Thursday, 28 June 2007

Grahamstown Opens Its Doors Again

Today marks the start of the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Running from 28 June to 7 July, this year's offerings promise more showcasing of the best talent South Africa, and indeed Africa, has to offer.

This amazing festival is billed as being the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. The very first festival was held in 1974. With the exception of 1975 an arts festival has been held in Grahamstown every year since.

The small university town of Grahamstown is once more transformed into a Mecca of the artistic community of this country and thousands have already taken residence in every available room. The economic impact of this cannot be underestimated in one of the poorest areas of the country.

With the eyes of the international arts community on this celebration, lets hope that more investment of funds and education of artists will result.

On another note I was disappointed to see that the IOL news site had no mention of the festival at all. This event is a major event in the national calendar and deserves greater media coverage! If I missed it, please let me know and I will edit this post.

I managed to find a really nice site from detailing the festival and offering MP3's, photos and programme details.

Official site : Festival site :


A new kid on the block in the travel magazine genre arrived on our shelves about a year ago. Its aim was to provide another choice to those who enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and travel. This magazine was aptly title Go!

For many years the Getaway magazine was the definitive mag in this genre. I know of people who collected these magazines as reference sources and make no mistake, it remains an outstanding magazine. (Subscribe to Getaway here) However it is quite something when a newcomer takes the honours as the Best Travel Magazine at the ADVantage Admag Awards.

The Go! magazine however is a breath of fresh air. It has an easy-on-the-eye layout and typeface and the content is fresh and informative. It has become my mag of choice for information on travel in South Africa. A great aspect of the mag has been its recent focus on some of the smaller towns in SA. These are the small towns we so often bypass as we hurtle along the National Roads.

I highly recommend the Go! magazine and wish the publishers, editor and staff well as they continue to grow from strength to strength.

The magazine is currently running a competition for new subscribers :

Subscribe to Go! now and


2 night's accommodation (B&B) at:
* The Point Hotel, Mossel Bay
* Diaz Strand Hotel, Mossel Bay
* House Hammond, Knysna
* Visit Tsitsikamma Adventure for a Tree Top Canopy Tour and lunch at the Trees Restaurant in Storms River
* Full Trunk-in-hand programs at the Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay
* Free car rental for 7 days, compliments of Williams Hunt
* Return airline tickets to and from the Southern Cape
* R5 000 pocket money

R113 – 6 issues
R226 – 12 issues
R452 – 24 issues
R678 – 36 issues
R904 – 48 issues
R1 130 – 60 issues

Subscribe now!

Click here for the CHEAPEST flights!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Frozen Radioactive Finches!

Last night saw the first true snowfall in Johannesburg for 26 years! Listeners to 702 Talk Radio sent in pictures to the station illustrating how much snow fell. My own car needed to be cleared of hard ice before I could drive off this morning!

It seems the unusual weather makes people do very strange things! As I listened to the radio this afternoon I was amazed to hear the story of a lady whose son left two finches outside in their cage during the cold snowy night. In the morning the finches were apparently frozen solid! To rectify the situation she put the finches into the microwave to "defrost" them. According to her, the birds are now 'fine'!!

I wonder sometimes at the intelligence of some people! Has she never heard of radiation sickness? These birds have effectively been given lethal doses of radiation. Did she not think to wrap the birds up and place them in a warm room?

Don't look now, but isn't there a strange glow coming from the bird cage?

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

SA In A Box

I love seeing people embrace the uniqueness of our country and leverage that same uniqueness to empower others and share the multi-faceted beauty of South Africa with the world.

Just such a group of people are those who run South Africa In A Box. What these guys essentially provide is a place where corporates and personal clients can order a box filled with goods that are uniquely South African. The boxes are either made of wire, tin or card according to the client's preference and are approximately the size of an A5 diary - perfect to fit into luggage for an overseas trip or for a visiting client.

Many of the items in the box are produced specifically for this project and the company partners with various economic empowerment initiatives around the country.

The boxes can also be branded which makes them wonderful corporate gifts.

Billed as a the 'ultimate South African gift' this concept is bound to take off - I would love to see the multitude of South African corporates buy into this concept for two reasons :

1) It is a fantastic way to advertise our great country
2) It creates job opportunities for previously disempowered communities

This project will change lives - why not support them and order a box today?

Monday, 25 June 2007

Free Photos Coupon

How awesome for a company to respond so quickly to a blog post! I informed the guys at FlyPhoto that I had written a blog post about their services. Within a day they had responded with an offer for all readers of this blog.

