14 December 2008

ITALIAN UNION

Roland de Marigny (32), a former Blue Bulls rugby player, married the former Italian pole-vault champion Pamela Azzolini (26), at Tala Nature Reserve near Durban. Roland left South Africa to play rugby for the Italian club Parma, and went on to play for the Italian national team. Pamela is a physiotherapist who is studying for a degree in osteopathy.

ECO-FRIENDLY SA COUNTRY HOUSE

Felicity Sherratt was born in Johannesburg. Her husband, Brian, was born in Cape Town. They immigrated to Australia with their two children in 1980. The couple run an eco-sensitive country lodge - Lily Pily B&B Country House - on their dairy farm in Belligen. Brian was a banker and Felicity a special education and infant school teacher. After working in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and London, they moved to Belligen.

CANADIAN SANGOMAS

Duane Lee (30), a Canadian, recently completed three months of sangoma training at Baromeni village in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga. He said tht he arrived in South Africa with endless headaches and swollen legs. No doctors in Canada coud help him. Duane was born and raised in Toronto, and learnt about sangomas from a fellow Canadian, Rebecca Jones, who went to the same sangoma training school in Mpumalanga in 2006. Duane received the ancestral name Gogo Ashane, meaning son of the ancestors. He learned how to make and use muthi. He gave up his job as a marketing manager of a private company in Canada to do the training.

ORGAN DONORS

The Organ Donor Foundation (ODF) of South Africa is always looking for donors. When you pass away and your organs are found to be viable, you can change the lives of more than 17 people. Register with the ODF and they will send you an information brochure, a credit card-sized card to fill in and carry in your wallet. They will also send you two small stickers to put on your ID document and on your driver’s licence. The ODF recommends that you discuss your decision with your next-of-kin, as ultimately they will have to give consent when you die.

SA PROF BEHIND SURGICAL PROCEDURE

Professor Donald Nuss was born in South Africa and now ives in Virginia, USA. Twenty-one years ago he developed a ground-breaking surgical method - the Nuss procedure, a minimally invasive way of correcting a birth defect known as pectus excavatum (concave or sunken chest). A concave chest is a condition when the chest does not curve outwards but inwards towards the spine. In severe cases, it leaves sufferers short of breath. Prof. Nuss developed the procedure while performing the traditional method, which involved breaking the breast bone and removing varying amounts of cartilage attached to the ribs.

FARMERS ON THE NET

South African farmers are using the Internet to reach out. Agri Wiki is part of Wikipedia and was founded by two Colesburg friends. Sarel Wessels (31), an accountant, and MJ van Wyk (25), a farmer, created the site to help other farmers country-wide share their knowledge and experiences.

SEASIDE TV

Hout Bay and Llandudno have their own TV channel. The recently launched TV channel, 790Tv, is Internet-based. It aims to communicate with and entertain residents and businesses in Hout Bay and Llandudno through video-ad clips. It took 8 months to develop and 4 weeks of on-line testing. Content is provided by local video journalists.

THE FLYING SEMIGRANTS

More and more Gautengers are semigrating to the Garden Route and commuting 1000km to work. The breadwinners live in Gauteng from Monday to Friday, while their spouses and children are safer from the high crime rates in Gauteng. The private airline Venture Air has seen a rise in the 60 to 70 passengers the airline ferries on return trips each week. About 23% of them are regular passengers flying between Johannesburg and George/Plettenberg Bay. Some work away from home two weeks at a time. Many semigrants fly traditional airlines but Venture Air offers a door-to-door service.

BUSY ELDERS

Saxonwold Primary students love Uncle Ian (Ian Rossetenstein, 69) who is there every Tuesday to help the Grade 2 and 3 students improve their English by reading them poems and short stories. The former factory manager uses different voices for each character, pulls faces and acts out the stories. He is one of 54 retired volunteers who form part of Second Innings, a voluntary organisation co-ordinated by the Jewish Community Project. The pensioners visit eight primary schools in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs once a week. Although some of the Orange Grove, Lyndhurst, Glenhazel, Orchards, Bramley, Houghton, Saxonwold and Parkhurst primary schools are located in posh suburbs, many of their pupils come from townships and shack settlements and need extra help learning English. The children’s English marks have improved from 60% to 80% since the volunteers joined them. Another volunteer, Fanny Golding (80), helps out at Lyndhurst Primary School. She was an administrative clerk at Wits University’s Law School for 35 years.

DESPITE THE ODDS

Louis Neethling (37) doesn't listen to advice, well-meaning or not. His dream was to work in television, but as a young boy he was told by a teacher he wouldn’t be able to work in television. He went on to get a job as a runner at the SABC. Film crews laughed when he said he wanted to produce and direct. Today, Louis, who was born deaf, has proven them all wrong. The son of deaf parents, he was born and grew up in Springs, and is now an award-winning film-maker with his own company, Mutt & Jeff Pictures, in London. He recently finished a short drama for The National Deaf Service in the UK. After working as a runner at the SABC, he became a researcher before he, together with scriptwriter and producer Louise van Niekerk, started Dtv and created a magazine programme on SABC for deaf people. He won a Rotary Scholarship to study at the National Film and Television School in the UK and then returned to South Africa to work in film. The BBC’s See Hear approached him to direct a new deaf drama called Switch and he moved to the UK in 2001. He lives with his wife and two children in Hillingdon.

TOP SA TEACHER

Sarietjie Musgrave (36), a teacher at Eunice High School, a girls only school in Bloemfontein, was placed second in the community category at Microsoft’s recent world-wide Innovative Teachers Forum in Hong Kong. Her class project, Spread the Sunshine, saw her competing against more than 250 teachers from 64 countries, and helped at least 300 people in the Free State. The computer applications technology teacher introduced the project this year to Grade 10 students. The students had to research various disabilities and come up with technological solutions for people with those disabilities. The 64 students helped more than 300 people with disabilities ranging from dyslexia to Down Syndrome. Vaia Tsistsi worked with a dyslexic pupil and taught her to read and write using drawings. Some students reconnected an elderly woman with her family in Greece, by teaching her to use e-mail. Other students used their own laptop computer to teach a paralysed six-year-old, living in a shack, to write her name. Some of the girls went to other schools asking pupils to donate R1 for each hearing ear they had. The proceeds went towards cochlea implant awareness.

SA-BORN CEO FOR ARSENAL

Arsenal Football Club recently appointed Ivan Gazidis as their new CEO. The 44-year-old South African-born Oxford graduate starts in January, ending his 14-year association with the American Major League Soccer. Ivan is a solicitor and amateur soccer player. He joined Major League Soccer in April 1994, two year’s before the League’s inaugural game, as a member of its founding management team. He was born in 1964 in Johannesburg, and moved to England when he was four years old. Ivan attended Oxford University, graduating in 1986 with a Master's Degree in Law. While at Oxford University, he was twice awarded an Oxford soccer Blue. He took the Solicitor's Final Examination at the Guildford College of Law in 1987 and worked as a corporate lawyer in London and Los Angeles until 1994, when he was recruited by Major League Soccer.

PORT ELIZABETH'S CUPIDS

Christine Gerber is Port Elizabeth's Cupid, having matched 107 couples in the last 14 years. She's also been a guest at most of the weddings. She started a singles club, Date-a-Mate, in 1994. Christine got divorced more than 18 years ago and is happily unmarried although she is in a 18 year relationship. Another of Port Elizabeth's Cupids, Eva Davey, started her singles club more than 20 years ago after her divorce.

SOUTH AFRICANS SUCCEED IN AUSTRALIA

The Australian Census reports have revealed some interesting statistics concerning South African immigrants, according to studies by Professor Dharma Arunachalam, a professor in political and social studies at the Australian Monash University. Looking at the 2006 Census, South Africans who have moved to Australia generally have the best jobs and earn the most. They have better qualifications than immigrants from Europe and America, and also live in the wealthiest suburbs. They are generally younger than other immigrants and are well-qualified with professional and managerial skills. Most bring their families and earn more than any other group. They live mostly in wealthier suburbs in Queensland and in the western part of the country. Before 1996, they were mostly English-speaking South Africans, but more Afrikaners, Indians and black people have since immigrated to Australia. The South African community in Australia has grown from 55 821 in 1996 to 104 129 in 2006.

MUCH-NEEDED BOOK


For all you guys who suffer with anti-rugby girlfriends or wives, a new book might help you out. The Girlfriend's Guide to Rugby, written a la Dummies style, aims to teach them about the manly game so they can spend happy times watching the game. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Rugby, by Jaco Louw a former rugby player, explains the basic rules of the game in a humorous way. It uses analogies, such as shopping and relationships, which girlfriends (even blond ones) can relate to. If this book sells, watch out for more titles such as Girlfriend's Guide to Cricket or Girlfriend's Guide to Soccer.

FROM BRIXTON TO MONTREAL

Ockert Greeff, previously known as Moord the trumpet player in the band Brixton Moord en Roof Orkes, was born in Karasburg, Namibia and grew up in Upington. A year ago, he left Johannesburg for Montreal, Canada, where he lives with his Canadian wife, Elizabeth. He's a drummer with Light Bulb Alley.

DOCTORS EXIT

The Calgary Herald recently carried an a feature article "Alberta bound: Why South African doctors are coming to Canada". According to Dr. Kgosi Letlape, chairman of the South African Medical Association, only half of the physicians trained in South Africa during the past 10 years are still registered to practise here. Many South African doctors are to be found in small-town Canada where clinics and hospitals, particularly on the Prairies, gladly accept them. Canada has a doctor shortage, especially in rural Canada. Small towns often offer incentive packages worth more than $50,000. About 2,100 South African-trained physicians now practise medicine in Canada, a quarter of them work in Alberta. A 26-year-old doctor, working at Cape Town's Red Cross Children's Hospital, takes home about $3,300 Cdn a month after taxes - after long days and unpaid hours of overtime. He's leaving for Canada where he could easily earn $8,000 a month. On top of that, he's getting a $10,000 relocation allowance and a $10,000 signing bonus. A provincial programme adds another $15,000 to $20,000 if he remains in the community for longer than nine months. The competition in Alberta for South African doctors is so intense that bidding wars have erupted between communities, with cars, homes and interest-free loans on offer.

