Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.
Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.
“A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity
and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground,
where the wintry wind blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near
his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will
lick the wound and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the
world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When
all other friends deserts he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation
falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey
through the heavens.
“If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.” (George Graham Vest – c. 1855, “Tribute to the Dog”, George Graham Vest (1830-1904), U.S. Senator of Missouri)
This is one of the best speeches I ever read. In fact, while he was still practicing law, George Graham Vest won a trial with this speech.
Dogs helped Kings in their battles
It is said that four hundred terrier dogs, each “garnished with good yron collers” helped Henry VIII of England and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain in their battles against the French.
Henry VIII kept quite a few dogs in his chambers. We know this for a fact because Henry’s fool), Will Somers, is said to have curled up among them to sleep.
“Toe Greyhoundes collars of crimsun velvette and cloth of gold … two other collars with the Kinges armes … a collar of white velvette, embrawdered with perles, the swilvels of silver…”
Did you know that among
the thirty breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, only four
have an origin other than the British Isles?
Napoleon Bonaparte also favoured dogs and Frederick the Great of Germany had them employed as watchdogs for his sentries.
“The lonely soldier on guard who, for the first time probably, faces the dark shadows with their lurking dangers in the enemy country, will do his duty better and more fearlessly if a faithful dog is with him to warn him of impending events.”
From “Scout, Red Cross and Army Dogs“
Dogs and the Crimean War
The Crimean War involved a massive use of horses.
Fought for influence in the Middle East, especially control over the religious sites of the Holy Land, the Crimean War opposed an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia.
Dogs were used as sentries or for sighting. Surely the use of their acute smell was the main reason, although very little was known or understood back then about the dog’s superb olfactory abilities.
Dogs and the American Civil War
The American Civil War another war carried on horseback.
Little Sally was the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania infantry.
Sally followed the men everywhere, she marched with them, she was the first to get up in the morning and the last to sleep at night.
At the Battle of Gettysburg they thought she was lost. They found her three days later, guarding the bodies of some of the men in the 11th Pennsylvania infantry that had been killed. Sadly, in February 1865, during a fight in the south of Petersburg, Virginia, Sally was killed. Despite the battle going on, the soldiers dropped their muskets and buried Sally in the field.
In 1890 the 11th Pennsylvania raised a monument at Gettysburg. With a soldier on top and a statue of Sally at the bottom, still guarding her soldiers of the 11th Pennsylvania.
And you can see a doggy biscuit or two. (From Untold Stories of the Civil War)
A special dog during the Second Boer War
Since I live in South Africa I feel that I need to mention the sturdy, brave dog Bob who helped many British soldiers, by the look of this propaganda postcard.
Although the British would have fought against the Boers, which were the South African farmers of Dutch, German, or Huguenot descent settled in the Transvaal (now Mpumalanga Province) and the Orange Free State (now Free State Province), Bob proved extremely brave and he did saved human lives after all.
It was a very hot summer and water supplies were limited. The soldiers would strap bottles to Bob’s body and the brave dog would go to a nearby stream, dodging bullets on his way there and back, lie down in the cool water until the bottles were full and bring them back to the troops.
Dogs and the Russo-Japanese War
In 1904, Imperial Russia used ambulance dogs during the Russo-Japanese War as well as to guard railways. But these dogs were trained by a British dog enthusiast who later trained hundreds of dogs for the Allies during both World Wars.
The Russian Embassy in London asked Edwin Hautenville Richardson to supply ambulance dogs for the Russian troops. He sent Airedales that performed so well, the Dowager Empress Marie thanked him with gifts.
Major General Tucker, commanding the forces in Scotland, concluded at the War Office:
“Forwarded and strongly recommended. Seeing that every foreign government has already recognized the use of dogs, either for ambulance purposes or sentry work, or both, I am of opinion that advantage should be taken without delay of Major E. H. Richardson’s knowledge and experience in the matter of breeding and training them, and some military training centre selected for the purpose. it seems likely that Salisbury Plain might offer greater facilities in this respect than Aldershot; but on this point, as on other matters of details, I would suggest that Major Richardson be consulted.”
