Sunday, May 20, 2012

THERE IS A LOT OF UBUNTU IN MSANZI



Traffic on the N2 (National highway)


I think it is time to get a bit of background into the whole story. While I am going through my creations and evolutions there are other things happening in the bigger world. I am living in a rather interesting country, namely South Africa and although I am an African I am also white, from long ago European decent, but never the less an African.

I have lived and loved through a part of the apartheid era, by the end of the era in 1994, I was in my mid twenties. 
I can remember a specific incident from when I was a child. We lived in an industrial town called Vanderbijlpark and my father worked for a big steel Co-operation, Iscor, now known as Mital Steel. My mother was reading me a bed time story one night and like so many other nights a risen went off. I am not sure what time it was, probably about 8 or 9 0’clock at night. I asked her what that noise was and her answer was the following “that means all the black people must now be out of town, so we can sleep save” , this was obviously said in Afrikaans, but I am translating for your convenience. I will never forget those words because as a child of about 5 it was probably my first awareness of a reality outside of my own small white world. 

Indirectly she was saying that all black people are dangerous and we can only sleep in peace if we can keep them out of our space. Even then I just could not get why somebody would be dangerous just because they are a certain color, but I said nothing. Obviously there was a lot of fear towards the darker races and this fear was kept in place by politics and religion. We had churches for whites only! And the average whitey supported the politics (apartheid) of the day more out of fear and ignorance, than anything else. A lot did not support it, but kept out of “politics” for their own safety. If you went out protesting you could get arrested and detained without trial, which simply means they can keep you in jail for as long as they want and for a lot of people with families and a lot to lose, it was just not worth it to risk their own downfall for the sake of others. I was one of them.

There was turmoil and things got out of hand and people got killed, on both sides of the color spectrum. This violent part of our history is rather well known all over the world, but this happened in the townships and did not affect suburbia very much, that is just the truth. The Sharpville incident is a well known story the world over. Sharpville is a “neighboring” town to Vanderbijlpark, so is Sebokeng.

And then the miracle happened. People actually started talking to each other and South Africa became the first country in Africa to go through this kind of turmoil without it ending in civil war.


Another rural Village

Eighteen years down the line. There is no more Mandela, he is still alive and still very much loved, but he is old and frail. We now have a Zuma and a Zille and a JuJu, the latter is at least entertaining. To make a long story short the average South African is no better off than 18 years ago, we once again have corrupt and greedy politicians. I am not trying to paint a bleak picture, I am just giving facts and I think people in this country know how to stand up for their rights and others are willing and learning how to.

There was this whole incident very recently in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area (Gauteng). A whole network of tollgates was planned and promptly accepted and approved by our dear government. It added up to (op top of the current petrol price) ridiculous amounts of money just to get to work and back. Unlike other taxes and toll and fees the government just demands and people just give, this tollgate thing did not go down well in Gauteng. People did not take to the streets and burn things, they simply made a big noise all over the media and social media and refused to buy the tokens and got some legal advice and one of the issues that came to light is the following – to maintain those roads will cost roughly 32 Billion, in that same period of time the income from these tollgates will be roughly 72 Billion, where exactly is the other 40 Billion going to? 
The whole project is on hold until further investigation, at least our legal system still (sometimes) work. There was no color divide in this thing, this was across the board, just Gautengers (is there such a word?) that said enough!  I salute the people from Gauteng for standing up for their rights.

We are a fascinating and furious bunch of creatures living here at the bottom of Africa, governments will come and go, but the real progress in this country will not come from them, them who prefer to line their pockets while others starve. The change will come from the people on ground level, simple people with big ideas and mostly small budgets.

