The de-colonization project – a pretty prickly issue


Where to begin?
Colonization is as much a thing of nature as it is of culture and is happening all the while we read and write here. Bacteria colonize organisms. Vikings raid and colonize foreign lands.
Comets are colonized.

In scientific parlance:

DARMSTADT, Germany — For the last two years, the Rosetta spacecraft has danced around a comet. Today, it finally made contact with the icy body — and sent its last signal.


“Comets are primitive cosmic objects, left over from the time our solar system was just starting to take shape 4.6 billion years ago. Exploring the structure, composition and activity of these icy bodies could shed light on the evolution of our solar system, and help scientists write a more comprehensive history of how the building blocks of life were first delivered to Earth.” (

Foreign lands are explored, mapped out and subsequently colonized:


John Thomson’s 1813 map of Africa. (Wikipedia)

“This hand colored map is a steel plate engraving, dating to 1813 by the important English mapmaker John Thomson. It is an early and historically important representation of the continent of Africa. Much of the continent is simply labeled “unknown parts”. Those sections that are known are surprisingly detailed. Caravan routes, temples, and even the distances between Oases are generally noted. Across the center of the continent Thomson details the mythical mountain range known as the “Mountains of the Moon”. The mountains of the moon were first postulated by Ptolemy to be the source of the Nile. This mysterious range remained on maps until the mid 19th century explorations of Burton, Speke, and Livingstone.” (Wikipedia)

Is colonization part of an regenerative process of shaking up existing states of things for their own good?

Is it, seen from the angle of the colonizer, an act of exploration only with the aim to gain knowledge about unknown parts of the world and universe? Or is it in any event a violent, destructive, rapacious intrusion of a well established natural or cultural realm for the intruder’s good?

Can it ever, from the angle of the colonized, be seen as an impulse to cultural renewal, testing the strength of defenses and developing capabilities to defend itself, absorb and digest?

Colonization is a good thing, of course. It means making the land and its people productive. Developing natural and cultural resources.

Colonialism however is not a good thing. It means the imposition of a foreign rule and exploitation of natural and human resources which can never be condoned.

To say colonialism was not all bad, it brought infrastructure etc. is tantamount to saying Hitler was not all bad, he built the Autobahn. Sorry Helen, this was, if not a calculated provocation definitely an unfortunate glitch.

Where to begin then with the project of decolonization?

Here are a few propositions what to do and not to do.

  • Do not tear down statues of classical colonizers.
    They are to be kept as reminders of the people’s history.
    To besmirch and pull down the statute of Cecil Rhodes is infantile.
  • Research and uncover knowledge disregarded by the colonizers.
    This might cover medicinal practices but also ways of looking at the sky and interpreting ways of being in this world.
  • Look at the difference between colonization and colonialism and separate the wheat from the husks. As much as colonialism is to be condemned, colonization has a lot to offer. This is where Helen got it wrong.
  • Empower all who are vulnerable, that is, all of us.
  • Try to dislodge the new colonizers, that is those in power who have usurped the position of the colonizers of old and are raping the country as of old.

The pricklyness of the de-colonization project lies in that the virus has disguised itself and has usurped the position of old under the mantle of liberation.
What are we to do?
What were the people of northern France and England to do when they were raided by Viking mobs?
They had to endure and bury their slain.
What are the Syrians to do in the enclaves of Mosul? They have to endure and bury their dead.
And South Africans? What are they to do to get rid of their new colonizers under the disguise of liberators?

We all are in a pickle. Attacked by all kinds of new challenges. To de-colonize is one of the least exciting issues. Let’s attend to the agenda of renewed colonial invasions in the guise of new forms of energy: fracking the Karoo to smithereens and Russian power plants dotted all over the country – the new colonial masters having been handsomely paid for their acquiescence already.


With love from
Walter & Colleen
Stellenbosch 5 April 2017


Caperitif – a Cape revival

Ideas are born out of desires to change the world. Not necessarily to improve it, since you cannot really improve it – it runs as it runs – as good as it comes – but to bring something new or the forgotten old into it again. To add style, comfort, chic …


Ideas rise from early morning heaviness of sleep – when night fades out and light of day has not quite come – and are imbued with dreamscape stuff of earth and honeyed dust.


At Kalmoesfontein in the Swartland district of the Western Cape, home of the Badenhorst wine making family and place of the official “Caperitif” launch.

The idea was to resurrect an old product – Caperitif – a Vermouth type aperitif which had been produced at the Cape of Good Hope early in the twentieth century.


The reception. At the Badenhorst’s farm in the Swartland district of the Western Cape.In the middle background Cornelia Badenhorst.


