25 June 2012


Earlier this year, South African-born musician Sarah Aaronson was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Her OBE was awarded for her services to music and charity. Sarah was born in South Africa to Lithuanian immigrants and grew up in Doornfontein. She was nine years old when she started playing the accordion, and gave her first concert a year later. She also learnt the piano and organ. As a young child, she played for General Jan Smuts. As an adult, her audience included the Queen Mother and the Queen of Jordan. Sarah studied music at the University of the Witwatersrand and continued her music career in London. She lives in London and is married to a Londoner. Sarah is a keen gardener and still plants agapanthus to remind her of the South African home she left in 1960. Her brother lives in South Africa. Sarah founded the London International Orchestra with conductor Solly Aronowsky. The orchestra raises funds for various charities, including some South African charities. South African-born lyricist Herbert Kretzmer, who wrote the lyrics to Les Misérables, also received the OBE for his services to music. He wrote the English lyrics of I Dreamed a Dream from the musical, which was sung in 2009 by Susan Boyle in the reality TV talent show Britain's Got Talent.


There are South African farmers spread far and wide outside South Africa's borders. These new Trekkers are making a living where they feel wanted and safer. Fifteen South African farmers left South Africa two years ago for the Inhassoro district in central Mozambique, after getting permission from the Mozambique government. Koos Lee, originally a farmer from Heilbron, is one of them, along with his son Jaap. They run a cattle ranch, Embondeiro, which is leased from the government for 50 years with an option to renew for another 49 years. Koos imported a borehole drill to supply his farm's water needs. A diesel-powered generator provides electricity. A farm house and outside buildings stand where only bush existed before. Koos has employed Mika Motuki, a Mozambique citizen who used to work on the mines in Welkom. Mike and Koos speak Sesotho. Here the day's temperature is often 40°C and checking their beds for snakes and scorpions before getting in, is quite normal. As they say, Africa is not for sissies, and these farmers are living proof. There is no electricity or water pipes in these parts, no tractor spare parts shop nearby. Mobile phone reception is difficult, and the nearest town, Inhassoro, is 70 km away. The only filling station in town still uses a hand pump for to fill cars with petrol. There is one supermarket, the 100-year-old Super Ana, as well as a liquor store, a hardware store and a computer store. Baker Boys is the town's only coffee shop and is owned by Flip and Retha Schoeman. Jean and Natasha Roux are also business owners in town. Jean takes tourists on fishing expeditions or day trips to the islands along the coast line, while Natasha manages a local lodge that belongs to Gerhard and Griet Breedt of Mpumalanga. Michael and Marie Lee also own a local lodge.


There's a little piece of the Transvaal  - in an eastern Amsterdam suburb called Transvaal. Here you'll find Pretorius Street, as well as Kruger, Steyn, Joubert, Reitz, De la Rey, Paardekraal, Laingsnek, Schalk Burger and Tugela Streets. Name changes haven't been spared - Pretorius Plein is now known as Steve Biko Plein. Kruger Plein remains as is. In Afrikaner Plain there is a a Javanese restaurant. There is a Transvaal Apotheek. In the late 19th century, Amsterdam incorporated the small towns of Amstel en Diemen into the city, and started two housing developments - Transvaal and the Indische Buurt. Before Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, this suburb had a large Jewish population. Today, Transvaal has seen better days, but still has a neighbourhood atmosphere. Its 10 000 residents are made up of 35% Dutch origins and the rest of non-Dutch origins. The suburb also has its socio-economic problems - poor education, high unemployment, debt, drugs, and language problems.


Algoa FM presenter Selwyn Willis and his wife Natasha live in Port Elizabeth. They designed, developed and manufactured an innovative plate to teach families about eating healthily. The patented Health Plate, with input from dietician Annatjie Smith at the Port Elizabeth Hospital complex, is divided into portions showing the correct amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and vegetables to be eaten as the main meal of the day. There are different sizes and colours - pink for Mom, blue for Dad and a multi-coloured plate for children 10 and under. The adult plates are made of porcelain, with a reinforced rim, while the children’s plate is melamine. There are also directions for portion control, and messages around the edge of the plate containing details from the Food Based Dietary guidelines. The Health Plates are dishwasher and microwave safe.


The American rock group, Grouplove, was formed in 2010, went viral on the Internet and soon afterwards opened for Florence and the Machine. Ryan Rabin is the producer and drummer. He is also the son of the very talented Soouth African guitarist and composer, and former Rabbitt band member, Trevor Rabin. Ryan's maternal grandmother lives in Fishhoek. Ryan started singing, drumming and playing piano at a young age. He played in various bands before going to the University of Southern California for a music management degree. Shortly after graduation, he went to Europe on holiday with a childhood friend, Andrew Wessen. They met the other members of Grouplove - Christian Zucconi, Hannah Hooper and Sean Gadd - at an artists commune in Greece. Ryan is inspired by his father's work ethic, and his technical and creative abilities. Grouplove's song, Colours, was ranked number 12 on USA TODAY's alternative chart and was also featured in Madden 12, FIFA 12, and MLB 2K12. Tongue Tied was featured in an Apple iPod touch commercial in 2011, and in June 2012 it reached the number one position on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.


