The Sweet Stickiness of Forced Removal
Land is the most contentious thing we got going for us in this pre-Apocalypse, where social housing with incredible vista’s have to make way for shmancy pants flats so more wealthy people can truly appreciate it, I mean why waste great view on those who can’t afford it? Gahdemmit, bring on the Apocalypse so class is no longer a thing. On top of this, the blatant Apartheid hangover never went away, it carved up our sensibilities deep in every crevice of our beings, twenty years later it’s stuck to the roofs of our mouths. Sometimes to empty out that bitter taste I suck on fennel flowers. I take my sweetness where I can get it and the best place for me is walking over the fallow land of District 6. So many of our families were forced off of District 6, my family too (there they lived, on Dover, on the corner). A letter would pop through the flap in the door saying hey hey you you, you have 30 days to leave. This area is reserved for whites. So pack up your lives, pack up your children, travel the 30km to Mitchell’s Plain, there in flat winter wetland area reserved for non-whites. Far from your job in town, far from friends and family and far from the mountain where you grew up. With this forced move came a cultural shift, no longer were doors always open for weary travellers and hungry souls, where there always used to be a plate of food and a couch to rest on - gates remain locked and neighbours gradually became more distant. Every time I walk over this land I remember and try to imagine the hundreds of little feet kicking up dust, the neighbours, the friends, all the loves and all the call to prayers that echoed through the streets. The Apocalypse came through the foot of this mountain and in its place sprouted hundreds of fennel. The sweet one, not the bulbous one. The one that puts all its energy in pushing an abundance of sweet sticky nectar, glorious pollens and heady fragrance that sits in a sticky tangle on the hot berg wind days.
You may see weeds, I see sweets, wild and dripping. And while I’m harvesting and licking my fingers, I’m doing soft calculations of how much this costs me in Capitalisma, two hours intensive harvesting of pollen (in glaring sun and even sometimes south-easter tempest) gets me an amount that makes it very expensive to sell and who would buy it at such a price? My pantry is invaluable, the collections of flowers, resins, salts, woods, minerals, herbs, insects - how could you charge for such things, money makes no sense here. Money has no place here, except perhaps for kindling.
This thing of owning land, with all the roots in the ground, every stone and every hole, is this where all the trouble started? When the continent was divided by the colonisers? And here we are, with the majority of the people being landless, the forced removals still continuing, land occupation something that stems out of survival and a need to sustain livelihood. It is as if the Apocalypse came when the colonisers hit, then had a biggerlypse in Apartheid and now all the residual shrapnel lingers in the land and people. Across the gaze of the aftermath, surrounded by growing yellow sweets and memories, in the quiet and heavy heat, the heady fragrance of hot grass, hot fennel and hot me, there's no way to change this devastation, only to continue to pluck and suck, licking sticky beads of pollen sacs that cling to me.
Recipe ode to Sweet Stickiness of Forced Removal
A meal for remembering.
Foraged limpet from the clean coast
Puff of fennel pollen - work at about a smidgen of a pinch per person
Dried kumquat, powdered
Set up a pot of water to be boiled ferociously, tip in the limpets so death is instantaneous. Boil them for no more than 30 seconds otherwise you will be chewing forever.
Chop them up fine (mince them) and fry them up with salted butter, rosemary and a pinch of kumquat powder per limpet.
Just before taking them off the heat, sprinkle with fennel pollen and plate on a bed of dried ulva.