Christmas Tree and Saint Nicholas, two Christmas Haiku
So tall for small child,
Only Dad reaches its top.
Christmas tree promise.
6 Decemberholds a special place and my heart, it brings the first thrills of Christmas joy and of small miracles.
You might not know, but in Christian Orthodox tradition 6 December is the day we celebrate Saint Nicholas (Saint Nicholas of Myra, Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas the Wonderworker), who was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (now Demre inTurkey). It is said that he was legendary for his secret gift-giving. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, and students.
How Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of children is quite an astonishing tale. Now remember that all the written records of his life were made on papyrus or parchment, less durable than present day paper, thus had to be re-copied by hand in order to be preserved for future generations. One story speaks of a wicked butcher who, during a dreadful famine, lured three little children into his house, killed them and placed their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them later as ham.Nicholas, who was visiting that region to care for the poor and the hungry, saw right through the butcher’s white fabrications and resurrected the pickled children by making the Sign of the Cross.
Saint Nicholas Haiku
Clean shoes and bright hopes-
Children go to bed smiling.
Mom’s a child at heart.
Welcome to Christmas Haiku!This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! MerryChristmas!
You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website or in my brand new haiku book: Christmas Haiku:
An inspirational collection of winter and Christmas themed haiku to help you relax.Enjoy a daily haiku paired with gorgeous seasonal images as well as haiku for “The 12 Days of Christmas”
Movie Music Monday, “Flying Over Africa”, music by John Barry, from “Out of Africa” via @PatFurstenberg #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday
“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”(Karen Blixen, “Out of Africa”)
It has been many years since I first watched “Out of Africa”, yet what made a big impression on me then stayed with, helping me outline an era, sketch what it takes to be a resilient woman in unfamiliar land and remember that nature’s beauty as well as people’s surprising humanity are everlasting treasures within reach.
“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
Memorable aspects: John Barry’s music, Meryl Streep’s flawless Danish accent (she practiced her accent by listening to recordings of Isak Dinesen reading her own stories), Karen telling the story based on Denys’ first line:
“There was a wondering Chinese named Cheng Huan living in Limehouse and a girl named Shirley…”
the breathtaking views of the African game, the greatness of Ngong Hills, the coffee plantation with its noble Kikuyu people.
“Where did you get it?”
“Mombasa. Get in!”
“When did you learn to fly?”
Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) lived for seventeen years in British East Africa (now Kenya). Her autobiographical book “Out of Africa” together with additional material from one of her subsequent books, “Shadows on the Grass” adapted into a screenplay and directed by into what we know as the magnificent movie we all know.
Below are a few of my favorite quotes from “Out of Africa”.
Karen’s precious memories of Denys shining a light on how deep their relationship was :
“He even took the Gramophone on safari. Three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. He began our friendship with a gift. And later, not long before Tsavo, he gave me another. An incredible gift. A glimpse of the world through God’s eye. And I thought: ‘Yes, I see. This is the way it was intended.’ I’ve written about all the others, not because I loved them less, but because they were clearer, easier. He was waiting for me there. But I’ve gone ahead of my story. He’d have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well.”
Perhaps one of the most widely known movie quotes of all times:
“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”
A concept I try, how I try every day, to live by:
“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
I may not dream that much, but I acquire the same joy through writing:
“People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom.”
Is this quote below unveiling an optimistic side of Karen Blixen, or a life-long, concealed, low self-esteem?
“Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom you have shared with us.
He brought us joy, and we loved him well.
He was not ours.
He was not mine.”
The movie ends with this heartbreaking quote by Karen Blixen:
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plains quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
I like to believe yes. Did you know that the Nairobi suburb that emerged on the land where Blixen farmed coffee is now named Karen?
“Out of Africa” quotes are property and copyright of their owners. “Flying over Africa” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.
Toto’s Africa is a wonderful song describing the African’s love for their continent. The use of local instruments such a marimbas and drums with their constant rhythm adds to the feeling of belonging. You have to witness the long, dry months of African winter and its effect on people’s and animal’s lives to grasp the true meaning of
“I bless the rains down in Africa.”
