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Monday, 17 January 2005

Stream of Consciousness

Well I'm back.

Cape Town was great. So great that it makes coming back here a bit depressing. I have gained many many pounds and also spent many many pounds. Mostly we just ate for three weeks, food being a novelty and all. I had resolved to try and be a bit healthier on my return, but there was a parcel of chocolate waiting for me, and I couldn't leave it sitting there all lonely and sad in its wrapper.

And what about that Tsunami eh? Not to denigrate a horrific occurrence, but approximately 165,00 people died in the Tsunami. Worldwide in developing countries 210,000 people die EVERY WEEK because of POVERTY. Unlike a Tsunami, poverty is preventable. Go here now.

I think I've forgotten how to write, hence the title of this post. Random stuff as it occurs. Sleb Factor - Kenneth Kaunda was on our plane on the way home. He didn't have to stand in line to get through customs and immigration.

On our return I had to sweep two dead bats being eaten by maggots and a kilo of voleshit out of the bedroom. Someone has been using our longdrop in our absence in a most unhygienic manner. It is bluebottle hell in there.

I have two green slips. I think there are presents waiting for me from my brother, but can I face The Post Office...?

It's a very segregated place, Cape Town. We got stared at in clubs for being the only white people, stared at in clubs for being the only straight people, stared at in clubs for being the only people not covered in bling.

I thought about doing a tour of the Cape Flats, but then felt that it would be a bit like a busman's holiday.

We went to Robben Island though. I have to say it left me very underwhelmed. I visited the site of Auschwitz many years ago, where visitors were allowed to browse the writings, photos, exhibits, wander around etc. It's a haunting place and the magnitude of the horrors committed there is palpable. On Robben Island you are put on a bus and driven around accompanied by a tour guide. When you get to the end of it you are rushed on to the ferry again and taken back to the mainland. There is no time to ponder, wander, take time to think about it.

The thing that most struck me was the beautiful view! You look off the island onto blue sea and sky and the white beach of Bloubergstrand. There are no writings or displays talking about the ANC, the political situation, their motives, etc etc.

We saw Nelson Mandela's cell. Sure it's small, it's cramped, I wouldn't like to live there for 20 years, but to be honest it didn't look much different from any other prison cell. I doubt it's any worse than a cell in a UK prison today. The guy who showed us round the cells was an ex-prisoner. He said he was incarcerated for blowing things up. I should imagine most people would be locked up for setting off bombs.

Where was the context? A philosophical look at how to differentiate between Freedom Fighting and Terrorism? Nothing about the Namibians who were also incarcerated. Interesting fact - another reason Zambia is so poor is that it has spent millions on supporting refugees from surrounding countries, in particular ANC members. Might be nice if they could get some payback for their support for fighting apartheid. Also, something not quite right about being on Robben Island and saying 'how awful' when no-one is doing anything about Guantanamo Bay.

Cape Town has a real creative buzz about it. Everywhere you go people are selling really cool works of art and craft, nearly all of them going to support projects to do with poverty alleviation and AIDS work. I haven't seen anything like that in Zambia. The Husband wonders if a people has reached rock bottom maybe they can never get up again. Even just walking into a shop in Lusaka, everyone is so sour and miserable. They can hardly be bothered to meet your eye or answer your question.

We had a top night at a drum club - nothing like pounding away on a djembe to get your spirits up. Might be time to dust off my own djembe and get drumming again. I went to a CD store to get some good drumming CDs, and what was the first thing that assaulted my eyes when I walked in the door? Katie Mehlua. Hoor.

Hey, the sawmill is back! Apparently Chief went with some guys across the border and got it back no problem. And the guy who gave it away in the first place, and then claimed he would need thousands of pounds to get it back from Congo, is still working here. Don't ask me about Zambian employment law - it would probably be easier to shoot the guy dead than to try and sack him.

While we were away one of the teachers died from 'sickness' (AIDS). Obviously it's sad when anyone dies, but it is a blow to the school. It is so hard to recruit teachers - nobody wants to live in the bush. Our creche teacher has gone on maternity leave, and we can't replace her because there is no spare housing. No matter how much we fundraise no-one will give money for housing or vehicles, the two things we need desperately and can't function without. Any readers know any rich people willing to give some of their cash away to a good cause?

Oh I'm sure there's more, but I'm equally sure it must be lunchtime.