“I was so happy when Trevor Noah admitted on his debut The Daily Show in the US this week that growing up in Soweto, one dream he shared with many of his neighbours was that of an indoor toilet.”
These are the opening words of Fred Khumalo, in a recent column for Rand Daily Mail, on why we ought to be proud of Trevor Noah’s rise to fame in the US.
The author of Zulu Boy Gone Crazy continues: “Now, stupid regional jokes aside, we have to take pride in that, taking the helm of The Daily Show, Noah has shown the world, once again, that South Africans ‘have been having it’.”
Read the article for Khumalo’s reflections on the challenges facing Noah in the US, and the hindrances he had to overcome to host The Daily Show:
They’ll tolerate a white immigrant from Serbia with little education and no English at all, but they’ll baulk at a professor from Africa who teaches English and philosophy at Harvard. He has to fight for the right to be heard. Only then will they grudgingly accede to his requests: be it at a public place such as a restaurant, airport or supermarket.
So, let us congratulate Noah and give him all the support we can because his success mirrors our determination as a people.
His success will hopefully go a long way towards paving the way for many South Africans, in different professional persuasions, to be given a fair and democratic hearing so they show what they have to offer the world.
SUNSET INDUSTRY: Scarborough-based Pierre de Villiers is know for his eclectic but thoroughly big wave tested surfboard shapes. Photo BYRON LOKER
Published in The Times Oct 7, 2015
As a surfer of limited means (which many of us tend to be for some reason), I have always had a rather fraught relationship with the tools of the trade, so to speak. When it comes to the acquisition of “new” surfboards, I usually scour the second-hand surf-shops and Cash Converters of the neighbourhood where I happen to find myself resident and fetch up the cheapest, most serviceable-looking shape I can find—beggars can’t be choosers, as they say.
Surfboard shaping—still largely a hand-craft pursuit, although computers and machines are moving in—is also something of a fraught and sometimes hotly debated topic in the surfer community. “They all look the same to me,” might be the landlubber’s first response on overhearing a snatch of surfer conversation in a beach-side parking lot. The second might be, “What the hell are they talking about?’”
“I was riding a rocker-chip, my bru, until a china tuned me I should try out his Spiderbomb. My bru, it changed my life! I got one made in a quad set-up. And I reckon I’m gonna try out a fish too—a twinnie. Might even get a Mini-sim. Build up my quiver a bit, bru.” The gist of that for the uninitiated is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula when it comes to the shape of a surfer’s wave-riding vehicle. Generally, the rule of thumb is that the longer the board, the easier it is to learn to surf on. From there on in, anything goes, and there has been a significant trend in recent years to cast back to earlier incarnations of board design for inspiration, and ride whatever works for you, fashion be damned.
Polyurethane foam cores wrapped in fibreglass and resin predominate modern surfboard construction; it’s in the shaping of that foam core that lurks a black art of sorts. The artists of this milieu are often to be found barely dressed in scrappy ”board shorts” in the backyard sheds of places like Scarborough, Kommetjie, Muizenberg, covered head to toe in a fine white powder, plying their trade with a stoney determination and a thousand-yard stare. (Or, to be fair, and less Romantic, they are to be found in modern factory units along Durban’s Marine Parade).
These are often men of few words. It’s something of a labour of love, surfboard shaping—a calling, perhaps. Despite the bloom of surfers along the South African coastline, surfboard shaping is not a lucrative profession. The market has been cornered by a handful of shapers who have carved out a name for themselves.
Amongst the “legends” of the occupation—often great surfers themselves—are the likes of Spider Murphy, Pierre de Villiers, Hugh Thompson, Baron Stander, Dave Stubbs, Peter Lawson and Graeme Smith (father of World Surf League pro. and world title contender, Jordy). One of the country’s most influential shapers, Peter Daniels, passed away recently, age 66, in the Basque Country of Spain where he had built a thriving local label. Max Wetteland, mentor to Daniels and, along with “The Oom” John Whitmore and Timmy Paarman, was considered a founding father of surfing in SA, also passed this year.
Having once found myself in possession of something known as “disposable income”, I once commissioned a new board from Scarborough-based shaper, Pierre de Villiers. de Villiers is known for his sometimes eclectic, but thoroughly big-wave tested shapes. A proven big-wave rider himself, he is often the go-to craftsman for any surfer serious about treading the six-foot-plus winter swells of the Cape of Storms. At the time I fancied myself an initiate in the ranks and spent a few hours over the weeks it took Pierre to shape me a board—in a fashion that might now be labelled “bespoke”—in Pierre’s shaping bay; a small, wooden shed in front of his house perched atop the mountain above Scarborough.
