Cold Feet

 

3475_001_Fotor

Jack Frost reached up and grabbed hold of my toes. His touch was gentle like a lover’s caress.

I reacted like a frog in a pot of hot water. I didn’t pull away. I just sat there hardly aware of the icy grip penetrating to the bone.

Until I couldn’t feel my feet at all.

At which point is was too late.

That was at about 10 o’clock this morning.

Now, I sit at 4pm, all dignity shredded, with my feet wrapped in a jacket under my desk.

My pretty shoes have been casually discarded on the floor.

Pretty is as pretty does and pretty does not keep my toes warm apparently.

I considered sitting on the office kitchen counter and bathing my feet in the sink, but decided that it might be unhygienic.

I considered going down to my car, turning on the heater and working from the parking lot, but the Wi-Fi is spotty down there.

The cold has now risen up my body and is perched somewhere near my neck, cackling like a winter hag on a broomstick.

I live in bloody Africa!

I’d be warmer right now in the Outer Hebrides.

 

Friday Fictioneers – Ancestor

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Copyright Randy Mazie

I lie across the road from the living. Our paths cross every day. The children smile and wave as I sit and soak up the sun. I keep an eye on the chickens and goats as they scratch between the stones. I like to see the lights come on in the houses when night falls. It is a good place. A place to be remembered. You see, where I come from we do not mourn our dead, but celebrate them. Once I was a frail, living woman, but now I am an ancestor charged with watching and guiding the ones who came after. 

 

It’s Friday Fictioneers again! Head over to Rochelle’s and give it a try, or just read some of the other entries for some inspiration. 

The Birth of Africa

Aimlessly clicking through the documents saved on my hard drive, I found this little story slash poem. Apparently I have a thing about rainbows. Who knew.

African Rainbow by Pamela Schiermeyer
African Rainbow by Pamela Schiermeyer

When I was a small boy I sat at my father’s knee and he told me the tales of Africa came to be.

And I asked, “Baba, will you tell me of the rainbow and the colours in the air?”

And he told me this story as I sat by his chair

 

Sometimes as a child becomes a man

The rain washes the colour right out of the land

So it happened in the land that I call home

That the colours disappeared and I was left alone

 

So I prayed to Africa, the great mother of us all

To send to me all those who could hear my call

The mighty black eagle flew up to the sun in the sky

And brought back to the earth the red flame of her fire

 

The king of all lions roared deep in his breast

And gave as gift the ochre orange of his breath

The men tunnelled deep into the belly of the earth

To bring the yellow of the gold of Africa’s birth

 

The song travelled on the wings of the wind’s ebb and flow

And brought the seeds of green in my garden to grow

The fish in the rivers and the dolphins on the sea

Brought back the blue heart of the ocean to me

 

In the deep of the night the moon shone down

And gave a deep indigo jewel from her crown

The birds sang a harmony strong and true

And a pure violet flower grew and grew

 

Then right into my line of sight

A rainbow formed out of shimmering light

She appears in the sky right after the rain

Bringing us our hopes and dreams again

 

And that, my child, my father said to me

Is the magic of Africa alive in you and me

Imagine a land where stories are born

In the light of a fire bright and warm

 

As the tales are told they come to be

In place filled with beauty and rare mystery

Where there are birds so big they cannot fly

And giraffes so tall they touch the sky

 

Where gold lies hidden deep in the earth

And songs are more wealth than money is worth

Where oceans meet in a clash of thunder

And the rain is brought by a Queen of wonder

 

Where the city streets beat to a rhythm as old as time

Creating a future, a land in her prime

A land that lies waiting for you to fly

And join her in an endless African sky

 

S is for Shivering in my Boots

CA_03_2003_120

Africa. Where the sun always shines on TV. Well, it doesn’t. Always shine.

This weekend was a London-esque as it gets. Except for some major differences. It isn’t London.

13704-game-of-thrones-stark-winter-is-comingIt’s very Games of Thrones in South Africa in more ways than one, but Winter has certainly come with all the subtlety of a raging warrior brandishing a broadsword and yelling a war cry.

When I lived in London I was never so cold as I am right now in Africa.

I miss central heating.

I miss double glazing.

I miss warm clothes that are actually warm.

