Tuesday/ stamp of the day ✉️

I bought this single stamp from a seller in Canada.
It’s the highest value stamp (10 shillings) in the series known as the 1927-1930 London Pictorials; the last South African stamps printed in London.
(After that stamps were printed in South Africa).
The Afrikaans-English se-tenant (joined) stamp pairs are very expensive (up to $200), but the single ones are $10 or so.
I’m still looking for an English one with ‘SOUTH AFRICA’ inscribed at the top.

From the 1927-1930 London Pictorials
Issued 1927, Mar. 1
Perf. 14 | Engraved printing | Wmk. Multiple springbok’s heads
29 16 | 10sh | Bright blue and brown |  Cape Town, Table Mountain and Table Bay
[Source: 2016 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue for Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970)
My notes: The prominent white tower might be Mouille Point Lighthouse— built in 1842 but demolished in 1908. To its right and further back would be Cape Town City Hall, a large Edwardian building built from honey-colored oolitic limestone imported from Bath in England, and located on the Grand Parade.
It was completed in 1905 and is still there today.

Tuesday/ Loeloeraai 🛸

Hey! Amazon opened its online doors in South Africa today.
The Books section has a language filter— necessary for a country with 11 official languages.
I searched for Afrikaans books, and specifically for the beloved Afrikaans poet and author C.J. Langenhoven (1873-1932).
I did find the book Loeloeraai, but right now it is out of stock on amazon.co.za.

Loeloeraai (say ‘lu-lu-rye’) was published in 1923. (This the cover of a modern reprint of the book).
It is believed to be the very first Afrikaans science fiction novel. Most of the colorful characters in the book are from Langenhoven’s other books: Kerneels, Vroutjie (‘wifey’), their daughter Engela, his uncle Stoffel, his brother-in-law Watwo, Herrie (Kerneels’s tame elephant) and Jakhals (Kerneels’s dog).
The other main character is Loeloeraai— an unexpected visitor from Venus that lands at Kerneels’s homestead on his farm.
At first, Kerneels is very leery of the alien, but realizes over time that Loeloeraai has no ill intentions. (Other humans that learn of Loeloeraai wants the alien locked up in jail).
Loeloeraai’s visit is ostensibly to learn more of Earth, but the alien’s interaction with humans educate them about their greed, self-interest and cruelty.
The novel illustrates what was known of the universe at the time, and also what was still unknown.

Saturday/ Mystik Dan by a nose 🏇

Congrats to the owner and team for Mystik Dan, the winner of the 150th Kentucky Derby, by a nose.

Run, horsies, run!
These are wildebeest, actually: large African antelopes of the family Bovidae.
From an updated issue of the 1926-27 London Pictorial definitive series (the first series of stamps were printed in London, thereafter by South Africa government printers in Pretoria) 
Issued Jan. 1950
Perf. 15×14 | Screened rotogravure | Afr. & Eng. inscriptions for South Africa | Wmk Multiple Springbok heads
SG120 13 | 1 shilling | Brown & chalky blue | Black and blue wildebeest
[Source: 2016 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue- Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps]

Sunday/ 30 years after 1994

2019 The 25th Anniversary of Democracy
Issued 26 April, 2019
Minisheet (105 x 65mm) Perf. 12¼ No watermark
Design: Rachel-Mari Ackermann

Here is a summary of what is going on in South Africa and its politics in the final few weeks before the election there on May 29.

From the Washington Post Editorial Board, written for the newspaper’s Opinion column on April 17, 2024:
South Africa’s ANC is headed for a reckoning at the ballot box. That’s good.

There’s a lot of good news coming out of Africa. Eleven of the world’s 20 fastest-growing economies are African, and the continent’s overall gross domestic product growth is expected to outpace the global average this year and next.

Unfortunately, the good news doesn’t extend to South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized economy and its leading democracy. Growth is flat, and the country barely avoided a recession last year. Officially, nearly one-third of working-age South Africans are unemployed, but the real rate is likely higher. Crime is staggering. South Africa has the highest income inequality in the world. Its productivity is hampered by a nationwide electricity shortage leading to daily rolling blackouts. Last month, the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, was hit by an unprecedented water shortage partly because of crumbling infrastructure.

The African National Congress bears most of the blame. South Africa’s ruling party for the past 30 years, since the country’s first all-race elections, the ANC was once unassailable as the party of the country’s first Black president, Nelson Mandela, and the vanguard of the liberation movement that ended the abhorrent apartheid regime.

