Friday, January 06, 2006

A racially divided country....

Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
We are now in the beautiful Amatola Mountains, at a place called Hogsback, 250 residents (mostly white) in the forests with views across to the mountains. There are birds and flowers everywhere, the sun is shining and the air smells so clean and fresh.

Yesterday, we arrived in thick mist and drizzly rain which we had had for about the last three hours of our long long drive from Durban... again not what teh topurist brochures would have us believe. The distance in the end was about 770 kms, which is a bit further than Amsterdam to Basel, on the road to Rome, the measure I always use to measure long driving distances. We did it in about 11 hours stopping off a few times in what used to be the Transkei, to take pictures of the hillside villages and, of course the Nelson Mandela Museums in Mthata and Qunu. The one at Qunu where he grew up is not quite finished but it looks amazing. A youth training and exhibition centre, it has been built by local peple using local materials of rock, stone, mosaics, wood etc, the locals being taught also how to use these materials. Amazing to look at the hillside with isolated houses and rondavels, a few cattle and gots wandering around, no trees, the river at the bottom of the valley and think that one of teh greatest men alive today was brought up and grew up here!

The tourists brochures will talk about the South Coast (south of Durban), becoming the Hibiscus Coats, becoming then the Wild Coast, becoming then the Garden Route, it will also say that we have left KwaZulu Natal for Eastern Cape. All sounds quite harmless, until you actually make the trip, and cross the mountain pass from KawaZulu Natal with its green grazing pastures, large farms, massive forests and cross over into rocky ex-Transkei, the mountainsides full of samall dwellings where the !Xhosa people live, including the families of the 2 million people sent there against their wills by the Apartheid authorities. Amazing to see and one is really left wondering how things are ever going to change dramatically. The white farmer on his good land, completely mechanised growing food very efficiently has his place just as much as the many many subsistence farmers working the other side of the boundary.

Today we are loking forward to walks into the forests and up into the mountains, looking out for exotic birds, such as the Cape Parrot and the Knysa Turaco, whilst seeking out waterfalls to splash about in and cool down. Idyliic, it really is!

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