Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Swimmers with financial woes had their burden lifted yesterday when the sports ministry offered to assist the cash-strapped athletes to compete in an upcoming tournament.
Fikile Mbalula, minister for sports and recreation, donated R2,7-million to Swimming South Africa yesterday in Cape Town. Mbalula said this cash would go towards assisting swimmers to compete in a global competition in Spain.
“We have an obligation to support federations when they compete internationally… That money is not adequate so we want corporate South Africa to come to the party,” said Mbalula.
“This funding is a stop-gap… This is for athletes who will participate in Barcelona (Spain)… We must support them.”
He added: “We invest in winners, not losers. We are champions.”
Mbalula said yesterday’s funds from the department should also “address issues of transformation” in swimming, “less we give credence to the belief that black people can’t swim.”
He reiterated that the sport and its governing body, Swimming SA, needed to attract funding from elsewhere too. He said this could come in the form of future local television broadcasting of swimming events and associated advertising.
“Nobody wants to fund something that is not on TV,” he said.
Jace Naidoo, president of Swimming SA, said they were preparing to send 90 athletes to compete in Barcelona. Water polo, synchronised swimming and diving were among the sports they would compete in.
Naidoo said their annual budget was up to R30-million to train 11 teams that compete in various aquatic sports globally.
“We have had challenges since returning from London (Olympics last year). This (sponsorship) goes a long way in supporting us,” said Naidoo.
“We have had to cut down a number of our programmes this year. We don’t have the resources to support that… Most funding still goes to cricket, rugby and soccer. It’s an international phenomenon that swimming struggles to get sponsorship.”
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Smoking dope did not go down well at this week’s Snoop Lion concert in Cape Town where police arrested at least one male suspect caught with weed.
Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut, spokesperson for the Western Cape police, yesterday said they arrested the suspect on Tuesday night when Snoop performed at the GrandWest Arena in the city.
Traut said: “One male was arrested last night for being in possession of dagga. The suspect was due in court.”
One local radio station presenter said yesterday morning that she could smell marijuana “in the air” when she entered the concert venue.
Police had warned Snoop fans they would face arrest if they smoked marijuana at the concert. Snoop allegedly smoked the illegal herb at his Johannesburg concert on Sunday night.
Sachi Okada, a female fan at the Cape Town concert, said Snoop “took a smoke break” during his performance.
“He said ‘I’m gonna take a smoke break’ and then he came back. It’s Snoop, what do you expect. But it was just five minutes or so. He carried on and was chilled,” said Okada.
She said he was “more relaxed” than his previous show that she saw a few years back.
“He didn’t play many of his new songs. He played mostly his old jams. He was very chilled out,” said Okada.
“I saw him a few years ago when he was here. I didn’t know what to expect about this one given the whole Rastafarian change. I enjoyed that he was interactive with the crowd, which a lot of artists don’t do. He mentioned all the time how happy he was to be here.”
Nadia Jaftha Fataar, who also went to the concert, said she went with her husband who “is a big fan.”
“After the show, I am addicted to Snoop though. It was definitely not for kids. But I really enjoyed it,” she said.
“There was a strong smell of weed all around me. And it was the first time that I saw so many security guards at a concert in the arena. They were walking through the crowds.”
She added: “Snoop’s dancers were a bit hectic, doing very sexual moves on stage while being half naked. There was also lots of swearing involved.”
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
American crooner Percy Sledge is ready to swoon Cape Town audiences just like he did decades ago.
The singer, who performed in the city during the 1980s, said yesterday that he was “happy to be back.”
“In the history of my 46 year career… I’ve been to just about every country in the world but nothing tops Cape Town,” said Sledge.
“And I really hope you guys don’t mind listening to this old man just one more time… I really feel great. I walk three to four miles every morning and keep myself in shape. I thank God that I still have the pipes to still go very strong. And that’s a blessing.”
He added: “When you sing for so many years, it has to be somebody with way more power than we got. So I want to thank God.
“I don’t think I’ll ever retire. My fans give me the spunk and power to keep going.”
Sledge is set to perform at the city’s Grand Arena on Friday and Saturday nights. South African artists who will perform at the same concert are PJ Powers, Cape Town’s party band The Rockets, The Boyz and Zayn Adam. Stage and TV actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards will host the event.
Concert organiser Alistair Izobell said “my dream has come true” now that Sledge has landed in Cape Town.
Clarence Ford, a radio presenter with Heart FM, said they had meanwhile asked radio listeners to “share their (Percy Slegde musical) experiences on air.”
“Interestingly the stories had nothing to do with his on stage performance. It was about how Percy touched people after the performance,” said Ford.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Observatory residents will host the Open Streets initiative this weekend in a bid to “enable citizens to move and use streets freely, safely and creatively.”
Lower Main Road will be a no-go zone for cars and other vehicles on Saturday afternoon. This is to create a “space for residents to interact, play, or just set up a chair and hang out.”
Marcela Guerrero Casas, an Open Streets campaigner and organiser, says the concept originated in Bogoto in South America and has since been implemented worldwide.
“It entails the creation of a temporary network of car-free areas and routes throughout a city,” she says.
Saturday’s event would be the “first leg of an envisaged network of Open Streets throughout Cape Town.”
“We are working to create streets that embody and generate respect for people, regardless of who they are and how they move,” adds Guerrero Casas.
She said organisers have also drawn up a programme that would include Africa Day celebrations, a makeshift skateboarding park and cycling activities. The latter comprises “bicycle races, a bike mechanic station and electric bikes for people to ride.”
“Residents have already designed family corners with braai and games for kids, street football, giant chess, puppets, folk circle dancing, a toy making station with recyclable material and a parade by the local theatre collective,” says Guerrero Casas.