This is only a drop of information about the amazing roles dogs played in so many battles.
We saw here how the old claim that a dog is one’s best friend is validated through historical records, be it art, folklore or books.
Next time we will look at why were dogs indispensable during the two world wars, at the dog’s role during the Great War, during the Second World War, at dog mascots and true war stories about dogs as well as many more amazing tales about dogs in the war, throughout the decades.
I hope you will join me again!
My latest book, Silent Heroes, is a work of fiction about the Military Working Dogs and the amazing Marines and local people caught in the War in Afghanistan.
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.
Afrikaans, a language rich in idioms and emotions, is the world’s youngest national language and one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Born about 350 years ago through a blend of Dutch, German and French spoken by settlers in what is now South Africa, Afrikaans is part of the West Germanic languages and is currently spoken by approximately 13 million people found mostly in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
reputable for having a meaning not deductible from that of the individual
words. Let’s see how some Afrikaans idioms translate into English.
1. Alle grappies op ‘n stokkie
jokes on a stick
a more serious note
2. As die hemel val is ons almal dood
heaven falls, we’re all dead
complain less; let’s not always think about what could go wrong
3. Die aap uit die mou laat
English: To let the
monkey out of the sleeve
release the cat out of the bag; to spill the beans
4. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar
mountain gave birth to a mouse
When you put in a lot of effort into a project but have very little to show for
5. Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal
fetch a baboon from behind the hill
Meaning: To think
or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet, thus possibly making them
6. Dis die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel
English: It is the small jackals that ruined the vineyard
Small mistakes can cause big troubles
7. Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie
English: A dead
man’s suit does not have pockets
When you die, your possessions mean nothing
8. Die geel baadjie aan hê
wear a yellow jacket
9. Die poppe gaan dans
English: The dolls will dance
There’s going to be trouble
10. Dis ‘n feit soos ‘n koei
It’s a fact like a cow
is a fact you can’t argue with
11. Dit weet die aap se stert
the monkey’s tail knows
Something everyone knows
12. Hang aan ‘n tak
English: Hanging onto a branch
on for a second
13. Hoe kaler die jakkals, hoe groter die stert
English: The more naked the jackal, the bigger its tail is
Those who have the least to show for themselves, brag the most
14. Hy het ‘n klap van die windmeul weg
He’s been hit by a windmill
not be sound of mind
15. Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie
don’t peel your potatoes twice
it right the first time.
16. Iemand heuning om die mond smeer
rub honey on someone’s mouth
Meaning: To butter
someone up with flattery
17. Iemand ‘n gat in die kop praat
talk a hole in someone’s head
Meaning: To find
a way to persuade someone (to do something bad)
18. Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou
English: The jackal
is marrying the wolf’s wife
Meaning: Used when the
weather is surprising: it rains on a sunny day
19. Jy krap met ‘n kort stokkie aan ‘n groot leeu se bal
scratch a big lion’s bollocks with a shot stick
be arrogant; to push one’s luck
20. Katjie van die baan
English: A kitten
from the track
to describe someone with social skills, with humor. It can also be used when
children stay up too late at night.
21. ‘n Aap in die mou hê
have a monkey up your sleeve
Meaning: To have
something up your sleeve; to hide a mischievous plan
22. ‘n Hond uit ‘n bos gesels
English: To talk
a dog out of a bush
have a great conversation or to describe someone very chatty
23. ‘n Gat in die dag slaap
sleep a hole in the day
sleep very late
24. ŉ Man van twaalf ambagte en dertien ongelukke
man of twelve trades and thirteen accidents
to describe a Jack of all trades, but a master of none
25. Moenie die hoender ruk nie
Don’t shake the chicken
26. Nes ‘n aap op ‘n stokkie
English: Like a monkey on a stick
Meaning: To look perplexed
27. Nou nou
Meaning: In a little while, in a bit
28. So ‘n bek moet jam kry
a mouth should get jam
when someone says something you agree with or when someone is witty and
deserves a praise.
29. So skaars soos ‘n tweedehandse doodskis
scarce as a second hand coffin
Something extremely rare
30. Sy kerk is uit
English: His church
Meaning:It’s all over for him; he doesn’t stand another chance.
