Thursday, December 31, 2009

Africa 1000 on the Adventure Bus- Part 1

This may well be the most rushed blogpost I ever write, but I felt the need to update you on my most amazing holiday ever [goodness, I can't believe it's only been a few days] and put it all in words before I forget.
Ess arrived on Sunday, and Margs on Monday. Monday was spent sorting out admin- from international driver's licences and third party insurance to malaria medication and board games! It was a tiring day, but good organisation has made this trip run fairly smoothly. We set off on Tuesday morning, not getting started as early as we would have liked [you know how these things go!], and we crossed the border into Botswana. The drive was long, and initially the country looks much like South Africa [as can be expected]. We were told that speeding is a major offense here and stuck to the [sometimes absurd] speed limits, meaning we were going nowhere slowly. Eventually we had to stop short of our goal destination, and managed to hook up a free stay at Nata Lodge. After driving in the rain all night, we passed out and not much else.
The next morning was another early start, and we decided to stay in Chobe. Elephants roam the main road, and we saw [and nearly hit!] plenty. Anyway, one again we had free accomodation! We were taken on a game 'drive' along the river, had some sundowners and saw elephant, hippos, crocodiles and letchwe. That night we had a lovely dinner and went on a game drive. Not 2km from our house, we found ourselves on top of a bakkie, watching a herd of buffalo being stalked by a lone lion, as well as some hyena, a wildcat, crocodiles, a lone hippo, nightjars and stork.
Today we slept in, had a slow breakfast [not on the road], and set off for the border. This took a long time and it was near-unbearably hot, but the ferry ride across the rover was cool. We are staying in a great backpacers in Livingstone called Jollyboys, equipped with bar, restaurant, pool, a 'chill out' zone and a great vibe! Once again, this is free of charge. We just returned from the Victoria Falls and nothing could have prepared me for how awesome they are! Three wows, and too many exclamation marks here. It is something everyone must see!
For now, we're off to have ourselves a jol, and bring in 2010 in the best possible way. Tomorrow we'll stay in Lusaka, and then it's finally off to Malawi. Photos will come soon, and they are worth the wait!
Happy 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Collected Memories: Blood Bank

It's been an interesting year. Many ups, major downs. And as we head in to 2010 [which bodes to be a good year], I can't help but look back one last time at 2009 before I move forward.
I got up at 4.30 every weekday morning this year, to be at studio at 5 and start the Breakfast Show on MFM at 6am. My co-star, SeanO, was amazing to work with and the show was always exciting. Between interviewing anyone our hearts desired [except Barack- he never did get back to me], and getting free stuff, plus all the laughs we had in studio, 4.30 was worth it. Even when I hadn't slept, or had been drinking. I have no idea when I'll be back on air, but I'm hoping it will be soon.
My house burnt down. No, it was not my fault. Yes, I lost a lot of stuff. Thereafter I lived with two psychos, and resultantly I have moves four times this year. I never want to move again! And I think I'll live alone next year.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy. This means no drinking, smoking, driving, drugs, too much time in the sun, very hot baths, caffeine... And the list goes on. Hey, at least it isn't a brain tumour, as they suspected.
I walked down the street in my underwear. This was an on-air dare, thanks must go to my wonderful co-star. I hope this will die with 2009, although it does seem to keep coming up at very random moments, with very random people. This made newspapers across the entire country. I kid you not.
I got a tattoo. I love it. Jimi Hendrix.
I got a boyfriend. He is amazing, and the reason I made it through a lot of the downs. My brother got married. My sister had a baby. My stepmother had another baby.
I made new friends. I got closer to old friends, gave up on others. Some will stick around, some won't, others will come back around. Whatever happened, they were/are/will always be here for a reason. I lost a friend to cancer. A few weeks later I shaved off my hair.
And then I went platinum. Just for a change.
I was a guest presenter on MK Live and Studio1 once a month. I met a bajillion new people. I saw more local bands live than I can count. I went to Oppikoppi, RAMfest and Rocking the Daisies, all of which rocked and were 'the best weekend ever!'
I went to Zimbabwe with the UN. It was an amazing experience which only inspired me more to save the world.
I turned 21. And my birthday party was epic- The Revelators, 3rd World Spectator and Ashtray Electric. Much champagne. Awesome friends, awesome presents.
I went to the zoo. I dressed up like a unicorn for Hallowe'en. Next year, I am living in Pretoria. It is a big change that is both daunting and exciting at the same time: living close to my family [for the first time since 2001]; new people to meet; a new music scene to explore. I'll be doing my honours in Media and Culture Studies at Tuks, and pursuing this career thing of mine.
I know I'll miss the Cape. But Stellenbosch is a bubble, and I was dying to get away. Cape Town is pretty much my favourite place on earth, but unfortunately jobs are scarce and you can hate it all you want- Johannesburg is where it's at. And being close to my family is probably necessary, even if it only to prove that I can't do it. But at the first opportunity I will be back, Cape Town. Make no mistake about that.
Happy Christmas, and may the ups of 2010 exceed the downs. Cheers to the future.
You said "'aint this just like the present,
To be showing up like this?"
As a moon waned to crescent
We started to kiss.
And I said I know it well.
What's that noise up the stairs babe?
Is that Christmas morning creaks?
And I said I know it well.
-Bon Iver: Bloodbank

