31 July 2008

SA calendar in London

For all those Saffers in London, check out this Web site that lists all South African-related performances or events.

Tag It!

Trust a South African to make a plan with this one! Tag stolen goods before they're stolen. Register the serial numbers of the valuable items you own, on a national on-line database. Should they get stolen, change their status to "stolen", alerting second-hand stores on the database. This operational service is free and is called Tagga. It was developed by IT expert John Weber and Captain John Newman. According to the Second-Hand Goods Act, dealers are obliged by law to place the items in storage for seven days before they are put on sale. The service, financed by the two men, has been operating free since June. Information on the database was strictly confidential and there were checks and balances in place to ensure it remained that way.

Egypt to fill SA skills shortage

South Africa will be recruiting Egyptian doctors and engineers to deal with the skills shortage. This was announced by Pres. Thabo Mbeki after the recent State visit from Pres. Hosni Moebarak.

Kruger Park's crocodiles dying

Something's very wrong with the crocodile population of the Olifants and Letaba Rivers in the Kruger National Mark (KNP). Since the end of May, 120 crocodiles have died. It seems they have died of pansteatitis (a hard, orange thickening of fat, especially in the tail section). The KNP's animal experts are battling to find the cause of this. Swedish experts were called in to analyse the dead crocs' fat and flesh. According to their findings, there were traces of DDT but not enough to cause death. Veterinary surgeons, scientists, researchers, rangers and managers met in Skukuza recently to discuss the issue.

26 July 2008

School project leads to volunteering work

A school project has led three Grade 10 girls from Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool in Pretoria to get involved in the AIDS/HIV campaign. Suzanne Jordaan, Madene Marais and Lizaan Schwartz (all 15) spent a day at the Mohau Centre where children aged 2 to 12 years with HIV/AIDS are treated. This was done during the recent school holidays as part of their life skills class. The girls managed to get sponsors for a microwave oven, toys, clothing and food, which they took with their visit. They dressed up as clowns to bring smiles to the 42 children. If you can help the girls carry on their good work, contact Betsie Jordaan at 082-767-8504.

MBE for South African

Ajibha (Judi) Linney (62) is a South African midwife who moved to the UK in 1964 to study nursing and midwifery. Now she is going to receive an MBE from the Queen for helping families cope with multiple births as director of public health, president of the Twins and Multiple Births Association (UK) and vice-president of the Working Community Relations Forum in Addlestone, Surrey. Judi is herself a mother of twins. She has lectured extensively and written several books and articles. She helped to set up various charities and was the author of the first UK guide for women expecting multiple children. Judi worked closely with the Muslim community and founded the Working Community Relations Forum to create greater awareness of its needs. She is now an independent health consultant and coach.

Waiting for a dream

Ursula James (28) has a dream - standing on a podium, an Olympic medal around her neck. It won't happen this year. Ursula lives in Lake Stevens, USA, but is a South African citizen. She moved to the US four years ago and has since married an American. She began rowing and is already good enough that she might have made either the American or the South African Olympic teams. She ended up on neither - she cannot represent the USA because she is not a citizen. There is a three-year waiting period to start the application process for citizenship, which began after her 2006 marriage to David James. She also cannot row for South Africa. She visited South Africa last year and went with her father to meet with the coach of the national rowing team. Because of the country's quotas for most of its athletic teams, she was told "that they already have their quota of white athletes on the rowing team". Now Ursula hopes to make the 2012 Olympics in London. She went to the US as an au pair for a family on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill. When the children went off to school, she would occasionally go to Green Lake, where she got interested in rowing. She was a track athlete and tri-athlete in South Africa. After her year of being an au pair, she was missing home, so the rowing gave her a purpose. She eventually moved to Everett and then to Lake Stevens, where she joined the Lake Stevens Rowing Club. Early last year, she began training with Carlos Dinares, a prominent rowing coach. Last month, Ursula rowed at the US Rowing National Championships at Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J., where she won the single sculls, a 2,000-meter race, in 7 minutes, 40.89 seconds. Ursula works part-time at a fitness club and does freelance work in graphic design.

