Tshimologong Precinct, a set on Flickr.
This space in Braamfontein is currently a run down old nightclub, which has been empty for three years or more. In the next three months, it’s going to be converted into the heart of a massive tech revolution that will sweep Johannesburg and, eventuallly Africa. That’s the plan, any way.
Almost makes me wish I had an iPhone. Wonder if it works with a Galaxy S2 as well? Acoustic iPhone Speaker Dock Utilizing a Vintage by ReAcoustic.
Kruger Park, Christmas 2012, a set on Flickr.
The full photo set is up on Flickr. Enjoy.
Mid-summer (ie. Christmas) is not the best time to visit the Kruger Park. Apart from the fact temperatures reach 35degrees by 11am, it’s also the rainy season. That means thick vegetation which makes game spotting virtually impossible – one second an elephant can be standing right next to your car, the next it’s invisible, blended perfectly into the bush.
Still, we figured we didn’t move to South Africa to spend all our time in Joburg traffic, so headed north for four days last weekend to get away from the city and spend some time in one of my favourite places in the world. Kruger really is a remarkable place – two million hectares of Africa which has been preserved as wild as possible for the last century or so, except for the criss-crossed dirt and tar roads which allow families to traverse its entirety in nothing more rugged than a regular sedan.
And what we lacked for in quantity of game spotted this time round, we certainly made up for in quality. Despite hours without seeing as much as a bunny rabbit in the road, we saw lion (twice), leopard (twice), two or possibly three herd of elephant, white rhino (including a large and relatively rare herd of six), hippo and – my personal favourite – several giraffe. Some great photo ops which will be uploaded shortly. Also, lots of young animals which had clearly been born in the spring.
We didn’t see any cheetah this time round, but we did see the lady (I think) pictured above. One of the most sadly rare sights in all of Africa – the black rhino. Hunted by poachers for its horn, there’s something like two and half thousand left across the whole continent, and one subspecies was declared extinct last year.
Sadly, this girl had been in a fairly dreadful fight the night before by the looks of it, which is probably why we managed to catch sight of her resting (a fairly spectacular spot by Tamsin through undergrowth to the far side of a river bed as we were leaving the park.
The wounds look like they came from a natural source – and there was a battered pride of lions lying in the road nearby who may well have been the cause of the gouge on her neck, the scratches on her side, and the loss of her tail. A ranger we spoke to about her was concerned that the fact her tail was missing might indicate poachers, but even my untrained eye can tell that they don’t look like man made injuries. Just vicious old nature at work.
Apparently this year has seen a sharp rise in rhinos killed for their horns, as it remains popular as a medicine in certain sections of Asian societies. In South Africa alone, nearly 700 rhino have been hunted and killed illegally from a total population of less than 20,000 during 2012, more than double the number poached in 2010. That’s despite a massive effort on behalf of SA National Parks and the like to clamp down on the practice, and a high profile arrest and trial last month.
As you can see from the photo above, life is hard enough for these guys as it is. Let’s hope the youngster below doesn’t end up the same way.
From a night walk event at the Modderfontein Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Joburg last weekend. Look at me, finger on the pulse with the instant upload only a week late. I still have shots from fireworks night to upload too.
The awesome Soo has started selling hand crafted woollen wear. They’re amazing and you can buy them here:
1 – When Cosatu block the roads in protest against e-tolls, I get home from work 20 minutes quicker.
2 – Bicycle racks do not exist outside supermarkets.
3 – We live on the top of a deceptively steep hill, if you’re cycling.
So far, my experiences with South African bureaucracy haven’t been
too bad as bad as I was led to believe they might be. There’s been long queues and waiting around for things to get done, but my biggest issues have been with the UK company that’s handling our household goods. And the banks – but they deserve a post all of their own.
The only real problem with government bureaucracy is the amount of paperwork that needs to be countersigned by notaries just to do the silliest of things, which involves finding a photocopier, driving to a police station, queueing – and all for a document that could be easily forged and no-one’s going to check anyway. So long as you have the right paperwork, processes are fairly smooth it seems.
A month ago, I applied for my invisible visa. The one that lets me live in the country as the spouse of a South African citizen and also lets me work. It’s called a Temporary Residence: Spousal Visa (section 11.6) It doesn’t really seem exist in law, can’t be applied for outside of the country and yet everyone at the Department of Home Affairs knows what it is and how to apply for one.
The process is tedious, but fairly straightforward. I takes 30 days, according to the rules, and mine was supposed to be ready yesterday.
Before you collect a permit, the DHA usually SMS you to say it’s ready. Since I hadn’t received the SMS yesterday morning, I thought I’d call ahead rather than brave the traffic of downtown Joburg and the inevitable two hour queue at their quite spectacularly grimy offices.
The lady I spoke to took my number and said she’d call back within 24 hours. Today’s phone call went something like this:
“Hi, I called yesterday to see if my visa was ready, and someone said they’d call me back within 24 hours. I thought I’d call since that was yesterday morning, and you might have my number wrong.”
“Ah sir, can I have your passport number and application reference please.”
“I see sir. It says here that you called yesterday and the lady you spoke to said she’d call you back in 24 hours.”
“That’s right. That was yesterday at 8am, so I was just a bit concerned…”
“Sir, you do realise that 24 hours can be two days don’t you.”
I laugh, thinking this is an ironic remark about ‘Africa time’ or something.
“Yes, quite. Ha, ha. I should probably get my clocks fixed then.”
(Deadpan) “So my colleague will call you back before tomorrow morning sir.”
“24 hours can be two days you see.”
“…um…OK…I’ll speak to her tomorrow then.”
“Thank you sir. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”
“Do you mean yesterday, or tomorrow? I’m very confused.”
In other news, the communist party of South Africa – a key parliamentary partner of the ruling ANC – today called for a law to be introduced which would outlaw defamatory remarks about the president. To protect “the dignity of office”, satire must be punishable by law. I’m not sure whether this is scary totalitarianism on a par with what’s going in Greece or just some idiots who still think Stalin got it right.
I’m going to laugh at them, just to be on the safe side. Although in a country where the government is busy bulldozing the homes of people who’ve managed to pull themselves out of the slums*, anything is possible.
*Obviously they aren’t bulldozing the hotels and rich people’s houses on the other side of the road.
This arrived in the post this morning. Bought from eBay for the princely sum of £130. Which is nothing really. If you have to ask what it is, you probably won’t get why I’m so excited by it. But the skeleton for a RepRap Prusa Mendel Mk2 3D printer is – hopefully – one of the most important things I’ll be taking with me to South Africa.
Once I’ve started putting it together (in about three months time) I’ll update here regularly with progress & projects.