Back to SA after Asian adventure

first_imgEnglish and drama graduate Claire vanden Heever used her qualifications toteach English to monks, refugees andbusinesspeople in Asian countries. India has become almost familiar territoryfor the travelling pair.Manley and Van den Heever after lunchingwith Tibetan nomads in the hillsaround Gyalthang.(Images: Old World Wandering)MEDIA CONTACTS • Iain ManleyWilma den HartighAbout eight years ago, a South African couple left their home comforts to set out on a journey of a lifetime that would be the envy of many spirited adventurers. Now they are making their way back home, and they have many stories to tell.Iain Manley and Claire van den Heever have written an absorbing travelogue based on their eight years of living abroad. Old World Wandering is a collection of stories about their explorations of the regions and cultures of Europe, Asia and Africa.Old World Wandering tells the story of two overland journeys. The first was from London to Shanghai over 18 months, covering 39 000 kilometres and passing through 18 countries.Their second journey started in January 2011, after three years in China. They are making their way home to Cape Town via India, Southeast Asia, China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and East and Southern Africa.Leaving home for LondonManley and Van den Heever, who both studied at the University of Cape Town, left for London a few months after graduating. Manley studied journalism and literature and Van den Heever has a degree in English literature and drama.Their intention was to work in London until they had saved enough money to travel.“It is a rite of passage for many young South Africans. Our move to London became the jumping-off point for a life we never expected to lead,” Van den Heever says.But as the weeks in London became months, exploring the world seemed to be slipping further from their grasp. “The city was sucking up every penny we earned,” she says.Then one day, ignoring their diminishing bank balance, Manley traced a vague line on the world map that hung, hopefully, on their bedroom wall. “We could get all the way there by land,” he said, pointing to Shanghai on the east coast of China.This was the beginning of the couple’s great adventure.“With almost no idea about logistics, costs or dangers we agreed that, as far as possible, we would try. With the idea in place, the plans formed around it,” says Van den Heever.In June 2006, armed with money saved while managing a pub in the English countryside, they left England for a journey to Shanghai.After spending 18 months on the road travelling through 18 countries, they arrived at Shanghai Train Station, wearing scruffy clothes and with dirty backpacks in hand.Manley says that overland travel is the only way to experience a slow transition between places. Travelling by train is always their first choice, but often they have to rely on buses, minibuses, rickshaws, and occasionally cars or boats.“When you go by bus or train from one country into another or between provinces you notice the differences and the similarities – between cultures, cuisines, languages and landscapes – that hold the world together,” Manley says.Working and travellingDuring their first journey, they spent two months in McLeod Ganj in northern India, home of the Tibetan government in exile, volunteering as English teachers for Tibetan monks and refugees.When the couple finally reached Shanghai, they found jobs teaching English to businesspeople. A year and a half later, both were commissioned to write separate Asia-focused books.Manley wrote Tales of Old Singapore, a book about colonial Singapore.Van den Heever’s first book, which delves into the thirty-year existence of Chinese contemporary art, will be published in September next year.After three years in China, they set off on their second overland journey.“Our experience in Shanghai made working from the road as freelance writers possible,” Van den Heever says.Seeing amazing placesBy the time they get back to Cape Town, they would have visited about 45 countries. But Manley quickly adds that he is suspicious of counting countries.“Both India and China are as linguistically and culturally diverse as the whole of Europe, for example, and visiting Shanghai to say that you have seen China is like visiting London to say that you have seen Europe,” he explains.Instead, they prefer to immerse themselves in the beauty and diversity of every town, city and region they visit.They also find it difficult to name the most memorable places they’ve seen. For Van den Heever, India comes to mind.“India manages to amaze and stun in manifold ways – some more positive than others. We have spent so much time there now that, for better or for worse, I suspect it will always have a hold on us,” she says.Many of the most unforgettable places, such as Syria, came as a surprise. “We spent a few weeks travelling through the country in 2005, drinking endless cups of tea with people who were more hospitable than anywhere we’ve ever been. Sleepy little Laos was another unexpected gem,” she says.Manley says that their journey has changed their perspective about the world. “Stumbling on a chatty stranger in a noodle bar or taking a wrong turn down a quiet street can sometimes teach you more than the best-written guidebook or any museum’s horde of treasures,” he says.Homeward boundInitially they expected to be back on home soil in December this year, but now it seems that December 2012 is a more realistic estimate.“I think neither of us knew how important travelling slowly would be when you earn a living on the road. We allowed ourselves to spend a month or longer in several countries along the way,” says Van den Heever.“We never imagined then that we would be away for so long, or that we would travel so far,” adds Manley.Although India, England and China are all places they can imagine living in again, they are ready to get to know South Africa.“Neither of us have experimented with lives lived on our own terms at home. We’ve missed out on eight exciting years in a rapidly evolving country, where there is as much room for optimism and pessimism as there is anywhere. It’s time to fix that,” he says.Manley is planning to go back to the University of Cape Town in an academic research capacity to explore the relationships between China, India and African countries.Van den Heever (who according to Manley, speaks Mandarin better than he does), is going to set up a consultancy for people in South Africa who need help doing business with China, particularly in the travel and tourism industry.She says that they are looking forward to living in the same country as their family and friends again, and enjoying everything that is uniquely South African.“I am looking also forward to getting to know the country I left as a much younger person. I often think of all the natural beauty I left behind, the good wine and delicious meat on a braai.”last_img read more

