Monday, 28 May 2012

Deepening, Lengthening and Widening of Berth 203 to 205, Pier 2, DCT, Port of Durban is out for the 2nd period of review between 25 May 2012 and 01 June 2012.



 
Dear all

·         Re Durban Bay - see site link below
      1999 Port of Durban RoD
      Letter 3/5/12 on issues around RoD

·         See copied below from Nemai Consulting:
      Link to Final Scoping Report for second period of review 25 May 2012 to 01 June 2012

Please circulate to other interested and affected parties ASAP as very little time has been allowed for the review, and having been sent late on Friday 25th May, two days of the review period have already been lost.

If you have any queries or would like further background information on this issue, please contact:
Bianca Morgan 031 201 3126 / 071 625 0829 conservation@wessakzn.org.za

Regards
Jenny

Jenny Duvenage
WESSA:KZN - Media & Research
100 Brand Road Durban, 4001
Tel:  031 201 3126
Fax: 031 201 9525



Dear Registered I&AP,

Please note that Final Scoping Report for the proposed Deepening, Lengthening and Widening of Berth 203 to 205, Pier 2, DCT, Port of Durban is out for the 2nd period of review between 25 May 2012 and 01 June 2012.

The report together with the comments and response report (Appendix P) can be accessed on the project website  http://www.berth203to205expansioneia.co.za/

In addition, copies will be available for review at the Seafarers Club (1 Seafarers Road, Bayhead) and the Central Reference Library (10th Floor, Liberty Towers, 214  Dr Pixley KaSeme Street, Durban).

Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or queries.

Kind Regards,

Vanessa Brueton
Environmental Consultant


147 Bram Fischer Drive
Ferndale
Tel: 011 781 1730 
Fax: 011 781 1731
Mobile: 076 128 9126

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A magnificent read, Fellowship | Day 16 of the umngeni river walk blog

Each morning I look forward to the above post which arrives in my inbox.  Today as I read the post, I knew the writer must be Preven Chetty.  Thank you for sharing your passion for our river(s) Preven!

Margaret Burger
uMngeni Estuary Conservancy


http://umngeniriverwalk.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/mayday-16-fire-ice-rainbows/

Mayday 16: Fire, Ice & Rainbows

Cumberland Nature Reserve overlooks the uMngeni River and its steep gorges, just before you enter into the aptly named Valley of a 1000 Hills. At night when we sit beside the fire you can hear the roar of the river as it rushes down the valley below. Water is offloaded regularly on this section of the river into Nagle Dam to ensure it is always optimally full for eThekweni and other cities downstream and beyond. John Behn, the magnanimous custodian of this wonderful place (he sometimes reminds me of ol’ Tom Bombadil, of middle earth, for all you Lord of the Rings fans, when he has a twinkle in his eye), has a fire lit every evening when we, weary, often cold and wet, river walkers, straggle in.
Yesterday was such a day, when right at the end of our journey at about 5pm, we were faced with a fence. We have crossed so many fences during this walk, over, through and under them that I was by then loathe tackling another one that was crisscrossed with barbed wire at the edge of the river. I decided to wade across while Pandora and Sphiwe hopped over. Pretty soon I was wading in knee deep water followed by Penelope and Nontokozo (the two of them slipped on the precarious rocks and got dunked unceremoniously into the river). So when we arrived later that evening at Cumberland, the four huge tree stumps that were blazing in the fireplace were a welcome sight. I eagerly got into warm clothes and laid my pants, socks and boots by the bonfire as I went to grab a beer. I must have taken too long because when I got back my socks were on fire, and the flames were creeping up the seams of my pants and the rubber edges of my boots were smouldering. I sacrificed the socks, saved the trousers and it seems my boots have become more water tight.

That night after a wonderful supper brought in by Gary Behn and cooked by the Burdens (chilli con carne, yay! Thank you it was delicious) I tucked into bed (a luxury after the last few weeks) and suddenly the roof was attacked by the staccato fall of chicken egg sized hailstones. I managed to slide into sleep, dreaming of ice.
Morning arrived, cold and misty, but there was no sign of the cascade of hailstones the night before.

With Andrew Booth as our guide, we set of and by 8am we were at the rivers edge at a new fishing cottage on the reserve which has a sign that ominously says “Beware of Crocodiles”. We conducted our preliminary Mini SASS test and Pandora caught brush legged minnow mayflies, an exciting find.