Facebook as a business tool

South African companies are using social networking Web site Facebook as a cheaper and more efficient way of marketing their businesses. On-line reputation management company Cerebra works with companies like Absa on their Facebook presence. According to Facebook there are 683 943 registered users on its South Africa network group. The South Africa network is the sixth largest among country networks on Facebook, and Facebook is the second-most visited site in South Africa. According to local advocacy group MyBroadband, the average duration of a Facebook session for South Africans is 30 minutes. Quest Flexible Staffing Solutions is first among local recruitment companies to use Facebook. They launched a page in April, which allows the public to assess personality types and establish contact between the applicant and agency.

Convicted for murder

Miguel Ayala (21) was convicted in Milwaukee of killing South African Miller Brewing Co executive Lodewikus (Vic) Milford (43). He will spend the rest of his life in prison for being party to first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of armed robbery. He is not eligible for parole. Witnesses said Milford and two co-workers were accosted after leaving a nightspot on January 26. Milford handed over money before he was shot. He moved to Milwaukee in February 2005.

Doctor to settle case

Dr. Beyers Oosthuizen was accused of slapping an autistic 5-year-old boy in front of his grandmother. He alledgedly slapped the boy on the arm after he touched the doctor's computer. Dr. Oosthuizen has agreed to pay the boy's family a R113 000 settlement, plus their legal costs. His offer does not acknowledge any liability for the alleged slapping incident in November 2003. The Irish Circuit Court heard that the incident occurred after the boy's grandmother took him to see Dr. Oosthuizen at the Children's Hospital in Tallagt, South Dublin County. The judge approved the settlement. The money is to be paid to the grandmother, who seven years ago sought and was granted guardianship of the boy. Dr. Oosthuizen has voluntarily removed his name from the Irish Medical Register.

Mozilla supports SA translation work

South Africa's award-winning multi-lingual software developer, Translate.org.za, has been awarded a grant by the US-based Mozilla Corporation to extend its translation tools. The Mozilla Corporation co-ordinates the development of popular Internet software projects such as the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client. The grant is to further work on Pootle, a web-based translation tool, as well as the Translate Toolkit. Translate.org.za's translation tools are widely used in the open source community and Pootle is used by projects such OpenOffice.org, the One Laptop Per Child project, Creative Commons and OpenSolaris.

Mrs Worldwide

Lizelle Burchell (35) from Alicedale won the Mrs Worldwide beauty pageant in Minnesota on July 18. Six judges looked at 12 contestants, deciding on the former Port Elizabeth Framesby High School brunette. Lizelle was second runner-up and Mrs Style at the Mrs South Africa 2007 pageant, and also won Mrs Eastern Cape 2007 last October. She was a semi-finalist in the Miss South Africa 1992 pageant. In 2006 she entered the Mrs Port Elizabeth pageant and was crowned runner-up. The mother of four is married to controversial Alicedale hunting operator Barry Burchell, who is suing his former friend and business partner, Texan businessman Scott Anglin.

PE guys taking on the on-line world

Three Port Elizabeth friends, who studied at Port Elizabeth Technikon, started an on-line shopping site which is drawing interest from the world‘s top Internet experts. Former Theodor Herzl pupil Justin Drennan (30), his brother Ryan (28) and their friend and former Woodridge College student Terence Murphy (29), started wantitall, now South Africa‘s largest on-line store. It offers over 14 million products from around the world, delivered to your door. They were working in the IT industry in Johannesburg, and started looking at buying electronics from overseas on-line stores. Soon they were importing for colleagues and friends. They set up a small Web site in 2006, with 100 products. They used to finish work at 5pm, then go to Terence‘s house to pack orders until 1am. Google and Amazon have given their business the green light.