You will be entitled to 10 free jumbo prints when you log into FlyPhoto. Just use the code VOUCHER : ONLINETREK and your freebies will be registered.

This is a great way to check out how the system works. Once you have received your prints, let the readers of this blog know by leaving a comment.

Thanks to Sam Duncan and the team at FlyPhoto for this wonderful opportunity!

Live Earth Concert - why?

There is no doubt that our planet is in crisis. We know that each one of us can play some part, however small in averting a planetary collapse (I know that sounds dramatic, but that's just how it is!).

A live concert on all seven continents is scheduled for July 7. The concerts will also be streamed online courtesy of MSN. These concerts will feature some of music's biggest names and has the purpose of creating awareness of the earth's plight among concert-goers.

Now forgive me for being sceptical here but I doubt whether anyone attending these concerts will do so because they lose sleep over the hole in the ozone layer. I am pretty certain that they will attend because it is going to be a great party with great music performed by their favourite stars.

To stage concerts of this magnitude takes enormous amounts of human resources and capital. Surely this could be put to better use - like providing entrepreneurs with venture capital for water sanitation projects or clean energy provision. Perhaps some of these resources could be put into education projects amongst the children and youth of all socio-economic brackets.

All the concerts are taking place in cities where, I would hazard a guess, most of the population is aware that we have an increasing problem with the health of the earth - we can thank Al Gore for that. I'm not convinced that the populations of these cities need a music concert to mobilise them into action.

I hope that I am wrong - I hope that these concerts will mobilise a huge wave of awareness and practical steps so that we can begin to put an end to our current global crisis. I do need to ask though - what benefits have we seen since Live 8? Are the wheels turning faster to bring an end to global poverty?

The South African event will take place at the Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate - tickets available from Computicket.

Over 1 Million songs to download

Table Mountain etc.

One of my favourite cities in South Africa is Cape Town. I grew up there and moved to Joburg when I was only 23 years old. It is a city with a rich history, incredible vistas, wonderful people and a place where life just seems more peaceful.

I was therefore delighted to find Cape Town as one of the cities featured in the global City Daily Photo Blog group.

The blog is called Cape Town Daily Photo and is a fantastic way to engage with the city without being there yourself. Some of the pictures are a little arb but that is the beauty of this site - you are drawn into the day to day of the city, engaging with the everyday people busy with everyday tasks. Each photo is accompanied by a short description and explanation of the shot.

This site is a real labour of love and I commend the site authors, Kerry-Anne and Paul, on their efforts.

Now if only I could afford to visit more often . . .

Reconditioned Boks

For 65 minutes I sat thrilled by the rugby at ABSA Park Stadium as the Springboks played a cohesive solid game. I was delighted that our boys were going to beat the All Blacks in their first encounter of the Tri-Nations.

My joy was not long-lived however. The final 15 minutes of the game were a disaster from a South African perspective. Missed tackles, poor defensive work and a back-line at sixes and sevens was not the stuff of world-beaters. I have seen better play at U19 level! This was extremely disappointing as we pretty much had the game wrapped up until we lost concentration and ran out of steam.

We now discover that the Bok coach, Jake White, has called on the guys to become as fit as the All Black squad. This is just mind-boggling to me. When the initial Bok training squad was called together earlier this year, all the players were put through a stringent medical and fitness test. A minumum standard was put in place and selection was informed by the results of these tests. Are we now saying that the minimum standard was too low? Did we not know how much fitter our opposition was going to be? What does that say about the planning and strategy of the Bok coaching staff? Would it have made a difference to Saturday's result if we didn't already have a long injury list this early in the season? Is our bench not as match-ready as that of the All Blacks? Who is asking these questions and to whom are they being directed?

I am a Jake White supporter and believe that he is the man for the job. I am surprised though that he would publicly announce that his team "just ran out of steam" as this raises some difficult questions.

Let's hope that we can get our boys match fit to take on the best the world has to offer come World Cup time. I believe we stand the best chance for a few years now to lift the Webb-Ellis trophy on October 20 - we wait in hope...

Friday, 22 June 2007

Advertising Accolade for South Africa

NET#WORK BBDO advertising agency, based in Johannesburg, scooped the Grand Prix award for outdoor advertising on Wednesday at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards. The award-winning billboard is regarded as a world-first as it provides solar-generated electricity to a school in Alexandra township and provides the power to give 1100 pupils a hot meal every day. The school saves about R2000 a month on electricity costs thanks to this initiative and further income is generated by the rental of space for the billboard.

The outdoor billboard and a movie showcasing this incredibly creative form of socially-aware and socially-benefitting advertising can be found here.

