CO-LABORATING in LANGA….now and then

New and old:  tech, people, countries, cultures, skills, mindsets and opinion converged at #Cocreate Design Festival in Langa, February 24 and 25 – towards Digital Inclusion.

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Flying Dutch colours in honour of the Netherlands hosts, it took place in and around the  Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre.

People were there to see and be seen….

To connect and confer….

….converse and contribute….

….inspire and uplift….

With industrial revolutions present and future….

….but there’s no escaping the past in Langa….at the old Post Office and Pass Office.

Thank heavens for the women, now and then….who keep it all together….

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….with creativity – and a smile.

Thanks to all who co-created the event – exciting times. #Cocreatesanl and The Craft and Design Institute  x


FINDING PHILIPPI: People, planting, problems…and hope.

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Long, long ago the sandy stretches of what today is called the Cape Flats just outside Cape Town, was Khoi and San grazing and hunting land.

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Much later, when the population of the Cape ‘colony’ became too big to feed from the Company’s Garden in the city, the ruling British decided to solve the problem by bringing in poor but hardworking farmers from Germany to work the inhospitable terrain known historically as Die Duine or The Dunes. Despite not getting much help from the government of the day, by around the 1880’s, the persistent Lutheran immigrants had managed to transform the area into one big market garden……

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What is known now as The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA): approximately 3000 hectares of farmland, said to supply between 50% and 80% of Cape Town’s fresh produce and employing around 6000 people.

It’s also said that Philippi was named after Dr Philip Faure, an early Dutch Reformed Minister. But what’s known for sure is that this large tract of land sits on top of the Cape aquifer, which means there’s plenty of water, and has a micro climate that can allow for up to five harvests a year.

But all is not happy in paradise. And some parts of the PHA have been exploited and used for dumping and farming shacks instead of crops.

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A Rastafarian community on a piece of land called Oasis – is especially aggrieved.




The place where they’ve been settled for the last 30 years, once a healthy place of growth where migratory birds, fish eagle and turtles used to frequent the dam and they could raise their children in peace – has literally become a dumping ground.

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But the people are mobilising…..

And have joined forces with the PHA Food and Farming Campaign founded about 10 years ago by Nazeer Sonday who came through to help with a design workshop to look at planting potential and the way forward. And where there is community, there’s hope.

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And there’s lots of that at the PHA Food and Farming Campaign HQ.

Where Winnie (left) and Susanna (right) are practicing and preaching Agri-ecology or regenerative farming.

Seen to be working on the outside, with the concept of the 2ha farming model….

…and on the inside through workshops, information sharing, seed harvesting and sales.

With high potential for the people to reap the rewards.

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But again, all is not OK in paradise. Developers, politicians, a sand mine, lifestyle businesses and homeowners are encroaching on and threatening this prime productive farmland. Court cases are pending.

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But where there is heritage and community….

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There is hope.


24 HOURS IN JOZI: barriers, books, and breakfast with a dog called Patch…..

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It all began with a moving visit to The Apartheid Museum…..

….with some chilling reminders of a dark past….

….but mercifully some wonderful moments of hope….for the future…

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…..and some welcome relief at the end.

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After that it was straight to the South African Book Fair at Constitution Hill, with a joyous and colourful welcome….

…where I bumped into book buddies from Durbs, Gcina Mhlope and Cedric Sissing of Adams Books….

….followed by lights, cameras and lots of action…..’


….but there was more action to come that evening at The Sunday Times Literary Awards. Winners announced by bookista sisters Michele Magwood and Jennifer Platt (above).

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…..where, one of the lucky judges, I got to chat to winner of the Barry Ronge Award for fiction with her rare, imaginative book The Theory of Flight (Penguin Random House), Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (right), seen here with her mum Sarah Nokuthula Ndlhovu (left) and award winning book mama Elinor Sisulu.

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Next stop was Home Suite Hotel where the invitation writing is on the wall….

….and where, gladdening my heart, there were books on every surface.

Even more joyous, at breakfast next morning, who should come barreling in….

Patch at HSH

…..but happy Patch the rescue dog from Oscar’s Ark….

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….who, it turned out, belonged to HSH owner himself Gidon Novick there having breakfast too. Walking the talk.

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But no escape for a book fan short on time – and next it was back to the SA Book Fair to join Griffin Shea, owner of Bridge Books (right) for his acclaimed Underground Booksellers Walking Tour….

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…which starts, understandably at Bridge Books itself, where we meet Nhlanhla Mchunu, founder of Lisakhanya ikusasa (right).

And then we hit the route, with sure enough, booksellers aplenty along the way.

Eventually coming to an auspicious stop outside the Rand Club, across the road from the even more auspicious offices of two erstwhile very well known attorneys.

