29 June 2008

Another war zone

CBS News TV journalist Lara Logan, recently promoted to chief foreign affairs correspondent in Washington, is embroiled in foreign affairs of another nature. The 37-year-old war correspondent and former model has been named as the other woman in a divorce battle involving Texas couple Joe and Kimberly Burkett. Lara was born in Durban and attended Durban Girls' College and the University of Natal, graduating in 1992. She started her journalism career at the Sunday Tribune in Durban. She left South Africa in 1992 to work for Reuters Television before joining ABC News to cover the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Joe Burkett is a US State Department contractor stationed in Baghdad and was involved in a tussle with CNN correspondent Michael Ware, with whom Lara was also romantically involved. Lara has been separated from her husband Jason Siemon, an English pro basketball player she married in 1999, for more than two years. Lara's older sister, Lisa Herr (40) of Johannesburg told the media that the Burketts were separated for six months before her sister started seeing him. Lara recently moved to Washington after being based in Baghdad for five years, and is due to give birth to Joe's child in January. Brisbane-born Michael Ware has a wife and son in Sydney. He was known as the Steve Irwin of Baghdad while covering the Iraq war since 2003.

Early warning sms

South African school kids aren't going to be able to get away with school trouble for long, thanks to a new service that makes communication between schools and parents easy. smsweb offers a way for schools to notify parents of any relevant news. There are already about 250 schools across the country that are using the service. As most school letters advising parents of school problems seem to evaporate into thin air, this service sends messages directly from the school via SMS to the parent's cellphone.

Joburg to London

Leanne Simpson is Managing Director of Quintessentially South Africa, the global luxury lifestyle management group. She was born in Johannesburg. Leanne lives mostly in London and is married to Aaron Simpson (36), co-founder of Quintessentially. After travelling extensively Leanne settled down in London and started working at Quintessentially in 2001. Quintessentially South Africa was launched in November 2004. The company was founded by Aaron Simpson, a former film producer with Elton John's film production company Rocket, and his friend Ben Elliot, nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall, in London in 2000. Ben’s background was restaurants and clubs. The company now operates in 27 countries.

2010 Volunteers

The 2010 Soccer World Cup organisers are looking for volunteers to perform a variety of support roles. Specialist volunteers with good technical sporting knowledge, language and media skills will also be required. General volunteers would be needed in areas such as team liaisons, accreditation, spectator services, fan parks, transport, information services, hospitality and logistics. Volunteers would be trained, focusing on understanding the game of football and its culture. Other areas of training include customer service, how to deal with irate spectators and understanding the behaviour of fans from different countries. Approximately 5 000 volunteers will be needed for next year's Fifa Confederations Cup, an event which is seen as a rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup where about 15 000 volunteers will be needed. Volunteers will be sourced from the football fraternity, tertiary institutions, existing volunteer organisations, and the private and public sectors. South African citizens who will be 18 or older on or before March 1, next year can apply, and various age groups from youth to retired citizens will be considered. The Confederations Cup takes place between June 14 and 28 next year. The trophy is contested by eight nations and matches will be held in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.

USA work

Workaway International gives South Africans the chance to work in the USA during gap years. The company chooses 600 South Africans each year for their programme. Work is on golf estates. To qualify, applicants must, amongst other requirements, be aged between 18 and 29. If you are a chef or waiter, the maximum age is 35. There are costs involved to join the programme. There is a Workaway International South Africa Facebook group.

Hot stuff

The world has discovered our secret treasure! South African men are in demand - as models overseas. Their bodies and faces are splashed in various large international advertising campaigns. Marius Hordijk (23), a University of Stellenbosch graduate, advertises the latest Versace jeans. He is also the face of Hugo Boss. Gavin Hammon (32) of Cape Town, features in the latest adverts for Zenith watches, and is the face of Nivea's men's grooming range. He has also completed a new advertising campaign for Magnum ice-cream. To top it all, he's done L’Oréal adverts with Eva Longoria Parker, which will be shown on TV and movie theatres world-wide. Model agents are impressed with the work ethic and god manners of South Africa models. Their professional attitude towards modelling jobs goes a long way in getting them top jobs.

Adopt a chimp

Eugene Cussons of Nelspruit is the latest animal man to be a hit with millions of Amercian television viewers. He has an invitation to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show. This follows from his Animal Planet TV 13-part series "Escape to Chimp Eden" which started in the US in April. The channel has commissioned a second series of 20 programmes, to be shown from October. South Africans will see the first season's shows from November. Animal Planet assigned a permanent crew to film developments at the Jane Goodall Institute's Chimp Eden and to accompany him on rescue missions. Eugene also appeared on The Today Show, America's favourite TV breakfast show. He's bowled over Martha Stewart, Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O`Donnell. The good-looking Eugene aims to save a species that scientists predict will be extinct within eight years if there is no intervention. Chimpanzees are an endangered species. Eugene wants to build similar projects to Chimp Eden where chimps still live wild, like Gabon and Kabinda province in Angola. You can help Eugene's mission by adopting a chimp at Chimp Eden. It is not too late to make a difference.

