Category Archives: South Africa

Celebrating South Africa’s Heritage Day through Pictures #nature, #music, #books, #culture

Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.

Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.

In South Africa we love to cook… and eat:

Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Cooking in Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Local food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
South African koeksisters - food24 dotcom.png
South African koeksisters – food24 dotcom.png

We love music, movies and we love to party:

Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg
Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg

We search for the spirit of the great heart:

Johnny Clegg – Publicity Images
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg

We have more than one Indie Film Festival:

We love the outdoors:

Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg

We have a diverse economy:

Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg

We are joyful and diverse:

Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, @_entreprenerd
Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @_entreprenerd
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg

We use incredible idioms, if you translate them:

And MADIBA, whom we miss each and every day:

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
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Dogs joined Kings in battles, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the First Anglo-Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #war #history

“A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry wind blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wound and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends deserts he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

A man and his dog
A man and his dog

“If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.” (George Graham Vest – c. 1855, “Tribute to the Dog”, George Graham Vest (1830-1904), U.S. Senator of Missouri)

This is one of the best speeches I ever read. In fact, while he was still practicing law, George Graham Vest won a trial with this speech.

“Tribute to the Dog”, George Graham Vest
“Tribute to the Dog”, George Graham Vest

Dogs helped Kings in their battles

It is said that four hundred terrier dogs, each “garnished with good yron collers” helped Henry VIII of England and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain in their battles against the French.

Henry VIII with a dog and a falcon
Henry VIII with a dog and a falcon

Henry VIII kept quite a few dogs in his chambers. We know this for a fact because Henry’s fool), Will Somers, is said to have curled up among them to sleep.

Toe Greyhoundes collars of crimsun velvette and cloth of gold … two other collars with the Kinges armes … a collar of white velvette, embrawdered with perles, the swilvels of silver…”

Did you know that among the thirty breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, only four have an origin other than the British Isles?

Napoleon Bonaparte also favoured dogs and Frederick the Great of Germany had them employed as watchdogs for his sentries.

“The lonely soldier on guard who, for the first time probably, faces the dark shadows with their lurking dangers in the enemy country, will do his duty better and more fearlessly if a faithful dog is with him to warn him of impending events.”

From “Scout, Red Cross and Army Dogs

Dogs and the Crimean War

The Crimean War involved a massive use of horses.

Fought for influence in the Middle East, especially control over the religious sites of the Holy Land, the Crimean War opposed an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia.

Dogs were used as sentries or for sighting. Surely the use of their acute smell was the main reason, although very little was known or understood back then about the dog’s superb olfactory abilities.

Crimean War - photo by Roger Fenton 1855 -Officers of the 71st Highlanders Regiment with dog. Source allworldwars
Crimean War – photo by Roger Fenton 1855 -Officers of the 71st Highlanders Regiment with dog. Source allworldwars

Dogs and the American Civil War

The American Civil War another war carried on horseback.

Little Sally was the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania infantry.

Sally, mascot of 11th Pensylvania Infantry, American Civil War
Sally, mascot of 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, American Civil War

Sally followed the men everywhere, she marched with them, she was the first to get up in the morning and the last to sleep at night.

Sally, mascot of 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, would follow the soldiers everywhere
Sally, mascot of 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, would follow the soldiers everywhere

At the Battle of Gettysburg they thought she was lost. They found her three days later, guarding the bodies of some of the men in the 11th Pennsylvania infantry that had been killed. Sadly, in February 1865, during a fight in the south of Petersburg, Virginia, Sally was killed. Despite the battle going on, the soldiers dropped their muskets and buried Sally in the field.

In 1890 the 11th Pennsylvania raised a monument at Gettysburg. With a soldier on top and a statue of Sally at the bottom, still guarding her soldiers of the 11th Pennsylvania.

Sally, mascot of 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, American Civil War
Sally, mascot of 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, American Civil War

And you can see a doggy biscuit or two. (From Untold Stories of the Civil War)

A special dog during the Second Boer War

Since I live in South Africa I feel that I need to mention the sturdy, brave dog Bob who helped many British soldiers, by the look of this propaganda postcard.

Although the British would have fought against the Boers, which were the South African farmers of Dutch, German, or Huguenot descent settled in the Transvaal (now Mpumalanga Province) and the Orange Free State (now Free State Province), Bob proved extremely brave and he did saved human lives after all.

Bob, a brave dog during the Second Boer War
Bob, a brave dog during the Second Boer War

It was a very hot summer and water supplies were limited. The soldiers would strap bottles to Bob’s body and the brave dog would go to a nearby stream, dodging bullets on his way there and back, lie down in the cool water until the bottles were full and bring them back to the troops.

Dogs and the Russo-Japanese War

In 1904, Imperial Russia used ambulance dogs during the Russo-Japanese War as well as to guard railways. But these dogs were trained by a British dog enthusiast who later trained hundreds of dogs for the Allies during both World Wars.

Dogs helping during the Russo-Japanese War
Dogs helping during the Russo-Japanese War

The Russian Embassy in London asked Edwin Hautenville Richardson to supply ambulance dogs for the Russian troops. He sent Airedales that performed so well, the Dowager Empress Marie thanked him with gifts.

Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson, The Dog Whisperer
Lt Col Edwin Hautenville Richardson, The Dog Whisperer

Major General Tucker, commanding the forces in Scotland, concluded at the War Office:

“Forwarded and strongly recommended. Seeing that every foreign government has already recognized the use of dogs, either for ambulance purposes or sentry work, or both, I am of opinion that advantage should be taken without delay of Major E. H. Richardson’s knowledge and experience in the matter of breeding and training them, and some military training centre selected for the purpose. it seems likely that Salisbury Plain might offer greater facilities in this respect than Aldershot; but on this point, as on other matters of details, I would suggest that Major Richardson be consulted.”

