Archive for category Africa

One 71 year old that leaves our politicians standing – a man to be greatly admired.

Colour and excitement returned to the City yesterday as Glencore announced a former French foreign legionnaire, Algerian war veteran, author, explorer and financier as its new chairman.

Photo of Simon Murray CBE

Simon Murray CBE (via Vodafone)

Simon Murray (pictured) will be tasked with leading the firm’s up-to $11bn (£6.7bn) float, valuing it at about $60bn, the details of which were confirmed yesterday.

The move heralded a return to the days when interesting and complex characters, rather than faceless executives, ran the City.

Earlier this week, Murray said: “This is very exciting, but you are talking to someone who has been chased by a leopard. You are talking to someone who has been shot at with a machine gun and missed.”

Murray, whose tales of derring-do include carrying two severed heads in his backpack during his time in the French Foreign Legion, was born in Leicester in central England. As a teenager in 1960 he joined the Foreign Legion on a whim, going on to fight for five years in Algeria. He later wrote a bestseller, “Legionnaire”, about his time in north Africa.

It was made into a film in 2002.

Educated at Bedford School, one of England’s oldest public schools, Murray was turned down by the British Army before signing up with the Foreign Legion.

“I think perhaps I was just a young buck without much confidence in himself setting an extreme challenge to see if he could hack it in a man’s world,” he says in his book.

He has since run a 240km race in the Moroccan desert, climbed Mount Everest and become the oldest man to walk unsupported to the South Pole. Glencore unveiled its blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) to the market yesterday, following months of speculation.

According to Wikipedia, he has been awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by H.M. The Queen, and the Order of Merit of the French Republic and is a “Chevalier de La Legion d’Honneur”. He holds an Honorary Degree in law, from Bath University and attended the (SEP) Stanford Executive Programme in the US.  He also trekked to the South Pole in his sixties.

Murray married long-time sweetheart, the former Jennifer Mather, with whom he has three children. Jennifer Murray was the first woman to fly around the world in a helicopter.

What a family

Read the full article in the City A.M. newspaper.


A fascinating South African newsletter

I get this regular newsletter from PeterJasie in South Africa. (Make sure you click on the English link!) He is retired and spends a lot of his time holidaying all around Southern Africa and his newsletter is a mixture of useful information, travel information, recipes, often a “letter from Zimbabwe” Mirna van Wyk articles (she is an educational psychologist from Stellenbosch) and lost of other snippets of information.

Here is an extract from his latest newsletter – but first, one of his photographs.

Photo of an African night sky

African skies by Peter Jasie

Venda Myths and Traditions

The Venda people were one of the last black tribes to migrate south of the Limpopo River. When they moved in to South Africa they found a beautiful, bountiful area, which they promptly named Venda (pleasant place) and settled there.

Lanky, yet graceful, the Venda people are warm and friendly. Their history began in the valleys and mountains of Limpopo Province, where their forebears established a great civilisation centred round Mapungubwe.

Though ruled by kings, the position of women in Venda culture is unusual in Africa in that they are encouraged to occupy senior positions in society. It is common for a woman to inherit her father’s estate where there is no apparent male heir.

Children and the elderly have their own role to play. This is linked to the recognition and worship of the ancestors. Having just joined the earthly plane, the children are still close to the ancestors. The elderly are also close to the ancestors because they will soon join the spiritual realm in death.

In Venda tradition there are many sacred sites, especially Lake Fundudzi high in the Soutspansberg Mountains. Even today, it is believed this is where the White Python – the god of fertility – lives.

Lake Fundudzi
A must see is definitely the sacred “Lake Fundudzi” situated in the Thathe Vondo forest, the home of the mythical python and white crocodile. The python is the god of fertility in the Venda tradition and the legend tells us that a Venda man had a broken heart because of the loss of a great love. In his sorrow he walked into Lake Fundudzi at which time he turned into a python. Young virgin Venda maidens still perform the famous Domba-python dance in this area to honour this god of fertility. It is also believed that the white crocodile lives in this Lake. This crocodile might have really existed because this Lake is still today populated by large crocodiles, and an albino crocodile might have once lived in the lake where young, virgin Venda maidens were once offered to them. Lake Fundudzi is surrounded by mountains and special permission has to be obtained to visit this sacred Lake. No-one washes or swims in this lake.

Sacred Forest
Also in the Thathe Vondo forest is the so-called “Sacred Forest”. The Thathe Vondo forest has giant hardwoods (jakkelsbessie, yellowwood), a wide variety of ferns, creepers and a wealth of plants and trees which makes the forest nearly impenetrable on foot. The Sacred Forest is a mystical place, where no ordinary Venda person may walk and as a visitor one may not walk off the dirt track going through the forest – hikers are not allowed. In the Sacred Forest, two mythical creatures keep guard namely the white lion (the spirit of Nethathe an important chief) and the thunder and lighting bird called Ndadzi which according to myths flies on the wings of thunder. One can speculate further about this bird and its origin, and the origin of the Venda people.

The Domba is not a tourist attraction but a ceremony with deep meanings, and it is not possible to witness many parts of it (teaching, ritual bath.). The public is only able to see the dancing which is the occasion for men to choose future wives for their nephews or sons. To see such a dance one gets goose bumps running up and down your spine looking at the bodies movies together to their own rhythm.

This is traditionally a male dance in which each player has a pipe made out of a special indigenous type of bamboo growing only in a few places around Sibasa and Thohoyandou but unfortunately these have almost disappeared. It is quite something to listen to the pipe which has only one note and they have to play in turn in such a way that they build a melody.

The Tshikona is a royal dance, each sovereign or chief has his own Tshikona band. Tshikona is played at various occasions for funerals, wedding or religious ceremonies, this can be considered as the Venda “national music/dance

The Tshigombela is a female dance usually performed by married women, this is a festive dance sometimes played at the same time as Tshikona.

