Give us back our land!

Give us back our land! The cattle! The freedom of roaming!

The pride of a nation is at stake.
We were once proud of who we were.
Came the white man and chased us off our lands.
Stole our cattle.
And the war started.
Stealing and chasing.
Tit for tat.
In the end the white man gained the upper hand.
Occupying it all now.
Gaza, West Bank and now even Jerusalem.
And there is no end.
No peace.
No plan.
Only pain.
The pain of an awakening.

Walther von der Vogelweide (c. 1170 – c. 1230) German lyric poet. Illustration from Codex Manesse (Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift) folio 124r, c. 1304.

Owê war sint verswunden alliu mîniu jâr!
Ist mir mîn leben getroumet, oder ist ez wâr?
daz ich je wânde ez wære, was daz allez iht?
dar nâch hân ich geslâfen und enweiz es niht.

O where have all the years of my life disappeared to!
Have I been dreaming or is it true?
What I hold to be real, was it ever so?
As if I had been sleeping and do not know it now.

Returning to the place of his youth,
the poet bewails the loss of a familiarity
once naïvely assumed to be granted for good.

There is pro-gress all the time.
A moving on.
Does that imply that the old positions
have no value or right of being reinstated?

Once the natural forests have been harvested,
once the oceans have been fished clean,
once the West Bank is fully built-up,
it will be difficult to rectify what has been lost.

We as people are living in an unjust world.
Palestinians are dealt a raw deal
to have to live in the world’s biggest open-air prison.
Israelis are dealt a raw deal in defending their gains,
whichever way disputed,
against a hostile neighbourhood.

All of this is not so much or only about land itself.
It is the loss of comfort.
Of familiarity.
Wanting to return to the places of our childhood.
Places of integrity and well-being.

It is only just, we feel, to have a roof over our heads.
The tiniest of gardens to walk into in the morning.
A safe ride into town to work.
A home to come back to in the evening.
To have a place of pride of ownership.

The world is our place to live in and we want a share of it.
Yet, our world is bent on destruction.
We are being robbed of what there is
before we even own the littlest of it.
Should we despair?
Need we remonstrate with shouts of give us back our land?

It is difficult to have a wider view of things
if you are in dire need of things elementary.

A place to cook.
To stretch out and feel at ease.
Safe and secure.

Let us be frank and know:
we are a long way from home.

The world we seek is not a place for us to have.
It is an illusion.
A project at best.


With love as always
from Colleen & Walter
Stellenbosch, Sunday 27th May 2018