Tag Archives: South Africa

Make a big difference this Christmas with Dlala Nje

The guys down at Dlala Nje in Ponte City are hosting their annual Christmas party for the children living there and in the surrounding areas and orphanages of Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea on 6 December 2013.

[If you haven’t already heard of these guys, do yourself a favour and explore their website. Two “white okes” move into Ponte City and start making a difference in the lives of the community – it’s unreal what they have accomplished and how they have changed the perceptions of inner city Joburg.]

Nonetheless, the matter at hand is the Christmas party. Last year’s party was a rip-roaring success and you will not believe the amount of hopeful little faces playing outside on the concrete, getting their faces painted and waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap and get a present (likely the only present they received for Christmas).

I wrote about the experience last year too – check it out here.

This year’s season is upon us and we’d LOVE for some support in the form of gifts or even volunteers to help on the day (second hand toys are also welcome). Please get in touch with them directly, or me, if you would like to help out. It will make such a difference to their lives – you just don’t realise it yet.

Advertisements

Middle Class Musings

There has always been a huge migration of South Africans to Australia and very often back again when it doesn’t work out. This back and forth between South Africans and Afro-Aussies is a never-ending story. South Africans think that the grass is greener on the other side of the world and they MUST get there.

It’s safe, it’s clean, government is not corrupt, the police do their jobs and are well-respected, you can leave your belongings on your beach towel while you dip in the sea, house alarms are unheard of, fences are there for aesthetics, everything works. Having family in Australia and currently here on a visit, I can tell you that it really is like that – an almost-Pleasantville. When you’re in this Eutopia, the crime stories in South Africa make you feel even more sick than usual. The idea of our walls and electric fences etc. suddenly feels claustrophobic.

Here’s something you may not have considered, though:

The problem with everything working so well and everyone getting along (except the politicians – they don’t seem to have enough real issues to argue about, so turn to slating each other instead) is that it creates a standard of mediocrity. Middle Class Syndrome. Everyone walks along the same line and it’s the same walk along the same line every day.

You work really hard for your standard salary. You are your own domestic worker(s) on top of it all. You may be able to afford a cleaning lady once a week, for 2 hours, for general cleaning only (no dishes, washing, ironing etc.) for the same cost as us South Africans pay our domestic workers for two full days’ work. Your ironing lady picks up a basket of ironing once a week and drives a better car than you do. If you have kids, this is your life: cook, clean, iron, work, shop, work, kids, work, clean, kids, mow the lawn, clean, kids, work… you get the picture?

Crazy-Housewife-1920x1080

And then there’s the accent. Perhaps a topic for another day 😉

There are, of course, many facets to this discussion that I’m sure I’ll still get into and I’m being light on this topic for this post. The severe poverty and crime in South Africa is not something to gloss over lightly, but before you run off on the Aus train, consider how your life will drastically merge into mediocrity.


South Africans, stand up and cheer!

Having recently been on holiday two weekends in a row, to unbelievably beautiful places of South Africa, I’d like to raise my glass to all my fellow South Africans living in the country. We have an amazing life, we really do. Where else in the world can you road-trip for 2 hours and be in a completely different world, greeted by butterflies and waterfalls, all on a shoe-string budget? Where else can you visit an (illegal) mampoer farm, get a tour, what can only be described as a theatrical performance, and hang out at the bar tasting mampoer with the farmer for under R50?

Where else will you find ‘twee meisies alleen innie bos’ (translation: two girls alone in the bush) down in the dust changing a Land Rover tyre in their bikinis? Where else can you go for a little walk and come across a 127m waterfall? Where else can you do all of this, turn a silver car into a filthy brown replica of a machine and then sit and read a book while it gets cleaned at the car wash?

Where else can you experience so much nature and open spaces just on your doorstep wherever you are in the country? Where else do people live in the lifestyle that we do, as comfortably as we do?

Africa has its’ issues but f#*% me, we live in an awesome country.

Cheers to all of my fellow South Africans who are lapping it up here in SA (we do work our butts off, don’t forget that) and really enjoying our lives in the beauty that we call South Africa.


The Faces of Ponte

So this past weekend marked the first ever Dlala Nje Christmas Party at Ponte City.

An insane turnout of kids from the surrounding areas and orphanages proved to provide a very full day of activity.

There was apparently some street performance, cookies and hot dogs, singing and dancing, presents, presents and lots of laughter. I can’t actually give you my account of what was going on in general – I arrived and started painting faces, 4 hours later I was still painting faces.

I saw innocent little happy face after innocent little happy face and spent hours looking into the eyes of kids filled with hope. There is just something about the innocence and complete trust of a child that makes something shift inside of you. It almost makes you soften from the inside out.

