Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The fabulous 'Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year'

Sing it, girlfriend! Lira was one of the performers at the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year awards at Emperors Palace.

Those stalwarts who have attended every single Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Awards, which searches for exceptional and visionary women achievers whose determination and foresight are making an impact on the future of fellow South Africans, said that this year's event at Emperors Palace near OR Tambo Airport was the best ever.

August is the month which celebrates the women of South Africa and their role in our future, and this was a particularly feel-good function as some of these women are unsung heroines who do such good work in their communities, never expecting any sort of reward.

This year there were some intriguing new categories, from a Corner Shop to Big Business Makers Category to Good Neighbours, Health Care-Givers, Educators and a Youth Movers Category. In addition there was a Lifetime Achievement Award up for grabs.

The entertainment was pretty great too, as the fabulous voices of Mara Louw, Lira, Jennifer Jones, Sibongile Khumalo and Loyiso were raised in song.

Winter wonderland ... the table settings were done by Nataniel with lots of candles, crystal, silverware and white linen.

Sister Jane Munyadziwa Dzebu ... who won in the Health Care Givers category. Sister Jane, who treats women for gynaecological cancers at the Charlotte Maxeke-Johannesburg Hospital, said she wanted the girl children of South Africa to be informed about their bodies and their health and that the only barometer to gauge the health of this nation is how we treat and empower our women and girl-children.

Founder of SA Fashion Week ... Lucilla Booyzen, who won in the From Corner Shop to Big Business category. Modest Lucilla said the award is an acknowledgement of the impact that SA Fashion Week has had on the SA public at large. She added: “Our aim is to create awareness in the minds of the SA consumer to the vast creative design resources that are available to them through our emerging design industry and the unlimited opportunities to create thousands of jobs through building SMMEs and luxury brands which is the future of fashion in Africa”.

The Good Neighbours Award ... went to Lesle Ann Van Selm who founded the Khulisa Crime Prevention Initiative 13 years ago. To create a positive outcome in the aftermath of crime she used African stories for morals in a series of crime prevention and community development interventions aimed at offenders in prisons, ex-offenders and at-risk youth and vulnerable children in communities to restore their self esteem, prevent crime and reduce recidivism, make restitution, and offer socially responsible alternatives to gangs, drugs and crime.

Educator ... Jackie Gallagher is the founder and general manager of the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust which started 20 years ago after she placed a small newspaper advertisement resulting in her teaching 4 learners on Saturdays in a church hall in Joubert Park in Johannesburg. The initiative grew to a well-respected educational organisation that has helped thousands of children to better their education and skills for a brighter future. Today the Sparrow Schools and Educational Trust are two interconnected projects catering for around 600 children and youth from impoverished communities at a time, employing 82 staff members at the Foundation School in Melville and the Sparrow Combined Vocational Training Centre in Sophiatown.

Khanyisile Motsa ... was honoured with the Youth Movers Award for her work at the Berea-Hillbrow Home of Hope. She founded the Berea-Hillbrow Home of Hope ten years ago and has since touched the lives of more than 8 000 street children who have had the opportunity to get their childhood back and have the prospect of becoming responsible citizens shaping the future of South Africa. Ms Motsa works in an area in South Africa that’s hardly spoken about and often ignored – child prostitution – and also has to confront dangerous intermediaries - the pimps further putting her life in danger. Human trafficking is a fact of life in South Africa, she said, and every human being deserves to be treated with dignity.

By winning the Award these five women each received R30 000 in individual prize money as well as R100 000 towards the work they do for a better future in South Africa.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele ... seen here with Whitey Basson from Shoprite Checkers, was honoured with the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award after the public nominated her as an esteemed South African whom during her lifetime has inspired generations. She received R100 000 to donate to a cause which she believes will better the lives of South Africans.

The event will be broadcast during prime time on Monday, 9 August 2010 on M-Net.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ten Reasons To Hate Winter

Johannesburg's winters are most depressing, not least because of the contrast with summer. While summer is lush and green, moisture-filled and full of glorious sunshine and electric thunderstorms, winter is in stark contrast to its sister lazy, hazy, crazy days. This may be Africa but for three months the Highveld gets bitterly, bitterly cold. But the cold is not the worst of it, there's more ... In the throes of post-World Cup depression I need to vent like a true bipolar South African, so here are my personal ten worst things about this particular Highveld July.

