We had just passed through an incredible weather phenomenon that only happens in Cape Town during winter. Its Called the Berg wind, which if my memories of high school geography serves me correct is when a high pressure system over the escarpment is found in conjunction with a low pressure over the Cape Coast, resulting in a warm wind blowing from inland, bathing the MOther city in a bubble of summer days and nights, confusing even the bees!
this blog however is about a week before then, when the Cape of Storms earned its name.
13 Degrees and wet
On that particular day I was responsible for the dinner menu, which consisted of a ‘tomatoey’ Lamb stew.
My normal approach to cooking is look in the cupboard and see what jumps out at you, the same goes for the fridge,so there was nothing out of the ordinary this time around. Perhaps that was premature, dark molasses I don’t think make for a conventional stew recipe I think.
Then, as I am unabashedly carnivorous the beautiful lamb neck!
Now the meat gets braised with the golden crispy onions, and when sufficiently sealed add the tomatoes.
The other ingredients I added at the onion stage was a dash of Coriander, and some parsley with the tomatoes, then when the tomatoes were cooked into a rich broth.
My wife said is was delicious, I agreed with her, and it was , as these things normally are, better the next morning !
Why am i sitting at my mac at quarter past eleven on a Friday night updating my blog? The question i find myself asking, well myself. I enjoy doing it. I really enjoyed writing last night, and find myself in the same sleepy frame of mind tapping away at my keyboard tonight. I realise that as much as I try and deny it, i like putting my thoughts down somewhere that i can see it, out in front of me, where i can look at it and find out what of what I am saying is actually what I am saying. I also realise that this form of expression may be what people refer to as a passion. Having a passion however more often than not (at least as far as my internal set up is concerned) does not get the rent paid at the end of the month, and after slinging a camera on my shoulder for the last 17 years and still not living off my passion as it were has to call into question the transition of passion to financial freedom, at least in my case!
As far as self examination is concerned, it has always ( and again, in my case) led to a frenetic bout of activity that at times seem to be as headless as the chicken I am hoping to catch for dinner! The furious activity is then meticulously plotted and orchestrated until I allow myself to become sufficiently distracted to let it slide into the oblivion of another “to do” list that pops up every time my machine boots up!
I found myself earlier scratching through the nether world of my hard disk for pictures to post, and through the nether world of my own being for a reason to post them. Then i realised that i dont always need a reason.
Is this what I am, walking the streets of life trying to hold onto moments to qualify an existence? What i enjoy most about writing when i am tired is that the body is tired, the mind is tired, so the sincerity of the enquiry has not to contend with the “critic” inside, the pessimist that waits to spring its trap and uses your time to shake of an indistinct feeling of melancholy that you cannot explain. That part of us the Sufi’s call the Nafs ( lower self) wants to be warm in bed, yearning for instant gratification, no different from a two year old has lessened its grip on ones truths indignantly abandoning your Being to an intimate Humility. Being able to look at a facsimile of what you have seen in the past is an incredible possibility, the putting together of puzzle pieces that fit into a bigger picture that you Know resoundingly Must exist.
The ‘Mustness’ of the elusive bigger picture leaves us clues in the empty shape of the missing piece, in the clairvoyant outlines tracing an unknown Destiny. We do not always realise it, but we are the puzzle and we are the missing piece in the same way that an orange blossom is the seed sprouting supple translucent green leaves reaching for the sky of its own infinity. May The Gardener Grant us a Blessed unfolding.
Woodstock is cold, and the imagined cast iron stove that i am planning to install does little to warm the space around my cold feet, though the thought brings with it a warmth that lightens my heart.
My wife is writing an exam on primary health care and in the universal (ie all over this singular tiny planet) definition includes the acceptance of what is an economically viable norm, which means that the definition of what primary health care is, is dependent on the socio-economic standing of the community you are intending to find the definition in! And here I, the idealist, thought that it referred to the basic treatment of illness regardless of the price of a panado!
