thoughtsfromthepanda

I do my best thinking while driving. I drive a Fiat Panda.

Archive for the tag “peace”

Asimbonanga for Madiba

Here is my tribute to Nelson Mandela – first published July 2012.

The world will remember the date you left us: 5 December 2013.

Rest in peace: great man, great humanitarian, humble human being. 

 

All the colours of the rainbow (and the healing power of music)

My children are colour-blind.

It’s awesome.

In this still-fledgeling democracy that is South Africa today, 18 years after the country queued, and queued, and queued some more to cast its vote in the first democratic elections, my children are colour-blind.

It is a great joy to me.

They do not see black, white, pink, purple or green – only their circles of friends. And in this world of theirs, all ‘colours’ of the rainbow are equal, with the possible exception of real-life pink for Liam, who wrinkles up his nose and tells me in his little gruff voice that ‘pink is for girls mom!’.

And my boys can dance, also.

liam-school-play-smaller

Who says white boys can’t dance?

I watched the children covertly the other night while I was in and out of the kitchen preparing dinner. Liam and Matthew were in the lounge where I’d introduced them to a Johnny Clegg CD – he who is known as ‘the white Zulu’ – and they’d loved the music instantly. They swayed, they stomped, they moved to the beat and they felt the rhythm.

I was so proud.

They’d discovered ‘Asimbonanga’ as their track of choice, and they played it over and over again. They know it practically off by heart now, including most of the isiZulu.

The song stirs up such memories for me. It was one of the anthems of my youth, when as a sheltered young adult I first learned – properly – about the legacy of Nelson Mandela, the great Madiba, who was incarcerated as a political prisoner for 27 years. At the time I first got to know the song, Madiba was still some years away from his release from his island prison, Robben Island off Cape Town.

My friends and I went to quite a few concerts where Johnny Clegg played, first with Juluka and later with Savuka. He and his early-rainbow nation brothers and sisters sang and danced their hearts out, and whenever they performed ‘Asimbonanga’, the emotion in the room was always tangible and always running high – but in a good way.

There we were, crowds of young, mainly white youth in an apartheid South Africa that was not of our making, and there as Johnny sang we fell silent, swaying with one movement, arms uplifted, cigarette lighters lit in that universal music concert’s peace sign.

There we linked arms, minds and souls as we listened, united, to the haunting melody and the even more haunting words. There we remembered, through the song, fallen heroes of the struggle, black and white, male and female. There we were united in understanding and a yearning for peace, even if we couldn’t speak isiZulu. Somehow, we knew what the words meant in their very essence, deep down in our core.

There at those Johnny Clegg concerts, we were part of the fore-runner of the dream of a rainbow nation that has almost come to pass.

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water

Chorus….

A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me?

Chorus….

Steven Biko, Victoria Mxenge
Neil Aggett
Asimbonanga
Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’wafela khona (In the place where he died)
Hey wena (Hey you!)
Hey wena nawe (Hey you and you as well)
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona (When will we arrive at our destination) 

And as I listen again to these inspirational and haunting words, I ask myself when, indeed, will we arrive at the destination we were all looking for in those days of dreaming? The days when we voted with our hearts and our souls for a united rainbow country?

I ask myself:

When will the children be educated as they were promised?

When will the women and children be free from the scourge of rape and murder?

When will government corruption and ineptitude be punished?

When will politicians who lie, cheat and steal acknowledge their guilt and tell the nation, “Yes, I made a mistake. Yes, I was wrong. Yes, I will make amends. Yes, I will step down”?

When will nurses and policemen and teachers be properly paid, properly trained, properly mindful of their hugely important role in this fledgeling democracy of ours? 

When will the taxi and bus industries, which transport millions of people every day, be better regulated so that we are not outraged on a daily and weekly basis by stories of horror motor crashes that kill and maim innocent people?

When will motorists stop shooting their cars recklessly through bright scarlet traffic lights, endangering the lives of law-abiding citizens?

When will motorists start buckling up their children in car seats?

When will we adopt a culture of kindness to animals?

When will….

