Monday, June 9, 2008

Go to Hell! Sure, but where?

As a kid in Norway we used the expression “Go where the pepper grows”, meaning to the place where pepper grow (Norwegian; “Dra dit pepper’n gror!”)! This was a junior version of “Go to hell”, and one of the worst things we could throw at each other. For years I’ve been wondering why this was such a cruel thing to say? Even more so, where does pepper grow?!Firstly, nobody had any clue where this was; just that it was a very bad place! Norwegians had probably just acquired pepper and salt for cooking, and this was as adventurous as one could be in the kitchen back then. Pepper probably arrived on the same ship as the coffee beans . All we knew was that pepper was not grown in any of the nearby countries (Denmark and Sweden). That was as far as our imagination or horizon could reach. No doubt, pepper was from a place very far away!

Far away, for the purpose of sending somebody away could be good enough! If you could send this annoying person there, you should expect not to see him/her again for quite some time. Naturally though, since these orders were usually given during a fight, the bastard was not overly obedient or compelled to do so! My mindpower was under-developed at the time, so I never succeeded. It was safe to say that the moron had no clue where to head either. Pepper was not marked on any map! In fact, both parties where blissfully ignorant and unaware of the pepper’s origin or its geographical location. Why send somebody to a place you don’t know, and haven’t even confirmed as being a bad place either? It could be paradise, and far from serving your intention… There had to be some other explanation! Pepper is hot, and must come from a hot place! Hot is for some reason perceived as bad. Hell is hot (like Hell) – alas “Burn in Hell"! Hell is bad, so hot must also be bad! Any accounts of purgatory, before you even get to Hell, will tell you that it’s hot. Anything hotter than the beach in Spain (favorite holiday/roasting destination for Scandinavians) is pain and a bad place to be, no doubt! But how could we know that pepper came from a hot place? Tales from the seamen could of course have been told, retold and finally reached our ears, but not very likely. One look at the whole pepper corns can tell that they’ve been in a hot place. Roasted like straight out of Hell!

Surely we had tasted pepper, but spared of any bad burn. What the hell did we know about ring-sting?! This was of course long before chillies and jalapenos could reach us! Jalapenos and chillies are grown in hot places too, Mexico and many places around the world as far as I know. Although much hotter than pepper, we were totally oblivious of any of these chilli and jalapeno growing places. Pepper was as hot as it could knowingly get! The pepper growing area out there somewhere was the worst place imaginable. Up until recently I had no clue where to send my enemies though! A family member that lives in India came to visit short time ago. For some unknown reason she mentioned that they grow pepper there. A lifelong mystery for me was cleared up quite unexpectedly! Kerala in India to be exact! It’s probably not the only place in India or elsewhere, but at least now I have some clue where pepper is grown.

For a couple of years, we’ve been talking about going to India. Even with a long holiday, you can’t do the whole of India, but Kerala was one of our marked destinations. Without knowing it I had planned my future holiday at a place where I’ve previously wished only my worst childhood enemies! True,
India had Thugs, but they don’t cause Hell anymore. How ironic?! All the Hell’s on earth that I know about and that I’ve come across are actually not bad at all! They are actually nice places and definitely not cursing material!!

However! "What happens in Hell, stays in Hell". What goes to Hell or grow there also for that matter, am I right?! As far as I know, the ticket to Hell is one way only! …and since pepper grows in India, there must be Hell on earth. Either that, or earth is in Hell. So whether I tell people to go to Hell or to the place where pepper grows, they will not be any worse off than myself! I might as well send them to Bermuda! Damn – swearing people kinda lost its sting now! Bloody useless!!

In my garden you will find chillies thriving alongside lizards and scorpions! The summers here (Pretoria, South Africa) can be hot like hell. With the recent xenophobia incidents, this is probably closer to Hell than any named Hell you will find on earth. I live here!! Somebody else’s mind power must be quite strong!

I quite like it here

PS! "In Rome - do like the Romans do"! When in Hell...???

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shaka Zulu revisited

During Shaka Zulu’s reign, Mzilikazi fled north to escape Shaka Zulu’s violent rule. Mzilikazi, chief of the Ndwandwe tribe that was acquired and taken under the Zulu wings, decided to set up his own kingdom. With his remaining regiment and families he settled down in Matabeleland in todays Zimbabwe, where he became the King of the Matabele. Although out of reach for Shaka Zulu, they had to face other battles. The most recent one gave them reason to flee once again, away from their own country’s leader Robert Mugabe and back to South Africa.

The ironic part is that although not a major part, some of them came all the way back to the Zulu kingdom – KwaZulu Natal! Yet again, they are hunted by Zulu’s. Over the last couple of weeks, 50-60 people have been killed and thousands chased from their homes in the black townships throughout South Africa. It’s a small minority of the Zulu’s that are behind it, but people are talking about political motives. The Inkatha Freedom Party has been mentioned as the possible instigator. Perpetrators are singing “Umshini Vami” the ANC (African National Congress) freedom song (Meaning: “Give me my machine gun”) that was one of Jacob Zuma’s trademarks during the recent election. Whether it is Mangosutho Buthelezi (Inkatha) or Jacob Zuma (ANC), as well as Robert Mugabe… They are no better than Shaka Zulu for the Zimbabweans in South African exile! They run for their lives today like they did 200 years ago to escape the Zulu Impis. But where will you run now people of Matabeleland and Zimbabwe?!