Refentse Morake: from busker to the stage

first_imgMusician Refentse Morake was discovered giving Afrikaans pop music a unique African flavour on the streets on Vereeniging in 2015 by Cecilia Marchionna. (Image: Refentse Morake official YouTube channel)Brand South Africa reporterMarchionna uploaded a video of his performance on to Facebook and it soon become one of most shared videos in South Africa.With more than 120 000 video views, plus a stage debut at one of the country’s leading music festivals under his belt already, Morake has now released his first album of Afrikaans songs.Titled My Hart Bly In ‘n Taal, the album features his versions of modern South African pop classics, including Johannes Kerkorrel’s Halala Afrika, Koos Kombuis’s Bicycle Sonder ‘n Slot and a Laurika Rauch medley. Among his other performances not on the album but available to view on YouTube are Karen Zoid’s Toe Vind Ek Jou and Jan Blohm’s Breyten se Brief.Zoid, one of South Africa’s most popular musicians, is a big Morake fan. She asked him to perform with her at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, the annual arts festival in Oudtshoorn, in 2015. She also helped in the recording of his album, which is currently the fourth best-selling album on the iTunes local music charts.A true South African, Morake also enjoys kwaito and Zulu gospel music, which he hopes to incorporate with Afrikaans music on a grander scale with his second album. His aim is to bring the diverse South African cultures together through the power of music.While he is excited about the interest in his music, Morake, who matriculated in 2015, is taking fame in his stride. He has chosen rather to study for his law degree at North West University before he takes his music on the road full-time.Source: News24/Netwerk24Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

SA, Kazakhstan to strengthen ties

first_img8 October 2013 South Africa and Kazakhstan will be looking to strengthen their ties when Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim hosts Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister, Kairat Sarybay, in Pretoria on Thursday. Sarybay will be in South Africa on a one-day working visit, during which he will co-chair the 3rd round of inter-governmental consultations between the two countries Top of the agenda, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, will be a review of progress on draft agreements to be signed during the planned state visit of the president of Kazakhstan in December. South Africa and Kazakhstan’s interests overlap in areas including trade, the production and collaborative marketing of strategic minerals, technology exchanges, machine production, as well as oil procurement for South Africa. Total trade between South Africa and Kazakhstan has been fluctuating, but has remained in South Africa’s favour since 2009. It increased from R44-million in 2009 to R137-million in 2010, dropped to R88-million in 2011 and increased to R90-million in 2012. Exports increased from R42-million in 2009 to R101-million in 2010 compared to imports of R2-million in 2009 and R36-million in 2010. In September 2009, South Africa’s second micro-satellite, SumbandilaSat, was launched from Kazakhstan. Before a blast of solar radiation put it out of commission by damaging its on-board computer in July 2011, SumbandilaSat delivered over 1 000 very usable, cloud-free images, and became well-known by the amateur radio satellite society worldwide for the excellent results from its amateur radio payload. Denel Spaceteq, the newly launched space engineering unit of aerospace and defence manufacturer Denel, has started the initial work on South Africa’s third low-orbit satellite, a multispectral, high-resolution earth observation satellite called EO-Sat1. SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Digital Activism: An Interview with Mary Joyce

