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Elim, the Moravian Church and brass bands

Dorpies sometimes have interesting histories, people and events. The more cynical among us would attribute this to there being little else to do but engage in things that make them quaint. The original Moravian mission station of Elim in the southern Cape is one such village.
Because of familial links, and since there was a brass band festival happening, a visit to Elim village was undertaken. Early morning drives are so refreshing and exciting, with the cool, clean air, newly minted sunshine, quiet roads and, of course, appropriate padkos. We chose the road via Caledon toward Napier.
Caledon itself is not that little a town anymore, compared to when I passed through there often in the late ’70s, on my way to and from Gqeberha, which was then my home. It has grown quite a bit.
Napier has also grown, but definitely not to the same extent. Its main road has retained its old-world charm and colourful, if not flamboyant, buildings.
It reminds me of towns such as Riebeek-Kasteel, McGregor and Barrydale – arty places with interesting residents and renovated homes. In some cases, these homes are themselves the works of art.
As with all towns and cities (or most), there is the other side of the coin in terms of separate spatial development. It is always worth taking a drive through the alternate universe to orientate your appreciation of how different folk live. On this trip there was not much time to explore this in detail.
Once you cross Sir Lowry’s Pass, the vegetation tends to mountain fynbos with large tracts of orchards producing deciduous fruit, much of it for export. Descending to Botrivier, the vegetation changes to mostly rolling fields of agricultural lands where bright yellow splotches of canola are interspersed with wheat fields. This rolls way past Caledon, our first turn-off point, and also south towards the sea and Elim, Bredasdorp and Gansbaai.
At Napier, we negotiated a sharp right-hand turn at the first four-way stop to embark on a gravel road trip of about 30km to Elim itself. It took us through a beautiful valley containing bucolic cattle, dilapidated farmhouses, newly planted proteaceae fields and sombre sheep with frolicking lambkins.
Finally, we arrived in Elim, via its main road (Church Street). Being a Sunday, and with many people attending the festival further down the road, it was quieter than its usual quietness. Thatched roofing seemed like old hats being doffed as we slowly drove ...

Like a cork upon a tide — The enduring relevance of James Joyce as ‘Ulysses’ turns 100

Ulysses had a reputation for being difficult, so students studiously avoided it. Joyce was ahead of his time, which is a double-edged sword. However much he enjoyed the kudos attached to being a trailblazer, he certainly could have done with more popular acclaim and royalties.
I’d just inserted a blank page into my typewriter and was staring at it, trying to think of something original — actually, anything at all — to say about TS Eliot’s “Four Quartets”, when I heard a muffled shout — more like the bellow of a wounded steer. My student digs were below my landlord’s living room and he and his wife were clearly no longer living in a state of connubial bliss. The bellow was followed by a shrill, feminine riposte. What had she just said? Then there was an inarticulate eruption and something heavy — a piece of furniture? — crashed to the floor above my head. I heard the tinkling sound of something smashing. A wine glass against the mantelpiece perhaps? And a door slamming. Then silence.
When I saw my splenetic landlord or his pulchritudinous wife on campus, we behaved as if I hadn’t heard anything. Well, in a sense I hadn’t. But I sided with her. Obviously. I mean, Glen was beautiful. And sad. Probably misunderstood. What if she came down to my room in need of comforting? That was a heart-stopping prospect for a single guy with no one besides TS Eliot for company. On the other hand, her husband was capable of violence if the way he manhandled the furniture was anything to go by.
Late one night, there was a knock at my door.
“Who is it?”
“Can I come in?”
What was I letting myself in for? I opened the door. She was standing there, looking sensational. She was also holding out a small stack of books. “I’m leaving him,” she said, “and I thought you might like these.” Then she gave me a brave smile and turned on her exquisite heel. I glanced at the book on top of the pile. Glen was leaving her husband and she wasn’t taking James Joyce with her.
I’d almost completed English Honours and I still hadn’t read Ulysses. In my defence, I’m fairly confident no one else doing Honours at Rhodes that year had read it either. It had been a set work for English III but had been removed the year before I got ...

