What has a South African Pig Tale got to do with #ImStaying? Rather a lot,perhaps? Thembi(Hope), my favorite heroine, is much more than a plump, humble pig from the former Transkei. She epitomizes everything about South African endeavor that inspires me. She is born into lowly, rural circumstances with little chance of changing the trajectory of her existence: black pigs are tasked with the unenviable duty of hoovering up the worst kind of village waste (in the absence of plumbing and refuse removal). Despite this disadvantage,(which is coupled with the further hindrance of being constantly distracted by snacks) there is a spark of drive, vigor, wholeheartedness, resolve(#StayingPower)that motivatesThembi(and her diverse and unlikely herd) to move beyond her circumstances and change the course of her history. Thembi reminds me of all of us. Thembi inspires me and makes me laugh. Thembi has #StayingPower. And #ImStaying because I have #StayingPowertoo. J
Thembi is a Transkei pig
Despite this fact her dreams are big
She paused one day with wrinkled snout
Sniffed the air and looked about
Thought perhaps her first real think
Thembi’s future in the brink:
“There’s more to life than food and drink
Than yummy mud and toasty sun
Although my life is super fun
There’s stuff out there that must be done!”
And so she set off at a run
Butterflies were in her tummy
When she went to tell her mummy
“Mum I’m going to leave the Kei!
It’s very hard to say goodbye,
you may not see the reason why
But I’m asking you to try!”
“There’s a place I long to see
It’s name is “Esikhaleni”*
I’m full of curiosity
So don’t expect me home for tea!”
*isiXhosa name for Hole in the Wall
“I’m proud of you my mighty girl
It’s great to see your wings unfurl!
It’s hard indeed to say goodbye
The risk is real that I may cry
Its time for Thembi pig to fly!
But I’ll see you bye and bye…
Off you go, I wish I had,
Before I settled with your dad!”
So Thembi packed her bag of tricks
her camera for all the pics
some spray to rid herself of ticks
theZambuck tub for every-fix
Her bag felt like a ton of bricks
Then off she rushed to catch the ferry
Waved goodbye. Excited? VERY!
Landing on the other side
Of the Kei, that great divide
She felt a pang and nearly cried
Set off instead to beat the tide
She journeyed on past rocks and sand
How lovely was this Transkei land!?
In her head there played a band
By sundown she was too tired to stand.
She flopped down on a grassy bank
Admired the sky as the sun sank
Then closed her eyes and fell asleep
Her piggy breathing slow and deep
Sprawled in an untidy heap
Soon the stars came out to peep
She leaped up in alarm at dawn
A goat was chewing up her lawn!
Nearby a calf with brand new horns
Was munching on some mielies (corn)
Thembi hadn’t time to yawn
“Friends! She grunted in delight
I knew you’d turn up in the night!
Oh what a glorious sight
I wished for you with all my might
Soon we’re going to be so tight!”
“Come explore the coast with me
I’m off to Esikhaleni
I doubt we will be home by tea
But it’s worth it, we’ll be free!”
“Eish!” said the little brown goat
A chuckle rising in his throat
“Hayibo!” said Nguni Calf
Trying hard to hide his laugh
“We would make the oddest herd
I think your plan is quite absurd
But I feel really stirred
By the passion of your words!”
“And if we don’t leave the Kei
Goat may end up on a braai
I think your plan is worth a try!”
They came at last to the Mbashe River
Fearful Thembi felt a quiver
Perhaps a little lily livered?
She sat down glumly on the bank
“Who would save me if I sank?”
Rather doubtful looked brown goat
“The pig and I should find a boat
The risk is great that we’ll not float
Sink and swallow, later bloat
Get washed up somewhere quite remote!”
Nguni laughed and dived straight in
“Come on Thembi, pigs can swim!
Why not go out on a limb?
Goat is mental don’t mind him!”
And to her happy great surprise
The law of nature pig defies
Despite her solid shape and size
She swims like magic, I tell no lies!
Next challenge: a rumbling tummy
Frantic urge for something yummy
To fill the hollow empty feeling
Urgent need to be a –mealing!
But not a spaza shop in sight
“Heaven save me from this plight
I must right now have a bite
Pigs are so not meant to diet!
I must make an urgent plan
But I cross rivers so I CAN!”
And there before her very eyes
Were perfect snacks though in disguise
“Look at what I’ve found you guys
You could call them natural highs!”
The delicious amathungulu berry
The pig in no time very merry
With a full and plumped up belly
From the famous Wild Coast deli
On they went past hill and dale
Many times a great travail
Sometimes pig would gnash and wail
But the herd went marching on
And when every day was done
Were there quitters? Never one!
Hunting dogs in hot pursuit
Being lost, finding a route
Dealing with a herd dispute
Dodging Mama’s cooking pot
Nursing 12 hooves with foot rot
Days of walking, tired a lot
Escaping veld fires smoky hot
Did they give up? Never, NOT!
And when at last they reached their goal
Arriving at that famous Hole
They punched the air and gave high fives
All relieved to be alive
Couldn’t help but dance and jive
Mission complete at last
It had all been such a blast
Thembi felt a pang of sorrow
Had a momentary wallow
Then started planning for tomorrow
A new story will be written
The adventure bug has bitten!
(Thembi is illustrated by my clever friend Wendy Paterson. Follow Thembi’sfurther adventures on the Orange/GariepRiver and at the Kruger Park on http://kimvankets.com/thembi-a-south-african-pig-tale/)