31. Twee rye spore loop
English: To walk two lines of tracks
32. Wors in die hondehok soek
English: To search
for a sausage in a dog’s kennel
Meaning: To look for
the needle in the haystack, to look for something you cannot find
Did you know that the biggest South African communities outside of South Africa are found in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Chile, Portugal and Greece?
This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage
What thoughts come to mind when you’re thinking of Valentine’s Day? Your partner’s affection? Chocolate and champagne? The heartwarming feeling of knowing that your child is secretly crafting you a card?
Perhaps you choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and that is all right. It is our human right – freedom of thought and expression.
Imagine yourself forced into marrying a stranger, brutally removed from your home with no right to further your studies or earn money, forced into home labour, having children and being beaten up for the smallest mistakes – even forced into prostitution. Unable to voice your pain, having no one to listen to you.
Millions of children around the world are forced into such a marriage, against their will and without the slightest knowledge of how it will shape their future – how their lives, their physical and emotional wellbeing will be affected.
Child marriage is a human rights violation. Although the law is against it, this practice – often seen as a tradition – is widespread in rural and impoverished communities, where gender inequality is prevalent. In developing countries, one in nine girls is married under the age of 15. Unfortunate families and their children become locked in a vicious cycle of poverty that will engulf future generations.
By ending child marriage, these girls will be able to finish school, delay motherhood, find decent jobs, be able to provide for their families, live fulfilled lives and be removed from the cycle of generational poverty – as well as improve the economy.
Ukuthwala is a traditional practice that takes place in South Africa – the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the consent of their parents. It occurs mainly in rural parts of South Africa – in particular, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The girls who are involved in this practice are frequently underaged, including some as young as eight.
“If a family has six children and there is a daughter the family cannot support, it is a way of getting rid of her,” said professor Deidre Byrne, chairperson of the Unisa-Africa Development Programme set up to promote girls’ rights.
Although originally this practice was not intended to be an abuse of human rights, throughout the years and perhaps due to poverty, the practice has changed, and girls are no longer given a choice. Financial reasons can force the girl’s parents to accept the marriage; on the other side, the girl is often rejected by her own family if she tries to escape.
More than 91,000 South African girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are reportedly married, divorced, separated, widowed or living with a partner as husband and wife, with the latter forming the majority of the group.(Statistics SA)
A social worker with the Open Door Crisis Centre in Pinetown said that the price for a child bride can be R4,000, which “is a lot of money (if you have nothing)”.
Five little known facts about child marriage
1. Child marriage happens all over the world.
More than 700-million women and girls alive today were married before they turned 18. Although child marriage happens in the U.S. and the U.K. as well, it is most prevalent in developing countries, as one of the main driving forces is poverty.
2. Both boys and girls are married off by their parents, but girls are in much higher demand.
Marrying at such an early age forces both boys and girls into adult responsibilities. They have to drop out of school or are interdicted to attend school. Reaching adulthood, these people will lack the education required to campaign for themselves, being vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The vicious circle of poverty stretches over yet another generation.
Girls forced into child marriage are at high risk of violence from their spouses, in-laws and even their own family, should they try to run away from an abusive relationship and return home.
4. Child marriage and teen pregnancy are dangerously linked.
Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Child brides are at very high risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, as their bodies are not mature enough. They often have limited access to medical help. An early pregnancy, often the result of a rape, puts girls at risk of being married off to the father of their baby, whoever he may be.
5. There is a critical need for laws prohibiting child marriage and marital rape, for laws on birth and marriage registration.
Mandatory schooling and gender equality can definitely empower girls. By considering girls equal to boys there will be less motivation to engage in child marriage. Both girls and boys must be educated with regards to their sexual and reproductive health and their human rights. When girls are empowered and can stand up for themselves, they even become advocates in their community.
Perhaps the eradication of extreme poverty is one of the very first steps towards ending child marriages.
Since 2015, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has worked to improve global awareness of child marriage, as well as taking action to end child marriage through the #IDONT international campaign on Valentine’s Day.
Join in and say #IDONT to show your support towards the estimated 70-million girls who will be married as children over the next five years, forced to say “I do” and having their human rights violated.