I must stop before I descend into mere ranting.

I must look on the bright side. I was not made to ignore the silver linings.

I must remember that the voice of the people is growing – yes, I do believe so. Think about the outrage around the e-tolling saga; think about the outrage around Nkandla (God BLESS Thuli Madonsela!); think about the journalists and satirists and yes, even businessmen who speak out – and out – and out some more despite legislative attempts to gag them.

Think about the good initiatives that take place in South Africa, led by business, led by the media, led by the medical industry, led by private individuals.

Think about the Madiba legacy – the magic that was his; the magic that pulled a country back from the brink of civil war; the magic that can still be if we only look for it and better yet, create it.

Think about it.

Think about the children of South Africa as they play together on playgrounds that are all the colours of the rainbow nation.

Think about it.

And then do a little spot of rainbow magic Madiba singing and dancing, by order of the great man himself.

Oh, oh, oh to have been there….

Hey wena!

Yes, you.

And me.

And you, and you, and you…

Let’s work together to arrive at our intended destination after all.

Let’s blind South Africa with all the colours and all the hope of the rainbow.

Think about it.

Then do.

New beginnings and the passage of time

Since I wrote my last entry, I have cried. Quite a lot. And I have not been in enough of a positive, creative space to write much.

For a few reasons, this has not been a good year thus far.

It has been a year of obstacles and trying to find solutions to really big issues. And, where there were no solutions, trying to find the courage simply to deal with the issues.

It has been a year in which my natural optimism has been sorely tested.

And yet I have continued to walk this earth; continued to learn, survive and – I trust – grow.

fairy ring

I was helping Liam and Matthew to find something a few days ago, and during the search process, I came across a 2013 calendar. It was a little late to rediscover it, because we have already officially clocked up more than two-thirds of this year.

It got me thinking about the passage of time.

calendar

I remembered when the old lady in the pharmacy gave it to me, some time in very early January. She handed it over with a warm smile, as though she was bestowing a quite precious gift. In a way she was, because what she gave me was not only a piece of rolled-up cardboard with dates marked on it and decorated with some pretty pictures.

She was also giving me the hopeful gift of time still lying ahead and with it, dreams to forge and memories to build: new beginnings every month.

And as we cross over into a new month every four weeks or so, I find myself still determinedly and stubbornly trying to cultivate hope for brighter days ahead.

flowersinrain

I’ve always been a fan of opportunities for new beginnings. Besides, there is no other option if I am to stay sane and true to my inner values.

I am blessed that right now, I’m still lucky enough to have the gift of time on my life’s personal credit card. This makes it important to me to try and seek joy wherever I can find it.

We took an opportunity that arose recently to get a new puppy. To be very honest, I pushed for him, very hard. I persuaded and cajoled. (There is the issue of more doggy-doo in the garden to pick up, after all…)

But you see, I wanted to bring a little more joy back into my life.

And there he was. Just waiting for us. Perfect timing.

From the moment we picked up ‘Nickelback’ and took him home, he slotted seamlessly into our lives and our hearts. He is just gorgeous! He brings happiness and puppy love to everyone he meets. I call him our ‘joy boy’.

joyboy smaller

For me, our puppy and the unconditional love he brings into our family symbolises new beginnings in the purest of ways.

Even when picking up the you-know-what and trying hard to avert your senses.

 

 

Post script – song now playing (again):

Kyrie eleison’

 Mr Mister

 

Kyrie eleison

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be?

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

 

Beetles in the road

Flashback.

A teenage boy is standing in the middle of a deserted road in the middle of the day in the middle of a semi-desert. He is somewhere far north of Johannesburg, somewhere en route to Namibia in fact, and a long way from suburbia. In front of him, what seems like a small army of beetles is crossing his path. There are so many of them that they are, quite literally, filling the entire width of the road.

The sun overhead is beating down viciously and the tar is melting in the heat. The beetles are uncountable. He steps forward and as one they immediately stop moving. Among them there seems to be a collective consciousness of his presence: as he moves forward, they stop; as he stops, so they move forward once more.

