Zeus was in our midst
Class 5 Camp on Mount Olympus – Greek Gods were ever present, including Father Zeus and his Bolt of Lightning.
A poem about me
What was I,
What am I,
What will I be?
Was I a dinosaur,
maybe in a life before?
Was I a beggar, a tree or a minnotaur?
But more important thant the past
the future is, the coming.
Will I be a unicorn
or a lamb getting torn
by a wolf, which I might also be.
The future and the past,
they are not as important as the present.
So what am I now?
I am Nina of Thebes,
the hero, the daughter of Zeus.
I have no fear,
and I love the night.
by Nina Schlup
The world in one country
Andre is 46 years old and lives in Fish Hoek, Cape Town with his wife and three daughters.
What is your profession and what work do you do? Architect.
Where were you trained? Cape Town, Los Angeles, London.
Is there something you would like to learn? Yes, lots! More specifically – personally to fly a fixed wing glider airplane; to sing and make music. Academically – Environmental Studies; Integral Studies (philosophy of Ken Wilber)…..lots more languages, sculpture, business studies, educational studies, philoshophy, economics and politics….!
What do you do in your free time? Run or walk on the mountain; spend time with my family! I also windsurf, do woodwork and occasionally paint.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Yes – heroes: Mahatma Ghandi; Nelson Mandela; Karl Jung; Beethoven; Gawie Fagan; Louis Kahn; Le Corbusier; Ken Wilber; Desmond Tutu; Eddy Izzard.
Are you currently saving money for something? Yes – for my next family holiday!
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Yes – raised global consciousness about the value of life; the planet and the futility of war and excessive consumerism.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Not sure but I intend to be happy whatever it is!
Where will you be when you are old? Not sure but intend to be happy and healthy wherever it is!
What is your favourite food? That’s hard – there’s so much I like! It would have to be linked to a context like for example: on a cold day up the mountain nothing beats a hot spicy Chai tea and Lindt dark cranberry and almond chocolate. On a hot summers evening – Gaspachio – tomato soup with croutons….. On a day of celebration – Cape Champagne – Kaapse Vonkel with strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. I’d have to say for everyday favourite little beats a good tomato pasta….The list cold go on!
Do you have a favorite book? Mmmm answer is similar to above – a few that come to mind immediately. Recent favorites are: Ken Wilber – The Theory of Everything and Juhani Pallasmaa – Eyes of the Skin.
Do you have a favorite movie? Many: I love all the Hitchcock movies; Bladerunner; most Monty Python’s and recently My Sisters Sister; The Untouchables and My Neighbour Totoro.
What music is your favorite? I have very broad and eclectic taste in music from classical to electronical blues and Indie.
And what TV-show? Don’t watch TV much.
What do you like about South Africa? The amazing biosphere we live in in Cape Town (and natural beauty and variety of the whole country). Friendly relaxed diverse and interesting people – with a lot of can-do attitude. The world-in-one-country complexity and huge challenges and opportunities that this presents! Cultural richness and diversity. The music; the sports and the braai!
What don’t you like about South Africa? Divisions in our society; culture of violence as a means to solve problems; especially when it’s directed at women and children. Lack of awareness or action to address that ours is a country with a deeply troubled collective psyche. Lack of dense urban infrastructure and public transport.
What are your hopes for South Africa? That we can truly overcome the legacy of a repressive and divided past at social cultural and economic levels.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? Come spend time here like the Schlups have and experience SA for yourself ! It’s a growing, exciting and challenging place!
Thank you, Andre!
The liberty to feel free
Recently we had a very interesting discussion with South African friends who have spent some time in Switzerland. They perceived our home to be a very “unfree” country, where regulations ruled and citizens controlled each other like hobby policemen. We then pointed out that we are actually looking forward to experiencing freedom again in Switzerland – something we truly miss here. You can imagine the following debate of examples which didn’t lead us very far: house rules versus indemnity forms, hobby traffic policemen versus neighbourhood watch patrols, the liberty to hike on anyone’s pastures versus the freedom to fence off huge portions of the country.
Many of these examples illustrate the differences in jurisdiction: individual rights are generally valued higher in the South African law system than in Switzerland, where the protection of common goods such as water, land, soil, or air are represented strongly. On the other hand, in Switzerland, everyone is responsible for their own well-being, whereas no South African will let you do anything without signing an indemnity form first.
But maybe more interesting than (and also cause and effect of) these jurisdictional distinctions are differing expectations and perceptions. The English language knows two words for the German Freiheit: liberty and freedom. (And from here on I have to quote Stuart from this forum, I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks!)
“Liberty comes from the Latin word libertas, which means “unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint.” Libertas even contains the idea of being separate and independent.
The English word freedom can trace its roots to the Germanic or Norse word frei, describing someone who belongs to a tribe and has the rights and protections that go with belonging. Besides freedom the root frei becomes the English word friend.
To have liberty is to be unencumbered.
To have freedom is to have the aggregate benefits and protections provided by society.
As citizens we give up some of our liberty in exchange for freedom. This is the social contract. It allows us to enjoy our liberty far more than we otherwise could. (Being unencumbered isn’t much fun in a lawless place like Sudan.)
Freedom is given by society to its constituents. For example, our society provides medicine, education and rule of law (among many other things). Any one of these would be far less valuable without any other. Therefore the aggregate is more than the sum of its part, so the word “freedom” has its own unique meaning.“
Most probably, looking for liberty won’t help in appreciating freedom – and vice versa. The two can be found in both countries, but in different places and occasions.The Sleuth Five:
For the last three weeks, our hens have been laying nonexistant eggs. They sit there every morning, clucking their „don’t disturb me I have to concentrate“ clucks, with the same look in their eyes as we have when we sit – somewhere else. I have seen these mysterious eggs lying in the straw between the hens. But by the time I do my egg-collecting tour, they’re all gone.
When the Sleuth Five got wind of this, they swiftly interrogated anybody with either hens or a solid knowledge of the habits of the local fauna. A rat? No rats in our garden. Plenty of mice, though, but they are so tiny they would need to team up in threes to carry away an egg. Squirrels might eat bird’s eggs, but who ever saw a squirrel with a backpack? A badger, porcupine or anything similar? Would have to lie very low in our dog-friendly neighbourhood. A crow? They get their share of eggs, but they don’t bother to clean up the shells. A snake? Once – yes. But three to five eggs a day, for 21 consecutive days? Show me that snake….
No pawprints, no hair tufts, no skittish hens. No eggshells, yolk blobs or sticky white drips. To be honest, the Sleuth Five were clueless for almost three weeks. But today, something began to dawn on us. Since when does the fence to our neighbour’s yard have a large, neatly cut hole? When did the chickens learn to open the gate? Why does the alarm go off around noon so often – and only then?
And yes, the Sleuth Five are very aware that true Waldorf detectives would have felted an egg and embroidered the message onto it…. 🙂
Selection of 18 (good) reasons that kept me from writing today:
- The boy’s room needs tidying up – when I’m at it, why not sort through their clothes? And Nina’s, too?
- Laundry and ironing.
- More laundry and ironing.
- Wondering when you write „learnt“ and when „learned“. Know it now.
- Checking the bushes if the hens have already laid there eggs. Lots of bushes. Nice flowers. Must pick some.
- Now I might as well get into my veil and check on the bees, too.
- Finally, my smoker is fixed. The bees are doing ok, no honey yet. They’re probably in winter block. Fortunate. They have one real reason.
- Hmmm, feeling hungry now. Cake would be nice for desert – somebody has to use all those eggs, anyway.
- Where’s the ukulele – must be here somewhere. My tuning app is somehow down. I’ll practice tomorrow. Talent isn’t shining today.
- Freddie Mercury pops into my mind – youtube beams me back two decades. What a voice, what a man! Would be disrespectful to stop watching now.
- I feel tiny. The intended „grand youtube inspiration tour“ of all my favorite songs leaves me hiding under my desk – these people are all artists – who am I?
- More youtube. Remember? They’re older now, too. Love the tattoos. Must get more myself. Also love all the hair. And the music.
- Haven’t written into my diary for at least three days now. Must catch up. Block persists – maybe nothing really happened?
- Now my pencil broke. Need to sharpen it, might as well sharpen all my others. And the kid’s, while I’m at it.
- All the wastebaskets need emptying.
- Opened a word document. What should I call it?
- Only 20 minutes left. No point in starting to write now. Google „FUBAR“ – I always forget what it stands for.
- Already past 12 – have to pick up the kids. Rush, rush, rush!
Am I distracted because I’m blocked or blocked because I’m distracted?
