As a guitarist of some 53 years standing, I declare some bias in the writing of this post. Read on and you will understand. It will also become clear what this has to do with musician Steve Hofmeyr.
4 August 1991 – The Wild Coast of South Africa
South Africa has a way of producing irony. On August 4th, 1991, the Greek liner Oceanos [above] sank off the Wild Coast of South Africa. The very same South African coastline gave us on 26 February 1852 the sinking of the HMS Birkenhead. The story of that ship features in my book AmaBhulu. It was during this tragic event that the principle of “Women and Children First” was first implemented. The sinking of the Oceanos resulted in the exact opposite. This was to simultaneously become one of the most disgusting and heroic stories in maritime history.
Deserting the passengers
The captain Yiannis Avaranas [right] and his officers fled the ship, the latter commandeering a lifeboat, wilfully leaving the passengers to their fate. The captain was described by Tour Director Lorraine Betts as “the lights were on, but no one was home“. The captain tried three times to sneak onto the lifeboats.
Beyond Lorraine Betts and South African Navy Diver Paul Whiley, the heroes of the event were Moss Hills the Guitarist, Robin Boltman the Magician, and ordinary Afrikaner passenger Piet Niemand. The ordinary Greek seamen also remained and helped, despite being forsaken by their leadership corps.
The Entertainers to the Rescue
When the officers effectively evaporated, the rescue was coordinated by Hills [below], Boltman and Betts, with Hills turning himself into both radio operator and shipboard helicopter rescue boss. Navy diver Paul Whitey enlisted the help of passenger Piet Niemand, an ordinary Afrikaner passenger. These were the last two men off the liner shortly before it sank under the waves in full view of news cameras.
The excellent 6-part Youtube presentation by NBC’s Dateline programme may be found HERE. It really is worth watching as an excercise in seeing humanity simultaneously at its very best and its very worst. It is a study in ordinary men rising to the occasion even as those men formally trained and entrusted with the lives of their charges abandon ship first.
Hills was completely exhausted at the end of the rescue effort and arrived on land on a stretcher with a drip in his arm. When you watch the video, you will understand why. He is not a big man. He’s just the guitarist and he is human. Sixteen helicopters participated in the rescue from the badly listing ship and not one of the 571 passengers on board lost their lives. One fell 200 feet back into the water, but was rescued, albeit with internal bruising.
This event came to mind again when I read the report of South African musician Steve Hofmeyr being delegated via a crowdsourcing effort to meet with America’s incoming president Donald Trump. The president-elect already knows South Africa is ( to quote him) a “Very Dangerous Mess“. I’m sure he does not know HOW dangerous. The country’s engines are dead and it has been listing dangerously in the waves of reality, just as the Oceanos [below] was listing and being rocked.
South Africa’s much maligned white people have not had a leader worth dog scat since 1989. The result is that they are facing being run out of their own country and are facing genocide away from the glaring lights of the larger cities. White farmers are being murdered and tortured to death at rates that exceed the per capita casualty rates of the US Army in the Iraq War. And no formal political leader worth a grain of salt is in sight in the four wind directions.
God Bless the Musicians
Just like the Oceanos, South Africa is sinking, and it has fallen to the on-board musicians such as Steve Hofmeyr [below] and Sunette Bridges to take action on behalf of their people, because the formal leaders have effectively abandoned ship and left the passengers to their fate. As with the Oceanos, it will likely also take the help of a magician to address the situation and an ordinary Afrikaner may well be waiting to be again called upon.
I am no fan of Steve Hofmeyr. I have no idea whether there is any hope of Steve making it to an audience with Donald Trump. I have no idea whether Trump will listen. But there is something epic and heroic about this effort…. and I know Trump has a heart.
God Bless the Musicians and their hearts they cannot hide.