He knows he could step into them to keep moving forward on his journey, crunching them underfoot in the process, but the soles of his boots are unwilling.

He cannot move forward right now to the nothingness he was hitching towards, and there is nothing immediately behind him that he wants to return to. He stands there, paralysed, for what seems like hours while the unseen stars overhead continue in their indifferent orbits and directly in front of him the army of beetles continues to cross the road.

He does not want to kill any of them; he does not want to feel them crunched underfoot. And so he stays there for those long, uncounted moments – maybe minutes, maybe an hour or more.

He is there because it is school holidays and his father, once again, has flung him out of home with a little money in his pocket and an injunction to go and hitch hike around the country.

Be a man! Have some adventures!

Be a man. Go. Get out.

And here he stands, watching this army of beetles in the middle of nowhere, possibly the only person under this southern sun to be witnessing this weird phenomenon. What does it mean and why – amid all the pain – does he still manage to feel a strange, reluctant sense of peace; a oneness with the universe as he stands here, temporarily paralysed, unwillingly halted?

He is sixteen years old. He wants to be at home. Above all else, he wants his mother.

 

scarab beetle

 

Author’s commentary: What does it mean?

The mystery of the boy’s presence at the exact moment of the beetles’ crossing is not for me to answer, although I can (and do) surmise. Below is some interesting research about the symbolism of beetles, including from the dim early history of man as a spiritual creature.

 

He who is coming into being

(Source here)

The god Khepri, which literally means “He who is Coming into Being”, was a creator god and a solar deity. He was represented as a scarab or dung beetle, or as a man with a beetle head.

 

Existence – day after day after day

(Source here)

…For the ancient Egyptians the common scarab beetle, Scarabaeus sacer, was a daily reminder of KHEPRI, the manifestation of the sun god RE in the early morning. Khepri’s job was to help the rising Sun journey across the sky each day, and he is often portrayed as a beetle rolling the Sun in front of him. The Egyptians noticed that the scarab beetles rolled balls of dung along the ground, and they saw this as an analogy for the Sun moving across the sky.

…For thousands of years scarab AMULETS were carved in Egypt. It was believed that wearing a scarab amulet brought protection and a long life. It was actually a pun, for the word kheper in hieroglyphs means both “scarab” and “to exist”.

 

Egyptian scarab

 

Resurrection, rebirth, protection against evil 

(Source here)

The scarab beetle was the most important amulet* worn by ancient Egyptians. It was symbolically as sacred to the Egyptians as the cross is to Christians.

*An amulet was worn to protect the wearer against evil and was worn on a chain, cord, or strap.

The Egyptians believed that Scarabs were associated with the Egyptian god, Khepri. It was Khepri that pushed the sun across the sky, just like a Scarab beetle would roll a ball of dung. The scarab beetle became an ancient Egyptian symbol for rebirth, the ability to be reborn. Each day the sun disappeared, always to rise again and be reborn the following day.

scarab amulet

 

Innocence and the pursuit of goals

(Source here) 

Beetle.– Beetle is a being of peace, wishing nothing more than to live at one with nature and the world. Metamorphosis, resurrection, past lives, rebirth of the soul, innocence of purpose. Beetle signals a confirmation we are on the right track and we should pursue our goals. .Some beetles are good omens and some beetles are bad omens. You need to learn which ones mean what in your area by studying their behavior and what occurs after you see one. Some beetles are messengers of good and bad weather. In some cases, beetles have devastated acres of trees, but they symbolically warned everyone before the attack.

  • Dung Beetle (Scarab). Resurrection, regeneration, new life and vitality. Connection to spherical power, ability to move heavy objects

two shiny scarabs

 

Synchronicity

(Source here)

…The Father of Meaningful Coincidences, which he called Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, was the great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl G. Jung. Jung articulated his concept of synchronicity after many years of study and reflection based on experiences with patients in psychotherapy and conversations with astrophysicists Albert Einstein and Professor Wolfgang Pauli.

By saying that coincidences were “acausal” Jung meant that they could not be accounted for or explained in purely physical or material cause and effect terms, but that nonetheless they had a meaningful connection or link to reality itself. In other words they are not just mere coincidence or happenstance. The universe participates in the human quest for meaning.

