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Journeys into Africa

I turned right off the Kariba road at the sign inscribed Recommetjie 80Kms. It was a road with great boababs, some literally in the middle of the way with long drifts of terracotta sand and fields of small gravel which acted as marbles at speed! The park is on the banks of the great green glistening Zambezi river all set about with Acacia albida in the flood plain of the mighty river god. Mana Pools is a reserve below the Kariba dam wall on the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi River.

I was fortunate to visit this beautiful park before any of the culls which took place in later years, and was able to wander close to the great elephants as they foraged insatiably in the canopy of Acacia albida for delicious orange seed pods. Quite often they will stand on their back legs alone to reach some of the higher pods. With all of this was a great feeling of peace and tranquility, life evolves at a dignified pace.

In the Africa of old, before the 'Scramble' and the funny boundaries, the elephants were free to migrate freely across the continent. This allowed the land to recover where they had been foraging. Today their ranges are entirely limited to Nature Reserves and we must hold their genes in test tubes against a better time and a wiser age.

The visitor to this part of the world is at liberty to discover the park on foot and I vividly remember one young bull elephant mock charged me. Of course one never knows it is a mock charge until they stop!

A notice as one enters Recommetjie advises the traveller to leave all oranges in the loos, otherwise the enthusiastic jumbos are inclined to flatten ones land cruiser in an effort to boost their vitamin C level. The loos also supported their own particular community in the form of a beautiful white frog with large violet brown eyes and skin like shiny patent leather!

The park boasted very little in the way of amenities and I felt much more like Baines as I gazed up the great, gleaming expanse of the Zambezi with silhouetterd tuskers stepping through the limpid shallows towards Zambia on the opposite bank. Behind them, across the shimmering flow of the mighty river, the salmon tones of the towering escarpment thundered the sonorus chant of an eons pace. This all was before the Dawn of our time. It has borne witness to the passing of ages beyond our ken.

I hope that these gentle spirits will still be here at the end of the next millenium with only very hazy recollections of these times!

Africa saw the Dawn of Human Civilization, when we journey into this interior, it is a return to the hinterland of an ancient memory. Here we find ourselves recovering the peace of time before recorded history.

As the land teemed with species, so it also flourished with people.

Their spirits call us to this age of harmony and balance.

On my travels into the interior there are holy places where the presence of our ancestors exert a most compelling mystery, a knowledge that is measureless, a calm without bounds.

This stillness, this grand reserve of Eden, fills us all with a most enduring awe. It is this encompassing stillness, where the mind finds utter rest that I wish to bring to my artworks.

Not the fretted angst of a techno nightmare- but the hallowed stillness which allows the intellect to tap the energy of the greater mind.

I spend as much time as is possible on safari in the bush.

It is this intuitive understanding which I want to promote- these ancient peoples knew their part in the grand scheme of the creation, and they participated as a harmony in the great rythmn of existence. They understood this balance without requiring to tame or dominate it.

Today we all live on a tightrope of technology, manipulating and ochestrating desires that often know nothing of measure or balance.

When first we find ourselves sitting at a waterhole, miles from anywhere- our heads still full of cities. The first impulse is to switch on the 'the drama'.

Where are the animals? Why isn't there a whole ark of them at conference before us. Slowly it dawns upon us that they all drift in their own time, to take their turn. We begin to remember our experience of time as children.

The first time that I took the road north to Springbok and on through Pofadder, everything was very reassuring. The wide, armoured tar wandered through mirages with the kopjies up ahead, and dorpies came around the corner from time to time. It was all very organized and comfortable.

Then just east of Kakamas we crossed over the Orange embraced with green vineyards and took the dusty road north to Lutzputs, Noenieput and Tweerivieren.

I remember the shock coming over the brow of the first real Kalahari dune which overlooks the desert up ahead, down an endless red dust road.

This was really the start of the journey, the point where the adventure began. The distance ahead was vast, and though this road sees constant traffic, one gets the feeling that if you get stuck you might not be found for a week! It is an breathtaking panorama, littered with rocks and koekerbooms stretching into the vast distance and challenging the traveller.

Here comfortable civilization stops and the mysterious interior beckons us on.

Africa saw the dawning of human civilization. When we journey into this interior, it is a return to the hinterland of an ancient memory. Here we find ourselves recovering the peace of times before recorded history. As the land teemed with fauna, so it flourished with the first human societies. Their spirits call us to this age of harmony and balance.

There are places where the presence of these ancestors exert a most compelling mystery, a knowledge that is measureless, a calm without bounds.

It is this enduring stillness in the last great reserve of Eden, that calls us back to the quiet calm of mind.

This is where the mind determines what is true. These early peoples knew their part in the scheme of creation, and participated as a harmony in the grand rhythm of existence.

In the artworks that I paint, some reflection of the quiet mind may find peace. They are works to bring the mind to quiet contemplation and discovery - something which we all experienced as children and have forgotten.

The wilderness reminds us of our original Nature



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