Published: November 3rd 2006October 5th 2006
We called a Bahá’í friend named Ghirmay, drove into Bloemfontein, got lost, and called him again. His wife Flora was in Zimbabwe and expected to be gone for a month. He turned out to be a tall, lanky, Eritrean structural engineer with a kind and quiet demeanor. He immediately offered us a place to stay. He was very warm and welcoming, and he asked Bob if he would like to help him that night during a Bahá’í Ruhi Book #1 class. While I was napping and trying to rid myself of a cold, Bob helped Ghirmay with the class.
Because Afrikaans, which is derived from Dutch, is one of the official languages of South Africa, we’ve found that people are quite able to pronounce our name correctly. In Lesotho, there has been no real Afrikaans presence, and so people there could not pronounce it correctly. In the Province of the Free State, where Bloemfontein is located, we heard it said correctly again.
The following day I spent recuperating in the sunlit home, while Bob went exploring. He found his way to the Oleiwehuis Art Museum; a charming Dutch colonial estate had been built in the 1930’s and 40’s and
was located on wonderfully beautiful grounds on the north side of Bloem. The main exhibition was a series of wonderful photographs by Roger Ballen. He is a Johannesburg photographer who photographed models and interiors in many of the poverty stricken mixed-race communities of South Africa. The museum also had a wonderful sculpture garden that contained examples of work by many of the best sculptors in South Africa. Bob managed to talk to the curator of the Oleiwenhuis, who was quite interested in his work and offered to share a CD of Bob’s work with the museum’s exhibition committee at their next meeting.
During the afternoon Bob visited the sprawling campus of the University of the Free State including the campus gallery and the art department. The school has separate programs in studio art and art history. He obtained program catalogues from each and talked for awhile with a young woman in the art office. She invited him to stop in and visit an intense welding workshop that was being taught by a guest artist and told him there would be a workshop the coming weekend on indigenous knowledge and its use in art. He was quite impressed.
There are more photos below