Zingisa Worthington Ndungane – role-modelling perseverance and keeping family bonds strong

Odwa Ndungane played for the Sharks between 2005 and 2017. Akona played for the Bulls between 2005 and 2015, represented the Springboks in 2006 and 2007 and was a member of the World Cup-winning squad of 2007. This is the story of their father’s powerful and long-lasting influence.
Our father, Zingisa Ndungane, was born in a village called Gungululu in rural Eastern Cape. His name, Zingisa, means “Persevere” – and did he live up to his name! He taught us so much about perseverance, lessons which, at the time, we didn’t realise we were learning. Those lessons stood us in good stead in the years to come. Had we not had our father role-modelling perseverance, well, who knows? Our rugby careers would probably not have turned out as they did.
From when our dad was very young his parents had to travel considerable distances to get to work, and as a result Dad and his twin brother were taken to live with their Makhulu (his grandmother, our great-grandmother) in Corane, a village about 10km from Mthatha.
In effect, their Makhulu raised them. She was a strict woman, and it was sometimes difficult for Dad and his brother to have a voice. Nevertheless, she did a great job raising them, giving them the grounding that set them up for life. Dad didn’t tell us much about his upbringing, but when he did tell us stories occasionally, he always spoke fondly of her.
Although we know little of Dad’s childhood, we do know it was not easy. There were none of the luxuries of life. None at all. Life was challenging, but was much more so for his friends in the village, many of whom often went to bed hungry. Our father was a bit more fortunate: his Makhulu at least had some livestock, so they did okay compared with his peers.
One story he often relayed was how his Makhulu would send him to do errands, which required waking up at 4am and walking long distances. One such errand was fetching horses or cows to plough on the farm. Some of the villages were as far as 40km apart, which is quite a distance to send a young boy, but in those days it was common practice, and villages were safe for a youngster to pass through.
Dad and his sibling were expected to do many chores to help the family and the community in which he ...

Hard facts about the ‘soft life’ – new book challenges misconceptions about blessees

In ‘The Soft Life: Love, Choice and Modern Dating’, Lebohang Masango highlights how women wanting a partner with the financial means to take care of them isn’t unusual.
By early 2016 there was a new word in South Africa to describe young women who were dating older, wealthier men who would spoil them with luxury goods, international trips and dates at fancy restaurants. The new term for these women was blessee, while the men were referred to as blessers.
The new discourse around these women and their wealthier counterparts fascinated then master’s student Lebohang Masango, who did her thesis on women who date wealthy men. She has published a book on her research, The Soft Life: Love, Choice and Modern Dating.
Masango decided to research women and their dating choices because “this isn’t something that people will really research [in anthropology] because when you look at relationships maybe it’s if you’re looking at families, perhaps you’re looking at migrant families or refugee families or families of asylum seekers, but [it’s often] something where there’s some kind of stress happening, and it’s like, okay, I want to look at this thing that people would usually say is frivolous and see what meaning there is behind it.”
Masango, who is a feminist, writes in the book that she chose this topic because she wanted “us to revisit how we frame stories about young women in South Africa and the many times we, as the public, have been complicit when the single story is repeated: that young black women are poor, promiscuous, immoral, desperate and so materialistic that they would sleep with anyone for money and that’s why HIV continues to ravage black people.”
Pursuing the soft life
In the book, readers are introduced to Nomonde, Lihle, Jolie, Bongi and Camila, who are all young working women, thereby doing away with the narrative that only young, poor women date older, rich men for their money. Masango writes: “I explore how women in South Africa give meaning to aspiration, romance and love in their pursuit of the soft life: a life free of hardship.” She discusses “some of the considerations, anxieties and choices that women make in pursuit of this ideal amidst the precariousness that engulfs the majority of our population”.
Masango points out that the media has often written about black women dating rich men in a scathing tone, whereas women of other races dating affluent men don’t get the ...

