Sunday, September 24, 2017

Groene Mara

I took the photo today of the herb Groene Mara. I only know the Afrikaans name. It seems strange that such a distinctive herb (apparently) is unknown in the West. It is used for seasoning meat, and as a remedy for stomach ailments. I showed it to wife E. She instantly recognised it.

Cultural Mistakes

I make various cultural mistakes in South Africa, yet other cultures are extraordinarily understanding and tolerant of the White man – and sometimes joke about his ways. I bought my sister-in-law some coffee. A woman of the older generation said to me: “In this you did not act correctly. Would you like to know why?” I said I would. She said: “You brought a gift for a child, but you neglected her elders.” I said I would do better next time – which I will.

Lost Generations

There are, all over South Africa, lost generations so to speak – or sections of generations. I was taking photos of people dressed in African finery when this man intruded, and asked me to photograph him. He was, in fact, dressed in a suit. His portrait seems typical of very many. OBSERVATION: An immediate cause of the trouble is drink. If that were controlled, a lot of ills might be cured – but that is a superficial view.

The Opportunity Of Complaints

Wife E bought a dud product from a store. I sent them a complaint -- or rather, a request to sort it out. Instead of replying to my complaint, they used my details to send me advertising. They never did address the complaint. The worst case is a South African political party. I filed a formal complaint, and they followed up with a message from "Data Cleaning" stamped "Monrovia, Reykjavik" (see below). Then, like the store, they used my details to send me a barrage of advertisements. They did not attend to the complaint.

Your message 

   To: Data Cleaning
   Subject: Re: Formal Complaint.
   Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2017 8:13:16 AM (UTC+00:00) Monrovia, Reykjavik

 was read on Monday, June 19, 2017 7:12:57 AM (UTC+00:00) Monrovia, Reykjavik.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

African Tribute

I took this photo this morning of wife E and two nieces, at a large funeral. The "mother" who died ordered African dress (see the previous post). OBSERVATION: I put the word "mother" in inverted commas here because there is no word for it really in English. The African word is "mama mncimnci" or "mamnci" for short, meaning one who had the place of a mother.

Mission Accomplished

Attending a funeral service today – a gathering of hundreds of people – the old African woman who died ordered African dress, African language – and Christian worship. When I saw this combination today – the complete indigenisation of the Christian Church – it struck me for the first time (strangely) what an extraordinary job the missionaries did in generations past. Unless they had done something extremely well, with God’s help, one would not see this today.

Carpet Of Flowers

It’s a carpet of spring flowers in Cape Town’s urban park. In the background on the right one sees Cape Town’s iconic stadium.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I took the photo a moment ago – of a girl who is heartsore at being left behind for the funeral of her granny (as per the broader Xhosa definition of granny). This is surely related to my previous post. It is now difficult to transport every grandchild to a funeral, sometimes over hundreds of miles.

Strained Customs

This weekend, I am following what is surely a custom in all cultures. We are laying a mother to rest. Unless something is definitely wrong, or seriously preventing it, a child attends a mother’s funeral. But in the Xhosa culture (as is the case here), there are significant differences. My wife E has, or has had, I would estimate twenty mothers -- called mama or mama mncimnci. Now consider that, a generation ago, mothers and children would likely have lived in close proximity. But through one generation, children have in many cases been scattered over hundreds of miles. As a generation now passes away, one has the loss of a large number of mothers, with great distances to be travelled. Not to speak of fathers -- called tata or tata mncimnci. The customs, I think, are under strain.

My Parents-In-Law

I just found this photo of my parents-in-law, on their wedding day. They have been extraordinary parents-in-law, always welcoming, always thoughtful, always generous, while each of them has a strong character. OBSERVATION: It is the custom that, when a husband purchases his bride, she and all future children are his, and parents-in-law retain only a kind of ceremonial role, call it. That distinction is not so clear in my own culture, as I know through my counselling sessions. It can at times be very problematic.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Congress Of The People

I have shown a few political close-ups on my blog: the ANC, COSATU, the EFF, the DA, and so on. A reader commented behind the scenes that I was lucky not to have got a bloody nose -- but they have all been great sports, without exception. Here is a first. This is the Congress of the People (COPE) looking uncharacteristically militant. OBSERVATION: The "783" refers to a number of charges against the president, which are currently reinstated, or unreinstated, or disunreinstated, or ... one loses track.

Courthouse Blues

I write this post from a courthouse. Nearly two years ago, a young man plundered my property. The evidence was firm: among other things, it included his own confession. But the police refused to take a statement and open a case, in fact on high authority. Once I was over that (major) hurdle, and an investigation was complete, I was subpoenad once, then twice to testify in court. But the trial was aborted both times, because (so said the police) the prosecution had removed the evidence from the docket. Both times, the accused stood in the dock and blinked and was dismissed. Six times, police removed investigators from the case (but they reappointed one officer twice) -- not through my own doing. Last week I was subpoenad a third time. I checked with police. Everything was in order, they said, and a high ranking officer confirmed that I should be there. But this morning, even before the police took the roll call, the prosecutor called me in. He showed me the docket. The police had failed to comply with his written instructions. In big red letters in the docket was the line: “What is going on here?!” I was free to go, he said. OBSERVATION: The accused may have been complicit in a search and seize raid, too, in which my personal notebooks and my late wife’s ashes were removed, among other things. But the evidence in that regard rests on a single towel found next to his fireplace. The towel had been in the same location as the items seized. So, what is going on here?

Ministerial Gifts

If we believe in the call of God, then we believe that every minister brings gifts to the Church which are required for a season (there are various jokes about the minister who is called according to what the congregation desires in him or her -- for instance, one blue eye and one brown). OBSERVATION: Some of my own strengths (I am told) have been preaching, counselling, and administration. This is an encouraging message to my wife (above) in March 2013, about preaching. It reflects, too, that I was preaching to a multilingual congregation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Township Gifts

I enjoy shopping for gifts for relatives on township and farm -- it is so interesting. These are not the same as city gifts. One best buys adults something that they need, because they are poor. One best buys children something tough, with few if any parts -- parts get distributed. There are differences, too, of colour and style. I learnt to buy tough toys for children when, over the years, only two of my gifts survived: a board book and (pictured) a wooden slide-whistle. OBSERVATION: I worry a little about my cultural influence. For instance, this time I bought a boy his own plate, and a girl her own fork and spoon. It's not a culture of individualism, while my gifts single children out.

North Korea

I'm always thinking on world events in parallel with the metaphysic I am shaping (or have shaped). The apparent approach to North Korea today, in terms of my metaphysic, seems mistaken. North Korea seems to me to be driven by culture, which is a meaning, and a very big one. To counter this with a technical approach, namely sanctions, seems fairly much futile, and a typically shallow modern approach. OBSERVATION: The allies wondered in WWII why on earth the Germans did not surrender or sue for peace. It was the power of the culture.