The 'lost' 10 days.... Gee, this was quite challenging...!

"Into Africa" More than a Motorcycle Adventure
Howard Fairbank
Mon 17 Feb 2014 18:48


17:51.29S 25:51.69E


7,th to 14th February, 2014


In my last post I was expecting to leave Livingstone the next day, or maybe the absolute latest that day after…. Well, that was not to be, ‘someone’ decided to teach me a lesson in patience, or else decided I needed some ‘anchored’ time…! In all I have spent 10 long, and quite frustrating days at Jolly Boys Resort, Livingstone.


The Angolan consulate in Durban, South Africa have made us wait all this time for visas, to visit, their clearly, very, “precious’, country….. A country that has the most expensive capital city in the world, Luanda! Maybe this visa begging process, it all part of the country’s ‘play hard to get’, strategy, but it’s clearly not conducive to feeling welcomed, nor setting a tone for efficient business practices.  At 15h09 yesterday, with an SMS message titled ‘Bingo’, Rob had the visas, our passports, and my open ended, Livingstone prison sentence, suddenly had a parole day.


If I’d known it was going to be 10 days of waiting, I’d have organised an exciting excursion somewhere. After all, I was in one of Southern Africa’s prime wilderness areas…! Unfortunately, however, this was one of those situations, where every day, Rob was told, “Next day” and so I had to deal with the preparing to leave the next day for 8 consecutive days. There was no apparent reason to do medium term planning, and so my days consisted of ! Not to mention the downer at the end of each of those hope fuelled, days, when not only Rob told me the bad news, but how he had been humiliated by the office personnel. The positive of all this was twofold: One I was made to appreciate the value of being free, and not to EVER take this for granted again. This was a classic case of negative freedom: One’s choice is unconditionally taken away by a ‘third party’, and then one is left with only one choice: To capitulate, but find, a lower level freedom, in the choice of how one deals with the prison, or to fight the prison and remain miserable and imprisoned, seeking reasons for the prisoner’s unfair actions. I chose the latter, and my world moved away from the now of my Africa expedition, to dealing with the plethora of issues that are linked to my recent purchase of my yacht, waiting in French Polynesia. In this pursuit I was very productive, but what surprised me was how this different focus challenged my motivation for continuing this Africa expedition. Thinking about the minute specifics of what is needed to cross the Pacific via the Southern Ocean route, is probably at the opposite extremity of dealing with the challenges of motorcycling up west Africa. It is quite tricky, but both mentally and emotionally stimulating, managing these huge and diversely different adventure worlds in relevant priority and context.


As a necessary distraction from the intensity of the sailing adventure, ‘work’, I was also reading a few interesting books. One of relevance to my Africa exploration was, “Richard Branson: Inside the Mask”. This is a book that I wouldn’t have expected to have chosen, but something, that third force, led me to buy it online. In casually following his high profile escapades, prior to reading this book, I always felt that there must be a wide gap between the realities of his well-publicised achievements versus their externally marketed, appearance. This book is fascinating in that it confirms exactly what I thought, that he is only concerned about making money, and being famous, and his true success falls miserably short of the publicly presented Empire. Sadly, in the ruthless pursuit of these capitalist goals, the world’s, highly emotive, and difficult to address, environmental and social issues merely get used, with clever, smoke and mirrors, as political footballs. Through very clever, and aggressive marketing, Branson is also able to position himself as a noble world citizen, really caring of the future of our threatened Earth. The difference between who it would seem he really is, versus how he is seen in the world is quite staggering to me. That the world accepts this level of marketing distortion, and actually buys into his story to the point of supporting it as authentic, is a tragedy to our human race.


The stories in the book, go beyond Branson, and highlight to me what I have discovered on this Africa trip, that the uncontrolled and increasing power of capitalism and the pursuit of wealth will be the demise of this planet. It also highlighted to me that many of the ‘other’ nobly marketed, leaders’ of the world, are similarly selfishly directed and that there are very few, truly authentic leaders on this earth who are prepared to really sacrifice their avaricious selfishness, in pursuit of a more noble goals.


One of my huge insights over the past ‘Simply Adventure’ years of exploration, has been how the power and sophistication of ‘marketing’ has developed, and its increasing power and influence in changing the world into what it’s owners desire. It’s powerful exploitation is rapidly making its inhabitants imprisoned, weak, and dependant, while cleverly creating their illusion, that they are liberated, strong, and independent!


In a society that prioritises the pursuit of increasingly more avaricious goals, and can combine sophisticated, technology advances, and the continual honing of the psychology of consumerism, with a ruthless, creative, and devious, marketing focus, that essentially, brainwashes, and thereby, exploiting  its resultant, ever more vulnerable, citizens. Citizens, whose identities are becoming increasingly more virtual, and linked to iconic brands, for societal belonging. This all being done, in society’s ever increasing, complex turmoil, and its exploited members’ more desperate  fight, for mere survival. Through this powerful marketing process, power hungry individuals, whose holistic persona, are not deserving of the societal status can be elevated to admired society icons, way beyond that deserving of their narrow expertise /mastery in a chosen field.     


Anyway, enough of this philosophical diversion for now, we will thank Richard Branson for that……


The only issue I really did struggle with in this 10 days ‘imprisonment’ , was an acute shortage of relevant, and stimulating, social interaction. Shared identity, or interest, is what this is about, the stuff that makes for real, human belonging. This is one of the challenges that has to be managed in this ‘Simply Adventure’, Way of life. It’s the other side of Freedom, the conflict is highlighted in these moments (10 days in this case!!) of real alone-ness. On the road, Freedom takes over, I’m stimulated by the novelty factor of new foreign interactions, and the ‘new light’ they throw the search for life’s truths through the specifics of that local environment, and it’s associated, human interactions.    


Yeah, and other than a long phone call to Ruth, Valentine’s Day was spent having a romantic dinner for one, at my favourite Italian restaurant: Olgas!


Oh well, I should be meeting up with Rob tomorrow, and we will no doubt have a few drinks and laughs over, the animated, blow by blow, details of each encounter in his Angolan visa experience.    


Last one from Livingstone…… Yippeee!