Category: South Africa Chronicles

The President’s Keepers

‘The President’s Keepers,’ by Jacques Pauw, published by Tafelberg, has caused something of a sensation here, not least because of government’s clumsy attempts to suppress it – the best publicity that Pauw and his publisher could ask for. Copies of the book have sold like proverbial hot cakes – I had to place a copy on order, and picked it up at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park yesterday. I have hardly been able to put it down since. Apart from anything else, it is damn well written – fast-paced, vivid, more best-selling thriller than sombre analysis. And yet the story […]

Paternoster

With Rob safely and warmly (well, warm indoors I guess) back in our little house in Marchmount Road in Toronto, my thoughts somehow turn to our last days here, back towards the end of 2010, when we had packed up our home in Johannesburg and were doing one last road trip to say goodbye to South Africa, before the big move to Canada, where I would descend into Pearson as a landed immigrant, and set out on the road towards becoming a Canadian. One of the last places we stayed before our departure was the little fishing village of Paternoster, up […]

From Parkhurst to Kalk Bay, a non sequitur

We had barely taken our seats at Coobs in Parkhurst last night when a seeming explosion rent the air, as if from the street two feet from the patio where we were sitting. Moments later the sky opened up, torrential, rinsing rain emptied the sky, the wind grasped the trees lining the sidewalk and shook them. Meanwhile dinner was served, platters of confit duck legs and pan fried duck breast with Asian salad for both of us, which, accompanied by a bottle of Vergenoegd Merlot, were pronounced delicious. Think of it as a gift from Nora, our friend in Vancouver, […]

Zeitz-MOCAA Cape Town

The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – Zeitz-MOCAA – is an instant architural landmark, both global and local, and an extraordinary addition to Cape Town’s cultural scene and to the V&A Waterfront. Rob and I were lucky enough to get in on the opening weekend (there were 1 ½ hour line-ups, but we bought memberships, and skipped the queue) but the place was way too crowded to enjoy the artworks, and in any case the architecture itself was a thing of wonder. So we wandered around, gazing up into the cathedral-like concrete flutes that rose towards the skylights, […]

Whales, Walker Bay

We were in Cape Town last weekend, the Heritage Day long weekend, and on Sunday we took my mother out to Hermanus and Gansbaai to see the whales. On previous occasions we had seen them close in, near the Old Harbour, but not this time. We were lucky, however, to spot one or two far out, way across Walker Bay, so we drove round to Gansbaai, another 40 kilometres along the coast, in hope of a better view, and were just in time to see a pod of humpbacks quite close in, before they tired of us and slipped beneath […]

Nirox Jazz Festival

A couple of months ago I posted a blog, with photographs, of the Winter Sculpture Exhibition at Nirox, in the Magaliesberg, a lovely spot folded into the hills about an hour north north-west of Johannesburg. Just two or three weeks ago we were back, this time for the Nirox Jazz Festival, a harbinger of Spring, under appropriately sunny and warm conditions. A large, white, floating cover, like a quilt of clouds, sheltered the crowd who gathered over the course of a lazy Sunday morning to listen to the music, on a green hillside that looked down onto a meandering stream […]

Hillfold Pottery, Midlands Meander

You reach Lindsay Scott’s Hillfold Pottery in Lidgetton in the Natal Midlands by following a dirt road into the hills, climbing through forest, then turning off down a narrow rutted track that makes you wonder why, oh why, do you no longer have the Landy, until suddenly the woodland opens and you are in a sunny clearing where a low bungalow awaits, and the studio beckons. The man himself was there, reserved but gracious, and while he might have been of few words the work spoke volumes. We bought a piece for ourselves, and one or two smaller pieces for […]

Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander in KwaZulu Natal – well, meanders, criss-crossing the N3 that links Johannesburg to Durban, offering the traveller a network of scenic routes that winds through hills and valleys as it folds into its embrace potteries and chocolatiers, breweries and cheese-makers, leather workers and artists. It is the land of dairy – and, along a nondescript stretch of the old Johannesburg road, beside the railway line not far from Howick, the area where Mandela was captured, in August 1962, following a tip-off, it is believed, from the CIA – those friends of democracy everywhere. These images, I hope, […]

Parkmore Field Market

It’s becoming a meme, I guess, at least of this blog – the notion that Joburg, and South Africa, is a study in contradictions. Creativity and enterprise flourish, the place is dynamic and happening – but it is also a dead-end of fraud and corruption, crime and incompetence. There is warmth, love, vibrancy in human interactions, across race, creed and class – and there is sullenness, indifference, even hatred. The glass is half full, and at the same time half empty. You get the idea. One of the creativity, love, enterprise happenings happens once a month, on the second Saturday, […]

The walk to work, Pretoria

Most days, instead of getting off the Gautrain bus opposite the Treasury, at the corner of Thabo Sehume and Madiba, I get off at Madiba and Bosman, and walk the couple of blocks to work, past the Department of Public Works and the High Court, for what passes these days for exercise. I know, I need to take better care of my health, as Rob rightly reminds me, but at least this is something, right?! I took these images on my way to work one morning, when the sun was still raking across the street, casting long shadows. By the […]