MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘Johannesburg

Madikwe Elephant

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elephant-at-madikwe.jpg

I took this picture on the way back to Johannesburg this morning on the road between the Kopfontein border post and Zeerust near the town of Groot Marico, which is the setting of many of the short stories penned by the famous South African author Herman Charles Bosman. The fence marks the boundary of the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Besides this chance encounter the journey back was uneventful and I arrived home at about four. It was great to see Chantelle and David again after the few days away, although I felt bad for my colleagues Sherina and Mandla who only return here on Friday.

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Written by macinjay

November 28, 2007 at 10:36 pm

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I drove to Botswana this afternoon on business. When I was single I used to look forward to these trips but not any more; it’s the first time that I’ve been away since my son David was born in July.

Botswana’s capital Gaborone where we are based is known affectionately as “Gabs”. It’s an unremarkable city about 500 km from Johannesburg that just happens to be the hub of one of Africa’s most successful economies. Not everything is so rosy in Botswana though; it has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world.

I am due back in Johannesburg for a golf day on Thursday and return here next week. The week after that I am on leave! It’s going to be great to spend some quality time with Chantelle and David.

Written by macinjay

November 25, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Tornado in Johannesburg?

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The weirdest thing happened today. I was forwarded an email from a colleague which contained the following warning:

Please take this serious (sic). A weather warning has just been issued. Within the next hour we will have a temperature drop of 10 degrees. And we will have a severe storm early this afternoon. This covers the whole of Gauteng. Please be careful as a tornado dropped in Randfontein on Saturday and is expected today.

The original email was apparently sent from someone working for a news media organisation. However it struck me as bogus. A tornado “dropped” in Randfontein (a town about 30km west of Johannesburg)? Now, there were some serious thunderstorms on Saturday evening west of Johannesburg  (one man was killed in the township of Lenasia after taking shelter under a tree) but nothing that could be described as a tornado. So I dismissed it.

Later in the day we received an email from the boss’s personal assistant to say that we could leave early to avoid “the storm”. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I packed up and left along with the rest of my team. But before that we picked up from the news services that the threat had been “exaggerated” by people sending text messages and emails. The traffic along my route home was a little heavier for that time of day but was apparently a lot busier elsewhere as a result of people evacuating their workplaces. I noticed that the skies looked mildly threatening but seemingly not enough to justify the earlier hysteria, and I arrived home without incident. (It is now 7.30 pm and the “tornado” is nowhere to be seen.)

It got me thinking about the power of modern communications. Mostly of course the advancements made are immensely beneficial but in this case they had been used to whip up the proverbial storm in a teacup (if you can excuse the pun), with who knows how many working hours lost as a result.

Written by macinjay

October 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm

The Big Hole

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On Saturday we drove with Chantelle’s family to visit her sister Tanya who is working as an au pair in the Northern Cape city of Kimberley. Last time I saw the place was about seventeen years ago when I paid a visit to my best mate Alastair who did his national service there. It didn’t make much of an impression on me then but this time I was pleasantly surprised. The city seemed a lot cleaner than Johannesburg and it was nice not to be bombarded by a legion of beggars and hawkers at intersections, although I did notice that most of the houses had some sort of burglar proofing.

The city is of course renowned for “The Big Hole” that was carved out of the earth by diamond miners near the turn of the century. I never got the chance to see it during my previous visit, which never bothered me. Regardless of how big it is, how exciting can a hole in the ground be? But according to one local I spoke to De Beers has spent R20 million upgrading the site, which perked my interest.

On Sunday we paid a visit to the Hole and I was very impressed. The guided tour begins with a short film or docudrama about the origins of diamond mining in Kimberley that really brings the period to life. This is followed by a visit “underground” to see what an old diamond mine would have looked like. (I use the parentheses because you never actually go more than a few feet down, but the mock-up looks quite authentic all the same.) Then came an exhibit with a mural showing the history of the diamond trade and replicas of famous specimens like the Eureka. Finally we got to see some real diamonds that are secured in a walk-in vault.

After the tour we paid a visit to the Big Hole itself. I find that things made famous by their sheer scale are always smaller than expected and this was no exception – the Hole is little more than a large quarry with a pool of water in the middle. This was followed by a pleasant lunch at a restaurant set in an area designed to resemble Kimberley as it would have looked like during the period. (To be honest this area could use an overhaul, as the exhibits had a slightly ramshackle appearance.)

We then retired back to Tanya’s lodgings for the rest of the day and started the return leg of our journey this morning, arriving back in Johannesburg at about four. Not a short drive by any means, but it was amazing how well-behaved David was on the way there and the way back! It wasn’t all plain-sailing though; Chantelle and her other sister Natalie are sick with the ‘flu. I spoke to my mother who offered to take care of David tomorrow morning if Chantelle needs to see a doctor. Let’s hope it isn’t necessary.

Written by macinjay

September 24, 2007 at 8:27 pm