In this instalment of Street Life, GREG NICOLSON talks to a Zimbabwean who came to South Africa when his country’s economy declined. These days, he sells curios on the streets of Johannesburg and dreams about returning home.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and they talk about “Mother Africa”. Therefore, the tech revolution had to take root in inventive ways here, changing outsider perceptions of the continent. Investors, though, have been slow to tap into Africa’s tech boom. By OSIAME MOLEFE.
Income from pirates in Somalia could be as high as three times the entire Somali Puntland government’s budget, and smuggler-fuelled informal trade in Benin accounts for 70% to 80% of the economy. That’s just one eye-opening revelation from a transnational investigation into pirates, smugglers, corrupt tycoons and African development by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR).
Ghana's not a bad place for a journalist in Africa. Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Ghanaian constitution, and the country tied 26th place (with Cape Verde and Mali) in the Reporters Without Borders 2010 Press Freedom ratings - the second-highest in Africa, after Namibia. But the partisan nature of much of the Ghanaian media means readers take their news with more than a pinch of salt. By BAAFOO AHENKORA.
The problem with municipal bureaucracies is that complaints, inefficiencies and communication are always hidden from the public eye. Technology game changer, SeeClickFix, takes the hidden out of the closet with its civic-minded digital tool that demands government transparency and accountability. By MANDY DE WAAL.
The Thabo Mbeki Foundation was launched on Sunday 10 October, with the stated aim of assisting Africans to reaffirm their dignity amongst the world’s nations. While charges of hypocrisy are bound to be leveled at Mbeki, the fact remains that even the most powerful foundations have their inconsistencies. Giving back is a complicated business. By KEVIN BLOOM.
“I’ve been listening to you driving that thing,” my neighbour says. And I’m immediately aware of the deep, throbbing growl that is the black monster’s exhaust note. It suddenly seems impossibly, intrusively loud. But no, I’m not about to get a tongue lashing. “ I like it,” he adds, almost wistfully. “And you,” he says, with just a hint of a smile. “You drive it like you stole it ...” By DEON SCHOEMAN.
Forget about the Cold War space race between the US and the USSR. The contemporary space race has long since gone commercial, with companies such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Elon Musks’ Space X, and Space Adventures competing to offer space tourism. Thus far, only the latter has taken paying customers to space (including our own Afronaut, Mark Shuttleworth). But with VSS Enterprise’s first manned test flight on Sunday, now it’s Branson’s venture that’s back in the headlines, which is just the way he likes it.
No, we're not joking or overstating the danger. In a country as tightly controlled by the state as this one is, the bulk of crucially important services is delivered by the enterprises whose efficiency, effectiveness and quality of delivery is tragically low. But wait, there's a commission that will sort out all our problems. One day. Maybe. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
The annual Loerie Awards has often been a source of controversy. This year was no different, with stories of a journalist being blacklisted, media partners protesting and news of ongoing battles between the awards committee and journalists abounding. By MANDY DE WAAL.
The world of women according to Forbes has a new queen, a former associate partner in one of hundreds of Chicago law firms. She also happens to be the true partner to the most powerful man in the world. By J BROOKS SPECTOR.
In sheer volume terms, the South African bakkie market has been dominated for one nameplate for almost as long as we can remember: the Toyota Hilux. But now, there’s a new contender on the block. It hails from Germany, but is built in Argentina, of all places. And it means business – serious business. By DEON SCHOEMAN.
Legendary investor Vinod Khosla plans to reinvest his profits from SKS Microfinance’s stock-exchange listing in a venture capital fund. So what? Well, the unique selling point of the fund is that it will focus on companies providing education, health and energy services in India and Africa. Is this a sound business decision, or a noble gesture, or both?
It’s only half a century since the “modern Stone Age family” trundled onto television sets in their foot-powered vehicles, but already The Flintstones seem, well, prehistoric. What’s changed since then? Quite a lot, actually. By THERESA MALLINSON
The book Liar’s Poker, written by Michael Lewis, and the motion picture Wall Street, directed by Oliver Stone, were seminal evocations of the greed that defined Lower Manhattan in the late 1980s. This year, both Lewis and Stone have revisited their early classics in an attempt to describe the recent economic collapse. Difference is, one of them appears as arrogant as the financiers he portrays. By KEVIN BLOOM.
While the hurly-burly of global trade, the cut and thrust of big-brute countries versus the agility and versatility of the little guys, continues like some epic movie battle scene, It is wise to pick your sides cautiously. If you pick sides at all. By BROOKS SPECTOR.
