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OPPIKOPPI – Limpopo’s Star Quality Line-up

5-7 August 2015 Festival

It is almost impossible to imagine that in the beleaguered mining area of Limpopo Province there was a burst of cultural riches that is distinctive, eclectic and top-notch. Despite the many festivals that have sprung into life since, Opppikoppi still pulls in the crowds and still manages to offer bands and individual performers of quality.

It is most encouraging, if ironic, that this festival takes place near the mining town of Northam. The mining industry has become almost iconic of the deep divisions that exist in our country. People that walk on gold still do not have basic services. People that risk their lives for platinum do not share in the profits. The economic divide is a gaping ravine that sadly finds expression along racial lines. The truth is that in reality and by law many if not most of the shareholders of the mining conglomerates are black, the police that have to ‘correct’ political and economic fault-lines are black, and the unions that engage in power-play are black. But we seldom take note of an inevitable cultural reaction in the soul of groups. Perhaps the only way to really address these deep-seated problems in the secret life of the psyche is through the arts. Music is, after all, the food of love … and not only romantic love: Oppikoppi may yet facilitate the building of a few of the bridges that we need to span the divide.

Just look at the bands- what can be more original and mixed than the following?

The Black Cat Bones: blues rock

Gogol Bordello: gypsy punks with origins in Ukraine

BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness): A seven-piece ensemble that mixes psych funk rock and Zulu tribal influences.

Japan and I: three-piece ska band recently returned from playing Primavera in Barcelona.

Johnny Clegg: musical wonder, intrepid breaker of new ground, cultural anomaly who somehow managed to assimilate several cultures without loss of self.

Let the good times roll and the diversity rock our souls. Oppikoppi gives one hope that our land may still be healed – through the arts.

Ref: Alistair Anderson’s 7 August 2015 Article in

IT’S August, which means it is time for Oppikoppi, SA’s most eclectic festival.

The festival, which takes place near the mining town of Northam, Limpopo province, runs from August 5-9 this year.

Here are five bands worth watching:

1. The Black Cat Bones

This blues rock band are on a roll. They gig as often as a zombie raids a morgue in search of brains. That’s weekly. Expect to enjoy a highly proficient rock act command a stage.

2. Gogol Bordello

These gypsy punks with origins in Ukraine are truly fantastic performers. Watch the vibrant show that they deliver.

3. BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness)

This seven-piece musical ensemble is a refreshing mix of psych funk rock with Zulu tribal influences.

4. Japan and I

One of SA’s most beloved ska bands returns to Oppikoppi, fresh from playing Primavera in Barcelona. Expect this three-piece band to get people stomping.

5. Johnny Clegg

He is being granted a special tribute this weekend. Clegg has not played Oppikoppi before, which is astounding since he is a South African musical troubadour.

Oppikoppi was launched in 1995 and has taken place every August since. The festival has developed its own identity, which is what brings the crowds year after year.

August 07 2015, 10:48

10 Reasons to enjoy your Easter holidays in Durban

What Durban offers for Easter

As most holiday cities in South Africa, Durban is as friendly as they come. During Easter, which is autumn in SA, the climate in KwaZulu-Natal is perfect for holiday time. Why not enjoy Easter with you family in Durban this year?

Here are ten reasons to consider:

1.    Hit the beach. Durban is renowned for its fabulous family beaches. For some the attraction is the thought of lazing around on the white sands and for others catching the waves will do it. During Easter it is not as jam-packed as during the Christmas holidays and the worst heat have subsided. Still, don’t forget the sunscreen and hats.

2.    Pack a picnic. Durban offers some outstanding nature parks which include the botanical and Japanese Gardens. African flowers are breathtakingly beautiful. These parks offer a huge assortment of our very best indigenous fauna. Imagine a relaxing day in the beauty of Mother Nature.

3.    Rickshaw rides. This is something that will bring out your inner child. These traditional and very colourful Rickshaws are a landmark in Durban. A short trip in one of these man-drawn buggies reminds of an early means of travel in the area. This is an opportunity for sightseeing, family bonding and chomping Easter eggs at the same time.