Recipe for Smiley
Ingredients: one sheep’s head, whole or half, brains and eyes removed. Salt.
1) Singe all hair with blow-torch or in hot coals.
2) Scrub the skin until all hair is removed and it is white and shiny.
3) Stew smiley slowly in a pot for 2-3 hours (depending on size and age).
4) Sprinkle with salt and enjoy!
Thank you Eziko Restaurant and Cooking School in Langa! We love your food!
- My Waldorf ExperienceOur stay in South Africa has given me the chance to meet new people, cultures and challenges, one of them being Waldorf pedagogy. Though remaining an outsider on anything concerning anthroposophy, this has not kept me from being involved in the everyday school life of my kids. I have met fellow parents that are likewise fascinated and alienated at times.On the first day of school, our family, kids and adults alike, noticed a few things approvingly. The school grounds are green, lush, tidy but not overly so. The children are actually allowed and encouraged to climb the trees, dig the ground and interact with their environment– not without filling in the inevitable indemnity forms first, though. 🙂 My son is allowed to bring his pocket knife as long as he demonstrates responsible handling. The class teachers are interested in their pupil’s individual development and have a precise understanding of their different personalities. I am impressed by teachers that regard their occupation as a personal challenge in life, keen on learning while teaching. They are not afraid to answer parent’s questions and are free and experienced in varying the teaching methods to suit the momentary needs of the class and themselves best. It is the most „hands-off“ school we could find in Cape Town, supporting kids in their curiosity to find and live their desires.After three terms, we all feel at home at the school. On some occasions though, I am gravely reminded of the reasons why I am suspicious of most close-knitted societies: My daughter had a laugh when she was informed by a member of the teaching staff why Waldorf education makes you a better person. With her experience in life, she knows that education doesn’t make you „more whole“ than other people. At best, school education offers opportunities to discover your interests, chances to develop skills (also socially) and the necessary framework to keep at it and not give up easily. My daughter will be just as complete a person when she finishes public school in Switzerland – I’m glad she’s so sure of that. On these occasions, the Waldorf community seems just as inwardly-looking and self-involved as the Hangberg community I work at.Some of the rules in Waldorf education seem beyond belief: Kids are not regarded fit to play ball games until they are in class 4 – I’m glad the teachers don’t mind the daily football tournaments during recess. Children should not watch movies until they are eight years old – I haven’t met the parents following that rule with their kids… White bread seems to come directly from hell, tempting us every day. As an outsider, anthroposophy seems like a religion, parting society in followers and non-followers. The frequency and manner in which Rudolf Steiner is quoted in speeches and texts makes me lose interest in his original writings. Leadership seems to be regarded rather an obligation than a skill or a talent or a pleasure. Despite all this, I’m glad we non-followers are welcomed warmly at the school, and certainly not only as funding pals. I wonder how reform takes place, if it is regarded as necessary and who from within the anthroposophical society has the format to rejuvenate the pedagogy and openly contradict some of the more outdated ideas – setting him- or herself next to and not beneath Steiner.A rejuvenation could emphasize the need to invent sustainable societies rather than just living the good (or better) life. Apprehending society on the whole and sharing responsibilities that reach farther than the immediate circle of friends would seem satisfying goals. In the UK and USA, some Waldorf schools are funded by the respective governments. I find this step promising and worth following, as it opens the school for more children regardless of their parent’s income and brings it closer to its working-class roots: the Waldorf cigarette factory in Stuttgart. To follow this path, openness to discuss ideals, outreach to non-followers and leadership qualities will be needed.
- Wannabe Writer(s)
- Wannahave House
Penelope is 39 years old and lives in Kreupelbosch, Cape Town with her husband Andrew, their two daughters, Andrew’s father, their cat Peanut and hamster Fluffy.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I am a Waldorf kindergarten teacher and very part-time proof-reader and wannabe writer.
Where were you trained? I received my BA in literature from UCT and my Education Certificate from the Centre for Creative Education.
Is there something you would like to learn? I would love to also do the Waldorf primary school teacher training, how to play the guitar, to speak fluent French and isiXhosa, to crochet, to play the recorder, to follow complex knitting patterns, to read German, the list goes on and on.
What do you do in your free time? I love to go for solitary walks on the beach and in the mountains, lucky I live in the right place. I read, read, read. I make felt and practice the recorder.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Nelson Mandela, for his message of peace and his ability to forgive. Margaret Atwood for her sheer genius and my mother for teaching me not to panic in a crisis.
Are you currently saving money for something? Yes, a tent and of course my own kindergarten.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? To give all the children in South Africa the freedom of education and exposure to a world beyond poverty.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Teaching.
Where will you be when you are old? Living on my smallholding, in my cob house, reading a book.
What is your favourite food? My husband’s creamed spinach.
Do you have a favorite book? Yes. But it changes with my mood and current obsession. Probably Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes.
Do you have a favorite movie? August Rush.
What music is your favorite? Folk.
And what TV-show? Hmmmm… CSI?
What do you like about South Africa? I love the sunshine, the warm and friendly people who are capable of overcoming the insurmountable. I like swimming pools and braais on a Sunday afternoon. I love that we can still live in a relatively materially simple environment.
What don’t you like about South Africa? I don’t like the way that our colonial heritage still haunts our present. The way that politicians are allowed to get away with blatant corruption. That racism and bigotry are still such a part of all cultural groups. And I have serious issues with the state of our educational system.
What are your hopes for South Africa? That we, as a potentially great nation, will be able to come together for the sake of our children and our children’s children and create a country that they will be proud of one day.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? Thank you so much for sharing the Schlup Five with us! We have so enjoyed having them in our lives. And I highly recommend you all come and walk the Otter Trail someday!
Like a flower in the wind
Sending petal after petal
I sit at my desk and I shed my frills.
I find easy thrills
Flashing their smiles at me
Just like a fake gem, they’re a cheap sell.
Rocky shores crack a shell
Taking a life and a pearl
I reach for my pen, try to cut to the core.
I follow the lure
Search for true words to say
Just like a striptease, I’m hoping to please.
You’re reading my mind
you’re reading my heart
you’re reading my life
I’m standing naked.
Another man’s dog
I see him walking the street
I see him on the beach
I see him mowing the lawn
I see him painting the wall.
I see him from my car
I see him on my run
I see him through my fence
I see him just by chance.
It’s another man’s dog
walking on his leash
It’s another man’s plan
He’s another man’s man.
It’s a way of life
It’s a job that’s safe
He’s got nothing to reject
He’s got my respect.
Life is a Journey
I am currently developing a writing project together with my friend Vanessa Anthony Matthews. This time, it’s not fiction; on the one hand, this means I am working on well-known turf. On the other hand, writing a book together with another person will challenge us both in many ways. Teamwork demands more structuring – which makes it much easier for me to share a preview – have a look at our first project outline:
I never got what I wanted – My ongoing struggle
A journey in time; exploring the hopes, ambitions and expectations of those who fought for the Rainbow Nation – in the face of today’s realities.
We follow Vanessa Anthony Matthews as she visits places and people which influenced her political views and taught her the skills needed to be heard as an activist fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged – from the illegal squatter camps in Hout Bay to the abused women and children working the streets today. The stories told by Vanessa and her friends unfold the realities of today’s South Africa, both on a personal and a political level. What sacrifices were made by the activists when they became citizens? Where have their ambitions led them and what choices have they made in life? What are their hopes for this country and its people, and have they changed over time? These and many other questions are answered in interviews and documented with photographs of today and the past.
The book is structured in an introduction and six to eight chapters, each of which is dedicated to a time, place and person of importance in Vanessa’s life.
Vanessa Anthony Matthews looks back at her decision to live in the squatter camp “Disa River” of Hout Bay and becoming a political activist in a culture of oppression; not only through apartheid, but also through male dominance in the community. Moving to Disa River in the 1980’s marked the beginning of Vanessa’s ascent as a community leader, but also the start of personal sacrifices and sufferings coming through this role. She questions her past decisions and takes a hard look at where she, her community and her country stand today.
People asked for interviews include Zubeida Jaffer, journalist; Judge Vincent Saldanha; Soli Philander, comedian; Reverend Jonathan Dreyer as well as private persons who do not participate in public life to the same degree (anymore).
Comments most welcome!
Time to Challenge
Vanessa will be 50 years old this year and lives in an informal settlement called Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay with her sister and her siblings. Kathrin is 38 years old and lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? Well, professionally I’m a trained child rights worker and I’m also well known as a community worker, more importantly social development. At present I’m not working but I do a lot of volunteer work, also around human rights and children.
