South Africa Today

The World Cup has ended, and with it South Africa’s reputation has soared. The country has enjoyed a boost of free and entirely positive publicity from the event, in contrast to most reports from the Western media – which tend to focus upon the AIDS epidemic and the country’s complicated politics.

South Africa today is a product of Nelson Mandela’s work. It was Nelson Mandela’s continuous (and mostly successful) outreach to South Africa’s white minority ensured a degree of racial peace few dared hope would pass during after the days of apartheid.

Indeed, the more one explores the history of countries afflicted with similar problems, the more remarkable the man’s achievement seems. When a subjugated majority overthrows the rich dominant minority, things often end very very badly. Too often the end result is something like Haiti and Zimbabwe, when an oppressed black majority won its freedom against a white minority but failed to end the racial hatred. Those hatreds ended up tearing both countries apart.

Then there is the example of Rwanda, when the dominant and minority Tutsis lost control to the majority Hutus, following colonization’s end. The majority Hutus discriminated against the Tutsis for decades afterwards, discrimination which cumulated in genocide. Today a Tutsi party once more holds the reins of power in Rwanda.

The scars left by apartheid are also deep and lasting. There is, for instance, the matter of continuing white flight. When the dominant minority loses control, those in the minority often flee in droves. This usually leaves a country in economic ruin, because only members of the minority have the skills to actually run the place. Although South Africa has generally avoided this due to the efforts of Mr. Mandela, the country is still experiencing a brain drain as whites leave, albeit at a much reduced pace.

There are other signs of continuing tension. Blacks – including the president – continue to sing songs such as “Bring me my machine gun” and “Shoot the Boer.” Whites rarely wave the national flag, which was changed in 1994 to replace the apartheid-era flag. They do not vote for the ANC. Nor do blacks vote for the Democratic Alliance, which many consider the party for whites.

These problems continue to plague South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, the country has not done extremely well.

But neither has it done too poorly. Compared to countries like Haiti, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda it counts as an unqualified success. The children of Mandela remain a symbol, however imperfect, of injustice transformed into reconciliation.




Locally Produced Crops for Locally Consumed Products

Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

In Zambia, sorghum-a drought resistant cereal that thrives in the country- was considered a "poor man's crop" in the past, often shunned by small-scale farmers for the more commercially viable maize. But an article in the June issue of Farming Matters explains how a Zambian brewery with a new brand of beer is changing the way small-scale farmers think about sorghum.

While most clear beers such as lagers and pilsners are made with expensive, imported malts, the Zambian Breweries' Eagle Lager is made from sorghum. A subsidiary of the South African-based SABMiller, Zambian Breweries purchases sorghum  from local farmers, increasing farmers' income and providing local grocery stores with an affordable lager.

To help farmers partner with the brewery, the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA), with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), provides loans for farmers' start-up expenses, as well as agricultural training to make sure their crops meet the brewery's quality standards. With CLUSA's support, the brewery gets a consistent supply of sorghum to produce its beer and farmers gain access to a secure market, a fixed price for their crop, and a consistent income.

To produce larger crop yields of higher quality sorghum, CLUSA and the brewery, encourage farmers to implement conservation agriculture-a combination of simple techniques such as minimal or zero-tillage, ground cover, crop rotation and inter-planting.  Conservation agriculture can reduce the need for inputs, including artificial fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. And it benefits the other crops farmers are growing by helping improve soil fertility, controlling pests and weeds, and improving water management. In Zambia, maize yields have been increased by 75 percent and cotton yields by 60 percent thanks to conservation agriculture. (See also: Using the Market to Create Resilient Agriculture Practices, To Improve Competitiveness of Rural Businesses, Linking Farmers to the Private Sector, and a Sustainable Calling Plan.)

While Zambia Breweries' collaboration with local farmers is working, not all partnerships between companies and farmers go so well. Without appropriate regulation, companies may take advantage of a monopoly; farmers can become indebted to the company and lose control of their farms and crops;  and A BIG financial incentive to grow a specific crop can threaten overall crop diversity.

But  in Zambia, more than 4,500 small-scale farmers in 14 districts are currently seeing an increase in their incomes due to their contract with Zambia Breweries. Recognizing the significance of this benefit, the Zambian government recently lowered taxes on Eagle Lager in order to encourage Zambian Breweries to continue working with local small-scale farmers.  And SABMiller is trying to form similar partnerships with sorghum farmers in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

To read more about how partnerships between local companies and small-scale farmers can improve livelihoods and provide other benefits to the environment and community see: Protecting Wildlife While Improving Food Security, Health, and Livelihoods, Improving African Women's Access to Agriculture Training Programs, and Using Small Businesses to Create Local Markets.