Arab investment in Eastern Cape

Arab investors have found the Eastern Cape. Three multi-million rand deals in the tourism sector were signed in the last four months. The latest was the purchase of the exclusive Karoo game reserve Blaauwbosch for a rumoured R40-million. Blaauwbosch belonged to Craig Cullingworth. It is over 4000 ha and lies between Port Elizabeth and Steytlerville. The buyers are the same group of international Arab hoteliers as those that acquired Port Elizabeth‘s Edward Hotel in May this year for what a rumoured R30-million. Cullingworth, a quantity surveyor by trade, bought the land as a small farm for him and his family to use as a retreat in 2000. The reserve has seen a 50% increase in visitors each year for the past three years.

23 July 2008

The spirit of adventure lives here

Jaco Human (28) and Kwêla presenter Morné van Loggenberg (31) are raising funds for the Abraham Kriel Children's Home in Johannesburg and other children's homes in Africa. They're riding across Africa, 27 000 km to London, on BMW motorcycles. They plan to reach London on 25 October. The self-funded trip was started on 16 July when they left Cape Agulhas. Jaco was, until recently, an accounting lecturer at the University of Johannesburg but resigned to do this trip. After the trip he'll spend two years working in London.

The world's his oyster

South African adventurer-explorer Mike Horn (42) has trekked around the Arctic Circle solo, walked across South America, been through African war zones and hiked deep in the Amazon, Borneo and Sumatra jungles. Now he's getting ready to start a four-year environmental outreach expedition around the globe, covering 100 000 kilometres, crossing all the continents and oceans, and reaching the North and South Poles. Mike will walk, kayak, cycle, paraglide, ski and sail. He will work with educational groups along the way, and hopes to inspire young people to clean up the planet and make all aware of Earth's uninhabited areas. His two daughters, aged 14 and 15, will join him during school holidays. The expedition starts on 09 October from Punta Arenas in Chile. From there, Mike will head to Antarctica, where he will trek to the South Pole. Next his route goes through New Zealand and China, then through Russia to the North Pole, across Greenland, to North America and down through South America to Punta Arenas. Mike was born in Johannesburg and later moved to Switzerland to work as an instructor for extreme water sports. In 1997, he undertook an unmotorised crossing of South America. Two years later, he travelled the world around the Equator in 18 months. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Gabon on a 28-foot trimaran, and walked, cycled and canoed from Brazil to Ecuador. Mike crossed the Pacific Ocean to Indonesia, journeyed through Borneo and Sumatra on foot and then continued across the Indian Ocean. The final part of his journey took him across Africa on foot through Congo war zones. This expedition won him the 2001 Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award. In 2004, Mike completed a two-year solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle by foot, sled and canoe, becoming the first man to travel it without motorised transport. Two years later, Mike and Norwegian explorer Borge Ousland became the first men to travel without dog or motorised transport to the North Pole during the dark Arctic months.

Cape Town company wins global competition

Cape Town's Clickthinking, a Web strategic agency, recently won the US-based Web Analytics Association's (WAA) championship. The competition is seen as the global standard for the on-line marketing analytics profession. Corporate members include Google, Yahoo!, Core Metrics, Web Trends, Walt Disney and Omniture. The competition was aimed at web analysts reviewing the site and traffic data for WAA. The judges wanted to see how companies extracted value from web data. Clickthinking Managing Director Peter Stewart said the award was a result of hard work by a team of individuals who are fast becoming the leaders in their respective fields.

Emigration rates up again

The latest First National Bank (FNB) residential property barometer shows the number of South Africans who give emigration as the reason for selling their home has risen sharply in recent months, doubling between the last quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2008, from 9% to 18%. Foreign embassies in South Africa also report an increase in emigration applications in recent months. On Monday, a charted plane carrying 100 South African Jewish immigrants landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. According to the Jewish Agency, which manages immigration to Israel, the number of South African Jews interested moving to Israel, is set to double in 2008. From 178 last year, their number is set to reach over 300 this year. The South African Institute for Race Relations estimates that around 800 000 South Africans emigrated during 1995-2005.

