The question I was asked most often after publishing “Silent Heroes” was: why I wrote a book about war?
To me, “Silent Heroes” is a book that asked to be written. The idea behind it began to germinate in my mind long ago. It took over two years of research and assiduous work for this book to see the printing press.
Having lived through a Revolution and the fall of the Eastern Bloc, I can see that the power of historical knowledge is often overlooked. From my point of view, the situation in Afghanistan is of global interest. There are many similar historical hot spots throughout the world. My interest in the War in Afghanistan was stirred on understanding what a major influence the use of military dogs has on the lives of civilians. Most books written on this subject are from a military or political perspective. A retelling of true facts. I wanted to create a work of fiction that will appeal as well as stir emotions, something plausible, yet appealing to a wider category of readers.
We tend to read a book from the perspective of our own experiences. Some books, after reading them, manage to change the way we see our own life – and this is what I tried to achieve with “Silent Heroes”. Find out more about the symbolism behind its pages here.
I would rather have you ask me “why I wrote ‘Silent Heroes’, rather than “why I wrote a book on war”.
Women writers wrote about war many times over. But how many are know?
War is a part of life. As in life, there is fear in war, but there is also resilience and a raw lucidity in it.
War draws in all kinds of people, men and women, children and elderly, rich and poor. War stamps its tattoo on their lives, no questions asked, by killing their loved ones, by forcing them to relocate, to give up the mere life necessities in order to survive. To give up life, as they knew it, in order to stay alive.
Most war literature I came across during my lifetime and while researching for “Silent Heroes” and for “Joyful Trouble” before it was written by men. True accounts of battle and hardship. “War and Peace” by Russian author Leo Tolstoy must be the best known war novel. I have enjoyed Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and loved, for its epic descriptions and sensitivity in portraying human beings and raw emotions, Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” in which an entire generation was wiped out by the Civil War.
The question that inevitably rose was:
what is the major difference between a war story written by a woman and one written by a man?
And I don’t mean linguistic differences.
When reading a book written by a woman, I tend to feel closer to the author than when to a male author. I find their writing style more interactive. This aspect does not involve characters, but the overall feeling I get when reading -reading for pleasure.
Male authors tend to focus on conveying information, on the courage of the soldiers, on their super-human acts and vigor and less on the emotions that trigger or haunt them. On the intensity of their pain, the taste of their passion, the gut feeling.
From a sociology-cultural point of view we are a product of our upbringing and of the society we live in. Considering ideological factors and forces, we are a product of our interactions with and of our reactions to society. It is only normal that this will reflect in a writer’s work.
What about the communications style?
Will the fact that men and women have a different communication style reflect in their writing? Much like a piece of art or a music sheet reflect the author’s core structure.
On the other hand, writing is very much a products of our biographical reading. Which brings us back to our upbringing, influencing us in everything we do.
But since we only speak of the war theme here, I think that this difference shows in the type of relationships the characters tend to built with one another.
If you look at a novel as it would be a river, I tend to see a woman’s writing running smoothly, in a fluid movement, while a man’s is almost bubbling in it’s banks. But this is only my own imaginary.
War stories are a two way narrative.
War involves those who actively take part in it and those who are sucked in it, no choice given. Soldiers and civilians. And civilians, too, deserve to be heard. Their emotions should be given a voice, too.
But what if we don’t know if a book was written by a man or a woman? Would we still be able to spot the difference? And how will that knowledge influence our perception of the book?
Again, we only look at war books here.
We are past the women’s rise to prominence during the mid-nineteenth century and past the women’s rights movements.
Do women still need to prove themselves by writing about war?
War is a topic monopolized by men authors throughout the centuries.
Four years ago The Guardian published an interesting article, “Male writers continue to dominate literary criticism, Vida study finds“, VIDA being a group of volunteers interested in drawing attention to gender inequality in the field of book reviewing. The results of the study shows that men appeared 66 percent more often in The New York Times Book Review; three times more often in the London Review of Books; The Times Literary Supplement and others had worse numbers.
If reputable publications involved in book reviewing choose less books by women, will this influence the reader’s / buyer’s choice and view of books written by women?
My view on this subject may be biased as I am both a woman and a woman writer penning stories about war. Yet I feel that little is known about war stories written by women.
Amazing fiction books on war written by women
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (for the vivid image of how much the American Civil War changed people’s lives and characters)
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (an entire generation changed by WW1)
The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam (for its hypnotic details of the Sri Lankan Civil War)
The Gold Lieutenant by Whitney Terrell (for depicting so truthfully the surviving nature of women during the Iraq War)
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (filled with the human sensitivity that often escapes WW2 written by an author who, sadly, died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz)
Nella Last’s war by Nella Last, an inside view of WW2 from a civilian’s point of view.
The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (a touching tale of teenagers’ experiences in the Israeli Defense Forces)
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli (an amazing novel about the Vietnam War).
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (although an autobiography, is a must-read portrayal of the Holocaust)
Transcription by Kate Atkinson (a great spy novel of WW2)
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (a great historical fiction set during WW2 London)
Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian (an amazing WW2 read for children over the age of 10, especially boys)
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert (set during the WW2 occupation of Ukraine and Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018)
Good Evening, Mrs Craven: Wartime Stories by Mollie Panter-Donnes (short stories written during WW2)
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht (set during in an unnamed Balkan country experiencing a rebirth after the collapse of communism).
Can you Hear the Nightbird Call? by Anita Rau Badami how three women survive the rise of the Sikh separatists in India).
Sparta by Roxana Robinson (about a war veteran’s battle with PTSD after the Iraq War).