Inside and downstairs at the grand paneled, formerly (white) men-only club,  we were welcomed into the James Findlay Collectible Books and Antique maps….

….then upstairs to the members-only library with infinite shelves packed tight, plush leather and pile carpets where young Nhlanhla looked right at home.

Finally, with many more booksellers still to see, but a plane to catch, it was farewell to Bridge Books and the walking tour…..


….and hamba kahle Jozi, till the next chapter, Thank you! ps look forward to seeing poet Lebo Mashifane in the Mother City soon.



A pretty city in Portugal – that’s…..

….a sacred place….

….on the move….

…..architecturally diverse….

….historically potent….

… loving….

… loving….

… loving….


….a bit mad…….

…..sometimes restful….

…..and totally colour-coded.  Plenty more peeps – if you’re interested, let me know!


Cheers Odette! May 2019



….and the Wonderful Wedding Weekend that we shared with them-….

It all started with Family arriving…..and relocating to Stanford Holiday House…

….followed by a river boat trip on The African Queen for the wedding party boys and girls….


….and a completely Load Shedded dinner at the Groom’s spot.

Next morning there was chillin’ at the house and cake preppin’ in the kitchen….


There was a mad hatted cricket match on the Village Green….

…..lots of tea and friend-making opportunities in town….

…..and an exhibition of 100 Years of Wedding Dresses at the Stanford Hotel.

There was a great deal more tea and beer tasting – with cheese farm visiting ….

…..later there was an even madder hatted Brothers Quiz night….


….with book donations for the local Children’s Book Network.

Next morning at Beloftebos, the venue…..

… was all systems go – with a five-star dedicated decor team….!

Meanwhile, back at the house….it was dressing-up time….

….then all aboard the bus….

… take our pews and wait.

The boys arrived, the cameras snapped….


The girls arrived… by one….


…and the rugby-player singers sang…like angels.


….and finally, there she was, the exquisite bride….and brother….

….for vows…and special words from Dr Seuss…


….and there we had our Happy Couple.

Some legal admin, candle lighting, tears and flowers….

…pictures taken, friends….

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…and new family….

….till it was time…..


….to shower the Happy Couple, with love and leaves!


To play putt-putt, sip and nibble among the trees….among friends.

The tables were laid, the cake was made….

…and cut. Speeches flowed, thick, fast…..funny and fabulous.

….with smiles and thank you’s all round.

The dancing began….slowly, speeding up….


….and got a little wild, ‘silly’…..and very, very happy!


….and the memories will be fresh forever!

Thank you to our brand new Mr and Mrs for a truly Wonderful Wedding Weekend. March 23 2019



At the launch of Halala Winner! by Jabulani Kunye at Injongo Primary in Khayelitsha, everyone was indeed a winner….

Most especially (left) Ros Haden and Dorothy Dyer from the proud publishers Cover2Cover, and (right) Xolisa Guzula, inspirational biliteracy teacher and founder of the Stars of Today Literacy Club….

…and Injongo school itself has a lot to be proud of too – its vision, achievements and bright, smiling staff…..


….not least its learners!


So the launch celebrations began with singing…

….with prayer, praises and beaming principal Mr Mhletywa….

….with dance and lots of encouragement….


A winner too is cartoonist and illustrator of the book, Brandon Reynolds, with his wife Rose-Anne….

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…..lots of proud winners all round. So Halala! to everyone involved in this brave new dawn for bilingual literacy.

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Khayelitsha, April 2019


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On the OPEN STREETS of Langa on Sunday 24th Feb, I found…..







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….and belief…..

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….lovely. Thank you Langa. Thank you Open Streets. x


It’s all they are saying at the Khayelitsha Peace Centre, Ilitha Park where at they are ready to roll out the plan….

At the official launch Friday 8th of February, the tables were laid, mic at the ready and  pamphlets put out….

MC Lukhanyo Simangweni introduced Deputy Chair of the Khayelitsha Development Forum, Thembi Msuthu who declared the areas three challenges: poverty, unemployment and crime; veteran community leader Zukila Sinama who said ‘We may look poor and black, but we are rich of mind’; director Carol Bower from the Mowbray branch who outlined the need for a strong community representative committee and Pro Zulani from AVP the Alternative to Violence Project who talked about their multiple principles of trust, communication, empathy and affirmation…..

