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Story-Letters from Southern Africa
Nelson Mandela WorldLearn Conservation & Culture Afrikaners
Golden's Story Rosie's Story New Beginnings Social Entrepreneurs
Taverns and Waves Ten Years On Learning from Experience The Memory Box Scarborough Daze Mandela's People HIV/AIDS in South Africa (II)
Bushmen of the Okavango Hidden Progress Poor Technology?
Backroads of the North Restless Natives A Great Mosaic Dramatic Challenges South Africa's Twentieth Century AIDS in South Africa


SA Update: Roddy Bray's Story-Letters

Roddy sends out a monthly newsletter from his website GreatGuides.Org about inspirational people, projects and places in Africa and beyond.
The newsletter is received by over 1,500 people, subscribe here.


Nelson Mandela (click for full article)

The briefest biography of a man who was a shepherd boy in the gentle hills of Transkei and grew up to be a lawyer, freedom fighter, political prisoner and President of South Africa. His values shone through, even in the hardest of times, and ultimately brought new hope to a nation.

WorldLearn (click for full article)

In 2008 we completed the third Cape Town WorldTeach program, bringing volunteers from a Harvard based program to teach in Masiphumelele township and in South Peninsula schools. This article reflects upon the impact they make... but also how they learn more they could ever teach. The experience can be life changing.

Conservation and Culture (click for full article)

Nicholas Ellenbogen, playwright and theatre director, is a household name in South Africa. A central figure in 'struggle theatre', in 1989 he started 'Theatre for Africa' to exemplify African arts. He travelled to far-flung villages, auditioning actors, creating theatre companies, combining skills from different African cultures. His plays on issues of conservation have had a marked impact, from remote villages to the US State Department.

Afrikaners (click for full article)

David Goldblatt is one of South Africa's great photographers, a probing, insightful observor of more than 50 troubled years in the country's history. His fascination with Afriakners began with the bullying he received at school and his relentless pursuit to understand them led to much of his most impressive work.

Golden's Story (click for full article)

Golden and his family arrived in Cape Town desitute, but after a strange dream he embarked on a career that led to a unique business and the attention of newspapers and TV stations around the world.

Rosie's Story (click for full article)

Many of my guests have met Rosie in Khayelitsha, and like that of so many South African women her story is inspiring…. Rosie grew up in the old apartheid 'homeland' of the Transkei. Forced out of college for being pregnant she made her way to Cape Town, and found herself in dire straits... but with determination she went on to become a pillar of her community.

New Beginnings (click for full article)

Nelson Buthulezi grew up in Natal, the grandson of a strict Zulu preacher. But in Cape Town he discovered the subtleties of wine.. and today he is Winemaker at the Ashanti estate. Nelson is one of a new generation of black people that are entering the 'white' bastion of the wine industry, bringing fresh ideas and creating new beneficiaries.

Social Entrepreneurs (click for full article)

'Umsebenzi unqabile'. It was one of the first phrases I learnt in Xhosa. A commiseration. An attempt to show empathy… 'work is scarce'. South Africa is enjoying its longest period of growth since WWII - but this means little to the mass of people outside the formal economy, living in areas where unemployment can reach 66%. But meeting local social entrepreneurs we begin to hear about the visionary schemes that are creating jobs, businesses and new industries.

Taverns and Waves (click for full article)

We received a warm welcome at the 'Hollywood Tavern' in Khayelitsha, and ended up playing pool with an inebriated fellow with a most unorthodox style. The scene in the tavern was in sharp contrast to the view a little further along the coast, of young men from the townships riding the far breakers at Muizenberg. They have learned their awesome skills through Gary's Surf School, and are fast become competitors at national level.

Ten Years On (click for full article)

South Africa celebrates ten years of democracy in 2004. Some individals, in particular, and the society at large, in general, have experienced radical change. But the grip of poverty remains strong and the challenge to improve the level of skills in the country remains critical to defeat unemployment and improve government service.

Learning from Experience (click for full article)

Sitting in a courtyard on a warm summer's night with students from the Pacific Lutheran University, we listened, rapt, as Gordon Oliver, a former Mayor of Cape Town, spoke about his political life, the fight against apartheid and the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

The Memory Box 'A Teams' (click for full article)

Written for World AIDS Day 2003, this article is about the 'A team' in Masiphumele township near Cape Town. Poor, HIV+ people are finding hope and confidence through expressing their experiences and recording them in a 'Memory Box'. The 'A teams' are pioneering narrative therapy, employment, activism and support for HIV+ and AIDS sufferers even in the poorest communities of South Africa. A story of bravery and hope in the face of the AIDS pandemic.

