At last the Durban beachfront nears completion. Residents and visitors can now cycle, run or walk the entire 6km stretch of revamped beachfront. FIFA's fan park is ready to roll and all the nooks and cranies that used to be home to the homeless are no more. In fact there is no place to hide and people almost feel exposed which is great when the sun shines as it always does this time of the year. Now if we can just keep the braai brigade off those new lawns and allow nature or the city sprinkles to water the lawns instead of the pee anywhere brigade!!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
No Trains, no ships, no pipelines. Strikers enter their fourth day of no work no pay. This time thousands of rail commuters were forced to find alternate means of transport. The minibus taxi bosses were rubbing their hands in glee as the queues at their ranks grew ever longer by the day. Strikers gathered outside the Durban Metro rail HQ within site of the gleaming new football stadium. They even brought along their vuvuzelas to practice for the world cup. They vowed (as usual) to strike until all their demands were met. These mostly include a 16% wage increase and other benefits. In the meantime ships gathered outside Durban giving the crews ample time to try their luck at fishing as they waited for clearance to enter the closed harbour.
Monday, May 10, 2010
There were thousands of them. From Dubai to Japan they came to Africa's biggest tourism trade fair the Durban Indaba. Just when one thought all was lost what with clouds of ash and a Greek tragedy it seemed like the money was still changing hands. For the uber rich tourists the deal now is "you tell us what you want and we will arrange it" So... keen to stroke a cheetah or a great white shark , no problem for a small fee we arrange it.Walking through the stands was like a veritable tower of Babel with foreign languages rolling off the tongues of well heeled operators. Somewhere in the melee were the humble game ranches trying to take on the mining conglomerates who are planning open cast mines in adjoining sensitive area. Guess who will win in the end? In the meantime delegates blew on those awful monotone vuvuzelas hoping that the noise would frighten off the bad guys.
Monday, April 26, 2010
So new kid on the block COPE (Congress of the People) popped into Durban for a chat to their supporters. They played it safe and ensconced themselves inside the Diakonia Centre where access is strictly controlled. In an airless room they told the converted how well things were going and to keep the faith. One Smuts Ngonyama who is their “Policy Director” will always be remembered for his “I did not struggle to be poor” comment. Pity that this once booming party now have their own internal struggle with who sits on top of the heap. Such a pity as it is the first really multiracial party that could have mass appeal to take on the ruling ANC. They also need to learn a thing or two about their backdrops. White screens do not work well with TV. Still I guess give them a few precious years and they might get their act together or just simply implode upon themselves as more members also claim they did not struggle to be poor!
Friday, April 9, 2010
What’s the good of having one of the best views in the Berg if you freeze to death at night. Just outside the town of Bulwer in the Drakensberg many people are wondering how they will repair their humble homes. No government relief, no emergency tents, no food parcels zilch. On Sunday last a violent storm swept the region casually tossing roofs hundreds of meters. Some of the traditional thatch survived but many steel roofs were simply blown away to end up in crumpled balls. Worse a mother and daughter were swept away in a raging torrent. The body of the mother was recovered but almost a week later the child was still to be found. No helicopters or major searches, just the anguish of not being able to bury ones family.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
“We will film them on the beaches, we will film them at their homes, we will film them at work”. Yes indeed there is no place that will be safe from Google’s street view coming soon to a PC near you. I came across this character at the ABSA stadium in Durban. He was peddling this contraption complete with 360 degree view multi cameras and on board generator to power all the goodies. He told me the tricycles go where the camera vehicles can’t. So if you see one of these in a neighbourhood near you, smile you might just be on Google street view for ever. Should be up and running by July.
One day you are riding high living the good life. No matter that you are leaving a trail of human destruction behind you as thousands of kids pour chemicals into their bodies. The next day your world comes tumbling down. A young couple was arrested for possession of mandrax tablets. After the police made "further enquiries" they were led to a derelict old farmhouse. In the renovated backrooms they hit the mother lode. Hundreds of liters of chemicals, every kind of contraption to manufacture drugs and bags and bags of the raw ingredients. While they went about their investigation the handcuffed duo stared silently and maybe wondered how their first night in jail might turn out. Police estimate the value to be ten million rands.
Posted by Durban Diaries at 10:35 AM
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Queen Mary the second cruises into town for the day. Sad that you have to be old and rich to qualify for a cabin. Eat as much as you can then waddle down to the free gym to work it off. I spoke to one of the day trippers about to board a bus and she said she hoped to see some of Durbans city sights which would probably include the poverty which really upsets her badly. After that its back to her five star cabin and next stop Rio. Tough hey.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
If you have ever been whacked by kids at one of Durban's traffic lights best not to read further. These nimble fingered kids are now putting the boot in so to speak. Seven teams from around the world are here to play the beautiful game. Boys and girls from the streets of The UK to Brazil will put their feet skills to another use apart from fleeing crime scenes (sometimes) In the opening match the non football country of India taught the arrogant South Africans a thing or two about football. They managed to slot four goals into the small net. The showy South African street kids ....zero. The occasion will also be used to run seminars on what the real problems of the global street kids are all about and a declaration will be announced at the end of the tournament. So next time one of these urchins approaches you remember they might one day be football heroes….you never know.(Update 23 March 2010 India cleaned up and won the tournament.)
