Cape Town’s Waterfront on a sunny winter’s morning

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The Waterfront in Cape Town is a working and truly walkable harbour.

 

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Tugs in a row.

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The ferry to the once infamous, now famous island.

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Another more powerful tug.

 

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A relatively recent addition to the entertaining elements with Table Mountain as a backdrop.

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Heroes of the struggle, crowded out.

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Nobel Square – the bronze statues of the four South African Nobel Peace Price recipients (from left to right): Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.

Albert Luthuli (1898-1967) President-General of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1952-1967. He was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Price “for his fight against racial discrimination”. Luthuli House – the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg – is named after him. – Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu (born in 1931) received the Nobel Peace Price in 1984 for his “role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa”.  – F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela  both received the Nobel Peace Price jointly in 1993 “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.

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Tutu – a representation of His Grace Anglican Archbishop emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu. A man without fear and with numerous honours bestowed on him, he too has raised his compelling voice against corruption and licentious spending of public funds by government officials.

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In the Watershed – a new home for African craft, art and design. – Spinning and knitting. The winters are cold enough in South Africa to make woollen garments highly desirable. South African wool and Mohair is of a supreme quality and now Alpacas have been introduced and are flourishing, almost as sumptuous as cashmere.

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These so-called “Colonials”, originally from West and Central Africa are very much in demand.

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Satirizing colonial officials or expression of new class consciousness? There is always a kind of humourous ironical smugness present in these figurines.

 

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Ardmore ceramics in KwaZulu Natal have opened a whole new world of elaborate and decorative ceramic crafts popping up everywhere.

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Elaborate jewellery is traditional and creates real treasures using, over and above glass beads, fibres of all kinds and wire work, creating rich embellishments.

 

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A jolly little steam train …

 

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… doing tours all all around the Waterfront.

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Music, formal and informal, ethno bongo, Jazz and vocal …

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… buskers and concerts, it’s all here.

 

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Jazz and Cape Town are synonymous – the talent overflows.

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“Tavern of the Seas”, Cape of Storms, now a place of real Good Hope, this waterfront development has elevated Cape Town from being a large town to a cosmopolitan city on a manageable scale.

With best greetings as always from
Colleen & Walter

Stellenbosch, Sunday 12 June 2016

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Autumn equinox in the Karoo – exploring remains of ancient Quena cosmology in Southern Africa

Portrait of a Quena/Ottentotou/Hottentot/KhoiSan woman by Samuel Daniell (1775-18811)

 

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Saturday 19th March 2016 we gather at a basic farmhouse in a part of the Karoo called Moordenaars Karoo and after being briefed about the route for the afternoon we head into the field. The plan is to experience a point in the universe or cosmos where, seen from earth in the direction of a setting and a rising sun, night and day will be equally long, after which the southern hemisphere will go into autumn and winter mode while the northern half will experience the first signs of spring and summer returning. Going back two thousand or more years in history, how and why were people here interested in such a phenomenon and how would they have known when this point in earth and cosmological time had arrived and how and where to observe and possibly celebrate it.

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First heap of stones.

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Markers in the veld.

If you think these are just a few stone scattered in the veld, you have not yet developed an eye for the purposefulness of these scatterings. There is, for the trained eye, among the stones an arrow pointing to cleft in the distant mountain range. This indicates and arrowhead, pointing 28.5 degrees southwest, to a V-shape gap in a distant mountain, where the sun sets at the summer solstice.

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Another group of stones, pointing to another distant mountain top.

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A rough 4×4 ride brings us to this dry riverbed where Marius introduces his father and scientific leader of our expedition: Dr Cyril Hromnik who’s politically challenging research into and publications about ancient Africa have met with sharp criticism from his academic peers. He for instance points out that the golden rhino from a burial site at Mapungubwe is not of African but Indian origin.