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (for the humanity shared by different cultures when held hostage by terrorists)
Silent Heroesby Patricia Furstenberg (on the strong connections between US Marines and the Afghan civilians during the Afghanistan War).
Whenever I read a book depicting real locations, actual places I can find on a map, a novel in which genuine artwork is described, and tangible, concrete buildings I know I can also visit are part of its setting, I tend to be more immersed in its story-line. The storytelling becomes more credible and, if by chance or choice, I visit those place I find myself immersed in that particular book again and, often, I pick it up and read it again.
On researching location for my latest novel, “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” I discovered a few sensational places; some new to me, secrets buried by history and war, others I have heard of but had not known how inspirational and amazing they were. I know, now, that I’d like to visit them all, one day when traveling to Afghanistan for tourism will be a safe endeavor once again.
1. Buddhas of Bamyan
“The Taliban did not succeed in wiping out the two Buddhas, but they became unrecognizable as the figures they once were. A cultural, religious, historical and entomological symbol and landmark. It was a bleak day in human history when something that watched over the valley for 1 500 years was destroyed in a matter of weeks.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
The Buddhan of Bamyan were two colossal statues carved during the 6th century into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, once along the Silk Road, in the central highlands of Afghanistan, 230 km NW of Kabul, its capital city.
The bodies of the Buddhas were carved in the mountain cliff, while delicate details have been modeled out of mud and straw and coated with stucco for resistance. The faces, hands, and folds of the Buddhas’ robes were painted for an enhanced effect. The big Buddha, 53 m tall, was painted carmine red while the smaller Buddha, 35 m tall, was painted in multiple colors. They represented the Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni.
“Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan had destroyed these colossal statues in March 2001. They started by damaging the Buddha with anti-aircraft firearms and cannons. Yet the damage inflicted was not enough for the Taliban. They returned with anti-tank mines that they placed at the statues bases. When sections of rock broke off, the statues suffered further damage.
And still, they did not stop here.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
“The Taliban dropped men down the face of the cliff. They had placed explosives into the various grooves found in the Buddhas. The plan was clear, to completely destroy the facial features of the two statues. Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran: Islam condemns idolatry. When one of the blasts could not destroy the facial features of one statue, a rocket was used in its place. It left a hideous gap in whatever was left of the Buddha’s head.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
But there is hope.
7 June 2015: Xinyu Zhang and Hong Liang , a Chinese adventurist couple, created a 3D image of the Buddhas and donated projector used for the installation, worth at $120 000. The 3D projection was able to fill once more the void cavities where the two majestic Buddhas once stood.
2. Qala-e Bost Fortress
“Qala-e-Boost or Bost Fort is the remnant of Alexander the Great’s Fortress in Afghanistan. What still stands today from this millennial old fortress is an impressive ruin. Helmand’s crown jewel is located on the east bank of the Helmand River, near Lashkar Gah, a city in southwestern Afghanistan and the capital of Helmand Province.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Lashkargah, or Lashkar Gah, means “army barracks” in Persian language.
“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too, then the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left. Still, Bost remained.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
” At noontime, the sun spat yellow venom over the desert surrounding the ruins of the Qala-e-Bost fortress, over this war-cursed land where a misconceived culture and an overpowering international necessity to meddle fatalistically merged, long-stalling the Afghan peace process.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
What is amazing about Qala-e-Bost Fortress is not what is visible above the ground, but what is hidden underneath, the entire Bost castle, 5 levels, being in the shape of a well hidden underground.
“As an eerie glow spread over the flat expanse of sand, from his high point Marcos caught a glimpse of what Qala-e-Bost’s crumbling walls would have been in its time of glory. No longer a ghostly silhouette, a mere reminder of an existence long forgotten, but a castle again.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
I researched so much about this underground castle that stood the test of time. It would be incredible to walk its corridors, to see the light bouncing from the walls of its shaft, to hear the echoes of history as it was buried in its secret rooms.
3. An Afghan garden
Gardening says a lot about the nurturing abilities of a person. When an entire population has a gift for gardening it means that they have peace in their hearts and know the value of life.
I was amazed to discover how much gardening means to the Afghan people and how connected they are to their roots, to the soil of Afghanistan, nurturing or arid. How inventive the Afghans proved to be, making the best out of each situation, when it comes to gardens.
I tried to depict their nurturing nature in the pages of “Silent Heroes“.
“Afghans are gardeners at heart, did you know? Before they are mujahideen or insurgents or Taliban-bloody-criminals, they love to garden.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
4. A Military Base in Afghanistan
During the two years plus it took me to research and write “Silent Heroes” I researched in depth the living conditions of the US Marines deployed in Afghanistan and of all the military fighting there.
What is outstanding is the level of organization and, at the same time, the little comfort these amazing soldiers put up with every day in order to do their duty towards their own countries and to keep peace for us all.
And anything reminding them of home is treasured. Like the small American flag in the image below.
“Between the building and the sheet of the tent was a corridor-wide enough for a human to pass through, two would have to negotiate. From a drain pipe facing the main door hung a small size American flag, the one civilians wave on the 4th of July, its sole purpose of connecting them with home.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
5. A field of poppies
In Afghanistan, poppies – opium poppies – mean death and poverty. I, “Silent Heroes” I tried to explain the vicious cycle that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan means. It was fascinating to learn how it started, why, and what its consequences meant for the Afghan population as well as internationally.
“The hamlet’s reputation of frightfulness came from the complete lack of vegetation. As if the poppy field that once flourished nearby sucked away any drop of water that might have concentrated in the adjacent earth, like some type of incongruous alien.”
( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
International affairs and their local implications are never as simple as they appear at the beginning.