Tshifhasi is similar to Tshigombela but performed by young unmarried girls (Khomba) – womenfolk.

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Die ware Suid Afrika – vandag (in die Engels se taal)

The song is sung in Afrikaans but you don’t have to know the language to understand what it is all about, the video explains it very well
Now ask yourself what story does the video tell and reflect, is it the truth or is it a lie – ask yourself, is it really happening in South Africa as we watch?

Read what Wikipedia has to say about the deaths of Afrikaans farmers. Here is an extract from Wikipedia to save you following the link:

Genocide Watch has theorized that farm attacks constitute early warning signs of genocide against Afrikaners and has criticised the South African government for its inaction on the issue, pointing out that the murder rate for them (“ethno-European farmers” in their report, which also included non-Afrikaner farmers of European race) is four times that of the general South African population. There are 40,000 white farmers in South Africa. Since 1994 close to three thousand farmers have been murdered in thousands of farm attacks, with many being brutally tortured and/or raped. Some victims have been burned with smoothing irons or had boiling water poured down their throats.

I was brought up amongst Afrikaners as a child and although they can be a prickly race and if you get three of them on a street corner talking politics, you will never get one agreeing with another. Having said that, they are a warm and friendly people. One story was, my mother with her British accent was travelling a long journey on a train and five Afrikaners (a family) got on the train. When they found out she was a Brit, they exchanged a few polite sentences with her, and lapsed in their Afrikaans and ignored her. When it was lunchtime, they got out their large hamper and automatically set out six places. They wouldn’t have dreamed of not sharing their food, even with an accursed Brit (in the Boer War approximately 27,000 Boer Women and children died in Kitchener’s “Konsentrasie Kampe”) – I will leave you to work out the translation. Here’s a tip – Hitler copied the idea from the British and used it in WW2.

Finally, Look at our British Parliament and the way our politicians behave. Would you like foreigners to look at our parliament and say, “look at those Brits, that’s the sort of people they are”. Or would you rather them look at parliament and say “look at those politicians, the poor Brits having to put up with them”. If you are American, just transpose Americans for Brits. It is very much the same in South Africa, the shower running the country pre 1994 did not reflect the white races, and as you watch the video and wonder how these killers can get away with three thousand murders – and wonder further whether the ANC government have turned a blind eye, reflect that the people in Government do not reflect most of the black races at all. Just like Britain. Just like America. Look at Iraq, our governments are even worse than the ANC!



The big Society is all about ubuntu

I’m from Africa, you will know about what the Big Society is all about if you come from that neck of the woods.. We called it Ubuntu.

The following is a short description – it’s very hard to describe it in a shorter fashion – I am not religious and am a committed “deist” – this is slightly different to an atheist as, although we disbelieve all notions of religion, we do believe there is some sort of superior force, in my case, nature is that superior force. I have added this as I am quoting a Bishop who, incidentally, I believe to be one of the most sincerest of all the people in South Africa.

Bishop Tutu gives his interpretation of ubuntu which is the best I have seen to date.

“Ubuntu is a concept that we have in our Bantu languages at home. Ubuntu is the essence of being a person. It means that we are people through other people. We can’t be fully human alone. We are made for interdependence, we are made for family. Indeed, my humanity is caught up in your humanity, and when your humanity is enhanced mine is enhanced as well. Likewise, when you are dehumanized, inexorably, I am dehumanized as well. As an individual, when you have Ubuntu, you embrace others. You are generous, compassionate. If the world had more Ubuntu, we would not have war. We would not have this huge gap between the rich and the poor. You are rich so that you can make up what is lacking for others. You are powerful so that you can help the weak, just as a mother or father helps their children.”

All this has been lost in the West though our affluence. Perhaps, when times become harder, we will learn how to inter-relate and help each other. In a way, the hard times ahead may bring rewards.

Finally, here is an example of ubuntu at work.


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The sad thing about the Big Society

What really saddens me is that we have had to have the Prime Minister remind us of what living in the world is all about. Where I come from, in Africa, they understand what it is about, they even have a word for it, “Ubuntu” and I am not talking about the Linux software!

But I don’t blame the people over here for this, it is not their fault. It is the fault of various politicians of either party since 1945 who have built into our psyche that the State will look after us from the cradle to the grave.

The Big Society has not been invented by David Cameron! It was around long before the second world war. It is practiced in some parts now such as the military, and until twenty years ago very much in the East End.

It is about small things that make a difference. Helping a neighbour who is ill with their shopping, saying good morning to an elderly person who lives alone and smiling at them. joining a club to get to know your neighbours better. helping a local charity group. Clubbing together to protest at a council injustice. All these little things help grow a community.

Naturally the socialists rubbish the notion of the Big Society, and it isn’t just because it was the Conservatives idea. The whole idea of the big society is against everything they belive in. Their whole philosophy is that the state rules all. Everyone has to be dependent on the sate as, the more people who are, the more votes tend to go to Labour. If everyone learned to do everything for themselves, and to work instead of being on benefits, the Labour vote would deteriorate very quickly and they would never get in to rule the country again.

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Happy New Year

A happy new year to all my readers.

Many of you, in Britain, will face hardships in 2011 so I have included a video below so you can see that although you may struggle in 2011, you could be living in South Africa. So before complaining too much at our financial woes, pay a small thought to what is happening in South Africa.



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What’s our opinion of Somalians?

Before you reach any conclusions, read this snippit I found in today’s electronic telegraph.

A rap video put together by Somalis living in London raised as much as £150,000 to contribute towards the ransom of Paul and Rachel Chandler.

It is so easy to allow our prejudices to take over when we are angry.


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