The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       November 2001      Number 11

Children And A Child - A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

This has been a very discouraging month. For the first time in my life I was in a production that failed to make it to opening night. Granted, we were very ambitious, I still think we could have pulled it off. We attempted a world premiere of the play Fiela's Child in English (Originally an Afrikaans novel by Dalene Matthee, it has been translated into English, made into an Afrikaans film with subtitles and finally adapted for stage by Suzanne van Wyk and translated by Wim Vorster.) It is one of the books set for Botswana students this year so we were expecting loads of kids at our production. If you read the book, look for the forester, Mr. Kapp and the oarsman Kaliel September - I was to do both. Polly was doing Aunt Gertie and Miss Weatherbury - a first for her as she has sung but not acted. The fact that she was the ninth Miss Weatherbury may indicate some of our problems. It was a lot of work for nothing. I even dragged in an Aloe marlothii (to represent the Aloe ferox used in the story - if you can get the film on video you'll see a brief episode of aloe processing.)

Not everything has been negative. September 29 was Polly's 29 birthday (again) and we went to a Thapong Craft Centre sale where I got Sandy Grant to autograph his new book on people of Mochudi, got a T-shirt with a San picture of water lilies and bought a huge dragon from Serowe woodcarvers. Then we went to Sanitas, a local nursery, for lunch under a spreading fig. Next day (Botswana's Independence Day) we drove to a nearby village and bought lots of plants at Rob Patterson's great succulent nursery.

Sunday the 7th of October the bird club went to the Gaborone Game Reserve (government) and saw warthog, impala etc. as well as a lot of birds including ostrich.

Friday the 12th we spent the evening looking at stars at Mokolodi Game Reserve (private). The only wildlife we saw was a hare, but the sky was clear (rare lately) and we had hamburgers, drinks and drumming with our stars. We went back to Mokolodi on Sunday the 21st and heard a talk on leopard research at Khutse Game Reserve. (I had dropped in on the team last Easter and helped with plant identification.

In between, on the 13th the museum celebrated the annual Visual and Performing Arts with lots of dancing and a series of dramas centering on the Kgotla (village court). After mounted warriors and African Rifles they brought in a complete ox wagon. Then women bought baskets and laid them before the men. This was followed by branch waving that left me puzzled until I finally tumbled to the fact they were enacting the finish of Bojale (women's initiation) where unwanted onlookers are chased away by branches of Croton gratissimas, a common shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (but not succulent).

The rains have brought out lots of spring flowers. Streets are lined with jacarandas and bougainvilleas and the garden is bursting with blooming Sesamothamnus and a host of different amaryllids.

Next month (hopefully) we'll have a requiem and a noisy mime.

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