20 July 2008

Our golden champion

Ryk Neethling is aiming for Olympic gold next month, and that is why he turned down a request to be the bachelor in US TV's popular reality TV show The Bachelor. Our sexiest swimmer, who is training in Arizona, was approached by the casting agency last week. Ryk has his eyes set on gold in Beijing, where he will be competing in the 100m freestyle and 4x100m relay. This is his fourth Olympic Games. He arrives in South Korea on Wednesday to join the national squad for a pre-games training camp. The busy man is also busy with his autobiography, Chasing the Dream, which should be on book shelves in October. Ryk almost drowned at the age of five while swimming at a friend’s house. This led his mother, San-Marie, to take him to swimming lessons. The former Grey College student left Bloemfontein to enrol at the University of Arizona on a sports scholarship. Ryk dated American swimmer Amanda Beard, once described as the world’s sexiest sportswoman. His autobiography will reveal why he turned down a multimillion-dollar offer to swim for Qatar and why he refuses to leave South Africa, despite being a repeat victim of crime.

Cellphone novels

Cellphone novels have hit South Africa. A trial run was started earlier this month and involves stories written by South African authors. A new chapter is received over 28 days. Emma Kaye of Mobfest started Novel Idea. Ten of Japan's top books started off as cellphone novels, with one author selling 1,2 million copies. Some of the South African authors include Francois Toerien, Henrietta Rose-Innes, and Sam Wilson. Novel Idea is available for WAP-enabled phones. Registration costs R1,50.

Afrikaans on off-Broadway

Afrikaans will hit the New York stage when an American's drama, titled Jacobsbaai, comes to the Cherry Lane Theatre on 28 July. Xhosa and Zulu dialogue will also be heard. Rebecca Kasper (in Mamma Mia! on Broadway), Waltrudis Buck (co-starred with Julia Roberts in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You) and Daniel Fox (Generation Kill) are taking part. Ilse-Louise Herholdt, a South African musician in The Lion King, will play the role of Minette. A young Zulu boy, who lives in the US, will play the role of Sion. The American actor, James Tortora, was so impressed with Jacobsbaai on the Cape's West coast during a visit, that he wrote a drama which takes place in the guest house that he was staying in. His friend, Du Preez Strauss, translated the words for the Afrikaans character Hannes. James' drama is about the town being cut off when the only road in and out is blocked. The two American characters and a European woman who has adopted a black child, have to mix with the locals to get through the crisis.

Controversial book

When the pro-SA book "Why I'll Never Live in Oz Again, or the UK, Canada or New Zealand for That Matter" was released last year, it led to flurry of e-mail and Web site debates. Grant Schreiber, co-owner of Schreiber Publications, expects the same now that the revised edition has been released. This edition has updated interviews with the authors of each chapter of the first edition. Andrew Donaldson, who wrote about the UK, is still optimistic about SA and believes that there is a good future ahead for SA. The UK-born John Wardall, who wrote about Canada, has changed his opinion of Canada. He's been living in Cape Town since 1992 with his South African wife, but is considering moving to Canada again. The five authors are male journalists; ages range from 30 to 60; two of them are married; three are non-South Africans who have chosen to live here since the early 1990s.

A long jump from South Africa to Turkey

Karin Mey (25) is a long jump athlete. Born in South Africa, she is part of the Turkish Olympic team that will compete in Beijing. She left her birth country after being told she would never represent South Africa in the Olympics. Having recently obtained Turkish citizenship, Karin also received offers of residency from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. She chose Turkey because they offered her a 4-year contract. Karin is the South African record holder (6.93) and number 4 in the world. She lives in Istanbul, and changed her name to Melis Mey, given to her by her team mates at Fenerbahce Club. Karin left South Africa earlier this year, with her South African coach Charley Strohmenger. Her father is a NGK minister in Bronkhorstspruit, Ds. Kobus Mey.

