Tag Archives: courage

‘Let’s be more adventurous’ she whispered

Lying awake at night I saw myself painting a huge canvas entirely black and immediately I thought how dark and depressing that would be… and dismissed the thought.

Then I remembered that some time ago I promised myself and the universe, that if I get any clear inspiration, I would trust it and follow it. So the next morning I took a 100 x 100cm canvas and started to paint it black.

It did not feel dark or depressing… it actually felt comforting, calming and very rich in its smooth deep blackness. Not at all as bad as I had imagined.

While painting I got the following insight:

Sometimes the darkness is not as bad, as it first seems...

Sometimes the darkness is not as bad, as it first seems… (Text added digitally to the photo.)

Then nothing. No new idea, no insight as to how and if to proceed. I hung the canvas on the wall and waited.

Yesterday I heard the kudu softly calling me.

Paint me! Remember, we have a long and special history together…

(When I was about three or four years old, my father worked in the field and my brother and I explored the near-by hill. I was the one who spotted the kudu, very close by. It did not run away immediately, which these wild antelopes normally do. How exciting… a tame kudu!

So what do little girls do? They wanna go and cuddle and play with any nice and tame animal…

Fortunately I had my brother follow close on my heels. We were really unbelievable close to this wild animal and it did not make any signs of running. Being older and already more knowledgable about the wild, my brother noticed strings of saliva running down from the kudu’s mouth. A sure sign that the kudu had rabies and was dangerous. This also explained why the kudu seemed so tame…

Immediately he grabbed me by my arm, softly, but urgently told me to back up and run. I was not very happy about this, as I already was so close to touch this cute and majestic animal. But, fortunately big brothers can be very persistent when they are about to save your life. 

So we ran. Down hill, all along a fence. Chased by a rabies infected kudu.
It is a common symptom that animals with rabies appear tame, but then also attack you… We ran for our lives.

My brother was faster and ahead of me. I realised that the kudu is getting closer and my short little legs had no chance against his (or hers). Somehow I realised that I could slip sideways through the fence and hope that the kudu will continue with his downhill chase. It worked…

But now the kudu got closer to my brother and my brother was getting close to the corner of the camp, with another fence right in front of him. He duck through the fence and at the same time the kudu lifted into the air with his powerful hind-legs to jump over the fence…

Another thing which happens with kudus who have rabies, is that they get weak. Usually they easily and gracefully jump over fences, but now they do not manage the height and get horribly tangled in the wires. Caught with its legs by the wires, this kudu came crushing down to the ground where my brother had just climbed through the fence. It fell partly onto my brother, but fortunately he could quickly get away and was not hurt.

My father, who was already alerted by my screams that something was wrong, came towards us and once he has ensured we are save, he put the poor kudu out of his/her misery.

This was a pretty unusual childhood encounter with a kudu and probably one of my very earliest, clear and lasting memories. And it made a huge impression on me… )

So yes, I do remember. Also the first time that I was asked to paint your portrait. I answered in my mind.

Ok, so will you paint me again?

Mhhh. Ok, maybe with white on black, that could look cool.

Ok.

What do you think of this?

Kudu White on Black (Detail)

Kudu White on Black (Detail)

Uhh, I like it. It is pretty. But…. hey let’s be adventurous tonight, otherwise we are finished so quickly… and black and white are so… mmhh, boring? Let’s just try something crazy…

I don’t know. I am scared. You look so pretty, what if I will mess that up?

You might, but wouldn’t it be fun? And anyway… if you do mess it up, you can just paint another one like this again, can’t you? Common, let’s just be a bit wild tonight… I dare you.

Ok, I trust you. And yes, I need to remember that I can always start over again. Art, like life, lets you start over and over again, as long as you are breathing. Mistakes can happen and they do. But it is not the end of the world and often they lead to amazing new and unexpected results.

So, yes, I dare…

(Untitled (Kudu on black background), Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm)

(Untitled (Kudu on black background), Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm)

So this is the kudu at this stage of our dialog… I think we leave her like this. Maybe, we will rather start another adventure on a different canvas.

And till we do, I am enjoying her presence. We are having fun, like girlfriends do, giggling and enjoying the neon colours we used, her prettiness and weirdness, marveling at the world, laughing at our vulnerability, fears and constant search for the elusive perfection… And think: who cares? When we can just be pink or turquoise or whatever we feel like? We should be more adventurous and less scared of making mistakes.