The 8 foot, 2 inch long, 3 inch thick (for some reason all surfers still cling to the imperial system), primary yellow, single-fin, semi-big-wave hybrid Pierre made me has pride of place in the living room of the 2 bedroom flat I now rent in Lonehill, Sandton, standing-by for the next opportunity I might have to travel coastward to slide some heavy water.
A younger generation of shapers is filling in as the old guard looks toward the sunset. Equally taciturn, as hard-charging, men such as Dave van Ginkel (DVG), Clayton Nienaber (Clayton), Jeremy Fowkes (Jerm) and Twiggy Baker (Twig Surfboards) are shaping the future of the art and steering their labels (brands) towards the disposable incomes of the these-days generally much more well-heeled average-Joe and wannabe-pro. surfer.
Not surprisingly, there’s a move globally in the community all the way back to the, ah, roots of the sport by shapers such as Patrick Burnett (Burnett Woods Surfboards) who builds hollow wooden boards in the tradition of the Polynesian founders of the sport. Burnett also offers board-building courses out of his Scarborough “shack” to aspirant shapers, or simply anyone looking to connect with the more elemental simplicity of building and surfing their own boards out of a natural material, something like Western Red Cedar for example.
Byron Loker is the author of a short story collection, New Swell, now prescribed in the ninth grade in the Western Cape. For the first time in his life he is trying to stay gainfully employed, in Johannesburg, where he is a member of Joburg Boardriders, an attempt to take a landlocked team to the South African national championships for the first time in the history of the sport in the country.
Jacana Media is proud to present Shed Happens by Stephen Francis, illustrated by Rico:
23 issues later and still fresh as ever! Shed Happens is filled with gags and outrageous punchlines that will have you chuckling way, way after you’ve put this book down.
Madam, Eve, Thandi and Mother Anderson, with some of their assorted relatives and friends, take us into the rabbit hole of domestic and political life in South Africa. Tackling serious topics while helping us as South Africans laugh at ourselves … and our politicians.
If you were not in the country for the past couple of months, here is a book that will connect the dots for you, from load shedding (revealing the 10 Stages of Load Shedding Grief ), to the much talked about Nkandla debacle, to the EFF chanting “Pay back the money!” – and getting kicked out of parliament – as well as a host of other hot topics.
“Extraordinary … a South African phenomenon … has won the hearts of millions.” – The Mail & Guardian
“Captures the miracle of transformation and the lunacy of our lives.” – Kevin Ritchie, editor of The Star
“Lampoons with grace and skill.” – Jenny Crwys-Williams
“Locates the common national funnybone.” – Washington Post
About the Authors
Stephen Francis is the writing half of the Madam & Eve team. Born in the United States in 1949, Francis moved to South Africa in 1988. In 1992, witnessing the interesting and often funny dynamic between his South African mother-in-law and her domestic housekeeper, he conceptualised the Madam & Eve strip. Francis is also an award-winning script writer, and radio and TV personality.
Rico forms the other half of the creative team – as illustrator. Born in Austria in 1966, he now lives and works in Johannesburg, and has been drawing cartoons ever since he was old enough to hold a pencil. Besides his work on Madam & Eve, Rico also produces illustrations for a wide range of other publications.
Tom Eaton, the wit responsible for The Unauthorised History of South Africa by Stienie Dikderm and Herodotus Hlope, has written a column about Homo naledi, the human ancestor recently discovered in the Cradle of Humankind.
In the article, Eaton says, “I know I’m not going to celebrate Naledi as part of my human heritage”. He sidesteps the massive excitement about the fossil discovery, but not because of religious belief or paranoia about racism like many people making themselves heard on social media.
Eaton rejects the family connection with Homo naledi, while recognising the species’ place in his genetic make-up, because he cannot identify with ancestors who “passed on almost nothing to their children except their DNA and their fleas”. Instead, this heritage month, Eaton is celebrating the “inventors, philosophers, artists, even a few warriors” and “the scientists who try to drag us out of the muck despite our determination to return there”.
Read the article:
Homo naledi is a racist plot using pseudo-science to link Africans to sub-human, baboon-like creatures.
It sounded mad, and Mathole Motshekga and Zwelinzima Vavi were jeered on social media for expressing it. I joined the chorus, because gigantic ignorance should not be tolerated in our leaders. But
I can also understand where such paranoia comes from.