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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Sold the Farm - really did this time

Unlike my post of 11/27/2011, which was written immediately before the South African banks let us down on the first of several occasions, we really have sold the farm this time. Papers are signed and the money's in the bank - not nearly as much as we would have liked, but enough to get significantly more personal possessions across the Pond. Liz will be reunited not just with myself, but with her collection of shoes, clothes, beads and beading, lighthouses and witches. I've been following the New Hampshire weather during their winter - I don't think I've seen the temperature rise above freezing for at least 2 months. I guess that if I miss Africa at all, which is unlikely, it will be at this time of the year. Still - I did spend 8 years living (off and on when not at sea) in the far North of Scotland, so I have been used to those conditions in the past, albeit many years ago. I guess I'll get used to it - I'll have to, won't I?

NH wild turkeys taken 30 minutes ago
What will I not miss about Africa in general, and South Africa in particular? Well, I never wanted to live in SA in the first place anyway, but was forced here by circumstances. Since democratization I have witnessed a country where reverse apartheid is blatantly being practiced - I'm not saying that BEE is a bad thing - far from it, but the way it has worked out in most cases has exposed corruption, nepotism and bad management at their worst. The poor in South Africa are still poor, whereas the well-off have lined their pockets and those of their cronies at the expense of the underprivileged. You only have to look around you at present. As many as 4 years ago the Mail & Guardian exposed the scandal behind the multi-million rand upgrades on Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home - upgrades carried out at the taxpayers' expense (for those who have never heard of him, Zuma is South Africa's multi-wife president). Today, 4 years later, the scandal lives on

I will miss none of the above. What I will miss is the bush and the wildlife. The fragrance after that first rain shower after a period of drought. The ability to take a drive of less than an hour and be among a 30-strong herd of elephant, the bush buck that live on my farm, the monkeys that scatter when I drive to Bathurst, the sound of the jackals as they hunt at night, the call of the frogs from our small dam after the year's first rains, and the call of the fiery-necked nightjar - these I will never forget.

Yesterday I took my monthly drive into Grahamstown. The main street showed up mismanagement at its worst. Imagine taking a trash bin - well, probably taking dozens of trash bins - and emptying them along the sidewalk and gutters. The amount of trash just lying there was appalling. The thing is, the ANC have individuals all over the country in local government, mayors and councilors, who have no idea how to run a craft booth let alone a municipality. And they are all riding around in new Mercedes and BMWs. I'm not jealous - just sorry for the many individuals who cannot escape from the situation. Which makes me very glad of the decision I made when I first arrived in Africa - never to give up my British passport.

There is so much to get done during the next 58 or so days. Police Clearance Certificate, hand in Beretta, international driving permit, stop Eskom, stop Telkom, stop DStv, stop Post Box, change of address with various agencies, sell furniture, stop car insurance ... the list goes on. My clients will find my new telephone number on my main website, and I will still be available for work from South Africa. Just remember though, that if you call me the difference is 6 hours in SA winter and 7 in summer.