29 May 2023

Die beitel in die hand van die Skepper (The chisel in the hand of the Creator)

Think about what you are seeing here. 
What are you seeing here? 
Are you seeing just a simple piece of scrap wood? 

Can you figure all that my son Richard did to convert this plain block of scrap wood into this carved work of art? Think of the imagination, talent, innovation, purpose, effort, time, intentional action, the instruments used to realise the dream, and on and on?

I remember the challenge given by Prime Minister P. W. Botha in about 1982 when he opened a new building at Tygerberg Medical School while I was working there after I relocated from my parents' home in Florida Park to move to Cape Town to marry Sally Swindell. He talked about being die beitel in die hand van die Skepper or a chisel in the hand of the Creator.

Another example of Richard's craftsmanship using innovation, scrap wood, chisels, and other tools. 

That is part of what we do as instruments in the Lord's hands when we help Him to bring souls closer to Him, or contribute in some way in His Work and His Glory which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Blessings on anyone in anything that you do, even in those times that you are as a chisel in the hands of a sculptor, being hammered on one end while being bashed against rock, stone, or wood on the other end. It can be painful, difficult to bear, because all that we are aware of is our discomfort and pain. We don't know what the end product will look like.  He is producing a beautiful sculpture. 

May we serve Him with delight and strive to bring souls to Him.

12 May 2023

Answering a question about our 'Bush People'

I may not be directly answering the question of a fellow tour guide about the ‘bush people’, and I know that there is a lot that I do not know. But, some things that I understand from my involvement in ecology might be of value to tour guides and people in general that read this boring blog of mine. 

What I share here applies to people all around the world and not specifically to San and Khoi. Wherever agro-pastoralists have impacted on hunter-gatherers, or extensive agriculture and industry impact on agro-pastoralist, the outcome has been the same – including impacting on indigenous tribes that are going extinct in Europe and Great Britain! 

A hunter-gatherer like the San lives wonderfully in harmony with nature. They exist, as do all organisms, depending on the balance in their ecosystem, and they flourish when all is good and they suffer when the balance is disturbed by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fires, other humans, or any disruption. But they thrive as well as does the natural environment. They are wonderful examples of not exploiting the environment and natural resources. I love an insight shared by someone in a tour that I was leading, pointing out that the San would not harvest more than about half of what was available in order to ensure supplies for the future. He compared this to some other tribes such as the Xhosa who just eat everything that is available and then suffer because of a shortage of food. 

It is important to note that hunter-gatherers need hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of square metres per person. Life expectancy is limited due to sickness, wars, conflicts, deaths in childbirth, although their knowledge of natural remedies and living in harmony with each other and their environment do help them to survive very well despite these natural impacts. They cope well in their natural environment.

In the mountains of Lesotho the villages have some agro-pastoralism, the cultivation at a low intensity scale.

The agro-pastoralists cultivate the land to produce crops, and they breed herds of animals, and so more people can survive on a square kilometre, but they also have limited life-expectancy due to wars or conflicts, natural disasters and sicknesses. Here they are tilling the ground and eating their bread by the sweat of their faces, being more fruitful, multiplying, replenishing, and subduing the earth. They tend to be in reasonable harmony with the natural balance.

Extensive agriculture totally transforms the landscape. Canals bring water to irrigate and enable far greater cultivation as water is less limiting. Equipment, machines, technology, insecticides and fertilisers increase productivity far beyond what could be done just one hundred years ago.

Then there are higher levels of development such as has happened throughout the world and throughout history with colonisation and domination where some stronger groups expand their territory, invade, and dominate over other groups who have less strength to defend themselves. Here there is often exploitation of people and nature.

High density populations are possible, as shown in this picture that I took of New York in 1981, due to high productivity in agriculture, industry, transporting resources, health care, education, and so much more. 

Then one gets ‘civilisation’ with its extensive agriculture, mining, schools and universities, urbanisation, factories, national borders, technology, travel, dams, transportation systems, and so much that we see in our day where natural ecosystems are severely transformed, many irreversibly transformed, even with loss of many species and ecosystems. In some parts of China and Hong Kong, for example, there are thousands or tens of thousands of people in a square kilometre because of the productivity in these developed peoples and access to resources through trade and transport from distant parts of their country, or from other countries. Life expectancy increases, births often decrease and that causes more dependency of older generations on reducing numbers in younger generations, and this and the exploitation of natural resources is all too often unsustainable.

I was impressed by someone who shared with me that the San would not consume more than about 50% of what was available in order to ensure that there would always be sufficient for the future, whereas the Xhosa and some others would eat everything that is available but not produce enough to replace it. I have often observed than many drought-stricken communities look absolutely helpless and in need of food, but there is plenty of open ground that had evidently not been cultivated and I suspect that they could almost certainly have provided something for their future if they had used foresight and practised sustainable utilisation together with keeping enough in storage for future use for future planting as well as for emergencies.

I would suggest that each of these types of communities is to be praised in many ways, but also to be discouraged in many ways. What I look forward to is an altruistic humanity that is more like the beehive that I shared recently in myblog. Here, there is wonderful harmony and each bee works selflessly for the betterment of the colony. I love our motto in South Africa - 'Diverse people unite' and our former motto 'Unity is strength'. Unfortunately, there are many people who seek to divide our people, and that division can be really destructive. But when these diverse people unite, the strength is infinitely greater because of their diversity. 

I look forward to when South Africa and the rest of the world appreciate and love their heritage and environment enough to care for it and be fruitful, multiply, replenish, subdue and have dominion over this world such that it has a wonderfully sustainable future in line with its wonderful potential. The bees do it – I fully believe that humans can do it…

08 May 2023

Everything from a bee hive is a wonderful gift

Everything from the hive is a gift of medicine.