This is only a drop of information about the amazing roles dogs played in so many battles.

We saw here how the old claim that a dog is one’s best friend is validated through historical records, be it art, folklore or books.

Next time we will look at why were dogs indispensable during the two world wars, at the dog’s role during the Great War, during the Second World War, at dog mascots and true war stories about dogs as well as many more amazing tales about dogs in the war, throughout the decades.

I hope you will join me again!

My latest book, Silent Heroes, is a work of fiction about the Military Working Dogs and the amazing Marines and local people caught in the War in Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
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Searching for the spirit of the great heart, Johnny Clegg, musical activist, pioneer, anthropologist – in Memoriam via @PatFurstenberg

I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
To hold and stand me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
Under African sky
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
I see the fire in your eyes
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
That beats my name inside

Johnny Clegg, Great Heart

News headlines enter and leave my mind as I drive through the morning traffic, my eyes focused on the row of blinking lights ahead of me.

Rarely a news headline catches my full attention, extracting me from the traffic, my mind searching for all the info it has on the subject.

Johnny Clegg, musician and activist, pioneer, anthropologist, dancer, songwriter and all-round South African past away on 16th of July 2019.

Johnny Clegg the musician

What was so special about the music of Johnny Clegg?

It was simply infectious, a spirited blend between Western pop and African Zulu rhythms.

In France Johnny Clegg was fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.

Johnny Clegg sharing a song on stage with Nelson Mandela

Johnny Clegg, musician pioneer

Johnny Clegg was born in the UK, to an English father and Zimbabwean mother who later moved to South Africa and remarried.

It was Johnny’s stepfather, a crime reporter, who took Johnny into the townships of South Africa at an early age thus exposing Johnny to a different cultural perspective.

Johnny formed his first band, Juluka, at the age of 17, with Sipho Mchunu.

Later, Johnny Clegg was one of the first South African musicians to perform in a mixed-race musical performance – this would have been the ’70s. His music received ovations in Europe and America.

Johnny Clegg’s song Scatterlings of Africa was his first entry into the UK Charts. This song was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 Oscar-winning film Rain Man.

Copper sun sinking low
Scatterlings and fugitives
Hooded eyes and weary brows
Seek refuge in the night
They are the scatterlings of Africa
Each uprooted one
On the road to Phelamanga
Where the world began
I love the scatterlings of Africa
Each and every one

Johnny Clegg, Scatterlings of Africa

A live history lesson with Johnny Clegg:

In the video above South African Legend Nelson Mandela joins Johnny Clegg on stage during the rendition of Asimbonanga, a song written by Johnny Clegg about Mandela’s 27 years of incarceration.

Johnny Clegg has performed on all four of Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids Awareness Concerts in South Africa and in Norway.

Johnny Clegg’s passing away was two days ahead of the Mandela’s 101 years birthday anniversary.

International Awards (as per Johnny Clegg Oficial page)

Johnny Clegg on stage – Credit: Real Concerts

1988 The Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles Award: For the promotion of racial harmony
1988 Le Victoire French Music Industry Award for biggest International record album sold in France between 1987 and 1988 (1.3 million albums)
1989 Honorary Citizen of the town of Angouleme, France
1990-1991 French Music Industry Award for the biggest selling world music album in France
1990 Humanitarian Award: Secretary of State of Ohio, USA
1991 Awarded the CHEVALIER DE L’ORDRE DES ARTS ET DES LETTRES (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the French Government
1993 GRAMMY AWARD nomination for best World Music Album (Heat, Dust and Dreams)
1994 Billboard Music Award Best World Music Album
1996 Medal of Honour – city of Besancon
1998 Kora Awards: Best African Group
2004 Mayoral Medal of Honour from Mayor of Lyon, France, for outstanding relations between the people of Lyon and South Africa
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of Nievre
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of L’Aisne

South African Awards (as per Johnny Clegg Oficial page)

1986 Scotty Award : Master Music Maker
1987 Communication Contribution Award
1987 The Autumn Harvest Music Personality Award
1988 OK TV Best Pop Music Award
1988 CCP Record Special Award : In recognition of exceptional achievement in promotion of South African music internationally
1989 Radio 5 – Loud & Proud Award – South African Music Ambassador of the Year
1990 FOYSA Award (Four Outstanding South Africans) Junior Chamber of Commerce
1999 Avanti Award – Best Music Video “Crocodile Love”

Johnny Clegg, his final world tour

Johnny Clegg’s passing will leave an immense gap in both local and international musical and cultural scenes.

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32 original Afrikaans idioms sure to make you smile once translated into English via @PatFurstenberg, #SouthAfrica #languages #learning #fun #amreading

Afrikaans, a language rich in idioms and emotions, is the world’s youngest national language and one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Born about 350 years ago through a blend of Dutch, German and French spoken by settlers in what is now South Africa, Afrikaans is part of the West Germanic languages and is currently spoken by approximately 13 million people found mostly in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Idioms are reputable for having a meaning not deductible from that of the individual words. Let’s see how some Afrikaans idioms translate into English.

1. Alle grappies op ‘n stokkie

English: All jokes on a stick

Meaning: On a more serious note

2. As die hemel val is ons almal dood

English: If heaven falls, we’re all dead

Meaning: To complain less; let’s not always think about what could go wrong

3. Die aap uit die mou laat

English: To let the monkey out of the sleeve

Meaning: To release the cat out of the bag; to spill the beans

Die aap uit die mou laat - To spill the beans
Die aap uit die mou laat – To spill the beans

4. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar

English: The mountain gave birth to a mouse

Meaning: When you put in a lot of effort into a project but have very little to show for it

5. Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal

English: To fetch a baboon from behind the hill

Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet, thus possibly making them happen.