Jann Cheifitz graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Cape Town in 1985. Between 1986 and 1989 she worked at the Community Arts Projecs, she moved to New York and rt production and design to community activists. Jann has exhibited various group and solo exhibitions since 1986. Her work has also been featured in several international group shows and Biennials. From 1989 to 1993 she worked in Cape Town and London with Jane Solomon, producing T-shirts and textiles. There they sold the T-shirts in Kensington High Street and Camden Town market. In the early 1990s she moved to New York and painted sets for low-budget films. In 2000 she founded Lucky Fish, an apparel company based in New York City and with world-wide distribution. Jann found that when her son Gabriel was born, there weren't any fun prints for boys. She started making him T-shirts inspired by popular iconography. When other people noticed her designs and asked for the same T-shirts for their own kids, she decided to make her silk-screening a business. Jann teamed up with fellow South African, Carole Scott, a pre-school teacher, and started silk-screening T-shirts in the garage of the the house they shared for a summer holiday. Today, Lucky Fish T-shirts are hand-printed in Brooklyn. The company name comes from the South Africanism "you lucky fish" said to someone who got or did something enviable, and the logo is borrowed from a sardine can.


Gray Handcock, originally from Grahamstown, left home after graduating from Rhodes University. His mother, Bet Handcock, works with her veterinarian husband in Grahamstown. Gray left home after graduating from Rhodes University. In the USA, he found that the store-bought bread was not to his liking, and started looking at baking his own bread, while working as an advertising designer. In 2002, he signed a deal with Sourdoughs International for his Kenilworth Cultur, which is marketed as South African Sourdough. Sourdough bread is very popular in North America.

08 June 2012


Andrew Kellett and his wife Marie-Louise, along with their children Summer-Ann (7) and Camdyn (11), have set off on an adventure in their Land Rover Defender into Africa. The Cape Town family are on a five-month African Odyssey. Their children attend Michael Oak School in Kenilworth. The children document their experience in their weekly blog. The Kellets have their own adventure company, Gravity Adventure. Andrew, who attended Bishops and UCT, has also trained kayaking guides for the African Paddling Association and the International Rafting Federation.  The 10 countries trip includes the Kunene River in Namibia, the Ondorusso Gorge, the Epupa Falls, the Okavango Delta, the Zambezi River, Lake Malawi, and  the Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique.


Buddy Valastro, known as the Cake Boss, fell in love with milktart and koeksisters during his recent visit to South Africa. The Cake Boss is well-known for his cake creations and is the star of the TV reality show Cake Boss. He was in Cape Town as the guest of Cape Town edition of The Good Food and Wine Show, where he performed sold-out demonstrations. The milktart, from Zorina’s Cafe, and the koeksisters, from Mountain View Takeaways, were presented to him after his arrival in the city. He had heard about milktart before his arrival, and had wanted to try it.


Kieran Geldenhuys, a 16 year old South African student at Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) in Arabian Ranches in Dubai, has earned a professional apprenticeship with the English soccer club Notts County. The two-year contract was signed at Meadow Lane in April. Kieran has lived in Dubai since the age of three, with his parents, Carol and Tony. He leaves Dubai for Nottingham in July, when he'll start a pre-season training programme, and higher education. He was coached by Mick Leonard at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence. Mick subsequently left Dubai to become Notts County’s head of youth development. Another South African in Dubai, Wahid Ali (16) has been invited to join Belgium's KAS Eupen. Wahid has been living in Dubai since the age of five.


South African-born film maker, Jon Blair, made the Rio drug documentary Dancing with the Devil. He left South Africa in 1966 at the age of 16, having grown up in Parktown. Today he is Al Jazeera English’s acting commissioning editor for major series, specials and discussion programmes. Before that, he produced a number of documentaries that earned him awards, including an Oscar in 1996 for his documentary Anne Frank Remembered. He is the only documentaries producer / director working in the United Kingdom who has won all three of the premier awards in his field: an Oscar, an Emmy (twice) and a British Academy Award. At the recent Encounters documentary film festival, he showcased Dancing with the Devil (2009), Anne Frank Remembered (1995) and Reporters at War: Dying to Tell a Story (2004). Jon also made Murder Most Foul, narrated by Sir Anthony Sher, with its starting point the Brett Golden and Richard Bloom murders in Cape Town. He lives in London and Suffolk with his wife Yvonne, and twin sons, Artie and Louis. He also has two adult children, Tanya and Ben.