Jung said that synchronicity indicates that coincidences are “more than chance, less than causality”, a “confluence of events in a numinous or awesome atmosphere.” Moreover, he became convinced that these synchronicities arose during points of crisis in people’s lives and contained insights for future growth and development.

…Synchronicity and the scarab beetle

Jung’s most famous case of synchronicity in psychotherapy was with the woman patient who recited a dream she had had in which she was given a costly piece of jewelry, a golden scarab (beetle). While she was relating the dream Jung heard something tapping at the window from outside. Jung opened the window and in flew a scarbaeid beetle which he caught in his hand, its gold-green color resembling that of the golden scarab in the woman’s dream. He handed the beetle to his patient and said, “Here is your scarab.”

blue green scarab beetle

The woman, who was highly educated and intelligent, had been resisting dealing with her feelings and emotions. She was very adept at rationalisation and intellectualising. After the scary scarab experience she was able to get to the root of her emotional problems and to make real progress in her growth toward wholeness.

The universe had somehow cooperated in her therapy by giving her a meaningful coincidence. The scarab that tapped on Jung’s window was no ordinary bug. It was somewhat rare in those parts. It has, as one writer notes, “perennially symbolised transformation and metamorphosis, the very things that this woman’s unconscious was calling out for. It was as if the struggle in her soul had been projected like a powerful movie image into the outer world” and the universe responded accordingly.

…find your own meaning

…find your own meaning. The universe will assist you if your quest includes the heart as well as the head. Examine the course of your own life and see where seemingly meaningless chance turned into meaningful coincidence right before your eyes. Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. Integrate wonder back into your life.

 

integrate wonder

 

 

And finally…

(thanks to the photographer here)

Let’s not forget where the ‘us’ began.

Beetle beetle...

 

HOWZAT for synchronicity?

 

smiley face

 

 

All the colours of the rainbow (and the healing power of music)

My children are colour-blind.

It’s awesome.

In this still-fledgeling democracy that is South Africa today, 18 years after the country queued, and queued, and queued some more to cast its vote in the first democratic elections, my children are colour-blind.

It is a great joy to me.

They do not see black, white, pink, purple or green – only their circles of friends. And in this world of theirs, all ‘colours’ of the rainbow are equal, with the possible exception of real-life pink for Liam, who wrinkles up his nose and tells me in his little gruff voice that ‘pink is for girls mom!’.

And my boys can dance, also.

Who says white boys can’t dance?

I watched the children covertly the other night while I was in and out of the kitchen preparing dinner. Liam and Matthew were in the lounge where I’d introduced them to a Johnny Clegg CD – he who is known as ‘the white Zulu’ – and they’d loved the music instantly. They swayed, they stomped, they moved to the beat and they felt the rhythm.

I was so proud.

They’d discovered ‘Asimbonanga’ as their track of choice, and they played it over and over again. They know it practically off by heart now, including most of the isiZulu.

The song stirs up such memories for me. It was one of the anthems of my youth, when as a sheltered young adult I first learned – properly – about the legacy of Nelson Mandela, the great Madiba, who was incarcerated as a political prisoner for 27 years. At the time I first got to know the song, Madiba was still some years away from his release from his island prison, Robben Island off Cape Town.

My friends and I went to quite a few concerts where Johnny Clegg played, first with Juluka and later with Savuka. He and his early-rainbow nation brothers and sisters sang and danced their hearts out, and whenever they performed ‘Asimbonanga’, the emotion in the room was always tangible and always running high – but in a good way.

There we were, crowds of young, mainly white youth in an apartheid South Africa that was not of our making, and there as Johnny sang we fell silent, swaying with one movement, arms uplifted, cigarette lighters lit in that universal music concert’s peace sign.

There we linked arms, minds and souls as we listened, united, to the haunting melody and the even more haunting words. There we remembered, through the song, fallen heroes of the struggle, black and white, male and female. There we were united in understanding and a yearning for peace, even if we couldn’t speak isiZulu. Somehow, we knew what the words meant in their very essence, deep down in our core.

