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DURBAN, South Africa

A Matter of Respect

sunny 79 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

Sitting on the shuttle bus going into Durban, Bill spied a taxi, hired it, and thus began a serendipitous day’s adventure. Clive’s Taxi took us first to the Durban Botanical Garden just as a golf cart tour was departing for an hour’s tour. Our cart driver was filled with information, with tales, and with enthusiasm. He loves this garden, is proud of this garden, and delighted in showing us:
- a cannon ball tree with fabulous flowers and a fruit that unrolls like a carpet
- kapok which he uses to stuff pillows
- a sunken garden of exquisite beauty (below)
- a sensory garden for the blind to smell and feel
- a “kissing tree” which developed when two cedar seedlings were planted too close, rubbed together as they grew, and then fused
- an orchid house of delights
- the only male Wood’s cycad in the world (photo of cone below).
We had an interesting encounter in the Botanical Garden parking lot awaiting our taxi’s return. The (black) attendant offered Hope his plastic chair. Hope sat down and in so doing lightly brushed the grill of a Toyota van with her hand. A squawking woman carrying a baby denounced the attendant for letting Hope touch her car, although he had had nothing to do with it. Hope apologized profusely and got up and walked away. The woman continued to rant at Hope, “I was taught by my elders to respect the property of others, and I teach my child to live with this respect. You disrespected me!” Hope said “So sorry, unintentional, just a little touch.” Woman said, “You need to learn a lesson.” Taxi arrived. Thank God.

This country sees “disrespect” and violence around every corner. When Bill presented his passport to the South African customs agent, he dropped it on the counter. The agent growled at him, “Don’t you ever throw your passport; show some respect.”

Next we visited St. Thomas Anglican Church. The gate (everything is behind gates and fences here) was just being locked by Patti Shephard, a quintessential and wonderful church lady. Patti opened the gate and told us all about her ministries there (Prayer chain head and lector). As we left, alarms were put on and the gate locked. You can see the elaborate wiring in the photo below.

What goes on here in South Africa? There’s much talk of violence, of marauders breaking and entering, of “red districts” where you’d be mugged if you entered, of blacks disrespecting whites and walking on white property, of guns at the ready to shoot intruders. The novelist Paul Theroux (ship’s guest speaker) suggests that the origin of the violence is the influx of international aid to Africa, making the natives dependent, dissuading Africans from caring about Africans so that agencies like World Vision become bureaucratic ends in themselves and leave the land worse off that it was before they came. Dr. Mark Elovitz (ship’s enrichment lecturer) suggests that in the 19th century scramble to divide Africa into European colonies, with little regard for the people and their cultures, a model of rapaciousness developed. Who knows? Hope looks at the environment and wonders – all around us are wild animals that kill to survive; when they are hungry, they slaughter to eat something farther down the food chain. All around us are plants that survive only is they are protected by spines and thorns. Could it be that the model of the natural world permeates the people? Or maybe there really isn’t as much danger as everyone thinks and the fence and alarm system manufacturers just hype the news.

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Posted by HopeEakins 10:35 Archived in South Africa

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