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
So the countdown has begun in earnest. The worlds media were in town after being wined and dined on a spectacular stadium tour through South Africa. One of the African journalists challanged FIFA head honcho Blatter to allow more accreditation for journos from the African continenet and not to hog all the tops spots for his favourities. Ever affable he said he would look into it. Nothing fazes this man even accusations that he runs a mafia style operation with nepotism to boot. He said he sleeps well each night and trusts that all the media present do as well as he has nothing on his conscience. Local politicians laughed loudly when he said his B and C plan were actually South Africa and no one else. Got to hand it to this guy, he makes most sweet mouthed politicians look like amateurs in comparison. Meanwhile the Durban stadium reverberated with the sound of choppers flying overhead with the South African flag interspersed with wild screams from the bungee swing as local ladies took a leap of faith over the stadium.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Parents of 27 girls who were expelled from a school in KwaZulu-Natal are taking on the authorities. The pupils were kicked out of the school hostel after being accused of being lesbians. Parents are demanding the school take the learners back or they will take the matter to court. It all started after two girls were apparently seen kissing in a dormitory. They were apparently reported to the principal who then allegedly forced the high school girls to identify all those with similar relationships. All sounds like a storm in a b cup to me. With South Africa having a high rate of school pregnancies surely some fooling around between consenting girls is minor stuff. Let the girls get back to classes! South Africa has the most liberal constitution in the world and this case has caused a lot of head scratching. At what age can one be protected against discrimination on gender grounds. We await the outcome of the hearings. There is no truth in the rumour that the Katy Perry song "I kissed a girl and Liked it" has been banned at the school. Stay tuned!
Monday, February 15, 2010
Have we moved into the realm of the Mad Hatter? South Africans are accustomed to weird and wonderful happenings but this one ranks pretty high. An internationally acclaimed artist Andries Botha becomes famous for his Elephant sculptures. The Durban City Council thinks it’s a good idea to have some placed at a strategic entrance to Durban. He duly proceeds with the project. All of a sudden one of the ruling party heavies stops his SUV on the freeway and demands that work on the sculptures cease forthwith. The "heavy" says elephants are the logo of the IFP opposition party and have no place in an ANC run city. When the deputy mayor is asked for clarification he says "the commission must have “slipped through the cracks. What they really want is the “Big Five” to be represented" Council will debate the matter further. In the mean time the Durban Metro becomes the laughing stock of the art world.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
At a Peace workshop today in Durban an interesting group of people gathered to discuss how to get along with each other. The occasion was to celebrate twenty years of Mandelas release and the Mandela foundation was the main sponsor. Durban's Albert Park has had its own share of xenophobic attacks. Last year foreigners were thrown to their deaths off buildings. A local city councilor has been accused of instigating the mob and was apparently captured on security cameras. The very same man was a guest speaker today. Truly the world is a strange place. Also present was a man who claims to have walked from Kenya a number of years ago. He believes there should be no borders and people should be free to go where they please. He dresses in traditional Massai regalia and is well spoken. For more info check his webpage http://www.maasaiwarrior.com
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Eleven children and adults died in this house. Burnt beyond recognition. Sarah Holland was one of those people that was called to help others. She took in in all those in need be they orphans or just people down on their luck. Twenty one of them lived in this farm house just outside Newcastle in Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa. Somehow a fire started early in the morning and pandemonium ensured. Screaming children were overcome by the smoke and flames the adults including Sarah managed to pull out ten of them before they too perished. Firemen and police who arrived on the scene were reduced to tears and in a state of shock. Outside the horses, cows, sheep and pigs continued to graze and frolic in the warm sun.Such is life. May they rest in peace.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Residents of Ntshawini near KwaDukuza on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast reckon they are tired of asking officials to install speed control measures on this notorious stretch of road. This morning they tore up road signs and threw rocks at cars and then blockaded the road with rubble, rubbish and poles.This after the death of two children who were knocked down by cars yesterday. They say there have been so many hit and runs over the years with no prosecutions. The fire department under a heavy police escort hosed most of the rubbish off the road by midday.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Durban's new beachfront is grinding painfully along. City fathers promise all will be complete in time for the football. Beautiful wide paved promenades stretching for seven kilometers will be the envy of the world. Strollers cyclists and joggers will eventually have their day. Out with low bush's and Australian trees and in with palms and wide open spaces. Begone greasy vendors like the Excell and Starfish restaurants..tear them down and start afresh. Let there be no place to hide. In the meantime kids use the giant sandbags that will become the foundations of the paved walk ways as jumping gyms. Some benches face directly onto hoardings but soon all will be revealed. Now if someone can just stop that darned east wind from depositing tons of sand on the new promenade.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
One man one wheel seems to be the mantra of one Geoff Brink. He is attempting to cycle from Durban to Cape Town a mere 1 700 kms on his 36" unicycle. Why? To raise awareness for landmine victims. Yes folks can you believe some fiend sits in a workshop/factory somewhere and designs a device that when stood on leaps out the ground and takes your face off. Nice people us humans aren't we. Follow the tour and see the man with no face at www.fredhatman.co.za