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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa

Will the Boks defend their title in 2011?

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AB Captain Ritchie McCaw

Image by nznationalparty via Flickr


 It was bound to happen. At some stage of his Springbok coaching career, Pieter de Villiers was going to get exposed. The time has come in 2010, where a shift in rules that favours the attacking team was completely missed by de Villiers.

The All Blacks were ready. They blasted off the 2010 Tri Nations in style, obliterating South Africa and Australia in the process. The Men in Black played intelligent rugby. They are holding onto their ball in their own half and backing themselves to retain possession and eventually create space out wide.

A large part of their game plan has been based around Ma’a Nonu who can carry the ball up powerfully as the second receiver. In contrast the Boks have looked directionless and have played with no real purpose, although nothing can be taken away from the passion they breathed into the Soweto Test.

Jake White’s game plan has come to an end. The strategy that won the 2007 World Cup is old school now and fresh ideas are needed…..and quickly.

Some of the senior men in the Bok team are looking…..well ….old. John Smit is captain courageous but Ritchie McCaw is more looking the part of a 2011 World Cup winning captain than Smit is right now.

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It would take a brave coach with certain knowledge that he will win the World Cup next year to fire Smit at this late stage. Pieter de Villiers is damned if he drops Smit and damned if he doesn’t.

Key combinations have still not been established in the Bok team. Just who the center pairing, the loose forwards and the front row are going to be in a year’s time is still not clear.

Playing “Barney” at prop is not a solution for 2011 and if he is not the first choice hooker then sadly it is time to let the old warrior hang up his boots. Just who will captain the Springboks then is an intriguing question.

Victor Matfield has lead the Boks before but has not dominated the line out internationally this year and may be under pressure from Andries Bekker for the number 5 jersey come 2011.

Another candidate being mentioned is fellow Blue Bull Fourie Du Preez. Much respected by both the players and the South African public nobody would argue with the choice.

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However, Fourie is a quiet man and the captaincy role may cause him to take his eye off his game. And if South Africa is to win 2011, it will all revolve around Fourie Du Preez being on top of his game without any added responsibility.

One other player that is in the mix is tough as nails Juan Smith from the Free State. The rugged flanker had a lot of input into the Springboks resurgence at Soweto and is also a well respected man in South African rugby.

Smith leads from the front and will never take a step backwards. We have learnt from the great victories of 95 and 07……it takes nerve to win a World Cup. Being led into a final by Juan Smith in 2011, nerve and a determination not to step backwards will be instilled into the Springbok’s quest to defend our title of World Champions.


The new political thought in Africa – Indigenization

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To “indigenize” means to force local cultures to adopt another. Most changes in original culture occur when western corporations impose their products on other economies i.e. Westernization

In world politics, Indigenization is the process in which non-Western cultures redefine their belief systems and impose their religions, culture and take ownership of  native land.

Due to imperialism and the impetus to modernize, many countries have invoked Western values of self-determination, liberalism, democracy and independence in the past.

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(Above: The War In Afghanistan is part of the bigger struggle of culture vs culture)

But now that they are experiencing their own share of economic prosperity, technological sophistication, military power and political cohesion, they desire to revert to their ancestral cultures and religious beliefs.

Since the 1980s and the 1990s, there has been a resurgence of Islam and “re-Islamization” in Muslim societies as one example. This has resulted in the chaos and invasions one sees in the Middle East at present.

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(Above: Julius Malema is an adherent of the new political thought – indigenization- in Southern Africa)

And what we are seeing in South Africa is Julius Malema, the president of the ANC Youth League preaching indigenization and gathering support from  and supporting the brothers in Southern Africa who believe the same philosophy.  He is going to Zimbabwe to study nationalization and Malema has picked the right country to start his studies.

Zimbabwe has an Indigenization Minister and The Indigenization and Empowerment Bill was passed by Parliament in 2007 and signed by Robert Mugabe in 2008. The bill demands that all foreign and locally owned companies hand over at least 51 percent ownership to black Zimbabweans. Mugabe has insisted the the economy must be taken out of the hands of white corporations and others and that  the the Bill will be enforced.

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(Above: Robert Mugabe’s election poster says it all. The Indigenization and Empowerment Bill was passed into law in March 2010.)

Will Julius Malema become South Africa’s first Minister of Indigenization? Malema seems to heading on a collision course with South African President Jacob Zuma despite being part of the cartel that propelled Zuma to the presidency. Tim will tell……….

Amos Langdown – master South African artist

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Art Amos Langdown and others 004 email

(Fisherman at the sea.  A typical Amos Langdown painting depicting the ocean on the Southern coast of Africa.)

