If you live in Suurbraak or its environs and need a fence constructed or repaired, a chicken hok rooikat or otter-proofed, bollards constructed or your lawn mowed, then Japie Presence is your man.
Japie, whose real name is Jacob (or Jakob in Afrikaans) is a
man of many talents. Consequently he has been a boon to me. For instance it was
he who noticed that the metal chimney to my Dover stove was rusted and needing
replacing. He did a MacGyver and it not only no longer leaks but pulls far
better than it did.
On request Jakob also arrives with his weed eater and will
do an excellent job mowing your lawn.
He’ll also tends to the garden, rakes leaves and will prune your
For big jobs he’ll quote, but also has a daily rate. If his
quotation isn’t to your liking please engage with him as he is open to
discussing his and your needs to ensure that neither is short-changed.
If you need to contact him leave a note below and I’ll get back to you with his mobile number.
This time round I’ll be voting Cope for national, and DA for the Western Province. Here are my reasons.
Why I won’t be voting ANC
What brought my world crashing was our President (no less) Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa announcing to the nation that the Constitution must be changed in order to reflect the prevailing racist trope that white people constitute ‘the original sin’ (see below), and are therefore to blame for a quarter of a century of failed land reform – and not the ANC.
His was my Piet Retief moment; treachery.
(For readers who don’t know the history: after ratifying transfer of land to the boer Voortrekkers led by Piet Retief, the Zulu King Dingane kaSenzangakhona requested the boers leave their weapons outside the chief’s kraal (enclosure) in order to participate in a feast. Unarmed, the boers were set upon by Zulu Impi and slaughtered | Grobler, J. (2011). The Retief Massacre of 6 February 1838 revisited. Scielo, Historia 46(2) [online] Available at [accessed 6 April 2019]. )
The Retief-Dingane analogy, I believe, holds as Ramaphosa (that’s him with his red tie, below) was co-architect of the original treaty that gave birth to the South African Constitution signed between incoming President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (seated) and outgoing Prime Minister Frederik Willem de Klerk:
Silver-tongued Cyril’s endorsement of the Gupta, Bell Pottinger, BLF, EFF, Jacob Zuma anti-white narrative tells me I cannot trust this man.
Why I won’t be voting for the DA, nationally
At about the same time the leader of the opposition, Mmusi Aloysias Maimane, was also into betrayal, first of Helen Zille for her colonialism tweet and then all white people, including members of his own party, who, according to him, must own up to and, by implication, atone for their ‘privilege’ .
Why I shall be voting Cope, nationally
In contrast it was Mosiuoa Gerard Patrick (Terror) Lekota, leader of Cope, who, on principle, fearlessly stood his ground – despite the taunting and jeering – with his question that still hasn’t been answered by Ramaphosa (or the DA): “Who is ‘our people’; who is not ‘our people’?”.
When a friend shafts you it is difficult ever to trust that person again. On the other hand if someone stands up for you and you don’t even say thank you; that sucks. Why should it be any different for a politician?
So, Mr Lekota you’ve demonstrated that you’ve got my and all South Africans’ back: black, brown, olive and white. It’s payback time to stand up and be counted. Quid pro quo. I’m voting for your party, the Congress of the People, come Wednesday May 8, 2019.
Why I shall again vote DA provincially
I’m voting DA provincially because the Western Cape Government under the premiership of Helen Zille works for all its people and not for just a small elite of the super-connected. Witness: Health, Education, very few potholes and overwhelmingly clean audits. So my ‘thank you’ will be to vote for the DA in the Western Province.
This unsolicited post will argue that you should take out a trial subscription to LinkedIn Learning to rivet those joints: yours and/or your employees
Photography has featured strongly in much of my working career in education (photographic clubs, school magazines, newspapers, newsletters, websites, press releases and social media), so I reckon I knew something about how to shoot a reasonable image.
However, mine was always just-in-time learning based on a lifetime of hands-on, manuals, physical courses, YouTube and Adobe Support videos.
In short: Heath Robinson.
So my scaffolding has taken some strain over the years and, then, a short while ago, it collapsed (well kinda – I know I’m dramatizing, but it certainly felt that way) on a photoshoot suggested by long-time friend, Ken Barris, of the Swartberg Pass to Prince Albert where, throughout, I had enormous difficulty coaxing the kind of images I wanted from my Nikon D800E and two prime lenses, whereas Ken was in his element (refer the photo above and the credit below).
Since then, defeated and depressed, my camera mostly remained in its bag.
In the meantime, however, I had an upcoming commission by Peter Baker – who, with Darryl David, put together the annual Booktown Richmond in the Northern Cape, South Africa – to shoot and report on another chapter of Bookbedonnerd. That, and encouragement by conversations with Ken, convinced me to take the financial plunge, and I purchased a 24-85mm medium zoom.
Additionally I signed up for a monthly LinkedIn Learning subscription (which enticingly comes with a free one-month introduction and the option to cancel anytime). After providing my payment details I logged in, listed my training needs (Photography, Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, WordPress, and Premier Elements) and was presented with abundance: hundreds, if not thousands of full-length courses to choose from.
