Burning History

Norman often tells me I am being paranoid and that I am imagining machinations where none exist. However most of the time I am proven to be right. (Aren’t wives always right even when we aren’t?) When the US capitol was attacked I said that day from the very beginning that it was coordinated and that this coordination went right up to the top. I was right.

The same with this past weekend in Cape Town when areas of our city caught fire and burned out of control for days. On Sunday we could smell smoke and assumed it was just someone having a BBQ but then we saw on social media that there was a fire on the mountain. The first fire was said to have been started when a vagrant ‘abandoned’ a fire. However there have been witnesses to multiple deliberate fires started all over the city and I had felt from the start that this is all intentional. I read on Twitter that the purpose of this fire was to ‘erase colonialisation’. So it makes sense that the fires started first at Rhodes Memorial as Cecil Rhodes was a contentious white supremacist benefactor who donated the land that the Memorial and the University of Cape Town was built on.

In 1890, Rhodes was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. He introduced various Acts of Parliament to push black people from their lands and make way for industrial development. Rhodes’s view was that black people needed to be driven off their land to “stimulate them to labour” and to change their habits. “It must be brought home to them”, Rhodes said, “that in future nine-tenths of them will have to spend their lives in manual labour, and the sooner that is brought home to them the better.”

However he also left some positive legacies, he donated the land for UCT and Kirstenbosch Gardens and has a scholarship fund to finance talented young scholars, but that does not absolve him of the racism he perpetrated with his policies.

Anyway, I digress from the point of my story but I wanted to give a bit of background…….

The first thing we saw online was that the charming little rustic restaurant and tea garden at the Rhodes Memorial had burned down completely. I have fond memories of lunches there with the amazing view down the mountain stretched out in front of us.

This is an aerial view of the tea garden and restaurant after the fires were extinguished.

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Image credit: Jean Tresfon

That day the fire choppers worked hard to try and get the fire under control to no avail.


The fire then moved down the mountain fed by the dry alien vegetation. Next we saw that the fire had hit the University of Cape Town campus which has the most beautiful historic buildings.

The historic Jagger library went up in flames.

This was the magnificent reading room of the University of Cape Town’s historic Jagger Library before the fire.

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This image was taken of the Jagger Library on Monday. The library housed thousands of student theses, artworks, and precious documents and has been gutted. UCT had managed to close the fire shutters into some of the areas so some of the items may be safe. UCT officials are still assessing the extent of the damages.

Photo credit: Ashraf Hendricks

The fire was halted at the doors to the Irma Stern Museum or it could have been even more devastating.

The fire jumped the motorway and took out the historic Mostert’s Mill windmill in Mowbray, Cape Town. This beautiful windmill has been a presence I have always associated with Cape Town. It was the oldest surviving windmill in South Africa and was built in 1796. Here is a pic of it before the fire. It always made me smile when I drove by it.

This is the remains of the mill after the fire was extinguished.

It is heartbreaking to see so much loss of historic buildings, art and documentation.

The fires raged all of Sunday night.

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May be an image of standing, fire and outdoors

On Monday the wind was insane and our whole sky in Hout Bay was smoky. The choppers were grounded as it is not safe for them to fly in those conditions.

There were hundreds of firefighters and volunteers still on the ground trying to get the fire under control.

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The city centre was so full of smoke that many businesses closed and sent their staff home.

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It was announced that the fire was under control by late Monday afternoon however the wild winds were still a risk so the fires would be monitored for flare ups. On Tuesday the wind had died down and the choppers could get airborne again to give the areas a good dousing of water.

This 13 image aerial stitched panorama gives a better idea of just how big the devastation from this fire actually was.

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And this image shows Rhodes Memorial right in the middle of the damage.

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Image credit: Jean Tresfon – Marine Conservation Photographer

A suspect has been arrested in connection with the fires. ’’There is a lot of speculation currently about additional fires that were started, and whether the original fire was an act of arson. This will form part of investigations, but the City can confirm that one suspect in his thirties was taken into custody last night in the vicinity of Devil’s Peak,’’ mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said in a statement on Monday morning.

As a Westerner I will never understand the mentality of the thought processes which say that any trace of the remnants of colonisation must be wiped out regardless of the impact. I understand removing statues which memorialise the architects of apartheid and slavery but however horrid the history of apartheid is, there will be many students of all races left homeless or with no place to study. Estimates are that 4000 students were affected. Many people of all races may lose their jobs. It was not just white people who were affected. It makes me sad and my heart is so sore about the loss of historical buildings and art.

One nice thing happened on Monday, I had ordered some garden bits and pieces last week which arrived. That cheered me up and gave me something positive to do.

I ordered 3 hanging globes which I have to entice Norm to put up in the kitchen window. He says I have too much kitsch and clutter. I love kitsch and clutter!

I also ordered 3 new planters, one of which came complete with dirt, decorative stones and succulents.

I planted it up after work on Thursday and it looks so sweet.

I also ordered a little metal birdbath which has a toad as the base and a toad on a leaf as the top. I am terribly afraid of real toads and frogs but metal ones are fine.

On Tuesday I messaged my hairdresser to make an appointment and she told me she was free late that afternoon so I shot off to see her after work. My hair was so unmanageably long and dry and the left over colour looked a mess. We did before and after pics. I am so pleased with it. Leandra thinks that in about 3 months when I go for another trim the colour will have all grown out and I will be left with my natural colour.

This week Mzudumo was working on clearing an area at the front of our house for a succulent garden. There are a lot of roots from the large tree just visible on the left of the image which needed to be loosened. Next Norm has to rebuild the brick wall at the back which has been damaged by the roots. We may have to remove this tree as the roots are damaging the driveway and we are worried it may affect the foundation of the house. It was a tiny tree when we moved in.

On Wednesday Norm and I had an appointment with the dermatologist. I have a lot of moles so we try to get checked every year and I had a few areas that were bothering me. I am not normally someone who picks at my skin but my anxiety during lockdown has changed my non-habit of a lifetime into a habit at this time. So anything on my skin gets attacked by my nervous fingers. The dermatologist used her freezer gun full of liquid nitrogen to freeze off several seborrheic keratoses which were bothering me.

Then she used a needle with an electric current, called Electrodessication, to remove several other smaller lesions on my face. She also had to cut and drain an abscessed ingrown hair on my leg and that hurt like a mofo. Is this all TMI? Sorry, should I give a grossness warning?

Anyway I felt very sorry for myself and the lesions really throbbed and itched. Getting old is not always fun, of course as an old friend once said, getting old is better than the alternative (e.g. death) so there’s that.

When we arrived home we unpacked the rhinos I had ordered which had arrived in the post that morning before we left. I bought them online from African Creative. I was looking for some recycled metal animals for my garden to replace my legless warthogs but I think the big boy is too special to go outside and also potentially be a victim to the elements. For now he has pride of place in my lounge. The smaller more colourful fella will go outside somewhere suitable.

This week I discovered a new artist called carolesdaughter and I give you her video for her song ‘Violent’. The lyrics and the jaunty pop sound are quite incongruous and that is what caught my eye (ear?).

I also give you another quirky young woman, Bebe Rexha with her new song ‘Sabotage’. She has such a lovely distinctive voice and is such a beautiful girl.

I am not doing my usual Covid stats as I am publishing early this week as I have a half day at work. We are going to be too busy for me to write this weekend, but I hope you are all keep well and safe. Remember to check on your friends, especially those who are on their own.

My Mom has to have another procedure done on the 30th so if you could all spare her some positive energy or prayers I would be most appreciative, I hate that I cannot be with her when she is struggling with so many health issues.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxox

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