“So ‘The Golden Triangle’ (Burma, Thailand, Laos) was soon replaced by ‘The Golden Crescent’ (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran).”
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Still, there is something magical about a field of poppies. I think that poppies seeds, with their ability to remain dormant throughout the years, are a fantastic representation of what hope and resilience is all about. Never give up.
Maybe because poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day. Why? Scarlet poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed, arid earth throughout the world. Poppies grew naturally after the Napoleonic wars of the 19th Century and again on battlefields of WW1.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”
I hope you enjoyed reading about the five locations that inspired and amazed me while writing “Silent Heroes“.
Do you have a favorite place you read about in a book?
Published less than a month ago, “Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” already receives praise from its readers: ” I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel”, ” extremely well written and well researched”, “It was also very interesting to read about the important role Military Working Dogs played in the US Marines’ war against the Taliban insurgents, “I highly recommend this book”, “a very exciting, moving and well written book “, “I especially appreciated the amount of research that went into making the story as true to life as possible. Would highly recommend this excellent book”, “a great read”, The research into the Afghan culture, as well as the American war dogs, is like none other. The historical aspect was brilliantly done.”
“Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” is still a #1 New Release on Amazon US.
5 Stars Amazon UK Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book and give it a full five stars! 26 July 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel from Patricia Furstenberg. The book is extremely well written and well researched. Not only does she depict the harsh realities of war, but the emotional turmoil and pain of the soldiers and the Afghan population innocently caught in the war. It was also very interesting to read about the important role Military Working Dogs played in the US Marines’ war against the Taliban insurgents. I highly recommend this book and give it a full five stars!”
5 Stars Amazon Australia Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 31 July 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
“This is a very exciting, moving and well written book about war in Afghanistan. Although I didn’t serve there, as an ex Airborne Engineer and veteran of many IED search teams, I especially appreciated the amount of research that went into making the story as true to life as possible. Would highly recommend this excellent book. ”
“The premise of this story is fantastic! I went through a whole variety of emotions. The research into the Afghan culture, as well as the American war dogs, is like none other. The historical aspect was brilliantly done. I loved the characters. They all had special stories within the story as a whole. The setting made me feel as though I were there. Absolutely delightful telling.” (Amazon Kindle Unlimited Reader)
Have you read “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” yet? I would love to hear your thoughts.
The old claim that a dog is one’s best friend is validated through historical records, be it art, folklore or books. Yet it requires no proof to anyone lucky enough to enjoy the company of a dog in modern day’s society. The stories and the inspiration behind art such as this is what fuels my writing.
I invite you to travel with me through a fast-paced, awe-inspiring journey from the past’s “once upon a time” to the 20th century illustrating the human-dog bond.
More to come in the following weeks on the astounding role dogs, these silent heroes, played during the Great War, World War II, the Vietnam Wat, and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as what it takes to become a Military Working Dog.
How dogs helped the human brain to evolve
There isn’t a shadow of a doubt that, at some stage during their passing on this planet, humans decided to domesticate wolves (the grey wolf). Why they did it, choosing a breed they will have to compete against for food, is mysterious enough to feed the imagination of many writers.
Perhaps domesticating the cunning foxes failed or it was the super-olfactory ability of dogs that triggered the human determination. Or was it all a coincidence? Theories speak of more than one time when human attempted to domesticate dogs, starting as far as 20 000 – 32 000 years ago. What is certain is that the canines evolutionary journey from wolves to dogs happened simultaneously with the human’s development of speech (about 150 000 years ago). The time when our ancestors’ acute olfactory capabilities began to diminish, their brain accommodating the extra neural synapses and cortex area dedicated to verbal communication.No wonder that dogs , with their super-olfactory ability, looked, all of a sudden, so much more appealing to have as companions. Not mentioning the cuteness of their puppies.
Footprints in the Chauvet Cave: a child and his dog
Chauvet Cave located in the southern France is renowned as the site of some of the world’s oldest mural paintings, and not only. At the back of the cave the soil and rock have preserved the footprints of a small child (estimated at about 1,4 m height and 8-10 years old) walking beside a dog. The trace is 45 meters long, enough for scientists to analyze and conclude that the child was walking and not running. What is amazing is that the prints he left show that at some stage the child slipped in the soft clay and that at some stage he stopped to clean his torch (proven by the stain of charcoal left behind). Alongside the child’s footprints are those of a large dog or a wolf friend.
Dogs in Mesopotamia: The Epic of Gilgamesh
I still remember learning n school about oldest piece of epic world
literature, written c. 2150 – 1400 BCE – that is 1500 years before Homer even
put pen on paper.
It explores a theme as old as humankind, he quest for the meaning of life.
Dogs are mentioned and shown their importance in everyday life: they are the
companions of one of the most popular goddesses of the region, the goddess
Innana (Ishtar). She travels with seven prized hunting dogs in collar and
Dogs in Mahabharata, the longest epic poem ever written
Also from school (who would have thought?) I remember the Mahabharata as
being one of the most important texts of ancient Indian and world literature.
Written 400 BCE the Mahabharata features a dog that might have been an Indian Pariah Dog.
“The dog must come with me,” said Yudhisthira “That is not possible,” said Indra. “All cannot attain heaven. The dog is old and thin and has no value.” “In that case, I do not seek heaven, “replied Yudhisthira. “The dog was my faithful companion and I cannot abandon it. It sought my help and gave me unconditional love. The pleasures of heaven will mean nothing to me in comparison to its grief. It has done nothing to deserve abandonment and had none of the weaknesses of my wife and brothers. If it does not deserve to go to heaven, then neither do I.”