Friday, December 18, 2009


It's the end of the year and between having to shove your way through over-crowded malls to buy gifts for people out of obligation, being so sick of work you could gnaw off your wrists and that general festive season meltdown, everyone is being even more retarded/douchebaggy than usual.
Our former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang passed away two days ago. And just hours [in fact, was it even one hour?] Gareth Cliff tweeted the following:
Manto is dead. Good. A selfish and wicked bungler of the lowest order. Rotten attitude and rancid livers - all 3 of them...
And I am quite horrified. I will try express my views in brief, because everyone is up in arms about this and we have all had our say [including me, on Twitter]. I have always thought Gareth annoying. Sometimes I laugh at what he says, an example being his rants about fat people which even I could not express better [although, let's be honest- GC is no supermodel]. But he is offensive not only because he is outspoken about serious matters, taking a stance different from most. He thrives on getting a reaction from people. Reaction [read: pissing people off] should never be the primary reason for expressing anything. It should be because you feel stongly about something, and voicing opinions should stem from a desire to be heard and to make heard that which you believe. It should not be to get your many listeners texting/emailing/tweeting you, enraged at what you express. And Gareth's opinions seem less passion-driven, and more aimed at getting people to respond. It's one thing when your desired reaction is getting a president to change a country's children's rights policy [for example]; it is quite another when you do- and say things for the sake of getting attention from your thousands of [sometimes equally uninformed] listeners and followers.
No supermodel
Furthermore I feel that what Gareth 'said' [tweeted] was the height of insensitivity. I acknowledge that Manto made bad decisions regarding our country's HIV/AIDS policies, and that she was responsible for many deaths in South Africa which, yes, has the highest number of infections worldwide, with 5.7 million. There are things she did and/or said with which I disagreed. But what we must remember is that Manto was a human being. And while her death might cause you no pain, there are loved ones mourning her death. The least one can do is shut up and pay respect not to her, but to her friends and family who are experiencing much pain. The easiest way to explain it is to put yourself in this position. Imagine your parent or sibling or significant other passed away, and moments later a public figure of sorts who has thousands upon thousands of followers states that it is a good thing. It would hurt, and it is disrespectful. I am not saying support her, or her policies. But the least we can do is show respect, and shut the fuck up while her family deals with this. So, please note, I am not saying I am a supporter of hers. And just because she is dead does not suddenly make hre a saint or erase what she did. I am simply saying that basic respect need be shown for now, while the pain is still fresh for those who loved her.
You can feel however you want, but Gareth has, in my opinion, sunk below the very lowest order of humanity with this one. And now he is taken aback by the ANC Youth League's demanding an apology. He also refuses to apologise, and I for one am very interested to see how this all pans out.
Oh, and for those of you whose defense of Gareth was that 'the dead have no rights'- give necrophilia a shot. Turns out the dead do have rights.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Fun Never Stops

