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Nelson Mandela – Released February 11, 2010

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Today marks the day, 20 years ago, that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, most of which was spent at Robben Island. Now there are probably a thousand articles and blogs describing this, and I don’t feel up to the challenge of trying to match the depth of knowledge and research and journalistic skill that is out there today, so I thought I’d just share a few of the things I’ve come across already.

Firstly, while listening to the radio on the way in, the presenters played a short montage of various interviews and old archived radio/TV broadcasts, from around the time of  Mandela’s release, and all the unrest before and after. After some quick googling, I came across http://www.mandelahistory.org/, and from there found NPR’s “Remembering Nelson Mandela’s Pivotal Moment”, which contains some of these excellent and very, very interesting audio montages. You’ll hear Mandela himself, Dr Verwoed, Winnie Mandela in a telephone interview (while under house arrest), live recordings of police dispersing riots, and numerous other, very familiar voices. A lot of work as clearly gone into these, and I highly recommend you fire them up (they are streamed), and listen to them while you’re at your desk. I find it’s amazing how much of the detailed memories during that time come flooding back, with a little reminding.

Also, check out Madiba’s Release Remembered, and perhaps most vivid of all, IOL’s gallery here.

Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.

– Refusing to bargain for freedom after 21 years in prison, as quoted in TIME (25 February 1985)

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Two Oceans Aquarium January 17, 2010

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, General.
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Cape Town: I’ve realised that, when you find yourself with a day completely free of chores, duties, outstanding work, even plans with friends, there are few cities better to be stuck in. Yesterday, with it’s marvelous weather, was one such day for Wifey and I, so I decided to treat her to a trip to the Two Oceans Aquarium, situated at the Cape Town V&A Waterfront.

It’s an expensive outing, make no mistake – as lowly Adults we had to pay R88 each, even though we’re South African (which is a rant for another day 🙂 ), but we quickly forgot about that once we were inside. We spent about an hour and a half in the aquarium, and saw things such as the Giant Spider Crab tank, the “Nemo” exhibit (clown fish, always a hit with the kids), the Kelp Forest (pic below) which is just beautiful, and of course the Predator Exhibit, where we were lucky enough to see feeding time. (You can also feed the sharks, by getting in the tank with them, scuba-style, no cage. And you have to pay for this…..?) The aquarium also has two galleries to contrast the sea life in the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, with helpful identifier cards next to each window, to help find the little critters (and learn a little interesting fact about them too).

The aquarium, however, doesn’t limit itself to sea-bound creatures. There is quite a range of birdlife (including the ever popular penguins), and a great River Meander exhibit, which includes fresh water creatures and describes a river’s journey. Also, not to be missed, is the new “Frogs Beyond the Pond” gallery, which has been very carefully and beautifully constructed, with sections making you feel about as big as a frog as you wander through, great lilies and garden taps looming above you.

Anyway, if you have kids, you definitely want to take them there – Wifey and I quite enjoyed watching the kids, some of whom were completely beside themselves with excitement, and the rest completely enchanted and wide-eyed. And if you don’t have kids, you might just find yourself feeling like one anyway…

Cape Town to KwaZulu-Natal Road Trip: Highlights January 11, 2010

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! A little late, I know, but seeing as this is my first post of 2010, and indeed my first in nearly 2 months, everything is a little late anyway. So this post might get a tad long…

My best (and yet insufficient) excuse for the lack of reading material for you, is that Wifey and I were visiting my family in Natal. And this time, to spice things up, we decided to retrace our steps, as it were, in another road trip. We drove up 2 years ago (I think it was), and enjoyed it just as much this time, as we did then.

We left on the 17th of December, close to sunrise, and headed out on to the N1 (for as short a spell as possible). When driving any real distance, our philosophy has for a long time been to avoid major routes (most notably the N1 and N2), and try to stick to the good quality back roads, as far as possible. In doing so, we enjoy near stress-free driving due to the almost complete lack of traffic, speed cameras, tolls, and roadblocks. But perhaps best of all, we get to explore and experience certain timeless parts of South Africa such as those Karoo towns that, much like their specialty apricots, peaches, and figs, seem to be drenched and preserved in syrups of unassuming heritage.

I am honestly quite sad that it took so long for me to begin to appreciate the astounding beauty of certain parts of South Africa (more…)

SA 2010 – Soccer Stadium October 26, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, POTD, Sport.
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Always a fan of the SA Good News site (though not the most regular visitor, to be fair), a friend sent me a link to them again. So after some browsing, I came across this nice little collection of photos showing the progress of some of the soccer stadia being built in South Africa, in readiness for next years FIFA World Cup. So, here is one picture – click on it to get to the rest, and I highly recommend a tour around the site, it really is good news!

Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban

Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban

Discovery and ISS Docking Visible this Weekend August 28, 2009

Posted by baldricman in astronomy, News.
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nasa-discovery-launchThanks to Allen for sending me an excerpt from the JHB Planetarium newsletter, telling us about the docking of the space shuttle Discovery, to the International Space Station, on Sunday. And, it should be visible from South Africa.

The International Space Station (ISS) passes directly over South Africa on Sunday evening (Aug 30th) – possibly accompanied by the shuttle Discovery!  Discovery is scheduled to launch Friday evening (SA time) to deliver crew and equipment to the orbiting station, but has been delayed twice this week due to a technical problem.
The orbit of the ISS takes it over southern Africa a few times each month.  On Sunday, it passes directly over Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Gauteng, moving towards Zimbabwe.  Start looking for it at about 6:48pm if you’re near Cape Town, 6:51pm for  Gauteng. Look towards the south-west, for a very bright “star” that is moving slowly up over your head, if you are under the path of the ISS. If you’re to the north of the path, the ISS will appear in the south-south-west, and will move upwards across the sky to your left. If you’re to the south of the path, the ISS will appear in the west-south-west, and will move upwards across the sky to your right.

Below is an image from the Planetarium website, showing the path of the ISS (click the image to see the full version):

ISSPath

The Big Picture – Soccer in South Africa July 16, 2009

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I’ve always enjoyed the Boston Globe’s Big Picture series – though I don’t actively follow it: today, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a link to this week’s Big Picture set, “Soccer in South Africa”, on the SARocks website. So, check out all this week’s Big Picture photos here. To whet your appetite, however, two of my favourites:

South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune fails to catch a ball shot by Spanish forward Fernando Llorente, who scored the second goal, during the Fifa Confederations Cup football match Spain vs South Africa on June 20, 2009 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. Spain won 2-0 but both teams qualified for the next stage of the tournament. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune fails to catch a ball shot by Spanish forward Fernando Llorente, who scored the second goal, during the Fifa Confederations Cup football match Spain vs South Africa on June 20, 2009 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. Spain won 2-0 but both teams qualified for the next stage of the tournament. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

South Africa supporters watch the Confederations Cup Group A soccer match between South Africa and Spain on television inside their home in the Matholiesville settlement, near Roodepoort, South Africa, Saturday, June 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

South Africa supporters watch the Confederations Cup Group A soccer match between South Africa and Spain on television inside their home in the Matholiesville settlement, near Roodepoort, South Africa, Saturday, June 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

2009 – My Voting Experience April 23, 2009

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Well yesterday, April 22nd, our 4th democratic elections took place around the country. Along with most of the  roughly 23 million registered voters, wifey and I went along to our voting station around the corner to make our mark. 

So today, I thought I’d share just a little of our experience of the day, and a few of our impressions of the process and people.

Initially we’d considered arriving early at the station, to “get it over with”, but I had a hunch that voting over lunch time might be quieter (I’m sure 23 million other geniuses in South Africa also had similar little theories, most of which worked equally well…) So we ended up arriving at around 1pm or so, and joined the back of the queue which, all in all, didn’t seem too long. The vibe seemed pretty relaxed and quiet.We had been in the queue not 5 minutes before a man came striding past us down the line, muttering and flapping his arm in the air. “This does not bode well” I remember thinking to myself. As he passed us he “helpfully” informed us all that it was “useless” and a “waste of time”, as the station had just run out of ballot papers. Within seconds, my wife and I began to see more and more people leaving their places in the (stagnant) queue, all of them with the same peeved expression, irritable arm-flapping, and inventive and helpful cursing and complaining, to (presumably) go home. (My favourite was the woman who stormed past us, venemously spitting out “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” over and over again. I had to turn away to hide my grin at this point, as I’m sure she would have reacted less than favourably had she noticed.)

Now I must just say that I agree that a voting station running out of ballot papers is exceptionally short-sighted, and worthy of a certain amount of ridicule, but I will ALSO say that, well, people make mistakes, and at the end of the day, only those people who left the queue at the first sign of trouble, lost out. The rest of us benefitted in fact from a faster moving queue for a few minutes :).  Oh, and the ballot papers arrived at most 5 minutes after those people climbed back into their luxury cars and went home to enjoy the rest of their “holiday”. (more…)

Visit JHB? I double dare ya! March 3, 2009

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Jeremy Clarkson recently wrote an article entitled “I dare you to visit Johannesburg, the city for softies”. (See it here)

I found the article highly entertaining, and not without some highly relevant truths in it. Of course, there are the usual high number of Clarksonesque exaggerations and outlandish statements, but in my opinion, these are what make the article entertaining. (For the record, I feel the same way about Top Gear: he’s a prat, most of the time, though very funny, but anyone who takes his reviews on cars seriously is in dire need of some lightening up.)

Anyway, the article seems to have caused quite a stir amongst residents, expats, and visitors alike.

And while browsing the comments people posted on two sites (News24 and UK Times Online), I came to the undeniable conclusion that the vast majority were disturbing polar:
(more…)