We had a wonderful, if not a little frantic time during this tour of Africa. It was great to be able to help out in my partner, Moira’s, homeland of Zimbabwe. I spoke at the Ezekiel Guti University to a crowd of 150 key people. There are now two new Zimbabwean distributors and they are setting a date for a four-day course next year. I had expected economic chaos in a country that has only just emerged from hyper-inflation. It was amazing to hear about the dramatic demise of their currency. They went from being on par with the pound, to carrying suitcases full of money to the store to buy their basics.
Steve Capeness, my co-presenter, came home with a single banknote valued at ten billion Zimbabwean dollars. He bought it at a souvenir shop for one Australian dollar. The only good thing about this inflation was that mortgages were tied to this failed currency and it was possible for everyone to pay off substantial mortgages with a pittance, provided you could access foreign currency through family and friends. Zimbabwe is now one of the few countries in the world where the vast majority of people actually own their own home. How good would that be? They are now dealing in the US dollar and the economy is set to slowly recover.
Zambia was a short visit, but they were also very excited and have requested a four-day course next year. Like most of the world, they have experienced drought that has dramatically reduced the size of their wheat plantings this season. We had a frightening experience in a small plane where the landing gear failed and we were contemplating trying to land in a nearby lake rather than attempting a fiery, wheel-less runway landing. The drama only lasted minutes but it felt much longer and there were huge sighs of relief when the wheels finally came down.
There were sold out crowds at all South African venues. In Paarl, above Capetown, we met an enlightened crowd of consultants, academics and winegrowers. The venue and food were amazing and the course was a buzzing success. Our South African Master Distributors, Justin and Gill Platt of Zylem CC, excelled themselves in organising a series of important and memorable seminar events.
In Potch we had 87 Afrikaner farmers, and I was seriously warned to tone down my more esoteric content to cater for the crowd’s expected conservatism. I eventually decided to try to expand their boundaries rather than censor my material. I proceeded to teach them to breathe, meditate, do the five rights, make fermented food and green smoothies and open their minds to things like radionics. I will never forget the look of disbelief on many faces as I discussed feng shui principles in the bedroom. They were incredulous but fascinated and it turned out to be one of the most successful seminars ever. We scored two new distributors and the local farmers were wonderfully grateful.
The next seminar was conducted in the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. Up in this rarified atmosphere, we had a full house in a converted barn and most people stayed on at the large farm. There were several houses and cottages on the property, as it doubles as an ecotourism venture. We all became like a large family as we shared delicious meals and drinks around the huge outdoor fire each evening. It was fantastic! We stayed in a little round stone house with a thatched roof. Dick and Margot Isted had invited their three children, partners, and grandchildren to stay in the large main house for the week and they are such a great family. Dick is a national treasure. He has been working with biological principles for decades. He has the best library on natural farming I have ever seen (including all of the masters in hard cover). I could spend months just sitting on his verandah, amidst the spendour of the mountains, soaking up all of this wisdom. It really is one of the nicest places on the planet.
On Thursday night, we were guests of honour at a function held in the neighbouring town of Lady Grey. They have an amazing School of Arts, Music and Dance there, and the hospitality students treated us to a four-course meal. The headmaster is a wonderful man who is changing the lives and futures of the local people. He attended my course along with two other local headmasters. They punctuated each course with three songs from the students, so we had over an hour of musical interludes. It was just unbelievable. It was at least as good as “Idol”. The talent ranged from rap groups to crooners and soaring opera, and there were no weak links. Moira and I were both in tears in recognition of how much hidden talent must lie within the millions of disadvantaged people in Africa.
I have pledged to try to raise some funds for the Lady Grey school, which is struggling to survive in the recession. I will approach some of the wealthy souls I have met during my travels and try to organise some crowd funding. I have asked the school to produce a video to help with the funding. It should arrive within the next two or three months.
The school has 600 students and the talented teachers are paid a pittance. They conduct a three-day Passion Play over Easter, where all 600 students are involved in an extravaganza involving original music, drama, art and spectacular crowd scenes, which chronicle the last three days of the life of Jesus. It is becoming a nationally famous event and is always fully booked out. They have invited me to attend and speak next Easter and I would love to be able to fit it into my schedule.
If you have not yet visited Africa you must put it on your bucket list. It is a wonderful continent filled with the contrast of the beautiful and the barren, multi-national plundering and bounce-back local initiative, the rich and the poor, the happy and the sad (and monetary wealth, as always, is not the determinant of peace and happiness). Most importantly, you will be struck by the resilience and determination of these wonderful people. The Afrikaner farmers who somehow flourish in unbalanced adversity, the Zimbabweans crafting a future from their smouldering ruins with smiles on their faces and a desire to work and create, and the English-Zimbabwean farmers in Zambia who have somehow resurrected their careers after the injustice of their expulsion from their homeland.
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