A week ago I had the inestimable pleasure of bidding farewell to a woman I'd love to have got to know better. Mother to some friends of mine and friend to almost everyone in Swaziland, she arrived from the UK in the 70s and spent the last 30-odd years making an indelible print on the landscape. Her most obvious acheivement was setting up Gone Rural, a business that employs a few thousand Swazi women and sells their handcrafts around the world, but she also taught, sang and danced with children and adults alike from all over the area where she lived.
The memorial was simple and touching - all the more so for the vast crowd of people in attendance. It was especially moving to see how simply and effectively the European and African farewells meshed into one event. There was no sense of artificiality or division between the collective grief. I think, in a way, it's a sign of the way Jenny lived; integrated fully with both cultures she took positive influences and opportunities from both and really made them fly.
Halfway through the service my phone went; it was on silent so no-one was disturbed and I slinked off, feeling somewhat rude but also aware that I was in no place to reject a call from AM recruitment. It was a call to ask me if I was interested in a technical authoring job, which I naturally accepted. At the risk of sounding crass, I think that is my tribute to Jenny. To survive, to prosper, and to put myself in a position from where I can make a genuine contribution to Swaziland. A poor imitation, but worthy in its attempt. I just hope I can live up to it.
The same day, I drove up to GP to pick up my Dad who'd flown in after a job up the coast. I discovered two (2) things:
Firstly, the average estimate of my age by the staff of the restaurant around the corner from Anne's was 30. Secondly, Freddie is a lying bastard and my car is not ready at all. All in all, it's pretty crap, isn't it? I mean, here I am, at my time of life, deprived of my one truly prized possession and now robbed of my youth to boot. Dagnabbit, you youngsters don't know you're born, pass the port and slippers etc.
At any rate, it was curiously entertaining to have my Dad around and doubly so to bring him to Swaziland to meet everyone. He was very taken with the farm (photos to come) and has threatened.. erm.. I mean promised.. to bring the rest of the family for Easter. Quite how my poor house will cope with all three siblings under its roof remains to be seen. Sigh. Still, he was quite right in his analysis that my Mother would absolutely love it here.
Pimane and his mate John turned up for the farm party as well, in Pimzo's father's newly-repaired pickup. They tried to go to the old Chillage but were met with such a frosty reception that they went to the Why Not strip bar instead.
One wonders where they get the stamina hem-hem. Needless to say, they spent most of the party asleep. In the morning we walked to the big waterfall and returned to fresh soup. Andy, it need not be pointed out, is a host par excellence.
Today I spent on the road, returning pops to Johannesburg (well, to the bus anyway) and then in the Times offices making a start on the various work I have lined up. All jolly good stuff.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some dogs to feed.
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