19 July 2008

Cringe, the beloved country

If you remember Cliff Saunders, Mike Hobbs, Dorianne Berry, Carole Charlewood, Glenda Kemp, Min Shaw, Springbok Radio, the Stockley Sisters, Luyt Lager, Trust Bank, Darling magazine, Wielie Walie, Clive Weil’s "twolly for twolly", Grensvegter or the SABC test pattern... you grew up in South Africa in the 1970s. Pat Hopkins is fascinated by eccentricity and is a collector of Boerekitsch. He is a history and political science graduate from the University of Natal, and an award-winning writer, travel journalist and author of more than a dozen books. He lives in Johannesburg with his wife and two daughters. His latest book will have you laughing and saying "remember this?" Cringe, the Beloved Country is a hilarious celebration of those whacky days and more. Covering fashion, politics, morality, entertainment and more, it unearths people and events that will haunt you with delightful embarrassment. The book will take you back to Jani Allan’s liaison with Eugene Terre’Blanche; macramé and rope cornices; mullets and miniskirts; Whites Only signs and the Immorality Act; PW Botha’s wagging finger; the private lives of Piet Koornhof and Allan Boesak; stripper Glenda Kemp and her python; Scope magazine and nipple stars; local TV, radio and pop music; Clive Weil’s Checkers adverts; Zola Budd and even the programme schedule of South Africa’s first-ever TV broadcast on 05 January 1976. The Top 30 of local pop songs, the funniest newspaper headlines and graffiti, Van der Merwe jokes, and a dictionary of South African slang. Throughout the book are quotes from politicians and celebrities, news reports and gossip columns, dredging up things that you’ve probably tried to forget, and which you’ll remember with tears of laughter.

Where have all the drummies gone?

Did you know that only South African drum majorettes use maces? This school activity that was once the highlight of high school girls' life, is in danger of fading away. Drummies drew school girls who dreamt of tossing double-headed maces or had nightmares about dropping them. Now there is estimated to be fewer than 5000 active drummies left in the country. The number of schools taking part is also at a record low. In 1981 the Western Cape Outdoor Drill Championships had 26 high schools competing; this year there were just five. The National Championships used to have 36 large drill teams, now there are no more than 16 teams. Sponsors have fallen away, and its only due to drummie mummies and dedicated teachers that some school girls can still toss the mace. In the Western Cape, the majority of drummies are now from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds, quite a recent development. The forerunners of drum majorettes were active as early as the 1920s at exclusive schools like St Dominic’s in the old Transvaal, but it was only after the first official drummies competition in 1974 that the sport really took off. The teams usually had up to 50 girls, divided into various sections: the mace-carrying leader and sub-leaders, flag-bearers or flaggies, and the rest of the squad.

Wheels across the oceans

Sixty-six wheelchairs arrived in Pretoria from the USA. They were donated to cancer patients by the Foster City Rotary Club in California. The Pretoria West Rotary Club distributed them to the Cancer Association. The wheelchairs' trip to South Africa was sponsored by the Brisbane Highrise Rotary Club in Australia.

Cape Town does it again

My favourite city, Cape Town, has been added to National Geographic Traveler's Web site as one of the 50 Places of a Lifetime. The city is regarded as one of the most iconic and most visited cities in the world. The Places of a Lifetime site carries personal essays on top tourism destinations, tips on the best places to stay and eat, as well as books, music and recommended walking tours.

Activist Granny

Beverley Pervan (60), from Wilderness, recently returned from Melbourne, Australia, where she spent a month helping the Sea Shepherd organisation in refurbishing its anti-whaling vessel, the Steve Irwin. Her duties on board included handyman work, derusting and painting, preparing the afterdeck for the installation of a new helipad and keeping watch. Beverley went to Melbourne as a volunteer at her own expense. She supports the Sea Shepherd aim to enforce the international ban on commercial whaling that has existed since 1986. On their last campaign, Sea Shepherd succeeded in halving Japan‘s target of 1000 whales and this year they intend to shut them down completely. Beverley and partner Chris Mercer are animal rights campaigners who opened a raptor rehabilitation centre in the Kalahari before moving to Wilderness three years ago. They continue as activists against the canned hunting activities of many South African game farms.