Our score was 6.75, the highest since upstream of Howick.

Our spirits a little lifted, we headed up the path past scenic views and waterfalls of tributary streams.

We passed the lolombazo trail (John translated this to mean ‘a place which means, to sharpen one’s axe’) and watched the uMngeni river flow furiously below at an altitude of 648m.

There were many magnificent places that forced you to stop and just take everything in, with Penny compelling us to be still and then delightfully blowing soapy bubbles into the valley below.

The trails and the state of the veld is well managed here on Cumberland but John does acknowledge that the lantana is particularly tenacious here.
By 10h30 we were in sight of Kranz Hut a tiny getaway cottage, as described by John and Stella’s son Gary, who came out to join us for a few hours. We were not prepared for the delightful surprise of Wendy and Stella on the verandah providing us with hot coffee and Stella’s homemade muffins and rusks (you can see I have hobbit blood - food is a wondrous thing to me).

But sincerely, the hospitality of John and Stella Behn just leaves me speechless because I know thank you’s and appreciation barely describe how lucky we are. We head off after a delightful pit stop at this quaint little cottage, up a steep path climbing 80 meters to the top of the kranz.

To the one side avocado and sugar cane fields and the other the wild gorge of the uMngeni river guarding the entrance to the Valley of 1000 hills.
We reach a breathtakingly high viewing rockscape, perched atop high cliffs that plunge down to the river.

As we approached, we spotted a rock python brilliantly camouflaged, thick and resplendent, basking in the sporadic sunlight peeking through the canopy of clouds.

Legend has it that this is the place where Dingaan used to fling his enemies off the cliff, in order to kill them. Linking in with this fact is that the old name for this farm used to be called Aasvogel Krans (Vulture Cliffs).

After reluctantly leaving the viewpoint, we headed over and down the hills. We were walking through pure Lowveld Africa, spotting python, blesbuck, nyala and bushbuck. We crossed another tributary stream, one that looked fair but felt foul and in which lay an old dead male kudu. We were pondering the circumstances of its death when Penelope spotted a snare. Obviously this majestic animal was caught in the now defunct snare and died in the stream. Its skull and bones still lay in the water. Up stream of this grisly scene we took a sample because the river had this hanging fetid smell.

The rocks were also blood red, possibly from algae, but we are not certain yet of its cause. We reached the electrified game fence by late afternoon and walked up to the rendezvous point where both John Fourie and John Behn awaited us. Getting aboard we felt we could still walk for miles but the sky was rumbling overhead and rain birds and dark clouds circled ahead. The weather turned chilly as we drove through orange orchards and bright green valleys of sugarcane.

Suddenly the sky turned lighter and we saw the most complete and strong rainbow in the sky ahead plunging straight into the uMngeni river gorge, and surrounded by undulating hills. It was a phenomenon and a blessing and both Penny and I agreed that we have never seen a rainbow so strong and for so long. It followed us constantly never changing position till we entered the welcoming sign of Cumberland Nature Reserve.

Makhosi Sarah told us at the base of Howick Falls that the rainbow is a sign and a portal into the spirit world. When I was a young boy I had a vivid dream, one which I still remember, of walking down into the river and entering an underground labyrinth were I was greeted by a host of fantastical and mythical creatures and beings.
The air this afternoon seemed charged and I gazed at the rainbow with my other team members who sang its praises and took pictures. There might or might not be a pot of gold at the end of rainbows, and I probably wouldn’t be able to reach it if I tried, but I have never felt so rich and so blessed in my life to be able to do what I am doing, to follow a river from its source to the sea, to help her and to heal her just as she helps and heals me. This is such an alive two way relationship that is beyond my understanding. To say we are all downstream of each other and connected is to say it lightly. To say that she is the lifeblood of this region and all rivers the arteries of our planet, is almost an understatement. She is mystical, magical and mesmerising. The colours of the rainbow in ancient African culture have a special significance. Yellow and white signify the ancestors and our connection and debt to the past and future. Green signifies the nature and the power of the Earth, red the warmth and sacred blood of the planet, violet signifies beauty and its power and presence, and blue the angel and ever present spirit guide. For me it also resembles our fragile blue planet and the power of water. She is my spirit and my guide. Mighty uMngeni it is an honour to walk beside you and hear your song
“Be yourself, no matter what they say…”
written by Preven @ S   29° 30. 209’ E 030° 30. 487’
P.S. Thank you Stella and John for your hospitality today and for cooking the team a delicious breakfast, tea and muffins at the Kranz Cottage and for the special dinner you prepared, courtesy of Dirk Carlitz of Outdoor Educators, who offers team building, environmental education and other leadership courses out of Cumberland Nature Reserve.  Thank you Dirk for enabling young people to experience this special place through your programmes, for the dinner and for your support of the ‘Mayday for Rivers’ uMngeni River Walk.  Thank you Andrew for being our guide for the morning.