4.    Roller-blading. Gliding along the Golden Mile, the paved paths along the beach or the roller rink, accessibly situated for kids to use while parents do shopping. So pack the skates, mom.

5.    Become adventurous. In the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean you can swim down into the amazing underwater world with only your wetsuit and aqua lung. No phones or pagers, just you and the splendour of the Indian Ocean. Spectacular coral reefs make this an exceptional location for diving and snorkeling.

6.    Visit the snake park. See a variety of indigenous snakes from the lurking boomslang to the spitting cobra, as well as some imported species. This will be a spellbinding experience. On weekends, feeding of snakes and crocodiles can be seen.

7.    Go on Safari. Spend a day in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Wildlife Reserve on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, positioned conveniently in the heart of Zululand. An amazing way to get close to the wild species of South Africa.

8.    Get to know Ushaka.  Durban’s very own top-notch saltwater aquarium, Ushaka Marine World. More than 30 indoor and outdoor exhibits offers fun and delight for everyone.

9.    A paradise of Birds. Umgeni River Bird Park yields birds that you only see in story books, in every colour of the rainbow. It’s enough to brighten up a whole day for the whole family.

10. Remember the reason for Easter. Be sure that your family remembers what Easter actually symbolizes. Visit one of many church denominations, to share in the celebrations of Easter.


Facts about Easter

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What is Easter and Why is it Celebrated?

In South Africa Good Friday and Easter Sunday are public holidays and, though many celebrate these days as Christians, those who do not share the same faith may not know what Easter is about – especially if they only see the chocolate-eggs-filling-the-stores side of it. Because the different Christian denominations differ in some aspects of celebrating Easter, this article will briefly cover why Easter is celebrated instead of delving into all the different ways in which it is celebrated.

Whereas Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, Easter celebrates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, whom Christians believe to be the Son of God. The telling of Jesus’ life, death (by crucifixion), and resurrection is found in the New Testament of the Bible. Before the crucifixion, the Lord’s Supper/Last Supper took place, when “Jesus gathered with his apostles for a last Passover meal” (Burge, 2009:161). The meaning of this meal, for Christians, is found in the Bible in Luke 22:19-20. “During this meal, he (Jesus) picked up a loaf of bread, broke it, and ceremonially named it as representing his body… in the same way, after the supper he took the cup (with wine), saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’.” (Burge, 2009:161). Parallels are thus drawn between the sacrificial death of the Passover lamb and Jesus – Jesus was the Passover lamb slain for God’s people” (see Burge, 2009:161 for a more detailed explanation). This is also where the celebration of communion with bread and wine comes from.

It is after this supper that Jesus is arrested and tried. “A central point is the absolute innocence of the Lord (Jesus)” (Burge, 2009: 207). He was, however, crucified – a death and punishment which was “considered the most wretched of deaths” (Burge, 2009:207). The crucifixion is celebrated on Good Friday. After Jesus dies on the cross, he is buried, but is then raised from the dead after three days. The resurrection is celebrated on the Sunday.

Jesus dies to take away the sin of the world and also conquers death itself. It is probably best described the in the book John in the Bible, where it is written “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have Everlasting Life.” (John 3:16) and “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). This belief is central to Christianity and it is therefore that Easter is celebrated as such an important festival.


Burge, et. al. (2009). The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament Within its Cultural Contexts. Zondervan, Michigan.

Quotes from the Bible are from the English Standard Version.

Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archaeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

Heat: Record-setting Heat-Waves in History

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Understanding  Heat

Heatwaves are uncomfortable to say the least, and the heat causes many to change their routines to try and stay out of the sun as much as they can. While the local heat we’ve experienced this year have been relatively short, other heat-waves have set temperatures soaring over many weeks or even months. These extended periods of high temperatures can lead to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses and can prove extremely dangerous or even deadly. We tend to underestimate the danger high temperatures hold, yet, over the past few centuries, severe heatwaves have caused tens of thousands of deaths.

