Celebrating Ancestors

Whalebones guard sand dunes

Shifting in a black south-easter

As the Koisan [1] search rock pools

For chunks of abalone

Diced for the pot.


Rose bushes mark the lines

Of trellised vines of cabernet [2]

As a Huguenot prunes runners

Of unwanted bunches

Surplus to the vat.


Oars line the slipway

Piercing India's ocean

As Finnish builders [3] ply their trade

With Knysna yellow-wood

Felled for the boat.


Sheaves sign the entrance

To the Berg River Flour Mills

Built of steep German descent [4]

Crushing the wheat

Ground for a loaf.


Canons parade their might

Claiming the colony as empire

While English settlers [5] bombard

Their universal tongue

Accented with African brogue.


The children welcome the descendants

To the Breda Street plot [6]

Rescued in prayer and gifted

To become for them

An island of hope.


While forebears manning the parapets [7]

Celebrate discovery

Of the bond of humanity

In amalgamated generations

On their ever-widening road.


December 2007

During the visit to Cape Town, Paarl and Fransch Hoek

[1]  Eva Krotoa - a Siebrits ancestor who was koisan

[2]  The du Plessis strand - The Cape Vineyard had surplus crop

[3]  The Erikson ship-builders in Port Elizabeth

[4]  The Siebritses owned the mill

[5]  Gilbeys and Princes - English on both sides of the family

[6]  The Salvation Army, Paarl

[7]  We often speak about our parents peeping over the ramparts of heaven; du Plessis means of the palisades or ramparts