What We Learned About The Area Where There Was Mine Violence When We Visited South Africa

We were saddened to hear that at least 30 people died at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa this week.  When we were in South Africa (road signs, Braai, Fences in South Africa, Bongwe, Kliptown, Planes Trains and Automobiles to South Africa, Pilanesburg, We Saw Lions, Grateful) we went by that mine.  It is enormous and it was the only man-made thing of any real size for over an hour.

Driving near the mine, we were struck by the area’s poverty and lack of infrastructure.  Our guide explained to us that locals have not really profited from the mine’s success and the high price of platinum over the previous decade.  Local communities still face a lack of employment and agricultural collapse.  Sewage backs up and spills into rivers, there are squatter camps, and the locals have a myriad of health problems.  The large well lit and fortified mine, stood in stark contrast to the poverty of the surrounding area.

 

Although I couldn’t find any pictures I took of the mine itself, these were taken in the surrounding area.  For some beautiful pictures of the nearby National Park, check out our photos of Pilanesburg.

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Braai

While in South Africa (at Bongwe), we attended a few Braai (barbecues).  They are a South African institution with its own etiquette that stretches across ethnic and class lines.  Since Christmas is in their summer, their traditional Christmas dinner is a Braai!  They are also have them regularly as get-togethers, weekend dinners, the preferred means of celebrating South African Heritage DayBraai Day and for visitors like us.
You can use almost any kind of meat.  Locals do it as a sort of potluck with BYOM (bring your own meat).  The meats are a bit more exotic than you find at a typical US barbecue. Common ones include: lamb, steak, chicken, ostrich, gemsbock, springbock and ducks!
This twist, using Coca-Cola, on Beer Can Chicken may look familiar to many Americans.  Other popular Braai dishes include:
  • Droewars, a dried sausage eaten on the Great Trek
  • Potbrod, bread baked over coals. It’s kind of like a biscuit, but less sweet and toasted.  It’s delicious.

  • Melktert, a milk based dessert, not too different from cheesecake

Bongwe – The Coolest Farm In The World

We were invited to Bongwe (which means baboon), the farm of Animal Lover and The Hostess With The Mostess.  From the balconies, we could hear but not see the baboons.
Animal Lover and The Hostess With The Mostess could not have been better hosts.
They did everything they could to acquaint us with the local culture.  Animal Lover even brought out the Vuvuzela.
They drove us around their land to see animals (with babies since it was early summer), taught us about South Africa, had a braai (barbecue), took us on a great little hike, took us to the top of a mountain to watch the sunset, to an amazing place for a lovely brunch and on a local shopping trip.
 
The even thought to show us local sights that wouldn’t appear in guidebooks, but they knew we would find interesting.  Above, you can see impala carcases dragged into a tree by a leopard.  The leopard didn’t have time to eat it before a wildfire swept through.
From zebra, to meerkats to a mama warthog with her babies, to wildebeests and giraffes, we appreciated their efforts to show us the amazing wildlife.
They have giraffes roaming their property!  We fell in love with the giraffes.  They were so curious that they actually came to check us out.
We learned that elephants remember when one of their companions is killed by a  landmine.  Their memory results in avoiding the area.  This changed migration patterns in some areas of Africa!
Impalas are also known as wildlife’s McDonald’s because of the frequency and ease with which they are eaten.  Plus, they have arches (shaped like the golden arches of the McDonald’s M) on their keisters.
They are truly wonderful people.  Our time with them was the highlight our trip and we can’t thank them enough.