In John Withington’s 2008 book A Disastrous History of the World: Chronicles of War, Earthquake, Plague and Flood, he specifically sites the heat-waves that struck the US in 1936. Temperatures started to rise in June, with no sign of letting up in July and August. The heat caused thousands of deaths in July alone (Withington, 2008:93). “Altogether, the heat-wave killed perhaps 15 000 in the three years from 1934 to 1936” (Withington, 2008:93). Another deadly heat-wave struck the US in 1980, leading to some 10 000 deaths (Withington, 2008:94).

In August 2003 a severe heat-wave hit Europe, breaking temperature records – some of which were 500 years old! The weather caused crops to wither, rivers to dry up and fuelled devastating fires. This heat-wave also showed just how dangerous it is to underestimate the devastation such intense heat and weather conditions can cause. France’s Ministry of Health’s refusal to acknowledge the problem led many to disregard the warnings given. The intense heat lasted for weeks and left more than 52 000 dead. In France alone 15 000 people died.

The record for the most consecutive days above 37.8 °C was set in Western Australia when the temperatures remained at these extremely high levels for 160 days – from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924. Australia has been hit with severe heat-waves over the past decade as well, some leading to devastating wild fires.

Countless other extreme and deadly heatwaves have been recorded across the world. What these examples of some of the worst heat-waves must teach us is that heat and warnings of heatwaves must be taken seriously. The elderly, children, and ill are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and care should be taken to look after one another during a heat-wave.


Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archaeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.



The Perfect Valentine Date

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Tips for planning a perfect Valentine date

It’s once again time to organize your yearly Valentine date and you are at your wits’ end trying to think of something new and original. Red roses, a romantic card and dinner for two have become predictable, boring and unoriginal. Why not pull out all the stops and plan an all day Valentine date?

Plan ahead!

This year, Valentine’s day is on a Saturday, so most people will have the entire day to celebrate love and romance. However, you need to make sure that the entire day passes without a single hitch. This means planning ahead. Here are a few pointers:


Make a list of possible venues. It may be best to spend the day at a single location. Travelling from one venue to another is stressful and it wastes time. Consider the activities and amenities available at each venue. For example, if you are considering the beach, make sure you choose one where there is a restaurant and clean bathrooms available within easy walking distance. Perhaps you want the entire day to be a surprise, but it can turn out to be terrible if she does not like the venue. You may want to at least ask her what her preferences are. You can still surprise her in many ways on the big day.


With the venue sorted out, design a program for the day. Once she finds out that you have taken the trouble to carefully plan your time together, she will realize that you consider time spent with her precious and that you do not intend to waste a minute of it. A word of warning, though! Do not cram the day with so many activities that she will feel rushed and harassed. Romance has a slow and leisurely pace.


Make sure that she will at no time be embarrassed simply because she did not take a change of clothes, or because she is dressed inappropriately, for example. Make her a list of items she may want to take on the date.

The recipe for a truly romantic Valentine date lies in careful and thoughtful planning. Why not start straight away?

Yours Truly, Your Valentine

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With these famous last words Saint Valentine signed his farewell letter to the blind daughter of one of his judges, Asterius, before his three part execution. He was a Roman priest in a challenging time around the year 270, when polygamy was very popular. Emperor Claudias II, hostile to the church, believed that unmarried men made better soldiers and therefore prohibited young people to marry. Valentine on the other hand, secretly married anyone in the church who was attracted to the Christian faith. For that, he was convicted, imprisoned and executed. As legend would have it, he prayed and healed the young blind girl while in prison and Asterius himself became a Christian as result.


As Juliet said in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”

For these two young lovebirds, their family feuds and -names were the biggest obstacles to their ‘Happily Ever After’. We all know in what terrible tragedy it all ended. Unlike what many might believe, you are not your family, neither your family name. You shouldn’t be like them if you don’t want to. You are you, unique in your own way. Juliet wanted Romeo to give up his family name. How many sadly lost the love of their life, simply because they made the wrong choice in the eyes of their parents or family?

Then there are certain cases where anyone can see how wrong a specific relationship is. It would only be natural to want to “save” someone from obvious disaster. Is it really such a noble thing to do? After all, no-one can tell for certain what the future holds. Shouldn’t we all be free to make our own choices (and mistakes) in life?