Khanyi's Destiny

Khanyi Dhlomo (35), the former television news reader, now edits Destiny, an up-market women's magazine combining fashion and finance. The divorced mother of two young sons is best remembered for her television newscasting in the early 1990s, and for co-hosting Front Row, a glossy magazine show, with Penny Smythe. At 22 Khanyi was the youngest editor of True Love magazine. She was head-hunted to manage Tourism South Africa in France while still in her 20s. While working in Paris she decided to enrol for an MBA degree at Harvard and graduated last year. During her time in the US, seeing young women carrying copies of Fortune magazine in the same briefcase as Vogue, prompted her to launch Destiny in October last year. Khanyi met new love American-Nigerian businessman Chinezi Chijioke while studying at Harvard.

New Hunter baby

Robert Hunter, South Africa's top international cyclist and Tour de France competitor, became a father earlier this month. Mandy Inga was born in Italy, weighing 2,88 kg and 48 cm in length.

Far away and in touch

South African families who are living far away from each other are using the Internet to bond on-line. A world-wide survey conducted by Microsoft, found that instant messaging (IM) is so popular in South Africa that parents, siblings and even grandparents are using IM over e-mail, social networking posts, letters and text messages. A growing number of digital parents and grandparents regularly use the service to keep up with their kids. Families may be living further apart but they are not growing apart. According to the study more than a third of South Africans polled admitted to spending over 10 hours a week on IM; almost a quarter message their parents several times a week; and family squabbles happen just as easily on-line. The survey was conducted on a Pan-European basis across Austria, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. It was conducted during the month of April 2008. Respondents were both male and female and ranged from teens up to 60 + years of age.

Film about Port Elizabeth memories

Hlomla Dandala has plans to make a film that will tell stories about Port Elizabeth. The film will be shot in New Brighton where he spent most of his childhood. Hlomla plays the character of multi-billionaire Jacob Makhubu in the popular M-Net series, Jacob‘s Cross. His father, Mvume Dandala, was a leader in the New Brighton Methodist Church. The family moved from East London to Port Elizabeth because of his father‘s ministry work. Hlomla did school plays in high school, and studied drama at Wits University. He got his television break when he played mine manager Derrick Nyathi in local soapie Isidingo. He went on to directing Isidingo for a few years, as well as Generations, and e-tv youth dramas Backstage and Rhythm City. He had a role in the US daytime series Scout‘s Safari. In 2003 he presented the dating show, All You Need Is Love.

To catch a doctor

South Africa is trying to recruit foreign doctors with a poster that features an elephant chasing a man and the slogan: "When you're done with the excitement of treating wet coughs in Wiltshire, work as a doctor in rural Africa." Africa Health Placements (AHP) hopes this recruitment will do to the Brits what they did to the South African healthcare system for the past six years. Over that period, the UK attracted healthcare professionals from all over the world. Now they are turning away foreign doctors. The poster is part of a marketing campaign to attract healthcare professionals from the UK, Australia and the United States. They also recruit locally. Over a period of three years, 598 health workers have been recruited to work in the public sector in rural South Africa. About 200 of these were foreign doctors. All are sent to rural hospitals and clinics, where they spend between a year and two years.

Sad return

One of the two Israeli soldiers involved in a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah this week, was Ehud "Udi" Goldwasser. Ehud's remains were returned. He grew up in Durban, and was a reservist in the Israeli forces. He was kidnapped on 12 July 2006 by Hezbollah. He was 31 years old. His family settled in Durban after leaving Israel and he attended Carmel College in Durban. His father, Shlomo, was a sea captain and businessman in Durban. Ehud completed 3 years of compulsory military service, and had to serve a month each year. It was the last day of his annual one-month service when he was kidnapped. He was a final year student at Haifa Technical College, where he was studying environmental engineering. His brother, Yair, said Ehud was married to Karnit for a few months. His mother, Malka, and his wife campaigned world-wide for his release.

Hollywood at the Wild Coast

The Wild Coast is ready for the arrival next week of two-time Oscar-winner Hillary Swank and Golden Globe-winner Richard Gere. The actors are in South Africa to film scenes for the biopic Amelia, to be released next year. The film is based on the life of American aviatrix pioneer Amelia Earhart, who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 in her attempt to fly around the world. Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is also one of the film‘s stars, but will not be filming in South Africa. The film set is on a grassy airstrip behind the Seagulls and Trennery‘s hotels. The actors will fly in and do their filming, before flying out to stay in East London. The road to the film set requires a 4x4 vehicle and takes up to two hours to travel. Genevieve Hofmeyer, of Cape Town‘s Moonlighting studios, is in charge of set construction. Both Trennery‘s and Seagulls are being used by the production company.