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An Indian rhinoceros with one horn only. (Photo provided by Sian Tiley-Nel, Manager & Chief Curator, University of Pretoria. Wikimedia)

We are now investigating a river front cave entrance where the walls are strewn with faintly visible images of tall figures, an eland, imprints of hands with one finger missing and clusters of red dots. All these representations would according to popular belief have been done by Bushmen or San people. Cyril Hromnik explains these as referring to ceremonial aspects of ancient Indian customs. You can imagine our surprise and disbelief because we are by now so well conditioned to think Bushmen/ San/ Kung! are the people who created these images. There is, of course no final proof of their originators or what true significance these images have.

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The representations here were, according to Dr Hromnik, not done by “Bushmen” as academics would have it, but by Quena people, who were influenced by contact with Indian gold and ivory traders.

From here we drive on and then walk up a hill side along a dry packed wall which looks like a fence but is in fact part of a cosmologically significant demarcation.

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This 72m long wall has basically 3 main functions: 1. Its northern end in connection with the Brandberg mountain and the stone Seat navigates you towards the rising of the Moon at the Moon Major Standstill Rising — once in 18.6 years. 2. The gap in the wall (not in the middle) gives you the Equinox Sunrise. 3. The length of the Wall gives the time within which the Full Moon switches the sides: from South in Summer to North in Winter and vice versa (source: Cyril Hromnik).

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The stone seat from where to observe the rising moon at the Moon Major Standstill Rising which happens once in 18,6 years. – The celestial event of the Moon Minor Standstill was observed by Dr Hromnik’s group in the Moordenaars Karoo on the night of last Tuesday the 26th of April 2016. This celestial event occurs also only once in 18.6 years.

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The observational seat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quena – according to Dr Hromnik’s research, presently disputed in main stream archaeology, a dravidian Indian word meaning “mixed people” connected to the trade of gold and ivory from Westafrica to India, a mix of Indian and indigenous bushmen origin, called Hottentots by early European travellers and subsequent settlers and today referred to as KhoiSan.

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Sunset at autumn equinox in the Karoo.

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Equinoctial sundowners.

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An oil lamp hollow to signal events to people on the opposite mountain side.

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Sunrise at the autumn equinox between two upright markers.

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Another temple site connected to the autumn equinox.

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Two parallel walls demarcating a corridor for celestial observations.

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Structure from a recent age: a Voortrekker bread oven.

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The temple mound from where the chosen souls may take their final way to the celestial North.

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Cyril – our guide and teacher.

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Bringing it all together.

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Cyril maintains the dead were burned here according to Indian tradition. To the left in the river bed a perennial spring feeds into the river.

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Karoo landscape near Laingsburg/Western Cape/South Africa.

This two-day exploration opened our eyes to things in the landscape which are normally dismissed as cattle kraals or similar earth-bound mundane objects.
Who would think of celestial clocks laid out in the Karoo two thousand years ago?
The fascinating aspect of this exploration is that you need no archeological diggings to look into the past – it is all there in front of your feet. All you have to do is open your eyes to the celestial connections in the night sky for it to fall into place.
The obstacles are as always, in the mind. This exploration opened our minds under the patient guidance of our tutor Dr Hromnik.

We should not be surprised to hear that he is called a maverick scientist.

 

The Curse of Racism

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On the Wild Coast, near Port St. John’s, on our way to Lusikisiki and beyond.

We belong to the human race.
The classification of humans according to essentially distinguishable traits is part of 19th century anthropology, subsequently throughout the 20th century, exploited as a political tool.
Behaviour among the human race that today still uses such classification openly or in subtle ways, is justifiably branded “racist”.
When and where the term “racism” is used today, the usage can be ambivalent and controversial: it could mark behaviour as racist, but it could also be used as a political instrument to disqualify certain behaviour even though it may not be racist at all.
There is the dichotomy: the ones shouting “racism” might well be racist themselves.
Where then is the qualifier?
“Race” as qualifier is a thing of the past.
“Race” is as qualifier in academic analytical writing.
“Race” as a behavioural qualifier has no place in everyday interaction between members of the human race.
While racism is still very much alive like other diseases of the past, we should refrain from its usage because if used it easily can turn into the curse it is.

