The de-colonization project – a pretty prickly issue

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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.

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“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.” (www.space.com)

Foreign lands are explored, mapped out and subsequently colonized:

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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.

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With love from
Walter & Colleen
Stellenbosch 5 April 2017

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The white washed walls of Stellenbosch

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White is not a colour. It’s more a feeling, a sensation, and needs to be re-affirmed ever so often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the more politically inclined, the title of this blog ought to be ambiguous. Ambiguity is not intended here, but words have this political thing of revealing and/or concealing divergent aspects of truth (see Pablo Neruda’s “meta’fore!” – in the film Il Postino). Here, however, I mean Stellenbosch in the time of winter.

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Lower Dorp Street.

Stellenbosch in the time of winter.
The trees are bare now, in their wintry dark all the more contrasting the white washed walls of Stellenbosch.

Market Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Market Street.

 

 

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Market Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Market Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the Braak.

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On the Braak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The local thatchers take great pride in the workmanship of their age old trade.

 

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VOC powder house of 1777.

 

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Parsonage of the Rhenish Mission, 1815. 

 

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The Neo-gothic Dutch reformed mother church Stellenbosch.

 

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Book shop window.

 

 

 

 

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The oldest wine cellar in Stellenbosch, 1771, now the Catholic church of St. Nicholas

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Stellenbosch synagoge.

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Stellenbosch mosque for the sizeable Muslim community.

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Participant observation.

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The readers.

 

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Contemplating the menu.

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House in upper Dorp Street.

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Book Store window.

 

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Side walk upper Dorp Street.

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Side walk lower Dorp Street.

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Many times cracked, repaired, plastered and still beautiful in its proportional simplicity.

While winter in the Cape is the time of lashing storms, it is also the time of stillness and consolidation, reflected in the white washed walls of Stellenbosch.

 

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With love as always
Colleen & Walter
Stellenbosch, 22 July 2014

Heritage Day – a walk up Lion’s Head

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Sketch of Zulu warrior by Sir Robert Baden-Powell, 1913

Tuesday was “Heritage Day” – so called to remind us of our cultural diversity and with that to remind us of our unity as a nation. People with Zulu ancestry are celebrating the remembrance of Shaka Zulu (c.1787-1828), once king of the Zulu nation. Others are proposing this day to be called “Braai Day” the South African term for “Barbeque”. What does the rest of the country do? It’s a holiday, all right, and most Capetonians are taking to the hills. And so we did – a walk up Lion’s Head, a landscape feature from a certain angle intimating a recumbent lion with head held up high. Devil’s Peak on the East and Lion’s Head to the West, form the shoulders of Table Mountain.

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View of Camp’s Bay and the Twelve Apostles from Lion’s Head, the Western coast of the Cape Peninsula.

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Gaby insisted on this walk and off we went.

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View of Robben Island with Seapoint in the foreground.

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Signal Hill on the left, Cape Town harbour and City centre in the middle.

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Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain from the slopes of Lion’s Head.

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Resting here …

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…  seeing the trail so crowded, we resisted the final assault. 

“Shaka Zulu Day”, “Heritage Day” or “Braai Day” – they all address South Africa as a conglomerate nation. Zulus, Xhosas and Sothos the main tribal contributors to the mix, Khoihkoi and San salting the earth, the coloured people as the element of bonding, the Afrikaner people, themselves a conglomerate, as the main driving force, the British as administrators, Asians, Jews, Germans, Portuguese, Greek and many others as artisans, traders, cultivators – a vibrant net of cultures, attitudes, prides, languages and feelings of wanting to be heard, seen, to belong and be part of the whole. All these were represented on our walk up Lion’s Head on Heritage Day.

With love from
Colleen & Walter
Hout Bay, Friday 27 September 2013

Mutually beneficial communities

Our children are questioning the wisdom not so much of our institutions but of our ways of living together as human beings on planet earth. We live, they say, wastefully and could share with each other so much more of our talents.

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Coastal road near Gordon’s Bay on a winter morning in August.

How true is that and how so very naïve. Much of what we see and hear of, daily, are the results of manipulations by people exerting power and people who willingly or forcibly collaborate. Two examples: the classical one of how power with a broad sweep of suppressive tactics is abused to preserve the privileges of the ruling class: the so-called democratic election in Zimbabwe. 

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Strawberry fields near Stellenbosch very early in August.

The other: a well-known farmer in the Robertson district widely respected by his own staff and the community at large is targeted by the executors of a political agenda which publicly declares to bring democratic rule and governance in the Cape Province to an end before the next elections in 2014.

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Welgevonden community living outside Stellenbosch.

A case against this farmer is construed, the courts are invoked and the press and his overseas business partners are instructed even before he himself is made aware of it. Why? His labourers did not participate in last year’s politically orchestrated labour unrests in the Western Cape. Smearing this farmer’s image with the ugly brushstrokes of apartheid days, again is part of the ruling party’s drive to discredit the opposition’s governance in the province.

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A mutually beneficial community of bovine and egret interest. Pausing for a midday rest.

Our children are disturbed not only by the corruption of our institutions but of our minds as people who helplessly stand by, allowing all this to happen. And of course, they are not really naïve, they are looking for answers but do not seem to find them in the political arena. They want to spend their energies in living a life of mutual benefit. They want to receive but they are keen to contribute of their own outside the bounds of party politics, race and gender.

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Strand beachfront early in August.

With love as always from
Walter & Colleen

Betty’s Bay, Monday 5 August 2013

Where people live – shacklands along the N2 into Cape Town

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The shacklands on the outskirts of Cape Town, along the N2, are bit by bit transformed into uniform dwellings. Often commented on, photographed and published about, their transformation or the lack of it, has long been used as a political football or, as happened just the other day at Cape Town International airport, to make a stink. Shacklands are a people’s manifesto – breaking free from the limited comforts of their rural traditions and seeking to integrate themselves into the complexity of life in the city, even be it on the fringe for a while with its own restrictions, discomforts and potential dangers. Shack fires from overturned braziers, paraffin stoves and most of all, unattended candles, happen all too often devouring neighbouring shacks in minutes. All then is lost, if not lives, the bare necessities of living. Comes winter, flooding occurs in the lower lying parts. In summer, the heat inside can become quite unbearable. But there are also some pros among the cons beside a lack of modern sanitation, you pay no rent, the structures are easily erected and extended, and there is the community at large with many neighbourly hands to share any burden. As you whizz past theses shacklands on the highway, you spare a few moments to consider where people live.

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This red house has been standing here for at least half a century.

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Table Mountain and Devils Peak backdrop.

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Rurality maintained. 

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Some mod cons.

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Clean lines – transformation and uniformity achieved.

Betty’s Bay
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Colleen & Walter

Harbour Road, Kleinmond, revisited

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Kleinmond harbour during a snoek run in August last year.

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A still autumn day at the harbour 1st of May 2013.

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The old Harbour Road has been resurfaced for pedestrians to walk about. The Lego-boxes at the back where designed to be apartments and are now offered as time-share units. The old quaintness of the place has taken a knock. Shop owners however along Harbour Road are putting their best fronts forward to make this place lively and spirited as before.

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Pottery, Restaurant, Nursery and Info Centre.

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Despite the obvious criticism one must have in respect of sensitive town planning or the lack thereof, Harbour Road, Keinmond, is worth a visit, more than ever before. As with all new challenges in life, they raise the spirit to do well against all odds.

With love as always
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay, 1st May 2013