Wednesday, 28 August 2013


The house smells like jasmine,
leftover scents
of a celebration,
reminding everyone
and myself
that this is
a little like death,
a little death,
except that this time we get to say goodbye.

We get to hug it out
in between promises of
communication in the Digital Age.

But I know (and they know it, too)
that people slip so easily out of another's lives,
even if the knot of friendship was tied tightly,
and that suddenly one has moved along
without really noticing
the past.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Read all about it

This Banksy poster, via DesignTaxi

Click here for a bigger version

Dancing in the dark

I was in Grade 9 when my mom drove us to Oppikoppi for the first time. We still owned an old blue Mercedes Benz station wagon, left-hand drive nogal. My four friends were squeezed in the back seat while I was living it up in the front seat, with all our stuff in the boot. I am unsure why/how my mom agreed to take us to a Rock festival somewhere in the middle of nowhere, but it was great. We survived on instant noodles, drank cheap beer and cheaper wine and didn't shower for three days. A bench collapsed under us whilst watching Boo! for the first time, we drove around the campsite with strangers at 4AM and overall had a wonderful time. When my friends' parents came to fetch us on the last day, we were exhausted but happy. So I went back, sometimes even twice a year for the main Oppikoppi and the smaller Easter version.

Since then I have made the pilgrimage to Northam more than 10 times. But I think it has been one time too many. Maybe I am becoming old and my bones can no longer handle freezing at night and cooking like a lobster during the day. Actually, no. It has just become too big, too commercial, to superficial. Now there is a Converse truck where you can get a patch for your chucks. Shampoo samples are handed out at the showers. Ladies dress up in florals and that festival staple: wellingtons. It felt as though the music got lost between all the labels, between all the hype surrounding the festival. Just as an example: days before Oppikoppi started the media reported that Jack Parow had been arrested, and he confirmed that he wouldn't be performing because he was stuck in some jail cell. On the night of his performance, he was miraculously sprung by Captain Morgan and some Hot Bitches. Jack arrived on stage with police sirens and the captain in tow. It felt too staged, too branded, too manipulated to be funny or smart. Never underestimate your audience's intelligence, and their ability to enjoy a prank. Even Parow's performance afterwards was weak.

In previous years I never needed to get drunk to say that it was a great experience. For this Koppi, no amount of inebriation could've saved it from being mediocre. There were highlights of course, like Bittereinder's brilliant set, Toya Delazy's energy on stage and the Koos Kombuis tribute show, but the rest was a stab into the very-well lit up dark.

Friday, 16 August 2013


It was about 10 PM. The man walked across the street, wearing a black coat and carrying a small plastic bag in his right hand. I noticed him because no one walks here at night. Darkness threatens safety more than anything you could actually see.

Within the broad category of horror films there is a sub-genre focusing on home invasions. Think of films such as Panic Room, Funny Games, The Strangers or Inside, which share the common theme of someone inside being threatened by something/someone outside. Now, for most people this remains merely a type of horror movie, something to watch and then to forget.

Sadly, in South Africa home invasions are a very possible threat, with escalating violence attached to mere break-ins in recent years. I will not pretend to be an expert on the underlying social issues of the country, on whether race plays a role (or the size of the role) and on the occurrence and effect of home invasions in other countries. But I live in a house with two laser beams in the garden, an electric fence, an enormous black gate, slam-lock doors inside the house, burglar bars in front of all windows/doors and more keys than I have fingers.

And this is not because we bury ourselves underneath some irrational fear of everything outside of our walls. It is because I can't remember how many times people have broken into our house; it is because we have a community watch where people have radios and drive patrol through the neighbourhood because the police have proved incompetent at best; it is because 4 men where in our house and assured me they wouldn't rape me; it is because at night we treat traffic lights like yield signs; ultimately, it is because once the fear has taken hold it grows like a cancer and there is no cure in sight.

It shouldn't be strange for someone to walk home at night. I shouldn't always have think about keeping a good distance from other cars when I am stopping at a robot just in case I get smash-and-grabbed and need to escape. We shouldn't have to patrol our neighbourhood. The one should not be afraid of all that is other.

Yet I don't see anything changing soon, especially if the Rand keeps weakening, poverty keeps increasing, people cling to mistrust and the rainbow nation focuses more on sticking to its individual colours than to creating a beautiful whole. Sure, things are changing, we keep evolving as a young democracy, but it always seems to me as though the population is out in the wilderness somewhere, searching for a better life for all, whilst the politicians are like monkeys in a cage, throwing shit at one another.

I'll be moving to Germany soon, not to become some expat who keeps assuring everyone that 'leaving was the best thing I ever did' but who still clings to past illusions of this country. Rather, I am going to continue my studies, with no further plans. But it will be interesting to live in less fear. Here, I often hear myself saying: this is the way it is, so we live with it. This is not the way it should be. We are immensely privileged to live in such a diverse country, where both the nature and the people are astounding, and no one should be struggling this much for basic health services, basic education, basically feeling safe.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

We share our mothers health

My grandmother turned 84 on Monday. 84. I can't imagine where I'll be at 30, never mind living into my 80s. Maybe everything will evolve radically and it'll be normal to live well beyond that, although I am not someone who would want to live forever.

Because she lives at the coast and we live about 14h by car away from her I was not thinking about baking her a cake. But then my aunt decided to fly down, and suddenly we had to fashion some last minute red velvet cupcakes to go along for a trip to the coast. I am not the biggest fan of red velvet, because it's basically a fake chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Rather give me chocolate on chocolate, not the fake red stuff. I have tried making a red velvet cake using beetroot as colourant, which worked, but still I wouldn't do it again. However, these were requested, so I made them.

Again, the recipe is shamelessly stolen from Nigella Lawson, although I substituted yoghurt for the buttermilk, added 2TB of red food colouring (not the paste, the liquid kind) and made up the frosting as I went along.

Here are the results:

Sunday, 4 August 2013


Three days ago HONY  posted about a boy selling cowboy toys because he really wanted a horse. As a result, the guy behind HONY started a crowd-funded campaign to send this boy and his parents on a Wild West adventure. I thought I could donate $10 (which would equal about R100 I think) because I live under the illusion of having more money than I really do and thought I could afford to help him have fun with horses. It would be a better investment than spending money on unnecessary things. 

But by the time I got to the indiegogo site, only ONE day after it was started, the project was already funded, and over-funded (460%) for that matter. In a world where everyone seems excessively focussed on the self, and what it could benefit most from, it is encouraging to see so many people willing to give a little bit to make someone else's dream come true :) 


The SPCA in Pretoria is closing due to lack of funding. Already I think we are a country where a large proportion of the population has no regard for animal life, be it because they are too poor to consider the well-being of animals beyond seeing them as a source of income/food or be it because culturally animals are considered either in their use as a protective device against intruders or as an investment (think for example of paying lobola or keeping a herd of cattle because they are a symbol of wealth). Now there will be one less place where the lost, the unwanted, the abused can go and maybe find a happier life with another adoptive family.

The feral dogs living in and around the townships are often classified as Africanis, and always look mangled, neglected, rejected and dangerous to me. However, in his photographic series of the same name Daniel Naudé has managed to capture the dogs in something of a regal light, in the same vein as old portraits of hunting dogs.

Africanis 10. Strydenburg, Northern Cape, 1 April 2008

Africanis 12. Richmond, Northern Cape, 4 April 2009

Africanis 19. Graaff-Reinet,
 Eastern Cape, 15 May 2010
Africanis 20. Petrusville,
 Northern Cape, 19 April 2011