Monday, December 21, 2009

End of An Era


The Lady that the media sometimes called Ms Beetroot/garlic et al has succumbed. Dr Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang fondly remembered by some as Manto died of liver failure. The same liver that was transplanted into her two years ago from a young teenager. At the memorial service in Durban speaker after political speaker waxed on about her many achievements. This included speaking fluent Russian to helping the poor. Little mention was made of her AIDS stance on ARV's. Bizarrely one HIV pos lady went to the podium and addressed the packed city hall and praised Manto for her work in the AIDS environment. Strangely there were no speakers from the families of the alleged thousands who were denied the life saving drugs during the Manto/Mbeki reign. Another speaker claimed that he never heard of any death due to Manto's policies. A bit like Alice in Wonderland. I personally will always remember her for freeing up my sensitive asthmatic lungs with her bans on smokers in public places. May she rest in peace.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Floods and Droughts


They came they talked they argued they fought they got loaded into police vans. There was plenty of action as well as inaction at Copenhagen depending on which side you stood. I wondered how many of the protesters had flown there or used other means of transport that made their own contribution to the CO2 emissions. Still I guess they meant well. I heard one of the young protest delegates from a first world country saying the solution was simply to stop buying stuff. I assume she meant other than food and medicine. I once read about an experiment where one did not buy any new item barring food and medicine for a period of about six months to a year. In the meantime back at the Durban ranch a group of children from the Merebank area sang and danced and did their own little protest. As far as I am aware it was the only one in my area. The rest of us simply got on with burning fossil fuels.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wet and Wild


So finally the new Soccer stadium built for the world cup was opened.Two local teams played each other and a total of 22 000 fans were allowed into the 50 000 plus venue. Touted as a dry run it was anything but. In typical Durban summer fashion there was a steady gentle rain falling throughout the day. No expense was spared on this state of the art stadium and nearly R3 billion later it was all systems go. As I stood on the fourth level well back from the covered roof I wondered why everything was sopping wet including the fancy new work station areas for journalists. I looked up and a gentle fine spray fell from the now covered roof. Maybe the stadium was designed for Durban's winters when there is very little rain ...who knows? If I had coughed up R3b I would want some answers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home



A young man repeatedly battles to get an ID document from the state. He needs the ID to get a job which he has been offered. They say he has no birth certificate, tear up his application papers and chase him away. He goes home to his shack and hangs himself. Apart from the tragic suicide this is a common occurrence in SA when one deals with Home Affairs officials. After this all hell breaks loose. The officials are fired, the national minister arrives and before you know it the red carpet is rolled out. The sister is presented with a brand new fully furnished home (donated by "local businessmen") and everyone puts on a brave face. They even present her with a brand new birth certificate and ID book of her now deceased brother. A convey of over a hundred vehicles including ambulances, medical staff and security attends the hand over. Never a dull moment in SA.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Almost there


After driving home through Durban's Warwick Triangle for the past 38 years I wonder if I will miss the buzz on the ground. Come April 2010 I will soar with the eagles or maybe just the pigeons thanks to the World Cup Soccer. Wonder how long until some fool does literally fly off this amazing piece of engineering. Hope not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suffer the children



For years there have been mysterious deaths at this modern hospital in Phoenix near Durban. Health minister after health minister have done the rounds but still the babies keep dying. Locals protest about everything from nepotism to corruption and mount regular marches to the hospital. Nothing happens.... Enquiries and commissions are established but thus far no results have been produced. Just another day in SA. In the latest march protesters vowed to give the Mahatma Gandhi hospital six months to produce answers and there after court action will be taken. Don't hold your breath! (Update Mar 2010 Guess what nothing happened except a 15 yr old who accompanied a sick 11 yr old gets raped in the hospital by one of the staff)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Litter


Yesterday I walked from Umhlanga Rocks to Durban along the beach. A distance of 15kms. The last five kms before the Umgeni river is pretty isolated and part of a nature reserve. This also means there are no regular cleanups of the beach. One passes endless debris that has been washed up from our consumerist society. Much is probably from the Umgeni river.Over time the worlds oceans have been covered with this junk and now marine animals are dying at a rapid rate. If you have the stomach for more of these horrific photos then take a look at http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php?id=11 I rest my case

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And now for something completely Different



