28 August 2007


As some of you know, the World Library and Information Congress held by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) was held in Durban in August. I took these photos during a trip there in July, knowing that I probably wouldn't have time while I was there for IFLA in August.

Just a nice house.

Nice view from across the street.

Another view of the harbor.

Sports field at Durban University of Technology, ML Sultan Campus.

A Catholic church near DUT.

A Hindu temple near DUT.

27 August 2007

IFLA Satellite Meeting

Again, some of you know that I did local arrangements for an IFLA satellite meeting (which is what IFLA calls pre-conferences) in Cape Town. You can see the wonderful Web site, designed by Graziano Kr├Ątli and Jessica Slawski at http://www.library.yale.edu/preifla2007/capetown_index.html. I especially like the use of various African fabrics.
Here are just a few photos from the pre-con.

Kimberly Parker, Yale University.

Oliver Pesch, EBSCO; Karen Jean Hunt, Duke University.

Susan Hanekom, EDULIS; Jennifer Lang and Rochelle Ballard, Princeton University.

Caroline Dean, UCT; unkown to me; Kimberly Parker; Fiona Bester, Worldwide Information Services; Kusturie Moodley, Durban University of Technology.

Audrey Patrick, Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Yvonne Halland, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; Caretha Nel and Cavall Barends, CPUT.

Anusuya Aramugam, University of Johannesburg.

Oliver Pesch.

Jennifer Lang and Rochelle Ballard.


Most of these photos were taken at Boulders National Park in Simon's Town. I drove Oliver Pesch and Sharon Bostick down to Cape Point prior to the IFLA pre-conference in Cape Town, and on the way we stopped at Boulders to see the penguins. The last few were taken at Cape Point, part of the Table Mountain National Park.

I also got some good film footage of penguins! E-mail me if you're interested.

Path and gate to Boulders House.

Boulders House.

Adult and juvenile penguins.


Beach party.

Oliver at Cape of Good Hope.

Cape of Good Hope.

Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western point of Africa.

Baboon kids playing on bush.

Baboon family by road.

Karen Jean Hunt

Sometime in July, I think, I received an e-mail from a former Auburn colleague, Nancy Gibbs. Nancy is currently in the library at Duke University, and she told me that one of her colleagues was coming over to South Africa for IFLA, and she hoped I didn’t mind that she’d given the colleague my contact information. “Not at all,” I replied. “I’m happy to help fellow Americans navigate their way through South Africa.”

The colleague’s name is Karen Jean Hunt, and she and I had a few e-mail exchanges, during which we discovered that each of us is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. She was also happy to learn that I am familiar with ugali (what they call sadza in Zimbabwe, and what they call pap or mealie pap here in SA).

I also suggested to Karen Jean that in addition to the usual tourist stuff in Jo’burg, she should try to visit the Rosa Parks Library in Soweto (one of the US Consulates libraries, formerly called the American Library). I offered to phone my friend Selaelo Ramoleta to set up a tour. I told Selaelo that KJ is the director of the John Hope Franklin Collection at Duke, and Selaelo informed me that John Hope Franklin himself had been to visit the former American Library not so many years ago!

(John Hope Franklin is an historian who was instrumental in weaving the history of African-Americans into U.S. history. He is well-known for his book From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, which was first published in 1947. The collection at Duke includes his personal and professional papers.)

Because she was arriving late in the afternoon on a Friday, I volunteered to pick KJ up at the airport and drive her straight to the Rosa Parks Library. This was the first time we’d met in person, and we hit it off right away. We spent a fair amount of time together over the next few weeks (she was in Jo’burg for several days, then went to Cape Town and attended the IFLA pre-conference for which I had done local arrangements, then went on to Durban for IFLA, came back to Jo’burg, went to Victoria Falls, and back to Jo’burg before flying home – how did she get so much vacation time?!?), and as I write this, I feel sure that I’ve made a lifelong friend. I do find it kind of amusing that a middle class white kid from Tennessee and an inner city black kid from Detroit have so much in common!

26 August 2007

Women's Day Adventure

The 9th of August is Women’s Day in South Africa. This day commemorates the march by the Federation of South African Women – a multi-racial group of 20,000 women -- held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9th August in 1956. The women were demonstrating against the so-called pass laws, which required people of color to carry “passes” or identity documents that proved they were allowed to enter “white areas”. Despite the protests of those women, the pass laws weren’t repealed until 1986.

