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Issue 41 ~ February 27, 2021

Booktown Richmond now in Mtunzini, The Place in the Shade in Zululand
February 2021.                                                                 
                                                                                                               
The BoekBedonnerd ….

Greetings all,  bon jour, from the beautiful Zululand far north coast, Mtunzini where I overlook the calm Indian Ocean set out for ever behind my collection of palm trees. It is calm as it is usually in the mornings but with the coming heat of the day the breezes will come and perhaps more rain, lovely rain which most of the country has had and the dams are getting fuller and fuller. There are smiles on the farmers faces again and that is good for us all. They love to see their dams full of their chocolate brown water. For them that is diamonds. Bumper crops are expected. South Africa should be very thankful for our farmers who have so much to contend with; weeds, pests, drought, stock theft, taxes, farm murders, fuel prices, and still have to worry about the worst pestilence of all, a government which is constantly threatening to steal their land without out so much as a please or thank you let alone a cent of compensation. Thank you men and women farmers.
Courtesy Jeremy Nell Jerm Warfare
We trust that everyone’s Christmas break and over the New Year’s festivities, if indeed there were festivities, were happy ones under the circumstances of the Covid scourge and the varying degrees of lock down, clamp down, curfews, banishments and an economy which has been dealt multiple death blows. And ESKOM’s inability to keep the electricity flowing.

Of course, the Ramaphoria coterie is all fine and dandy and exempt from the severe depression we have all suffered.  I often wonder how far down the local, provincial, and federal political and bureaucratic totem poles you have to go before you hit the government employee who does not get solar or a Cummins generator at his home as part of his remuneration?  And it goes without saying that these bastards are all on full salary. I think that three months of wage cut was all they could hack.

A year ago, not many of us knew anybody who had had Covid let alone died from it. A year later and all of us know many people, perhaps including ourselves, who have had the bug and most of us will have known or known of someone who has actually died from the virus. And they are not old farts who may have had the well-known co-morbidities.

I don’t think that the government has handled our situation very well. This is not even getting into the sordid busines of just how morally depraved this ANC government is as its party politicos rake in hundreds of millions and even billions from the PPE tenders (what a joke this term has become) and the same parasites  are drooling at the slop trough awaiting the millions they plan to steal from the actual vaccines which are potential the saviour for us all in South Africa as far as the virus is concerned. The other real saviour we desperately need is a vaccine against the ANC in all its permutations, from local to provincial and federal to the vast conglomerate of ANC run SOE’s. The good old ANC has buggered them all. Hopefully the jab will be received at the next batch of elections.

When the sycophantic supporters come to see that there is not going to be any plan, programme, policy, or anything else from the ANC that can pull South Africa  from the pit it has been placed in by the same self-serving ANC, then and  only then can we get on with the true business at hand and that is the construction of a middle of the road political amalgam encompassing everyone outside the likes of the EFF and ANC. That amorphous mix is the only thing which in our estimation can and will have the ability to save our country from the destruction of the past two and a half decades of ANC incompetence, pillaging and malfeasance. It should be very plain for all to see that the ANC cannot be regenerated, revitalised, reconstructed or changed from its natural self-serving cANCerous self. 
On a much brighter note, Booktown Richmond and the University of the Western Cape hosted its inaugural Madibaland World Literary Festival and had a great international presentation of speakers and writers and several thousand participants as well from all over the planet. It was a grand success and only to be improved in the coming year.

As regular followers of Booktown Richmond will have known, we were planning to stage a Festival on Story Telling and Oral Traditions sometime in May. With the present high degree of uncertainty about everything we do can and can’t do, is safe to do and not so safe, we are putting this programme on the back burner until our atmosphere is more clear and there is a good degree of herd immunity as a result of a vaccination programme, which we all wait with bated breath to see how the government  will screw this up, as well as our own immunity to this virus through day to day exposure.

We are probably looking at the end of the year before things return to some state of normal, where we can hop into a plane and go overseas for holiday and to visit family. The scars of Covid though will make us all very cautious about sitting in a 747 cabin with hundreds of strangers sneezing and coughing and just breathing. We used to think that the Chinese wearing masks was pretty far out, but we may well have to accept that this will become part of our way of life as well.

