Africas

Yeah, I know that the S is next to the A on the keyboard, but this was no unintentional typo.
This are a plural.

And the Africas we are talking about is this one.

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become

Yes, indeed.
Toto’s Africa.

So yes, it’s a music post, but it’s one that the 6000 miles…  yachting correspondent might even enjoy. Wow.

Well, it’s actually just an excuse to share a couple of cover versions of that great song. But it’s apt and relevant because we have no rains to bless down in Africa right now, and also because I have plans for the weekend: I’m gonna take some time to do the things we never had.

That doesn’t even make sense. It doesn’t even matter.

First up, Mathieu Terrade on the Harpejji. I’d never heard of one before either, but it seems to be a mashup between a  harp, a guitar and a piano. (And is (ever so) vaguely similar to a hammered dulcimer*.) (But only in appearance.) You can learn about it here. A full size harpejji starts at $3,999 and that’s before you’ve added “racing stripes” or “deluxe trim material”.
And then Maryland residents have to pay another 6% in sales tax as well – presumably to help fund The Guru’s G&Ts on his next boating trip.
So it is expensive, but it does sound good too: just watch (and listen) to Mathieu playing it here:

It’s a lovely version of a great song. But (sorry, Mathieu) for me it’s nowhere near as good as this one. Step forward (and sideways etc) the Angel City Chorale with their (interactive) version:

Fast forward to 2:10 if you’re in a rush and you just want to hear the vocal bit. Such a great version. And that conductor: I’ve been conducted by a good few conductors in my time, some good, some bad. This one looks like she’s just a whole lot of fun. In fact, the whole choir does. Doing music for the right reasons. And it shows.

Right, thank you reading this far, but I’m sad to say that this is the end of the post, and I know that it’s gonna take a lot to drag you away from me, but hurry boy, she’s waiting there for you.

Off you trot then.

 

* Obviously, Ted Yoder has also done a version of this. It’s not very good. 

Southernmost sculpture

News from Cape Agulhas is that the new … the new… “thing” at the Southernmost Tip of Africa is nearly completed. I use the word “thing” simply because I’m not sure what other word I can use to better describe it. It’s a sculpture, yes, but it’s surely more than that as well.

The people building it are calling it The Agulhas Icon, which is all very well, but also suggests that they’re a bit unsure of what – other than iconic – it is.

For years, the Southernmost point in Africa – and the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans – has been marked by a small cairn unveiled by one P.W. Botha (who he?) on 23rd August 1986, and which people have climbed onto, been photographed next to, or blogged from several metres behind ever since. And that’s not going to change. It’s what is just next to the cairn which is being revamped.

The design is by Strijdom van der Merwe – and that’s great because I really like his stuff. It’s a circular area, sensibly based around a combination of a compass and the African continent.

The artistic representation of the African continent taking shape. It is important that this iconic form is visible on Google Earth as this will be the iconic destination point marker online.
Well-known geological features such as Cape Point, Table Mountain, Namib dunes, Victoria Falls,
Rift Valley, Sahara Dunes and the Nile River will be visible.

Low walls will encourage visitors to sit and stay for a while, soaking up the atmosphere, sheets of steel will dramatically emerge from the four points of the compass – with the Southerly point obviously given the greatest prominence – while lines created from the local stone will dissect and trisect and… well you get the idea… the space. A few teaser progress images were released this week, and I think it looks fantastic.

It’s very bold, very strong, very… Iconic.
A really cool and important addition to the area.

Now Lily won’t deliver

I’ve been waiting a long time for Lily. If this sounds like the preface to some 1980’s synthpop hit, then that’s because it actually could be. But in this case, it’s the ubercool drone I ordered way back, when the Rand was vaguely competitive.

Since then, the Rand has gone bad, the Lily has been delayed and there has been a growing suspicion amongst many Lily orderers that we have all been part of an elaborate scam. Albeit one involving an ubercool drone.
Their communication has been excellent, which is why I have been patient. And then, finally, with the promised “summer” shipping date rapidly approaching, an email arrived, entitled:

Update: Your Lily Order

Fireworks went off, champagne was opened, and we all danced around the kitchen to Gangnam Style.
Even the beagle.

