Die kind asem hoop

skryf sy drome op venster wasems

Lag trane 

van donker druppels in rooi riviere

Sing vals 

uit volle bors die lied van die oranje god

Met toe oe

die spook van pieter se seun in sy arms

…Hom…

Die kind van hom…
Dit is die storm in sy bloed
Die lawaai wat raas in sy siel
Bloei blomme in sy denke
Soekende arms na vrede bomme 
Ja
Die kind van Tata
Tata se kind

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fartlady

I got a talking-to from the lovely suffering wife… Yes, I know… It happens often…

Who said parenting was easy? My wife will respond by rolling her eyes and say, “A parent? You’re a bloody buddy to play with not a parent!” I’ll just be nodding my head with my eyes staring at the floor and my tail between my legs. And peeping to see where the girls are to get them to pull my finger once my “discipline session” is over.

Anyway…

I got the talking-to because the teacher had issues with my poetry teachings…

Apparently, not everyone at school appreciates good poetry. The missus got called in by my youngest daughter’s teacher for “potty talk”. Bah! It’s not potty talk! It’s poetry! Don’t they know anything cultural around here?

Let’s go back to my “poetry teaching” sessions with my 5-year old daughter…

As you might know by now, I bath my youngest daughter at night and put her to bed. Well, that is a pretty boring job if you stick to the “get-it-over-and-done” style of parenting. And I take my job as a parent very seriously. Very seriously… So up the stairs we go every night and in the bath she gets. Actually we do our “pictures” in the mirror first where we pull different faces – happy (Liverpool won!), sad (got to clean the cat litter) , mad (thinking Bush…), crazy (still thinking Bush…), handsome (my normal facial expression…), pretty (my Angelina look) and any other combination of faces. Only once we’ve done our acting classes in the mirror do I allow her to move into the bath. And Grand Master Teacher Angry (or  Guru African to some) comes out to play… hum… I mean… teach…

I have the curriculum well planned and sorted. We will eventually move on to Shakespeare, but for now I want us to concentrate on getting the basics right. Poetry 101… Nice easy rhymes…

So we did a few of the usual rhymes. You know…

“I’ve got a cat in my hat” and “I’ve got a yummy in my tummy” and “I’ve got a bear in my hair”. Just the usual rhymes. And then we moved on to more difficult pieces of poetry. Of course they also had to show me they take their lessons seriously and come up with their own poetry…

I really can’t help that my daughters are geniuses! It’s not my fault that they take innocent little rhymes and create their own unique take on poetry. Should I not be applauded for teaching my child the finer things in life? Should I not be rewarded for bringing the gift of literacy to my youngest daughter? Should I not be celebrated as a teacher and guru of poetry? Should I not be held up as the parent of all parents? Should I not…

And so on and so on. It ends with me claiming the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching my kids silly rhymes that ultimately and directly resulted in world peace and the end of world hunger and poverty. Oh yes, it also ended the current economic downturn worldwide. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the lack of appreciation…

So my youngest daughter decided to share her new found poetry gift with the rest of the class. I was so proud. My little girl sharing her passion for literature and fine arts with others. And, of course, for them to stand in awe and admire her poetic abilities. Bow down and sit at the master’s feet please. There’s a good class. Now sit still and listen. And then she let rip with some of her most creative pieces. Her own poetry in her own words…

“I have a drum in my bum.”

…and the clincher…

“I have art in my fart.”

The simple beauty of it. She makes me so proud. “Sniff.”

But noooooo… Apparently that isn’t good enough for Ms Snotty Nose teacher. Not appropriate language for a little girl. WTF? Does she not appreciate the beauty of poetry? Does she not recognize the modern version of a young Shakespeare? Damn teachers…

The curse of a genius…

Anyway, I couldn’t believe that the teacher didn’t give her a special prize for that one. Or at least push her one class ahead. Advance learning or something. Heck, I say let her teach the class literature! My little genius.

But maybe the teacher just didn’t understand her true ability. Because one of her pieces of genius poetry was in two languages… You hear me? Two languages! Bilingual baby!

“I’ve got a football in my poepol.”

Genius! Genius, I tell you!

I didn’t teach her any of this. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. She did it all on her own. Like I said, she makes me so proud. Damn teacher…

Oh, the meaning of poepol?

Hum… well… I… it’s a… the meaning is… but… No, I mean “butt”. Backside, arse, behind… You get my drift…

She mixed her languages all on her own and created this piece of beautiful poetry just for her dad. Like I said, she makes me real proud – “sniff.”

But ooooh nooooo, the teacher doesn’t recognize this piece of genius. Everyone is a critic. But maybe it was just a big misunderstanding. Because I also tell my girls to never lie. Not even in poetry.

If only the teacher asked her if she really had a drum in her bum…

My little girl would have kept a beat that will make her dad proud and her mother cry.

And maybe then the teacher would have realized that my little girl really told the truth when she said, “I have art in my fart”…

 _fartpropellant3

I am on the road for a few days. In San Francisco and beyond. It is a beautiful city. Everyone always told me that it reminds them of my hometown – Cape Town. I don’t see it. Superficially yes. The layout of the city with hills everywhere and the sea all around. And the people. The wild and open people of San Francisco. Just like Cape Town. We’re wild and open. And pretty stubborn in our belief that Cape Town is God’s gift to the world. Once you get there you will never want to move away. It gets to you in a way now other place will. Well, that’s what us Kaapies believe in any case. And too many people who went there on holiday stayed – because the city got to them. Got into their blood and into their soul. And it’s when I am on the road like this with only my thoughts and no rock (my wife and daughters) to keep me anchored that I miss my people. My people from the Cape.