The presentation.
Adi Badenhorst, rebellious winemaker  and Dave Hughes, well-loved, witty, widely respected booze expert.


The address.
Dave giving a jolly if not somewhat quirky historical overview over the Cape drinking landscape.


The proclamation.
Wim Tijmens – profound botanist and irrepressible raconteur.


The product. Instead of the original “Vermoed” now “Kaapse dief” a vermouth with a preponderance of Cape fynbos.


The mixing, with a great splashy indulgence.


There it is – the Cape classic ingredient to a variety of cocktails.


The jolly crowd.


The luncheon.


The setting.


Adi Badenhost  … man with entrepreneurial enthusiasm ….


… Lars Erik Lyndgaard Schmidt who thought it all up and had the vision …


… and someone who couldn’t give a hoot about the fuss.

Thank you, Lars, for inviting us. We thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.

With love as always
Colleen & Walter
Stellenbosch, 08 March 2017


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


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



Tugs in a row.


The ferry to the once infamous, now famous island.


Another more powerful tug.



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


Heroes of the struggle, crowded out.


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”.


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.


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.


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


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



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






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



A jolly little steam train …



… doing tours all all around the Waterfront.


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


… buskers and concerts, it’s all here.



Jazz and Cape Town are synonymous – the talent overflows.


“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













A walk through the garden at Babylonstoren


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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


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


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.



Annette considering the lighter shades of red.


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).


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


Marietjie considering the darker shades of red.


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


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


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.”


Aspects of the Manor house.


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.


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

What is Xenophobia? – Some Thoughts on the Occasion of “Freedom Day”


King Goodwill Zwelithini -king of the Zulus in ceremonial garb.

The renewed outbreak of violence against immigrants from other African countries – mainly from Zimbabwe and Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Somalia – in South Africa is branded as “xenophobia”, but I am not convinced this is the adequate term to use here.
The Greek word “xenos” means “foreigner” as well as “guest” and everything in between. A “xenos” can be a foreigner you are welcoming into your home and someone hostile to you.
The “phobia” in connection with a “xenos” means you are afraid to take a foreigner into your home, you are suspicious of the foreigner’s intentions and deny him or her your hospitality.
This is what happened to Piet Retief and his team of trekkers in 1838 after they had successfully, or so they thought, negotiated a land settlement deal with the Zulu king Dingane who however, after having signed the treaty, ordered his impis to slaughter the negotiating party one by one and an estimated 500 men, women and children in nearby camps thereafter. This in turn, some months later, led to the Battle of Blood River where 470 Voortrekkers under Andries Pretorius withstood in their encampment along the Ncome river the onslaught waves of up to 20.000 Zulu warriors and made history.
Theirs was not xenophobia but eradication of a potential competitor for grazing.


A nation wants to stand tall and proud.

Similar sentiments are at stake today. Foreigners are seen as competitors in a demanding job market. Our local labour force finds it difficult to compete with well educated workers from neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe and Malawi. While it is claimed that Nigerian nationals are holding the lion’s share in the drug and scam trade, it is no secret that Zimbabweans are very much in demand in the hospitality industry where our local labour force finds it difficult to compete. Similarly, traders from Somalia are offering competitive services to consumers while making profits through efficient networking. All of this has created a volatile situation where the local labour force, disadvantaged by inferior or non-existent education, hamstrung by labour union policies and dispirited by almost fifty years of de-humanising legislation, is becoming more and more frustrated. It’s a powder keg scenario where one word can be the spark to ignite it.


Informal settlements near Cape Town.

Xenophobia is not a South African thing at all. On the contrary. South Africa has a long tradition of inviting foreigners into her home and integrating them into her industry and culture and that has made this country strong and great. The situation seems to be changing now in that the majority of the people see themselves as disenfranchised despite promises to the contrary. And while the tide of foreigners drawn to this country is rising dramatically, there is no real hope for a dramatic change in the ordinary man and woman’s lot.


Wild coast/Eastern province road side exchange.

We cannot address xenophobia without addressing the underlying causes. For South Africa this means to dramatically increase the efficiency of our educational machinery. Educated people need not fear the foreign. They are equipped to integrate them into the general societal fabric and network. It is the uneducated masses that feel left behind and cheated out of their hopes and promises. And they are getting angry. Xenophobia in South Africa is an expression of this anger. It is misdirected, of course, and abused by all too ready background looters. Not the foreigner is at fault but government policies that have failed in providing the majority of people with a level of education that would enable them to compete with foreigners seeking work opportunities in their neighbourhood.


Winnie, originally Malawian, now resident in Zimbabwe, plying her trade in South Africa.