More proof that dogs have been part of human life before they were even mentioned in written is depicted by art. Plenty of canines decorations are found in temples, mosaics, artifacts, paintings from all over the world.
The Colima Dog
One of the first tangible proofs of human-dog interaction is the Colima Dog, West Mexico, dating to the Late Formative Period (300 BC-300 AD). Art often represented themes important to the culture: weddings, children’s births, and royal feasts. Made of terracotta (earth) clay burned in an oven, the Colima Dog shows a hairless dogs symbolizing both life and death themes, through its association with the places where he was found, near food (grains) remains and graves.
Dogs in antiquity: China
I feel I should mention dogs in ancient China because modern dog’s DNA analysis shows that all present dog breeds stem from the grey wolf in China that was tamed around 16 000 years ago. At the same time wild rice was used extensively, agriculture developed and first villages appeared. Furthermore, the Chinese honored the dogs for thousands of years. Remember that Dog is one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. People born under this sign are said to be loyal, trustworthy, and kind, qualities often associated with the dog. There is a lovely Chinese saying translating in:
‘a dog would not mind if its master is poor, a son would not mind if his mother is ugly.’
Let’s skip past sacrifices and dogs as a food source.
The Dog from Pompeii
Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern-day Naples, in Campania,
Southern Italy. It became renowned after Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, burying
the city and its inhabitants in 4 to 6m of ash and pumice. Today Pompeii is a
precious, well-preserved archeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A dog mosaic was found in “The House of the Tragic Poet” – proof of the Pompeian love and appreciation for canines.
“CAVE CANEM” = BEWARE OF THE DOG
A Roman dog footprint, a Greek pot and a dog cameo
I particularly love this dog footprint on a Roman terracotta, next to a statuette of a dog displayed in Vidy Roman Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland. I think it depicts the human’s affection and longing towards his departed dog.
This typical Leagros Group artwork of the 6th century Greek art is striking. And it depicts the close relationship between men, dogs and horses. So much is said with the use of only a few colors.
In the Georgian National Museum there is this Roman cameo of a dog. It looks
like it is carved in stone with an oval frame hand made out of ceramic and,
perhaps, sealed with gold. I love the dog’s playful pose. It tells of his
comfortable life. Romans appreciated the dogs for their fidelity. I wonder if
the woman wearing this cameo led a happy life.
Did you know that the Greeks were the first to carve stone in relief, in fifth century B.C., the antecedents of cameos? The carving principles they implemented are still in use today.
Dogs frolicking in The Wedding Feast at Cana
Fast forward to the 16th century and I want to mention The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563), by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese because I got to see it with my own eyes.
Don’t be out off by its size (70 m², taking Veronese 15 months to paint it – and not alone). It tells a beautiful biblical story of the Marriage at Cana, at which Jesus converts water to wine. Plus there are dogs painted right in the center (it is said the painter himself is the one in white, holding the viola)
and one other dog is in the left.
Notice how Jesus is placed in the center of the wedding feast? The bride and groom are at the left end of the table. Jesus performed his first miracle at Cana, turning water into wine.
Finally, a 16th century book on dogs!
“Lawes of the Forrest” by John Manwood is a book with a full 141 words title. The book was first published for private circulation in 1592. The 1598 edition is the oldest book in the library of London’s Kennel Club—the “biggest library of books about dogs” in Europe.
Apparently during the 16th century was easier to keep “little dogs”. For greyhounds or mastiffs one needed special hunting license issued by the king! Talk about bureaucracy.
Gaugan’s puppies and Dogs Playing Poker
We’ll sail past the 19th century “Life with Three Puppies” by Paul Gauguin, inspired by Japanese prints and children’s book illustrations. Just look at those tails!
I hope you will have a good laugh at this American artwork that came shortly after Gaugain’s: “Dogs Playing Poker” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, 19th to 20th century. Dogs do observe human faces and often copy us – any dog lover knows.
While other pets and animals have undergone substantial changes in the way they are perceived throughout history dogs have endured the marks of wars and joys alongside humans, as constant companions, protectors and, of course, friends, as we have seen portrayed by the art of various cultures around the world.
I hope you will return to find out more about the way dogs and humans have faced together the many wars of the 20th and the 21st century.
My latest book is‘Silent Heroes’, a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is a book extremely well researched, with authentic details and an epic sense of the place. The war and the military involved, Marines and dogs, are described with reverence, as are the civilians caught in the middle of the fire.
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart To hold and stand me by I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart Under African sky I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart I see the fire in your eyes I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart That beats my name inside
Johnny Clegg, Great Heart
News headlines enter and leave my mind as I drive through the morning traffic, my eyes focused on the row of blinking lights ahead of me.
Rarely a news headline catches my full attention, extracting me from the traffic, my mind searching for all the info it has on the subject.
Johnny Clegg, musician and activist, pioneer, anthropologist, dancer, songwriter and all-round South African past away on 16th of July 2019.
What was so special about the music of Johnny Clegg?
It was simply infectious, a spirited blend between Western pop and African Zulu rhythms.
In France Johnny Clegg was fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.
Johnny Clegg, musician pioneer
Johnny Clegg was born in the UK, to an English father and Zimbabwean mother who later moved to South Africa and remarried.
It was Johnny’s stepfather, a crime reporter, who took Johnny into the townships of South Africa at an early age thus exposing Johnny to a different cultural perspective.
Johnny formed his first band, Juluka, at the age of 17, with Sipho Mchunu.
Later, Johnny Clegg was one of the first South African musicians to perform in a mixed-race musical performance – this would have been the ’70s. His music received ovations in Europe and America.
Johnny Clegg’s song Scatterlings of Africa was his first entry into the UK Charts. This song was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 Oscar-winning film Rain Man.
