Under an African Sky, we went to Meet the Bontebok…

Our children were born under an African sky and it is appropriate to post today of all days about the excitement they feel when running barefoot across the land. It is appropriate to say that while we are citizens of the world, our roots are firmly planted on South African soil and when our children grow up they may well travel far and wide… but their hearts will remain firmly shackled to the land of their birth. We may well learn about famous leaders and and we may well meet great men and women in our time – but Madiba will always be the the father of our nation, a leader that led our nation with integrity, out of a difficult past.


Our children will never know first hand of the previous regime, the dark shadow of an oppressive past, but thanks to so many who struggled for our freedom, and an incredible man that stole our hearts, they will only know the rainbow nation… their hearts sing with friendships from all the tribes of our land. From the richest to the poorest, from the sophisticated cities to the rural outback… our children have grown up believing in freedom. They have township friends, they have city friends and they have friends living off the land in the great outdoors… they do not feel the awkwardness of not belonging, they do take pride in knowing that to belong to this country you don’t have to speak a certain language, be a certain colour or live in a certain area. They were simply born here and claim Madiba as their national father like the rest of us.


I want our children to grow up with the feel of their heritage firmly tucked into their hearts… the flavour of the open air settled on their skin, the taste of the salty Cape rain and smell the flavour of the vynbos dust on hot summer days. I want them to be able to summon up the sounds of singing cicadas from within their hearts as they drift off to sleep. I want them grow up and wherever they are, to be able to sense the feeling crispy dry bushes scratching their legs as the strong wind blows off the ocean as they run free under our clear blue skies.


I so want their heritage to be ingrained in their hearts that of all their lessons these are the ones that I formalise… and one day every couple of weeks our kids do school in a real classroom and our classroom looks like this…


And our teacher… has a kind gentle heart and a love of the land to share…


Just last week we went on a voyage through the Cape Snow…


Not the cold and crispy snow that most of our readers are familiar with, but the dry and papery snow of the Cape Vynbos… and summer…


This month our lesson was all about this beautiful animal, the Bontebok…


Some of us even take notes in this class…


And others of us, well we learnt how to behave like a bontebok… they are an amiable beast, and in order to have a fight they walk around each other a couple of times, they size each other up and the bigger male wins and the other male walks away. They greet each other by smelling each other, and from one sniff they know which family they are from, if they have children, what they ate for breakfast, where they have been walking… the list goes on.




And if they can’t decide who is bigger then they rely on who is smellier… the head male likes to sit in the dung midden, just to ensure that everyone knows just who is in charge.


When we smelt their ummm “poo”… we couldn’t tell too much about them – untrained noses I am guessing!!!


Did you know: Smell is very important to bontebok and they have a waxy gland, the preorbital gland, that squeezes out a smelly wax, like toothpaste and as they walk through the veld they rub their horns against the bushes and branches and leave their personal smell behind – just letting everyone in the neighbourhood know who they are and where they have been.


There were a couple of classroom distractions…


Big distractions… Can you believe this… incredible!!!


And smaller distractions…


And before anyone could wander off too far, we were given some “snake-safety” tips…


If you see a snake stand dead still…


I love how carefully these chaps are looking for interesting things in the grass and behind them… the ostriches are playing on the beach!!!


Class went on and we learnt all about “personal space” and the comfort zone of the bontebok and if you are quiet and don’t disturb then you can just sit and observe them…


Hood #1 taught us the differences between the very similar bucks: the bontebok and the blesbok. It is a whole lot more that the one snorts and snuffles and the other snuffles and snorts. They are very similar in shape and size, but the bontebok looks a lot cleaner as if their mums use laundry powder and their whites are whiter and their brights are brighter… Bontebok are endemic to our area, so you won’t see blesbok in our photographs.


All the while during our lesson we were being watched…


So we went for a quiet walk…


Watched all the way…


I am not sure who was curiouser…


Well actually, it became pretty clear..


As they followed us… at a distance mind you, up the hill…


Just beautiful…


And here is the group…


And they have a very good idea about what to do in the heat of the mid-day sun…


Lie down and face the sun… and have a little snooze… everyone, except for one, who was having none of that with a couple of curious onlookers watching him!!!


After a sunny day in the blazing sun, we were able to return home, with new knowledge and really awe and wonder at creation around us. There are not many places in the world where you can spend a day sitting and watching bontebok in their own environment. And so another thread of our local heritage has been embroidered onto our hearts and another memory has been made to attach us to this land we were born in.

23 Replies to “Under an African Sky, we went to Meet the Bontebok…”

  1. I love love love this beautiful post.
    It really spoke to my heart and makes me wish to go home to that amazing country where our children belong …

  2. Oh Corli, What a hard day to be on the far side of the world… you are away from a very subdued country. We are indeed a country in morning and nothing feels quite right. Sending you all lots of love to the far side of the world.

  3. Hi Cheryl, So glad you enjoyed this post. We cannot love the great outdoors around here enough, and after an endless winter it is so good to have some sunshine again!!! Hope you have a beautiful weekend…

  4. Beautiful! What a wonderful way to spend the day – subdued is the perfect emotional description.

  5. Hay Debbie, it is always, always good to hear from you… And yes, we are so blessed to live where we do… hope you all have a great weekend!!!

  6. Oh Se7en-I must say I’m a bit jealous! It is so beautiful in South Africa! We live in Georgia, US, and it’s fairly picturesque-but not even close to the beauty you see each day! Soak it up for me! XO tc

  7. Hi there tcmullinax, We are indeed blessed with incredibly beautiful surroundings… it doesn’t help that we are heading into summer sunshine – I will keep you in mind and post plenty of inspiration for you!!! Hope you are having a great week!!!

  8. I’ve been terribly behind on blog-reading and am just catching up today, but wanted to comment on this post. While I can’t claim SA as my birthplace, it is home to my heart and your words and photos stirred in me much the same longing as Corli – to return. We’ve been with you all in spirit this last month and pray one day soon we can come in person!

  9. Hi Laura, How fabulous to hear from you!!! I am guessing that it really was a hard time for folk, with a touch of South Africa in their hearts… to be on the far side of the world. It was a good time to be here and to see how far our country has come, and to be part of a nation that pulls together while they mourn… I think a lot of South Africa will be just as you left it so long ago and a lot of it will be so different, in a good way too!!! Lots of love to you all, and wishing you the best 2014.

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