For me, the most sinister part of this whole Covid business is the fact that we are becoming more and more accepting of being dictated to by government, and many of those commands are not all that rational. Yes it is important to wear a mask in places where we are coming into closer than acceptable confines, taxis and shopping centres, yes, keep a good couple metres apart even if outdoors, yes, take your vitamins and be healthy, but to command to close just about every business open to the public and to put literally millions of people out of work where we don’t have an effective social security net in South Africa was insane. This decision was made by a coterie of uneducated party politicos bent on control. The government says stay at home: you stay at home, the government says you wear a mask: you wear a mask, the government says it is forbidden to protest an injustice: you do not protest an injustice, the government says vote for us: you vote for us…..

We must be ever vigilant.

Last year, 2020, no one went anywhere, and no one did much of anything. Travel was verboten and for many it meant confinement to barracks. We managed to skip the province a couple times to do some veterinary work in KZN and the Low Veldt but those were exceptions to the rule. It was work and home. Usually in the normal year we manage a safari northbound into Mother Africa and we manage every year to get at least as far north as Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, and every second year to Uganda and Kenya with a little extra time driving the endless roads of East Africa. 2019 was our last safari and missing any road trip north was like a heroin addict without his fix. It was a big vacuum in our lives. Just in case you would like to take a little vicarious pleasure from our last trip in 2019, which took us through Botswana, Zambia along the great Zambezi River, up through the Great Lakes district and into the Congo, and a swing through southern Tanzania to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and finally the long coastal road home through land teeming with Al Shabab gun toting wild men (we were not problemed in the least), and the long Mozambique coast home, then perhaps the following may be a fun read. We usually are pretty hard core campers, looking to rough it as much as we can, but this trip we tried to take the easier route and look at what was available in the way of formal accommodation. In the au dar formal accommodation, motels, hotels, bandas, B&B’s were pretty rough and crappy. We were very pleased to find that things had improved by orders of magnitude. We found some honey spots all along the way and so anyone in a fairly good car could repeat pretty much all of our trip without so much as a shovel, tow rope, or tent.
 
“Tradition is the only link between the dead and the as yet unborn”.

Booktown Richmond precept is, “Building a Nation with Words”.

 


Safari 2019 .... The easier way

My wife and I have been taking annual safaris north for about 30 years; in the earlier days mainly into Botswana and Namibia and later more northerly into Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda and on to Kenya and Ethiopia. We sometimes might invite others to come with us but we in fact enjoy the pleasure of our own company and know what to expect from the other in just about every predicament, so more often it would be the two of us in the grand old lady of the road, our 80 series imported Landcruiser which has served us admirably over the last 10 or so years.

We never plan a daily schedule and in general go where the road takes us, our spirits drive us, and where there are things to see and places we want to visit for the first time or as a repeat. The thing with our particular situation, that we have tracked just about every road between here and all of southern Kenya, is that there are very few places we have not been and not a road we have not travelled on, many from the early days when they were rutted tracks years away from any notion of grading, let alone asphalt.

We usually look to camp wherever possible and we usually write up our travels and try to encourage more South Africans to brave it beyond the Zambezi. But being more in the Senior age bracket….I hate the term, so I label myself just a bit older and a lot wiser…… I thought that I would slant this year’s safari and  write up towards people who might wish to trek on the Great Road North but to do so without the arduous necessity to make and break camp, sometimes under less than ideal circumstances and to kak in die bos in similarly less than ideal circumstances. So, we decided to see just what was available on the route we took all along the way; no planning, no booking, just keep to the GRN in any of its perambulations and peregrinations. It turned to be one of the most pleasant trips we have done.
The grand lady Cruiser is fully fitted with everything under the sun and then some; full tool kit, spares, plenty of food and drink, over 250 litres of fuel, 80 of water and enough wine to get a small Russian army battalion pissed for a month.  The freezer was full, wine cellar, literature, telecoms, and hardware to fix a spaceship, we had all we could possibly need on board. This mode of travel has opened up the north to just about anyone in the right frame of mind in all age categories and within reason, all states of health.

The roads bar a few spots ….the Kasane - Katima road being one of them, were all good enough to be driven by a very good sedan and certainly in a decent SUV……Jeep, Volvo, Hyundai, and yes even a Landrover Freelander!

Africa to our north has so many variables on offer that it is a no brainer that north is the way and the GRN the means.