This is what Saint Valentine stood for and he too paid a terrible price. He wanted love to conquer in the end, no matter what. Isn’t this how we should celebrate Valentines’ Day? A very famous anti-war slogan from the 1960’s hippy era was “Make Love, Not War”. They would argue that no-one ever died from love. Well, literally or figurative spoken, they had a point. On the other hand, dissolute love could result in HIV AIDS and well, from that you could die in the end. Although the Roman priest paid with his life for his belief in pure love and marriage, this day will always be our reminder.


Other than Romeo and Juliet, most people care very much for a name. We see it as something really important, our special identity. To have a city, town, street or anything else linked to your name, is a great honour. Saint Valentine stood steadfast in his faith. For his noble deeds, he was honoured with a special holiday.


In modern times, love and romance are celebrated worldwide on Valentine’s Day. It depicts the freedom to choose and love who we want. It became such a wondrous, mysterious occasion where we not only honour Saint Valentine, but love itself. What a glorious festival of true love! Let us rather love each other instead of fight. Why not celebrate every single day as Valentine’s Day!

 In modern times you should not go without decent Insurance cover.

Valentine’s Day: How to propose.

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VALENTINE’S DAY PROPOSALS – Romantic ways to pop the question

More marriage proposals occur on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year. The 14th February proposal rate is not surprising, of course, so the challenge is to find an original, unique way of popping the question. On the one hand one does not want to move to far from the traditional because the day lends itself to custom and the outward expressions of romantic love. On the other hand, one wants the occasion to be true to the personalities of the people involved and to honour the special character of a specific relationship.


1.    Hide the ring in food. People have swallowed, choked, spat, landed in hospital and ended up marrying the surgeon who saved their lives instead of the guy who proposed.

2.    Propose in a crowd or in front of other people, unless you are very, very sure you will be accepted. People have said yes because they wanted to avoid embarrassment, resented getting married because they felt coerced by the presence of family or colleagues or married the psychologist who had to deal with their dislike of surprises.

3.    Go down on your knee if you have an old injury and can’t get up, the lawn is soggy or you are wearing white or planning to go out afterwards. People have ended up marrying the dry cleaner who understands that they feel upset that the raw silk trousers they brought their fiancée from India is stained beyond repair.


1.    Indulge in the treasure hunt build-up. Use the fourteen days leading up to “The Day” to prepare the love of your life for the moment. A series of daily gifts placed in surprising places – a coat pocket, balanced on the steering wheel, on the pillow to be discovered at bedtime, in the ‘fridge where it is impossible to miss when you get milk for the morning coffee.

2.    Sweets and more sweets. Fortune cookies and love message candies are ideal. On the actual day, shower her with ones that say “Marry Me”. Cards can do the trick too, but sweets or cupcakes are better and … well, sweeter.

3.    Music is the food of love, so play on! For fourteen days, send links to shared favourites or songs that really get the message across. U Tube has a placed this possibility within the reach of those with even the most unusual tastes in music, so find it!


Back to School in 2015

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Get Back to School and Make this an Awesome Year

A new year means a new leaf, new textbooks, new exercise books, new drama, and going back to school. In the blink of an eye it’s suddenly 2015 and although there are no flying cars or food hydrators yet (I’m looking at you, Back to the Future), at least Skynet didn’t become self-aware in 2011. That aside, now is the best time to plan ahead, make some changes, and make it your best year yet.

Stay organised

Make sure you have a diary – and use it. It’s difficult to keep track of all the dates, assignments, and homework if you don’t make a note of it. This is almost priority one when you go back to school. You are also less likely to forget to study for a test or leave books at home if you make a clear note of it. Decorate your diary and exercise books or files to suit your personality and write your favourite quotes in your diary to keep you motivated.

Find an interest or hobby

Take some time and look for a hobby you can pursue that will relax you and take your mind off of things causing you stress. Creating art and being creative is a great way to unwind and work through issues in your mind. By trying different hobbies, you may just discover some new talents or discover what career you want to pursue after school. New hobbies can also help you to make new friends who have the same interests as you.

