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A Christmas Murder
A Christmas Murder

Tweet A Christmas Murder. The neighbour’s parrot has been teasing us for a couple of years now, calling out “Mama! Mama!” in a pretty passable imitation of our youngest offspring, and making us run to see what has befallen our daughter. Then, it started imitating the ring of the landline in the converted garage we […]

A toothfairy by any other name
A toothfairy by any other name

This was before the days of a free massage from airport security

Shopping with the daughter
Shopping with the daughter

Tweet I have been struggling to approach anything resembling work these last weeks, so I took the daughter, M, on a specialist shopping expedition.  As it turned out, the perspex store was more fun than pragmatic, with fun mirrors to multi-coloured thingies.  What I liked most was the set of post-Apartheid presidents on the wall. […]

The bug and the hero
The bug and the hero

I am fearless

Just another taxi ride
Just another taxi ride

Tweet Exiting Dulles airport at dawn after an 18 hour flight, I was happy to plonk into the rear seat of some large American car. My driver was friendly and had a very sub-continental accent. India or Pakistan, I wondered to myself. Maybe Bangladesh? “Where you fly in from?” he asked, thick glasses mostly obscuring […]

Rugby flashback
Rugby flashback

Tweet I know I don’t usually cover sports in this blog, (Editor’s note to self, ‘have I ever?’) but after a lazy, heat-stroke dulled afternoon in Johannesburg I settled down to catch the last half of the hot local rugby clash between the Sharks and Western Province. **Note,  non-sportive readers, please do not wander off […]

soccer soccer soccer, oh Africa
soccer soccer soccer, oh Africa

Tweet “Hey Mister!” I ignored him. I have learnt it is best to ignore the police, usually. “Hey Mister, is this your car?” as I opened the door. Busted. “Yes.” “These, these flags, you must change them,” he pointed to the little South African flags ‘gloves’ adorning the wing mirrors. I stared blankly at him, […]

What really happens behind the khaki curtain ….
What really happens behind the khaki curtain ....

Tweet I have to admit to a startling and disturbing memory that overtook me as I was driving towards Ventersdorp to watch Eugene Terre’blanche be buried.  Thousands of his sad and angry supporters were also driving to that little North West (formerly Western Transvaal) town to bid their white power icon adieu, after he was […]

Sharpeville protests 2010
Sharpeville protests 2010

Tweet Sharpeville. If one word epitomises the history of the South African people’s struggle against malign power, then it is the name of this small township south of Johannesburg. It was in 1960, on March 21, that white police officers opened fire with sten guns on an unarmed crowd of some 5,000 black protesters who […]

Heavenly day
Heavenly day

Tweet I must admit, I was nervous about going to Nigeria. It seemed akin to going into the lair of the beast. I had seen District 9, after all, and have ventured through Little Nigeria – Hillbrow – of a night. Was I, too, about to become cat food? Nah, I told myself as I […]

A Minor Inconvenience
A Minor Inconvenience

Tweet Of course I had forgotten about Angola’s farewell sting. At the airport, once safely past immigration, security and the shops, the “Financial Police” gather at enclosed cubicles for the final shakedown. “How much dollars you have?” “Not much…”  I said, fanning the notes in my wallet. The policeman nodded intensely, eyes fixed on my […]

The Miracle
The Miracle

Tweet I was having an unusual breakfast of spaghetti and meatballs at my hotel in Accra, Ghana, gulping desperately at the fourth or fifth cup of weak coffee when I noticed that the entire kitchen and wait staff were riveted to the television set. Instead of the usual CNN or soccer on the massive flat […]

Nat Nakasa award
Nat Nakasa award

Tweet My colleagues in the SA Editors’ Forum honoured me this past weekend with the Nat Nakasa Award for courageous journalism, in balmy Durban. A lifetime achievement award, it is great to be recognised in this way.  Trick is to ensure I keep up working in unusual places; as at just 46, I would hate […]

Shame and anger
Shame and anger

Tweet Stuck in traffic on a downtown Johannesburg street, while giving our kids’ nanny a lift back to her apartment, a shadowy figure filled my window. I turned to look and there was a youngish man, thin, wearing a blue windcheater and his face covered with lesions. He has The Sickness, I thought, as I […]

FENCE JUMPERS
FENCE JUMPERS

Tweet Fence-Jumping, Zimbabwe’s new national sport. Bumping along a sandy track in the pre-dawn gloom, sleepy boredom turns to excitement as security guard Pappi Molefe hisses “Illegals!” from the open back of the Landcruiser and turns on his failing torch to reveal two frightened young men huddled under Mopane bushes. Isaac and Nathan, in their […]

UNWELCOME GUESTS
UNWELCOME GUESTS

Tweet While in downtown Johannesburg to photograph the thousands of Zimbabwean refugees who seek shelter at the Central Methodist Church, I encountered an obstacle.  My pen refused to write.  It just so happened that the journalist with me had the same problem.   The journalist’s idea was to gauge the feelings of those who had […]

Dusty fields for maize, soccer and graves
Dusty fields for maize, soccer and graves

Tweet It was a tough soccer match. Tackles made with scant regard for their bare feet or the legs they connected with. The dusty, rough pitch made falling both painful and dirty. Not that they seemed to mind or even notice, those bloody-minded little tykes. And the fact that the one team was 6-0 up […]

The Slippery Slope Appliance Militia
The Slippery Slope Appliance Militia

Tweet New Year resolutions. What a thing. But somehow the spirit has possesses me and one of the things I would like to fix is our impotence in the face of the disposable nature of much of today’s appliances and technology. My mother-in-law’s microwave is 23 years old, works perfectly. I enviously read online about […]

Windy days
Windy days

Tweet The Marinovich’s opened their Congo exhibition at Bell-Roberts gallery in Cape Town last weekend. That Cape wind was blasting away. Open til mid-Jan. See my cell-phone movie here ….. prospects-opening52

Let injustice flourish
Let injustice flourish

Tweet A great man lives in South Africa’s largest informal settlement, Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg. He was an activist in the ‘Eighties, during a particularly difficult time to be black and outspoken.  The Apartheid state rewarded him with two years in police detention and left him for dead in the veld at the side […]

What our democracy means to me

Tweet Opinion -  Jeff Mpondozenyathi One balmy September evening, I sat at the boarding gate waiting for my flight out of Frankfurt to Johannesburg. The waiting seemed to last forever, not because I was eager to get home but due to the acute embarrassment of watching South African youths behaving like hooligans. They were drunk, […]

Honey-trucks and who to vote for
Honey-trucks and who to vote for

Tweet I had been assured that the African National Congress breakaway would be having a meeting in the tiny dorp of Winburg Saturday. So I was thrilled to discover, some four hours from home, that it had been postponed ’til next week in some other little Free State town. Oh joy. The rains we of […]

A grass-eye view of the elephants
A grass-eye view of the elephants

Tweet The war for the heart and soul of the African National Congress continues to be a bitter hidden series of political battles.  One insider told me “The blood is knee deep in meetings.”  For me, it all began with the televised firing of South African deputy president Jacob Zuma three years ago for bribery […]