Every winter we have rolling electricity blackouts as we all try to keep ourselves from freezing to death. I am sure we could cut our usage of fuel and power with double glazing as some decent approximation of insulation.

The cats have retreated to sit on the top of the geyser. The dogs are curled up in mute plea in front of the dormant fireplace. One of the old-fashioned ones, that actually requires you cut down a tree not just flick a switch.

Corset_Harpers_Bezar1882lI spent the weekend working on a big job with a Victorian corset type of deadline. I sat with my feet on a hot water bottle (necessitating constant refills), hot water bottle and feet wrapped in a blanket.

A blanket lay on my legs, a beanie on my head and around my upper half, two polar fleeces bought in England and an insulated camping jacket bought there too.

There are times when fashion is simply not a consideration.

 

In fury at the situation I called the hardware megachain and asked if they had double glazing. I spoke to about 4 different people none who had any idea what I talking about.

Person number 5 said, “Ah, You must be from England.”

Apparently they do not have double glazing.

Person 5 suggested I put in double panes of glass with a matchstick between them.

I felt like telling them graphically what they could do with that matchstick.

Everything here is designed for mid summer heat. Lots of restaurants outdoors. Lots of wide open airy internal spaces that cost the GDP of a small African state to heat.

For heaven’s sake!

There are countries permanently snowbound that are warmer to live in than this one.

I am cleaner than a vestal virgin since the water is the only thing that’s hot.

I’d retreat to my car, but the air conditioner is stuck on Arctic, which only makes it worse.

In deference to my state, the husband kindly replaced all the window panes that have fallen out, reducing the freezing breeze that made these blue fingers freeze.

He has yet to relent on the end of the month electric blanket deadline though.

Scarce natural resources be damned, tomorrow I am buying a heater for this room.

The sun was shining today. Winter here is beautiful. Clear blue skies that stretch for eternity. Being cold just makes me cranky.

Sitting Polar bearIt brings to mind a favourite little rhyme of my father’s.

“As cold as charity

And that’s pretty glum.

As cold as the hairs

On a polar bear’s bum.”

 

 

F is for Fanagolo Pharmaceuticals

empclothes

Want bigger boobs? Want to see your enemies in the mirror and make them do the funky chicken?

Want to get a promotion or remove the black spot from your hand. The one that keeps taking away all your good luck?

Not a problem. We’ve got it covered.

sangoma 3South Africa has a thriving traditional medicine sector. These days it seems to be largely made up of refugees and immigrants from other African nations looking to make a quick buck from the infinitely gullible.

I can’t say it is any different from the array of magical vitamins you can pick off the shelf at any supermarket and pharmacy, but their advertising is certainly more entertaining.

Apparently, one of the main issues faced by men in this country is the eternal malady of good old penis envy. Every traffic light, street lamp and wall is covered in advertisements promising to rescue men from the shame and embarrassment of erectile dysfunction and stunted growth.

Last week I sat with the Sowetan newspaper’s classified section and a ruler. It seems each healer is in competition with the other and have failed to consider the effect of a metre long appendage on a man’s potential sex life.

sangoma 1Certainly I imagine it is easier to brag you aren’t getting any because you’re too big rather than admitting you’re too small.  But I can honestly say that nothing of that size is coming of poking distance of me. Ever.

Every morning I receive a small Amazon rain forest in flyers recommending various practitioners of sexual potions, lottery wins and get out of jail free cards.

sangoma 4One of my favourites offers to cure “abnormally long pregnancies”. Any woman who has ever reached the 8 month mar of pregnancy believes without a shadow of a doubt that it has gone on too long.

Yesterday’s revealed a true gem – Breast Enlagerment (sic). The perfect combination, boobs that brew beer. It’s brilliant. Genius. Men everywhere will love them.

What never fails to amuse is how a single dose of Mama Temba’s magic brew can solve any problem under the sun. It’s a lot like those travelling pharmaceutical salesmen from the 1900s –Dr Watt’s Magical Cure All Elixir.

I actually have huge belief in the powers of traditional inyangas and sangomas. It comes from having grown up among them. Inyangas are herbal healers. They have incredible knowledge of natural remedies going back probably to the dawn of time. Sangomas, are the magic workers, the men and women chosen to act as a mouthpiece for the ancestors.