Germans protest elephant culling law

Dr. Annelie Forbriger, a doctor in Germany, read about South Africa's decision to lift a 13-year moratorium on elephant culling and decided to canvass the support of more than 1000 Germans to oppose it. This resulted in a letter to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism criticising Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. People for Animal Rights in Germany released the letter in which the signatories say they will not visit South African parks and reserves to "watch animals that may be slaughtered". The letter ask that Van Schalkwyk introduce scientifically approved, reasonable and humane strategies to address possible problems in the few areas where elephants are impacting negatively on local habitats". Mava Scott, spokesman for the department, said culling was a last resort when options including trans-location and migration corridors had failed. No elephants had been culled since these regulations came into effect on May 1.

Save our flamingo

A Save the Flamingo campaign was launched this week by conservationists to protect one of the world's most important lesser flamingo sites. The permanent wetland, Kamfers Dam, in Kimberley is being damaged by raw sewage and property development. Kamfers Dam is the only lesser flamingo breeding site in South Africa. Large parts of the Homevale sewerage works are not functioning, causing a high volume of raw sewage to gush into the dam. Some of the young lesser flamingos have swollen tibio-tarsal joints and lesions on their legs. These abnormalities and their causes are currently being investigated by scientists and veterinary pathologists. One of the aims of the campaign is to encourage the Sol Plaatje Municipality to hand over management of the sewerage works to an independent management entity.

28 June 2008

Containers full of help

A container full of goods for the under-privilged has arrived in Port Elizabeth from Holland. It is the 100th container to arrive, thanks to the Calabash Trust. The container included toys, tables and chairs, benches, beds, bed linens, mattresses, pots and pans. The donations were collected in the Netherlands by Douwe and Gerry Helfrich. The Dutch couple decided to help Port Elizabeth‘s poor after they joined a Calabash Tours visit to the Port Elizabeth townships in 1999. After their return home taht year, they started collecting donations and in 2000, with the help of Safmarine and Deutsche Afrika Linie, they began shipping containers to South Africa. Sixty-one containers have gone to schools and communities in Port Elizabeth while the remainder have gone, through Calabash, to other needy places in the country and as far afield as Namibia. Douwe (66) is a former financial administrator of a large school in the province of Friesland. Calabash Tours owner and Calabash Trust co-founder Paul Miedema said this shows the power of tourism.

Dubai World Africa buys more of SA

Dubai World Africa has bought major shares in three South African wildlife reserves as part of its plans to spend nearly R12.5 billion buying property in Africa over the next five years. The company already spent R7 billion buying Cape Town's V&A Waterfront. The reserves are Shamwari Game Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge. Sanbona is between Montagu and Barrydale in the Western Cape. It consists of 54 000 hectares and years ago comprised about 30 farms. Jock Safari Lodge is in the Kruger National Park and Shamwari is in the Eastern Cape. Adrian Gardiner, founder of Shamwari, will continue as both managing director and shareholder of the three resorts. Dubai World Africa has property in South Africa, Rwanda, Djibouti, Comoros, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Morocco, Senegal and Benin.

Nip and Tuck star for SA movie

Julian McMahon is best-known as the star of of the TV series Nip and Tuck. Born 27 July 1968 in Sydney, Australia, to Sir William and Lady Sonia McMahon, he started off by studying law but soon turned to modelling. His father was a former Prime Minister of Australia. In 1987, a TV commercial promoting jeans in Australia landed him the lead in an Australian TV soapie. After 18 months on the series, he starred in Home and Away. A move to the US led to greater success. His next film role is in the film adaptation of a South African novel by Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples, which is in production and set for release in 2009. The film also stars Gillian Anderson of the X-Files TV series. The novel is set in South Africa during the 1970s and is a coming-of-age story.

La Vida Loca in the Lowveld

Ricky Martin, the Latino singer, arrived at Nelspruit's airport in a private jet yesterday for a holiday at a game lodge. Shortly afterwards, he took off in another private jet for the lodge.

27 June 2008

From SABC to Seattle

If you grew up in South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, you'll recall the name Dorianne Berry. She was a SABC radio and TV personality. After 25 years with the SABC, Dorianne went to work for the PR department of Sun City. She applied for the annual US Green Card lottery, won and moved to Seattle. She now works in human resources for a telecommunications company. She lives on Mercer Island.