Thank you for reading! As you may already know, Danielle Nierenberg is traveling across sub-Saharan Africa visiting organizations and projects that provide environmentally sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty.  She has already traveled to over 18 countries and visited 130 projects highlighting stories of hope and success in the region. She will be in Burkina Faso next, so stay tuned for more writing, photos and video from her travels.  

If you enjoy reading this diary, we blog daily on  Nourishing the Planet, where you can also sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly blog and travel updates.  Also, please don't hesitate to comment on our posts, we check them daily and look forward to an ongoing discussion with you.



54 Tips on Things You Must Do While in South Africa for the World Cup

Cross posted from Border Jumpers, Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack.

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the world are headed to South Africa to watch the World Cup, descending on Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and six other cities across the country for the biggest sporting event the continent has ever seen. Yet, not everyone headed there is a sports fan. Some are being dragged by spouses, some by friends, some want to be apart of the excitement, but don't want to dish out the dough for tickets, and some are just building in some extra vacation time to see the sights.

My partner Danielle and I recently had the privilege of spending nearly two months traveling across South Africa, meeting with farmers and looking at projects that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty (as part of a 15 month research trip across the continent). Along the way we met with dozens of travelers and packed every weekend with cool excursions. From our travels, here is a guide of 50 non-sport related things to do while in South Africa.

Tons of incredible activities will be missing, so please use the comments section below to create a more comprehensive list.


What to Do:

1) Spend an entire day at the Apartheid Museum, it's brilliantly laid out using technology and multi-media, and the visit takes you on a journey that will forever change the way you look at race relations and racism. It was a powerful and emotional experience

2) Go on a bike tour of the city

3) Take a private walking tour or 4) group tour of Soweto where you will see Freedom Square, site of the Soweto up-risings, Desmond Tutu's home, the Mandela Museum, and a visit to a local settlement.

5) Reserve a spot on the one and a half hour guided tour organized by SAB brewing (partners with Miller-Coors in the USA) complete with a 3D adventure and an IMAX-style movie, real life machinery depicting the beer making process, and lots more.

6) Aside from the Mall of America in Minnesota, the East Gate Mall  is the biggest shopping center I've ever been to. It has two movie theaters and two more huge malls within walking distance. Alternatively, (7) the mall in Rosebank is closer to the city and has everything you might need.

8) If your traveling with kids you might want to take a one hour trip to Maropeng and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as The Cradle of Humankind. The interactive journey offers a underground boat ride, fossils, and learning about how humankind was born.

9) Alternatively, you might want to take the family for a visit to the Gold Reef City Theme Park.

Where to Eat/Drink and Enjoy the Nightlife:

10) For vegetarians, we loved the Kauai Health Food & Juice Co chain

11) For drinks, sip a martini at Ratz  12) eat sushi at Tokyo Star in Melville, or 13) stop by Sundeck in Norwood. The Rosebank mall also has some lively outdoor options.

14) For live jazz, head to Kippie's and 15) to shake your booty head to Carfax.

Where to stay:

16) For backpackers, consider staying in Soweto at the Diamond Digger's Lodge or 17) Bob's Bunkhouse near the airport.

18) For budget travelers, the Sunbury Bed and Breakfast is a great option or 19) the slightly pricier Turrent Guesthouse, both in the fun and bohemian suburb of Melville in close walking distance to bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops.

How to get to and from:

19) Long-haul bus companies are a good bet, our best experiences and most reliable service was with Intercape bus company.

20) Within South Africa, discount airlines Kulula  and 1time are options to consider when South Africa Airways prices are too high.


What to Do:

20) You might consider a tour of the Jacaranda City (named after the tree by the same name), where you can visit historical sites, including the President's Office, Melrose House, the Church Square, Kruger House, and the Voortrekker Monument as well as the Union Buildings.

21) You can escape for the afternoon to the National Zoological Gardens and head up the cable car to see a nice overview of the city.

22) For shopping, Pretoria has a decent-sized mall called Menlyn Park, and a smaller shopping center in Hatfield.

Where to Eat/Drink and enjoy the Nightlife:

23) Head to Hatfield for fun restaurants, bars, and nightlife -- with ten neat places all next to eachother on Burnett street, you don't have to go far.

24) Start your morning with a delicious cup of coffee and free wifi at News Cafe

25) For West and South African food, you can try Kariba restaurant or (26) the African Traditional Pub and Grill

Where to stay:

27) For budget travelers, stay at The Village which is in easy walking distance from all the action in Hatfield, yet clean, friendly, quiet, and includes a delicious breakfast.


What to Do:

28) For those looking for a safari, you might head to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. In addition to incredible birds and other species -- you might also spot all the "Big Five" - lions, buffaloes, rhinos, elephant and leopards.