13 July 2008

A Soweto high

Adrenaline junkies have a new spot for fun. The twin cooling towers in Orlando, Soweto, are the site of the Orlando Towers adventure centre. The Big Swing is for the brave, or the crazy. The idea is that of a Springbok parachutist and actor, Chris Beasley (aka Len Cooper in Isidingo). The one cooling tower is well-known for its colourful mural and the other for its FNB logo. It was the paint work created by Bob Woods of Skyriders, that led to the idea of an adventure centre. It took six years to bring the idea to life. Soon visitors will be able to abseil and bungi jump there. Chris is the current South African canopy piloting champion. and has done 2 500 parachute jumps.This should take tourism in Soweto to a new high.

Marine conservation and adventure

Mike Markovina and Linda Schonknecht are undertaking a two-year, 42-country expedition from next month, to create a documentary on international marine conservation efforts. They leave Cape Town on August 25. The Marine Resource Expedition sees them driving across Africa, Europe and Asia in a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser with the words "Moving Sushi" painted on the sides. The excursion begins in West Africa and moves through Europe via Scotland, Norway and Finland. The couple met at Rhodes University and have been together since they discovered a shared passion for marine education and adventure. Mike has a masters in ichthyology and fisheries science, and Linda has a BA in journalism and media studies. They came up with the excursion idea last year while working for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Gabon.

SA Wine & Food Festival in USA

This weekend saw the third annual South African Wine and Food Festival at Grayhaven Winery in the beautiful rolling hills of Gum Spring, Virginia, USA. The vineyard was founded in 1978 by Charles and Lyn Peple, and their daughters, Mallory and Max. South African Deon Abrams married Max and moved to Gum Spring in 2001 to help run the winery. Deon has a soft spot for the South African created Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes. The annual festival is attended by the South African ambassador to Washington, and is sponsored by South African Airways. This year saw the local Richmond Lions Rugby Club giving rugby clinics. Chef David Jacobson flew in from Miami and prepared Lamb-On-The-Spit. David is from Cape Town, and trained in London and Paris. He owned a South African restaurant in Greenwich, and has been featured on Food Network. Entertainment included the acclaimed performance troupe JuxtaPower led by South African choreographer Sduduzo Ka-Mbili. Don't miss next year's festival!

Check your Afrikaans

Local software developers have created a programme that helps produce grammatically correct Afrikaans documents. The Centre for Text Technology (CTexT) at the University of the North West (NWU) released a beta version of the first Afrikaans grammar check for Microsoft Office.

Writer, artist and student at 65

Nanette Spurway (65) is a busy lady. This artist lives in Atlasville, has won the Ekurhuleni Art Prize and has published a number of novels. She started studying art at the age of 59 by enrolling for an English literature course at Unisa. Nanette had chosen literature after one of her manuscripts was rejected by a publisher. One of her subjects was art history and she soon started on another degree, in art. She is now busy with her fourth year. While doing two degrees by correspondence, she also published two novels. She won the Ekurhuleni art competition with a piece, Building Ice, that was part of her degree work. It was a last minute entry that she set up with the help of her gardener, Justin Luhanga, as he was the only one with free time to help her. This has led to Justin enrolling at Unisa to study art next year.

Baseball legend Cal Ripken helps SA baseball

Nine South Africans who teach baseball in their communities, are on on a visit to Maryland in the US, after being chosen by baseball legend Cal Ripken for further training. Luwayne du Plessis from Mitchells Plain, Una Packery and Meagan Cloete, from Bishop Lavis, are amongst the nine. The Cal Ripken Foundation helps youngsters build a positive attitude and character by using baseball. Cal Ripken will visit South Africa in March 2009 to see how the nine are using their US training.