“I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She’s coming in twelve-thirty flight
Her moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me toward salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say,
“Hurry, boy, it’s waiting there for you.”
It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had
The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside
Frightened of this thing that I’ve become
It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had
“Hurry, boy, she’s waiting there for you.”
It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had”
“Africa” lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. “Dancing In The Moonlight” lyrics provided for educational purposes and personal use only.
Artist, Producer: Toto
Single: Toto IV
Recorded: October 18, 1981
Genre: Soft rock, Jazz fusion
Songwriters: David Paich, Jeff Porcaro
Do you have a song that conjures to you a country or an area?
How Mobile Libraries Can Boost Education In South Africa
Some of my most cherished memories involve books. Being read to, excited to hear my father mimicking different characters in the story; later on, thrilled to read on my own. Books, the touch and feel of them. Cradling the book you thoroughly enjoy and that sunken feeling when it’s over.
Most of this world’s amazing people were thirsty readers, drawing inspiration and strength from books. Oscar Wilde, Nelson Mandela, Agatha Christie. What would they have become if it wasn’t for the books they were fortunate to read? Where would you be now without the books that made you?
“Be a lifelong student, read as many books as possible.” Nelson Mandela
For us, books are within easy access; a library down the road or at school, online book retailers or the mall’s bookshop and second hand bookshops. We’re lucky, although we probably take it for granted, to have been brought up in a culture of reading. Because reading is linked to academic achievement, emotional intelligence and self-esteem.
South African learners still have limited access to libraries
And the two main reasons are: lack of infrastructure and the bad management of funds.
My previous article: “Does school attendance guarantee literacy?” concluded that access to reading material from an early age, together with school attendance and government funds for learners are key factors in attaining a high literacy level in a country.
There aren’t enough libraries
Learners in primary schools with a library fulfilling minimum standards (which can be as little as a box of books in one classroom, as decided by the South African Department of Basic Education):
Provinces ranked according to schools supplied with a library, with one being the highest extent and nine the lowest extent:
The 2009 UNICEF report stated that 53 percent of SA learners were in non-fee schools, completely dependent on funds from the government. The funds are allocated per learner, depending on the poverty of the area around the school and are amended annually.
Schools that have acquired the full set of funds, by province:
Where do we stand, worldwide? The World’s Most Literate Nations (WMLN) ranks countries on their populace’s literate behaviours and their supporting resources. They use five categories as indicators of the literate health of nations: libraries, newspapers, education inputs and outputs, computer availability. “This multidimensional approach to literacy speaks to the social, economic, and governmental powers of nations around the globe.” On Libraries ranking South Africa scored 51.5, with position one as best and 61 last.
To paraphrase Francis Bacon, if children can’t have access to books, then let the books come to the children.
1. Mobile libraries and librarians
This is exactly what SAPESI (South African Primary Education Support Initiative) does. With the support of the SAPESI Japan offices they source and export mobile libraries (MBs) to SA. These facilities are contained in medium-sized busses and will travel around provinces providing poor communities with free access to books and a librarian. Each bus carries 2,500 books in all 11 official languages, catering for children between the ages of six and 11.
Japan, a country with an area three times smaller than South Africa, has 530 MBs. In 2016 South Africa had approximately 50 MBs visiting 885 schools across the country. SAPESI aims to have 100 MBs that will serve 2,500 schools by 2025: at least one in operation in each of the 96 education districts across South Africa. SAPESI hopes that the learners’ families will be encouraged by these efforts and support the children’s reading efforts as “reading is the basis of all learning.”
Since 2008 SAPESI is also supported by Sony companies from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. The total number of English children’s books donated so far is 170,000. Sony Corporation in Tokyo contributed funds to SAPESI in order to purchase a further 13,200 children’s books in languages indigenous to South Africa.
In addition to supplying books Sony also supports the “VAIO Bakkie”, an IT training project using Sony’s VAIO laptop computer, whereby pupils enjoy learning practical computer skills, even at schools without computer facilities.
2. Improvise and reuse refurbished containers
The South African Mobile Library Association (SAMLA) together with EDSA (Education for Democracy in South Africa) have joined forces to bring the knowledge and love of reading, story-telling and drama to townships and squatter camps of the Western Cape. A children’s library has been set up in three refurbished containers in a central location in Gugulethu Township.
