Fare well Proteas – no really

The fans gathering to send off the Proteas
The fans gathering to send off the Proteas
The Cricket World cup is upon us and the South African team, our Proteas, are ready to get on a plane tonight. I am lucky enough to work in Melrose Arch, where their final farewell is being hosted. A lot of people took off work to say good bye to our national team. A team we are proud of – most of the time.

I like cricket. I like the sentiment, I know the rules, I like it’s relaxed, yet highly technical and strategic way. I love that all you need is a bit of space, a longish flat surface a bat and a ball to get a game together. A street and some neighbourhood friends can make for a great game. The barrier to entry is very low so all ages and all genders can play in the same game. It really does bring people together. It’s a cool sport. I also love our national team. The Proteas consist of highly skilled, often best in the world, players. They beat out the opposition in great fashion – most of the time.

And therein lies the problem, for all the love I have the Proteas, I’m always waiting for them to disappoint me. Some way or another they are going to lose a winning streak. Or bat like Trojans and then field like mice. For a group of “best in the world” people they get if wrong more often than seems conceivable, year after year.

I know that our rugby team, the Springboks, also lose. They’ve actually not been that great lately, but they have got two world cup victories under their belt. I watched both victories, I can recall in precise detail what those victories looked like and how I felt. The Proteas have not delivered this to me. Even Bafana Bafana who really have performance issues have pulled one great victory at the CAF Cup.

It’s a weird place to be for our cricket team. It must be hard on them. The nation really does like them, some people don’t miss a match, will set aside entire weekends to watch tests, and yet, somehow, we don’t know if they can pull of a world cup victory.

So, dear Proteas, farewell on your journey and then please fare extra well at the tournament and bring home some silverware

Jo’burg, reveal your secrets

Yesterday (2 Oct 2014) marked the start of the ABSA Johannesburg Festival with the theme Go To Town. The festival focuses on getting people to enjoy the inner city again an celebrate its revival.

Jo’burg is a city rich in history and beautiful buildings and architecture, it is very undervalued as such though. As people moved out the inner city a lot of this was forgotten and literally abandoned which is clearly very sad. Jo’burg is the city of gold, we should cherish it.

So, enter the festival and a lot of great events paired with it. As I love the city I took the opportunity to attend the opening of a new venue TheSheds@ 1Fox. The name says it all. This massive space is basically an old shed in the city. Some parts date back to before the Boer Wars and is thought to be one of the oldest existing industrial buildings in JHB. It was used for this purpose for years until it was eventually left dormant and empty.

The Johannesburg Land Company purchased it at some stage in the hope of redeveloping it and its neighbouring buildings in the future. Well, enter two Jo’burgers: Jan Roode of Happy Me and Gerald Garner of Spaces & Places – JoburgPlaces, who “discovered” the building and in 2014 signed a long term lease so they could try their hand at something potentially awesome.

I got a taste of that potential last night and dare I say I really enjoyed it. The space is now essentially a food and hand made goodie market coupled with an entertainment and band area. There is soooo much space in this old relic and their vision just makes it all fit together. It’s very eclectic and somewhat rustic but it is very cool.

The courtyard between The Sheds and an old brick factory

To my delight some of the original building fixtures are still in place and I marvelled at the old wooden doors and the tall brick factories next door. Buildings with history and spirit make me happy and this shed had plenty of that.

My friends and I dined on Smoque street food of brisket and pork belly while enjoying great craft beer and being entertained by a folksie type band. What more could one want really.

1fox view from the top - Photo by L Snyman The bar area

This place is a gem and I hope people see the potential and book gigs and parties and bands and weddings and markets and birthday parties and whatever right there. Right there in “scary” Jo’burg city where things are beautiful and life is rich.

Don’t wait. Just go.