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Magueye, Professor of German Language and Literature in Senegal. Here with Walter in our library in Stellenbosch, some years ago.

Writing about racism is virtually impossible. There are simply too many open wounds. It’s an emotional mine field. The recent verbal flair up is so very telling. It’s like an AK-47 – once you pick it up you might want to use it.

With love from
Colleen & Walter
Sunday 07 Feb 2016
On the day of the South African Catholic feast of “Our Lady of The Flight into Egypt”.

 

 

 

Happy days – happy souls

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The “Burgerhuis” in Stellenbosch on a Sunday morning.

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A happy soul on Sunday morning in the week before Christmas, unexpectedly behind the walls of the “Burgerhuis”, inviting me to join her which I politely declined but accepting the permission to photograph her. She did not appear to be homeless, maybe resting for the night on her way home.

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Another happy lot on the same Sunday morning in the grounds of the “Burgerhuis”. They do not have homes but they are burgers nonetheless – are they not?!

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Looking for another perspective of the “Kruithuis” (arsenal) I stumbled upon this happy lot with apologies for my trespassing. They happily obliged.

What are happy days?
Days of lightness are happy days.
Lightness of colour in your heart.
Evenweightedness in feel,
of mind and will.

Watching the moon, at dawn, solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely: no part left out. (Shikibu)*

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Happy days are days with summer clouds.

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Pumpkin days are happy days.

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Happy days are knowing you belong.

May your 2016 bring you many happy days of summer clouds and fairy ways.

With love as always
from
Colleen & Walter
Stellenbosch, Sunday 3 January 2016

*Epiphany. In: Catholic Link. Epiphany of the Lord, 3 January 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sunday afternoon stroll in Hout Bay Harbour

A visit to Hout Bay harbour is always a worthwhile diversion, especially on a Sunday afternoon. Watching people walking leisurely along the harbour mole gives one a feeling of being at peace with the world.

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Black and white – in unison.

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A myriad of ways – seemingly at rest.

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Red yellow green at the end of the harbour mole.

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Freshly painted for the new season.

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Tightly packed during a weekend’s reprieve.

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The stroll home.

A day in the sun, among like-minded people.
Letting the day slow down to a quieter pace.
Let us be here for now,
outside time for a while.

Stellenbosch, 25 November 2015

With love as always from
Colleen & Walter

 

 

 

 

Where do we come from – What are we – Where are we going

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Part of a chacma baboon family troop at rest on the False Bay coastal road near Rooiels.

The following thoughts were inspired by the recent exhibition of bones of a new branch on the tree of mankind – Homo naledi:

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Homo naledi is an extinct species of hominin, provisionally assigned to the genus Homo. Discovered in 2013 and described in 2015, fossil skeletons were found in South Africa‘s Gauteng province, in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system, part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.[1][2] As of 10 September 2015, fossils of at least fifteen individuals, amounting to 1550 specimens, have been excavated from the cave. (Wikipedia)

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Paul Gaugin (1848-1903), D’ou venons nous / Que sommes nous /Où allons nous (Tahiti 1897-1898), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In the beginning we were all one.
Then the world split into its parts.
Fragmentation caused complexity and the formation of self.
Then the self began to separate itself from itself and consciousness began.
When did this happen?
What are the basic elements of consciousness?

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“Me Tarzan, you Jane” is actually a  misquote but serves to illustrate the point of basic consciousness – giving the separation of self from itself an expression.

Paul Gaugins “Where do we come from – What are we – Where are we going” expresses the idea of pondering the self within the context of a return to its paradisiacal origins.
In Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I paradise is forever lost and the way ahead is contemplated.