“It will be a day of activity and creativity with Virgin Active offering Zumba lessons and yogis orchestrating sun salutations, while others beautify Open Streets through urban installations, busking, board games, chalk-drawing and more.”
A public meeting to keep the public informed about the event will be held at the Observatory Community Centre on May 23 at 6pm to 7pm.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Sports minister Fikile Mbalula encouraged young township girls yesterday to hold on to their virginity and get involved in school sports.
Mbalula was talking to learners at iQhayiya High School in Khayelitsa where he handed over sports equipment.
“You must keep your virginity and not play around. If not, you will be a spent force and nobody will want you. Don’t fall for cars and a flashy lifestyle,” he said to bursts of laughter and applause.
“And when you’re a boy, enjoy your youth. Play hard. Don’t drown yourself in drugs. Smoking dagga is fashionable and guys carry knives. After ten years these guys will be old crooks looking for grants from the government.”
He added: “You are the next generation. Pick up the baton and move on. This school must compete in national competitions. I’m sure you’ll want to be there. Make your school proud.”
Mbalula is in Cape Town to present to Parliament the sport and recreation department’s annual budget vote on Thursday. Prior to that, he is visiting schools to hand them sports kits and other activities to “profile the work of the department.”
“We promote sport because we want talent… This is what we are spending your tax money on. We are spending it on you,” Mbalula added.
He also told the youngsters that a “role model is not somebody on TV each day with no substance.”
“This is someone of substance. He just won a marathon. He beat other athletes,” he told learners when he introduced marathon runner Lusapho April.
April had just returned from Germany where he had won a marathon race. He had participated in last year’s Olympic Games in London.
Gary Kirsten, the Cape Town-based coach of the national circket team, was also at the school. Mbalula presented both athletes with gifts; Kirsten received framed photos of himself with young sportsperson and April walked off with new running shoes.
Kirsten motivated the learners to stay active in sports.
“I began playing sport as a three-year-old. It’s been a privilege to be a sportsperson all my life. I encourage those who are interested in sport to take it seriously. It will give you an opportunity to pursue your life meaningfully,” he said.
“As a 14-year-old, I was offered drugs by a close friend. And I made the decision not to (take drugs) because I loved sport.”
He added: “I’m a retired international cricketer. I’ll make sure to help that you guys get good facilities. I have no doubt there’s a lot of talent in Khayelitsha. You just need these facilities.”
Tsepo Majake, the school’s acting principal, said they wanted to “focus on the head, the hand and the heart” of learners.
“We are participating in several sports leagues. We still need to register our school in cricket. We didn’t have the equipment or budget to buy equipment,” he said.
“We are a no-fee school. We ask parents to make contributions because 60% of them are unemployed.”
Majake said learners participated in school sports during the day but not after school hours as gangsterism in the area meant learners did not feel safe to stay at school after hours.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
For a moment, it seemed like nothing else in the world mattered more than poetry.
‘Dancing in Other Words’, a festival or poets and poetry, had gathered some of the deep thinkers of the literary scene. They had come to listen, read and engage the written word at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch earlier this month.
The festival ran over two days and featured poetry readings, music and dance performances as well as conversations with poets about their work.
South African poet Breyten Breytenbach curated the festival that dealt with a range of sensitive topics during the conversation panels. Breytenbach had lived in exile during apartheid and also spent almost eight years in jail for alleged terrorism during the country’s dark past.
“Poetry is our only mother tongue,” he said during his welcome address.
Retired judge Albie Sachs joined poets for a panel discussion on ethics. It asked: “Does poetry open a way to an awareness of being and dignity in the processes of political and cultural transition?”
Sachs reflected: “We are in the process of trying to build a moral society.”
“We’re almost reaching the stage where people from different communities are trying to understand each other… The poet is a bridge builder who connects people and communities who feel divided,” he added.
Sachs looked at the poets beside him and made a quick confession too.
“I’m not a poet. I’m accused of being a poet… which I bear with delight,” he laughed.
Alongside Sachs sat award-winning writer and poet Antjie Krog – who seemed mostly troubled – asking difficult questions.
“I see 100 boats on a stormy sea in South Africa and they are all going in different directions. I’m in a country that is deeply confused on what its ethics should be or is,” offered Krog.
“We agreed on a constitution and national anthem…. But one of the many problems is the many languages. We don’t know the words we use in our many languages. In what language do you letter these ethical thoughts that you have? Krog added:” No-one knows what people in indigenous languages are saying. How does that help us to understand what is ethically wrong with this country?”
She also lamented: “I don’t know how we can see a road when we can’t see an ethical concept of this country.”
Yang Lian, a Chinese poet, said his country also faced issues with its ethics. But this could be the making of good poetry, he added.
“If you feel the problem, this is the poet. Can you ask a deeper question?” he said.
The he somewhat urged the audience to all become poets.
“A poet digs a tunnel into ourselves and maybe we reach this diamond,” he said.
Lian said in China, as elsewhere, citizens were perhaps listening anymore to poets.
“Even in China people do not read. They all have mobile phones but no deeper thinking,” he said.
“It’s nothing but cynical entertainment. We are all in a similar situation. Individualism has been stopped by powerful and corrupt people.”
One of the poetry reading highlights meanwhile was Ko Un from South Korea. The 80-year-old poet celebrated his birthday in April this year, a month before he flew to the festival to deliver some of the most animated poetic readings.
“A mad house is a splendid place. And I’m its emperor,” he read via a translator.
The audience broke into laughter and applause.
Un dropped other witticisms: “Enlightenment is inconsistent.”
Other poets and participants traveled from Holland, the US, Slovenia, Germany and Nigeria.
Breytenbach said the gathering had been inspired by the likes of deceased singer Cesaria Evora and famed poet Jelaluddin Rumi.