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Life in a township

Xhanti would save a morsel of bread for his bold visitor. The little bird who perched faithfully between the bars of his cell.

During his solitary confinement in the Armed Struggle.

Now Xhanti is as free as a…

And spending his weekends chasing birdlies on a golf course.

And his days showing tourists around the sprawling township of New Brighton on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth.

Us, a party of Irish (and one Scot) travel writers with the South African tourist board.

http://www.southafrica.net and http://www.southafrica.net/meetyoursouthafrica

He invites us to join him in South Africa’s national pastime.

No not rugby, nor cricket, the traditional African sport.

Although one local is proudly donning a Springboks top, or soccer, the blacks’ sport.

No, everything stops for food in South Africa, and more specifically a braai (barbecue).

On game reserves, in parks, in back yards, on beaches and in KK’s ‘butchery’ or bar.

We are laden down with meats, mutton, beef, chicken and corn on the cob…. the salad is just dressing.

Which can only be truly savoured with a Castle beer… or three.

Everywhere we go in the township and the ramshackle Red Location, its oldest and poorest port we are met with kindness.

It has been a long road to freedom for Xhanti and his fellow Freedom Fighters.

Outhouses

But looking around the dirt poor corrugated roofed sheds they look no better than outhouses.

But they house whole families and you sense that there is a long way still to go.

The billboards remind us that a general election is around the corner next month.

And the country is looking to President Cyril Ramaphos to continue to try to heal the wounds left by Jacob Zuma..

What would Mandela think?

Everyone visits for a photograph with him.

And we are still following.

As an adjunct to this article the Port Elizabeth township’s most famous son Siya Kolisi lifted the Rugby World Cup six months after my visit... https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/11/02/siya-kolisi-the-boy-from-the-township/

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My faces of the year… South Africa

My teachers would always tell me not to talk back but I always did.

Just like recently when The Scary One reminded me that I’d been away 10 times this year…

I reminded her that it was actually 11 if you count my trip up to Northern Ireland for the Open Golf Championship.

Which I definitely do.

Ian mighty: Boers and beasts

For all the trips I’ve had it has been an exceptional year after I struck out on my own after 30 years as a wage slave.

And while every one of the destinations boasted a beautiful vista or historical site or activity they all shared one thing in common.

Unforgettable people… and animals!

Sahara Port Elizabeth’s Raggy Charters doggie

Because it really is faces, not places, that make a holiday for me.

So if you want sunsets and sand, pools and paella then I’d suggest another site.

Or gated community (or asylum)!

So where do I start? Lost (again) in a national park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa… http://www.southafrica.net and http://www.southafrica.net/meetyoursouthafrica.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/homemyoffice/whats-new-pussycat/

Leopard print

With local guide Alan who knows the land like the back of his hand.

Only it can’t be this land as we discovered going around in circles and only arriving back in our Port Elizabeth hotel at midnight.

After the bar had closed… never a good look for an Irish party!

Ian had more of a handle on things when he took us out on safari.

And helped us track down a leopard!

Township pals: With Xhanti

And all the time the ever-patient and always T-shirted Siseko kept us on track all across the Eastern Cape.

Our English host Rachel added smiles and youth to an old man’s photographs.

Rhino. Howiya?

And Xhanti put on a braai (or barbecue) for us in the biggest township in South Africa… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/day-in-the-life-of-a-township/

While telling us stories from the armed conflict when he used to hide under the bed from the authorities.

When he wasn’t locked up in a prison cell.

Where the guards would give prisoners a Bible for redemption.

Only the Good Book is replete with stories of how the oppressed will rise up.

Good planning there!

Our South Africa: Host Rachel, Bandanaman and Jimmy

Of course there’s always one on every trip.

And as my good friend and doyen of the Travel circuit Eoghan Corry says: ‘if you don’t know who that is: it’s probably you.’

You see I wasn’t being woke enough for my thirtysomething Itish colleague about something or other.

Braii time: We’re all pals

Hey ho, it wouldn’t be the last person I’d fall out with over the year.

Still we made up by the end of the evening and back in Dublin we met at a function and it was air kisses all round.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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South Africa’s prize boy from the township

Iain Buchanan was uncharacteristically unSouth African when I asked him in February if the Springboks would win the Rugby World Cup.

No, man!

Well, Iain and the gang will be breaking out the Cape white wine.

With ice, like they do in South Africa, today in the Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve https://newmarkhotels.com/places/reserves/mount-camdeboo/.

The All Boks

Iain was more definite and enthused when asked about what Nelson Mandela had done for South Africa… What’s new pussycat?

‘A great man, a great man.’

You can’t separate the Rainbow Nation and the modern Springboks story. Nor should you.

And I somehow think that Mandela will be smiling broadly up there today for Siya Kolisi.

Braai high: In the Port Elizabeth township

The boy from the Port Elizabeth township.

Which I visited on that same trip to PE and the Eastern Cape… Day in the life of a township and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/.

And had a braai (a South African barbecue) in the type of shebeen Kolisi referenced in his victory speech.

We’re all Springboks here. In the township

Where I met a resistance fighter, Xhanti, who now spends his weekends on a golf course until recently a whites preserve.

A resistance fighter and a fine golfer, Xhanti

Growing up and watching from afar you couldn’t support South African sportsmen because of apartheid.

Now it’s hard not to.

And today as Kolisi testified they will be celebrating as much in the townships as on the farms.

MEET YOU AT THE BRAAI

And some important websites: www.southafrica.net/meetyoursouthafrica.

And www.southafrica.net.

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Here’s to beer

It’s beer o’clock… who am I kidding? Any hour of the day is beer time on this International Beer Day.

And that’s why I’m saying… here’s to the Brewery and Two Goats Deli in Nieu Bethesda, Dulf’s Burger in Hamburg, Tom’s Bierhaus in Ieper in Belgium.

And where ever your local boozer is.

But firstly would you let me take you to a dusty Karoo town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa?

Because it was there that I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the baking sun, drinking samples of stouts and ciders.

And before falling asleep on the swing bed.

That said, they are good memories that I hark back to on this International Beer Day.

Bok to the beer

This is where I sampled South Africa out of a glass… or five.

For more visit http://www.karooconnections.o.za/tours/nieu. And check out my review of the Eastern Cape… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/

And here’s a couple of other pics of me drinking beer…

Burger and beer

In Germany, obviously, with a local Astra Pilsener lager and a hamburger. It must be Hamburg. Let’s relive it… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/

Belgian beer

And a large one with Simon in Tom’s Bar in Ieper in Belgium.

It was a poignant trip finding my Great Uncles who fell in the War.

But this was downtime… and I bet Willie and Patrick drunk the beer too. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/firstworldwar-in-flanders-fields/

The Virginian

Virginia in the US: And this is a blonde I picked up in Bristol. A beer that is. visit http://www.virginia.org.

So why don’t you join me on my day out in Virginia which was billed as Beer and Battlefields and took me back in time to the days of Stonewall Jackson. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/easy-dc-2/

We’ll leave it at that for just now… I’m thirsty.

Dear Jesse

Apart from to say, a big thank you to Californian Jesse Avshalomov for giving us the excuse.

Because it was Jesse who founded the thing in 2007 in Santa Cruz, Southern California.

And since its inception it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon (which I’m catching onto now) spanning 207 cities, 80 countries and six continents.

Prost!