I have been privileged to have spent time with a wonderful and very talented sangoma named Mr. Mseku. He was led to my mother in a dream and told to tell her his secrets and stories in order that they may be preserved for future generations. In the afternoons I would play under his chair and listen to his stories.

He was a powerful man. Small, not terribly physically impressive, but nonetheless one of those men who could walk into a room and own it.

Now as all small children are wont or not wont to do, I was not very good at remembering to brush my teeth.

One afternoon he sat with me and told me about the devils that lived in my teeth and how if I did not brush them they would eat my teeth from the inside out.

I brushed my teeth like dervish after that. Plaque and tartar meant nothing to me. Devils I could understand.

A few years back some friends of the family were visiting South Africa from the United Kingdom. During their stay on a wilderness reserve they decided to visit the local sangoma.

Crouched in the dark with the thick sweet smell of marijuana, beer and calabash, they were told to get back to their lodge and immediately call their office in the UK as their partner was trying to steal their company from them.

Doing as they were told with not a small amount of trepidation and disbelief, they discovered that this old man in Africa was quite right. They caught it just in time.

That’s the stuff that happens here. It’s a magical place, not really fairies and unicorns, but tokoloshe and spirits. If you’re living in New York or Toronto it may sound absolutely farfetched, but here, where zombie children make the front page of the newspaper, its par for the course.

These interlopers that arrive here with their badly spelt and poorly produced flyers are contributing the decimation of our local wildlife and environment as well as the destruction of our own rich traditional healing culture. Let’s not even mention the horrors they inflict upon the English language!

They take money under false pretences and peddle a brand of false hope that is at best a lie and at worse leave their customers suffering from even worse medical conditions than before.

sangoma 2They cannot cure HIV/Aids.

They can’t get you off a murder charge.

They can’t give you a dick like an anaconda or an ass like J Lo.

But if you willing to pay, they’re willing to give it a shot.

Like the bank robbers who bought a Harry Potter-esque invisibility potion and tried to walk into the vault. They were less upset about being caught and charged with attempted bank robbery than they were about the fact they had been sold a dud elixir.

A bit Emperor’s New Clothes really.

For more examples visit Eish Sangoma on WordPress

PS: I am posting this one early because apparently parents don’t get weekends and I have to take small child to an athletics day at some ungodly hour of the morning.

PPS: Great minds and all that, just posted this to find on my Reader another post on the same topic – check it out at 2Summers.

RIP Chinua Achebe

Chinua

Today all of Africa mourns the passing of a truly great man, Chinua Achebe. This remarkable Nigerian author was a literary Nelson Mandela and his death leaves every one of us bereaved. I am comforted by the knowledge that his spirit and genius will live on in his poetry and writing, and deeply humbled that he shared them with us throughout his life.

The Chicken and the Ape

First there was the baboon.

Now there is the chicken.

Living in suburban Africa is becoming quite an adventure.

I used to laugh at people from overseas who thought I had a pet lion in the backyard. My Siamese doesn’t count. These days my chuckles are little subdued.

You see, after I forked out nearly R1 000 to stitch up my dog’s ear post the baboon scenario, my neighbours bought some chickens.

Not those cute little expensive decorative ones either.

Farm chickens.

And not for their eggs either.

Oh no. These are for dinner.

How do I know this?

I know this because around lunchtime last weekend a tremendous squawking started up over the fence. This rendered every dog in the neighbourhood into paroxysms of frenzied barking.

Most curious husband peeked over the fence prompted by my wondering what the hell was going on.

“It’s a chicken,” he stated, pleased with himself.

“Chickens do not scream,” I commented.

“Well, this one is about to be dinner,” he mentioned quietly as to not awake the bloodlust in small boys avidly listening in.

“Don’t be silly! This is the suburbs, chickens come from the Spar.”

Suddenly the squawking came to an abrupt halt along with the earth shuddering thunk of an axe.

Husband peeked over the fence again.

“It’s dead now,” he stated completely unnecessarily.

That wasn’t the end of it. Suffering from the post traumatic stress of seeing their family member summarily executed, the remainder of the chickens flew the coop, over the electric fence and into my garden.

Now, what do I do?

They are very very hard to catch. For birds with little flight, they are quite wily.

Do I throw them back over the wall to their certain doom?

Each day this week I have come home with a leaden dread in my belly certain I will find the carcass of a fowl on my lawn.