In a lot of towns all over South Africa people are also doing the Sannieshof on their corrupt, unethical and incompetent Municipalities. Let me explain the Sannieshof thing to you. Sanieshof is a small town in the North West Province, it is the biggest province, but it has the smallest share of the population. In Sannieshof the people from the town and the people from the township both got fed up, the people from the township where angry because the promised services where just not happening and the people in town got fed up because their services went from good to almost non existing. Instead of protesting they decided to get smart and a long story short, they opened a trust account and everybody paid their monthly rates and taxes and other services, but they paid it into the trust account. The municipality was brought to its knees simply by cutting off their finances completely; now they are setting up their own systems using the money from the trust, so far so good. Even Kei Mouth is following this route. Victory without violence.

The fact is we have, like everywhere else in the world, selfish and greedy people in power. We can no longer afford their arrogance and ignorance, we need to act and if we act together, regardless of race or color or whatever other differences, we cannot lose, there is incredible power in numbers.

That being said; do not underestimate the power of one. Here are examples of a few remarkable individuals that are making a very big difference – Rasikarai das just decided he will not complain; he will do something. This man has decided to go and live in Redhill, a very poor area on the Cape Flats, near Cape Town. He lives there in a shack and goes out and “begs” for food from everywhere, he then takes this back to Redhill and he cooks meals and hands out fruit to the children and other people in the area.

Another very brave lady, I cannot even remember her name, (she obviously did not do this for fame or fortune, I cannot even find her name in the internet), but this lady took on the mighty food Manufacturers and they now have to tell us if our food contains GMO's or not, it has to be on the label. 
Then this whole thing came unstuck because of lack of enforcement, Manufacturers and the persons in Government responsible for the implementation simply suck their heads in the sand like a bunch of Ostriches and hoped it would all go away.  Unfortunately for them so much noise was made from the side of consumers, that the story was eventually picked up by the Lame Stream Media. We are actually starting to see the labeling and a specific sad case in Government got fired.

There is also a guy, Michael Tellinger, he is actually suing the mighty Standard Bank over transparency issues, some people think he is mad, I think he is insane (I like insane people) and very brave and he is creating a lot of awareness amongst South African regarding the way banks in South Africa (and all over the world) actually work.  It is not really covered in our Lame Stream Media, but it is all over the social networking systems, so a lot of people know about it.

There are many more individuals like these.

Stuff the selfish and the greedy; let them live in isolation and fear; there are enough good people in this country that will make things better.

There is a lot of Ubuntu in Msanzi.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

NEXT STOP ZUVUYA



I watched a bee die today, they apparently only live for a few days, how do we know that those few days are not equal to a thousand years in our time, we do not know how bees perceive time and space. It just sat there, clinging to my mouse, yes my computer mouse and I watched it, a wide open window right next to it, but it would not get of the mouse. Normally bees are rather spirited, this one just sat there and I just watched. Nothing I could do; nothing I could say and it just dies. There was something wonderful and spiritual about the experience, but I cannot quite explain it.



This old  house

After months and months of going nowhere everything is suddenly happening at the same time. It could also be because we eventually decided what it is we want.  I have all the reason to feel good again.  

The last few months have been a case of practice what you preach, all the wonderful stuff about free will and creative power of mind, we needed to completely recreate a future for ourselves and it does look like things are all falling into place. You visualize, you experience the emotions and you just know you will get what you create and each step of the way I am getting better and faster with this. Obviously you also need to do your part; you will never win the lotto if you never buy a ticket. I still make mistakes, I sometimes ask for stupid stuff and there was this little problem with always getting my desire, but always the hard way, it seem to be getting to me easier these days. But that obviously took the realization that I was expecting things to happen the hard way and then changing my mind about it.



Full Moon

I am moving to Zuvuya near Howick in KZN and I am starting to work there on the 1st of June. It is an Internship and I think I am about to experience and learn a great deal in the near future. I will be Organizational Assistant and part of my duties will be to secure Grants for various projects and also to promote the Eco tourism business. The one thing I have realized is that even green business need funding, and as long as there is a monetary system in place, it is really impossible to be completely self sustainable. You might have the most wonderful ideas to uplift your community and make the world a greener and better place, but you are going to need funds.

