It has come to that time of year, travel time. I decided that for the first time in my life it was off to an African country. And as far as I’ve heard I’ve chosen a whopper. Kenya is a stunning country and I recently discovered they have incredible islands too. One of which is Lamu (in the Lamu archipelago).
So that is where I am off to for two weeks. No internet, no cellphones, no technology. Nothing. I cannot wait.
See you all on the other side of 2008 and beginning of 2009. Have an incredible time over the holidays.
I read the newspaper yesterday. Can you believe it? I consumed dead tree media, nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised to read a story about ±300 expats who are rallying together to create an organisation that will begin to promote and assist South Africa in growing and developing effectively.
I love the idea. The organisation is pegged as “Global South Africans” and features the most successful and influential South African expats gathering together to pool their resources and networks to help their homeland.
According to the article these people were often branded as “sellouts” when they left SA. But now they are on a warpath to make things better.
One of the most interesting things about this initiative is that these people have undertaken to discover the truth about the country so they can begin to educate the people within their networks about the situation in SA. For example: “Eskom chairman Bobby Godsell addressed the London-based members on the “real facts” of South Africa’s electricity future, so they could relay the message to their investor friends.”
Apparently some government representatives have come out stating that they dislike the elitist nature of the organisation. Apparently the organisation claims they will have over 800 members within two years. I don’t think there is anything wrong with those who have money and influence pulling together to make a difference. Isn’t this what we keep asking the rich and famous to do? To get involved?
I have long been a massive fan of Zapiro’s work. He is subtle and harsh at the same time, can be filled with innuendo or blatant points poking fun at everyone and anyone who he believes deserves a bit of poking. The man is a genius and is recognised widely as such and hated by many if they feel poked at.
I don’t often take part in chain blog posts, but this one I quite enjoyed and Rafiq tagged me so what else could I do?
To set it straight to start with, I blog about South Africa. South Africa is in Africa and Africa is a moving, culturally rich and incredibly curious continent. So to begin, that is probably why I like to live in Africa and blog about a country within Africa.
I could wax lyrical all day about South Africa as you mostly know, I’ve done it for just under two years on this blog. Two years, wow. Anyways moving swiftly onwards to the points:
This is my home so I embrace it
SA is entrenched in my being and has defined me as a human being and doing
I choose to stay here in spite of being able to leave so while I am here, let me make a difference
Africa breathes potential
Africa exudes excellence
Africa promotes triumph
If you can make it in Africa you can make it anywhere in the world
South Africa is only beginning its journey to recovering and greatness, I want to be there through it all
This is why I blog about Africa and South Africa. I am nothing without South Africa. It has defined me, built me, created me and inspired me. I need South Africa more than it needs me.
Now here’s a South African who’s doing wonders in the online shopping world – especially the realm of handmade things. Heather Moore of Skinny Laminx has been selling her products through Etsy for a couple of years now, and has created quite a name for herself both locally and internationally. If you’re interested, she has fantastic blog of her own and also blogs for Elle Deco.
Now, I asked Heather some questions about what she’s been doing and here’s what she had to say:
What exactly are you making and selling online?
Tea towels, handbags, cushions, badges, laser-cut Christmas decoration, hand-decorated mugs and in the New Year, an exciting kiddies range too!
How did you get into selling handmade things?
It all started with a silkscreen kit and a studio, and a bit of spare time. I like to make things, and I started selling them to give myself a reason to keep on making more.
Where do you get your ideas/inspiration for your products?
It’s hard to say. I often sit down to design something, thinking that I know what I want to do, and end up making something completely different. I tend to be drawn to designs from the mid-20th Century, and in particular, to Scandinavian design from that era.
Do you have any particular Christmas products, gifts or specials?
I’ve been running a shipping special in my online shop, but this mostly affects customers from abroad. I’ve also been turning my paper cut designs into laser-cut Perspex Christmas Decorations, which I’m really pleased with. However, it’s been so extraordinarily busy over this season, I haven’t got these into my online shop, and they’re only available at O.live in Kloof St, and from my market stall at the Neighbourhood Goods Market (both in Cape Town).
If you’re interested in buying any of Heather’s products, you can see her etsy shop here. Hope you like as much as I do!
Yesterday I actually used social media to discover a new South African band that is putting themselves out there and sticking with the changing times.
The Watermark High started following me on twitter yesterday.
Luckily I was intrigued by the name of the follower and didn’t disregard them as one of the many twammers out there.
Why I immediately became intrigued by the band is simple. It’s not often that a local band will simply create music and give it away. The industry here is too tough for that. It’s hard work here to make good money from music so many bands keep it close, don’t release their tracks for free download before they’ve made it big in some way.
After mentioning that I discovered the music online I was soon informed that via one degree of separation I actually knew the social media muso. What a pleasure.
So what’s the deal? Simple, The Watermark High is a band from Gauteng, South Africa. Post-Rock / Electronica / Indie / Ambient. It’s that easy. You can download the EP from their MySpace pageor just click here. It is the solo release from Paul van der Walt.
I am really impressed that the music doesn’t fit in to one of the more popular genres of the moment in SA. Right now you have rock, hip hop, rnb and pop in SA. This is what sells.
The ambient approach that The Watermark High takes to their rock is refreshing and listenable and I am in awe. It’s great.
