Before setting off on a journey to foreign latitudes, a general plan of action seems a reasonable idea. When time and funds are limited, the most has to be made of both. The aim is an agreeable cocktail of experiences upon whose long-lasting effect individual memories and emotions can foster. Sometimes even carefully charted programmes are missing a vital link. One that takes travellers back into a country’s historical and political past, grim as it may have been. Then it will be understood why the past is inseparable from the present and the future and why landmarks such as Joburg’s Constitution Hill epitomise the lifeblood of an entire nation.
Reading time: about 5 minutes
Murphy’s law. Sometimes – no matter how much goodwill may have been invested into planning – things just don’t work out the way they should. Take a wildlife safari, for instance and imagine this scenario: At the ungodly hour of four-thirty in the morning, when it is still pitch dark outside, one’s proper physical system has not gained momentum yet, the game reserve is 90 minutes away from the hotel, vision is limited, the vehicle’s irritated GPS fabricates unfathomable directions once the smoothly paved stretch ends and we turn off-road. Rain is pouring (pouring!). Aboard a forlorn minibus a bunch of drowsy journalists are resting their exhausted frames against foggy window panes and limply jump out of their seats involuntarily each time the bus rattles into a pothole with a thud. Or conquers another especially mean hump. And another.
Reading time: about 7 minutes
Nelson Mandela is dead
August 05, 1962 in KwaZulu Natal: Coming from Groutville in the Midlands Meander, an Austin Westminster was rolling along the R103 country road, chauffeured by Nelson Mandela, who acted as a driver in disguise for his comrade Cecil Williams. They were heading back from a visit they had just paid to Albert Luthuli, then president of the African National Congress ANC. Near Howick, the car was stopped by armed police and Mandela captured. 27 long years of incarceration followed, 18 of which Mandela served at the high-security jail on Robben Island off Cape Town’s coast.
Reading time: about 2 minutes
A “long drop” from propriety
A hotel resort in South Africa insists that this is ‘an experience of a lifetime’: staying at their imitated Shanty Town! This offer is cynical, tactless, disrespectful and simply outrageous and it mocks the destitute population living at the margins of native society. The related website shows more than 2000 likes!
goodmeetings.com draws two equally disconcerting scenarios for phoney-poverty seeking guests, whose contorted assessment of the actual conditions inside a Shanty Town seems to be light-years away from reality:
1. Poverty – the fake: ‘Becoming poor’ as a pastime
Yippee! Isn’t that exciting?! Contain yourselves, please! Not really poor, of course, just pretending to be poor for the „fun“ of it, inside a hotel Shanty Town established especially for those hopelessly saturated by affluence. Those now craving to sample the gourmet side of poverty for the ultimate kick. With invisible floor-heating, running water and wireless internet access for the comfort they would not miss for anything in the world – not even when voluntarily poor, albeit mercifully temporary! After all, this is ‘the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with such luxury’! They also provide you with a ‘long drop effect toilet’. Emphasis on effect. It’s not the genuine thing, but then again: genuine is not what you are looking for. Moreover, you are probably being given some candles and old-fashioned paraffin lamps to help you douse your hut in a romantic light and – just like in any truly desolate slum – you can kindle a crackling fire in a rusted old barrel drum and leisurely ‘braai’ yourselves senseless open-air every day in any weather…
(quote hotel)… within the safe environment of a private game reserve that is ideal for team building, braais and fancy theme parties. (Quote ends)
Reading time: about 6 minutes
Du bist ein Löwe – dies ist dein Lied
Solomon Linda stammte aus dem Zululand. Er arbeitete als Putzmann und Schallplattenverpacker bei der Gallo Record Company in Johannesburg, als er in den 1920ern die zündende Idee zu einem hitverdächtigen Song hatte.
Zusammen mit seiner a cappella-Gruppe „Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds“ führte er sein Lied „Mbube“ (Löwe) fortan unzählige Male auf. Das eigentliche Stück war simpel, seine ungeheure Faszination aber machte der Hintergrund-Chor aus sonoren Männerstimmen aus. Solomons Part – heulend-jodelnd zu wehklagen – mündete schließlich in eine Melodie mit dem improvisierten Text „In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight“. Ein Welthit war geboren! Solly bekam einen Plattenvertrag und bis 1948 verkauften sich über 100.000 Scheiben in Afrika und Großbritannien. Allerdings erhielt er dafür nur einen kleinen Obolus. Aber „Mbube“ wurde zum Inbegriff afrikanischer a cappella-Musik. Weeheeheehee-dee-heeheeheehee-wee-aweem-away…
Reading time: about 13 minutes