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So today Buddy and I eventually left Richards Bay after having spent 12 days there. I must admit I was starting to wonder if we were ever going to leave but this morning after bidding farewell to Richard and Nicola Stone, Monica Bailey and Peter De Breyn all who made my stay in Richards Bay a really excellent one (thanks guys you were all amazing and are now regarded as family) I headed for Empangeni, where Daryl from Empangeni Round Table and Sales Manager for Empangeni Nissan, arranged to have Buddy’s gearbox oil checked and topped up. Then I took the road north in the howling wind and rain. I must admit that there were two things that really impressed me with Richards Bay. One was the fact that it is a spotless town Everyday I saw people out picking up papers and cleaning the sidewalks and streets, not that the people of Richards Bay litter the place, but it is a really clean town. Secondly the thing that is second closest to my heart, and that is names of places, streets etc. This whole story about changing names of streets, towns etc really gets my goat. Fine, if you are going to change a name of a street or whatever then do so, but don’t name them after your ‘heroes’ or anybody for that matter. Richards Bay has named their suburbs after animals, birds, plants, trees etc and the streets are named after species identified in those categories. I think this is a really great idea.
Anyway I headed out to Mtubatuba in the freezing rain, and took an hour and a half to drive the fifty kilometre stretch. Soon after leaving Empangeni, the irritating noise of the vibrating alternator which Frank Van der Merwe in Richards Bay so kindly fixed had returned, but this time I knew exactly what it was and, on checking, discovered that the metal belt/bracket on the alternator had broken! But thanks Frank, you taught me something and I felt quite chuffed that I could now immediately identify the cause of the problem. On arriving in Pongola I walked into the Motolek outlet and although the guy couldn’t provide me with a new one offered to braize (I think that’s what he did) the two broken halves together and I fitted it back on. Mmm I’m actually scaring myself with my mechanical skills; they are becoming nearly as good as my computer skills. (Okay stop laughing…)
I arrived in Mtubatuba in the still pouring rain and was invited in by the staff for a magic cup of coffee. Because of the rain, things were pretty quiet in the store and so I did not stay very long, although I was there long enough for a guy in military uniform driving a white Toyota Corolla to almost run me down in the car park. I went to Buddy to get my camera for a picture of the staff and, because it was raining, checked to see if any cars were in the close vicinity and saw this white Toyota Corolla about thirty meters away and quickly walked across the car park and this idiot revved his engine and shot forward as if trying to run me over. I jumped out of the road and as he pulled up alongside he shouted a few nasty words at me which included the words “Hey white man…..”. I suppose we just have to live with idiots like this in our country because it comes from both sides.
Anyway, because of the rain, after having a picture taken of the friendly Mtubatuba staff I headed out in the direction of Pongola and when the rain stopped I made a pit stop at a small shopping centre in Mkuze. Here as usual I got chatting with a sizeable group of locals and asked them the usual question about what should happen to someone who rapes their child, and as usual got the same response, “Definitely death” and then when asked “What if it’s your husband, your brother or your husband’s brother” I was given that confused look and the arrrrs and mmmmms. Definitely a problem.
While drinking morning coffee with Richard before leaving Richards Bay – and by the way, Richards Bay is not named after Richard Stone, I have that on good authority, even though it should be – we were watching the news on e-TV and they were showing the headlines from the various morning papers. The Sowetan’s headline reflected a story about a (what would you call the xxx certainly not a man) who had impregnated his four daughters and then raped his grand children, God this is a sick country we are living in!
Before leaving Richards Bay, the Round Tablers from Empangeni had asked where I intended staying over in Pongola. When I told them that I was more than likely going to camp in the local caravan park, they would not hear of this and said “Leave it up to us” and although there is no Round Table Club in Pongola, they pulled one of their usual tricks and I was contacted by a lady by the name of Anelie who works for FNB in Pongola and I was told that accommodation in Pongola was sorted. When I arrived in Pongola, Anelie showed me the way to an absolutely wonderful B&B called Aber Jetz which the owner of the establishment, Regina Herbst my host, explained is German for, as the Afrikaners say, “Sommer nou!” I suppose in English it means “Right now” in other words “Do it immediately, right now”. Okay so enough of the language lesson. So after a shower I met the Beares store manager, Hannes Jacobs, and his lovely wife Joan and they took me for a couple of beers and a really magic Mutton curry at the Pongola Country Lodge.
I unfortunately received some bad news this evening. My mom (Val Heath of Pinetown) who turned 83 this last June, has been struck by a nasty chest infection and was admitted to the Crompton Street hospital in Pinetown yesterday. So to mom, get better soon, I’m always thinking of you and love you, to those who know her, please keep her in your prayers.
After my very wet and cold 259 kilometre drive today I am now tired and will be heading straight for bed after signing off. I have been asked many times about my opinion on the impact which poverty, HIV/Aids and that nasty word ‘culture’ has on child rape, and will go into these over the next few days. But please guys I really want your feed back and in-put on the subject of child rape. While talking to the local community in Mkuze today, I had a pile of my leaflets in my hand which provides details of the project/campaign as well as my web-site details. I explained what they were but thought that because of their living conditions, not owning computers/internet access etc., they would not want copies of the leaflet. To my utter surprise, a lady said “Please can I have one, my employer has a computer with internet and she will be happy to show me your web-site”. Quite a few others confirmed that they too would ask their employers to check out the site. So I learnt something really important today, and I’m sure I don’t need to go into any depth explaining what that was.
So until next time, keep well and be happy.
Buddy and Me