As the windy season gets underway in the Cape of Hope and Storms we sit on a couple of ticking timebombs, one of them a natural disaster of epic proportions.
Many of us feel helpless in the face of the corruption and the selling off of the state. The ANC, founder of the Rainbow Nation, seems to have gone for a ball of shit. There go our neat little dreams of a happy ending where our silent acquiescence, complicity even, when we were too young, too scared or too comfortable to even see things as they were, gets swept under the carpet.
We feel helpless, too, in the face of the drought. The City Council, NGOs, water experts and so on squabble about who is to blame and who has had too many baths. The national government, the aforementioned and recently unhinged ANC, turns away to hide their chuckles as the DA-run city faces its own Armageddon.
Most of the people who might read this will be fine. Whatever happens, we will likely be able to buy water (for those few pesky applications where wine won’t work as a substitute) and antibacterial gels and vegetables and meat at “disaster” prices, and medicine even, should it come to that.
It is the others, the silent hundreds of thousands who have never been on the internet, who will become parched, disease-ridden water refugees. They will wrap up their few possessions in bags and battered suitcases, pick up their many children and start walking, leaving livestock dying and bloating in the fields.
These are not pretty pictures but more of us are becoming aware, way too late, that they are realistic scenarios and actually quite probable. It will eventually become all of our problem.
Those of us not scratching a living in an increasingly inhospitable land, suburbanites who have the benefit of the time and space to ponder the future, are not always in touch and realistic in a meaningful way. But many of us in the wine-soaked middle classes aspire to being good citizens … well kind of, as long as we don’t have to miss aerobics. (It costs quite a lot you know)
Much as I hate to say it, even those of us who see the likelihood of an Armageddon around the corner, want to “get involved” only in ways that do not involve too much risk … or effort even. Be a good citizen without too much effort or real danger: it’s the South African suburban dream.
And [add drum roll here please] along comes Spekboom, which is not just a gardener’s dream, although it is that too. This tree, like many plants that are indigenous to this region with its capricious weather and varied environment, will grow forever (or, at least, 200 years) on a hint of moisture and the distant sounds of laughter and the wafting smell of braaied sosaties.
Listen to the podcast that got me started … (I don’t know who made it but she said please share it)
Those of us who missed the Struggle, because we were too young, too white or too ordinary are now excited by the call to arms of guerrilla gardening; Spekboom is our only ammunition. This indigenous miracle plant, presumably stripped out of forests and gardens in favour of English Roses in the colonisation of the landscape, is a veritable warrior against drought and climate change. And … wait for it … it is delicious in salad!
I am serious … a master of carbon sequestration and delicious and nourishing to boot. This takes cool cuisine to another level. Being incredibly fire resistant it makes perfect fire breaks, it grows in the desert (which we might soon be living in) and is a source of water for human and animal consumption.
The call to arms here is to pick it, share it, propagate and plant it. That’s my kind of war.
And in an effort to avoid being on the wrong side of history again I checked with a friend who is a conservationist. She, who has spent a lot of her career managing the removal of invasive species, said there was no reason at all not to go Spekbombing.