11 December 2008

ANTON RUPERT MEMORIAL LECTURE

Transcript of the address given by Dr. Johann Rupert at the Anton Rupert Memorial Lecture, University of Pretoria, on 15 October 15 2008

Ambassadors, High Commissioners and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, Vice Chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria, Professor Callie Pretorius, The Registrar, Professor Nick Grove.

All protocol observed.

Thank you for the opportunity of honouring my late parents tonight. They met here as members of the University of Pretoria Students Representative Council. My father was the Chairman and my mother was elected to that council in her first year. Quite a formidable couple! I miss them very dearly - especially tonight.

My wife Gaynor is also a very proud ex-Tukkie and is our family's resident Blue Bull supporter. For educating her about quite a lot, except the finer details of rugby, also a big thank you.

Congratulations Professor to you and all your colleagues, and to the University on the celebrations of the centenary. When we look back at all the achievements both of the University and of your alumni, we have total confidence in your next 100 years.

Uit respek vir die Ambassadeurs is ek versoek om in Engels te praat. Ek doen dit graag.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I'm still what some of my compatriots call a "hairy back" or a "Dutchman", plus I prefer to write my own speeches. So please forgive me for grammatical errors and my pronunciation. And to the press, both the press and the television, please do not paraphrase. I have learnt long ago not to fight with people who buy ink by the barrel, and Doc Craven never said there will never be a black player playing for South Africa.

He said: "For as long as this Government is in charge, there will never be a black player playing for South Africa". You'll agree that there's a nuance. Or my favourite one: "You can say I like to shower twice a day, but once a week I have to have a bath." So if you cut the first few words out, you can say he baths once a week.

Please also speak to the editors who do the headlines. It's impossible to speak openly in our society if people try to stir fights. We need more debate. Tonight I'll attempt to highlight the plight of the future generation and look at some reasons why they're so much worse off than their counterparts in the rest of the world.

Where did we go wrong, and what can we do about it?

Africa's children truly deserve better. Too many die far too young. The lucky ones who survive childbirth and malnutrition lack potable water, with no roofs over their heads, stand to lose their brothers and sisters and parents far too young. The majority of the lucky survivors also face inadequate educational opportunities and therefore stand little chance of gainful employment. We have already suffered a number of lost generations.

Can we really stand by and lose another generation? Let's try and analyse the problem, the causes and the possible solutions to prevent this tragedy from getting worse.

How bad is the situation? Let's have a look at some key indicators.

Let's look at life expectancy at birth. I think you'll all agree this is a rather fair indicator.

Of the 193 countries reported, we rank in the bottom 5 when looking at the improvement of life expectancy at birth. The life expectancy at birth has decreased by 12 years from 1990 to 2006. By the way, all the other countries that performed worse than us are SADEC members. So today, it's gone from 62 to just over 50 which is a decrease of 12 years and those are the WHO figures. The CIA fact book estimates 42 years.

The global trend is that of an increase in life expectancies of 4 years, from 63 to 67. The Japanese are at 83 years. Africa, as a WHO region, has remained stable at 51 years for the last 16 years. This implied that most of Africa has improved and South Africa has worsened. This brutal regime of Zimbabwe has caused the life expectancy of its women to drop from over 60 to 34 in 18 years. The men are expected to live up to the ripe old age of 37.

Infant mortality rates: The infant mortality rate in South Africa has deteriorated from 45 to 56 infant deaths per 1000 live births over 16 years and ranks at 188. It's important to know that the deterioration has accelerated from 5 in the first 10 years to 6 in the next 6 years. Once again it should be noted that Lesotho and Swaziland are included in the 7 bottom ranked countries.

Let's look at the prevalence of TB per 100 000 people. South Africa ranks l77 in terms of, so called, "improvement". We have not improved. In 1990 there were 774 cases per 100 000, in 2006, 998. Again note that Lesotho and Swaziland are in the bottom ranking.

Let's look at the prevalence of HIV adults amongst adults aged 15 to 49. In 2007, South Africa had the fourth highest HIV prevalence in the world. Between 2001 and 2007, the prevalence increased from 16.9 to 18.1. At a time during which most other countries stabilised, Swaziland is the worst, Botswana second, Lesotho, then South Africa and I dare say, I do not trust Zimbabwe's figures at all because they are below us and they have miraculously improved from 26% to 15%. I do not believe that.

We Africans are really the ultimate consumers. We consume our infrastructure, we consume our forests and we consume our wildlife. We actually consume our children's future. Now in South Africa, are we a lot better off, or are we not showing signs of this African malaise?

Now I quote from a book, Africa in Chaos, by Professor Dr George Ayittey:

"Despite Africa's vast natural resources, its people remain in the deadly grip of poverty, squalor and destitution whilst buffeted by environmental degradation and brutal tyranny. Both external and internal factors can be blamed. Amongst the external factors are the legacies of colonialism, the lingering effects of the slave trade, Western imperialism and the pernicious international economic system. The internal factors include bad leadership, corruption, economic mismanagement, political tyranny, senseless civil wars, military vandalism, exploitation and the oppression of the peasant majority, denial of civil liberties and capital flight amongst others. Whilst both external and internal factors had played some role, the preponderance of the internal factors is evident. In fact, a new generation of angry Africans subscribe to the internalist school of thought. They lay greater emphasis on the internal causes and therefore advocate internal, that is African solutions."

Only Africa can reverse its decline. The criteria of success for economic policies must be the improved health and education of the population and increased employment and production. Therefore the agricultural sector which employs the vast majority of Africans is central to economic revival.

Now why did other countries in Asia, in the United States, Europe why did they succeed and why did we fail so miserably? Now this is very interesting, the last 150 years may prove in the history of time to be an aberration. That is prior to a century and a half ago, the standard of living was roughly the same all over the world. It didn't really matter whether you lived in New York, London, Paris, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Cairo, Nairobi, Beijing, Tokyo or Manila - the standard of living was roughly the same. I never knew this, but you can go and check. In the past century however, the standard of living in various countries has changed dramatically so that today we have developed nations and undeveloped nations.

During this period some societies clearly prospered, some trod water and others actually went backwards. Africa has gone backwards. It's got nothing to do with us being African or black, Forget this old racist line of ethnicity. If so, why did similarly educated people with the same ethnic background end up experiencing such different qualities of life? I was in East Germany just after the fall of the War. They were destitute. Why is the average South Korean nearly 6cm taller than his northern counterpart? The truth seems to be found in the choices made by societies as to the economic and social political system under which they choose to live.

In other words, we all choose the way in which we organise our society and how we are governed. It's got nothing to do with race.

Winning nations: academics, political, economic and social scientists point to three major reasons. They have sound economic policies which encourage open market systems, for example:

- unlimited and free transferability of property;
- protection of private property;
- ownership incentives for capital formation;
- strong and convertible currencies;
- flexible labour markets and entrepreneurship;
- socio-political policies that seem to succeed include democracy, free speech, honesty and transparency in government actions and a strict adherence to, and respect for, rule of law.

In this regard it is important to note that free market economics is a precondition to democracy: that is, there are no democracies that do not have free market economies. On the other hand there are still free market systems that are not true democracies. Such an argument leads many to conclude that a free and open economy takes precedence over a free and open political system, which, in turn, leads to an environment in which technological advance can flourish. We know what happened in Chile and, at present, China is a perfect example.

My wife and I were privileged to meet President Gorbachev many years ago and I asked him why he had stopped when he did and he said "well they would have called me ‘Gorbi the terrible'." But, he said, the Chinese will not make the same mistake. We were again privileged to meet President Vladimir Putin this year and, quite frankly, I think they have resolved law and order, or are in the process of restoring law and order, in Russia.

The Chinese have totally open market policies but they do not have a democracy. They understand that democracy will follow and I suspect that they are following the Chilean model.

Then there's a third leg. We have discussed the economic policies and the social political policies. The third leg is technology. After the creation of the industrial economy, we have to have the creation of the information or knowledge economy. In exporting congealed brain power, we have to export bits, not atoms. If we don't, our terms of trade will continue to worsen. We have to protect intellectual property.

Now we have clearly made the wrong choices. (Interestingly, the Mainland Chinese were poverty stricken in comparison to the Chinese living in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. They had also made the wrong choices but they have changed their policies.) The results are staggering. In stark contrast to the rest of the world, it's clear that the majority of sub-Saharan nations have made the wrong choices. So have we, for many centuries and the results speak for themselves. What have we done?

The Nationalists observed very few of the above-mentioned rules for success. We had a form of "nationalist socialism". We had control boards for everything. I bet you most of you don't know that we had a control board for eggs. That people who had restaurants and hotels had to have an "egg book"! I know, because there was a Swiss friend of mine who ran the Beacon Isle Hotel and one day an inspector came in and asked for his "egg book". Hans didn't know about an egg book, chased him out and this gentleman explained to him that he was going to be in serious trouble, "he has to have an egg book". All eggs consumed had to be put in this book and when Hans started laughing he said: "Don't laugh. I've got arresting powers"!

In any case, we no longer have those. We had so much protectionism. We had no real democracy, in fact, no democracy. We didn't have free speech; we didn't have honesty and transparency in government actions and certainly no respect for rule of law, for example, the removal of the coloureds off the voter's roll.

However, since the end of apartheid, we've had a miraculously peaceful transition to a democracy. We've further experienced successes such as the remarkable improvement at the Revenue Service - truly remarkable. The turnaround at Treasury. And the excellent management of the currency by the Governor of the Reserve Bank and his staff.

