2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 16 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hot Roscoe

It’s after midnight but I couldn’t resist processing some photos I took a week or two ago. Then I got sidetracked.

No new post was actually planned and then I saw “Happy Rusty” by Conor Cullen.

Rusty looks very happy and is seen galloping across the sand. He appears to be dripping wet and some water is seen in the background of the photo.

I thought it might be a little cold in Conor’s valley (Ireland I believe) but Conor quickly assured me that Rusty’s coat is geared for this climate.

Now at about the time I was tying a return message to Conor, Roscoe, my faithful Staffordshire X-Terrier, who is recovering from a near heat stroke at the beach, saw the photo of Rusty and immediately barked out a few orders at me.

One order was “let’s get some sleep” and the other was, “but first send Rusty some photos of me at Durban Beach, South Africa where the bloody temperature was 34 degrees centigrade the other day!”

The photos below were taken with a Blackberry 9700. I tried to improve them a little with Picasa and PS.

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PS – late edit to this post:

I saw Jackson (the snow dog) in the snow this morning (and quickly shutdown before Roscoe could see).

However, I will let Roscoe know that Rusty isn’t in the coldest place on earth right now.

God is Greatest

I have been very fortunate to experience a number of spiritual paths in this lifetime.

“All paths are one” sits very well with me although I have been more drawn to Buddha. Click here if you think he is that smiling overweight chap that you see on people’s mantelpieces.

I see the Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA Mosque at 45th Cutting Sherwood Durban every time I leave home and return.

Adhan (the Islamic call to prayer – listen here) solemnly drifts across our valley; enhancing the peaceful feeling in this area.

The Soofie Saheb website reveals the following about the arrival of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA in Durban, South Africa:

“It was a normal morning in the winter of 1895 when a ship S.S Hoosen, docked at the Durban Harbour. On board was a person, simple in dress in a yellow garb and a cloth hat.

As he stood on the deck of the ship looking at the people on the wharf to welcome their respective relatives and friends, little did the people realise that he was to make such a great impact in their life-style, to make them God-fearing and to bring about spiritual, mental and social upliftment, and an enhancement in the quality of their lives.

His was a name that, with the Grace of Almighty Allah, will till Eternity, remain on the lips of the people, a name that will remind future generations of his selfless sacrifice for the Deen of Islam and for the general upliftment of the masses in South Africa.

Custom formalities being over, the passengers now disembarked and on the wharfside, relatives embraced, hugged and met each other. Some were helping the passengers with their heavy luggage, tin trunks and suitcases along the gangway from the ship, others were stacking the luggage on the horse wagon on the wharf, while some were being driven away by their relatives and friends.

Looking at the scene as he came down the gangway, this humble son of Islam, with a walking stick in one hand and a small cloth-covered bundle in the other (in it were his spare koortha, loongie, singlet, miswak, towel, a Quraan, a tasbih and a book with various wazifas) carefully stepped on to soil of Southern Africa with confidence knowing that the blessings of Allah and his Pir are with him.

As he walked he greeted the people, some returned his greetings while others just stared at him curiously. No one offered to give him a lift into town or even ask him whether he had a place to stay. Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA made his way to the Jumah Musjid which was then a very simple building in Grey Street.”

It is interesting to read the tale of how the first Mosque came about at Riverside.

Given all of this, it was set in stone that I had to take a few photos of the 45th Cutting Mosque to share with some of my Muslim friends:  Allāhu Akbar (God is Greatest).

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Rubber Engineering & The Mind

On the mind, Oliver Wendell Holmes reportedly said “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Turning to rubber that usually stretches and regains its shape, this afternoon I was given a guided tour of Rubber Engineering in New Germany by the founder, owner and Managing Director, Nandha Moodley, who is one of the most experienced pioneers in the South African Rubber and Polyurethane Roller industry.

He has been active for 29 years, having started his career with Durban-based Rubber Rollers when it was the only roller company in the country.

Given his wealth of experience and exemplary service to the industry, Nandha opened the doors of Premium Rollers in 1999.

After establishing exceptional success in the roller industry for several years, Premium Rollers merged with a leading European entity in 2007.

Since it’s inception in 2005 and after subsequent strategic transitions and expansion, Rubber Engineering merged with a major Durban based entity to establish itself as the flagship roller covering company in KZN, servicing all provinces in South Africa and the neighbouring countries including Mauritius and Madagascar.

