Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tips for an Awesome Soccer World Cup

While an African winter with daytime highs of 12 degrees Celsius might seem like sweltering heat to some Europeans, there are some important things to take note of when packing your bags to come to the very beautiful South Africa for the World Cup this June. With just under two weeks to go, you may want to take some tips from a relatively experienced traveller on some do's and don'ts for SA.

My own personal feelings at the disgust I feel every time our government has to kowtow to some Fifa whim, or how Fifa is raping our country and bleeding it dry, aside. Almost none of the official Fifa gear is made in South Africa and it looks like China is the biggest commercial winner from the World Cup. However, despite the fact that Fifa is curio shopping us with a ridiculous dreadlocked feline of some sort as a representation of our country, or the fact that something which looks like it was done on some graphics creator on MS Word is supposed to be indicative of San Rock Art, and even the fact that Fifa is the de facto government of our country as 11 June 2010: this is going to be a World Cup like no other.

A few things visitors might want to realise:
- Don't bring loads of luggage, jeans pretty much works everywhere here unless you know for sure that you're doing something that needs a particular outfit. You will need the luggage room to take back stuff from here. Once you've tasted our Mayonnaise, Milk Chocolate, Biltong, and a large variety of our ordinary tinned jams, and store bought biscuits you will be looking for space to take it all back.

- Look for items bearing the Proudly SA logo and things which are made in South Africa. There's no point in buying stuff from here that you can get anywhere else. Also the Proudly SA logo is placed on high quality goods and services, and we place a premium rate on labour so you can know for sure that you're helping South Africans.

- You are coming into our winter. It's been relatively mild this year, but remember you will need at least one fleece lined jacket. Five degree weather might be warm for you, but when you're seated in a stadium a few meters in the air and have freezing winds blowing past you, you will be grateful you brought one with.

- Different regions of our country have different winter climates. In KwaZulu-Natal you will probably have no need for anything warm and will enjoy the beautiful coast. In the Western Cape for matches in Cape Town, it's generally rainy there and quite windy. Skirts are not a good idea and a light Dry-mac or waterproof wind-breaker with a hood is generally a good idea to keep with you. If you're walking about the city, an umbrella or hoodie might be necessary. In the interior, in Gauteng and the Free State this is where you'll be finding the coldest climates, with bright sun, dry weather but a real chill nonetheless. Layering your clothing with light long sleeved t shirts and jackets etc allows you to enjoy the warmer time during the day from around 11am-3 or 4pm. Mpumalanga and Limpopo are also warm provinces during winter, but they have chilly mornings too.

-If you are going to Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as a precautionary measure take malaria prophylactics. We don't have as high a malaria risk as other parts of Africa, but you'd rather be safe than sorry. You may buy mosquito repellant sprays and creams from most of the larger supermarkets, pharmacies etc. Do try to visit the Kruger National Park for a safari while you're in these areas and be sure to visit places like Pilgrim's Rest along the way. These quaint little farm towns have some of the best home made foods and hospitality which makes South Africa famous. Do not be suprised if you ask a local for help in a supermarket and end up getting invited for supper to their home because you're a guest here. (I've seen that happen three times!)

-A VERY important reminder. In order to curb the illegal use of prescription drugs, South Africa does not allow for local pharmacists to issue medication on a script from your doctor overseas. Should you be on chronic medication and you wish to get a replacement, please visit a pharmacy and they will refer you to a local doctor who will give you a check up and write out a script for you, alternatively bring enough medication for the duration of your stay.

- A lot has been said about our crime rate, but a lot can be blamed on the stupidity of tourists. Do not be paranoid and huddle in groups all over, but at the same time don't be lax about safety and security. Try to avoid roaming the streets alone at night, this is logic which is applicable to all large cities around the world. Keep your wallet and other valuables safely stowed in hotel safes when you go out and get one of those travel wallet bags to keep cash on you safely.

- Speaking of cash, there's no need to carry loads around you. You will need change and stuff to pay for small things like parking, but most stores accept Visa, Diner's Club and Mastercard services. Traveller's cheques may be cashed at the airport for the better rates they offer, but a good option would be to have a debit/credit traveller card set up so that you can have it cancelled and a new one issued should anything unfortunate happen. Cash cannot be replaced, but cards and traveller's cheques can be re-issued.

-Pack sunblock with a high SPF. There's nothing worse than pasty ass European travellers who come here and turn red and then they look like they have some kind of skin rejecting disease.

