A River is Flowing

In front of me the Vaal River slowly makes it way. across the breadth of South Africa to the Atlantic. We have been kindly put up in a guest lodge just outside Sasolburg, the town built for the turning of coal into oil. The Vaal actually joins the Gariep at some point, along which our trip lately extended – from Springbok to Upington to Kuruman, Vryburg and so on. Towns in the remote and dry and mostly flat Northern Cape. A journey of 14 hours.


In the area of Springbok, called the Namaqualand, there grows the famous Kokerboom. Ancient trees well adapted to those harsh environments. Up to now. The Kokerbome are dying. The heat of our global warming has become too much even for them. Up to 60 degrees Celsius reflected temperature from the ground. The Namaqua is also famous for its fields of bright flowers during spring time, which is now. But we have not seen any. They’re still there, but you need to go out of your way to find them. Much of the land is slowly turning into desert.

On the other side of the country where the Indian Ocean gives tropical moisture, my brother lives in the town of Richards Bay. The effects of a rising sea level is there to be seen in dramatic fashion. I tried to capture that with photos that I slid along with a track called “A minor drift.” I now call this video “human drift” – one of the latest releases for the HA!World Online Experience (we are waiting for many more of you to subscribe!)

The land around Sasolburg is dry too. And the news is filled with unrest. As usual, in a country like this, we grapple with the tensions between an impatient mass of people left at the bottom of the economic ladder who wants to see dramatic change, and those who are sitting well and thick, who believe that things will sort themselves out as long as they are left alone to make themselves even richer. (In another release, I wrote about this shiny world that literally is only smoke and mirrors).

It is in this feverish world that we, like most of humanity, are raising children to become the next generation. We will be giving them all our understandings, all our concepts, all the structures that have failed to bring us together – socially, spiritually, economically and politically. Will they be better in averting climate catastrophe? Could they retain more wisdom gained from still being so close to “the dolphin’s way home?” (in this release, Joke wrote to Mira, who is still speaking the language of birds).

The river in front of me flows deep and broadly. The water calms me. There is water still! And where there’s water, there is life, so you (can) look in me.

Perhaps we can still save the Kokerboom if we ourselves can refresh and revive our flow, which is precisely what we’d like to offer you with the HA! RETREAT coming up from 2 to 9 February next year. We have set a deadline for September fifteenth. (Even if you are not sure that you can attend, but are interested, let us know by completing this form).

Looking at the river, I know that there is hope. In between the extremes a middle ground is still standing – that place where the making of connection is still possible. We need leaders that stand the middle ground – not a vague mediocrity, but a dynamic space where extremes can vent themselves into a sustainable flow. We now have such a leader in this country – even if overlooked or underestimated because of his lack of populistic fire. But he is a river through which many strands are finding flow. It is in everyone’s interest that he succeeds, even though he is a rich man himself. But his wealth was not born from greed. Both as a businessman and politician, he quietly and firmly wants those under his leadership to succeed. He has his flaws, but he is not fatally cracked, like our previous president was. A fresh breath for democracy in an age of rising authoritarianism!

Will the oceans stop to rise? Not for a long time. We are in for intensified drama on all levels. But feel the water.. In Joke’s words:

Maybe it helps, & this could as well be a note to myself,
to connect to that – let’s call it universal, breath
The will of the world
to breathe & be alive
The dolphin’s way home 
the will of the world
to breathe & be alive

Francois (HA!Man)

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