A selection of resources to help you discover South Africa while staying at home, Part 2.
I hope that wherever in the world you are, you are healthy – mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. Here in South Africa we are in “Stage 4” lockdown which has meant a few restrictions on movement have been raised. Our president has received praise from other world leaders and the WHO for the way he has handled this crisis. I know that we are in safe hands, as will you be once travel restrictions are raised and we can welcome international visitors once again. We expect international travel restrictions to only be removed later this year, depending very much on how well we can keep the spread of the virus under control.
While we wait this out, here is a second collection of resources to help you through more time quarantined at home. Enjoy!
1. Listen to some African music.
Music can transport you to another place and time in an instant, which is very useful for all of us wanting to travel right now! Last November, I took a short road trip with a friend and we listened to a playlist of songs from the late 1990s in the car. It took me right back to school and university days. I feel the same when I listen to African music – I feel present in Africa, no matter where I am.
Putting together this playlist was a labour of love and I derived huge pleasure from it. This playlist will be shared will all future Leopard clients, but I am also sharing it here for your enjoyment – let me know what you think! I would like to recognise and thank Nicole, a qualified musicologist with a specialisation in African music, for her expert help with this.
The playlist includes musicians from all across Africa, from Cape Verde, Mali, Algeria and Nigeria to the Congo, Benin, Cameroon and Zimbabwe. Where there is singing, many African languages are used, as well as Portuguese, French and English. Genres include morna, coladerira, rai, juju, soukous, jazz and more. It is an eclectic list. Some songs you will have heard and many that will be new. I have not included well known musicians that form part of a typical African playlist, such as Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I wanted something more interesting and explorative for this list, but I may do another playlist with these popular musicians for those who like something more nostalgic.
Click here to listen.
Note: If you don’t have a Spotify account, you can easily create one by visiting their website and signing up for a free account. All you will need is an email address and an internet connection. Once you have done this, click the link above and you can start listening!
2. Read some African poetry.
Poetry in Africa is often sung, usually by praise singers who are known by many different names across the continent. In Mali, these poets are called gritos, two of whom are included in the playlist above.
I love poetry and there are so many brilliant Southern African poets. You can find a list through a quick google search. Two that you may not know are the Zimbabwean Charles Mungoshi and the South African Finuala Dowling. I have transcribed three poems below as a quick introduction. They are poems I found relevant to our current situation.
This poem is from “Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe” by Finuala Dowling:
My family is a hospital
where the doctors and patients
are blood relatives,
and when you are not on call
you may lie down.
– Finuala Dowling
The following are from Charles Mungoshi’s book “The milkman doesn’t only deliver milk.”
There are secret pockets of warmth
high up in the cold hills
where birds eternally on the wing
spend and watch the night
waiting for dawn and first light.
– Charles Mungoshi
In their nakedness
the winter trees laugh
at our inability
to shed the clothes
of our past seasons
– Charles Mungoshi
3. Cook some South African food.
When I first met my husband, who is French, he asked me what region of South Africa I come from. I said that I grew up in Kwa Zulu Natal. His very next question was, “What is the food speciality of the region?”. My first thought was “Just normal South African food.” But he insisted on more detail than this. I later discovered that in France food is highly regional. You will know where someone is from based on the food they prepare. They also have different names for the same food. In Paris you will say pain au chocolat, whereas in Bordeaux it is only ever called chocolatine.
One of the iconic foods from the region I am from, is the humble Durban Bunny Chow. It is very simple to make, and delicious, comfort food. If you have a curry recipe you like, make that, with some extra sauce (it has to have a lot of sauce for the bread to absorb, it cannot be a dry curry), and then hollow out half or a quarter loaf, and voilà! I followed this recipe for the bunny chows pictured above. My go-to South African dish for foreign visitors is bobotie. The recipe I have used for years is from “Mosiman’s World”, see below:
4. Donate to a South African charity.
There are so many places that desperately need help during this time. If you would like to donate, every little bit counts! I have donated to the three project below, because they are all close to my heart and I know the money will have a direct impact. One is based in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town, and the third is a conservation charity.
Two women I know through my network are cooking and feeding hungry children and families in the poor community of Maneberg in the Cape Flats. Donations can be made directly into their bank accounts, using “your name + meals” as the reference. Bank account details are Felicia Esau, Capitec Bank, 1692 0539 04.
Africa Awake is based in the Johannesburg inner city. They assist refugees and asylum seekers living in SA. Refugees do not have access to government grants like citizens do, so they are even more vulnerable during lockdown. Bank account details are: Afrika Awake NPC, FNB, Acc# 62500240601. Credit card payment link: https://www.walletdoc.com/pay/AfrikaAwake
Thirdly, conservation is under threat. Tourism contributes significantly to the running costs involved in conserving wild spaces in South Africa. Empowers Africa is a USA based charity. Singita, one of my most valued partners, is a beneficiary of this fund. You can choose to donate to a variety of programmes, including leopard research and the anti poaching K9 unit. Click here for more information.
5. Plan your next trip!
I like to be optimistic regarding the return to travel. I think that reduced travel to over-touristed destinations like Venice and Barcelona is a good thing. Hopefully in future, people prefer to travel less to crowded places like South Africa, with our wide open spaces and vast wilderness areas. This is a win-win for countries that need fewer tourists and those that need more. Another big factor is the weakness of our currency, the South African Rand. A holiday booked in 2020 will be about 20-30% cheaper than one booked in 2019, due to the weaker currency.
Nobody can stop you dreaming and planning for the future! We are available should you wish to discuss any travel plans with us.
P.S. If you missed the first edition of our list of lockdown resources, find it here.
P.P.S. My father, who loved being in the bushveld since before I was born, helped me put together a tough quiz on African animals. I hope some of the answers surprise you, and that you want to learn more! My father started his own safari company in the 1990s and shared a lot of his incredible knowledge with his clients.
Sign up for more newsletters like this here: https://mailchi.mp/2e4afa50d15f/leopard