6. Dis die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel

English: It is the small jackals that ruined the vineyard

Meaning: Small mistakes can cause big troubles

Nou in Afrikaans - kinderboeke 4+ - Get them on Amazon
Nou in Afrikaans – kinderboeke 4+ – Get them on Amazon

7. Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie

English: A dead man’s suit does not have pockets

Meaning: When you die, your possessions mean nothing

8. Die geel baadjie aan hê

English: To wear a yellow jacket

Meaning: To be jealous

9. Die poppe gaan dans

English: The dolls will dance

Meaning: There’s going to be trouble

Die poppe gaan dans - There's going to be trouble
Die poppe gaan dans – There’s going to be trouble

10. Dis ‘n feit soos ‘n koei

English:  It’s a fact like a cow

Meaning: It is a fact you can’t argue with

11. Dit weet die aap se stert

English: What the monkey’s tail knows

Meaning: Something everyone knows

12. Hang aan ‘n tak

English: Hanging onto a branch

Meaning: Hold on for a second

Die Leeu en die Hond - Get it on Amazon
Die Leeu en die Hond – Get it on Amazon

13. Hoe kaler die jakkals, hoe groter die stert

English: The more naked the jackal, the bigger its tail is

Meaning: Those who have the least to show for themselves, brag the most

14. Hy het ‘n klap van die windmeul weg

English: He’s been hit by a windmill

Meaning: To not be sound of mind

15. Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie

English: You don’t peel your potatoes twice

Meaning: Get it right the first time.

Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie - Get it right the first time
Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie – Get it right the first time

16. Iemand heuning om die mond smeer

English: To rub honey on someone’s mouth

Meaning: To butter someone up with flattery

17. Iemand ‘n gat in die kop praat

English: To talk a hole in someone’s head

Meaning: To find a way to persuade someone (to do something bad)

18. Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou

English: The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife

Meaning: Used when the weather is surprising: it rains on a sunny day

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond - Get it on Amazon
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond – Get it on Amazon

19. Jy krap met ‘n kort stokkie aan ‘n groot leeu se bal

English: You scratch a big lion’s bollocks with a shot stick

Meaning: To be arrogant; to push one’s luck

20. Katjie van die baan

English: A kitten from the track

Meaning: Used to describe someone with social skills, with humor. It can also be used when children stay up too late at night.

21. ‘n Aap in die mou hê

English: To have a monkey up your sleeve

Meaning: To have something up your sleeve; to hide a mischievous plan

‘n Aap in die mou hê - to have something up your sleeve
‘n Aap in die mou hê – to have something up your sleeve

22. ‘n Hond uit ‘n bos gesels

English: To talk a dog out of a bush

Meaning: To have a great conversation or to describe someone very chatty

23. ‘n Gat in die dag slaap

English: To sleep a hole in the day

Meaning: To sleep very late

24. ʼn Man van twaalf ambagte en dertien ongelukke

English: A man of twelve trades and thirteen accidents

Meaning: Used to describe a Jack of all trades, but a master of none

Die Olifant en die Skaap - Get it on Amazon
Die Olifant en die Skaap – Get it on Amazon

25. Moenie die hoender ruk nie

English: Don’t shake the chicken

Meaning: Don’t overdo it

26. Nes ‘n aap op ‘n stokkie

English: Like a monkey on a stick

Meaning: To look perplexed

27. Nou nou

English: Now now
Meaning: In a little while, in a bit

Nou nou - In a little while, in a bit
Nou nou – In a little while, in a bit

28. So ‘n bek moet jam kry

English: such a mouth should get jam

Meaning: Used when someone says something you agree with or when someone is witty and deserves a praise.

29. So skaars soos ‘n tweedehandse doodskis

English: As scarce as a second hand coffin

Meaning: Something extremely rare

30. Sy kerk is uit

English: His church is out

Meaning:It’s all over for him; he doesn’t stand another chance.

31. Twee rye spore loop

English: To walk two lines of tracks

Meaning: To be drunk

32. Wors in die hondehok soek

English: To search for a sausage in a dog’s kennel

Meaning: To look for the needle in the haystack, to look for something you cannot find

Did you know that the biggest South African communities outside of South Africa are found in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Chile, Portugal and Greece?


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This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage

This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage

What thoughts come to mind when you’re thinking of Valentine’s Day? Your partner’s affection? Chocolate and champagne? The heartwarming feeling of knowing that your child is secretly crafting you a card?

Perhaps you choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and that is all right. It is our human right – freedom of thought and expression.

Imagine yourself forced into marrying a stranger, brutally removed from your home with no right to further your studies or earn money, forced into home labour, having children and being beaten up for the smallest mistakes – even forced into prostitution. Unable to voice your pain, having no one to listen to you.

Millions of children around the world are forced into such a marriage, against their will and without the slightest knowledge of how it will shape their future – how their lives, their physical and emotional wellbeing will be affected.

Child marriage is a human rights violation. Although the law is against it, this practice – often seen as a tradition – is widespread in rural and impoverished communities, where gender inequality is prevalent. In developing countries, one in nine girls is married under the age of 15. Unfortunate families and their children become locked in a vicious cycle of poverty that will engulf future generations.

By ending child marriage, these girls will be able to finish school, delay motherhood, find decent jobs, be able to provide for their families, live fulfilled lives and be removed from the cycle of generational poverty – as well as improve the economy.

