About suemtravels

Thank you for visiting my travel blog. I created it to sustain memories and share my adventures as a solo traveler. Traveling satisfies my curiosity about foreign countries and cultures. Exploring the streets of Saigon and Istanbul, watching tango dancers in Buenos Aires, hiking Cape Town's Table Mountain and Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, getting lost in New Zealand's wilderness, gorilla trekking in Uganda, watching Berlin's Festival of Lights, whale watching in South Africa's Walker Bay, or viewing wild animals during an African game drive - I share these and other experiences in my travel blog! When on the road, I post often - not so much between trips. If you like the stories, follow me for regular updates.

Sea Kayaking Walker Bay South Africa

Walker Bay Adventures Guide Riaan – Launching and Landing Area

A special joy of South Africa is its extraordinary coastline. Experiencing it from a kayak is the best, but winter swells are often prohibitive. For about a week Walker Bay wasn’t safe for kayakers. This morning there was minimal swell and conditions were clear, crisp, and calm, so I joined a sea kayaking adventure.

Walker Bay – Xplorio

Our group of four explored the Hermanus coast and went a short distance out to sea. The day trip was uneventful in terms of whale sightings but a rich experience basking in the natural beauty of the area. During the peaceful outing we saw interesting plankton, entertaining Cape Fur Seals, Cormorants, Oystercatchers, and other marine life against a backdrop of misty Overberg Mountains and surf splashing on sea cliffs.

Located in Hermanus Old Harbour, Walker Bay Adventures is an ecologically friendly company. They leave little impact on the environment and participate in conservation, including litter cleanup in the Bay.

Walter Bay Adventures Kayak Launch Area

We used double sit-on-top self-bailing sea kayaks. They’re easy to maneuver for any level of kayaking experience and work well in Walker Bay. Your feet and legs get wet when launching and landing, but the experience is so pleasant it’s inconsequential. The small group included a couple visiting from Germany on their way up the Garden Route, and I shared a kayak with our happy, well-qualified guide, Riaan.

Walker Bay Adventures

Area Map – winesofelgin.co.za

The adventure was thoroughly enjoyable!

Whale Watching Walker Bay South Africa

Humpback Whale – Rhino Africa Christopher Michael

Humpback Whales, Bryde’s Whales, and Southern Right Whales – we saw them all during a three-hour whale watching adventure yesterday! It’s early for whale season (June to December) on the Cape Whale Coast, so I was hopeful but not overly optimistic. Previously cancelled due to sea swells, The Southern Right Charters trip resulted in a surprise jackpot – multiple, breathtaking whale sightings!!

After an on-land briefing, about seventy-five passengers boarded catamaran Miroshca. We departed Hermanus New Harbor at 3 pm for a sunset tour. Miroshca had been out on Walker Bay several times that day, and returning passengers were ecstatic after seeing three whale species that frequent Walker Bay!

Fishing Boat New Harbor Hermanus

Safety and Conservation

Environmentally sensitive Southern Right Charters promotes the conservation and safety of whales and marine life. They operate under the ethos of “Observing NOT Disturbing”. Whale watching boats aren’t permitted to approach whales closer than 160 feet, but the “naturally curious creatures” often come near the boat. When they do, it’s absolute magic!

Whale Watching Boat Miroshca – Southern Right Charters

Guides, Videographer, Drone

Well-trained guides and whale specialists helped via a PA system. They spotted and identified whales and provided commentary interpreting the behavior of marine life encountered. There was considerable swell in the Bay, but nothing that Miroshca couldn’t handle – not so sure about the passengers. It’s difficult holding on, watching whales, and taking photos all at the same time.

Hermanus Whale Watching – Southern Right Charters

A videographer captured the best footage from our trip. I tried watching and taking photos from several vantage points and preferred the upper deck. My photos are disappointing, but I got a distant shot of a Southern Right breaching and one or two other photos were moderately decent.

Southern Right Whale – Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

The guides used a drone to spot nearby whales from above. Videographer footage combined with drone photos were converted to a souvenir USB. The USB also has excerpts from two documentaries – Hermanus and Surrounds and The Whale Season.

Seabirds and Seals

We saw nimble Cormorants, deep-diving Gannets, graceful, acrobatic Sooty Shearwaters, and playful Cape Fur Seals. Fur Seals are endemic to Southern Africa. Hundreds were in the colony that followed our boat. Expressive creatures, their loud racket left no doubt they were present!

