Category: South Africa Chronicles

Off to Madikwe!

So this is what you do when you are about to head off to Madikwe, the private game reserve close to the Botswana border where every year your grown-up daughter and son-in-law and their friends go to play: you spend the morning before departure finishing your shopping; packing; buying booze; the afternoon checking your bins (binoculars), cameras, lenses, batteries and assorted other gear; and then in the evening heating through the confit duck legs you have bought at Woolies, gingerly opening and carefully decanting the 2006 Meerlust Rubicon you have kept perfectly cellared for over a decade (for those of […]

Two giraffe and a European bee-eater

Those of you who saw my recent FaceBook post (I’m a bit ashamed to be using FaceBook right now, given the nasty political business it’s been enabling – but on the other hand, perhaps FaceBook is appropriate, given the nastiness I’m about to mention) will know that I was – thanks, Mark, for the clarification – robbed last week, in the Pretoria CBD, across the road from the National Treasury. Apart from my iPhone, nothing was lost or injured other than my dignity, which at this stage of my life doesn’t bother me too much, and my sense of personal […]

A week is a long time in politics

A week in politics is more than a long time, sometimes: it can mark the beginning or the end of an era. It is hard to believe that it was just this time last week that the man who sold his country, former president Jacob Zuma, was flatly refusing to step down from office. By Friday, in the State of the Nation address, a new man, President Cyril Ramaphosa, was resetting the tone for the nation, and Zuma was toast. Those who had depended on Zuma’s favours, who had enabled his vices, who had grown fat and arrogant along with […]

President Ramaphosa

We have a new President. Cyril Ramaphosa elected by Parliament today. A new tone in his remarks to the House of dignity, humility, respect and commitment. And not a word about his predecessor. Needless to say, I watched his election and stood and applauded, along with millions of South Africans.

‘Inxeba’ – Distilled

Bergman-esque in its intensity, the South African film Inxeba – The Wound – has rightly won praise and awards around the world, along with the usual quota, for a film that speaks openly, and painfully, about homosexuality, masculinity, homophobia and ‘traditional culture’ in an African community, of threats and vitriol. In Cape Town, supposedly a bastion of the arts and enlightenment, the film was withdrawn by distributors Ster Kinekor, in an act of cowardice and betrayal. All of which is to say, there is a moral imperative to see it, and a duty to support the actors and director. But […]

A Dozen Toms

The country has been busy these last days and weeks with the unedifying spectacle of Jacob Zuma’s slow prying loose from the carcase of the state he has so wounded and savaged – there will be a collective sigh of relief once he has gone, and not much sympathy, either, when he is finally hauled before the Commission of Enquiry into state capture, and hopefully, in due course, before the courts. Meanwhile the new man, Ramaphosa, has already begun to clean house, sweeping aside the old, corrupt Board at Eskom, wakening the long-dormant National Prosecuting Authority from its long slumber, […]

Cape Vidal

Cape Vidal, within the St Lucia Marine Reserve, offers an expanse of beach facing the Indian Ocean, a pretty curve of bay, holiday accommodation, and what would seem, from the number of people you see wading into the surf with their rods, some pretty good surf fishing. It was also, when we were there a few years ago, one of those curiously ‘white’ playgrounds, an anomaly in the rural African heartland – an echo, in a sense, albeit unlegislated, of the bad old days of apartheid. Looking through my photographs of the Cape, I was struck by how the orange […]

Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park

The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, up the north coast of KwaZulu Natal towards Mozambique, became South Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site in 1999. Rob and I visited in December of 2012 – it was one of those rare places where a hippo might wander through your garden at night, where leopards hang about on the edges of town, while crocs are thick enough to form a bridge across the muddy water, if you’re dumb enough to try it. For one reason and another, I never seemed to have time to really work through the photos from the trip, […]

Monkey Sanctuary

I’ll leave it to Rob to write about burst pipes in the deep freeze of a Toronto winter, and the generosity and kindness of neighbours and friends (Andrew, Jackie, Boyd, you know who you are). Instead, a word simply to note our brief escape from the city, here on the other side of the planet, for a night away, with dinner and breakfast, at The Cradle Hotel and Restaurant in the Magaliesberg. Accommodations, in a beautifully designed and modern, minimalist log cabin, were excellent; dinner gained mixed reviews (we suspect it was a skeleton staff for the holidays, and whoever […]