Ukuthwala is a traditional practice that takes place in South Africa the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the consent of their parents. It occurs mainly in rural parts of South Africa – in particular, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The girls who are involved in this practice are frequently underaged, including some as young as eight.

“If a family has six children and there is a daughter the family cannot support, it is a way of getting rid of her,” said professor Deidre Byrne, chairperson of the Unisa-Africa Development Programme set up to promote girls’ rights.

Although originally this practice was not intended to be an abuse of human rights, throughout the years and perhaps due to poverty, the practice has changed, and girls are no longer given a choice. Financial reasons can force the girl’s parents to accept the marriage; on the other side, the girl is often rejected by her own family if she tries to escape.

More than 91,000 South African girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are reportedly married, divorced, separated, widowed or living with a partner as husband and wife, with the latter forming the majority of the group.(Statistics SA)

Courtesy Buzz SA

A social worker with the Open Door Crisis Centre in Pinetown said that the price for a child bride can be R4,000, which “is a lot of money (if you have nothing)”.

Five little known facts about child marriage

1. Child marriage happens all over the world.

More than 700-million women and girls alive today were married before they turned 18. Although child marriage happens in the U.S. and the U.K. as well, it is most prevalent in developing countries, as one of the main driving forces is poverty.

2. Both boys and girls are married off by their parents, but girls are in much higher demand.

Marrying at such an early age forces both boys and girls into adult responsibilities. They have to drop out of school or are interdicted to attend school. Reaching adulthood, these people will lack the education required to campaign for themselves, being vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The vicious circle of poverty stretches over yet another generation.

Girls forced into child marriage are at high risk of violence from their spouses, in-laws and even their own family, should they try to run away from an abusive relationship and return home.

3. Child marriage is almost universally banned.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women prohibit child marriage. These treaties have been signed or ratified by most countries, yet there are national and local laws that permit child marriage to take place with only parental consent.

4. Child marriage and teen pregnancy are dangerously linked.

Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Child brides are at very high risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, as their bodies are not mature enough. They often have limited access to medical help. An early pregnancy, often the result of a rape, puts girls at risk of being married off to the father of their baby, whoever he may be.

5. There is a critical need for laws prohibiting child marriage and marital rape, for laws on birth and marriage registration.

Mandatory schooling and gender equality can definitely empower girls. By considering girls equal to boys there will be less motivation to engage in child marriage. Both girls and boys must be educated with regards to their sexual and reproductive health and their human rights. When girls are empowered and can stand up for themselves, they even become advocates in their community.

Perhaps the eradication of extreme poverty is one of the very first steps towards ending child marriages.

Since 2015, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has worked to improve global awareness of child marriage, as well as taking action to end child marriage through the #IDONT international campaign on Valentine’s Day.

Join in and say #IDONT to show your support towards the estimated 70-million girls who will be married as children over the next five years, forced to say “I do” and having their human rights violated.

Child marriage – Frequently Asked Questions or contact UNFPA South Africa.

This article was published on Huffington Post SA on 14 February 2018

 

 

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Christmas Tree and Saint Nicholas, #Christmas #Tree #Nicholas #gift #shoe #Haiku via @PatFurstenberg

Christmas Tree and Saint Nicholas, two Christmas Haiku

So tall for small child,

Only Dad reaches its top.

Christmas tree promise.

~

6 December holds 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.

Saint Nicholas resurrecting the three pickled children. Source wikipedia.
Saint Nicholas resurrecting the three pickled children. Source wikipedia.

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! Merry Christmas!

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”

Find it on Amazon worldwide: Amazon US, Amazon UK.

Here’s a sneak peek:

 

 

You can also read haiku and poems in my book As Good AS Gold:

I‘ve really enjoyed reading this collection of poems. Pat has found just the right voice for the puppy and his adventures. Has been a great comfort to me” (5* Amazon Review)

This is a fine selection of puppy poems” (5* Amazon Review)

As Good As Gold is also available in e-book, paperback and Large Print, colorful pictures, a dyslexia friendly edition:

get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Espana, Amazon Deutschland.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

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Movie Music Monday, Flying Over Africa from Out of Africa via @PatFurstenberg #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday

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”)

out of africa - courtesy hippo wall papersIt 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?”
“Yesterday.”

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.”

Karen Blixen, 1903 and Meryl Streep in 'Out of Africa'
Karen Blixen, 1903 and Meryl Streep in ‘Out of Africa’

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.”

Denys Finch Hatton, 1915, and Robert Redford in 'Out of Africa'
Denys Finch Hatton, 1915, and Robert Redford in ‘Out of Africa’ –

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.

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

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Music Monday 🌍 Toto – Africa, soft-rock, jazz-fusion via @PatFurstenberg, #musicmonday #rock #fusion #jazz #marimba #Africa

Music Monday 🌍 Toto – Africa, soft-rock, jazz-fusion via @PatFurstenberg, #musicmonday #rock #fusion #jazz #marimba #Africa

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

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.”

Enjoy!

“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

Label: Columbia

Songwriters: David Paich, Jeff Porcaro

Do you have a song that conjures to you a country or an area?
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How Mobile Libraries Can Boost Education In South Africa

the key factors to achieve a high literacy level in a country – Patricia Furstenberg

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:

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.

Clever Solutions

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:

Provincial indicator values for library access in South Africa 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 use of Mobile Libraries helps on multiple levels, study proves. Patricia Furstenberg

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

You might also like to read:

Does School Attendance Guarantee Literacy?