Friday, 11 May 2012

May Day 10: Awesome and Amazing

It’s pitch dark.  I’m lying on my tummy tucked up into my sleeping bag like a chrysalis.  I hear the pop pop of the fire in the hearth and higher up the bushy slope the orange glow of the campfire illuminates the murmuring voices of my fellow team mates.  In the distance a bushbuck barks into the night.  Preven is tuning the guitar.  All around the night sounds pulse to the rhythm of the river.  Then soft strumming, an occasional melody line and a gentle voice lulls the camp to sleep.   We are at Inkonka Camp, Umgeni Valley.  All’s well.
It was an amazing day.  Meeting so many different people and sharing experiences as we walked through the village of Howick, past Howick falls and on down to Inkonka camp, exemplified what this walk is all about.  The river runs through us all.
Joining the team for the day as we started the second leg of our journey to the mouth were:  Allen Goddard of Arocha SA, Kevin Lakali of Umgeni Valley NR, Franco Khoza a local river lover.  Our guides from Howick down were Gareth Boothway, Biodiversity Stewardship officer for the Midlands Conservancy Forum and Brett Smith, assistant reserve manager for Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.

We were surprised at the change in the quality of the river as we started our walk at sunrise from below Midmar dam wall.  The water was brown and muddy had a sulphurous smell.   Penny explained what she had learnt yesterday from Umgeni Water staff on the tour of the dam wall.  There are four different extraction levels for water leaving the dam depending on the time of the year and current water level.  Usually water is released from the top two levels. Occasionally they open the scouring pipe from the very bottom of the dam wall.   This releases anaerobic silt that has that rotten smell. There is an informal rubbish dump on the river bank.

Yesterday, Penz and Previn took two school groups down to this spot to do a Mini SASS getting a reading of 3.9.  This morning we can find no aquatic invertebrate life.

Soon we came to a well maintained path running through the residential area of Howick.  This is the work of chairperson of the Howick Conservancy, Bill Speight.  In the next few kilometres we meet many Howick residents walking their dogs and swop stories about the river.  We stop at Moonwalk Drive to do a Mini SASS test on Moonwalk pool.  This is the spot that Penny, in her previous work as education manager for Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, used to take the school groups to show them a healthy river.

Penny is standing on a large rock with the early morning sun behind her.  “I’ve found a planaria worm, she says.”  Her voice conveys the dismay she feels.  In past years the mini SASS score for Moonwalk pool has been 6.8 and 7.9 at Moonwalk, indicative of a largely natural, few modifications, good condition, today’s score is 5.3,  indicating a largely modified stream in poor condition.

On this walk our spirits are seldom down for long and soon a cheer goes up as we meet a whole band of uMgeni walk supporters and helpers!  Nikki, our media and moral support, Hazel and Liz our mealwagon support, Sally, whose designed the amazing ‘Mayday for Rivers’ logo blazed on our turquoise t-shirts.  We all greeted one another enthusiastically.  Without this wonderful group of supporters this walk would not have been possible!  In the distance there is a wave and a big smile!  It’s Pam!  It’s lovely to see her again and we all hang our heads as she teasingly chastices us for not mentioning the amazing dinner that she and Ross hosted on our first night in Howick.  “No-one even took any photo’s of the beautiful colourful table we laid out!”  the smile never leaving her face.  “It looked like an artwork!”  A host of supporters had contributed to a wonderful meal.  Special local fare gave substance to a commitment to homesteading and sustainability practice.   “I did!!!”  Penny is amazing!  Keeping the big picture in mind in the planning, logisitics and implementation of this walk is no mean feat.  Recognising the people, detail and acknowledging it is a further feather to her beautiful cap!
We reached the little path used by Nogqaza Primary and Injoloba High children that cross the river twice daily to and from school.

