When I met Gerhard Verdoorn he was the Executive Director of Birdlife South Africa. We sat together through a long day devoted to the presentation of the outcomes of research into the harm caused to the environment by pesticides (including fungicides – biologists often don’t discriminate between the two), and at the end of the day, looking for helpful advice, I asked him what he thought I should spray my roses with. He barked one word in answer: “Roundup!”
Given the facts that roses are exotics in the southern hemisphere, that they will not grow down here unless you fertilise and spray them, that fertilisers and sprays undoubtedly harm the environment, that the environment is in trouble and needs to be cosseted, and that global warming is going on the one hand to parch our lands (through chronic droughts) and on the other hand to drown them (through raising the level of the seas), Professor Verdoorn’s response to me would seem to be fully justified. But it only SEEMS to be justified. In reality, it was either witty or rude, depending on your frame of mind at the time, but not at all justified. There are about seven billion people in the world. If we didn’t use fertilisers, insecticides and fungicides, we could feed about four billion of them.
Extremadura es una de las regiones más occidentales de España, situada junto a la frontera portuguesa. Muy pocos extranjeros han oído hablar de esta región y la han visitado.
Es una región poco conocida de la que uno desea que siga siendo así. Una región con mucho espacio natural, donde lo más habitual es la tranquilidad, donde las puestas de sol presentan una amplia gama de colores entre nubes y donde la luna aparece completamente redonda. Una región con muchos pájaros donde las campanas de las vacas tintinean día y noche.
Se puede caminar o montar a caballo o en bicicleta por los extensos campos e ir de pueblo en pueblo, junto a las viejas cercas, por vías pecuarias o a través de campos de cultivo con encinas. Uno se imagina situado en la Edad Media con un retroceso de varios siglos.
Pero hay también alegría y cultura española. También en Extremadura hay veranos españoles con tardes largas, plazas ruidosas, festivales rurales (fiestas) y procesiones. Llegando esta época de verano la vida tranquila se convierte en una actividad bulliciosa, doblándose el número de habitantes en los pueblos, donde acuden los que en su día se marcharon para encontrarse con la familia, los viejos amigos y beber los vinos locales y cerveza con tapas de jamón ibérico, y además charlar y charlar. Uno de estos pueblos de Extremadura es Monroy.
Monroy, cuyas familias vivieron con dificultad durante siglos, es un pueblo donde el tiempo se detuvo. No es por ello de extrañar que los grandes conquistadores se fuesen de esta región. Todavía se encuentra en este pueblo el viejo castillo que ofreció protección durante la reconquista, restos de una antigua Villa Romana y viejas vías pecuarias.
Extremadura is the most western province of Spain, along the Portuguese border. Only a few foreigners have heard of the region, and sometimes somebody has travelled through the area.
A hidden country, of which you hope that it will always remain this way. A spacious area where tranquility is so common, where the sun sets multicolored with splendid cloud parties and the moon rises full and round. A country with so many birds, where the cow bells tinkle day and night.
You can walk or ride infinitely through the fields, from village to village; between age-old walls, over cattle roads or through farming fields with mighty stone oaks.
You imagine yourself in the middle ages, far back in time.
But there is also Spanish liveliness and culture. Summer evenings in the Extremadura are long and filled with noisy squares, rural festivals (fiestas) and processions. The quiet life accelerates and the number of inhabitants doubles when family and old friends come to the villages from all wind regions, to drink the local wines or cervesa (beer) with the tapa jamon Iberico and talk and talk.. One of these villages in the Extremadura is Monroy.
Monroy, historically a place where ordinary man had difficulty surviving. Therefore, from time immemorial, a place where one got away from. It’s no surprise that the great conquistadores came from this region. Still standing are the old castle which offered protection during the Reconquista and the remainders of the Villa Romana and the old cattle roads.
Next: Monroy – Un pueblo de Extremadura ~ A village in the Extremadura
Blog Asociacion Historico Cultural el Bezudo Monroy: http://elbezudo.blogspot.com/
Lejos de la Costa ~ Far from the Costas. Monroy. Un pueblo de Extremadura ~ A village in the Extremadura
Un pueblo de Extremadura
Monroy está situado a unos 30 km de Cáceres, en medio del triángulo formado por Cáceres, Trujillo y Plasencia. Extremadura se encuentra rodeada por montañas que están situadas al norte, este y oeste. Tiene un clima continental con inviernos fríos y veranos calurosos y durante mucho tiempo ha estado aislada del resto de España, siendo actualmente una de las regiones más pobres.
El pueblo de Monroy está situado en lo alto de una altiplanicie, donde existen varias fuentes por lo que fue un lugar estratégico para construir un castillo. Esto ocurrió a principios del siglo XIV. Los alrededores de la población ya estuvieron habitados durante la edad del bronce así como durante la época de los romanos y los visigodos. En 1309 el rey Fernando IV concedió al noble Hernán Pérez de Monroy el privilegio de fundar una aldea y construir un castillo.
Lo típico de los pueblos de esta región es su estructura. La parte antigua de la población con su iglesia y su castillo. Alrededor del pueblo se encuentran los viejos corrales donde se cultivan verduras y se guarda el ganado, los caballos, los cerdos y las gallinas. Alrededor del pueblo se encuentran las cercas que son terrenos de algunas hectáreas de extensión donde se guarda y pasta el ganado y los caballos. También en los alrededores del pueblo se encuentra el área comunal donde pastan las ovejas, las cabras y el ganado de los vecinos. Rodeando todo lo anterior se encuentra las grandes extensiones de terreno, que son fincas donde se da la ganadería extensiva y los toros de lidia.