Copper sun sinking low Scatterlings and fugitives Hooded eyes and weary brows Seek refuge in the night They are the scatterlings of Africa Each uprooted one On the road to Phelamanga Where the world began I love the scatterlings of Africa Each and every one
Johnny Clegg, Scatterlings of Africa
A live history lesson with Johnny Clegg:
In the video above South African Legend Nelson Mandela joins Johnny Clegg on stage during the rendition of Asimbonanga, a song written by Johnny Clegg about Mandela’s 27 years of incarceration.
Johnny Clegg has performed on all four of Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids Awareness Concerts in South Africa and in Norway.
Johnny Clegg’s passing away was two days ahead of the Mandela’s 101 years birthday anniversary.
1988 The Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles Award: For the promotion of racial harmony
1988 Le Victoire French Music Industry Award for biggest
International record album sold in France between 1987 and 1988 (1.3
1989 Honorary Citizen of the town of Angouleme, France
1990-1991 French Music Industry Award for the biggest selling world music album in France
1990 Humanitarian Award: Secretary of State of Ohio, USA
1991 Awarded the CHEVALIER DE L’ORDRE DES ARTS ET DES LETTRES (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the French Government
1993 GRAMMY AWARD nomination for best World Music Album (Heat, Dust and Dreams)
1994 Billboard Music Award Best World Music Album
1996 Medal of Honour – city of Besancon
1998 Kora Awards: Best African Group
2004 Mayoral Medal of Honour from Mayor of Lyon, France, for
outstanding relations between the people of Lyon and South Africa
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of Nievre
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of L’Aisne
1986 Scotty Award : Master Music Maker 1987 Communication Contribution Award 1987 The Autumn Harvest Music Personality Award 1988 OK TV Best Pop Music Award 1988 CCP Record Special Award : In recognition of exceptional achievement in promotion of South African music internationally 1989 Radio 5 – Loud & Proud Award – South African Music Ambassador of the Year 1990 FOYSA Award (Four Outstanding South Africans) Junior Chamber of Commerce 1999 Avanti Award – Best Music Video “Crocodile Love”
Johnny Clegg’s passing will leave an immense gap in both local and international musical and cultural scenes.
Enjoy a free preview of the first chapters from my new book, Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting For.
‘Silent Heroes’ is a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery.
*’Silent Heroes’ is the ideal read for the fans of ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘Dear John’!*
You can read the free preview below:
When Talibans descends in the village of Nauzad and discover girls can read, a woman accepts the blame and is killed on the spot for breaking the Islam law. Her teenage daughter witnesses the sacrifice and swears revenge, her life and that of her brother becoming intertwined with those of the US Marines serving at FOB Day nearby. But the Taliban is infiltrated everywhere and friends or foes are hard to differentiate.
The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.
The War in Afghanistan is a contemporary, vitally
important conflict whose meaning needs to be understood by the public
worldwide. ‘Silent Heroes’ is a narrative about the value of life and
the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your
loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the
trauma of taking a human life.
Read about very well trained MWDs, military working dogs, capable of detecting the smallest traces of explosives, working in the extreme weather condition environments, under the stressful battlefield situations that is the War in Afghanistan. Smart and agile, at the end of the day what these dogs are looking forward to is the close bond they developed with their handlers, which call themselves the dog’s partners, brothers, daddies.
Silent Heroes, for the fans of The Kite Runner and Dear John!
When Talibans descends in the village of Nauzad and discover that girls can read, a woman accepts the blame and is killed on the spot for breaking the Islam law. Her teenage daughter witnesses the sacrifice and swears revenge, her life and that of her brother becoming intertwined with those of the US Marines serving at FOB Day nearby.
“Light, knowledge, they bring the courage to look at the people around us, accepting them for what they are.” (Silent Heroes)
But the Taliban is infiltrated everywhere and friends or
foes are hard to differentiate. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect
the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus
protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. Faced with
questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their
platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against
time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.
“Do you ever think that history speaks of victors and captors, of battles and soldiers whose lives have been lost and history even counts them, but of the casualties on the civilian side?” (Silent Heroes)
The War in Afghanistan is a contemporary, vitally important conflict whose meaning needs to be understood by the public worldwide. ‘Silent Heroes – When When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for’ is a narrative about the value of life and the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the trauma of taking a human life.
From the storyteller of the Bestseller “Joyful Trouble”
comes a riveting, fictional account inspired by the War in Afghanistan, a
battle that spanned centuries and has affected the lives of hundreds of
thousands of innocent civilians.
“When soldiers grieve, time takes a snapshot and a new star rises in the sky.” (Silent Heroes)
Silent Heroes provides a glimpse into Afghanistan’s history through the eyes of those who lived it and of those who fought it.
Silent Heroes -When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – Cover Reveal
It was an erstwhile
custom that a mother, no matter how elderly or ailing she felt, would take it
upon herself to bring food to her lad bided elsewhere as soon as the snow thawed
and the first white spring shoots pierced the ground.
A folktale tells that
Mary, the mother of Jesus, took it upon herself to visit Jesus in Jerusalem and
thus she packed a basket with fresh eggs. It wasn’t much else she could take
him, Herod having just increased his taxes, again.