How To Raise A Child With A High IQ

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15 Biographies And Memoirs Of Amazing African Women via #WomenWriters #StrongWomen @PatFurstenberg

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.</

    1. 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”.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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”.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a blog post or a book launch update.

    This article was first published on Huffington Post SA on 10 May 2018

You might also like to read:

Inaugural South African Indie Film Festival Sets The Bar

Spilling The Beans: Why #PayWithAPoem Day Is For Everyone

Why We Need A (New) Generation Of Readers in South Africa

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What the World Cup and Wimbledon Finals, Barack Obama’s Visit to South Africa and Mandela’s Centenary Have Taught Me, #WorldCup #Wimbledon #Obama #Mandela #SA #lessons #tolerance #motivation

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 2018 the 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’“:

And that the journey is more important that the destination:

“Just a reminder that England lasted longer than… Germany, Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, Belgium “:


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.”:

It was touching to hear the English fans singing Oasis as they left the World Cup. That’s the spirit, England!

Pain is easier to endure if shared:

Lessons learned form the Croatian National Soccer Team and their supporters:

To me, the Croatian National Soccer Team was the underdog of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Their dribbling techniques, sportsmanship, FAIR PLAY and team spirit are equal to none.

Plus they have these amazing supporters.

These Croatian Firefighters have entered in history as they just miss the penalty win for Croatia as Duty calls:

At the end 2018 Fifa Final, when Croatia lost 4-2 against France, the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-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.

No matter what you do, you will draw strength from your support team. Make sure you have one.

Because at the end of the day…

it matters what you feel in your heart:

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”:

and on endurance and perseverance:

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 gathered in South Africa this week:


Certainly history in the making: pay attention and remember.

LIVE STREAM 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture by Barack Obama, 17 July 2018:


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)

What a lesson on tolerance.

You might also like to read:

The 5 Lessons I Learned From Madiba

Keep Your Faith South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

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Inaugural South African Indie Film Festival Sets The Bar via @PatFurstenberg

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 http://saindiefilmfest.co.za/

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.

Huffington Post SA
HuffPostSA

 

 

My thanks go to James C. Williamson for his time and wonderful support in writing about the SA Indie Film Fest.

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ITSI and the First Mind-Brain and Education Seminar in Africa #MBE #MBEafrica18 @ITSI_SA via @PatFurstenberg

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.

Neural pathways for in the brain and old ones are strengthened during reading. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18
Neural pathways for in the brain and old ones are strengthened during reading. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI, #MBEafrica18

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.

Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18
Factors influencing the continuous development of the human brain. Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI #MBEafrica18

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.

The first MBE seminar in Africa aims to provide educators with the knowledge needed to use the Brain-Science discoveries in their classrooms. The seminar is facilitate by Glenn Whitman and Dr. Ian Kelleher, leaders of The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, the only Mind, Brain, and Education science research centre located in a pre-collegiate school in the United States and co-authors of “Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education”.

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Amazing Book-To-Movie Adaptations Coming To SA’s Big Screens

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.

Genre: Historical

Who’s in it? Saoirse Ronan, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff


2. “Love, Simon” (based on the novel Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda) – June 2018

What’s it about? The book follows a high school student whose life is turned upside down when his classmate threatens to out him as gay.

Genre: Young adult, coming-of-age

Who’s in it? Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel

3. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (based on the Marvel comics with the same title by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby) – July 2018

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

4. “The Meg”(based on Meg, A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten) – August 2018

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.”

Genre: Drama

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…

Genre: Drama

Who’s in it? Christian Slater, Elizabeth McGovern, Glenn Close

10.  “Black KkKlansman” (based on Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth) – September 2018

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


15. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (based on the novel Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel) – November 2018

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

19. “The Grinch” (based on the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss) – December 2018

What’s it about? A grumpy Grinch plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville.

Genre: Adventure, animation, children, comedy, family

Who’s in it? Benedict Cumberbatch

20. “Robin Hood” (based on the novel The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle) – December 2018

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.

Genre: Adventure

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.

1. The Maze Runner: Death Cure – January 2018

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.

 Genre: Young adult, teen, adventure

2. 12 Strong (based on the novel Horse Soldiers) – February 2018
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.

Genre: Intelligence and espionage, history.

3. A Wrinkle In Time – March 2018

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

4. Red Sparrow – March 2018

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.

Genre: Espionage, political thriller

5. Peter Rabbit – March 2018

What’s it about? A feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden.

Genre: Children’s, bedtime, animals

6. Ready Player One – March 2018

What’s it about? It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty and disease are widespread.

Genre: Young adult, dystopian

7. The War With Grandpa – March 2018

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.

Genre: Teen, young adult, humour

8. Death Wish – March 2018

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.

Genre: Mystery, thriller, suspense

9. Every Day – May 2018

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.

Huffington Post SA
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5 Medical Symptoms Named After Literary Characters

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We Need A Multicultural Children’s Book Day In South Africa

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.

You can find free diversity book lists and activities here for teachers and parents.

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):

Who Was Nelson Mandela – As a child, he dreamed of changing South Africa; as a man, he changed the world.

Malala’s Magic Pencil – As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil that she could use to redraw reality.

The Cheetah And The Dog – Inspired by the true story of Kasi, the orphaned male cheetah, and Mtani, the female labrador, who struck up a remarkable friendship and remained lifelong friends.

They All Saw A Cat – The many lives of one cat – and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?

A Long Walk To Water, Based On A True Story – The New York Times bestsellerbegins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two 11-year-olds in Sudan: a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985.

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…

Until South Africa hosts its first Multicultural Book Day, you can join the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Partyon Saturday, January 27, from 9:00pm to 10pm; U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

This article was initially published on the Huffington Post SA on 26 January 2018, here.

