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Archive for March, 2011

Hi Everyone,

We are finally launching I Learn to Live and it would be FANTASTIC if you would join us for a beautiful evening at the Litchi Orchard in Salt Rock. My good friend Jaspar will be giving a concert and the Corner Cafe is going to cook up a storm. We’d love to have you celebrate with us and all proceeds will go towards funding our students fees.

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Freedom

It tastes like soil blown up off the ground as we race towards our unknown destination. The smell of the ocean miles away flows in through the open windows and plasters our hair across our faces as we scream and yell with our first encounter of freedom.

I am sixteen and sheltered by the security of a father who believes in a humanity obsessed with evil intentions. And I am naïve; my spirit is unaware of the world around me which longs to embrace me. But I am freed by my education which brings to me to this place where the foothills of Zululand stretch out before me and I am disconnected temporarily from the rule of law.

Twin boys, men really, meet my sister and I as we stumble shyly from the family car. We stand before them; uncertain and green in the yawning gap which marks us as innocents in their world of experience. Though we have been raised as children of the bush, we cannot compete with farm boys; boys who’ve run barefoot across parched earth and into the wilds which have surrounded them their entire existence. Boys who’ve become men who intimately know the hills and forests, every dusty road and dying river of this place they call home. We stand here though with purpose, my sister and I. We are here in search of a once dying art; an art which calloused hands once wove out of necessity; certainly not only for beauty. These hardy men will reveal to us the art of weaving and basketry which men, not women, of the Zulu nation once coaxed into life from the lush valleys around them.

We are roaring down the False Bay road and the long soft grasses of the veld stream by in long satiny waves. My face is lifted to the dying light of the day; both of us alone in this moment of togetherness in which we find ourselves. My sister is driving for the very first time unchaperoned; her hands flutter nervously against the steering wheel and her head swivels to the right and left and up to the rear-view mirror. I know she finds delicious delight in this moment of freedom; me the only witness to this unexpected adventure. The twins have sent us on an errand with the instruction to explore and come back only when we are ready. We take the road which leads us to the watery edges where bulrushes and papyrus grow; a grazing pod of hippos snort and lurch into the silver mass creating waves and currents as they sense our arrival. We know these hippos; our dad’s stories of daring escapades and near misses have become as much a reality to us as they are to him. In this first true moment of adulthood I sense for myself a future in this place. A desire to live near these ancient sands which are still untouched by the frenetic world which lies 200 kilometres  away.

“Feel the strength in the fibre, see the tale in the design” – in my hands I hold a basket of such intricate pattern and detail that I cannot fathom how this was made by human hands. Surely only a machine can create such symmetry, such perfect beauty? We are standing at a table, a long line of women stretches out; each waiting patiently with their baskets. The twins take each masterpiece and take their time admiring the perfection but also seeking out the flaws. These men, trained by their mother, have revived this art of weaving and basketry, which had been replaced by plastic and tin. They have harnessed this skill and beauty inherent in these women, and have made the demand for such pieces a global phenomenon. Each piece is paid for and the women slowly melt away, a small treasure tucked into a bra for safekeeping.

The taste of the soil, the smell of the ocean, the whipping wind and the dying light of the day; all reminders of that first taste of freedom, reminders of the starting point to the place where I am exactly meant to be.

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