This frank embrace between lifting breast of the land and the deep blue warmth of the sky is what exiles from Africa dream of…

So if you’ve read my ‘About’ tab you’ll see a poem by Wayne Visser entitled ‘I am an African.’ If you’ve read it, you probably more or less would’ve gathered that, well, I am an African. If you haven’t read it. Read it now. You’ll see why.

Africa, the continent, the people, the life that it has given me, is one of my greatest passions, my greatest love. That, and my mother’s roast beef gravy. If you’ve tasted my mother’s gravy you would know what I mean.

Moving on, below is an extract from the novel “Martha Quest” by Doris Lessing. I studied this novel for some formal exam, ‘O’ or ‘A’ levels I can’t quite remember which one, of course it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this below extract is still prominent, relevant and important to me today; in my more ‘matured’ and ‘wisdom-fulled’ state. Yes I know that’s not a real word. In a nutshell, the book semi-autobiographically tells of her upbringing and childhood in Colonial Rhodesia {now Zimbabwe.} This particular extract is beautifully composed to describe one of the visions I love most about Zimbabwe.

“The road drove straight across country, twinkling off sunlight from the marbling lanes of asphalt, up the side of a vlei*, down the next, between low walls of yellowing grass whose roots were still cluttered and bedded in the mess of last year’s subsiding growth – that is, save where the veld* fires had swept and blackened the soil (charred and cracked even after the drenching rains), so that new stems rose glistening, as clean as reeds from water. The sky was as deep and blue and fresh as a sweep of sea, and the white clouds rolled steadily in it. The veld, so thickly clothed with grass, broken with small tumbling kopjes*, which glittered with hot granite boulders, lifted itself unafraid to meet that sky.

This naked embrace of earth and sky, the sun hard and strong overhead, pulling up the moisture from foliage, from soil, so that the circling hawk (the sun glancing off it’s wings) seems equipoised between sun and boulder – This frank embrace between lifting breast of the land and the deep blue warmth of the sky is what exiles from Africa dream of; it is what they sicken for, no matter how hard they try to shut their minds against the memory of it.”

Of course, I still live in Africa and I, very gratefully and moreover, can proudly admit that not a day goes by when I cannot appreciate the beauty of it, but the story goes on to say, “And what if one sickens for it when one still lives in Africa?” But that’s another story, for another day. For those of you who live or have lived in Africa, you’ll understand what that means.

*vlei – pronounced ‘flay’ of Dutch/Afrikaans origin meaning ‘marsh.’

*veld – pronounced ‘felt’ of Dutch/Afrikaans origin literally meaning ‘field’ but refers mainly to the wide open plains of Southern Africa.

*kopjes – pronounced ‘koppies’ of Dutch/Afrikaans origin referring to small isolated granite rock formations.

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