Today I took a ride on my old XT 250 to the Inanda Dam. My friend Budgie accompanied me on his trusty Chinese bike. Just as well as my GPS co ords told me to travel in the opposite direction. (and these were supplied to me by a pilot) We had come to see the opening of the "Worlds first Zero Carbon Home for AIDS orphans" A young couple from the UK decided to reinvent the wheel. The result is rather startling at first. A double story thatched hut using the finest materials powered by a wind turbine and solar heaters. Five AIDS orphans will soon take up residence here looked after by a house mother. They will taken to top schools by boat each day across the massive Inanda dam. A whole set of interesting dynamics could arise with the rest of the locals who will fend for themselves. Nonetheless this UK couple have put their money where their mouths are and have already adopted two of the thousands of orphans that South Africa has. Want to know more go to http://www.project-o.org/ Watch this space for a short video clip to follow.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Smoke on the Water

They came they played and they had a good time. Nearly a thousand guitar players ranging from tots to ballies (mature men) thrashed away to the classic Deep Purple rock hit "Smoke on the Water" The idea was to set a new world record for most guitars playing one song. Seems like the current holders Deutzland will retain the title for now but be warned "we haff vays unt means" next year this motly lot vowed to re gather and re tune to bring the record to South Africa. Yours truly managed to bust a string during the mayhem while thrashing away. I'll be back!

(If the video is not working try the links to my videos at the top right)
video

Friday, August 7, 2009

Up She Rises



Durban's new multi billion rand soccer stadium dominates for miles. Looking like some giant UFO that landed it has already drawn plenty of controversy. Ratepayers are worried what will happen after the chaps that kick balls around have returned to their countries. Plans for a gym and speciality shops have been touted. Tourists will also be able to ride a funicular to the top of the arch for a 360 degree view of Durban. Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Horses for Courses



Not quite the Durban July but that did not deter thousands of rural folk from rocking up to the Dundee showgrounds. Now in it's third year these rural racing gigs are proving popular. Some may not have saddles and the horses are a little suspect but these young jockeys know how to get around a track. They come from as far as neighbouring Lesotho dressed in their traditional blankets riding their traditional ponies. This year the fashion sizzled with everything from modern to the traditional.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beirut by the sea



Not to worry all be be complete for the massive influx of tourists come the 2010 world cup. Right now though Addington beach looks like a set for a war movie. The old life guard building is being demolished and the beach has disappeared under a mountain of sand as foundations consisting of 8 meters of stacked sandbags are being laid for the new promenade. In the mean time surfing icon Shaun Thompson was summoned to the city managers office for a chat on the status of Durban's beaches. What with ever diminishing waves some claim because of sand being washed away because of the open pier designs and one of the premier surfing competitions the Mr Price Pro migrating up the coast to Ballito for the next three years I'm sure there was plenty to share a cup of tea over. Would love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Doctors on the March


May 29 2009 History was made as thousands of doctors nationwide downed stethoscopes and took to the streets. I spoke to a patient who could only hop on one leg and had the use of one arm after a motor bike accident. He had elected to go home as there were no doctors to help him with further ops. He was fully behind the strike and said conditions at King Edward Hospital were real bad. The government has since upped some of the wages but many doctors are still not happy with conditions and vow there could be further action at any time. In the meantime SA's brand new subs costing billions lie mostly idle due to lack of suitable crew and other technical problems.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Up to Speed (At last)



At last. A strange but welcome animal burrowed its way under the beach and jungle to come to rest in a smart new building. The quiet fishing town of Umtinzini on the KZN North coast is probably still unaware of this tiny hair like creature that has berthed here. Fact is, this tiny hair is actually a fibre optic cable that can carry massive amounts of data. Internet usage has just taken one giant step in Africa. As I stood and looked in awe at all the buzzing gizmos and goodies inside the purpose built cable station I couldn't help wondering how many more of us Africans will get addicted to the now non flickering screens of our charged up computers. Doctors will be able to perform live ops on instruction via the net and scholars will have access to the worlds databases in an instant.It will also open up reams of porno and on line movies to a new generation. No more sitting down by the river side and gossiping while collecting the days water. The Internet has arrived big time and all will soon be one global village thanks to this hair like creature.( Update Nov 2009..I am still waiting for the rush)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fruit & Veg


They have been there for the past ninety nine years. Stalls passed down from father to son/daughter. Durban's early morning market is something of an institution. The city fathers have other plans. Lets smash it down and build a shopping mall with national chain stores inside. We'll remove these people and plonk them in a disused shed nearby. None of them will be able to afford the new rents and hopefully they'll just go home and leave us alone. Meanwhile back at the ranch the aging grannies and Aunties hitched up their saris and marched on the city managers office down at the town hall. Lucky for him he had left the country. They sang chanted and perspired in the midday sun. Eventually one of the appointed suits emerged and accepted their memorandum. Promises were made to give them a week or twos grace before the bulldozers moved in. In the meantime international organisations have stepped in and the fight continues. Just another day in our new and fragile democracy