Digital Photos Don't Last Forever

You've been on the holiday of a lifetime. As a card-carrying member of the digital age you remembered to pack your fancy new digital camera and set off to explore a new destination. At each airport, each bus-stop, each restuarant, each hotel and every other place in-between you snapped away happy in the knowledge that, once home, you could upload your photos to your computer and print those you required to show off to neighbours, friends and anyone else who would listen to your travel tales.

All is well until a week after coming home, your hard drive crashes and your local PC techie gives you the bad news that your entire hard drive is corrupted. Even worse news is that you did not save your photos to any removable media! All those shots lost in the midst of a fried hard drive!

If only you had gone to FlyPhoto! This is a service for South Africans that allows you to upload your photos to their servers where they will be kept for safe-keeping. Once uploaded you can choose which prints you wish in hard copy and they will print them for you in sizes of your choice from as little as R2 per print. If you are in Cape Town you can collect your prints from their office otherwise they will be couriered or sent fastmail to you for a very reasonable fee.

Most people do not have a high quality colour photo printer at home and who knows if your software will be compatible in 20 years' time. Printing photos through these guys just seems to make good sense - they promise prints of the highest quality as they use top-end printing machines. This from their web-site :

FlyPhoto prints, however, are certified archiveable and guaranteed to last for 80 years if properly cared for. All our photographs are of the highest quality, developed by state-of-the-art Fuji printers at Orms - South Africa's leading expert in all things photographic. What's more, we deliver your photos right to your door, which means all you have to do is click and then relax.
Sounds like a great service - can't wait to try it out...

Update - FlyPhoto have offered 10 free jumbo prints to all readers of this blog - see post here

Thursday, 21 June 2007

The Rainbow Internet

This blog hopes to be a portal of all things pertaining to South Africa. It will cover comment on news stories, new SA technologies, travel tips, book reviews and so on.

Please check back regularly!

Boks Answer To The Haka

This coming Saturday the Springboks face the All Blacks in what is being billed as the most important international rugby fixture outside the Rugby World Cup in France later this year.

It has always thrilled me to watch the New Zealanders perform their traditional 'haka' before each encounter. The passion and intensity is awesome as they try to intimidate the opposition. The opposition is expected to wait and watch while this happens. In an interview with the Daily News, Schalk Burger said,

It's a really tense time, so I just put my head down and wait for it to be over. I obviously respect the haka and I think it's a great tradition.
In the same newspaper, Gary Botha who is due to face his first 'haka' on Saturday said that facing the 'haka' was in fact motivating for the opposition.

Wouldn't it be great if the Springboks could retaliate with something of their own? However in the cultural melting pot that is South Africa, what would they do?

Perhaps a Zulu war dance, a COSATU-style toyi-toyi, volkspele dances, maypole dancing, a Venda snake dance, a San ritual cleansing ceremony, a Xhosa initiation dance? I am not sure that we have our South Africa identity clear enough for any of our national teams to carry onto the field something which is uniquely South African. The national identity crisis is, I'm afraid, still too raw for some elements of our society. What a pity as it would be grand to see the All Blacks receive back what they give. Maybe in a few years' time ...

That all said, I put my full support behind the Boks for Saturday. Let's hope the politicians interfering ways in South African rugby do not scupper preparations again! We have had enough of that already - just let the boys (of all colours) play the game and lets give our island friends a good klap!

Loftus stadium chaos - who is to blame?

Last night Loftus stadium in Pretoria hosted an international club friendly between 2006 Champions League winners Barcelona and current PSL champions Sundowns. By all accounts the game was played in good spirits and it was a great opportunity for local fans to watch one of the world's great clubs play against the best South Africa has to offer.

However the evening was spoilt by problems with ticketing, parking of cars up to 5 deep, double-booked seats and poor policing. I am currently listening to 702 and the calls are streaming in with complaints. I have a few questions to which answers are required :

1) Why were seats double-booked? People arrived to find others in their seats who refused to move and they were forced to watch standing up behind the seating.

2) Where were the officials to check tickets on entry?

3) Is there a system to weed out forged tickets before entry?

4) Why were the traffic police and SAPS not able to control parking in the surrounding streets?

5) Were there trained officials enforcing crowd control?

6) Is the seating at Loftus going to be changed to be more people-friendly? By all accounts it is very confusing especially to those visiting the stadium for the first time.

It would appear that these are problems experienced at Loftus whether the sport is soccer or rugby. Surely this is going to need to be sorted by 2010. I am not sure who is to blame for the poor organisation but I do hope that accountability will be enforced.