Sunday, October 14, 2012


Location, sense of, missing: a condition affecting those who are normal in most respects but are lacking the personal GPS that tells them where they are and where they are supposed to be going. People simply don't understand how other people can set off to go somewhere and get lost.  That is, get lost between one street and the next, even round the corner from home. Or become disorientated after a visit to a department store just by walking out of a different door from the one they came in by.

Painting: Lost

We – yes, I am one – are honorary members of the Fukawi tribe of darkest Africa, discovered by some explorers who were camped in a clearing. They were startled when a group of natives staggered into the clearing and cried: "We're the Fukawi!"  For the friends and family of the afflicted one it can be either very funny or profoundly irritating, and nearly always baffling. They roll their eyes when they read a text that says "Am by brdge, trffic lghts, chch on corner – where am I?"  They give directions in baby-steps and never use the words north, south, east and west which are meaningless to us.

We of the Fukawi never venture out without a phone and a map. If driving we check out the route carefully first. But a lifetime of more or less successfully working around this endearing little disability has been no match for the forces of nature.  More than 12,400 earthquakes in Christchurch, and the heroic measures to repair the damage, have reconfigured the landscape to such an extent that even those with a properly functioning sense of location are sometimes challenged.

For the Fukawi it can be a nightmare, because they keep moving the roads around and a "DETOUR" sign causes instant confusion.  Intersections have been realigned and many of the buildings have disappeared. We can find ourselves in streets we've never heard of, and only by luck and the beneficence of the Supreme and Gracious God of Fukawi can we find our way home again.

That's us - we're the Fukawi and we say so – often.  

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