South African author André Brink dies


This video is called André Brink on Writing #1.

And these two videos are the sequels.

From the Mail & Guardian in South Africa:

Literary giant André Brink dies

07 Feb 2015 11:05

Celebrated South African author, André P. Brink, has passed away at the age of 79.

Renowned South African novelist and playwright, André Brink has died.

According to Books Live, Brink passed away while returning from Amsterdam on Friday, where he had received an honorary doctorate from the Belgian Francophone Université catholique de Louvain (UCL).

Brink was born on 29 May 1935, in Vrede, a small town in the Free State.

He was 79 years old and a literature professor at the University of Cape Town at the time of his death.

Brink wrote in both English and Afrikaans, and was a key figure in the Afrikaans literary movement Die Sestigers in the 1960s – along with Ingrid Jonker and Breyten Breytenbach. The movement sought to use Afrikaans as a language to speak against the apartheid government.

In 1973 his novel Looking on Darkness was banned, this was followed by the banning of another book Kennis van die Aand the following year.

His 1982 novel, A Dry White Season, was turned into a film in 1989 and starred actors such as Marlon Brando, Donald Sutherland, Zakes Mokae and Susan Sarandon.

The novel, set in South Africa in 1976 and focused on the death in detention of a black activist, was also banned by the apartheid government.

Nelson Mandela remembered


This is a music video of the song “Nelson Mandela” from the album “In the Studio” by British band Special AKA (the Specials).

Lyrics are here.

By Peter Frost from Britain, about South Africa:

In the footsteps of the great liberator

Thursday 5th February 2015

Peter Frost visits the former Victor Verster prison where Nelson Mandela took some very important steps on his long march to freedom

It was something of a pilgrimage. My wife Ann and I had pitched the rented camper van in which were exploring South Africa on a pretty campsite among the vineyards near Paarl the handsome capital of the Cape Winelands.

An early start the next morning saw us driving along the spectacular valley of the Dwars River. Our destination was the far from romantically named Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

It was a journey we had been hoping to make for many years. The prison is still in use and outside were a cluster of worried-looking families joining the queue to visit incarcerated loved ones.

We were beginning to have doubts about the wisdom of our visit when a young smiling prison officer in a smart brown uniform knocked on our window.

“Hi,” she said with a smile. “Tourists? Are you from England? No doubt you are here to see where our beloved Madiba took his famous steps to freedom. Follow me,” she said.

So there we were just inside the gates of the former Victor Verster Prison where Nelson Mandela spent the last part of his 27 years of imprisonment.

The prison officer told us that the cottage where Mandela spent the last few months of his long sentence is now a South African national heritage site. Just outside the prison gate she showed us the fine statue of the great man himself.

Back in 1964, Nelson Mandela was one of eight men accused of conspiracy and sabotage in the notorious Rivonia trial, named after a suburb of Johannesburg where African National Congress (ANC) leaders had their secret headquarters in a farmhouse.

In an electrifying speech from the dock at the beginning of his defence, Mandela told the court: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live, and to see realised. But my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Passing sentence, apartheid judge Justice de Wet compared the convicted men’s crime to high treason but said that after careful consideration he had decided not to impose “the supreme penalty.” Mandela was sent to prison for life.

Margaret Thatcher and many British Tories thought the judge had been too lenient. They called for Mandela to be hanged. Present House of Commons’s Speaker John Bercow led a Tory student campaign under the slogan “Hang Nelson Mandela.”

Mandela served the first 18 years of his sentence in the notorious maximum-security prison on Robben Island. When they first landed on the island a warder greeted Mandela and his ANC comrades with these words, “This is the island. This is where you will die.”

The prisoners faced a harsh regime in a new cell block specially constructed for political prisoners. Each had a single cell just 7ft square around a concrete courtyard, with a slop bucket. No books or reading materials were allowed, although this rule would eventually be relaxed a little.

Hard labour in the baking hot quarry on the island was hell. The white-hot sun reflecting of the bleached limestone nearly blinded Mandela.

In his prison cell he secretly worked on the first part of what would become his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. ANC comrades helped him hide draft pages from the guards.

In 1982 he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, Cape Town.

From there, on December 9 1988, Mandela was moved to the Victor Verster Prison, now renamed the Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

Already the apartheid government, running scared and aware that their time was up, needed to hold negotiations with the man who, despite having spent the last 27 years in prison, was clearly the leader of the South African people.

For those negotiations Mandela lived in a small cottage inside the prison’s farm compound. President FW De Klerk sent high-ranking ministers and civil servants to talk with Mandela.

He was incarcerated there for another 14 months until finally he was taken to meet and talk with De Klerk himself. The two discussed arrangements for Mandela’s release.

