If I have internet access, my mornings are little different, whether I am in Cape Town, Montevideo, Chamonix, Uppsala or Timbuktu; I rise early and update my investment accounts, read the business news, answer emails and usually write a little. And by no later than midday, I set off on a long walk.
In Cape Town that walk usually encompasses one or all of the Waterfront complex, the Stadium, Green Point Park or Ocean View Drive, along Signal Hill. And all my walks inevitably pass along the ocean promenade for as far as I feel comfortable. That is my routine and I love it. On those walks I do most of my thinking.
In Green Point Park, I look for the massive pike in the lake, for the Egyptian Geese and their eight goslings and the coots with their six little chicks. And the huge scruffy bird that I have not yet identified; he or she always looks so sad and lonely.
Along the promenade I watch out for dolphins and whales and am always thrilled when I am fortunate to see them. And the raw power of the ocean when it sends its waves pounding against the sea wall and launches its spray over me, as I pass by, reminds me so much of my native coast in the north of Ireland.
At Sea Point park, I often stop to watch the paragliders land from Signal Hill. I have often watched them in Chamonix, landing on a run, but these people drop like a stone and suddenly stop in mid-air, slowly drift down for the last few metres and step down, as if they were getting out of bed. They make it look so very easy.
When I return on the promenade along Mouille Point, I often see a young guy sitting on the wall, making models of sharks, whales, birds, penguins etc. from wire. He is an artist with wire. He is there most days, almost regardless of the weather. When the waves sweep over his corner of the promenade, he retreats to a bench beside adjacent Beach Road. His name is Emmanuel Chitsinde and he is from Zimbabwe. He has been in South Africa for a while now, first in Durban, then Port Elizabeth and now in Cape Town, which I think he prefers. He has a wonderfully cheerful disposition.
I don’t know what people in Zimbabwe are like, but the vast majority of those that I know of, or have heard of in Cape Town, are all hard working and reliable – staff in the bars and restaurants that we frequent, Uber drivers, the girls where Lotta gets her nails manicured. Most save hard to send money home to aid their impoverished families. It is depressing to hear of the deprived state to which the corrupt Zimbabwe government has reduced their country.
Like Emmanuel, I also once went away from my homeland, more than 50 years ago, when I was young. Fortunately, I eventually prospered and could send money home every month to help my parents. I did that for many years, until there for was no further need; until they were no longer.
I feel empathy for Emmanuel and his compatriots. I wish them every good fortune in their struggle.