Liz has arranged for them to meet us as we pass the school and she hurried off to let them know we were nearly there.  This is the first littered area that we have seen on the entire walk, apart from an occasional sprinkling on a forestry or rural path.  As we reach the edge of Howick West signs of serious dumping and litter along the river banks create a stark contrast to the rural farmlands we have come from.
As we walk I chat with community members along the street above the river.  I ask why the yards and verges are so neat, clean and tidy and why there is such a mess along the river.  Themba is washing his car.  He doesn’t know.  Further along a lady is hanging washing.  She doesn’t know either.  Princess has a better idea.  Alongside her home are huge piles of glass recycling.  She tells me that she takes them to Wildlands Trust Recycling depot when she has collected enough.  Alongside the recycling bags are neat rows of vegetables.

Principal of Nogqaza Primary, Mr Zondi and educator Mr Shange, come out to greet us and we chat about how people’s different perceptions of the river. “It’s a cultural thing” he says.  “Everyone sees the river differently.  Some see it as something that takes waste away while others see it as a symbol of purity and use it for prayers and baptismal,” he adds,  ‘But culture is made by people and can be changed!”
Joyce Pope, Manager of Parks and Recreation uMngeni Municipality met us under the Howick bridge to hand over a letter from the Mayor of uMngeni.

Our camera man, Siphiwe films an amazing interview.  This message encourages citizen action and youth participation in restoring our rivers.  It encourages respect and reverence for our environment.  This is awesome! Liz Gow screeched up bringing the PH strips and nitrite kits from the lab up from PMB.  What would we do without you, Liz!  Mike shows us an ingenous rubbish trap he has created from plastic bottles and strung across the river.
I have never stood at the top of Howick falls before!  It is awesome.  I don’t have another adjective to use!  Women from Shiyabazali Informal Settlement are washing their clothes.  It is an amazing colourful sight as bright clothes and soapy suds and the thundering white water merge into an extraordinary scene.

At the falls there is another amazing host of supporters!!  Vonnie Monk and other Friends of the Falls are there to encourage us onward.  The have done an amazing job of restoring the beauty of the Howick falls and communicating its history to visitors.
Peter Thompson chairman of the upper uMngeni Catchment Management Forum is there too!  This walk is pulling together committed conservationists!  Then there are the WESSA staff, Cheri Cade, Cara and Brett Smith there to greet us and tell us about the arrangements for Inkonka camp.  They have pulled out all the stops!  Thank you WESSA!  We were running late and Penny apologises if she didn’t get to greet everybody.

She hurried us down the steep path to a little clearing below the falls where Makosi Sarah Wager and Makos Muvo Ngcobo are waiting for us.

It is a moving ceremony as they explain the significance of the river, of Mother Earth to traditional beliefs and the relevance to re-establishing the respect and reverence that is needed to restore our rivers.  The river links and connects everybody, past, present and future.  The candle I chose from the rainbow was green symbolising nature spirits, those of the trees, the plants, the animals and the river.

I felt honoured as it burnt together with those of Sarah, Muvo, Penny, Preven and Nonkokozo. I listened as Sarah and Muvo explained about the symbolism of the rainbow its connection with the river goddess and the water cycle.  I thought of the story that I wrote for the ‘Mayday for Rivers’ arts and cultural campaign.  The story of Mtini and Mo, and their journey to the sea was not just a figment of my imagination.  It is written into the hearts of all of us.

Saying our  goodbye to Sarah and Muvo we made our way, with difficulty, over the huge boulders below the falls.

Soon in the far distance we saw four figures standing in the middle of the river on a giant rock.  We progressed slowly,  hopping from boulder to boulder, making our way through a tangle of alien and natural vegetation.  The story of the Dunlop factory was fascinating and we looked with amazement at the huge turbines in the old stone building.  Matthew Hyland and his security managers had brought us a cooler bag of refreshments.  As we took our leave he presented the team with special badges, “Phenduka”  It means to change…

I don’t have time to tell you what happened next,  I have a whole new world view.  The earth is not a round ball spinning away into obscurity.  It is the most beautiful woman. If at Drinkkop we stood in the trickle of her tears, this afternoon we climbed down the cleft of her breasts into her heart.  We sat in her skirts of huge granite boulders, restored and refreshed, and learnt of her sacred secrets.