29) Go for a drive through the green hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

30) Visit a traditional village in Zululand. You can take lessons in traditional dance and music or visit beautiful Phobane Lake

31) For families, you might take the kids to Ushaka Marine World, Africa's largest marine and water park. The place has five "zones" that includes: Sea World (aquarium), a Phantom Ship (restaurant), Wet 'n' Wild (waterpark), and Ushaka Beach.

32) Pay a visit to the Indian Market, where you can grab a bite to eat, buy spices, meet traditional healers, and try on cool fabrics.

33) Durban has a terrific Botanical Gardens, which showcases free live music on Sundays, and allows you to picnic on the property.

Where to Eat/Drink and Enjoy the Nightlife:

34) Vegans and Vegetarians will love EarthMother restaurant which has a terrific menu of locally grown, organic foods. Also, it has the best fresh juice and smoothie bar in all of South Africa

(35) For seafood lovers, you won't go wrong with a trip to New Cafe Fish or (36) Famous Fish Co

Where to Stay:

37) For backpackers avoid the over-priced, poor value, Lonely Planet pick called Gibela Backpackers and instead head down the same street to Tekweni Backpackers Hostel in Morningside.

Cape Town

What to Do:

38) Book ahead for a visit to Robben Island, where Mandela and other prisoners were incarcerated. Afterwards 39) take walking tour to the District Six museum, where you will see the remnants of homes that were destroyed.

40) Check out the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where you can see a breathtaking view at Cape Point, go swimming, and visit a nearby penguin colony

41) You can go scuba diving and snorkel with the Great White Sharks of South Africa. This cave dive is a very popular tourist attraction, where you can literally look the ocean's toughest predator in the eyes.

42) About 90mins by car away is a great spot to head on a safari day trip called Aquila Game Reserve  where you will be able to spot giraffes, lions, leopards, and zebras.

43) Tour the Stellenbosch and Paarl Valley wineries. South African wine is famous around the world and you can find several affordable tour companies that will take you between vineyards by bike, 44) bus, or 45) by foot.

46) Hike, 47) mountain bike, or take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, which offers incredible views of Cape Town City, Table Bay and Robben Island.

48) For shopping you can head to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. It's pricey, but there are tons of restaurants, shops, bars, and even a movie theater.

Where to Eat/Drink and Enjoy the Nightlife:

49) One tour company provides the opportunity to "break bread" with two local Cape Town families, including a home-cooked meal and stunning views over Cape Town, and shared conversation. Then you head to a second host family for coffee and more cultural sharing.

50) Start with homemade Italian food at 95 Keerom, then 51) head for a drink at the Nose Wine Bar, 52) before going out dancing at Snap. It's easy to have a great time in Cape Town with incredible, vibrant nightlife.

Where to Stay:

53) For backpackers you might try the fun (but very noisy) Long Street backpackers in the heart of restaurant and bar nightlife.

54) For budget travelers you will enjoy St John's Waterfront Lodge, located right in the heart of the city, it's quit, clean, well-managed, and very friendly.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts -- we check for comments everyday and want to have a regular ongoing discussion with you.
2. Receive regular updates--Join the weekly BorderJumpers newsletter by clicking here.
3. Help keep our research going--If you know of any great projects or contacts in West Africa please connect us connect us by emailing, commenting or sending us a message on facebook.



Acting It Out for Advocacy

This is the final blog in a three-part series about FANRPAN's work. It was co-written by Sithembile Ndema, FANRPAN's Natural Resources and Environment Programme Manager and Danielle Nierenberg. Crossposted from Nourishing the Planet.

The Food and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network's (FANRPAN) Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) project aims at strengthening the capacity of women farmers influence in agriculture policy development and programmes in Southern Africa. It doesn't sound especially entertaining-but it has some innovative strategies for bridging the divide between women farmers, researchers, and policy makers.

FANRPAN is using Theatre for Policy Advocacy to engage leaders, service providers, and policymakers; encourage community participation; and research the needs of women farmers. Essentially, theatre is being used to explain agricultural policy to people in rural areas, and to carry voices from the countryside back to government. Popular theatre personalities travel to communities in Mozambique and Malawi and stage performances using scripts based on FANRPAN's research, to engage members of the community. After each performance, community members, women, men, youth, local leaders are engaged in facilitated dialogues.  The dialogues give all community member-especially women-a chance to openly talk about the challenges they are facing without upsetting the status quo. More importantly, it allows women to tell development organizations what they really need, not the other way around.

Ultimately, FANRPAN hopes to train women community leaders to use the theatre advocacy platform to discuss other issues and problems in their villages, including HIV/AIDS.  And because this project involves all members of the community, it doesn't alienate men, but includes them in developing solutions.

For more information on FANRPAN and its work in Africa see the following

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In the Fight Against the Spread of HIV/AIDS, There is no Silver Bullet

Cross posted from Border Jumpers, Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack.

In the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS, there is no silver bullet.

And as we travel throughout sub-Saharan Africa we are seeing dozens of innovative ways that organizations, governments, and individuals are working to fight the disease.