Family writing leads to writing career

Nico Moolman recently launched his first children‘s story book, The Cloud Fairies, in Tsitsikamma. Nick lives in Vanderbijlpark with his wife, Naomi, and their Border Collie, Ling loi. The characters in The Cloud Fairies are based on people living in Tsitsikamma. Coldstream Mountain is Cloud Mountain in the book. Sarah Floors is portrayed in the book as Nana Love, a fairy who treats kids to cookies and teaches them to make clouds. The gates in the book that lead to the fairyland, Sparkle, are the gates of Petrus and Sarah Floors' home. The colourful book is illustrated by Stanley Grootboom, an art graduate and a law student from the Tsitsikamma area. Nick started writing in 2004 when he started looking for Christmas gifts for his children. He collected old recipes and wrote short stories about the family members who had used those recipes. His effort was spotted when he took the books to be bound and it was submitted to a publisher. Kuier in the Plaaskombuis became his first book. He is currently writing a book for the National Parks Board about why children should not fish in the reserve. The book has a new Big Five - the Awesome Five - whale, galjoen, otter, oyster catcher and firefly. He is also writing Fantasy and Legends of Khoisan and old tribes.

Dubai developers in Knysna?

The Brenton-on-Sea Hotel in Knysna was gutted by fire in 2004. Now Dubai developers and local hoteliers are expected at Wednesday‘s auction of the land on which it stood. The fire started in the restaurant‘s kitchen and gutted the hotel‘s mostly-wooden structure ­ Pappasitos restaurant, reception area, conference centre, five chalets and 42 rooms. The liquidation auction at Pezula Resort is expected to fetch more than R18-million. The site overlooks the ocean and Buffalo Bay.

Reaching his dream at age 68

Arthur Salzwedel (68) doesn't believe in being too old to make your dreams a reality. He was recently selected to represent South Africa at the World Masters Track Cycling Championships in Sydney, Australia in October. Arthur started cycling in 1964 after borrowing a bicycle from a friend when he decided to cycle to work instead of using his car. He was then a rugby player and runner but soon left those to focus on cycling. In April he took part in the South African national track cycling championship in the age 65-69 category and won four bronze medals. In May he took part in the South African road championships and won a silver medal. Arthur now needs help to get to Sydney. The majority of the costs have to come from his pocket as Cycling South Africa is unable to financially back representatives. His son, Stephen, has organised a number of fund-raising events, including a gala banquet on 03 October. If you can help, contact Stephen on 082 556 9507.

Believing and hoping

Anne Siroky (48) is helping children believe in themselves. She runs The Future Factory, a non-profit organisation that helps children in areas such as Retreat, Lavender Hill and Steenberg in the Western Cape. These children, some as young as seven, have fallen prey to tik, alcohol and crime - many in an effort to forget their hard young life. A recent outreach programme held at Sullivan Road Primêre Skool, saw 5000 children from Retreat having a warm meal to eat. Anne grew up in the area, raised by her mother Rita Fransman and her late stepfather Nicholas. They lived with her grandmother Cecilia Morudie (93). Anne went on to become a top South African volleyball player. She was paralysed in 2000 and had cancer in 2006. Last year she was Shoprite Checkers SABC2's Woman of the Year (sports category). Her brother Nicholas (35) is serving a sentence at Pollsmoor for stealing her car and her sister's credit card, to buy drugs. Anne has not given up and in the past six months has taken her message of "Ke Moja" (No thank you, I’m fine without drugs, and B4 U Drink, Think) to more than 260 000 schoolchildren in the Western Cape. The Future Factory helps with sport programmes at more than 50 schools. Anne's day often sees her driving 400 km as she collects food for feeding schemes. She believes that there is hope in this country, as long as we don't forget that there are people in need. To help Anne and The Future Factory, contact 073 190 8208 or e-mail tanya@thefuturefactory.co.za

Expat teaches Tamil on Facebook

Envernathan Govender left South Africa to live in Chennai, India, where he launched Learn and Teach Tamil to help youngsters learn the language, by using Facebook. Te group was started in December. Weekly lessons can be downloaded. His 16-year-old son, Kamesh, helps with the site.