5 August 2011 Within five hours of its launch, South Africa’s new high-speed rail service between Pretoria and Johannesburg had attracted more than 7 000 commuters. The figure was considered groundbreaking for a public train established to reduce traffic between the province’s two economic hubs. After a few delays, the important city-to-city route was finally opened on 2 August. The first train, which left Hatfield in Pretoria at 5.26am for the Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank, ferried hundreds of commuters to work. According to Gautrain management, the train had accommodated 2 000 passengers by 7.00am, and just two hours later had added another 5 000 to that number. Gauteng Transport and Roads MEC Ismail Vadi was one of the first passengers. “Within 37 minutes from Hatfield we were in Rosebank,” he said, referring to a trip that could take up to two hours or more in peak traffic. Vadi added that he found the much-anticipated ride to be “smooth, fast, comfortable and safe”. At its maximum allowed speed of 160km per hour, it’s the fastest mode of transport in South Africa beside air travel. Commuter Mphengoa Phoko started using the train on its launch day. She used to drive daily from Pretoria to her workplace in Johannesburg, but said she will ride the Gautrain from now on. “It’s convenient and less stressful,” Phoko said, responding to a question from her seat. “After a long day at work I won’t have to concentrate on driving.” The Gautrain route between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, which was launched just before the 2010 Fifa World Cup, has already ferried approximately three-million commuters in little more than a year. The Pretoria-Johannesburg route is expected to surpass that figure before the end of 2011, as it attracts thousands of people who commute to work daily. “Gautrain is the future for public transport in South Africa,” said transport minister S’bu Ndebele, hinting that in future the government may look at introducing such high-speed trains elsewhere. The much shorter route between Rosebank and the Johannesburg CBD is expected to go live later in 2011 after completion of outstanding work, bringing on board thousands of new passengers. Gautrain offers a reliable alternative for motorists who were previously not comfortable with the country’s public transport. “Leave your car at home; you can use it over weekend,” Ndebele said.Years of hard work The Gauteng provincial government, then led by former premier Mbhazima Shilowa, launched plans for a rapid rail system in 2004. “We travelled the length and breadth of the world, looking for technology,” recalled MEC Qedani Mahlangu. She said they inspected train stations in densely populated areas like London and Paris, and also visited countries like Spain and Switzerland to gain insight into rapid rail systems. The Bombela Consortium, which comprises international groups Bombardier and Bouygues Travaux Publics, as well as South African civil contractor Murray & Roberts and the Strategic Partners Group, became a private sector partner to Gauteng’s provincial government in 2005. Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe told journalists the government’s resolution to complete the project was commendable. “You can’t tackle a project like this without political support, you’ve got to have it,” he said. Up to 8 000 people worked on Gautrain during its construction phase. Mahlangu said the consortium also recruited South Africans who had left the country.Focus on infrastructure Now that Gautrain construction is almost complete, the government can focus on other public rail projects. It is to spend R30.2-billion (US$4.5-billion) over the next three years to improve services of the Metrorail trains, which transport millions of South Africans staying in townships around Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces daily. Ndebele said the government’s plan to upgrade metro trains too is so that “you don’t have a Gautrain that’s comfortable and fast, but have a Metrorail that’s pedestrian”. Another critical project is the Moloto Rail Corridor in Mpumalanga province, which would see Metrorail trains transporting thousands of Mpumalanga residents who work in Pretoria. Ndebele’s department is still conducting feasibility studies on the much-needed project, which was first mooted by former president Thabo Mbeki some years ago. The government spends millions of rands each year on subsidies for private company buses for Moloto commuters. “Already we’re paying. We have to ask if that is the most effective way of using taxpayers’ money,” Ndebele said. First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.