The business and attitude of the management and staff was impressive, and it is obvious that Nandha’s mind has been stretched far by many bold ideas for some decades now.

I took my camera along as I thought I may find some lovely well-used machinery; ideal for some post-processing at home. Unfortunately, I forgot the tripod at home.

I “threatened” Nandha that I would bring the photos of his business to life even though the “bad” lighting and my limited experience was not in my favour.

Nandha can be the judge of that (if I succeeded) when he views the photos below.

The next time you see a magazine, school book or tin can (to name but a few), just think that Nandha’s perfectly manufactured rubber rollers may well have “brought them to life”!

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Old dog tortured by a photographer

Going to the beach previously involved long walks, swims, different smells and meeting or at least seeing other dogs.

This was done at a time of the day when it was warm.

Roscoe therefore did not seem entirely impressed when we left for Brighton Beach Durban at 04:20 in the morning, when it was still dark and a little cold, and I then set about taking loads of photos for a couple of hours while he patiently waited.

I was more interested in holding my Canon 550D and tripod than doing anything else.

If we walked a short way, it was just to setup camera and tripod elsewhere for some more non-smelly and boring photography.

I thought the following photos especially # 1 captured Roscoe’s mood – he was very bored and not impressed!

My faithful companion…

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Another mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban

This post is the sequel to “A mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban”.

Before we continue, let me share these two quotations I came across:

“ You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper” ~ William Albert Allard

“A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words” ~ Ansel Adams

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Stockville

I have driven through Stockville, west of Durban, a number of times.

Stockville Road, the “main road”, is a “back-road” between Gillits and Pinetown. It is very windy, narrow and littered with potholes.

One cannot help sensing the deep and rich history of the area. A school, old church and tea-room are scattered among smallholdings and some rustic dilapidated houses.

The photos I took do not lend much credibility to the information below and I will certainly need to visit again and get snapping.

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The photos of plant equipment were taken on the edge of neighbouring Westmead, an industrial area, which I believe “swallowed-up” parts of Stockville, Motala Heights and Surprise Farm to come into existence.

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I was unable to find information specifically about the history of Stockville, however, did find a mention of Stockville and some of its nearby neighbours (Pinetown, Marianhill and Mariannridge) on the Ulwazi website as follows:

“Coloured people have lived in the Pinetown area from the time of the Voortrekkers. Many worked as wagon drivers, servants and craftsmen for the Trekkers from the Cape Colony.

After the Siege of the English Fort in Durban in 1842, a Hottentot driver led the wagon of an retreating Boer family which stopped at “Cowies Place” (Cowies Hill) for the night.  Mr Welch’s transport coach from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in the 1850’s, was often driven by a Coloured man, but the unnamed driver did not live in Pinetown.

From the turn of the century, a few families lived as tenants on Mariannhill land, and local children encountered great problems when they wanted to attend school. Children from well known Natal Coloured families attended St. Francis College, at Mariannhill Monastery as boarders. These included members of the Dunn, Ogle, Nunn and Fynn clans.

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In 1910 the Le Blank family from Mauritius settled in Pinetown where Mr Le Blank Wallace worked as a plumber. Young Elizabeth Le Blank was born in 1930, where she grew up, married Mr Rose and remained in Pinetown. Here she played a major role in the improvement of life of the Coloured community.

The 1936 Pinetown population statistics registered 8 Coloureds, which had increased to 33 by 1946. Families preferred the low tenant rates on Mariannhill land beyond the boundaries of central Pinetown. Other families settled on Mr Govender’s land, between what is now Nagina and Dassenhoek.

A large community became tenants of Mr Desai at Umlaas where they lived a farming lifestyle. Among the early settlers families were Mr Couch, Mr Charles and later Mr Joe Louis Bennett. A list of Coloured tenants and land owners from different areas around Pinetown is attached in Appendix 1. All these residents moved to Mariannridge Township.

The Group Areas Act Proclamation 126 of April 1966, expropriated Mariannhill Mission land beyond the Umhlatuzana River, roughly from the Mariannhill Station to the Farm Stockville 1382, for a Coloured township.

An area called Kipi, with its settlement of African homes at Kipitown, under the leadership of Mr Bartle Dube, was within this area.

Displaced Africans were housed at KwaNdengezi across the Umlaas River and in 1968 the Pinetown Borough bought 1800 ha. of the area, for Phase 1 of the development of the Coloured Township of Mariannridge.