Little Miss World

Micaéla van der Merwe (9) was born in Bethlehem, Free State, and raised in the Lindley district. She lives in Burgersfort and is the first South African to became Little Miss World. She was crowned the winner last year in Antalya, Turkey. The daughter of Mari and Tienie won the Little Miss World South Africa pageant and was entered in the 2007 Little Miss World pageant. With coaching from her modelling teachers, Amanda Smith and Brandon Kriel from Amoné Modelling Academy, and he rendition of the song The Best of Both Worlds from Hannah Montana, she was a sure winner. Micaéla is home-schooled and has 22 pets. She enjoys watching Animal Planet and wants to open her own animal hospice. Her granny, Lorraine Wessels, and her uncle and aunt, Tienie and Mrs Yolandé Hurter, are very proud of her.

First class service

Clinton Campbell grew up in Riebeeckstad and didn't know that one day he'd be meeting celebrities while working for a top class hotel in London. Clinton and his wife, Dorinda, moved to London in 2000, with their suitcases and about R6 000. Now he's part of the management team at the famous Soho Hotel, a five star boutique hotel. Clinton's parents, Gavin and Judy, live in Welkom.

Top class teacher

St. Claire Adriaan left Port Elizabeth in 1999 for the USA. The maths teacher was a 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year honoree, after being chosen from more than 75 000 nominees. The Disney Teacher Award honours teachers' creativity, innovative teaching methods, and ability to inspire their students. He was also twice voted as North Carolina's Teacher of the Year, and won the San Diego CW5 Dream Classroom competition. St. Claire attended Hoërskool Bethelsdorp in Port Elizabeth. He later taught at Primêre Skole Republiek, Hillcrest and Alpha. He lectured at the Kagisanong College of Education in Bloemfontein before emigrating to the USA in 1999, where he first taught at Adelante Preparatory Academy in San Diego. A move to Cleveland followed, where he is the principal of Villaview Lighthouse Community School. He has also taught future teachers at Dominican University. He holds degrees from the Dower College of Education and the University of Port Elizabeth, as well as a Ph.D. from the American College of Metaphysical Theology, and a post-graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Rhodes University.

A much calmer zoo

Jenny Gray (43) was the Chief Executive Officer of Johannesburg Zoo for four years, before emigrating to Melbourne, Australia, where she started as director of the Werribee Open Range Zoo in January. Part of her new plans include aiming to triple the number of animals and making the zoo a leading attraction in Australia. Visitors to Johannesburg Zoo increased from 267 000 to 440 000 a year during her time there. Werribee has about 260 000 visitors per year. Before working in zoos, Jenny completed a civil engineering degree and a MSc in transportation engineering. She worked for First National Bank's electronic banking division before joining Johannesburg Zoo.

Only for the ultra-wealthy

Michael Martini (31) grew up in Port Elizabeth. Today he parties with the likes of Paris Hilton. After completing two degrees, he went travelling, visiting 36 countries. Two years later, he returned to South Africa and became a commodity trader, trading base metals from Africa to China. Now he lives in Miami where he owns a private high-end luxury concierge and lifestyle management company. He started the business after a club owner suggested it. He bought a gym membership at the Delano Hotel in Miami, where he met an oil trader from Jordan at the pool, for whom he hired a limousine and a security guard, and arranged a dinner party. Three years later he had 17 clients, including movie stars, producers, property developers, oil sheiks and stockbrokers. At one stage, he dated CSI Miami star Sofia Milos.

Rising star

Yoav Sadan (29) grew up in Constantia, Cape Town, and is now a rising star in the music world. A cousin gave his demo CD to Paul Rappaport, who was senior vice-president of Columbia Records. He was invited to New York and given a development deal. Rappaport became Yoav's manager and mentor. Rappaport has been named by Billboard as one of the most influential people in the music business. Amongst his stars are Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd. Yoav's single, Club Thing, went to No. 1 in Denmark and is also popular in Canada. He was tipped as a star for 2008 in Music Week, the UK's music paper.

Yoav was born in Tel Aviv in 1975, to an opera singer mother, Patricia, and violinist father, Jacques. Jacques, a Romanian Jew, fought in the wars that led to the establishment of Israel. He was an architect who became a tank commander. Soon after Yoav's birth, the family moved to South Africa. At the age of four, he started piano and cello lessons. At age 13, he started playing guitar. While at Bishops in Cape Town, Yoav played in a band with IT billionaire Mark Shuttleworth. Last year he was the supporting act for Tori Amos' US tour.

Wonki Ware

Di Marshall, a South African potter, is the creator of Wonki Ware for Nigella - a range of glazed stoneware created for the kitchen goddess, Nigella Lawson. Di's creations are "must-haves" in the UK and is sold in Debenhams, John Lewis, Harrods, the Conran Shops and House of Fraser. The range is hand-made in George by 18 potters who unemployed before joining Di. She started her business in 1999 in her home studio, and now exports to the UK, Sweden, France, Mexico, Ghana, India, Japan and the US.