1. The World Cup is over. It's a mindset thing. Winter was bearable when the tournament was on because, even in a freezing stadium in Polokwane when temperatures plummeted to minus 10 and the fans' teeth chattered in time to the vuvuzelas, there was so much excitement in the air it kept us warm. But with all our wonderful overseas visitors gone what incentive is there for us to want to go out in this weather? The buzz and vibe has gone on to another part of the world and suddenly everything we do seems so Mickey Mouse. Suddenly 'chilling out' doesn't seem so much fun anymore. We would rather sit in our blankies at home watching the rather lacklustre television. Sigh, no more Wimbledon, no more Tour de France.

Fly me a river ... When will Lanseria International Airport look like this again? A friend sent me pictures of all the private jets flying in for the final match.

Even the smog was a VIP ... Look how pretty the Highveld sunset looks behind all those private jets!

2. The cold is physically painful especially if you have been raised in warm sunshine and your blood is thinner. It's the same every year. Our winter is cold in a way that is incomprehensible to a European used to snow and ice. This is a bone-biting cold accompanied by a nasty little wind that slices like a super-mean meat cleaver right through armour-plated winter wear. Wrapped up like an armadillo? Think you're safe? The wind will finger its way around the cuffs of your coat, then thrust itself deep down your sleeves, raping your unwilling flesh. It finds its sneaky, insidious way through your vest, shirt, three jerseys, scarf and coat. It sneaks up to your ankles and permafrosts the one patch of flesh that isn't covered up with insulation. Your body hurts from top to toe from the effort of trying to stay warm and maintain its core temperature. Everything in your cupboard is cold, the loo seat hurts your bum when you sit on it. And you stick to the shower curtain!

Even the Antarctic is not this unpleasant.

3. There is no central heating besides natural solar power. So you pray for a fine sunny day just to warm you up. Foreigners come here and laugh off May, strutting around in shirt sleeves. By June they put on a jersey but when July kicks in their faces start to fall. "It's so cold!" they finally confess under torture, blaming their lack of resistance on South Africa's blissful unawareness of building insulated buildings. But central heating would be a joke for the other nine months of the year, so why would we install it?

4. Everyone gets sick in winter, due to the extreme fluctuations in temperature and general lurginess in offices. It's a germ fest. The office reverberates with the sounds of sniffing, hacking, sneezing and general phlegm-iness. People look like Rudolph the red nosed reindeer but insist on coming to work. Don't you dare touch my keyboard! I go down with a cold the second week of every July like clockwork, and the only reason it hasn't happened this year is because I have been fortifying myself with lemon juice and honey every morning, drinking Berocca, washing my hands insiduously, eating lots of chicken soup and staying inside like a hibernating bear. I might as well have been sick because that's my recovery plan every year anyway!

5. After two terrible weeks of black frost the garden is completely dead. The pelargoniums that were my pride and joy last February are shrivelled brown and dry. The garden seems full of dead leaves that I cant bear to sweep up as my bones ache when I go out. It's lifeless. Could spring be only five weeks off and will I have to completely restock my plants? It seems inconceivable that life will ever spring up again in their veins, never mind mine. And where has my energy gone to? Usually I cant wait to start planting nice things like heartsease, pansies and primulas.

6. A heavy blanket of dust lies on everything inside and outside like a shroud. The plants and trees are bowed down under its weight,losing any semblance of green. The dust lies thick on my shelves and as I move it off it moves off to lurk malignantly somewhere else. It's a bad office colleague who likes to make trouble for you and you just have to live with it. No point in relocating the negative energy. Just wait for the cleansing rains.

7. Speaking of dust my car is permanently dirty. You can see kitty paw prints on it where the neighbourhood cats have had a jol. Children who should be in school learning to write practise their writing skills on my car. WASH ME! they implore. What's the point? Five minutes later it is just as dirty again.

8. The car doors bite you when you touch them. The static built up over four months of zero moisture in the air means you get an electric shock from everything you touch. You nearly electrocute your loved ones every time you hug them, and vice versa. But it's worth it. People recommend rubbing hand cream on pantihose to stop your clothes from riding up your thighs (an interesting look). Your hair stands on end and needs expensive deep moisture treatments at the hairdresser.