Flight for Life: A powerful statement on climate migration

Majid Adin is an accomplished illustrator and 2D animator living in London. But he has a heart-rending past of being a refugee, forced to flee from his home country of Iran and endure harsh conditions after being imprisoned. Drawing from his visceral memories of adversity, he collaborated with UN Video to craft a powerful statement for COP27 in an animated story about climate migration.
Majid Adin remembers being tightly locked inside a refrigerator compartment in the back of a van.
Crammed in the cold refrigerator for 18 hours, he was unable to see in the darkness or even lift his arms. He had to endure this in order to be smuggled into the United Kingdom. This was just yet another attempt to cross the border unnoticed, after more than 20 failed attempts.
He believed he had no chance. But this time, in 2016, it finally worked.
This was all after he was smuggled to Turkey. From there, he took a makeshift boat across the Mediterranean Sea to Greece — the boat collapsed and he almost drowned. A Greek man saved his life and he eventually arrived at the Calais Jungle (Camp de la Lande) refugee encampment in France. He was trapped at the French encampment for six months before he managed to successfully flee to the UK.
“The suffering. there is nothing like it,” Adin says. “Being forced to leave my homeland and the difficulties I faced. my heart still hurts.”
Read in Daily Maverick: World Refugee Day – SA leaves the displaced in the lurch as ‘global asylum fatigue’ sets in
A long and difficult journey
Adin grew up in Mashhad, a conservative city in the northeast of Iran, in a family of Shi’ite Muslims. He describes his home as “completely dried up, where people are fighting for their water”.
Iran’s cheap oil has “sucked away” much of the land’s water, and the climate crisis has caused and will continue to cause many wars. Iranians protest about the country’s dwindling resources, about the regime, about rigged elections and about the lack of human rights, he explains.
He remembers protests in 2009 that lasted for days and “the news didn’t cover them” because the Iranian government shut off the internet, and social media and cameras were “less powerful” at the time. Countless people were arrested or murdered in the streets, he adds.
Adin says he wishes more people around the world knew about Iran’s realities.
Adin’s grandparents also faced climate migration — ...

Simple eating tweaks promise maximum longevity — but do they work?

French biochemist Jesse Inchauspé’s latest book, ‘Glucose Revolution’ looks at the damaging effects of high blood sugar and offers ten simple food and lifestyle hacks that promise to lower high blood sugar and prevent or reverse its damaging consequences.
Jesse Inchauspé, aka ‘the Glucose Goddess’ has written another bestseller, the French biochemist, author and, according to her bio ‘product developer’, has an Instagram following of more than two million — and focuses mainly on. Glucose. Her bestseller Glucose Revolution looks at the damaging effects of high blood sugar; it proposes ten simple food and lifestyle hacks — or habits’ tweaks — that should allegedly lower high blood sugar and prevent or reverse its damaging consequences.
According to Inchauspé, these hacks will reduce blood sugar spikes significantly. They will unlock energy, cut cravings, balance hormones, improve one’s skin, speed up weight loss, increase fertility, help prevent cancer and strokes and maximise longevity.
Why are high blood sugar levels dangerous?
When we eat carbohydrates or sugar our digestive system produces glucose that enters the bloodstream. As the glucose levels rise, the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. Insulin triggers cells to absorb glucose. The excess is stored in the liver and muscles. When blood sugar levels spike too often, our bodies need increasing insulin to cope with it. Eventually, it becomes unmanageable. We become insulin resistant and blood sugar levels increase permanently. This condition is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Type 2 diabetes is described as a modern pandemic that is preventable.
More than 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. T2D can be serious if not treated. It is the leading cause of death in women in SA and the second largest of men. It is estimated that 50% of people who have diabetes don’t even know it. It is usually associated with being overweight.
Inchauspé’s Glucose Revolution explains 10 easy hacks that could avoid blood sugar spikes and boost one’s health. The advice is based on the results of her own experiments paired with scientific research and studies. Although some seem unusual, her followers’ comments are convincing.
She recommends eating food in a specific order. This could reduce glucose spikes by up to 73% and insulin spikes by 43%: eat veggies high in fibre or greens first before you eat the protein and fat and lastly the carbohydrates. If you follow this advice the results could be comparable to taking ...