26 June 2008

Helping themselves and the community

A new project in Knysna will see street children and youngsters at risk constructing homes for elderly residents living in dilapidated shacks on the Garden Route. The project will help youngsters who attend the Sinethemba Youth Centre in Khayalethu, Knysna, develop skills. They receive carpentry lessons from local pastor Faan Muller and have already built workbenches and a workroom at Sinethemba. The organisation, From US with Love, has donated cash and equipment. Brian Hatton, whose idea it was to build homes for the elderly, is raising funds in the UK for the project. Brian is a UK resident who has visited South Africa on holidays. Sinethemba aims to rehabilitate children at risk, and provides meals and lessons in numeracy, literacy and life skills.

Ernie's estates

Ernie Els has another golf estate - this time Lahleni Lakes near Witbank. This is his fifth design and is aimed at first-time home owners. Covering more than 1100ha on the banks of the Doornpoort Dam, it is valued at over R7-billion. His other estates are Gardener Ross Golf & Country Estate (Gauteng), Oubaai (George), Highland Gate (Dullstroom) and Nondela (Drakensberg).

Our original surfing dude

South African surfing legend, Shaun Tomson (now 52), won the Gunston 500 (now known as the Mr Price Pro) six times in the 1970s. It is the longest running pro surf event in the world, and Shaun's father was one of the founders in 1969. In 1977 Shaun won the world surfing championship. He got his first surf board at the age of 10 and was soon a regular at Bay of Plenty, along with his cousin Michael. Shaun now has a film out, Bustin’ Down the Door, which is being released by Nu-Metro in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban on July 4. He spent a year working on it. The title comes from Wayne (Rabbit) Bartholomew ­who used it in a surfing article he wrote in 1976. It is the story of the six surfers from South Africa and Australia who arrived in Hawaii in 1975 and started a surfing revolution. The film is narrated by the actor Edward Norton, himself a surfer. The film was one of the most popular at the recent Santa Barbara Film Festival. A coffee-table book about the film will be released in December. Shaun has also written an inspirational book called Surfer’s Code: 12 Simple Lessons For Riding Through Life. He plans on making more films. He lives in Monte Cito, California, with his wife Carla. They moved there in 1995 and own a clothing business. After retiring from pro surfing, Shaun and Carla concentrated on their clothing label Solitude. They've recently bought back the Instinct label, which they oroiginally started in the 1980s. Michel started the Gotcha label. Two years ago Shaun's son died in an accident in South Africa.

Surfing dudes, SA-style

Tim Harris, Mike Sternberg and John Fleming recently made an adventurous trip - the first ever trans-continental surf trip along the African coastline. The UCT graduates left Cape Town on 27 March 2007 in a 1981 Toyota Landcruiser for the official African Surfer Expedition. They travelled through 15 African countries along the continent's west coast, then crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Spain and drove through Portugal and France before finally reaching London - 1 year, 2 months, 2 weeks and 3 days after their journey began.

Not that many in the UK

A study conducted by Dr Robert Crawford of King's College, claims there are only about 550 000 South Africans in the UK. Dr. Crawford has conducted similar studies on New Zealanders and Australians. The findings were presented at Monash University in Johannesburg today. He used census data, national insurance registrations, British entry/exit data and South African emigration data amongst other sources in his research. He found that South Africans stuck to their own community, more than any other group living abroad, and that anglophone South Africans are mostly in south-west London, Afrikaners in the east and south-east, blacks in the east, and Jews in the north. In 1998, 11 000 of the 26 000 South African workers in Britain were professionals. Ten years later, it is 29 000 of 80 000 workers. From 1995 until now, there have been close to 20 000 South African registered health workers in the UK. According to Crawford's research, the South African government says that about 200 doctors leave the country for the UK each year. Two-thirds to three-quarters of South Africans entered Britain on two-year working holiday visas. The UK has reduced the work period of the two-year working visa to one year. The UK has signalled it will make its working holiday visa scheme only accessible to those countries that have a reciprocal working holiday visa arrangement, something South Africa doesn't have.

Heavenly treat

At last! Lovers of Haägen-Dazs ice-cream can now get their fix at Sandton City, and enjoy a special treat - an ice-cream fondue. Divine! Melted Belgian chocolate, four flavours of Haägen-Dazs ice-cream, fresh fruit, macadamia brownies and choc chip cookies... heaven on earth (or pretty close to it!). At R200 for two or R390 for four people, this is a treat to share with those close to your heart. The only other Haägen-Dazs shop in South Africa, is at the V&A Waterfront in beautiful Cape Town.

Dictionary for SA cellphones

Now you can forget about bad Afrikaans spelling in SMSs. South Africa's first bilingual dictionary for cellphones, Pharos Klein Woordeboek/Little Dictionary , was released at the recnt Cape Town Book Fair. Within an hour of its launch, 400 people had downloaded it. It was produced by Pharos, after Cellbook approached them. Cellbook also launched a Bible for cellphones. The dictionary contains about 250 000 words and costs R50 to download. To get your copy, text WB to 42508. It downloads in two parts.

21 June 2008

Not a kitsch price!