Update Nov 2009 After a "Rent a Crowd" using massive advertising attracted about 100 people who were for the demolition of the market the Early Morning Market traders turned out in mass force on 18 Nov in a further march to City Hall demanding the market be retained)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Dr Livingstone I presume"


So the last of the great white explorers sets off on another great African expedition. This time there are no local bearers to carry the whiskey over the great plains of Africa. Instead powerful metal beasts consuming vast amounts of fuel will tour across nine countries distributing soccer balls and chalk to mark out football fields. The Humanitarian and Community Objectives will be - Ongoing “Right to Sight”, One Net One Life Malaria Prevention and Teaching on the Edge Programmes. With dedicated TV crews filming every turn of the wheel sponsors are keen to get their product on international and local TV screens. Such a pity that that the biggest tobacco company in South Africa, British American Tobacco have their logo and name plastered over the expedition vehicles. In what is supposed to be a humanitarian cause I wonder if the participants pause to ponder how many premature painful deaths their sponsor has caused in Africa. With tobacco advertising banned in South Africa this is one of the only ways to still push out the companies killer products. Shame on you lot! Follow these modern day "adventurers" at http://www.boundlesssa.com/en/

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Harley Davidson




Way back in 1903 I wonder if this Harley fellow would have envisioned that his followers would one day gather in mass at the seaside town of Margate in South Africa. Thousands pitched up to admire and covert these once again sought after machines. After taking a serious dip some years ago the Harley brand has once again resurrected itself with a wide range of models. Appealing to a more mature (and well healed) rider these machines with their distinctive exhaust sound are now a common sight on South African roads. Each bike was meticulous and I'm sure many of them sleep in the lounges of their owners. Not surprising when some cost more than your average car. The first Africa Bike Week was certainly a humdinger.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Would you buy a used car from these people


They came they saw they conquered. The masses made their mark and now are sitting back waiting for their lives to change. Wouldn't it be nice if the the new president reached out to all in SA on his inaugural speech. How about "lets all work together to lift South Africa from the doldrums and take on the worlds sinking economy". How about stamping out crime and going for the big one.... international tourism. 2010 is around the corner and what an opportunity going begging. Sadly many voters voted as they have been promised more grants and benefits. Trouble is with a shrinking tax base where will the billions come from. The government spokesperson Jessie Duarte instead accuses the South Africans abroad as being right wing because they voted for opposition parties. I guess Europe and the USA took hundreds of years to reach their democratic status so we have to be patient.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Humble Abode


This is the rural home of Jacob Zuma soon to be made president of South Africa. Nkandla is located in the Zululand district and even in winter the sun shines warmly here. Consisting of a number of thatched residences for the various wives and offspring it looks like a tourist lodge. Outside the police protected kraal Africa continues as it always does. Goats climb trees for tidbits and the ever present litter blows across the dry earth. Poor neighbours living off government grants are convinced that a Zuma presidency will have a trickle down effect on their impoverished lives. Strangely the Zuma abode was practically deserted with family members preferring to gravitate to the bright city lights and using the traditional home merely for special occasions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another one bites the Dust


The Ocean Conference Centre on Durban's beachfront goes under the hammer. All part of the cities new open beachfront look. The city fathers are promising a new modern restaurant once the dust has settled. Wonder if they will serve oats porridge for early breakfast like the old one did.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Every Five Years


It's election time in South Africa. This means politicians hit the road, hold babies and press hands. The president himself does the rounds and what better place than the grave site of Albert Luthuli one of the founding fathers of the ANC to start. The church and grounds looked immaculate after a quick spruce up for the pres's quick visit and the solemn occasion was marked by a short prayer and the laying of flowers. Then it was onto the serious business of convincing the locals that if the ruling party was once again returned their lives would all be improved. In this case it is easy for the present incumbent to make promises as he is number two on the list and could easily take retirement instead of facing up to the voters.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cope with Zuma?


As I am in Cape Town on family business I have been neglecting this blog. On my many trips visiting Groote Schuur hospital I snapped this sign above a book shop. I get the idea that Cape Town people do not take politics as serious as those in KZN.