Written by: Pandora Long

May Day 11: Familiar Places seen with New Eyes | uMngeni River Walk

I have to post this post today since much is still about the magic WESSA reserve Umgeni Valley.  Tomorrow I hope to locate some personal pictures of our walk with frineds when the Watsonias were in bloom.  Here follows the May Day for Rivers post:

May Day 11: Familiar Places seen with New Eyes

I (Penny) am starting today’s blog as Preven is busy with learners from Hilton College doing a mini sass in the river at the school’s boma where we are to spend tonight. I’m back in my old stamping ground yesterday and today (I spent my internship in Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve back in the 1980’s and again for 4 years from 2007 – 2010 as a field guide).
To pick up where Pandora left off the last blog entry,  after leaving the hydro electric station yesterday we bundu bashed our way down the river to the falls called Little Falls, the most stunning waterfall on the Umgeni River yet.

From upstream the falls give the impression of one of those modern rim flow swimming pools, but way better than any manmade pool could ever be, with the thickly wooded gorge below. We managed to ford the river across a shallow natural rock drift, and pushed our way round the side of the falls, repeatedly changing direction as we encountered brambles, Acacia ataxacantha and other assorted natural obstacles. Below the falls an absolute delight watching the water cascade and channel over the rocks.

Masses of piles of crunched crab shells indicated the permanent presence of elusive otters. The light was fading and we decided it prudent to leave the river before we hit the steep sided gorge and found ourselves stuck there in the dark. So we did a ‘Mike Farley’ – straight up the mountain side. Took almost an hour, and, amazingly no one complained a bit, everyone had the time of their lives, ploughing through bramble, pulling themselves up the steep slopes whose grass cover made them like an ice rink – up and up we went, till we finally reached the road that leads to Inkonka Camp. I arrived just as the last light gave way to the darkness, the rest of the team close behind.

Dawn at Nkonka camp near Fish Jump Falls brought the sound of the river, a bush buck barking his warning signal, francolin calling in the day. Last night, Wendy, Hugh and Pandora retired early, whilst Penz, Preven and I spent the evening round the camp fire with Brett from Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. Preven playing gentle melodies on the guitar. Overhead the stars shone so brightly without any light pollution, and the bare branches of all the Celtis trees round the camp were silhouetted by the waning moon when she finally appeared above the hills. It has been a long time since I slept in this camp, and to lie down to sleep beside the fire, was a special treat.Brett & Cara Smith from Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve,Sally Cummings and Bridget Ringdahl from WESSA arrived this morning to see us on our way, a wonderful surprise. We were joined down the river by Rob Symons and John Roff and Kevin and Franco joined us for another day of adventure.
I hope they weren’t too disappointed – today was the shortest leg of the whole walk, only 7.1 kilometres and due to the big pools in the river, and isolated big rocks, we generally had to stick to the track running alongside the river.
We started the day with the morning Water Blessing and a mini sass with a terrible score of 3.2 which indicates seriously modified, poor, condition river – no surprise after what we had seen all day yesterday.  Our support crew had permission to drive the long way out through the nature reserve, so whilst we went down the river, they managed to get themselves hopelessly lost, finally arriving at the boundary fence with no way out. Then ensued a series of frantic phone calls to everyone they knew to get a phone number to call the office for directions. Their phones were continually engaged, and after finally calling Liz Taylor, they were given excellent exit directions.
Hey! it’s Preven here. Just back from wading knee deep in the river scouting for Minnow mayflies, bugs and beetles with eight Grade 6 learners from Hilton College. We spent an hour together in the river and they are some of the coolest and most enthusiastic kids I’ve met. We had a rip roaring Huckleberry Finn day along the river. What a day, what a day!

Once back in UmgeniValley, she wove her magic around me once again and I remembered vividly why I was drawn to this place in which I worked for five years. It was beautiful and bittersweet and WESSA welcomed us as only Umgeni Valley could. The people who work here and this place are so special and it is special to me. It was a privilege to be once again in the company of the valley and with its people who care for the earth.
The river was amazing today and when we arrived we were greeted by the flight of three fish eagles. It is also a pleasure walking with John Roff because he opens up little secrets in nature to you. Especially about plants and spiders.  We played music with his Vietnamese Jewish Harp and an Irish pennywhistle in the river welcoming the river walkers as they crossed (Siphiwe’s choreography).
Tonight we (Penny, Pandora and I) are also back at a familiar place when in 2009 we spent a weekend in the Henley Lapa (Hilton College’s estate) when John invited a group of environmental educators over for the Arts for the Earth Campaign. It is amazing how one can constantly rediscover these special places and this river with new eyes, hands and heart. It feels good to walk beside her. We have walked 116 kilometres so far and we are 50km as the crow flies from the source. This evening we are in the company of John and Deren at the Henley Lapa. Many thanks to Hilton college for hosting the river walkers tonight. It promises to be a musical and interesting evening.