Everyone knows Stellenbosch becomes something of a ghost town during holidays. Exams are over, graduation has passed and now I am pretty much the only person left in this town. But thankfully Cape Town is always alive, and there are some worthwhile gigs to attend.
Firstly, tomorrow sees a HUGE party at The Assembly. It is the launch of Supra Familias, the record label of Fokofpolisiekar, aKing and Die Heuwels Fantasties genius Hunter Kennedy as well as Pierre Greeff, also of Die Heuwels Fantasties and formerly of Lukraaketaar. You can catch Die Heuwels Fantasties [their first ever show in Cape Town] as well as Thieve, Jack Parow and The Wedding DJs. This party promises to be epic. Even Seth Rotherham is talking about it. I mean, then you know it's going to be big!
For something a little more long term, be aware that the Rock Summer Tour is underway. The only details you need memorise are Friday, 18 December, Mercury Live: Fire Through The Window, Ashtray Electric and Taxi Violence. You can't really ask for much more.
Lastly, the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts are happening again! Yes, it is that time of year when we see our favourite bands perform at what is without doubt one of the top venues in South Africa. Leaving our the lame/random ones, your gig guide looks like this:
27 December: Ashtray Electric and The Pretty Blue Guns
31 December: New Year's Eve Concert
17 January: Zebra and Giraffe
24 January: Fokofpolisiekar
31 January: Lira and Friends
7 February: aKing
7 March: Goldfish
14 March: The Dirty Skirts
21 March: The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra
4 April: Gang of Instrumentals, Tidal Waves and Tumi Molekane
Then of course there is some Freshlyground, Just Jinjer and Prime Circle in there. But if you want to go to those instead of my suggestions above, look for the details yourself.
Lastly, do enjoy the new Fire Through The Window video for their track Do Do Do. It will make you happy. It was also used for the new iPod Nano advert.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full

With 2010 just days away and next year being the one that marks our hosting the FIFA World Cup, football is quite the trending topic. But we're not just talking about goals and red cards- everything we do is being carefully watched by the world. One such an example is the Ukweshwama ritual, a Zulu tradition whereby a bull is killed at the hands of men. It was suggested that this ritual be done as a sort of inauguration of the football stadiums. This suggestion was contested by animal rights groups, as was expected.
I am big on animal rights. An animal lover and -owner myself, I am a vegetarian and I also take care not to support companies that do animal-testing [see below], as well as showing support to those companies that are animal-friendly. I do the things that are within my [and anyone else's] reach, and anything else I can, be it volunteering at animal shelters or raising funds for them. But I am on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's side on this one.
The thing is that this ritual has been done for over 3000 years. Yes, I agree that it is a cruel process because the bull does not die instantly. But consider a few things while you bitch and moan about this process with your mouth stuffed with chicken nuggets.
The number of bulls killed in this way is small. Like, really really small in context. So while you may not physically kill animals, you are probably doing a lot more damage, albeit sans getting blood on your hands.
People eat fast food. It is part of modern living and hardly out of the ordinary. But eating your Big Mac, even if it is only every now and then, has ramifications far beyond a lifetime on your hips.
Firstly, millions of animals are killed to provide you with that juicy greaseball of a burger. And don't think these animals are killed in any more a humane way than these bulls. McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken kill their animals in horrific ways that are far from quick and painless. Then, there are the other repercussions. Deforestation occurs mainly because of the need to provide these millions of animals with grazing. So, trees are cut down, cows graze in the new space after which they are killed en masse by cruel means, and often soil becomes eroded because it has not been properly prepared and it cannot take the strain of all these animals feeding off it. So now we have a bunch of dead cows, no trees and useless soil. This is going well! Next, we need abbatoirs and factories for all of this. More trees are cut down to make room. Moreover, the meat industry is one of our worst environmental disasters around! Cows are transported from farm to abbatoir to factory to factory to butchery to supermarket to your home. This means carbon emissions for processing as well as all of the transport involved and lots of waste from packaging in all the various phases. Finally, you have a whole bunch of fat people who need bigger clothes, more medical treatment, stronger cars, more junkfood and are generally sweating it up in here, pushing us faster down the slippery slope of death by climate change.
So, while you're perching on your high horse about a tradition of one of the many cultures of this country of ours that so values diversity, put down your Kentucky Fried Cruelty burger and think. Doing harm is not necessarily as blatant as the things you criticise. Yes, the bull-killing is cruel. But it is part of a nation's culture that has been alive for thousands of years. But it is not a speck of dust on the disasters we are creating just by continuing our everyday lives.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Who Ever Said Money Can't Buy Happiness...

... clearly didn't know where to shop. And I am not talking about the global human desire to have more and more of the best stuff around.
I spent some time on Peta's website, checking out the animal-friendly companies out there. But there are also the companies not to support. These are the ones who do cruel testing and -experiments on innocent animals; any animals from cats to sheep and even monkeys can be victims. Many of those listed are not available in South Africa, so I have compiled a list of widely used brands in South Africa. Try not to support these, as earning a profit will only give them free rein to continue their inhumane practices. One person taking a stand is a small difference. But a small difference multiplied a million times becomes a big difference.
Giorgio Armani
Head and Shoulders
Iams [as well as Pampers- a cruel irony that pet food causes such pain to their 'clients']
Johnson & Johnson
L'oreal [possibly the guiltiest culprit!]
Max Factor
Ralph Lauren
Veet [shave, or wax. Hair remover is gross.]