WBGO Blog
  • WBGO in South Africa 7: Mandela's Garden

    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.

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    More spectacular vistas can be seen from the Upper Lighthouse at the Cape Of Good Hope.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Mr. Mbatyoti told us that Mandela liked to garden, and worked this small patch of land whenever he had the opportunity.

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  • WBGO In South Africa 6: Final Thoughts

    April 2, 2015. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    When we first arrived in South Africa, everyone in our WBGO group was excited – but I don’t know if we realized that what awaited us was a profound and potentially life-changing experience.

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    Our visit to the Lesedi Cultural Village was a great introduction -  a lighthearted and entertaining historical perspective on traits and traditions of the region’s tribes or ethnic groups.

    As we took in the sights, sounds and tastes of Soweto, we were able to get some sense of the challenges of everyday life in the present time.

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    The Apartheid Museum took us on an emotional roller coaster - down into the depths of man’s inhumanity to man, and back up again, to see how the spirit of one man – Nelson Mandela – could illuminate that darkness, and bring people into the light of a “Rainbow Nation.”

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    South Africa’s beautiful landscape contains vast mineral resources, which has created enormous wealth for some and unimaginable poverty and misery for others.

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    On the bus ride to the Pilanesburg Game Reserve, we passed near some of the world’s largest platinum mines.

    What astounds me is that miners must travel two hours down into the mines to begin their work. After their long shift, it’s another two hours back up to the surface.

    Photo by Steve Evans
    Photo by Steve Evans

    Getting up close and personal with South Africa’s wildlife was another highlight of our trip. It’s an unforgettable thrill to see these beautiful creatures roaming free, right in front of you.

    In some cases, like this wildebeest, beautiful may not be the most appropriate word.

    Our safari guide told us the story that after God created all the animals, he had some spare parts – so he gave the wildebeest the tail of a horse, the horns of a cow and the beard of a goat!

  • WBGO's Lezlie Harrison Remembers Dale Fitzgerald

    April 1, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO says goodbye to  jazz advocate and friend Dale Fitzgerald, who passed away March 20 at age 72. Lezlie Harrison knew him well: she and Dale created The Jazz Gallery with trumpeter Roy Hargrove in 1995, and worked side by side for more than two decades. She offers this heartfelt remembrance. Farewell Dale, and thank you!

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    Photo courtesy of Ingrid Hertfelder

    It's been just over a week since my hip, cool, smart, dapper, funny, daring, stubborn, generous, complex, ride-or-die friend, of 26 years,  Dale Kelley Fitzgerald, Executive Director of The Jazz Gallery,  physically departed this earth.

    Our friendship was founded on our love for jazz music, art, and culture. We turned that love into creating The Jazz Gallery.

    We jokingly called The Jazz Gallery our child. When we first acquired the space on Hudson Street, it was used to give trumpeter Roy Hargrove a space to rehearse. Dale was also Roy's business manager and often had to assuage Roy's neighbors who complained about his late night trumpet playing. It was there that The Roy Hargrove Big Band was created. The Gallery  eventually  morphed into an art gallery that showcased jazz related art work, with music as background. In 1995 we officially opened our doors in August with an exhibit that celebrated the extinct jazz club, the Tin Palace.

    Over the last twenty years I have worked with and supported his efforts to establish a home for the youngest generation of jazz musicians to create and showcase their artistry. This year our baby turns 20 and our fearless Founder is gone.

    When I returned to WBGO last June as a part time on-air announcer,  he was thrilled. He was always “taking notes” to give me after each show to improve on the listening experience. In writing this, I really miss him as he was also a great editor and he I am sure he’d have me make changes somewhere!  He was my champion. I will miss him dearly Though my heart is heavy, love remains.

    Plans are underway to honor Fitzgerald with a celebration at The Jazz Gallery soon.

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to an education fund for his young son, Gabriel.