Cape Gannet Courtship – Bruce Robinson

Cormorants are avid fishers. They live along the coast and spend much of their time at sea. They breed in large numbers on nearby Dyer Island. Dyer Island Conservation Trust provides “unique conservation and research programmes in the local marine ecosystem”. I hope to visit the island while in the area.

Cape Fur Seals

We approached a mass of Cormorants huddled together floating on the seawater. From a distance, they looked like a bunch of seaweed. As the boat got closer, they suddenly took off in mass flight!

Humpback, Bryde’s, Southern Right

Humpback Mother and Calf

The first whale we saw was a Humpback with her young calf – the guide estimated it at three to five days old. It was tiny and seemed to be playing with its mother. The baby flipped over and the mother breached, but I wasn’t quick enough to get photos. Our guide said it’s unusual to see a Humpback calf in Walker Bay this early in winter. The calf’s color was white – this can occur at birth but changes to black within months.

Southern Right Breach

Cape Cormorant – BirdGuides

Humpbacks pass through Walker Bay on their way north. They migrate to warmer water near the equator to mate and have their calves. Male Humpbacks are known for their “complex songs, sometimes lasting 10 to 20 minutes and repeated for hours”.

Sooty Shearwater – HBW Alive

Bryde’s Whale – hermanusonline.mobi


Next, we encountered several playful Bryde’s whales – pronounced “brutus”. Intelligent creatures, they knew the boat wasn’t “of the sea” but were curious and played cat and mouse with Miroshca. They came close to the sides and front of the boat, disappeared, and returned again later. Sometimes viewing is better from the lower deck. It was hard to see them from my perch on top.

Cape Fur Seal – Indigo Scuba

Bryde’s whales live in Walker Bay year-round. They’re smaller than Humpbacks and Southern Rights and named after John Bryde, a Norwegian whaler who was consul to South Africa. During the whaling era, Byrde set up whaling ports “to capture whales and sell their baleen, oilblubber, and other parts for money”. In 1912, he financed the first scientific investigation of whales in South African waters.

Southern Rights with Calf

We encountered Southern Rights near the end of the trip. They were playing in the surf close to shore. There were several of them and a calf. One suddenly breached, and it was absolutely stunning!!!

Cape Cormorants – Dyer Island Cruises

Of all the whales, Southern Rights were the friendliest. They’re distinguished by the callosities (calluses) on their head. They came close to the boat as if they wanted to play. One rolled over on its back.

Southern Right Callosities – Southern Right Charters

One explanation for their name is “whalers identifying them as the ‘right’ whale to kill on a hunt due to their plentiful oil and baleen”. During summer, Right Whales feed offshore near Antarctica. In winter, they return to nearshore waters like Walker Bay.

Marine Safaris – WTM Africa

Beloved Southern Rights choose Walker Bay as a favorite spot for mating and calving. They don’t feed during winter. Females produce a “single offspring every three to four years”. The average gestation period from conception to birth is about twelve months. After mating, females return in a year to give birth to their calves.

Southern Right Charters – Tripadvisor

The mother nurses her baby, and is the calf’s sole source of food, training, play, and protection. When born, calves are about 16 feet long and weigh around 2000 lbs. They can grow an inch in length and 130 lbs. in weight per day – “making them double in length and increase five times in weight in a year”! Whale milk is extremely high in fat content, and calves can suckle 160 gallons of milk per day.

Southern Right Whale and Calf – newshub.co.nz

Southern Right calves need from three to six months to get strong enough for the swim back to Antarctica. They stay with their mother for about twelve months, sometimes longer. They’re considered “mature” after 10 years. The average lifespan of Southern Right whales is 100 years!

Hermanus New Harbor

Guide / Whale Specialist

Sea Swell and Seasickness

At sunset we headed back to New Harbor in a heavy swell. During the ride, about half the passengers on board got seasick. Fortunately, I didn’t. It was amazing to see the whales and other marine life so close – beautiful and hard to describe… The swell was way too heavy for kayaks, but I’m scheduled for a kayak trip next week and hoping it’s a go then! Today the wind is ferocious!

On Board Miroshca

Ziplining Grabouw Elgin Valley, South Africa

Elgin Valley Vista

For years I’ve wanted to experience ziplining. Saturday was the day, and it didn’t disappoint! The adventure was rich with adrenaline rushes, indescribably beautiful South African landscapes, and good company.