The EPSAC art gallery in Port Elizabeth, South Africa  held an exhibition of Amos Langdown paintings recently. Langdown is one of the acknowledged South African master artists.

Amos was born and bred in Plettenberg Bay in 1930 and passed away in 2006  in Port Elizabeth was well known for his seascapes and ocean orientated scenes like boys fishing and can be regarded as the first of the South African surf artists.

Langdown managed to capture the beauty of the land and its people and was heavily influenced by the ocean. He grew up in Plettenberg Bay, a small fishing hamlet on the Southern coast of Africa that has expanded into a popular coastal holiday resort.

Seascape web

(above: people at the beach)

His father, a one-time open ocean whaler, made a living from the sea but was forced from the ocean to do odd jobs after the arrival of the Scandinavians with their whaling station in Plettenberg Bay.

He used to bring home the dirty paint brushes after a days work. Langdown would use those to create paintings that depict the little ordinary things that had happened during that day.

Langdown’s first solo exhibitions led to him being sponsored to study abroad. At this time he was already studying part-time at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT.

His mentor was the well known poet and author P. J. Philander who taught him at school in Plettenberg Bay. Their book Die Bruin Kokon is a selection of poems and illustrations.  Only 1000 editions were ever printed and Die Bruin Kokon has become a very rare and valuable book.

Langdown is one of the acknowledged South African landscape artists.  This reflects in the price of his paintings.  A  55cm x 44 cm “fishing village” painting is going for R 79000 in a reputable South African art gallery.  Similar size paintings and smaller have also been sold in the R 60 000 – R 70 000 price range.

Boys fishing web

Above: “boys fishing”

South African art prices are under pressure due to the lack of cash in the world and local economy and one can find a good painting on auction should an art investor be lucky.

A 44cm x 55cm painting entitled “fisher children playing with a wheelbarrow” was sold on auction in May for R 30 000.  Bargains like this are not common and good Langdown oil paintings of this size can be expected to fetch around R 60 000 – R 80 000 (about $ 10 000). More articles on South African artists can be found here

Welcome back Schalk Burger

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One of the highlights in Super 14 rugby this past weekend was the welcome return to form of the big Springbok flank, Schalk Burger.

 Time and time again opposition players were hit back in defense during the Stormers vs Highlanders game and many of these tackles were made by Schalkie, without any help from his team mates.


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It was Burger at his best defensively and it certainly contributed to the Stormers upset victory.  Andries Bekker made his presence felt and added the grunt to the Stormers pack, that has sadly been missing this Super 14 season.

So who is now in contention for a place in the Bok team?  Well since the days of Jake White, consistency has been part of the winning formula and Pieter De Villiers has wisely continued along that path.

Lets look at the last Springbok team that played. It was on 22 November 2008, in that crushing victory over England (something we shouldn’t let the British lions forget either).

Conrad Jantjes

JP Pietersen

AD Jacobs

Jean de Villiers

Brian Habana

Ruan Pienaar

Ricky Januarie

Beast Mtawarira

John Smit

Jannie du Plessis

Bakkies Botha

Victor Matfield

Schalk Burger

Danie Rossouw

Pierre Spies


Jacques Fourie

Francois Steyn

Brian Mujati

Chilliboy Ralapella

Heinrich Brussouw

Andries Bekker

Ryan Kankowski


Who will make the 2009 Sprinbok XV?



Conrad Jantjes has not been in great form this season; admittedly he is part of a losing Stormers set up that is more set on defense than attack.


However, it is time to settle Francois Steyn in the team and with the abundance of centers in South Africa; Steyn is moved to the number 15 jersey for evermore.


Right Wing:


JP Pietersen has been a try magnet again this season and takes his rightful place in the team.


Left Wing:


Jongi Nokwe knows how to score tries.  The Free State flyer is no stranger to the try line and has scored some fine tries during the Super 14. 


The man wearing the number 11 jersey is Brian Habana who is also hitting form again and cannot be left out of the Bok XV.


Habana retains his place with Nokwe on standby.


Outside Center


Jacques Fourie has been devastating for the Lions but has been injury prone.  AD Jacobs was had a solid season but has not been helped by an indecisive Sharks backline with Francois Steyn at flyhalf.


It is always good to have a combination in midfield and with that in mind I am going for Fourie for the number 13 jersey.


