Category Archives: Photography

Vibrant Bo-Kaap

Colour is an emotional issue in South Africa. It gets in the way of both national politics as well as individual common sense. It’s almost as if people have forgotten to celebrate diversity and the wonder of individuality. To form a Rainbow Nation – so it is thought – people have to coalesce to embrace a concept that requires the amalgamation of the masses into a single culture.

In the Bo-Kaap (Upper Cape Town), this is not the case. Culture, tradition, religion and individuality are joyously exhibited – and lived – for all to see. The community welcomes inquisitive tourists into their homes. They know their neighbours and their families. They spend endless hours in the streets, swapping stories and discussing family matters. It is surely the most colourful place in South Africa.

Take a walk down the cobbled street with me. These stones used to be ballast in the old sailing ships visiting the Cape.

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The drab suburb suddenly erupts in a kaleidoscope of colours, overwhelming the senses.

B6Here street art does not follow the trend to deface buildings with amateurish graffiti.

How to camouflage your dustbin? Easy! Add colour and suddenly nobody sees the garbage bin anymore!

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The mosque towers over it all. The community (mostly) follows the Muslim faith, but you won’t find them excluding other religions. Live and let live – in kindness – is the philosophy of the people you meet here.B7

The Bo-Kaap is almost like an arched gateway to a new way of thinking about society. Colour? Yeah, man! It shouts optimism, whispers hope and asks so little. Just be…and let be.

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And maybe, at the end of your walk through this historical area, you’ll see the smile we all hope to have – the smile that says: “I’m me. And you know what? That’s good enough.”

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Ah, yes, colour! We don’t have to build a monument for it.

We already have one, right here in the Cape…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimism…

Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. – Nelson Mandela.

This is true, especially in Africa, where the sun is such a prominent presence. But it cuts deeper than merely the physical, doesn’t it?

c2Mothers guard their young with  worried frowns. What about tomorrow? What dangers lurk in the shadows of the night? How shall I manage?IMG_4786The young bachelor is lost and lonely – will he find that special someone, that ultimate mate to share his life with? How does one go about it? How to avoid the many mistakes waiting in the future? And…will he be good enough to match what she has to offer?

IMG_4846Camouflaged in the desert, the chameleon might well ask what has happened to the trees? His family has it so good, so easy – and he has to make do with so little. Does that mean he didn’t make the grade; that he is being punished for something? The pessimist is prone to depression –  will he give up, surrender, and slink away to mope in the vast empty space around him?

IMG_5000a.jpgIndeed, Life regularly seems to turn her back to us, leaving us wondering what it’s all about.

IMG_5116aWith so many predators around, any single individual becomes prone to doubt. Life seems to blur as we tend to consider the problems bigger than the solutions. Is there – when all is said and done – any sense in going on? Should one not just wallow in the profound pessimism that surrounds us, give up…and die?

IMG_4670But then – oh, the bliss! – we look up at the sun and don’t get blinded by its rays. For look, there is the promise; the rainbow; bringing hope. It lures us on and on, for no matter how heavily pessimism weighs us down, it’s darkness can never outshine the brightness of hope.

In the words of Helen Keller – arguably the epitome of optimism and an example to us all: “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

 

Weekly Phot Challenge: Lioness vs Gravity

“I am,” the lioness said, “the queen of all around me. I rule supreme. In fact, I get to choose where I sleep, and nobody – and nothing – will disturb my well-earned rest.”110_1026

Right then, a big, ripe marula fell on to her head. The lioness looked around in surprise.

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“What..who..dared do that? I said no disturbance! In plain English! What can be unclear about that?” (Growl!!!)

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“It’s called gravity, you stupid. What goes up, must come down. It’s true for everything, even for lionesses with an ego problem.” The long-suffering lion was bemused, to say the least.

110_1028The lioness asked her sister, who said the same thing. “And don’t always argue with our husband. You may be queen, but he is the king. Come on down and stop making a fool out of yourself.”

110_1030 “Oh, all right. I’ll come down, but not because of a stupid law of nature. I’ll come down – regally – because I want to.”

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“Oh don’t be such a sourpuss,” the sister scolded the disgruntled lioness. “Come, I’ve got our husband’s Master Card and I’ve just returned from the spa. Why don’t we do some retail therapy? I saw some Impala nearby…”

IMG_5444The lion was much saddened when he heard that. Bank balances, he knew, were just like Marulas. And his dear lioness, much like gravity. His balance was going to go one way…down!

Photo Challenge: Transitional Normality.

We all start life filled with hopeand innocence. Oh, parents mean well, don’t they? But how can anyone prepare a child to live in a world where hope and innocence are so easily lost? Teaching a child to be a ‘normal’ member of society often leads to a life of pretence – you have to act, speak, talk and exercise your choices in an ‘acceptable’ manner; denying the instinct to be an individual with unique characteristics.

t1We grow up, losing much along the way. And then we get to that point in the woods, where the two roads diverge, just like Robert Frost promised it would…

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‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth…’

t3Of course we choose one…expecting to find rest, comfort, good fortune…and possibly, Love. That is, after all, the promise of ‘normality’…isn’t it?

t2Sadly, all too often these dreams are shattered by the thorny seat we eventually find ourselves in. Here the dreams of a quiet life, ‘normal’ relationships and peace are shattered by the reality of the outcome of our choices. Pretending to be content, just isn’t good enough any more.