But after three decades of unchallenged power, the ANC has become ossified, unresponsive, and tainted by corruption and failure to deliver basic services. Kickbacks for state contracts have become rampant, especially during the disastrous administration of Jacob Zuma, who faced multiple indictments and allegations of corrupt dealings and who was briefly imprisoned before being questionably paroled. Last month, the powerful speaker of the national assembly and ANC member, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was accused by prosecutors of taking $135,000 in bribes when she served as defense minister. She resigned Wednesday.

Now many young South Africans appear to be turning against the ANC. National elections are due May 29, and most signs and surveys suggest the ANC might for the first time lose its absolute majority in Parliament. That would be a good thing.

What happens after the election will be a crucial test for the country’s young democracy and will have implications across the continent for other struggling democracies. South Africa has no experience with a coalition government. How the various parties navigate the uncertainty — and even if the ANC would accept a loss of its complete control — point to a fraught post-election period.

To be sure, the ANC is still a massive voter turnout machine that commands loyalty among the older generation. Its leaders, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, like to remind voters that many of the country’s problems stem from the inequalities of the repugnant apartheid regime. But among younger voters, that message falls short.

If the ANC lands just a few seats shy of a majority, it could assemble a coalition with independents and tiny parties. But if its losses are bigger — and some projections put its support as low as 40 percent — then the ANC will need to join forces with one of the larger established parties to maintain its hold on government. Which way the ANC turns will determine its economic direction as well as its future foreign policy, including relations with the United States.

The current main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, is expected to come in second. An ANC-DA alliance would likely ensure a centrist-liberal economic policy scaling back the state’s heavy role in the economy. The DA has also been more critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine than the ANC, which has adopted a neutral position. The DA runs the provincial government in Western Cape, considered in public opinion surveys to be South Africa’s best-run province. But the Democratic Alliance suffers from the stigma of being seen as the party favored by the country’s White minority.

Another party poised to do well is an ANC offshoot, the Economic Freedom Fighters, which advocates a blend of Marxist economic policies and land confiscation. Its fiery, charismatic leader, Julius Malema, is also given to harsh, violence-tinged rhetoric. An ANC alliance with the EFF would mean a sharp turn to a far-left, socialist and anti-Western agenda.

The wild card is Mr. Zuma, who has formed a new party, uMkhonto weSizwe, which is expected to peel away votes from the ANC in Mr. Zuma’s native KwaZulu-Natal province. Mr. Zuma retains a significant base. His supporters have also shown a penchant for violence, as in 2021 when Zuma supporters rioted against his arrest. There are fears of a repeat of violence if his new party fares poorly.

Some within the ANC are sanguine about the party losing its majority, calling it the natural evolution of a vibrant democracy. If South Africa’s leaders cultivate this sort of perspective, the country is likely to weather the uncertainty, emerge stronger and — once again — serve as a democratic model for others to emulate.

Wednesday/ birds of a feather 🐦

South African Constitution (1996) Art. 47.1.e. 
1. Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly, except ­..
e. anyone who, after this section took effect, is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic, or outside the Republic if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic, but no one may be regarded as having been sentenced until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired. A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed.


This year, general elections will be held in South Africa on 29 May to elect a new National Assembly as well as the provincial legislature in each province.

It’s been 30 years since Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first democratic president. The African National Congress has in been in power all this time.

Let’s just say that after Mandela left office in 1999, the ANC has not exactly covered themselves in glory.
Jacob Zuma (elected in 2009) and his ANC cronies in particular, engaged in racketeering, money laundering, and fraud on a grand scale.

Zuma spent time in jail 2021, but only two months of his full sentence of 15 months.  This was due to a ‘remission’ program approved by the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa (the equivalent of a ‘pardon’ in the US).

Now 82 years old, Zuma is back in politics. He wants to become president again.
South Africa’s election court ruled that he cannot be disqualified by the 12 month rule in Art. 47.1.e. of the South African constitution.

Cartoon of an imagined phone call between candidates for presidential elections in America and in South Africa.
Zuma broke from the ANC and is the de facto leader of a brand-new political party called uMkhonto weSizwe (abbr. MKP,  and meaning ‘Spear of the Nation’).
Here’s Antony Sguazzin reporting for bloomberg.com:
Support for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is plunging and a party backed by former President Jacob Zuma may become the country’s third-biggest after next month’s election, a new opinion poll shows. The ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid, may garner just 37% of the vote on May 29, while Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MKP, may get 13%, the Social Research Foundation said in comments sent to Bloomberg on Wednesday, citing a poll it carried out this month.
[Cartoon by Niel van Vuuren for Beeld newspaper]

Tuesday/ I got royal mail 🫅🏻

There was mail from the Royal Mail in Great Britain for me today— with South African stamps inside, of course.
I looked up the details of the stamps used on the envelopes.