Heading Out

I discovered Cape Canopy Tours with the help of a Hermanus kayak company – Walker Bay Adventures. After four attempts at joining a Cape Town kayak group and as many cancellations due to wind and swell in Table Bay, I gave it up. It can be clear on land but wind, tides, and waves put the kibosh on kayaking. Weather permitting, I’m scheduled for a Walker Bay sea kayak trip later this week.

Walker Bay Nature Reserve – Open Africa

It’s early for whale season but there are interesting birds, fish, and animals in and around Walker Bay – sun- and sugarbirds, cormorants, pelicans, herons, penguins, otters, dolphins, seals, sharks, and a local fish – galjoen, kabeljou, and steenbras.

Rocky Fynbos Hillside

Elgin Valley

Elgin Valley canopy tours take place near Grabouw in the spectacular Hottentots Holland Mountains. A South African World Heritage Site, it’s a “pristine, previously inaccessible” wilderness area about forty-five minutes from Hermanus. The endemic floral diversity is spectacular. Mammals include klipspringer (Oreotragus), baboon, leopard, and grey rhebok. Shy nocturnal animals, Cape leopards are rarely seen.

Backroad to Zipline Platforms

Cape Canopy Tours

Cape Canopy Tours is noted for its safety and high-quality zipline structures and equipment. We began the day with a safety briefing. Our guides explained how the ziplines work and what to expect. I quickly learned that the safety briefing wasn’t preparation for a stunning aerial perspective of the Cape Overberg!

Hottentots Holland Mountains

There were six fun people in my group – a couple from Ireland and a family of four from the UK – father, two daughters, and young son. I was the only first-timer, as everyone else had experienced ziplining before.

After the briefing, we were fitted into harnesses, helmets, gloves, and jackets. Our adventure began with a 30-minute ride over rough backroads in an open 4×4 safari vehicle. The views were amazing as we drove over bumps, potholes, and puddles from an overnight rain. Clouds framed the mountain range and created interesting shapes, shadows, and colors. The truck dropped us off and we hiked a short distance to the first of eleven zipline platforms!

Waterfall Ravine

Eleven Ziplines

There were over 8,000 feet of ziplines – the longest was 1,100 ft. Each zip point had a small plaque describing the length of the slide and the nature and geology visible in the surrounding wilderness area. There were abundant rivers, waterfalls, rocky ravines, and fertile valleys. Near the end, we passed over an 82 ft. suspension bridge situated above a double waterfall.

Cape Canopy Ziplining – Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust

The zipline process begins when you step onto a wooden platform where a guide connects you to the zipline cable. You wear heavy leather gloves; one has a reinforced palm for the hand that rests lightly over the cable behind the pulley – the right for right-handed people. Tightening your hand over the cable slows you down, but the guides told us not to do that without their signal.

Cape Leopard – TimesLIVE

The other hand goes around harness lines under the cable. As you lean into the harness and pull knees to chest – the guide releases the cable, and off you go!!

Walker Bay in Distance

Wind and Speed

Our wild card was the wind. It was substantial! At the first zip platform, we were given the option to reschedule, but everyone wanted to continue. It took me several zips to relax and get into the free, magic feeling of flying through the air on a zipline! Of course, the longer the slide, the faster you go. The guide waiting at the next platform puts on the brake to slow you down for landing. The most difficult part (for me) was trusting in the brake. Without it, you would slam violently into the mountain on the other side!

Hike to the First Zip

The speed you travel depends on the length of the zipline, your weight, and the wind. The guide waiting takes all things into consideration in deciding when to pull the brake. Our guide was skillful and my landings were soft and painless.

Fynbos Hillside

In heavy wind during the second or third slide, I missed a signal to tighten my hold on the cable and slow down. I’m still not sure what happened, but suddenly the cable stopped and I was hanging in the middle of the slide looking down at the valley below –yikes. The guide zipped out to meet me and ferried us both back to the other side. Scary as that sounds, it really wasn’t – maybe more so for the guide. Focusing on signals is challenging when you’re moving fast.

Tiny Bird Sculpture Last Zip Platform


Ziplining time passed quickly and at the end, it seemed like a dream. The hike to the vehicle pickup point brought us back to reality. It was an unforgettable experience that I hope to repeat! My zipline video is attached – minus the screams

Elgin Panorama – Visit Winelands

I’ve booked a four-day, three-night slackpacking hike in July on the Blue Mountain Trail. The trail is 31 miles long and “winds through wilderness, forests, fruit and wine farms, and lush fynbos fields”.