And then I opened the email:

We’re writing to inform you that tax and import restrictions will unfortunately prevent us from delivering pre-orders to your region at this time. Please know that your early support meant the world to us, and that we reached this difficult conclusion after exhausting all possibilities for secure delivery.

W – if you’ll pardon the expression – TAF?
*angry emoji here*

Yes, apparently, Africa doesn’t fall onto their list of places couriers go. In fact, neither does anywhere that’s not US, EU, Canada or Australia.

That’s an awful lot of world which is managing just fine without shipments from the US.
Well done us.

The fact that we (as a family, as a company and as a nation) regularly import stuff from the US without any problem whatsoever seems to have been missed while they were “exhausting all possibilities”. Apparently, those possibilities don’t include DHL, FedEx or UPS. For starters. And I say “for starters” because that’s where I would have started.

So is this the final nail in my Lily coffin? (Metaphorically, I mean. I don’t actually have a coffin for it. That would just be weird.) Well, I have 30 days to decide before the default option of a full refund (minus interest) kicks in.

The thing is, I’m lucky enough to have an address in the EU (until 23rd June at least, lol), but when Lily is delivered there (whenever that may be), it will be some 6000 miles… from me. And secure shipping from there is going to be expensive. Who’s going to pay for that, given that the shipping fee I paid to Lily will only get my ubercool drone to Sheffield?

I think we can guess what Lily think is the answer to that.

Colour me really disappointed.
Time for a deep think, I feel.

Besides Ebola…

While there is a (rightfully) well-publicised Ebola outbreak taking place in West Africa, it doesn’t mean that the usual suspects of the infectious diseases world have gone away. And while the world’s attention is focused on that pesky haemorrhagic fever virus, cholera has been going about its usual business in Nigeria, Ghana and South Sudan.
It’s a reminder that while the “superstar diseases” are widely and enthusiastically reported by the First World’s sensationalist media (like the bubonic plague case (singular) in China that I mentioned last week), the more mundane stuff continues, but goes very much under the radar.

Cholera is unpleasant, acute and life-threatening, especially in children. It’s also fairly simple to prevent, assuming that you can get access to clean water:

“It is the filth everywhere and the lack of hygiene among our people,” the Deputy Director of Health for the Greater Accra Region, Dr John Eleaza said, noting that some patients have been victims of the disease despite using pipe-borne water.
Unfortunately we have some of our pipelines going through some of these drains…some of them are broken” he said.
He is advising Ghanaians to be careful and practise proper hygiene to prevent a deterioration of the outbreak.

And while the mortality rate doesn’t rival that of Ebola, the sheer numbers affected mean that the death toll in these outbreaks is already rapidly approaching (if not exceeding) that of their more famous cousin up the road.

Even the local media is more concerned with the Ebola outbreak than that of cholera, as this story in Nigeria’s Vanguard demonstrates, with nearly half the piece being hijacked by Ebola news, including this spectacular advice from State Commissioner for Health Dr. Joe Akabike:

…avoid touching corpses of victims of the disease and to avoid sexual intercourse with patients of the disease until after three months of their recovery in order not to contact the disease.

He doesn’t mention avoiding sexual intercourse with the corpses, but I suppose that’s just considered common sense.
And common decency.

I digress. All I wanted to remind people is that the Ebola outbreak should be considered an additional problem, and not suddenly the only problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

Jo Rust

This popped up from Cape Agulhas Tourism on Facebook:

link

That’s Jo(landie) Rust and she’s happy to be back at Cape Agulhas because:

I made it! I achieved my dream of becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the African continent on a motorcycle, solo. Words cannot describe this moment.
L’Agulhas, most southern point in Africa, Sunday 24 November 2013.

We passed Jo and the convoy of supporters which had joined her for the final leg of her journey as we were heading out of Struisbaai yesterday. At that point, I didn’t realise exactly what she had achieved. Now I’ve had a chance to have a look at her website, I do.

What an amazing story. Go see.