Just after 4pm on February 11 1990 the date set by De Klerk, Mandela, then aged 71, walked free. One hand held the hand of his wife Winnie. The other was raised in the clenched fist of an ANC victory salute.

At that moment, as the camera flashes went off to record the moment, Mandela switched from being a symbol of the oppressed to the global symbol of courage and freedom that would define the rest of his life.

After his release Mandela would live for almost another quarter-century. He became president of a new South Africa, his beloved rainbow nation.

It was a long journey from imprisoned freedom fighter branded as a terrorist to one of the world’s greatest ever leaders.

Like so many important journeys this one started with a single step and a short walk through the gates of Victor Verster Prison 25 years ago this weekend.

FW de Klerk’s legacy in question on anniversary of Mandela’s release. South Africa’s last white president has been praised for his role in ending apartheid but questions linger over atrocities committed on his watch: here.

South African cheetah’s survivor story


This 2014 video is called National Geographic Wild – Cheetah: Fatal Instinct (Documentary).

From Samara Private Game Reserve in South Africa, with photos there:

A cheetah’s story: From tortured to treasured

Privileged to be home to the highly endangered cheetah, Samara also hosts a remarkable individual. Her story embodies not only the plight of these incredible cats, but also the immense potential for successful conservation of a species on the precipice of extinction.

Born a wild cheetah in South Africa’s North West province, Sibella’s life nearly ended at the hands of hunters. After being set upon by hunting dogs who tore away all the flesh on her hind legs, a rope was forced roughly into her mouth, and she was savagely beaten and locked in a cage. Lying at death’s door, fear and mistrust haunting her eyes, she was fortunate enough to be rescued by the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust. She owes her life to the five-hour surgery and dedicated rehabilitation that ensued.

In December 2003, Sibella began a new chapter when she was introduced onto Samara along with two male cheetah. From the moment of her release, all those involved in her rehabilitation waited anxiously to see whether she would be able to fend for herself. But we needn’t have worried. Eleven years on, Sibella has outlived most cheetah in the wild, proving herself to be a capable hunter despite the occasional twinge from her previous injuries.

Successfully rearing an astonishing 20 cubs in four litters since her release, she has also been an exemplary mother – giving birth on steep mountain slopes to avoid potential predators and eating only after her young have had their fill.

The unspoken bond she now shares with the humans in her new home is extraordinary – with the birth of each new litter, when the cubs are old enough to leave their den, this wild cat dutifully presents to her human guardians her latest bundles of fur, the very reason for her existence. The degree of trust she vests in human beings, walking to within just a few metres of them, is simply astounding – her past suffering at the hands of her tormentors all but forgotten.

This exceptional cat has done more than merely touch our hearts and allow us to marvel at her beauty. She is also a record-breaker of note, being the first cheetah back in the Karoo in 125 years, contributing 3% to the wild cheetah population in South Africa through her various litters, and featuring in dozens of magazines, newspapers and television programmes across the globe.

Sibella, Sultaness of Samara, is a true ambassador for Samara’s ongoing conservation efforts and objectives.

Circus lionesses recovering in South African game reserve


This video from South Africa says about itself:

Two rescued female lions find new home in Africa

22 January 2015

Following years of abuse in a circus in Germany, two rescued female lions put their paws onto African soil. Sisters Maggie and Sonja were rescued by the Born Free Foundation and its partners, their new home Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape.

From Wildlife Extra:

Two lionesses born to circus life get first taste of freedom

Maggie and Sonja have spent their eight years of life performing in a German circus

After eight years in captivity in a German circus, two rescued lionesses are settling into their new home at the Born Free Foundation’s Big Cat Rescue and Education Centre at Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa.

Maggie and Sonja spent the first eight years of their lives making regular appearances in the circus, performing for the crowds and living in a circus trailer in appalling conditions.

When the animals were confiscated by the German authorities in 2013, the Natuurhulpcentrum, a wild animal rescue and rehabilitation centre in Belgium, stepped in and offered them temporary accommodation.

There, they underwent rehabilitation and treatment for wounds acquired while living in the circus, before being declared fit to travel to a permanent new home in Africa.

Organised by the Born Free Foundation, they travelled from Natuurhulpcentrum to London’s Heathrow airport on January 20, from where they made the 6,000 mile journey across two continents, flying on the inaugural Kenya Airways Dreamliner flight to Johannesburg via Nairobi, and sponsored by the airline.

After touching down in Johannesburg on Wednesday, January 21, they were taken by land on the last leg of the journey to their new home at the award winning Shamwari Game Reserve in Port Elizabeth.

The overland journey was in specially arranged trailers, towed by Land Rover Discovery vehicles, which also sponsored the trip.

At the reserve they were released into a large natural enclosure, where they could begin to experience and get used to the sights and sounds of Africa for the first time.

