Friday/ Anton Goosen turns 75

South African folk singer Anton Goosen turned 75 today.

He sings mostly in Afrikaans, but also in English.
I love his song called Magalies, O Magaliesberg — a song that (somewhat) romanticises the hardships of the 1830s Great Trek of the Voortrekkers (pioneers).
Some of these pioneers ended up in what would become the Transvaal Colony, and is today called Gauteng Province.

The Magaliesberg is a modest but well-defined mountain range north of Pretoria, with ancient origins. It was formed some 2 billion years ago.
The area around the range has seen occupation by humans dating back at least 2 million years, to the earliest hominin species (such as Mrs Ples). The Sterkfontein Caves, which lie at the World Heritage Site called the Cradle of Humankind, are close by. [From Wikipedia].

Ox wagons during the Great Trek in South Africa (1835-1838).
[Picture from Wikimedia Commons, from p209 of the book ‘The Voortrekkers’ by J.S. Skelton, 1909].
Voor op die wa sit my hoepelbeenpa,
agter op die wa sit my vaalhaarma
Waai die wind, waai my jas,
knoop my Sannie haar sydoek vas
Veertien rooies voor aan die wa,
sewe van my en sewe van my pa
Die hotagter, die Afrikaan,
hy en sy maat moet die disselboom dra

(Front of the wa1 sits my hoop-legged pa,
back of the wa sits my drab-haired ma
Blows the wind, blow our coats,
ties my Tammy her silk cloth close
Fourteen red ones front of the wa,
seven of mine & seven of my pa’s
The left back, the Afrikaan2,
he and his mate, must bear the bar)

1Short for wagon, we say v-ahh in Afrikaans
2A breed of cattle indigenous to South Africa

Lyrics from ‘Magalies, O Magaliesberg‘ from the Anton Goosen album ‘Liedjieboer Innie Stad’ (1986), with my own rough translation into English.

Tuesday/ a Hermanus house, then and now

I knew the house in this picture from long ago was in Hermanus, South Africa .. but what would it look like today? I wondered.
I did not have the address, but that outline of the mountain in the background was all I needed to track it down. Here is what I found.

1964. That’s my brother and me (on the right), on the lawn of a rented beach house in Hermanus (a 90 min. drive from Cape Town, to the east).
And what magnificent machine would that be in the garage? It’s my dad’s 1959 Ford Fairlane (it had a V8 engine). The name is derived from Henry Ford’s estate, Fair Lane, near Dearborn, Michigan.

2021. So, some 57 years later. New roof & new paint on the house (of course), The brick chimney is still there. The hydrangea, ivy and big tree are all gone, but at least there is another tree or two. [Google Street View, Sept. 2010].
And here’s a Google Earth view of the area, looking northwest. I added some annotation. The house was just about three blocks from the beach. The ocean water is frigid, though. The shores here catch some of the cold Benguela Current from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The main road that runs through Hermanus is Route 43 (R43). On the right of the picture is a vlei (a shallow, minor lake, mostly of a seasonal or intermittent nature) that is now part of a nature reserve. [Picture generated with Google Earth].

Monday/ tropical storm Eloise

I’ve been following tropical storm Eloise for a few days now. There has not been large loss of life (official death toll in Mozambique: 12), but some 5,000 homes in Mozambique were destroyed or badly flooded.

I believe the Kruger National Park, the national parks in Zimbabwe, and the Moremi Game Reserve on the eastern side of Botswana’s Okavango Delta* will be OK. Some areas are getting soaked with 5 or 6 inches of rain, and this summer’s corn harvest is going to be damaged badly.

*This is the time of year that the enormous and very shallow bowl of the Okavango Delta fills up with about 2.6 cubic miles (11 cubic km) of water, spread over as much as 5,800 square miles (15,000 km2).

