WBGO Blog
  • WBGO in South Africa 4: Elephants, Rhinos, and Lions!

    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!

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    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.

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    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!

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    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!

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    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?

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  • Anat Cohen's Roots Of Rio

    March 26, 2015

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    Anat Cohen. (Image Credit: Jimmy Katz/Anzic Records)

    The genre choro — a word which means "cry" in Portuguese — is often described as "the New Orleans jazz of Brazil." Like its U.S. counterpart, both are Afro-Western hybrids which emerged in the early 20th century; both call for jam sessions showcasing improvisation and virtuosity. Both jazz and choro are also the domains of clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen. Her newest band, the quartet Choro Aventuroso, culminates an affinity and intense study of Brazilian music — one which began as part of an international community of jazz students at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

    Jazz Night In America visits Jazz at Lincoln Center to catch Cohen's group play its modernized take on waltzes, mazurkas and African-Brazilian rhythms such as the lundu — all of which help characterize the essence of choro.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • WBGO In South Africa 3: In Soweto

    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.

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    “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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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