As unwavering as the annual mass migration of wildebeest between the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, South Africa’s middle classes flock to the coast during the December holidays to soak up the summer sunshine. Available beach sand is packed with umbrellas and multi-coloured towels on which lie bodies varying from shades of pale, through to a lobster pink/red and those like myself, who could be mistaken for ‘Capies’ when sporting a year-round summer tan. ‘Burn baby burn’, the philosophy adopted by many who lather themselves in what can only be described as SPF ‘cooking fat’ in order to squeeze out a tan in the shortest time possible. Dealing with the ‘peel and flake’ is tomorrow’s problem. I’ve taken to applying a factor 50 sunscreen due largely to my age and fear of excessively contrasting with my wife in couplely photos. Continue reading
I’ve never fully understood the merriment that is Halloween, apart from being the one day in a year when guys can legitimately wear eye-liner and walk down the street with speedos outside of their pants, demanding sweets (without being committed/arrested); and where a certain z-list celebrity female is papped wearing a mermaid’s get-up in public. My American friends on the other side of the pond however go Gangnam for this holiday.
Halloween used to be the one night in a year when I’d purposely ensure that I was AWOL from the house, or bunkered-in watching a movie in the dark, to avoid the need to re-oil the hinges on the front door and/or replace the batteries of my door chime in the aftermath. Needless to say, this makes me sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but bar humbug, the truth will set me free!
Halloween in South Africa passed without the faintest whiff of a trick-or-treater. No terrified screams from adolescent zombie-lookalikes to accompany the triggering of an arsenal of booby-traps I had rigged up along the length of my driveway. It was all rather disappointing.
Jokes aside, the concept of ‘trick or treating’ in South Africa would not fly. If a stranger were to turn up on a South African’s doorstep wearing a Scream mask and wielding a plastic blade, they would either be wasted by a 9mm on site, or become a human-sized dog-chew. There is also the scenario where a trick-or-treater, partaking in a ‘one-of-a-kind-police-supervised-trick-or-treating-session-along-a-select-street-in-Jo’burg-where-all-the-homeowners-are-paid-actors’, is mugged for the stash of goodies in his plastic jack-o’-lantern. Chortle if you will – this would inevitably happen.
September was ‘Rhino month’, which culminated in the celebration of the third annual World Rhino Day on the 22nd, aimed at celebrating the five sub-species of rhino…forever. I realise of course that I’m late with this post, with my only defence being that I was away on vacation – hard-earned, I might add!
I’ve considered a post on the subject of rhinos in South Africa for some time; particularly pertinent to this blog, since I elected to move here permanently in 2009 and also as the rhino is one of the elusive animals which I most look forward to seeing on a game drive – second only to leopard. Rhino are one of the African ‘Big Five’ which national parks and game farm owners announce with much fanfare to ensure tourists receive a ‘true’ African safari experience (I won’t mention that there is also a ‘Super Seven’…doh!). SA is home to an estimated 70% of the surviving global rhino population and a prime target for poaching syndicates, due to the relatively large numbers.
In an effort to tackle some of the background on poaching, I scanned through the plethora of rhino society webpages (e.g. Unite Against Poaching.co.za, Stop Rhino Poaching.com and Rhino Conservation.org) which have surfaced to publicise and help curb (stop?) the poaching of rhinos for their horn, as well as a selection of recent online news articles. Some say ‘ignorance is bliss’, but when dealing such a profoundly sensitive subject (such as this), I thought that it would be wise to sidestep the bliss. Continue reading
So what’s next for our intrepid canine warrior? Last night Finn took on the best of Mzansi in the Grand Finale of SA’s Got Talent 2012 and although he didn’t feature in the top three, he proudly represented the 4-legged demographic of the Rainbow Nation (and of course his parents). His act was proudly South African and set to the traditional Xhosa song ‘Qongqothwane’; or for all those (like me) who can’t get your tongue and palette around this, ‘The ‘Click Song’ by the late South African singer Miriam Makeba. The performance itself was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G; clever, entertaining and technically challenging and the judges, audience and contestants had nothing but praise for Finn and my wife throughout entire evening. The support which they received through social media (and beyond) was also testament to their extraordinary team spirit.
I’ve often wondered how sponsorship deals were born. Maybe a little naively I believed that if you were good at something and in the public eye (e.g. an elite athlete), a mass of agents and/or company representatives would be stood outside your door each morning looking to sign you up to their respective brands. In my mind’s eye the entire scene is backdropped by the press, wielding a host of flashing cameras and microphones ready to capture the sponsorship scoop of the century. As their wanabee brand ambassador, it would then be at your discretion to select the best offer on the table. Is this how it is? Maybe I’ve just watched too many movies.
When it comes to animal sponsorship however, the elite athlete movie playing in my head doesn’t match reality. It’s a completely different ball game (forgive the pun). Should you type ‘animal sponsorship’ into Google, you’ll get returns along the lines of; “have you thought about sponsoring a zoo animal?”, or “support your local SPCA”. All good causes I’ll admit, but not quite what I was looking for.
So what exactly am I searching for? In a one-liner; overseas doggy competition funding.
After a number of years living in South Africa I, like many, have come to realisation that traffic lights or ‘robots’ as they are locally known, don’t work as well as they should. Faulty signals take up a hefty portion of the daily radio traffic reports and are about as commonplace as the faithful pothole in and around Pretoria and Jo’burg. Many have come to accept that they are a part of everyday South African life…but then again, why should anyone just have to accept this? Lead SA! Taxes are there for a reason…as are the lights (in most instances!). Either stop the cowboys from installing them in the first instance, or fix them so that they don’t break as often. Continue reading
One of the perks in my line of work is that I occasionally get to visit some pretty interesting places where an airport needs constructing, expanding or fixing. I’ve now been to more countries on the African continent than many other South Africans, including my wife – although she’ll probably agree that this doesn’t speak volumes.
One of my favourite locations to date is Skull Island – a fictional name for the actual island which I concocted in order to protect its location and our client’s identity (it would be a sin if it mutated into another Lanzarote or Zakynthos because of my post ). The island could quite feasibly have been a filming location in Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong movie, but alas I see from IMDB that Jackson used some poxy excuse of an island off the coast of Wellington, New Zealand. I suppose I can’t blame him for missed opportunities; he makes some good films and very few people have heard of, let alone visited the Skull Island to which this post refers.
The journey to the island was a perilous one, with the exception of the initial SAA flight leg from Johannesburg. We landed at a transit destination where our party had a 2 day layover before catching a connecting flight to Skull Island. Due to the innate nature of many African countries, where fortune favours the dirty rotten scoundrel, an escort was organised to assist us getting out of the airport with passports, personal effects and limbs intact and to arrange transportation to and from the airport and our hotel without being hustled. Our troop transport had seen better days – I felt like dialling up duct-tape headquarters to let them know that I had found their perfect marketing tool. The shocks were AWOL, one of the balding wheels on the car I was riding in had three nuts securing it to the hub and judging by driving styles, I’m almost certain that our chauffeurs were part-time African stock car racers. Tear-arsing down the wrong side of a street in order that they could offer a ‘tout suite’ service was second nature to these boys. Seat belts (when working) were a must.