At the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, Massachusetts, fans of the American team were so rude to Colin Montgomerie that his father had to leave the golf course. But 1999 was the last time that Monty (known to the charming Americans as Mrs Doubtfire) was on a losing Ryder Cup team. His record as a player for Europe is one of the best in the Cup’s history, and as 2010’s non-playing captain he’ll want to teach the yanks another lesson. By KEVIN BLOOM.
Microsoft is king of the hill when it comes to the global browser market, but Internet Explorer’s rule is being usurped by Mozilla’s open-source Firefox and Google’s Chrome. But when it comes to mobile devices, the Redmond titan doesn’t even feature. That market belongs to some Norse coders who built a global company, Opera, from just $7,000. By MANDY DE WAAL
Rhino poachers, a phrase that evokes images of swarthy mercenaries in leather jackets, leading groups of natives into the still African night, AK-47 assault rifles and machetes clutched close. But as a few high-profile arrests in the last weeks show, a few otherwise trustworthy individuals have been implicated, including two vets and a game farmer. How will SA solve this huge problem once and for all? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Everybody knows the natural habitat of the BMW X5 is the parking lot of any fancy mall or trendy nightspot. Everybody also knows that, for all its 4x4 pretensions, the X5 is a city slicker and doesn’t like to get its boots sullied by dust, dirt or muddy rivers. Well, think again: The X5 is much more versatile than you think. And it’s just been updated with some new “green” engines, too. By DEON SCHOEMAN.
Buildings may be brick and mortar, the embodiment of design and engineering principles, but they are also much more than that. During the last decade, it seems that property developers have dominated the imagined – and real – future of our cities, Johannesburg more than others. It’s time that conscientious architects take back the power to conceptualise, and create, a “World-Class African City” that means something beyond an empty slogan. By CARIEN ELS.
September’s been a watershed month for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. After a damning biopic of his life premiered in New York, he defended himself by granting a rare interview to New Yorker magazine, and then he beat Jobs and Murdoch to 35th richest person in the US. Oh, and he also donated $100 million to charity, so you can’t hate him anymore. By KEVIN BLOOM.
It was only a single SMS, just one simple line, but for a few days it stoked up the dying embers of one of South African rugby’s most bitter debates – racially based quotas in team selections. A sober analysis by SIPHO HLONGWANE.
About now, Delhi should be a hive of feverish anticipation with the Commonwealth Games taking place in only ten days’ time - a chance for the city to showcase itself to the world. Instead, officials are in a frantic dash to get facilities up to scratch, and convince participating countries their athletes will be just fine. South Africa is giving them the benefit of the doubt, for now. By THERESA MALLINSON.
The city you live in is hugely inconvenienced by construction works. Every day new instances of mismanagement and corruption around the hosting of a major sporting event come to light. The international press rips into the lack of preparation, and taxpayers are pissed off that their money is being used to fund such a fiasco. Sound familiar? No, we’re not writing a reprise of the 2010 World Cup, but focusing on the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Once again, the politicians have a lot to answer for. VRINDA MAHESHWARI reports from Delhi.
Sedans used to be the dominating force of South African motoring. But gradually, these four-door-and-a-boot machines have fallen prey to a new generation of smaller, lighter and more contemporary passenger cars. Which has put sedans such as the evergreen Volkswagen Jetta under serious threat. Or has it? By DEON SCHOEMAN.
Apple is rumoured to be in talks with major publishers to create a newsstand similar to its iBookstore, which will allow publications to sell digital newspapers and magazines to consumers on Apple devices. The newsstand will be aimed mainly at iPad users and would be separate to Apple’s online store. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
There are times when politicians make big promises. You know, we’ll fix this or make that happen. We’ll transform the union with our five-year plan. We’ll fundamentally change the class structure of the nation just now. When that happens, we conniving capitalists fret and tell them why it can’t be done. The National Health Insurance (NHI) is the premier example of such a promise. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
As the ANC NGC unfolds, global and local media attention is focused on Durban amid growing calls for the ruling party to abandon its anti-media campaign. Adding a voice of caution to the swelling tide is Joshua Benton, director of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab who cannot imagine a functioning democracy without a free press. He also talks about the future of news, journalism, technology and Twitter. By MANDY DE WAAL.
For those who hadn’t read his books, author Jonathan Franzen was once famous for being the guy who got disinvited from the Oprah show in 2001. But then, in 2010, he became the first novelist in a decade to appear on the cover of Time. Now that Freedom, his latest novel, is the top-selling book on the planet, Oprah has invited him back. Will he behave better? By KEVIN BLOOM.
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