I began my blog, Canberra’s Green Spaces to write about gardens and green spaces. However blogging is often about storytelling, and in memory of one of my teachers, Mrs O’Brien, I decided to dedicate this post to her teaching and story-telling.
I was born and brought up in Zambia, and Zimbabwe, I loved reading and talking, and listening to stories. Yet my memory of school was of long boring lessons, mediocre grades, and being told by one teacher that I was ..“nothing but a flibbertigibbet!“
In my last year of school I changed from my high school in Zimbabwe to a tutorial college in Cape Town, South Africa. A tiny brown-eyed woman of about fifty introduced herself as Mrs O’Brien, our English and History teacher. As a newcomer to South Africa, I just hoped I would not be asked too many questions..
I did not need to worry, Mrs O’Brien began with the Australian poem by Banjo Patterson, The Man from Snowy River.
Some of these photos are taken from the movie, The Man from Snowy River… (The movie was shot in Victorian High Country near Mansfield Victoria.)
As Mrs O’Brien read and talked, the class was transfixed. Although I had not been to Australia I could see the horses charging over the gullies and through the rivers and past the stringy barks …Clancy’s gnarled Australian face was easily transported into our African classroom.
When I came to Australia I immediately recognised the landscape that Mrs O’Brien had easily portrayed through her reading of the poem. Yet she had not been out of the Cape Province. The power of the teacher, the power of the poem.
As good fortune would have it, Paul and I live close to the Snowy Mountains, and I often think of her, while we are walking in this rugged but beautiful countryside.
Mrs O’Brien’s greatest strength was teaching us South African history. Everything came alive, the Voortrekkers, the Zulus, the massacres, the peace treaties….
Just looking at these pictures of the Boer wars brought back memories..
The picture below belonged to my mother (who lived in South Africa when she was young). This was her favourite print, called The Great Trek 1838 and it depicts the hardships of people in bygone eras.
My family immigrated to Australia, and a few years later I married Paul. We went on a trip to South Africa and spent some time in the Drakensberg Mountains which held some of the turbulent history of the time. Needless to say, Mrs O’Brien’s words and stories remained with me.
At the end of the year, I went back home, we immigrated to Australia and I never saw Mrs O’Brien again. I hope she kept on teaching and telling stories, and how lucky I was to spent time listening to her stories.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog post today.
May the sun shine and the days be cheerful where ever you are in the world today.
Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved ..