Alienation – The Extraterrestrials and You February 5, 2009Posted by Andreas in Life, Society, South Africa, Southern Africa.
I wrote this story for obrigado a while ago (it appeared in the mag slightly edited):
Alienation – The Extraterrestrials and You
Aliens have been among us for tens of thousands of years – ever since our hominid ancestors figured out how to lie on their backs to stare at starry summer night skies. “The simple act of looking up at an uninterrupted view of the sky triggers an automatic reaction in our brains”, says Cristo Louw, the Founder and National Director of SAUFOR (South Africa’s UFO Resource). “Not only do we physically see things from a wider, 180-degree perspective, but it opens the mind and allows us to think differently about some of the big questions, like “Where do we come from?” and “What is our place in the world?”.
Louw started SAUFOR, which currently boasts about 650 members, to collect reports of ETs and UFOs in South Africa. “It’s not my job to tell people what to think or believe”, he says, “I simply collect information to enable people to make up their own minds”. Approximately 70 000 UFO sightings are reported around the world every year, but Louw points out that studies have shown that as many as 90 percent of all sightings are never officially recorded as most people don’t feel free to talk about their experiences, even with members of their own families.
He estimates that in South Africa, encounters with aliens are reported about two or three times a week. Most of these are sightings of “balls of light” and spacecraft of various types, including triangular, saucer- and cigar-shaped vessels as well as larger motherships. Although less frequent, direct contacts with ETs and abductions also occur.
In 1965, two police officers, John Lockem and Koos de Klerk, saw a disk-shaped craft take off from the Pretoria-Bronkhorstspruit road in a pool of flames that left a circle of burning tarmac. In 1989, a South African Air Force Mirage is reported to have shot down a UFO near the Botswana border. In 1996, a glowing, disc-shaped UFO evaded pursuit by Col. Fred Viljoen in his police helicopter in the sky above the Pretoria.
In June 2004, Roshnie Naidu and her husband Shrirama filmed a “massive ball of light, much brighter than the sun” that pulsated in the sky outside their home in Phoenix near Durban, for about three hours. On 20 May 2006, numerous eyewitnesses saw a UFO crash into the sea just off Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal. An extensive sea and air search mission found no signs of wreckage.
Cynthia Hind, Africa coordinator for the worldwide organisation MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), has documented sightings in Zimbabwe, her home country, as well as Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Kenya. In 1951, for example, commercial airplane pilot Captain Jack Bichnell as well as his crew and passengers witnessed a metallic, bullet-shaped vessel suspended motionless near Mt Kilimanjaro for more than 15 minutes. Hind also interviewed 62 schoolchildren, who in September 1994 saw a small, pale-faced man with a long scrawny neck, huge eyes and long hair emerge from his spaceship that had landed in their schoolyard in Ruwa near Harare.
Two remarkably detailed accounts of long-term human-alien relationships stand out in the annals of South African UFO and ET research. One was a truly long-distance love affair; the other a tale of intergalactic communication.
In 1959, Elizabeth Klarer was whisked away by her alien lover Akon to his home planet Meton in the Alpha Centauri system where she gave birth to their son Ayling. Akon had watched Elizabeth, whom he believed to be the reincarnation of a former soul mate, like a guardian angel all her life. Before she turned ten he had used his spaceship on two occasions to save her from certain death, once by intercepting a meteor hurtling towards Elizabeth and on the other time by diverting a tornado twisting its way towards her.
Elizabeth, who grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal and studied music and art in Florence and meteorology at Oxford University, described Akon as “the most beautiful man” she had ever seen. He had fair skin, long white hair, grey eyes and wore a shiny, tight-fitting one-piece suit and on rare occasions a matching headpiece with slits for the mouth and eyes. Elizabeth spent nine blissful years on Meton (the equivalent of four Earth months), revelling in its advanced, peaceful and utterly utopian civilisation before having to return to Earth because Meton’s planetary vibrations didn’t agree with her.
