann Minnaar, optician in town and father of Henry Minnaar who was Sean’s room mate at Grey’s hostel last year and is now an engineering student at the University of Pretoria. Drinks.
And, slowly the party got smaller and we returned home. Drinks … and Gordon disappeared and it was only Neville, Lee-Anne and I left – discussing the world, and life and religion and the purpose of life and God and a drink to Life and just one more for the road.
At four am I had my midnight pills and then got into my heated bed at the guesthouse … and slept till ten!
Then breakfast, then back to the Harris’s for drinks and roast lunch, and at three thirty, we headed south for Port Elizabeth.
The James Blunt and Elvis Blue concert was due to start at 20h00 at the indoor sports centre of the Nelson Mandela University. I disembarked from the car at 18h45 and re-embarked ten minutes later after a quick change and a hamburger.
The Marriots from Queenstown had invited us to attend the show. And what a show it was:
“And this is what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is gold …”
Life is surely gold … and for this weekend’s fun, games, laughter, friendship and kindness, kinship and neighbourliness, we owe such a big thank you to the Wrights, the Harris’s, the Jones’s and the Marriots.
“For food, friends and fellowship, we thank thee O Lord!”
Raise a glass to Priceless Moments!