Tate Kuru, a tree and a road – a story of courage and doing the right thing

Tate Kuru, a Tree and the road - Sketch

A little sketch I made to remember this awesome story

Some years ago I lived in Oshakati, a town in northern Namibia, which was/is a crazy mix between traditional Africa and urban shopping centers, absolute poverty and tremendous wealth, thousands of people and similar amounts of donkeys, goats and hungry dogs roaming the streets. Not really a pretty place, but interesting and alive.

The time there left a huge impression on me in many ways and left me with quite a few stories to tell. The memory of one story suddenly returned to me in vivid colours and stubbornly keeps sticking in my thoughts. I guess it is a good time to tell and share this story, as it is so inspiring. Here it goes:

One day we left Oshakati, driving north-west towards Ruacana with a friend. The surrounding area is pretty flat and the road at most places unimaginatively straight, except for one place. About 50km outside of Oshakati the straight road heads straight towards a gorgeous, huge tree. Shortly before the road meets the tree it makes a bend to the right and travels around it, just to take up its normal course shortly afterwards. I commented that I thought that was great of the engineers that they did not just chop down the tree in their way, but instead planned for the street to go around it. Our friend smiled and told us, that the engineers and road builders had no intention to do this, but planned to fell the tree. A ‘Tate Kuru’ (Ovambo for wise old man) – I assume from a nearby village – found out their plans and did not want this ancient, impressive tree to die to make place for the street. He pleaded with them, but the authorities were not interested and told him the tree has to go in the name of development.

The old man was not that easily impressed, so he went home, got his gun and sat under the tree, threatening to shoot anybody that tried to remove him or the tree. He sat there for a very long time, day and night, protecting the tree from the developers and nobody knew what to do with this stubborn and determined ‘Tate Kuru’. Eventually his perseverance of this one old chap won and amazingly the developers build the road around the tree. Unfortunately I do not know who this guy was… I would love to meet him and thank him.

I made a tiny little drawing to remind me of the responsibility and power we all have towards our environment.

The moral of the story?

If one old man can protect a tree from a tarred road and rich developers, so can you and me. We just need to remember what is really important and act accordingly. And remember this very special ‘Tate Kuru’ if you ever feel that you are all alone or not strong enough to make the world a better place.

You alone can make a difference, and if we join forces, we can make an even greater difference. And sometimes some bold actions and perseverance is needed.

IRust_Tree & road

Just to prove to you that this story is not made up, I have located the spot on Google satellite images and marked it for you. You can clearly see the road making a bend around the big dark tree.

If you want to know why this story is so important to me at the moment, read on:

I am really concerned about the future of our beautiful Namib Desert and coastal area around Swakopmund – just recently the Namibian Cabinet has agreed to sell 700 hectares of the Dorop National Park to a company who plans to build a huge industrial and chemical plant. Eventually they will need about 3000 hectares according to their plans, also all inside the recently established Dorop National Park. The same company (and some others) also has plans for marine phosphate mining along our coast and they have already acquired the respective EPLs (Exclusive Prospecting Licenses). In most parts of the world it is prohibited to mine marine phosphate which is highly radioactive and scientists do not know what impact the mining could have on the ecosystem and oceans. You can get much more detailed and scientific information about this on “The Earth Organization Namibia” blog.  

Have a look at some of the artworks which I have made for this cause here. And watch out for my exhibition in Swakopmund in December!

About a year ago a small group of concerned citizens has got together and are trying to spread information on this situation and the possible consequences and to protect our home from pollution and exploitation. They have formed several Facebook forums and they have also started a petition.

Please support this cause, by joining the Facebook groups, signing the petition and by getting informed and active in whatever way you can.

Link to the Petition: (just click on the links to be taken straight to the respective sites)

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-ministers-of-environment-tourism-and-fisheries-marine-resources-listen-to-scientists-don-t-let-phosphate-mining-threaten-namibia-s-ocean

Facebook Pages:

Industrial Swakopmund?? What future do we want!

We Say NO to Gecko’s VIP Industrial zone near the Namib Coast

A good summary of some background information can be found at:

The Earth Organization Namibia” blog

Also:

Encourage your family, friends and contacts to send their e-mail addresses to the following e-mail address so that a comprehensive mailing list can be maintained and all those can be reached and kept informed about the environment of the Namibian coastline and its ocean:

swakopmundmatters@mtcmobile.com.na