Wednesday, July 25, 2007

1982 Israel and England, Capernaum to London Trek

At Capernaum, Leah and I picked grapefruit from an orchard, and thought of Christ, His beatitudes, His disciples, His "Fishers of Men," His loaves and fishes miracle.

At kibbutz Ein Gev, we saw shimmering Lake Galilee below. In the hills, we found ruined slabs in long grass. In fields below, amongst poppies and purple flowers, we found graves of Ein Gev settlers, shot by Syrian snipers.

At Tiberias, we scoffed falafels and cokes amongst shore ruins...

On the West Bank we bussed past Palestinian ruined villages, blown up by Israelis during the 1948 war. We passed ruined Jericho and Palestinian Jericho...

Other signs of Israeli / Palestinian simmering violence: Multitudes of male and female Israeli soldiers toting Uzis in public; A Palestinian cop in Bethlehem was hostile when we asked him directions to the Church of the Nativity; Passively aggressive Arabs everywhere we went; Israeli soldier roadblocks on the West Bank, where our Egged buses stopped, while we watched burning car tyres on the roadside, lit by protesting Palestinians; Wrecked tanks on the Jericho - Jerusalem roadside; Wary Israelis only became friendly when we said we'd worked at Grofit kibbutz.

In the next two decades, Israel would carve roads through West Bank wasteland, and erect walled apartheid settlements, settling thousands of immigrant Jews, apart from oppressed Palestinian Arab villages.

At Jaffa artist-quarter, we watched a whore humping beneath a door-arch. Overlooking Tel Aviv, two Arabs hassled us, while we lunched in a park.

We farewelled David Eidelman on Dizengoff Street, where I found a gold wedding ring on the pavement. David's last words to us: "The world is small and you are young." Fourteen years later, Arabs would suicide-bomb Dizengoff Street, killing Jews. We liked Israel, despite Arab-Jew hatred and fear. We left our tent in our youth-hostel for other trekkers to find.

We backspoored to Dirty London to collect our luggage at George House, and farewell wildlife. Lingam, still chewing betel-nuts and shagging Inyoni, was hotel manager. Sam and Xue lived in Barons Court, before moving to Melbourne. Aunty Jean lived another two decades in dirty Birmingham, going blind in her eighties. Lillian and Michael continued living in dirty Edinburgh, and produced three sons. After using Smellidick's home-phone to frequently phone his Zimbabwe family, Kleintjie Greyhound bus-trekked USA. Humble soldiers, Kleintjie and Sam were far better men than any school managers I'd encounter again in SA. Sam's friendliness and emotional strength impressed us. He was the first Pacific Islander we knew. Later, we'd know many more in NZ. Duffy disappeared, and Skate vanished into Africa.

We disliked British weather, absurd class snobberies, with hereditary lords and ladies, and narrow-minded, insular, swearing, punky Poms, and dope-smoking weirdoes. We liked pubs, dialects, multi -culturalism, foreign friends.

Over 2000 000 Poms were unemployed when we'd arrived. Labouring and clerical work wasn't humiliating, but low wages paid by sleazy employers was humiliating. Even with London weighting, Leah and I earned insufficient wages to sustain a family. One weekly-wage paid our rent, the other low wage paid living-expenses. We'd saved zilch living in dirty London, and our SA money had funded all our travels.

As white Azanians, we were stereotyped as racists. Loudest hostility and hypocrisy came from citizens of countries with their own histories of racist oppression: New Zealand, Australia, USA, Germany, Poland, Cuba. Bollocking foes tried to make us feel guilty. Foes spouted jargon like, "apartheid-regime; struggle; privileged -whites; activists; state-terrorism; freedom-fighters; Comrades; socialism; dissidents..." Few foes had travelled to Africa, or Southern Africa, and none had bothered to ascertain our views.

There was no denying SA legalized oppression of outcast non-whites, similar to Israeli oppression of outcast Palestinians, or British oppression of outcast Irish Republicans. There was no denying white wealth and privileges compared with poverty and ignorance of outcast non-whites. Our white privileges were normal for citizens of first-world countries we'd visited in Britain, Europe and Israel. Our aspirations were no different from our British relatives' aspirations.

As Soutie Trekkers, we'd seen stark contrasts between Africa and Europe. Africans aspired to privileges of European commerce and culture. I hadn't observed many Europeans integrating with black cultures' autocracy; kleptocracy; genocide; war-lords; faction-fights; ancestor-worship; animism; traditional-healers; witches; spirit -mediums; muti-murderers; tribalism; chiefs; polygamy; arranged marriages; lobola; low living standards; subsistence-farming; mud-hut squalor; no electricity; no running water; no sewage reticulation; potholed roads; cattle- wealth; sorghum, millet and maize munching; water-carrying; wood-gathering; street-markets; malaria; tsetse fly; anthrax; bilharzia; dysentery; cholera, shitting in bushes; pissing in streets...

I reckoned flaunted wealth of dirty British and European cities, resulted from colonial wealth generated on the backs of African slaves and forced labourers. (Marq De Villiers, Shiela Hirtle, Into Africa, Phoenix Giant, London, 1998). George House had been a microcosm of what slum Britain would become. We'd lived on the edge of London loneliness, petty crime, alcoholism and drug abuse, and we'd disliked what we saw. We didn't want to emigrate northwards. We said, "Goodbye Dirty London," as we loathed the dirt and winter gloom of decadent Britain and Europe. We liked the warmth of Africa.

From Luxembourg, I posted my British passport to sister-in-law Bebs in Durbs. Natal called, so using our SA passports we backspoored to Durban, while Poms prepared for their little Falklands War.

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