Tropical storm Eloise brought heavy rains over the south of Mozambique, the little land-locked country Eswatini, and the north and east of South Africa. [Infographic by Theuns Kruger/ Grafika24 for Beeld newspaper]

Thursday/ canola fields forever

Here’s a beautiful bird’s eye* view of the canola fields just outside Durbanville, South Africa. Look for Table Mountain and Lion’s Head to its right, in the distance.
*Picture was taken with a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone.
[Photo from ‘Die Burger’ newspaper, submitted by Dirkie Heydenrych]

Wednesday/ Table Mountain’s table cloth

Table Mountain (elevation 3,563 ft/ 1 086 m) in Cape Town, South Africa, has an inch of snow on it.
Snow on the mountain is unusual, but not unheard of (there was snow in 2017).
The cable car up to the top has reopened (with masks required & a limited number of passengers).

A rock hyrax, also called the Cape hyrax, tries to catch a few rays of sun to warm up.  That’s Cape Town and Table Bay in the distance. [Photo Credit: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company]

Monday/ 50 yrs ago: no visa for Arthur Ashe

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
– Arthur Ashe, American tennis player (b. 1943- d. 1993)


The US Open tennis tournament starts in Queens, New York City today.
There will be no crowds at the courts, nor in Arthur Ashe stadium —the largest tennis stadium in the world (capacity 23,771).

It was 50 years ago, in Jan. 1970, when the South African apartheid government took an outrageous stand: it refused Ashe a visa to play in the South African Open tennis tournament. The fallout and damage to South African sport were extensive. It solidified South Africa’s pariah status in the sports world. The country had already been banned from the Olympics in 1964 & 1968. It would be until 1992 before South African athletes could again compete in the Games.

Reporting from the New York Times in Jan. 1970. It was in 1968 that Ashe had won the US Open, at the time of this controversy he had just won the Australian Open in 1970. In perhaps his most celebrated win, he won Wimbledon in 1975.

Friday/ mystery bird: solved

I had to scroll through hundreds of Botswana bird photos to identify this white-crested helmetshrike, that I took a picture of long ago. (Googling ‘White bird with orange-ringed eye’ and several other similar attempts, did not do it).

We call a shrike laksman (sayla- ks-mon’) in Afrikaans: literally, executioner. The crimson-breasted shrikes in our garden in South Africa would find frogs or big insects, and impale them on the thorns of a bush before devouring them!

White-crested helmetshrike (Prionops plumatus), Tuli Block, Botswana, Jul. 1988.

Tuesday/ the day apartheid died

Young South Africans, wearing face masks and keeping a distance, mark the country’s Youth Day holiday in Soweto, South Africa, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Nearly 200 young South Africans, wearing face masks and keeping a distance, marked the country’s Youth Day holiday, the 44th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto students’ uprising which helped to bring about the end of the country’s previous regime of racist, minority rule. Äsivikelane is Zulu for “Protect each other’. [Themba Hadebe/Associated Press]
June 16, 1976, is a day that saw fierce police brutality in South Africa.  Several thousand high school students in Johannesburg’s poor township of Soweto demonstrated against the minority South African government.  (In 1974, a decree had been issued that had forced all township schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50–50 mix as languages of instruction).

The march had been peaceful, but then a police convoy arrived. Not long after that, the protestors were fired upon with live ammunition, causing the deaths of several young students. There was more bloodshed the next day. The number of young people who died is usually given as 176, but other estimates put it at hundreds more.

Many white South Africans were outraged at the government’s actions in Soweto. It would be another 14 years before Nelson Mandela would be let out of jail, but at no point after 1976, was the government able to restore the relative peace and social stability of the early 1970s.

June 16, 1976. Umbiswa Makhubo carries the body of Hector Pieterson, 12 years old. The screaming girl in the picture is Hector’s younger sister Antoinette. [Photograph: Sam Nzima/Archive]

Friday/ king of the road

South Africa is under national lockdown orders, as is much of the world.
This pride of lions is enjoying the warmth of the quiet tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.  These ones are resident on neighboring Kempiana Contractual Park, and wandered over to Kruger National Park.

Pictures were taken by Section Ranger Richard Sowry, and tweeted from Kruger National Park@SANParksKNP.

 

Friday/ proteas for Valentine’s Day

Nice to see South African proteas* here in my local Safeway (grocery store).
These may have been offered specially for Valentine’s Day.