-Pack sunglasses, I have a South African friend who after living in England for five years and came to visit and ended up squinting all the time with watery eyes because the sunlight we have here even in winter is far more that most of Europe sees in summer. (Remember this if you're into serious photography too, most of the time you won't need a flash or speedlight for daytime shots).

- Be adventurous, sample our local food franchises and restaurants. McD's might be Fifa's choice but we've got some pretty good local ones too. Like Nandos. (Who got ripped off by Fifa too and were forced to pull out of all our stadiums). After all, our fruit and vegetables are packed and shipped off to Europe daily, so it's not like you'd be eating anything too foreign.

- Tip generously, most of our food services staff depend on the tips they get because their wages are rock bottom. This holds for any services offered here. Car guards even at malls often wait until the wee hours of the morning looking after cars, so pay them well because they're waiting out in the cold, looking after your assets for you. After all, a couple of our Rands is next to nothing in Dollar, Pound and Euro terms.

- Buy a vuvuzela, buy a makarapa, and get yourself into the spirit of things here. Yes, we may have one of the lowest ranked football teams in the world, but we're still wearing their jerseys with pride.

-You may want to learn or appreciate the song Shosholoza. This song, which likens the team to working in sync like a steam train, features prominently at all South African sporting events. Even if it's not an SA game, you can bet that if there's South Africans in the crowd, there'll be a call to sing this. In a stadium set up, the song starts sounding more like this. Awesome, hey?!

-You may also want to learn how to diski dance.

-If you're buying stuff off the side of the road whilst driving, make sure you've got the right amount of money ready so there's no fumbling and fussing over change while traffic lights change.

- If you're Swiss or similar, our traffic lights go from green (go) to yellow (slow down to prepare for stop) to red (stop). Not the other way around.

-Our cities in Gauteng especially, might look like nearby dots on the map. You could be forgiven for thinking that with a 120km/h speed limit you'll get between cities in under 30 minutes given the distance. But you will not, so plan accordingly and allow for at least 2 hours worth of travelling time each way due to the extra traffic volumes. GPS units are easily available all over the show from the larger stores and cost around $100 or so.

-We're not afraid of Muslims in SA. I know of 4 malls with prayer facilities for Muslims in Gauteng and the airport is also equipped with a Jamaat Khana. Halaal food is easily available and halaal items are clearly indicated on other food stuff, even things which you thought there never was any question over the halaality thereof, we've just confirmed that it is.

- Try not to be condescending to locals. We're a sensitive bunch, we pick up on racism easily.

- Don't come here with your ignorant tendencies. Don't expect the vibe, atmosphere and noise levels to be anything like any other European soccer match. Our local league team games create scenes like this and this. It might look crazy to you, but there'll be lots of security and order and obviously not that much room for too much of movement for the latter video. If you're going for games to Bloemfontein in the Free State you're absolutely lucky cos those supporters there will give you a soccer stadium experience you'll never get elsewhere.

-Speaking of ignorance, if you come to SA and wonder if this song is our national anthem, you're forgiven, but it's not. Our anthem's Nkosi Sikele (God Bless Africa). This anthem combines the traditional version of the struggle song with the Apartheid anthem Die Stem and a new verse in English (SA's mostly widely spoken and understood language)rounds it all off. If you'd like to see the original version of Nkosi Sikele, just have a look at our entire (mostly white)World Champion rugby team singing the current version with such pride at being South African, and look at how far we've come. In this version, legendary SA musicians like Hugh Masakela and the late Miriam Makeba sing it (about the first 4 minutes of it) and you can see the despair and lack of hope in their faces. This was obviously shot at a time when so much as humming a bar of Nkosi Sikele could get you jail time in South Africa. As such it was sung widely overseas and maybe one day I will treat you to a post on how and why people like my parents still get tears in their eyes and force us to stand for the anthem, even if we're watching sport at home, because such a simple thing was not allowed in the old SA. Other "struggle kids" I know always joke about how this was the first lullaby we were taught and there's lots of truth in that.

- If you need help, ask. South Africans are more than willing to assist people, you'll find us very friendly and warm in general.

- If your gut feeling doesn't trust someone, go with it. There's lots of people who sell watches etc on the road, be wary of especially the "originals" on sale as these usually have some kind of dodgey background. If a place doesn't feel safe to you, move out of there and go somewhere where it does.

-South Africa's opened her heart out to hope and the promise of giving our guests the best possible time. Treat her with respect and keep your litter and throw it in a bin.

