Songs in the land of the Bushmen

Posted on: Saturday, 3 November 2012
Comments: No comments

I am finishing off a song which I first started more than 25 years ago. It’s called “We were the first” – second line; “We were the innocents”.  I never finished it even though it’s got a pretty melody and lyrics seemed to be saying something. The trouble was I could not quite work what – it’s sometimes like that. And as well I couldn’t quite finish off the tune so I put it down and forgot about it.

Until last year. I was travelling with my good friend Ben and some others in Namibia. We were camped in the bush in the middle of a huge volcanic crater in the Erongo Mountains. After pitching tents under the brambly trees, collecting some wood for the evening fire, we wandered into the  broken bouldered granite outcrops that surrounded us – Black Eagles watching us.

With us was  Walter Peiffer a  gentle bearded German-Namibian who was a friend and passionate advocate of the Bushmen of the Kalhari: a beautiful golden people who had lived in this empty valley long ago hunting and dancing  and thriving in a unique relationship with the wildlife and landscape that surrounded us.  An ancient, perhaps the first, people who have been systematically hunted, dispersed and  murdered by other African tribes but mostly Dutch and British settlers.

Up amongst the rocks, on a granite wall we came across paintings in red: figures of men with spears; antelope, giraffe, buffalo; women standing in a line were they singing and dancing? A silent testimony to a disappeared people. We wondered when they had been painted and when they had last been looked at.

Then later; perched on my own on a rocky outcrop I watched the sunset turn the mountains on the far side of the plains to an original catch-breath ochre, amber and dusty gold, for the first time in decades I found myself singing:

We were the first,

We were the innocents

The First to stand in line,

To suffer for a crime we took no part in,

To suffer for a lie, we took no heart in,

We were the first, we were the first, we were the first.

And I knew then what the song was about: The tragedy of losing who you are.

Leave a reply

 

Latest news

Catch Me When I Fall

The songwriting compulsion continues. We’ve been back in the wonderful Woodworm Studios working with engineer Stuart Jones again  on two tracks: Diamond and The Gambling Man and Catch Me When I Fall. The first is the tale of two wandering spirits whose paths intersect and they ramble together for awhile. Eventually they take different trails […]


Read more »

 

Steve launches The Artisan Manifesto !

What do you call real music, played on real instruments (perhaps for real people !! ) With the failure to find a single word mostly it seems we resort to a list: acoustic; blues; folk; roots; world; Cajun; trad jazz; Americana, etc. Somehow instinctively people sense they are bound in someway. Well they are! They are […]


Read more »

 

 

Previous News Stories

  • September 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • February 2015
  • December 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • June 2014
  • March 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • Steve Bonham

    Steve Bonham

    Writer and musician

    steve@stevebonham.net

    07711 788 248

     

    © Steve Bonham 2016