South Africa

10th October – On This Day In History

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1825 Paul Kruger (President of the South African Republic 1883)



1985 Yul Brynner (actor)


On This Day:

1874 Fiji becomes a British possession


Have a good Saturday, 10th October


24th April – On This Day in History

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1973 Sachin Tendulkar (Indian cricketer)



1993 Oliver Tambo (Chairman of the African National Congress)


On This Day:

1981 IBM introduces its PC


Have a good Friday, 24th April!

21st April – On This Day in History

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1619 Jan van Riebeek (founder / Governor of the Cape Colony)



1910 Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) American author


On This Day:

1982 £1 coin introduced in the UK


Have a good Tuesday, April 21st!

Peace – My Beloved Country

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In response to the terrible xenophobic violence in South Africa, and as a way of expressing my despair at an article that I have just read where the author is clearly trying to escalate this hatred by inciting South Africans against each other along race lines (cleverly playing the “blame game”), I have found this poem and published it below…

Somewhere an eagle flies
soaring o’er the dappled skies of Africa
Somewhere a tortoise cries
ploughing through the vast disguise of Africa.
A springbok dies and a day is born
The sun comes up to greet the dawn;
A child is sighing like a bird
And a nation is sounding a very new word.

Somewhere an apple train
waddles through the winding plains of Africa.
Somewhere a sparrow feigns
acting out the birthing pains of Africa.
A lizard leaps to his mother’s scorn:
‘Farwell, ‘ she says to her first born
A breeze is lifting a newly-fledged bird
And a nation is sounding a very new word.

Somewhere a new sunrise
burgeoning before our eyes in Africa
Has seen our children’s weary sighs
bursting into happy smiles in Africa.
An aardvark snuffles through the corn
And winks an eye at a golden fawn
A sunbird is singing like you’ve never heard
And a nation is sounding a very new word.

– Margaret Kollmer


Rooibos Tea

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Having grown up in South Africa, I was fortunate to have been exposed to Rooibos (Red Bush) tea from an early age. Drinking hot, cold, with milk or without has always been part of my lifestyle. And I was delighted to find it easily available here in the UK, both in shops and online.

Rooibos is grown in the Western Cape area of South Africa, in a small coastal region. It is part of a general family of plants in the region known as fynbos. People have tried to grow Rooibos elsewhere in the world, but none have been particularly successful. The unique weather conditions and soil types make reproducing the real thing in other places very difficult indeed.

It can be served in a variety of ways. Many will drink it in exactly the same way as they drink other teas – with or without milk and sugar is a personal taste. One of the most common ways to drink Rooibos is to brew it hot and strong, and then simply drop a slice of lemon into your cup. In the summer, some of us like to brew it up, let it cool and then keep a big jug of it in the fridge. Makes a very refreshing cold drink – and it’s good for you!

There are numerous benefits of Rooibos (I’ll stick to the Afrikaans name, if you don’t mind!). Obviously, for those of us who have the taste, we simply enjoy it! It’s part of our culture!

Rooibos can be enjoyed in any weather, and is delightfully refreshing. But there are also numerous, genuine benefits, some of which I will attempt to describe…

Caffeine free: for those who don’t do caffeine, this is an excellent option. As there is no caffeine in the tea in the first place, it does not have to be adapted in any way to remove caffeine, keeping it natural. Of course this makes it drinkable by those who can’t have caffeine, such as pregnant women. It is also perfectly safe for young children – many parents do not like their little ones having caffeine if at all possible. Some parents even put mild Rooibos into the baby’s bottle to help colic, as Rooibos has been proven to be good for various stomach ailments.

Helps you sleep: the lack of caffeine in Rooibos leads to the next benefit. Many people, myself included, will often have a cup of Rooibos before we go to bed. As it has no caffeine, it is a more sensible option than coffee – caffeine has been proven to keep us awake. Additionally, Rooibos has a soothing effect, helping us relax and improving the chances of a nice, restful sleep.

Antioxidants: one of the best known benefits of Rooibos is that it contains antioxidants. These are particularly good at fighting free radicals, which are cells that damage healthy cells. The high level of antioxidants in Rooibos can help keep away various illnesses, not least of which is heart disease. Some studies have shown that the chances of contracting certain cancers are reduced by drinking Rooibos regularly.

Circulation: evidence suggests that Rooibos can have a positive effect in fighting heart disease. It can help reduce high blood pressure, and has even been shown to help with diabetes. The same can be said for liver disease – Rooibos can be recommended for both prevention and as part of the therapy. Studies have even shown that Rooibos can be good at helping prevent respiratory problems, and in the treating of these.

High mineral content: Rooibos contains high levels of certain minerals that are important for our bodies. These include magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron and zinc.

Good for your skin: recent studies have shown that a recently brewed Rooibos teabag, when applied to the area, can reduce inflammation and help cut down on the effects of acne. Make sure you let the teabag cool first, though, before you put it on your face!

All in all, Rooibos is good for, and is enjoyable to drink. Of course, it is not a magic cure all – like most herbal teas, Rooibos is recommended for prevention, rather than cure. Watch what you eat, and do enough suitable exercise. But I can certainly recommend Rooibos as part of a healthy lifestyle.