We hit the trail at a very relaxed hour as we did throughout the trip; we never had a pressurised morning packing and stressing out. The morning ritual’s most taxing necessity was where I was going to percolate my morning pot of coffee! At every place we camped or stayed in formal accommodation, we always found a gas stove or charcoal fire in a briar to perc my Mocca Java and boil water for Beth’s Oh so vital tea.

Safari 2019 was scheduled for early July returning around the middle of August. We usually take the quickest road north, through Zimbabwe and into Malawi, but the recent unrest in the once greatest country on the continent forced us through Botswana and Zambia; really a blessing in disguise as Zambia was a rediscovered treasure, and we had the place all to ourselves. We wanted to do a repeat of a trip through Zambia we first did in around 2002 when we drove up through Botswana and took the sand track up the Zambezi River from Kasane to Mongu. The road was really a testing one and not in good shape. We free camped along the way until we got to Mongu. We were the only travellers on the road. We did the same drive this year, now on tarmac, and once again we were the only travellers. Sad.

We wanted to repeat the Zambian Great Lakes and waterfalls trip and then do the southern tack through Tanzania from Sumbawanga to Dar and then over to Zanzibar for a little rest and recuperation. Afterwards the long slow road down the Tanzanian coast and across the Rovuma River and the always long road down the Mozambique coast.

Many of the parameters of South and Eastern African travel have improved quite dramatically over the years. Having to stand in endless queues to change travellers cheques is a distant memory. ATM’s are everywhere and usually at all border crossings. Money is a snap and cheap. Border crossings are getting better and better and in fact many are embarrassingly good compared many South African Customs and Immigration, especially Beit Bridge. The roads are almost all a zillion times better although there are still a few bad tracks we found on this trip which we’ll talk about later. Fuel is readily available everywhere and the need to carry roof racks of jerry cans is  a thing of the past. Police harassment in general is far less of an issue and on this trip, despite several cops stopping us at routine roadblocks; we are always asked only how we were and where we were heading. At one check in Mozambique on the way to Pemba we were pulled over by some numbskull cop with issues and asked to show everything from passeports to dirty underwear. Overwhelmingly, Kaburu is a friend to all and we were as safe as houses.

We headed off from home having fully packed the day before and only our toiletry bags had to be stowed away before heading off at a very relaxing mid-day hour. We crossed the border at Martin’s Drift, easy on both sides. We had planned to overnight at Palapaye and from there the following day to Nata. I noticed that my oil pressure gauge was reading on the low side and stopped for a leak and check the dip stick. Low on oil and the thing was just serviced at Four Ways Toyota where I have what I call a major pre-safari service check-up done. EVERYTHING to be checked….EVERYTHING! I checked under the engine and saw that I had about three places I was haemorrhaging drops of oil! Shit!

There was a huge volume of traffic on the road from well south of the border as most transport trucks were taking the Botswana route in order to bypass the shambles that is now Zimbabwe.

The last miles into Palapaye were directly into the sun making the cattle and donkeys very hard to pick up in the glare. It is a suicide run and should be avoided late in the late afternoon.

I topped up the oil a couple more times and got to Palapaye where we checked into a nice little Cresta Hotel for the night and now with the intention to get to Francistown and to the Toyota Garage. The manager offered us a “Cresta Card” which knocked about a third off the bill…..thank you very much. Dinner in the bar was a great rump steak and cold barley pops.

We got to Francistown Toyota after a couple more oil top ups and right away commandeered a service supervisor who had the engine steam cleaned and ascertained the cause of the leak to the frayed large rubber pipe from the turbo to the intercooler. We trimmed the pipe and it seemed to do the trick. R700 later we checked into the Diggers Inn around the corner from Toyota; Mzungu watering hole and not a bad spot. We met up with an ex-Rhodie, retired, who occupied himself transporting open safari trucks from Jhb to northern Botswana. He recommended a spot to overnight in Pandamatenga which we reckoned we would reach in a relaxing day’s drive in long, flat, and dry Botswana.