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Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Melencolia I, engraving, 1514.

Of the many disciplines we have invented to research our consciousness in space and time, paleoanthropology appears to have had another field day with the discovery of homo naledi:

Does it bring us closer to knowing where we come from and to understand what we are or where we are going?
Are these not questions for tender on a higher, spiritual plane?

Once we were one with all.
Then came the separation.
Where are we now?
Have we as a species come to understand what we are?
Where are we going?

Day of All Saints,
Stellenbosch, November 1, 2015
With love as always from
Colleen & Walter

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A walk through the garden at Babylonstoren

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Babylonstoren with a view of the Simonsberg mountains.

The garden at Babylonstoren is one of our favourite places to be. It is a place of perfect serenity where you can almost see and touch the balance of energies love and respect for the land and the people who work it have created. Dutifully and carefully the garden is tended throughout the year. Smallest details are taken care of. Nature and man appear to be in easy harmony here.

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Preparing the optimal environment for growing Cardoons – “a cross between artichokes and asparagus. Cultivated plants grow up to 2 metres in height. This process involves wrapping the stalks with newspaper and black bags for several weeks, so that when harvested, in late autumn, the stalks are pale green.”

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Cardoons. Source: Christine Ingram with Roz Denny and Katherine Richmond, The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking. Hermes House 1997, p. 35.

The owners of Babylonstoren, in collaboration with gardeners, workers, chefs are continuously experimenting with introducing new varieties, such as tamarillos (tree tomatoes), tree melons or aubergine and artichoke varieties among others. All plant material is carefully selected and tested first for its suitability for long term cultivation.

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Still in winter dream mode or just resting … they, together with ducks, are part of insect control.

The hedgehog could be seen as a metaphor for the approachability of nature: prickly on the outside with a soft pink underbelly. Treat it with care and respect and it will reward you with its own particular usefulness. All the wonderful lovely fruit the garden will yield in the coming months has the prickly side of many hours of intensive and continuous labour of love.

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Fig trellises. Optimally positioned to catch the light with easy picking as a trade-off.

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Over 9000 plants with a number of varieties are spread all along the pathways bordering the garden.

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Dante and Vergil in the upper world.

We and Marietjie had been invited by Annette and Hermann on this walk through the garden, especially to see the display of Clivias which are now at the height of their flowering season and also for a special treat at “Babel”, Babylonstoren‘s fine restaurant.

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Annette considering the lighter shades of red.

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Clivias are of the Amaryllidaceae family and native to South Africa and Swaziland.They are typically forest undergrowth plants, adapted to low light (with the exception of C. mirabilis from the Western Cape).

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Their common name is Natal lily or Bush lily. Six species of Clivias are identified, all represented here in the Babylonstoren garden.

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Marietjie considering the darker shades of red.

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Clivias and arum lilies alongside a rivulet running through the garden.

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Water lily ponds in front with “waterblommetjies” (Aponogeton distachyos – also: Cape Pond Weed). The Drakenstein mountains in the background.

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The restaurant “Babel”. Marietjie about the restaurant: “… it is such a pleasing visual experience. ‘Eat with your eyes’ is so true. Everything at Babylonstoren just oozes ‘style’ – the one thing that money can’t buy.”

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Aspects of the Manor house.

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Splendid indeed – but what on earth is he thinking —- no-one seems impressed. Well, he’s just shaking his feathers, if you want to know or in Afrikaans: “Hy sleep vlerk”.

Visiting the  garden of Babylonstoren is part of an everlasting love affair with nature in its yielding to our cultivating mind and hands. The hands of many, of those with resources at their disposal willing to share wealth and vision with the many who on their part are lending their strength and passion in the pursuit of a common happiness.
Happiness in seeing nature bloom and blossom, widening the horizon of day to day politics. And be touched by it.
As a start.

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With love as always from
Colleen and Walter
Stellenbosch, 27 September 2015