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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Voortrekker Monument

This huge statue is a memorial to the women and children who embarked on this journey into the unknown...who overcame and succummed to some of the harshest trials imagnable.

The stonework is wonderfull, the structure, angular and simple and reminds me of the front of an old church organ.

The Voortrekker monument s located East ( I think) of Pretoria and can't be missed as you enter into the city. We had an hour or two to spare and decided to take a visit. Sadly, not many modern South Africans have visited this monument...once revered as one of our greatest monuments erected in memory of the brave people who left the Cape Colony in search of wealth and freedom.

There are many books relaying storys of these brave people, the one which I really loved was written by TV Bulpin called the LOST TRAILS OF THE TRANSVAAL, first published n 1950. I read it a year or two ago, but have begun to read it again, happily. Going to places, seeing new things are really meaningless unless one delves into the history....the story's behind the places and faces.

These are two of the sculptors of the finely carved panels inside the monument

I have been here before, a few years ago, but still find the murals disturbing....the violent scenes depicting the massacre of men, women and especially the children. Hundreds of years later, what has changed???? women and children are still being massacred around the world!

Pierneef is one of SA's most successful artists. Standng in front of this painting, I wasn't overly impressed all. Its simplistic, naive, and doesnt really have a 'wow' factor. (other than the realization that you are standing in front of a LOT of money)

South Africa has got a lot of history. Yes, the history books have changed since 1995 but that's only the books. There's a history that lies deep in the soul of every person living in this diverse country, black and white, that which was told, that which was taught and that which was discovered. The monuments may be removed or forgotten, but no wind of change could blow away what has been gifted to you culturally through ancestory. I proudly and truly embrace mine.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Vir Volk en Vaderland

Tonteldoos....'Where the @#$&+ is Tonteldoos.

Tonteldoos is a little village off a bumpy, sandy road, 18km north/north-east of Dullstroom. The home of cheese, cattle farmers and peach mampoer or 'vuurwater' (firewater), a very potent, home-brewed alcoholic drink.....a bit like palatable paint-stripper.

But, look at that name!! 'Tonteldoos' actually means 'tinderbox' a name gained from someone who long ago, dropped his in the river. The second part of the name has a rather dodgy connotation. The word 'doos' is a less than flattering Afrikaans name for the female genitalia...a word that is well used in this country during angry exchanges. Someone not well versed in the language may very easily get the wrong idea!

So it is with this wonderful, colorful language, Afrikaans. No Shakespearean novel ever had such a gripping, expressive and interesting way of communicating. One only has to travel to Cape Town to hear our wonderful colored community, conversing with each other. Its fascinating and entertaining and enlightening. Each sentence has humor and truth (and often, copious profanities). Words are used to draw mental pictures. Their language, like true Afrikaans, is an art form in itself.

Anyone who has ever read the works of the rogue and murderer....and SA literary genus, Herman Charles Bosman, born in 1905, will know what I'm talking about.

Afrikaans is a wonderful language ...but let me give you one or two examples, to quote:

velskoen (skin shoe...a shoe still worn today ) or velskoenblaar (a leaf which feels like soft animal skin)

Some names for plants:

Kurkbokdrol ( a plant that has the appearance of chalk-like buck poo)
Drolpeer (a pear that looks like poo...???yet to see this :o) )
Katpissbossie ( cat pee bush...self explanatory)

We arrived at the Tonteldoos festival a tad early......10 am is obviously still early in these parts.

We popped into a little restaurant (and hotel apparently)across the road from the festival grounds. The cheese business must be booming....there was a shiny new Porsche parked around the back...very out of place amongst the Ford and Toyota bakkies, racing up and down the sandy roads.

Went exploring.......The back of the old stable the toilet......the 'outhouse'. No en-suites here.

This reminded me so much of our old family farm.

A novel wind-chime

"For folk and fatherland" English translation belies the color of this Afrikaans culture....but I'm happy to try.