‘I’m the problem, it’s me’: Why do musicians revisit their pain and doubt in their art?

Music has the potential to change our experience of intrusive thoughts and how we deal with pain.
Taylor Swift’s latest album Midnights launched with the single Anti-Hero. Anti-heroes in fiction are dark, complex characters who may question their moral compass but are ultimately trying to be led by their good intentions. Perhaps most humans feel like we are all anti-heroes lacking the right amount of courage, idealism, and morality – wanting to be heroic but struggling through familiar dark places.
In Anti-Hero, Taylor shares emotional rawness and sings “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me . everybody agrees.”
“I don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before,” Swift said about the song in a video on Instagram. “I struggle a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized and, not to sound too dark, I struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person.”
Taylor’s album reveals her struggle with her own insecurities and maybe common universal human emotions that everyone struggles to face. In Labyrinth, for example, she sings about heartbreak, and more specifically, the fear of falling in love again:
“It only feels this raw right now Lost in the labyrinth of my mind Break up, break free, break through, break down”.
Much of the new album, and Swift’s discography in general, often revisits past heartbreaks, disappointments, and insecurities. Swift has talked about how Midnights is an album devoted to the kinds of soul-searching thoughts we have in the middle of the night.
“This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams,” Swift wrote. “The floors we pace and the demons we face. For all of us who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching — hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve. we’ll meet ourselves.”
Music and pain
Music has the potential to change our experience of intrusive thoughts and how we deal with pain. At an extreme level, when we revisit past traumatic experiences, we are often in danger of triggering a feared response, that manifests as either fight/flight/freeeze or fawn, that can often re-traumatise individuals.
When we identify with a song that expresses similar struggles to what we are experiencing we feel understood and not judged. Clinical psychologist Dr Janina Fisher has proposed that distancing ourselves from pain helps humans survive, yet an ongoing “self-alientation” ...

Who is Artemis? NASA’s latest mission to the Moon is named after an ancient lunar goddess turned feminist icon

A scholar of Greek mythology explains the naming of NASA’s missions after mythological figures and why the name Artemis is indicative of a more diverse era of space exploration.
NASA launched the Artemis I moon rocket on the morning of 16 November 2022, after several delays earlier this year. This first flight is without a crew and is expected to last four to six weeks. The program aims to increase women’s participation in space exploration – 30% of its engineers are women. In addition, the Artemis I mission is carrying two mannequins designed to study the effects of radiation on women’s bodies so that NASA can learn how to protect female astronauts better.
Female astronauts are currently less likely to be selected for missions than men because their bodies tend to hit NASA’s maximum acceptable threshold of radiation earlier. NASA expects to bring the first woman and person of colour to the Moon on Artemis III sometime after 2024.
As a scholar of Greek mythology, I find the name of the mission quite evocative: The Greeks and Romans associated Artemis with the Moon, and she has also become a modern-day feminist icon.
Artemis was a major deity in ancient Greece, worshipped at least as early as the beginning of the first millennium B.C., or even earlier. She was a daughter of Zeus, the chief god of the Olympians, who ruled the world from the summit of Mount Olympus. She was also the twin sister of Apollo, god of the Sun and oracles.
Artemis was a virgin goddess of the wilderness and hunting. Her independence and strength have long inspired women in a wide range of activities. For example, in a poem titled “Artemis,” author Allison Eir Jenks writes: “I’m no longer your god-mother . your chef, your bus-stop, your therapist, your junk-drawer,” emphasizing women’s freedom and autonomy.
As the goddess of animals and the wilderness, Artemis has also inspired environmental conservancy programs, in which the goddess is viewed as an example of a woman exercising her power by caring for the planet.
However, while the Greek Artemis was strong and courageous, she wasn’t always kind and caring, even toward women. Her rashness was used to explain a woman’s sudden death, especially while giving birth. This aspect of the goddess has faded away with time. With the rise of feminism, Artemis has become an icon of feminine power and self-reliance.
NASA has a long history of naming its missions ...