Where were you trained? I was never particularly trained in a school. My experience as a young woman in an informal settlement, experiencing poverty, was my training. My desire to fight back and to fight towards change was another part of my training. However, I only went to school up until grade 7, and in 1994, after the new government came into being, a lot of us were allowed to go back to school. And in this case, to university where there were adult courses. I was one of those lucky recipients.
Is there something you would like to learn? That’s an interesting question. Well, I would like to still travel a bit and one of the things I would like to learn is a language, and that’s the French language, a little bit of French. Other than that, I have had the opportunity to learn and work to many different kind of carreer opportunities, recently I’ve moved towards senior citizens and home-based care. That’s an area I think I could still learn quite a few things around.
What do you do in your free time? In my free time I work in the community, I spend as much time as I can helping others, if I can.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Well of course Madiba is my hero as well, I don’t have anyone in particular, but I do have a big admiration for women who come from my kind of background and have made it out there. A very strong admiration, especially politically, for women that have been able to stand up against male dominance in their respective fields. So no one in particular except Madiba.
Are you currently saving money for something? No, I’m not. I haven’t been able to save in a very long time, every 10 cent piece is actually important to help to buy a loaf of bread. So no, I’m not saving.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Yeah, I think one of my dreams at this point is a very personal one. I would like to find somebody to love me for who I am, and that is not something that money can buy. My last few years to be happy and relaxed. I haven’t found that yet, but that’s what I’m dreaming of.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? In ten year’s time I’m hoping that I will be the house mother or maybe the director of a shelter for either women, children or senior citizens. That is one of the things I would like to see myself do in the next ten years.
Where will you be when you are old? Oh, gosh. I don’t really know that, I pray that if I do get old that I will still remain independent, in my own space and own little place with my grandchildren around.
What is your favorite food? Chicken curry.
Do you have a favorite book? I haven’t read for a long time.
Do you have a favorite movie? No.
What music is your favorite? I love the Golden Oldies, but I’m also more into Gospel music which I adore.
And what TV-show? Everybody is watching these soapies and because at this point I don’t own anything and there’s nothing of me in that house, I do not choose what is on. My favourite movies at the moment is the crime thing. I like „Law and Order“, „NCIS“. I like tracing missing persons because that has been part of my training around my own victim empowerment work. So, if that’s on, I like it.
What do you like about South Africa? At the moment, when I look at the educational sector, there’s a lot of mishaps and a lot of things going on, but I like the mere fact – that our children may not always be aware of – that there have been some major spaces created for them in terms of education. For instance my youngest daughter failed badly in grade 11 and she had a baby after that and I believed that she could go back and do her matric. She’s been able to do that over two years. So, a little bit of those things have changed. I wouldn’t say I like them, but I appreciate those changes. Because if we would have had these chances in our young years, we probably would have been different people.
What don’t you like about South Africa? At the moment, politically, I’m one of those angry citizens. I don’t like the politics at the moment. Being a political activist myself, I’m disgusted at what’s happened politically in the country. An absolute disgust, how our people are treated, if you look at the mining sector for instance. It takes you back to where you came from and why you fought apartheid and it’s like we never stopped fighting.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I think my hopes would be a fair South Africa, an equal South Africa. An opportunity for everyone, and especially our young people, matriculating, getting out of school. You know, the dream to see our kids have the things we never had. Those are my hopes and dreams still, it will remain. I probably won’t see it before I die.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? I would ask the international arena to monitor what’s happening in South Africa and to critique that, constructively. We are supposed to be the leaders on the African continent, but again there’s a lot that we’re not doing in our own country. We’re not washing our linen in our country in the way we should, and that is where I think the international arena should put it’s feelers out, begin to challenge. I don’t believe we should accept the given that it’s ok because it’s the ANC, in fact I think now is the time to challenge.
Kim is 35 and lives in Rosebank with a timeshare-cat* called Kohl. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I am PhD researcher in the field of International Climate Change policy. I’m based at the Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape town and a part-time researcher on the MAPS programme where I focus on India and Low Carbon Development Strategies.
Where were you trained? Rhodes university (Grahamstown), Open University (London), UCT (Cape Town).
Is there something you would like to learn? I’ve always wanted to learn to play the Cello, but never quite got that far!
What do you do in your free time? I bicycle, watch movies at the Labia, design websites and blog (www.odandbrown.co.uk) and like to drink wine with friends or watch cricket at Newlands.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? I admire people who are productive in their chosen fields and those who emanate calm and ‚groundedness‘.
Are you currently saving money for something? A new laptop and my PhD field trip to India next year.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Lecturing, researching, policy analysis.
Where will you be when you are old? I’d like to be teaching in a small rural school somewhere warmish.
What is your favourite food? Hmmmm, currently, blueberries and Greek yoghurt.
Do you have a favorite book? T.S. Eliot’s „The Four Quartets“.
Do you have a favourite movie? Gah! It is a toss up, but I admit it, The Bourne Identity… I also love the BBC’s version of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice.
What music is your favorite? I listen to indie, rock & alternative music as well as classical, jazz, big-band and well, whatever else is on FMR (Fine Music Radio station).
And what TV-show? I like QI (British talk/current affairs/humour show), and The West Wing (US political drama).
What do you like about South Africa? Here occasionally you’ll hear a person in a shop singing to the piped music: this is a kind of unselfconscious enjoyment of the moment I never came across whilst living in London. I like (an understatement) that we’ve come as far as we have from Apartheid without major all-consuming civil war! Oh, and I like the sunshine and the good wine.
What don’t you like about South Africa? The mind-boggling disparities in the living conditions of people. The fact that politicians don’t/won’t make a difference in people’s lives, and people keep voting for them, drives me nuts! I also really miss London’s public transport options, its wealth of art, history, cultural activities, and walking along the Thames.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I’d hope we could find again the spirit of the „Rainbow Nation“; only this time tempered with the knowledge that hard work, honesty and responsibility are essential for everyone to demonstrate in order for us to make that vision real.
Is there anything you would like to say to our friends and families abroad? Howzit! Kom kuier, wamkelekile 🙂
And bring cheese please.
Thanks, dankie, enkosi, Kim!
*technically lets my neighbour call herself ‚owner‘, but comes to visit for head & back scratches, warm spots to sleep and milk.
The Marikana Mine Massacre
How Lack of Leadership can kill people
If you have seen the footage of policemen in wild retreat shooting demonstrating workers and killing 45 at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, after the shock and horror the question “how could this happen in South Africa?” is next.
For over a week I have listened to the ever increasing tensions in this conflict via the public broadcaster SABC News; and for over a week I have wondered: Where are the political leaders in this drama that seemed trivial, then tragic, but never necessarily leading to the horror that has now unfolded.
Despite 10 people already being killed the previous weekend, including 2 policemen, there was only a dry statement of the President calling for the restoration of order; the minister for mines was indispensable elsewhere. No leader stepped up and engaged the workers to find out what exactly their grievances are.
If they had they most likely would have found out that the rock drillers, just as many other still poor South Africans, just ran out of patience. They had no more patience to wait for the economy, that so handsomely benefits some of their “leaders”, to grow to lift them out of poverty (mind – platinum is not a minor product but the main mined commodity for South Africa in value, and the mine affected is 12% of global production).
The unwritten contract of the peaceful transition of South Africa from apartheid to a more equal society is failing large parts of the population, and the leaders do not care. Instead, they are busy jostling for the Presidency – up for reassignment in December – pulling all sorts of legal and likely also illegal tricks, whatever is needed to keep their perks and get themselves and their allies rich quick (for they also have no patience left to wait for a better life and want it now).
Reportedly, the expelled former leader of the ANC Youth League had addressed (and no doubt fired up) the striking workers. They had joined a union more forcefully asking for their share, more forcefully in any case than the traditional representation, which is tied to Cosatu, the national assembly of unions, which in turn is tied to the ANC government.
The hotheads of the Youth League and their allies are sick of the establishment around the President, whose main interest is reelection and perpetuation of the cronyism that stalls any real development now. They want nationalization of the mines and state-led distribution of the wealth now so concentrated – a tempting thought but a way to the abyss just as quick as the present system turns out to be.
What fills South Africa’s coffers is the hunger for resources of all of us, the entire world. The money only keeps flowing as long as stability is preserved at all costs.
But there will be no stability if the shares of the boom are not distributed more evenly to everyone instead of between those who already have (and have had for a long time) and those few that are profiting from being tied to the current system of patronage.
What today’s leaders, in politics and in business, fail to grasp, as opposed to the founders of the new South Africa, is that stability is a function of welfare of everyone, and not one of law (even if the law is now legitimate) and order.