*Pronounce ‘pro-tee-ah’.

Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a whole genus of South African flowering plants. 92% of the species are native only to the Cape Floristic Region, a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land from Clanwilliam to Grahamstown, South Africa. Nowadays, proteas are cultivated in some 20 countries, but it is time-consuming, and proteas need a Mediterranean or subtropical climate. [Information from Wikipedia].

Saturday/ fun and games in Cape Town, for charity

It was all fun and games in the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night, where the charity tennis match (‘Match for Africa’) between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal took place.

Comedian Trevor Noah and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates joined them on the court, to start the proceedings with a set of doubles.

Cape Town Stadium, made into a tennis arena. The stadium was filled with some 55,000 spectators. The US$3.5 million raised for education and sport for kids in Africa, far exceeded expectations. This is a curtain-raiser doubles match, between Nadal & South African-born comedian Trevor Noah on the left, and Federer & Bill Gates on the right. [Picture by Mark Sampson @MarkSampsonCT on Twitter]. 
A scene from a long rally in the Nadal-Noah vs. Federer-Gates match. Federer was running back, chasing down a lob, and is doing the very difficult between-the-legs ‘tweener’ shot that is always a crowd pleaser. The players were all fitted with microphones, so that the crowd could hear their banter as they played. It absolutely does not matter, but Federer & Gates won the one-set match by 6 to 3.  (Gates is a little bit better at tennis than Trevor Noah, and for their part, Federer and Nadal just kept the ball in play, until one of the other two made a mistake).

Thursday/ making like an otter

Here’s a scanned 35mm photo negative, from my newest Google Photos album called ‘1990 Otter Hiking Trail’. (Yes, that’s me in 1990, striking an ‘otter’ pose for the camera. The water from the mountain stream is perfectly fine for drinking. The brown color comes from tannins leaching into the water from tree roots and decaying vegetation).

The Otter Hiking Trail is a five-day hiking trail along the Garden Route coast of South Africa and is named for the Cape clawless otter which occurs in this region.

Saturday/ South Africa’s diamonds and animals

My bundle of mail held by the post office arrived on Saturday.
One of them was a package of books & magazines I had shipped to myself from South Africa in October. The package was plastered with stamps of fabulous diamonds and ‘big five’ animals.

Famous diamonds from South Africa: The Star of South Africa (1869), The Eureka (1866), The Centenary (1986), The De Beers (1988) and the newest one of fame, the Blue Moon of Josephine (2014), a flawless 12-carat blue diamond, sold at auction in 2015 for a record $48.4 million.   The Big Five: African buffalo, Black Rhinoceros*, Leopard, Lion and African Elephant. *My usual disclaimer: the Big Five are for conservation and NOT FOR HUNTING. Only 5,000 black rhinos remain in the wild, a number that is double the 1995 number, though. The White Rhinoceros should really be a big fiver too, with some 20,000 still in the wild. Giraffes and hippos could certainly qualify, as well.

Tuesday/ tornado!

Big, destructive tornadoes are a rare sight in South Africa, but one touched down near the town of New Hanover in KwaZulu-Natal province on Tuesday at 4 pm local time.

No fatalities have been reported so far, but some 30 houses and an electrical substation were damaged.

Update Thu 11/14: Two fatalities have been reported, from homes in the Mpolweni settlement that were struck by the tornado. More people are still reported as missing.

Tornado spotted near New Hanover in KwaZulu-Natal. This is some 40 miles from the port city of Durban, as the crow flies. The outlines of the Mersey electrical substation is visible in the picture. I could not find a report of its strength, but it could have been F-1 (73-112 mph winds). [Picture Credit: The still frame is from a clip posted on Twitter @StormReportSA1]

Saturday/ the Springboks have it!

The South African rugby team made it #3 today with their upset win in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final against England. They won in 1995 against New Zealand, and in 2007 against England.

