Date: June 1998
Hoe gaan die? (Afrikaans)
We have arrived in South Africa, with the generous help of South African
Airways, who gave us a 50 percent discount.
We surely had to get used to a lot of things again. It's getting winter
in South Africa, which means that we plunged from temperatures of 50C
(122F) to around 10C (50F), but were soon acclimatised and enjoyed some
nice sunny autumn days. One of the first things we did was sightseeing
in a big supermarket. Yes, we bought some things too, as well as a piece
of real Dutch old farmer's cheese, yummy yummy!
Camping in the bush is not so easy here, so we chose to pitch down our
tent in Fish Hoek at the campsite, where camp manager Brian, an old light
house attendant, used to drive a Kawasaki GPZ 1100. We commuted to Capetown
by train, stunning the ticket seller when we asked him for 3rd class tickets.
Yes, Apartheid is no longer, which means that 3rd class is not only for
black and coloured people any more.
Differences are huge in South Africa. How to interpret it all and how
to feel about it ourselves keeps us busy every day. "Mandela says
we are one nation, but that is not true," we hear from many mouths.
South Africa is home to many different groups of people, who mostly do
not like each other. To name a Xhosa a 'kaffer' is now being heavily fined,
but nobody seems to have a problem with calling us 'witkoppen' (cheese
South Africa still has a long way to go and we keep trying to find out
how this complicated society came to be. For one we wonder how the Bantu
people can get away claiming that the land is theirs as history shows
that they all immigrated from as far as thousands of kilometres to the
north, killing many of the original inhabitants, the Bushmen, before the
white men almost finished them off. The Bushmen, now living in the harsh
Kalahari Dessert, have probably too little numbers left to make a claim
of their own.
The Cape Peninsula
One of the beauties of South Africa definitely is the Cape Peninsula.
So when we finally had freed our sidecar from the harbour officials late
that afternoon we were very eager to ride the road over Chapman's Peak.
Right on top of the pass I felt the sidecar pushed from side to side and
knew it had happened. A flat tire. We'd come all the way through West
Africa without problems and here, with light running out fast, we break
Pushing the sidecar is impossible and filling it with foam does not
work as we find out that the tire has a big hole in it. I start flagging
down cars, but no-one stops and by now it is dark. As I shine our flashlight
in my own face to show car drivers that I'm not a scary dirty man, a car
stops. It's Biba who works for Harley Davidson Capetown and thought we'd
had an accident. He tells us that it's not really safe to stay here and
I join him to his house to get a ramp so we can load our sidecar on his
pickup truck. When the work is done Dave invites us for dinner and so
it happens that a hard time turns out to be enjoyable.
The World on a Children's Drawing
We had to work hard to replace the tire the next morning, for we had
an appointment to visit a school in Fish Hoek with our project. Apart
from this school we visit three other schools in Capetown area, from which
two are black township schools in Langa and in Khayelitsha. It is in Khayelitsha
that we get the most memorable and warm welcome ever, as both sides of
the street towards the school is lined with children waving little flags
and at the school gate a real drum band is awaiting our arrival.
"The youngest classes only speak Xhosa, so the principal would
like to be your interpreter," we hear as we first have to drink Coca
Cola's and eat cookies, before we can start setting up our exhibition
of drawings from most of the countries we travelled before. Then we find
out that we will get a total of 1000 children. My head turns heavy for
a while and we decide to split them up in 4 groups.
Everybody, the children and the teachers alike, are so enthusiastic
that the conversation, the talking about the world, about South Africa,
about our travels, leads itself and of every group all 250 kids are able
to join in. We hear how proud the children are of their school. "Before
it was very bad, but now we are really improving and building," the
principal explains afterwards and we hear about programs to help poor
families keeping their children in school. "Sometimes we first had
to teach the parents what it is like going to school," the principal
continues. Some children would just turn up without having had breakfast
or without being decently clothed. Others did not know how to hold a pair
of scissors or even a pen. The children also need to get the support of
their parent in being able to do homework at home. Sitting on the floor
with a candle is much harder then having a desk and an oil-lamp.
At the school in Langa the SABC (South African Broadcasting Company)
is present and also the major newspapers cover our tour and project. Then
a call comes from a program-maker, who wants to film us doing the project
for KTV, a children's channel that broadcasts Africa-wide via satellite.
We phone the school in Fish Hoek, where we do the whole thing again, only
now in front of a camera. (The program was put on television two months
later and from then until Zimbabwe children recognised our sidecar on