We rush headlong down the road of defining our reality according to a system of concepts and structures that are in the first place responsible for the blatant neglect, no, disregard of basic human dignity; and are impressed with our academically astute analysis of the dehumanising figures we confuse for fact. Below the poverty line for example is a well known and oft quoted jingle that has no bearing whatsoever with what it feels like going to sleep hungry.
Our slumber to the world of illuminated hearts, justice whose actions speak in the sparkle of the laughter of a secure and protected child and what it means to have a Soul content with itself is encouraged by the distraction of corrupt politicians, and the wholesale pursuit of aspirations peddled and bargained for in the market of the highest bidder overseen by the creators of modern culture.
Was it ‘midnight oil’, or INXS ….” how can we sleep while our beds are burning?”
I have been in Durban for ten days, visiting the townships and the various rural areas. Whilst there i was accommodated on marine parade ( soon to change its name).
Sunrise from the balcony.
I have been to Durban a few times over the last 5 years, to be exact, which means that I used all of the 30 seconds it took to think about it; thrice in the last 7 years, including this trip.
What struck me as odd, was why i did not think of Durban as a winter destination for someone wanting to escape the cold further south and North, Cape Town and Johannesburg to be precise. Durban is beautiful! Not only does one find the lush green vegetation of a tropical climate, but also the very tropical weather! South Africa is a big beautiful country, hence the urgency in the realisation that poverty and the system of economic policy that predisposes the perpetuation of this unnecessary suffering needs to be treated like a curable disease.
On this particular journey we spent lots of time n the township areas around Durban and had ample opportunity to visit and speak to many people, including having the priveledge of sitting in the councill of a Zulu chief! what we found was a tremendous wealth of being and tradition equal only in its polar opposite to the abject poverty of means. Regardless of this lack of basic needs we were always greeted by smiling faces and firm handshakes. One is grateful for the possibility of being able to sit here and blog about things that i think about, having a belly satisfied of its need for food.
I was listening to Radio 2000 earlier, particularly a talk show, of which the topic revolved around a select panel of people selected to steer a committee meant to deal with job creation, where the committee members were being paid up to R20000,00 to attend a meeting!!! The stink apparent issued forth from the fact that this select panel had besides enriching themselves actually achieved nothing, and that over the last 2 years had cost the tax payer 4 million rands!!!
As you can imagine there were many calls, blaming everyone from the ANC, to certain members of the organisation. I must commend the host for maintaining a balance, though I could not help but regret the fact that my lack of air time denied me the possibility of calling in and chucking my five cents in with the peanut gallery. I personally think that its not a political thing, its not an organisation thing, its far more basic, it goes back to the days when we were all kids, and told by our parents to behave, to share, to be generous, to not steal. I may have mentioned this on the blog before, though i shall mention it again…
what i heard a wise man say was that a good constitution does not make a good country, good people do!
This simple observation makes one realise that rules in themselves do not have moral value, only when combined with action do they ripple into the world of man’s interaction and evaluation. At the core, we decide from one moment to the next how to deal with situations as they arise, sometimes we decide to our detriment, but then we learn. The notion of being a human being accountable for his actions is one that needs to resurface as a humble beginning to change that will mean a better tomorrow for all of us.
I count my blessings, and express my gratitude and thanks to the Maker of Atoms , the Fashioner of atoms, the Turner of hearts!
After many years of wringing anvil blows in to the Cape Town world of bespoke blacksmithing STRIKING METAL, self taught newcomers to the ancient art of forging steel has left the Mother City.
Fist established in Clare street in Gardens almost ten years ago, they moved to the Old Biscuit Mill, all the time establishing themselves as one of the more innovative blacksmithing units in Cape Town.
Did I mention that they are also my cousins, and that we know each other from the time we could first walk? So it is with a sense of loss that i write about the many cups of tea i shall no longer be having at the last workshop, in a business park off beach road in woodstock.
At the same time there is an incredible sense of excitement at the future awaiting the intrepid blacksmiths from the Bo-Kaap ( and Joburg, didnt foget you Soph’s!) that involve the country , wholesome living, and lighting the forge fire in far flung places of our beautiful country.