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Art Vibes Exhibition by Heinrich Pelser, Live Performance by Lily and Bear, Ice Cream from Legendairy @ Leaky Tap Craft Exchange

What is better to do on a rainy summer’s day in Pretoria than to visit a cutting-edge art exhibition, listen to great live music, enjoy home-made  gelato and smash a Leaky Tap Golden Ale while having a relaxed conversation with interesting people?



Heinrich Pelser
is an accomplished South African musician and a much treasured music teacher. A classical guitarist by training and a rock player at heart, his first art exhibition, Art Vibes, explored the connection between art and technology in a modern world. Just like through his music, Heinrich effortlessly communicates playful and optimistic ideas, backed by what appears to be graphic simplicity. Heinrich has offered us the gift of a true artist, as the many layers of work and thought transpire in each and every one of his creations. Each piece of art on display vibrates with a story to tell; some by the use of lines and shadows, some featuring brightly colored shapes that kindles the art, giving it an impression of movement.

DoctorPatrickAdvisesAnOldManAboutElvisBird, Heinrich Pelser
DoctorPatrickAdvisesAnOldManAboutElvisBird, Heinrich Pelser

Heinrich’s art is definitely perceived in a different light if you have the chance to listen to Heinrich the musician in a live performance together with his talented and beautiful wife Bianca, as Lily and Bear. Bianca’s refined and velvety voice blends to perfection with Heinrich’s classical guitar tunes, just as their personalities do, on and off the stage.

Lily and Bear
Lily and Bear

I had the great pleasure of asking Heinrich and Bianca a few questions. Here’s our chat on art, music, family and dreams.

Pat: Who is Heinrich Pelser and what would he normally be doing on a rainy Saturday morning?
Heinrich
(inward smile): I am quite the day dreamer, imagining myself in various scenarios all the time, from being on stage with my friends at massive venues to thinking what a dragon would say if he had to be in a musical production. Rainy Saturday mornings will have me drinking coffee and being busy with preparing food. I love to write songs and draw when the weather is gloomy, but my wife’s influence also has me watching movies when the thunder comes for a visit.(he hugs Bianca)
Bianca (with her warm, glowing smile): What he means to say is that I make him watch more television than he wants to! 😊

Pat: How do you balance art, music and your teaching job?
Heinrich:
I feel it comes quite easy and as a necessity as well, diverting my mind and helping me to not fall into a routine rut. Teaching helps me tremendously because kids have pure and colorful minds that aids me with ideas and also to break the loneliness one can fall into while drawing or writing music alone for hours on end.

Pat: Tell us about the media you use.
Heinrich (his fingers seem to have picked up an imaginary pen): I feel the media guides my style. With pen drawings the type of ink has a massive influence over the type of hatching I would use and the length of my lines. With digital drawing I took to the pen fairly easy and various programs have me apply different techniques. The tablet allows me the freedom to draw absolutely anywhere and that is super for when inspiration comes.

Pat: What is your creative process like?
Heinrich: I draw a lot in my classroom at school in between lessons and then I will take ideas home and finish them on the patio outside. I love late evenings and listening to music while I do creative things. There are guitars nearby almost always so If my mind throws a lyric at me I would put that idea down. Whatever I feel the vibe for I would do, I never force myself to finish a certain idea if I am not in the groove to do so.
Bianca (excited): It is amazing and very inspiring to see Heinrich while he is drawing or writing/composing. The creative process totally encompasses him and he gets in the flow very easily.

Pat: As a musician, you can take your guitar with you everywhere you go. Has this proximity influenced your choice of medium used in your art?
Heinrich (nods while his fingers seem to drum a little tune) : It has indeed. I always carry small sketch-pads with me so quite a few of my drawings are rather small. The digital medium changed that due to the fact that I can store any canvas size on my tablet. It is different not to see the big picture when you step back but that is part of the fun waiting for the large prints to arrive at the print store.

Pat: How has this art exhibition come to life? Who supported you?
Heinrich: Friso Woudstra and I were having a beer after a band meeting at Craft Exchange where he is an owner. The conversation steered in the direction of an art exhibition and I started planning. My father Willem was instrumental in everything, his arm was in a sling but he helped me with all the logistics and to build the various crazy things we attempted to have a decent display area. My friend Brenton Watt at Brand Inventors helped me with the UV printing for the bigger pieces I had on display and our experiments ended up being some of the key pieces on display. My wife is a legend and she drives me to do things a bit better every time. She is a beast when it comes to events so her planning skills and helping hands is an absolute blessing.(winks at Bianca).

Pat: What is the coolest part about being an artist and a musician?
Heinrich: The fact that they feed on one another so well. Music can also be a visual medium that creates images with sounds in the mind of the listener. I think over the years the two amalgamated for me personally and in many aspects they cannot be separated.

The Indulged Man, Heinrich Pelser
The Indulged Man, Heinrich Pelser

Pat: Which artwork is your favorite and why?
Heinrich: The Indulged Man is probably my favorite. I drew this at school so it was my first big project and it taught me so much of my own style and mind. I have fond memories of drawing this at my Mom’s dining table while listening to the radio.
Bianca: I remember seeing one of Heinrich’s artworks up on the wall of the art class in high school. It moved me deeply and I had, up until that point, never seen anything quite like it. The intricacy with which he composed that piece and the amount of detail he put into every square centimeter was just amazing. He was the first graphic artist at our school and inspired me to major in that medium as well. I don’t think he has that piece anymore. My favorite work at the moment is Whaleybubsinthecity.

