Category: Africa

Fuck the patriarchy

So I’m the kind of feminist who always stands up for women but also thinks men sometimes get a raw deal and maybe we should be gentler on them, maybe they’re just insecure and yeah, we shouldn’t really blame them for all our problems.

But fuck that.

They are to blame for everything and I know this because I have witnessed it first hand.

It was a balmy evening, 01 December 2016. Kruger National Park. We were sitting having a glass of wine in the hot African bush when suddenly, screaming.

Get in, get in, yelled the game ranger, hurtling us into the jeep. We scrambled in. And there, just around the corner, was a lioness bringing down a buffalo.

The lioness was fierce, the buffalo enormous.  She tackled him head on, pulling him down with her mighty paws. He fought, he kicked, he got up again, she leapt on his back, sunk her mouth around his neck, dragged him down, he lashed out, she climbed in, dust everywhere, the screams, the growls, the fight, the cries, the gasps, the roars, it was pretty bloody  violent.

She held on to him. Kept her mouth around his neck and stayed put. Our ranger explained that lions kill buffalo by suffocating them. He was on the ground, kicking and screaming, she was steadfast in her smothering.

‘This is going to take a long time’, the ranger explained. ‘This lioness does not have any canines.’

‘What, why?’ we all asked.

He explained. ‘Her teeth were knocked out when she got into a fight with a male lion. Boom bang, he knocked them out with one huge swoop.’

As he said that, the male lion, who had been nowhere in sight, suddenly wandered into the scene. Slowly, surely, padding his way out of the bush with a huge magnificent mane and a glint in his eyes.

The buffalo still fought and kicked.  The lioness still smothered.

And the male lion  watched. He did a bit of smelling, gave the buffalo a few pre-dinner licks, a couple of self satisfied roars, and then, settled back on to the most comfortable of rocks to watch dinner being prepared.

The buffalo took a long time to die. The lioness took a long time to kill him. And once he was dead, the male sauntered over. Pushed the lioness out the way.

And got stuck in.

Delicious, fabulous, fresh buffalo meat, killed by the very woman whose teeth he had knocked out.

It’s like real life.   I am so with the lioness, who I imagine was not that happy with just the leftovers.

Fuck the patriarchy. It’s time to support 16 Days of Activism. And more.

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From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

http://www.africaonfoot.com – for excellent game sightings!

Scarlet

My dog Scarlet is thirteen. I walk her almost daily at Emmarentia Dam and she’s always a little nervous and a lot unpredictable.

Odd, my friends call her.

Intriguing is what I say.

She never goes near the water. And lately her arthritis has been really bad, leaving me to wonder how much longer she has.

Today we went walking with friends.

And for some insane, crazy, who knows why and I’ll never get it reason, Scarlet plunged head first into the water.

Whoosh splash, she was gone.

Surrounded by ducks, geese and a huge body of cool sparkling water.

It was fabulous, this dog who has never swum before. Whichever way the ducks went, she went too.  Swimming like a pro dog Olympic doggy paddle champion of the world.

Unbelievable. Hilarious. Brilliant.

Until we realised she wasn’t coming back.

We were standing on the edge, yelling for her. And she never once turned to look at us. She was a dog on a mission.

Except this old dog was getting deeper, further and more and more distant.

I panicked. She would have a heart attack. She was going to drown. She would disappear under the water and that would be the end.

There was no-one around to help.

‘You’ve gotta go in, Violet,’ said my friend. ‘Go. Go.’

I was hesitant. I’m not a strong swimmer.

But I threw off my clothes. And I plunged in too.  It was warm and delicious, except I wasn’t feeling warm or delicious. I was terrified.

I didn’t get anywhere close. She swam left, she swam right, she ducked, she dived, she became one of the bloody ducks.

And she ignored me completely.

I had to turn back or I would’ve got into trouble.

It had been an hour. We yelled some more, one of us naked, one not. And then I threw my clothes back on and ran for help.

I found a couple of cyclists who under normal circumstances I may have flirted with, except I hate cyclists.  Now, tears streaming down my face,  I begged them to rescue my dog.

Except she did not want to be rescued. She was having the swim of her life.

And then, just like that, TWO HOURS LATER, she swam in. Shook herself off, grinned, I swear she grinned, jumped into my arms, licked me all over and we went back home.

I thought she would die from exhaustion in the afternoon. I thought her heart would just stop beating while she slept.

She hasn’t died. She doesn’t even seem tired. She’s happy and content and clearly has a doggy bucket list of things she wants to do.

I’m the one who’s shattered.

But if I think about it, it was very nice skinny dipping in Johannesburg.

And so we’re planning another activity.

Today the ducks in Emmarentia, tomorrow the dolphins in Mozambique.  Who knows what adventure awaits.

Scarlet.  She is an intriguing dog.

  • with thanks to Lesley Cowling for the doggie bucket list inspiration.

dogs

I’m engaged

I’ve been kind of antisocial this weekend. Sitting alone on my new couch, reading, writing a little, not doing much of anything.

But- when I did venture out – I had the most beautiful and meaningful engagements.

At the supermarket, two old men stood behind me. They were talking about their homeland, Senegal.   About how much they miss their village, communal cooking fires, the brothers they have not seen for over ten years and the grandchildren they will never meet.

As they spoke I could see their families. I could feel the heat, taste the dust and hear the drumbeat.

And I could feel their overwhelming sadness of displacement, of being so far from home and of knowing that they will never go back.

I apologised for eavesdropping and chatted to them for a while. Two gentle old men with extraordinary stories.

I came home to my couch. A few tears in my eyes.

And then I heard the ‘shouting man’. The neighborhood pest. He used to wander around at the same time, every day and every night, yelling in an unintelligible language.

I’ve often wanted to kill him.

But then he disappeared.   And as noisy and mad as he was, I really missed his presence. His regular 8 pm appearance was somehow reassuring.

I worried that something horrible may have happened to him.

Yesterday he came back. 8 pm. Yelling louder than ever.

I went outside to tell him to keep it down, but also to ask where he’d been.

‘A place where they tried to clean me,’ he replied. I think he meant a shelter.

I’m glad he’s back on the streets. It’s where he’s happiest.

I’ve decided to get out more.

Not to bars or coffee shops. But out.

To walk streets that I haven’t walked on before.

To meet people that I wouldn’t normally meet.

Because the world opens up wide when you engage with new people.

And I definitely want engagement.