A fire that had started in the early hours of Thursday morning in an illegally occupied apartment building in the inner city of Johannesburg, South Africa, led to the death of 74 people.
The building had long been ‘hijacked’ from the city by a crime syndicate, and illegally rented out to vulnerable people.
As far as historians can tell, it’s the worst mass casualty in the storied history of Johannesburg. The metropolis of 5.6 million was founded in 1886 with the Witwatersrand Gold Rush.
Two envelopes arrived yesterday, with the latest acquisitions I had made for my stamp collection inside.
The sellers did me the favor of pasting lots of beautiful stamps on the outside of the envelopes.
While I was in South Africa, I shipped myself a box of books to Seattle from Pretoria, and another box from Stellenbosch*.
The boxes landed on my porch today. They went from South Africa to London’s Heathrow airport, then to Cincinnati, Ohio, and then to Seattle.
*The Protea bookstore in Stellenbosch —always full of new and old Afrikaans books— was going out of business, and I could not pass up the opportunity to scoop up fifty-some books for $1 or $2 apiece.
It was quiet early on Saturday morning in the Gardens (also called ‘The Company’s Garden).
The garden was originally created in the 1650s by the region’s first European settlers and provided fertile ground to grow fresh produce to replenish ships rounding the Cape.
My hotel is in the Tamboerskloof neighborhood in Cape Town.
Theses pictures from my self-directed architecture walk are all from Long Street or nearby.
That’s Table Mountain in the last picture, of course.
The Voortrekker Monument is located just south of Pretoria in South Africa. The granite structure is located on a hilltop, and was raised to commemorate the Voortrekkers (pioneers) who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854. It was designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk. Construction started on 13 July 1937 and the monument was inaugurated on 16 December 1949 by Prime Minister D. F. Malan.
[Information from Wikipedia entry for Voortrekker Monument].
I walked around the monument today, before going inside. I climbed the 299 granite steps from the carpark to the top (at the inside), in the process. From the ceiling balcony one looks down at a cenotaph* that says ‘Ons Vir Jou Suid-Afrika’ (‘We For You South Africa’).
*A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere.
The blank stamp album pages that I had ordered from Denmark, landed on the porch on Saturday, and I tried them out today.
The first two pictures below are my existing, preprinted pages and pockets, from German company Leuchtturm. They run from 1961 through 1981. The pages from 1982 onwards are now out of print. I scoured Ebay and the internet, but could not find a used set.
So I am trying out Leuchtturm’s blank pocketed pages, to stand in for the years starting in 1982. I printed ‘South Africa — Suid-Afrika’ and the year on paper strips that go into the top of the page. It looks OK. Maybe I need cream-colored paper to print on— or is that being too persnickety?
My shipment of stamps from a seller in South Africa that I had bought in July, arrived today— in a sturdy envelope covered with South African stamps.
(Very ‘meta’ to use stamps to send stamps .. and so much nicer than using a bland computer-generated postage paid label).
Here’s the first definitive series of stamps issued for the Republic of South Africa.
This is the original set that was issued in 1961.
Slightly updated versions of the stamps with redrawn images and fonts for the lettering were subsequently issued and printed until 1973, when the set was retired.
I bought this beautiful set of 1954 Union of South Africa stamps on Ebay because I have very fond memories of them.
My mom had a stack of letters with the rhinoceros on— correspondence between her and my dad from before they got married.
I had the half-penny, one-penny and two-penny in my collection at the time. The higher denomination stamps were spectacularly out of reach for a young collector: very expensive to buy. The 10-shilling stamp depicts postage 240 times that of the half-penny stamp with the warthog. (Twelve pennies to the shilling).
In 1961, South Africa became a Republic, switched to a decimal currency (the South African Rand), and a new set of stamps was issued. I have that set as well, and will post it soon.
The stamps below depict a warthog, a black wildebeest, a leopard, a zebra, a white rhinoceros, an African elephant, a hippopotamus, a lion, a kudu, a springbok, a gemsbok, a njala, a giraffe and a roan antelope.
It was the first set of stamps depicting South Africa’s wild life heritage, and many, many more stamps depicting wild life would follow.
I found this arum lily (genus: Zantedeschia) on 16th Ave, at twilight (time stamp on the photo is 9.16 pm).
These lilies are native to southern Africa and South Africa. We call them varkore in Afrikaans (Eng. pig’s ears). The flower comes in pink hues as well, but all the ones I had ever seen in South Africa were white, like this one.
rusknoun \ ˈrəsk \
a sweet or plain bread baked, sliced, and baked again until dry and crisp
biscottonoun bis·cot·to \ bi-ˈskät-ō \ plural biscotti\ bi-ˈskät-ē \
a crisp cookie or biscuit of Italian origin that is flavored usually with anise and filberts or almonds —usually used in plural
[Definitions from merriam-webster.com]
I sometimes buy biscotti at Whole Foods, but they don’t always have it.
The best bet for me, when I want a special treat to dunk into my morning coffee, is to go to British Pantry in Redmond. They usually have some of Ouma’s rusks, an import from South Africa.
Hey, Team South Africa! I see you.
Love the vellies*.
*Velskoene (“FEL-skoona”) or colloquially vellies (“FELL-ys”), are Southern African walking shoes, made from vegetable-tanned leather or soft rawhide uppers attached to a leather footbed and rubber sole, without tacks or nails (from Wikipedia).
I thought it would never happen, but here we are: former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma (age 79), is actually in jail as of Wednesday night*.
It gives me hope that a former president of the United States of America, can be found guilty (it should not hard, to do that), and be sentenced to serve a long time in jail as well. Lock him up.
*15 months, for contempt of court. After all that he had done, Zuma deserves to go for 15 years.
NKANDLA, South Africa — Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, was taken into custody on Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month prison sentence, capping a stunning downfall for a once-lauded freedom fighter who battled the apartheid regime alongside Nelson Mandela.
The Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest judicial body, ordered Mr. Zuma’s imprisonment last month after finding him guilty of contempt for failing to appear before a commission investigating corruption accusations that tainted his tenure as the nation’s leader from 2009 to 2018.
Under Mr. Zuma, who was forced to step down, the extent of crony corruption within the governing African National Congress Party became clear, turning a once heralded liberation movement into a vehicle of self-enrichment for many officials. The corruption led to the gutting of the nation’s tax agency, sweetheart business contracts and rivals gunned down in a scramble for wealth and power.
Mr. Zuma, 79, voluntarily surrendered on Wednesday, 40 minutes before a midnight deadline for the police to hand him over to prison officials. He was driven out of his compound in a long convoy of cars and taken to the Estcourt Correctional Center, the corrections department said. The arrest followed a week of tense brinkmanship in which the former president and his allies railed against the high court’s decision, suggesting, without evidence, that he was the victim of a conspiracy.
-John Eligon reporting for the New York Times
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].
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.