Ex Africa semper aliquid novi: the "dark" continent
|Basotho herden on the Black Mountains|
I love both North and South America for certain, and Eurasia is grand in every way. I'm sure Australia is just peachy, but Africa is where the last of the vast herds of ungulates that sustained and co-evolved with early humanity still persist in a few last strongholds.
|Kniphofia caulescens (albomontana) on Oxbow, Lesotho|
If I had to name two of the most gorgeous spots I have ever botanized on Planet Earth, Oxbow (above) and Sani Pass (below) would surely be in the top ten. You can glimpse the incredibly protean and variable Kniphofia in another of my blogs. Notice the throng behind the big clump!
|Alpine meadow on Sani pass filled with Helichrysum album and Rhodohypoxis|
I'm thinkiing I should dedicate a whole blog to the meadow where I photographed this--at 9000' or so on Sani Pass--I have no end of vignettes I have taken there over the years, each with a different assortment of treasures: there must be literally hundreds of species of choice alpines growing on that spot, one more beautiful than the next. I have been enormously privileged to have taken six trips to South Africa over the last few decades--and these have constituted some of the most wonderful days and hours of my life. Of course the impetus for these trips was largely due to researching hardy succulents.
|Delosperma 'Fire Spinner'|
And this one is the kicker...'Fire Spinner' has created quite the stir this year (another blog!). Although I have not found this remarkable species in the wild yet, I can't help but wonder if Delosperma 'Firespinner', introduced by the Plant Select program will be the last surprise "ex Africa"? I truly doubt it!
Policy wonks predict that Africa (currently the poorest Continent economically--excepting perhaps Antarctica and Greenland...) is poised in this century to utterly transform much as Asia has in recent decades. The population has burgeoned enormously in the last century--and great growth will have frightening costs for the environment--even as it creates opportunities for young Africans: life is a double edged sword.
What does this have to do with Martin Luther the King (as my pre-school daughter used to call him), or Obama for that matter? Not much--perhaps. Except that these two figures who have done so much to galvanize and transform perceptions about African Americans in our body politic share with the many plants I treasure from their ancestral continent a sort of majesty and capacity to dazzle and summon, perhaps, some deep, evocative--perhaps atavistitic--memory in many of us of our very origins on the steppes and acacia covered savannahs of Africa--the "dark" continent that shimmers..