Design Africa

    International artists and designers over the last decade have found inspiration in the rich culture, craftsmanship and materials of South Africa and Africa. But now a shift is underway and artists and designers from South Africa and Africa are taking the lead internationally with their own designs.

The "Design Africa - contemporary style with soul" concept (a visionary initiative made possible by the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa and various sponsors from around the world) is dedicated to showcasing and supporting leading design manufacturers from Africa. Design Africa aspires to create a new impression of design manufacturers from Africa among international buyers and interior decorators and to assist a select portfolio of pan-Africa design manufacturers to reach their commercial potential.

Through this initiative, a new generation of African designers are pioneering new frontiers of creative expression and are showing the world the continent's true talent. They interpret their own traditions and stories, using new forms, provocative textures, natural materials, rich colours and skill to create something astonishing, fresh and new. Their bold ideas are defining a captivating new aesthetic that captures the style and soul of contemporary Africa: imaginative, energetic, cosmopolitan, expressive, sensual, proud and principled: "the essence of Africa"

The Collection represents design manufacturers from South Africa, Mali, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Swaziland and Zambia and products range from basketry, ceramics, furniture, home textiles to tableware. The collection has been showcased at international exhibitions including the SIAO in Burkina Faso in 2008, Maison & Objet in Paris in 2009 and 2010 and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York in 2010.

Source: Design Africa

Design Africa

Stepping into the railway future

Of the 4 638 coaches for Metrorail currently in operation in Gauteng, Durban, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, about 90 per cent in operation dates back to the late 1950s. The last new trains comprising only 2 per cent of the commuter rail fleet were purchased in the mid 1980s and the systems technology on this fleet is also old and inherently obsolete.

The average age of the current coaches is 39 years while the life span of railway rolling stock is of an average of 46 years. The railway industry norms and standards are that the coaches should be upgraded when they reach 27 years, and overhauled every 9 years, so as to ensure that the structural and sub-systems integrity is not compromised by metal fatigue, age, wear and tear or environmental conditions.

Our trains are five times heavier than those used internationally, meaning slower travel times and more energy needed to pull them. Switzerland is shifting from moving one new train every three minutes to one train every one minute and 53 seconds - Metrorail is well behind the curb - even in its efforts to move from one train every 15 minutes to one every seven minutes.

With this in mind, SA government is planning to invest heavily in the railway system over the next 20 years, acquiring 7 224 new modern coaches through The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's (PRASA) R123 billion "rolling stock renewal" programme, with the deployment of the first 700 new trains on South Africa's tracks being planned for 2015. They are also planning to roll out other projects including the extension of rail lines, a Johannesburg-Durban High Speed Rail link to reduce travel time between the two cities to three hours and rail links to Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport.

With over 8 000 direct jobs anticipated, the aim will be to achieve local content of 69% of the production of the rolling stock by year 2, utilizing the Transnet Rail Engineering factory, expected to be operational by 2016. It is also expected that the delivery of the first test trains will take place in early 2015, while the first operational trains will be delivered by the end of 2015. About 100 South Africans would travel to Switzerland to work with staff there on the manufacturing of the trains and once returned to South Africa, would in turn train other local employees.

The new trains will have no class segregation like the present Metro Plus set-up, will be equipped with on-board messenger systems giving passengers details of the next station and information on transfers, will have toilets accessible to people in wheelchairs and the access will be designed to avoid the pile-up at the doors (common on trains at present) and to prevent commuters from being crushed in closing doors.

There will be two designs for the interior of the carriages: carriages that have less seating and will be used where stations are just a few minutes apart; and carriages with more seating to be placed on those lines used for longer travel.

Source: Wanted in Africa and Government Communication and Information System

New trains

Scarf initiative

With the weather changing with the season, moving into slightly cooler temperature ranges, we are reminded that winter is around the corner and soon we will be chilling to our bones.

As the trend for more natural products continues to push buyer habits, a warm but trendy scarf made from natural products is definitely on the shoppping list for this autumn.

A local manufacturer - the Scarf Initiative - based in Wellington, Western Cape, has local designers designing and manufacturing their own creative scarves, shawls, capes, throws (perfect for winter) and cushion covers, in mohair and ostrich feathers.

Mohair usually refers to a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat and is one of the oldest textile fibres in use today. South Africa is the world's largest mohair producer, producing around 50% of the total world production and is generally exported raw or semi-processed to textile makers in Europe, the UK and the Far East.

Mohair is warm in winter as it has great insulating properties, while remaining cool in summer due to its moisture wicking properties (pulls moisture away from the skin). It is takes dye exceptionally well, is durable, naturally elastic, flame resistant, crease resistant and does not felt. It is notable for its high luster and sheen and is considered to be a luxury fibre, like cashmere, angora and silk, making it usually more expensive than most sheep wool.

The Scarf Initiative manufacture their products using a wide range of dye colours, some products are made from just mohair, while others are mohair and ostrich feathers combined. Products can be purchased from their factory outlet in Wellington or in specific retail shops.

Contact The Scarf Initiative for more information.

Scarf Initiative

The slow pace of the fishing lifestyle

About an hour and a half drive (150kms) from Cape Town, is a peaceful and scenic town called Paternoster. (The name, Latin for 'Our Father', refers to the prayers said by Catholic Portuguese seamen when shipwrecked - and there have been quite a few of these here).

Paternoster is one of the few traditional fishing villages left in South Africa and is a fantastic destination for a quick drive and sunday lunch or for a weekend away in one of the many self catering cottages in the town.

Paternoster has many significant white boulders making this unspoiled gem one of the most beautiful beaches on the West Coast. This little seaside village with its vast beach that is washed by fresh Atlantic Ocean has many nature-orientated activities to do: sea kayaking, whale/dolphin/seal/penguin watching, scuba diving, walking along the sandy beach or among the boulders, artistic expression through pottery and painting with Gerhard van den Heever, visiting the local art gallery, lazing around reading a book while watching the mist roll in off the sea, and of course watching the local fisherman go out in the morning and come back in late afternoon with their daily catch in their brightly painted fishing boats.

The coast is littered with many shipwrecks - two of them being the famous Lisboa and the SS Malmesbury. The Lisboa was a Portuguese twin screw steel steamship, built in 1910 in Glasgow and displacing 7459 tons. She was owned and operated by the Portuguese Empreza Nacional de Navegacao as one of their mailships and commanded by Captain Menezes. At the time of her loss she was the largest vessel in the Portuguese merchant fleet.

On 23 October 1910, while en route from Lobito, in Angola, to Cape Town and Maputo, with 250 passengers and 50 crew aboard and carrying a cargo which included bulls and olive oil, the Lisboa ran aground on Soldiers Reef near Paternoster.

The wreck of the Lisboa is particularly interesting because it was the first occasion on the South African coast on which radio telegraphy was used to summon help by a ship in distress. The wireless operator on board distinguished himself by remaining at his post to get the message through, even though the ship was sinking fast. All the boats had got clear and the vessel was going down quickly before he leapt overboard and swam to the shore.

In 1930 SS Malmesbury was wrecked on the nearby Jacobs reef while on her maiden voyage. Although general panic was averted when she first grounded, one of the lifeboats were launched so hastily that one of the davits broke, depositing 9 passengers in the water - seven of whom drowned. The remainder of the passengers and crew were evacuated from the ship safely.

To choose between their vast range of self catering cottages visit Stay in Paternoster website.

Paternoster Photos: Laura Glover

Hot News

SA Home Owner Magazine!

Cheral Kennedy has contributed her expertise and advice in an article on country gardens - with a picture of her Eversdal garden - for the SA Home Owner magazine (March 2013 edition).

Read the article in our editorial section of our website.

Featured Plant

Vepris Lanceolata

Vepris Lanceolata
(White Ironwood)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous tree to 5m with long wavy leaves.

Flowering time :

Summer / Autumn

Conditions :

  • Full sun
  • Average water
  • Evergreen
  • Some wind resistance
  • Some frost resistance
  • Enriched soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Minotaur 2009

Winery : Doolhof
Winemaker : Friedrich Kuhne

Description :

A Cape Blend of Pinotage, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

Aroma : Melange of dark fruit, cinnamon, spice and violets.

Palate : A full bodied wine with rich intensity and long lingering finish.

Winemaking : Grapes were fermented separately aged for 24 months in French oak of which 60% is new and 40% second fill barrels. Drink now or age up to 2020.

Food Pairing : A natural with red meats, particularly game, beef fillet and lamb.

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Swisschard
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Oreganum
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    February's Teaser Answer :
    "Backward Glance"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82