Category Archives: history

Of strength and courage

It takes strength to stand strong in the face of your challenges, however big or small they are. Today, the 16th of December, is an auspicious day for me and my family. In South Africa, it’s known as the Day of Reconciliation – more on that later – but we know it as the Day of the Vow.

lagerPhoto by Peter Thomas

My old friend Peter sums up the happenings of the original Day of the Vow or Day of the Covenant on his site. There are many more sites that give the history of that day from various perspectives. This blog is not intended to recount history or morals or right vs. wrong in any way. It’s a remembrance of my ancestors, what they went through and what we’ve been through and the lessons we can carry from that.

On that day, so long ago, a group of a few hundred Voortrekkers (pioneers) came face to face with over 10 000 Zulu warriors. The Voortrekkers made a laager from their ox wagons and defeated the Zulus, killing more than 3000 men, while, of the Voortrekkers, only 3 were lightly injured. As I said before, I’m not going into the rights and wrongs of the battle. The lesson to be learned here, for me, is one of unity and strength and courage. It took great courage and strength to pack their worldly goods into a wagon and trek across country, over mountains, rivers and lands where they would most certainly be attacked. Alone, we need strength and courage to face our challenges, but banding together… as families, as friends, as communities, we can do great things!

Much, much later, South Africa renamed this day to Day of Reconciliation. It’s a day that was created on the foundation of the Day of the Vow to reconcile the people of South Africa and to create a day of unity and healing. The men who came together to create this new day displayed courage and strength. It takes continued courage and strength for the people of South Africa to build on that dream of reconciliation.

When we think of courage and strength, it’s often in times of great strife and ‘war’ with our challenges. Certainly, those are times we need to call on what courage we have and to be strong. Sometimes, just standing up and doing what we believe to be right takes even more courage and strength. Sometimes, the daily grind of living takes even more.

Way back, my ancestors, at one point, were kicked off their farm, which was burnt to the ground by the British. The men were political prisoners and the women and children were put into concentration camps. When they came out, they lived for a time under an oak tree, baking their daily bread in an earth-oven. Yes, they had strength and they had courage. I like to believe that we’ve inherited that strength.

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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in genealogy, history, thought


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I touched history

There is a black lady working at the pub Jorge frequents. She makes the most heavenly coxinha’s. She asked if I could work on a photo of hers. It had a corner torn off and was heavily finger printed, where the finger prints appeared to have removed ink. The photo was a 2 x 3 inch print. She wanted a large print out of it. For me, the challenge was a relatively unique one. This is the first black face I have worked on. I found that… well… noteworthy. What was more noteworthy though, was that this photo is of her father, one of Brazil’s last slaves. He is pictured here, sitting in front of his slave hut. Now that, to me, is a unique experience, restoring a photo of a slave for his daughter. There is a whole time perspective thing going on in my head too. He looks to be around 40 here. She is 65. When I think of slavery, I think of ‘very long ago’, but not really if this photo is anything to go by.

Anyone here give time management lessons? This is harder than it sounds… the whole time management thing. I start my day checking mail. Someone sends me a link to look at. I open the link. Then another friend contacts me with a "What do you think of…?" and I start a reply. I remember that I wanted to post a blog on "The wisdom of flings" and open a post before I forget. Just then, I remember I haven’t eaten yet, so I amble to the kitchen. I come back with a plate and Jorge will say, "Have you started on that photo of John Doe yet?" I open the photo, so I don’t forget to work on it and remember the first link I was meant to be looking at. I look at the link and go to reply. While I’m replying, I see an e-mail from Someone Important. I start a reply to that e-mail because, after all, it is from Someone Important. By the time I’m into my second hour of my day, my pc desktop looks a mess and I have no idea any more what I was going to originally do. I often just end up giving up on the lot of them. How is that for productive? My off-pc activities are pretty much the same. So if you find that I’m not 100% *there*, you know why. It is because I’m not 100% *there*. Where I am…. well, that is anyone’s guess ; )


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