Rio da Dúvida – The River of Doubt

Gallery

The River

“The mightiest river in the world is the Amazon.  It runs from west to east, from the sunset to the sunrise, from the Andes to the Atlantic. The main stream flows almost along the equator, while the basin which contains the affluents extends many degrees north and south of the equator.”

Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

The New Year is a beginning.  And when there is a beginning, there seems to be an undercurrent of promised adventures.  Humanity has always been fascinated by the unknown, the thrill of discovery, and the prospect for advancement.  What is less understood is the concept of risk.  Where there is the opportunity for reward, there is always a likelihood of some form of peril.

This River flowed northward toward the equator, but whither it would go, whether it would turn one way or another, the length of its course, where it would come out, the character of the stream itself, and the character of the dwellers along its banks – all these things were yet to be discovered.”

Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

Theodore “T.R.” Roosevelt, Jr. was a man of action and adventure.  His high-spirited personality and robust appearance belied his sickly childhood clouded by the presence of asthma. Courage and determination pushed him forward, despite losing his first wife and mother on the same day, February 14, 1884.   At 42, he became the youngest President of the United States and the first of three sitting presidents to win the Nobel Peace Prize.   His terms in office were eventful:  The acquisition of the Panama Canal Rights (1904); the Russo-Japanese War (1904 – 1905), the San Francisco earthquake (1906) and the Panic of 1907 where the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year.  Yet Theodore Roosevelt’s most dramatic adventure was 1913 – 1914 when he teamed up with Cândido Rondon, Brazil’s most famous explorer to follow the River of Doubt, an uncharted tributary of the Amazon, one of the most dangerous and treacherous rivers in the world.  Confident at the outset, the hardships, losses and sickness challenged their resolve. Surviving became a daily goal.

The expedition changed the map of the western hemisphere and the name of the river: Roosevelt River.   In his letter of May 1, 1914 to His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rio de Janeiro, Theodore Roosevelt wrote “My dear Sir, I thank you from my heart for the chance to take part in this great work of exploration.”

Once an adventure starts, there is no telling where it will lead.  As we head into a New Year, may we be open to new ideas and possibilities, to seek the greater good, and to strive with great enthusiasm.

On the Banks of the River Mbashe

Image

Autumn Rose

 

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” 
 Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

The Mbashe flows in a south-eastern direction from its source, Drakensberg, NE of Elliot, Eastern Cape of South Africa through an estuary by the lighthouse at Bashee, to its mouth, the Indian Ocean.   With a basin area of 6,030 km², its tributaries are the Xuka, Mgwali, Dutywa and the Mnyolo rivers.  On the banks of the Mbashe, the small village of Mvezo recorded the birth of a boy on July 18, 1918.  He was named Rolihlahla Mandela.    In the Xhosa language, Rolihlahla means “pulling the branch of a tree,” or “troublemaker.” Whether or not this was a foreshadowing of what his destiny would be, Nelson Mandela changed the way the world fought against social injustice. Facing insurmountable odds, he walked the long and difficult road to freedom – not only for his people, but for all who yearn for peaceful and fair-minded solutions.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires” 
 Nelson Mandela

Today, twenty-two kilometres away from his birthplace, Nelson Mandela came home to Qunu, the place he grew up and remembered as his happiest moments.  Nelson Mandela once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” 

Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest.  Even so, his voice, like the River Mbashe, continues to flow and nourish. We will carry on with his work, inspired by his life and vision.

Tread softly,
Brathe peacefully,
Laugh hysterically.”

Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)