Skin-bleaching agents, weaves – these are the norm for many African women pressured into trying to fit a media stereotype of beauty. One female filmmaker decided to question this Western way of doing things in an animated documentary. Stories that include a local Kenyan hairdresser who can only afford enough beauty cream to bleach her hands and face, are documented in the film Yellow Fever. (Image: Screen grab via YouTube) • South Africa’s musos dish on being a woman in music • A need for roots drives passion for genealogy • South African foodies cooking up a storm • Powerful women shape Africa • Big screen treatment for queen of Katwe Melissa JavanWhen she was just a child Ng’endo Mukii realised that the pressure to look professional and presentable made her feel awkward. That’s one of the reasons the Kenyan embarked on a journey to make a documentary carrying the message that women needed an option of choice.Mukii, the director and editor of the animated documentary Yellow Fever, says the pressure to look professional meant having Western ideals in the world in which she grew up. These ideals included having long, straight hair and paler skin.The idea for her film developed as part of a dissertation she did at the Royal College of Art in London, United Kingdom. Yellow Fever focuses on the media’s perception of beauty and what impact it has had on African women.Yellow Fever has received awards all over the world, including Best Animation at the seventh Kenya International Film Festival in Nairobi in November 2012, Best Student Film at the Underexposed Film Festival in the United States in November 2013, and Best Short Film at the AfriKamera Film Festival in Warsaw, Poland in April 2014.The documentary features women from different generations talking about changing skin colour and styling hair. In one scene, a young black girl (Mukii’s niece) says she would love to be whiter. She says she knows she can change her skin colour with magic.The pressure to change yourselfMukii explains the need for choice. “If your industry only hires women with weaves and those who have a paler skin tone get more promotions and such, then you will be forced by this circumstance, to either find a new industry, or conform.“Many of us conform without realising that we have even done so,” she says. “In Kenya, people openly criticise and make fun of women who have bleached their skin, especially if they are in the limelight. I, however, feel that it’s hypocritical as a society to create these ideals and then criticise those that attempt to achieve them.”Online artist shop Domus explains that Mukii presented Yellow Fever as a means of showing how Africans – and Kenyans specifically – have absorbed the absolute truths presented about themselves over the years, to the point that their own media has become biased towards Western ideals of beauty.“In response, women and girls feel pressured to conform to these ideals that essentially go against the grain of our bodies. As a result, this has affected our own sense of self-image and we constantly use chemicals to straighten our hair and bleach our skin, in an attempt to emulate these ideals,” says Mukii.News portal Huffington Post says Mukii named her film after Fela Kuti’s 1970s song of the same title. “However, while Kuti’s lyrics lash out at the women who choose to use skin-bleaching products, Mukii wants to challenge those who create the ideals. In her words, ‘rather than alienating or attacking people who are victims of them, we should actively address the lack of celebration of women of all appearances.’”The filmmaker asks: “Why is there no acknowledgement of the pressure that exists to push Kenyan [and other] women to willingly poison their skin and bodies with various chemicals [mercury included] in an attempt to have a paler complexion? Why should any normal girl feel that she will be more beautiful and lead a happier life if she loses weight?” Ng’endo Mukii interviewed family members as a microcosm for Nairobi and the women who live in Kenya.The intervieweesMukii says at first she had wanted to interview a number of women and find out their histories and perspectives. “But I realised that within my own family I had a number of generations with whom I am already connected and intimate, and we have had very different experiences growing up.“So I interviewed my mother and my niece and included my own memories and narration to use my family as a microcosm for Nairobi and the women who live here,” she explains.Mukii told Design Indaba Conference 2015 that the people in her family did not want to be filmed, so she turned to animation for the characters: “I’m animating them because no-one wants to talk on camera,” she says.“Documentary animation is really changing Kenyan peoples’ perspective on documentaries,” Mukii says. “You don’t expect it to have animated Kenyan characters talking.”Her responsibility as an AfricanSpeaking about her craft, she explains that if she feels passionately about something, it becomes the focus of her film. “If it happens to be a social issue that I am concerned about, then yes, my work will reflect that.“I do sometimes feel that there is an expectation that, as an African director, I must focus on certain social issues deemed as ‘African’, and that other content beyond this scope is seen as not ‘African enough’.“I can understand why this pressure would exist, but I feel it limits our creativity and even our own understanding of ourselves as citizens in this urbanising and multifaceted context we call Africa.”Africans, she adds, have the opportunity to tell their own stories.Watch Yellow Fever on Vimeo here.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Ohio Pork Council is pleased to announce its partnership with Brookside Laboratories to provide discounted soil and manure samples for all Ohio pig farmers. To help farmers better utilize their resources, Brookside Laboratories has generously offered to provide soil samples for $3 per sample and manure samples for $20 per sample for all Ohio pig farmers.To qualify for the discount, farmers must complete a survey at www.ohiopork.org/soilsample.“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Ohio’s pork farmers as they work towards continual improvement of water quality and best nutrient management practices,” said Luke Baker, Brookside Laboratories.Once completed, farmers will be provided an email with further instructions, a unique identifying code and an order form to be submitted with their soil and manure samples. Special soil sample bags and manure containers will be provided though select integrators and county extension offices for farmers to use in this process.“This partnership is yet another example of how Ohio agriculture is joining together to achieve common sense solutions to complex problems like water quality and nutrient management,” said Rich Deaton, President, Ohio Pork Council.For more information please contact the Ohio Pork Council at 614-882-5887 or visitwww.ohiopork.org/soilsample.
