Full moon view from Kgale and church people praying on the hilltop at night

Yesterday evening I climbed Kgale Hill on a mission to photograph the supposed ‘blood moon’ (lunar eclipse) over Gaborone city. I reached Kgale summit (1,287m) at 6:42pm after a short solo hike and just after the moonrise which was 6:20pm.

I nearly caught the twilight.

I nearly caught the twilight.

I didn’t waste time, amid heavy breaths I set up my camera and immediately began photographing. I had a tripod, remote, my utility EFS 15-85mm lens and the EF 75-300mm, which I rarely use (all cheap lenses if you ask, but you have to shoot with what you have). I shot five useable pictures in 30min and packed before I climbed down. The moon was not red.

Gaborone city and part of Gaborone Dam at night under the full moon

Gaborone city and part of Gaborone Dam at night under the full moon

While standing on the hill top there were bright red lights blinking all around the city. I noticed that these were malfunctioning traffic lights. Even though they create traffic nightmare, I have to say, they look rather beautiful from Kgale at night – it’s like a deliberate decoration. From Tlokweng to Phase 2 area.

Selfie on the Hill top

Selfie on the Hill top

Despite the moon light, it was dark on the Hill tracks mostly used by fitness fanatics. It was a bit scary so I didn’t put the tripod in bag as I descended. I held it with both hands as if I was holding a big gun. Man, it felt like a real gun. I actually felt fearless with it in my hands.

At the foothill I heard church people, first praying then singing and later splashing of water. I stopped, turned off my headlamp and listened to their prayers. They were really loud. The chief pastor or the one who was leading the prayer sounded like he has come to confer his few followers with powers to heal and perform miracles. He begged God to improve their repute and social status, to be respected and revered people and become successful servants of God.

You have to believe in something...

You have to believe in something…

As I went further down I saw them. I actually saw their candles illuminating in the thick tree shrubs on the hill. I could hardly see the people. I loved their singing so I paused again, to listen to their song, but it was cut short by the leader and prayers restarted. This time everyone prayed. I had a chance to count the candles. Five. But there was some light from the Quarry site which could be explored for a picture. So I moved closer to where I was parked, for safety. I know these religious people can be dangerous sometime. They can stop in the middle of a deep prayer and beat a photographer just for taking a picture. So I stood next to the get-away car, then attached my 75-300mm lens and set up the tripod and took a picture.

Kgalagadi in full bloom

Kgalagadi in full bloom

Kgalagadi in full bloom

These flowers reminds me of Palapye. Their scent always brings back childhood memories when we travelled with family on the Jack D Wright bus from Serowe to Palapye. Yesterday I was travelling on the Trans Kalahari Highway and I just had to stop to photograph and feel these flowers near Kang village in the Kgalagadi District.

Mzungu chic, Guitarman, Photographer and a smoke

We were sitting under the balcony of a bar in Gabs. Drinking. Talking to this guitarman… damn I forgot this guy’s name. He was playing his guitar, smoking and drinking. I was listening and photographing. Then came this mzungu chic. Almost falling on the guitarman. She first wanted to borrow a light. She got the light. Lit her cigarette right there. One hard long puff and blew a smoke. Then she borrowed the guitar. I think she demanded for it. This guy just stopped playing and passed the guitar to this mzungu chic. Well, I don’t know of any blackman who can resist a tipsy white girl? She pulled another long puff from her cigarette and started playing. I don’t remember what she was playing. There was smoke in the air. Oh, maybe she was playing ‘Smoke in the air’.

Still Grazing at 75yrs, Happy Birthday Bra Hugh

Man, after reading Hugh Masekela’s book Still Grazing you would know that this old man has really lived. Many lives. Wives. Music. Awards. Drugs. Rehabs. Music. Every time I watch him on stage, oozing intense passion, exuberance and sometimes arrogance, I just wish our maker made us all that resilient.

Happy birthday Bra Hugh.

Freedom on the slave route

 

At Ujiji, Tanzania, this path between huge mango trees lining both sides marks the beginning of a long slave trade route from the shores of Lake Tanganyika to Bagamoyo on the coast. In the 18th century it was business as usual, when most African slaves were captured around this place and transported to the coast then shipped to the spice island of Zanzibar. Many were then resold on open market to the Arab countries, Persia, and India, Mauritania and Reunion.

I was here in January and I imagined them slaves shackled in heavy iron chains, beaten, tired, hungry, being made to walk to their shop, where they would be sold to the highest bidder.

