Notties Hotel and other haunts

2011-12-31 00:00

THIS year, my first in KwaZulu-Natal, was fantastic! In May I had the opportunity to spend a night at Nottingham Road Hotel to “investigate” whether Charlotte, the resident ghost, would appear to haunt me in the legendary room 10. It was a chance to indulge in the paranormal and to explore the scenery of the deep Midlands.

Charlotte remained bashful and did not appear, yet my cynical instincts were replaced by a sense that it was a great marketing tool for a historical hotel.

On another assignment I met Mbongeni Sithole, one of a few people who appeared to teach readers that the power of selflessness is alive and well. This chess genius, who is in the SA top rankings, offered chess coaching to schoolchildren in Pietermaritzburg for free. His journey to learning chess is an inspiration.

Another Midlands story that touched readers was that of Dargle Primary School art teacher Dumisani Shange, who creates brilliant works of art with scant resources. Using his imagination and very few facilities, he encouraged pupils to create art from their surroundings so that, if they could not afford high school, they would have marketable skills. An appeal for art supplies elicited an overwhelming response from generous readers.

A focus on sustainable resources led me to the home of Zuvuya couple Sam Rose and Shiny Murphy, who live in a community committed to living in harmony with the Earth. They built their own home from wood and earth and they use solar energy and water from a river. It was an eye-opening experience and gave meaning to ethics of natural living.

A day out with the SPCA at its annual township dog show in the rural areas, where they educate people about vaccinations and the importance of dog baths and feeding, was another eye-opener.

The valuable work done by the SPCA is often dirty, heartbreaking and exhausting, but the positive energy at the township dog show showed that all animals — even scruffy mutts — need TLC.

Most recently, book author and Hawks spokesperson MacIntosh Polela shared the reasons that he felt compelled to write his book, My Father, My Monster. He said he could not find peace within himself and writing the book was a way of exorcising demons from his past. His book is proof that behind many successful people lies a troubled past and we never know what they have endured to make them the successes they are.

I met so many interesting people and was inspired by so many who allowed me to share their stories. I look forward to writing and sharing more stories with you in 2012.

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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