The road was winding
through the verdant green hills of Judea and Mary’s heart felt light for each
step brought her hither to her son, which she hasn’t seen in a long time. As
the morning progressed her own shadow became but a puddle by her feet. Soon
enough the basket began feeling heavier and heavier in her work-worn hand and
her steps became slower and slower and she felt like her journey to Jerusalem
had become a quest for shade. Not many trees were in bloom so as soon as Mary spotted
a stream sheltered by a little arbor she quickened her step and stopped to cool
and quench her thirst. It was a thirst like she had never felt before. So she looked about and decided to stop for a
The stream singed and
Mary saw a new nest above her head and smiled. Life was precious. The water
moved softly over her fingers and, when she removed her hand, a few droplets lingered
on her fingers. She brought the hand to her eyes and smiled, a whole life scene
embedded in those tiny see-through pearls.
It was a peaceful
moment and life’s moments were just like this string of beads following each
other on her outstretched hand. Each one connected to the next, stronger
together. Filled with love.
But it was time to move
along. Before getting up something tugged at her heart and Mary lifted the white
cotton fabric that covered the basket to see if the eggs were still in good
A dreadful sight unfolded
before her eyes. It was as if the sun had stopped shining, no gurgling from the
stream could glide through the air and all proof of life on earth had been stamped
The eggs had turned blood
red and the Blessed Mother of Jesus understood that the time had come for her son
to pay for our sins. But she was first a mother and he was her baby boy and so
she wept, Mary did, and as her tears rolled down her cheeks and dripped onto
the blood covered eggs they drew patterns, a cross, a star, lines and spirals.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus hang on the cross, she laid the basket at his feet and kneeled to pray. Then Jesus spoke and asked her not to cry for Him, but to share those blessed eggs with the people who believe in His resurrection.
This is why on the Orthodox Easter we color boiled eggs in red, we draw patterns on them and we share them with our loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, knocking egg against egg and saying: “Christ has risen,” and answer “It is true He has risen.”
The symbolism of the Easter egg
The hard shell of the egg symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Christ.
The cracking of the egg (through knocking) symbolizes His Resurrection.
The Ritual of coloring Easter Eggs
It is said that coloring Easter eggs is a sacred ritual. The day when one colors the eggs is special and no other activity will take place.
On counting the eggs that are to be colored, one doesn’t begin with one, but with “one thousand”, thus bringing wealth in the house for the remainder of the year.
The paint was already prepared, using different plants for different colors. GREEN – was made from walnut leaves, sweet apple skin. RED came from the leaf of a sweet apple, corn leaves or thyme. A special flower was used for YELLOW. Oregano was used to give the colored eggs a heavenly perfume.
The room where the eggs were painted was also special. No worried or upset person was allowed to step inside and no bad rumors or news of people who just passed away were allowed to reach the ears of the egg-painter.
Easter egg color symbolism
Easter eggs are nowadays colored in a rainbow of shades.
WHITE – means purity
RED – symbolizes the blood of Christ and life
BLUE – symbolizes the sky above, uniting us all
BLACK – means fertility
GREEN – means nature
YELLOW – symbolizes sun and energy
Orthodox Easter Egg Design Symbolism
A straight vertical line means life.
A straight horizontal line means death.
A double straight line symbolizes eternity.
A rectangle pattern – symbolizes thought and knowledge.
A sinuous line symbolizes water and purity.
A spiral means time and eternity.
A double spiral symbolizes the connection between life and death.
Cross – symbol for Christianity
A cross with additional small crosses at the end of each arm is a Russian cross.
A star – is called the “shepherd’s star”
A monastery – symbol of Christianity
Other motives used for decorating Easter eggs: bees, frogs, snakes, lambs, garden tools, fir tree, tulip, wheat.
Other traditions call for all the family members to wash their faces with fresh water on Easter morning, water from a container that holds a red egg and a silver coin. It is believed that the red egg brings good luck, good health, warn off evil spirits and all spells.
Over 12 millions tourists visit Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris every year. It may seem like a vast number, but compare it to the billions who haven’t even heard of this breathtaking, this époustouflante church nestled on a tiny island in the City of Lights and you can consider yourself lucky to be one of those few millions. We were. We are, went through my mind as we dumbfounded witnessed her (for the French consider their monuments of art to be of feminine genre) burn on in the evening of Monday 15 April 2019 during a LIVE TV broadcast . We’ve visited the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris in August 2018. I want to share with you a tiny fraction of the marvels we saw.
To visit “Our Lady of Paris” or The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on Ile de la Cité (one of the two Parisian islands on Seine) you can take the Line 4 metro (M4 purple) or use one of the five bridges that connect the island to the rest of Paris. Do use the metro (Métropolitain, Métro de Paris) when in Paris, it is super fast, reliable, easy to use and super fun.
The Ile de la Cité metro station (stop for the Notre Dame Cathedral) was opened on 10 December 1910 .
Here is the first sight of the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral, the precious 300 foot (91.44 meters) spire lost in the fire that engulfed most of this magnificent church in April 2019.
The Notre Dame’s spire was a key component of the Paris skyline and it one of the first things you see as you search for this medieval cathedral. Perhaps not many know that this spire, first erected in 13th century, was damaged before, at the end of 18th century and replaced in 19th century using a design by architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.
From the metro station, as you hurried footsteps take you along Rue de Lutèce thenRue de la Cité and you round the corner towards left, you are suddenly rewarded, faced with a beautiful square bordered by shady trees and behind it, closer than it might appear and so modest in its centuries-old fame, awaits, always awaits, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.
Icon, Gothic bride,
Graced with long lines, rose windows.
Awaits your prayers.
(Notre Dame of Paris, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a place of worship before being a historical landmark.
Front facade (west facade):
As in any Christian church, the altar faces east, away from us. The main entrance will therefore be through west. As you stand in front of the cathedral, left hand side is north, right hand side is south.