Our economic policies have generally been sound. We have not yet experienced unlimited and free transferability of property, yet our currency's been stable. It's not yet been convertible. I am a proponent for the abolition of exchange controls but I must agree with, and, in fact, I called Minister Manuel and I said we were saved by foreign exchange controls. I'm sorry there are a couple of banker friends of mine here and fund managers, but you would also have been seduced by the higher yields available n the sub-prime and other markets. So for once, thank God for foreign exchange controls.

Our labour markets have not been as flexible as those of our competitors and this will become an issue. In terms of our socio-political policies however, we have fallen woefully short. Citizens are not safe in their own country. We have a democracy but some of our fellow South Africans continuously threaten to resort to violence if they do not get their way - "we will kill".

Freedom of speech is guaranteed under the Constitution but any criticism of any government policy is viewed as counter revolutionary, racist and is stifled by a hypersensitive leadership. Honesty and transparency in government have been sadly lacking, very sadly. The perception is that corruption is not deliberately and efficiently combated.

The law of unintended consequences has also been at work in a number of areas. Let's take black economic empowerment, a very good idea. I lived in Malaysia, correction, I didn't live there, but we have a pretty big business in Malaysia. The Bumiputra asked us to give 25% of the company. Initially this had to go to cronies of the prime minister but we put it with the government pension fund, so it was triple B double E. In South Africa, there has been a real shift of economic power towards black South Africans and that is continuing apace. Too often, however, empowerment has resulted in the enrichment of the few rather than the many, leaving behind a vast army of uneducated unemployed. This can only be addressed by a far more effective nationwide programme of skills training. There are no unemployed carpenters, stonemasons, electricians or plumbers in South Africa or any where else for that matter. The apprentice system needs to be reinstated and the basic educational system orientated towards economically useful skills needs to be reinstated. SETA is totally mismanaged and it simply does not work. As anybody who has ever asked for a grant can tell you.

BEE has also led to the creation of some of the worst sub-prime credits ever. When a bank lends into a BEE scheme it often funds the select few lucky insiders to buy shares from the public. The public shareholders always include pension and provident fund where the workers have their savings. Should the company then approach the bank for funding of a new factory, for instance, which will create new jobs, the bank is forced to take the BEE exposure into account. It has to have a look at exposure to the industry and to the company. More often than we believe the bank's exposure will be limited and the factory may not be funded.

Furthermore, when will BEE end? Malaysian friends tell me that the Chinese are leaving. They'd rather create wealth in China, Singapore and even Taiwan.

Will our youth not feel the same?

Let's take employment equity. South Africa can only succeed economically and politically on the basis of a genuine partnership between black, white, brown and not on the basis of white privilege or black advancement at the expense of any form of competence. Now everybody uses the zebra as the principle, my friend Patrice (Motsepe) as well. But the zebras that they look at are only black and white. Where I come from in the Cape the Coloureds have been severely disadvantaged. They were too black in the past and now they're too white. So I prefer the Cape mountain zebra that at least had a bit more touch of brown in.

Now we all know, shoot the zebra and you'll die. We'll get back to that later.

We have to work together. One of the worst of apartheid's crimes was the Bantu education system, which resulted in an horrendous skills deficit, which has to be addressed and cannot simply be wished away. In 1986 only about 15% of graduates were black. These are the individuals who are now in their mid-40's. Employment equity codes will have it that they make up a far bigger percentage of senior management than 15%.

Are you going to put your money in the bank where they don't have the best management? Or are you going to put it where your money is safe? We sign on to codes without realising the results, the unintended consequences. And, by the way, who mentors the smart young black kids who come out of university now? An incompetent "suit"? I think not. We all want employment equity to work. It's not only the right thing, the moral thing, but it's also the smart thing. Between 94 and 2007 the numbers of black graduates have increased dramatically. I think by 2008 well in excess of 60% of all graduates will be black. The situation will resolve itself. Now we've all seen and experienced the disaster of this policy of advancement at the expense of any form of competence. Look at the institutions where experienced managers were "encouraged" to leave - Eskom, the Land Bank, SAA, I can go on and on and on.

By the way, regarding Eskom, when some business leader stated that "we're all to blame", they certainly did not speak for me. And, again the children suffer. The senior leadership of various parastatals and parts of the civil service, though not at treasury, revenue and the central bank, have been empowered to appoint at which in some cases they can no longer deliver basic services required of them. There has to be a successful mixture of old and new management for any of these enterprises to prosper.

This is also true at a local government level. For example, in Stellenbosch, my home town, the newly elected ANC town council fired one of the most impressive executives that I have ever met, Mr David Daniels. Interestingly, he taught Trevor Manuel at school. The problem with Mr Daniels is that he was too apolitical, too honest and too able to kow-tow to a group of individuals with a narrow sectarian interest. There goes another town into total disarray. Nearly every town failed. But how can it not happen when over a third of our local councillors are illiterate. I'm not talking financially illiterate, I'm talking illiterate.

Land reform is another area in which policy so far has resulted mainly in confusion as the plethora of unresolved and sometimes completely unfounded land claims have resulted in new black as well as white commercial farmers being reluctant to reinvest in their farms. There has to be an effective programme of land transfer, we all agree, subject to proper compensation and support for those acquiring the land.

But the department administering this programme is notoriously incompetent. Now this is a very dangerous thing to do on a continent and in a country that's facing food self-sufficiency problems. We already have, and I see Professor Victor Hesse over there, we already have problems with some of our woods where people have not replanted. There's a shortage of wood.

Now I want to give you a very personal example of this department. I'm a shareholder in a farm in Mpumalanga. Although no claim was lodged against the farm whatsoever, not even, as often the case, after the legal date had come and passed, the Land Claims Commissioner chose to gazette us. Thus we've been forced to go to Court. The case has been postponed four times and has dragged on for over two years and we have another year to go.

Now, which farmer will invest in a farm without knowing the future? Food production will suffer. Furthermore, once the claimants get the land they aren't given the implements to farm and, more often than not, have no farming experience whatsoever.

In the Malalane Komatipoort area the total claim amounts to between 2.4 and 3 billion Rand. If all the claims succeed at the going rate, that's what the state will have to pay. This goes to a tribe, loosely defined, of some 10 000 individuals. In other words the cost will be at least R240 000 per man, woman and child.

Now I don't know if any of you have been to the Shongwe Hospital. It's in total disarray. HIV Aids orphaned kids are looking after other children. Crime is rampant.

This has to be sheer and utter madness.

Farmers are being murdered and their property rights are not secured. Who will feed the population? And, why is no one thinking about the vast areas of our country that belong to the state? And, come to think about it, what about the totally under utilised areas under control of the "traditional leaders"? And it's not only the ANC that is to blame. Shortly before the election in the early 90's the National Party saw it fit to give away major parts of Kwazulu Natal to tribal leaders. People do not farm for the chief. People do not farm for somebody else. If the state's cow gets sick in the middle of the night, it dies. If it's your cow, you get up. Agriculture has never worked in a communalist or a communist state.

The difference is that China has given these lands to the peasants, to their citizens and given them title deeds and they're farming. Now this minister has to realise that she is for all practical purposes "the minister of food security and self-sufficiency". When this realisation finally dawns upon her, she will hopefully change her attitude towards the already beleaguered agricultural sector. Farming is not for sissies! You're prone to be violently attacked and murdered. Your land tenure is under threat. Your input costs are soaring and prices for your products are volatile and out of your control. If we want the children to escape another cycle of hunger we need the farming sector to be safe, happy and profitable.

We also have to realise that we cannot improve the lives of our children, the grandchildren, the kids, with a totally open border system. We do not possess the human and physical resources to house, employ, feed and educate the whole of the sub-equatorial Africa's refugees.

A friend of mine, Fred Robertson's wife, is involved in a charity in Cape Town. They are trying to get the kids to learn to read and write before going to primary school. And they had a particular problem with this one school where 10% of the kids could not cope. They went there and found out, in Cape Town, that the reason was not that they couldn't speak English or Afrikaans but that they were speaking French and Portuguese.

It's therefore imperative that we use all the powers at our disposal to force the removal of dictatorial despots to our North. We have to get those economies going, folks. President Bush senior did not sign NAFTA only because he was in ‘love with his neighbours. He signed NAFTA because he realised that, if he didn't improve the economies of his neighbours, they'd all flood into his country.

Now if our neighbours all fall apart - and you've seen the figures - do you really think that they not all going to come into our country? We can already not feed our own children. The head of the World Bank, Bob Zoellick, said recently that the most fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development is an effective rule of law. This is exactly what the head of the ANC Youth League and some others have been challenging, thereby spooking oversees investors and undermining years of work to improve South Africa's sovereign rating, and folks, without foreign capital we will not be able to provide a better future for our children, for the children of this country.

Luckily he was were slapped down and rule of law was defended by President Motlanthe, who'll hopefully continue to do so. Also, there cannot be an effective rule of law without a truly independent prosecutor. This principle was completely undermined in the Selebi case. Completely. The new regime needs to demonstrate that they've committed to an independent prosecuting authority. We furthermore need to protect our policemen, magistrates, judges from verbal and, now, physical attacks.

And I've got a word for some of the people who want it both ways. One cannot demand protection under the law if you're not prepared to live within it. It's noticeable that some people wish protection but they themselves do not consider themselves living within it.

The new leadership seems to be genuinely concerned in stamping out violent crime. They will be judged by results and what additional resources are directed to policing and how effectively they're utilised. All the evidence from every other country is that crime can be rolled back on the basis of a more active and visible police patrolling and not by any other means.

When I lived in New York you couldn't see a policeman in the 70's. Today when you go around there's a policeman on every corner. They say that's why their crime's down. I actually think it's because it's too expensive for any criminals to live on Manhattan.

