March 25, 2015. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.
We make the most of our first full day in South Africa, visiting the sites and meeting the people of Johannesburg and Soweto.
Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum offers stark reminders of South Africa's racially divided past – starting at the front door.
Visitors are randomly assigned tickets as “white” or “non-white,” then must enter through separate turnstiles, as was the practice under the now-defunct Apartheid laws.
The museum offers vivid and heart-wrenching details of Apartheid’s dehumanizing and violent history. It also turns the page to the new era ushered in by Nelson Mandela in 1994. Mandela was a beloved leader and is the father of the “Rainbow Nation” we see today.
There’s a wall where Apartheid Museum visitors are encouraged to write how they’re going to make a world a better place, in memory of Mandela.
WBGO's Simon Rentner asks Shirley Hatcher, a member of our group, what she wrote on the wall. She emotionally responds that “She’s home” - and that she’ll share the museum’s lessons with her children.
The memory of Mandela – or Madiba, as he was affectionately known - is everywhere. We visit the Soweto home he briefly shared with his wife Winnie after his release from prison in 1990. A few blocks away, there’s the home of another Nobel Peace Prize winner - Archbishop Desmond Tutu!
Mandela gave his first speech after his release from prison at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium. In 2013, his memorial service was also held at this site.
Completed in 1989, it is also known as Soccer City, and was renovated and expanded 20 years later to accommodate the World Cup. Locals call it “The Calabash” because its shape resembles an African gourd.
You have to see this stadium in person to appreciate its massiveness. It’s the largest in Africa, and seats almost 100,000.
As we drive by, one member of our group exclaims, “It’s ginormous!!!”
Up next: the sights, sounds – and tastes – of Soweto, so stay tuned!
© 2015 WBGO
March 22, 2015. Posted by Simon Rentner.
We did it! Rhonda Hamilton, twenty-five lucky WBGO members and I are super-excited to be in the Rainbow Nation, South Africa.
This is the first peek at our adventures, so buckle in and enjoy the ride!
Our first stop: Lesedi Cultural Village. "Lesedi" means "place of light" in Basotho, one of South Africa's main tribal languages.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is in the heart of South Africa's characteristic bushveld and rocky hills, about 50 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg. It offers a peek into the lifestyles of the Basotho, Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, and Ndebele tribes.
Our charismatic tour guide gives us a quick lesson in Zulu, the dominant ethnic group in South Africa - about 80 percent of the population.
He also explains that in some tribes, a man is allowed more than one wife - depending on how many cows he owns. Our WBGO group is more women than men, but we all scoff when our guide says one powerful Zulu leader had sixty wives.
One of the highlights, or should I say, “high sights” of our tour is this tall gentleman, who stands guard in front of Lesedi's Zulu village. On cue, we collectively chant a request for entry, in the Zulu tongue. He grants our request.
Some of the ladies linger and repeat this exercise; I hear one of them say, “That fine man can guard my village any day of the week.”
Our guide offers us a staple dish, which may surprise many Westerners. Caterpillars! Yes, these creepy crawlers are very high in protein, rooty, and can be delicious when sautéed with onions and peppers.
Most in our group decide to pass on this culinary adventure - but I can say these salty, chewy treats can be good - as long as you erase the image of a creepy crawler from your mind.
Our first adventure ends with a thunderous bang – a show-stopping performance of rhythm, song, and dance by the village's folkloric dance troupe. To watch a video of this, click on the image above.
The Lesedi Village shows us “the light” of how our recent, and maybe even our ancient, ancestors lived, in the Cradle of Humankind. It should be noted that this locale has produced some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found, some dating back as far as 3.5 million years.
Yes, we’ve arrived in The Motherland, indeed. And we can’t wait to see more!
© 2015 WBGO
August 28, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
Montreal lives, breathes, and loves jazz every July, when millions of fans and hundreds of acts take over the city - and so does WBGO, especially host Michael Bourne, who has attended FIJM every year for two decades.
Bourne was in Montreal once again this year with producer Simon Rentner to deliver previews, day-by-day reports and behind-the-scenes interviews with music makers.
Miss something? You can relive Montreal's best moments right here, by clicking on the links below. And just as we did this year, WBGO Travel will take us to Montreal next year, and we hope fans and listeners will join us then as well. So enjoy the very best of FIJM 2014 - and FIJM 2015 - with WBGO!
Bourne's Montreal Journal
FIJM 2014 Interviews For WBGO's The Checkout
© 2014 WBGO
September 5, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
Montreal lives, breathes, and loves jazz every July, when millions of fans and hundreds of acts take over the city - and so does WBGO, especially Singers Unlimited and Blues Hour host Michael Bourne, who has attended the Festival International du Jazz de Montreal on our behalf every year for the past two decades.
Bourne was in Montreal once again this year, along with Simon Rentner and David Tallacksen, to deliver previews, day-by-day reports and more than two dozen behind-the-scenes interviews with the festival's music makers and organizers.
Miss something? You can relive WBGO's best moments in Montreal right here, and read some "bonus entries" to Bourne's Journal. And just as we did this year, WBGO Travel will take us to Montreal next year, and we hope fans and listeners will join us then as well. So enjoy the very best of FIJM 2013 - and FIJM 2014 - with WBGO!
WBGO's FIJM 2013 Interviews
Bourne's Montreal Journal
© 2013 WBGO
July 11, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.
Montreal is the City of Festivals -- 108 through the year.
Festival International de JAZZ de Montreal is the biggest and best-known, although the Juste Pour Rire comedy festival is getting bigger and better-known.
While the jazzfest was happening, also happening was a circus festival. I'd like to have seen a troupe called Gandini Juggling, nine Brits juggling 80 apples in a show characterized as "Downton Abbey Meets Monty Python."
Meanwhile, an international fireworks festival happens every summer. Also a world choir festival in suburban Laval. Also a festival of First Natives, celebrating the Algonquin and other peoples here long before the British fought the French and Indian War. Not to forget the African Nights festival and the Francofolies, celebrating French culture in very French Quebec.
None of the other festivals contributes as much to the Quebec economy as FIJM does -- $64 million annually -- or generates as much media interest as FIJM does. Altogether this year the festival accredited 400 journalists and broadcasters representing 135 media outlets from 16 countries.
This year was our ninth broadcasting from Montreal.
Next year will be the 35th anniversary of WBGO and the 35th anniversary of FIJM. We will celebrate together wonderfully.
To paraphrase the iconic song of Robert Charlebois:
nous reviendrons a Montreal ...
© 2013 WBGO