Hunting stories and other memories…

Our class martriculated in 1979, so it´s time for the 40th anniversary and a happy reunion. Those of us, who have remained in Wartburg, have kicked up a big storm and are just ready for the party to get going. Ingbert and Elona Hillermann have done a marvellous job of getting the stage set next weekend. Well, Elona – today is her birthday – even got me to pen down some thoughts to share as I´m not in a position to join the celebrations. So, here goes on a hunting episode:

That´s how it started in Wartburg-Kirchdorf High School in 1975 with Ms Illing, wife of the croc-hunter.

“It´s been a while and I sure am sorry, that I´m not around in Wartburg for this reunion with you celebrating our 40th anniversary of matriculation in the old South Africa. I´m doing my professional hunter´s license this month after going to classes for the past year, so I´m rather preoccupied. I have passed the various shooting tests and written exams last weekend and am now preparing for the oral next weekend. You can´t fault the Germans on their thoroughness in such training, but you all know that from our days back at school – old Straeuli was not one for cutting corners, was he? Nor were Böhmer, Bornheimer or Buschy – but let´s not go that way, shall we? Hearing that Albert and Cathy weren´t going to be around either, made it a bit easier on me even though I really would have liked to see them and Hugh & Jonathan – never mind hugging Annemarie, Christine and a few others real close for a change. It´s about time to repeat: Suikerbos ek wil jou hê… wat sal jou mama daarvan sê?”

Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê
Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê
Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê
Wat sal jou mama daarvan sê

Dan loop ons so onder deur die maan
Dan loop ons so onder deur die maan
Dan loop ons so onder deur die maan
Ek en my suikerbossie saam.

Hunting has stayed with me since my schooldays. It´s part of my mother´s family, although she always tried to keep me from those hunting forays. Her forebears were foresters and gamekeepers in what is today Poland and still sees some of the best hunting to date. My dad was hunting in Swaziland back in the days, when his parents ran Itshelejuba TB Hospital in those eastern parts of our homeland nearly 8 decades back. He not only treasured his huge spread of Impala quilts, but even tailored a jacket of Zebra skins to wear as student in Germany. Something like “Joseph´s coat of many colours”, which we showed off on stage in that musical production back in the days. It was my parents, who gave me my first rifle and my dad toasted me on my first successful hunt with the family .303. We had “Jägermeister” nogal.  I always fancied my chances to go bushbuck hunting with Albert on Blinkwater amongst those famous yellowwoods planted by his Seele grandfather. It wasn´t to be – at least not yet. Nor did I manage to catch up with Philipp Joosten in time. Together with his brother Andre, they were supposed to be the ultimate in boar hunting South of the Tugela, if the grapevine served me right. Well, he´s ahead of us in the eternal hunting grounds, but not for long now. We´re right on target too and heading home – to the “ewige Jagdgründe” over yonder in the evergreens across the great divide. Please rise as we honour those, who have gone ahead (Horst von Fintel, Ms Boulter, Carmen Surendorf, Philip Joosten, Dieter Uken, Werner Straeuli, Popeye Hoch, Bushy Hartmann, Hartwig & Martha Böhmer) and sing and jive together in anticipation: “Oh when the saints go marching in…”

“Das ist des Jägers Ehrenschild, dass er beschützt und hegt sein Wild, waidmännisch jagt wie sich’s gehört, den Schöpfer im Geschöpfe ehrt.”

After switching from BA Law to “BA Admissie” (in preparation for theology), I was drafted in 1983 and spent the best part of my military after the preliminary training sessions doing post-graduate studies in Philosophy and staying out on a game-farm at Murrayhill as lieutenant hunting impala, blesbok and zebra, if we weren´t interviewing Mk´s and other guerillas. After this strange interlude, I continued my studies in Germany for the last years of apartheid (1985-1992), married my wife Angelika, had 2 children and got to see some nice parts of Europe in the process before passing some more exams and eventually getting a call to serve back home in SA as Lutheran pastor in Wittenberg near the Swaziland Board. Right in another hunting heartland – daar in die ou Transvaal…daar waar my Sarie woon!” 

My Sarie Marais is so ver van my hart, Maar’k hoop om haar weer te sien. Sy het in die wyk van die Mooi Rivier gewoon, Nog voor die oorlog het begin. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Ek was so bang dat die Kakies my sou vang En ver oor die see wegstuur; Toe vlug ek na die kant van die Upington se sand Daar onder langs die Grootrivier. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Die Kakies is mos net soos ‘n krokodille pes, Hulle sleep jou altyd water toe; Hul gooi jou op n skip vir ‘n lange, lange trip, Die josie weet waarnatoe. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Verlossing die kom en die huis toe gaan was daar, Terug na die ou Transvaal; My lieflingspersoon sal seker ook daar wees Om my met ‘n kus te beloon. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

On the N4 they call “Mpumalanga: cultural heartland”. I really don´t know much about that, after all, it´s more of a hunting-heartland. Well, I got to shoot all sorts of game there – including the king of game birds (guinea fowl), but also a fair share of partridges, pigeons etc. various antelope, fallow-deer, warthogs, bush pigs, jackals. Venison and other game together with all sorts of indigenous mushrooms and a dark red right from the Cape of Storms – like a glass of “Swartskap” or “Skoonma” from “Hermanuspietersfontein“, probably is as close to heaven as we can get this side of Neptune, Mars & Venus. At that stage of the journey, I even farmed with some 50+ cattle and had about 250 geese. Not a bad life as old country priest, but I was not quite ready for retirement then. Angelika handcrafted down-blankets and -pillows, sold dairy products and local jams like mSobo and mGumgum, besides doing regular schoolwork with class rooms full of “pikaneens”. We had 2 more boys. One in the old, the other in the new SA. Both occasions were rather too exiting for us to recommend Piet Retief maternity ward, but I presume, we don´t want to talk about that either today.

In 2000 – we´re nearly finished and done – I got a call to serve at the LTS in Tshwane (Dis “Pretoria” vir die van ons, wat nie weet van Tshwane en ander sulke tale nie!) That´s where Angelika taught at our Alma mater and we spent happy & fulfilled 18 years. By the way, we nearly (!) lost the faith and converted to the “Blue Bulls”. Thank God, this close shave with apostasy and other terrible crimes and vices passed us by and we remained stuck to the “Sharks”. You will all understand the great relief in hindsight, but good finally prevails. Everybody knows that! Now we´ve found even greener pastures in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany and in the heart of old Europe. That´s where Angelika is teaching children once again and I´m preparing for my first deer hunt. The theory is done. The rifles are polished. What are we waiting for?

Lutherstadt Wittenberg: Elbauen

Dear friends – ladies and gentlemen – of the 1979 matric class, I miss you very much, but toast you with a hearty and joyful: Waidmanns Heil!” from our part of the woods. My dear wife Angelika and I invite you most cordially to visit us out here in the sticks and see the beauty of this wild stretch between Brocken and Fläming, which was near the end of the world in Luther´s time and Melanchthon called it “close to the freezing N.Pole”. Things haven´t really changed much since then and we can sing the somewhat changed ditty: Wittenberg ist´n schönes Städtchen, siehste wohl, weil es an der Elbe liegt, siehste wohl!”. Finally let me propose a toast from the end of the world to you back home and where it all began:

Happy hunting, while the season lasts, bugles call hounds to hunt hares, point pheasants, chase boars and mighty stags. Yes, as long as foxes bark, wolves prowl, eagles pounce in forests, glades and meadows, we´ll shoot straight and sing the maker´s glory!”  WW

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in biographies and other stories, Family and friends, Gedankensplitter, Histories, biographies and other stories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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