That too still requires there be an effective investigative authority not interfered with by politicians. I personally would advocate the system used in some states in the USA, any crime committed with a weapon carries a mandatory ten year prison sentence, twenty years if the victim is injured, life if the victim is killed. No judge can give clemency. Three felonies and it's life. We have to remove these criminals out of our society.

Also, in our violent society it does not help when members of the executive committee of the ANC say "we shall kill". And others keep on singing "mshiniwami". Who exactly do they want to shoot with these machine guns?

Transformation is happening rapidly in sport as witnessed in the national cricket and rugby teams. Sport should be a unifying factor and will continue to be so if, and only if, the sport administrators avoid acting in politically motivated ways and coaches are chosen according to their ability. Now politicians have always messed up sport. Firstly it stopped non-racial sport.

No Basil D'Oliveira, no Maoris. Then, I mean can you believe it, they called the Japanese ‘honorary whites' because of trade and because of a Japanese jockey. I mean, I hate to think what my Japanese friends would think of that!

Now, it's ironical that South African Chinese are being called ‘honorary blacks' in order to be classified as previously disadvantaged. We really are very crazy. This is Saturday Night Live stuff.

Politicians and disgruntled individuals seem to want to ignore the woeful performance of our athletes in Beijing and the slide in Bafana Bafana's performance. We're now rated 85 in the world. This is behind true soccer power houses such as Canada, Burkino Faso, Bahrain and Qatar. What do they want to do? They want to wreck the only sport in which we're world champions! Sport should unite, it should not divide.

The worst feature of the Mbeki regime was probably the paranoid reaction to any form of criticism. Even from people like President Mandela, Bishop Tutu and Helen Suzman, who can scarcely be regarded as enemies of the state, or of not wanting South Africa to succeed. Like their predecessors, the nationalists, the ANC seems to mix the concept of a political party, the government and the state. When some of us spoke out against apartheid we were called "kaffir boeties" (especially, by the way, here in the far North), "Communists" and were described as "enemies of the State".

I was personally threatened by a minister and told that politics is a "cut throat business" and "I mean that literally".

I was so stupid I didn't think we had hit squads. Gavin Relly was present and he told me to take it seriously because he did believe that there were hit squads. The PW Botha government then shut all of Rembrandt's import permits for essential items such as filter tow and cellophane for ten months to teach us a lesson.

Now their successors, the ANC, have become as hypersensitive.

Folks, we live in a democracy, we're guaranteed freedom of speech. If some of us disagree with some policies, it's our right to do so. I believe it's even an obligation to do so. Who speaks for the children? If we don't address some of these issues, they (the children) are not going to believe that everything was (a disaster) because of colonialism or because of apartheid.

A major test for the new regime will therefore be whether it's prepared to listen to other points of view and accept some criticism as intended to be constructive.

We live in one of the most violent societies. We're truly at war with ourselves. I often wonder why our society is so sick. Did it start with white generals telling policemen that it was fine to murder dissidents, or did it start with struggle leaders telling the youth to disobey their parents, teachers, police and all forms of authority? Did it start with the "necklacing"? I really don't know.

We have so many problems I don't want to carry on. Poverty and malnutrition... etc

If the Treasury Reserve, Revenue Service and the Reserve Bank had not been managed so well, I actually think we would have been another failed state. And a note of caution to the politicians, it's not only the position of the Minister of Finance or Governor that's important to the markets. The integrity and reputation of these individuals matter more. Tamper with that trust at your, your country's and your grandchildren's future, at your peril.

Treasury, I hear, is blamed for withholding disbursements, leading to "lack of delivery". Now this is like a farmer who has a few sons. Two of his sons diligently work to repair the dam wall, saving as much water as possible. Having finally fixed the dam that they inherited they're able to expand it to such an extent that they have enough water for all the lands.

Their brothers, however, the other sons, are lazy and generally incompetent. They're the folks who are supposed to make sure that the irrigation pipes are laid to the fields and the drinking points. They appoint incompetent and even corrupt workers. Not only do they allow these pipes to fall into disrepair but they arrange for a few pipes to go to the neighbour's farms so that they can make a bit of money on the side. They fully intend to siphon off some profits for themselves without their father's knowledge.

The father then arrives and sees that the lands are bone dry. Now who does he blame? Not the lack of delivery system! He blames the poor guys who built the dam without checking why they were so unwilling to release the water onto the lands.

You cannot blame Treasury and SARS for the lack of delivery. I wouldn't allow any of the funds to go, knowing the levels of incompetence and corruption that exist n so many of these departments. Fix the pipes, fix the delivery system!

We all share, all of us, regardless of colour and beliefs, the dream of a country where we can live safely, be well educated, have houses, jobs, water and electricity and access to proper health services. Only this will give us and our children hope. How can we solve these problems? After everything I had to say you probably think that I am a total afro-pessimist.

I used to tell the story about the little girl who went to university and she wrote to her father - but I have to change the names with the audience. She went to university and she wrote a letter to her dad, saying: "Dad, the fire in the dormitory was not that bad. Luckily my boyfriend escaped before the police could catch him. The fact that I was burnt badly and will probably lose the use of my left arm, luckily my boyfriend and our unborn child was unhurt. Your loving daughter, Amy." And then she writes "P.S. Dad, I don't have a boyfriend, there was no fire in the dormitory, I'm not pregnant, I just wanted to point out to you that there's things worse than me failing economics 1!"

There are always worse things. I called Paul Harris the other day and I said imagine being an Icelandic banker. Now you laugh, you don't know what I'm going to say. Iceland, unbeknown to me, did not have the KYC, the "knowyour-client" or FICA legislation. So guess who put all their money there? Not people who wanted to be traced, and a lot of them, should I say, are from rather rough backgrounds. These folks have just lost all their money.

They are now in the know-your-banker phase, are looking for the custodians of their wealth. So there are always things that are worse.

I believe if we work together we can solve these problems. There are decidedly new things on the horizon in Africa. Change started happening in the mid-90's. Many African economies actually appear to have turned the corner and moved into a far steadier and faster growth. Our performance between 95 and 2005 reversed the disaster of ‘75 to ‘85 and the stagnation of ‘85 to ‘95. For the first time in 30 years we're growing in line with the rest of the world. The average growth for sub-Saharan Africa was about 5.4% in 2005 and 2006.

Some of this was due to luck, but a lot of this positive outcome was due to the adoption of some of the ways of winning nations. For us to succeed we really have to study and adopt these ways. Rule of law, and by that, exactly that. Freedom of speech, protection of private property, honesty and transparency in government actions.

Is this too much to ask for when the future of the children depend upon our generation? I think not.

We need to stamp out crime. We need open and fearless debates about the issues at hand without risking or being sneered at as being racist or counterrevolutionaries.

Tonight I've kept my word to Mamphela Ramphele who made a speech in Cape Town and said that whites should start speaking out a little bit without having the fear of being branded racists. We can easily reach consensus on our goals. The methods and the priorities will need more debating.

No poverty alleviation, provision of adequate housing, etc., can ever be achieved without a healthy, growing, private sector.

Folks, without growth, it's not going to happen, it's never happened anywhere else on earth. Governments do not, and should not, create jobs. Trade Unions protect existing jobs and when too powerful and rigid, actually destroy jobs. It's the private sector that has to create the wealth and tax base that will create jobs and prosperity.

I've tried to spell out the plight of the children what got us there; using the historical habits of winning nations', tried to highlight where we've gone wrong. I sincerely believe there is enough goodwill and talent in this wonderful country to solve these problems. We've been fortunate in having three good presidents in a row President de Klerk, President Mandela and President Mbeki. I feel particularly sad for the latter, whom I like and respect.

It was, however, becoming very clear that he was not well served by those close to him. He was never told the unpalatable truth and sadly lost touch with his constituents. As Patrice (Motsepe) and Laurie (Dippenaar) will agree, even "Big Business with Government" meetings were orchestrated "powerpoint exchanges". It was not frank dialogue. And whenever any of us wanted to speak out our fellow businessmen or should I say, lobbyists, made sure that we were kept quiet. So even the business leaders were very reluctant to criticise, preferring the lobbying route.

To President Motlanthe, Mr Zuma, Mr Vavi and even Mr Malema - we all have similar goals, we want to eradicate injustice, poverty, crime and hunger whilst improving health and education services. And, by the way, we are going to have to do it on our own because the rest of the world's got its own problems. And the Chinese are not interested in hearing about "the struggle", they've had their own struggles. Read "Wild Swans", read "Mao".

The ANC does not have sufficient resources to run this country exclusively. Look at the sub-prime quality of many politicians, local councillors and executives at either government or semi-state institutions. Let us rather join hands and create the society that we all dream about. The alternative, folks, is far too ghastly to contemplate.

If you shoot the Cape Mountain zebra, black, white and brown will all die. My first forefather came to this beautiful country in 1662. We're not planning to go anywhere. We're thus in the same boat, and, if somebody shoots a hole in the boat, especially with a machine gun, we will all drown.

In his inaugural address on the 10th of May 1994, Madiba said "To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each of us is as intermittently attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the Bushveld. Each time one of us touches the soil of this land we feel a sense of personal renewal. The National mood changes as the season change. We're moved by a sense of joy and acceleration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom. We have at last achieved our political emancipation.
We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.
Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all".

To which I'd like to add, let us work together and achieve a better future for the children. We must really act today to secure a better future for tomorrow.

Thank you

22 November 2008

AUSSIE ANGEL

Lou Billet is an Australian who settled in South Africa in 2003 after travelling through the Wild Coast. She later started African Angels, a NGO dedicated to educating the underprivileged children of the region. She left a banking career in Australia to travel around the world. She spnt five months in India, then travelled through East Africa and ended up in South Africa in December 2003. After exploring the Wild Coast and staying in Chintsa for a while, she decided to stay. She started African Angels with Tracy King of the King’s Playschool in Glen Eden. The charity provides an opportunity for very poor children to receive a high quality education from preschool to matric. Finding sponsors is always a challenge. About half the sponsors are from overseas, and half from South Africa. On weekends, Lou runs her restaurant, the Country Bumpkin, in Chintsa East.