Thinking about buying a new DSLR camera for video projects? Think again. Here are five reasons why videographers may want to avoid DSLRs.Top image via ShutterstockOver the last few years, DSLRs have slowly become overshadowed by their mirrorless camera counterparts. While professional photographers may disagree, mirrorless cameras have many advantages over DSLRs that make them great choices for indie filmmakers and video professionals. Don’t believe me? Here are a few reasons why you should not buy a DSLR next time you purchase a camera for video production.1. DSLRs Are OverpricedImage via Android AuthorityDSLR cameras are incredibly overpriced. Dollar for dollar, you’re going to spend almost double on a DSLR camera compared to a mirrorless camera. This is usually because DSLR cameras come from tried-and-true photography camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon, whereas mirrorless cameras tend to come from companies that are not quite as accepted in the pro photography community, like Panasonic and Sony.As an example, you can purchase a brand new Panasonic GH4 for about $1,200 online. A GH4 will have 4k recording capabilities and give you the ability to shoot multiple recording formats. However, the comparable Canon 5D Mark III goes for about $2,200 and can’t record video in 4K. While the 5D Mark III is good for photography, it has to be hacked with Magic Lantern in order to access its full video functionalities. This inevitably leads to annoyances on set and in the editing bay.2. DSLRs Are BulkyImage via Photography ConcentrateWhen it comes to filmmaking, camera size doesn’t typically matter. At the end of the day, it comes down to the quality of footage you’re getting. However, there’s something to be said about shooting on a highly portable camera, especially at weddings and other live events. If you’re going to be shooting all day on a shoulder rig, Glidecam, or Steadicam, you probably don’t want to be using a gigantic camera like the URSA mini or even a larger DSLR.This is where mirrorless cameras come into play. Because mirrorless cameras don’t have a mirror-box mechanism, they’re smaller and lighter than their DSLR counterparts. This will make it much easier on your arms if you’re shooting for long periods of time.3. Mirrorless Cameras Are More RevolutionaryImage via B&HThere was a time when DSLR cameras were at the cutting edge of camera technology — but that’s no longer the case. Mirrorless camera manufacturers are capable of updating their cameras much quicker than DSLR camera manufacturers.Just look at the Sony a7S series of cameras. In a little over a year, Sony was able to create the a7S, a truly revolutionary low-light camera, and create a second version that added 4k recording and increased frame rates. Canon and Nikon, on the other hand, have been very slow to update their cameras. For example, the Canon 5D Mark III hasn’t been updated in over four years.4. Mirrorless Cameras Are FasterImage via ShutterstockThe interface on mirrorless cameras tends to be much faster to use than the interface found on DSLRs. In general, whenever you want to shoot on a mirrorless camera, you can be up and running in just a matter of seconds. However, to go from powering up to recording video on a DSLR, it’s typically going to take you longer. While this isn’t that big of a deal when shooting a narrative film, it could be the difference between getting that perfect shot or missing it completely when shooting a documentary.5. DSLRs FORCE You to Watch Video on an LCD ScreenImage via ShutterstockBy their very nature, DSLR cameras will not allow you to look through the viewfinder when recording video. This is because the mirror-box mechanism of a DSLR has to lift up and block the viewfinder from seeing what’s coming through the lens. This probably doesn’t make much of a difference if you’re shooting indoors — but on a sunny day, you might have a difficult time seeing what’s on your screen. This is where mirrorless cameras begin to shine.On a mirrorless camera, you can simply look through the viewfinder or the LCD screen. DSLRs, on the other hand, only show you what’s coming through your lens when looking through the viewfinder, and not what’s hitting the camera sensor. This is usually a bigger deal when shooting photography, but if you read this blog, chances are you probably shoot a little photography as well.Do you still prefer to shoot on DSLRs or have mirrorless cameras become your tool of choice? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said several women had left an “indelible mark in the history of mankind” through their “exemplary deeds” and paid tribute to the late Kunwar Bai, the mascot of his flagship Clean India mission.In his Twitter posts, the prime minister also urged people to write about women who had inspired them and use the hash tag ‘#SheInspiresMe’.Through their exemplary deeds, several women have left an indelible mark in the history of humankind. They continue to inspire generations. I urge you to write about some women who inspire you. #SheInspiresMe, Modi tweeted on International Women’s Day. Lauding Kunwar Bai, who passed away at the age of 106 earlier this year, the prime minister said she sold her goats, reportedly her only asset, to build two toilets at her home in Chhattisgarh’s Kotabharri village. Her contribution towards Swachh Bharat (Clean India) cannot be forgotten , he said I will always cherish the time when I had the opportunity to seek Kunwar Bai’s blessings during one of my visits to Chhattisgarh. Kunwar Bai lives on in the hearts and minds of all those who are passionate towards fulfilling Bapu’s dream of a clean India. #SheInspiresMe, he added. The prime minister also shared photographs and a video clip of him felicitating Kunwar Bai during a programme in the state two years ago.