There at those Johnny Clegg concerts, we were part of the fore-runner of the dream of a rainbow nation that has almost come to pass.

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water

Chorus….

A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me?

Chorus….

Steven Biko, Victoria Mxenge
Neil Aggett
Asimbonanga
Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’wafela khona (In the place where he died)
Hey wena (Hey you!)
Hey wena nawe (Hey you and you as well)
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona (When will we arrive at our destination) 

And as I listen again to these inspirational and haunting words, I ask myself when, indeed, will we arrive at the destination we were all looking for in those days of dreaming? The days when we voted with our hearts and our souls for a united rainbow country?

I ask myself:

When will the children be educated as they were promised?

When will the women and children be free from the scourge of rape and murder?

When will government corruption and ineptitude be punished?

When will politicians who lie, cheat and steal acknowledge their guilt and tell the nation, “Yes, I made a mistake. Yes, I was wrong. Yes, I will make amends. Yes, I will step down?”

When will nurses and policemen and teachers be properly paid, properly trained, properly mindful of their hugely important role in this fledgeling democracy of ours? 

When will the taxi and bus industries, which transport millions of people every day, be better regulated so that we are not outraged on a daily and weekly basis by stories of horror motor crashes that kill and maim innocent people?

When will motorists stop shooting their cars recklessly through bright scarlet traffic lights, endangering the lives of law-abiding citizens?

When will motorists start buckling up their children in car seats?

When will we adopt a culture of kindness to animals?

When will….

I must stop before I descend into mere ranting.

I must look on the bright side. I was not made to ignore the silver linings.

I must remember that the voice of the people is growing – yes, I do believe so. Think about the outrage around the e-tolling saga; think about the outrage around a R2 billion presidential jet; think about the journalists and satirists and yes, even businessmen who speak out – and out – and out some more despite legislative attempts to gag them.

Think about the good initiatives that take place in South Africa, led by business, led by the media, led by the medical industry, led by private individuals.

Think about the Madiba legacy – the magic that was his; the magic that pulled a country back from the brink of civil war; the magic that can still be if we only look for it and better yet, create it.

Think about it.

Think about the children of South Africa as they play together on playgrounds that are all the colours of the rainbow nation.

Think about it.

And then do a little spot of rainbow magic Madiba singing and dancing, by order of the great man himself.

Oh, oh, oh to have been there….

Hey wena!

Yes, you.

And me.

And you, and you, and you…

Let’s work together to arrive at our intended destination after all.

Let’s blind South Africa with all the colours and all the hope of the rainbow.

Think about it.

Then do.

You and me, we’re heroes too

Sometimes I like to scribble down a few lines of poetry. Sometimes the lines are not bad and other times they are not really terribly good, I suppose, but they serve a purpose, at least at the time I write them.

Here’s one I always thought could be a song. It’s for the unsung heroes – all of us. We know who we are.

(I think it’s that aspirant 60s child in me coming out again…. )

 

You and me, we’re heroes too

Two warring leaders went to peace;

The world gave a ringing cheer.

Greenpeace waved the whaling finger

Their principles blindingly clear.

The cameraman fell in the gunfire;

He fell in a blaze of glory

And he, in a way, was lucky –

His, too, was a public story:

But unsung heroes are heroes too

And everyone knows at least one or two.

 

A medic died of ebola;

The media promptly went ape.

The Red Cross braved the conflicts as

The borders changed their shape.

Some single guy traversed Antarctica–

Quite alone, no dogs in sight

While back at home the babies cry

For solace in the night.

And single mothers are heroes too

And I say they deserve their due.

 

The boy-soldiers went to war on

The old men’s dashing whims

And of all the things that tap my tears

Disability’s the dreaded thing.

Yet we all of us have our crosses

And our losses, and our pain

And sorrow’s returning burden

Is the world’s oldest refrain:

So we just carry on; it’s what we do –

Yes, you and me: we’re heroes too.

 

copyright Vivienne Fouche 1996

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