The day before …

… the original set date the Viva Art Foundation project in Stanford was held today because of the forecasted bad weather conditions for tomorrow.

The wall in the Kannemeyer Street is not the same anymore but brings from now on some colour and a view on the mountains into this part of the community. For the handful of (local) artists is was hard work.

The Last Resort

Just outside our village something out of the ordinary is going on and that makes it all very intriguing. Eight or so people/couples each have a share in the Blue Moon community and all of these are extra-ordinary people with social engagement. Alternative energy sources and energy uses are experimented with, film- and theatre- decors are made (including those for US-movie makers who film on location in South Africa) and there is ….. The Last Resort. If you want to get rid of your kids for one or more days Craig and Cathy will not only look after them but will keep them so busy that you don’t have to look after them for a while when you collect them. We were there last Friday during a school outing of a pre-primary school. With simple means (no Nintendo or computer games, etc.) and in a nature concious/exploring way children are kept engaged with play, treasure hunts, camping (yes there are overnight facilities), etc.

Or as they state in their Facebook page: “We are a multi-functional venue with a heart. We do children’s parties ; children’s camps and live music concerts. Also available for private functions. We have a large sturdy stage with good lighting ; a dance area ; shaded areas ; a large, living labyrinth  and a comfortable tipi. Also a lovely dam and within walking distance to the village of Stanford. Blue Moon Community Farm is also home to an accomplished potter ; an alternative technology enthusiast and a vermiculturalist organic landscaper, amongst other interesting people“.

Craig sees also another market: “Stanford is more and more becoming a true nature destination. Parents who want a quiet holiday without their youngsters can drop them here and go to whatever accommodation in this area“.

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The Graduates

The future of South Africa starts with people like those of the location (township) Die Kop in Stanford. The community (privately) supported pre-primary school is one of the best in South Africa. And Helen Zille (prime minister of the Western Cape) is seemingly not aware of it and neither is South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma …. If every school in South Africa has the same (or similar) drive behind it … well guess that than the education standard would be more or less the highest in the world.

Unknown heroes

There are millions of unpriviliged people in South Africa who still suffer from the injustice done to them by a minority of (religious) fanatics who feel themselves superior above people with a different skincolour and (multi-)cultural background. And they are still there and pulling hidden strings where possible. It’s an illusion to change the world overnight and that’s not what this story is about.

This little story is about those heroes the world has never heard about; South Africans who stood for their right but without the ‘privilige’ of the right media contacts or the resources to go in exile or an invitation from the ‘university’ at the Djerzinsky Square in Moscow…. Not that they ever wanted to. But they are known within their own community where they are honoured and prayed for in silence for generations to come.

Stanford has its own ‘forgotten’ heroes (one in special) and thanks to Annalize Mouton who wrote and published the book “Portrait of a Village” we know about Mathilde May and others but first a little background:

 Before the forced removals of he ‘coloured’ to the ‘location’ outside the village people of different walks of life were living peacefully together. “There was no segregation and according to both White and Coloured it was a harmonimous coexistence”, writes Mouton. The first eviction was in 1957 when coloured people were removed from their houses directly bordering the village and the second between 1972 and 1974 when ‘coloureds’ were removed from the village itself.

“Before these removals people of all races and colour respected one another and lived together harmoniously; now there was distrust, anger and sometimes bitter resentment ……… Friendship and love accross colourlines became acts of indecency, prosecutable by law……” and “Stanford would never be the same.”

The book quotes Matt Dreyer (coloured with German blood): “To think that after generations one gets evicted from your own house and land like a criminal. Forever gone were the freedom, the peace, the unity, the love in which we had dwelt together with our White neighbours” ……. “Except for the White man who came to or house with his shotgun when he heard we had to move and shouted ‘There go the Hotnots’ then shot our dog on the spot, the pre-apartheid years were wonderful.”

Between 1972 and 1974 30 families had to move from their properties in the village where they lived for generations but one resisted. That was Mathilde May who together with her husband Charlie build their home in the 1930’s with 18000 self made bricks. She refused to move. Not a town clerk, nor the police, bailiff or whatever authority succeeded in her removal. Everytime an official came to her to hand-over a letter she went for a prayer in her bedroom “Lord deliver me from the hands of my enemies”. At the end her prayers, and a little support from a wealthy woman, helped. She stayed in her own house untill she passed away some 10 years later.

Mouton’s book provides a good insight on a human scale of what ‘Apartheid’ did with people from different backgrounds in a small community. Heartbreaking stories of families who were forced to start a new life in a hostile environment and somehow managed to reconciliate and be succesfull in the present.