Sep 23, 2012

South Africa's forgotten people


A few hundred miles north of Cape Town in the dry and rugged Richtersveld mountains lie four communities along the Orange River whose people are known by several names; the Nama, San, Khoisan, the ‘people of the Richtersveld’, and derogatorily also known as the Bushmen. With a slim frame, a biscuit or apricot-colored complexion, wrinkly features, wiry hair, they are the remnants of the indigenous people who once were hunter gatherers and beachcombers in the early Cape.

They had lived for centuries in the mountains, fished in the waters and looked for food along the shore. They have good eyesight and make excellent trackers and have the ability to study a pile of manure or animal dung and tell you which animal had made the deposit, the age of the animal, and the direction in which it had gone. They left behind a trail of rock paintings along the coast and had a wonderful sense of poetry, music and art. Some of these paintings can be seen at a resort in the Cedarberg where San children and adults are on display in their original skins and habitat.

Living conditions

It is shocking that once the land which had been freely used by all were taken away and some of them migrated towards the Cape, some wandering in the streets, some finding jobs, others living out their lives as alcoholics. In the past part of the white man’s form of payment was a ‘dop’, alcohol, which kept them in a perpetual state of slavery. Filmmakers saw a chance to join in and a film by Jamie Uys, The Gods Must Be Crazy, where a Coke bottle falls from the sky and causes a tribe member to start walking to the end of the earth to return it to the gods, was born. The San were romanticized and the act of trying to give back a Coke bottle to the gods attests to their delightful nature. They speak both Khoisan and Afrikaans which has a click to it when they talk. Hunted by the early settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, they fled north and disappeared.

The Nama

Another group of indigenous people are the Nama, similar in colour and stature to the San, who also had Mongolian features, and lived around the Orange River in the mid nineteenth century. These indigenous people were called Hottentots. Today, about 60,000 Nama live in Namibia and in the Richtersveld which are made up of Eksteenfontein, Kubus, Sanddrift and Port Nolloth.They have been granted houses along sandy streets and there is the normal church and school and a piano which provide entertainment. The Nama Dance which has them dancing around a fire in a trance is a particular favorite. 

Culture in the Richtersveld
They are also known for their natural remedies and their rooster brood, flat bread baked on a stone oven. Problems in the community are teenage pregnancy and alcoholism; their biggest concern is that their culture and language is dying out. Elders are worried and say that the children are uninterested in learning the language of their elders and many of them now speak only Afrikaans and a few words of English. Their second claim to fame is that when Queen Elizabeth was in South Africa the last time she met with the leader of the four communities, Oom Po’, and shook his hand. A large framed photograph of the Queen is on the wall in the living room where everyone can see it. Of all the communities in the Cape these indigenous people have fared the worst.

The magic of eggs

Tomatoes and eggs breakfast for 1 person

If you love eggs and are bored with the normal boiled, fried, scrambled or poached eggs, here is a tangy, delicious breakfast for one. The ingredients are simple; the taste is great. Have a pan with a lid or something that can cover the ingredients in a pan. A lid is imperative as it is part of the poaching process. The ingredient are 2 large organic and grain-fed eggs, 6 small tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 green or red chilli, a pinch of salt, and 1teaspoon of sugar.

Braise the tomatoes in the pan until they are almost brown. Add the olive oil and stir in with the sugar and salt and chilli. Immediately crack open the two eggs and put on top of the tomato braise. Cook 1 minute at the same high heat, then put on  the lid, switch off the stove, and let it summer for two or three minutes. Take it out of the pan with a spatula, unbroken, and have a delicious breakfast with an Italian roll and an espresso.

Stretching your meal with eggs

Here is a magic trick with eggs stealing space in a pot of hot curry or a tomato bredie. Bredie is a slow cook of meat, onions, spices, tomatoes and potatoes. Cook your curry or your bredie like you always do. To stretch the food or to have eggs in a different way, wait until the curry is cooked, switch off the stove, crack two eggs in the juice in the curry pot, put on the lid and let it simmer. The eggs will be firmly poached, and you can either have it with basmati rice without the meat and save it for the next day’s meal, or eat it as you like. If there are two of you, use four eggs. You have two meals in one and all you have taken out of the pot are the eggs and the juices created by the meat in the pot. Bon appetit!

Rising above a writing slump

Writing for some article writing sites is like a bland marriage getting staler by the minute and you’re at odds whether you should stay on or leave. It is the same grinding out of words, the same advice which needs a freshening-up and unless you address this writing malaise you are apt to slack off and find excuses not to write. It is true; writing five or ten articles at a time is not easy work. You have to research your subject, garner information no one has, put a fresh spin on an old subject, and make it fresh and different every time. When you’re done you repeat the whole cycle – five or ten times a day. 

Things you can do to rise above your slump

·         Depending on the article, change your usual stream-of-consciousness writing - if that is your present style – and work just a bit harder to find that piece of information that will add to your piece. Work the point in a creative way and put more effort into your style.  

·         Research two or three different articles before you start to write. Have a break, get a feel for the piece and write from the heart and not from the magazine page.

·         If the writing gees – spirit - only kicks in after lunch that is the time you should write.

·         Take a break if you start getting bored and go and play tennis with a friend, or read a book.

·         Don’t take on more than you can chew as then you will start to worry about the three remaining articles you still have to research, write and deliver by a certain time.

·         If you are not in the mood for writing, don’t write. You will only be aggravated by the subject. Read a book related to your business or go out.

·         Try soft music in the background to stop you from falling asleep and to kill the dead sound in the room.

·         Take a day off in the week to do your banking and outside activities, watch a movie with a cappuccino and fall asleep. 

·         Get up early the next morning and get to your laptop. Do not switch on the news and do not get up until you have finished the article.