Elgin Basin Vineyard – Wade Bales Wine Society

The trail covers some of the same terrain we zipped over in Bot River and the Elgin Valley as well as areas of Kleinmond, Paardeberg, Kogelberg, and Palmiet. All are part of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. I’m hiking most days in preparation, as it will be a tough three-day hike for me.

Hottentots Holland Landdroskop Road – CapeNature

Mandla Mlangeni – Oratorio Of A Forgotten Youth at Artscape Cape Town

Last week I attended an Artscape performance that was unexpected. The musical “Reflection of A Forgotten Youth” focusing on South African youth in 1976 was nothing like I imagined.

Mandla Mlangeni Trumpeter – news.uct.ac.za


“April 16, 2019 is the 43rd anniversary of the “historic June 16, 1976 uprisings that changed the course of South African history.”


Mandla Mbothwe Writer, Director, Teacher, Curator, Artist, Lecturer – UCT

South Africa Youth Day

June 16, 1976 “marked the beginning of the Soweto Uprising, a series of protests that escalated quickly around the country, especially in Cape Town”. South Africa celebrates Youth Day every 16 June. It’s a day the country “reflects on the massacre of school children during the Soweto Uprising of 1976“.

Artscape Creative Director Mandla Mbothwe inspired the production “invoking the spirit of forgotten youth”. Trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni performs with the Gugulethu Voices Choir, Cape Town Philharmonic, Amandla Freedom Ensemble, and poet Koleka Putuma. Mlangeni is Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2019 and the Center for Humanities Research (CHR) Artist in Residence.

Afrika Mkhize Pianist, Music Producer, Arranger, Composer, Artist – artSMart

Jazz, Classical, and Indigenous Music

The musical performance combined jazz, classical, and indigenous music performed by a cast of accomplished artists including Ariel Zamonsky, Afrika Mkhize, Lesego Rampolokeng, Mark Fransman, Thembi Mtshali-Jones, and more.

Lesego Rampoloken Writer, Playwright, Poet – Wikipedia

Amandla Freedom Ensemble with Mandla Mbothwe and Cape Town Philharmonic – amandlafreedom.com


“Oratorio Of A Forgotten Youth harnesses choral traditions that define struggles against apartheid with contemporary musical forms.” 


Cape Town Philharmonic CEO Louis Heyneman – YouTube

According to Cape Town Philharmonic CEO Louis Heyneman, the collaboration “debunks the myth that classically trained musicians are stuck in a formal mold and not adaptable to other genres”. He adds, “We are an orchestra for all seasons, and bringing seemingly opposing musical forms together is part of who we are”.

It was a memorable evening and a fitting, heartfelt remembrance.

Gugulethu Voices Choir – News24

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art Cape Town

Zeitz Museum – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

During this travel adventure I’ve explored museums and galleries in different European countries, but South Africa’s Zeitz Museum always remained near the top of my list. I missed it in the past and made a point of popping in last week. The first and third floors are closed for renovation and will reopen in August. I still saw plenty of incredible art and discovered interesting artists!

MOCAA at Dusk – Heatherwick Studio Photo Iwan Baan


Completed in 2017, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) is a masterful creation by British architect Thomas Heatherwick. He converted a “century-old grain silo and historical landmark at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront into a world-class art gallery”! The privately-funded Zeitz is not only the largest art museum in Africa but also the largest exhibition in the world “showcasing the art of Africa and its diaspora”.

Thomas Heatherwick Architect – MoneyWeek.com


“British architect Thomas Heatherwick was inspired to create an art institution on a continent as big as the whole of Europe and North America combined.”


Jochen Zeitz Collector of African Contemporary Art – Deutschland.de

The goal was creating a space for bringing together works by African artists and “invigorating interest in African contemporary art”. MOCAA does the opposite of what the old grain silo did.

Koyo Kouoh MOCAA Director and Chief Curator – Zeitz MOCAA

“At the same time the V&A Waterfront was wondering how to develop its iconic grain silo, African contemporary art collector and German businessman, Jochen Zeitz, was looking for a museum to house his extensive collection.”

Zeitz Museum Atrium from Tunnel – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

Purpose and Design

The Zeitz Museum is dedicated to “researching, collecting, and exhibiting art from the African continent and beyond”. The exhibition space covers almost 65,000 sq. ft. on nine floors, with 100 gallery spaces.

Zeitz Museum Atrium Vault – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan


During the old days, “grain was exported outwards from the silo. The MOCAA creates a place where African art can return and from where it will not leak away.”