Inside Center


Jean De Villiers made the number 12 jumber his last season but has also battled to strike form in 2009.  Wynand Olivier from the Bulls has been in great form and with the idea of hitting the Lions hard in midfield to open up the space for our wingers, a new combination will be given a chance.  Wyand Olivier and Jacques Fourie will be the new center pair.




Ruan Pienaar is coming back from injury and is Pieter De Villiers’ first choice for the flyhalf position.  He will also be the goal kicker in the team.  Should he still be injured, Morne Steyn from the Bulls will start.




Fourie Du Preez remains world class and will regain his place in the starting line up.  Ricky Januarie has had an indifferent Super 14 and will lose his place, with Rory Kockett making the bench.


Loose Head Prop


The Beast is becoming a folk hero from the battlefields of Dunedin to the hard playing fields of Kimberly.  He has still not hit his peak yet and is still developing as a prop.  He will maintain his place. Guthro Steenkamp and Heinko Van Der Merwe have also played well this season.




John Smit will start in the number 2 jersey and will captain the team.  Bismarck Du Plessis has been inaccurate in the line outs and needs to work on his discipline.  Chilliboy Ralapella is also in the mix and will make the bench should Du Plessis be injured.


Tight Head Prop


This position is a bit of a problem in SA rugby at present. Jannie Du Plessis will start and probably be replaced by John Smit at the 50 minute mark.




I don’t think there will be any arguments from the armchair critics about who should play lock for the Boks.  The old firm of Botha and Matfield will be critical to South Africa winning the series, with Botha adding the mongrel to the pack.


Andries Bekker will be the third choice lock.


Open Side Flank


Schalk Burger is starting to look like the Schalk of old and may do enough to make the starting line up.  Heinrich Brussouw has been in outstanding form for the Cheetahs and could even make the team ahead of Schalk on present form.


Blind Side Flank


Juan Smith has got guts and plenty of it too.  Playing in a losing team is not easy but the big Free State flank is always in the thick of things.  He will be pushed by Duane Vermeulen but regains his number 7 jersey.


Number 8


Who to leave out is the difficult question for the South African selectors.  Pierre Spies will retain the jersey, with Ryan Kankowski and Luke Watson breathing down his neck. 


The Springbok team to face the British Lions looks like this:


15: Francois Steyn

14: JP Pietersen

13: Jacques Fourie

12: Wynand Olivier

11: Brian Habana

10: Ruan Pienaar

9:  Fourie Du Preez

8:  Pierre Spies

7:  Juan Smith

6:  Schalk Burger

5:  Victor Matfield

4:  Bakkies Botha

3:  Jannie Du Plessis

2:  John Smit

1:  Beast Mtawarira




Rory Kockett

Jean De Villiers

Jongi Nokwe

Bismarck Du Plessis

Guthro Steenkamp

Andries Bekker

Heinrich Brussouw




Bulls: 7

Sharks: 8

Lions: 1

Stormers: 3

Cheetahs: 3










Storm Clouds Gather over the Rainbow Nation

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Growing up in South Africa or the Rainbow Nation as the country has become known since the days of Nelson Mandela provided many defining moments.

It was heady days in the early 1990’s in the cities and villages in South Africa.  FW De Klerk, the then Prime Minister had made a stunning announcement in parliament that he was unbanning all political parties and releasing all political prisoners.  The path towards democracy had been set and the helter skelter journey began away from colonialism and all that went wrong with South Africa.

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(Above: Nelson Mandela captured the African spirit and presented South Africa with a dream. Sadly the Rainbow Nation is facing serious problems)

There was a new buzz between people of all colours in the streets.  “Viva South Africa Viva” was in the air as we cautiously reached out over the colour barriers that had ruled life in our country for too long.

They were hectic days as well as it was not certain that South Africa was safe from spiraling into a civil war.  Kwa Zulu-Natal (KZN) was already a war zone in which thousands of people would ultimately lose their lives.  The ANC and Inkatha fought a brutal war for control in the province while the AWB embarked on a wild raid into Bophuthatswana, one of the independent homelands that we have all forgotten about already.

Any one of these conflicts could have sparked chaos in South Africa but somehow Nelson Mandela steered the ship to still waters.  We were all proud to be South African.  We had pulled off the impossible and were proud that we had become a nation where all could live in peace together….the Rainbow Nation.

The New South Africa was hailed as an example to the world.  We had forgiven each other over the past and were birthing a new nation together.  And with Mandela at the helm we all believed it would work.

The Mandela era can be best summed up as the nation building part of South Africa’s fledging democratic history.  The coup he pulled off at the 1995 Rugby World Cup when he wore Francois Pienaar’s Number 6 jersey to the final won him the hearts of white South Africans.