One nation on 15 (23) men’s shoulders

For all the disgrace of our past South Africa is also famous as a nation brought together by sport. Hollywood brought you Invictus as evidence of this. The 2010 Fifa Football World Cup proved it again. Chad Le Clos’s dad represents all of us in how sport makes us feel: excited, united, proud. Everyone who dons the green and gold belong to us. They are our champions and we support them.

I was reminded of this on Saturday 27 Sept when the Springboks took on the Wallabies at Newlands (a South African homeground). Most of us had been speaking about the clash for days. We discussed tactics and team strategy and our hearts went out the players who had been injured in the previous test. We are their supporters and they belong to us. We care deeply about them.

I wore my Springbok jersey on Friday as did thousands of my country people. Thousands more wore their jerseys on Saturday. A nation united with all our hopes and happiness pinned on a team of 15 big men and their replacements on the bench.

I’ve always been a keen rugby supporter and while I can’t pretend to know much about tactics I do know where the player’s strength and weaknesses lie. I know what makes them a strong team and a remarkable bunch of people.

There was some public scrappiness a few days before the test because Oupa Mahoje was going to be in the starting line-up. People were speculating on whether he had earned his spot or if he was just a quota player. To those people all I can say is that you clearly don’t understand team sport and team players and frankly he should have been offered a chance a while ago. He isn’t quite number one is his position but he plays with heart and we were lucky that we could call on him when we needed a replacement. Fortunately the whole things seemed to blow over by game day.

And so the crowds packed into Newlands and our boys stood alongside the Aussies to mark the start of another 80 minutes of our national pastime. And what an 80 minutes it was.

It was a tough, hard, physical and stressful game. Minor and some stupid errors, and the Aussies defending like warriors had us on the back foot almost most of the game. I watched my boys play hard and fast and still we could not move them. The stadium grew quiet as everyone started wondering if we could pull it off. My husband had predicted that we would win by 20 points. For about 60 minutes it was in doubt whether we would even win. It would have been bad. Losing to the Aussies on home soil when your team in clearly working hard would have been heart breaking. The newer and younger guns in the likes of Serffontein, Coetsee and Hendriks were playing their guts out and yet we were behind.

And then, a few things changed. Some veteran replacements came on, the ref warned the Aussies of infringements, Lambie converted a penalty to put us one point ahead and the crowd got excited again. Newlands’ atmosphere changed and the game got new gusto and suddenly we were a dominant team. Balls went to hand. Leaps were made over tacklers. Balls were legitimately stolen and the crowd kept singing and chanting.

We scored three tries in the last four minutes. A feat achieved because new and experienced worked together. Talents and enthusiasm pooled together and gave every player the burst they needed. It was rugby at its finest.

The whistle blew and we had done all we had set out to do and what the nation had hoped for. Jubilation ensues to this moment and we’ll talk about this one for years to come. No matter who you are in South Africa you will know about this because it’s important that we stood and conquered together.

Shozoloza

And the song remains the same

We had post Heritage Day celebrations in our office today. Our HR department arranged for some traditional food for everyone to enjoy. It was a nice selection of what one could call South African food. Bobotie, Pap, Tripe and samp were some of the delights.

As an added extra we were treated to a traditional dance display by a “professional” troupe. Three young men and five even younger girls dressed in traditional wear danced and whistled to give us a taste of Venda heritage. The dances are interesting and the dancers clearly fit and coordinated. Despite seeing similar things a lot previously I enjoyed seeing these young people do their thing.

What struck me though was the entire scenario: Us, working in corporate Johannesburg, in a very affluent area, watching these performers in traditional dress dancing in the traditional way in our offices. It’s a loud and clearly visceral affair. The troupe were dressed in animal skins and accompanied by a drum and the dancing involves a lot of foot stamping and clapping of hands and ululating. It’s great but not what you would associate with the modern world. And yet, there they were. Amongst us professionals, in our expensive traditional ware (because we had to dress up for lunch) in the richest mile in Africa.

And so South Africa’s Heritage Day manifested itself and I know that my lamenting about us “only” being South African is something I will not live to see. Tradition and culture and heritage are impossibly important and what ultimately makes us a rainbow nation.

