26 February 2011

wandering through gardens

I was asked to join my friend, Bongani, on a special project he's working on.

And I got to meet Jack - he's an herbalist. He understands that plants hold the keys to our health and he has this amazing garden in his yard that he works out of. He uses those plants and makes teas and powders and creams and knows what each plant does - how the leaves of this one builds your immune system and if you crush that one it will dissolve a headache and boiling a tea with another helps eyesight. It was so interesting to listen to him talk and for me to, once again, remember that God has set everything we needed for our health and wellbeing here tucked inside His creation. Somewhere along the line, we just got too smart and greedy and we lost all that knowledge. It was an honor to sit and listen to Jack, and crazy interesting... So much so that I am making plans to go back and photograph him and do some video as well so more people can see his passion and his knowledge. He's just one of those guys.

Anyway, so Bongani and I are talking to Jack - and the subject of my being American came up. After a few turns in the conversation - Jack says "what do you like to photograph most?" And i told him that my best work is when I am invited into a place to spend some time there, understanding it, and then I tell a story with my pictures about the essence of that place. He gets excited and starts telling me how he is going to invite me to the strangest thing he ever saw - this huge national gathering of white sangomas. He went on to laugh about how crazy it looked to have all these white guys holding sticks and wearing masks. Then he tells me - dog fights - I could go to the dog fights, ooooh there's stories there! "Uhm, Jack, I'm not going to a dog fight" and he says "Yeah, I suppose if the police ever saw your pictures they'd force you to tell them where you took them and it would be trouble. " (whew! ) then he starts talking about how if I wasn't white - and I wasn't a girl - he'd get me into the illegal underground miners - these guys are hired illegally, sent underground for 6-8 months, paid very very well (although everything they can buy, like bread, costs an insane amount of money that they have to give back to the owners) everything they mine isn't declared by the mine owners so they skirt around all the rules, tariffs and taxes that have been put into place. He keeps talking and eventually says "Whatever you want to do - we'll get you there! Won't we Bongani? We'll show you the real Africa!" to which I answered "With you, it sounds like it would be an adventure!"

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