From the apartment in Durban which overlooked the harbour, my father walked in and brisquely said, “We’re going to the farm”. I thought I knew what that meant – A trip to one of my ancestral homes in Ixopo, Kwazulu-Natal. Where my relatives would squeeze every last drop of Zulu I knew out of my being – A meek “sawubona”here, and a forebearing “Ngiyabonga” there. That was the full extent of my knowledge. Though the farm was isolated and remote it had electricity, running water and of course. satellite. The one thing it didn’t have was good network coverage and you’d often see people raising their phones in the air or walking up the hill as they attempt to post a picture on Insgtagram or WhatsApp their frineds. It would be my second time, visiting the farm.
My father, a chemist by trade owned a two-seater pick-up truck as is common in South Africa which was great for business but not so great when the passenger number exceeded two. He ran a small hair growth business – Vitas Original, his own creation, which he manufactured and distributed himself across the region.
Valley of 1000 Hills
My father kept quiet as we drove for 150km through what seemed like nowhere, through the beautufl Valley of 1000 hills, my step-mother squeezed herself into the space between the dashboard and floor on the passenger side which I had protested but she insisted. About 100km in we stopped on a farm. It didn’t look like our farm. There were goats here. Hundreds of them, grazing and being, goatly. My father got out, leaving us inside. I breifly thought, perhaps my father is lost and trying to find his way? Then common sense kicked in my father had spent his formative years on the farm and had been so I was almost certain he knew his way by now so I could cross that off the list.
A farmer approached my father and they descended into vibrant conversation. Then I thought, perhaps this was an old friend and my father had stopped by to say hello, no, no – “sawbona”. I’m getting bertter at this. It was only after the conversation which was barely audible through the windows that the goat farmer set out vigilantlly and started chasing goats. It was quite the spectacle. He’d approach one group and they’d all scatter. Then he’d move in the opposite direction and they’d do the same.
It wasn’t long before a goat was in the back of the pickup truck and we continued on our way. I’ve never ridden with a goat before. This was all new to me. I discovered that goats actualy make a lot of noise when on the road so my advice when ridng with goats is to be prepared for the ensuing nee’r ending goat-calls. Perhaps this goat knew something I didn’t.
We arrived at the farm and I stepped out. The first thing my cousin said to me was, and I’m paraphrasing here, “are you going to… you know”. To which I replied, “to what?”. His question only made sense when the goat vanished.