MAKE CHRISTMAS MATTER

Greatergood SA is urging South Africans to make this Christmas different by choosing gifts that will change lives. Make Christmas Matter is an annual call-to-action campaign offering a range of alternative Christmas gifts. You can see and buy gifts on-line, and then personalise gift cards to send to friends, family, colleagues or business associates explaining how the gifts are helping to change the lives of people in South Africa. Some of the gifts include:

A new school uniform for an orphaned child at R250.
Vitamins for a person living with HIV or Aids at R50.
Materials to help a small entrepreneur package their products attractively at R250.
Organic farming training for a subsistence farmer at R500.
A soft toy for an abused or neglected child at R50.
Food for an orphaned baby baboon at R100.
An income-generating township veggie garden at R5000.

The campaign supports carefully selected projects. An intensive assessment process includes peer review panels, site visits, a comprehensive organisation and risk assessment, research, evaluation and detailed reporting. This is the fourth year that GreaterGood SA will run the Make Christmas Matter campaign. Since it started in 2005, Make Christmas Matter has raised almost R1.5 million for 17 development projects ranging from a child immunisation programme in the Northern Cape to a community environmental education drive on the East Rand.

CRITICAL SKILLS

The Department of Home Affairs publishes a list of critical skills required to keep the economy growing. The latest list was published in April and includes:

500 actuaries and risk assessors
500 agricultural economists
500 statisticians
500 economists
200 chemical and materials engineers
1000 civil engineers
150 structural engineers
500 aeronautical engineers
500 aircraft maintenance engineers
250 avionics engineers
500 electrical and electronic engineers
100 industrial engineers
100 mechanical engineers
100 mining engineers
250 quality engineers and inspectors
500 specialists in pipe engineering and manufacturing
200 astronomers
200 astrophysicists
200 atmospheric physicists
200 space scientists
100 chemists, analytical chemists and industrial chemists
500 agricultural and forestry scientists
500 bioengineers and biotechnologists
100 food technologists
100 geologists
150 geophysicists
250 veterinarians
5000 clinical and biomedical engineers and technologists
300 research and development pharmacologists
4000 school teachers (maths, science, design and technology specialisations)
50 education planners
5000 agricultural science technicians
250 earth science technicians
1000 biological science technicians
1500 civil engineering draftsmen, technicians and technologists
500 electrical engineering draftsmen and technicians
250 electronics technicians
250 mechanical engineering draftsmen and technicians
250 hydraulics and pneumatics technicians
1000 industrial and product-development technologists and testers
350 autotronics technicians
150 mechatronics technicians
1000 aircraft and avionics technicians, including maintenance technicians
150 manufacturing technologists and technicians
500 sheet-metal tradesmen
1500 structural steel and welding tradesmen

VOLUNTEERS BUILDING LIBRARIES

Melanie Mayer (20) and Marlen Sartorius (20) are German volunteers with African Field Services (AFS). They are working at two Eastern Cape schools - Melanie at Hoërskool Cowan and Marlen at Laerskool David Vuku. The two women are helping to upgrade the schools' libraries. They've approached businesses in Port Elizabeth and Germany for sponsorships. When they return to Germany in September, they hope to leave behind fully-stocked school libraries.

JOBURG'S SANTA RIDES AGAIN

Since 1976, Buks Delport (aka Father Christmas), has been driving around Johannesburg's poorer suburbs in his red 1958 Ford bakkie decorated as a sleigh with reindeer, dishing out sweets and toys to children. He hasn't missed a Christmas in 32 years. The 67 year old Buks lives at Vaal Marina, on the Vaal River. He owns Buks Delport motor scrapyard in Ophirton, Johannesburg. His fiancée, Marietjie Steenkamp, helps out with the special deliveries. His late wife, Mara, used to knit dolls and toys throughout the year. Now Buks buys the sweets and toys himself, bar a few donations. He sometimes receives invitations to act as Father Christmas at Christmas parties, and the money he receives for this, he donates to children's homes.

THE ROWING LESSON


Pregnant with her first child, Betsy Klein, an artist, is summoned from her home in New York to her father’s hospital bed in Cape Town. Harold (Harry) Klein was a doctor in a small country town in South Africa, but is now in a coma. This is Anne Landman's second book. The first was The Devil's Chimney, published in 1997. The Rowing Lesson is a memoir novel, part Anne's family history (she lives in New York and was unable to be at her father's deathbed in South Africa in 1997), part fiction. Harry was a skinny boy with a hot-tempered mother and a good-hearted father, Joseph a Jewish shopkeeper in a town a few hundred miles from Cape Town. In 1938 Harry goes to medical school and marries a woman from a socially superior Jewish family. They have two children, both of whom move to the USA. Harry has a life-long jealousy of his younger brother, who becomes a flashy, respected cardiologist. As Betsy sits by his hospital bed, she recalls her memories of growing up. Her father was not always likeable or kind, a product of his background and times. The Rowing Lesson novel looks at the dynamics between father and daughter, between children leaving the country of their birth and parents that stay behind.

Anne Landsman was born and raised in Worcester, near Cape Town. She attended the University of Cape Town and Columbia University. Her first novel, The Devil’s Chimney, was nominated for four awards including the M-Net Prize, and was set in Oudtshoorn. She has lived in New York City for 27 years, and is married with two children. When her father died in 1997, she wrote him a letter in the second person. It was read to him at his bedside and also at his funeral. It became the spark for this novel. He got sick, fell and broke his leg. Two weeks later he was dead, something went wrong in the surgery.

AUSSIE STUDY

In the on-going debate between those who stay in South Africa and those who leave, two things stand out - the mostly negative talk between the two sides, and the name-calling. Lost in this, is the emotional and psychological upheaval that goes with emigration. Now an article has been published in the South African Journal of Psychology, entitled “Predictors of psychological distress in South African immigrants to Australia”. It was researched and written by Nigar G. Khawaja and Lesleyanne Mason of Queensland University of Technology. It is believed to be the first scientific study of South African immigration to Australia that focuses on the reasons for emigrating and the emotional and psychological upheaval that they go through. One hundred and one white South Africans in Brisbane and Melbourne, who had left South Africa less than 5 years ago, were complete a battery of questionnaires. The study found that psychological distress was not affected by gender or employment status. However, it differed significantly on the basis of their duration of stay in Australia with the distress reducing as the length of stay increased. Furthermore, factors such as grief as a result of immigration, low levels of self esteem and finally the experience of crime in South Africa, contributed to the psychological distress experienced by these South African immigrants. The study found that in the first five years in Australia, South Africans feel more bereaved than any other immigrant group. This was studied by means of the Core Bereavement Scale.

SOL'S PARTY OF THE CENTURY

Last night Dubai launched its latest luxury hotel with a $20-million (about R211-million) party attended by more than 2000 business leaders, politicians, actors, musicians and members of the Dubai royal family. A spectacular fireworks display delighted all - including Charlize Theron, Kylie Minogue, Robert de Niro, Shirley Bassey and the host, South African billionnaire, hotel and gambling tycoon Sol Kerzner. Guests dined on a 22860m² custom-built deck with a 42,7 metre stage. The menu included lobster and Arabic cuisine prepared by about 500 chefs. Atlantis The Palm Hotel is located at the trunk-top of the Palm Jumeirah, one of three palm-shaped islands. The 1539-room hotel is made up of two pale rose towers, which are linked by a bridge which houses a $35 000-a-night suite. The hotel opened unofficially on 24 September and has had an occupancy rate of 80%. It was inspired by the original Atlantis that Sol built in the Bahamas. It has the largest waterpark in the Middle East and an aquarium in which 65000 fish, along with a whale shark, swim in 11-million litres of water.

The two-day party, labelled the biggest party of the 21st century, was organised by celebrity party planner Colin Cowie. Colin grew up in East London. His mother, Gloria, and one of sisters, Anne, live in East-London, while his other sister, Janet, lives in Port Elizabeth. Colin used companies from India, Dubai, Paris, New York and Los Angeles for about a year, to organise the successful event. Colin's next project is his own US TV show and the launch of his new book, Colin Cowie's Wedding Chic. He lives in Manhattan.

MALTA OPENS WAY TO EU

Getting a EU passport is not an easy task. Malta became a EU member country in May 2004, and that has led to a way for wealthy South Africans to secure residency status. To qualify, South Africans have to earn at least R300 000 a year or have a net worth of R4,5-million. They also have to lease or buy property in Malta, and bring a certain amount of money into the country each year. Malta recently joined 26 other European countries which have signed the Schengen Treaty, so people who have permanent residence in Malta have free movement across major European countries, without having to apply for visas. A Cape Town company, Crusader Rock, facilitates and expediates Maltese residency applications.

MASQUERADE: THE STORY OF MY LIFE


Masquerade: The Story of My Life, by Rayda Jacobs
This autobiography starts with the author's childhood in Diep River, Cape Town, in 1947. After her divorce, Rayda’s mother moves back in with her strict parents. The family are forcibly removed to Athlone. Rayda grows up in a large, well-off religious Muslim household on the one hand and, on the other, in a household with Jewish roots and an unconventional grandfather. Rayda finds work as a white legal secretary in the Cape Town CBD until someone alerts the authorities. At the age of 21 she leaves with her young sister for Canada, where she spent the next 27 years. There she went through two marriages, the first to an Iranian with whom she had two children, the second to an Egyptian. Both marriages end in divorce. Her daughter's near fatal car crash is heartbreaking. In the early 1990s, the author returns to South Africa where she starts writing full-time and making documentary films, culminating in her directing and acting the lead role in Confessions of a Gambler, based on the novel by the same title which won her the Sunday Times Award. Often the source of controvecy in her Muslim community, at the age of 61 she was the special guest at the Dubai Film Festival in 2007. Throughout her life, beset with hardship, it is her writing and, later, her children that sustain her and help her to survive. One very inspiring woman!

