Armed robbery and a Blessing

The week before started on a high note. Joke and I were happy, on top of our tasks and resting in a chalet in the “quietest place ever” (Joke). We do not rest in chalets often, but this time, our van broke down (normal ageing) and we were stranded for two days. We took the liberty..

By Sunday evening, two weeks ago, as dusk set in and we were clinching bowls of healthy supper food, we heard a gun shot and shouts of help from the farm lodge owner. He was chased by armed robbers, heading for our chalet. In a moment, everything changed. Life, and all our central belongings (the general equipment was left with the van in town) were suddenly shifting on flimsy grounds. We dashed for cover as he stormed in a helpless panic into our room, trying to keep three enraged armed men outside.

From here on an hour long ordeal unfolded of which I am not going to go into details here. The short of it is that Joke and myself got kicked and beaten, repeatedly threatened with death and robbed of three computers (losing one to two months’ organizational and creative data) and other expensive items like cameras and cell phones, all together valued at over $6000. We did not lose our lives however. The (rich) owner almost did, as he was the main target, his head so badly beaten he had to go for an operation to remove blood from his brain.

For a day we were totally out of touch with the world, ourselves and even the future. We lied together for hours just being silent. And slowly, bit by bit, life returned to our senses and minds. We started talking at length about the many dimensions around such an event, our feelings, the characters involved, the workings of the criminal case.. we cried, even laughed.. went through ups and downs relating to South Africa, to a world of ugly economic and social chasms. And of course, the practical implications of the losses and disruption of managing our work and survival.

And then, Blessing Chimanga arrived from Zimbabwe. The previous week was planned as a short tour along with him – a brilliant young percussion and marimba player, singer (and what not), doing fully improvised performances with the two of us. The intensity of the attack flowed over into these events as we talked about it to audiences and released a flood of emotion into our art. Joke, especially, raised to a complete new level, also inspired by the confidence and freedom of our Zimbabwean friend, lifting her voice as never before. Such highs and lows right next to each other! Sometimes life explodes like a freak wave, dashing all our expectations..

Thank you that we can share this with you. As travelers all over the world, a crucial part of what sustains us emotionally and socially comes from you, our core supporters. Personally, something deep in me has been tempered, silenced, and what is important to me in life has found new focus. In all of this, Joke has been the partner I could only dream of, handling both the event and the aftermath with strength, vulnerability and openness. And more than ever do I value creativity in the moment.


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