May Day 28: The Indian Ocean Awaits

Last leg to the ocean, we had only a short walk today, through the industrial area, and then on to the ocean. As we came round the corner to the bird park, I was absolutely stunned at the amount of well wishers who took the time, and for some, travelled so far, to join us. How can one ever say thank you? Your being there meant so much to me – my son and daughter are far away and were thus unable to join us. Having so many well known and loved faces there today really meant so much to me.

I had to keep looking over my shoulder as we all proceeded in a long colourful crocodile to the oceans edge, was this really happening?!

The Russell High school choir girls literally sang us to the sea, and it gives me goose bumps to remember that walk, surrounded by so many who love this river, all walking the last 2 kilometres with the beautiful songs accompanying us.

Emotions ran pretty high when we reached the point where the uMngeni River finally runs into the ocean.

This is the moment I had imagined so often before the walk – it was the one place & moment I would always envisage. The time when we would, foot sore and weary, finally walk into the ocean. I had always thought that this vision would be the one that would sustain me when, during the walk, I was tired and possibly fed up. But none of that ever happened and not once during the walk did I even think of the time we would reach the sea!

And so after a final water blessing, the water that we have carried with us from the source was returned to the river and ocean,

and the realisation that the walk had come to an end hit me.Thanks to Gary Cullen and the staff of Durban Green Corridor and Ethekwini Municipality for arranging the programme of activities including the puppet show that formed part of the official function thereafter and for the refreshments.  Speakers included the Honourable Mayor of Umgungundlovu, Mr Yusuf Bhamjee, eThekwini Municipality Speaker, Logie Naidoo and KZN Legislature Conservation Portfolio committee spokesperson.  We really appreciate your words of encouragement for raising awareness for the importance of our rivers systems and citizen action towards their restoration. Thank you to Sbu Khuzwayo and Riaz Jogiat for their work in arranging Mayoral support and messages and for their support of the team and the project objectives.  Thanks to the various mayoral offices who wrote letters recognising the legacy that we hand on to our children and highlighting the importance of education and citizen action programmes, including the Mayor of Mngeni, Councillor Mbali P. Myeni.  We hope to have copies of these letters and speeches on the blog soon.

Special thanks goes to Ronel Wood, choir mistress of the Russell Girls High Choir and to the Russell girls for the beautiful singing that accompanied the walk to the sea and for the performance of Gertrud Tonsings song, “I’ll sing of the wind in the grasslands.”  Thanks to Dave Still, chairman of DUCT for his encouraging words and call for our municipalities to ring fence funding from the municipal budget for environment.  It was so moving to see the camera work of Sphiwe Mazabuko come together in the short preview of footage of the walk.  Thank you for your dedication to the story of the river Sphiwe!

The River Walkers would like to thank Bart Fokkens for his huge support as ground support and his enthusiasm and encouragement during the final section of the walk.  We were treated BIGTIME! and made to feel very special.  We are really amazed at the work that the Durban River Care Teams are doing and are excited about all the innovative projects that Bart has shared with us including his passion for bio-control.  Thank you Bart for showing us the true heart of eThekwini!  Thanks too goes to Herbert for guiding us on the last day and telling us all about the work that is being done along this section of the river and for having such a heart for the people that use the river as it ends its journey at the sea.  We salute you!

After the official ceremony we were treated to a delicious supper cooked and hosted by the uMngeni Estuary Conservancy.  Thank you so much to Margaret Burger and conservancy members for  your hospitality at the Beachwood Mangroves.

We arrived at the Riverside Hotel in grand style for the last overnight of our journey.  The staff greeted us with such decorum although we must have been a sight (and smell!) to behold.  Our luggage (alias bin bags!) were loaded ceremoniously onto a brass bell hop by a handsomely dressed porter.  Preven hung his shoes (Duct taped toe and all) on a convenient hook and we all proceeded to the second floor unable to contain uproarious laughter, to take up our most luxurious accommodation for the night.  A huge thank you to Brendon Hackett and his team at the Riverside Hotel for your generous hospitality.

It will be strange to wake up tomorrow and not go off and walk all day. It will be strange not to be around my team all day, and hear the laughter and bantering, not to have them with me to share the highs and lows. I will truly miss working with them and being with them.

Tomorrow we will visit the beachfront,  Durban Green Hub and tour the Beachwood Mangroves…keep watching this blog : its not over yet!

Take care everyone, and millions of thanks and blessings to all our helpers and supporters who made this happen – you are all a part of a most wonderful Fellowship of the River.

And just to let you know that the list is growing of other rivers that were walked in May!

Submitted by Penny Rees


About Nikki Brighton

I live in Howick, between the river and the hills. I enjoy pre-dawn walks in the streets with my dog, sitting on the veranda with crochet and tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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2 Responses to May Day 28: The Indian Ocean Awaits

  1. Congratulations to the Company, from A Rocha South Africa! The friendships you have made all along the Umngeni are going to resource the river’s health and conservation for years to come.
    All good wishes


  2. Jean Martens says:

    Congratulations and thank you for what you have done…I am inspired by how the journey was planned, undertaken, and all those who rallied in support. Best wishes, all! Jean Martens, Maine, USA

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