Friday, February 15, 2008

Out of Africa - by Maureen

Here's a photo of Ian Player, a distinguished South African ecology activist, contemplating what fate has served up to him. Look closely at the cream. What do you see? I saw it only after Ian exclaimed, "Why, it's Africa!"

This pudding was the punctuation of our meal together at Phuzamoya ("Wind Spirit" in Zulu) the farm Ian and his wife Ann have lived on for decades. Along with my Heritance ( Jean, Sheila and Claire) I was invited to spend the weekend with them as part of an initiative to preserve, share and promote Ian's life work. The Player house which is filled with a rich and extensive personal library, photos and awards, as well as papers, recorded interviews with Zulu trackers and films is a testimony to Ian's productive career. And Ann's undaunted support for her husband's controversial, at times adversarial, stance vis-a-vis the South African government and society.

Ian, renowned for being a remarkable person, is credited: with the creation of the national park in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa, the founding of the Wilderness School in Durban, the successful initiative to save the white rhino, and the preservation of the Zulu Indigenous Knowlege System transmitted to him by his friend Magqubu Ntombela.

Unfortunately wikipedia doesn't yet have any information about Magqubu, an oversight which I am sure that Ian would want to see corrected. At a pivotal moment in his life, he recognized Magqubu as "the better man" and dedicated the rest of his life to learning what Magqubu could teach him about the ecosytem and the good life and fighting to preserve and promote both.

It seems to me that wikipedia could provide a useful tool and departure point for the Heritance Player project and for that matter for many other museums projects in which there are documents to archive.

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