A Vladimir Tretchikoff painting sold for R3.74 million at a recent Cape Town auction. In comparison, Irma Stern's Indian Woman sold at the same auction for R7.2m. Tretchikoff's painting was Fruits of Bali, a portrait of a Balinese woman holding a bowl of fruit. The late Russian-born immigrant lived in South Africa for 60 years and was a self-taught artist. He was known as the King of Kitsch, and was responsible for one of the best-selling art prints of all time - The Chinese Girl. He died in Cape Town in 2006 at the age of 94. He was also famous for works such as A Namaqualand Landscape in Spring, The Red Jacket and Zulu Girl. His works were not taken seriously nor was his art bought by South African museums or galleries, yet he won many awards overseas. Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff came to South Africa after WWII. In 1961, more than 200 000 people saw an exhibition of his work that was on display at Harrods in London. His first solo exhibition was in 1948 in Cape Town. The Tretchikoff Renaisance was founded by his grand-daughter Natasha Mercorio-Tretchikoff.

Spelling game

Researchers at the Meraka Institute have released a spelling game in all 11 official South African languages. The game, OpenSpell, can also be localised for additional languages. OpenSpell was inspired by visiting researcher and linguist, Dr Madelaine Plauché, who has been working in the human language technologies research group at the Meraka Institute based at the research parastatal CSIR. The OpenSpell software has been released under the General Public License (GPL).

Best Child Model of the World

Jasmin Malik (16) of Tzaneen was recently voted the Best Child Model of the World 2008 at the pageant held in Sofia, Bulgaria. This was her first international contest. Her mother, Kadi, said she started modelling two years ago and is contracted to a Pretoria modelling agency. She is a Grade 11 student at Stanford Lake College, near Tzaneen. Jasmin wants to continue modelling after school and studing alternative medicine.

Running wild in the USA

Angela Wagner is one of South Africa's fastest cross-country runners She's currently a radio broadcast student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. At the same university, Angela takes Afrikaans classes. Angela is English-speaking. She recently ran in her first US national championship event, in her first year of competing in the 3000-meter steeplechase, and finished in sixth place. She earned All-America honours with the second-fastest time of her career (10:06.05). The 3000-meter race was the fastest ever contested on US soil and was won by Colorado's Jenny Barringer in a time of 9:29.10. Angela ran the same distance in California and won in 9:58.68. Until last year she competed in the 800-meter races.

Making a difference with trees

Marolene Heunis,a businesswoman in Hermanus, started the Adopt a Tree programme to help green sub-economical houses in nearby Hawston. The project encourages businesses and individuals to buy a fruit tree for R90 that will then be adopted by the house owner. The house owner signs a pledge promising to "water the tree regularly and to do everything to keep the tree healthy and happy." A certificate is given to the buyer of the tree with the name and address of the person who has adopted the tree. The fruit trees are provided by Bill Harling, owner of Walkerbay Nurseries, and planted by Yoshua Sias from Hawston. There are 180 sub-economical houses in Hawston, and 20 owners have already adopted trees. A family in Germany bought five trees, one each for every one of their children. Pick n Pay has pledged 100 indigenous trees to be planted in the open area between the houses and the R43. To take part in this worthwhile project, you can pay the R90 into this account: Walker Bay Nursery, Nedbank account no. 1345040199, branch no 134512.

Rugby days from Hermanus to England

Petrus du Plessis matriculated from Hermanus High in 1999, where he played first team rugby for three years. In 2001 he moved to England. He was recently selected to play for the England Counties XV Summer Tour. Petus is married to Lisa, his British wife of three years, and they have a two-year old son. They live in St Helens. His parents live in Sanbaai. Before going to England, Petrus studied Sports Science at Stellenbosch University where he played rugby for the university team as well as Western Province U/19. In England, he played one season of club rugby for Liverpool St Helens and one at Orrel. He then moved to Sedgley Park where he has been playing for the past four years. He also played county rugby for Lancashire and completed a physiotherapy course at Salford University.

Full of stories

John Runnalls of Somerset West should be retired but instead followed a life-long dream, to travel the world. John is 80% deaf, but that did not stop him from travelling by rail across 14 European countries. Then he wrote a book, Railway Tracking on a Shoestring, based on his adventures across Europe and America. It is also full of practical advice specific to the countries he visited. Since then more adventures and books followed. His next book, Railroad tracking the Russian way, was first published in 1997 when John was 67 years old. On his return, he got involved in ABCD plan, a development programme for job creation. He also wrote and self-published Computer Playtime, a book aimed at getting young children to become computer literate. It has already been translated in several South African languages. John has also written an autobiography. His latest book, Website of Evil, is also self-published and is described as a mystery thriller and love story. His books are available from Edit 'n Run Publishers (fax: 021-852-6776).