Placed on the ridge overlooking Mariannhill Monastery, Mariannridge was named because of it’s geographic location.”

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Further mention of Stockville was again found on Ulwazi in a section about St Wendolin’s:

“Father Francis Pfanner, an Austrian Trappist monk and his followers came to Natal in 1882 from the Cape. Two years of backbreaking work at Dunbrody in the Eastern Cape, had introduced the Trappist to the problems of spreading Christianity in Africa.

A member of the Land Colonization Company in Durban took Father Pfanner to see the farm Zeekoeigat (Hippo pool), 3 miles beyond the farming village of Pinetown. Zeekoeigat had fertile agricultural land straddling the Umhlatuzana River and a view of the Indian Ocean. One of the prominent hills was chosen as the site for a self sustaining monastery complex.

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Father Franz bought the land and, his fellow Trappist monks arrived at the farm on 26th December, 1882. Klaarwater and Stockville two neighbouring farms were later purchased and, incorporated into the monastic lands. Named after the Virgin Mary and her mother St. Anne, the Trappist farm became known as Mariannhill.

The monks set to work erecting buildings, clearing land for farming and following the strict prayer routine of the Trappist Order. Mariannhill School was opened in 1883 and attracted Zulu children from the nearby homesteads.”

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The Buddhist Retreat Centre & Pathways in Life

In or around 2005 I first encountered the teachings of Buddha and attended regular teachings for the next two years.

I left that particular path or tradition and it was during May 2007, over a certain weekend, that I “somehow” found myself  “involved” at another tradition: Buddhist Retreat Centre (BRC) in Ixopo, South Africa.

On the Saturday evening of that weekend, sitting alone next to a glowing fireplace, I read a short biography of Mother Theresa and it really touched my heart.

The photos below were taken that weekend using a Canon Ixus.

A few years later I sat in silence a few metres from Mother Teresa’s tomb in Kolkata, India and visited her home for the sick and dying.

There are no “some-hows” – only pathways; cause and effect (Karma) in action.

None of the happenings above were “random”. They all came about through paths I had taken and numerous causes that had arisen.

Buddha gave advice on the The Noble Eight-fold Path listed below:

1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

There seem to be lots of paths in and around the BRC now that I study the photos nearly six years later

Below there are approximately Eight Paths and some other views of interest.

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Cato Manor: a history of oppression, riots and now hope

All excerpts below courtesy of Ulwazi with my photos in between shed some light.

“Cato Manor is situated about five kilometers from the centre of Durban, South Africa.

It is an area rich in cultural and political heritage.It was named after Durban’s first mayor, George Christopher Cato. Cato Manor’s first residents, the Indian market gardeners, to whom Cato sold the land, later leased plots to African families prohibited from owning land themselves.

The vibrant, Afro-Indian culture that came into being from this shared space became a trademark of the area. Its Zulu residents knew the warren of shacks, shebeens and shops that grew into Cato Manor as Umkhumbane – named after the stream on whose banks the shantytown sat. Cato Manor survived and thrived for many years as a rough-shewn community in direct contradiction to the Apartheid government’s policy of racial segregation.

Famous residents included musician Sipho Gumede, politician (now president of South Africa) Jacob Zuma, activist Florence Mkhize, businessman Prince Sifiso Zulu, Drum journalist Nat Nakasa and trade unionist George W. Champion who saw Cato Manor as a “place where Durban natives (Africans) could breathe the air of freedom.”

So legendary was its reputation that novelist Alan Paton wrote a play called Umkhumbane set in Cato Manor.

1949 Race Riots: Despite the daily contact between the Indian and African residents, who lived in close proximity to each other, racial tensions did exist. Charges of exorbitant rent where often leveled by Indian landlords against their African tenants who had to cope with terrible living conditions, characterised by intense overcrowding.

Ronnie Govender’s “At the edge” and other Cato Manor Stories describes the 1949 riots, which were sparked off by an incident in Grey Street where an Indian stallholder had caught an African boy stealing and had punished him.

Africans began attacking Indian shops, businesses and residents. The riots quickly escalated into a race-war with some white people stirring up the trouble.

The situation deteriorated with African mobs roaming the streets of Cato Manor attacking Indian residents on sight. That evening the arson, looting and raping increased.