A real leader would long have thrown all his weight behind the provision of the most basic of services, like decent housing and schoolbooks for all children, and he would have the support of many other leaders willing to share their own individual wealth more quickly than today. If the Have’s of today’s South Africa are not looking after the vast majority of Have-Not’s, then the senseless death of over 50 people will be just the epilogue to more of the same, and not the turning point South Africa needs. If the leaders of today do not step up to that challenge – others will and will replace them, sooner rather than later one would hope.
A nation recovering
Len is 71 years old and lives in Princess Beach, Hout Bay. His young children from his second marriage live in the same apartment complex with his ex-wife. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? Professionally, I do Business Recovery, Business Development and Business Coaching. I rescue companies when they get into trouble which is usually through a combination of leadership issues and financial issues such as cash flow problems. I used to do a lot of international work but the demands of international travel conflict with the demands of my new young family – I have two young boys aged 11 and 13 – so I cut back on my international travel and now do more local work. My key focus is on people development; organization development through human capital development.
Where were you trained? I trained initially in the UK which I left in the late sixties to come to South Africa. I started in the retail industry here and stayed in the industry until the mid-eighties. Then I left and set up my own consulting business, basically doing recovery work, but that then evolved into development work. As I get older, I feel a need to give back to the business community by using my skills, particularly to help young people who have been shut out of opportunities in business because of our fractured past in South Africa.
Is there something you would like to learn? Yes, I would like to learn Mandarin. I have a passion for language – I speak several European languages and more recently through my coaching assignments started learning the local language Xhosa to the point where I can now teach it, which I do at my boys’ primary school. I also teach adults in business and socially in order to aid communication but more particularly to show respect. Because English in South Africa has been such a dominant language, we tend to ignore the richness that can be brought to the table by becoming a polyglot and by understanding other cultures and languages. I’d love the opportunity to perhaps be training people in Mandarin. With the advent of BRICS – the economic development group that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, we could have an influx of people from the East and speaking Mandarin could help them feel welcome in this country.
What do you do in your free time? I mainly do marathon running. I had my hips replaced a couple of years ago in order to extend my competitive running career. Unfortunately I suffered a whole bunch of pulmonary emboli and I am progressively recovering from that now, but I’m quite used to spending a lot of time training, doing anything between 200 and 300 km per week.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? I’m a huge admirer of Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s statement: “Speak to a man in a language he understands and you speak to his head. Talk to a man in his own language and you speak to his heart” is one of the drivers for my love of languages and language as a means of showing respect.
Some years ago I was in the corporate world and I was director of a very large retail group (the Edgars Group). One of my portfolios was to take charge of Human Resources development and during my stint as Group HR Director I met a lady called Sylvia Poss who was Head of the Terminal Care Ward at Johannesburg General Hospital. As you can imagine, it’s a huge hospital and her job was to go in there every day to look after and care for dying people. She had what I would describe as “huge physical, emotional and mental robustness”. She wrote a book: Towards Death with Dignity and in it she describes the passages you go through when you discover that you are terminally ill. There’s a comment in the book that inspired me then and still inspires me to this day “The people who are most scared of dying are the ones who are most scared of living.” That is one of those triggers that make me ask myself every morning: How can you add value today? How can you add value to your friends, your family, your community, your business colleagues?
Are you currently saving money for something? No.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Well, in fact, the work I do in business development is all about “strategic envisioning”. It’s about creating in somebody’s mind the idea of what potentially could be. And then I use my practical experience to get them back from there to reality in order to chart a way forward that can work. For me the dream is a situation where in Hout Bay we create a community where all the people interact : in language, in commerce, in social activities, etc.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? I suppose pushing up the daisies! Or I’ll be a grumpy version of what I am now.
What is your favourite food? Well, I’m a vegan. I love all vegan dishes especially ones prepared from tofu. People think it must be terribly bland to eat tofu, but I went to a restaurant in Japan where I was served a seven-course meal, and every course was made with tofu. Starting with a tofu soup and ending with a tofu ice cream – and everything in between.
Do you have a favourite book? I read quite a lot of poetry. I enjoy the Asian poets like Rumi very much but I don’t have a favourite book, I have a favourite brand of literature which is “Thrillers”
Do you have a favourite movie? I do. My favourite movie of all times is “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”.
What music is your favourite? I enjoy traditional jazz of the sixties. Chris Barber, Monty Sunshine, or Johnny Duncan and The Bluegrass Boys, for example, where you have the proper stuff: a trumpet, a trombone, a clarinet, maybe a washboard instead of drums and a double bass. Generally speaking I like the Neil-Diamond-type of music, you know, softer; I’m not into punk or heavy metal.
And what TV-show? South Park. I allow my kids to watch that at a young age because I’d rather have them exposed to that type of show and then talk to them about the issues it raises as opposed to letting them find out from their friends or from the toilet wall at the school.
What do you like about South Africa? I like the weather, I like the people, and I like the potential. It’s got massive potential!
What don’t you like about South Africa? I don’t like the political scene. I don’t like the corruption and I don’t like the abuse of power that goes on. The political system is based on patronage, and I think we need to move away from the present Proportional Representation and move towards “constituency-based politics” where people can be held directly accountable in the community in which they live. The political system to me, it stinks. It was a compromise, but the reality is that the president of this country is elected by just over 50% of a party which doesn’t have a complete majority in the country. The voter turnout at the General Election was about 70% of the electorate. The ANC gained 63% of the vote, but the factions within the ANC that decide who will be President are maybe 52% of the 63% which means that less than 25% of the country’s voters decide who is going to be our president. That is not the way to run a modern state or a modern economy.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I suppose the fact that I’m still here and I intend to remain here and that my children and my grandchildren are being brought up here, means that my hopes are high. There’s are a lot of decent people here, even in the political fraternity who see the enormous potential – and eventually when we get past defining things by race and start defining things by political persuasion and we see people truly taking the best interest of this country at heart, this country will become not only a leader in Africa but in the world. I think it has the potential to become a proper rainbow nation, which is where we started from under Nelson Mandela.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? I’d like to say to you: Come and visit us, let us show you the beauty of this country and the beauty of its people. And let us maybe inspire you to help us to do what we need to do. Because sometimes, when you are all alone things becomes very difficult whereas when you have support – even if it is support from 10’000 miles away – support in a physical, financial and emotional sense, then this does help sustain motivation and create the energy to make things happen.
Thank you, Len! Ndiyabulela!
Shehnaaz 42 years old and lives in Kenilworth, Cape Town with her husband and 4 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 out 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? El 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 the fact that it is 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!
Swiss at Heart
Mohamed is 41 years old and lives in Claremont, Cape Town with his wife and four children. 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’m a chartered accountant and I currently advise clients (mainly corporates) on transactions, e.g. financial due diligence, asset and business valuations, mergers & acquisitions, etc.
Where were you trained? I completed my undergraduate BCom degree at the University of Cape Town and my Post graduate diploma in Accounting at the University of Natal. I served my articles at Ernst & Young in Cape Town.
Is there something you would like to learn? Spanish and farming.
What do you do in your free time? I spend time with my family, fix things around the house and visit antique dealers.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Not really, but the person that closest resembles the above is my wife – I admire her patience, generosity and ability to trust.
Are you currently saving money for something? I am on a mission to pay off my mortgage (indirect saving).
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? To truly prioritise my family.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Probably the same thing I’m doing now…I have to get 4 kids through university…
Where will you be when you are old? Who knows?
What is your favourite food? I like Shushi and most Indian dishes.
Do you have a favorite book? I’m not a prolific reader of books, but I really enjoyed the prose of „A Fine Balance“ (by Rohinton Mistry).
Do you have a favorite movie? Jungle Book/ El Postino.
What music is your favorite? I enjoy Reggae and Arabic music.
And what TV-show? I enjoy BBC Knowledge or the Travel Channel.
What do you like about South Africa? The beautiful scenery and sunny weather.
What don’t you like about South Africa? Economic inequality, violent crime and corruption.
What are your hopes for South Africa? 1) That the inequality gap is narrowed. 2) Access to decent Education and basic healthcare for all. 3) A culture of peace, tolerance and trust.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss (and other!) friends and families? Come and visit beautiful and diverse South Africa.
Happiness and Love
Portia is 37 years old and lives in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay with her boyfriend and her two children. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I’m a housekeeper, an au pair and I drive children to school. I also cook.
Where were you trained? I learned cooking at school, driving I learned at driving school. Housekeeping I learned from going to work with my mother and my aunts, so I started helping them. I went to school for ten years.
Is there something you would like to learn? Yes, there is. I would like to do computer studies or to learn to be a tour guide.
