I was born in South Africa and after the early death of my father, I found myself in Southwest Africa (Namibia) with a new stepfather.
Although we lived in Windhoek (capital city of Namibia), he worked in the Kavango (northern border) for extended periods of time. I have memories of watching him pack his vehicle with fishing rods, rifles, sleeping rolls and a whole case of black African pots (camp ovens). He always had a black Kavango man (named Florian) with him - a sort of 'camp' hand. When he came back from his trips, this black man, stayed with us - working in the garden and doing odd jobs until the next trip.
For some reason, I was fairly isolated - can't remember having friends. I think I lived in my own little world. The life of this Kavango man, in a far-off place combined with my stepfathers adventurous trips and stories awakened something in me. I have clear memories of me sitting in the sun, listening to all the stories this wonderful black man told me as a child - he never got bored with all my questions.
My first year at school in Windhoek was a nightmare - I hated every moment of it and that hate never left me. School was an alien place - I never ever belonged, I never fitted. Absolutely nothing made sense to me - I could smell the 'apartheid' (separateness) of mind, body and soul everywhere in the communities I lived. There was no 'connectedness,' just a big emptiness. My world was 'somewhere' outside of that, I longed for a connection with that 'something' out there. I could feel it and smell it.
In 1976 we moved to the Kavango and this move brought me closer to the 'connection' I was so desperately searching for. My first friends were black, which caused a lot of problems for me - I was actually given a nickname: "Kaffertjie" (basically means a small Kaffir). I can remember many fist fights, blood, sweat and tears.
My first friend in the Kavango was a black Kwangali named Gabriël. I can remember him sleeping on the floor of my room. If you take into account the 'apartheid years' and the mentality at the time - it was unheard of. My black friends would walk with me to school and wait outside the gates for me - during the breaks I would leave the school grounds and play outside with them. After school they'll wait for me and we would disappear into the bush - we fished, hunted birds and small game. It is here where my fascination with archery started.
In the seventies, the black kids walked around with shorts only - western styled clothing was a luxury and shoes something nobody could afford. I quickly got rid of my shirt and refused to wear shoes. I can remember the beatings at school and at home - most of my rugby and sport photos from those years shows an only white boy without a shirt and no shoes. The sun very quickly turned me into a very dark colour and I think that contributed to my nickname, Kaffertjie.
This strong urge of mine, to be 'out there' and not 'belonging' in the community I was born in - was heavily frowned upon. The attempts of the community to tame the 'wild beast' within me just made things worse - I developed a fairly rebellious nature.
I've always lived somewhere in the shadows between the 'modern' and the 'ancient.' This caused a definite split within me - a split in body, mind and soul. Today I think it is possible to marry the two, unfortunately we are slowly loosing the 'ancient ways.' There are few people left today that can share this knowledge. Even worse, there is still a strong push to destroy this knowledge. We are busy loosing our connection and so many people and nations are completely lost.
The good news is, we don't need anyone to teach us - we all have it deep within us. All we have to do is to remember and live as close to nature as we can.