31 July 2005

Welkom's help with London's Olympic bid

A blonde who grew up in Welkom is making a name for herself in the British film industry. Caroline Rowland (37), a former Free State provincial swimmer, worked on the short film about London which was used in London's Olympic Games bid for 2012. Steven Spielberg produced a similar short film for New York's bid team. Caroline was 7 years old when her Swiss mother and her English father moved to South Africa. They lived in Welkom where he father worked for one of the mining companies. After school, Caroline went to Rhodes University and studied journalism. This was followed by advertising agency work in London. Her parents still live in Johannesburg. Her next project is a romantic comedy to be shot in South Africa. It is centred around cricket and is called Not Out.

Dr Lucas

International soccer star, Lucas Radebe, was recently awarded an honorary doctoratal degree in social sciences from the University of Cape Town. He was recognised for his contributions to educational and welfare projects in South Africa. Lucas' contributions to the Starfish Charity and the Reach for A Dream Foundation are especially valued. Lucas was born in Diepkloof, Soweto, and was one of 11 children. He started his soccer career with Kaizer Chiefs. In 1994 he joined the English club Leeds, where he was later made captain. He was also captain of South Africa's national team, Bafana Bafana. Lucas was the inspiration behind the name of the Leeds-based post punk/art rock band, Kaiser Chiefs, whose members were fans of his.

Helping the poorest

Since 1998 Becky Young, of North Carolina, USA, has been helping the community of Winterveld. She registered a charity organisation in the US and the Mabopane Foundation was born. Regular garage sales are held in the US and the money is sent to Winterveld. Becky recently made her 6th visit to the community, with her husband and 2 daughters. The Mabopane Foundation has 10 American members and recently collected R100 000 from a concert they organised. Next year, the foundation hopes to build a community hall in Winterveld.

30 July 2005

Tiny star arising

One of America's top child actors was born in Johannesburg. Sasha Pieterse (9) lives in Los Angeles. Her latest role is the Ice Princess Sharkboy, a newly released Hollywood movie about child superstars. She made her TV debut when she was 6 years old, in the TV sitcom Family Affair alongside Gary Cole and Tim Curry of Rocky Horror fame. Sasha won an award for her role as best actress younger than 10 in a TV drama or comedy series at the 24th Young Artists Awards in 2003. Previous Young Artists Award winners include Leonardo DiCaprio, Cuba Gooding jnr, the late River Phoenix and Elizabeth Shue. The only child of a professional dancing couple lived in Las Vegas before moving to Los Angeles. Sasha is one of ChildhelpUSA's celebrity ambassadors who help prevent child abuse in the US by doing free shows and TV promotions.

New heights for Annabelle

Annabelle Bond (36), the fastest woman to conquer the highest peaks on the world's seven continents, is dating South African advertising tycoon Gregor Benatal (32) of Johannesburg. They met while climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia. Annabelle climbed the Seven Summits in 360 days - the fourth-best time ever and twice the speed of the previous fastest woman. She is the daughter of Sir John Bond, the executive chairman of banking giant HSBC.

Producing star

The film Batman Begins has a South African touch. Hal Couzens was the film's visual effects producer. He has also worked on Bridget Jone's Diary and Shaun of the Dead. Hal is the son of the writer Tim Couzens and has lived in London for the past few years, working in the film and TV commercial fields. He has his own production company, The Secret Laboratory. Last year he produce the Nike adverts for Euro 2004.

Reaching for the top

This year saw South African Sibusiso Vilane reach the summit of Mount Everest - for the second time in 2 years. He became the first Black man to climb the world's highest peak twice and by two different routes. Sibusiso first reached the peak of Mount Everest in May 2003. The Birth to Twenty Research Programme is one of the organisations that stand to benefit from his 2nd climb. Based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Birth to Twenty is a grant-funded study that explores and documents socio-economic, socio-political, demographic and nutrition transition in South Africa and its impact on children and their families.

Another South African who reached the peak this year, was Cape Town businessman Tony van Marken (40). The father of Matthew (10) and Joshua (7) climbed Everest to raise awareness for The Children's Hospital Trust, the fundraising arm of The Red Cross Children's Hospital. Tony is an experienced climber who climbed Everest from the traditional south side, and has now completed his personal quest to climb the world's seven continental summits. He personally donated R1 for each metre of the maximum altitude he reached on the climb. The height of Everest is 8.850m.