3. Wooden mobile bookshelves
Mobile Library Solutions, “Masixhasane”, is another mobile library initiative doing their bit at eradicating illiteracy in SA schools. They build mobile libraries that fit through a door and are ready to use: wooden mobile bookshelves stocked up with books sponsored by worldwide organisations.
Percentage of learners with library access as presented in the 2014 report for basic education:
Mobile libraries, early results
In 2014 research done by the University of Free State on schools in the rural areas proved that primary children from schools serviced by mobile libraries showed a significant improvement in their English reading and speaking capabilities.
The children were able to converse comfortably with us in English and also read from their library books with ease and comprehension. By contrast, children from some schools that have not had access to the mobile libraries had very little understanding or use of English.” says Dr. Lynette Jacobs, Head of the School of Education Studies.
Sony Group employees send books to children in South Africa.
There are many other organisations supporting the mobile library initiative with the same vital purpose: to instil a love of reading thus improving literacy and overall academic performance of the children of South Africa.
Written for and published on Huffington Post SA on 4 May 2017
15 Biographies And Memoirs Of Amazing African Women
What makes a woman amazing? Is it in the way she dominates a boardroom, or the way in which she commands a room full of people when she walks in? Is it the way her mouth curls at the corners when she smiles, or the way she holds herself up even when she is tired? Or perhaps it is the way she picks herself up when life has knocked her over? Maybe it’s the way she makes us feel when we are around her, giving us inspiration and strength?
Here are 15 biographies and memoirs by amazing African women to inspire you this Mother’s Day — and any other day of the year.
1. Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was U.S. poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist best known for her seven autobiographies focusing on her childhood and early adult experiences.
“‘Mom & Me & Mom’ is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humour and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.” – The Washington Post
This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s First Woman President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born in Monrovia, moved to the United States to further her career at Harvard University and returned to Liberia. She was the 24th president of Liberia, 2006-2018.
In this stirring memoir, Sirleaf shares the story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice.
She reveals her determination to succeed in multiple worlds, from her studies in the U.S. to campaigning in some of Liberia’s most desperate and war-torn villages and neighbourhoods. It is the tale of an outspoken political and social reformer who fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. By telling her story, Sirleaf encourages women everywhere to pursue leadership roles at the highest levels of power and gives us all hope that we can change the world.
The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
Helene Cooper is a Liberian-born American journalist and the Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times. She received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for coverage of the 2014 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.
“‘The House at Sugar Beach’ is a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country. The House at Sugar Beach tells of tragedy, forgiveness, and transcendence with unflinching honesty and a survivor’s gentle humour.” (Simon and Schuster)
4. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Perry Bundles
“On Her Own Ground” is the first full-scale, definitive biography of Madam C. J. Walker — the legendary African-American entrepreneur and philanthropist — by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles. “On Her Own Ground” is about a woman who is truly an African-American icon. The book is enriched by the author’s exclusive access to personal letters, records and never-before-seen photographs from the family collection.</
Brutal Legacy: A Memoir by Tracy Going
Tracy Going is an award-winning former TV and radio news anchor.
“It’s for every mother who has run, every sister who has picked up the pieces and every friend who hasn’t fled. It’s for every brother who’s cried and for the children who have watched. Every South African should read it.” – Sisonke Msimang, author of “Always Another Country”.
Reflecting Rogue, Inside the mind of a feminist by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola
Pumla Dineo Gqola is a gender activist, award-winning author and full professor of African literature at Wits University.
In her most personal book to date, written from classic Gqola anti-racist, feminist perspectives, “Reflecting Rogue” delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food, all extremely accessible to a general critical readership, without sacrificing intellectual rigour.
Cancer: A love story by Lauren Segal
Lauren Segal is a South African author and museum curator.
“Cancer: A Love Story” is the intimately searing memoir of a four-time cancer survivor. The book breathlessly tracks Lauren’s journey coming to terms with the untold challenges of the dreaded disease. But in the midst of her lonely horror, in a quest for deeper meaning, Lauren discovers the unexpected gift of awareness of unanticipated opportunities that cancer presents — to confront her unmasked humanity; her fears, strengths and weaknesses.
Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog
Antjie Krog is a South African poet, journalist, academic, and writer, the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 Gouden Ganzenveer (the golden goose feather), being the first non-Dutch speaking recipient.
“Country of My Skull” captures the complexity of the Truth Commission’s work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog’s powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog’s profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.
Selected Stories by Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer is a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognised as a woman “who through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity” (Alfred Nobel).
In stories written over a period of thirty years, individuals caught up in racial and other South African tensions choose or fall victim to visions and fears of freedom and change.
Nervous Conditions, semi-autobiographical by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Tsitsi Dangarembga is a Zimbabwean author and filmmaker.
Nervous Conditions” was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1989 and is regarded as a significant contribution to African feminism and post-colonialist narratives.
The semi-autobiographical novel focuses on the story of a Rhodesian family in post-colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s. The novel attempts to illustrate the dynamic themes of race, class, gender, and cultural change during the post-colonial conditions in the country that is now Zimbabwe.
The Aya Series by Marguerite Abouet
Marguerite Abouet is an Ivorian writer of graphic novels best known for her Aya series.
The series is one of the few works of postcolonial African fiction that focuses almost entirely on the middle class. Although not entirely autobiographical, the story is based on the author’s life in Côte d’Ivoire. It was adapted into a critically acclaimed animated film, “Aya de Youpougon”.
Prison Diary by Fatima Meer
Fatima Meer is a South African writer, academic, screenwriter, and prominent anti-apartheid activist.
This diary, written by an anti-apartheid activist during her incarceration in the Old Fort in Johannesburg in 1976, begins with her arrest and ends after her release and arrival back in Durban. Details about living conditions, treatment by female guards and visits with her daughters are provided. Her 113 days in captivity are recounted, including how she the practised her Muslim faith and read the Quran.
Eyebags & Dimples by Bonnie Henna Bonnie Mbuli was born in Soweto, South Africa.”From child star to mother and wife. From abuse to transcendence. From public figure to piercing private pain. ‘Eyebags & Dimples’ is a portrait of a woman healing by owning every part of who she is. Bonnie’s bravery and vulnerability exemplify the kind of new personal narratives that will inspire the women of South Africa to self-reflect, reclaim and change the emotional status quo of our lives as well as that of our society.” – Lebo Mashile
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Publication date: November 13 2018 — we’re promised an intimate, powerful and inspiring memoir by the former first lady of the U.S.
Winnie Mandela: A Life, by Anne Mare du Preez Bezdrob
Everyone has an opinion about Winnie Mandela, and usually a strong one. She has been adored, feared and hated more than any other woman in South African history. But few people know much about the life behind the headlines, myths and sound-bites. This biography is an in-depth and intimate look at Winnie Mandela’s personal and political life and takes the reader on a remarkable journey of understanding.
This article was first published on Huffington Post SA on 10 May 2018
What the World Cup and Wimbledon Finals, Barack Obama’s Visit to South Africa and Mandela’s Centenary Have Taught Me
Middle of July is packed with world class sporting and political events. Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South African Kevin Anderson qualified in the Wimbledon 2018 Men’s Single Final (last time South Africa came this far was 97 years ago, Brian Norton in 1921), and former US president Barak Obama will deliver the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, marking the Centenary of Madiba’s birth.
For me, in the FIFA World Cup 2018the ball really began to roll in the Quarter-finals, with Belgium winning against Brazil 2-1 and Croatia winning on penalties 4-3 against Russia. Then, surprisingly or not, England lost 2-1 against Croatia in the semi-finals.
England’s lost against Croatia taught me that:
Even if you loose, you still achieved so much more simply by participating.
“‘It doesn’t matter that England lost. They came fourth out of all the countries in the world’#ENGCRO“:
My seven-year-old son just said:
‘It doesn’t matter that England lost. They came fourth out of all the countries in the world’#ENGCRO
I was touched by the thank you’s pouring from both sides (fans and team) as a result of The Three Lions’s journey through the Fifa World Cup.
