Highlights of June

June 2008

World:

A recent newsletter from the local Democratic Alliance councillor for our neighbourhood said that Helen Zille, currently the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, is a finalist in the World Mayor Competition, which closes on the 30th of June. According to the list of finalists, she appears to be one of the top three, which is pretty awesome!

Clicking my way across the internet, I came across a website with some amazing inspirational and educational video clips – check it out! Unfortunately, it also exhausted my 3 GB download quota from the internet before the end of the month… And I also learned about Pangea Day, a worldwide multimedia event that took place on 10 May 2008, but my quota is too small to allow me to download and watch all of the films, musical performances and speeches given that day.

I received a letter from a vegan world, written by the animal-loving owners of the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, who run “a safe haven for rescued farm animals who have been given a second chance at life”. If you too are contemplating changing your diet into a more animal-friendly one, this is definitely a letter worth reading.

Nation:

During May and June, xenophobic violence swept across South Africa, making some rather unfortunate newspaper headlines; thousands of displaced and now homeless foreign nationals had to be accommodated in so-called ‘safe zones’ across the Cape Peninsula. The conditions in these tent camps were appalling, and things were made dramatically worse by the onset of the winter rains. In response to a call for donations, particularly of items for the hundreds of babies and little children, I unearthed all the cuddly toys of my youth and childhood, and passed them on.

Around the same time, “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami” (Zulu for “Bring me my machine gun”), the trademark song of Jacob Zuma, who replaced Thabo Mbeki as President of the African National Congress at the start of the year, hit the news because it was being chanted by mobs engaging in xenophobic attacks on foreigners.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, two political leaders in South Africa (ANC Youth League President Julius Malema and COSATU Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi declared independently of each other at huge public gatherings that they were willing to take up arms, and to kill and die for Jacob Zuma and to ensure that he comes to power as the next President of South Africa. Despite expressions of outrage from the public and from fellow politicians and demands for apologies and retractions from the Human Rights Council, they stick to their guns (excuse the pun). In fact, they are being downright defiant.

All this publicity surrounding Zuma’s song reminded me of the hoo-hah last year with regard to the highly popular Afrikaans-language song De la Rey, which is a really catchy tune by Afrikaans musician Bok van Blerk about a general of the Second Boer War.

If you’re a bit tired of all the doom-and-gloom and the crime-and-grime in our fair country at the south end of Africa, and when you feel like emigrating to join all your friends and family members who have already left for Australia, New Zealand, the UK and more recently the United Arab Emirates, I recommend a quick visit to the website that focuses on the positive and encouraging things happening here: South Africa: The Good News.

At the end of the month, Nelson Mandela’s upcoming 90th birthday on 18 July 2008 was celebrated with a huge concert at London’s Hyde Park. The SA Good News website is encouraging everyone to send a short message (up to 160 characters long) to Nelson Mandela .

A newspaper article announced that Springbok Radio, South Africa’s most nostalgia-generating bilingual (English and Afrikaans) radio station which was on air from 01 May 1950 to 31 December 1985, would once again be broadcasting via audio streaming over the internet from 1 July 2008. So if you grew up in the era of the police stories of “Squad Cars” and “The Epic Casebook – Inspector Carr Investigates” and love listening to radio dramas and comedies, tune in!

Last month, the SAS Queen Modjadji I, the last of the three new type 209 submarines acquired by the South African government in terms of the controversial Arms Deal arrived at the Simon’s Town Naval Base amid much fanfare. She was preceded by the her ‘sisters’, SAS Manthatisi (which arrived in April 2006) and the SAS Charlotte Maxeke (April 2007). She carries the name of the 1st Queen of the Malobedu Ba Ga-Modjadji, the so-called rain queen who ushered in an age of peace and harmony.

And to bring a smile to your face, I often find that the “Madam and Eve” cartoons about a South African ‘madam’ and her domestic worker are a good example of South African humour. The cartoons comment on all aspects of life and politics in South Africa, and you can find daily updates here. In response to the attacks on foreigners, for example, this cartoon was published:

Zuma's Song

Neighbourhood:

We attended a General Meeting of the Pinelands Residents and Ratepayers Association. It was a very interesting meeting, with the guest speaker being Bertie Lourens of WastePlan, the chaps who are in charge of the waste recycling project that is being piloted in a handful of suburbs across the Cape Peninsula (Pinelands, Parklands, Melkbosstrand and Bloubergstrand).

Even during the depths of winter, in amongst rainy and windswept days where the streets are flooded and branches litter the pavements, Cape Town gets some pretty amazing weather. My favourite days are those where the sky is bright blue and clear of clouds, and there is an icy nip in the air that almost takes your breath away. On one such Sunday morning, we went for a long walk along the nice white sandy beach of Camps Bay.

Home:

On the home front, the arrival of cold and wet winter weather has been causing our Tuffy-Cat to spend more and more time indoors, on our bed to be precise. There appears to be no way of keeping her off it and persuading her to confine herself to the cute, soft and oh-so-snuggle basket we bought especially for the rocking chair in the bedroom. Perhaps if said basket were to be self-cleaning? (She tends to clean herself in bed, which means it is usually covered by a layer of dust, bits of leaves and earth. And as such finicky cats don’t like dirty bedding, it’s not surprising that she prefers our nice and clean duvet.) What if the basket came with an electric blanket that was left on 24/7? Hm… As it is, she constantly hogs our oil heater, pressing so close against it that I always fear that she will singe her whiskers.

This gorgeous and sweetly fragrant rose was the only one we got this month. I haven’t been spending much time in the garden lately, and I think our rose bushes need pruning and feeding. Sigh… any takers?

After our lemon tree gave us a truly magnificent bright yellow lemon, I baked a scrumptilicious lemon cake that went oh-so-nicely together with a cup of fragrant filter coffee. Here is the recipe. And as soups are my favourite winter dish, I shared my recipe for a a good, tummy-filling, nourishing, perfect-for-cold-winter-evenings Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup. I hope you enjoy these!

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