Visitors come and go, the guest list for Christmas Day luncheon increases. There are friends heading down to holiday cottages on the coast, dropping off bags of ripe plums and panettone. There are homesick South Africans just back from a year working abroad, tears in their eyes at the sight of Table Mountain and the Mother City shaped around the green bay that once sheltered Dutch sailors searching for the Spice Route to India. There are families come to say goodbye before they head off to the Fish River and Amatola mountains for reunions in Xhosa cattle country. There are aimless pallid holiday makers, foreign tourists sighing over the beauty of the countryside, sun-dazzled after the grey northern climates from which they have escaped.
The purple-blue of the jacarandas against the blue of cloudless skies is breathtaking. The dog has a new red rubber bone and marches around hoping someone will try to take it away from him. A fisherman friend up from Malgas on the Breede River, a small village with the only river pont left in the country, has brought us fresh galjoen, a tasty fish known also as black bream — so the menu has changed again. I send guests out into the garden with bashed straw hats and sun creams, jugs of homemade gingerbeer. Earlier I cut branches of starry myrtle for the house. I have repotted my haworthia succulents in a green and black pot and they look spectacular.
The shadows of crime, violence, poverty are never far away. Are they ever? Stay with the darkness, I tell myself, embrace the fear and dread. Darkness and light both have their place in this season. It will pass.
Siyahambe, the music drifts down through the village from the community hall where the African Zionist community are singing the old Zulu marching freedom song Siyahambe, known in the West as Walking in the Light of God. God being Mwari rather than the God of Christian understanding although this song is sung by many Christian groups. Mwari is the bringer of peace, the bringer of rain, the comforter of the poor, there for those who have no-one to pray for them, those whom the ancestors do not protect. Mwari has a luminous light that is dark at its core, a womb-darkness.
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’.
Siyahamba, hamba, siyahamba, hamba