Stellenbosch, Monday 27 April 2015,
“Freedom Day”, in commemoration of the first all-inclusive democratic elections in 1994.
With love from
Walter & Colleen

Views of Betty’s Bay


Main road into Betty’s Bay. Pringle Bay approach.

There are many aspects of life in Betty’s Bay, which are worthwhile exploring. Looking across the fence, there is an artist’s studio and next to him a chef, former owner of the then only worthwhile restaurant in the immediate area, now a full time chocolatier; next to us a couple retired as we are, she a top notch quilter and her good husband a garagiste in the true sense of the word, pressing, maturing and bottling red blends in his garage, just enough for his and his friends enjoyment and down the road, friends of ours, an architect and former art teacher. Not to count a number of academics and the many gifted and highly specialized artisans and artists – all retired and leading by all accounts, varied and interesting lives.

In the 19th and 20th century until the mid-50’s it was whale hunting – the main attraction these days is the area’s rich plant life, as part of the Cape Fynbos Kogelberg Biosphere recognised by UNESCO and globally acclaimed for its diversity in flora and fauna. Leopards, lynx, buck, flamingoes, pelicans and other water fowl abound, dolphins and whales visit the shores with regularity. And so we could go one. But there is something else: there is the wind. The South-Easter in summer, the North-Westerly in winter. Betty’s Bay is the windy corner of this part of the coast and often in summer weather builds up against the mountains, leaving us with an overcast sky and a cool breeze while not 10 kms away it is blue skies and happy sunshine. That has kept Betty’s Bay out of the limelight and the mainstream of tourists. And we are not promoting it to the contrary. We love our lonely walks on the beaches and the odd surfer or fisherman. The summer holidays see an influx of people, good enough to keep the small businesses afloat for the rest of the year, but otherwise Betty’s Bay is an unassuming 10 km strip of seemingly higgledy-piggledy variedly shaped, sized and coloured dwellings thrown about between sea and mountainside and no-one driving through on casual glance is likely to perceive any kind of particular quaintness …


Yesterday we took our grandson Luke for a stroll around the block – taking pictures of some of the views Betty’s Bay may offer on a cold winter’s day in late afternoon light:



Further down seaping into the ocean – habitat of the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis).

An architect’s abode.



Colleen with our grandson Luke at the Lakeside.




Tucked into the fynbos.



Candelabra aloes (Aloe arborescens).



Sun setting behind Blesberg.

A few views of Betty’s Bay – with love as always
from Walter & Colleen
Wednesday, 17 July 2013

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Farmstead near Robertson, Western Cape/South Africa

Farmstead near Robertson, Western Cape/South Africa

Dear all – family, friends and visitors!

It’s been a turbulent year allround for all of us.
The world, as was to be expected, did not come to an end and will not for a while.
But that does not make it any better.
We, that is all of us, are still searching for a better world, a world where all have access to a share in the world’s resources and to opportunities for development and growth.
The world belongs to all and all are responsible for the exploitation and management of it’s wealth.

Just as the natural world is one great complex living organism, so is the great community of all the people of this world. While the natural world for a long time to come will have the power to heal itself, the same is true as well for the world body of people.
We all need to cool down though, in a manner of speaking.
Sit down and look at our assets in what is common and in what is different in all of us.
We need to cool down and take time to consider the many potential choices at our disposal over the last 2000 years.
There is the material to work with – a growing body of evidence for wisdom.
New insights are at hand and can be implemented if only … and I am not talking climate change.

Before that each one has to look at her and his personal life.
Am I in integrity?
If not, I need to find out what is wrong and how to find the balance again in my life.
It does not bode well for the overall health of the greater body of people where people feel  tortured in mind, body and soul. We have to let go of anxieties without fear of exposure.
Then, on a communal level, again, we have to find truth and honesty in what we want and what we in fact can deliver.
Hushing up things will not improve our standing.
On a world level our main concern should be to find common ground and take responsibility as well.
A quick glance at things no longer acceptable in their present form:
The Israeli-Palestinian divide.
The Iranian threat.
The maligning of Islam.
The subjugation of women in the name of religion.
The indebtedness of states.
The interference of state powers in the lives of ordinary people.

And a quick wish list for the coming year:

One Israeli-Palestinian State.
The integration of Iran into the world community.
Improved relationship among all world religions and forms of faith.
The liberation of all marginalised members of the world body of people.
A general cooling off period for all economies.
A general lifting of veils in respect of money transactions the world over.

Finally, climate change.
The world climate I mean, is the one that we can change:
for the world body of people to find its own integrity.
For that to happen it first has to become real with you and me.

Finding your balance - while the world sort of looks on.

Finding your balance – while the world … sort of … looks on.

Wishing you all well for the coming year.
With love
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay, 31 December 2012