Canadian choir tours South Africa with South African teacher

Sarona Mynhardt started the White Rock Children's Choir in British Columbia, Canada. This June and July, she brings 17 of them to South Africa for a two-week tour. They will perform at the University of Stellenbosch, Christel House in Cape Town, Cape Town's waterfront, St. George's Cathedral, Phalaborwa, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Sarona will meet old friends Jannie du Toit and Christa Steyn, who will perform with the choir in Johannesburg. Another special visit will be the choirs' evening performance at a church in Pretoria, the NG Suid-Oos Pretoria, where Sarona was married and where her daughter Maderi was christened. Sarona was born and raised in South Africa, where she was a member of children and youth choirs for ten years. She completed her teaching degree at the Teachers Training College in Pretoria in 1985, specializing in music, choir directing, drama and special education. She also did post-graduate studies at the Conservatoire of Music at the University of Potchefstroom. After she immigrated to Canada with her husband and two children in 1996 Sarona taught Music in the Surrey School District. She started the choir in 1997 at the Ray Shepherd Elementary School. Highlights have included singing at Disneyland, tours to Italy in 2003 and Hawaii in 2007. She attended choral conducting workshops at Butler University in Indianapolis. Sarona looks for ways to help her students find opportunities in life as well as in music. One of her singers, Karleen Hoffmann, wanted to do volunteer work in South Africa after she graduates from White Rock Christian Academy this year. Sarona contacted a friend in South Africa and Karleen will be an assistant at a Christian school in South Africa, from August to December, working with a nursery and orphanage and a centre for people with AIDS.

Building a library

Rodney Fisher (48) is a maths and science teacher at Hilton Head Preparatory School in southern California. He grew up in in Factreton, Maitland. Together with his students, he raised more than R70 000 for Primêre Skool Factreton. The money will be used to turn one of the classrooms into a library. Rodney recently visited the school, with six American students, and brought donations of books and stationery. While on his annual visit home last year, the school principal, Saul Isaacs, told him the school had no library. Back in California, Rodney organise the fund-raising. Before moving to the US, Rodney taught at various schools in Hout Bay, Manenberg and Woodlands in Mitchells Plain. He started teaching at the age of 18, not yet fully qualified, in Manenberg. In the 1980s he obtained a degree in sports science at the University of Stellenbosch. In 1997 he left for the US on a study bursary from Eastern Michigan University, where he studied sports medicine.

South Africa's Facebook version

South African social networking site Blueworld was founded by Bradley Voges, Charl Norman and Brendt Brooks in 2005. They took over an events and nightclub photography Web site which was operating from the Eastern Cape. Over time they added social networking, which eventually developed into Blueworld, described as South Africa's own Facebook. Blueworld is predominantly about meeting new people in South Africa. You can browse through content and profiles without logging in. Because there are more cellphones in South Africa than there are computers, Blueworld recently launched m.blueworld.co.za which allows users to interact via their cellphones. The company was recently part of an acquisition by 24.com

Left behind art leads to court

An interim interdict prohibiting their son from selling their valuable paintings has been awarded by the Pretoria High Court to Sam Phillip Sher (80) and his wife Anna Gittel, who now live in La Jolla, California. The interdict prevents Raphael Irvin (41) of Faerie Glen in Pretoria, from selling the seven paintings by famous South African artists. Last November, their son allegedly sold an oil painting by Pieter Wenning for R370 000, and in February one by Gregoire Boonzaaier for R1,1 million. The parents claim that the paintings belong to them, having been part of their art collection built up over the years. When they immigrated to th US, they could not take all their belongings with them. Some of their four sons offered to keep some of the paintings at their homes. Last year they asked one of the sons, Barry, to have an evaluation done on the paintings at Raphael's house. Afterwards, Raphael allegedly sold the paintings without their permission.

South African mobile phone film takes top award

Eduardo Cachucho (23), an architecture student at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), recently won an international award for a short film he made on children in KwaThema township. His prize includes the chance to film a Nokia sponsored documentary on gorillas in Rwanda's forests. His documentary, titled The Game, beat more than 600 entries in the 2008 Nokia Mobile Filmmaking Awards and shows a group of children playing video games at the KwaThema Chess Academy. The video games room is one of its major sources of revenue. The entries were filmed on mobile phones. The awards were made at the Sony studios in Los Angeles. Eduardo wants a career that integrates architecture and film making.

Smile Capetonians, you're on a blog!

Style guru Robyn Cooke is showcasing Cape Town's every day fashion style on her blog. As she goes about her daily life in the Mother City, she watches for stylish dressers. Some she stops and asks to take their photo and details. Many will end up on her blog. Robyn is a former public relations and marketing manager for a large technological company. She also has a post-graduate degree in psychology. She returned to Cape Town in December, after doing a course on personal styling at the London College of Fashion. While there, she offered to work for free with some of the top stylists in Britain, so she could learn.

