Monthly Archives: May 2015

Sala Kahle, Hamba Kahle


The Amazing RESHI Vuvuzelas: Jacus, Anthony, John, Leslie, Michael, Renier, Lehlohonolo, Kgomotso, Rosanne,Thandeka


I’ve never been sure which one is which, but apparently this does not matter. What matters is to reflect yourself in the other. Ubuntu. I am because you are.

Maybe you have to go to the other side of the Earth to hear this loud and clear. Maybe you can just stay home, ride your bike and look around with a more open heart and mind.

This is my last post, my last reflections on this amazing year. I can’t sort the emotions out in a coherent way, it seems, so here are a few very random thoughts:

  • When I am asked about the bad stuff here, like xenophobia, violence, racism, sexism, inequality, corruption, rhino poaching, I have learned just enough to say “It’s complicated”
  • In Canada, social housing buildings fall apart as they age and all the various forms of water take their toll. In South Africa, social housing buildings also contend with: paint peeling because of the wind blown tailings from mine dumps; the copper plumbing risers getting stolen if they are on the outside of the buildings; security cameras zapped by lighting every summer and hail smashing all the windows in a building overnight.
  • I think this is the 27th blog post and I share the credit with Debbie on some of them. I trust they’ve given you a taste of  S.A. and Joburg and I’m glad if you were informed and at times amused.
  • In S.A., you can get your car washed by hand, inside and out, for the princely sum of R30 ($3 CDN). So, if you can navigate the complicated immigration systems and don’t mind living behind walls and electronic fencing, you would do well to retire here, even with only OAS/CPP.
  • On Friday when I came back from visiting SHI’s in various cities, I was picked up by Thuli from Cabs for Women. Two weeks ago, when she came off the night shift and parked in her driveway, bullets started flying around her and then a stolen bakkie (4×4 truck) rammed into the wall of her living room. She showed me the pictures of bullet holes in her windows. As I was flipping through the pictures, I saw one of her daughter’s graduation, cap and gown. Thuli said “That is life, there are good things and there are bad things”.  When she dropped me off, we had a big hug and she asked me to pray for her. I said I would.
  • When you order coffee, they bring you a little pot of warmed milk. And when you (polite Canadian) say “thank you”, they say “pleasure”.
  • I might have to get a cellphone when I get home. Eish!
  • The ANC is not what everyone hoped for. There is a “my turn now” attitude among many of the black elite as well as the Born Frees (post ’94). Lots of BMWs and AUDIs in the mall parking lots. Aspirations to own and have status prevail. Disheartening for many who fought for so long.
  • Don’t try to diet while you’re away in a foreign country for a year.
  • The dung beetle should be part of the Big 6. It uses the Milky Way as a navigation tool!
  • I have to do a dog/pony show at the Canadian Consulate this week. You can download the PPT if you want:Canadian Consulate Pres
  • I might have to come back.


Hlanganani, Johannesburg Housing Company

Hlanganani, Johannesburg Housing Company

Beaver Barracks, Ottawa, CCOC

Beaver Barracks, Ottawa, CCOC

That’s really all for now folks!


The R49.99 ($5) question

Major food group

Major food group

 Should I get another jar?

Making all these difficult decisions, eish!  Went to the Virgin Active yesterday for my Splash class and coughed up $40 to cancel my membership at the end of the month. Made an appointment with Owen at Road King Panel Beaters (auto body shop) to repaint the bumpers and do a few  touch ups on the Citroën before I turn it in to the rental company. Even made an appointment with my dentist in Ottawa for June 1st to look at a loose crown. Strange feelings, sad and glad at the same time.

Meanwhile, 18.3 kms down the road from me

In Alexandra township last week

In Alexandra township last week

The government’s response to xenophobia: send the army in to help police raid the men’s hostels in the townships (township hostels=criminal activity in the minds of most people).  Find a few guns, some stolen foodstuffs, and foreigners with no papers. Make no real difference because the problem is something else.

Reminds me of  Ottawa during the War Measures Act back in 1970. Army trucks trundling down Rideau Street, a bivouac in the fields beside our house in Alta Vista, a guard posted 24/7 at the house across from my friend’s apartment in Sandy Hill. Locking all the Canada Post mailboxes. Did it make anyone feel safer? Not me.

The business sections of the paper are now worried about SA’s international reputation and the impact on trade and tourism. Durban is having a 20% reduction in travel, game reserves are getting cancellations, etc.  Nigeria recalled its ambassador.

But at my local SPAR, there’s a new donations cart, replacing the powered milk one for rhino baby.

I added some Pilchards in tomato sauce

I added some Pilchards in tomato sauce

Oh, and those pesky statues!

Equal opportunity defacing

Equal opportunity defacing


This is the monument at Saartjie (Sarah) Bartmaan’s gravesite.

She was a Khoikhoi woman who, due to her large buttocks (steapopygia) was sold and exhibited in Europe during the early 1800’s. She was known as the Hottentot Venus and resold a few times before dying in poverty in Paris in 1815. Her body was then dissected and remains exhibited at the Museum of Man in Paris until they were finally repatriated in 2002.

For some unthinkable reason, her gravestone was desecrated last week.

Check in out on Wiki. 


At the WITS Art museum yesterday

I spent a couple of hours looking at a retrospective of Penny Siopis’ work. I had never heard of her, but was mesmerized by her versatility (painting, collages, sculpture, film, installations) and her story and “message”.

Maybe instead of sending the army to the townships, JZ should take people to see this show. It’s a great history lesson.

Here is one of her very large (6×6) painting/collages:

Penny Siopis- retrospective

Penny Siopis- retrospective

And here is the detail:

Looking closer...

Looking closer…


and even closer....

and even closer….

 I will miss all the tweets

From my backyard neighbours, the feathered friends I have grown to love. I hope you can find a way to access the media files on this…

The irrepressible Hadeda Ibis

better than alarm clocks

better than alarm clocks


The whiny grey go away bird

"go away, go away"

nice mohawk!


The obsessive-compulsive weaver bird

Engineer at work outside my window

Engineer at work outside my window



And not to forget the floral cousins

Paradise, very quiet

Paradise birds, very quiet

That’s it for now, folks!