What do you do in your free time? I just relax at home. I do all the things I’m not able to do during the week. On Saturday I go out with my daughters, we take walks, go shopping or if they want to see a movie we go to the movies. On Sunday, we sometimes go to church, but not always, and then I cook lunch.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Nelson Mandela. He sacrificed is own life with his family and took all that time fighting for this country to be what it is today.
Are you currently saving money for something? Yes, I am. I’m saving money so that I can have a car. The reason why I want to have a car is I’ve got a driver’s license. As I told you, I do lifts for the children to go to school. I would like to earn extra money with a taxi service for schoolchildren.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Yes. Happiness, and to have a loving husband who will look after me and my children, not financially, but morally; and being there when it is difficult. My boyfriend is there, but he is not my husband. We have tried to get married many times but it didn’t work. I just think in a relationship there are always obstacles. Maybe the fact that he is not from South Africa makes me always think, what if he decides to go back to the Congo? I don’t want to go there, I’ve got my children here, they go to school here. And knowing that he didn’t come here because he wanted to, he’s a refugee, it is possible that when things are normal in Congo that he will go back. He says to me that he wants to be with me, but, you know, life…
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? I think I will still be working, because I’m a strong person. I’ll still be working because my daughters will not have finished school. I want to stop working when both my children are finished with school. If I have a computer course by then, I will be working from home for somebody, as a personal assistant. Not hard work anymore.
Where will you be when you are old? I’ll tell you the truth: I would like to be in Hout Bay, I was born in Hout Bay. But I don’t think it’s possible for me, that I can be here in Hout Bay, due to the fact that where we are staying, you get a small portion of land. You can’t really move. I’d like to be where you can have a big house, with a garden, you know, where I can do whatever I want to. I won’t be bored when I am old, I’m always busy. In Mandela Park (Imizamo Yethu), there’s nothing I can do.
What is your favourite food? Dumpling and meat, the intestines of a sheep.
Do you have a favorite book? Cry, beloved country by Alan Paton.
Do you have a favorite movie? Shrek.
What music is your favorite? I like gospel music and R’n’B.
And what TV-show? I like reality like Oprah, sometimes I like fashion shows.
What do you like about South Africa? I like that you have a chance, you don’t have limits on what you can do about your life. We have access to education, although sometimes we have to pay. There are no race issues, you can take your child to any school that you want to, you can go anywhere that you want to. And, the nature of South Africa, the environment, I like. There is more I like than words can say.
What don’t you like about South Africa? Corruption. We have come way to long to be here still fighting corruption from the leaders that stood up for us. When they got the chance to grow this country, with the corruption they are bringing it back to the way it was.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I hope that South Africa will grow and be a richer country like all the European countries. I hope that one day we will find the right people to lead South Africa to this. If I may tell the truth: as long as there is still only one party leading, the country is not going to grow. There will always be opposition, all those political issues can bring the country down. If only they could look who is the right individual to lead the country that may work. Or if they could stop voting according to their political parties, maybe that would help.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? I would like to tell all your friends that what you guys are doing is much appreciated in this country. Although it is free, there is still a lot of difference between the people, between how the people live. Still, a lot of people are disadvantaged. A lot of people cannot manage to have all the things people need to live a life; like access to shelter, education and all that. There are a lot of people that come from outside South Africa and help us to grow, and I would like to say thank you to them and I would like them to carry on doing what they are doing. Not only for South Africa, but for the other neighbouring African countries, too. Because without them, this country would really be like the others, like Ethiopia or Zimbabwe. But because they are also bringing business into this country,we are still standing here today.
The bigness of the challenge
Steve is 52 years old and lives in Oranjezicht, Cape Town. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I’m professionally an engineer, I have a degree in chemical engineering, also a masters in energy studies. I work on an interface between energy, poverty and development in designing tools and doing projects that present policy ideas. Also, I work on trying to get hold of the various national and international incentives to make things happen – of course, all of this has a climate spin-off – that’s how I’ve come to know Michael.
Where were you trained? In Cape Town, I was trained. I did all my formal education in Cape Town. Of course I’ve learned a whole lot of things elsewhere, as well…
Is there something you would like to learn? Well, I’m just on the brink of learning about how addiction works and how it has impacts on my life. There’s a saying in English which goes: “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly.” I have to start defining what “properly” is and what “excessive” is. I know I’m going to go into a struggle about what is normative in society, what is ethical behaviour – and I know I’ve always run away from this. I’ve been socially disintegrated because of this. I don’t comfortably fit into social normative. I suppose I’d like to learn to live increasingly abundantly. I reflected on our first meeting, you and Michael, you are also socially disintegrated – just in that you are in a place that has high fences, your neighbours are far away, there isn’t much of a community. By being here you have disintegrated socially in terms of your immediate community.
What do you do in your free time? Because I’m not bound by any kind of time frame, and because I don’t have a job where I’m expected to be there from one time to another time, I’m not hooked into systems which demand that time is “on work” or “off work” – it’s all just time. And I use it how I’d like to use it. I’m lucky enough to set my own agenda. I don’t see time as being my energy that needs to be stored, or used extremely well, it’s something that can be given away, or passed on. I watch a bit of sport, also, I’m very lucky to have a place which I have built about three or four hours outside of Cape Town, which I can just hang onto. And then there are some regular trips to the Karoo.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? I’ve had a number of heroes at different stages of my life. When I was young, I had sporting heroes. I’ve been fascinated, of course, by some of the great statesmen and political leaders, who emerged from the struggle process or came out of prison. Of course, Mandela is high up there, but also Walter Sisulu and others of that brigade. You know, one of them is a Malian guy, called Youba Sokona, who is Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) based in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Youba fascinates me, because he says it the way it is and he always is developing fresh arguments backed up with a whole bunch of stuff, and he’s never scared to put it out there, whatever the forum.
Are you currently saving money for something? No, although, not quite true, I’m trying to pull together some money for my daughter’s trip.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Nothing really specific – I suppose this is the nature of how I’ve been living for a while – I’m not sort of looking ahead. Living more abundantly, but that doesn’t mean consuming more.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? I have no idea – if I’m still alive in 10 years time, that in it’s self would be interesting. I’ve never lived for longevity. But, if in 10 years time, I can be doing the same things as I’m doing now, I’d be very satisfied with that, as an outcome. I’d like to see my children grow up to be adults, properly.
Where will you be when you are old? I mean, I don’t know if I’m going to get very old. I’m not thinking about retirement – I’m thinking about just living, you know. I’ve got no idea – I do want to have a sense of being able to smile to myself and say, you know: that was a life well lived.
What is your favourite food? Right now, I’m really enjoying making stews, quite spicy stews, either with chicken or mutton.
Do you have a favorite book? No, I don’t think so, I’ve got a lot of books I really enjoyed. I really enjoyed Hermann Hesse, for example. I haven’t read a lot recently.
Do you have a favorite movie? I’ve enjoyed a few of the films about fathers and sons, like “A river runs through it”.
What music is your favorite? I quite like some of that trancey music; rock’n’roll I like a lot. Particularly some of the music of the seventies: The Doors, Little Feet, those kind of bands.
And what TV-show? Dr. House, I’ve enjoyed that. I quite like crime movies. I like a good investigation with twists in it. I‘ve got into one of the South African soapies, Isidingo.
What do you like about South Africa? Well, I like the space, we’ve got spaces in this country where for hundreds of square kilometers there’s less than two people a kilometer. Unspoiled parts of the country; you can walk in the hills and mountains of the Karoo and be pretty sure no one’s ever walked there before, and if they have, it was probably hundreds of years ago. I like the people; we’re an edgy bunch. There’s lots of little communities which I find difficult to see how they are going to live together, forever. I like the mix, it’s absolute chaos here, but it’s kind of creative chaos. We’re not dealing with small things; we’re dealing with big things. I like the bigness of the challenge; it’s not about tweaking percentage points. It’s really a melting pot, and it’s either going to succeed fantastically well or go down in flames, fantastically well. Maybe there’s something in between.
What don’t you like about South Africa? I don’t like the current bunch of leadership where I feel that they are not in it for the people as much as they are for themselves. I miss the visionaries who are putting things out there. In terms of political leadership, I’m disappointed; I’d hoped we would have got something better out of the struggle.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I hope that more and more particularly young people grow up to feel that this is their place and they don’t have to struggle from day to day to be thinking how they’ll get their next meal. That they will start developing longer-term views of how they can enjoy this very beautiful space. I hope that we can repeal this current cleptocracy.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? It’s lovely to have you and your family here. I mean if I were to think about two countries more different, Switzerland and South Africa would be quite a good example. I think Switzerland is very safe, secure; it’s spent it’s life securing itself, between wars; and times when the whole world has been shaken up. And that kind of stability is so different from what we have here. I mean here we have potential; explosion of revolutionary kinds of things, and every now and again you get a glimpse of it.