One of the organizations that stands out, thanks to their variety of innovative strategies and approaches to combating the spread of the disease, is the Solidarity Center , an AFL-CIO affiliated non-profit organization that assists workers around the world who are struggling to build democratic and independent trade unions.

We want to share with you three different ways they are making an impact on the ground as we visit projects across the continent.

1) Changing Behavior with Worksite Education and Testing

Johnson Matthey in Germiston , South Africa , just outside of Johannesburg , sees 600 workers pass through its doors every day, heading to work on an assembly lines to make catalytic converters that are inserted in cars to reduce pollution, complying with South Africa 's auto environmental emissions standards.

As we arrived there last January, Percy Nhlapo, a trainer with the Solidarity Center , was leading a discussion with a group of workers, correcting misconceptions about contracting HIV and urging participants to get tested. The Solidarity Center is working in partnership with the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), an industrial affiliate of the country's largest union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to provide free HIV/AIDS education and HIV counseling and testing to several thousand manufacturing workers a year (literally going from plant to plant providing trainings).

Following the HIV/AIDS education session, more than 200 workers voluntarily agreed to be tested. At the testing area, we spoke with registered nurse Dorothy Majola, who said that before workers are tested they are given private counseling, and then she administers two separate tests - both with 99.99 percent accuracy - to ensure correct results.

Within ten minutes of being tested, workers receive their results. The companies work in coordination with NUMSA and the Solidarity Center , agreeing to host the HIV/AIDS outreach, allowing workers to attend and get tested at the beginning and end of their work shifts. Before each outreach, shop stewards mobilize their co-workers to participate in the HIV/AIDS activities at their workplace.

2) Curbing the Spread of AIDS Along Transportation Routes

When we arrived at the HIV/AIDS Resource Center in Katuna , Uganda , about 20 long-haul truck drivers were sitting on chairs  and intently watching a match between Manchester United and Chelsea on a small television while they waited for their vehicles to be cleared by customs before entering Rwanda .

But just eight months ago, instead of television, billiards, and camaraderie among workers, the easiest diversion for truckers was sex. Katuna is one of many towns along what is known as the Northern Transport Corridor-a span of highway that stretches from Mombasa , Kenya through Uganda , Rwanda , Burundi , Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and all the way to Djibouti .

In the past, the truckers were often delayed for days on the border, giving them little to do. Boredom--and drinking--often led to unsafe sex with commercial sex workers at the truck stops along the highway. As a result, truck drivers have one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in Eastern Africa . Unfortunately, the virus doesn't stop with them, and is often spread to their spouses.

Now, thanks to the work of the Solidarity Center and Uganda 's Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU), the amount of time truckers spend on the border has been reduced from days to just hours. The union has worked with the government to reduce the amount of time it takes their paperwork to go through, which reduced the amount of free time they have on the border.  When they don't have as much free time waiting for clearance, they're not as likely to engage in unsafe sex.

Additionally, the Katuna resource center, like many others dotted along the transport corridor, offers HIV/AIDS education, and free testing to truck drivers and local community members (directly impacting more than 150,000 workers so far). The Solidarity Center has similar programs in Kenya , Tanzania , Rwanda and Burundi .

3) Helping Orphans who Lost Their Parents to AIDS, by Putting Them Through School

Outside of Harare, Zimbabwe, we visited an orphanage for children whose parents died of AIDS-related illnesses that the Solidarity Center 's partner, the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), an associate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), is helping to support.

In addition to providing HIV/AIDS education and HIV counseling and testing to workers, ZCIEA is also providing a way to immediately help the children of parents who've died from the disease.

As we arrived, a hundred children were singing, clapping, and rushing to offer us hugs and high fives. The orphanage provides them not only with a place to learn and go to school, but also gives them a family in a nurturing environment. More than providing meals and a roof, the orphanage is built around the community, and the children are well-supported.

The teachers and caretakers who work there are mostly volunteers from local communities and you can see that they share a deep commitment and passion for the future of these kids. None of this would be possible without the support and efforts of the Zimbabwean labor movement in providing funding and helping to secure outside funding through grants.

Music Without Borders: Senegal
This is a weekly series where we recommend an artist, song, or compilation of songs, from a country in Africa, brought to you by our awesome friends at Awesome Tapes From Africa. Today's selection is from Senegal:

Mbalax is a local musical genre in Senegal; most people have heard of Youssou N'Dour, who is a major artist in that world. Here is another mbalax great, Thione Seck.


Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts -- we check for comments everyday and want to have a regular ongoing discussion with you.
2. Receive regular updates--Join the weekly BorderJumpers newsletter by clicking here.
3. Help keep our research going--If you know of any great projects or contacts in West Africa please connect us connect us by emailing, commenting or sending us a message on facebook.




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