Habeni Primary

By |  Mar 20, 2008  | zululand, education
Habeni Primary school is in Zululand, and has recently acquired a computer lab. Courtesy of Kelsey Wood and Wizzy Digital Courier, it also has Internet. Education In Africa, children walk to school. In South Africa, where I am based, schools and clinics are the only large buildings in the rural areas, and are thus easily spotted with their long roofs. The minimum requirement for a school are rooms, teachers, blackboards, and students.
Continue Reading...

Khekhekhe's First Fruits ceremony

By |  Mar 1, 2008  | sangoma, zululand
In 1999 I visited Khekhekhe with Graham, to negotiate a price for National Geographic to do a piece on him. I wrote up that encounter at the time. Khekhekhe held a ceremony on the 23rd of Feb every year - which he called the First Fruits ceremony. It seemed really to be a time for the old Mthethwa Sangomas to get together, Khekhekhe to show his prowess with snakes, and some beasts to die for the table.
Continue Reading...

Ancestry testing through genetics

By |  Feb 17, 2008  | dna, ancestry, genome
I recently had a genetic analysis done to determine my ancestry - courtesy Ancestry24, theMedical Research Council, the National Health Laboratory Services and WITS University. It was a free test, and it came with an informative booklet to explain the results. Through the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences I was given an opportunity to participate in a free Genealogical DNA test to trace my ancestry. They can do two tests for men, and one test for women.
Continue Reading...

2007 Kenya Election

By |  Jan 20, 2008  | kenya, election
I have watched the election crisis in Kenya unfold from the beginning, and am angry at the lack of concern the leaders have for the people they claim to represent. Some background - I was born in Kenya, in Nakuru, went to school in Molo,and then again to school at Kenton College, Nairobi, until I was 12 years old. I have a little swahili - enough to get me around, and tell a couple of jokes.
Continue Reading...

Aftermath of Polokwane

By |  Dec 24, 2007  | politics, zuma, anc
The Polokwane conference was a triumph of process, and a disaster for results. Much negotiation remains to be done during the last 18 months of Mbeki’s presidency. Winston Churchill famously said No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Democracy was the winner at Polokwane, but democracy requires a well-informed and responsible electorate.
Continue Reading...

A Zulu Wedding

By |  Dec 18, 2007  | zululand, wedding, lobola
A traditional Zulu wedding is a step back in time, with cellphone cameras in strapped next to leopardskin loincloths. The ancestors are remembered, and the age-old tradion of Lobola is observed. I am spending christmas in Eshowe with my friend Graham Chennells. A friend Karen from Muizenberg is here also, on her own mission to complete her Sangoma training, staying with a local minister from a Zionist church as a Twasa - a trainee, for a month or two.
Continue Reading...

Zuma for President!

By |  Nov 29, 2007  | zuma, anc, politics
All the indications are that Jacob Zuma will be elected as ANC president at the 52nd annual ANC conference in Polokwane from December 16 through December 20. Much effort has been put into consulting the grass roots of the party, and the result is in - the majority of ANC branches around the country want Zuma to lead the party. This might have been as much to do with the lack of other candidates - rank and file members were informed of the process, but many were unfamiliar with many of the names put forward.
Continue Reading...

ANC elections - the Eye of the Needle

By |  Nov 14, 2007  | anc, politics, zuma
The next president of South Africa will be chosen this December at the December ANC conference in Limpopo. This is a tiny subset of the electorate that make this important decision. There have been three Presidential terms since the beginning of majority rule in South Africa. The Constitution of South Africa limits each president to two terms - the first term was Nelson Mandela, who stepped down after his first term to hand the reins over to Thabo Mbeki, his deputy during the first term.
Continue Reading...

Wikipedia fund drive

By |  Oct 23, 2007  | wikipedia, education
Wikipedia has started its regular fund drive with a video from the founder, Jimmy Wales. He starts by expounding the knowledge-for-everyone mantra of wikipedia, and in particular promoting wikipedias in third world languages like Swahili. The video finishes up with clips of people around the world talking about wikipedia, how it has benefited them, and how they contribute, including people typing articles in on cellphones .. There is a clip of me, at Lavender Hill Secondary school (at a township close to Muizenberg more renowned for its gangs) talking about my placement of a complete copy of wikipedia down at schools that have no daytime internet access, and also the Lab administrator Shanaaz talking about her wish for more content on the Afrikaans wikipedia.
Continue Reading...


By |  Oct 9, 2007  | education, shuttleworth, linux
As an update on the Wizzy project, a fair bit has been happening. In partnership with Inkululeko Technologies and Amobia Wireless Access, Wizzy is providing its email solution for a number of schools provisioned by Inkululeko and Amobia. Inkululeko are the spinoff from the Shuttleworth Foundation and their efforts to put computer labs down in South African schools, and Amobia are a local Wireless ISP. The labs that Inkululeko put down are Thin Client labs, using old, recycled computers in front ofthe learners coupled to a large Linux server that runs the applications and fileserver.
Continue Reading...