9. Your skin becomes positively crocodilian. I woke up this morning and saw my face was puckered up all over like Tutankhamen's mummy! It took three applications of face cream to restore the elasticity. My hands permanently look like a dried-up river bed. It costs money to buy all this rich Clarins night cream that my skin will only reject in spring. My back permanently shivers from the dry skin between my shoulder blades. Applying moisturising lotions and potions also a painful process as the cold attacks your naked form. The dryness of a Highveld winter will quickly dehydrate you again.

10. Winter is depressing and the cold leads to an enormous appetite. Only in winter do you want to eat a large roast chicken with roast potatoes and gravy, followed by three slices of buttered bread and a large sticky pudding.

On the plus side? You get to eat nice things like oxtail and buttered parsnips, and wear tailored coats and gorgeous boots. You catch up on your reading, manage to do your taxes, plan a complete house revamp. I also love exercising when I am wrapped up warm. Soup is a wonderful thing and you actually have early nights ... but this winter is beginning to feel interminable, so I say roll on spring.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Time to say goodbye

Yes, folks, the show is over but the memories remain. Last night's 2010 Fifa World Cup Final saw spectacular fireworks over Soweto as Spain and Holland battled it out at Soccer City. It was an extraordinarily frustrating match with no memorable moments, besides a record number of yellow cards, and one red one. The closing ceremony was infinitely better than the opening one (unbelievable light effects and loved the elephants at the waterhole) and rumours abound of Lebogang Morake, aka Lebo M, being "relieved of his duties" because according to one source he did not write the African music that was in his contract. He kept the title of co-executive producer of the ceremony, though and got paid several million rand. Sinister shades of what we need to avoid from now on ...

So unlike the Fifa endorsed Andrea Bocelli concert, which formed the Grand Finale. That will live in my heart for many a year to come. Was I in Milan, or at The Dome in Northgate? No matter what the venue was, the music was like the music of the spheres which I used to learn about when I studied medieval literature as a student.

South Africa goes back to work with a vengeance today but the memories of this time will linger long. It is time that ordinary South Africans put pressure on their elected government to quash crime and corruption so that we can live our lives in the same way as we have for the past month. I am not saying that Fifa are wonderful, but it was entirely in their own interests that things worked and that there were no outbreaks of crime (or none reported, I wonder how much happened that we did not hear about?). And so it should be with the South African government. With all the focus on this country it is simply bad PR to allow the vultures, hyenas and scavengers of the criminal world to continue feasting on the flesh of South Africa.

Down with crime.
Down with corruption.
Down with political lies and mismanagement.
Down with public figures backstabbing each other.
Down with xenophobia
Down with non-service delivery.
Down with the likes of Julius Malema, may he fall silent for ever.
Down with poverty.
Down with HIV/Aids
Down with rape and domestic violence.
Down with racism.

And long live:

A united non racial nation.
A virtually crime-free environment where citizens can walk freely in the streets.
A thriving economy.
Service delivery: let the taxpayers' money go where it should go
Lengthy jail time for those who break the law, whoever they may be.
A strong leadership that cares about the interests of its electorate and refuses to allow rabble rousing.
Zillions of tourists who come back with their families and fellow countrymen to share their cultures with us.
Jobs and food for everyone who lives here, regardless of where they come from
A first world infrastructure
A "green" environment, with solar powered robots and public buildings

Utopia? No, I don't think so. Look what we just showed the world ... we can do anything we put our minds to.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Images of Jozi 2010!

On the ball .... The big soccer ball hanging at OR Tambo International Airport.

The arrivals hall was done out like a soccer field.

The road out from OR Tambo International.

My city has never been so exciting as during this 2010 Fifa World Cup which started and ended in Soweto. Flags have festooned the city and soccer balls are everywhere plus the irrepressible spirit and friendliness to people from all over the world that are the hallmarks of Joburg. Friend and jewellery designer Kevin Friedman went around on my behalf snapping some images which capture the mood and exuberance which has enveloped Joburg for the past month.