Zeitz Museum Interstitial Space – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

The interior is carved out in the shape of an enlarged grain of corn resulting in a “series of curved concrete lines with light pouring through the cylindrical silos!” The design provides a vivid “cross-section view of the inner workings of the old industrial structure”.

Zeitz Museum Atrium – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan


Executive Director, Chief Curator, Koyo Kouoh, has 20 years’ of international experience. A native of Dakar Senegal, she’s developed art programs and curated contemporary African art in London and New York.

MOCAA Stairway


I’m in awe of the many extraordinarily talented, award-winning artists featured at the MOCAA. It’s slightly intimidating, and I’m still educating myself about African artists like Frances Goodman, Kendell Geers, William Kentridge, and Nicholas Hlobo. The works of a few favorites are detailed in this post:

  • El Anatsui – Ghana
  • Sory Sanlé – Burkina Faso
  • Sue Williamson – UK and South Africa
  • Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum – Botswana
  • Mary Sibande – South Africa
  • Joana Choumali – Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire
  • Neo Matloga – South Africa

El Anatsui – Art Basel

El Anatsui

El Anatsui was born in Ghana and lived in Nigeria. His career spams forty years as both sculptor and Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria.

El Anatsui When I Last Wrote to You About Africa

He’s known for repurposing alcohol bottle caps into large-scale hanging installations. El Anatsui creates art weaves from an accumulation of discarded production, trade, and consumption materials associated with colonial expansion in Africa.

El Anatsui Testimonial Aluminum and Copper Wire Brooklyn Museum – artefuse.com


El Anatsui “breaks from the traditional cast of sculptural practice invoking a multi-layered, sensory re-imagining of our material world”. He’s “accomplished one of the few genuine breakthroughs in contemporary art anywhere in the world today.”


El Anatsui TSIATSIA Searching for Connections – ruthball.weebly.com

His sculptures appear in the British Museum London, Centre Pompidou Paris, de Young San Francisco, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art New York, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Osaka Foundation of Culture, and Tate Modern London.

El Anatsui – Pinterest

El Anatsui has many solo exhibitions and received awards and recognition all over the world. Some of his best-known works include:

Sory Sanlé Burkina Faso

Sory Sanlé

Sory Sanlé is a Burkinabe photographer and owner off Volta Photo Studio. He lives and works in Bobo-Dioulasso Burkina Faso.

Sory Sanlé Burkina Faso

Sanlé’s career began in 1960, the same year Burkina Faso won its independence from France. He’s known for documenting Bobo-Dioulasso’s “fast evolution” and capturing the “frontal collision between modern life and centuries-old traditions from Burkina Faso’s culturally rich rural regions”.

Mrlifeisrich Sory Sanlé – Pinterest

Sanlé portrays Bobo-Dioulasso’s people with “wit, energy, and sheer passion”. His background paintings, be they a modern city, beach walk board, airplane, or antique column, are outstanding.

Sory Sanlé Burkina Faso


“Sory Sanlé’s subjects illustrate the remoteness and melancholy of African cities landlocked deep in the heart of the continent and the natural fusion operating between tradition and modernity.”


Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansWinnie Mandela

Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson was born in England but her family immigrated to South Africa when she was seven. She studied art in New York and in 1983, was awarded a Diploma in Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.

Sue Williamson “Message from the Atlantic Passage” Basel, Switzerland. (Photo The Image Gate)

Williamson is both a journalist and printmaker who works “predominantly in installation, photographic images, and video”. Her work addresses social issues “pertaining to civil activism, citizenry, senses of community, or aspects of contemporary history as told from the perspective of individuals”.

Sue Williamson A Few South Africans – Miriam Makeba


“I think early work in newspapers was formative in my art because of that sort of interest in people’s exact words and precise narratives.” Sue Williamson


Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansLilian Ngoyi

In the 1980s, she created a series of “photo-etchings and screen print portraits that foreground the importance of women in South Africa’s political struggle”. In her work, Williamson emphasizes the “importance of revisiting history as a way of understanding a nation’s present”.

Sue Williamson A Few South Africans – Virginia Mngoma

A Few South Africans (1983-85) is a visual narrative attempt to fill the representational absence of people and events during Apartheid. It gives a tangible, iconic visibility to female leaders and women of courage who were active in the fight against Apartheid – Elizabeth Paul, Maggie Magaba, Winnie Mandela, Lilian Ngoyi, Annie Silinga, Helen Joseph, Nokukhanya Luthuli, Albertina Sisulu, Amina Cachalia, Caroline Motsoaledi, Virginia Mngoma, Charlotte Maxeke, and others.”

Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansAmina Cachalia


“We’re in the process of coming to terms with the past. I think that, before we can move on, we have to reach a point where we can find our way to a solution and say: OK, we’ve confronted our past as intensively as possible.” Sue Williamson


Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansAnnie Silinga

Some of Sue Williamson’s most powerful and best-known works include:

Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansCaroline Motsoaledi

Internationally recognized, Williamson has active art exhibitions in South Africa and around the world. She served as Chairperson of the Visual Arts Group, founding member of the arts organization Public Eye, and founding editor of Artthrob, a website on contemporary art in South Africa.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum All My Seven Faces  – omenkaonline.com

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Born in Botswana, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum grew up in Canada, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Malawi, and South Africa. She attended the Baltimore Institute College of Art and University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her solo exhibitions have appeared in the US, South Africa, and UK.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Sunstrum’s work “features black and brown people posed against contrived, hand-painted landscape backdrops”. Her landscapes “expand on themes of timelessness” where she “reconstructs sites both real and imagined to reveal the small scale of individuals within the vast universe”. Her beautiful, complex work is fascinating!

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s exhibitions include:

Let Me Show You My Ship – Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum


Themes in Sunstrum’s exhibitions explore “mythologies and theories of the creation of the universe” and the “co-reliant relationship between science and mythology”.


Mary Sibande – In the Midst of Chaos There is Opportunity

Mary Sibande

Mary Sibande – sculptor, photographer, and visual artist – is based in Johannesburg. She was educated in Fine Arts at Witwatersrand Technikon and received a Bachelor of Technology from the University of Johannesburg. “Fascinated with fashion and fabric” Sibande focuses on “questions of the body and how to reclaim the black female body in post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa”.

Sibande “draws inspiration from her experiences growing up in South Africa”. Her “focus on the maid is cited as homage to her family, of which four generations of women served as domestic workers”.

Mary Sibande Long Live the Dead Queen – ruxandrabp.wordpress.com

Sibande works through Sophie, an “alter-ego and sculptural figure who traverses the uncanny valleys of liminal space”. Sophie is a symbolic figure speaking for “femininity, blackness, labour, post-coloniality, and communities on the margin as a whole”.

MOCAA Silos – Icon Magazine


“My work is not complaining about Apartheid or an invitation to feel sorry for me because I’m black and my mother was a maid. It’s about celebrating what we are as women in South Africa today. For us to celebrate, we need to go back to see what we are celebrating. To celebrate, I needed to bring this maid.” Mary Sibande


Sibande’s works include:

Mary Sibande Purple Shall Govern – MAC VAL Musée d’Art Contemporai

Sibande has received awards and appeared at expositions and festivals throughout Africa and the world. She is a research fellow at numerous institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, University of Michigan, and Ampersand Foundation. She’s involved with ActionAid South Africa and the Young Urban Women Programme raising funds and introducing art to girls in low-income communities.

Mary Sibande A Crescendo of Ecstasy – timeslive.co.za Alon Skuy

Sibande’s spectacular exhibit at the Zeitz MOCAA – In the Midst of Chaos There is Opportunity – depicts “women in combat, modelled on the artist’s mother, a domestic worker in South Africa, seen amongst blood-red canines and vultures”.

Joana Choumali Alba’hian

Joana Choumali 

Based in Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire, freelance photographer Joana Choumali studied graphic arts in Casablanca and was an art director. Her creations exhibit subtle figures that “highlight the equal humanity of men and women”.

Joana Choumali Alba’hian

Choumali’s style includes conceptual portraiture, mixed media, and documentary. She “focuses on Africa, her assumptions about the diversity of cultures, and her expanding conceptions of the world”.


“Joana Choumali uses photography to explore issues of identity and the diversity of African cultures.”


Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali’s best-known exhibitions include:

Joana Choumali Hââbré, The Last Generation

Resilients documents young, professional African women who “struggle with connecting to their family’s traditional past”. To emphasize the link between past and present, the women were photographed wearing traditional clothing worn by their grandmothers or older female relatives. Hââbré,The Last Generation is about facial scarification across the Ivory Coast, a practice that is dying out,

Neo Matloga – Tyburn Gallery

Neo Matloga

Born in Limpopo in 1993, Neo Matloga studied at the University of Johannesburg. His work is exhibited locally and internationally and on display at the City of Ekurhuleni, the South African Embassy in Washington DC, and in private collections. Matloga lives in Amsterdam, where he’s an “artist at De Ateliers, a post-academic institution”.