When you download the EP you are confronted with 4 tracks and a Word document to read. This is what they have to say:
Thanks for downloading The Watermark High’s new 4 song EP, “Disappear With Me”. If you like what you’ve heard then please help us out by telling all your friends about us. Either encourage them to download the EP as well (by going to www.thewatermarkhigh.co.za), or feel free to burn them a disc. It’s free, we just want to get the songs out there!
We’d really love to hear from you. Please join us on Facebook and Myspace and comment! Also keep checking those pages for the latest information on shows, news, videos etc.
All songs were entirely recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Paul van der Walt, between January and April 2008, between his bedroom, garage and the band’s practice space.
Lyrics by Paul van der Walt.
Cover artwork by Zoology Design Studio (www.zoology.co.za)
The Watermark High Live: Paul van der Walt (guitar and vocals), Robin McDonald (drums and beats), Tjaardt Swanepoel (guitar) and Sandra Smit (bass).
Thank you for listening.
Reading that document I was sold. To quote: “Either encourage them to download the EP as well (by going to www.thewatermarkhigh.co.za), or feel free to burn them a disc. It’s free, we just want to get the songs out there!” That’s it, that’s the way music is going, going, gone. And they are right there with the movements of the industry. Lovely.
Just in case you aren’t convinced that the band gets it, here is where you can find them:
I blogged photos and a more detailed blog post about the Debeers mining ship previously on SA Rocks.
I know have a video from the day up on Zoopy! Here it is, watch and let me know what you think of Peace in Africa, the offshore mining ship. It really was a wonder of technology in Africa and the World.
Over the past ten days I cannot express to you effectively the magnitude of incredible things that I have done. But the trend that I seem to have been following on my excursions is to be dumbstruck and in awe of the smaller things, the details that make me African and not the grand gestures and excursions.
One such moving and riveting experience was a trip to Soweto.
The first thing that really struck me is how embarrassed I am that I have not spent more time in Soweto just going around the places that defined the uprising and struggle through apartheid. I literally felt embarrassed.
Then there was something that really bugged me. Most of the trip I have enjoyed travelling the country as a tourist, not a local, but this part of the trip I actually felt ashamed that I was sitting in a bus filled with [relatively] wealthy American tourists looking out of a window in to the lives, the real lives, of so many people just going about their days in Soweto. I didn’t enjoy that at all and have a disdain for these “white bus trips” through Soweto. But moving on.
We got to see the only street in the world where two Nobel prize winners have lived, Vilakazi street. We saw the spot where the ’76 Soweto uprising began and the memorial built in honour of Hector Pieterson. This is the part where I began to feel affected.
During my three year journalism and politics degree i studied in great detail the Soweto uprising, I have met with journalists who were there, I have met with photographers who took the photos that we reviere today and I have debated the ins and outs of the happenings of that period at length. But I had never been there, seen it, done it, felt it, watched the people who survived it. I had just never done it. And I was shocked at myself for never having done it, I think that was half of the feeling.
Hector Pieterson Museum
The other half was self-depricating white hate. I am not really classified as a white male if you were to look at me, I am more coloured than anything else! But I truly felt shocked to my core and riveted by the images that I was seeing at the Hector Pieterson museum. They are printed out on a massive scale, they follow you, they haunt you and taunt you. But the most surprising thing for me was how many of the photographs featured smiling, happy and peaceful looking youths.
If you step outside at the museum there is a demarkated area for those who died in the uprising, mini tombstones if you will. They area is eery and has a sense of sad upliftment about it. I read each and every name on the ground, many of which were simply marked “unkown”. We have come a long way.
Soweto Holiday Inn
We then headed to our hotel for the evening; the newly opened Holiday Inn in Kliptown.
It is a uniquely South African Holiday Inn that I can promise you is not replicated anywhere else in the world. This makes it a wonder to behold. It is decorated as one would imagine a Sowetan Hotel should be, with images of the struggle heroes plastered in every possible corner, African jazz whistling in the background and a sense of accomplishment evident in every staff member. A phenomenal experience if you have the time and money to venture in to the soul of the city.
That evening we headed to Namisa’s for dinner and a bit of a party. The food is exquisite and once again uniquely South African. Pap, Samp and dumplings featured and I was grateful that the US Bloggers on the trip got to experience a truely local meal and not one prepared at some five star hotel.
The funniest experience at dinner was seeing a table of Soweto locals laughing at all the white American tourists sitting at the table across from them and taking photos of our group. I can only imagine the stories being told the next morning while looking at those photographs!
We then moved next door the more happening part of Nambisa’s. Unfortunately the masses seemed to have found a hotter spot for a Friday night jam so the place wasn’t as full as one might’ve hoped but nevertheless we got to dancing. Hilarious to see rigid white folk jamming it up with the sultry, grooved out locals.
The next morning, hangover and all, we took the streets of Kliptown with Bolo, our tourguide for the walk. Bolo is a Kliptown local who insists that if you cannot speak at least 5 African languages in Kliptown you are in trouble. We saw the living monuments erected in remembrance of the struggle, the uprising and those who died fighting for our freedom. We went through the monument erected in honour of our constitution and the massive X’s laid in brick to honour the “X” vote of democracy which is laid out throughout Kliptown square.
The markets in Kliptown are thriving although Bolo told us that majority of the market stalls are run by foreigner Africans because locals in Kliptown are too lazy to start their own businesses on the streets. Nonetheless the place buzzes and exudes potential.