Growing up in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands allowed me the opportunity to live in a city but be in close proximity to the country side. The school I attended had views of the Midmar Dam and was surrounded by green hills and trees.
I constantly search for that as an adult and Johannesburg and Pretoria don’t offer much of it. This is the reason I enjoy spending weekends away in places like the Hartbeespoort or even go further to the hills of Mpumalanga. This past weekend offered a bit of that. It was work, but the surroundings make it feel less like work.
I remember a Zimbabwean friend telling me that his upbringing forced him to go on long walks and be in tune with the wild when I invited him on a hiking trip to Magalies. When I think about it now it is really strange that we South Africans pay a couple of rand to go into the bush nowadays. I was thinking that these are places our forefathers explored free of charge.
When I was in Harties over the weekend I came across a few baboons, monkeys and rabbits. Someone asked me whether they attack people. My response was that we, city Africans, have stopped understanding the wild, its needs and how to live with animals. I told her that the great King Shaka and his Zulu troops and maidens in KwaZulu never worried about such. They must have understood nature really well for them to have survived on lands that have thousands of lions, monkeys and elephants. They never worried that these animals would have kill them – in fact the great Zulu king was eventually killed by his brothers which says a lot about us human beings.
Being in the wilderness during the weekend made me realise that we have stopped understanding nature and wild animals have become enemies that have to be killed the minute they appear, but should we try to live with them the way our ancestors did then this world would remain as beautiful as it is for generations to come.