samjbasch

Opinion
Sam Basch

Fools at the wheel

Sam J Basch

What is it about a flashy car and its driver? We have Henry Ford to thank for mass producing the motorcar, which empowered people and became useful to us. Now there are just too many, adding to greenhouse gas emissions. Hopefully not for long.

But for many the car equals status; a symbol of wealth and power. That’s fine. But many of these obnoxious fools drive like hell, and park where they want. Confront them at your peril: they become abusive and threatening.

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From the Attic
Sam Basch

Around the Cape

Sam J Basch

It took a huge container ship stuck in the Suez Canal last month to focus the mind on the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope. This historic route between west and east was opened by Portuguese mariners Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama more than 500 years ago. In 1988 a similar voyage was recreated in commemoration of that maritime feat.

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From the Attic
Sam Basch

Ancient knowledge

Sam J Basch

A tour of the Basotho Cultural Village in the spectacular Golden Gate National Park is a true revelation. The two-hour herbal trail not only gives one an insight into ago-old traditional methods of treating ailments and injuries, but also reveals ancient rock art, some of the oldest evidence of human culture in Africa.

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Sam Basch

Time flies

By Sam J Basch.

As the unmanned rover Perseverance landed on the red planet last month, its tiny Mars helicopter will “test powered flight on another world for the first time.”

On earth, the Wright brothers pioneered powered flight more than a century ago. Since then, aviators have broken the sound barrier by flying faster than sound and astronauts have ventured far, to walk on the moon. In time, humankind will go even further, to live on another planet.

How astonishing has been the achievements in aviation – in a fraction of time?

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Sam Basch
Sam Basch

“Miserable Hovels”

By Sam J Basch: An early traveller from England described the town of Graaff-Reinet as consisting of “a few mud huts and miserable hovels.” Today visitors from around the world, many opting for the award-winning historic Drostdy Hotel, come to admire its architecture and art galleries, museums and food. And to visit the nearby Camdeboo National Park, a great feature of which is the Valley of Desolation with imposing age-old rock formations dating back 150 million years towering above the expansive valley floor.

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Sam Basch
Sam Basch

On old stones

Half a lifetime ago, my steps echoed on the cobblestones of Buenos Aires. They were a lasting, solid characteristic of this beautiful city’s old quarters. Two eminent Argentine artists, a photographer and a writer, used word and image in homage to the legacies of their birthplace.

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Sam Basch
Sam Basch

Treasurables

By watching closely where one steps, an enhanced perspective of nature comes into play. This allows one to notice the tiniest of flowers, delicate fungi, spider webs… and to become aware of birdsong and the perfume of nature.

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Sam Basch
Sam Basch

Master builder

Within ten years of arriving from the Orkney Isles in Scotland in 1879, the young John J. Kirkness was a master builder in Africa. His first major construction project was the iconic Raadzaal, President Paul Kruger’s ‘parliament’ building in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR). From humble beginnings, he built a successful enterprise, supplying his distinctive red Kirkness bricks, roofing tiles and terracotta pots, still to be seen at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and South Africa House in London.

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Sam Basch
Sam Basch

Place of peace

The village of Irene south of Pretoria is where an aircraft mysteriously crashed on a farm in September 1922. Once owned by a flamboyant entrepreneur who named his farming estate after a daughter, Irene – meaning peace – it was home to the respected statesman Jan Smuts, a man of high intelligence but seemingly also one of immense contradictions.

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Sam Basch
Sam Basch

Scissors in the attic

What can one learn from a family heirloom that has been passed down the generations? Quite a lot, actually – even though this artefact is an old pair of scissors. A cryptic label written by Grandma in 1961 was the first piece of evidence on the genealogical path. The faint manufacturer’s stamp opened a further avenue leading to a small Yorkshire enterprise in Sheffield. This established the age of my heirloom: 150 years – give or take some.

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