Better late than never was Ward Councillor Xoliswa Peter who proclaimed this area, Ward 92, with its primary and high schools, school for the disabled, clinics and 2 libraries, the ‘capital’ of Khayelitsha’. She was also pleased to say money had been put aside to set up an active Neighbourhood Watch. IMG_8120 - Copy

One of the biggest challenges of Khayelitsha as a whole is unemployment for the youth, for whom it can cost up to R1000 just try and find a job factoring in cv’s, data, transport and printing…..helping support them is a key component of the Peace Centre…and especially good news that bright young Michael Mabuza (below with notebook) was elected on to the Representatives Committee

The Peace Centre’s proactive project manager Pharie Sefali reminded the delegates that their work was not just about supporting young people in the search for work, but supporting the whole community in their quest for peace and an end to violence of all sorts. To that end she organised a ‘world cafe’ of tables where delegates could thrash out ideas towards this goal.

After the speeching and sharing, there was lots of opportunity for networking and looking forward to a safer, happier and more peaceful Khayelitsha – and if you’d like to know more, support them or visit – they’re 158 Ntlazane Road, Ilitha Park 021 361 0002 Uxolo!


One WORLD of BOOKs DAY – in Jozi

Booking in the streets of Jo-burg on the Bard’s Birthday


In a small, dog-eared shop in Commissioner St, books are stacked precariously wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Impressed by the volume of volumes, I ask the tall imposing man emerging from the leaning towers, eating from a polystyrene takeaway, if I may take a pic. His clipped monosyllabic  response is the same that he gives the chic young woman who asks if he has a Siswati title she’s looking for. We both back out onto the street, unlikely to revisit.

A block or two down the street, and up the stairs at Bridge Books, neighbouring an art studio and a gentleman’s barber, the welcome is warmer. ‘Coffee?’ Barista, collector, enthusiast and owner Griffin Shea smiles his offer.

Here books, new, used, cherished, curated and chosen with love are displayed, some even discounted, individually, with reverence.

Griffin’s book journey began with a hunt for Jozi’s lost books – in dark tunnels, below the streets.  Above ground he bridges a gap between the  underground and pristine precinct booksellers.  And offers an embracing space.

Taking up his spatial offer, once a month multiskilled Baeletsi Tsatsi bares the storytelling side of her soul at Bridge’s Maboneng branch. Evoking ancient fireside spirits with  21st century wit and words, sass and a wide smile.

Over Nelson Mandela Bridge and on into de Korte St, the retro-afro, light, bright African Flavour bookshop gleams like a well lit, well stocked Pan African library.

Wooden spoons label shelves on politics, poetry, language. Giant sofas invite a foot weary shopper to sit and read a while.

Fortiscue Helepi beams his passion – for his shop, his books – and his wife and literature-lover partner Nokuthula.


His dream is to have a branch of African Flavour in every dorp and village across the country.

Journey’s end at OR Tambo – airport oasis Exclusive Books is neatly stacked and packed with hot-off-the-press bestsellers. They don’t have Helen Moffett’s new 101 Water Wise guide that I’m looking for on the way back to the dessicated Mother City – but the synopsis on the back of a new Ethiopian novel is seductive.  After all, what is a flight without a book.

Respect to Jozi’s noble bookies for spreading the words.



Listening to people’s stories is compulsive. And after 25 years of unfolding interviews on the radio, I find I am unable to break the habit. So I’m not going to, and I need your story.

Together with Quivertree Publications, here’s what I’m looking for:

The story that you grew up with, as a South African.

The one that your father, gogo, uncle or tannie told you as a child – the one they handed to you like a precious piece of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up you. The story that’s slotted into your mind and your life like an inherited piece of treasure.  A small but precious fragment of your culture.

This story of yours may be a folk tale that goes back into the distant mist of memory – about animals and ancestors, about mountains and mythical creatures. It may be about a person from centuries or decades past that has become a legend for who they were or what they did – like Krotoa the young Khoi woman servant and interpreter to van Riebeeck, like Nongqawuse the Xhosa prophetess responsible for the cattle slaughter, like Modjadi the Rain Queen,  like Van Hunks the old pirate who had a smoking contest with the devil…. But most importantly, it needs to be a story that is a link in the cultural chain – that others, like you may know, but that others, not like you, may not.

Once we have harvested stories from South Africans representing all the eleven official languages, we will choose as many as we have room for and nestle them together in the pages of one book.


So here’s how we need your help :

. Think of a truly legendary story or folk tale that represents your culture or language group. One of the 11 official languages of South Africa.

. Write down a short summary of it in just a few lines and email it to

. Tell us who you are, what your mother tongue is and what language group the story represents.

. Once we have chosen the stories, we will contact you to get the full version.

. Deadline May 31 2018.  Any questions, let me know on

Sir Ian Makazi

The stories can be written as a story or as a poem, it can be as long or short as it needs to be and it should be in English. Maybe one day, the book can be translated into all official languages. But this is a start – a way of bringing all the stories that we grew up with, that made us South Africans, together in one big beautiful Quivertree book.

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Tellers names will appear at the end of each chosen story.