So, that Thursday was a public holiday, and Jean gave Friday off to those of us who would be attending IFLA over the weekend in Durban two weeks later. When Lisa Glenn called to see if I was up for an adventure, I was ready. We decided to concentrate on an area close to home – the Magaliesburg – and after a little bit of Web searching (really, HOW did we ever travel without the Web?!), we decided on a hike at Vergenoeg Nature Reserve (http://www.hartbeespoort.co.za/vergenoeg/index.htm) which is about an hour from my house near Hartbeespoort Dam, and then circle back to spend the night at Aloe Ridge Hotel (http://www.aloeridgehotel.com/), which is only 30 minutes north of where I live. Dinner would be at The Observatory (at Aloe Ridge), home of the largest privately owned telescope in South Africa.

Lisa came to my house early that morning and we set off. Vergenoeg is owned by Jan and Elsa Pretorius. We learned that Jan worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) before retiring. When we arrived, we paid Jan, met our guide dogs, Sheba and Wolfie, and started the path up the mountain. The path up is about 3 kilometers. The dogs weren’t the best guides in the world; they were easily distracted by flying birds, each other, and whatever other things are attractive to dogs. Still, it was kind of fun having them along.

As you look at the photos, remember that it is winter here, so almost everything is either brown or gray. Even the air! Winter in Gauteng is very dry, and veld fires are common. There is an almost constant haze in the air. But I bet this place is beautiful in the summer!

We lost our way a couple of times, but not too far. Close to the top of the mountain was an overlook where we could have stopped to watch the Cape vultures gliding on the thermals, but a large-ish group of people came from behind, and our unspoken wish was to get away from them, so we forged ahead to the 4K trail down.

This was great exercise for me, because I’ve spent much of the winter weekends in bed – the only place I can stay warm! And it was good for Lisa as she prepares for the December hike across the country that she and fellow Rotary Scholars will undertake to raise money for various charities.

We came down about 11h30 and drove to the Hartbeespoort Dam. It was interesting, although stinky. They’ve had a problem with an overabundance of water hyacinths, which apparently rot and make the water stink. Ewww! After lunch in a nearby pub, we did a little bit of shopping at the craft market, then drove back towards town and Aloe Ridge.

We checked into the hotel, showered and rested up a little before dinner at The Observatory. Dinner was very good, but the fun thing about the evening is that small groups of people are escorted outside to the telescopes several times during the course of the meal. The astronomer (who we later learned is the owner of the telescope and property) would find something interesting to look at, bring folks out and tell them a bit about what they were about to see, and then you look at the object with the smaller telescope and then the big one. The big one is so big that you have to climb a ladder to get up to the eye.

We overheard a couple who turned out to be American and chatted with them for a bit. They had apparently met Alex (the owner) earlier in the day, and when the evening was over, he offered to drive all of us to the hotel door (not really very far away, but it was chilly). But Alex had something else in mind, and he drove us up the hill to his private residence. It was very lit up, and in the well-fenced front yard, he showed us his pride and joy – an American wolf that he imported. He also had a few bobcats roaming around. They were beautiful animals, but it was kind of disturbing to see them cooped up in such a relatively small area. Weird, actually. I hope he lets them out during the day.

The next day after breakfast, we took a walk down to the small waterfall, and then a longer walk following a dirt road around the perimeter of the property. That road stays on the far side of the fence. The place is actually a small game reserve. We saw some wildlife on our side of the fence, though, including several female and one magnificent male kudu, more interesting birds, and the baby hippo (the adults were on the other side of the fence). We also enjoyed closely observing the almost tame vervet monkeys and zebra family near the entrance of the hotel. Then we headed back to town so Lisa could make her 15.00 class, which had not been cancelled.

All in all, we had a very nice adventure.

Women's Day Adventure photos

The mountain we climbed at Vergenoeg Nature Reserve.

Lisa Glenn ready to hike.


Sheba and Wolfie, our guides.

Sheba and Wolfie lead the way.

Hartbeespoort Dam in winter haze.

The trail.

Sheba takes a break.

This part reminded me of the Sipsey Wilderness in north Alabama.

Not everything was brown.

Great view.

Dead protea blossom.

Dead protea with great view.

Pretty dead weed.

Weird stuff. Looked dead but upon inspection, turned out to be some sort of succulent.

Construction of Hartbeespoort Dam was planned to begin in 1902; was interrupted a couple of times due to wars. Completed in 1930.

People waterski here when the water is not yucky.

Grey heron on patrol.


Back side of dam.

Yellow aloe. They bloom in winter.

Tame vervet monkeys at Aloe Ridge Hotel.

The reason they are tame.

Zebra family in morning sun.

More greenery near the small dam at Aloe Ridge.

Dead aloe and rushing water.

Female kudu near hotel (center of photo, a tad to the right).

Two grey louries.

Another female kudu.

Zebra family eats. The youngster was very wary of us.

He never quit watching us. So cute!

Zebra and monkeys in harmony.