Always remember to thank your supporters, no matter of their numbers or where they might be.
Don’t be afraid to dream.
“To everyone who supported us. To everyone who believed this time was different. To everyone who wasn’t afraid to dream. To everyone who knows this is only the beginning. Thank you. We hope we made you proud.”:
At the end 2018 Fifa Final, when Croatia lost 4-2 against France, the Croatian President KolindaGrabar-Kitarović stood in the rain, without any umbrella, to congratulate, hug and wipe the tears of the Croatian soccer players, showing her support, admiration and appreciation towards their outstanding game.
From Wimbledon’s Men’s Single Final there was a lot to learn on fair play, on being humble and on how to graciously accept defeat. The words of South African tennis player Kevin Anderson express all this:
Kevin Anderson also teaches us a great lesson on
giving back and remembering one’s roots:
“It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages”:
It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages. It has been an incredibly special fortnight. pic.twitter.com/WxKGvl6bho
On Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa, to deliver the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture – celebrating the centenary of Madiba’s birth.
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” (Nelson Mandela)
There is a lot to be said about the Nelson Mandela’s legacy, teaching us that change for the better is always possible, never give up hope.
“Even when the odds are long and the times are dark, change is always possible. But only if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it.” @MichelleObama’s message to #ObamaLeaders gathered in South Africa this week:
Former US president Barack Obama will deliver the Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday, the 17th of July, with 15 000 people expected to attend.
“It’s not about who we like but what we are trying to address in a particular moment and the audience that we are talking to.”(The Mandela Foundation’s chief executive, Sello Hatang)
Barack Obama will inaugurate his most significant international project as an ex-president, with an announcement on Monday that the Obama Foundation plans to convene 200 young people this July in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training. (The New York Times) Also, Obama’s visit to South Africa:
“It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world,” (Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former speechwriter for Obama who still advises him.)
“There’s an enhanced sense of tribalism in the world,” he said. “Our unifying theory is that the best way to promote inclusive and democratic societies is by empowering young people in civil society.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”(Barack Obama)
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
Writing about the Inaugural South African Indie Film Festival was such a thrill, I am so proud of these guys and of their achievements!
Local IS Lekker!
SA Indie Film Fest 2018 entry ticket – courtesy SAIFF
The Rainbow Nation, South Africa, has given the world the iconic, inspirational spirit of Nelson Mandela and the voice of Miriam Makeba; the talent and gorgeous looks of Charlize Theron and the spirited and witty Trevor Noah.
Drenched by the southern sun and bathed by two oceans, the South African spirit is forever replenished — this time, to give the world a blend of breathtaking scenery and dynamic, independent filmmakers. The inaugural South African Independent Film Festival (SAIFF) is a fresh platform for both emerging and experienced filmmakers, local and international.
The 2018 South African Independent Film Festival on May 24 celebrated some of the very best independent film from the world stage. SA Indie Film Festival aims to give a platform to the vibrant and diverse artists working in independent film today. (SAIFF Press Release)
With screenings taking place at the historic Labia Theatre — home of independent cinema in Cape Town — South Africa’s first Indie Film Festival showcased 22 short films, documentaries, music videos and even VR films from all around the world, from Belgium to South Africa.
The international panel of judges featured renowned South African and international industry professionals including actor Sean Cameron Michael (“Blood Drive”, “Black Sails”), actor Brandon Auret (“District 9”, “Chappie”, “Elysium”), director Ryan Kruger (“Doomsday”; musician; conceptual shooting style), lead singer of Prime Circle Ross Learmonth, actor/singer Steve Wall (“Vikings”, “Rebellion”, “Silent Witness”) as well as DOP Roy Zetisky and actor Joe Vaz (“Dredd”, “10,000 B.C.”).
Read my full article on the Huffington Post SA here.
My thanks go to James C. Williamson for his time and wonderful support in writing about the SA Indie Film Fest.
