Monday, January 31, 2011

Right Mukore

Right Mukore has been working in wood for over 20 years. The wood he uses comes from building sites, council and national parks. His small open air studio is a magical wonderland filled with creatures emerging from tree trunks and wooden hearts and fish dangling from the branches above. An urban refugee with a mission to support his family back home in Zimbabwe, he’s an inspiration for what can be accomplished in the face of great adversity. Right also runs a school for aspiring sculptors. Right as a teacher, knows that children learn how to think and solve problems by freely exploring art materials and language. As they "mess around" with a rich assortment of materials, children create their own representations in their own way. "Children's art are always unique and perfectly their own. Art offers children a perspective. Looking at things with an artist´s eye means seeing things differently and that inspires children to create visually through art."
Creating beautiful art out of unwanted trees

Mosaic Magic

Started in 2000 by Vanessa Ratcliffe and Mandy Fisher as an upliftment program, empowering women in the Imizamo Yethu township, Mandela Park Mosaics now has a group of highly skilled women creating mosaic masterpieces. If you’ve ever seen or been to Imizamo, it is a mass of shanty houses and shacks at the entrance to Hout Bay in Cape Town. The idea of a group of women coming out of this environment to create these incredible works of art is astounding.  Their "a hand up, not a hand out" ethos is set to take this fledgling mosaic arts project to new heights. One of the ranges of particularl interest is their Ntofo (meaning floppy in Xhosa) vases. From afar they look like solid, traditional ceramic or clay mosaic vases, up close they are soft and wobbly, made out of a soft silicone (floppy), inlaid with mosaic tiles. The vases above were specially designed for Bundu.

Africa Rising

The Economist, just published information culled from the International Monetary Fund, that shows that six out of 10 of the world’s fastest-growing economies in 2001-2010 were in Africa, and seven out of 10 will be in Africa in the in 2011-2015 timeframe.
As categorized by The Economist, the fastest growing economies over the next four years will be:

1.       China (9.5%)
2.       India (8.2%)
3.       Ethiopia (8.1%)
4.       Mozambique (7.7%)
5.       Tanzania (7.2%)
6.       Vietnam (7.2%)
7.       Congo (7%)
8.       Ghana (7%)
9.       Zambia (6.9%)
10.   Nigeria (6.8%)

Good Coffee

The concept of an African branded coffee is long overdue. Why can't Africa produce their own brand of coffee? Well that’s exactly what a Ugandan entrepeneur thought too. In 2003, Andrew Rugasira had an idea, he believed that it was time for Africans to process and market their own products globally and use trade as a means to bring about the sustainable development so desperately needed by the farmers and communities. That same year Andrew and a small team of dedicated colleagues travelled to western Uganda, a region that once produced quality coffees, but had over the years suffered from poor farming practices and low prices. Seeing the potential, the Good African team began organizing the farmers into producer groups. The team then embarked on an intensive program of best practices training for the farmers to produce quality Arabica coffees that would ensure a better return on their harvest. Today, they have more than 14000 farmers as part of their network of suppliers. For decades Africans have produced what they do not consume and consumed what they do not produce. With few exceptions, processing and value addition has historically taken place outside Africa. Good African decided to address this by setting up a roasting and packaging facility in Kampala in July 2009. Processing the coffee in Uganda where it is grown allows the company to retain a greater proportion of the value addition thereby enabling the Company to better support the farmers and empower their communities. Mr Rugasira’s words are starting to be heard in the right places, despite his firm’s small size. He addressed international business leaders at the World Economic Forum’s African Summit in Tanzania on May 5th. Good African coffee was nominated last year for the FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Award, despite the fact that, as Mr Rugasira put it, “our annual turnover most likely is less than a month’s salary of some of the CEOs present.” He went on to say, “Africa has plenty of entrepreneurs. They just need you to take your dollars out of your pockets and spend them on their products.”

Big Hart

Gaucho spent most of his life jailed in a small barren circus trailer. He underwent brutal training and was found malnourished and living in appalling conditions.

Paul Hart is on a quest. His mission: to rescue captive born lions from zoos, circuses, canned hunting facilities and the illegal pet trade the world over. Bringing lions back to Africa where they belong, awesome! Paul’s  story is a beautiful tale of the good that can come out of a tragic and sad situation. It is the tale of how one man and his family have managed, against many odds, to provide a loving home to 33 lions all of whom have now become part of their extended family. Established in 1998, Drakenstein Lion Sanctuary provides a home for life to the lions, where they are able to live in safety, free from abuse and persecution and treated with the compassion and respect they deserve. For some it is the first time they have stepped onto grass, for most it’s the first time they’ve felt warm African sun on their bodies. I had the opportunity to view first hand these amazing creatures recently with my sister and my son and was blown away by what Paul and his family have been able to achieve. At the moment they are raising funds to build an enclosure for two zoo tigers they are trying to relocate. There is also an adoption programme which helps meet the care costs of the animals. For $150 you can sponsor a lion for a whole year. For details go to their website at Spread the word.
Ena was confiscated from a French circus where she was kept in horrific conditions and was discovered hidden underneath a circus horse trailer in a wooden box.