Shaka at the Knysna Literary Festival

In March (2013), I had the pleasure of heading off to beautiful Knysna to attend their fourth annual Literary Festival. I was touched by the response I got when I addressed some of the local kids, and we shared different stories and story telling techniques. This is me in their midsts…Image

I invited the kids to send me some of their stories. Here is one from a girl called Heather. I advised her to make a few changes to make the identity of Buhle a surprise towards the end. What would you suggest:

Beauty Is In All

Up at the crack of dawn, the sky begins to lighten up and the sun starts to show. I hear footsteps come into the kitchen. The smell of mieliepap fills the room. Breakfast is served.

“Buhle,” my name is called and the action is obeyed. “Buhle” is Xhosa for “beauty”. I don’t particularly consider myself a beauty but the name is still flattering.

Taxis drive up and down the streets taking people to work. Dogs, goats, chickens, cows and bulls all roam around, as free and mellow as can be. Children are waking up; some going to school, others staying at home with granny. This is just the beginning of my day as a township dog. Nekkies: my home and my playground. 

I follow my owner’s footprints down the street, along the trail and across the field. Then, beside the N2 all the way to Knysna. Not enough money for a taxi, so walking is the only option. When it is time to say goodbye to my true companion, the moment passes with a twinge of sadness. 

“Goduka, Buhle.” 

The command is taken into action and I begin my walk home. The early morning sun hits me like boiling water spilling out of a rusty cooking-pot. I find a pathway that leads down to the cool blue water of the Knysna lagoon and splash around happily.

I continue the long trek back home, along the N2 on that burning tar and hot red brick walkway. Panting, I take a break in the shade of a tree. While under the tree, a large vehicle pulls up beside me. With a mixture of surprise and exhaustion, I don’t resist as hands grasp me.

“Oh, you are a cutie, aren’t you? Don’t worry, you’ll be safe now; Animal Welfare has saved you,” a voice tells me. I am put in the back of the vehicle and driven off. I start to whine and yelp in anxiety, desperately wishing to be taken back to my owner or my home. 

The driver pulls up outside a building. A rope is put around my neck and I am put in a cage. I hear a lock slide shut.

Barking and whining, I circle the cage endlessly. People try to calm me down, but their meaningless words do nothing to take away the stress that they have caused me.

As the light of day fades, nothing feels worse than lying on a cold concrete floor in a strange place. I knew that no sleep would come to me.

Birds, unlike those back home, bring in the morning with their shrieking squawks. Time passes, slower than ever before. The ticks and tocks of a nearby clock laboriously work their way towards noon.

As the sun begins to fade behind the hills, I hear footsteps. Not just any footsteps; heavy meaningful footsteps. I smell a strong scent that brings images of power and leadership with it. I sense the feeling of relief, mixed with anger and hint of happiness. The lock of my cage opens with a click. My head looks up towards the sky, finding a vision of comfort and safety standing right in front of me. My master. I watch a smile broaden on his face as he leans down and ruffles my hair.

“Yiza, Buhle.” 

My owner tells me to come and we walk out, now and again looking at each other just to make sure the other is there. That may have been my happiest moment yet.

 I leave behind my tracks, walk along the trails and follow my master’s footprints.

* * *

A few days later I addressed a small crowd on the political future of SA alongside Adriaan Basson and Ivo Vegter who moderated. Our panel was meant to include Mandy Rossouw, who was relishing the event, but alas that was not to be. Her memory was however immortalized as her seat was covered in copies of her book about the ANC’s last conference in Mangaung in December called Kings and Kingmakers.

Here is a clip to a local newspaper article about the entire Festival, which was great fun indeed.

Thanks to the organizers and of course, thank G*d for the splendour of Knysna

One thought on “Shaka at the Knysna Literary Festival

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