EXPLORER of the continent, author and ex-Toti local, Peter Frickel (86) intends on making a visit back to his homeland, hoping to rekindle friendships and recall fond memories of the town he grew up in.
Born in Amanzimtoti in 1931, in a home on the hill that overlooked the Indian Ocean, Peter’s father was Dr HW Frickel and his mother the nurse, Mabel L Frickel. Both cared for the local villagers, the Zulu king and many of the Zulu people in the vicinity.
A few years later the family moved into a big home on the other hill next to the then – Amanzimtoti Hotel. Their next door neighbour was Mrs Burns, a retired English school teacher who had taught in India for many years.
“I attended Amanzimtoti Government School. Mrs Kingslees was principal and a delightful Miss Carter assisted her,” explained Peter.
“I ‘graduated’, moving on to boarding school at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg and went to University of Natal.
Around 1948, after the war, the Frickel family all moved to Durban.”
After graduating with a degree in economics, fluent in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and well versed in Latin, Peter made plans to trek across Africa.
Starting at the Cape of Good Hope, the southern most tip of Africa, he made his way up to the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, the gateway between Africa to the Middle East. Hiking most of his homeland and the neighbouring nation of Mozambique, he journeyed by foot wherever possible. He would see more from the road.
He intended to go more places and meet more people. For two years he walked the length and breadth of Africa, the Middle-East and Europe.
Paddling the piroque on great rivers, crossing deserts by camel caravan, journeying over mountain ranges and through the Great Rift Valley are memories forever imprinted in his mind.
The sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Africa are evident in his stories, which are rich with vivid details
Nights in the wild, Peter lay down on the African earth, sleeping beneath a canopy of stars. He hunted and fished for food and made friends on the road with strangers who welcomed him.
From the African soil he traveled into the Middle East, across Europe finally to London, England where he worked on the London Stock Exchange. This exciting work would take him to India, the Far East and Australia.
Peter now lives in America. “Florida is an exciting place to live in between my trips overseas,” explained the traveller.
As a young boy, he dreamt of joining the French Foreign Legion, exploring the great continent of Africa and visiting the seven wonders of the world. He saw them all, except the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a decision made by the flip of a coin during his travels. “Heads goes west,” he still recalls.
“I plan to come and see my family in and about Durban sometime this year, hoping to spend time and reminisce in Amanzimtoti. From my Google research it appears to be just another place, so changed, yet it still it holds most of my heart,” he said.
Peter’s e-book, Lilies of the Vlei depicts much of what ‘little boy Peter’ did when growing up in Amanzimtoti. Other e-books he wrote include River, My Frog Sings and Lotha and the Three Crosses. A deep feeling for Africa resonates in all his work. The author is a member of the Florida Writers Association and Sarasota Writers Group, having been published in Scene Magazine in Sarasota, Natal Mercury in South Africa and several African countries.
“Often I wonder whether some of my childhood friends are still around Amanzimtoti,” said Peter. “Allan and Barry Proctor, Owen and Dennis Harmsworth, Rudy and Horst Murky, the Fullaghar boys, Connie Conway whose dad was the station master to list a few. I will have to come and see.”
Below is some of the artwork Peter creates with his words.
“You will have no idea of the beauty of Africa if you do not visit its wide-stretched Savannahs that lay flat for prancing, growling, multiplying animals, and climb its mountains that hold snow for all seasons.
It is a land fed by rivers that sneak through impenetrable jungles, that hide snakes and crocodiles, that throw blood-curdling screams over waterfalls and mournful cries across rapids in the valleys. The lakes of Africa are filled with hippopotamuses and hold a thousand different species of fish that cannot see the grass bend or hear the moan of the wind across the veldt.
There is an ever–stretched coastline of soft silken sand from end to distant end held by waters, blue, green, salty, disturbed with raging temperaments and mean moods — their names do not matter.
Lightning and storms come in seasons, they always come and everything seems to bow to the word of God.
Yes, there are deserts, with miles and miles of lifeless, burning sand, with cracked rocks that hold the freeze of night.
Across this land of Africa there is death, there is pain, there is suffering, there is injustice, there are the great swarms of locusts, there is the drought without love brought by the devil himself — the witchdoctors tell me so.”
– Peter Frickel
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