Neo Matloga Khwela Jive-e-Binwa-Bjang -neomatloga.com

“Influenced by his father’s quote, “art should heal psychologically,” and the energy projected by South African youth, Matloga rejects limiting himself to specific artistic mediums. His paintings, drawings, and collages are versatile. They explore the Post-Mandela era and “mythic power of Sophiatown, an area outside Johannesburg”.

Neo Matloga

Matloga creates a nostalgic feeling by “collaging objects and materials that reference domestic households”. He produces “fragments of incredible happiness from his upbringing, conversations, and the poetic moments he remembers growing up in a Post-Mandela era.” The “main themes in his work center around his passion for black people feeling that there is an ability to belong and exist”.

Neo Matloga


“As the legacy of apartheid persists, with no doubt there were and still are social issues such as crime and moral degradation, but none of this determines the concept of life in its entirety.”


Neo Matloga Molatelo

Neo Matloga’s black and white paintings reflect “domestic life in South Africa’s black households” – with a kick. Titles appear in Sepedi, his mother tongue, spoken in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo provinces. His “cast of characters play out every-day dramas, experiencing the struggles and consolations of desire and intimacy”.

Neo Matloga Hugh Masekela – robynsassenmyview.com

“The people in Matloga’s paintings are ‘moral agents’ affected by the socio-economic and political conditions that shape life outside and inside the four walls of their homes.” His characters have “outsized eyes, mouths, and ears, skin tone with abrupt changes, hairstyles and hats sitting atop the wrong heads, and comically misplaced accessories”.

Neo Matloga


Matloga’s characters are described as “hybrids”. He forms their faces by “collaging together photographic images of friends, family, and famous figures from politics and the arts”.


Neo Matloga Molatelo

Matloga uses the process of “cutting, reconfiguring, and collaging facial anatomy” for political purposes and to “identify with the racist gaze”. I had to do research on Matloga’s work to better understand it.

Neo Matloga’s solo shows and presentations include:

Cape Town Philharmonic Winter Season Premier

Cape Town City Hall – Culture Trip

Last night Cape Town Philharmonic 2019 Winter Season premiered at City Hall. The musicians did not disappoint! I reserved a seat in the upper bays – a great location for watching the orchestra in action. Over the years, I’ve seen them perform from just about every vantage point in the Concert Hall. One memory is sitting in the high balcony during a heavy storm listening to the sound of raindrops on the glass dome, as the orchestra performed below.

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra City Hall – wikipedia.org

Robert Moody, American guest conductor, made his Cape Town debut last night. Moody is Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Musicfest.

The program included three captivating compositions:

Robert Moody Conductor – memphissymphony.org


“Samuel Barber had the gift of writing sustained melodies that flow easily and have a high degree of expressiveness.”


Robert Moody Conductor

In addition to Robert Moody’s positions with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Musicfest, he’s been associate conductor, resident conductor, and music director of symphony orchestras all over the world. Moody is “equally at home in the opera pit, with pops, and at chamber music and choral concerts”. His intense interaction – conducting without a baton – with the orchestra was impressive.

Cape Town City Hall Pipe Organ

Moody began his career as an “apprentice conductor for the Landestheater Opera in Linz Austria”. In 2018 he “completed an eleven-year tenure as Music Director for the Portland Symphony in Maine and a thirteen-year tenure as Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony in North Carolina”.

Cape Town City Hall – travelground.com


“Antonín Dvořák was the first Czech composer to achieve worldwide recognition. He lived a rich musical childhood in Prague.”


Ceiling Cape Town Concert Hall

Moody is a “champion” of Mason Bates, Composer in Residence with the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. He “commissioned / conducted Bates’ first full orchestral composition”. Moody has recorded CDs, collaborated with other artists, and participated in concerts to “aid the fight against multiple myeloma“.

Bryan Wallick Pianist – El Paso Pro Musica

Bryan Wallick Pianist

Bryan Wallick “gained recognition as one of the great American virtuoso pianists of his generation”. He was gold medalist of the 1997 Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition in Kiev.

He “plays regularly in the US, Europe, and South Africa”. Wallick studied at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Juilliard School of Music New York, and Royal Academy of Music London. He’s a “noted chamber musician, performing at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall in London”.

Cape Town Orchestra Pit from Concert Hall Bays

Wallick has lived in South Africa for twelve years with his South African wife and their three children. With “mixed feelings,” he’ll soon return to the US.