Bafana Bafana the beleaguered national soccer team pulled off a similar feat in 1996 when they won the African Cup.  It felt great to be a South African and we were the “Proudly South African”.

South African entered a phase of economic growth and the JSE soared, as did the real estate market.  Houses were being built; people received electricity and running water for the first time in their lives.  We were the land of opportunity.


However, all was not well in the powerhouse of Africa and the wheels probably started falling off around the time of the Arms Deal.  This was corruption on a grand scale and when the highly successful Heath Special Investigating Unit was ordered off the arms deal investigation, it was clear that there was major political involvement.

Problems have arisen that no political leader has been able to solve thus far.  Crime is out of control, the education system is on its knees, the justice system is being abused by those in power and public heath care is in shambles.

Can South Africa gain the high ground again?  Can the country become the catalyst for the African revival?  The next five years will be critical to the Rainbow Nation.

Stuff the ELV’s…bring back the old rules of rugby

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 Getting back onto Civvy Street after spending two years in the South African Defence Force was an exciting time. U2 had just released The Joshua Tree album and everybody was listening to Radio 5 all day long.

Friday nights were spend at the Grand Hotel in Central, Port Elizabeth drinking Castle Lager with the mates who were either finished their compulsory two year stint of national service, were still busy with it and were on pass, or still had to “klaar in”. Everybody used to feel sorry for the guys who still had to start their time in the “mag”.

There were adjustments to be made as well, when the day came to get back to real life and away from the “sam majoors” and getting up at ridiculous hours of the morning to iron your bed and get ready for inspection.

One of the major shocks was that somebody had decided to change the laws of pool. Suddenly for an ex “troepie” being confronted by mates who ask “Are we playing old rules or new rules?” it was like a “huh” moment. There were always beers on the games and down downs rules that applied so one had to sharp when playing pool, especially after a two year lay off. Instinctively a recently released “dienspligteger” choose old rules just to be on the safe side until you could sidle up to your drunkest mate and try hustle out of him just what the new rules were all about.

Watching rugby these days leaves one with the same quandary as the national servicemen of old faced. There are old rules and new rules in rugby. The new rules go by the name the ELV’s, or Experimental Law Variations. The poor rugby players could end up playing different rules every weekend, depending on what competition is being played Refs have tried to apply the bedazzling array of rules at their disposal consistently with little success while spectators are just getting fed up with the tinkering to their beloved game.

It all fell apart with the changes to the ruck and maul, which to be fair, started before the ELV’s came into being. In the old days of national service and army camps, rugby was quite a simple game. If you had the ball and got tackled you tried to stay on your feet. As supporting and defending players joined the skirmish, a maul was formed. The rolling maul was an integral part of the game and it was illegal for defenders to stop the maul by deliberately collapsing it.

Once the maul went to ground it became a ruck. The purpose of the ruck was to go over the ball and players used to bind together to hit the ruck and secure the ball. This thing of clearing out defending players who are nowhere near the ball would have earned a huge snotklap from Kobus Wiese, Balie Swart, Vleis Visage, Schalk Burger and the likes.

And before the sanitization of rugby began, players trying to slow the ball down by falling over it, ran the risk of being rucked. Hands could be stamped upon, bodies could be rolled out the way with the boot if necessary and that’s how rugby was played. Teams that could ruck well secured good, quick ball. That lay behind the success of the great Northern Transvaal teams in the 1970’s and 1980’s and with the abundance of good possession, Naas Botha became a big name in world rugby.

The All Blacks had a fearsome reputation for rucking and the Springboks were never far behind. If you got caught on the wrong side of a ruck, you took your punishment like a man. It was that straightforward. If a player was stupid enough to get rucked by Colin Meads or Frik Du Preez, you could bet your bottom dollar, it wouldn’t happen again in the game to the same player. Should the IRB (International Rugby Board) change the rules again, it might be in the best interest of rugby to bring back what worked. The breakdown is still a mess and we want it fixed. Ummmm…..old rules please bru………

Zimbabwe burns while the Father of the Nation goes shopping and partying

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Life is all about timing. Doing the right things at the right time and seizing the opportunity when it presents itself. Graeme Smith and his cricket team are a prime example. Smith has developed a powerful team over the past year and knew that the time to defeat the Australians had arrived.
It has been incredible just how fate has dealt Robert Mugube such good timing over the past eight years.

In 2000 Mugabe started with his program of genocide. He started with the few remaining white people who were farmers. Rhodesians, who had bought into the new country and were proudly Zimbabwean. They were producing the grain and the tobacco that had lead to Zimbabwe being able to export food to Sub Saharan Africa and sell to the international markets.