SA Grub – Bunny Chow

As it gets colder and colder all I can think about is curry. An Indian curry with big chunks of meat and either a reddish or yellowish creamy sauce. I want the aromatic flavours to warm me up and make me happy from the inside. Food can do that.

Indian food is very popular in South Africa so you can get it about anywhere. You can choose any curry your heart desires and it will be served up in mild, hot or very hot. Delicious. But now, let me tell you about a truly South African invention involving curry: The Bunny Chow.

Why this parcel of meaty goodness is called a Bunny Chow is a bit of a mystery but I’m happy to say  it’s got nothing to do with bunnies. It would appear as if the word Bunny could be derived from the Hindu word for vendor/merchant banyā and chow means food. But, yeah, that’s all I’ve got to offer on the subject.

What’s important is what a Bunny Chow consists of: A half loaf of bread filled with a Durban curry cooked with either meat or beans. It’s your food and your bowl all in one. It’s steamy and aromatic, delicious and easy to take-away with you. It’s surmised that the use of the bread as a ‘bowl’ came from the need for workers to house their curry in an easy to carry and cheap way. It also helps that the bread fills any stomach gaps.

I specified a Durban curry because that is where the dish originated from. However, do note that a Durban curry is something all on its own as well. The Indian people in Durban like their food hotter than hot. A true Durban curry will blow your socks off and have even put Indians from Indian to shame. I don’t know where this trend originated from either but when you order a Bunny (as they’re commonly referred to) in Durban as for mild. It’s a little less authentic but at least you won’t be grabbing for the nearest beaker of milk halfway through your first bite.

Each Indian family has their own secret recipes for their various curries and no one makes better curry than your own mom so there are variations to a good Bunny Chow but as I’m sure you’re keen to make one try the following link:

http://www.picknpay.co.za/recipe-search-results/authentic-bunny-chow

Enjoy the steaming goodness.

 

Bunny Chow goodness from the Easter Food Bazaar in Cape Town
Bunny Chow goodness

bunny chow 2

It’s easy to cry when you understand

The new (latest) South African Tourism Ad  has been trending around here and hopefully in other parts of the world. A lot people say forthright that it will make you cry. They’re not wrong.

I don’t want to spoil anything but there is a moment that will bring most people to tears. You’ll know it when you see it.

I, however, the Proudly South African sap that I am, started long before this moment though. I cried when I saw my country as I feel it. I cried when I saw warm generous faces, South African spaces and people sharing good food. This is my South Africa.

What brings me to tears is that the moments in the advert resonate in me. Make me feel at home and make me proud to be South African. Get the tissues and watch it.

An unexpected Proudly South African moment

While waiting for a rave-reviewed Hollywood prodcution to start in the cinema I was not prepared to be hit with emotion of how much I love this country. But there it was, a simple trailer for the new Madiba movie. It’s simply a man walking through a field in the Eastern Cape being eagerly surrounded by chldren who dash around as they run the trail. Just remembering the clip brings tears to my eyes.

It’s simple but it speaks volumes to us who know who this man is and know where this field is. The Eastern Cape, there Madiba grew up is incredibly rural and the people there live simple and often harsh lives. And yet it is strikingly beautiful and children play and grow enthusiastically. 

From humble beginings comes an icon who inspires millions of people across the world. I often think that South African’s don’t fully realise how much of an icon he is to others. He is our Tata (grandfather) and we love him as our own and apprecaite him for who he is and what he symbolises. As a South African I can not conceptualise how those across land and sea see this man who means so much. It’s weird to me.

I can imagine how every fan of Brad Pitt or Andries Strauss feels about them as I am also a fan. They are not “mine” though, they are not part of my history in the same way Madiba is an so I don’t know or apprecaite how others feel about him.

I just know that they do and it’s amazing.

I’m gonna stop crying now – for a little while at least