We headed off the next morning thinking all was fine and quite enjoyed the long straight  desert road. We listen to audio books which passes the time and boredom, but I was still worried about the engine so rather kept my ears uncluttered by the tales of Jack Reacher or Jack Ryan. We stopped in Nata and went to the local MasCom shop to purchase a local data card for the dongle which we used in the vehicle throughout the trip as our own mobile hotspots. We have iPhones and cannot replace the SIM cards and so the dongle worked out really well. In every country we visited the purchase and registration of the card was a snap. In SA it is a major undertaking with all the FICA bullshit; which the countries to our north also have to do, but they are light years faster.

North of Nata I picked up the only ticket of the trip doing 71 in a 60 and I was slowing down; the buggers.

We stopped in at Elephant Sands which is a very popular spot just off the road northwards about 50 km after Nata. The place was crawling with Eli and South Africans, hundreds of both. It was dusty, the camping was really unappealing and the cottages all on stilts circled the main feature, a watering hole, now just mud, with dozens of elephants a mere few feet away. We sat, drank a couple brewsters and enjoyed the massive beasts jockeying around the watering hole. They are awesome animals. We didn’t for a moment entertain the idea of camping amongst the dozens of trucks, with no shade, no green and certainly no quiet.




























They nick named him Long Dong



It was a Saturday and the people we encountered along the road and passing through Chiengi….remember I had the Big Chief’s tassels; greeted us so cheerily, along the way.  Everyone was so friendly and dressed in their Sunday go to Meetin’ clothes.



We initiated a feeding frenzy as we dished out some of my old shirts and t-shirts



The Big Chief and me with his tassel….his symbol of power…now in the Cruiser

The Zambian formalities were easy as word had already reached………..if you would like to read the entire article place go to the following link….

To download the full account click here  << link |


PIETERMARITZBURG FOR UNESCO CITY OF MUSIC


The article by Rob Haswell (Dont give up on our city, 11 February) got me thinking. It brought out the cynic in me. A former ANC councillor telling us not to give up on our city, a city destroyed by his very party. But then the kinder side of me said: maybe he has a point. I remembered the Rob Haswell with vision. And he is right. The Dusi was started by ordinary men. Not politicians. Comrades was started by an ordinary man with a mad idea, but a beautiful one at that. But the problem with Rob Haswell's article is that it dwells on past glories. Comrades. The Dusi. Art in the Park. Struggle heroes. These are ideas that have admittedly placed Sleepy Hollow on the international map. But unprecedented times call for unprecedented ideas. 

ASK NOT WHAT YOUR CITY CAN DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CITY

I come from a musical family. My paternal grandfather L.B. David was one of the first Indian principals and music teachers in Pietermaritzburg and church organist for many years. (I wrote about him in a short story An Orchestra in a Teardrop.) My father’s brother and sister were music teachers. My mother’s two sisters were music teachers. When I lived at hostel at UDW, my only initiation was that I had to sing love songs to all the seniors girlfriends – ‘as long as I did not get any ideas!’ Up until today, if my ex- principal meets me on the street, he will always ask - so you became a music teacher Darryl?  In a nutshell, music is in my blood.

So the last project I would like to undertake is a musical project. I already created a Unesco City of Literature in Durban in 2017, the first on the African continent. In 2019 I pioneered Africa's first Unesco City of Gastronomy in the greater Hermanus area. They say all good things come in three’s, and this year I think I will take Rob Haswell's advice and not give up on the city of my birth, the city that shaped me and the city I want to die in. In 2021 I think I will do something for my home town for a change and make a bid for Pietermaritzburg as a Unesco City of Music.

I had written about this as far back as 2017 in The Witness. In 2019 I started the process with John Tungay, founder of the Drakensberg Boys Choir, and more recently the Drakonsdale Girls Choir in Howick. A true doyen of the musical world of this province. But just when we thought that we could not go wrong with a mayor who was an ex- choir master, our bid fell to pieces. Corruption. A city placed under administration. An administrator placed under administration. A city that was technically insolvent. Not the score we had in mind for a Unesco City of Music.

This time around, the words of Frank Sinatra are going to form the soundtrack for our bid. I DID IT MY WAY.

Admittedly, it will be a very risky way. It is a way that might see Pietermaritzburg 's bid disqualified at the first stage. For, in order for Unesco to consider a city's bid to join the Unesco Creative Cities network, the bid has to be endorsed by the Mayor of the city. The Mayor has to furthermore give the financial backing for such a bid.