In 2015 Wallick created Schalk Visser and Bryan Wallick Concert Promotions. He “performs with many of his artists in recitals around South Africa”. The audience loved his flawless performance of Barber’s Piano Concerto!


“In Middle Europe, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 sometimes receives the nickname Fatum or Fate.”



My Homeland Czech Composer Antonin Dvorak

Composer Antonin Dvorak is a favorite of mine. His sonata My Homeland has two song themes. The overture was written for a patriotic play “depicting the beginnings of Czech theatre”. The folk melody became Czechoslovakia’s national anthem.

Samuel Barber Composer – Mystic Stamp Company

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Op. 38 American Composer Samuel Barber

Concerto for Piano is an exciting, complex composition in three movements. Moody aptly described it as “a bit mischievous”. A New York publishing house commissioned Barber to write the piece – his first concerto. The composition premiered at Lincoln Center in 1962. In 1963, Barber won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his concerto.

Symphony No. 4 in F Minor Op. 36 Russian Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The powerful, dramatic composition is sometimes described as a “reflection of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony”. Tchaikovsky’s movements vacillate from powerful bursts of brass to soft strings, a “plaintive oboe theme,” and delicate woodwinds.

Cape Town Philharmonic is dear to my heart. I was especially happy to hear an Antonín Dvořák composition during this memorable evening! Tchaikovsky and Barber were icing on the cake…

4 Tons of Fun Aretha Franklin Tribute at Alexander Theatre Cape Town

4 Tons of Fun Sthe Mfuphi, Bulelwa Sakayi, Soi Soi Gqeza, Michelle Thomas – iCause

Last night Cape Town’s 4 Tons of Fun paid tribute to the “Queen of SoulAretha Franklin. Sthe Mfuphi, Bulelwa Sakayi, Michelle Thomas, and Soi Soi Gqeza produced the show featuring all-time favorites like “Chain of Fools,” “A Deeper Love,” “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” “Ain’t No Mountain”, “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “I’m Every Woman”.


“Combining their vocal power, skillful harmonies, and smoldering sensuality with vivacious energy, these larger-than-life women entertain like no other.”


Aretha Franklin’s iconic legacy spans over six decades – including 44 Grammy nominations with 18 wins and her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The tribute includes commentary about her life as a singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist.


“Aretha Franklin’s powerful distinctive gospel-honed vocal style influenced countless singers and earned her Rolling Stone Magazine’s No. 1 place on a list of the Greatest Singers of All Time.”


Songwriter, vocalist Sthe Mfuphi (Saxy Sthe) has roots in KwaZulu-Natal where she studied jazz at Natal Technikon. She moved to Cape Town in 2002. Sthe wrote songs for the group’s 2013 debut album Larger than Life and a produced a music video for her original song “Usibali”.

3 Tons of Fun Michelle Thomas, Bulelwa Sakayi, Sthe Mfuphi – Alexander Bar

From East London Eastern Cape, Bulelwa Sakayi (Beautiful Bee) moved to Cape Town to study engineering, but decided to pursue a career in the performing arts instead. Her training includes performing in choral ensembles, film productions, television advertisements, and on stage. Bulelwa “adds a playful flavor to the group”.

Inspired by her drummer/vocalist father, Michelle Thomas (Mysterious Mich) began performing as a child. She attended the University of the Western Cape but ultimately decided to follow her lifelong passion for singing and performing. Michelle joined Sthe and Bee in 2007 to form 3 Tons of Fun.

Soi Soi Gqeza Vocalist – realwiredmusic.com

A Cape Town Native, Soi Soi Gqeza (Sultry Soi Soi) began her singing career as a backup vocalist for artists like Brenda Nokuzola Fassie, Lucky Dube, and Winston Monwabisi Mankunku Ngozi. She performs a repertoire of light jazz standards and Afro-jazz with her band at restaurants, weddings, and corporate events. Soi Soi has performed in Spain, Vietnam, Bahrain, and Thailand. She’s entertained dignitaries including South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.

Aretha Franklin – AXS.com

Aretha Franklin – Atlantic – Detroit Free Press

The group has “wowed thousands of fans for over 11 years”. They’re “synonymous with great fun, positive energy, and big smiles”. It was a fantastic evening with a wonderfully diverse audience clapping, singing along, and dancing in place!

3 Tons of Fun Bulelwa Sakayi, Michelle Thomas, Sthe Mfuphi – Gigster.com

3 Tons of Fun Sthe Mfuphi, Bulelwa Sakayi, Michelle Thomas – Entertainment-Online.co.za