Take responsibility for your actions – and not just the positive ones

Every day, not to mention every year, has its ups and downs. You can’t predict what will happen, but it is your responsibility to handle every situation as well as you are able to. If you get in trouble for something you’ve done, don’t lie about it, but take responsibility. Everyone make mistakes, but it is a sign of maturity to you take responsibility for your actions. Truly learn from your mistakes and those of others. The year will be awful if you keep on doing the same thing again and again when it is getting you absolutely nowhere.

Don’t be that person

Taking responsibility for your actions online is just as important as taking responsibility for them in real life. Stay safe online and think before posting anything. With cyber bullying on the rise, it is important to be wary of it. John Green said: “We have this weird thing in the world where you don’t get insulted for what you do, you get insulted for who you are”.  Don’t be one of the trolls who hide behind their screens trying to break down anyone and anything around them. Life is too precious to waste it by trying to make others feel inferior to you.

But, most importantly, enjoy it. You have more than 300 days before 31 December – make each one count.

Who is Christmas for?

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Your Christmas bonus spending.

Is Christmas only for Christians?

The reason why there is a public holiday called Christmas, is supposed to be for Christians to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Who are these Christians? They are Christ followers, who accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour and declared Him the Lord of their lives. Or they are supposed to be!

Looking around in shops and Malls this time of the year, what I see tells a very different story. Let me tell you what I see. I see the Hindu shop owner and the Muslim and the Jew and the Buddhist alike, setting up Christmas trees with bright lights flashing, luring the ‘Christians’ to come and spend their hard earned money as well as their December bonuses, in their shops. To buy two items for the price of one, but the one item’s price is inflated enough to cover both items any way. So the customer buys two, when he actually only really needed one.  What am I saying? He actually didn’t ‘need’ any!

These non-Christmas-celebrating business people smile merrily all the way to the bank. No wonder they are so generously wishing all a merry Christmas, because theirs certainly will be!

Christmas has become the time of the year to waste money, buying expensive gifts for people you don’t really care about, but will feel guilty and what will they think of you if you don’t? No matter that you don’t think much of them anyway.

Even in an opulent Muslim country where I lived, business owners grabbed the opportunity to help ‘Christians’ get rid of their money by creating an atmosphere with stars, bright lights, red pointed caps with white fur and pom-poms, playing BZN’s Little Drummer Boy and Hark the Herald Angels loud and clear. Employers who put the money in your pocket did not share the celebration, oh no. If you wanted the day of to spend with your family, you had to apply for a day’s leave.

Again I ask: Who is Christmas for?

Shopping an Addiction?

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Can shopping become a serious addiction?

Numerous people see a trip to the mall as a recreational experience. For them shopping is not about picking up necessities; no – it is an opportunity to seek out bargains, to get updated on the latest trends and fashions and to forget about the harsh realities of life for a while. It is a chance to escape into a world where everything is available and a reason for enjoying a little forbidden fruit in the form of a designer coffee and a slice of cream cake. No wonder people commonly talk about “retail therapy!”

 Psychologists and experts warn that shopping can become an addiction. Too many people spend money that they truly cannot afford to spend on things that they do not truly need. This can have an effect similar to that experienced by drug users: first there is the euphoria of buying stuff and then comes the ugly reality of financial difficulties and the stress that it involves. It is a never ending cycle because the only way in which to escape the depression and financial anxiety is to go to the mall again.

This addiction can become very serious. Compulsive shoppers often lie about their habits and they neglect their families’ basic needs in favour of their own desires. The urge to shop can become obsessive and destructive. Many therapists acknowledge this condition as a bona fide psychological disorder that requires treatment.

As is the case with all obsessive behavioural patterns the key to recovery lies in support. If shopping has become a problem it would be wise to visit the shops only when accompanied by a trusted friend or loved one. The friend should be tasked to make sure there is a shopping list and that only the items on it are purchased. If possible, shopaholics should try to avoid going to the shops at all, at least for a while. Instead, they should find an alternative activity such as volunteer work to keep them occupied and fulfilled.