http://umngeniriverwalk.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/may-day-11-familiar-places-seen-with-new-eyes/

Umgeni Valley is a WESSA Nature Reserve | Day 10 of the uMngeni River Walk


May Day 10: Awesome and Amazing
It’s pitch dark.  I’m lying on my tummy tucked up into my sleeping bag like a chrysalis.  I hear the pop pop of the fire in the hearth and higher up the bushy slope the orange glow of the campfire illuminates the murmuring voices of my fellow team mates.  In the distance a bushbuck barks into the night.  Preven is tuning the guitar.  All around the night sounds pulse to the rhythm of the river.  Then soft strumming, an occasional melody line and a gentle voice lulls the camp to sleep.   We are at Inkonka Camp, Umgeni Valley.  All’s well.
It was an amazing day.  Meeting so many different people and sharing experiences as we walked through the village of Howick, past Howick falls and on down to Inkonka camp, exemplified what this walk is all about.  The river runs through us all.
Joining the team for the day as we started the second leg of our journey to the mouth were:  Allen Goddard of Arocha SA, Kevin Lakali of Umgeni Valley NR, Franco Khoza a local river lover.  Our guides from Howick down were Gareth Boothway, Biodiversity Stewardship officer for the Midlands Conservancy Forum and Brett Smith, assistant reserve manager for Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.

We were surprised at the change in the quality of the river as we started our walk at sunrise from below Midmar dam wall.  The water was brown and muddy had a sulphurous smell.   Penny explained what she had learnt yesterday from Umgeni Water staff on the tour of the dam wall.  There are four different extraction levels for water leaving the dam depending on the time of the year and current water level.  Usually water is released from the top two levels. Occasionally they open the scouring pipe from the very bottom of the dam wall.   This releases anaerobic silt that has that rotten smell. There is an informal rubbish dump on the river bank.

Yesterday, Penz and Previn took two school groups down to this spot to do a Mini SASS getting a reading of 3.9.  This morning we can find no aquatic invertebrate life.

Soon we came to a well maintained path running through the residential area of Howick.  This is the work of chairperson of the Howick Conservancy, Bill Speight.  In the next few kilometres we meet many Howick residents walking their dogs and swop stories about the river.  We stop at Moonwalk Drive to do a Mini SASS test on Moonwalk pool.  This is the spot that Penny, in her previous work as education manager for Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, used to take the school groups to show them a healthy river.

Penny is standing on a large rock with the early morning sun behind her.  “I’ve found a planaria worm, she says.”  Her voice conveys the dismay she feels.  In past years the mini SASS score for Moonwalk pool has been 6.8 and 7.9 at Moonwalk, indicative of a largely natural, few modifications, good condition, today’s score is 5.3,  indicating a largely modified stream in poor condition.

On this walk our spirits are seldom down for long and soon a cheer goes up as we meet a whole band of uMgeni walk supporters and helpers!  Nikki, our media and moral support, Hazel and Liz our mealwagon support, Sally, whose designed the amazing ‘Mayday for Rivers’ logo blazed on our turquoise t-shirts.  We all greeted one another enthusiastically.  Without this wonderful group of supporters this walk would not have been possible!  In the distance there is a wave and a big smile!  It’s Pam!  It’s lovely to see her again and we all hang our heads as she teasingly chastices us for not mentioning the amazing dinner that she and Ross hosted on our first night in Howick.  “No-one even took any photo’s of the beautiful colourful table we laid out!”  the smile never leaving her face.  “It looked like an artwork!”  A host of supporters had contributed to a wonderful meal.  Special local fare gave substance to a commitment to homesteading and sustainability practice.   “I did!!!”  Penny is amazing!  Keeping the big picture in mind in the planning, logisitics and implementation of this walk is no mean feat.  Recognising the people, detail and acknowledging it is a further feather to her beautiful cap!
We reached the little path used by Nogqaza Primary and Injoloba High children that cross the river twice daily to and from school.