 

The smell of petrol and paraffin were in the air and the night sky was lit up by soaring flames. Indians with cars were fleeing. It took two days for the authorities to get the situation under control. By this stage many shops and homes had been destroyed, 137 people killed and thousands more injured.

1959 Beerhall Riots: In the 1950s, rural Zulus moving to Durban for work sought out Cato Manor as a convenient place of residence.

The area quickly grew to accommodate this influx with 6000 shacks – housing around 50 000 people – erected in a matter of years.

To earn money, African women brewed and sold beer to male residents.

Nkosi elaborates in Mating Birds,” In Cato Manor, African women lived mainly by brewing an illicit concoction called skokiaan, which was often laced with methylated spirit to give it an extra kick. This dangerous and mind-destroying brew was then served daily to black workers, who, every evening, as soon as they left work, flocked to their favourite shebeens, where they thirstily imbibed the stuff”.

The Durban Municipality encountered problems controlling illegal brewing, which was in competition to their Municipal beer halls. Constant pass and liquor raids conducted by the police in Cato Manor agitated residents creating a potentially explosive situation.

By the mid-1950s, the area had become a political hotbed, with Chief Albert Luthuli garnering support for the African National Congress (ANC) by linking Cato Manor’s problems to the greater struggle against Apartheid.

Mi S’dumo Hlatshwayo, a child of Cato Manor and influenced by its politics, later went on to write struggle poetry – collected in Black Mamba Rising – that mobilized workers against the government.

Commenting on the classification of the Africans in Apartheid South Africa, Hlatshwayo wrote:

Today you’re called a Bantu,
Tomorrow you’re called a Communist
Sometimes you’re called a Native.
Today again you’re called a foreigner,
Today again you’re called a Terrorist

This random classification extended to place where the government would conveniently reclassify areas to suit their needs.

Cato Manor evictions: Durban’s white city-council felt threatened by this large community of politicized Africans and Indians on their doorstep and in 1959 Cato Manor was declared a white zone under The Group Areas Act (1950).

Ronnie Govender wrote, “It was right here in black-and-white. The impossible had happened. In the name of community development, in the name of group rights and group protection, in the name of western civilization, Cato Manor was declared a white area. All the families that had lived there for generations now had to move out of their homes, away from their own pieces of land.”

Forced evictions to the racially segregated KwaMashu, Umlazi and Chatsworth began. These were strenuously resisted by Cato Manor’s residents, with protest centred on the hated Municipal Beerhalls, symbols of the Apartheid government.

These riots, which later became known as the Beerhall Riots, culminated in the mob killing of nine policemen.

In response, Cato Manor was torn down – a community and its history destroyed.

Ronnie Govender wrote, “we have built our home, our schools, our temples, our mosques and our churches with love and hard work. It is wrong for the government, in which we have no say, to take from us what is legally ours. This is legalized robbery.”

Even though the area was now a ‘white zone’ it remained a wasteland with scattered Hindu shrines, the foundations of buildings and the occasional fruit tree to remind us of this once vibrant community.

 

Towards the end of the Apartheid, African and Indian families moved back to Cato Manor, reclaiming their expropriated land.

With no clear development policy, the area quickly grew into a shantytown of tin-shacks, shebeens and spaza-shops with many of the problems associated with Cato Manor of the 1950s.

 

Recognizing in Cato Manor an ideal opportunity to redress the wrongs of the past, the city of Durban embarked on an ambitious urban development project, receiving worldwide acclaim as a model for integrated development.

The area now boasts low-cost housing, a heritage centre, schools, libraries, community centres and clinics and is home to 90 000 people.” ~ courtesy Ulwazi.

For further information visit a third party website Cato Manor Tourism.

These three photos I took in India in 2009 have a special place in my collection

Andrew Harvard Photography

Whilst this is essentially a “travel” post, I have also included it under “photography” as the photographs below (all taken by me during my first trip to India in December 2009) were picked out by a friend of mine (Ben).

Ben, an accomplished photographer, kindly spiced up their colour and contrast on my behalf.

Visit his site right here to see some of his stunning work. I keep telling him that he should pursue his hot passion and talent on a full time basis! (yes, he is only part-time for now).

I used a Canon PowerShot S5 IS, that has since been replaced by a Canon 550D, both of which are only used on “auto”.

Here is “The Best of India 2009” in three photographs:

Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, West bank of River Hooghly in Shibpur, Howrah nearly 8 km from center of city Kolkata, West…

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