Coffin? Casket? Cremation? How to make your death more environmentally friendly

Burial land is running low in certain parts of the world. It’s about time we started to consider the environmental cost of our final resting place.
We can all agree humans need to reduce their impact on the environment. And while most of us think of this in terms of daily activities – such as eating less meat, or being water-wise – this responsibility actually extends beyond life and into death.
The global population is closing on eight billion, and the amount of land available for human burial is running out, especially in small and densely populated countries.
To minimise environmental impact, human bodies should return to nature as quickly as possible. But the rate of decay in some of the most common traditional disposal methods is very slow. It can take several decades for a body to decompose.
In a one-of-its-kind study, our team analysed 408 human bodies exhumed from grave pits and stone tombs in the north of Italy to find out what conditions help speed up decay.
The environmental cost of traditional burials
Funeral rituals should respect the dead, bring closure to families and promote the reaching of the afterlife in accordance with people’s beliefs. This looks different for different people. Although the Catholic church has allowed cremation since 1963, it still prefers burials. Muslims are always supposed to be buried, while most Hindus are cremated.
In Australia, however, the latest census revealed almost 40% of the population identifies as “not religious”. This opens up more avenues for how people’s bodies may be handled after death.
Most traditional burial practices in industrialised countries have several long-lasting harmful effects on the environment. Wood and metal fragments in coffins and caskets remain in the ground, leaching harmful chemicals through paint, preservatives and alloys. Chemicals used for embalming also remain in the ground and can contaminate soil and waterways.
Cremation also has a large carbon footprint. It requires lots of trees for fuel and produces millions of tons of carbon dioxide each year, as well as toxic volatile compounds.
There are several alternatives to traditional burials. These include “water cremation” or “resomation” (where the body is rapidly dissolved), human composting, mummification, cryonics (freezing and storage), space burials, and even turning the body into trees or the ashes into diamonds or record vinyls.
However, many of these alternatives are either illegal, unavailable, costly or not aligned with people’s beliefs. The vast majority choose coffin burials, and all countries accept this method. So ...

A struggle between normality and madness: why Volodymyr Zelensky’s speeches have captured the world’s attention

The Ukrainian president’s key wartime speeches are to be published in a book. His ability to weave a narrative bigger than any one life or nation has shaped the way we have understood this war.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has captured the world’s attention with powerful speeches broadcast from a besieged Kyiv. His words have galvanised global support for Ukraine’s struggle.
Now, a selection of 16 wartime speeches, chosen by Zelensky himself, will be published in a new volume: A Message From Ukraine. All proceeds from book sales will go to United24, an initiative established by him to raise funds for Ukraine.
The sheer volume of speeches delivered since February by Zelensky – a former TV comedian and actor with a degree in law – is almost overwhelming, with multiple speeches given daily. Thanks to modern technology, he has never lost direct, real-time access to decision-makers and ordinary people.
He has virtually addressed national parliaments across Europe and North America, as well as Israel, South Korea, Japan and Australia, along with international summits and meetings including the European Council and the United Nations Security Council. Last month he even addressed the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Zelensky also provides a nightly video address on each day’s events, uploaded to social media channels and the government’s official site. His speeches have won hearts and minds across the world. What drives the power behind his words?
An ordinary man in extraordinary times
Zelensky speaks directly to camera with a focused presence and open intensity, sometimes showing a small smile, placing one hand on his heart or raising a fist in the air. The viewer feels warm emotion behind his words.
Since the invasion, he has delivered his speeches in casual military-style clothes – a T-shirt, cargo pants, and old sneakers, emphasising that he is an ordinary man speaking for his country in extraordinary times.
These factors make his addresses accessible and powerfully human, in stark contrast to the seemingly inhuman brutality of war.
Nation specific imagery
His speeches to national parliaments, meanwhile, compellingly draw on touch points of significance to that country itself, evoking imagery that resonates effortlessly with the general populace.
For example, speaking to the US’ Congress, Zelensky evoked the September 11 terror attacks in New York and the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941.
Speaking to the United Kingdom’s parliament, Zelensky seemed to channel the spirit of British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, echoing fragments of the ...