23 October 2008

SA CHEFS WORLD CHAMPIONS

A team of 10 South African chefs are the Olympic champions after winning gold at the Culinary Olympics in Germany. South Africa beat 32 national teams, by cooking a three-course meal which included beetroot and thyme-marinated springbok loin, creamed barley with juniper-braised springbok shoulder, a crayfish starter, and naartjie & chocolate malva pudding. They also won two silver and one bronze medal for presentation.

SA WOMEN WORLD TENNIS CHAMPS

The South African women's 70+ tennis team beat top-seeded USA and became the ITF Seniors and Super-Seniors World team championship in Turkey. The championships involved 324 teams from 34 countries. Just goes to show... you're never too old to become a world champ!

22 October 2008

EMIGRATION WAVE

According to furniture removal companies, South Africans are again emigrating in droves. The numbers are closely matching those of the 1994 emigration wave. The new emigrants are giving crime, affirmative action and falling standards as their reasons for leaving. One company claims that there has been an increase of 70%, compared to last year's figures, in Cape Town residents emigrating to New Zealand. Most are Afrikaans-speaking and/or Coloured. Pickfords has also seen an increase. compared to last year, of emigrants to Australia and New Zealand. They ship 10 to 15 containers to Australia each month, and 4 to 5 containers to the UK. Most of their clients are couples with young children. First National Bank's residential property report shows that 20% of sales are due to emigration. Two out of every 10 house sales are because of emigration.

BROTHERS IN COACHING

Gary Kirsten's brother, Peter, will follow in his footsteps when he takes up a coaching job in Kenya. Peter joins another brother, Andy, who is the coach of the Kenya cricket team. Gary is the coach of India's team. Peter will coach the batsmen. He was coaching the Jersey Island team prior to his latest appointment. Together with another brother, Paul, the Kirsten boys are part of our cricket history.

15 October 2008

Well done Helen!

Cape Town Mayor, Helen Zille, disclosed her secret in being voted the world's best Mayor - “I put the right people in the right places.... I don’t micro-manage.” The Mayor of the world's most beautiful city is also leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA). She was selected from 820 mayors world-wide, in a competition run by global local government think-tank city mayors. Accepting the award, she paid tribute to the staff in the her mayoral and parliamentary offices, as well as to her supportive husband and two sons. Helen started her career as a political correspondent for the Rand Daily Mail. Before becoming Mayor, she was elected to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature in 1999, serving as MEC for education until 2001 and then as leader of the DA.

14 October 2008

A much-needed invention

Vusi Ndlela was a maths and science teacher for 12 years. He left the profession in 2005. Now he's invented a much-needed teaching tool called Fraxion Master. It teaches students in Grades 3 to 7 fractions in a simple way. To prove that his invention does work, Vusi needs 200 prototypes in 5 schools. He has located a manufacturor but the mould alone costs R250 000. If you can help Vusi with sponsorship, please phone him at 078 250 8542.

20 September 2008

Precious film

Precious Mckenzie was born in the Red Cross Hospital, in Durban in 1936. His mother Christina named him Precious. At the age of four, his father Joseph was killed by a crocodile in the Limpopo River. As a result his mother became an alcoholic. Precious and his sister Gloria were placed in foster care. At the age of 11, Precious’s athletic ability was noticed by Catholic mission in Pofadder. Father Franklin encouraged and trained him in gymnastics. Precious returned to his mother in Pietermaritzburg when he was 17 and started working at a shoe factory. Every morning he went to Steve’s Gym, where the owner Kevin Stent encouraged him to try weightlifting. In 1958 Precious won the Natal Bantamweight weightlifting title. By 1960 he was regarded as South Africa’s best weightlifter. He was chosen for the national team in 1963, but declined to join. He immigrated to England, ahead of his wife Elisabeth and daughters Vanessa and Sandra. He lived in Northampton and worked in a factory, and continued training and competing. In 1966 his citizenship was fast-tracked and two years later he represented England in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica; winning a gold medal in the Bantamweight division. He became the first athlete to win gold medals at four consecutive Commonwealth Games. In 1974 he was awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1975 Precious and his family moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Now an international film is being made of his life, by James and Lance Morcan, a Kiwi father and son team. Filming start in November in South Africa, the UK and New Zealand. In South Africa filming will be in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Feeding the hungry

Mama Joyce Ncanisa (52) is a domestic worker who works two days a week. For the past eight years she has been feeding hundreds of hungry people at Port Elizabeth‘s Norwich taxi rank. She has also opened up her Vinjiwe Street, Motherwell, home to a teenage girl she found sleeping in a tent - and persuaded her to go back to school. Mama Joyce has two children of her own. Every Monday and Friday she does housework in the Sherwood area. She uses her wages to buy groceries to prepare meals for the hungry. On Saturday afternoons she's found at the taxi rank, having transported her home-cooked food from Motherwell in taxis. Mama Joyce has a limp, following a bus accident two years ago. If you can help Mama Joyce's feeding project, contact her at (041) 4695925 or 083 725 9111.

Wedding bells

Melissa Ward (23), a Johannesburg model, is set to marry All Blacks rugby player, Sione Lauaki (27). They got engaged last December and plan to marry on 21 March in New Zealand. They met in December 2006 in Johannesburg through mutual friends.

SA's new chick lit



Zukiswa Wanner was born in Lusaka, Zambia to an exiled Umkhonto we Sizwe father and an exiled Zimbabwean mother. She lived in Zimbabwe. She studied journalism at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu. Zukiswa came to South Africa in 2003 and now lives in Johannesburg. In 2006 her first book was published. The Madams deals with post-apartheid racial role-reversal. The main character, Thandi, is a Superwoman working mother and wife. She works for the Tourism Board. At home she's the perfect traditional wife and mother, at work the perfect promotable black woman, and the perfect friend for her two best friends (one black and Xhosa, one white and English). Thandi admits defeat and decides she needs the South African bourgeois accessory: a maid. She decides it must be a white maid. Marita joins the household and soon life is not the same. Thandi's friend and neighbour, Lauren, believes she is British royalty. Thandi's other friend, Nosizwe, is an old college friend and from a snobby family.

Zukiswa's next book is called Behind Every Successful Man. This book's main charater is Nobantu, who has everything a girl could dream of - a successful businessman for a husband, two children, and two of the best friends in the world. On Nobantu’s 35th birthday, surrounded by glitz, glamour and fame, she wonders what has happened to her ambitions? Her career? What has happened to Nobantu - First Lady of Black Economic Empowerment? She goes on to reclaim her independence and starts her own business, leaving behind her husband, kids and birthday present Jaguar.

Grannies in Canada help SA Gogos

The town of Vernon in British Columbia, Canada, holds a special garage sale in September. Granny’s Treasure Trunk Sale at Trinity United Church in Alexis Park Drive, features gumboot dancers and African drumming. The proceeds go to South African grandmothers in Sabie who are struggling to raise their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. The funds raised have provide daily lunches, fabric for sewing projects, eye glasses, seeds and gardening tools, and protein food parcels.

Anti-crime work

A group of 81 business people raised R4-million for anti-crime work and recently completed a 450 km cycle tour. The tour started at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and went through Zambia, Namibia and Botswana, ending at the Victoria Falls. Change a Life Cycle is in aid of the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust. Mike was a senior manager at Computershare and was murdered last September in his Craighall Park, Johannesburg, home - shot and stabbed in front of his wife and three young children. Each rider in the Change a Life Cycle tour had to raise at least R20 000. Computershare doubled the money. Of this money, R350 000 is going to the Children in the Wilderness programme. The Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust also supports the DNA Project.

Geocachers in South Africa

Geocaching is alive and thriving in South Africa. The Heritage Cache was a project that involved 21 South African artists such as William Kentridge, Lien Botha, Willie Bester, Diane Victor, Willem Boshoff, Cobus van Bosch and Arlene Amaler-Raviv. Two years ago they each donated an item that reflected South African heritage, and this was buried in a case in Table Mountain. Anyone can stumble across the treasure, admir it and leave it for the next treasure seeker to admire. Geocaching is an adventure sport that has ardent fans world-wide. The modern treasure hunt already has more than 600 000 caches world-wide and uses GPS (Global Positioning Systems). The co-ordinates are published on geocache sites. The South African site lists the geocachers in ranking order.

Grahamstown to Las Vegas

Rhodes University drama professor and actor Andrew Buckland (54) and his actor son Daniel (27) are performing in the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil‘s hit show, Love, in Las Vegas. Love was inspired by the Beatles and is playing to packed houses five days a week at the Mirage Hotel. The pair were auditioned by Cirque talent scouts who visited South Africa in 2005. They were added to the Cirque database and offered a one-year renewable contract. Janet, wife and mother, is a theatre producer but remains in Grahamstown and chats to the pair via Skype.

Paarl's highly educated car guards

Beatrix Badenhorst teaches at the Taal Museum and Monument in Paarl, and develops Afrikaans teaching programmes. She also teaches English, Spanish, German Portuguese and Arabic. Her recent success stories includes teaching 22 Congolese refugees Afrikaans. Some of these students are car guards at Paarl Mall, where they now greet people in Afrikaans. The Congolese paid for their classes and the Mall provided the classroom. Amongst them there is a marine biologist, teachers, a physicist, tradesmen, an author of six published books, and an engineer with a Master's degree. They all have work permits and are awaiting their asylum hearings.