There is something there that is just difficult to comprehend – it’s almost untouchable. There is something in Cape Town that makes us different. And it starts with the city itself. We have our mountain – Table Mountain. The most beautiful mountain in the world. Flat like a table. And sometimes the gods smile on us and leaves a little cloud hanging over her like a tablecloth.

As the story goes Van Hunks, a pirate in the early 18th century, retired from his eventful life at sea to live on the slopes of Devil’s Peak – next to Table Mountain. He spent his days sitting on the mountain, smoking his pipe. One day a stranger approached him, and a smoking contest ensued which lasted for days. The smoke clouds built up and a strong wind blew them down towards the town. When Van Hunks finally won the contest, the stranger revealed himself to be the Devil (hence Devil’s Peak), and the two disappeared in a puff of smoke. Legend says that the cloud of smoke they left became Table Mountain’s tablecloth – the famous white cloud that spills over the mountain when the south-easter blows in summer.

That’s our little mountain. With a tablecloth. She is our anchor. We can never get lost, because she is always there to show us the way. You can’t miss her. I was born with no sense of direction. Why? Because you don’t need one in Cape Town. You just look at the mountain and she’ll show you the way. She’s your home and we play in the backyard – never losing sight of our home. I get lost in every city I visit because of her. I walk or drive and after taking one turn I am lost. Because there is no mountain to point me in the right direction. Ask me directions anywhere outside Cape Town and I would strongly advise you to take the opposite direction I am pointing you to. Our mountain is our beacon. Without her we are lost. Without her we are not Kaapies. Just people roaming the streets in cities far away from our soul.

And then we have the sea. We wake up to the smell of the sea every day. Sweet, crisp and full of life. The smell of Cape Town. The smell of home. The sea gives us the food for our bodies and the food for our souls. We play with her and we feed from her. The little fishing boats go out every day from fishing villages like Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town. They go out. And most of the time they come back. Filled with the gifts of the sea. And you can go down to the harbor and haggle over the price of the latest catch. Oh, and if you are lucky they might have a Snoek. Our little Cape Town secret. The best fish of the sea is reserved for us down there at the bottom of Africa. But the taste of Snoek… Nothing like Snoek. I am not even going to try to explain it to you. But if you ever land up in Cape Town please ask your host for some Snoek. On an open fire. Cut open and split. And let the debate begin about what is the best way to braai your Snoek. I like it with a little bit of lemon juice squeezed by hand from a freshly cut lemon. And just a little smear of apricot jam. Yes. The sea. She gives us our food. And she feeds our souls.

But she also drives us away. We look at her and stare over the horizon and wonder what lies on the other side. Who are those people who come with their ships and never return? Who are those people who never live a life in Cape Town? She feeds us with the soul of Van Hunks. The pirate. We sit in the shadow of our mountain and wonder what lies on the other side. And we go and explore the world, but she never truly lets us go. She teases us with freedom. Knowing we can never be free from her. Like a true love we can never take our soul away from her. That always stays behind. In the shadow of the mountain and the smell of the sea. We might go somewhere else, but we never truly leave her.

But most of all – you should meet my people. Those bleddie Kaapies. They have laughter in their souls and life in their eyes. Naughty as hell 100% of the time. Always ready with a joke. Always ready for a friend. And the two goes hand in hand. They want to be your friend. And they want to hear you laugh and see you smile. Naai man, moetie fightie. You should hear them. The poetry that comes from those Kaapie mouths are just something to behold. I can hear it even though I am listening to my iPod right now. A sucke to make you wakke! (A rhyme saying “an ice-lolly to keep you awake” – doesn’t work in English.) See – I can’t write it, but I can hear it.

They are not perfect people. Oh no, they are not. But they are my people. All of them. No matter how much we try and say we are different. We always knew. We always knew that we are one. The blood that runs through our veins are from the sea and the color of our skins are given by the mountain – sometimes shady and sometimes sunny. My people.

They are an irritating bunch. Those Kaapies. They won’t leave you alone. They want to be with you. If you are alone in a bar. Not for long. They will come and sit with you. And talk with you. And poke fun at you. And ruffle your hair. And joke and laugh. And share a beer or a dance. And invite you to their homes. And share their last meals with you. And share their lives with you. And in the morning. In the morning they will phone you and ask you what are your plans for the day. Because if you don’t have any… Then they have plans for you. Yes. They are an irritating bunch those Kaapies. Irritating if you want to be alone and sad. Because they won’t let you be alone or sad. No. You are there to be happy – and they will make damn sure you are. And happiness is a bunch of Kaapies hanging out and having a laugh in the shadow of our mountain and on the beaches at the sea.

I close my eyes and I can hear their voices. There are the flower sellers making up songs – “Two Rend a bunch“. Here are two people play fighting – “Djy, ek slat djou met a pap slang ne“. Another one over there bragging about the fish he caught – “Ek se vi djou. Hy was ne su lank soos Kobus Wiese“. Yes. My people. They make music with those voices and those words. I can hear them in my soul. Those bleddie Kaapies. They don’t leave me alone. They are me. And I am them. They are in my blood. And in my heart. They are my people and I miss them and love them.

Tonight, my friends. I have the Frisco blues.

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