A Very Special Christmas In South Africa

Talking about hospitality and friendship, I always think first on my dear friends in South Africa, who not only taking care of my Land Rover when I’m back in Switzerland, but also introduced me to the entire family and thought me a lot about the country and their business, farming.

Every time after I arrived the country, I was invited to stay at least a few days on their farm. I was taken around, got to see what’s changed since my last visit and spend also time with their sons and their families or friends. There’s no warmer welcome possible, since they make me feel as part of the community, almost family, but not as stranger anymore. It went so far, I got invited to the big family reunion for Christmas two years ago. 

When I came back this year, I was missing my old friend H., who sadly passed away last January. That terrible covid-pandemic got another victim. A big man with big heart let behind not only a beloved wife, but also five sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

I spent some time with my lady friend A., the widow and sharing good memories about Sir H. And listen to interesting stories from the past. Although I had other plans, A. Invited me again for Christmas to join the family gathering. When my plans got changed, she almost insist to come and I couldn’t deny the honor which was given to me again.

Terrible news reached me a day before the family gathering: my dear friend A. passed away. I was in shock of that completely unexpected event. She was in deep grief of the big loss of her husband, but seemed physically strong and healthy. 

To be frankly, I was not only in shock, but also got uncertain, how to deal with the grieving family. Was it inappropriate to stay on the farm? Should I arrange anything special and how can I show my deep condolences to them? But once again I felt the big hospitality of this family, which decided to gather in memory of Lady A. and welcomed me to stay. 

The festive days began early morning with a memorial ceremony of Lady A. 

All family members gathered on a viewpoint of the farm, where the bush opens to beautiful African landscape with the Blouwe Berge on the horizon. All helped making this spot special with putting flowers, oranges and candles there. I was asked to help with filming and photographing for keeping it in memory, and I was grateful to be able to contribute something

The family said goodbye with singing, reading from the Bible, sharing some memories about this lady with a big heart. It was a wonderful, heartwarming event, made me feel cry over the loss of such a good friend.

Despite this awful loss, the family knows life goes on. And in good memories, the joy of Christmas wasn’t forgotten. Children playing cricket or rugby on the grass, on the braai (SouthAfrican BBQ) is food roasting and from time to time we drove around the farm to watch the wildlife. This also included a thorn in a kid foot, which I tried to remove, or some minor sun burn after floating on the pools bit too long. 

There’s a lot of talk, laughter, play and of course food and drink. Special occasions like icing of cookies (#lebkuchenhaus), swimming in a water reservoir in the bush or delivering gifts, are not missed either. 

All in all a very jolly time, but never forgotten the two people who founded this family

You will understand, that I avoid to show clear faces, since this was a private occasion. Nevertheless, I want share some impression from these special and emotional days. Also as an expression for my gratefulness for all this hospitality and big friendship.

Zanzibar – Jambiani People

The biggest surprise was the openness of the village people. Despite all the tourism on the beach, the village just back of it, seems hardly to see any foreigners. Old people greeting friendly, while kids waving and shouting enthusiastically to me. Some small kids were even so afraid of a strange looking white man they started to cry. But mostly i got a open smile in my camera and laughters after they’ve seen their faces in the screen. If someone would ask me about the most beautiful spots on Zanzibar, i’d response in the smiling faces of the  village people.

Zanzibar – Jambiani Village

After i found the beach of Jambiani quite average, i walked trough the village. Ducks crossing my way, cows roaming around, doves hiding in their shelters. The people sitting in front of the houses, waving me very friendly and having a chat. Wood lies behind the houses for their kitchen. Several boreholes on the streets provide the people with fresh water. A very picturesque and peaceful image of a village.

Kenya; Ngong Hills

Just out of the city of Nairobi are the Ngong Hills covered with windmills, satellite antennas and communication towers. Can’t cost anything to hike there around, i thought. In the village on the way to the hills were children playing. Some hide shyly, other ones showed up curiously about the stranger passing trough. Just a few adults were around, as curious as the young ones. A father peeks over the fence and ask me to take a photo from him with the kids. Over the village circling the blades of the massive windmills, making a sonorous, deep sound. You get used on it, the villager told me.

Despite the forest is almost gone, replaced by a wide access road and the wind generators, it’s called still a conservation park and a fee is to pay. With Ruth, a new friend and model, i entered the park and hiked around the huge generators. Some women and children followed along a trickling creek. Near the source of it they scooped water into buckets and carried them back to the huts.Three siblings got curious about the white/black couple doing a photo shooting. The youngest got scared, start to cry out loud, but got then overwhelmed by his own curiosity. With the support of the older sister he dared to get closer and play with the cam and the looked at the photos i made of him. At the end we all had a laughter about funny pictures.

The Himba Village

What’s the fascination of the Himba people? Is it their ancient and traditional lifestyle? Is it the bronze color of your skin? Or is it because they walk almost naked but freely and proud trough life? I hear people joking about the nakedness of Himbas, giggeling about bare breasts. I sense how people are unnaturally ashamed about the shameless nature of the Himba tribe. So were my parents rather shy in beginning of our visit in this Himba village. The locals acted completely natural, looked self confident in my camera and went on with their daily work. Of course, i went with my parents to a village open for tourists. The people are used on curious visitors, showed us how the live and what is important in their life and culture. Their proud and serious look turned into a big smile when i showed them the photos on display or tried to imitate their language. Kids played on the ground, made fun of me when i try to catch them with my Nikon and just stick some sweets in my mouth. Meat hung in front of houses, which are circled around an inner fence for the cattle. In centre is always a holy fire too. Everyone takes care it burns eternal, but the chief  of the village takes highest responsibility of it. A big income are the little handicraft market, displayed on the ground. I couldn’t resist to take a souvenir myself, but the nicest remembering are the feeling how strange but natural in same time it felt to be amongst those peaceful people.