Saturday, 4 September 2010

N'Kosi Sikeleli, God Bless Africa.

Last night it was TBH's turn for an emotional musical ride...

As we were looking through our vast collection of DVD's we turned up the copy of Paul Simon's famous concert Graceland from back in 1986. A time when Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned and apartheid was very much a part of life in South Africa.

TBH was born in Africa, in a place that was called Nyasaland, it's now known as Malawi and is on the eastern side of central Africa. His birthplace was the town of Blantyre some distance from where his parents lived in Zomba. It was here that his Dad was a bigwig in the colonial police force of the day. TBH's Mum used to tell me stories of their lives there. Very few white families, TBH was raised pretty much by African wet nurses, he loved to tease his Mum about that!

He says that he remembers sitting around the campfires in the evening being fed mealie-meal and fish by the staff when his parents were off on one of their many official engagements. To this day he has nightmares about hippos and elephants, a result of the dire warnings that he was given as a child not to leave the compound.

Returning to the UK aged 6 he remembers driving to Cape Town via Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.They came through the Kruger National Park and there he experienced his FIRST taste of Coca-Cola and peanuts. Not a good combination on a long road trip.

He recalls traveling to and from the UK on the Union Castle Shipping Line.He traveled on the Arundel Castle and was often to be found visiting the engine room. Some things never change! Even at that age he says he loved the roll of the ocean!

The picture is of that ship in Capetown (I just love the internet).

They say that the call of Africa never leaves those born on that continent and this morning he surprised me by saying, 'That's my country'. I have never heard him identify with any geography before, having lived all over the world he is a real gypsy. So I was a bit shocked by his statement.

Later in life he returned to live and work in South Africa, at the goldmines and then in Alexandria a predominately black area of Johannesburg. His work took him into Soweto, this was just before the riots...

I've asked him if he wants to go back and his answer is that he would find returning to Africa too heartbreaking.

So that's enough musical memories for a while, my emotions can't stand the ride! Red eyed and exhausted by the memories. The DVD's are firmly back in the box as we concentrate on creating a new set of memories to pull out in the future. I wonder what they will be?

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