Birth Centenary of Sir Winston Churchill
Issued 1974, Oct. 9. | Perf.14×15 | ‘All-over’ phosphor Gum
962 444 4½p | Prussian Blue, pale turqoise-green and silver | Churchill in Royal Yacht Squadron Uniform
[Source: 1997 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Part I Volume I]
King Charles III Definitive Stamps
Issued 2023 | Perf. 15×14½ | Gravure print with phosphor bars | Bar-coded | Self-adhesive
£2.20 Dark green Portrait of His Majesty King Charles III
[Source: royalmail.com]
 

Saturday/ here comes the Dromedaris 🐪

I spent a few hours on my South African stamp collection today, poring over my Scott stamp catalog to find the fine— but distinct— differences between the various issues of the ubiquitous 1 p Dromedaris stamps issued in 1926, 1932, 1940 and in 1951 (shown below).

A little history first:
On April 6, 1652 (372 years ago), Jan Van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope in what is called South Africa today, with three ships; the Reijer, the Dromedaris, and the Goede Hoop. He was accompanied by 82 men and 8 women, including his wife of two years, Maria.
Van Riebeeck was requested by the Dutch East India Company to undertake the command of the initial Dutch settlement in the future South Africa.

About this stamp:
From the First Definite Series of the Union of South Africa (a redesign of the original 1926 version, issued in 1951)
Photogravure printing    Perf. 15×14    Wmk. Multiple Springbok head
49 A6    1 p carmine & black    Afrikaans-English se-tenant pair (’51, size 18x22mm) of Jan van Riebeeck’s ship, the Dromedaris
[Source: 2021 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Vol. 6A]

Friday/ early humans 💀

Another batch of stamps from South Africa that I had ordered online, landed on my porch.
Here is one of my favorite sets, presented on a miniature sheet.
I feel ‘Planet of the Apes’* vibes, looking at it.

*Originally a 1963 novel by French author Pierre Boulle.

Origins of Humans
Issued 2006, Nov. 10
Serpentine Die-cut    Perf. 11½x11¾    No Wmk   Self-adhesive
C77 AP20 R3.80 Sheet of 4
a. Paranthropus robustus
b. Australopithecus africanus
c. Homo heidelbergensis
d. Homo ergaster [Source: Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue 2021, Vol. 6A]
Homo heidelbergensis is an extinct species or subspecies of archaic human which existed during the Middle Pleistocene. It was classified as a subspecies of H. erectus in 1950 as H. e. heidelbergensis.
H. heidelbergensis is placed as the most recent common ancestor between modern humans (H. sapiens or H. s. sapiens) and Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis or H. s. neanderthalensis).

Paranthropus robustus is a species of robust australopithecine (primate) from the Early and possibly Middle Pleistocene of the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, about 2.27 to 0.87 million years ago.

Homo ergaster is an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Africa in the Early Pleistocene.
Whether H. ergaster constitutes a species of its own or should be subsumed into H. erectus is an ongoing and unresolved dispute within paleoanthropology.

Australopithecus africanus is an extinct species of australopithecine (primate) which lived between about 3.3 and 2.1 million years ago in the Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene of South Africa. The species has been recovered from Taung, Sterkfontein, Makapansgat, and Gladysvale.

[Information from Wikipedia]

Tuesday/ lore and legends 🦁

A batch of South African stamps that I had ordered from a seller in Germany arrived yesterday.
This set is one of my favorites.

2005 Folklore and Legends of South Africa
Issued Jul. 1, 2005
1348 A450 B5 sheet of 10 Perf. 14¼ No Watermark
B5 is a code for a medium-sized postcard, sent domestically in South Africa— R3.75 at the time of issue.
[Source: 2009 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 6]

Thursday/ telephone your telegrams 📞

There was mail today, with of old South African stamps from an Ebay seller in North Carolina.
(I have expanded the original 1961-2000 timeframe for my South Africa stamp collection backwards to 1910, when the Union of South Africa was established).

