The Wildside

The ducks eat anything green, So what I have done is to put up a little fence separating the east end of the pond near the chicken run, from the rest of the pond. The fence runs through the water. I have planed waterplants and veggies on the protected side. In the water I am growing duck weed, which the Tilapia can eat from underneath.

White Quackers on New Pond

I have decided to farm. I am not waiting for retirement. I am not waiting to buy farm land some time in the distant future. I am starting now.

I have dug a big hole at the end of the garden. When I say I, I mean Freddy. But the hole is done and Mandisa’s ducks are now swimming in the pond. I would still like to plant the edges….But what I would really like to do is put Tilapia in the dam. I have been reading about Tilapia and it sounds like a really exciting idea.
(edit – 11 May 2014 – The duckpond we built is at our residence in Walmer – its a 1500 sq m plot and it still houses the duck pond, though there are no ducks on it and it is now quite overgrown with some Tilapia under the surface and some duckweed floating on top)

Troops in the Townships … (again)

Troops are back in the townships again. The poor and oppressed will turn on each other now as much as they did in the eighites. They are in pain and want to turn that pain into anger. In the eighties that anger was directed at the system and sellouts and now the anger is directed at foreigners and refugees. It is hust as sad and the poverty and oppression is just as real now as it was then. I wrote some thoughts the the other day about my time as a “troop in the township”

It was perhaps my time in Queenstown in July 1987 that had made me feel intensely that the injustice of apartheid cannot carry on. I was deployed as a detachment leader of a “Buffel” mine proof troop carrier to patrol the streets of Mlungisi Township outside Queenstown. It was cold and miserable. Conditions were terrible. Our unit of conscripts had set up a “strong point” in the centre of Mlungisi Township. The base consisted of a tarpaulin that had been stretched over the remains of a beer hall that had been burned down by an angry mob sometime before we arrived. But we could still smell the dark smell of smoke in the dim interior where we slept at night.
Raw sewerage flowed through the dirty streets of Mlungisi Township. Houses and shacks were overcrowded, poverty was extreme. Diseased children rummaged through piles of refuse at every street corner. I had known and heard of poverty and hardship. As a liberal PFP supporting white family, we had grown up to know that we did not support apartheid. I had seen the inside of Durbanville’s “Morningstar” coloured township where I would visit with Ben van Staaden, a friend and youth leader in the Anglican Church. But to see people living in such conditions in Queenstown; old women walking miles to work, treading through excrement and dog carcasses at 4:30 am with temperatures at -5 degrees….. I could for the first time come close to “feeling” the suffering.
On patrol on a Thursday night, deep in a dark shacky area, my Buffel’s wheel go stuck in a muddy open sewer. It was quarter to one in the morning. We had been on patrol since 7 am and were to have reported back to the strongpoint by 1 am to end our 18 hour long shift. It was very dark and very cold, we were half lost in hostile territory. MK operatives were armed in Mlungisi Township and now we were sitting ducks; our “Buffel” up to its axels in freezing sewer mud.
The exhausted troops set up guard, R4 rifles to the ready. We proceeded to try and dig the vehicle out. By 3 am I was lying front down in the mud scooping handfuls of icy excrement out of the hole that had become the trap for our “Buffel”. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that this is not what I wanted for my life. I knew that this was not what our country was meant to be like and I knew that radical change was inevitable.
It was perhaps “realizations” like this and others that made me sense very intensely that I had to in some way be part of a force for change against apartheid, against oppression and against an unsustainable political situation. So, back at the University of Port Elizabeth, I was a military veteran in support of the “End Conscription Campaign”, which was banned with other UDF structures in the beginning of 1989. I was receiving call-ups every varsity holidays. By law, I was still required to give another 24 months of my time to military camps as part of the “Citizen Force”. In 1989 or 1990, I joined a small group of potential conscripts who publicly refused to serve in the SADF at an evening press briefing at Rhodes University. We defied the law but were not arrested or jailed.


(Image Courtesey of Ben Carver: 6SAI – Grahamstown – 1985)

The word “reminisce” just does not see right for me. I dont know what the correct word would be for talking about this war.

What I do know is that, for me, there is an energy in these discussions. At this time, I am able to spend hours writing and talking about the war when I am otherwise exhausted and depleted. There are other things too in my life that attract a similary inner energy, or vibration. I am slowly learning to not be to worried about why these things give me energy when I allocate my time to them, but just to allocate my time to them.

I find I have a preference for reggae music, carpentry, pornographic movies, fishing and road running. All of these I have “energy” for. To be honest I don’t know where these preferences have come from or why they come with “energy”. They are just there, and I just go with them.

What I find perplexing though, is why so little is spoken of this war. We know more about the battle of Isandlwayo, Custer’s Last Stand, the Falklands War, Yon Kippur, 9-11 and “Bloody Sunday”, than we do about the Battle of Cuito Cuanavalle. How can this be?

I remember when I came back from Rundu toward the end of 1987. Coming back home was eary,… surreal. It was as if though to me the “real world” was happening back up there, north of here. This big war, this massive operation, day long convoys, body bags lined up on the tarmac, Migage F1’s shot down, airforce scrambling 3 times a day, red alert, readiness state High!….guys back from frontline with new browns and the “thousand yard stare”

But when I got back home, to my family, nobody new anything of what was happening. I was simply swept away in the curent of petty, sub-urban realities. Straight into first year at Varsity. Classmates straight out of school. Nobody had heard of Rundu, Grootfontein, Oshakati, Cuito, Operation Modular (remember it was just refered to as the “operational area” it was illegal for the media or anyone to be more specific). I did not feel sorry for myself, or did I in any kind of pain, I was relieved not o have had it as bad as those who were in the thick of the fihting, I was elated to be finished with my time and have it all (almost all) behind me. And for these reasons, there was not really much talk about the war at that time (and I suppose ever since).

But also I think, so little is known of the Angolan Bush War for the reasons that Michalel Graaf points out. ….”History is written by the victors”. And in this case neither the National Party or the ANC (the two major powers in SA since the eighties) can claim any stake in the victory. The National Party considered this as a defeat. This is evidenced by the fact that in spite of there massive propoganda machine, they made no attempt to popularise the “history” of the Angolan Bushwar.

What is more suprising though is that as the ANC became dominant, so liitle effort has been made to record and popularise this significant epsiode where conventional forces came head to head in Southern Angola in the late eighties, resulting in a bloody and crushing battle, which lead to a South African withdrawal from Angola, the acceptance of UN resolution 435 and the paving of the way for UNTAG to take control in Namibia. All this, a very significant blow to the forces of Apartheid, ….but no real contribution from MK and the ANC…..

Is it because the ANC cannot claim involvment in this defeat of the Aparthied System that we will pass slowly into the past without being acknowledged by “History”?