To say that metal work was the core business would be right, but to say that they only worked metal would be incorrect…
So if they are off, and if their workshop in Cape Town has shut its doors for the foreseeable future, then why the excitement you may ask? Because on the vanguard of living life like you realise that you only have one, and that if you want to raise your kids in the country, well then you got to move to the country is my cousin Bully!
So I guess my excitement is about the real possibility of packing up everything one knows and taking it to a completely new space, starting fresh, turning a new page as it were. This post is also about lauding the courage, tenacity and vision that it takes to uproot ones family in search of the adventure that is discovering who we are. SALUT MANSKAP!!!
Not only is it the one brother who is heading on his journey of discovery, faith and himself, but theother one too!
Or Mustapha is channelling his creative energy into the lens and has been applying himself to film studies with a goal to becoming a Director of Photography! I for one cannot wait to see this creative come to his own on the screen!! in fact the image of the forge above is his first published work!!
May The Maker of Atoms, the Fashioner of Love Bless them, and Grant them Success in all that they turn their hearts to !!!
What an incredible Gift, to be able to read understand, and then act according to that understanding.
I do not know how many of you out there actually know that the Revelation that marked the Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the Cave started with Arch Angel Gabriel instructing him to “Read”?
Of late I have been reading a very interesting book, “the Shock Doctrine”,by Naomi Klein, and what an eye opener its been! With regards to what is axiomatic about the power elite and the complementary financial,economic dictatorship it imposes on the worlds poor she indicates, demarcates and illustrates through considerable research the precise moments in our collective global history when the greedy became greedier and imposed that greed at great cost to those in the “developing” or “third world” countries.
Our very own country was not spared the voracious appetite of the new economic order calling for the privatization of all state owned assets, the dropping of price controls and an independent central bank (federal reserve),coming in under the radar through the Auspices of the IMF and World Bank, who incidentally were of the institutions insistent that the new government of national unity inherit the Apartheid era debt!
The budget for the Department of Transport and Public Works of the Western Cape for one year is the amount our government has to pay to just service the Apartheid Debt! This is the Department that is the Custodian of all Government owned property and infrastructure. The question begs an answer, what could be achieved with the tax payers money being spent in such a wasteful way? The vast majority of victims of an oppressive regime get to foot the bill for all the hundreds of thousands of tear gas canisters, anti mine troop carriers, guns, barbed wire and specially designed ghettos they were subjected to ???
The result of the dangerous free market experiment initiated in the rainbow nation…? South Africa has surpassed Brazil as the country with the greatest disparity between rich and poor. The only human factor to be found in the numerically dominated “science” of economics is GREED.
2 weeks ago I had an 8 day job “swinging the boom” or working as a “klankie” (afrikaans , lit. soundie), aka sound man with a cameraman who goes by the name of Peter Rudden. Being accustomed to working as a photographer during the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, this as you would understand was a new angle as it were.
I found myself recording sound for a Jazz workshop, organised by ESP Afrika as part of their outreach programme that involved a workshop given by Rachelle Ferrel!! Ask me who she was 2 weeks ago and i would have been able to tell you, now however,it is an entirely different story.
She started, and I saw the look of concern on the faces of a crowd of people who realise that there is no way to escape the fact that participation is inescapable! Her understanding of Language & Communication was astounding, helping us all claim our vocal abilities, our Voices for our own.
We were all given sounds to perform, to commit our energy into the common space we shared and the collective effect was incredible! i have never seen a room of complete strangers overcome their self consciousness and sing together like that!
That was only the beginning, at this stage she had not even started singing yet! once she had finished with the workshop , and had realised that there was no way she was going to leave without singing, she opened her gift and shared with us.
let the response of Clare Phillips and Lindiwe Suttle inform you of how it went down…
The world order we currently endure is meant to revolve around the needs and aspirations of the “reasonable man” be it social or legal. The way things are going at the moment, draws serious questions as to what exactly this “reasonable man” is?
One thing that i can point out to any reasonable men, and women who find themselves in Cape Town, and Lovers of Coffee at the same time is Deluxe Coffee Works.
