Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)
TITLE: Fireside stories
By Kenneth Heath
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Throwing a log on the fire, Simon sat in his camp chair and surveyed the panorama below. The setting sun was slowly retreating behind the mountains, leaving a purple-red hue in its wake. A cool easterly sea-breeze was chasing the last remnants of the day’s heat out of the valley’s and finally the animals were coming down to the river to drink.
The hunt had gone well and tonight they would feast on Kudu fillet seared quickly over the hot fire, with mustard sauce and baked potatoes. The ice cold beers were hitting the spot as they gathered around the fire. In the distance they could hear the drums, beating out their urgent message.
“African cell phones”, said Peter as he lifted his own in the air to discover for the third time that there was no signal.
“It’s amazing how that jungle telegraph is still so efficient even after all this time,” said Clive, joining in the conversation, and pouring himself a Brandy.
“What are they saying Ben?’ asked Simon, as he addressed his black friend.
Ben took a swig of his beer, cocked his head to the right and listened. After awhile he said, “They are describing today’s hunt and how Clive fell over an ant-heap in panic when the lion charged. They also say that the Headman’s third eldest daughter saw Simon skinny-dipping in the river and has decided that after that horrible sight she would prefer a black husband. Something about all pink and wrinkly....but I am not sure of the entire story as the drums missed a beat just then, perhaps the drummer fell off his chair in helpless laughter.”
Thwack! A large sand clod landed close to Bens’ beer as he ducked to avoid the barrage of missiles that Simon threw at him.
“Can you really understand the drums?” asked Peter
“No man! Get a grip. I am a third generation urbanised African. I grew up in Johannesburg.” replied Ben. “Those drum beats are Greek to me.”
A fish eagle circled overhead and then suddenly dived into the river emerging with a struggling carp. The buffalo slowly meandered down to the water’s edge, allowing the lead bull to drink first, not out of respect as you would imagine but rather to allow him to confront the large crocodile that could be lurking in the shallows. Clever! Thought Simon as he threw another log on the fire and wrapped the potatoes in tin foil.
“Careful!” shouted Peter. “Those logs will burn all night and will still be hot enough for breakfast.
“That’s the general idea,” said Simon. “One less fire to make.”
“I’ve met them you know.” said Clive, changing the topic.
“Met who?” asked Simon
“The Badee” replied Clive.
“Oh you are talking about the Abelungu clan,” said Simon warming to the topic.
“The who?” said Ben, gulping down his third beer.
“The Abelungu clan,” said Simon. “In the 1700’s there were numerous ship wrecks along the Wild Coast and the survivors intermarried with the black tribes who took them in. The most famous is a little girl from England called Bess. Shipwrecked when she was very young, her calls for her daddy, ‘badee’ as interpreted by the locals, gave birth to the name of the clan she would one day head up.
Legend has it that she grew into a beautiful young lady, with blue eyes, a pale skin and luxurious long black hair. In 1750 she married Sango, son of Chief Tshomane of the Bomvana tribe and produced three sons and a daughter. The explorer Henry Francis Flynn visited her and gave the following description of her. ‘She was extremely beautiful and used to dress in native costume, twisting or plaiting her hair into cords which extended to her waist, which were rubbed with red clay.’
“She became very wealthy having amassed over 300 head of cattle. Her wisdom and leadership was legendary and she was given the respected title of Inkosozane. Today her clan have distinct European features with long straight hair and thin noses. The men have bushy beards. Their clan tend to live in remote areas and seldom have contact with the outside world.”
“I thought that was just a legend,” said Ben, starting on his third beer.
“It’s true,” said Clive sipping his brandy. “For all you know, we might even be related.”
“Heaven forbid!” said Ben with a grimace.
“That’s not so farfetched,” said Peter. “After all, we all come from Adam.”
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