I was blown away at how professional, comprehensive, accessible and helpful all the courses were.
My modus operandi was to work through each course – not skipping a single lesson – even though I thought I knew something about the topic in question, and I’m glad I did it that way because I was then able to rebuild from the ground up thus trading Heath Robinson for solidity and elegance.
I don’t in this post wish to run myself down completely because I do suspect I’m not the only one depending on rickety scaffolding. My sense is successful people mostly play to their strengths. In fact a colleague, Alixe Lowenherz, once suggested that most everybody in IT in those early days was flying by the seat of their pants.
And it’s because I suspect I’m not unique, and that we’re all a little rusty or rickety that I’m recommending you, too, sign up to LinkedIn Learning.
LinkedIn Learning is a professional, polished and comprehensive LMS (learning management system) with courses on every topic under the sun – it seems, so if you own a business or are responsible for training in your company I would like to make one further suggestion: their staff option. It’ll return dividends.
Bookbedonnerd? Didn’t make it. My car broke down. But I do have some nice goat pics.
Photo credit: feature image at the head of this post of me not getting it together on the Swartberg Pass was shot by Ken Barris who was in top form
When you conjure Barrydale do you think of literature? If you do then you’ve discovered The House of Books.
Situated in Van Riebeeck Street near to ABSA and the OK, one enters through a garden into an atrium of books. On entry turn to the room on your left: books, the passageway: books, in every nook except the bathroom: books. Additionally you’ll find thousands of CDs and DVDs in the hallway and elsewhere.
I live in Suurbraak, and whenever it’s time to fill my jerrycans with drinking water from the Tradouw Pass I extend my journey, order two double espressos from Diesel & Crème, draw some money from the ABSA ATM and then visit Anton.
As I’m interested in unravelling the history of this area and South Africa in general – particularly with the view to trying to understand the early conflicts between Bushmen, Khoi Khoi, Bantu and European – I tend to gravitate to the room at the end of the passageway which houses Africana. More recently I’ve invested, because it is an investment, in four volumes of Theal’s History of South Africa before 1505 until 1872, Jan H. Hofmeyr’s South Africa, Spilhaus’s The first South Africans and the laws that governed them and Vulliamy’s Outlanders.
I’ve also purchased a number of excellent CDs to listen towhile doing the pass.
Anton’s a photographer and you’ll see his work on display throughout. Quirky, gritty, angled – almost every image spoke directly to me. See if you agree:
So if you value books, enjoy CDs and/or want to expose yourself to some stunning images then visit House of Books next time in Barrydale, and if you’re lucky Anton might be at hand to enrich your visit with suggestions and ruminations on his stock, Barrydale and the meaning of life.
“This is the first time in 30 years the river has been this low,” reports Bertrim Oliver, who lives in Suurbraak, a small village that straddles the Buffelags Rivers on the way to or from Barrydale in the Western Cape.
Where I live, in line with the confluence of the Caledon and Buffelags, neither river seems to flow anymore, and the Buffeljags is fast drying up.
“Never seen it this bad,” comments Matthew Mentz, “but we have had worse droughts, which makes me think water tables are disappearing.”
The Municipality of Swellendam administers Suurbraak and supplies farmers and all of us who live ‘oor die rivier’ (across the river from the village) with irrigation water from the Buffeljags, which they pump to a storage dam up the hill.
When the level falls below the pump feed we on this side of the river will be in trouble as the irrigation dam water is our only source – unless we have rainwater tanks of sufficient capacity.
Organic farmers, Mark and Dori September, are therefore at risk.
Dori and I spoke with the Suurbraak Municipal Manager, Desmond Marais, about the situation. Marais confirmed that bulk water is available from Swellendam (purchasable via the Municipal cash office).
Update, Wednesday 2018-11-21
Two days later the heavens opened (see below), and it then poured throughout most of the night.
The next morning, what do we see:
In view of the comment below by Carol Browne in response to Matt’s hypothesis about groundwater levels mentioned above, it will be interesting to monitor for how long the flow continues.
The featured image at the head of this post is of Dori and Mark’s and my goats surveying the new geography of the Buffeljags
The longer I live alone here, off-grid in Suurbraak, managing my son (Matt) and daughter-in-law’s (Sasha) small Niche Unity farming operation, the more absorbed I become in what I call a hidden geography, captured also in a short film by Green Renaissance:
Ostensibly, the film is a creation of Justine du Toit (producer), Michael Raimondo (director), Warren Smart (cinematographer), and Jackie Viviers (editor) all of Green Renaissance.
My sense, however, is of deeper processes at work. Let me try to explain.
For me the film was uncanny, as I had been looking for both pairs of my glasses up until minutes before Justine and Michael’s arrival to show me the rough cut of their movie. While searching, the question popped into my mind: ‘Hendrik, what aren’t you seeing?’, and then as if to reinforce the question halfway through their movie hanging in the barn were my glasses.
For me seeing my glasses hanging in the barn evoked a sense of déjà vu, but what of the viewer?