Mind-Brain and Education (MBE) uses emerging research in cognitive and behavioral sciences to better understand how the human brain works and to uncover new methods needed by a 21st century active-style teaching. The student of the Anthropocene era (current geological age) must acquire, apart from foundational knowledge, computational thinking and a community and global level ethic of care. In a technology-driven future educators need to extend their professional skills further, beyond what the industrial era called for. The time is now for MBE to step in and step up in transforming the educational process. South Africa takes the lead in implementing the principles of MBE in its educational system via ITSI and hosts the first seminar in Africa on MBE.
How the Brain Works
Imagine walking through a field of grass. You’ve reached its middle and glimpse behind. You can hardly see where you came from; to make a path that lasts you have to walk the same route many times. And then you would have formed only one path.
The same happens in the human brain when we learn.
Neurons are the specific cells forming the nervous system. What makes them unique is their ability to transmit chemical and electrical information through the body. But unlike other types of cells, neurons stop reproducing after birth. The good news is that neurons are capable of forming new connections, thus new pathways, any time in life and can maintain them as long as we use them.
When we use our brain, be it to study or listen to the news, new pathways of neurons are formed and older pathways brought back to life – one neuron can connect itself with several others. Over time, the active connections become more prevalent while non-used ones weaken or are eliminated.
When a web of neural pathways is formed, that information is stored in our long-term memory. For this to happen learning must be active: to stimulate visually and auditory, not only cognitive (passive study). Brain-Science shows that an active learning process involves a wider area of brain, new neural connections are made, old ones are strengthened, as opposed to the passive study where few cortical changes register.
Mind-Brain and Education – Why the Time for South Africa is Now
South Africa’s Educational System faces a reading crisis, with 78% of grade 4 pupils failing to read for meaning, while private schools are under pressure to produce critical and computational thinkers. Moreover, learning became a social activity and the Anthropocene students are expected to master skills needed in a global tech-driven future.
Brain-Science speaks of the plasticity of the human brain, its ability to adapt, especially when it involves learning new skills. Their studies show that children learn along specific pathways, defined by the content they focus on (different for mathematics than history). Due to the brain’s plasticity the learning experience is equally important in aiding students through their learning process.
MBE takes into consideration all components of education. MBE transforms the learning process into an enhanced experience, while simplifying it and adapting it to the needs of each student and the requirements of each subject. Pupils can reach the standard of a basic level of education while empowered to be responsible for their own learning and still receive guidance from a classroom teacher. MBE can give the educational system the much needed boost and support, regardless of the social and educational background of its learners.
Who is ITSI and its South African Platform
ISTI is the first-mover in the South African market working with over 200 educational institutions and 80 000 users. 2018 will add over 25 institutions and 20 000 learners. ITSI breached into the rest of Africa by opening ITSI Solution in Namibia and has offices in the UK and the Middle East.
ITSI’s platform is accessible “anytime, anywhere”. Their e-books combine foundational learning with computational thinking. ITSI makes available digital lessons that follow the CAPS curriculum, enhancing the learning experience. As an added value, educators can personalise their teaching by adding resources and adapting the app to suit individual needs.
MBE Seminar, ITSI and Educator’s Skills
A vital part of MBE success is the teacher’s involvement and their level of knowledge on how the human brain works, as well as their extensive professional skills supported by a solid platform.
If you’re a bibliophile or a film buff, 2018 is sure to put a spring in your step, as a large array of popular novels will come to theaters and televisions.
Between June and August, expect to be entertained by movies adapted from books hot off the bestseller list. From family and musicals to drama, comedy and horror, there is something for everyone — and still enough time to read one or two of the books on which these movies are based.
1. “On Chesil Beach” (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan) – June 2018
What’s it about? In 1962 England, a young couple dates and marries in quick succession, but immediately runs into trouble on their honeymoon night.
Who’s in it? Saoirse Ronan, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff
What’s it about? As Scott Lang balances being a superhero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.
Genre: Superhero, adventure, sci-fi
Who’s in it? Evangeline Lilly, Hannah John-Kamen, Paul Rudd
What’s it about? Seven years ago, and seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, Dr Jonas Taylor encountered something that changed the course of his life. Now he must confront his fears and return to the crushing depths to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.