Other successful South African climbers this year included Richmond MacIntyre (51) and Alex Harris. Richmond is a civil engineer from Hermanus and has climbed Kilimandjaro, the Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda, the Aconcagua in the Argentinian Andes, the Denali in Alaska and Cho Oyo in Tibet.

Alex Harris made it his 3rd Everest climb, with Sibusiso.

Sainsburys supporting SA ballet

A South African up and coming ballet star, Monwabisi Bangiwe (21), is being sponsored by Lady Sainsbury, wife of the president of the British supermarket chain Sainsburys. In the 1990s she met Nelson Mandela who asked her to do something for South African dance. Lady Sainsbury, the former Anya Linden, was a ballerina with the Royal Ballet. Through the family’s charitable Linbury Trust, Sainsbury has since 1994 sponsored about 20 young South African dancers to study at London’s Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Several now have successful careers. Other projects the trust has supported include Cape Town’s Dance for All, which teaches children in Gugulethu, Nyanga, Athlone and Khayelitsha.
Monwabisi is studying at the Tshwane University of Technology. He had his first ballet class 3 years ago. His mother is a domestic worker and his father a retired railway worker from Kimberley. Monwabisi is also a member of the De Beers Superstone Field Band, excelling at marimba playing and dancing.

Another world champ from SA

South Africa's latest world champion is Elsa de Jager of Pretoria. She took first prize at the recent World Flower Arranging Show in Japan. Sixteen South African florists took part and 9 walked off with prizes.

British property firm invests in SA

Fine & Country, the British property firm, has 150 agencies across the UK dealing with luxury properties only. Now they have established themselves in South Africa - the 4th overseas property firm to invest in South Africa, after Re-Max, Sotheby's and Engel & Völckers. Fine & Country's license holder for South Africa is Linda Erasmus, well-known in Gauteng property circles.

SA scriptwriter's success

Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist is set for release as a film in September, directed by Roman Polanski. South African-born Oscar winner, Ronald Harwood, was the script writer. Ben Kinsley plays the role of Fagin. Ronald left South Africa for London as a young man. His recent scripts include The Pianist and Being Julia. He won the Oscar in 2003 for The Piano.

SA tenor

South African tenor Michael Renier lives in England. He made his debut in the role of Rodolfo in La Boheme at Sadlers Wells in London. Michael studied medicine for a few years in Pretoria before music became a fulltime occupation. Since then he has sung in Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland. He has 4 CDs and the fifth one is set for release soon.

Charlize's home project

South Africa's Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron is to co-produce a movie about the life of one of the world's most famous child AIDS victims Nkosi Johnson. Charlize might also play the role of Gail Johnson, the woman who adopted and cared for Nkosi. The young boy was an outspoken AIDS activist and role model in the late 1990s before dying of the disease at the age of 12 in 2001. In 2000 Nkosi made international headlines when he addressed an International Aids Conference, appealing to world leaders to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS are given potentially life-prolonging drugs. More than 5 million South Africans are infected with the AIDS virus. Gail runs a haven for children infected with the disease. She has signed a film deal with Los Angeles-based Adelstein-Parouse Productions. One of the few South African feature films to deal with AIDS, Yesterday, was nominated for an Oscar last year.

Traditional root vegetable helps villagers prosper

A traditional African root vegetable, amadumbe, has brought economic uplifment to the rural Umbumbulu district on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Some of the village farmers now supply the traditional root vegetable to leading retailers like Woolworths. The farmers are members of the Ezemvelo Farmers Organisation, which was started in 1999 by Dr. Thembinkosi Modi of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s school of Agricultural Science. He taught the villagers new methods of growing the crops organically and now they also supply shops with up to 5 tons of sweet potatoes, baby potatoes and amadumbe. The farmers started off by selling their products to Pick ’n Pay before getting a deal with Woolworths in 2003.

Animal stars

Elephant Tales, a film by Australian filmmaker Mario Andreacchio, is a movie with talking animals. The story is about the journey of two young elephants across Africa after they are orphaned by poachers. South Africa's contribution, apart from the filming in Pietermaritzburg and surrounds, is in the form of elephants, cheetahs, warthogs, eagles, giraffes, chimpanzees, crocodiles, a crowned crane and a ground hornbill. The animals were provided by Pietermaritzburg animal trainer Jim Stockley. Jim also supplied lions and cheetahs for the US rapper Ludacris' music video for his hit single, Pimpin’ All Over The World. The film is scheduled for release next April.