Edenvale artist hits the big time

South African artist Carla Busuttil (26) sold 13 of her paintings to by multi-millionaire art collector and advertising guru Charles Saatchi. The paintings were part of her Royal Academy of Arts final year exhibition. Carla, from Edenvale, has spent the past three years doing post-graduate fine arts studies at the Royal Academy. Her themes included power and authority. Subjects included Jacob Zuma, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Adolf Hitler. Painting titles included Mr Showerhead (Zuma), and Match-boxes and Necklaces (Madikizela-Mandela). Saatchi is married to cooking star Nigella Lawson.

Cubans in South Africa

The South African government is recruiting Cuban engineers and architects, in addition to the Cuban and Tunisian doctors already here, to fill posts and mentor young graduates. So far 24 civil engineers, 19 architects and 14 other engineers have been brought from Cuba. The Cubans are on a three-year contract and earn more than R300 000 a year. Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said 139 Cuban and 47 Tunisian doctors were employed by the government. An agreement with Tunisia makes provision for 230 of its doctors to be recruited.

South Africans arrested in London

Former Port Elizabeth accountant Leslie Sieff stands accused of money laundering in England after a Scotland Yard raid on his London safety deposit company. The raid, a culmination of a two-year long investigation, revealed containers with gold bars, drugs, jewellery, 17th-century masterpieces and £53,5-million in cash. Criminals are thought to have used the boxes for depositing ill-gotten gains. Sieff (60) was arrested with his co-directors Milton Woolf (52), who is also South African, and Jacqueline Swan (44). They've been released on bail and the investigation continues. Sieff holds British citizenship and left South Africa in the 1980s with his wife and two sons. His company was targeted after London Metropolitan Police suspected that it had breached money-laundering legislation. Sieff lives in a multi-million-pound home in Golders Green, North London. He is also a director of the Hampstead School of English, where his wife Jill is principal. Sieff matriculated from Grey High School in 1965. His father was a doctor. After he emigrated, his parents, Morris and Ethel, emigrated to Canada.

Royal Marines SA links

Britain's Royal Marines have an historical connection with South Africa. Called the Green Berets, the commando has roots in the Anglo-Boer War when British soldiers had to adapt to Boer guerrilla tactics. At their passing out ceremonies, the last march is to the tune of Sarie Marais! Another connection, more recent, is South African Guillaume Coetzee, one of the commando's members. Due to a serious knee injury. Guillaume completed what should have been a seven-and-a-half month course in a year and nine months. A snapped knee ligament brought a halt to his training, but despite being told he would not recover 100%, and seven months of rehabilitation, he didn't give up on his dream. Guillaume moved to the UK in 1997 to play rugby for two years before returning to South Africa for a year. He returned to the UK after receiving a rugby contract, but was not as good as it sounded on paper, so after a rugby mate who was a Royal Marine suggested he give it a try, he applied. At the passing out ceremony, Guillaume also received two certificates - one for exceptional leadership qualities and the second the Commandant's Prize for being in the best all-round rifle section of the troop while training. Guillaume's father, Cas, was in the South African Army before he joined the South African Police. His maternal grandfather was also in the army. His mother, Annie, misses him but is very proud of him. Joining the Royal Marines was on a voluntary basis, but after passing the rigorous training, he became part of 40 Commando.

Amazon stops using SA Post Office

Internet retailer Amazon has stopped using the South African Post Office for deliveries to South Africa. The high rate of orders not reaching their intended destinations is believed to be the reason for a change to courier services, which will add about R400 to the price of ordered items. As of June 12, priority shipping is the only option for customers who place orders via the Web site.

Zola off to the USA

Zola Budd-Pieterse and her family are moving to the USA. Zola has a work permit for two years to compete in masters'athletics meetings in the US. The family leave at the end of July. If she's anywhere near Seattle, she might want to visit US running great Doris Heritage (65), who named one of her Dobermans Zola Budd. Dorothy won 14 US track titles and five world cross country titles in her days as a long distance runner.

Owning the Mother City

Is more of our mother city moving into foreign hands? Dubai World, the holding company that bought the V&A Waterfront from Transnet for R7-billion, may also have the rights to develop on land that could be reclaimed from the sea, from the Green Point lighthouse to Robben Island, including the high water mark at Table Bay and extending to the Castle. This would mean that 50 to 75% of the metro would belong to Dubai World, according to Patrick McKenzie, acting chairperson of the provincial government's committee on environmental affairs. It is not yet clear whether Dubai World, through the Lexshall consortium, had bought the land from Transnet with all of the parastatal's development conditions.

Until the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Bill is passed, the rights of Transnet are still determined by the Sea-Shore Act. This means Transnet owns land and sea within designated harbours, including the V&A Waterfront and the adjacent sea and sea-bed. It exempted the parastatal from certain planning restrictions and allowed for development on land reclaimed from the sea. The ICM Bill that would regulate future development along the coast is still being debated in the National Council of Provinces. The bill has been opposed by Dubai World's Lexshall. The Dubai World sale has been mired in controversy since 2006. Dubai World has also been linked to the sale of the Somerset Hospital site, valued at R1-billion.