I have a beagle. He can pluck a bird out of mid-flight and present it unharmed and pissed off into my hands.

My Staffie has no such compunction, if he gets hold of this interloper it will be tickets and I’ll have to explain to my neighbour where Sunday lunch went.

“Ah well,” said the husband, “At least it wasn’t a goat.”

A goat!

Why would it be a goat?

On some inspection I discovered that despite being in the heart of the city, my neighbourhood retains it partial agricultural zoning. This means that lifestock can be bred and… well, executed among the Ford Fiestas and BMW Z5s.

If I lived on a farm, I might expect to experience this. But the point is I don’t.

I live in Sandton for heaven’s sake! Not on the platteland of the Karoo.

In fact, I once stayed with family friends on a farm who wanted to find out what would happen to common old garden battery chickens if you let them run free.

I’ll tell you, they get fatter and fatter and then they break their legs. So, we had one for dinner.

My host, though talented beyond measure ion many other things, was not a talented plucker, and dinner was spent removing feathers from between one’s teeth.

My mother informs me that you can stroke a chicken into a sort of coma and then just wring its neck.

Apparently she saw this on the Discovery Channel.

I’d prefer that method to the chop of the axeman, but I don’t know how to approach this sort of conversation over the fence.

Nor, do I know how to respond to the dinner invitation.

The burglar and the baboon

I live in Africa.

I don’t have lions in my back garden or a pet giraffe.

I live in a gigantic city in the heart of middle class suburbia.

About as far removed from the wild as you can get.

I do however live in the Republic of Crime Central.

So, when I see a humanoid figure in my garden, I call the security company and arm up. I am prepared for urban warfare. I know what to do. Cool, calm and collected in the face of some asshole who wants my flat screen TV.

What I am not prepared for is the wild.

When the shuffling figure stood up to over 5 feet and looked at me, he was not a random criminal at all, but a fully grown and extremely pissed off male baboon.

He should not have been there.

About then I realised that standing in an open door three feet away from this towering specimen of alpha-male ape was probably not a good idea, so I stepped back, closed the door and called the SPCA.

The SPCA did not answer.

The local vet said he didn’t know what to do.

The police said the same.

My dogs were quite keen to give it a go, but a baboon could kill my Staffie without breaking its stride. It was on of those rare occurrence when my dogs actually obeyed me and came inside where they pretended to be very fierce behind the safety of a closed door.

Finally, Free Me sent over a remarkable woman who has been tracking the baboon for over a week.

Free Me is a rehabilitation centre for urban wildlife. If you find a tortoise, a hedgehog, a bird or a baboon, they are the people to contact.

Nicci Wright looked about to drop from exhaustion. She’s tracked it from Petervale (where my mother saw it) all the way to my house where it enjoyed a ripe papaya before loping off to my neighbour’s.

So where did he come from?

Some think he may have been evicted from the Big Brother house. Male baboons can be unceremoniously kicked out the pack and he may have wandered down from the Magaliesberg mountains I see on a clear day in the far distance.

Sadly, what is more likely, is that he was brought into the city to use for muti and somehow escaped.

Baboons feature large in traditional medicine and our Government turns a blind eye to the extinction of our eagles and the abuse of baboons.

Somehow the flyers I collect from the side of the road from Mama Shaka don’t seem so amusing.

If you happen to see a stray baboon wandering around your garden, give Nicci a call on 083 558 5658.

To find more about Free Me and offer your support visit: http://www.freemewildlife.org.za/

Koni was here

Joseph Kony

Hold onto to your hats, the world just found about Joseph Kony!

Pity it comes about two decades too late.

He is a very bad man, there is no denying the atrocities he is responsible for. The world acknowledged that when issuing a warrant for his arrest, in wait for it… 2005! Yes, 2005!

Perhaps if Rhianna and that teenage singer whathisname had paid attention a few years ago it might have mattered. But oh wait, Uganda doesn’t have any oil to spare.

It’s not that I think they got it wrong, they just got it later than expected. Better that than never one supposes.

Island for sale on Lake VictoriaMy better half jetted in from Uganda on Saturday. After showing the viral video Kony 2012 around the Ugandan office (which I’m not even bothering to link to, because you’ve seen it already), he asked the Ugandans what they thought.

