Prototype of a wooden Handbag

Some years ago, during our previous life at Soekershof, we managed some workshops on our farm where local artisans had the opportunity to hone their skills. Some beautiful things were created such as the huge wire baobab tree for the South African embassy in Berlin (Germany). Visitors from around the globe saw the people at work and it was always a nice exchange between cultures and it was selling on the spot; from wire work to seed boxes (with inlaid wood) with seeds from plants in our garden !!!

At the time Soekershof was Fair Trade accredited which meant that we could supply Fair Trade and similar shops (like Oxfam in the UK) with products. But you know what? These shops (including their umbrella organizations) wanted to have it all cheap, very cheap, while we had the impression that Fair Trade stood (stands?) for (e)quality and honest income for people from less privileged areas in the world. … One of ideas (from a Dutch Fair Trade organization) was to market wooden handbags so ‘Mr. Plaatjies’ (the woodworker) made a few laminated prototypes. Cost price of wood, leather, etc., (= just the materials) was around R 10,00 (1.5 USD); fairly cheap because we recycled rest pieces. Fair Trade offered us 1 EURO each including transport to Holland; less than materials costed us.

Well … we told them to buy in China. But this is not the end of the story.

We still have one prototype left. And that one will last a long, long,  time.

_DSC1277

Snails and Mathematics

“The spiral in a snail’s shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it’s also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It’s the same ratio that you’ll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world“. – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

fullmoonsnails

Nguni cattle

There is not much literature about the African Nguni cattle. But there is this book “The Abundant Herds – a celebration to the Nguni cattle of the Zulu people” that’s worthwhile to read and is well illustrated. Written and illustrated by Marguerite Poland, David Hammond and Leigh Voigt and partly based on the study of Bert Schroeder (RIP). ISBN 978-1-874950-70-7; published by Fernwood Press/Random House Struik. Why I’m mentioning all this? Well… I grew up in an agricultural environment dominated by Holsteiners (and its varieties), Simmenthalers, Angus etc. in Europe. These are the most common breeds of cattle around the globe. Africa has its own cattle and we all have to credit the Zulu people for magnificent name giving (based on the hide patterns) but first of all for their efforts to keep the Nguni pure. Nguni cattle play an important role in the Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho cultures in Southern Africa. In a typical Zulu village the kraal is always the center point. It provided the villagers not only with milk and meat; it also served as bridal dowry (“lobola”). The more lighter the hide the higher the status of the owner. Shaka Zulu bred white Nguni cattle and his elite guards were recognized by their white hides. There is so much to tell about this disease resistant type of cattle. You see them grazing in Northern parts of South Africa but the last years farmers in other parts of this country discover the (commercial) advantages of this breed. In our small village for example are already 4 herds of which we know and a fifth one on its way. As I’m asked to picture Nguni cattle for a hide trader I snapshooted, by means of photographic study, quickly some Ngunis on my way to another photographic subject early this.

_DSC6130_DSC6167 _DSC6153 _DSC6154 _DSC6161 _DSC6164 _DSC6168 _DSC6172

Looking after Life: A look at the local cemetery

There is a wide variety of cultures in South Africa and every culture has its own way of living with the ‘beloved ones’ who passed away.

Simplified; there are ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ people’s graves. ‘Poor’ does not always mean ‘poor at heart’ and the same applies the other way around for ‘rich’.

But who am I to judge?

I just visited the local cemeteries and took some pictures. Pictures speak for themselves. That’s all.

_DSC2749web

_DSC2031WEB _DSC2745web_DSC2747web

Split personality

Sometimes I hear people tell me that “… you say what you think” and with that telling me not to believe one word of their stories. Thinking, saying and doing are three different entities in our existence and getting to know each other and building up true lasting friendships has everything to do with the ability of not only opening your mind and your heart but also showing that ‘thinking’, ‘saying’ and ‘doing’ are one despite our dark secrets. Come to think of it; we’re all ‘split personalities’ and I am not an exception. We all have an ‘alter ego’ and this realization goes back to the early days of humanity and religion. There has always been ‘good’ and ‘evil’; a ‘God’ and a ‘devil’. In South African cultures there is the ‘Tokkelossie‘ or tokoloshe/tikoloshe (‘uthikoloshe‘) which represent the ‘evil’ and since everybody thinks that he/she is a good person the influence of a ‘Tokkelossie’ has to be avoided at any cost; going that far that some people believe that once put your bed on stones the ‘Tokkelossie’ does nog have a chance to pollute your ‘good being’ during your sleep.

Who am I; a ‘good’ or an ‘evil’ person? I think we all have both and some of us have more ‘good’ and the other more ‘evil’ although not many ‘evil’ people will admit that they are. And than we also have to define ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Is, for example, a mother who steals bread to be able to feed her children an ‘evil’ person? Pretty sure that there is a large grey area in which ‘good’ and ‘evil’ overlap each other. Who am I to judge?

In the recent past I published some photoshopped self-portraits. Here I publish three of them. The first picturing who I think I am; the second how others might see me and the third how I see my true self in (which?) mirror.