SOS Sunday 13 September 2020
SOS – Steve on Sunday
(SOM- Steve on Monday)
Good Day fellow paupers,
Spring sprung, lasted a mere six days and then summer arrived. Just like that. Eight days ago in Kimberley we were -3 and 10 degrees (celcius) and on Saturday ‘twas 12 and 32 degrees. Golly.
Sincerest apologies for this blurb appearing on a Monday rather than Sunday but I do have a reasonable excuse in that I only got back to my computer after a weekend in the veld. Which of course, I shall report on shortly. It may be boring because you may now travel wherever you wish in this wonderful country, but if like me you have zero money coming in, you can do very little other than admire sunrises and sunsets. Which, nevertheless, are indeed quite stunning.
Before relating the exciting adventures of this weekend I must, just very briefly, touch on this so-called plague that influenced the government to devastate the economy. As I had attended a well-known university in the Karroo for seven years and studied epidemiology and also, if I recall correctly, demonology, I believe I am entitled to comment on this plague that emanated from Chin*. Just a few words…
(Please, no need to call me Doc, just plain old Steve will suffice. Or perhaps Poor Old Steve with emphasis on the words poor and old.)
Please also be aware that I also studied at that self-same Karroo university courses as diverse as golf, horse racing, politics, personalities, alcohol abuse as well as lack of alcohol, nicotine and its effects, self-protection, how to use a knife in other ways other than slicing biltong, how to drive an Olifant tank, and so many more too numerous to mention. It was a good university.
Just comparing the fatalities of Kimberley during the Spanish Flu 1918 to the current 2020 viru*.
In October and November 1918, a mere two months, 4861 people in Kimberley died from the Flu. (Official toll). Another 40 000 were bedridden. The total population of Kimberley at the time was 50 666. (All from Official sources).
This year, between 26 March and 12 September, there were 165 fatalities from the Corona Virus in Kimberley (a total which includes the entire Northern Cape province deaths), the provincial population being 1 million 263 thousand eight hundred and seventy five persons. There have been 13 123 infections. (Official Government sources). That is in some five and a half months.
I leave you to do the comparisons and think about it.
I do not think the total of deaths and cases has even reached the annual number of normal influenza deaths and infections. But no-one is releasing any figures for those despite regular queries. Enough of that and back to this last weekend.
Being sort-of free to travel anywhere within the country borders – and you do need money no matter how close a touristy destination is to your home – I took the opportunity to travel to a local battlefield some 30 odd kilometres from Kimberley that is reasonably well-known – Magersfontein. Being a pauper I had diligently saved some shiny coins from a begging stint at a nearby traffic light. It would allow me to smile a toothless grin while sipping my boxed Namaqua flavoured water.
Anyway, off I went with my mask and hand sanitiser, and a loaf of bread and my boxed wine, walking shoes, stick, hat, camping chair, and the rest of the items necessary for a successful sojourn into the veld. And an elephant gun, just in case. You never know these days of what may actually happen or suddenly appear.
Sticking strictly to the rules and regulations pertaining to the plague, one bright fellow brought along a coffin so we could up our numbers to 50 persons for the day long tour on the battlefield. You are allowed 50 people at a funeral. Within the coffin were a few bottles of flavoured water and lots of ice, and there were no leaks as the wooden box was sealed properly.
There were only 15 of us that started the day and after a drive through some cowlands that certainly startled a young heifer or two, the convoy of SUVs and bakkies finally made it despite a water trap to our destination, a trench line on the Boer eastern defenses near the Modder river.
The main reason for being on this 11 December 1899 battlefield was a research trip to find the spot where Veldskornet Johannes (Hansie) Coetzee was killed and quite probably buried.
Hansie Coetzee was with the Lichtenburg Commando and had fought at the battles of Graspan (Rooilaagte 25 November 1899) and Modder River (Tweeriviere 28 November 1899) before meeting his fate at Magersfontein. His son, also Hansie, died of wounds received at Tweeriviere.
Apart from a lifelong friendship with General Koos de la Rey, Velkornet Coetzee is well-known among military historians and enthusiasts as being the person who fired the very first shot of the war at Kraaipan, south of Mafeking, on the night of 12/13 October 1899.
The party of searchers, stretched out along about 50 metres walked down the trench line towards the river with strict instructions to not pick up anything at all but to signal when something was found. Lots of debris was found and GPS recorded but did we find the grave and the cairn supposedly made on the spot where he was killed?
We found three graves and at least four possible cairns.
So quest not sorted nor finished and more battlefield puzzles to research.
Most of us got burnt quite badly by the sun and had to be consoled by some cool liquid fire. At least two enthusiasts were so badly sun burned that they needed a lot of internal treatment that made them talk strangely.
Anyway, a most enjoyable outing and something that has been missed these last few months.
With most of us at our own homes by sunset except myself as I stayed with a friend and family at the river and listened to the large variety of night birds and frogs while curled up under a blanket. Quite nippy next to a river!
Coming back to the city late Sunday was not an enjoyable experience, but I suppose sleeping in your own bed once again is a bonus. You should all know what I mean.
Anyway, have a good week. I thank you.
Footnote (sort of). I also visited a local restaurant during the week, first time for such a visit since February and was quite horrified to see the price of a rump steak and chips had increased from R90 to R125. Are we being punished for the enforced lockdown suffered by said restaurant? Who knows. The price of a beer was the same as earlier in the year. A bit of good and bad news.