Tuesday, 27 April 2010
I met Buzz Aldrin when he came to Johannesburg many years ago. I had to accompany Marli Kelly on the pinao. She was asked sing a song before Buzz spoke. I sat next to him on the platform. His wife and daughter was with him.
The first thing I noticed was his funny shoes. He explained that all the men who went to the moon returned with some physical defect. 'We're not made to walk on the moon,' he told me. The arches of his feet sank permanently and he had to wear specially built up shoes.
He wasn't a believer on the way to the moon but after that experience and on the way back he changed his mind. 'There has to be a God if you see how beautiful the earth is from space,' he told me.
My grandmother on my mother's side saw a vision in 1965 of a man in a cumbersome white suit walking on the moon. He was wearing a helmet. We laughed at her and sometimes even mocked her as we watched the full moon rising.
'There's Ouma's man on the moon!'
In 1968 my granny sat at the kitchen table of my Uncle in P.E. listening to the radio anouncing the first landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong's famous words came over the air from outer space,'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!'
They named Buzz Lightyear after Buzz Aldrin. The comic character always goes beyond existing borders: to infinity and beyond!
Buzz told me about the extreme tests they had to go through to eliminate all the hopefulls until they only had a handful men left over to select the first team to walk on the moon. They had to be made of the right stuff. They had to be able to handle extreme pressure. If you make the wrong decision up there you destroy the mission and the men who are with you.
J. F. Kennedy said, 'you ask, 'why go to the moon?', and I say, 'why not?' We choose to go to the moon!'
I remember those days. There were some old folks who refused to believe it was happening. They said,'it's a capitalist trick of the Americans!' Just like the guy they found in the jungle who was still fighting the war in Borneo 32 years after the war had ended!
Bob Dylan sang, 'The times they are a changin',
ccome gather round people wherever you roam,
and admit that the waters around your head has grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to be here is worth saving
And you better start swimmming or you'll sink like stone
For the times they are a changin'
A prophet in song, Dylan, for surely times have changed, incredibly. And those who do not change with it, fall far behind...in business, education, electronics or church...especially church...they want to continue as if their rituals are everlasting...and the times have already changed!
Buzz is a comic character to today's kids - to me he was a real hero.