Liz has arranged for them to meet us as we pass the school and she hurried off to let them know we were nearly there.  This is the first littered area that we have seen on the entire walk, apart from an occasional sprinkling on a forestry or rural path.  As we reach the edge of Howick West signs of serious dumping and litter along the river banks create a stark contrast to the rural farmlands we have come from.
As we walk I chat with community members along the street above the river.  I ask why the yards and verges are so neat, clean and tidy and why there is such a mess along the river.  Themba is washing his car.  He doesn’t know.  Further along a lady is hanging washing.  She doesn’t know either.  Princess has a better idea.  Alongside her home are huge piles of glass recycling.  She tells me that she takes them to Wildlands Trust Recycling depot when she has collected enough.  Alongside the recycling bags are neat rows of vegetables.

Principal of Nogqaza Primary, Mr Zondi and educator Mr Shange, come out to greet us and we chat about how people’s different perceptions of the river. “It’s a cultural thing” he says.  “Everyone sees the river differently.  Some see it as something that takes waste away while others see it as a symbol of purity and use it for prayers and baptismal,” he adds,  ‘But culture is made by people and can be changed!”
Joyce Pope, Manager of Parks and Recreation uMngeni Municipality met us under the Howick bridge to hand over a letter from the Mayor of uMngeni.

Our camera man, Siphiwe films an amazing interview.  This message encourages citizen action and youth participation in restoring our rivers.  It encourages respect and reverence for our environment.  This is awesome! Liz Gow screeched up bringing the PH strips and nitrite kits from the lab up from PMB.  What would we do without you, Liz!  Mike shows us an ingenous rubbish trap he has created from plastic bottles and strung across the river.
I have never stood at the top of Howick falls before!  It is awesome.  I don’t have another adjective to use!  Women from Shiyabazali Informal Settlement are washing their clothes.  It is an amazing colourful sight as bright clothes and soapy suds and the thundering white water merge into an extraordinary scene.

At the falls there is another amazing host of supporters!!  Vonnie Monk and other Friends of the Falls are there to encourage us onward.  The have done an amazing job of restoring the beauty of the Howick falls and communicating its history to visitors.
Peter Thompson chairman of the upper uMngeni Catchment Management Forum is there too!  This walk is pulling together committed conservationists!  Then there are the WESSA staff, Cheri Cade, Cara and Brett Smith there to greet us and tell us about the arrangements for Inkonka camp.  They have pulled out all the stops!  Thank you WESSA!  We were running late and Penny apologises if she didn’t get to greet everybody.

She hurried us down the steep path to a little clearing below the falls where Makosi Sarah Wager and Makos Muvo Ngcobo are waiting for us.

It is a moving ceremony as they explain the significance of the river, of Mother Earth to traditional beliefs and the relevance to re-establishing the respect and reverence that is needed to restore our rivers.  The river links and connects everybody, past, present and future.  The candle I chose from the rainbow was green symbolising nature spirits, those of the trees, the plants, the animals and the river.

I felt honoured as it burnt together with those of Sarah, Muvo, Penny, Preven and Nonkokozo. I listened as Sarah and Muvo explained about the symbolism of the rainbow its connection with the river goddess and the water cycle.  I thought of the story that I wrote for the ‘Mayday for Rivers’ arts and cultural campaign.  The story of Mtini and Mo, and their journey to the sea was not just a figment of my imagination.  It is written into the hearts of all of us.

Saying our  goodbye to Sarah and Muvo we made our way, with difficulty, over the huge boulders below the falls.

Soon in the far distance we saw four figures standing in the middle of the river on a giant rock.  We progressed slowly,  hopping from boulder to boulder, making our way through a tangle of alien and natural vegetation.  The story of the Dunlop factory was fascinating and we looked with amazement at the huge turbines in the old stone building.  Matthew Hyland and his security managers had brought us a cooler bag of refreshments.  As we took our leave he presented the team with special badges, “Phenduka”  It means to change…

I don’t have time to tell you what happened next,  I have a whole new world view.  The earth is not a round ball spinning away into obscurity.  It is the most beautiful woman. If at Drinkkop we stood in the trickle of her tears, this afternoon we climbed down the cleft of her breasts into her heart.  We sat in her skirts of huge granite boulders, restored and refreshed, and learnt of her sacred secrets.

Written by: Pandora Long