-Should you wish to go on a tour of the Gauteng region or if you'd like a tailored list of places you think would be of interest to you, please drop me an email (queenlestat [at] gmail [dot] com) as I am a registered tour guide and I'd be glad to assist you.

Welcome to our land, we hope you'll enjoy your stay and that you're met with many positive experiences throughout your stay that you'll take with you back home. I hope these tips will be of some use to you. I'll be editing and adding on as I think of more stuff, so check back every so often.

Good luck to your teams!

May the Force be with Bafana Bafana!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SpeakZA: Bloggers for a Free Press

Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on Constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa.

We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.

The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.

We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but a insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the Youth League President.

We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other Constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.

Blog Roll

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Monday, February 15, 2010

On Unemployment

Everyone who's anyone jumped on the straaagull bandwagon 20 years ago when Mandela was released, the ones with integrity did not.

It takes a freelancer like me loads of creativity and marketing and the absolute best service to continue to eke out a living through the myriad of side things which I do in my multi-talented, lightning fast way. However, I must say that it is not due to my lack of trying that I find myself without permanent employ. I really love this country enough to want to pay tax. But there is only so many "Dear X we regret to inform you that you do not meet the minimum requirements as outlined in our labour equity policies..." that one can read without wanting to pull out your suitcases, pack up and find some other country willing to take your skills and talent.(Hint Hint: Writer/Editor/Translator/Language Tutor/Photographer for sale!!!)

Anyway, here's the question. I wonder if I would get a job if I listed struggle veteran's kid on application forms and my cv? Would companies feel obliged to pay me big bucks? Would that give me the right to be completely inefficient and feel like the company owes me (ala a certain CEO who thinks he's worth an estimated R85 million for doing nothing more than bungling), even though I scarcely lived through a decade of state sanctioned Apartheid? I don't feel entitled to anything, but I do think that if I played that card I might get a lot further career wise.

Forgive me for having the mother of all consciences, but I think that it would be unfair if I did play the straagull card. After all, it wasn't me putting my life on the line for a country that so obviously doesn't appreciate it. I really don't know how people can feel like they are justified in taking and applying for jobs they're hopelessly ill equipped to deal with.

The more I think about these levels of entitlement, especially in the upper echelons it brings to mind some of the more sinister topics covered in Political Science 101: Shadow State Activity.(Over simplification of theoretical concepts to follow:) I doubt we have a shadow economy, because unlike a lot of African states we're not really buying basic necessities on the black market. But just take a moment to think about the politicking and the manoeuvring and the machinations that go on with creating the networks run by the Motsepes and the like. That's big, big money that the people on the ground never see, but the government officials; their cronies, para-statals and front companies sitting on boards all over the show; seem to see plenty of.

As for me, I'll soldier on and continue feeling guilty about being a non-tax paying citizen.(Please feel free to want to change that if you need a full time editor/writer. See previous ingratiation for a few more of my talents ;)) Shakespeare was right, there always will be something a rotten in the state of...

Back to the grindstone,

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Said Sadly**

Bill died.

May he find the peace his body wouldn't give him. May his family and loved ones continue to feel blessed for having his strength as an example to guide them.

Death is only the beginning,

**Smashing Pumpkins, vocals James Iha and Nina Gordon

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Monday, November 30, 2009

On Blogging Anniversaries

I've been a blogger for four years. Who'd've thunk it considering how lax I am about it? I've decided it's time to maybe unveil myself a bit.

Here goes:

[Image source]

I suppose I should lay off the partying and stuff eh?! Identity theft is becoming more and more common these days. I'd probably win awards for most alternative costume at Grab-a-Granny nights.

I heart teh_interwebz,

P.S. Moral of the story: never believe anything The Organharvester says. LOL!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ignorance Kills**

I met a wonderful man this past weekend.

Well not, met met. I came across his blog at LiveJournal. And connected to him through his words.

Bill writes in the most extraordinary way, his deviantArt gallery is scintillatingly beautiful to read.

Bill is also dying.

(as are we all).

Bill has brain cancer and Aids.

Oh boy, aren't you happyhappy you're a perfectly placed shiny, little button on Tannie's superbly tailored, crimpolene rokkie*** now?

Bill doesn't ask anyone for sympathy and words are his therapy. Bill also seems to be ecstatically happy with the love of his life, his boyfriend Brody. Yes, Bill's gay, get over it.

