A milestone and some African voices

No, the milestone wasn’t some significant birthday (the birthday came and went with the Easter bunny, and it wasn’t a Milestone, if you know what I mean…!).  It was the fact that, sometime last Monday night, this blog reached a total of half a million page views over the nearly four years of its existence.  Who would have thought that from this little acorn of an idea born while sitting at my computer one Sunday night, such a mighty oak would grow!  Thanks to each and every one of you who followed the information superhighway to get here – hope I made you feel at home, and don’t be a stranger :)

I’ve also been spending the time since my double win at the South African blog awards discovering some great South African blogs and revisiting some old favourites.  Here is my hand-picked selection of a few that I believe you’ll enjoy – some foodie, some not-so-foodie, but all vibrant, passionate and African.

A topic that is seldom far from my mind these days is the tragedy playing itself out with terrifying predictability in Zimbabwe.  Knowing what we know about the tight rein that Mugabe and his regime keep on what the media may publish, it is good to have a source of first-hand information in the form of This is Zimbabwe.  This blog is affiliated with the Sokwanele civil action support group and provides a combination of political commentary, wry observations about life, and the kind of first-hand accounts of a society on the verge of meltdown that newspapers could never provide (NB – please be aware that the first few posts visible contain graphic pictures of recent victims of post-election beatings).  Yes, here in the UK we hear that there is a possibility of voting irregularities in the election, but then we are reassured by the report that there are lots of election observers in the country, so it’ll be OK, right?  Wrong.  Read this first-hand account of elections, Mugabe-style, and you’ll understand that the kind of irregularities being talked about are so far beyond the paradigm of most people in the UK as to be inconceivable.  I hang my head in abject shame when I read that my president says that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, and I fear that the world is so busy quibbling about China and Tibet that nobody is focusing fully on the genocide being perpetrated against the people of Zimbabwe. I figure anything I can do to raise awareness of the true situation is a tiny step in the right direction. 

The first thing that caught my eye about Marita Says was the name – it was my mom’s.  Curiosity well and truly piqued, I investigated further and discovered a delightful expat South African blog.  Bordeaux is currently living in Bangkok and blogs whatever takes his fancy, from travel, to design to food.  He even won Hey, Hey, It’s Donna Day! recently, so definitely one worth adding to your feed reader!

Not foodie but definitely South African is eLuckypacket.  Sue is another South African expat living in San Diego and her blog promises "something sweet and unexpected" every day.  She certainly delivers – especially on 19 March when she posted a quick profile of… Cooksister! 

A fellow-South African cooking site that I have recently discovered via Bron‘s blog is Rainbowcooking – hardly surprising as they are also based in New Zealand.  Jaco and Marietjie share their passion for South African food and have put together a nice collection of recipes, both South African and more international.

I have no idea anymore how I stumbled across Doula Mel, but I do remember that I was captivated on my first visit.  You see, Mel is a doula – a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth – in Cape Town, South Africa.  And when she isn’t surfing or raising her beautiful kids she helps to run a charity called Bosom Buddies.  Those of you who live in South Africa will know that the standard childbirth facilities at most state hospitals falls well short of what is taken for granted in the developed world and well short of what you would want for your sister/mother/daughter/friend.  The Bosom Buddies volunteers regularly visit state hospital maternity wards, distributing hand-sewn nappy bags with clothing, blankets and products for the newborn as well as hygiene products for the mother. They personally deliver the bags to each mom and spend one-on-one time with each baby and mother.  Where there has been a stillbirth, they will sit and hold the woman and pray with her, as well as providing a plain version of the nappy bag with toiletries, a sympathy card and something pretty for woman.  I was moved to tears that people would be willing to do such a wonderful thing for strangers.  Mel arrives in the US tomorrow and if you want to donate newborn clothes she would be thrilled to hear from you – just make sure you read what she needs first before you e-mail her.  Alternatively you can check out the Bosom Buddies needs list and bank acount details if you want to make a donation.  I know I will.