IMG_2528That’s when we begin to realise: ‘normal’ doesn’t mean a thing. It’s time to shun pretence and follow the heart. If it raises a few eyebrows, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all.

t5And then, having lost so much and found so little – we start afresh: finding happiness in simplicity; hope in reality and love in the most unexpected place. Love isn’t out there, waiting for us to find it; love has all along been  inside us; the sad  prisoner of pretence. Only once those walls are shattered, can we reclaim the hope and innocence we were born with. That’s when we dance on sunshine…

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Creepy African Fairytale.

They knew it would happen one day – the old people had been warning them of the danger for years by then.

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“There’s a bogeyman in the woods. He watches us all, day and night. If you show any signs of life, he’ll come and get us all.”

IMG_5544a But you know how it is. Young love will not be denied…it’ll find a way, somehow. And it did. Wanting to get married, they invited their families to join in celebrating their joy.

IMG_5590bIt was a real dandy occasion. They whooped it up till late in the night, forgetting all about the bogeyman.

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And the bogeyman came, ravishingly hungry and ready to cook them all in his big pot.

IMG_4997aBut the slewed elephant, the king of the forest, would not allow it. He stomped out of the trees in rage, rushing to the rescue of the family.

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Then, using the magic only slewed elephants know, he turned the ugly bogeyman into a colourful guard at his palace door.

And yes, you know the rest…they lived happily ever after.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Underfoot

In this challenge, I want to get away from the act and leave the Stage of Life where where we stomp feet and laugh where the script calls for it. No longer a puppet to the playwrights of the world, I need to escape; I need to  get back on solid ground…

Woordfees 013a For:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,                                                              W. Shakespeare

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But wait….

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.                                                                                             R. Frost

IMG_2453aAnd so…

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.                                                                                      R Frost

IMG_4817No more crowds for me, No more pretence. Because:

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were; I have not seen

As others saw; I could not bring

My passions from a common spring.                                                                        Edgar Allen Poe

x15The answer is in the dream of quiet solitude …

For this is where the mind is content

This is where the Soul leaves its print…                                                                 Scott Mcintire

Close Up Natural Facials…and naked fear

So there I was, camping in the wilderness and fascinated by the animals on the plains. What would happen – I wondered – if I asked them nicely for a few close up portraits? I had to find out.

c3Zebra didn’t mind at all, although she insisted on combing her mane first. She wanted to look her best.

c5Elephant couldn’t care less and ambled past. “You have once chance, Buddy. Then leave me alone…” The threat was unmistakable.

c2Mrs Aardwolf wasn’t interested either. Her new baby needed all her attention and left no time for cosmetics or a visit to the hair salon. “Come back in three month’s time,” she pleaded, “I’ll try to look a bit more presentable then.”

c4The young lovers were…er…busy. “Please…this is a private moment. Leave now or face the consequences. Stick around and you’ll see….”

c1That’s when I heard the roar behind me. The camera bumped against my hip as I ran back to the vehicle, snapping the shot.

Up close? Maybe not a macro, but close enough…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half and Half

Every country offers the traveller something unique – something that makes you come back time and again. Namibia has it all: people, culture, comfort and wilderness. The countryside offers vast vistas of unspoilt nature where one can simply sit down and wonder about the magnificent creation around you. It’s a place filled with silence, solitude and…surprises.

For this half-and-half challenge, looking for some symmetry in the picture, the following:

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The contrast between the dry veld and the sky – with the thin line of mountains in the background – made me stop for this one.

IMG_4610Drawing nearer, the landscape changed as the sun slowly released its grip on the desert in the later afternoon.

IMG_4883aThe next day, the landscape was covered in withered grass and stunted trees – but the hills of ancient volcanic rocks formed a barrier between sand and sky.

IMG_5070aAnd here the surprise waited: a shallow pool, where two juvenile desert elephants posed for a while.

I’ll simply have to go again.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The colours of the rainbow..

Colour defines Africa. Across the world, people assume it’s a  Black/White thing, with colonialism and politics dominating the conversation at the mention of Africa’s hues. But over here, we revel in the true colours of the continent and it’s cultures.
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There are the red Himba people, proud traditionalists and fiercely independent. Red ochre, herbs and fat help to enhance the natural beauty of the women.

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And yes, there are green forests – plenty of them. The most beautiful green in the whole wide world, however, is found next to unexpected little streams in the desert.
breekyster 2010 140aBlue is for the sky. No Telephone poles, no power lines, no sign of man’s invasion. Africa’s blue heaven is a statement of her unblemished purity – a haven of peace when you leave the cities and the townships behind.

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It’s not that man doesn’t add colour to the environment. In the remote bush pubs tourists and lorry drivers leave mementos to spice up the scene.

IMG_3001Yet. nothing beats the colours of a real rainbow, like this permanent one at Victoria Falls. The symbolism is there for all to see: despite the raging torrent, the cascade and the noise, the rainbow hovers quietly to assure us that beauty can be found if you view anything from the right angle.