Sights, Sounds, and Speech of South Africa

Some things I have learned this past week:

1) On the Johannesburg license plates are the letters GP, which stands for Gauteng Province where Johannesburg is located. People from Cape Town refer to J-burg as “Gangster’s Paradise.”

2) The most common words you will hear people on the streets of Cape Town saying are:

Baie Dankie (sounds like “Buy a donkey”) = Thank you very much, in Afrikaans

Pleasure = Your welcome

Keen = to be fond of, “Are you keen on getting a drink?”

3) David Kramer is a famous folk singer/songwriter in South Africa and his trademark during his performances is his red shoes

4) The President of South Africa has five wives

5) Many people switch back and forth between English and Afrikaans easily. Afrikaans is generally spoken in the northern suburbs while English is more often spoken in the southern suburbs.

6) One of the best places in the world to view great white sharks is by Seal Island off the coast of Muizenberg because of the plethora of seals there. The island can be seen from False Bay, a popular surfing beach by my house. Therefore, sightings of sharks are frequent. But don’t worry, a warning signal occurs whenever there is a sighting and the beach closes down.

7) The “Big Five” refers to the five big game of Africa, which are the lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard.

On Thursday I had the great pleasure of getting to see David Kramer perform during his show “Karoo Kitaar Blues.” Kramer went into villages in the semi-desert areas of the Northern Cape to seek out unique and eccentric people who play in their villages. He gathered them together and brought them to the Baxter Theatre at the University of Cape Town to showcase their talents. These are people who have never played on stage before and are used to the confines of their villages. To describe the show in one word I would have to say: impressive. The men and women who performed were incredibly talented, all of them making their own instruments. There was Hannes who played the slide guitar with a spoon in his mouth while moving the spoon up and down the strings. He was such a youtube sensation that he was invited to Seattle to lead a workshop on this unique style of playing guitar. Then there was Ronnie Moipolai who played the guitar with his left hand on top of the strings while slapping the strings and occassionally playing with his elbow, all while creating a lovely sound. Oteng Piet played a one-stringed instrument called the segaba while doing a hilarious skit in which he pretended the instrument was his girlfriend who had diarrhea. Babsi Barolong walked onstage dressed in a long white lab coat and sat down to play his handmade “fenjoro” a tin-violin creating a beautiful sound. The show was quite entertaining and the sounds the people created with their instruments were incredible, leaving the audience “wowing” after each performance.

Hannes and Oteng dancing on stage just before intermission

Hannes and Oteng dancing on stage just before intermission

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Babsi Barolong playing the fenjoro

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The very animated Oteng Piet

This past weekend I traveled by train with my bike to Stellenbosch, a suburb outside of Cape Town, to help out at mountain bike ride event that took place at a beautiful wine farm. From the train station, I rode through the clean, well-trimmed town of Stellenbosch where some of the richest families in South Africa reside. Surrounding Stellenbosch is the Helderberg Mountain Range, a beautiful scenic backdrop that provided stunning views while I cycled up and over one of the passes.

This was one of my favorite views. This was taken from the top of the pass and I rode down into the valley between those two mountains

This was one of my favorite views. This was taken from the top of the pass and I rode down into the valley between those two mountains

Mountains on every side

Mountains on every side

Wine farm with mountains in the background

Wine farm with mountains in the background

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