April 3, 2015. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.
Cape Town, South Africa’s “Mother City,” is a photographer’s paradise.
It’s breathtakingly beautiful – from the top of Table Mountain, you can see miles of white sandy beaches that rim the coastline, and crystal clear ocean, in every shade of blue.
More spectacular vistas can be seen from the Upper Lighthouse at the Cape Of Good Hope.
Looking out from Table Mountain, you see a small land mass in the ocean.
That’s Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and hundreds of other political prisoners were incarcerated under Apartheid.
I always assumed the island was named after a person, but “Robben” is the Dutch word for seal. Today, it's home to over 20 species of mammals and is a bird sanctuary with a large African penguin population.
We were privileged to have a former inmate, Jama Mbatyoti, as one of our guides.
He was arrested in 1976 for planning a march in his hometown of Port Elizabeth, and was confined for five years.
You could hear the pain in his words, and see it permanently etched in his face, as he spoke of the indignities he and his fellow prisoners suffered.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for twenty-seven years. He spent eighteen on Robben Island.
Mandela’s cell was in section B, where the leaders of political organizations were held, in isolation from the rest of the prison community.
Mr. Mbatyoti told us that Mandela liked to garden, and worked this small patch of land whenever he had the opportunity.
© 2015 WBGO
March 29, 2015. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.
Yes, WBGO golfs. And when we found out we were just minutes from one of the best courses in the world - Sun City's Gary Player Country Club - the golfers on our trip couldn't pass up the opportunity to play. We were in for a few surprises, to say the least!
Look how excited Simon and I are to tee off!
We’re used to seeing deer on the fairway in New Jersey. In South Africa, that's not a deer - it's an impala.
The animal that rules the green in South Africa is the mongoose - they are too cute!
This is strictly a walking course. Since no golf carts are allowed, each of us is assigned a caddie. My caddie, London, turns out to be a jazz fan who listens to a weekly South African jazz radio show.
Lucky for me, he is also an excellent reader of the greens. Here he is, helping me avoid an ibis!
The resort has a second Gary Player-designed 18-hole course, the Lost City. It's famous for the 38 crocodiles in the water at its 13th hole.
I'm pleased to say we didn't play anywhere near those beasts.
But... playing golf in South Africa! I kept having to pinch myself.
© 2015 WBGO
March 28, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
Simon Rentner talks with guides and guests at South Africa's Lesedi Cultural Village near Johannesburg. The UNESCO world heritage site offers an introduction to the culture, arts and cusine of the Basotho, Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, and Ndebele tribes. It is also considered part of the Cradle of Humankind, as hominid fossils dating back 3.5 million years have been found there.
© 2015 WBGO
March 27, 2015. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.
When it comes to the wild kingdom in South Africa, everyone talks about The Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo.
On our overnight visit to Pilanesburg National Park, we got up close to them – four times!
The highlight of our first safari drive was meeting this elephant, who became quite agitated as we drew close.
Everyone held their breath, waiting to see if he was going to charge at us. Elephants have been known to tip over safari vehicles.
After what seemed like an eternity - but was really only fifteen minutes - he decided to walk away.
They say elephants never forget, and I suspect all of us will be retelling the story of our elephant adventure for the rest of our days.
This lion family wasn’t particularly impressed by us - but we were enthralled, especially when they crossed the road right in front of our vehicle!
Rhinos like to sleep in the middle of the road. When they do, you just have to live with their decision, and wait until they decide to make a move.
Hey - check out the giraffe in the background!
We took a break for biscuits and hot chocolate at one of the highest points in the park. They don’t have rest stops like this in New Jersey.
The man in the picture is one of our wonderful guides, François.
In the end I never saw a buffalo. But who’s complaining, when you’ve got a dazzle of zebras?
© 2015 WBGO
March 25, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
I learned today Soweto is an acronym for South West Townships. It’s a sprawling, culturally rich and economically diverse collection of communities. With well over a million people, Soweto makes up half of the population of Johannesburg.
“The Soweto Uprising” began on June 16, 1976 when Hector Peterson, only 12 years old, was killed when South African police fired into a crowd of students.
Over the next two days, perhaps as many as 1200 more black Africans were killed -- 89 under the age of 20 and 12 under the age of 7.
The students had gathered to protest the State’s declaration that Afrikaans be the official language of instruction in African schools.
This now-iconic image of Hector being carried by 18-year-old Mbuyasi Makhubo was taken by news photographer Sam Nzima, and provoked an international outcry.
Both were forced into hiding because of harassment by the police. The young girl is in the photo is Hector’s 17 year old sister, Antoinette. She later worked at this museum as a guide.
Our day includes a delicious lunch at Chez Alina, one of the many thriving businesses in Soweto.
Alina set up the restaurant in her home. The walls are covered in works of art. We dine to the sounds of a jazz trio brought in especially for our WBGO group. Good food, good music – everyone is all smiles.
Here's Alina with my friend, Brenda Raney, and our tour host from Immersion Journeys, Hema Shah.
Inside Chez Alina, we enjoy Abudullah Ibrahim’s famous South African jazz anthem “Mannenberg.”
Outside, we are treated with some traditional African drumming and dancing.
The littlest ones put on a great show!
© 2015 WBGO