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Souvenirs of the decade

31 December 2010

And so we come to the last day of the year, the last day of the first decade of the 21st century, of the third millennium. So 10% of the 21st century, 1% of the third millennium, has passed.

I am reminded of a poem by Leopold Senghor

I dream in the intimate semidarkness of an afternoon
I am visited by the fatigues of the day
The deceased of the year, the souvenirs of the decade
Like the procession of the dead in the village on the horizon of the shallow sea
It is the same sun bedewed with illusions
The same sky unnerved by hidden presences
The same sky feared by those who have a reckoning with the dead
And suddenly my dead draw near to me…

And so here are some of my dead, my deceased of the year, of the decade. Some I knew well, and some I knew less well. Some were close friends, others acquaintances. Some I had seen recently, others I had not seen for several years. But all are people I have met and spoken to and remember.

  • Wetherell, Philip. (1945-2010). England, Namibia
  • Smith, Nico. (1929-2010). South Africa
  • Harper, Michael. (1931-2010). England
  • Leonard, Graham Douglas. (1921-2010). UK, South Africa
  • Sibiya, Blackie. (1940-2009). South Africa
  • Lamprecht, John David Blatt. (Don). (1940-2009). South Africa
  • Benedikz, Benedikt. (1932-2009). England, Ireland, Iceland
  • Fenton, John. (The Prin). (1921-2008). England
  • Wood, Richard. (1920-2008). England, Namibia, South Africa
  • Sambu, Melumzi. (1950-2008). South Africa
  • Pribojan, Nikolas Richard. (Fr Nazarius). (1951-2008). South Africa, USA, Yugoslavia, Canada, Wales
  • Pierce, Daisy. (-2007). USA, Namibia
  • Thamaga, Louisa. (-2007). South Africa
  • Mabula, Simon Martin. (1939-2007). South Africa
  • Beukes, Johann. (-2007). South Africa
  • Hirst, Arnold. (1936-2007). England, South Africa
  • Conway, Mary Jane. (Jane). (1928-2006). England
  • Glass, Edward Eric Ivor. (Ivor). (1925-2005). South Africa
  • Stubbs, Aelred. (1923-2004). South Africa, England
  • Kellis, Nectarios. (George). (1953-2004). Madagascar, Australia, Greece
  • Papapetrou, Petros. (1949-2004). Egypt, Cameroun, South Africa, Cyprus
  • Naudé, Beyers. (1915-2004). South Africa
  • Thamaga, Simon August. (1946-2004). South Africa
  • Brown, Peter. (1924-2004). South Africa
  • Cox, Alan. (1944-2004). Pakistan, England
  • Hurley, Denis Eugene. (1915-2004). South Africa
  • Wadsworth, Kate. (c1945-2003). South Africa
  • Morrow, Edward Sydney. (Ed). (1934-2003). England, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa
  • Kotze, Theo. (-2003). South Africa
  • Hesse, Mike. (-2003). UK, South Africa
  • van Beijma, Jan Michiel. (-2002). South Africa
  • Hill, Ken. (-2002). South Africa
  • Galletis, Anna. (c1939-2002). South Africa
  • Briggs, Margaret. (1941-2002). South Africa
  • Briggs, Robin Campbell Rawdon. (1940-2002). South Africa
  • Kraft, Richard. (Rich). (1936-2001). South Africa, USA

The list is by no means complete. Some, like Kate Wadsworth (born O’Meara), a fellow student, I had not seen since leaving the University of Natal in 1965. Two were murdered (Alan Cox and Jan van Beijma). Two died in an aircraft crash (Petros Papapetrou, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, and Bishop Nectarios Kellis of Madagascar).