Both the reasonable man and woman would find that for the paltry sum of 10 South African Rands one could get a delicious cup of coffee, not to mention the friendly and quick service !
for those eager to experience the best Coffee in Cape Town, you can find the guys in church street, just below burg street, close to greenmarket square.
This room we have built, the walls four foot thick,
lies and Neurosis, cement and our brick ”
A “poem” if you like, that started out as lyrics for a song i never finished writing many years ago.
I suppose this theme stems from the fact that after a year and 2 months I have finally secured a lease for a place to live, and the stability that this represents, with its promise of constructive movement fills my heart with Gratitude and Thanks. It also makes me realise the importance of having a space that one can call ones own, and the challenges that so many face who do not have this space.
it also makes me think of the many different kinds of habitats we occupy in todays age….
Twilight is one of my favourite times to photograph, the crossing over between night and day and the activities or lack there of have always interested me. Maybe therein lies the inspiration for a new series of photographs.
This entry is late. 9 days aog the old man would have been 99 according to the Gregorian calendar, 102 if one would measure the years by the lunar orbit.
At the ripe old age of 98 Boeta Maan started the return
journey to his Maker.
A man who in the frailty of his body maintained the strength which came with his God given right to speak truth.
I first met Boeta Maan (BM as my wife calls him ) about 3 and a half years ago. I had in fact known him from the time I was able to walk to Motjie Janie’s, the old lady who had a corner shop where Pepper and Lion street met. BM lived on the opposite corner, and my earliest memories of him was of ann old man always busy, either painting, building, and even replacing the corrugated zinc sheeting of his double storied house.
An active, vibrant man of unabashed straight talking he did not endear himself to people who entertained the niceties of civil interaction without having the necessary sincerity. A treasure trove of knowledge, this hidden gem embedded in the memories of all of us who grew up in that part of Bo Kaap remained true to his Maker, and looked forward to the day of his return.
I knocked on his door that summer afternoon, hot like it can only be on the lower slopes of signal hill seeking his knowledge. I wanted to know what Cape Town was like while he was growing up, what were the Muslims in this part of the world like?
BM was happy for the company, and eventually traced my lineage, knowing the names of my grandparents on both my father and mother’s side, then continuing to tell me about their mothers and fathers, and their brothers and sisters!
I learned more about myself than anything else.
Saying that BM liked to talk would not be a lie, however, more surprisingly i discovered that i liked to listen, and I did, sometimes for hours on end, about his youth…
BM told me about how he got expelled from school in 1921, or somewhere around there for telling his geography teacher that clothes dry equally as well in the light of a full moon as it does during the day, otherwise why do people hang out the snoek to dry at night too! He also told me about the concentration camps, along the stretch of green point main road until just before the the new stadium for the world cup, where the British imprisoned the defeated of the Anglo-Boer War. At the time, it was common practice for the Muslims of Cape Town to wear the red Fez, like we see the Archetypal turk in the old Indiana Jones movies wearing, and because of this the children at the time ( including BM) had to run from the Australian soldiers returning after the obliteration of their forces by the Turks during the first world war.
BM was born in Keerom street, on the first floor of a building that is next to the famous restaurant called 5 flies, and opposite the High Court.
He also told me about taking the tram from adderly street to Bakoven, working on the Trans-Karoo train as a chef’s assistant, and about the time that he was dragged of the gang plank of a boat bound for exotic destinations by his ears as a boy of 13 years by his uncle who just happened to be passing!
All in all, he had an incredible innings, and he was a source of inspiration and knowledge for myself and many others.
Boeta Maan had no teeth so you can get an idea of his wit when he told me,
” my boy, when it comes to the truth i don’t mince my words, I eat steak!”
….. and that in a nutshell was Boeta Maan.
May the Lord of the Worlds Bless him, and Accept him with a beautiful return, may my Maker, and his, put Light in his grave, and Grant him the scent of musk, may The Fashioner of Atoms, The Giver of Breaths Raise him up amongst those whose faces are lit with the Light of Truth, Amin, Amin, Amin.