Rowing champion

Gordon Eddey (51), a former journalist, took part in the Beijing Paralympics as a rower. In 1988 he was one of the 35 people injured by a bomb planted by Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) outside Ellis Park Stadium after a rugby match. The bomb was in a BMW outside the stadium. Harold Matshididi was the MK operative who planted the bomb, according to his submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commision in 1998. Clive Clucas (48) and Linus Marais (34) were killed in the blast. Gordon's friend, Roger Hagerty, also lost his leg that day. The two hockey players from the Old Johannians Sports Club were season ticket holders. The late Campbell MacFarlane, a former paratrooper and trauma surgeon, managed to save Gordon's arm, but not his leg. A few years ago Gordon's son, Creaghan, began rowing at King Edward School. One day Gordon was persuaded to take part in the Long Row, in which dads take part. Adrian Higgins, now coach of the Paralympic rowing team, convinced Gordon to get involved in rowing. At the Paralympics, Gordon was the oldest SA Team member. He was cheered on by his wife Tracy, daughter Cara and Creaghan.

Child custody battles cross borders

There are more child custody court cases taking placing in South Africa, which involve South African expats. Recently, a three-year-old Johannesburg girl was ordered to be left in the care of her South African mother in Johannesburg, and not with her American father in the US. The Johannesburg High Court ruling saw the court over-rule the Family Advocate who was trying to force the child to return to her father, a former soldier who was dishonourably discharged. Her mother is a 27-year-old receptionist who returned to South Africa two years ago and lives on the East Rand. She met her husband in the US six years ago, while working as an au pair in Chicago and he was a student. After she resigned from her job and returned to South Africa, he followed her and they married a month later. When she became pregnant, they returned to the US. Life was not rosy and things started going downhill.

Sarajevo Roses

Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob was born and raised in Johannesburg. She is the author of Sarajevo Roses: War memoir of a Peacekeeper, based on her two years working as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia. Anne, a journalist and author of The Nelson Mandela Story, and Winnie Mandela ­ A Life, returned to South Africa in 1995 and now lives in Kestell in the eastern Free State. While living in Namibia, she started working for the UN, and landed up in Bosnia where she started a radio station that kept locals informed of the UN presence in their country. She soon became involved in local culture and as a go-between in Serb-Bosnian POW exchanges. She helped set up the exhibition of Sarajevo art, Witness, in New York, and also got the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra to play at a concert in Italy. The grandmother of three was previously married to journalist Max du Preez. While living in Bosnia she met Armin Bezrob.

German language support

Hoërskool Witteberg is one of four South African schools to have been chosen for a network of 100 world-wide schools being supported by the German government. The school was chosen by the Goethe Institute, the German Embassy in South Africa and the Department of Education. Witteberg offers German as a second language, and together with Paul Roos-Gimnasium, Hoërskool Linden and Hoërskool Mbambangalo, was selected for the programme that sees free teaching material supplied to the schools. Students also take part in exchange programmes.

Youngster shows the way

Anke Cullinan (12) attends Balmoral Girls' Primary School in Queenstown. She's launched a feeding scheme to provide lunch for needy children at Louis Rex Primary School. The Collect and Can project has Balmoral students donating sandwiches to Louis Rex students who go to school without lunch. Anke’s idea drew support from her school's Early Act Club, Lukhanji Sunset Rotary Club and the Christelike Maatskaplike Raad in Queenstown.

Solidarity expands

Solidarity trade union recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. It was originally started as the Mine Worker's Union 100 years ago. As part of the celebrations, a R100-million Growth Fund was launched to expand the trade union’s benefits and services. The current Helping Hands bursary fund is too small. Last year it provided bursaries of R1,4 million to 200 children. The Growth Fund will enable Solidarity to expand Sol-Tech to a fully-fledged Technical College that can train a thousand artisans per yea. A building has already been identified in Andeon, Pretoria. An Afrikaans distance learning college will also form part of the planned expansion.

Thabo in the NBA

Thabo Patrick Sefolosha (24) is in his third year of playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls. His father, Pat, was from Mamelodi West and his mother, Christine, is Swiss. Christine lived in South Africa for seven years, where she met Pat. The couple lived in Boxer Street, Kensington. After she fell pregnant, they moved to Lesotho and got married and moved to Switzerland. Their first child, Kgomotso, was born there in 1983. Thabo was born a year later. Recently, Thabo visited South Africa with the Basketball Without Borders group to hold a four-day basketball training camp in Johannesburg. He also helped build houses for three families in Orange Farm.

Dutch donation

The municipality of Alphen aan den Rijn in the Netherlands has donated R1,8-million for a social housing project in the Oudtshoorn area. The funds would be used at the Swartberg Home for the Elderly in Dysselsdorp. Seventy-five new housing units would be added and the existing 37 flats would be upgraded. Another R1,8-million was donated for AIDS/HIV projects.

UK working holiday visas to end soon for South Africans

South Africans between the ages of 18 and 30 are facing a looming deadline if they want to apply for working holiday visas to the United Kingdom. The visa scheme will end in November when it will be replaced with the Youth Mobility scheme. The cut-off date for visa applications was likely to be the end of October, although the date has not yet been confirmed by British authorities. It is unlikely that South Africans would be eligible for the Youth Mobility scheme - South Africa's likely exclusion from the new scheme was because was considered a high-risk country whose citizens might abuse their visa rights or overstay in the UK. Another factor was that South Africa did not have a reciprocal agreement for UK youth. Once the new UK laws are enacted, South Africans who want to live in the UK will have to rely on ancestral visas, spousal visas, family permits, or work visas for highly skilled professionals.

05 September 2008

Gold for Teddy Bear

Linda Earl (52), co-owner of Bears Etcetera in Roodepoort's Clearwater Mall, has won a gold medal for South Africa - in the Bear Olympics. Her entry, named Snatch & Jerks, took 16 hours of work. Yauh-Zeng Lin, a teddy bear collector from Taiwan, started the Bear Olympics in 2003. Linda's creation was inspired by Olympic weight lifters. Entries were received from 32 countries.

Paul Harris Award

Amelia Jones is known as the Angel of Cape Town. The Rotarians recently honoured her 40 years of community work with the Paul Harris Award. Amelia was born in Goodwood and grew up in Athlone. Her father was a school teacher, and emphasised the importance of education. Amelia attended Harold Cressey High School, where she had positive teachers. After high school, she went to the University of the Western Cape for a social work degree. She spent a year at the University of North Carolina on a study bursary. Her first job was with the then Department of Coloured Affairs, where she worked in the Manenberg area. Three years later she started working at Child Welfare, where she worked in Hanover Park with foster care and child abuse cases. Amelia eventually ended up working for the Western Cape Community Chest, where she became executive head in 1996. The Community Chest supports about 400 charity organisations. Amelia was married to the activist Peter Jones and has two daughters.

Japanese donation

The Japanese Embassy in South Africa has donated equipment worth R100 000 to the Optima Special Care Centre in Pacaltsdorp. The equipment includes walking frames, physiotherapy balls and balancing boards. Thirty-seven children, aged 4 to 18 years old, live at the home from Monday to Friday.

Jane leaves Egoli

Corine du Toit, better known as the scheming Jane Edwards in the TV series Egoli, is leaving the soapie after almost 5 years. She's taking a role in a Bollywood film, Florida Road, which starts shooting in Durban next May. Corine got the role through her agency, Boss Models & Management in Cape Town.

Miss World in Johannesburg

Johannesburg will host this year's Miss World pageant. The organisers changed the previous location of Kiev in the Ukraine after concerns about the conflict in Georgia. The 58th Miss World pageant will be held on 13 December in the Sandton Convention Centre.

New book

Zoë Wicomb was born in Namaqualand. She lives in Glasgow, where she is Professor in the Department of English Studies at Strathclyde University. Her first book, You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, was well-received internationally. The next book, David’s Story, won the 2002 M-Net Literary Award. Her latest book, The One That Got Away, is set mostly in Cape Town and Glasgow, and is a collection of 14 short stories. The stories explore a range of human relationships: marriage, friendships, family ties and relations with servants.

Love Jozi

Cape Town's Table Mountain silhouette is well-known world-wide, and used in everything from advertising boards to paintings. Now Johannesburg's skyline hopes to achieve the same recognition. Bradley Kirshenbaum, a graphic artist, is trying to do that by creating a series of T-shirts, under the label Love Jozi. They're already popular with trendy Joburgers and come in 70 different designs.

Skills shortage

South African economists and researchers now believe that the skills shortage is South Africa's biggest challenge. Emigration, early retirement and resignations because of deteriorating working conditions are said to be the cause of the skills shortage. Azar Jammine, chief economist for Econometrix, said that companies were being forced to use under-qualified and inexperienced staff, resulting in lowered standards. According to the National Remuneration Guide, published by Deloitte and Touche in February, about 81% of companies experienced difficulties in recruiting staff because of the skills shortage. The Department of Home Affairs issued 641 work permits between April and July this year to skilled foreigners seeking employment in South Africa. Last year 1133 permits were issued. According to the 2007 National Scarce Skills list, published by the Department of Labour, the country needed more than 252 000 farm managers and more than 220 000 farm workers.

There were also posts for 51 110 teachers, as well as more than 17 000 university and college lecturers, private tutors and teachers, second-language English teachers, and adult education and training instructors. More than 20 700 health and welfare support workers are needed, along with more than 25 000 health diagnostic professionals, and midwives and nurses. The list showed that in short supply were more than 13 470 construction, distribution, production and operations managers; over 10 600 engineering professionals such as chemical engineers, civil engineers, electrical, industrial, mechanical and mining engineers; 10 755 building and engineering technicians; 7 620 mechanical engineering workers, such as aircraft technicians and toolmakers; 15 835 fabrication engineering-trades workers, such as welders and sheet-metal workers; and more than 12 800 other technicians and trades workers, including chemical, gas, petroleum and power generation plant operators.