Notice the two 69-meter (228-feet) tall towers and the spire (at the back) raising between them. The famous bell sounded by Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo is the North Tower (left side and slightly bigger). The South Tower (right) houses the cathedral’s famous and oldest bell, “Emmanuel” (recast in 1631). This bell was the only one that was not melted down to become a cannon during the French Revolution.
Also worth noticing are: the “Galerie des Chimères” or Grand Gallery – it connects the two towers. Here is where the cathedral’s legendary gargoyles (chimères) are found and the King’s Gallery (a line of 28 statues of Kings of Judah and Israel – placed right above the three arches or portals).
Right in the middle of the west facade is the beautiful West Rose Window dating from about 1220. It is 9.6meters in diameter and its glass was recreated in the 19th century.
A rose window is any circular widow, especially used in Gothic style constructions and depicting a detailed design like a multi-petaled rose. Why a rose? Perhaps because the rose flower is a symbol of balance, of hope and new beginnings.
All along the front of the west rose window is the balcony of the Virgin with the statue of the Virgin with Child guarded by two angels Do you notice how the rose window forms a halo behind the statues of Mary and those of the angels?
On the main, west facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris one cannot miss the three (west) portals (not identical), magnificent examples of early Gothic art. They were sculpted in the 13th century with the purpose of teaching bible lessons to the peasants that could not read, but came all the way to this church to pray to God.
This is the largest of the three portals. The space between two portals is called a buttresses. Each buttress has a niche that houses a statue.
The sculpture above depicts the Last Judgement. Above the sculpture thee are archivolts with lots pf saint sculptures.
The Right Portal – Portal of St. Anne (the Virgin Mary’s mother)
The Left Portal – Portal of the Virgin
Notice the three parts of the tympanum. On the top part there is a scene depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, with an angel crowning Mary.
Underneath, the top lintel depicts the Death of the Virgin – Mary lies on her death bed surrounded by Jesus and the 12 Apostles. Underneath is the bottom lintel with three Old Testament prophets (left) and three Old Testament kings (right) holding scrolls with Christ ‘s prophecies.
At the very left of Virgin Mary’s portal (the left portal) is the Statue of Saint Stephen.
Here is a view at the King’s Gallery (a line of 28 statues of Kings of Judah and Israel) – above the three west portals. The original statues were placed there in the 13th century. Sadly, during the French Revolution they were mistaken for kinds, pulled down and decapitated. New statues were later sculpted by Geoffroi-Dechaume. In 1977, 143 remains of the decapitated statues were discovered and can now be seen at the Middle-Ages Museum (Hôtel de Cluny).
Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris before the April 2019 fire
A view along the enormously tall and long nave (130 meters long, with double isles left and right), towards the altar, while standing in the (west) entrance. The nave can accommodate 6500 worshipers.
All the columns that support the vault are identical, although they reach different parts of the six part vault. Because of this our eye is led all the way to the altar.
Right above the altar rose the Cathedral’s flèche or spire that sadly collapsed in a mass of led and charred wood in the April 2019 fire.
Left and right of the high altar are the kneeling statues of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. At the back we have a glimpse of theouble ambulatory.
In front of the cross found on the altar is the Pietà statue by Nicolas Coustou. They both escaped unharmed from the April 2019 fire. How unbelievably amazing is that, considering that the spire that collapsed rose right above them? Did you know that pietà means “pity”, “compassion’? A pietà is Christian art sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.
The Rose Windows
The North rose window, 12,9 meters in diameter, has almost all the original stained glass dating back to the 13th century. Its central medallion is dedicated to Virgin Mary.
The South rose window, 12.9 m in diameter, 84 panes ( donated by King St. Louis and installed around 1260) was affected by the French Revolution and both World Wars. Its stained glass window dates from 1845. The south window is dedicated to Christ as south receives the most sunlight, more illumination (in the northers hemisphere) – associated with the coming again of Christ thus being the most alight between the two rose windows of the transept.
After multiple repairs throughout the centuries its panes are now out of order. The architect Viollet-le-Duc rotated the entire rose with 15° to create horizontal and vertical axes for stability in the masonry.
The Stained Glass Windows
Beautiful lighting through the stained windows. The lighting inside the Notre Dame Cathedral is never the same as the outside daylight plays different shades on its stained glass windows.
The elegant stained windows of Notre Dame Cathedral depict religious stories. Although some of them were destroyed during the World Wars, some are even originals from the Middle Ages.
Above the isle there is a (with windows as well) and above are the clerestory windows. Notice there is one arch on the bottom level, then three arches above, then the windows.
The original clerestory windows were just a rose window and up above was just wall. The cathedral was much darker. So below, the left bottom image shows an original clerestory window (except that above the round window it would have been wall).
Lighting with color through the stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.
The clerestory windows are the little windows right at the top. They have no crosspiece dividing the light.
The light pouring through a stained glass window always differ – with your distance from the window, the angle you see the window at, the time of day or season. It is always a good idea to revisit a church, if time permits. It will be a whole new experience. Spiritually too.
Each stained glass window has a biblical story to tell.
Is this statue looking away from us or is he absorbed by something small, at his feet?
There are 27 chapels inside Notre Dame of Paris, their entrances marked by chandeliers. These chandeliers are a symbol of the light of God and were know as “Crowns of Light” during the Middle Ages.
Lighting up a candle is such a personal, spiritual experience.
The transept, perpendicular on the nave, forms the big body cross of a church. Notre Dame of Paris has a rather narrow transept as it has been built after its nave. At each end of the transept we find a big, rose window, the North and the South.
If memory serves me right, this medallion mural of Mary and Jesus surrounded by gold stars on blue sky was in the middle of transept, above the altar. The great spire would have rose above it.