And that's where things get complicated. I've been raving on and on about this guy's writing, but why is it that people cannot see beyond the gayness? Why is it that they can only accept that his writing is worthy of merit when I say that between his double whammy of illnesses he managed to punt the Gaza cause, which is an issue close the hearts of most of the people I've spoken about Bill to? Is the fact that he can care about one of "ours" the only reason he is worth his weight as a human being and in turn worthy of our prayers? That's just extreme selfishness and self absorption. Another sickening trend I've noticed is that people can have a so what attitude about his illnesses, as though he deserves it BECAUSE he is gay.

I cannot accept this. How many heterosexual people could handle the idea of having both Aids and brain cancer? Who are you to judge him as a human being based on his sexual orientation? Not only gay people get Aids, anyone and everyone can. Surely judging is God's realm? So what if his illnesses are his "punishment"? If Bill is gay, how does that diminish from his suffering? How convinced are you that you won't be punished, with all your self righteous flaming heterosexuality, on the other side?

The point of this post is: God is not the monopoly of a select few. There is only one God, and He belongs to everyone. This same one God created Muslims, Jews, Christians,Hindus, Agnostics, Wiccans (lulz, inside joke here for Lily), black people, white people, in between reticulant-ish coloured people, and accountants. He created us all, with the same amount of dedication, care and love.Who are we to deny showing love, care and compassion to others of God's creation too?

Read his posts about Brody, who in my opinion seems like an equally remarkable human being, he looks after Bill and now that Bill is really sick, blogs for him too. How many people can claim to have been loved to that extent, straight or gay or asexual? Lust aside, is the love that they share, not the same human love and affection that every person on earth desires?

I don't see why people find the need to judge other people when they have not one smidgeon of understanding of what a person must be going through. I'm not sure I want such judgemental people in my life and my world. I wish the blinkers were removed before they ran their race.

Millions of people will stand on Arafat and ask for forgiveness in a few hours. I hope someone's prayer for us to retrace our roots and return to our divinely ordained path as a people with educated, open minds who think before we blab, people who know that to judge is not what our religion teaches us, is answered.

We are not alone in this world, we are representatives of our religion, behaving like bigots only reinforces stereotypes of barbarism. And we know were saved from that.

Edna Ferber, author of So Big (read the book!...or watch the movie, with Bette Davis (I'm a major movie geek, TCM is quality viewing)) once famously said, "A closed mind is a dying mind." Think about that. Use the minds you've been given.

Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage.

**Alternative post title was Bill's to Pay.
*** rokkie= Afrikaans, diminutive form for dress, ie little dress.Tannie= Aunt

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Twitter is Dajjal**... has one i and people follow it around.

(And all of Blog-ville guffaws collectively to multiple lines of LOL or some combination thereof)

Yes, I'm aware that that is lame, even by my awfully punny standards. But it's one of those half baked ideas sitting in my head for ages and ages now. I have several of them, which, time pending, I might gift you loyal few readers with.

But back to my original point. Since bloggers are to social media as gerbils are to Richard Gere,I thought I'd ask the relevant demographic if there really is any point signing up for Twitter?

Besides stalking Billy Corgan and telling him in 140 characters or less how he's destroyed key ontological and other philosophical ideas for me? Or finding Neil Gaiman and telling him what I thought of American Gods?

Is there any need for greater procrastination online, especially since my pet hate is reading ridiculously, inane status updates on Facebook. And yep, I'm one of those who have to stifle the urge to want to "fix" status updates, when the content doesn't fit in with the sentence structure beginning with the subject. I'm not sure if I do need help, fixing faulty sentences is my job. Literally.

Ah well, let me know. I'd like to see some of your arguments both for and against it.

Maybe I should experiment.Right...Errr...

Hmmm, so let's test this sign off to see if I can conclude this post in 140 characters to check just how elastically economical words really are.

What's the tally there? Eyeballing (from work experience) I'd say it's around 120 characters sans counting spaces because I'm not sure if Twitter counts spaces as characters or not.Including spaces it's probably closer to target? Perhaps one of you addicts can pop it in to Twitter and get something more substantiative than a guestimate.

The dearth of dormancy.It kills.
Ad herbetudo,

**Islamic/Arabic term for the AntiChrist.Regarded in popular culture as " the beast we call the Desolate One. ...The First of the Fallen. The Spoiler of Virgins, the Master of Abortions!"

(You may not confuse the ** with the single * next to my name, because whilst I may be regarded as postively wicked in some circles, I too realise that there are some powers out there superlative to my own :P)

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