The world seems to have a dim view of the Afrikaner nation of South Africa... the 'boer'... and indeed, as a little girl, growing up in a very racially divided country, so did I. I was often on the receiving end of some kind of verbal attack from passing neighbors when seeing me with my little black friend.
English-speaking whites were seen as weak 'colonialists', 'uit-landers' (out-siders), 'rooi-nekke', (red-necks) ....a derogatory name for the ultra-white skinned Brit who's exposed necks got fried by the unforgiving African sun.
Ironically, we (English..... and Afrikaans speaking people) are still given that label, 'colonialist', but now, by our fellow black country-men!

My grandfathers...a Scotsman and an Afrikaner, fought each other in the Anglo-Boer war, so, happily, and proudly, I represent both cultures. (the REAL bonus would be to have a little Zulu or Sotho or Xhosa or Pedi or San blood in me too).

My home language is English, but a very big part of my soul is Afrikaans. I can feel it more and more as I grow older, in the appreciation that I have for the Afrikaans culture and music, in the pride and pleasure of hearing well spoken Afrikaans language. I don't have many Afrikaans-speaking friends although there are few very Afrikaans people in my family.
It almost seem to me now, that Afrikaners are ashamed of their past...of their heritage, sadly, mixing English slang with their mother-language. This may be because the history books of our country have mostly been re-written over the last 20 years. Our youth, black and white, now know nothing of the stories that we, in our generation, grew up with; of brave Wolraad Woltemade and young Dirke Uys. 'Colonialist' statues and buildings, which had little or nothing to do with 'apartheid' have been neglected,torn down, re-located or removed altogether. Street names have been changed.

The winds of change continue to blow and as with everything in life, there is good and bad in it. Just as in all cultures, in all peoples, in all races and religions, there is good and bad,...things we can uphold and things we must let go of...for the sake of humanity, of goodness and of kindness.....but there are some things that are so deeply ingrained, that even if you try, it will always be part of you. That can be a very good thing.

Taking a breath in Dunkeld

We used to go trout fishing almost every year, and so far, it seems like the pattern has returned, Sadly, our catching skills seemed to have drowned in the murky dams of stress, fortunately, not our sense of humor or our passion.

Going to Dulstroom this weekend, was like ice in the dessert. Not being able to go as often as before, made me realize just how much we had taken for granted in the past, and how much I really look forward to and appreciate these quiet times with my family.

My precious I love him!! Adventurous, busy, gentle, happy and beautiful soul that he is. In the forest, heading towards the lodge.

Part of the reception area of the Dunkeld lodge...I had an artists vision when looking at this... of tiny pink and white roses and thick, green creepers, of long-haired princesses and noble lords...and a fat ol' frog, in the middle of the fountain, waiting to be kissed.

The view from our lodge.

Our little house

Taken from the patio

A visitor while we were fishing.

Liam and his dad. There were four lines in this dam and thirty - fifty cm trout were shooting out right in front of us, obviously taunting us.. At this point, I'd taken my shoes off and was wildly runnng around in the sloppy, ankle-deep mud, casting in wherever they showed themselves......fully aware that this is not the modus-operandi of a good fisherman/woman and not very lady-like at all.
Good, cold, dirty fun!!!

Quiet time, journaling. There's nothing like a fire on a cold day. During the day, when I wasn't fishing or writing, I was sketching. These are 'hmmmmmm' pictures which I want to turn into pewter.

Easter is a very special time for a Catholic family. To me, this part of the Christan calender, in a way supersedes Christmas, as it is the essence of our faith......especially my own personal one. Unconditional love, forgiveness, togetherness, faith.....having courage to put one foot in front of the other, all the while knowing that no matter what the circumstances, He has pre-planned your life and thus, will knowingly and lovingly, walk it with you.

I am not the best Catholic and am not even a very good Christian (by 'Christian' standards) so, in a way, this all sounds smarmy. I have somewhat ethereal views on life and death, spirituality and humanity but in saying this, I know that, while my views are my own, my personal relationship with 'Dad', is grounded in the unconditional love He has for me...the way I am.
Sometimes, I imagine Him looking at me, shaking His head going "tut, tut"....but He's always smiling, holding out His hand.
I see Him standing next to Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu's, Gays and remote tribes of Borneo......all in the same way. He didn't create Christians.....he created people, just simply.....people....who are Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu's, gays and remote tribes of Borneo.