The Zimbabwean economy was thriving and the Zim dollar was stronger than the rand in the late 1980’s. Mugabe was ruling a country that could rightfully claim to be the “Breadbasket of Africa”.


The very people who were responsible for the “Breadbasket” became the innocent victims of genocide. Sure they received encouraging words from the British and the Americans when Mugabe started with land invasions in 2000. The jaw war continued well into 2001, while the Zim economy started faltering and the world was shocked at the violence with which old people were being evicted from their farms and some even murdered.


Then 9/11 happened. The airplanes being flown into skyscrapers will be the most striking images I will probably see in my lifetime. The Asian tsumani is the other major impression in my mind, of days that changed the world forever.

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(Above:  The twin towers during the 9/11 attack)


In an instance Zimbabwe was off the radar. Mugabe had won the stand off. He had been telling Blair for how long now that Zimbabwe was no longer a colony and that Mugabe quite frankly couldn’t be bothered with anything that little Bush and Blair had to say.


The world’s media became filled with images of the Twin towers, Osama Bin Laden became the most wanted man in the world and America was at War.


The War on Terror had had little impact in Southern Africa. Corruption and scandal still emerged from South Africa on a continual basis and Mugabe, after sorting out the perennial enemy, the white man, started climbing into his own people, who happened to be called the MDC. This political party became the first real opposition to the Mugabe rule.


Mugabe proceeded to ruin Zimbabwe. Foreign currency had dried up and the economy was into tailspin. A famine resulted and the Mugabe regime began to use food as a political weapon. Supported by the Chinese and to a lesser extend by Libya, Mubage kept buying weapons and oil to survive. He knew that South Africa would never ditch him, so his supply of power and access to the sea were secure.


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(Above: Robert Mugabe when he came into power in 1980)


Thabo Mbeki seemed to be bound by unwritten rules when it came to dealing with Mugabe. Mugabe always seemed to have the upper hand and Mbeki retreated into the vague policy of “quiet diplomacy” and even blocked action against Zimbabwe by the United Nations when South Africa was sitting on the UN Security Council.


Mugabe’s nose was put out of joint by the Mandela persona and he felt that Mandela had usurped his rightful position of Father of the liberation movement in Africa. Mubage has survived five US presidents since winning the independence election in 1980.


Bob was the big daddy of African leaders and he let Thabo Mbeki know that. When the world sent Mbeki in as the front man to deal with Mubage, it was like sending a Grade One pupil to tell the Headmaster how to run the school.


Mugabe simply ignored Mbeki and continued as the weapon of mass destruction in Zimbabwe.


In 2008, when the world again had time to focus on Zimbabwe, the question of land distribution was fait accompli. Nobody even mentioned the dispossessed as a stolen election and a huge cholera outbreak caused more words to emanate from America and Britian.


America described Mugabe as being out of touch with reality and the British said that Mugabe was an obstacle and that a solution was not possible with him involved.


Ears pricked up in Southern Africa. Would Zimbabweans who were scattered around in surrounding countries like South Africa and Namibia be able to return home and rebuild their country? Was Mugabe eventually being given the boot? Even Bishop Desmond Tutu said that a military invasion must be considered in removing Mugabe.


And then timing played a part again. Israel invaded the Gaza strip and the same media that made such a huge noise that 1000 people had died of cholera are now deafening silent that nearly 2000 people are dead now and many more infected.


Are Israeli, American and Palestinian lives more important than Zimbabwean lives? Robert Mugabe seems to think so. He has killed more people through the cholera outbreak than have died on both sides in the Gaza War so far and yes, the eyes of the world are fixated on the Middle East and Zimbabwe has slipped off the radar yet again.


Mugabe has survived this type of thing before. 9/11 and the loss of American lives meant that white farmers in Africa were being robbed of their land didn’t have as much meaning anymore. This time he simply informed Bush and Blair that they mustn’t think Bob was stupid. The announcement was made that Bob knew the cholera outbreak was a biological warfare assault against Zimbabwe but that he was ready to repulse a military invasion.


Mugabe understands that Little Bush is no longer relevant and that Brown will be focused on the Middle East as black Africans die in their thousands from cholera.


Mugabe has just left Zimbabwe on a month long holiday to an undisclosed overseas destination. He has told the opposition he is tired of their games and will form a new government when he comes back. Timing has once again come to the rescue of Mugabe and he has seized the moment. Zimbabwe burns while the Father of the Nation goes shopping and partying around the world.