Genre: Suspense, thriller, sea adventure
Who’s in it? Ruby Rose, Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson
5. “Asinamali” (based on the play of the same title by Mbongeni Ngema) – August 2018
What’s it about? Adapted from Mbongeni Ngema’s Broadway production of “Asinamali”. In the prison yard on Robben Island, a man named Nelson Mandela told Msizi Dube: “Go and do it for all of us, for all our people. So one day we may join you in a free South Africa.”
Who’s in it? Kevin White
6. “The Darkest Minds” (based on the novel of the same title by Alexandra Bracken) – August 2018
What’s it about? Imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control over their future. For fans of “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games”.
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, thriller
Who’s in it? Mandy Moore, Amandla Stenberg, Gwendoline Christie
7. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (based on the novel of the same name by Mary Ann Schaffer) – August 2018
What’s it about? A writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II, when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war.
Genre: Drama, historical, romance
Who’s in it? Lily James, Matthew Goode, Michiel Huisman
8. “Crazy Rich Asians” (based on the novel of the same title by Kevin Kwan) – August 2018
What’s it about? Three wealthy Chinese families prepare for the wedding of the year. When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.
Genre: Comedy, romance
Who’s in it? Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding
9. “The Wife” (based on the novel of the same title by Meg Wolitzer) – August 2018
What’s it about? A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. But behind the compromises, the disappointment and disillusionment, there lies a secret…
Who’s in it? Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern, Glenn Close
What’s it about? Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.
Genre: Comedy, biopic, thriller, drama, crime
Who’s in it? Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier
11. “Submergence” (based on the novel of the same title by JM Ledgard) – September 2018
What’s it about? In a room with no windows on the east coast of Africa, a Scotsman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Thousands of miles away in the Greenland Sea, Danielle Flinders prepares to dive in a submersible to the ocean floor. In their confines they are drawn back to the Christmas of the previous year, where a chance encounter on a beach in France led to an intense and enduring romance.
Genre: Thriller, romance, drama
Who’s in it? Alicia Vikander, James McAvoy, Alexander Siddig
12. “A Simple Favor” (based on the novel of the same title by Darcey Bell) – September 2018
What’s it about? Stephanie, a mommy vlogger, seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s sudden disappearance from their small town.
Genre: Crime, mystery, thriller
Who’s in it? Blake Lively, Linda Cardellini, Anna Kendrick
13. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” (based on the novel of the same title by John Bellairs) – October 2018
What’s it about? A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.
Genre: Adventure, fantasy, horror, thriller
Who’s in it? Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Sunny Suljic
14. “Venom” (based on the Marvel comics by Todd McFarlane and David Michelinie) – October 2018
What’s it about? When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he has to release his alter-ego, Venom, to save his life.
Genre: Horror, sci-fi, thriller, superhero
Who’s in it? Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson
What’s it about? Melissa McCarthy stars in the adaptation of the memoir “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, the true story of bestselling celebrity biographer Lee Israel. When Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.
Genre: Biopic, comedy, drama
Who’s in it? Melissa McCarthy, Julie Ann Emery, Richard E Grant
16. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (based on the classic story of The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffmann) – November 2018
What’s it about? A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice.
Genre: Adventure, ballet, family, fantasy
Who’s in it? Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Mackenzie Foy
17. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (based on the novel of the same title by David Lagercrantz) – November 2018
What’s it about? Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.
Genre: Crime, thriller
Who’s in it? Claire Foy, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks
18. “Hunter Killer” (based on the novel “Firing Point“ by George Wallace) – November 2018
What’s it about? An untested American submarine captain teams up with U.S. Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who has been kidnapped by a rogue general.
Genre: Action, thriller
Who’s in it? Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Ryan McPartlin
What’s it about? A war-hardened crusader and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography and a timeless romance.
Who’s in it? Taron Egerton, Jamie Dornan, Eve Hewson
21. “Mortal Engines” (based on the book of the same title by Philip Reeve) – December 2018
What’s it about? Many years after the Sixty Minute War, cities survive on a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels, attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.
Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, adventure
Who’s in it? Hugo Weaving, Frankie Adams, Stephen Lang
22. “Mary Poppins Returns” (based on the books by P.L. Travers) – December 2018
What’s it about? In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins. Through her unique magical skills, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.
