Teens head off on Berg adventure

2008-08-03 00:00

A group of teenage girls is keen for the balmy winter weather to continue, at least for the next month or so.

The reason is a ground-breaking initiative that will see the entire grade nine class at St John’s DSG take to the hills this month for what is certain to be a life-changing and enriching experience.

Known as Uhambo (or journey, in isiZulu), the initiative is the first of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal and will see the girls in three escorted groups traverse the southern Drakensberg and Lesotho. Part of a self-reliant physical, spiritual and emotional journey, the adventure will include activities such as cycling and pony-trekking.

They will be doing a fair amount of camping and occasionally they will overnight in mountain huts or in other accommodation during their 300-km trek.

The aim is to develop tolerance, gratitude, perseverance and endurance, hopefully instill some environmental awareness and respect, and possibly learn to treasure the wilderness.

Uhambo is based on a similar initiative by Somerset College in Somerset West, but this has done little to settle the concerns of the daunted teenagers who will be way out of their comfort zones.

For one, they will have to do without the modern trappings of cellphones, hair dryers, iPods and shopping malls, and instead will shoulder backpacks and walk to places where few have been.

Parents have embraced the initiative wholeheartedly, and not because they’re relishing a teen-free interlude, but because they understand the value of Uhambo for their children.

Consensus among parents canvassed is that the school is deserving of a nod of appreciation for its vision, for making it happen, and for incorporating Uhambo in the formal school curriculum.

To lighten the financial load on parents to kit out their daughters with backpacks, boots, thermals and the like, St John’s secured a 10% discount from Bush & Bundu.

But the focus is on the girls, and the signs of something unusual stirring are there — the grade nine girls have apparently decided to mark their rites of passage with a commemorative hoodie, this to be over and above the costs already incurred by parents.

To this end, the class has decided to raise funds collectively in a flurry of money-making activity.

The jury is out as to whether this spurt of teenage ingenuity is signalling excitement or masking nervousness. Whatever the case, they’re in for the experience of a lifetime when they board the bus for the Drakensberg next week. Watch this space.

Counting carbon

Barely had Environment Minister Marthinus “Kortbroek” van Schalkwyk announced an ambitious policy framework on climate change than the critics were sharpening their knives.

Proposed measures such as the introduction of carbon taxes and incentives to ensure businesses adopt clean technologies and achieve a reduction in harmful carbon emissions have evidently stirred a hornet’s nest in some corporate corners.

Eskom MD of corporate services Steve Lennon feared a carbon tax “might result in double-accounting”, while Chemical and Allied Industries executive director Laurraine Lotter said any further taxes would be counterproductive.

We think, though, that despite the far-reaching implications and the higher cost of doing business, climate change policies are not a matter of choice. We’ve waited too long already.

Blue lighting police

Why was police car BPZ 392 B, with blue lights flashing, in such a rush to overtake on the left down Edendale Road?

We’re asking, because five minutes later, the same car and its T-shirt attired occupants were leisurely taking in the sights down Langalibalele Street, this time in no hurry. We wonder what the Hammarsdale station commander has to say?

Proudly Prestbury

WHO would have thought that modest Prestbury Primary School had turned 90? This was indeed the case as an impressive hand-painted banner outside the school proudly proclaimed.

The school, like Heritage Academy down Stott Road, is a credit to the neighbourhood and we’re waiting for the 100-year celebration.

Business survival

Congratulations are in order for Anderson Engineering, which has reached the half-century mark. This is no mean achievement and it is only fitting that tribute is paid to an organisation that has shown itself to be a manufacturer of excellence.

Butchery and wine tasting

It was the turn of the Hartenberg winery to showcase it wares when The Butchery hosted another of its legendary tasting evenings.

The food was, as to be expected, perfectly suited to the best of Hartenberg on offer, and made for a perfect evening of eating and drinking.

Hot stuff

Speaking of things culinary, Carlos of Peri-Peri fame is back in town.

Having slaved away in Mozambique for the past five years, Carlos returned to the city and has opened an eatery in Park Lane Centre.

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