Friday, February 20, 2009

Help Nombeko leap over to Australia

From Pam Zeplin comes the following request:

Nombeko Rwaxa was one of the B&B hosts for the 2007 South Project Gathering in Soweto. She was an integral part of the supportive local community in Orlando, Soweto that made this event so successful.

Nombeko has also been professionally associated with the music world with figures such as the late Lucky Dube. She received a kidney transplant not long ago and successfully competed in the National Transplant Games in South Africa. This has qualified Nombeko to come to Australia and compete in the World Transplant Games at the Gold Coast  (Queensland) (August 22-30 2009), under the auspices of South African Transplant Sports Association (see attached letters and website .

This association and its athletes are seeking sponsorship to attend these games. Individual as well as corporate sponsorship can be accepted. As a previous guest at her Zizwe Guesthouse in Orlando, Soweto Nombeko has asked me to help find sponsors for this life affirming project.

For further information Willie Uys, National Chairman, South African Transplant Sports Association (E-mail: )

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Getting to know wortabokarra

There are several days in summer when Melbourne is whipped by scorching northerly winds. They come in across the great deserts of the centre and bake this southerly city. They often bring with them the top soil of the Wimmera, and sometimes even ash from nearby bushfires.

Despite living with the curse – and dread – of this wind, we haven’t yet given it a name. While one-off cyclones are personified, this regular visitor remains anonymous. It’s as thought we haven’t yet settled into the land enough yet to have developed the acquaintance.

In Crikey, an Adelaide vertebrate palaeontologist Jim McNamara nominates the Kaurna word wortabokarra:

In 1840, Teichelmann and Schurmann, recorded its meaning as: "north-west wind; tempestuous weather". They also have bokarra: "northwesterly wind, which is very hot during summer and indicates a storm".

This is more like it.

What are the word's roots?

I am not a linguist, but the same book (available as a copy from Google) tells me that worta means "behind" and karra is the redgum tree with other meanings of high, sky and heaven.

Perhaps one response to the tragedy of Black Saturday would be a finally give this wind a name. If anything, it is likely to become a more regular visitor. It’s time we got onto speaking terms with it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Climate changed!


The day began with talk of gardens. We are moving into the post-Magnolia era. No longer can we ornament our homes with camellia-centric gardens, no more erect birch trees. It’s back to the natives.

In terms of the disaster, the Victorian bushfires and Melbourne’s inferno is relatively mild. Compared to the disasters that can strike other cities due to earthquakes, the lost of life was small. But there seemed something like a loss of innocence on this day. We can no longer pretend to be a piece of green Europe tucked away in the antipodes. Instead, we’re part of a big brown continent. We can’t escape the cruel logic of its weather.

It’s time to join Australia.