A dusty book found in an old box
On Sunday morning, my father went into our storage in search of one of his old manuscripts he'd once written up for a publisher. He'd hoped to clean it up, and try to publish it this time around. About three hours later, just after noon, he came back, covered in dust, exhausted and unsuccessful in his search, but still very pleased.
"Come here," he'd said to me, "I have something for you!" It was just a couple of books, but my heart swelled, I love books! Especially ones I don't have to buy. Buggers can be expensive. Thankfully, our household has always been filled up with them. All five children are extensive readers and I can very well imagine any reader with an interest the in strange or weirder things would have quite a bit of fun exploring some of our shelves. They range from brand new to ancient, and most of them are in storage. Shelf-space is a mystical thing only found in libraries where time and space can warp.
So sometimes, when we want to brave the dark and giant spiders, we will delve into storage and sort through those crummy boxes nestled safely in the dark. Often, we come across dusty gems, long forgotten. Some older than my father who is now pushing 80.
This time he gave me two books in the series The Omen, one I'd never read before, but my recent interest in horror was remembered, and one which had me a little curious.
"These wonders to behold" by Lawrence T. Green. My mind instantly went to an interesting drama-adventure, perhaps a collection of smaller stories. The cover, although certainly pretty, put me in mind of fiction. I was very much surprised to find the index a collection of myths and stories. African stories.
Surprisingly, I have found, South African stories are not easy to come by, especially ones focused on the lighter side of the Voortrekker era. Many a book has been written on the African Tribes, of Apartheid, of the Wars and Great Trek. But so little on the legends and folklore told by Europeans about this beautiful country. And there is much to tell.
We have some of our obligatory legends; like Wolraad Woltemade, the Flying Dutchmen, Dick King, and then of course some ghost stories. One about disappearing houses and the other of the Ghost of Uniondale. So very few though, and as I paged through the book I became more and more excited at the prospect of reading more of them.
A very hefty sprinkle of African tales and myths also runs through the little book, and I am excited to see what they might tell. The internet, as wonderful as it is, often has a tendency to become its own echo chamber when sharing facts, myths or even fiction. We tend to parrot and repeat old stories over and over, hoping it somehow becomes newer with each telling. Perhaps in the confines of this little gem I can see a bit more of Africa from a fresher, if older, perspective.
Perhaps even a new video might spawn from the book and its stories. The pictures certainly give enough inspiration.