Joburg is looking amazing, unlike Cape Town, where you wouldn't think anything was happening at all! Think of the flag opportunities, just that huge big mountain, for starters. Even the SABC building in Auckland Park has a giant flag outside that you can see for miles. Here's to Jozi 2010!

Riches from rags ... Yeoville residents have created signs out of weighted plastic bags that say: FEEL IT! IT IS HERE".

Flagging down motorists ... The highways are awash with flags from every country.

The wow factor ... entering the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

Mr Big ... the skyscraper huge picture of Ronaldo sponsored by Nike.

Spot the soccer ball ... The Telkom Tower, aka the Hillbrow Tower.

Go Bafana ... who could forget the "flowerbeds" of yellow hands at Gilloolys Interchange? They were periodically put back in place after some of them fell over!

Buy one, buy 'em all. The flag vendors were cleaning up.

Anthropomorphic ... Newtown Fan Fest's giant "Coke Man" that lights up at night.

Stars and stripes ... The American flag flies from a Sandton penthouse.

Painting vuvuzelas ... unlike a Chinese vuvu these are homegrown!

If you can maka it here, you can maka it anywhere ... Makarapas from every country on sale outside Gramadoelas restaurant at the Market Theatre.

A Jewish makarapa ... at Museum Africa where they had a collection of exotic makas.

Street art ... even the graffiti artists got in on the act.

It's electric ... despite the threatened Eskom strike.

Play ball ... The little soccer player outside the Ghana team's hotel.

Celebrating Ghana ... the party for Africa's last remaining team at Melrose Arch brought out all sorts of supporters.

The Fan Fest at Montecasino.

Well, yellow there ... The VIP lounge at the SABC media centre in the Sandton Convention Centre.

Can't miss it ... The South African flag featured large on the outside of buildings and businesses.

Er, you've got an eyelash in your eye ... some fans went the extra mile.

Hot as hell ... fans appreciate the local women.

Turn me on ... Even the lights at Soccer City were in keeping with the theme.

Subtle tribute ... PJ Powers hits a patriotic note with her takkies (sneakers).

Africa unites ... A T-shirt at Museum Africa with flags from the participating African countries on it.

A Joburg suburb supports the Holland team in the final.

Orange man ... Some people made no bones about who they were supporting!


Crying for BaGhana with Mick, SIR Sol and Leo

The place was packed!

South Africa is in the grip of an unheard of exuberance right now. The mood is party-mode only and Twitter and Facebook keep closing down because of the tsunami of texting and tweets that fly back and forth over the ether. Everyone is at a match or a function or a street party or a fan fest or making new international friends. Even though there are now only two more big matches, how do you choose where you want to be or what you want to do or who you want to do it with? We just do not want this to end. Sepp Blatter for President, say I (not just president-for-a-month)!

The focus shifted to Cape Town over the weekend with a couple of huge parties (the Sol Kerzner party (we have to call him SIR Sol now, doesn't it have a cute ring to it?) and StringCaesar premiere, both at the One&Only) and the big quarter final matches between Argentina and Germany and Uruguay and Ghana. I am eternally grateful to Edith Venter-Schwartz and her husband Johnny Schwartz, who made sure that I had a plane ticket to go down via Kulula.

Accommodation was tight as the Mother City, which had not been at capacity throughout the tournament, suddenly filled up to the brim. PR Wendy Masters and her team who were handling the Sol Kerzner event at the One&Only went out of their way to try to fit me into the hotel, and the Table Bay also went the extra mile, phoning me at the last minute to say they had accommodation for me. I was so grateful to them both for their efforts. Fortunately I had found something in the pretty Gardens area so it was easy to have a fab cocktail beforehand with Louise and Sammy from Greater Than PR at the Mount Nelson, just to catch our breath. Red Nellies all round at the Planet Bar; if you haven't tried one of these you need to.

I brought friend and designer Francois Rall, who had been working extremely hard on his collection for Africa Fashion Week, to the party. He and Wendy were friends from way back when, and had spent the millennium in Hermanus with Sol's right hand man Ian Douglas. Francois, who is a very quietly connected person, told me he had been in a club in Paris in around 1983. It was one of those places where you had to purchase a bottle of pop at an astronomical sum, which ensured you a table. An English girl with multi-coloured hair hair came over and asked if she could share the table with Francois and his oil-tycoon heiress friend. Turned out she was with Mick Jagger's band and she brought the man himself over. Needless to say they all had a whale of a time.

