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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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”.

 

 

 

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.

DSC_7534-60Easy surf and safe beach.

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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

 

 

 

 

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

The End of History

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Living in Betty’s Bay for the moment, living in bliss for a while, where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans overlap, and where at this time of the year, whales, sea otters, porcupines, baboons, leopards, francolins, guinea fowls, mongoose and a myriad of birds share sea and land with us, there is not much of an edge right now for history to be considered, at least the end of it, one would think.
But then, apart from living in bliss (whatever that might be, but it sounds good and it is, of course, true), we do read a lot, watch films every day, tune into Aljazeera and are on the edge of the continent, connected to the world.

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Overberg landscape in winter between Villiersdorp and Caledon.

“The End of History” – Francis Fukuyama’s essayistic thesis* that with the fall of the Berlin Wall our ideological evolution had come to an end and would herald a new age of liberal democracies and free flow of market capitalism around the globe.

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This thesis according to Ralf Dahrendorf and others gave Fukuyama his 15 minutes of fame (Andy Warhol). Yet, there is still something to be said about the end of history. History as we know it, is punctuated by wars with a beginning and an end. The borders have become diffuse. There are no clear beginnings or ends. Is there a civil war in Syria? Drone attacks – do they qualify as instruments of war? Who is waging what kind of war against who? Borders within are diffuse as in Egypt right now. There is a great confusion in the world about where we are going – ecologically, economically, ideologically – there are just too many battle lines. We are beleaguered and fighting on many unseen and formerly unheard of fronts: you thought banks and their CEOs were looking after your money and the common good? You thought rhinos, elephants, leopards, seals, whales or unborn babies were safe in environments best suited to them? Killing people with nerve gas is not okay, but killing them with bombs and grenades is? You thought the scramble for Africa was over? The exploitation of her natural resources has just begun! And the Pope resigns. Somehow it seems, mankind has lost the plot.

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A Station of the Cross stepping up to PilgramsbergRegensburg/Lower Bavaria region. A main gathering point for pilgrims on the road to Compostela.

Maybe not. Maybe we are just overextended or neurotic as a species, vulnerable and not accountable for our actions. It is all very confusing. Yet, there is so much greatness in the world in all spheres of life and not often enough spoken about – the unsung heroes of daily life. The so-called great conquerers of old have played their part and make for bad role models. What we need now is a measure of sensibility, greatness in small things. Modesty. Unpretentiousness. Humility. Respect for all forms of life on this planet, including our own and that of others. Co-existence will be the new history. History as we know it must come to an end.

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Mosella at Remich/Luxemburg.

With love as always
Walter & Colleen
Betty’s Bay, Saturday 24 August 2013

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*Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the last Man. Free Press 1992.

Eastern Food Bazaar, Cape Town

Entertaining the mogul

A festive gathering of nobles at court. Painting decorating a wall in the Easter Food Bazaar, Cape Town.

Cape Town is just a good hour’s drive away from Betty’s Bay and it leads along one of the most attractive routes in the country. The views over False Bay are always inspiring and apart from weekends and holiday peak times the road is surprisingly open. A troop of baboons gathering in the morning sun might slow you down but otherwise it is a sweeping drive making you feel almost airborne.

Coastal Road near Gordon's Bay with the Hottentots Hollands mountains in the background.

Coastal Road near Gordon’s Bay with the Hottentots Holland mountain range in the background.

We were doing a few errands in town and had arranged to meet with friends for lunch at the Eastern Food Bazaar, which had been recommended to us by Adam and Thekla. Eastern Food, tasty and truly affordable – a feeding place for the people. If you want to know more about it and see their menu, click here.

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The Easter Food Bazaar in Cape Town, with entrances from both Longmarket and Darling Street.

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Samples of the wall display menus.

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Friendliness and efficiency combined.

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Rich antique decorative elements give the space an air of authenticity.

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The street level area. There is an upstairs section as well. – This is genuinely Cape Town – people of all walks of life eat here – workmen, students, backpackers, politicians, shop assistants, professors – the cosmopolitan multitude of true Capetonians.

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Rastafarians – part of the multi-facetted clientele.

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On our way home passing the Strand beach front promenade.

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She –  a Cape angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) – was attempting to cross the road to the sea front side where a continuous stone wall does not allow further passage. We picked her up and re-directed her to the mountain side from where she had come. She appeared pleased, we thought.

Looking back over False Bay.

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We love our Cape Town sojourns and we enjoyed the Eastern Food Bazaar experience. It’s a place for the people, meaning rushed and noisy, queuing at the till points, not a place to have a quiet conversation, but the food is good, the price is right and every one around you appears to be happy and satisfied.

With love as always from
Walter & Colleen
Betty’s Bay, Sunday 27 Jan 2013

A general Consensus about Grandparents

A pretty sight in some ways.

Nikki wasn’t too pleased with this addition to her pool early in the morning. Cute as the sight might be – proud parents presenting their off-spring to the world – Egyptian geese are great grazers and subsequently poop a lot like cows in a meadow – and would eventually have to be herded to find pastures elsewhere. It was the morning of our “grandparent’s day” for Ike at Valley Pre-Primary School in Hout Bay. Just on a hundred grandparents had been invited and we followed the call.

Ike with a classmate and teacher Ione.

Ione.

Gaia’s class at Valley Pre-Primary.

Visiting Gaia in one of the other eight classes at Valley. The two are, it seems, rather fond of each other.

Having met the class teachers and seen the grandchildren doing creative work in their classrooms, we all moved to the assembly hall at Kronendal Primary School across the road. Here all the grandparents were entertained by the grandchildren playfully with animated singing and a guest speaker who summed up what grandchildren think about their grandparents:
* they read us stories
* they play with us
* they help us with things like baking and cooking
* they buy things for us mom says are too expensive
* they read the newspaper and watch television
* they snooze a lot
* they f.rt a lot and then blame the dog
Such is it seems the general consensus of grandchildren about us, their grandparents!
Hm.
Whatever, they all do love us, warts and all!

Valley Pre-Primary School children performing lustily for their grandparents. A grand school with a standard of teaching and learning that unfortunately is sorely missing in much of the country. Schools of this kind should be the standard throughout all provinces and not be based on income and private initiative alone and which consequently further widens the gap between haves and have nots.

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The long awaited book about our long time and dear friend Hannetjie de Clercq’s work will be launched next month.
Here is her invitation. All welcome!

With love as always
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay 30 September 2012