Thursday, 1 February 2018

George Bizos

George Bizos was the guest speaker at the Belgium Campus' 2018 Academic Opening Ceremony. I nearly didn't make it as this afternoon was a disaster of note, but I was so happy that I made it although 15 minutes late, but made it none the less.

Matthew's residence room has this small cupboard with hanging space and no shelves which is kind of lacking. He also needed a laundry bag so I stopped at Makro, which is what we call Walmart here to buy him a set of 3 draws and a fold away canvas laundry bag. Then set off to Pretoria for the Open Ceremony. But I didn't get far.

Thick toxic smoke started pouring out from the vents of my vehicle. My Ford Bantam pickup was on fire so I quickly pulled off to the side of the road, grabbing my phone and wallet I jumped out to safety all the while coughing my lungs out. Smoke continued to filled the cab but I could not see any flames. I saw that there was a petrol station nearby which will have fire extinguishers. So I opened the door and pulled the catch of the engine bay. I know that you shouldn't just open the bonnet which will only give oxygen to the fire but I didn't see any smoke in the engine bay so armed with a extinguisher I opened the hood. No fire in the engine bay, thank goodness but then it must be a electrical fire under the dashboard so I quickly unplugged the car battery which should stop the fire going any further. Still no flames but the smoke dissipated.

More problems that I just simply can't afford. So I phoned Discovery Insure, my insurance company and they sent out a recovery vehicle but they insisted that it was a mechanical problem and they won't cover it. What? I was upset! After disputing that claim, they agreed that they will tow my pickup to one of their yards and get the assessor and fire specialist to check the car out.

In the meanwhile I can get a 2 day courtesy car from Avis but by this time it was 4pm, the closest Avis at Ontdekkers closes at 5pm, the next one at Lanseria which was too far away closes much later. And I had to be in Pretoria at 6pm. By this time I resolved myself that I just going be late. On the way to Avis, I spoke to their call centre only find out that Avis in Ontdekkers doesn't have a car for me and that I should go to Lanseria. Now this was in the opposite direction and over my limit of 40km for the breakdown service that my insurance covers. At this stage, I was just trying to forget all my woes, Avis and their bad service, just take me home, I will go by Vespa instead.

Climbed aboard my rocket Vespa, loaded a spare helmet in the top box for Matthew to take him home afterwards, the washing bag, I hooked up in the foot well, and the set of drawers I wedged between myself and the top box. And I was off, like a rocket. Vespa to the rescue.

So I made it safely, only 15 minutes late and sneaked in during the first musical intermezzo. And the 89 year old George Bizos was helped onto the stage. Thank goodness I din't miss this historic moment. I remember writing about him, how he at the age of 13 and his father helped 7 New Zealand soldiers escape Nazi occupied Greece. Things went wrong and they were adrift for 3 days before a British warship picked them up. Long story short, he ended up as a refugee in South Africa and would become the famous attorney for Nelson Mandela. And now Matthew and I sat enthralled as he softly spoke about the trails and tribulations of becoming a lawyer and then defending his friend Nelson Mandela against the apartheid regime. He ended by saying that these current land without compensation is against what Mandela wanted and he (even at his age) will continue the fight to preserve what Nelson Mandela has brought us.

All my troubles this afternoon just washed away and it was such a pleasure to shake George Bizos' hand afterwards. He spoke to Matthew asking him what course is he doing at the university. What a privilege to be with such a wonderful man.

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