Wendy had mentioned a possible "cameo appearance" by Mick as well as Leonardo di Caprio, who were staying at the hotel. Mick had watched the Ghana game with the US in Rustenberg and had come down to Cape Town for a week to stay. (Just to digress, my mother always makes me laugh when she describes how she was in London in 1969, switched on the television and there was Mick Jagger calming down his fans after fellow Rolling Stone Brian Jones had been found dead in a swimming pool. "Cool it, kids," he told them, and, she puts in about 50 exclamation marks at this point, "he was wearing a broderie anglaise shirt!!!!!")

No broderie anglasie on this occasion, as MJ's sartorial style seems to have calmed down. He arrived very quietly after dinner and the game in a dark T-shirt and jacket with his bodyguard and strolled off to the Nobu bar where local beauty Gina Athans in a long red dress joined them five minutes later. She was going clubbing with his party afterwards, she told me in the loo. It had "all been arranged". We were all too busy enjoying our delicious meal to take much notice, as the dishes kept arriving in quick succession and we were having a wonderful time. We were next to Brandon Kerzner's party, as Sol Kerzner had arrived earlier in the evening (did you know that his late brother Butch came up with the One&Only concept?). There was a bit of a kerfuffel when the PR photographers were chased away by the very woes bodyguard who flew at him like a mother bird defending her nest. So a photo opportunity with Sol and Mick Jagger was lost.

Upstairs the hotel was pumping with all the Beautiful Young Things of Cape Town and even businessman Patrice Motsepe made an appearance. The focus was on the game between Ghana and Uruguay (yes, they of the "hand of Uruguay goal") and the excitement, despair and adrenalin was epic. There were cheers and groans and wild cries from everyone watching. Leonardo di Caprio arrived in a schlumpy big white shirt and baseball cap and sat up at the upstairs bar.

Now came the interesting part. I could understand why the bodyguards are so unpleasant. Every single girl in the place, decked out in the tightest smallest skirts imaginable, made a beeline for the bar where Leo was sitting. Even a girl on crutches in a leopard-print dress hopped up one stair at a time to try her luck but got beaten back by her more predatory and able-bodied sisters. At first I could clearly see him from where I was sitting as he was silhouetted in the circular windows of the bar, but then he sort of disappeared under the weight of bodies. Fortunately when the game really got nail-biting he was more or less left alone.

I was kept amused by all the celebrity anctics which my fellow journos were tweeting to me from Port Elizabeth where Paris Hilton was busy being arrested. I recently indulged in a Blackberry so I can keep up with all the Jones, or the Hiltons in this case. I just wish we were still in the Space Race so we could have sent her up in a rocket into the atmosphere, the original space cadet. There is no oxygen up there for her to steal. I retaliated with all my news and so it went.

The place was starting to pulsate and the dance floor was pumping. Everyone was having a helluva time, even though the tears were flowing for Ghana, now dubbed "BaGhana BaGhana". I had talked Francois into changing his flight to a 5.45am one, just so he could join me at the party. Miraculously he didn't hate me. It was really tough to leave at midnight, as bedtime in South Africa is now around 3am every night.

But Francois and I saw each other again the next night in Joburg after his show. "My black dresses are unbelieveable,"" he told me, and they lived up to expectations. We all had a lovely dinner at Bukhara, after I had escaped from some Argentinean journalists. After you've said "Hola", and kissed each other, what more is there to say? Soccer transcends language barriers but not to that degree, and I had a sneaking suspicion they were Uruguay supporters. Uruguay is the new Robert Mugabe of soccer, they are cheats and horrid and we hate them.

I really really wanted to stay for the StringCaesar premiere but Joburg was calling me back. The focus shifts here with a vengeance this week, and the highway was closed for two hours yesterday in a trail run for the Big Day. They wouldn't do that unless Barack Obama himself was coming out for the final (he isn't apparently). It's going to be the party-of-all-parties and I for one am booking my acommodation in Soweto, as that is where it's going to be at!

PS: I heard later that Sol Kerzner abruptly left the Penthouse party the following Monday, as he did not think any of the people there were the right crowd who could afford his penthouse prices!