WELCOME HOME,” said Reverend Mpho Tutu, daughter of our iconic peacemaker, to the crew of Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokule‘a when they arrived in Cape Town this week.
She was speaking of the ancient African roots that grew into humankind – a moving tribute to the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, which is a four-year, 60 000 nautical mile journey around the world by the traditional Polynesian double-hulled canoe.
Malama Honua means “to care for the Earth”, and the voyage aims to reconnect peoples around the world to unite in a common bond to care for our planet ( if we’re to survive).
Reverend Tutu said that the voyage “harks back to our oneness.” “To the starting point of our interconnectedness and our human journey.”
This voyage of the boat, which has been sailing for 40 years, began in 2013 and ends in 2017 when another team of navigators will guide her back to Polynesia after sailing around the world.
They are now halfway. According to Hawaiian journalist Derek Ferrar, who has been covering the South African stop for Hawaiian Airlines magazine Hanahou, they could not be further away from home.
However, a spirit of friendliness and caring made them feel they had never left.
Speaking just before he flew out from Cape Town, he said: “Every- where we went in South Africa, it was overwhelming how welcoming people were. I experienced aloha.”
Aloha is the Hawaiian equivalent of ubuntu, the collective thread that holds humanity together. The Hawaiian version of saying “Welcome Home” consists of placing a garland of flowers around a visitor’s neck. This expression of aloha was the same as ubuntu (“I am what I am because of who we all are”). In the garland, it is symbolically represented by the string that connects the flowers.
It also brings to light another fascinating link between Hawaii and South Africa: legendary water- man, surfer and lifeguard Eddi Aikau.
Ferrar says that Eddie died in 1978 paddling to get help for a boat that capsized – the very same boat that’s in Cape Town this week, the Hokule‘a. However, I digress.
In 1972, according to Ferrar, Eddie was invited to compete in the Gunston 500 in Durban.
It was the height of apartheid and, of course, when he went to check in at his hotel, he was escorted out by security.
He had nowhere to go, and wandered bewildered around Durban before Ernie Tomson, father of 1977 world surfing champion Shaun, came to the rescue, and he stayed with them.
The Tomson family – Shaun was a mere grom at the time – introduced him to an Australian surfboard shaper, Darryl Holmes and his wife Lynne, who were living in Durban.
Surfers, of course, knew what a legend Eddie was. The Holmes threw a party for him, then took him on a 1000km road trip (after his contest ended on Day 2 of the Gunston) in their VW Kombi to Jeffrey’s Bay.
Eddie was to later say they surfed “their guts out” and then had dinner, after which he took out his guitar, showing them the Hawaiian “slack key” style and
RAISING A TAIL: Beyrick de Vries of South Africa taking second place in his Round 2 heat at the Hawaiian Pro, Ali'i Beach Park, to advance to the next round.