Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

A hippo gets stuck in a 10-foot-tall water tower. He’d climbed up to cool off.

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stellenboschSouth Africa is coming up in the world. Just a couple of days ago it hosted the UEFA Confederations Cup of soccer, in which Brazil defeated the U.S. (yes, the United States!) 3-2 for the championship; next year the country will host the World Cup.

South Africa is also “the world’s ninth largest producer of wine, an up-and-comer in the global marketplace, and the winner of more than its share of accolades in international competitions.” But a canker grows amid the vineyards of Stellenbosch, and her name is Jane MacQuitty, a wine critic for The Times of London.

According to The New York Times, “In late 2007, she tasted a run of South Africa’s flagship reds and wrote that half were tainted by a “peculiar, savage, burnt rubber” odor. In a later column she called a selection of the country’s best-rated reds “a cruddy, stomach-heaving and palate-crippling disappointment.””

This was, of course, something that Stellenbosch’s luminaries needed to tackle head-on. So, for the past year, “vine-and-wine detectives from the department of viticulture and oenology at Stellenbosch University have been working the case. The “burnt rubber team” includes sensory scientists and analytical chemists. They taste, they sniff, they scratch their heads. They are looking for the golden thread that ties together a single taste that was born in multiple locations. Is the problem with the root stock, the soils, the storage, the bottling, the techniques of fermentation? Gas chromatography is being used to separate wines into their chemical compounds, searching for a culprit among the molecular units.”

The story of this sleuthfulness is completely worth reading in full.

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sound-pic5I just got word of a remarkable internet-radio experiment out of Cape Town. The Pan African Space Station was a 30-day musical intervention broadcasting music from global Africa, and greater Cape Town, from September 12 (Biko Day) to October 12, 2008.

Some of the most beautiful, interesting, and cutting-edge developments in melody and rhythm are coming out of contemporary Africa, and the musical traditions being blended in PASS’s broadcasts – well, you can’t help but smile. In the archive, you’ll find a live performance by Madala Kunene in a slave church, with guitar and choral vocals, that is especially beautiful and stirring. Sampling from the rest of the archive, you’ll experience West African melodies, Francophone savoir-faire, American jazz and electronic music, and tribal rhythms converging all at once. It’s an endlessly fascinating look into African-based musical traditions – like jazz and hip-hop – that were formulated in America, now returning and becoming adapted and developed and accented by Africa once again.

And if you’re not too fond of it, I guarantee: your grandkids will love you for turning them on to this station. They’ll think you’re the coolest.

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