From the Stanley Gibbons Catalog:
Issued Nov 2, 1936, for the Johannesburg International Philatelic Exhibition
Perf. 14½ x14, watermarked  Multiple Springbok’s head, inverted, overprinted ‘JIPEX 1936’
MS70 7 Dromedaris (Jan van Riebeeck’s ship) 1d grey and carmine
Issued in miniature sheets of 6 stamps with marginal advertisements.
21 different arrangements of the advertisements exist. 

Merry Christmas🎄

A sheet of Christmas Stamps from South Africa, issued in 1979.
Christmas Stamps were first issued in South Africa in 1929.
These stamps are sometimes called ‘Cinderella’ stamps, since they are not good for paying for postage, and not listed in any of the formal stamp catalogues.

Saturday/ the falling ladder and the mole hill 🪜

I fancy myself to be a hard-core philatelist— at least when it comes to the stamps from South Africa in my collection.

To identify variants of a particular stamp that had been issued, I would say one needs at least a detailed stamp catalogue, a magnifying glass, and a stamp perforation gauge. Let’s also throw in an ultra-violet (UV) light, for stamps tagged with special inks.

1933 6d Orange Tree | Orange and dark green | Perf. 15×14 | Photogravure printing, Die III | Watermark multiple Springbok Heads | Afrikaans or English text
The orange tree on this 6 penny stamp was a symbol for the Orange Free State province of the Union of South Africa.
(After 1994, the Orange Free State province name was shortened to Free State.)
The 6d stamp comes in three different designs (printing dies). In addition, there are two known flaws: the ‘falling ladder’ ($177 per pair) and the ‘mole hill’ * ($147 per pair).  These flawed stamps are sometimes worth ten times or more than the flawless ones*. 
*Then again, in the words of Henry Havelock Ellis ‘The absence of flaw is in itself a flaw’.
[Source: 2016 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue for Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970)

Saturday/ on top of the world 🏉 🇿🇦

Bok, bok, staan styf
Hoeveel vingers op jou lyf?
Vier!

(An Afrikaans rhyme from a children’s game.
Loosely translated, it says
‘Bok, bok, hold still.
What number of fingers do you feel?
Four! says the Bok).

Top: Reporting in The Observer/ The Guardian by Robert Kitson at the Stade de France.
Cartoon by South African cartoonist Dr Jack. One more stripe can now be added under the Rugby World Cup trophy on the Bok’s sleeve.
The event takes place every four years, and South Africa has now won four times: 1995, 2007, 2019, 2023. The first RWC was held in 1987 and other past winners are: New Zealand (3 times), Australia (twice) and England (once).

Thursday/ birds of a feather? 🐦

Brutal political cartoon in South African daily newspaper ‘Die Burger’ (The Citizen) from yesterday.
The cartoonist goes by the alias Dr Jack.

Pandor*: Thanks for taking my call.
Hamas Terrorist: It is good to talk to someone that KNOWS how to bring a country to its knees.
*Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa since 2019. The African National Congress party (of which Pandor is a member) continues to demonstrate their abject incompetence and pervasive corruption while governing (make that: supposedly governing) the country.
And lest we forget: the ANC was a terrorist organization in the 1980s in South Africa, killing civilians with pipe bombs and the like. (The South African government of the day engaged in atrocities itself, torturing and murdering ANC party members in return). 
Pandor has flip-flopped about denouncing Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine and in fact, called Russia a ‘valued partner’ after foreign minister Lavrov visited in January.
She has criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) for not having what she called an ‘evenhanded approach’ to all leaders responsible for violations of international law.

Sunday/ go Bokke! 🏉

South Africa’s Springbokke prevailed 29-28 over the hometeam ‘Les Bleus’ from France in tonight’s 2023 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. The match was played in the Stade de France, the national stadium of France, located just north of Paris in the commune of Saint-Denis.

Next Saturday the Bokke will play against England.
In the other semifinal Argentina will take on New Zealand.

Eben Etzebeth played in the No 4 lock position, and is scoring a crucial try here, 27 minutes into the second half, to win the game for the Springboks.
[Photo by Associated Press]

Thursday/ the tragedy in Johannesburg🔥

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.

The front page of Die Burger (The Citizen): 74 die in inferno. The building is located in a gritty industrial area of the city, in a suburb called Marshalltown.
[Photo credit: Reuters]

Tuesday/ from Spain, South Africa 🇪🇸 🇿🇦

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.

