Daryl Ilbury

African Sky Blue…will you see me through?

In Eish! on December 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm

African Sky Blue over Newlands

Perhaps it’s time for a story that’s a little more personal.

My first piece for the City University MA Science Journalism website Elements was called It’s a SAD time of the year. It was about Seasonal Affective Disorder – a disorder that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the further reaches of the northern hemisphere every year at this time.

It’s brought on by the shortening days and is triggered by the pineal gland, a small pine-nut shaped gland in the middle of the brain. It’s chief function is to secrete melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep/wake cycle.

As the skies grow dark the pineal gland tells us it’s time to sleep, but the bright lights of the workplace tell us to remain with our shoulder to the wheel. As the days grow shorter, the pineal gland kicks in earlier, other parts of the brain fight it, and the result for many is SAD.

The symptoms include deep anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, physical fatigue, sexual problems, social withdrawal and suicidal tendencies.

Quite ironic that it should co-incide with the season to be jolly.

I have to admit that as a South African living in London, it’s hit me quite hard. Travelling underground on a packed tube last Friday, I was reminded of the photo (above) my son had just e-mail through from the cricket at Newlands; and Johnny Clegg’s “African Sky Blue” [click here to listen to it and to follow the lyrics] started filtering into my mind , especially the lines…

The warrior’s now a worker and his war is underground
With cordite in the darkness he milks the bleeding veins of gold
When the smoking rockface murmurs, he always thinks of you
African sky blue, will you see him through?

God, I miss it.

  1. big love mining warrior

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