Whaleybubsinthecity, Heinrich Pelser
Whaleybubsinthecity, Heinrich Pelser

Pat: What’s next for Heinrich Pelser?
Heinrich: I will keep on building my repertoire of songs and artworks. At the moment I am focused on creating and with the December holidays coming up I have ample time to create and consume fresh ideas and moments to feed me for another year.

Thank you, Heinrich and Bianca, for great art, good music and great company. I left Heinrich’s Art Vibes Exhibition with the enlightened feeling that anything is possible  when one works hard, believes in one’s dreams and, yes, perhaps, “with a little help from my friends”.

Quick links to contact Heinrich Pelser:

Heinrich Pelser on Instagram

Heinrich Pelser on Facebook

Heinrich Pelser on YouTube

You can buy Lily and Bear music here (CD baby, ITunes, Spotify)

Lily and Bear on Facebook

Many thank to our sponsors and friends 🙂

Thank you Friso Woudstra @ Leaky Tap Beer on Tap

•Leaky Tap Beer on Tap
• Leaky Tap Beer on Tap

Thank you Willem from Gelato by Willem from Legendairy.

•Gelato by Willem from Legendairy.
•Gelato by Willem from Legendairy.

Creamy Espresso, bursting with the flavor of freshly ground coffee,  smooth Chocolate, as sinful as a chocolate custard and fresh Blueberry that bursts with the flavor of the fresh fruits!

  Thank you Scheckter’s Organic Energy Drink.

•Scheckter’s Organic Energy Drink•Scheckter’s Organic Energy Drink

Thank you Brentonn Watt at Brand Inventors.

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The 5 Lessons I Learned From Madiba

There are many magical places in the world, spaces where nature and time seem to have a place of their own. Where the earth is so fertile that even the people living there seem to draw energy out of it and where time has a different pace and a deeper meaning. For what is a man’s life, but a stepping stone on which his children’s lives and his grandchildren’s lives are built upon.

 Such a man, with a spirit as fertile as the rolling hills of his native land and a will power as inexhaustible as the wind’s, was Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the man upon which a whole new nation was built.

This tall man with a bright, friendly smile and colourful shirts walked with the crowds and stood near the kings, listened to by all. Always one to speak of forgiveness, of dialogue and freedom, he had been an inspiration for many. Here are a few of the lessons he had taught us.

1. Focus on your goals and keep on going.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela.

For the most of his life, Mandela fought to bring an end to apartheid. This was his life goal and although achieved through heart ache and much sacrifice, Mandela never gave up. Staying focused on your goal is a vital skill for a leader. By doing so, Mandela was able to keep the fight for freedom going and to keep a whole nation focused and fighting for the same goal.

2. If difficulties arise along the way, don’t avoid them, face them.

It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela.

Never lose hope on pursuing your dream. If something stands between you and your goal, be it health, hardship or discomfort, work out a strategy but keep your morals and work ethic intact. Accept the difficulty as it arises, all the time remembering that it will go away – or that you can make it go away. It is okay to sometimes feel sorry for yourself, but don’t procrastinate, step back and think of a solution.

3. Be kind and forgiving.

“If there are dreams of a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to that goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.” – Nelson Mandela

When harm is done by a group of people, the individuals in that particular group seldom take responsibility for their own actions. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, yet when he was released he spoke of forgiveness.

By forgiving, we open our hearts to compassion. Research has shown that compassion makes our heart rate slows down, thus helping us focus which in turn helps us better understand other’s actions and finding the answers and clarity we need.

4. Let go of your past, you CAN do better.

“Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.” – Nelson Mandela

Mandela had many reasons to stay bitter, yet he stepped away from answering violence with conflict. He chose closure and to share his experiences as well as to learn from others. He opted for negotiation and reconciliation instead.

The past cannot be changed, it is over; it isn’t who or what you are anymore. Rather look at your past as something you had to overcome to become a better you. And then stop thinking about it. Focus on the present by trying to be a better you as this will only improve your future.

5. Education is for all, but it involves responsibility.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Mandela was an active and curious learner throughout his life. From the informal, oral and tribal teachings of his childhood which most probably gave him his democratic leadership style, to the formal, law schooling later on and his political education, Mandela never ceased to learn. Be it from books or as from those around him, through dialogue or by listening, through self-reflection and by observing the times and the masses, he was a life-long learner.

Mandela never took education for granted, for education is a give and a get undertaking. It is being offered and it should be available to all, but one must also assume the obligations and the responsibilities that come with being educated; learn, ask questions, think, communicate, respect your school and your teachers.

This article was initially published on the Huffington Post SA.

Huffington Post SA
HuffPostSA

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Keep Your Faith South Africa

Keep Your Faith South Africa

In a world where terrorism takes over peace and hostilities replace kindness and tolerance; in a country where #FeesMustFall and, indirectly, so does education, a country governed by the local version of He Who Must Not Be Named, how do we keep our faith strong, for the sake of our children?

I keep on telling myself that the people make the country and not its politicians. Although the politicians may very well break it. After all, the people have the power to choose their own government. Although power is not the correct word here anymore, choice is. Just as I choose not to speak ill of my husband in front of my children – or anyone else for that matter and just as I do not speak ill of my own children in front of them – or anyone else, because I don’t want to break them.

I do not speak ill of my children’s teachers or of their school in front of them – because I don’t want to break their faith in their own education. Just as well, I choose not to speak ill of this country of ours. I think of Madiba, because he is my South African grandfather just as much as he is yours or his. I think of Madiba’s love for positive reinforcement and for this country.

Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom“: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.”

