The South African whose funeral attracted more Afro-Africans than that of Nelson Mandela

From history people can learn that history is always repeating itself. Unfortunately history is not high on the list of subjects in education so people forget or are unaware of the existence of certain events. I’m not a South African but Dutch living in South Africa and, while not pretending to know it all, I do know that I know more about the South African history than the average South African.

Smuts1Why am I writing this? Yesterday I was in my favourite South African bookshop and noticed some books about one of the most prominent South Africans of all times: Jan Smuts. Unfortunately the Wikipedia article does not mention everything except that Smuts walked on Ghandi’s sandals, was mentioned in one of Albert Einstein’s writings, had dealings with Winston Churchill, etc. etc. If the ‘General’ had won the 1948 elections there wouldn’t have been ‘Apartheid’ to the extend it grew into under the Broederbond (brotherhood) supported National Party. Neither does it say that many (white) South Africans moved out of the country after the 1948 elections in which Smuts was defeated.

Smuts’ funeral (15 September 1950) attracted more people (especially native Africans) than that of Nelson Mandela. How people forget … W.F. de Klerk’s older brother wrote in 1975 (!!!) “The Puritans in Africa‘ with as subtitle ‘A Story of Afrikanerdom‘ (Published by Penguin Books, UK).

About the last days and the funeral De Klerk writes:

“…. From everywhere in the world, inquiries and good wishes started pouring in to Doornkloof. From everywhere advice and a variety of medicaments were sent. ‘Never did he speak any words of criticism or bitterness of his political foes,’ his physician recounted. ‘The only tone of disappointment I ever noted during my conversations was against those of his fellow-Afrikaners who, he thought, did not regard him as one of them because he thought wider than the South African scene’ …..

…… At each station on the way …. the speed was slackened to permit the standing crowds on the platforms to pay their last respects. Crowds of all races… were on the station. At Irene Station, near his home, an African children’s choir stood to sing the train through the platform lined with flowers. At Olifantsfontein, Africans lined the fences along the rail track, heads bowed, hands folded. A quarry edge was lined up with silent watchers ………. ”   etc. etc.

Again: Why am I writing this? Standing in the bookshop, seeing and picturing the ‘Smuts collection’, I recalled the paragraph I just quoted and wondered if Mandela’s funeral wouldn’t have been more respectful this way than the political propaganda spectacle it was made into last year …

 

 

Made in South Africa

A combination of natural bonded South African soil and South African Sterling Silver; very time consuming to create but each piece of this kind of jewellery art is unique and is complemented with a certificate with the name of the owner as model-name.

People from outside South Africa love it. Unfortunately many South Africans, so it seems, are not very proud of ‘Made in South Africa’….

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The Banana House

A bit further on in our street is a little house which is known as the ‘Banana House’ but there is nobody in the village who knows where this name comes from. Has it been a shed for the storage of bananas which was later converted into a house? Or is there some other story. Just wonder if there is any Irish or South African reader of this blog who can tell the story (Irish and South Africans are the best story-tellers in the world …. 😀 😀 :D)???

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Home Sweet Home

These pictures show how millions of South Africans are housed.

To avoid misunderstandings: it’s NOT the homestead of South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma. This guy has always been very privileged … 😉 …; most probably never stayed in a shack (well I did and it was quite an experience. Everything there except electricity and a toilet …)

These pictures are part of a documentary serie I’m engaged in for the NGO Food4Thought which runs the pre-primary school Funimfundo (= ‘Seeking Knowledge’) in the location (township/informal settlement) Die Kop nearby my village. The school is privately funded (no state involved), exists for 10 yrs and is regarded as one of the best in the Western Cape.

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The mystery of The Red Bike of Stanford

South Africans …. well … there are no better story-tellers in the world and sometimes the truth is something different although the best stories always have some truth in them….

But now they are stuck. Everybody I ask about the background of The Red Bike stands with his/her mouth full of teeth (as far as any left in many cases…. dental care is unaffordable for the majority). Even the local historian, who wrote an awesome good documented and illustrated book about Stanford, doesn’t know. The Red Bike is ‘walled’ against the Caltex petrol station at the entrance of the village and the local tourism bureau advertises it amongst the many things to see in and around the village. Is the story too gruesome to tell? Is there something about this bike that people are ashamed of? Well one can think of numerous questions. Maybe there is a simple answer to all this such as “there was no green paint” or “they just put the bike against the wall for decoration”. Maybe the answer is not that simple. It just remains a mystery and that explains this imaginary (second picture is the original).

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Ain’t this Hottentots God beautiful?

Insects, none domesticated animals alike, are not patient when posing for a photo shot.  What the people of Cape Town are for other South Africans is the Hottentots God for insects; Relax, tomorrow is another day…

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