But we will have to impress upon Unesco that the Mayor is not the city. The ruling political party are not the city. The people are the city. Were we not brought up on the mantra : the people shall govern. We must impress upon Unesco that it is not for nothing that the constitutions of America, India and South Africa begin with the phrase: We the people.

Indeed even the Freedom Charter of SA begins with the phrase :We the people.

Because Mayors of cities are not the cities. We the people are the cities. And when politicians begin to misrepresent the will of the people by stealing moneys meant for the people, for toilets so that children don't drown in pit toilets, for bridges so that school children don't drown on their way to schools, for houses, for running water, for electricity, Covid relief and arts and culture initiatives, then we the people must begin to save our cities without the help of politicians who we elected to do so. Under these conditions, we the people must save our cities and our country by taking back control and prepare for a better life that excludes corrupt mayors and city councils.

We must start dreaming of a Unesco City of Music where we take responsibility for repairing the finest organ in SA located in our iconic city hall, the largest red brick structure in the southern hemisphere, so that we can organize the first annual organ festival in the country. (And dare I say it, restore the dignity of the phrase ‘city hall’ in  ‘the lovely city’). We must dream of a festival of Indian music at the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, on the very platform that launched the political career of Gandhi, and get the Indian Embassy to fund the participation of artists from India. We must prepare for a Soaring Voices Choral Festival from the base of the Howick Falls. The naysayers will tell us it is impossible. But we the people of Pietermaritzburg must continue to dream of a Unesco City of Music. Why, we must even dream of taking a music festival to the PMB prison and hopefully secure the services of their superstar inmate Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma to open the festival with his signature song Umshini Wami (bring my machine gun!!!).

So you see, Rob Haswell might just have started something here. We must not give up on our city. We must dream of a Unesco City of Music for our beloved city. It is not for nothing that the association of music is harmony. We the people must use the arts to unite the people of our fractured city. Our broken city. Broken by the ruling ANC. We must look to the words of singer Jimmy Nail in his song Big River for sustenance:

For this is a mighty town
Built upon a solid ground
And everything they've tried so hard to kill
We will rebuild

CODA
Precisely a year ago, I invited Jonathan Jansen to the Adam Small Boekefees in Stellenbosch. This at a time when he had just criticized an Afrikaans bookshop owner for "insisting" on speaking Afrikaans to him. The air was tense as you can well imagine. But as he was closing his 30 minute talk on his book about his mother Song for Sarah: Lessons from my Mother, he went to the piano in the church. Perfect photo opportunity I thought. But then he began playing. Beautifully. Beautifully. I did not recognize the song. But everyone in the church knew the song. And as they began to sing with one voice, I felt the hairs on my hand stand up, my bodily response to let me know I am in the presence of greatness. That is the power of music, I thought to myself that day. To unite people who might differ with you ideologically. But to hear the congregation sing in unison like that, it was one of the most special moments of my life as organiser of book festivals. I hope to experience many more moments like this in my home town of Pietermaritzburg, when it hopefully becomes South Africa's first Unesco City of Music.

Darryl David is calling on all interested parties who share in his vision to contact him on 0813918689 / ddavid@uwc.ac.za. He is especially keen to hear from knowledgeable people on the Indian music tradition in Pietermaritzburg, and on the musical heritage of Edendale.

Don’t Frack with Our Karoo™

 

Booktown Richmond’s 15th Anniversary

 

BookBedonnerd XV 
October 28, 29 & 30
, 2021

A Richmond Community Development Foundation Project


backabuddy: To ensure that we survive and indeed grow, the planning committee has launched a backabuddy campaign aimed at crowd-funding the event. Please support by spreading the word and, if at all possible, making a financial contributing. Booktown Richmond is in your hands. Forever BoekBedonnerd. You will find the particulars here << LINK |.
God Bless South Africa
Forever BookBedonnerd

Peter Baker & Darryl David (co-directors)
Website: Booktown Richmond
BUILDING COMMUNITY THROUGH SKILLS DEVELOPMENT TRAINING
Richmond Community Development Foundation
(RCDP)
P.O. Box 1608, Parklands, 2121, Johannesbug, South Africa
33 Loop Street, Richmond, Northern Cape, South Africa
REGISTERED AS A SECTION 21 COMPANY | INCORPORATED NOT FOR GAIN
Registration number: 2008/00/1433/08

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