Statistically, I’m not likely to see the end of the next decade, and so I probably won’t be compiling a similar list at the end of 2020. Perhaps I’ll be on someone else’s list. I have thought that it would be rather nice to survive until Pascha 2031, and pop my clogs in Bright Week of that year. That’s because I was born on Western Easter in 1941, and my 11th birthday fell on Western Easter, but the next time my birthday will fall on Western Easter will be 2031, which will also be Orthodox Pascha. But it’s statistically unlikely that I’ll last till then.

The decade seems to have been a fairly disastrous one.

It began with George Bush II becoming US president, and attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

In 2002 was the US invasion of Afghanistan and in 2003 the US invasion of Iraq, and in 2004 the tsunami that killed about 200000 people.

The decade ended on a more pleasant note when we hosted the football World Cup, and though our team didn’t make it to the quarter-finals, we did manage to beat France (the 1998 winners) and move up a few places in the world rankings. As one of my blogging friends puts it Tinyiko Sam Maluleke’s Blog – Thinking Allowed!: Twendy Ten:The Year That Was!:

South Africa became a place where the world can score goals. For a people long at war with one another, a people notoriously mistrusted, a people plagued by a debilitating sense of self-doubt; the FIFA world cup was good. Yes it was good even though FIFA made the money. It was good even though we built magnificent stadia instead of toilets and houses for a people who have dire need of these. These problems remain. ‘Twendy ten’ did not and could not solve them. Where in the world has the FIFA World Cup eradicated poverty and spearheaded general community development? Yet in and through ‘twendy ten’ we dissapointed the doubting thomases inside (ourselves) and outside. We had no right to lay out such a successful world cup! This is Africa, remember? The lost continent? It was not just Danny Jordan. It was not just Irvin Khoza. It was us. All of us. We embraced the world. And we did it not because of, but in spite of Sepp Blatter!

Back to more personal stuff…

Our Toyota Venture, when we first got it at the end of 2000

At the end of 2000 we bought a Toyota Venture, second-hand, but in good condition (only 27000 km on the clock), and over the next 5 years we used it to take people from our mission congregations to church services in real churches (as opposed to classrooms) and to other church gatherings and conferences. In 2006 it was stolen, which put an end to that.

With the insurance money we were able to replace it with a Subaru Legacy, which being a station wagon, could fit a few kids in the back, but it is not a people carrier, like the Venture.

2006 was also the year of three dead dogs. Early in the year our bonsai Alsatian, Alexa, died. She started coughing at about 3 am, and within a couple of hours she was dead. We got a puppy, Ralf, to replace her, and within 12 days he was dead too. We managed to get him to the vet, but he died on the examining table, of bilary, which had probably killed Alexa as well. We then got another puppy, Mardigan. He was poisoned by the thieves who stole the Venture, and died after three days and R2000 in vet’s bills. A couple of months later we got another puppy, Samwise, and he is still with us.

Alexa, February 2001

We had also got Alexa in 2001. Our older dogs, Lucy and Gilgamesh, died within a few weeks of each other, and the younger one, Ariel, went into mourning. She went off her food, and looked miserable and dejected, so we got Alexa to be a companion.

At the beginning of the decade, 1 January 2001, we planted two floss-silk trees, to mark the new millennium. We called them Laurelin and Telperion. In the first couple of years they nearly died – each winter they were hammered by the frost, and only a stump was left. Then in spring a little green shoot would appear, and they would revive. Eventually Laurelin survived a winter with trunk intact, but after a few years Telperion did not grow back, and we got a replacement.

Laurelin, after planting on 1 January 2001

Ten years later…

Laurelin, 31 Dec 2010

Happy New Year!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carl permalink
    31 December 2010 7:28 pm

    Steve de Gruchy?

    • 1 January 2011 4:17 am

      Yes, Steve de Gruchy died in 2010, and I mentioned it in my blog at the time at Notes from underground: Steve de Gruchy’s body found, but I can’t really say that I knew him. I had heard him speak at conferences, but hadn’t really met him face to face. He was more of a friend of friends, as I knew people who knew him well, and had met his parents occasionally.

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