After 56 days on the road and a 1 500km trek from Cape Town, South Africa’s war piper for mighty men, James Mc Gowan (aka Piperjames) has reached his destination — the Mighty Men Camp, KZN at Mooi River.
At least, I am assuming he has by the time you read this: as I spoke to the somewhat breathless piper he had just crested a ridge where he could see the campsite location some 5km ahead. The MMC KZN is taking place in the Hidden Valley, on the farm Southern Cross from October 21 to October 23.
Piperjames said nearly 1 500 men had signed the wooden cross and flag he carried on his journey, as their pledge to attend MMC camps in various parts of South Africa. He said he had taken only one day off during his long walk. He had unfortunately had to accept some lifts along the way because of bad weather.
He said he had played his bagpipes in hundreds of towns along the road, and that while on his knees at 3am this morning he had confirmed his commitment to play his pipes for the rest of his life to draw people to Christ.
He said that one of the goals of his walk was to inspire men to stay the course. He said that this was important, as it was up to ordinary men to keep the Mighty Men movement going. After hosting Mighty Men camps on his farm, Shalom, for 10 years, MMC founder Angus Buchan decided last year, to hand over the baton to younger men. Since then MMC event have been held in Paarl, Polokwane, Middelburg and Mooi River. And next month (from Nov 11 to 13) there will be a MMC in Tosca, in the Kalahari.
At his last stopover, Piperjames piped at Shalom, which is only 50km from Mooi River. After leaving the farm he saw a rock on the road that looked like Africa.
“This reminded me that Christ only ever took refuge in Africa,” he said.
The colourful 50-year-old piper, who has played at Queen Elizabeth’s dinner table, the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, the Edinburgh Military Tatoo (as the lone piper), the opening of the South African Parliament, and at the 2011 Mighty Men Conferences in Paarl and Middelburg, said he happily became eligible for South African citizenship this week.
Throughout his long walk piperjames wore a kilt made of the Mighty Men tartan, a Christian inspired tartan, that was designed by his wife, Ina, and registered on the World Scottish Tartan register.
After this weekend’s camp Piperjames said he was getting baptised in Durban.