There were two beautiful Springbok tries in the second half, one by left wing Makazole Mapimpi, and one by quicksilver right wing Cheslin Kolbe. The final score was 32-12.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi lifts the Rugby World Cup trophy, flanked by the littlest guys in the team: scrum-half Faf de Klerk, 5′ 8″, 194 lbs (left) and right wing Cheslin Kolbe, 5′ 7″, 176 lbs.
Cute cartoon in the Daily Mail. (Croydon is just 15 mi south of London, and the Final was played in Yokohama, Japan). Alas, the English fans had to return home very disappointed.

Sunday/ go Bokke!

The South African Springboks are through to the World Rugby Cup semi-final. They beat Japan’s Brave Blossoms 26-3.

Next up: Wales, on Sun Oct. 27 in Yokohama. The other semi-final is between England and New Zealand on Sat. Oct 26.

The Springboks are about to score another try here (try= touchdown), in the last 10 minutes of the game. Full back Willie le Roux is passing the ball to wing Makazole Mapimpi, and he went over and scored to bring the score to 26-3. No forward throwing or passing as in American football – that would be completely illegal in rugby! And no tackling, or holding someone back, if he does not have the ball. [Source: YouTube: HIGHLIGHTS: Japan v South Africa – Rugby World Cup 2019]

Monday/ back to Amsterdam

It’s Monday night, and I’m about to go to Cape Town airport to make my way back to Amsterdam. I plan to take the Inter City Express train from there, to make it into Hamburg by Tuesday night.

‘Everything you need to support the (Spring)bokke’ (the national rugby team competing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup), says this print advertisement. Tuesday is National Heritage Day in South Africa, also known as Braai Day (Barbecue Day) – hence the sausage and meats for the grill.  I should have postponed my journey back with a day or two!

Saturday/ book store treasure hunt

My friend and I went on a second-hand bookstore treasure hunt on Saturday.
I am looking for a few out-of-print Afrikaans books from my childhood.
It looks like I will have better luck scouring the offerings of  local online booksellers – but it is still fun to browse through the shelf inventory of second-hand booksellers!

Here’s the inside of Bikini Beach Books in Gordon’s Bay. It has an unusual, somewhat unorganized, selection of local and international books and publications.
Here’s a prize book that my friend had bought online for me. I just love the artwork on the cover, as well. ‘Fritz Deelman and the Space Ships from Mars‘ by Leon Rousseau. The protagonist is a James Bond of sorts, an international agent working for the South African Special Forces. The book was published in 1957, so even before man first set foot on the moon.

Friday/ sunbirds and sugarbirds

I caught several beautiful birds on camera while roaming the gardens during my visit at Kirstenbosch.
The most striking ones were sunbirds and sugarbirds.
Sunbirds (family Nectariniidae) are not hummingbirds ⁠(family Trochilidae) — even though both have sharp, curved bills and iridescent feathers.
Hummingbirds are native to the Americas and are related to swifts.
Sunbirds are native to Africa, Asia and Australia and are related to swallows.

An orange-breasted sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea) on a pin-cushion protea. These birds are found only in fynbos. They love flowers such as tube-shaped heaths, pin cushion proteas, pagodas and cape honeysuckle.
The male southern double-collared sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) has a brilliant red band across its chest, and a narrower metallic blue band below its green neck and head.
This is a female Cape sugarbird (Promerops cafer). Males have really long tail feathers. Their diet consists mainly of nectar, but also of small insects.
A male Cape batis (Batis capensis) with its striking eye-mask, white throat and black chest pattern, taking a bath at a water fountain. These are small but stout insect-eating birds.
A Cape white-eye (Zosterops virens) in the cycad garden in Kirstenbosch. They eat insects, soft fleshy flowers, nectar, fruit and small grains.
A Cape bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis, Afr. ‘Kaapse tiptol’). They are active and noisy, and tend to perch at the top of a bush.

Thursday/ koeksister

A koeksister is a traditional Cape Malay confectionery made of fried dough infused in syrup or honey.

I no longer put sugar in my coffee .. but hey, nothing wrong to have a sweet koeksister with it when in South Africa. Koeksisters have a golden crunchy crust and liquid syrup centre, are very sticky and sweet, and taste like honey.