Although she remained in regular telepathic contact with Akon, Elizabeth never saw him or Ayling in the flesh again before she died of breast cancer in 1994 at the age of 84. Her story is told in her book Beyond the Light Barrier, an unfinished manuscript called The Gravity Files and a chapter in Lauren Beukes’ Maverick: Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past.
In 1960 Edwin W., another KwaZulu-Natal resident, befriended a new work colleague who turned out to be Valdar from the planet Koldas in the Confederation of Twelve Planets. When Valdar returned to outer space he left Edwin with a modified radio through which he and other aliens, Wy-Ora, Kashendo, Taylanz and Vax Noah among them, transmitted messages to Edwin and a close-knit group around him called “Q” Base for nearly 20 years. In 1974 Confederation scientists invented a new method of telepathic transmission using Edwin as a medium that allowed two-way communication.
The Kaldasian messages kept Edwin and friends up to speed on cosmic affairs and provided much information about the alien’s advanced society. Earthlings may be comforted by the fact that the ETs, too, believe in an infinite, all powerful being, usually referred to as the “Divine One” with a son whose birthday is celebrated during the festival of Nixi Yacandi and that they have put in place an emergency evacuation plan for Earth, dubbed “Operation Fireball”, that will allow willing Terrestrians to be “resettled on another planet with similar environmental conditions”.
After years of perseverance, UFO researcher Carl van Vlierden gained access to transcripts and tape recordings of the transmissions and was eventually allowed to participate in the activities of “Q” Base himself. According to Cristo Louw, van Vlierden fled South Africa for Canada when the pressure on him became too intense after the publications of his books UFO Contact from Planet Koldas and The Twelve Planets Speak!, but Edwin is still believed to live in the Durban area.
Are these just the deluded ravings of assorted weirdoes who’ve gone off the chart on the whacko scale? Perhaps, but cynics will point out that millions of people around the globe have unflinching faith in one or other deity in the absence of any physical proof. Is God an alien? If we define aliens as powerful, higher beings who are not of this world, the question may be less blasphemous than it appears at first.
But why isn’t there more concrete evidence? Where are the museum displays of spaceship wreckage and ETs in formaldehyde? Believers like Louw have long known of a massive international conspiracy to cover up all traces. According to them, many of the supposed marvels of modern science, including lasers, integrated circuit boards, fibre optics and Velcro®, are in fact examples pirated alien technology.
If the right people do it, of course, the search for life elsewhere passes as hard science. For years, multi-disciplinary international SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) programs have received funding from governments and private sources to survey the sky with radio telescopes in the hope of detecting transmissions from other planets. The SETI League shows DIY enthusiasts how to convert satellite TV dishes into research-grade radio telescopes and anyone with an internet connection can enlist their computer in the effort by signing up for SETI@home. In 1973, Professor Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA and Nobel Prize winning biologist, proposed that the seeds of life on Earth may have been purposefully spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation in a process evocatively called “directed panspermia”.
And if you can’t find them, join them. The prospect of establishing permanent human colonies on Mars and the Moon may make the transition from science fiction (see for example Kim Stanley Robinson’s masterful Mars Trilogy) to reality sooner than you may think. No less a scientific icon than Stephen Hawking has called for massive investments towards that end as an insurance policy against the extinction of humanity on its home planet.
Most people today slot neatly into either of two X-Files categories when it comes to extraterrestrial life: the unbelieving, or at best perpetually sceptical “Scullys” who demand hard, scientific evidence, and the passionately convinced “Mulders”, ever ready to trust their own intuition and other people’s experiences. But do we really have to look to the stars to realise how truly strange and alien our world has become? A world in which Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal, our most celebrated chefs, serve us deconstructivist delicacies of molecular gastronomy like foamed beetroot, bacon-and-egg ice cream and snail porridge, in which in vitro meat is laboratory-grown far from the rump of a cow or the breast of a chicken; a world of which we claim to be the most advanced inhabitants even as we poison it with carbon dioxide and styrofoam hamburger boxes. Who then are the real alien freaks around here?