It looks like I will be hitting the ground running, but at the moment I am still at Peas on Earth and I am still clearing weeds and picking and packing veggies. I am a bit bored with this, but it is all part of what needs to be done and while I am here, I will bring my part.

Zuvuya, or more specifically Rainbow Homestead on the Zuvuya farm, is a sustainability outreach center and the Eco tourism business (Impendle) it is also a community project, but I will tell you more about all that later. I will also be writing the monthly newsletter and then there is a perma culture garden. I am so happy!

As I said, Riaan is away at the moment, he is also going after his dream job, he applied for a position as Assistant Researcher at GVI, and they do research on wild animals and are in karongwe, near Hoespruit in Mpumalanga, let us hope he gets this one.

This will all obviously mean that we will be miles apart, actually about 1 200 km’s (no idea how far this is in miles). I do believe that this can be a good thing; we have been fighting a lot lately, because of the dire and desperate situation we landed ourselves in. The beautiful part about this whole mess is the fact that we are both heading into a direction we really want to go, but we have long term goals and all the things we are doing are in preparation for these plans.

Next stop Zuvuya.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

FORFEITS AND FORTUNES


Things are a bit tense at the moment, I did not finish my supper last night and assumed it to still me mine this morning, then Niki went to work and looked for her lunch. I ate her lunch/my supper for breakfast. That was apparently the wrong thing to do, if you do not swallow it all down in one go you forfeit it, or something like that. 

Colin also keep on talking about his overseas Volunteer that pay him a fortune to work in his garden and stay here, problem is, I am not seeing any of them....

The wind must be blowing in the right direction, I actually  have GPRS on my Internet stick, it normally gives me Edge, which is just another word for super slow internet.  I am putting up some photo's while I can -



Piggy party


Sugar Bird in the kitchen


Afrikaner, flower


Creative art in the kitchen


Riaan is also away at the moment, gone to another interview, you just have to keep on going and keep on trying. 







AND LIFE GOES ON



Organic farming is hard work am I not even going to pretend that I am not rather stiff in the muscles, gardening is better exercise than Yoga, maybe not, but is does get you fit and I am getting a winter tan.

I might know a fair amount about planting and perma culture; but harvesting and packing for selling is a whole new ballgame. There is also a lot a routine involved, as I said previously some things simply have to be done and done at certain times, this does make for quite a lot of routine and I am not a big routine person, but that aside I am learning a lot. Different plants are handled and packed differently, Spinach does not mind a bit of water, but water just makes Lettuce soggy, so the Lettuce must be well drained after washing and before packing, stuff like that.




Part of the garden

Colin was a bit upset with me yesterday, I took too much initiative, thinking I am helping, but as he said, he knows the routine and the process and to be fair and honest, I do not. The fact is I appreciate his honestly and straight forwardness. Instead of  building up resentment and anger, just spit it out and get it over with, I like that kind of honesty and in the end I do think we understand each other better now.

I am busy making an Organic insect repellent, which I hope to sell, it is really a very basic but very effective concoctions with mostly Kakiebos (Stinking Robin or something like that in English), they grow all over the place so my raw material is free. This plant is consider a weed by the uninformed, I have to admit that they (Kakiebos) can do a hostile take-over; probably the reason it is seen as a weed. To make this organic spray you simply soak the leaves, with some Marigold flowers in water for about two weeks. You strain and use by spraying onto your plants. Fleas also do not like Kakiebos very much, so Kakiebos is also often used in Organic flea control on dogs (not sure about cats). The fact is most insect do not like the smell of Kakiebos. 

It is a rather sharp smell, but I do not find it altogether fowl smelling, although the final product is obtained from plants that have been rotting in water for two weeks, so that is rather smelly, even to humans. Most pesticides have a rather unpleasant smell and very often protective gear is needed when the stuff is sprayed, because you are handling lethal poisons, this Kakiebos concoction just smells bad, but does no harm, to you or the environment. This reminds me of a cartoon I saw the other day, it is this man spraying is crops with some chemical pesticides, while wearing mask and protective clothing and a little squirrel asks his if he also wears the mask and gear when he eats the products.




