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.