Shamwari Wildlife Director and vet, Dr Johan Joubert, and Born Free’s big cat expert Tony Wiles, were present at every step of the journey.

Joubert says, “I am very satisfied with the rescue and translocation of the lionesses from Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium to Shamwari Game Reserve.

“Although it was a long journey for them, they travelled well. It was snowing when they left, two days ago, and now they are adapting to a hot African summer’s day.

“They experienced natural grass and trees today for the first time in their life. I am sure they have a good life ahead of them here.”

Wiles, who has more than 20 years of experience working with big cats, is pleased that the lionesses are already growing in confidence in their new environment.

He adds, “These are relatively young cats, and so despite being a bit tired from the journey, they should adapt quickly to their new surroundings.

“Already they are exploring the enclosure’s natural features and taking the opportunity to stretch their legs and bask in the southern hemisphere’s summer sunshine.

“After spending most of their lives in cramped and squalid conditions, it feels great to be able to offer these girls a safe, happy and natural place to live out the rest of their lives. That’s what it’s all about.”

To find out more about Maggie and Sonja’s new life, meet some of Born Free’s other rescued animals, or make a donation to enable the Foundation to continue its work with some of the world’s most vulnerable animals, visit: www.bornfree.org.uk.

Playing drums for rhinos


This music video says about itself:

Rhino Revolution Desert Drumming

On the 9th of January [2015], Rhino Revolution Dubai held their third fund-raising event in order to raise funds to contribute towards the work done by Rhino Revolution in South Africa to aid the conservation efforts regarding the rhinos.

White rhino, survivor of poacher violence, gets baby


This video from South Africa says about itself:

4 November 2013

On the 2nd of March 2012, 3 rhinos were poached at Kariega Game Reserve — 1 passed away during the course of the night, Themba passed away twenty four days later and Thandi survived. 16 Months later I went to see Thandi and film her progress for my upcoming film: The Heroes of the Rhino War.

From Wildlife Extra:

Baby White Rhino born to mother that survived horrific poaching attack

Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa announced the birth this week of a baby White Rhino to a mother that had survived a terrible poaching attack that left her without her horn.

Thandi the rhino, whose story was reported on Wildlife Extra, gave birth to her calf in the early morning, witnessed by two Kariega rangers.

Shortly afterwards wildlife vet Dr William Fowlds observed the mother and her calf from a distance and confirmed that both looked well.

Thandi and two male rhinos were discovered in 2012 with their horns brutally removed by machete. They had been tranquillised and left to bleed to death.

The two males did not survive but Thandi endured numerous operations over two years, including pioneering skin graft surgery under the care of Dr Fowlds.

“I am sure that the whole rhino caring community will share in the joy of this amazing birth,” says Fowlds.

“Thandi’s story has always been an incredible testimony of the will to survive against all odds. She represents so much of what her species faces under the current poaching crisis.”

Blood tests revealed that Thandi was pregnant in December 2013. The veterinary team estimated that she could give birth anytime from December 2014. The gestation period of a white rhino is between 15 and 16 months.

All those who had been involved in Thandi’s dramatic story of survival had been waiting anxiously for the past month.

“Her survival has already given us inspiration but the birth of her calf brings a new dimension of hope to the crisis,” says Dr Fowlds, “showing us that a future generation of life is possible if we put our minds and hearts to it.”

South Africa has the largest population of rhinos in the world. However, figures compiled by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs show a dramatic escalation in the number of rhinos being poached.

During 2014, a staggering 1116 rhinos were killed. Over the past five years 3569 rhinos have died at the hands of poachers.

For the safety of Thandi and her calf, the area is off-limits to all visitors. It is important that both rhinos be left undisturbed to ensure that the calf has the best chance of survival.

To read more of Thandi’s story click here.

South African cycling team in Tour de France, first time ever


This video says about itself:

Team MTN Qhubeka: An African Bicycle Dream Episode 1

12 April 2013

Team MTN Qhubeka are the first Pro Continental Cycling Team from Africa – this is their story. From South Africa to the rest of the world, the team have made their mark on the sport. Watch the first episode of An African Bicycle Dream here.

And this video is the sequel.

Today, the Tour De France organisers have said that Team MTN Qhubeka has been invited to participate in the race, as the first African team ever.

The Tour De France will start this year on the fourth of July in Utrecht city in the Netherlands.

One should hope that in Utrecht or in France, these cyclists won’t have the bad luck of their South African colleague Evan van der Spuy, shown in this video.

In Utrecht or in France, there is not much chance of this happening with an antelope. However, I am not that sure about dogs.

One should also hope that in Utrecht or in France, there won’t be hunters who don’t know the difference between cyclists and hares.

This video shows a report on a hunter like that.