The backbone of Africa
Jay is 74 years old and lives in Hangberg, Hout Bay with his dog. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I’m retired.
But you work as a volunteer. Ah, there’s nothing these hands can’t do. What is my profession? Look, I hold a BSC in agriculture. I hold a Master Builder’s certificate. I’m a construction steel engineer. I’m a welding engineer. I hold my skipper’s ticket on the open water for 870 tons, with my harbour exemption for 870 tons, which means I can take a boat in anywhere in the world, 870 tons or less, without the pilot. So what’s my profession? I’ve got a flying license for six different aircrafts, because you’ve got to have a licence for each different aircraft. The only thing: I can’t drive a submarine.
Where were you trained? My agricultural training I did in Pretoria and in North-Western Transvaal. Engineering and building, also in Pretoria. So, the other training – the „bad“ training – that was started here in South Africa. From here, we went to Israel, under the Mossad. From there to Canada under the Canadian Royal Mounted – very good police work, the best in the world in putting the clues together, to build a picture. From there through to England, where we were trained in „subversive awareness“, which fell under the Scotland Yard then. And from there over to the southern States, we did a whole course there with the Seals. My parachuting I did here, I have about 2000 jumps behind me.
Is there something you would like to learn? I’ve learned every single day of my life. Every day there’s something new.
What do you do in your free time? Woodwork, inlay, sewing, ironing – you name it. There’s no work that a woman can do, that I can’t do. I knit for myself. I don’t think my wife ever washed a nappy for my two daughters. To me there’s no such thing as woman’s work or man’s work.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Many years ago I had one; that was Tarzan. No, I don’t think so.
Are you currently saving money for something? No, actually I give all my money away, I don’t use it myself. I buy my tobacco, which costs me about ZAR 60 a month, and two bottles of whiskey, and that’s about it. I don’t even buy clothes, I’ve just put new soles on my shoes.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? No, what I want to do, I need money for.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? It makes me 84, I’ll be dead. I’ll be burnt out by that time.
Do you consider yourself as old? I don’t consider myself old – I just know that it takes longer to do something. I’ve got no idea where I’ll be, He knows.
What is your favourite food? I don’t have favorite food. No, I grew up hard, and I had a tough time out in the bush. When I’ve got food, I say thank you for it, I enjoy it. I only eat little bits at a time, I can’t eat a big plate.
Do you have a favorite book? Not really. Not a novel. Don’t laugh at me: the two things I read a lot are the Bible and the dictionary.
Do you have a favorite movie? Nope. When somebody raves about a movie, I’ll have a look at it. But usually I switch it off when I’m half through.
What music is your favorite? Classics. I enjoy operas.
And what TV-show? I don’t like American slapstick humour, for a start. I enjoy British humour. I really enjoy Jewish humour, because they can point the finger back at themselves. The coloured people, their humour is very much like cockney humour in London, their sense of humour.
What do you like about South Africa? It’s my country! But I’ve lost all faith in it. You’ve got a bit of everything here, scenery-wise, and if you dig deeper down, you’ll still find the backbone of Africa here. But it’s become too shallow.
What don’t you like about South Africa? Shallow, thoughtless, valueless. It’s cheapened, the whole country’s gone cheap.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? For all I can tell anybody, anywhere in the world, because the whole world is going like this: don’t ever lose your values. That’s something you hang onto, and you don’t give that in, for no reasons.
Ngiyabonga, thanks, Jay!
Not just for the majority
Delia is 60 years old and lives in Crawford, Athlone with her husband and one son. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? Office and Accounts Administrator.
Where were you trained? Maurices Secretarial College and Old Mutual Business School.
Is there something you would like to learn? Not really, but setting up websites would be a plus!!
What do you do in your free time? Watch movies, crosswords and sudoku.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? My late parents – fantastic partnership!
Are you currently saving money for something? Yes, for my son to go to university to start law degree.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? To retire comfortably one day. Not now, though!
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Very difficult to say, I’m 60 years old. Hopefully still working. Hate to be idle.
Where will you be when you are old? Probably still in my own house.
What is your favourite food? Anything with butternut. Soup, stew, grilled and filled with other veggies.
Do you have a favorite book? Don’t have much time to read. Have read some Danielle Steeles, though.
Do you have a favorite movie? All movies with Julia Roberts – great stuff.
What music is your favorite? Jazz mostly. Also love ballroom.
And what TV-show? Cheaters – some guys and dolls have to be taught a lesson!!!!!!!!!
What do you like about South Africa? The weather mostly.
What don’t you like about South Africa? The current political situation. Reverse apartheid with us (coloureds) in the middle.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I don’t know……. It took 18 years to mess it up! How many years will it take to make it right!
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? Make the most of your life, enjoy your country. Improve what you can there and live with the changes. Change should be to the benefit of EVERYONE!!!!!, not just for the majority!
DON’T believe everything you read
Tim is 37 years old and lives in Kenilworth, Cape Town with his wife, Gillian and daughter Ella. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? Landscaper, garden service-owner of a landscaping/garden service company.
Where were you trained? UK and South Africa (informal)
Is there something you would like to learn? Photography.
What do you do in your free time? Hiking and Photography.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? My father, and Nelson Mandela.
Are you currently saving money for something? Not at this point – spend it too fast.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? No.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Tour guiding on the mountains and some selected landscaping.
Where will you be when you are old? Same place or in the countryside.
What is your favourite food? Beef and Chicken.
Do you have a favorite book? No.
Do you have a favorite movie? The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
What music is your favorite? Most except ballet and opera.
And what TV-show? CSI and Friends.
What do you like about South Africa? Everything except the crime.
What don’t you like about South Africa? Crime.
What are your hopes for South Africa? To continue on the road we are on and grow into a country the rest of the world aspires to.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? I have seen Switzerland and loved every minute of it – If you have not seen South Africa I invite you to come and see for yourself what our land and people are truly all about and DON’T believe everything you read about it (most is over done just to sell a story!).
Thank you, Tim!
All the resources we need
Priscilla is 50 years old and lives in Hout Bay with her three children Wesley (23),Bianca (21) and Matthew (18). Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I am not a qualified professional. I own a coffee shop which I started 16 years ago.
Where were you trained? I have no formal training.
Is there something you would like to learn? I would like to study Theology.
What do you do in your free time? I have no free time.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Almost everyone I meet is in some way a mentor to me. I learn something from everyone.
Are you currently saving money for something? Personally I save a little for my retirement. Currently I spend every spare moment raising funds for an organisation that looks after people with physical and intellectual disabilities in Hout Bay (read more here). This organisation desperately needs to buy or lease a property from which to render their services to the disabled community.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? My dream is to help people realize their full potential, find their inner strength and thereby build better relationships which will lead to happier, healthier families and ultimately better communities.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? What I’m doing now, only much better.
Where will you be when you are old? Hopefully still on planet earth.
What is your favourite food? Anything homemade, home-grown and natural.
Do you have a favourite book? No , I liked all the books I’ve read so far.
Do you have a favourite movie? I like movies based on true stories mostly.
What music is your favourite? Ballads, love songs, gospel, some jazz- music from 60’s, 70’s, 80’s
And what TV-show? Documentaries, some talk shows and general knowledge shows, like „Who wants to be a millionaire?“ and „The weakest link“ and I watch the news channel every day.
What do you like about South Africa? The fact that we have all the resources that we need. We have good climate and beautiful sea and sky.
What don’t you like about South Africa? We don’t manage our resources well. Poverty is proof that management is bad.
What are your hopes for South Africa? I hope that all people will be able to live with dignity.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? I feel privileged and blessed to have a Swiss friend for the first time. I would love to know more about your way of life.
Farmer, doctor and environmentalist.
Bulelani is 34 years old and lives in Khayelitsha with 4 male friends. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do? I am a Muslim preacher (an Imam), a teacher and a counsellor, I’m also learning Maths and Science.
Where were you trained? In UCT (University of Cape Town) I got a degree in Public Administration and a Diploma in Management. I also have a qualification in Arabic language and Islamic Theology from an Academy of Islamic Studies in Durnacol, KwaZulu-Natal.
Is there something you would like to learn? Yes, IT, natural medicine, organic farming, business skills and more Arabic language. Natural medicine comes top,then farming and IT.
What do you do in your free time? Reading and watching soccer, and talking to friends and relatives. But now I don’t have any free time because of studies and my economic situation is not that well now, I need to take care of it.