Mouritz Botha is representing England on the five match rugby tour of South Africa. The Saracens lock is originally from the Northern Cape. He moved to Bedford, England, eight years ago, and built his professional rugby career while working part-time jobs washing carpets in a factory, and stripping asbestos roofs. He never played rugby at representative level in South Africa. He was born on 29 January 1982 in Vryheid, and his parents, Herman and Adri, now live in Calvinia. He joined Bedford Blues in 2006 and made 73 appearances before moving to Saracens in 2009. In 2011 he was named in the England Saxons squad for the Churchill Cup after qualifying for England on residency grounds.. Mouritz was part of the England 44-man squad for the 2011 World Cup, making his England debut in the 23-19 England victory over Wales. He played in every game of England's 2012 Six Nations campaign.

His England team member, Brad Barritt, is also South African, as is Mike Catt who was born in Port Elizabeth and is now England's attack coach. Brad is also a Saracens player. He was born on born 07 August 1986 in Durban and attended Kearsney College. He was an under-21 Springbok. He was part of the 2006 Currie Cup and Super 14 Natal Sharks. He played in the 2007 Super 14 Final. After the 2008 Currie Cup, he signed with Saracens. Due to injuries, he was recalled to play in a 2009 Super 14 fixture against the Waratahs, his final game for the Sharks. He was selected to represent the England Saxons at the 2009 Churchill Cup. He first made the England senior squad in 2010 and again for the 2012 Six Nations Championship. Brad's grandparents are English and he is a UK passport holder. He moved to England three years ago.

Matt Stevens is the third South African-born player in the England team. He plays for Saracens. He was born on 01 October 1982 in Durban and attended Kearsney College. He represented Western Province, South African Universities and the Junior Springboks at under-18 and under-19 level, before moving to England to pursue his university studies. He joined Bath Rugby Club in 2002. In 2006, he appeared on The X Factor: Battle of the Stars on British TV. He was mentored by Sharon Osbourne and reached the final, ending up as runner-up. This helped him raise over £125,000 for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and in October 2006 he was invited to meet Mandela in Johannesburg. In 2009 after a positive drugs test, he was banned from the world-wide game for two years. While serving his ban, he worked in the coffee shop, at Jika Jika, that he co-owns. In January 2010, he signed with Saracens. Matt has a BSc in politics with economics from the University of Bath.


Pretoria-born Avianca Bohm (22) was recently crowned Miss Universe New Zealand. She lives in the Auckland suburb of Howick. She was first runner-up in Miss Howick East Auckland in 2009 and was crowned Miss Howick last year. If she can get her Kiwi citizenship sorted out in time, she will represent New Zealand at the Miss Universe pageant in December. The New Zealand pageant organisers were left with a dilemna when they realised their winner was not a Kiwi citizen. Avianca and her family moved to New Zealand in 2006 when she was 16. She graduated with a diploma in fashion design at the New Zealand Institute of Fashion and plans to start her own fashion label. Avianca attended Harrismith Primary School before moving to Laerskool Nellie Swart in Pretoria. She went to CR Swart High School and Hoërskool Oos-Moot, in Pretoria. Her father is a quantity surveyor.


South African adventurer, Cathy O’Dowd, was the first woman in the world to climb Everest from both sides. Now she’s attempting another first - reaching the summit of the world’s ninth highest mountain, Nanga Parbat, via the Himalayan Mazeno Ridge, a difficult route that has never been climbed all the way to the top. Nanga Parbat, along with K2, is one of the two hardest mountains in the world. Cathy's start date is 09 June. On this expedition her team of six won’t see any other climbers for six weeks. The team consists of three Sherpas and two British climbers. Cathy has spent a lot of time ski touring in the Pyrenees, where she lives, and trail running. She is climbing to support UK-SA charity, Wilderness Foundation, founded by conservationist Ian Player. Cathy will be blogging her trip at http://mazenoridge.com/


Behati Prinsloo was born on 16 May 1989 in Vanderbijlpark. Her name means blessing. Her family moved to Namibia when she was three years old. Her father, Boet, is an Apostolic Faith Mission pastor in Grootvlei, Namibia. In 2009 she was made a Victoria's Secret Angel. While on holiday in Cape Town at the age of 16, visiting her mother's family, she was discovered by the model scout who also discovered Kate Moss. She has been photographed by British Royal Family photographer Mario Testino and graced magazines such as Vogue and Elle, and modeled for Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, and Versace. Her ad campaigns include Adore, Chanel, H&M, Hugo Boss, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Nina Ricci, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, DKNY Jeans and Nine West. Behati was recently named the face of Australian swimwear brand Seafolly. She plays the rich girl in the "Rich Girls" music video by The Virgins.

Behati is dating Maroon 5's Adam Levine. The couple spent the past Memorial Day weekend in Hawaii, where Adam was attending a wedding. Adam's previous girlfriend, Anne Vyalitsyna, is also a Victoria's Secret model. Anne and Behati lip-synced the words to his hit Moves Like Jagger with fellow Victoria's Secret Angels for an advert. Adam previously dated Jessica Simpson, Cameron Diaz and Maria Sharapova.