At one point in the narration of her new visual album, Black is King, Beyonce intones the following: “What a thing to be — both universal and familiar. To be one and the same, and still unlike any other.”

It was a reference to the central character in the tale, a young African king seeking to regain his throne after being cast out by his own family. But it could just as easily be applied to the Zulu tribesman who recorded a timeless song 81 years ago, and who at least partially inspired Queen Bey to make this film.

The…


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The introduction on Dec. 11 of a draft amendment bill by South Africa’s Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has raised concerns of governmental overreach — that athletics would essentially be nationalized, with the minister of sports free to oversee the affairs of various independent sporting bodies.

While the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill — a potential revision of the 1998 National Sport and Recreation Act — has many provisions, the crux of the matter is that the minister, Nathi Mthethwa, will be allowed to establish policy for all sports. …


Edwin Koech battled a strong field, and a strong wind. Celestine Chepchirchir, while hardly lacking for competition herself, was ultimately fighting the clock.

The two Kenyans nonetheless found success en route to winning their respective divisions in the Cape Town Marathon on Sept. 15, Koech running 2:09.20 to outlast fellow countryman Daniel Muteti and take the overall title by five seconds, and Chepchirchir traversing the course in 2:26.44 to obliterate the women’s record.

A total of 9,588 runners finished the race, the only one in Africa to earn Gold Label status from the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). …


September is always designated Tourism Month in South Africa, though by all indications the other 11 months are giving it a run for its money. In all tourism contributed 1.5 million jobs and R425.8 billion (approximately $29 billion in U.S. dollars) to the nation’s economy in 2018. That’s more than any other country on the African continent, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review of the economic impact and social importance of that industry.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, South Africa’s minister of tourism, was quoted in August as saying that the nation’s “We Do Tourism” initiative “aims to make…


Rule №1 for anyone embarking on an African walking safari is this: When confronted by a wild animal — like, say, a lion — don’t run. The thinking is that if you act like prey, you will be treated as such.

Which, of course, is easy to do in theory, but harder in practice. A blogger named Richard Madden related just how hard in a post, when he discussed how a lion charged his party during one such safari, in Zambia.

The beast came to a screeching halt before reaching the group (and let’s remember that there was a guide…


By air, it is some 7,455 miles from Cape Town to Cairo. But a group of South African teens now sees possibilities that extend far beyond that.

Twenty of them, plucked from various backgrounds by an aviation initiative known as U-Dream Global, built the four-seat plane currently in the process of making that continent-length journey. Six of them are alternating as pilots, having obtained their licenses last year.

The latter group is headed by 17-year-old Megan Werner, who founded U-Dream in 2018.

“The purpose of the initiative is to show Africa that anything is possible if you set your mind…


William Smith recalled that in his day, he was no more than “an average student.” But he believes that made all the difference in his teaching career — a career that in turn made a difference in the lives of millions of South Africans.

The 79-year-old Smith, who for over 15 years taught math and science on SABC’s The Learning Channel, was presented a National Order award — specifically, the Order of the Baobab in Silver — by President Cyril Ramaphosa during a ceremony on April 25.

Through his television show, which first aired in 1990, Smith managed to demystify…


The popularity of nonfiction books in South Africa, brought into sharper focus by the incendiary reaction to author Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s recent book Gangster State, has long been a reality.

Myburgh’s book explores the alleged malfeasance of current African National Congress Secretary General Ace Magashule while he served as premier of the Free State province. It sparked protests in Johannesburg upon its release in early April, but the book’s supporters were no less passionate.

This is, of course, an extreme case, but nonfiction books have long been more popular than novels in South Africa. A 2015 report noted that 80 percent


South African actress Pearl Thusi believes her star turn on Queen Sono, the first African original television series ordered by Netflix, will “change the game for every artist on this continent,” as she tweeted when plans for the show were announced in December 2018.

NPR.org reported that only 13 percent of the storylines on American TV mentioning Africa included an African character, and that of those, 46 percent uttered 10 words or fewer. Just 31 percent were women.

Thusi’s hope (and that of others) is that this series, which goes into production this year, will alter Africa’s place on the…

Henri Steenkamp

Henri Steenkamp is the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Director of Saratoga Investment Advisors, LLC.

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