Here is my photo account of the day. Don’t judge the artwork…I did my best!

Faces of Ponte 18 Faces of Ponte 17 Faces of Ponte 16 Faces of Ponte 15 Faces of Ponte 14 Faces of Ponte 13 Faces of Ponte 12 Faces of Ponte 11 Faces of Ponte 10 Faces of Ponte 9 Faces of Ponte 8 Faces of Ponte 7 Faces of Ponte 6 Faces of Ponte 5 Faces of Ponte 4 Faces of Ponte 3 Faces of Ponte 2 Faces of Ponte


The afterglow after the Afterglow

Saturday marked the long awaited post AfrikaBurn celebration in the form of Afterglow. In short, a massive party where you leave the world behind and become part of a community dedicated to ‘wicked tunes, celebration, wild abandon, creativity, participation, radical self expression and whole lot of love’ for a night.

Sounds very hippie. It kind of is. And completely crazy. Every person was dressed up in a costume of sorts – pixies, fairies, hippies, suits and a good few tutus, to name a few, and for that one night, nobody had a care in the world.

The best part of it all was the focus on charity. All proceeds from the tickets went to art grants and participation for the Highveld collective, as well as Burners without Borders. Every person also brought blankets and clothes for those that need them this winter.

The party was organised and run by volunteers. No fighting. No idiots going crazy with drugs and alcohol and causing havoc. It was just really lovely.

It is so refreshing to see people come together without hidden agendas and actually do something good for society, not just themselves.

If you haven’t checked out AfrikaBurn, or not heard of it before, go have a look. It’s a festival of this kind in the Tankwa Karoo where they create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance. The gallery on their site is just breathtaking – the pictures alone have tempted me and I can see how any  person with some creativity in their blood would make the journey to AfrikaBurn.

I, however, need way more convincing to rough it for a few days in the desert of craziness!

Give me your thoughts…


Soweto aint so scary

A friend and I decided to head into Soweto over the weekend to be tourists. We both enjoy seeing and experiencing new things under the guise of taking photographs, so Soweto seemed a fit enough setting for some cultural shots.

No, Soweto is not scary. It’s not a dirty, filthy cesspool of crime. It has its’ issues which are clearly displayed by the number of abortion clinics and HIV signage everywhere. I also wouldn’t have any surgery done there, but it’s a deeply cultural part of Joburg, which most Joburgers will never experience.

As I write that I feel like a hypocrite, in that although I’ve been there a few times, it doesn’t mean I know enough about other South African cultures to preach…at least I get out a bit, though!

People tend to get stuck in their own little bubbles and don’t make the effort to see bubbles of a different culture. I think you’ll find them quite vibrant.

So here’s my advice. Get your ass off the couch, into your car and drive to Soweto, not the local shopping mall.

Visit the Orlando Towers – two disused cooling towers in Orlando West which are now being used by adrenalin junkies for bungee jumping, rap jumping, power swings and the like. A decent little bar, complete with a DJ on the decks, sets a great tone for some drinks in the Winter sun, under the screams of the bungee jumpers. One day I’ll do the bungee jump I think…hmm..still thinking…

Head off down the road to Vilakazi Street and feel like a proper tourist. More hype than an experience, but still worth the visit. There are some decent places in the street to have some lunch as well.

I'm not sure either...

Sydney ,the sculpture artist outside the Mandela House, is a great guy to have a conversation with. He makes sculptures from rubbish. He posed with his main character, Sydney, for us:

By far the best Soweto experience I’ve had so far is the Soweto Bicycle tour, which I’ve blogged about before. Although completely touristy (you’ll likely be the only South Africans in the group), it’s a fantastic way to be out in the mild Jozi climate and venture down Orlando West’s most famous streets and landmarks.

Go on…you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Salvation Cafe, 44 Stanley

I am a little bit in love with Salvation Cafe lately. Situated in the heart of 44 Stanley in Milpark (an old series of industrial buildings, transformed into a meander of trendy boutiques and restaurants), it offers everything that I admire in food creation. Prepared with love and their own freshly grown herbs and greens, it offers a trendy buzz of deliciousness, complete with organic ingredients and plenty of vegetarian options.

According to their wesite:

All true!

Try creating your own fresh juices – a good ol’ ABC – apple, beetroot, carrot – with a twist of ginger is divine.

Get there early on a Saturday – before 9.30am – or make yourself comfortable with the idea of waiting for a table. It’s a comfortable environment (and they have wine) so tables don’t turn over so quickly.

Being in the centre of the buzz, it’s always  a good place to play ‘which hipster has the weirdest hairdo’ too 😉