So there you have it – more blogs with the Cooksister stamp of approval!  I do hope that you can take a few minutes to have a look at each of them as they are all unique voices, intent on promoting or improving Africa, and using the blogosphere to do it.  So go and give them some e-love!

And although it’s not a South African blog, it does fall squarely in the category of good causes close to my heart.  So please don’t forget to send your entries for A Taste of Yellow to Barbara by this Saturday, 19 April.  In case you’ve forgotten, this is the yellow-themed foodie event to coincide with LiveSTRONG Day 2008, to raise awareness of and funds for the fight against cancer, and I have already submitted some wonderfully yellow marmalade bread & butter pudding as my entry.  C’mon and join us!

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  1. says

    Thanks for the pointers to new blogs and resources. It’s always good to widen the circle.
    I am feeling so sad about Robert Mugabe’s stranglehold on Zimbabwe and South Africa’s apparent inability to persuade him to move gracefully on that I’m finding it almost impossible to read anything Zim-related. I may have to be brave though and read This Is Zimbabwe.
    I’m looking forward to reading Doula Mel – my first, accidental, home birth happened partially because I had a doula with me whom I trusted. Without her, I would never have had the amazing home birth experience that I had.

  2. Rachel says

    I have been reading your blog since I lived in London 2 years ago – I’m not even sure how I came across it! I have made several of your recipes, and every now and then consider writing my own foodie blog – but not sure I have the right skills! Thanks for the great reading. I checked out all your recommendations too, some excellent ‘food for thought’.

  3. says

    What a touching and thought-provoking post!
    It is truly sad to see this tragedy go virtually unnoticed. Hopefully the rest of the world will take their blinders off soon and a country that is in need of desperate help.
    Thanks for the informational links also. Very beneficial.

  4. says

    Congratulations to you! You do have a delicious little blog here!
    Funny – was thinking of you just yesterday. The local paper ran a spot about Salt. And, of course, I sniggered to myself, old news – read about it on Cook Sister years (more or less) ago!
    Well done and keep up all the good eating and writing – those of us who had left-over curry and stale pretzels for dinner depend on you!

  5. says

    Hi Sue
    No worries – I give mentions where mentions are due :-) And I do believe I discovered Mel’s blog through YOU! She’s truly a remarkable lady.
    Hi Charlotte
    Yup, us blogging expats should stick together! I have to say that reading This is Zimbabwe takes courage every day, but if somebody does not keep telling the world it is so easy to turn a blind eye. I was ecstatic today to see that the Transport & Allied Workers Union refused to offload the cargo of Zim-bound weapons in Durban, or to drive it anywhere. And you’re going to love doule Mel – she sounds like the kind of person I want to invite round for dinner!!
    Hi Rachel
    Glad to hear from a long-time reader, and thrilled that the recipes you tried were good! I’m glad that you find the links interesting. It always amazes me the diversity of blogs that talented Africans maintain, and I think we should all support them.
    Hi Marietjie & jaco
    Ah yes, the Cooksister stamp of approval is not given lightly 😉 Glad to have discovered you!
    Hi Candyce
    I agree 100% – the world needs to stop pretending that there is a democratic government in power in Zim and see Mugabe for the evil dictator that he is. It breaks my heart to see the world stand by and do nothing, and Mbeki makes it easier for them by saying there is no crisis. It makes me think of the poem about not standing up for the victimised and in the end when YOU become the victim there is nobody to stand up for YOU!
    Hi ExAfrica
    Ooooh, what a molecular gastronomy concept – curry and pretzels :o) Thanks for the lovely kind words, and glad to hear I’m still one step ahead of the game on salt tastings 😉

  6. says

    Jeanne thanks for the African blog links, it is always interesting to follow a little linky path and discover great blogs!
    The Zim situation is beyond frustrating.. my Zim link is a couple of years selling high end Shona sculpture here in Australia – and the business partner (20 or so years in Africa, mostly Zim) coming back each time with more stories of friends and artists missing/dead, and people desperate to get out.
    it’s hard to separate politics from life when something close to your heart is being systematically destroyed, I’m so grateful and inspired that you (and other bloggers) don’t check your politics/passions/convictions at the blog door.. :)