Your CAN DO list for keeping your FAITH in SOUTH AFRICA

CAN DO #1

Learn an African language. Learning another language helps breech cultural barriers, have access to and better understand other groups and people. And this is imperative in a country as rich as ours, with eleven official languages. Most schools nowadays offer a third language. Let’s celebrate this opportunity and learn with our children.

CAN DO #2

Engross yourself in other cultures. This is as easy as pie in South Africa and it will bring along respect and tolerance. Begin with food; try new recipes, local ones. Move into indigenous music, theater and home-grown, local authors. South Africa offers a rich cultural stew and it just waits to be tasted, I guarantee that you will enjoy it. We are all different, yet it is the sum of our traditions that makes us, South Africans, whole and unique.

CAN DO #3

Wavin’ the South African Flag. I know you sang it, I did too.

“Give me freedom, give me fire

Give me reason, take me higher”

Wavin’ Flag Official Anthem Version

Fly the South African flag now, it brings along hope, respect and pride.

CAN DO #4

Preserve the South African wildlife. It will make our children’s country beautiful and rich. You could volunteer to work in a wildlife nature reserve and live the African Conservation Experience. Or you can just do your bit at saving water and electricity; as monotonous as these may sound, they will help our country in the long term.

CAN DO #5

Buy South African products, buy local. By buying locally manufactured and grown produce, we stimulate job creation, decreasing unemployment in South Africa.

Did you know that “PRIDE” is an acronym?

P – Patriotism, Partnership and Productivity.

R – Reindustrialisation

I – Innovation and competitiveness.

D – Domestic Consumption

E – Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Development, Economic Development and Export Development

PRIDE acronym by Patricia Furstenberg

Have Faith, South Africa.

We owe it to our children. Just like we love them, clothe and feed them, we owe them faith in a better country. It will probably take another presidential mandate to get us out of the Junk Status Rating. But deep down in my gut I know that I owe it to my children to have faith and raise them as positive South Africans.

Have faith, South Africa.

This article was written for and published on the Huffington Post SA on 11 April 2017.

Huffington Post SA
HuffPostSA

 

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Does School Attendance Guarantee Literacy?

Does School Attendance Guarantee Literacy?

Early each morning a father braves the traffic riding his bicycle to his son’s preschool and then to work. It is an old bicycle model and he’s mended one of the tires but it transports both of them and that’s enough. He’s made a seat for his boy, right behind his own. His son has to go to school so that he’ll be ready for big school, when time will come. He’ll probably have to adjust the size of the child seat by then, but that’s something to worry about later. Today’s rainy; the roads are wet and the drivers impatient.

Early each morning a man runs 10km to get to work. He chose not to take the bus to save extra money and the work he’d found, although far, is good work and it pays for his children’s school, books, uniform and food. He knows the road off by heart and some of the drivers know him, they wave and give him priority. Just the 10km he has to run back at the end of the day is a bit much, but he’s got no choice.

It is determination that’s pushing these men, and many others, forward. The willpower to get the work done, to get that pay cheque, to pay those school fees, because school is important. They want their children to have the chance they never had. But is determination enough without an opportunity? Is school attendance that opportunity? And, above all, is it enough?

Most of us take reading, the simple act of understanding and subconsciously analyzing a text and taking enjoyment from it, for granted. We’ve been brought up in a culture of reading without even realizing it. Books, either electronic or hard copies, are within our reach, literally. What happens if the access to books is denied to a child? If the school or township is not having a library and even school books are scarce – because of financial restrictions or bad management?

Reading is proved to be linked to academic achievement, emotional intelligence and self-esteem.

the key factors to achieve a high literacy level in a country – Patricia Furstenberg

Literacy level in South Africa

The Data Portal Index Mundi presents the following rates for Literacy (%) in South Africa (adults 15 years and older):

The Data Portal Index Mundi presents the following rates for Literacy (%) in South Africa (adults 15 years and older)

“The Annual National Assessment (ANA) test results serve as a proxy for the quality of education in South Africa. The purpose of the Diagnostic Report is to provide detailed evidence of the knowledge and skills that the analysis shows learners were able or not able to demonstrate in the ANA tests.” (Department of Basic Education). The ANA is administered in Language and Mathematics on learners in Grades 1-6 and 9 in both public and independent schools and it was launched in 2011.The standards used by South Africa in assessing its literacy levels are the self-reported ability to read and write short sentences. The 2012 General Household Survey (GHS) conducted by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) considers all South Africans age 15 and older with a Grade 7 or higher education qualification as literate. But are these numbers reflecting the reality of our country’s literacy level?

Analysis of results: overall performance average (learners’ scores ranged from 0 to 100%).

 

For a better idea of the real issues behind these numbers here are some sample questions and answers. Source: Annual National Assessment 2014, Department of Basic Education, Republic of South Africa.

Grade 4 – Detailed Analysis First Additional Language

Grd 4 – ANA Diagnostic Report

Grade 5 – Detailed Analysis First Additional Language

Grd 5 – ANA Diagnostic Report

Grade 9 – Detailed Analysis First Additional Language

Grd 9 – ANA Diagnostic Report

Grade 9 – Detailed Analysis Home Language

Grd 9 – ANA Diagnostic Report2

Grade 9 – Detailed Analysis Home Language, example two

Grade 9 – Detailed Analysis Home Language, example two

Access to reading material in South African schools

Learners in a primary school with and without a library fulfilling minimum standard which, according to the National Guidelines for School Library and Information Services, are access to at least one of the following: a central school library OR a mobile library OR classroom libraries:

Learners in primary school in SA with or without a library

Percentage of learners, per province, in primary schools without and with a library.

Percentage of learners, per province, in secondary schools without and with a library.

Government schools and the learner allocation received

The 2009 UNICEF report s