Our Neighbours in the Valley of the Clueless


Shehnaaz is 42 years old and lives in Kenilworth, Cape Town with her husband and four kids. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Hout Bay with her husband and three children.

What is your profession and what work do you do? I am a chemical engineer by training and currently work for a climate change NGO in Cape Town. I am the Africa Research Coordinator for a DFID (Department for International Development, UK) funded programme.

Where were you trained? I did my undergraduate at UCT (University of Capetown), my MSc at WITS (Johannesburg) and Imperial College in London and my PhD at UCT.

Is there something you would like to learn? Yes, there are lots that I would like to learn. Perhaps top on my list is pottery. I have always wanted to work with clay and have done an odd course here and there but never put  a lot of time into it.

What do you do in your free time? Most of my free time I spend reading. I assume that by free time you do not mean time spent with family etc but rather time where you have „nothing to do“ and need to fill it with something.

Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? This has to be Madiba (Nelson Mandela) and Einstein. Madiba for his contribution to humanity and to shaping South Africa into what it is today as opposed to pre 1994 and Einstein for his contribution to how we see and understand our Universe. These two men are so different yet the contributions they made cannot be measured.

Are you currently saving money for something? No.

Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Yes, my dream is to be a content human, filled with awe and reverence for life. This cannot be bought with money but is rather a state of being that one works towards.

What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? I will be doing more of the same, I enjoy what I am currently doing and see myself doing it for some time albeit in a better manner.

Where will you be when you are old? This is an odd question, but I think that I will be where I am now.

What is your favourite food? Sushi.

Do you have a favorite book? „To Kill a Mockingbird“ by Harper Lee.

Do you have a favorite movie? Il Postino (The Postman).

What music is your favorite? Instrumental and Classical.

And what TV-show? I do not watch TV.

What do you like about South Africa? I love the diversity, the landscape, the climate and the people. I also like the fact that it is a country where people feel anything is possible.

What don’t you like about South Africa? The crime and economic inequality.

What are your hopes for South Africa? That it becomes a country of fairness and equity. Where all people are treated as equals and where we all feel safe.

Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? You have to visit Cape Town and South Africa to get a real feel for what it is about.

Thank you, Sheehnaz!

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