Genre: Family, musical
Who’s in it? Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth
Here are nine of the book-to-movie attractions to look forward to in 2018 in South Africa between January and May.
What’s it about? – When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze.
What’s it about? “12 Strong” tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban.
What’s it about? In 1962, Madeleine L’Engle debuted her novel “A Wrinkle in Time“, which would go on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal. Bridging science and fantasy, darkness and light, fear and friendship, the story became a classic of children’s literature and is beloved around the world. Now Disney is bringing it to the silver screen!
Genre: Teen, young adult, time travel, science fiction
What’s it about? Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to “Sparrow School”, a Russian intelligence service, where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
What’s it about? Peter is thrilled that Grandpa is coming to live with his family. That is, until Grandpa moves right into Peter’s room, forcing him upstairs. Peter decides to declare war in an attempt to get it back.
What’s it about? Dr Paul Kersey is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as victims are rushed into his ER – until his wife and college-age daughter are viciously attacked in their suburban home.
What’s it about? From the genius of David Levithan, co-author of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson“, and “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist“, comes a love story like none you’ve read before. A shy teenager falls for someone who transforms into another person every day.
Genre: Teen, young adult, science fiction, dystopian
These two articles combined have been initially published on Huffington Post SA in 2018.
We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa – Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.
U.S. readers of all ages will celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Saturday, January 27.
In 2014, teachers and educators from Jump Into A Book and PragmaticMom presented their very first January 27 Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.
The result was overwhelming, as authors, publishers, parents, teachers, bloggers and librarians joined forces to present an online event designed to shine the spotlight on diversity in children’s literature.
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
Thanks to their sponsors, book review bloggers and thousands of readers, Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2014 achieved its goal of highlighting all of the amazing multicultural children’s books available to young readers, teachers, librarians and parents worldwide.
What is a multicultural book?
Multicultural children’s books are:
Books that contain characters of colour, as well as characters that represent a minority point of view;
Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions;
Books that embrace our world and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.
Our total social media shares for three days of our 2017 event (on the day before, day of and day after Multicultural Children’s Book Day) were an astounding 3.6-billion!
Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou.
Reading puts us in touch with our humanity
Reading and access to diverse books offer children a safe door towards real life; towards what life is or how it could be; towards the lives of people from different nations and cultures. Towards different kinds of struggles, emotions and ideals; how and why are they like or unlike our own.
Reading expands children’s levels of empathy and broadens their minds.
Diversity and its meaning today in the book industry
The fact that different kinds of people – poor or rich, men and women, white and black – can write books is often a revelation for many young readers. “If they can do it, so can I!”
The book monopoly is a thing of the past. Today access to books and their creative journeys belongs to the young as well, and to women equally. The knowledge of this variety is undoubtedly empowering for many young minds.
Why diversity in children’s books is a win-win situation
The more children are exposed to different cultures and emotions through books, the more empowered they feel, as these books reflect their own race or inter-race, religion, sex or physical health, and home upbringing (including divorced families, immigrants, and single-parent families). Children feel good about themselves when they read about characters like them.
The more we are exposed to different cultures, the more we gain in variety and humanity. By telling the same story in different languages, each time it becomes a new narration with a new lesson to pass on.
We live in a world that’s confronted, more than ever, with a wide variety of issues that impact directly on our lives and those of our children: global warming and social migration, terrorism and out-of-control political spectacles.
Access to diverse books offer our children the best tools to comprehend and deal with the worldwide chaos they have to live in. A diversity of books will hopefully empower our children and grant them the wisdom to understand themselves and their world . It will help them discover the power needed to stand on their own two feet and lead a life of humanity and empathy.
10 diverse books to enjoy (or find your own at your local library):
Home Of The Brave – Kek comes from Africa, where he lived with his mother, father and brother.
Little Suns – “There are many suns,” he said. “Each day has its own. Some are small, some are big. I’m named after the small ones.”
Giant Steps – Elephants have long been targeted by humans: not only are they killed for their ivory, but their extraordinary strength, intelligence and charisma have seen some of them captured, chained and effectively jailed for life.
We’re All Wonders – The unforgettable story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.
Wishtree – Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories…