Fela Kuti And The Kalakuta Queens in South Africa

7-day Celebration of African Entertainment and Culture

A week in April brought Nigerians and South Africans together to explore the arts and music of the prophet and Abàmì Ẹ̀dá; Fela Kuti. He was a foremost Nigerian Afrobeat musician and social critic who died on the 2nd of August 1997.

The musical, called Fela And The Kalakuta Queens chronicles the events within Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, his home. Prominent in the stage performance is the unique fashion, dance and of course the intrigues amongst the 27 wives whom Fela married in a day! You can read a review of the musical from CNN and IOL. Bolanle Austen Peters is the brain behind this musical and the woman changing the face of theatre production in Nigeria.

Watch Fela And The Kalakuta Queens on YouTube

At the Pretoria State Theatre, the venue for the event, we captured some moments for you which you can view via the YouTube link below.

Don’t forget to like the video, leave a comment and also share the video with your friends.

Mobile apps I use in and around Johannesburg (2 of 2)

Mobile app - Johannesburg

Mobile apps run more than our phones. They literally help us run our lives.

This article is the second part of Mobile apps I use in and around Johannesburg (1 of 2).

In part one, I listed and described two apps I use in and around Jozi i.e. WhatsApp and VayaMoja.

3. Twitter mobile app

Mobile app - Twitter

Twitter is my go-to mobile app for all things news and chitchat. In fact, I live and breath on the streets of Twitter! These social streets can be mean, strict, entertaining and wild, all at once. I spend 80% of my time on this platform observing the ever-unfolding drama of ‘follow‘ trains.

I enjoy reading varying perspectives. So, my favorite part of Twitter is the diversity of perspectives on a particular topic.

However, separating real and fake news is a challenge today especially on mobile apps such as Twitter. Lots of fake news abound on Twitter. My grudge with some Twitter users remains their lack of respect for human dignity as well as the careless distribution of half-truths, rumours, and lies. Otherwise, Twitter beats the other social media apps hands down!

Download Twitter app on Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).

4. Zulzi mobile app

Sometimes, you feel like not stepping outside your house. Dressing up and driving to the mall can be a turn-off and it is too time-consuming. The creators of Zulzi identified this frustration all too well.

Zulzi is a revolutionary mobile app that allows you to order from Woolworths, Pick ‘n Pay, Dis-Chem, Spar Tops, and Clicks (in +/- 1 hour).

The mobile app tracks and communicates as personal shoppers choose products in real time. There is also a driver who will deliver your order to your door. For me, this is classic. 

Mobile app - Zulzi

Our experience with Zulzi

My family and I have been using Zulzi for over 6 months for grocery shopping, on an ad hoc basis. Honestly, the customer service is satisfactory. The shoppers are sometimes careless but they make up for it when you point it out. For example, there was a day we requested and paid for two tubs of ice cream and one of them had already been open (not eaten though). We spotted the error only after unpacking the groceries. We sent our shopper feedback and surprisingly, they replaced the ice cream. We also like the fact that they go to any length to find our requested items. Zulzi has proven to be a trusted app for our personal shopping needs during busy and lazy days.

Download the Zulzi app on Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).

5. Khwela mobile app

Kwelha is a relatively new South African mobile app. It is specifically designed to assist commuters of taxis. The mobile app makes it easy to find the closest taxi ranks, contact details of taxi rank officials and the rank’s operating hours. It also shows you taxi fares, the routes operated by such ranks and it reports road incidents.

Mobile app - Khwela

In my case, I rarely use the public taxis but I love the Khwela app for its excellent reportage on road traffic incidences. I have avoided several traffic delays as a result of this mobile app’s brilliant traffic incidents via push notifications.

Khwela notifies you of major and minor road incidents e.g. road accidents, road construction, police roadblocks, protest action, flood incidence, traffic light malfunction, vehicle breakdowns, and stationary vehicles in the middle of the road.

These are some of the traffic incident notifications that help me choose routes. The mobile app’s notifications also help me to be cautious and keep road safety a priority while driving. Thank you to the creators of this brilliant mobile app.

Download Khwela app on Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).

6. Wave mobile app

As an entrepreneur, it is important to cut cost while seeking to maximise profit (without compromising product and service quality). The free Wave invoicing app is one way for me to cut costs on my business administration. I find it to be very user-friendly. It gives me the freedom to assign invoicing and receipt accounts for my clients with the ease of enumerating the quantity, price, tax information and description of the goods or services that I offer. 

Download the Invoice by Wave Financial app on Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).

Mobile app - Wave Invoice

Mobile apps I use in and around Johannesburg (1 of 2)

Mobile apps - WhatsApp

I have two smartphones that I cannot do without and 7 favourite mobile apps (that I will discuss shortly). No matter where I am going, I always take my Blackberry Priv (which runs on Google Android) and my iPhone 6 (which runs on iOS). My smartphones give me the freedom to access everything at the tap of a screen. The mobile apps on them allow me to access my money, request a taxi, find accommodation and order food. Our smartphones can now do everything that phones could not do decades ago.

Mobile apps

Numbers tell a story

Statistically, mobile phones are progressively becoming part of the lives of billions of people globally. More than 62% of the world’s population owned a mobile phone as at 2016 compared to an estimated 50% global ownership of mobile phones in 2006.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the adoption of mobile devices has almost doubled within the last ten years with 44% subscriber penetration as at 2017. 

There’s a mobile app for everything

The list of things you can do with smartphones and mobile apps is endless. With your smartphone and mobile apps, you can search for and find everything from schools, jobs, love, cooking recipes, accommodation,
protection to transportation.

There’s a mobile app for everything. For example, I have a mobile app that monitors my heartbeat while my wife has a mobile app that monitors her monthly cycle. People have adopted mobile apps as their best friends. These mobile apps’ ability to make our lives easier have increased their global acceptance.

My favourite mobile apps

At the moment, there are 7 mobile apps that stand out for me. These apps’ functionality ranges from messaging, transport, shopping, journaling, training to business enhancement. These 7 mobile apps have helped me to reduce my stress levels and increase my productivity. I will briefly go through each app with a review of my personal experience. 

1. WhatsApp – instant messaging app

Mobile apps - WhatsApp

WhatsApp has significantly cut down costs associated with my phone calls and messaging. Starting with international calls, which are very expensive. The advent of WhatsApp has brought ease in the frequency of calling Lagos (Nigeria) from Johannesburg at any time of the day. Gone are the days when I had to load R110 airtime on my Vodacom phone or R100 airtime on my MTN phone just to make a call for 1 hour or less. At times, my airtime would even disappears. Things have changed, I now use Rain to make calls via WhatsApp’s steadily improving service quality. I finally have more quality time with family and friends across the WhatsApp messaging, video and voice call offerings. This app is a go!

Download WhatsApp on Android and Apple

2. VayaMoja – app for buses in Johannesburg

VayaMoja is a public transport mobile app developed by the City of Johannesburg for ReaVaya and MetroBus commuters. Even though I started using the Johannesburg Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) service around July in 2018, my experience has been mostly pleasant.

ReaVaya – safe, affordable and convenient

ReaVaya is tsotsitaal meaning, ‘We are going’. The ReaVaya public transport service presently runs through the bustling inner city of Johannesburg on dedicated road lanes connecting the various townships in Soweto and the Braamfontein areas. The city management has plans to expand to other parts of the city in the future. The bus system is safe, cheap, comfortable and fairly reliable. Compared to driving to certain parts of the city in a car, ReaVaya can be more affordable and convenient. The Reavaya bus is clean with spacious leg room and comfortable seating pads. It also has wide windows that give good street views and if you are standing, there are handheld ropes and poles to keep you safe within the bus. The busses are also well managed as you will rarely find any of their buses abruptly stop in traffic due to mechanical faults (unlike Putco buses). 

Increased fuel prices and affordable public transport

Considering the rising cost of petrol, ReaVaya was my common sense mode of transport when traveling to the ‘traffic jammed’ Johannesburg inner city. I downloaded VayaMoja smartphone app because I wanted to be in charge of my trips. Asking for direction from bus station staff or fellow commuters can be confusing and stressful. The app gives users the ability to search for routes, the bus fare, transit points, and bus schedules and of course transit related information.

Find the nearest Metrobus or ReaVaya station via VayaMoja

My favorite feature on the VayaMoja app is the ability to see the closest bus station and service routes to me. Right within the bus route pane, you can also see where a specific bus is coming from and where it is going. This mobile app is user-friendly and it has helped me to plan my trips.

The bad side of ReaVaya

Of course, Rea Vaya has its shortcomings. It is expected to be on schedule but my friend, be ready for unpleasant surprises (sometimes). My first shocking experience of limited busses was at the Library Gardens East Bus Station at Joburg Central Business District (CBD). The number of commuters waiting for pickup was overwhelming. One of the bus station staff members attributed the delay to fewer buses on the trunk routes serving the CBD and connecting my destination. With this experience, I now prepare ahead for the worst case scenario – most especially around late afternoons and weekends.

In conclusion, VayaMoja is a great app that guarantees convenience and ease of access to public transport information in Johannesburg.

Download VayaMoja on Apple’s App Store (iOS) or on Google Play Store (Android).

This list of mobile apps I use in Johannesburg will continue in my next post.

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre in Johannesburg

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is one of Johannesburg’s hiden travel treasures. I found out about the centre on a Sunday morning during my 10-kilometer hike to Auckland Park. The Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is one of many destinations that make Johannesburg a great travel destination.

Fun things to do in Johannesburg

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The moment I found out about Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre, I added it to my list of fun things to do in Johannesburg. Sadly, it is closed on Sundays so I couldn’t go inside the centre. Therefore, it has to go on my list of fun places to visit in Johannesburg.

I will visit Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Prior to finding out about this centre, the only thing I knew about Sophiatown was that there were forceful removals of Black South Africans at some point in history. This is why I was happy to have found that the
Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre has preserved the history of Sophiatown. Before I visit the centre and share my travel experience, here is what I found out about the Sophiatown of old.

Sophiatown: Past, Triomf and Present

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

There are three properties in the Sophiatown area that survived the oppressive South African apartheid government. After the destruction of most of the properties during apartheid, the area was renamed ‘Triomf’ which means ‘Victory’ or ‘Triumph’.

It literally means “we (the white people) now have victory over this area and we have dominated it for our use”.

Prior to the destruction of Sophiatown, the area was famous for its rich multicultural flavor. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, Sophiatown was a melting pot of tribes and races. Several notable artists, politicians and jazz musicians congregated to have conversations and to use their talents to condemn the racist government of their time. It was a breeding ground for anti-apartheid activists.

Trevor Huddleston and Dr. Alfred Xuma

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Trevor Huddleston’s and Dr. Alfred Xuma’s houses are two out of three houses that survived the demolision of the old Sophiatown. Trevor Huddleston was a local priest in the old Sophiatown. His house was next to Dr. Alfred Bitini Xuma’s house. Dr. Xuma was an exceptional medical practitioner in his time and he was a former president of the African National Congress (ANC).

We won’t move movement

Trevor Huddleston, Ruth First, Nelson Mandela, and Helen Joseph were some of the anti-apartheid activists who condemned the destruction of Sophiatown. They were part of the ‘we won’t move movement’ when the Sophiatown area was razed to the ground by bulldozers on 9 February 1955. This was done to give way for new housing developments for white people (whites only areas).

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre
Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Over 2000 fully armed policemen partook in the forceful removals of Black, Coloured, Indian and Chinese people who were living in Sophiatown.

Meadowlands

Black people were relocated to a township in Soweto called Meadowlands. The sad relocation inspired the soulful music of Sibongile Kumalo and others. Thandi Klaassen’s even gave a tribute to Sophiatown in her ‘Together As One’ album.

“Sophiatown was indeed the place they all knew. It was where their dreams came true until the white man came to break it down”.  –
Thandi Klaassen’

Several other artists sang beautiful melodies about the pain of the forced removal of Black people from Sophiatown.

Freedom at last

Thankfully, apartheid’s head has been crushed and Sophiatown’s heritage of multi-plurality has been restored. The rich flavors of art have returned. Life in its fullness is now free for all.

If you have additional information about Sophiatown or Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre, please share it with me in the comments section. I would also love to read your personal experience of life in Sophiatown. I hope to share more photos of my experience at the museum as soon as I visit.

Google Map of Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The address of the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is 71-73 Toby Street corner Edward Road, Sophiatown, Johannesburg. For more information, you can call the Centre on 011 673 1271 or visit their website on www.sophiatownthemix.com.

Related article: Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

Nigeria – Lagos summer travel checklist

Nigeria travel tips

Nigeria is an interesting and unique country that everyone should travel to at least once in their lifetime. In this article, I will take you through what you need to pack when you are traveling there.

If you are a first-time traveler to Nigeria, please ensure that you read the entire article. I wrote this article with you in mind.

First-time traveler to Nigeria?

Although I live in Johannesburg, I was born and bred in Nigeria so I am confident that the tips in this article will help you.

Nigeria’s weather and climate

Nigeria has two basic weather seasons; dry and wet seasons.
This is typical of most tropical countries. The dry season is winter and it starts in November and ends in March. In contrast, summer is a rainy season in Nigeria; it starts in April and ends in October.

Nigeria and tourists

The weather in Nigeria is generally hot throughout the year. However, there are varying weather temperatures. The hottest month in Lagos, Nigeria is February with temperatures averaging 28°C. In contrast, July is the city’s coldest month with an average temperature of 24°C.

What you should pack for the trip

Considering the predominantly hot climate in Nigeria, it is important to plan ahead before visiting Nigeria. You should aim to dress for comfort and convenience.

Below is a list of items to travel with and tips to bear in mind while packing your travel suitcase.

Tackle the heat with sunglasses, hat, umbrella, sunscreen, wipes, and a water bottle.

  • I recommend that you pack polarized sunglasses with a UV filter. The sun’s rays can be hazardous to your eyes so you should protect yourself.
  • Pack a broad-brimmed hat to keep your hair, skin, and eyes cool. You will need to cover up because the sun’s ray can be unbearably hot in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Pack a small fold up travel sun umbrella to shade you from the sun. Come rain or shine, you will be covered.
  • I find wet wipes to be very useful in weather conditions associated with dust and sweat. They come really handy for neatly cleaning out your face and palms.
  • Sunscreen prevents sunburn, skin cancer, and skin irritation. Protect your skin by adding sunscreen to your traveling bag.
  • Nigeria is hot. Therefore you will need to stay hydrated. You should pack a water bottle and buy bottled water from reputable stores when outdoor. 

Unfortunately, most taps are dry in Nigeria. Moreover, the water from most government taps is not suitable for human consumption. Therefore, drinking directly from the government taps is risky.

The state of water in Nigeria
Nigeria weather

Cotton. Cotton. Cotton.

  • Cotton underwear absorbs your body’s sweat. That is because Cotton is a natural fiber that significantly helps to prevent sweat. Lightweight cotton underwear is breathable and will ensure the flow of air around your bikini area.
  • Ensure that the swimwear that you pack has cotton linings. The swimwear will come in handy on days when you want to soak in your hotel’s swimming pool or at any of the popular Lagos beaches.

Similar to Durban, Lagos is a coastal city with several beaches.

Nigeria - Lagos beach
  • Cotton socks will help contain the sweat from your feet and prevent that stinky foot smell we all dislike. This will also help when you are visiting religious or cultural centers where it is compulsory for you to take off your shoes e.g. churches, mosques, and monarch’s palaces.

Nail clippers, open toe shoes, jackets and boots

  • Pack nail clippers. In hot weather conditions, your toenails can be a breeding spot for germs, cut your nails as often as possible.
  • Ensure that you pack open toe shoes i.e. sandals or flip-flops (Nigerians call them slippers). They are comfortable, convenient and easy to wear in the heat.

It is commonplace to experience sudden weather changes. The weather can change from been hot to cold. In situations such as these, you will need a jersey, sweater or jacket.

Side note: Due to the heat, air conditioners are popular features in homes, offices, and cars in Nigeria.

  • Bonus Tip: Wear your heaviest shoes or boots when flying. It lightens your luggage load.

Related Article: Thinking of leaving Nigeria for South Africa, read this first.

Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

Westdene Dam

The Westdene Dam is part of the series of connected streams flowing through Johannesburg. The dam was designed to reduce the impact of flood peaks and erosion potential of nearby spruits. It is also a park and a facility that supports plant and animal life.

Where is the Westdene dam?

The Westdene Dam is located near the South African Post Office (on Thornton street), the University of Johannesburg (Auckland Park, Kingsway Campus) and UJ sport fields. Entrance to the dam is free and it operates daily (weekdays and weekends) from 6am – 6pm.

Where is Westdene?

Westdene is predominantly a residential area located between Melville and Triomf in Johannesburg. It is close to Johannesburg City Business District and it is a place of choice for student accommodation.

My visit to the Westdene Dam

Although I live around Westdene, I drove and hiked past the Westdene Dam for more than two months before my visit to the dam. I remember staring at the dam’s beautiful free ranging team of waterfowls through its ClearVu security fence. Hiking over the cycle and pedestrian skywalker gave me an impressive view of the Westdene Dam. But, I was always shocked to find this interesting place often deserted. This peaked my curiosity and I wanted to find out what the Westdene Dam was all about and to share my experience.

Ducks, geese and playground at Westdene Dam

Ducks and geese at the Westdene Dam

I eventually found time to visit on a Saturday. Entering through the Lewes road access gate, my first encounter was with a raft of ducks I had been admiring from across the road. Neatly organised in two groups, they scrambled through trash left behind probably by visitors. The ducks were easy going and beautiful. The team of waterfowl I came across were made up of different breeds ranging from the yellow-billed duck, white-faced duck, Egyptian geese, snow goose and the Toulouse geese. They mind their business and pose no threat to visitors.

Playground and outdoor gym at the Westdene Dam

The Westdene Dam is an interesting community recreation area that offers great views, amazing relaxation spots, functional outdoor full body gym equipment and a well managed children’s playground.

The playground at the Westdene Dam

The outdoor gym equipment at the dam is great for members of the community to keep fit, for free. All the equipment comes with instruction labels which make them public-friendly. The kids section is also packed with different outdoor recreational equipment that is safe, structured and modern.

The gym at the Westdene Dam

Restrictions at the Westdene Dam

A number of rules are on display on the public boards around the dam. Some of the prohibitions include:

  • The littering and dumping of refuse.
  • Setting up of any sort of fireplace, braai or bush burning.
  • The riding of motorcycles are disallowed in the park but bicycles are acceptable.
  • Alcohol and drug use is highly forbidden
  • Camping is not allowed
  • Loud music is forbidden
  • Guns and any forms of dangerous weapons are forbidden
  • Sleeping at the park is not allowed
  • Feeding of the ducks and geese are prohibited
  • Trading within the park is forbidden
  • Swimming in the dam is not allowed
  • Fishing is not allowed
  • Boat riding is also forbidden

Permissions at the Westdene Dam

Meanwhile, the following activities are allowed on The Westdene dam:

  • Cameras
  • The use of the playing ground by kids however, adult supervision is advised for children below the age of 10.
  • Bicycle riding
  • Pets are allowed

Westdene dam bus disaster memorial

A memorial for school students stands on the dam’s northwest bank which is at a corner close to the Westdene Dam wall. The memorial stone which was built in 2009 represents the remembrance of 41 school children who lost their lives after their double decker school bus lost control, ramped through the road barricades on the bridge and drowned in the Westdene Dam on the 27th of March 1985. It remains one of the darkest moments for the Westdene community.

The park at the Westdene dam

The dam has a park with open grass fields, an appealing landscape and giant trees. Taking a seat on one of the concrete benches (near a curvy footpath) is a great way to observe the tranquility of nature. You will notice the intermittent quacks of the marching ducks and geese scavenging the park and marvel as they suddenly nose dives into the water. The sweet chirping and singing of the birds also add to the tranquility of the dam. The Westdene Dam is a pleasant and therapeutic distraction from the seriousness and busyness of life in the City of Johannesburg.

The park at the Westdene dam

The award winning dam

The Westdene Dam is a great initiative of Johannesburg City Parks and Joburg Zoo. It has even won a number of awards, including the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Gold Award for Specialised Landscape Design as well as the SALI Silver Award for Environmental and Water Wise Landscaping in 2017. In the spirit of maintaining the award-winning scenery, Joburg City Parks should consider providing more trash bins and constructing public toilets.

Entry into the Westdene Dam is free

The Westdene Dam is a free, safe and pleasant place for quality quiet time during the day. It offers a host of opportunities for personal and family recreation.

Please feel free to share your comments, questions or experience of the Westdene Dam. You can also read our review of the James Hall Transport Museum in Johannesburg.

Audio: Open a Nigerian bank account in South Africa [Listen]

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Nigerian bank accounts can be opened from South Africa. In this latest podcast, we quickly guide you through how to open a Nigerian bank account while in South Africa.

This podcast takes you through the requirements for opening a GTBank (RNR) Non-Residence Nigerian bank account while in South Africa:

1. Complete the GTBank Non-Residence Nigerian bank account sign up form. (download form here)

2. Submit a copy of any of your personal identification documents which may either be a valid Nigerian international passport or any other foreign international passport.

Other accepted forms of personal identification are valid National Driver’s license or a valid National Identity Card. You will not be able to open your Nigerian bank account without proof of identity.

3. One passport photograph.

4. Proof of residence: a copy of your water or electricity bill issued within the last three months with the same address stated on the application form. Alternatively, you could submit a stamped bank statement or credit card statement issued within the last three months showing your address.

5. References (either i or ii below):

i. One reference letter obtained from a current account holder (Nigerian) with any Nigerian Bank and a banker’s confirmation.

ii. Two reference letters from current account holder (Nigerian) with any Nigerian Bank.

All your documents have to be certified. The easiest and convenient way to certify them is to visit any South African Police Service (SAPS) Station.

Remember: Document certification is a free service.

To submit, scan and send all documents via email to: nrnaccount@gtbank.com.

Related article: Image Gallery – Open GTBank account in South Africa

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