I liked walking on the slopes of Table Mountain.  Sometimes I’d walk alone.  Sometimes I’d go with my friend, Pierre.  We sometimes ran up the winding forest slope to the contour path, walk along the shaded path to the opening near the old Blockhouse.

We’d sit amongst patches of heather and wind-blown mountain flowers and watch the city below, cars scurrying to-and-fro.  Everything seemed insignificant here.

Once we climbed the staircase of Rhodes Memorial and stood before Rhodes’s statue.  An iron cheek slumped against an iron elbow, supporting an expressionless gaze to the north.  The placque said: ‘YOUR HINTERLAND IS THERE’.  ‘Cecil John Rhodes’, I jeered, ‘A cruel and greedy imperialist!’.  Our eyes drifted towards the statue of a muscular horseman on a bucking horse, hand above brow, gazing north.  Rhodes had envisaged a British Empire stretching from the Cape to Cairo.  The sickly empire-builder had drawn much of his inspiration from the Plutarch’s Lives of the great Romans and Greeks.

I turned to Pierre and said, ‘It little profiteth a man if he gains the whole world but loses his eternal soul’.  Pierre snapped, ‘Yes.  What’s your point, Mike?’

I had not expected Pierre to react like this so I chose my next words carefully, ‘Well, Cecil John Rhodes may have been successful in the material field.  He was, after all, a great financier and statesman.  He was the Bill Gates of his time – a milionaire at nineteen!’  I drew an arc over the Cape Flats and looked at Pierre, ‘Rhodes had a vision of the future.  There was hardly anything here in his time.  He could not have foreseen this.’  I drove my point home, ‘We may have our ambitions, and our vision of how things will be, but who could have foreseen the appearance of this city and of the people living in these houses?  Rhodes could not predict this outcome.  That was his failing.  He could influence and manipulate events, but he could not create people or determine their destinies. Like all of us, he was limited in his scope of doing things’.

I gave Pierre time to recover from my rant, ‘Doesn’t this give you faith in God, Pierre?  Only a supremely intelligent being would be capable of creation and diversity on such a well-organized and large scale.  Doesn’t that give you faith?’

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