Most of them didn’t even know who the hell Kony was. The rest said bemused, “But he doesn’t even live here anymore, last anyone heard he was somewhere in the DRC.” That’s Zaire, in case you haven’t been keeping up with geography.

And my favourite, “Isn’t he dead?”After all, the last time anyone saw the man it was in the year 2000.

The fact is old Kony is old news here in the wilds of Africa. We’re busy dealing with the fall-out of Libya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Egypt. You know the millions of children actually starving to death and the HIV/Aids epidemic?

It’s all very well you know to send over troops and bomb the hell of a remote African country because you feel bad about bankrolling a dictator back in the day.

The thing is once you’ve done it you get to back to Ohio or wherever and leave a country in shambles with no form of government, but an over eager militia suffering a bad case of itchy trigger fingers.

Meanwhile there are no schools, no healthcare and no food.

Well done chaps! You’ve liberated a country into a state of starvation, rampant disease and the total dissolution of an economy.

Back to Kony 2012. The poor old Ugandan President is as confused as the rest of us Africans and issued a lovely Twitter invite for the Hollywood celebs to come visit.

Uganda is not a war zone. It is a beautiful country enjoying a peaceful decade (elections aside, African elections are always an excuse for a good set to).

Uganda Gorilla SafariI’ve been there and was impressed with the polite, friendly and incredibly patriotic people. You should give it a try.

Lake Victoria is beyond exquisite and gorillas really do live in the mist.

On his last trip to Nigeria, my husband came back totally unaware that in the week he was there the country was supposed to have been in full-out civil war with dead Christians lining the roads. Either their press censorship is world-class or the world’s media is desperate for a new headline.

Kony 2012 DirectorWhat really made me have a good giggle was not the sad state of Children of War’s finances, but the naked wanking madman in the streets of San Diego.

I don’t doubt his good intentions, but I am unsure of why he was suffering from malnutrition?

And surely he expected some attention after that piece of glorious self-promotion? I appreciated, along with many Ugandans I am sure, the many who have called it “The video for the misinformed”.

I think he should stay home with his lovely wife and breed the 9 more children he plans to add an already overpopulated world.

 

 

A herd of seahorse

My head is filled with bits of fluff
Cotton wool and other stuff
I stayed up until almost two
Because I had important things to do
I made an awesome robot cake
And my colleague here thought I could not bake
It’s covered with cream cheese icing in blue
And jelly tots and Smarties with absolutely none for you

A fractal, tactile symphony
It’s a mystery to me
I’m quite at sea
When it comes to post rationalizing this pretentious AV
Ignite, tonight
I just might
Spontaneously combust
Is the demographically correct poet
Literate, good looking and perfectly articulate?
I wonder if I qualify for an honorary PHD in generating bullshit?

So I’m sitting here feeling dizzy
With some marketing types in IT
In chinos, shirts and ties
Who never quite meet your eyes
I think they hide behind
Big words and catchy little anagrams
To hide the fact they really don’t understand
The animatics are fantastic
Award winning and very slick
But where is Africa catching on fire
A sure fire way to alight my ire

Now a herd of wild seahorse
Are galloping through the land
And Neptune looks on benign
His scepter in his hand
A little lost mermaid surfaces
And then dives quickly beneath
The waves, she’s no where near ready
To sacrifice her beautiful tail for a pair of human feet
While I understand the longing to waltz upon the land
Why give up the deep blue sea for an ungrateful man
So she could dance the night away
But had no voice to say
“He’s mine” and so some other girl stole him right away
And now the little mermaid has a pair of Jimmy Choos
And a handbag from Gucci so she can never loose
Her perfect composure as she stares across sea
And leaves her footprints in the sand as she
Wonders what became of her palace beneath the waves
And the pearls and pretty fishes whose company she craves

I’m taking the small boy aged 4 on an awfully big adventure
A great white steed awaits who carry will him swift and sure
I’ll carry the echo all through my life of the pure sound of his laughter
I hope his friends all liked the cake and left not a crumb
I really want to be his absolutely perfect mum
His brother aged 6 is moving out
He’s ranted and raved and had a shout
He’s going live in a tent in the backyard
I think I’ve just been handed the red card
Equivalent in small boy parenting
I’ll spend tonight in abject pleading groveling