The film opens in darkness, with nothing to see, just the sound of milking: ‘whoosh, whoosh’, cut to (narrative text is indicated in italics): And there’s nothing else, just you in this goat world, cut to Daisy’s eyes looking over the gate at the three of us inside the barn (Daisy is the matriarch) followed by the piano score and movie title, What actually IS superimposed over a close-up of a rather sinister image of one of the goat’s eyes (see the screen grab below),
perhaps reminding us that goats are intimately associated with the occult – as in that which is hidden.
My sense is that the tension set up by the goats’ eyes juxtaposed with the glasses hanging in the barn lie at the heart of this little movie.
So if the movie is about seeing, what should we be seeing?
Is it a case of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get): photogenic goats, an old man sounding off, footage of the luscious Suurbraak valley or is what we should be seeing invisible: as in that from which the visible emerges (the surrounding darkness out of which the goat’s eye peers, comes to mind)?
Certainly it’s not WYSIWYG, as the tight edits, narrative and voice-overs signal: It’s deep, deep stuff (Kashkha looking back into the camera). Humans have lost respect for animals (Daisy looking into the barn). Batteries and feedlots… If we don’t look after our animals and we just turn them into food factories … (aforementioned glasses, fade to antique Chinese urn, fade to transgenerational photographic image of Matthew glass raised as if toasting his father, fade to steaming clay and ash espresso cup from the Camino, referencing Sasha, born French, fade to barometer indicating stormy).
For me the movie reaches into what is below the surface and has been lost.
So what has been lost?
I spend most of my day caring for and thinking about the needs of all the animals on the farm. They, in turn, are continuously conscious of my presence.
Each provides a gateway to other, or what might traditionally be described as God. I provide the animals with a sense of security, governance and routine. They put me in touch with that which is primordial (William Blake’s The Tyger comes to mind). This mutuality is the hidden geography.
This self-same geography Justine most likely sensed when she interjected: “If only we had had a camera here to capture your saying that.” Michael’s searching interview questions that evoked my responses helped articulate it. Warren’s saturated, pregnant footage conveyed it. Justine and Michael’s brief to Jackie must have spoken to it. Jackie’s uncanny, David Lynchian edits framed it.
All mentioned above, as also the goats, sensing something important was happening, helped us see: if we don’t respect them …the animals are lost, and their loss is our loss.
Politics vs the community: Whereas earlier I had had grave misgivings about the possibility of party political interference in community affairs and/or the stoking of pockets of discontent within the Suurbraak community the march was, instead, from the outside, community driven; kudos therefore to the organisers for getting the community behind them on the matter of housing. Continue reading Suurbraak rolling mass action: a commentary→
The organisers of Sunday’s protest march in Suurbraak (14 May 2017) were the SYM (Suurbraak Youth Movement chaired by Donovan Julius) and the SCA (Suurbraak Civic Association chaired by Burton Beukes). Both these organisations can feel justly proud of what they achieved. Apart from one troubling incident, about which I’ll report below, the march was efficiently managed and executed.
The organisers amassed an impressive Suurbraak-style turnout comprising children, young men and women, middle aged and the elderly following in cars, bakkies and on a truck. In fact I felt quite sorry for the kids who must have been forbidden by their parents to take part and who watched the passing cavalcade with longing.
Click on the window below in order to see footage of the march.
I reported earlier how I came away troubled from a meeting I had attended two weeks back called by the Swellendam executive mayor, Councillor Nicholas Myburgh, to address a host of community-related issues.
Flowing from that meeting was a protest action this past Sunday 7 May 2017, which ended in the symbolic burning of a banner depicting Swellendam Municipality.
As has repeatedly been demonstrated, Suurbraak is a microcosm of the whole. This being so, I believe this current protest enables us to understand why this country is imperilled. I therefore urge you to read my earlier post (Canaries in the Suurbraak coalmine) as background to this report.
In order for this all to make sense I shall:
briefly describing Suurbraak, its history and its people
provide some background to some of the issues that surfaced during the protest
provide a synopsis, from memory, of what happened during the protest
try to pull together all the threads and show, as I see it, why this process holds significance for Suurbraak and South Africa as a whole
A demonstration is planned (at 14:00 on Sunday 7 May 2017) on the Suurbraak braak (village green) to which the press has been invited in order to protest the non-delivery of housing because (as I understand the talk) of alleged routing of sums of money meant to be utilised for Suurbraak (an ANC-controlled ward) for use in Swellendam (run by the DA), to the detriment of the people of Suurbraak, and of housing.
Insinuations along similar lines were levelled during a report-back called by the Swellendam mayor, Nicholas Myburgh, on Monday 24 April 20917, to respond to a range of Ward related issues (see an earlier post).
Yesterday afternoon I took a look see, was warmly welcomed by members of the Birds of Xairu who, when asked who was the boss and from whom should I seek permission to take pictures, replied that the community was in charge and that I was welcome to take these pictures of preparations for Sunday’s protest: Continue reading Housing protest in Suurbraak→