Solving a pain in the neck

Four university students have come up with a solution for giraffes at the National Zoo in Pretoria. Nando Schneider (21), Jaco Bester (21), Danie Benade (21) and Frandrich Kraamwinkel (22) are third-year engineering students at te University of Pretoria. The two resident giraffes, Tommy and Bontle, can now eating from feeding bowls that are high up in the air, instead of their old bowls that were a pain in the neck. The new bowls can be adjusted to the right height. The project was part of their course, and the zoo will provide their lecturers with feedback.

South Africans in Tour de France

John-Lee Augustyn (21), originally from Port Elizabeth, will take part in this year‘s Tour de France. He will be with Team Barloworld, a South African-funded team that includes two Colombians, two Italians, a Spaniard, a Kenyan and an Australian. South African sprinter Robbie Hunter, who last year won Stage 11 in the Tour de France, is also part of this team. The Tour de France takes place over 20 days and covers 3653km, with an average of 180km to be covered daily. John-Lee's parents, Johan and Cindy-Lee, live in Kamma Heights. John-Lee started cycle races at the age of eight. After finishing school in 2004, he turned professional. The former Framesby High School student is now based in Italy. John-Lee‘s younger brother Wesley (19) and his mother are also cyclists. John-Lee will compete in the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

16 June 2008

Google Earth South Africa

Google Earth's South Africa layer was designed by SA Tourism and Quirk-E Marketing, building on existing Google Earth technology. The South African layer includes over 120 points of interest and provides an itinerary planner. A 2010 sub-layer has is included, providing information regarding the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Among the thousands of images incorporated into the South African layer are 360 degree images, developed by VirtualAfrica. Google Earth attracted more than 300 million unique users between January and May 2008 and is available in 27 different languages. Google Earth's satellite imagery now covers 30% of the world's land surface.

LM Radio memories

LM Radio, the first commercial radio station in Africa, officially known as Radio Clube de Moçambique, is part of South African memories. LM Radio was on the air from 1936 until 1975. It was the learning seat for many South African radio personalities, such as John Berks. Chris Turner has created a history and nostalgia Web site for LM fans.

14 June 2008

Springbok Radio is back!

Springbok Radio is back! If you can remember what a wireless is, you probably remember Springbok Radio. If you can recall the Jet Jungle or Squad Cars jingles, this is your lucky day. Springbok Radio was one of the most beloved and successful commercial radio stations in South African history. Thanks to the Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa, favourite programmes such as Squad Cars, Lux Radio Theatre, Taxi, The Epic Casebook, The Men From The Ministry, The Sounds Of Darkness, and The Creaking Door, will be heard again when the society launches its Internet radio service on July 1. The new service will operate 24 hours a day, repeating a six-hour compilation of programmes four times daily. Programming will change on a daily basis. There would also be new programming that would include popular music and variety shows, and concentrate on nostalgia. For the past 21 years the society had been collecting, restoring and archiving over 20 000 original Springbok Radio programmes. The Internet Radio Service of Springbok Radio.Com will be on the society's Web site.

07 June 2008

24 in Cape Town

Hit TV series 24 is coming to South Africa - for filming. Agent Jack Bauer will be in the country to film a 2-hour action-packed movie set in Africa. The Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning drama series stars Kiefer Sutherland (51) in the role of Agent Jack Bauer. As head of the Counter Terrorist Unit of the US Government, Bauer's objective is to protect his President and country from terrorist threats. The 2-hour movie, called Day 7, will be a prequel to season seven, bridging seasons six and seven. The sixth season of 24 ended with Jack’s personal life and career basically over. In the movie he travels from country to country searching for answers, until he gets caught up in a civil war. Filming in Cape Town happened close to the V&A Waterfront, as well as at La Farge quarry in Durbanville. Local actors, including Hakeem Kae-Kazim, make guest appearances. Teenagers from Nyanga township were used in the quarry scenes as rebels. Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie’s father, plays the terrorist mastermind. Hakeem plays Ike Dubaku, a colonel in the army in the fictitious African country Sangola. He moved from Bo-Kaap to Los Angeles last year with his wife, Bronwyn, and their two daughters, Ayesha (8) and Shadha (5). His credits include Hotel Rwanda and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. He also got a recurring role in 24. During film Sutherland stayed at the Radisson Hotel and was also spotted at Beluga Restaurant in Green Point.

Damon to be Pienaar

Matt Damon will play former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar in a Clint Eastwood-directed film about the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Damon won an Academy Award for his screen writing in Good Will Hunting. Unable to make a movie of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, the new film will also feature Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The film is based on an upcoming book from Penguin by British author and former South African journalist John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation. Carlin he left South Africa 20 years ago to avoid military conscription. The film is set for release by Warner Bros. towards the end of next year.