Scarborough Daze (click for full article)

'If you have toured Cape Town you may remember Scarborough, an eclectic village of about 400 homes in ‘Schusterskraal’, a bay on the Atlantic coast, the last settlement before the Cape of Good Hope...' Reflections on a village in the South Peninsula, its beautiful surroundings, fascinating people and the maids and gardeners that appear from the hills each morning.

Mandela's People (click for full article)

The Xhosa people of South Africa count Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu among their sons. This newsletter explores their traditions and experience of British settlers, colonial frontier wars and the mysterious mass cattle slaughter of 1857 inspired by the child-prophet Nongqawuse.

HIV/AIDS in South Africa (II) (click for full article)

Three years on from the first SA Update ('AIDS in South Africa' - see below) this newsletter looks at what has emerged in the fight against the disease: realisation of the vast magnitude of HIV, denial and the power of stigma, the provision of drugs, the failure of political leadership and the emerging response of business and civil society.

Bushmen of the Okavango (click for full article)

'...we found ourselves driving north, via the flowers of Namaqualand and the stunning dune landscapes of Namibia, toward the Okavango. Our attempts to contact KB had not succeeded, but on our way north Mike gave us the cell number of KB's village chief, Marafe. It is not everyday you have the opportunity to phone a Bushman Chief on his mobile phone'.

The story of camping among River Bushmen in the Okavango Delta and the fascinating tale of the Khwai River Community and the Trust established by the young people to sustain their way of life into the modern era.

Hidden Progress (click for full article)

People look at Khayelitsha from the outside and see a jungle of shacks and twisting alleyways in the sand. There are few visible signs of familiarity – one cannot see police stations, hospitals, shops, businesses or schools. It simply appears to be a crazy world of shack dwellers. But within this jungle there are communities working together to find innovative answers to poverty.

Poor Technology? (click for full article)

South Africa is a curious mixture of first and third worlds. As the nation pulls together, how is the technological capability of the country being used to support the poor? We look at how micro-loans, the provision of telephones and electricity and internet banking are changing the lives of the poor.

Backroads of the North (click for full article)

There comes a time when my Land Rover grumbles about trifling pavements and traffic lights and howls to get some earth up her wheel arches. So, with fiancee aboard and plenty of useful kit, we set out for the backroads of the Northern Cape. A journey through the arid northern regions of South Africa and southern Namibia and Botswana.

Restless Natives (click for full article)

Each day a noticeable character can be seen along the Sea Point Prom, pacing with a rolling gait amongst the many contrasting strollers and roller-bladers of the rainbow nation. Is he a metaphor for a nation on the move...?

A Great Mosaic (click for full article)

Today is Heritage Day when South Africa celebrates its new nationhood and great diversity. There is an arresting intrigue about all this. The puzzle is to come to terms with a country which is one, yet has no characteristic culture; that has histories growing from different roots, but common issues everywhere; and even environments that range from mediterranean flora to bush, desert to grassy plains, and alpine mountains to sub-tropical forests.

I have just returned from two months roaming this enigmatic land that seems to me like a mosaic of many and contrasting parts. Here are a few snapshots and reflections....

Dramatic Challenges (click for full article)

The newsletter for January - April 2008. An overview of the unfolding events in Southern Africa during the first few months of the new millenium - fires in the Cape, floods in Mozambique, farm invaions in Zimbabwe and the moral and cerebral storms in South Africa over racism in the media, AIDS treatment and the corruption of cricket hero Hansie Cronje.

Three Lives in A Fraught Century (click for full article)

Jan Smuts, Cambridge educated lawyer and Afrikaner who helped to establish the League of Nations and the draft the United Nations Charter; Hendrik Verwoerd - a Dutchman, educated in Germany in the 1930s, and a Nazi propagandist in South Africa. Verwoerd was always courteous but implacable in his relentless implementation of discrimination based on race; Nelson Mandela, jailed in 1963 but retaining an unswerving commitment to non-racial democracy and peaceful transition: he gave leadership to South Africa through the difficult years of transition and became President in 1994

AIDS in South Africa (click for full article)

Ten years ago AIDS had hardly entered South Africa. But following the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 all eyes were on the political tightrope that South Africa successfully crossed, and meanwhile the disease grew rapidly but imperceptibly, and now threatens to overwhelm the new state.

Don't miss Roddy's MP3 Audio Guides to Cape Town


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