Mourning Has Broken

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 16 December 2013: 7 years 3 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

 

X 

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!)

Advertisements

Sometimes the Wheels Come Off!

 
Thursday 4 October 2012: 6 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD
 
Last Wednesday was the first time that I felt like calling Lance to cancel my talk show. But I did not want to disappoint so many listeners, so (feeling quite miserable)  I went ahead with it any way. Yvonne Anderson took me there and then dropped me off at Grey High.
 
It was the Cadet Retreat Parade and the announcement of Student Officers for 2013. Phillip was appointed as the Student Officer of the E squadron, so congratulations and well done to him on his “military”  promotion.
 
Thereafter, I went for a haircut and started packing for my next trip to Graaff-Reinet on Thursday.
 
Early rise on Thursday and then Pera dropped me off at school at 7h15. Warwick Dickie was going to Graaff-Reinet to deliver generators for the Karoolusfees and he was giving me a lift.
 
With one ton behind us we travelled at 100km / hour and were just approaching Graafies when all hell let loose. The double cab shuddered and shook and I thought a tyre had blown until I saw a wheel speeding past us and down the national road. It veered to the left, jumped the fence and ended up in the Karoo Veld.
 
The bearings had ceased, the axle of the generator trailer had snapped and the wheel came off. 
 
We were lucky! So many things could have happened, but they didn’t. Indeed, we were lucky!
 
And the hospitality and kindness of the REAL people of the Karoo stepped up to the plate. Within an hour, help came from all corners, the generator had been put onto a flat-bed trailer and was on its way to the festival grounds, and I was dropped off at Arno Bouwer’s house where I was staying for two nights.
 
Then more Karoo kindness. A fire had raged through seven farms north of the town on Wednesday afternoon and night. Especially the farm Grassdale was ravaged as the fire destroyed hectares of veld, the sheep sustenance, telephone lines, electricity lines, kilometers of fencing and plastic pipelines.
 
But the community stepped in and within an hour we were heading for Jean De la Harpe’s farm with bails of hay piled on the back of the bakkie. it was but one of many truckloads that would arrive from concerned friends and neighbors and strangers. Assistance of all kinds would stream in over the next few days and weeks. More Karoo kindness …
 
Thursday evening we spent at the Club and had supper at Coldstream.
 
On Friday, I went with Gordon and Rose Wright back to Grassdale. (Gordon is coordinating the relief effort from town.) Food for the humans and food for the sheep…
 
As we drove back into town, dark black clouds built up overhead. The heat of the day changed to cold and some snow fell, and the first drops of rain. Food for the scorched land …
 
Friday evening was back to the Club for the R4000 draw (not won) and then supper with the Wrights.
 
Saturday was a lazy day round the pool. Pera and the boys arrived from PE at about four, we watched the Boks beat Australia (for a change) and then went to the Cape Schools Cricket Week steak braai at Union High School.
 
The sounds of the Karoolusfees permeated the quiet night of the Karoo. Pera was not feeling well so Sean took her back to the Andries Stockenstrom Guest House where we were spending that night.
 
The boys and I decided not to go to the Fees. Instead we drank cuppachino at the Spur and then also headed to bed and to sleep … to the sound of Kurt Darren singing Meisie Mesie to anyone in the Karoo who wanted to listen! Loslappie …. !
 
After breakfast on Sunday morning, Pera went shopping for provisions and we watched a bit of Grey playing Rondebosch in the cricket festival. Then it was a short 30 minute drive to Tandjiesview, the farm of Helen and Graham Harris.
 
Together with the Wrights, Graham’s parents and the Harris’s, we were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary which had taken place on the Ogilvie’s farm Doorndraai. I had played the organ, Pera had done the hair and Tommo’s music equipment was blown by the generator!
 
Steaks were prepared by master chef Gordon Wright … And after a restful afternoon spent on the stoep looking out over Tandjiesberg (hence the farm called Tandjiesview), we headed for our next port of call.
 
Springbuck Lodge on the farm Klipfontein, the home of Ed and Margie Parkes, was our next stop. It is south of Graaff-Reinet and the view is of Tandjiesberg from the side, looking northwards.
 
Ed gave Sean and Phillip a motorbike each and a rifle, and they headed off to the veld. Pera and I had a lovely day of just doing nothing – a restful day of sloth rounded off with a magnificent braai as the Karoo sun set in the west.
 
On Tuesday we left Springbuck Lodge and headed north towards the mountains that we could see from the lodge – the Sneeuberg. Some thirty kilometers of gravel into the valley brought us to Asante Sana Private Game Reserve, complete with its magnificent lush green cricket oval in the midst of the Karoo vegetation! (Grey had played there  and lost last Saturday to Westville.)
 
It is the home of Richard and Kitty Viljoen and their sons who are at school with Phillip. It would be our home for the next two days too.
 
In the afternoon the boys skied on the dam and we went for a game drive … Buck, bat-eared foxes, giraffe, rhino and even footprints of long extinct dinosaurs.
 
Our cottage overlooks the cricket oval and when we returned there after supper, two rhinos on it front lawn glimmered silver in the light of the bright full moon!
 
That was nothing – when I woke in the morning and peered through the bathroom window there were two rhinos eating right outside the window… And four more grazing on the cricket pitch!
 
The sun was just starting to rise over the eastern mountains … The start of yet another exciting day in Africa. It was also a special day … It was Pera’s birthday.
 
I did my radio programme from the house and then we went up to the lodge halfway up the mountain. Later in the afternoon another game drive followed – elephant, rhino, buck of all kinds …
 
And this morning, after breakfast, it was time to head home for Port Elizabeth.
 
As the notes on the bedside tables at Margie’s Springbuck Lodge say:
 
“May the memories you make in this special part of Africa be happy ones.”
 
Our grateful thanks to everyone in the Karoo who made this wonderful trip so special! You are all truly very special people in your community and in our lives!
 
Asante Sana … thank you very much (in Swahili)
 
(Pics to follow!)