So I did a Boitumelo Jump just to make sure I’m free.

Pharrell Williams – Happy, from African cities [videos]

Africa has caught a happy bug, number of cities are making their own version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy

Cape Town – South Africa

Cotonou – Benin

Kinshasa – Congo

Dakar – Senegal

Abidjan - Côte d’Ivoire

Cairo – Egypt

Ouagadougou – Burkina Faso

Douala – Cameroon

Algiers – Algeria

Niamey – Niger

Libreville – Gabon

Pharrell Williams – Happy (Official Music Video)

Why I’m not going back to Swaziland

Wait, this is not one of those Swaziland cultural boycott petitions. It is more personal than that. I have been getting many invitations from my friends to travel back to Swaziland. And all along I have been finding excuses as to why I won’t go. So I felt I should just be bare with you and take you back to 2010 end of August, my last visit to the small Kingdom.

Young virgins delivering the reeds to the King's mother's yard

Young virgins at the 2010 Umhlanga Reed Dance in Swaziland

I travelled to cover the Umhlanga Reed Dance. There were over 60,000 half naked bare breasted girls – eer… virgins, they are supposed to be. The local newspapers put the number at a whopping 80,000! It is a beautiful cultural spectacle where virgins from across Swaziland and neighbouring countries come to fetch reeds for the King’s mother’s yard. I have never seen so many breasts! All shapes, sizes and forms! And since it was not a single day event, I had to repeat that nudity scene for three days. On the third day something unique changed in me. First let me confess, I revere women breast. I love them. Well, if I could say another sentence about them you would probably label me a pervert. But, I don’t really care. And I like to remain that way. But I am not going to let you call me that either.

Some were from neighbouring countries such as South Africa

Some were from neighbouring countries such as South Africa

So amazingly on that third day while photographing these virgins I just felt indifferent. The boyish excitement of Day-1 was lost. Zero. No feelings. No goose bumps. Nothing. It was like watching porn and not feeling anything. Strange, huh? That was abnormal. I don’t want to be like that. I did not like my sudden adaptation of being in these beeves of half naked girls and not really being excited about it. I should notice when a woman’s breasts are out. That’s a man’s nature. Breasts are not a stomach, neck, shoulders or knees. They are breasts.

ReedDance2

ReedDance3

ReedDance11

One of my Facebook friends reported this picture to Facebook and it was pulled out.

I grew up in a community that covers women’s breasts. And I was force fed English culture that regard breasts as obscene nudity. Facebook still pulls out tits images. Ask FEMEN, their images survive because they are airbrushed around the tits area. So I have always held a view that showing breasts is obscene nudity.  The other thing is that I am a man and I see breasts as one of the most sensual part of a woman. So I must therefore react in one way or the other when I see breasts. That is why I got really worried at that moment in Ludzidzini Royal Kraal when I caught myself numb while among 60 000 half naked virgins. I hated that feeling and vowed to never come back.

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I found some dances really weird.

The girls who come from across the country had no proper bathrooms and they resorted to bathing in the rivers near the luxurious King's residence

The girls who come from across the countryside had no proper bathrooms and they resorted to bathing in the rivers near the luxurious King’s residence

Then there were other contributing side factors like the luxurious lifestyle of the royal family while his countrymen are reeling in poverty. The King’s high life, 12 wives, many children, and very beautiful daughters I must add. Maybe I am jealous of the King. Maybe I never recovered from the culture shock. That’s why I am not going back to Swaziland. I didn’t say ‘never’.

These are King's daughters who come wearing expensive cologne and guarded. The guards ordered us not shoot below their waist. We were not allowed to lower our cameras down.

These are King’s daughters who come wearing expensive cologne and guarded. The guards ordered us not shoot below their waist. We were not allowed to lower our cameras down.

Then there was this girl who stalked. I have many of her pics but amazingly i did not photograph her breasts. I only realised later that somehow i was cropping out her breasts

Then there was this girl who I stalked. I have many of her pics but amazingly i did not photograph her breasts. I only realised later that somehow i was cropping out her breasts

At some point our eyes met and all the girls with their bare chests vanished, it was just me and her among over 80 000 people

At some point our eyes met and all the girls with their bare chests vanished, it was just me and her among over 80 000 people

Thats me in the center with some of the royal virgins at the end of the event. At this point they seemed to me as normal and clothed.

That’s me in the center with some of the royal virgins at the end of the event. At this point they seemed to me as normal and clothed, and thats why I’m not going back to Swaziland.