23 August 2008

Bid for kids fails in Constitutional Court

Andreas Coetsee of Nelspruit lost his Constitutional Court application for leave to appeal, in which he had asked that his ex-wife Karin be prevented from taking their two children to Abu Dhabi. Karin, from Middleburg, Mpumalanga, is an expert on cell division, and was offered a job in Abu Dhabi. She leaves soon with the children aged 10 and 12. Andreas argued in the Constitutional Court that his children are very attached to him, that they should not be estranged from their family, and that their English is not very good and that they would thus have difficulty in a foreign school. Nine Constitutional Court judges ruled unanimously that there was no possibility that Andreas's appeal would be successful.

Springbok fan

Bjorn Teunissen must be one of the most avid Springbok supporters around. He has a Springbok paraphernalia-laden 1976 VW Beetle, which he calls Smitty. The deputy principal and teacher at Crawford College Preparatory, transformed the once-ruined Beetle into a Springbok fan's dream. The car has the number 2 on the bonnet. The green-and-gold interior and exterior features the Springbok emblem. Fine laser cutting was used to create the emblem on the running boards.

Free POS software

South Africa-based Cubit Accounting has launched a new version of its Cubit POS (point of sale) application. The free and open source Cubit POS system can be run on any PC and operating platform. It also inter-operates with the majority of existing POS hardware. It can be customised to comply with different tax systems around the world. It can accommodate hundreds of tills, making it useful for large and small businesses.

Cool photographer

The Observer, a British Sunday paper, recently published a list of the 50 coolest people in the United Kingdom. At number 35 is South African photographer, Alistair Allen (29). Alistair works a digital director at arts magazine, Dazed and Confused. Originally from Durban, he studied electronic engineering at Technikon Natal. He moved to the UK eight years ago where he started working in TV and the music business. Two years ago, he started DirtyDancing.com, which features photos of people he sees when out clubbing. Alistair is considered a fashion photographer, but also does studio photography. His photos have featured in His pictures have been in Vogue. He bought his first camera at age 15 and taught himself to use it.

Raising funds for the SPCA

Ryan Riley (32), an events co-ordinator from East London, will be driving a 110cc Vuka scooter from East London to Johannesburg and back, to raise R100 000 for the SPCA. The SPCA does not get government support. The East London SPCA can‘t even afford a vet. The two-week long scooter trip, which he will do without back-up or support vehicles, will see Ryan driving for up to 10 hours a day. The trip starts in East London on 30 August and is due back on 13 September.

17 August 2008

SA invention in the USA

So many South African products, or their imitations, have found their way overseas though expats. Kevin is a former Capetonian who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's taken a well-known South African sight, the Venter trailer, and turned it into a business. Kevin's business, Companion Trailers, manufactures trailers in Fort Worth.

French roots

Some South Africans are heading back to their French roots. There's already a South African touch in some villages such as Limousin, where Agnes van der Merwe lives. Marlene van der Westhuizen owns a gallery in Charroux, where she lives with her plastic surgeon husband, Deon. Louis Janse van Vuuren, a former Cape Town artist, and his partner Hardy Olivier live in Boussac, Creuse. Louis moved there 10 years ago, after resigning from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town. Lanie van Reenen sold her guest house in Cape Town, and bought Chateau Sallandrouze in Aubusson which she's turned into a small hotel.

Kiwi teaches South Africans to dance

Helen Els, a New Zealander married to a South African, is teaching South Africans a new dance form. Helen started ceroc dancing in her youth. Ceroc is a modern jive that is a fusion of salsa, Latin and ballroom. It comes from the French words "c'est rock". Helen met her South African husband, Andries Els, in Dover, where he was a racing car gearbox designer. They settled in Pretoria in 2005. Helen started offering ceroc classes and today there are about 600 ceroc dancers in Pretoria. The first National Ceroc Dance Championship was held in 2007 at the Pretoria Country Club. There are ceroc clubs in Pretoria East and Centurion. There are plans for more clubs.

Coaching cricket in Nigeria

A South African, Sean Phillips (28), is working at reviving cricket in Nigeria. The Nigerian Cricket Federation employed Sean, a former Boland player and coach at Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch. Sean started playing cricket at John Ross College in Richard's Bay. He later did a coaching course at the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Academy. Sean is now based at Tafawa Balewa Square, in Lagos. It was at this square that Nigeria played its first international in 1904, against the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Nigeria joined the International Cricket Board in 2002 but is not ranked. A wealthy Nigerian businessman offered to pay Sean's salary and Sean left for Lagos in June 2007, with his wife Lindsay. He has already helped the Ibeju-Lekki Cricket Club to second place in the league. A cricket academy is planned for Nigeria.

South African protection for Canadian soldiers

A partnership between DaimlerChrysler and a South African defence firm, Land Mobility Technologies (LMT), in Pretoria has led to a R610-million contract to supply the Canadian Armed Forces with armoured trucks. Eighty-two trucks were ordered, with an option for an additional 26 trucks. LMT produces the protected cab, which is dispatched to Mercedes-Benz in Germany, where it is added to an Actros all-terrain truck chassis, producing an armoured truck capable of carrying 15 t of load. The Canadians use the trucks in Afghanistan, where they are deployed as logistics vehicles. LMT, a nine-year-old company, said the cab offers mine-blast resistance, and protection against improvised explosive devices and ballistic threats. This is their biggest contract to date. The new contract led to a R5-million capital layout and created 30 new jobs. Previous work includes creating armoured Humvees and Unimogs for a Middle Eastern country.

Sought-after photographs

Gordon Clark, world-renowned photographer, has returned to South Africa after 20 years in Los Angeles, bringing his American-born cat, Zulu, with him. Gordon lives in Hout Bay, and has already exhibited at Odes Gallery in the Old Biscuit Mill Complex in Woodstock. The exhibition of his rare and highly sought-after African photography was a success, bringing in sales of more than R800 000. His photos sell for between R25 000 and R120 000. He's been invited to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Gordon grew up in Hillbrow and after finishing school, worked as a window dresser. He changed careers, becoming a hairdresser and met Johan Wessels, a top fashion photographer. Gordon became an assistant photographer, worked overseas and landed up in the advertising industry. In 1998 he went on a photo safari through Lesotho and Namibia, driving a Land Rover. A few months later he was in the same hotel as Oprah Winfrey's private pilot, and a chance meeting led to the pilot showing the photos to Oprah. Oprah was so impressed with his work that she bought a photo and wrote the foreword to Gordon's first photography book, Transitions. Gordon is a commercials director at Velocity Films.

Shark documentary

Ryan Johnson (31) of Mossel Bay filmed sharks for his doctoral thesis, and ended up on National Geographic TV with a documentary, Sharkville. He was also interviewed by Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America. National Geographic financed the filming, which was shot at night. Ryan is a New Zealander and studied at the University of Pretoria. After earning his Master's degree, he worked in Gansbaai. He is currently working on his second documentary, Sharkpit, in Mauritius.

Lily Pond Country House

South African expats, Brian and Felicity Sherratt, own Lily Pily Country House in New South Wales. They left South Africa in 1980. Brian, a banker, and Felicity, a teacher, have also worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and London. Their award-winning B&B has been praised for its eco-sensitivity. They have sheep, as well as wildlife such as bass, mullet, platypus, wood ducks, moorhens, water dragons, goannas, diamond pythons, swamp wallabies, phascogales, feathertails gliders and potoroos.

Van der merwe world champ

The junior hip-hop dancing world champion is Michelle van der Merwe (15), a grade at Hoërskool Eldoraigne. She won the championship, in the 13 to 15 year old category, in Los Angeles, beating competitors from more than 40 countries. Michelle also won a bronze medal for tap-dancing. This was her first international competition. She started dancing at age 4.

Winning horse's SA links

One of the world‘s top racehorses, Archipenko, is co-owned by several Eastern Cape breeders and a Dubai sheik. One of the owners is Port Elizabeth veterinarian and racehorse breeder Ashley Parker. His mother Rose, of Ascot Stud Farm in Lovemore Park, is also an owner, as are Nicky Bartlett, Rennie Price, and Ian and Nina Robertson. Archipenko is also partly owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Archipenko is currently based at Newmarket in the UK. The four-year-old recently won the Plymouth Gin Summer Mile at Royal Ascot. The horse is trained by Mike de Kock.

2010 London Book Fair

The 2010 London Book Fair will have South Africa as it's market focus. It aims to give UK publishers the opportunity to network with their SA equivalents and to create new partnerships.

Port Elizabeth achiever

Dr. Colleen Crangle grew up and went to university in Port Elizabeth. She left for the USA to further her career, got married, had two children, and in-between become a women‘s rights activist. She had a ground-breaking law suit against Stanford University eight years ago. In 1996, a year after being hired as a medical informatics expert, Colleen was fired after she complained about gender discrimination. She sued the university and won in 2000. She still works in medical informatics. Colleen studied at the Universities of Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, and Unisa. She later got a PhD from Stanford University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Her sister Maureen lives in Port Elizabeth, and her brother Kevin in Australia. She is also a member of an animal advocacy group, the Humane Education Network, in California.

Ballet scholarship

Andile Ndlovu (20), of Soweto, has won a scholarship to the prestigious Washington Ballet, after winning a competition in South Africa. He'd previously tried ballroom dancing. He has already been invited back to join the studio company, the next step in becoming a full-fledged professional ballet star.

BBC TCV presenter helps SA kids

The BBC TV presenter, Paul O’Grady, recently visited Qwaqwa for the second time in a year. On his first visit he visited schools and underprivileged families in Qwaqwa, as well as Makholokweng Village in Harrismith. Back in the UK, he received donations. He aims to donate computers to ZR Mahabane and Mangaung Intermediate schools, through the Save the Child South Africa Programme.

Not beamed up far enough

South African billionaire Elon Musk is not popular with Trekkies around the world. One of Musk’s rockets, carrying the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who played Star Trek’s Scotty, exploded, scattering his remains and those of more than 200 other people 217km above the Pacific. Musk attended Bryanston and Pretoria Boys’ High School. He became a wealthy Internet entrepreneur in the USA.