Part 1. South Africa’s 3500km long and convoluted border line, which straddles the Indian Ocean from Kosi Bay on the East coast to Alexander Bay on South Africa’s cold Atlantic West coast, wanders diverse landscapes, cuts through socially complex and disparate communities, and demarcates where the developed super power economy of South Africa ends and the ‘rest of Africa’ begins.
I'd purposely started my borderline story for French GEO in Alexander Bay, the most northwest point of South Africa, situated on the southern Bank of the Orange river. A temperate zone abutting the cold Atlantic. A harsh place on a harsh coastline. This was to be the end stop on my borderline story. So why start here? Why start at the end? And it was not because it was the closest point to where I lived, Cape Town.
No, you see I wanted to be able to begin the narrative, visually piecing the story together, having already experienced the end. I was going to drive back to the beginning. As the crow flies, Kosi Bay, on the Kosi river, at the border with Mozambique, on the warm subtropical East coast, and the exotic Indian Ocean, was some 2000 km away from Alexander Bay. But I planned to hug the convoluted borderline, so that placed it at a greater distance. Some 4000km further. My journey total would be closer to 12,000km all in. I wanted to double up for experience and philosophical reasons.
We know the saying 'if I'd have known what I know now' reflects our capacity to learn from past experiences and make more informed choices in the future. In essence by starting in Alexander Bay, by witnessing the end, I would be seeing my journey's future. Therefore by having lived the past I could influence future actions and decisions.
With this in mind, my story opens with these pictures in Kosi Bay, as a series of three and I think about what was going through my mind as I strode across the sand to capture the joys and jubilation of these Tsonga boys. Their impromptu game of football on a sandbar in the tidal zone of the Kosi river estuary seemed to encapsulate so much about the beauty of this remote corner of South Africa. I could mentally slip back to the future and flip between to opposing realms. To Alexander Bay, cold, spartan and austere. Like another planet. Certainly another world.
And here and now in the sunshine and warmth, surrounded by tropical colours, temperatures, and mood. The Tsonga were gay people. Pastoralists and fishermen. Governed by a King. This was a great place for an Escape Artist to begin.