Raw vegan diet may be a risk to your health – here’s why

Raw veganism may have more risks than benefits.
Vegan diets have become increasingly popular over the years, especially among people looking to improve their health. Indeed, a growing body of evidence shows that plant-based diets (including vegan diets) can have many benefits for health, and have been linked to lower heart disease risk alongside decreased body weight and cholesterol levels.
However, some people are taking the vegan diet to the extreme, choosing only to eat raw plant foods that can be consumed without any cooking. Some also exclude foods that have been changed from their natural form or processed (such as oat or almond milk).
Proponents of this diet claim that cooking causes ingredients to lose some of their important nutrients and enzymes. By consuming raw plant foods, they believe the diet will improve energy levels, prevent (and even reverse) disease and improve overall health.
But research suggests that raw vegan diets, if followed for a long time, may cause more harm than good. Here’s why:
You may miss out on important nutrients
Research does suggest that some raw foods may be healthier than cooked foods. For example, cooking causes brussels sprouts and red cabbage to lose as much as 22% of their thiamine content. This is a form of vitamin B1 which keeps the nervous system healthy.
Though some vegetables may lose nutrients during cooking, others have a greater nutrient content when cooked. This is because some nutrients are bound within the cell walls of the vegetables. Cooking breaks the cell walls down, allowing the nutrients to be released and more readily absorbed by the body.
For example, when spinach is cooked, it becomes easier for the body to absorb the calcium is contains. Research has also found that while cooking tomatoes reduces their vitamin C content by 28%, it increases their lycopene content by more than 50%. Lycopene has been associated with a lower risk of a range of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and heart disease. Asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, kale and cauliflower are other examples of vegetables that are more nutrient-dense when cooked.
Cooked vegetables can also supply the body with more antioxidants. These are molecules that can fight against a type of harmful molecule known as free radicals, which can damage cells and may lead to disease over time. Some vegetables (including asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli) contain higher levels of the antioxidants beta-carotene (which the body turns into vitamin A), lutein ...

A farewell to martinis — not so quickly!

Equal to Ernest Hemingway’s appetite for life, was his appetite for alcoholic beverages. Although many cocktails have been invented by and attributed to Hemingway, according to the cocktail historian Philip Greene, his favourite was the martini.
Ernest Hemingway famously said, “In order to write about life first you must live it”, which would explain his massive appetite for life and consequent literary success.
Legend has it that Hemingway, on his father’s insistence, started hunting at the ripe age of three. During World War 1, he drove an ambulance and was badly wounded by an Austrian mortar shell, which later earned him the Silver Medal of Military Valour from the Italian government. He participated in the Spanish Civil War; during World War 2, he was awarded a Bronze Star from the United States for anti-submarine patrolling in his now-famous fishing boat Pilar; he set the world record for catching seven marlins in a single day.
While on holiday in Uganda, he survived two plane crashes in two days, resulting in the unique experience of reading his own obituary. Once, he took the urinal off the wall at his favourite watering hole, Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, after it moved to a new location, claiming, “I pissed away so much of my money in that urinal that I own it.”
Hemingway was married four times, and published seven novels, six short story collections and two nonfiction books, earning him a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize in literature.
Perhaps equal to Hemingway’s appetite for life was his appetite for alcoholic beverages. Although many cocktails have been invented by and attributed to Hemingway, according to the cocktail historian Philip Greene, his favourite was the martini.
In Hemingway’s 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms, he described his appreciation for the martini so eloquently that it’s hard to imagine why anyone who read these words would consider drinking anything else: “I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.”
This simple yet sophisticated drink has been winning over hearts and tastebuds and infiltrating popular culture since it was invented in the 1880s — and quoted many times over.
“I never go jogging, it makes me spill my martini,” said American comedian, writer and singer George Burns; “Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet,” said journalist HL Mencken; “He knows just how I like my martini — full of alcohol,” Homer Simpson; “I must get ...

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