first_imgTags:#Ai Weiwei Event#conferences#Interviews#People in Tech#web Related Posts richard macmanus Digital activism is defined by the newly launched Meta-Activism Project as “the practice of using digital technology for political and social change.” One of the leaders in the field of digital activism is Mary Joyce, the founder and executive director of the Meta-Activism Project. Joyce is among the most knowledgeable and experienced digital activists in the world. She also founded DigiActive.org in 2007, a volunteer organization for grassroots activists. In 2008, she was New Media Operations Manager for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.As a lead-up to the upcoming event in New York City with Chinese digital activist Ai Weiwei, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and yours truly, I interviewed Mary Joyce about the strategies and success stories of digital activism.RWW: You recently moved on from DigiActive in order to create a new organization for digital activism. Can you tell us more about what that will be?MJ: The new organization is called the Meta-Activism Project (MAP) and its goal is to build the field of digital activism by catalyzing a body of strategic knowledge unique to the field.  Today’s digital activist is in an untenable position: caught between the 100-ton rock of pre-digital strategy and the thousand slippery pebbles of highly-contextual tactical knowledge that focuses on a seemingly endless stream of new social media applications.  We want to build a new body of activism strategy that recognizes the radically different communications infrastructure of the digitally networked world.I am really excited to announce the official launch of the Meta-Activism Project on ReadWriteWeb! The site – http://meta-activism.org – went live at the end of last week and, though it is pretty bare now, we’d like it to be a central location for people interested in building a body of knowledge about the fundamental mechanics of digital activism.RWW: We’ve heard a lot about Twitter being used in Iran last year, and the subsequent blocking of social media services like Twitter and Facebook in China. What other countries have social media tools had a big impact in, for digital activism?MJ: Judging impact is quite tricky in the field of digital activism, as few cases of digital activism are actual successes.  Usually we judge the success of an activism campaign by whether the activists achieved their campaign goal.  However, in almost all of the famous cases of digital activism “success” – the post-election mobilizations in Iran and Moldova in 2009 or the 2008 general strike in Egypt – while activists did successfully mobilize using social media, they did not achieve their campaign goal, be it to overturn an allegedly fraudulent election result or the wide range of social and political reforms demanded by the strike organizers.  Mary doing digital activism training at Video Camp GoaThe measuring of impact thus becomes extremely subjective.  Digital activism proponents want to count mobilization as success even when the goal is not achieved, while skeptics and pessimists point out that, by traditional measures, most digital activism campaigns are failures.  Though I am certainly a proponent of digital activism, I would actually side with the skeptics here.  In order to really push the field forward, we need to set high standards for digital activism success and not be satisfied with half-measures. RWW: Facebook and Twitter are the two most high profile social media tools being used for digital activism. Are there any other Internet tools that have had success, that perhaps people aren’t as aware of?MJ: I could tell you, but that tool would probably become outdated in a few months, or would prove useless out of its original context.  That’s the problem with tactical knowledge: tools change, contexts change, and activists are forever playing catch-up.  Probably the greatest factor which determines the utility of an application to activists is scale and “use neutrality.”  Scale means that the tool needs to reach a certain critical mass of users before you will have the network effects that will either make it likely that activists will become aware of it (in the case of something like Tor or proxy servers) or, in the case of social platforms, that enough people will be on the platform to constitute a meaningful audience for an activist message. “Use neutrality” means that it can be easily co opted, that its architecture can facilitate a wide variety of interactions and does not dictate the content of hosted files.  YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger are use neutral, LastFM and Bloglines are not. Mary at the Women’s Leadership and Technology Conference, Sharjah, UAERWW: Over the past year or so, can you describe a couple of success stories for digital activism using web tools.MJ: Ha! More about measuring success. With the lack of true success, it is no wonder that people are so eager for these stories.  I think the traditionally-defined successes in this field (i.e. when the campaign goal is achieved) are much smaller and less dramatic – NGO meets fundraising goal through online donations (multiple cases), bloggers get a corporation to withdraw an offensive advertisement (e.g. Motrin), a social network lifts a questionable national block (e.g. LinkedIn in Syria).  In the high-stakes activism campaigns that intend to make dramatic changes at the national and international level, I would say that we have cases of successful mobilization – Iran, Moldova, Egypt – without successful campaigns.RWW: In terms of China, a lot has been written about the censorship there – both the Great Firewall that blocks certain sites and domains, and the self-censorship that many companies have to do in order to survive. Currently Google is trying to challenge censorship, but we’re not sure how successful even a hugely influential company like Google will be. So what, if anything, can ordinary people do in terms of digital activism to support the freeing up of the Chinese Internet?MJ: I am not an expert on China, but it seems like the best strategy for defeating the Great Firewall is to make it obsolete: create so many ways of getting around it that it no longer successfully censors Chinese Internet users.  This means both creating new circumvention tools – more Psiphons, proxies, Tors, FreeGates – and finding new and innovative ways to get those tools to Chinese users.RWW: Thanks Mary for this illuminating interview. We at ReadWriteWeb wish you the best with the newly launched Meta-Activism Project! A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Simplicity versus Complexity

first_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. Designers of energy-efficient homes — especially homes aiming for net-zero energy use — must inevitably grapple with the question of simplicity versus complexity.Residential designers can choose from an array of sophisticated appliances that improve comfort and help homeowners reduce energy use. Examples include heat-recovery ventilators (HRVs), condensing boilers, ground-source heat pumps, solar hot water systems, on-demand water heaters, heat-pump water heaters, photovoltaic modules, and co-generation systems.Most of these devices perform well. However, designers who specify sophisticated appliances need to consider the trade-offs that accompany such hardware:Builders often underestimate the importance of commissioning all HVAC equipment after installation. (“Commissioning” simply means making final adjustments and tuning up equipment to verify that it functions properly.)Unfortunately, most new homes are imperfectly commissioned, leading to one or more of the following errors:HVAC commissioning errors almost always result in needless increases in energy costs. Many HVAC specialists can share horror stories about commissioning errors, running the gamut from irritating to outrageous (for example, air-source heat pumps with electric resistance elements that operate for most of the winter).For four years in the 1990s, I provided capital needs assessments — glorified home inspections — for multi-family residential projects in Vermont. During that time, I inspected hundreds of residential buildings maintained by professional management companies.Almost all of the buildings showed signs of neglected maintenance. Among the problems I saw:There’s no reason to believe that American homeowners are any better at maintenance than the average residential property management company; in fact, they may well be worse. That’s why anyone involved with home inspections can share stories similar to mine.Many of today’s harried homeowners don’t even know where all of their mechanical equipment is located, much less the equipments’ maintenance requirements.Even well intentioned homeowners sometimes decide that it makes economic… center_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log inlast_img read more