Hollywood producer Wes Craven, famous for the horror hit Scream, is using some South African baddies in his latest film, The Breed. The film stars Michelle Rodriguez, Taryn Manning, Oliver Hudson (Goldie Hawn’s son) and Hill Harper (CSI:NY star). It also stars 20 South African dogs. The film is a bout the nightmare holiday of 5 friends on a remote island inhabited by a pack of dogs. The film was filmed in George and Cape Town. South African model Lisa Marie Schneider and actor Nick Boraine are the first to encounter the dogs. The 20 dogs come from the Cape animal training company Union Pictures. Six dogs were imported by the USA company Gentle Jungle and were used for the attack scenes. Two of the SA dogs are the German shepherds Ammo and Trigger, who appeared as police dogs in Country of My Skull and have done TV commercials as well.

SA church growing fast in London

The multi-denominational SA Gemeente (South African Congregation) serves mostly Afrikaans-speaking South Africans in London. It is housed at City Temple, an historic church building. Pastor Dawie van Vuuren (41) heads the church, which is one of the fastest-growing Christian groups in London. The church became a rally point for South Africans during the recent bomb blasts in London, tracking down South Africans in London on behalf of worried relatives back home, working closely with the SA High Commission. Pastor Dawie, born in Bela-Bela (Warmbaths) was posted with his wife and 3 children to London in 2000. The SA Congregation was started about 10 years ago and took off once young South Africans became eligible for the working holiday visa.

Mega smart man

Garth Zietsman (46) of Johannesburg, is the second smartest man in the world. The statistics analyst at Standard Bank scored 185 on the Mega Test - an exclusive club for the cleverest around. Mega Test was designed by Ron Hoeflin who wanted a club in which only one in a million were accepted. Garth's score of 185 is second only to Marilyn von Savant, the woman whose high IQ earned her a place in Guinness World Records. During his national service he got together with a group of philosophy master's students. Next, he joined Mensa, a club for the smartest two percent of the population, and then joined the exclusive International Society for Philosophical Inquiry. Garth listens to rap music and opera, and his favourite books are about religion, maths, science, diets and psychology.

South African in Canadian national team

Gourville Bezuidenhout jnr, of Oakville, Ontario, has been selected for the Canadian National Team to go to the 4th Goju Kai Karate World Championships to be held in Holland in November. If you can help him with sponsorship, e-mail gourville@295.ca

Joburg photos take top award

Guy Tillim, a Cape Town photographer, has won the highly prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack award at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France. His photo essay, Johannesburg Story, looked at the changing life in Johannesburg's city centre. The French art publisher, Filigranes Editions, has released Guy's work under the title Joburg Downtown 2004. Guy's previous photography prizes include the Mondi prize for photojournalism and the Higashikawa prize in Japan.

Banana Republic wins

Greig Coetzee's comedy drama Banana Republic won a Sony Radio prize in London, taking 3rd place in the best radiop drama 2004 category. Banana Republic was broadcast on BBC's Radio 4 last year. The BBC commissioned Greig to write the drama aftter seeing his play, Happy Natives, in the West End in 2002. Greig's award-winning play, White Men with Weapons, is soon to go on tour in Australia.
A familiar voice in Banana Republic was Don McCorkindale, who took the title role in Springbok Radio's My Name's Adam Caine in the 1970s.

Mrs United Nations International

Kari Smith (34) of Welgemoed, Bellville, won the Mrs United Nations International beauty pageant in Las Vegas on 26 July 2005. Kari manages a hotel school in Bellville and is mother to Kristin (4) and Cara (2). She also won 4 categories at the pageant - best community work project, best interview with the judges, best outfit (designed by Peter Bondisio in Pretoria) and contestants' favourite contestant. Kari won the Mrs United Nations South Africa pageant in May. South African gospel singer, Raymond Cilliers, sang his song "Women Can Change Your World", written for the pageant, in Las Vegas.

Weddings become niche market

The Western Cape has found a new niche market - wedding tourism. About 8 000 weddings take place in the Western Cape each year, and up to half of them are from abroad. Cape Town's Pam Black will display her wedding planning services at the National Wedding Show in London in September. Tourism surveys show that foreign weddings attract 30 to 50 guests, most of whom stay for about two weeks. Foreign holidaymakers spend an average of R900 a day.