The area where the choir members sit is located behind the transept and shielded by this Gothic wood screen.
Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes – below.
Great image standing in the ambulatory, looking up through one of the arches, looking up into the vault. Have you ever tried to steal an unconventional peek inside a cathedral or museum? See things from a different perspective, literally.
This would be a view from the North ambulatory. You can see the North Rose Window and the stained glass windows of the north aisle.
The Vaulted Ceiling
Notice the six part of the 12th century vault. The clerestory windows are 13th century.
One lesson I learned from our visit to France: always look up. The ceilings, the vaults are often overlooked and are simply magnificent. A work of art in their own right. Just think of all the forces that keep them together. Right above your head.
On each side of the vault notice the isle, above it the galley (with windows as well) and above the clerestory windows. What a beautiful elevation.
The Pipe Organ
I love the space above my head when I sit in a church.
Did you know that your entry in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, is blessed by this Angel placed atop the entry doors?
Bless those near by,
Hear their prayers, see their hearts.
Sings the Angel still.
(Notre DameAngel, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)
The Notre Dame Cathedral Great Organ was one of the world’s most famous musical instruments consisting of almost 8 000 pipes, playing five keyboards, parts of it dating back to medieval times. It has been often renovated over the years but it still contained pipes from the Middle Ages before the April 2019 fire.
Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III. Napoleon III (Louis-Napoleon) married here Empress Eugénie de Montijo in 1853. He was 45 years old, she was 23 and would not succumb to his charms without a marriage. Later Napoleon III restored the flèche, or spire, of this Cathedral, a work carried by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
It was Napoleon I, Napoleon Bonaparte, to be crowned King in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804.
A painted wood sculpture in scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral
So much dedication and work goes in a sculpture. Dare I compare it to the work that it is poured inside a novel?
Cloister detail in Notre Dame Cathedral, interior -Statue and stained glass window
Hopeful stretching towards the sky.
A different view of the Notre Dame Cathedral: from atop the Eiffel Tower.
“But noble as it has remained while growing old, one cannot but regret, cannot but feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, both by the action of time and the hand of man, regardless alike of Charlemagne, who laid the first stone, and Philip Augustus, who laid the last. On the face of this ancient queen of our cathedrals, beside each wrinkle one invariably finds a scar. ‘Tempus edax, homo edacior,’ which I would be inclined to translate: ‘Time is blind, but man is senseless.’” (Victor Hugo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Embedded in the stone and concrete outside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris is this geographic marker. It is used to measure all distances away from Paris. It is Paris Point Zero.
A useful detailed floor plan of Notre Dame Cathedral, source Wikipedia. When visiting a monument or a museum having a detailed floor plan is an excellent idea.
Weather it is Michael Ende’s “The Never Ending Story” (“Die Unendliche Geschichte”), Erich Kästner’s “Emil and the Detectives” (“Emil Und Die Detektive”) or Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”, German storytelling reveals a rich culture and a millennial tradition. But did you now that this country produces over 1200 different types of sausages? Surely the opulent German cuisine would have also infiltrated the expressive Teutonic language, as we can see from the following German idioms.
Kein Schwein war da
Translation: There weren’t any pigs there
Meaning: Not worth
going, a bad place to be (to understand this idiom you need to keep in mind the
German’s love for sausages.
Das ist mir Wurst
Translation: That’s sausage to me
Meaning: That doesn’t matter
Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei
Translation: Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two
Meaning: All good things must end (but said with a lot more feeling)
Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst
Translation: She’s playing the insulted sausage
Meaning: She’s all
worked up (said with lots of gusto)
Eine Extrawurst haben
To get an extra sausage
Meaning: To ask for special treatment
Er muss zu allem
seinen Senf dazugeben
He has to add his mustard to everything
Meaning: Give his two cents
zusammen noch keine Schweine gehütet!
Translation: We haven’t
kept any pigs together
Meaning: We don’t know
each other all that well
Translation: To have a
Meaning: To be lucky.
Obviously to Germans having a pig means a lot more that having a cow means to
the English speaking world.
Mein Englisch ist unter aller Sau
Translation: My English is under all pig
Meaning: My English is
Wie die Kuh vorm neuen Tor dastehen
Translation: Like a
cow standing in front of a new door
much like someone faced with a new situation
Da liegt der
Hase im Pfeffer!
Translation: There’s a
rabbit in the pepper
Meaning: something that
is depressing, a catastrophe.
Da steppt der Bär
where the bear dances
Meaning: A great party
Jemandem einen Bären aufbinden
Translation: To tie a
bear to someone
Meaning: to deceive
someone into accepting something false
Meaning: An outrageous
behavior (Its origin lies back in the 19th century and the ambulant animal fun shows)
Sie hat ein Kater
Translation:She has a tomcat
Meaning: She’s got a
Das ist ein Katzensprung
Translation: That’s a cat jump
Meaning: Something is very close, a stone’s throw
Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof
Translation: Life is no pony farm
Meaning: Life is not
Vogel friss oder stirb
Bird eat or die
Pretty straight forward. It’s a do or die situation.
Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her
Translation: The fish starts stinking from the head
Meaning: Problems always start at the top (so very
true in politics)
Sie hat einen Vogel
Translation: She has a bird
Meaning: She is
Wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen
Translation: Where fox and hare say goodnight to one another
Meaning: in the middle
of nowhere, in a remote location (and surely not in a story book)
Da liegt der Hund begraben
Translation: That’s where the dog’s buried
Meaning: That’s the heart of the matter – when you want to show that you know
what the situation is about
Katze in Sack kaufen
To buy a cat in a sack
To buy something without inspecting it first