12 April 2012

VIRTUAL REALITY TRAINING FOR CYCLISTS

Lucky Mokalusi (28), from Kagiso, has designed a virtual reality training cycle, combining his love of electrical engineering and computer programming to create a prototype that enables cyclists to simulate real-world training routes from the comfort of their homes. He was named the 2011 winner in the emerging genius category of the Popular Mechanics Inventor of the Year awards. He has captured entire routes using a camera, GPS, the terrain and a specially designed bicycle with the different altitudes. The faster you pedal, the faster the video on the monitor moves. He got the idea while working a technical assistant at the Vaal University of Technology, where a professor proposed a rough idea for the concept and he decided to make it work. He was then awarded first prize in the national innovation competition in 2007 for the most innovative business plan and project design, and in the same year he scooped a scholarship to complete his master's degree and develop the cycle design. He is hoping to sell his unique design to a company that will put it into production. Lucky splits his time between helping young engineering graduates find in-service training, and running a modelling and promotions company. The father of a baby girl, he had a troubled childhood that saw him leave home and move in with his aunt when he was in Grade 8. He was inspired by his cousin, Patrick Kamodi, who was studying electrical engineering and went to Germany to complete his in-service training. After completing his diploma and Bachelor of Technology degree, he is now working on his Master's degree in electrical engineering.

WONDERBAGS FOR AFRICA AND THE WORLD

A simple South African invention, originally invented to help the poor, is heading into fancy kitchens in the UK. The Wonderbag, stuffed with recycled polystyrene beads, is a non-electric slow cooker. A pot of hot ingredients placed into its folds will keep stewing slowly for hours. It was invented by Sarah Collins (42), a South African eco-entrepreneur with a social development background. In 2008, during a power cut in Durban, she kept her dinner cooking by surrounding the pot with cushions. She developed the idea further with poverty activist Moshy Mathe. Following a promotion which saw a Wonderbag given away free with the purchase of three boxes of its curry powder, Unilever recently ordered five million Wonderbags. Microsoft and JP Morgan are supporting the goal of getting 100 million Wonderbags into homes by 2015. It is sold with a recipe book and is perfect for slow-cooked stews, curries, soups, casseroles, potroasts and even oats porridge. Although the Wonderbag was designed to help the poor, it's just as useful for those who work fulltime and don't have time to cook a full meal when they get home. Wonderbag is one of Africa’s first projects to be registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project - meaning that for every Wonderbag sold, verified carbon offsets will be traded on the international market. Simpler versions of this concept have been around in South Africa since the 1970s but none made it to the fancy UK kitchens.

BOEREWORS AT THE MASTERS

Traditionally, since 1952, the menu for the Champions Dinner at Augusta National in Georgia, before the start of the US Masters golfing championship, is chosen by the previous year's winner. As Johannesburg-born Charl Schwartzel won last year, he chose this year's menu and made it a very South African one. Very few guests had ever heard of monkeygland sauce. The South African braai menu included biltong, and boerewors with monkeygland sauce. Shrimp, lobster, oysters on ice,  aged cheese, chilled grapes, and vanilla ice-cream sundaes were also on the menu. The boerewors spice mix was supplied by Suiderland Boerewors in Prince Alfred. Nico Nel, the owner, sent the spice mix to Georgia three weeks before the event and one of the Augusta chefs made the boerewors. The 10 kg of boerewors was polished off very fast.

SOUTH AFRICAN SURFING FILM WINS AWARDS

Otelo Burning is a coming-of-age film about a group of township kids who discover surfing. It recently won the Golden Owl for Best Movie by the Audience at the CineramaBC International Film Festival in Brazil. The cast is mostly made up of young up-and-coming actors. This award is the latest in a series of accolades for Otelo Burning. It has already won 13 nominations at the 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards, and also won the Best South African Feature Film award at the 5th Cape Winelands Film Festival. The film was shot in Durban and is directed by Sara Blecher. The film is in Zulu with English subtitles. It opens in South African cinemas on 11 May 2012.

The story starts in 1989 with 16-year-old Otelo Buthelezi, his younger brother, Ntwe, and his best friend, New Year, invited to the beach house where their new friend’s mother is a domestic worker. Watching Mandla Modise surf, they see another side of life, the opposite of the township where they live. For the boys, who previously had a deep-seated fear of the sea, “flying on water” comes to represent freedom. Soon, everyone recognises that Otelo is gifted on the water. An older man, Kurt Struely, invites them to his home to watch professional surfers on video. He encourages them to master the waves. With practice, Otelo soon outshines his friend, Mandla, whose resentment builds even more when Dezi, New Year’s younger sister, falls for Otelo. As the boys begin to win competitions, Mandla’s jealousy grows and eventually he betrays his friend. In exchange for money for a new surfboard, he sells Otelo’s brother out as a suspected informer for the security police. When Otelo discovers the truth behind his younger brother’s death, he has to make a choice between the money, glamour, girls and superstardom of international surfing and justice for Ntwe. On the day Nelson Mandela steps out of prison, the young boy makes a choice that will change his life.

ZULU BLONDE IS A WINNER IN THE UK

Graham Chennells and  son Richard, started a microbrewery in a shed at the George Hotel in Eshowe in 1997. In 2010 their ale, Zulu Blonde, won the best beer award at the 2010 Real Ale Festival in the UK. This year it has sold out faster than any other beer at the JD Wetherspoons Real Ale Festival held across the UK. It took quite a few tries before the perfect recipe was found. In 2005 Richard spent nine months at the American Brewers Guild in California. Back in Eshowe he made some changes to the recipe and Zulu Blonde was born. The initial marketing campaign involved Richard driving a Land Rover (The Wandering Keg) to golf days and introducing the beer around Eshowe. In 2006 his mother died and his father started spending more time overseas. Just when Richard thought the beer wouldn't take off as expected, he was invited to be a guest brewer at the UK 2010 festival.

He brewed the ale at Marstons Brewery in Burton-on-Trent to supply 800 pubs for the JD Wetherspoons festival, where it was sold out in the first week of the three-week festival. He was invited back to the UK to brew 120 000 pints at Everards Brewery in Leicester to supply the pub chain in time for the 2010 World Cup Kick off. He recently returned from the Real Ale Festival in Edinburgh, where he brewed 100 000 pints at Caledonian Brewery. On the way there, he flew via Dubai where he had time for a braai in the desert.

Graham has been mayor of Eshowe, is a Rotarian, businessman, brewmaster, paratrooper, farmer and retired sportsman. Richard has worked in the tourism industry and did a brew masters course through The American Brewers Guild in 2005. He also worked at the London Stock Exchange, Barclays Capital and Bank of America