Do you have a hero, a mentor or somebody you admire? Yes, Maqoma, a Xhosa chief in the 19th century who defied English Colonialists till death in Robben Island, imprisoned by the British for tresspassing in his own land. Unfortunately, we are forced to believe that our heroes are only those who fought apartheid.
Are you currently saving money for something? Yes, for the Facial Analysis and Tissue Salts course offered by Eva from Switzerland in Pretoria.
Do you have a dream that cannot be bought by money? Yes, my passion for nature and environment, I won’t go for a nuclear career, and any environmentally unfriendly occupation, no matter how much it pays.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? A farmer, a doctor and environmentalist.
Where will you be when you are old? At my birthplace in rural areas of the Eastern Cape.
Do you have a favorite book? The House of Phalo by Peires.
Do you have a favorite movie? Malcolm X.
What music is your favorite? Ringo Madlingozi.
And what TV-show? Aljazeera news.
What do you like about South Africa? Diversity of people from all over.
What don’t you like about South Africa? Crime and corruption.
What are your hopes for South Africa? Hope that we become an educated nation, substitute nuclear with solar and hydro energy.
Is there anything you would like to say to our Swiss friends and families? I hope I see them in their country.
Thank you, Bulelani!
- Social Engineering
Outside South Africa, social engineering is commonly understood as the art of manipulating people into divulging confidential information.Within the South African context, social engineering is simply what Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Hitler did best, and the Apartheid-regime probably just about second best: destroying the lives and dignity of millions of people, distributing human rights according to skin color.
Apartheid also systematically and explicitly denied the human rights of people with mental retardation, mental illness or physical disability. Racially segregated hospitals housed tens of thousands of people, and the facilities for the black majority received only a third of the funds available to whites. Children with disabilities were either separated from there families at a very young age (in urban areas) or left without treatment or education in the homelands. This has led to communities that regard persons with disabilities as either a burden or a nuisance, many families today still hiding their children out of shame and fear of disrespect.
In the past, most service organisations have focused on providing services to white people with disabilities only. Although they have extended their services to black people with disabilities in the post-apartheid years, many have not developed cultural and language-sensitive services and their offices are still predominantly situated in former white suburbs that are not accessible by public transport. Their services often focus on handouts rather than empowerment, and there is a tendency to focus on menial tasks and unprofitable activities such as basket-weaving or crocheting doilies for black disabled workers (often with no remuneration), and clerical work for white disabled workers (seldom without remuneration). Newer service organizations in predominantly black or coloured communities face severe financial challenges, as they need to literally build their operations from scratch, not disposing of the infrastructure that established organizations possess.
Bethesda Hout Bay APD is making a difference.
Bethesda Hout Bay APD is a registered non-profit welfare organization, branch of the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities, caring for persons with disabilities in Hout Bay and surrounding areas. The main service at present is a protective workshop that operates at the Hangberg Community Hall. Currently, I am trying to support the organization in coping with three major challenges:
- developing the organizational structure to meet current and future needs of persons with disabilities;
- setting the organization on a sound financial basis that can cover all recurring costs;
- finding and financing the housing required.
Today, we are more than a mile away of reaching our goals. The current rooms at the Community Hall are not sufficient and do not meet the needs of persons with disabilities; for many potential clients, they are not even accessible. The organization depends on donations to take the big step of purchasing a house in order to meet these needs and to expand the services to all disabled persons in the Hout Bay area. Currently, we are working on a leaflet, a website and project descriptions for donors. And, we will try to raise awareness and support in the local communities, starting a campaign in a few months. My personal aim is to coach the organization in reaching its goals on its own, and setting a best-practice example for other APD branches. And of course, I enjoy working with Priscilla, Delia, Nora, Graham and all other motivated committee members, staff and volunteers – providing me with new insights every day.
If you wish to make a donation – here are the banking details:
Bethesda Hout Bay
Standard Bank of South Africa
Constantia, branch code: 02 5309
Account no. 071723617
Thank you – Dankie – Ndyabulela!
My aunt is my hero
Priscilla is 33 years old and lives at Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay with her two sons, her aunt and uncle and her cousin. Kathrin is 38 years old, lives in Victorskloof, Hout Bay with her husband and three children.
What is your profession and what work do you do?
My profession is child-minder and housekeeper.
Did you learn that at school?
Yes I learned it at school, about two years. And, I like my job. 🙂
What do you do in your free time?
I clean my house on Saturday, and Sunday I take my children to church, or sometimes we go to visit our friends, our family.
Is there something you would like to learn?
Yes, I wish to go to school to learn how to sew or do some other stuff, cooking.
Do you have a hero, somebody you admire?
Yes, my aunt. I grew up under the hands of my aunt, my mother was here in Cape Town. I went to school and my aunt supported me with everything. I was in Eastern Cape then. I came to Hout Bay in 1999. My sister was staying here, Portia, we didn’t know each other very well. So then, she decided to take me to come here so that we can live together.
Are you saving money for something?
Yes, I do have something. We do something at Imizamo Yethu. Every month, we give 500 Rand to another one, we are six of us. Me, I’m going to get it at the end of May. I want to buy a bungalow. My house is too small for me and my kids, so I’m going to buy the bungalow and then I’m going to check some space there at Mandela Park (Imizamo Yethu). The bungalow costs about 3000 Rand, but I’m gonna get 2500 Rand , and I have to put 500 Rand in.
Will you still be living close to your relatives?
I have to go to another neighborhood.
Is the bungalow built of bricks?
The bungalow is made of zinc.
Do you have a dream?
Yes, I wish to get money for my children to go to the school when they finish their high school. I wish they could respect the elders and learn. Maybe one of them is going to be a doctor or one of them is going to be a teacher. The first one wants to be a teacher, their father used to be a teacher. He is still alive but he is not supporting us.
What do you think you will be doing in 10 years? Or in 40 years, when we are old?
I hope to go to other countries, Zimbabwe or Malawi, to go and learn about the outside countries.
What is your favourite food?
My favorite food is meat and pap, and sometimes a Xhosa food, sourcream with pap. You cook the pap and then you take the sourcream and put it over the pap.
Do you have a favorite book?
I think Harry Potter’s book. I had it from the library.
Do you have a favorite movie?
My favorite movie is something for the kids, like „Madagascar“.
What music is your favorite?
Gospel. I was in a choir when I was young, but in Cape Town I didn’t go the the choirs.
And what TV-show?
What do you like about South Africa?
What don’t you like about South Africa?
The bad thing about South Africa is corruption, and poverty and there are not many jobs. And we suffer too much. I like the weather, sometimes it’s hot, but I like the summer, and the views and landscape. But I don’t like South Africa that much.
What are your hopes for South Africa?
My hope for South Africa is to change the corruption, and what else? And the leaders, like the president, must do something for their people, so they can develop, so they can carry on.
Is there anything you would like to tell our Swiss friends and families?
I’d like to say to them that they must come to South Africa to learn some things. And they are going to enjoy it here in South Africa! Do you have a lot of black people there in your country?
Not very many, no. We have some black people that come as immigrants, but because Switzerland has no shores, most black people stay in other countries, they come to Europe by boat. But we do have black people! 🙂What do you think we should learn?
Living together, sharing some stuff, and learning some languages, yes.
Ode to Cape Town
Misty hair dressed by the wind,
your skirt of life girds plenty hills.
A shoulder bare shows glowing skin,
its smoke a sign of fire within.
Mother to so many children;
feeding from one bowl, one table;
work speak live thrive, as one.
Lingering past so present still,
viscous resin sweet to some.
Good hope, good luck, come by.
Flowers grace fine bush forever,
where buck meets whale meets bird meets man.
The leopard’s print a hint in sand,
lest we forget the past at hand.
On weekday mornings, when Michael is out of town, I drive all three kids to school. This leads me all the way around Table Mountain; the views are a treat and I actually enjoy slow traffic; sleepy kids in the back letting my mind wander.
Last week I accompanied Matti on a kindergarten excursion to a beekeeper. The kids were happy and ignored their parents so we got talking. Soon it’s holiday season again, foreign countries are a favorite topic. One of the dads, a photographer, who left Zimbabwe for South Africa twenty years ago, said he especially admired the Swiss immigration policy. „Every country should just shut it’s borders the way you do, and look after itself.“ Thankful for the kids, I let myself be distracted and wandered off; it being neither the time nor place for a serious discussion that would leave me angry and upset (and hopefully the other guy, too). After watching the KONY 2012 film, I do have the arguments ready at hand for the next time I’m confronted with thoughtless and stupid statements. And it makes me feel ambivalent towards Switzerland’s much praised neutrality.
