Just a few days back from the long trip to Africa and I am still tired! Trying not to fall asleep in the middle of the day and getting up at 2am is still ongoing. I was really surprised to see that Africa was very much like Australia, environmentally that is. Hot, dry weather and sparse vegetation, actually Africa was in the middle of a drought. I was pleased with the amount of people who turned up to my presentation and the amount of discussion that it generated. It was also very rewarding to see the little picture/poetry books being enthusiastically received. One person in the audience was reduced to tears, I guess then, that my presentation had an impact of a certain kind.
How about this fact, my presentation was programmed for the Slave Lodge! Imagine presenting about death and dying in an environment filled with the ghosts of the slaves. The atmosphere was heavy, filled with emotions, the stone steps were worn where the slaves once walked. It was very confronting, to say the least, coming to terms with past events, not usually so prominently physically evident. The Slave Lodge was built in 1679 as the slave lodge of the Dutch East India Company. From the website -It is believed that up to 9000 slaves, convicts and the mentally ill lived in the building between 1679 and 1811. The Iziko website The Heritage of Slavery in South Africa gives details of the slave period in the history of the building. Surprisingly, the insensitivity of the South African people to continue to use this building as a venue for performances, is simply a calamity! And does not respect the people who were imprisoned and died there in the past.
Also, surprising to me about Africa was the Englishness of the place. The buildings, the way the people dressed, the silly suits that the men wore at the hotel, and the silly politeness of it all, was really elite and frustrating. Given the history that Africa has undergone, I guess it is not surprising, however, I found the African Indigenous people very kind, shy, smiley, gentle and humble. During the conference when the speaker was addressing the participants, there was a disruption caused by an African woman who was extremely upset at the research that was being undertaken. Unfortunately, her opinions were right in one case, however, it became apparent that her intentions to disrupt the proceedings were paramount and slightly misguided, although given her first interruption and the complaint it is not surprising that she was upset by the research process.
Whilst in Africa I could not leave without at least seeing the animals in their correct place, on African soil. So, I booked a safari. It was fabulous to see the animals at home and content in their environment but at the same time very disappointing to see the mutilation of some caused by the greed and I guess the poverty of people.