FROM KNOWING SO LITTLE
By the time I was thirty, I was suddenly widowed, and thrust into the reason I felt called to Africa, as a twelve year old. At that point I was living amongst the Zulus, in Natal, South Africa. I was later awakened to something I was learning fast, called apartheid, and I got caught up in the whirl-wind struggle of it all. I had moved now to the Cape, just out of Cape Town.
Something I never knew existed, when I left my Island home of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. But learned of a hint of, which, even though sparse, existed in a different way, in Australia re. their Indigenous Aboriginals, where I was schooled. But never had I become so exposed, as I now was risking my life. It was self education fast and furious.
From knowing so little, to teaching myself so much. Education comes with many faces, and in many ways. Not just a school yard. The gentle Island spirit that I was, was well and truly being prepared as a Peace Warrior. I had been trained well from the start by my orphaned Dad, that lowly, was nothing to be ashamed of, but to go straight to the top, was not wrong.
So I did. I got to know who the government were, and they became more than strangers, but men I could communicate one on one with. President Botha, and his Foreign Minister Mr. Pik Botha, had a name and a face, as well as ears and moral sense, and they listened. I was also assigned a personal body-guard, because of the dangers of the paths I walked. By now, English was not the only language, I had learned. And bombs, be they soft or hard targets, didn’t choose sides.
Out side of Cape Town I saw one of my favorite sand dunes on the west coast, changed into a Nuclear Power Station. I had been a war baby when the first Atomic bomb was dropped in the West Pacific, in Japan. American marines visited our home Island of Malo, and yet both waring parties blackening our peaceful tropical skies in noisy bomber drones, or came crashing down in flames into turquoise seas.
Now, this war of another kind in South Africa, became sanctions, by a judging outside world, and had only worsened the people of all races living conditions. Only the helpless, unable to move out, or the brave lived on there. Every day was another land-mine of a different kind, and the load of my own concerns grew global, as I became more and more aware of the nuclear waste issue also.
Fear was not mine to harbor, but it was written in many ways, on many faces. Black clouds were not only burning car tires in protest of apartheid, but ones that clung with a bigger stench of waste, all over the earth. The more advanced man scientifically became, it grew into it’s own mushroom. My Island home had now grown to the size of a planet. Even I, was compelled to keep report, and began on scraps of paper.
Having placed myself in amongst the Homeless where hunger was fed once every fifth day, I only had an old 1923 rice-paper Webster English Dictionary as a companion, to help wade through the jargon of all I didn’t do at school. I dug deep into the roots of words, like a starving gardener. Any place, anywhere, became my class-room, until I was ready to take what I knew, inside me, to a Science teacher, at a local school, for confirmation.
He said it was beyond high school level, so gave a Cape Town University Professor’s name, for me to contact him. He, himself, had just finished a book on the Mineralogy of the Moon, was very interested, but said I must contact a Professor Cunningham, in the Department of Physics, at the Technical College for Higher Education.
Me? The child with no impossibilities. A stutterer who chose not to read, yet who’s scraps of paper on which my reports had accumulated of all I was doing, had grown to book proportions. Here was I, approaching such men of renown with what ‘little me’ knew inside!
“It’s easier to fill an empty vessel than a full,” was my reply, when I asked, why me? Having carried through, explaining to the Professor on his black-board, the artist in me found it easier not to stutter and stumble if I could demonstrate via diagrams, while I did so. Very interested in all I conveyed to him, we parted. Until five months later out of the blue I received a phone-call from him.
He phoned to ask if I had seen the daily news paper? I never read one!
“No,” was all I could honestly answer, wondering why he sounded elated.
“Three scientists,” (in the world, he reiterated,) “have just won the Nobel Prize for what you were explaining to me on the black-board, about Cosmic Rays!”
“Oh,” was all I felt to say. Truth was, I wasn’t surprised. It was simply my confirmation. If this was educating myself how far had I come?
He later sent a note, speaking of the Cosmic Ray Receptor I had proposed, for a new Power Source. I wasn’t looking for a prize. Just some-one who could understand me. With this confirmation, I sent it on to President Botha, who forwarded it to his Minister of Environment and Energy. Mr.de Klerk. Now hetoo, was in on everything combined.
And I… ? At heart just a simple song-writer and poet at the most. Well, I would rather remain where I always worked from. Behind the scene: just as an actor is the one seen, and all who work to get an act together, see that it all goes as planned, also have a roll to play, behind the scene. Now, Mr.de Klerk also had a face. There truly was a Plan coming together.
The very day as Mr.de Klerk was voted in as the next South African President, after twenty-one years of me being in South Africa, my Dad was dying. And the very air-port road I needed, the day I was due to fly back to Australia for him, was completely closed, because of the danger. Given a lift by a good friend, this one hour long road, was 100% without life or movement. A dual free-way always abuzz. Yet neither of us were harmed.
Swept up into the most perfect sky, I was too numb with having to leave right at this very point in time so vital to me, but the mirrors of water below reflected the tears I could not cry. And the very night of my arrival in Melbourne, the Doctor said my Dad would not live through.
I had to watch from afar, the day I had waited for. Remembering a life-time of dedication, while the words of another great man of re-noun (Lord Mount Batten, Uncle of Prince Charles,) and a man who spoke the eloquent language of the Queen of England’s English. A language I wondered why on earth I ever had to learn at all. Wishing I was a fluent linguist instead. Till I was made aware that English had become a universal language, and I could converse, with whom I pleased.
So I watched, as it felt the whole sanctioning world watched, the very words of Lord Mount Batten come true. That, “any man can step up! But it takes a greater man to step down.” President de Klerk of South Africa, became another great man of humble renown,. He was sorely over-looked with a Nobel Peace Prize himself, just fading back into the crowds of the new President Mandella. The man, he stepped down for.
But between the three men mentioned, the past presidents, Mr. Botha, and Mr.de Klerk, and the past Foreign Minister, Mr. Pik Botha; now have my book,. While my tears can also flow, as I still watch from afar, both the birth pangs, and the birth, of the only African Nation, still trying to crawl before it can walk, and still to be Christened, with it’s own Name.
For someone who left school at the age of 15 to nurse my dying young mother, and with only a minimal education. As one who never mastered English, was the worst speller, and grammatically got mixed up with the three languages I spoke. For some-one who did not like to read, it was all one big miracle which brought me through war-like subjects, to an even a better and safer Energy Source.
Don’t believe you can not learn something completely new. Educating oneself in any subject can be a real fact. You just have to have the will and the passion, and it all falls into place.