Honey is something nutritious and life sustaining that the bees give us freely.

Raw Honey is an anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial super food.

It is also now being used in treating open wounds because of these very properties.

I think the Lord made the honeybee for a very special purpose – more than just pollinating flowers – which helps us grow crops so we can have something to eat.

He created them to give us special insight into His nature and what He wants from us.

Some Bee’s to ponder on:

Bee a Hard Worker

Have you ever heard the expression “busy as a bee”?

There is a very good reason for that, as bees are some of nature’s hardest workers.

To make just one tablespoon of honey for your toast in the morning, a bee has to visit 4,200 flowers!

A worker bee will make up to 10 trips a day, visiting 400 flowers.

And to make just one pound of honey (450 g), worker bees need to visit more than 3 million flowers and travel the equivalent of three times around the world!

The bees don’t mind doing it, because they care about their hive.

The harder they work, the happier and more productive their colony can be.

In a bee colony, every bee has a job.

There are worker bees, queen bees, and drones.

The queen lays the eggs, and the workers find nectar and make honey.

Did you know, the male bee called a drone doesn’t have a stinger?

That means they can’t defend the hive, and not only that, they don’t gather nectar, make honey, or lay eggs.

At first, drones might appear to be a little worthless!

But in a hive, no one is worthless.

The drones help feed the larvae, then the babies, among other responsibilities.

They might not collect pollen or have the highest position in a beehive, but they do have a very vital part to play.

They give their all to do it.

Bee Respectful

Honeybees are very loyal to their queen.

They will go wherever the queen goes and do whatever is needed to make sure their leader is healthy and happy, and they’ll work hard to help the queen do her part for the hive.

The queen’s main job is to lays eggs so the colony will grow; everyone else really works to feed the larvae and protect the queen.

Bee Humble

Here’s an Amazing Fact:

A cousin of the honey bee is the bumblebee.

But that was not their original name.

Instead, they used to be called “humble bees”!

Evidently, way back in history, some English children couldn’t say “humblebee” very well, and instead they would say “bumblebee.”

This cute nickname stuck, and even adults started calling them “bumblebees.”

Bee Holy

A long time ago, a scientist claimed bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly based on aerodynamics, which is the study of flight. But – no-one told the bumble bee that, so it just carried on flying anyway.

Well, today they know how such a large insect with such small wings can fly, but at one point, some people thought it should have been impossible.

Of course, it isn’t impossible at all because the bumblebee keeps flying.

We should take a lesson from the humble bumblebee, which still flew when scientists said it should be impossible.

Bee Sure to Share and Serve

Honeybees will fly as far as 12 km (8 miles) in search of nectar – but usually within 3 km. But, consider that 3 km to a bee the size of 10 mm is like about 48 000 km for an average adult human!

Whenever they find what they are looking for, no matter where they find it, they will turn right around and make a “beeline” back to their hive so that all the bees can join in the good news and go off to get some nectar.

Did you know that most honeybees spend almost all of their time feeding other bees, rather than themselves?

And not only will you find a bee always ready to feed another bee, they’ll even feed bees from another colony!

This is why scientists call bees a social insect.

They like to interact and “bee” with one another; mutual feeding seems to be a part of that special relationship.

Did you know that bees produce a lot more honey than they need to feed themselves?

They always have an overflow that others — like you, me, and honey badgers, with a sweet tooth — can also have!

Bee Born Again

Did you know that in order for a bee to fly, it must be born twice?

After a queen lays an egg in a chamber, the drones get busy feeding the larva after it hatches.

When a larva gets big enough, the worker bees seal it in a tomb-like chamber where it begins to change, a process called metamorphosis.

When it is done with this transformation, it is “born again” as a new creature – an adult bee.

But it isn’t always easy.

When it’s finally done changing, it has to break out of the chamber, struggling and wiggling.

In the process, the bee actually breaks a membrane on its back that holds its wings down!

Eventually, their wings dry out and the new bees are able to fly.

Isn’t that incredible?

In other words, they are born twice and they’re able to fly only because they are re-born through a struggle.

Well, that’s exactly what it is like for you and for me.

Bees Are Amazing, and So Are You!

As a tour guide, I think that this information about honey and bees is of value for tour guides to share, and also the relationship to gum trees. I often mention, when going past gumtrees that, although it is an aggressive invasive, the presence of the gumtree in South Africa is permissible because of the fact that it enables bees to thrive and bees facilitate the production of about 76% of our agricultural crops. So, the gain outweighs the pain, or the pros exceed the cons... It is worth reading a document released by SANBI. Included in the debate is: 

  • "Outside their natural ranges, eucalypts are both lauded for their beneficial economic impact and criticised for being ‘water-guzzling’ invasive aliens, leading to controversy over their total impact."; 
  • "The listed species have been declared invasive because of their negative impact on water resources, biodiversity, erosion and increased fire risk."; 
  • "The six gum species listed in South Africa as invaders need only be removed if they are not in the correct place in the landscape. Because gum trees have a value in society for their timber, as a bee foraging resource, and their ability to provide shade and wind protection, the new regulations only require the removal of gum trees where they are invasive or have a negative environmental impact."; and 
  • "Gums in the correct place in the landscape are critical to honey bees"

Here’s one last Amazing Fact:

The brain of a bee is no bigger than the size of a small pinhead.

Yet despite their small-sized brains, bees have a very complex society, they communicate with one another, and they design and build one of the strongest homes on the planet, inside the dark beehive, called the honeycomb.


Charles J. Adams, quoting from his long-time friend Pastor Chris Smit from Wilderness Pentecostal church, with some editing by Les Powrie.