Here is the film: KONY 2012
KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children, „that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.“ Yes, I think I can support that. I like the way the campaign focuses on one goal, gives you information, voices and pictures, a hero to admire (poor Gavin, what a brat he’ll need to be as a teenager…) and clear instructions on how to act – best awareness-raising practices. I also believe that politicians need strong nudging when it comes to topics like this. The approach is great, gets my communicator’s heart beating.
But…can I so readily support direct military intervention through the Ugandan government’s army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, both riddled with accusations of rape and looting themselves?
As Chris Blattman, a political scientist at Yale, writes on the topic of Invisible Children’s programming, “There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden. Worse, sometimes it does more than hint. The savior attitude is pervasive in advocacy, and it inevitably shapes programming. Usually misconceived programming.”
(Taken from: Visible Children)
I also completely agree with that, feeling the urge to act and help every day and also knowing that my idea of help just might not be appropriate, not even sensible. Kony is a monster, and the world will be a better place without him. I do want NGO’s, people, celebrities, politicians, heroes to take action for a better world – and I know arresting somebody like Kony cannot be done with nothing but a peace flag in your hand. And, I am very sure that Uganda, Sudan, the US, or Switzerland can never solve this problem alone.
Cape Town Babe II
Let’s have a good look at this strange fellow:
Cape Town Commute
One of the more frequent remarks in response to me stating where we live is that we probably have the most beautiful commute of South Africa.
In fact, the road along the coast from Hout Bay to the Cape Town CBD is scenic and would make a highlight in any tourist visit to the area. Our route allows us to avoid the epic traffic jams in and out of the city many others are plagued with – some of Nina and Moritz’ schoolmates board their bus at 6am to make it to school at 8 – impressive even when considering the size of Cape Town is much bigger than that of European cities.
Not that there is no traffic, the road is packed in the morning and whether we leave home 7.17, 7.19 or 7.21 makes a huge difference in total driving time. Thus the three of us going in that direction always contemplate the scenery on the drive in relaxation after a hectic run up to departure. As we file along the coast in ever thicker traffic we watch the mountains, the sea – it is amazing how many words and descriptions there are for different types of waves! – the ships on the horizon and scores of exclusively white joggers and bikers going crowding the pavement of the busy road.
Twenty minutes after departure the kids are dropped and I make my way to the office sneaking through back alleys in search of the quickest ride.
On my way home, I am alone, and once out of the city I cruise through the posh suburb of Camps Bay, where the setting sun warms the same breathtaking scenery with orange light. It is the same setting sun that also shines on long lines of black domestic workers looking for a taxi or a hitch back to Hout Bay’s township Imizamo Yethu. They replace the sporty white folk of the morning. I haen’t ever seen any of the cars with single occupancy stop, this is the price of fear of hijacks, muggings and smash-and-dash robberies.
It deeply troubles me to see the exhausted faces along the road, their stares carefully avoiding the expected disappointment in every car passing them in a slow moving line at arm’s reach and trying to maintain their composure and pride; it is awkward to look ahead and through them pretending to ignore their presence to not say no. How does this reflect on the way these hard-working hitchhikers see us whites in our shiny cars? And what a waste of collective time, this waiting for transport is.
After some enquiries with my colleagues, I have now started to load the ladies among the waiting, which is considered safe – and I have had the odd guy just squeezing in as well. With the car fully loaded I make my way back slower than alone, but with a feeling of purpose beyond just getting home. My passengers are grateful, but either too shy or too exhausted to talk, so the whole exercise doesn’t help me to bridge the racial divide that is the real spoiler of the scenery – but at least I make life easier for some by getting home early and for free. I feel it’s a start.
Some days, my rear end maintains an intimate relationship with the drivers seat of my car: three, four, even five times daily I squeeze myself behind the wheel and cruise through Capetowns suburbs – the right reason and my bad conscience riding along in the trunk.
I thought Capetown traffic would be chaotic, jostling through rush hour crowds, scary six-lane motorways and donkey carts and bicycles following their own rules. The contrary is true: we disciplined Swiss should acquire more of the local composure and respect shown toward other drivers – smile and thank-you wave never forgotten. If you’re in a real hurry, just show it – the other drivers will be so friendly and let you pass. Wisdom to be found in the streets.
Cape Town Chicks
Characteristics of the Boschveld Chicken include:
- The chickens survive and produce on what nature can provide, with only a small amount of maintenance feed to boost production.
- They withstand the varying climatic conditions of Africa and keep producing well in free range conditions.
- They have inbred hardiness, to withstand poultry diseases.
- Cocks are strong, aggressive and have noble conformation.
- Hens are very fertile with strong, healthy offspring that grow well.
- Egg production starts at 20 weeks.
- No expensive modern housing is needed to make a success of your poultry operations.
- Boschveld chickens can assist in control of external parasites, e.g. ticks, lice, flies and maggots, on other livestock.
- Cocks are ready for slaughter at 12 weeks of age, depending on nutritional levels.
- Meat has a good flavour to make a tasty meal.
- Where other chickens fear to roost – they fly in.
The one and only s(o)uper-chicken! We were very happy to welcome six hens, six baby Peking ducks and 10 fertilized eggs last week. Life in the coop makes our house feel even more like home – and helps against homesickness…
The Boschvelds come from Schaapskraal, which belongs to Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs. Right behind Schaapskrall Mitchell’s Plain begins, where many Coloureds stay, and even further out, in the Cape Flats, the 2 Mio Blacks of Khayelitsha live in their township. The streets of Schaapskraal are numbered, our car jumps over the many holes and rocks of 16th Avenue. Houses are repaired with every new season here, gardens are large and overgrown in the distant corners. Five dogs of different height run towards us, I don’t fully open the window to ask for directions. A man, playing football with friends, waves to a second house in the back. Aziz, 25 years old, Capemalay and very enterprising sells me his „older“ Boschvelds (with the promise that they will lay until the end of their days…). He also presents me with 10 fertilized eggs – who wouldn’t go for this deal?
At Pinelands, another Southern Suburb, houses stand closer together. A real neighbourhood with playgrounds, pavements and people in the streets. Vegetables are planted here as well, a cock crows left, a cock crows right – I find my way around quickly in this part of town. Climbing out of my car, I’m asked to show the way to another address, by three blacks – they are sitting on a cart pulled by a horse and would like to deliver a brand new television. Rachim sells me his Peking ducks; he is also Capemalay, and his blond wife gives me tips on how to treat duck worms. Once again I admire two black women carrying heavy loads on their heads.
This city’s fringes appeal to me, even though I am alien; the poultry lovers of this world are just one big family!
Cape Town Babes
“What allowance will Michael give you?”, friendly Nadine from Standard Bank asks. No clue – all we wanted is a joint account – my self confidence is dented and I humbly accept my subaccount hoping Michael will not limit my pocket money too much. She’s right, of course, I don’t earn my own money here, accepting that as a fact sometimes seems difficult.
Life is never difficult for a real Cape Town Babe, though (called CBT henceforth): blond hair, straight or curly, large sun glasses, deeply tanned skin, with large breasts and a small butt. A reliable independent count yields the result that 9 out of 10 white women comply with the CBT stereotype – how will I ever tell them apart?
And is my life really so different from theirs? My life also is driven by trips in the car, dropping kids, picking them up, buying things and moving them to the beloved home… I do notice a few differences, though: I stay away from the everpresent gyms (there’s also the stringy version of the CTB); I am scared of skin cancer (and the leathery wrinkles of the older CTB models) and most of all, I am scared of that look: Pure innocence, no worries, no responsibilities. Luckily, I’ve seen more of life. 🙂
So far, so good. A brief summary for our English speaking friends:
We have relocated to Cape Town, South Africa, and not Pretoria. A container full of stuff was sent from our old to our new home – packed with an increasing sense of leaving the known for the unknown, and coordinated by Kathrin with a torn ankle. We left many things behind, gladly for all the material things – and sadly for families and friends. The South Africans have welcomed us with open arms, starting with their Swiss embassy – and with all the contradictions and difficulties an emerging economy that was divided for so long and only slowly is growing together has; and we have embraced the beauty and the challenges of the country with equally open minds – despite all the impressions streaming in uninhibited more than once resulting in mental overload.
We are now safely based in a beautiful house with a great view and are eagerly awaiting either all utilities necessary for living to work or, in the frequent absence of that, for us to accept the lack of perfection as the state many have to do with here, and us being extraordinarily lucky after all. This week, we have been joined by Steven from Malawi who is helping us to keep our new place in check and whose employment was yet another adventure and lesson of South Africa today.