A village in the Extremadura
Monroy lies about 30 km from Cáceres, in the middle of the triangle Cáceres-Trujillo-Plasencia. Extremadura is surrounded by the mountains in the west, the north and the east. It has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers and for ages it has been a fairly isolated area in Spain and until now still one of the poorest regions.
The village lies on a hillock in the highland and has been surrounded by water sources, and therefore in the past a good strategic spot for building a castle. That was at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Already before that the surroundings were inhabited in the bronze time and at the time of the Roman and the Visgoten.
In 1309 King Ferdinand IV granted to the nobleman Hernán Pérez the Monroy the privilege for founding the village and the construction of a castle Typically of the villages in this region is the composition. The old centre with church and castle, at the edge of the village the old corals where one grows vegetables, keeps cattle, horses, pigs and chickens and around the village the cercas, small plots of a few hectares where one mostly keeps cattle and also horses. Around the village the communal area, the grazing area for the sheep and cattle and to a lesser degree the goats. Bordering to the communal area are situated the haciëndas, large farms with extensive livestock-farming and bull-breeding.
“I don’t know if this is part of your research, but since you ask, I’ll answer you very honestly. I’m a lot of things, son, I’m a Zulu and a Xhosa, a God and a Devil, I’m a valley and a mountain, a jungle and a desert, I’m the rain and the drought, but above everything else I am an amaZulu man”.
“Because I was born in Zululand, I lived in Zululand and I’ll die in Zululand. I haven’t been to school, but I’ve been a cleaner in one place for 40 years. When I walk to the bottle store I touch the ground of the heroes and the ghosts, when I pick up a mango I touch the hand of God, when I jump the hill with my grandson I can see the deep valleys of Africa, and when I dream I am a warrior in Shaka’s army. I learned to speak and think here, I drank from the river of wisdom of my grandfather. I herded cattle here and I spoke to my ancestors hiding behind the clouds when they bring rain. That’s why I’m a Zulu, son”.
“Do you tell these things to your grandchildren?”
“Mfundisi, you should know better, it’s not like in my time and your time. Kids, they have their own minds now, they go to school, have teachers with fancy diplomas and high heels, and they learn big words. I think something is wrong with you, Mfundisi, you might be lying to me about yourself. You say you are an Mfundisi, but I’m suspicious”.
“You don’t use big words like these Mfundisis in ASIKULUME (Let’s Talk). Son, I’m worried, can I have another IJUBA?”
“Sure, Mkhulu. What do you say then, Mkhulu? Do you say my questions are very easy?”
“Very easy, son.”
“Do you think that all the Mfundisis use big words and ask difficult questions?”
“I never met one, son, before you that is, but I judge from the TV. On TV these mfundisis talk this language I don’t understand, they use big words.” Read more
Bongi hated it when suddenly his ex-school friend called him out of the blue and asked him to meet him for drinks at ROOM 319 , at the ROYAL HOTEL.He knew that his friend was a little bit shy at been seeing at the ZULU JAZZ CLUB , but sometimes he overdid it. Everything was forgotten however when he entered the spacious room and saw his old friend relaxing on the comfortable lounge watching American wrestling and sipping greedily a double scotch on a tall glass as usual.
It was sometimes incomprehensible in Bongi’s mind how Gapon Khumalo had reached the pinnacle of a career so fast after 1994 and suddenly became the envy of everyone in Section D Umlazi, who kept complaining still that he owed them money from the old school days. They complained bitterly that even though the Ramaphosas and the Motsepes always ensured that that they spent time to their old townships the same was not true of the new Black Diamonds in their city, like Gapon, especially him. Their main theme of conversation was that now he had made it and lived in the suburbs, he had forgotten his Umlazi roots. This was described as arrogant, uncalled for and incomprehensible in their language.
All these things became instant memories for Bongi as his eyes travelled momentarily through the opulence of the double room, decorated with kitschy, but well painted African art, red Persian carpets and expensive duvet covers.
The pleasantries became almost exaggerated when Bongi discovered that the old mate had stocked the mini fridge with at least two dozen HEINEKENS.
Bongi let him talk for three minutes at the most . Gapon spoke slowly, seriously and in a calculating tone, almost like reciting a three line poem in Standard three in front of the Boere inspector of schools.
There was silence, momentarily. Read more
Bongi walked through the dusty road leading to the community hall. Some children around five to six years of age were playing hide and seek making a lot of noise. Some others were practicing soccer in the make shift ground, taking passing more seriously than dribbling, something that could have made Gapon accuse them prematurely of been following the dictates of the Eurocentric pattern of the game. For Gapon’s understanding of soccer dynamics, Lionel Messi was more African than Didier Drogba because he could dribble better. Possibly one of his ancestors was African.
These deep thoughts were interrupted when he reached his destination.
He stepped into the shop casually. It was empty. He felt like whistling, but he abstained because he was never sure how the owner would react. The Chinese are the product of a great intellectual inheritance, he could be offended. This was the last thing Bongi wished. He walked towards the cage protecting the cashier-owner in the small opening where the customer could bargain, or pay. The owner looked at Bongi without any interest, his eyes glued behind Bongi’s head, towards the abyss.
“Good morning, Sir, can I ask why the protection?”
“I do not understand, Sir.”
“Why are you in a cage, sir?”
“This is not a cage, Sir, it is a VIP.”
“Very Important Protection, Sir.
“Sounds interesting, so how will you call a toilet?”
“Non Existing Service, Sir.” Read more