Laura, another Volunteer buy in the garden

There is a guy just up the road that farms exclusively with cabbages and when he met Colin the other day, he asked him “are you the guy doing the experimental farming?” This made me laugh, because if you think about it, who is really doing experimental farming, Colin with tried and tested methods in co-operation with nature, or somebody working against nature, poisoning plants and soil alike? I would rather think Mr. Cabbage is the one mindlessly experimenting, but he will obviously not see things that way.  Each one to his own and pop goes the world.

There is a tip on how to keep birds out of your fruit trees, hang your old DVD’s or CD’s in the tree; birds do not go near those shiny round things…




New Age scare crows, shiny DVD's in the trees


I am also on the short list for the position I applied for near Howick, the one as Organizational Assistant at Zuvuya.


Friday, May 4, 2012

COVERING NEW GROUND



The homestead from the hill

This is all new again and I do not know if this is just a female thing (I have only seen it in females), but you kind of stress when you move, your whole body reacts to it.  Maybe this is some sort of ancient instinctual thing about abandoning your nest of something?

Peas on Earth is an Organic farm, they obviously also strive towards self sustainability but it is not an eco community, it is a small Organic working farm and because you can add a lot of value to your product if you “process” it to the next step, (instead of just selling peaches, you make peach jam) there is a lot of making and baking going on as well. The whole commercial side is a new take on things for me.
There are also farm animals everywhere, chickens and ducks and pigs and horses, there was none of these at KD, just a few cow which belonged to Meduna. There are four beautiful horses here, I have been helping with their feeding and grooming. Two of the horses are here because Niki are taming them for somebody, it is a kind and gentle approach, not breaking their spirit, as in breaking them in. Instead of getting the animal to obey you through fear, you teach him with trust and love.


Some of the horses

The gardens are rather big and there is room for growth, the pigs are busy preparing a new section at the moment. You camp in a section where you would like to plant and you put some piggies in there, they will loosen the soil and remove (eat) a lot of the plant roots and cleaning the soil in the process and they fertilize a bit while they are at it.



 Soil before (with pig) and after the pig "worked" on it
The buildings are all old farm buildings, the main house is the typical 100 years ago farm house, a big squire with a veranda right around, over  time most of the veranda became additional rooms and this left the centre of most of these house with a few very dark rooms. Only solution for that is to knock out some walls. The light switches and plugs are sometimes situated in the strangest and most unexpected of places, because these were all added long after the house was built.  It is all and all a lovely spacious old farmhouse in various stages of renovation.

Peas on Earth overlooks a fast piece of wild landscape, just across the road and forever is a 30 000 Ha privately owned Game reserve. Then there is the view, you see all the way into the Old Transkei, which is still pretty much another country.


View from the stoep (porch)


I have been spending the last two days getting a feel for the routine and finding my way around. There are a lot of Perma culture techniques being applied, but because it is on a bit of a bigger scale it is not always possible. There is also more of a routine, animals have to be fed every morning, plants have certain set times to be watered etc.

There is a market on Sunday and Colin is dropping off at various places tomorrow, so there is a lot of picking and packing going on today and tomorrow. I also made some sprouts, to add to the collection.

We are still not sure exactly how we are going to create income, for now it is one day at a time, otherwise I will go mad.

Peas also make use of volunteers; that is pretty much what we are doing here at the moment, it is an exchange of labor for skills and as I said, this whole process of actually producing on a bigger scale, with the intent to sell the products is a whole new learning curve.

It is a rather challenging experience to be in your late 40’s and starting all from scratch, learning new skills and changing course, all that with very little capital, but there is no more turning back, I am eventually doing something I like doing and it is not a completely useless job, just for the sake of money. It is tough now, but I am sure it will be worth it very soon and for now I find peace and sanity in the gardens, that definitely helps.

Our internet connection is extremely slow, as I expected.