Clockwise from top left:
150th Anniversary of Spanish Stamps (from a set of 11)
Issued 2000, Oct.8, , Perf. 13 (round stamp), 13½x14, Photolith.
3067 A1073 Multi-colored 200p €1.20 Invention of the antenna and radio
3063 A1073 Multi-colored 200p €1.20 Signature of Miguel Induráin, cyclist
Traditional Sports and Games
Issued 2008, Perf. 13½x14, Photolith.
Miniature Sheet of Martial Arts, 3 stamps & 3 labels
3577 A1469 Multi-colored, €0.43 Stick fighting (palo canario)
3577 A1469 Multi-colored, €0.43 Wrestling (lucha leonesa)
3577 A1469 Multi-colored, €0.43 Wrestling (lucha canaria)
150th Anniversary of International Red Cross
Issued 2013, Oct.28, Perf. 12¾, Photolith.
3939 A1722 €0.90 Red and white
Tapestries of Sports Scenes Taken from Painting
Issued 2009, Jul.6, Perf. 12¾, Photolith.
3657 A1519 Multi-colored, €0.78, By Francisco de Goya (El Juego de Pelota a Pala)
Women’s Dresses by Paco Rabane
Issued 2013, Sept.12, Perf. 13×12¾, Photolith.
3926 A1715 Multi-colored, €0.52, See-through dress of red diamonds
3926 A1715 Multi-colored, €0.52, Dress made of large golden disks
[Information from Scott 2017 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue]
Clockwise from top left:
The 40th IHF World Hospital Congress
2016, Oct.31, Perf. 14
2496 Multicolored, Intnl. Small Letter, Minisheet (75mm x 75mm)
The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela
Issued 2001, Nov.26, No watermark, Perf. 13¾, Designer Alf Kumalo
1481 Multicolored, Airmail Postcard Rate (R2.10), Nelson Mandela
1477 Multicolored, Airmail Postcard Rate (R2.10), Nelson Mandela
Wildlife— The Big 5
Issued 2001, Apr.25, No watermark, Perf. 14
1386 Multicolored, Airmail Postcard Rate (R1.90), Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Imperforated Right
1385 Multicolored, Airmail Postcard Rate (R1.90), Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Fauna and Flora— Fish
Issued 2000, Nov. 1, No watermark, Perf. 14½x14¾, Designer Chris van Rooyen
1335 Multicolored, 60c, Powder-blue surgeonfish (Acanthurus leucosternon)
1334 Multicolored, 50c, Coral rock cod (Cephalopholis miniatus)
African Nations Football Championship, South Africa
Issued 1996, Jan. 10, No watermark, Perf. 14¼ x 14, Design Marc de Jong
1027 Multicolored, Standard Postage (60c), Goalkeeper w. Africa map outline
[Information from stampworld.com]

Monday/ fishing for a watermark Ⓜ️

No 3: The RSA (Republic of South Africa) watermark was introduced in 1964 and used for updated prints of the Republic’s first definitive series of stamps which was originally issued in 1961.
[Source: Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue]
I dunked about a hundred scraps of paper with 1c stamps on in cold water today, separating the stamps from the paper.

I was hoping to find just one stamp with an upside-down RSA watermark.
Alas— no such luck with today’s batch of stamps.

This 1c stamp from the Republic of South Africa’s first definitive series (1961) comes with five distinct watermarks:

1.  Coat-of-arms
2.  No watermark
3.  RSA triangles
4.  RSA triangles, arranged tête-bêche (one pointing up, one down)
5.  RSA triangles, upside down

Can you see it? Part of a triangle watermark is visible on the left of the stamp’s back, and part of another triangle in the bottom right corner.

Monday/ books from afar 📚

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.

A box full of books is HEAVY, so the shipping by air (DHL) was expensive: several hundred dollars. It was still completely worth it. Ground shipping takes several months and it’s just not reliable (your package might never show up). 
The book with H.A.T. on the cover is a monolingual Afrikaans dictionary (‘Handbook of the Afrikaans Language’).
I read the little green book as a first grader.

Tuesday/ northbound ✈️

My time in Cape Town is has come to an end, and I will fly out to Frankfurt overnight.
From there I will take the train to stay in Berlin for a few days before I go home.

The Lufthansa Airbus A340-400 that will take us to Frankfurt, at the gate at Cape Town International airport.

These sunset pictures are from Clifton 4th Beach last night. The steps down to the beach are called the Seagull Steps, and the rocky hilltop overlooking the beach is Lion’s Head.