Africa, oh Africa. You are beneath my silver wings, you come closer and closer...
I look for my shoes underneath my seat. I unbuckle the belt, get down on my hands and knees crouching on the narrow passageway to locate my shoes. The plane is landing fast. Someone calls out: We are touching down. Curious glances.
I hurry back to my seat, fasten my belt. And down we are, back where I was a year ago, in this shimmering air, with the cloud-tufty sky, the beautiful ebony faces of its people and the windswept ocean along the Cape of Good Hope.
We are driving the long straight roads, past factories, suburbs and shanty towns with their tinned-roof shacks. I look at the mountains, bare and smooth against the bright sky, interrupted ever so often by pine forests and water along the coast line. We are getting nearer to the place that is wilderness. After a two mile drive on a narrow sandy path through the bush, past fallen skeletal trees, past thick pine forests, in a blazing sun, we have arrived to an opening, a house. Two Jack Russells, one smaller than the other, are scratching like mad on the glass door at the entrance. The greeting is wild, full of joy. I rush to the back of the house with a view: spread out like a marvellous jewellery box of nature: a grassy plain surrounded by different low-growing shrubs and trees. Then in the distance white houses with red rooftops, and behind them the vastness of a turquoise ocean with lapping waves onto a white sandy beach and soft green dunes.
Here I am, imprisoned in surroundings as beautiful and haunting as a Mahler symphony. Tall old bluegum trees in the back overshadowed by fynbos mountains lining the horizon in a gleaming beam of light. On the right of the house low flowering shrubs, a fruit covered lime and a guava tree contrasted by very tall, partly bare pines which serve as a roosting place for the wild peacocks at night.
I look over the grassy field in front of me, where a huge flock of guinea fowl, about 40 of them, has just come down to feed. Behind them in distant bushes hides Big Daddy with his clan of baboons. Their shouts and screams can be heard from far away. And when the winds from the ocean carry their smell across, the Jack Russells get mad.
They are clever, those baboons, especially Big daddy, who controls his terrain and his large brood. Food is scarce at the moment. Supplies have dried up in the heat of the summer, made worse by the frequent bush fires that destroyed more and more of their habitat. Whole mountains were ablaze for some time and pushed them nearer to houses and their people. The baboons always have feared Bas, for he runs after them howling and swinging his shot gun, even shooting pellets over their heads, when they flee shrieking with fear. But Big Daddy has regained his confidence knowing that Bas has left, for the truck has gone. Oh yes, Big Daddy is clever and he understands things and even can work out thoughts. There are only two females in the house now and their weakness is like a scent he can smell. The two snappy white and brown dogs are mere toys for him, even if they make a lot of noise with their frantic barking. Wafts of freshly cooked food drift through his nostrils and tickle the pleasure parts of his brain. An unstoppable urge for food overcomes him. Has he not recently lost out to a rival and was ousted from his clan? For days now Big Daddy has been on his own, roaming the camp nearby for food from where he was driven south for being a menace. More and more desperate he has become in his search for edibles.
Big Daddy has watched the house for some time. He hears sounds of music. All the windows are open.
I have tidied up my clothes and am playing Handel’s energetic Water music on my laptop.
"Isn't this breeze wonderful" smiles Ella, in her hand a plate of steaming chicken fricassee she has just made for us.
The dogs are jumping around our feet playfully pulling a sock on either end. Suddenly one of them stops in his track, races out of the door into the kitchen area from where we hear his rousing bark. Ella rushes past me.
"Close all the windows!", she yells."The baboons must be here!"
I do as I am told and barricade myself in the room with the smaller one of the dogs.
"He is inside; Big Daddy is in the house!" Ella shrieks in fear.
She hurls herself forward to the other side of the kitchen where the dog has cornered the monstrous Big Daddy stuffing his mouth with a banana and two apples. He also has bitten a huge bit out of a large raw potato. The little dog is by now attacking the beast, at least 60 kg, more than ten times his weight. Big Daddy does not give him a chance. Again and again he grabs him and throws him hard against the wall. But the little dog does not give up. His terrier instinct gets the better of him. The musty smell of the beast invades all his senses and makes him a hero. Fearlessly he defends his home and his mistress.
Ella finds herself in the trickiest of situations. She realizes all windows are shut and an escape route is impossible. Big Daddy jumps over the table, holds on to his booty. Forever it seems he is searching, he runs into the bathroom, past Ella's bottles of cosmetics, past the washbasins, climbs on top of the loo and unhooks the wire of the bathroom window. One pull up and out he jumps sprinting away on four legs.