A love affair with America, threatened but thriving

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Me listening to US diplomat Nick von Mertens at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Pretoria in May 2016

I’ve always wanted to be in the United States—if not live in it, then visit it. But during the rise of Donald Trump and the spate of reported mass shootings and killings of unarmed black men, I’m second-guessing that dream. Continue reading

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I am with Orlando

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When my mother called me this morning to check up on me, at some point I brought up the news of the mass shooting that took place at a gay Orlando club called Pulse in Florida, US. Expecting her to match the shock in my voice, she instead said the mowing down of almost 50 people was a good thing and that it reduced the number of gay people in the world. In the same breath of repulsion, she mentioned the transgender bathroom controversy that broke a few weeks earlier in the same country. I hung up. Continue reading

The secret to life: curiosity

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Childcraft Encyclopaedia set (Source: Tejas Nair via Wikipedia)

One day, I was watching a movie, possibly Batman Begins, which has a scene where a private jet flies across the world, sunlight glinting on its round-edged windows. I thought, ‘How fast would the jet plane have to travel to keep the Sun in the same spot in the sky?’ This is how I discovered the polar night (also called the midnight sun). Continue reading

Dude, where’s my down?

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Screenshot of the Solar System from the PC simulator ‘Universe Sandbox’

Every other week my colleagues and I have a creative writing session. This week the first exercise involved answering random questions, some of which are more personal and I’d rather not get into. (Okay, fine. My pet peeve is auto-play videos on the Internet, I have no ex-boyfriends to murmur regrets about; and I ate muesli, kung pao chicken and lasagna that day). The second was a riddle. Here is mine:

I am one of the slightest things you will ever know, but you feel me all the time. I suck you in, I pull you down; I show you up and I whirl you around. The more you are, the more I am. I can bend your light and curve the space around you. What am I?

Continue reading

The moment man mastered nature

In Greek mythology Prometheus steals fire from the highest gods and gives it to mankind.

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Me skydiving tandem from 3.4 km above Wonderboom, Pretoria North, in November 2014

The moment man claimed Prometheus’s torch was not when he first controlled fire or found the wheel.

The moment he stopped being at the immediate mercy of nature was not when his brain swelled so large that he devised weapons that dislodged the lion from the apex of the food chain. It was not at the beginning of electrified country, or when he freed himself from the confines of the seasons to harvest food. And put aside the fact that after a test burn of a shuttle engine, which generates thrust by reacting hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and the white plumes billow into the air, rain falls. Continue reading