Information Science exams to complete my Post Graduate Diploma

Well I must apologise for not writing more often in the last 3 weeks. I am never afraid to face adversity as I have encountered much of it in the past 4 years. New challenges always rear their ugly head when you least expect it. I wrote exams during 3-7 November for my Information Science degree at Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg. I didn’t work particularly hard throughout the year as I found the areas of research very interesting. So I discovered I already had a lot of background information on the various topics and I just had to update myself with the detailed aspects of Information Science. I look forward to completing my 2nd year in 2004 so I can decide on a Masters thesis.

 

Merry Christmas To You in 2010

Merry Christmas II You Mariah Carey new album 2010My Christmas wish for you, my friends
Is not a simple one
For I wish you hope and joy and peace
Days filled with warmth and sun

I wish you love and friendship too
Throughout the coming year
Lots of laughter and happiness
To fill your world with cheer

May you count your blessings, one by one
And when totalled by the lot
May you find all you’ve been given
To be more than what you sought

May your journeys be short, your burdens light
May your spirit never grow old
May all your clouds have silver linings
And your rainbows pots of gold

I wish this all and so much more
May all your dreams come true
May you have a wonderful Christmas And a happy New Year….

Much love and Gods richest Blessings to you and your family…

 

Happy birthday dearest Mother

Today is my mother, Illona Murray’s 57th birthday. I’m not sure exactly what to say to my mother when I wish her today. She is living in Uitenhage and I live in Johannesburg. During February I spent 3 weeks visiting her and it was essentially my December holiday. Like all mothers and son’s we have have good times and bad times, we’re close and we’re far apart.

When I was growing up she was a strong role model, a single mother who worked for First National Bank for 33 years. Every day we spent a little bit of time together after she came home work. And there were times when I felt that she was not as caring as I would have liked her to be because I recall making my own lunch, walking myself to school, making my own bed. However, all these things helped me to become self reliant. And the lessons in independence were valuable later on when I lived in moved to Johannesburg in 1997, and moved to Cape Town in 1999, and eventually to United Arab Emirates in 2000.

The most important thing in her life post-1988 is God. She is a reborn Christian and currently with the Salvation Army. I always tell the story of how she wanted to be a nurse, but her father did not allow her to study in that direction. She settled for a job with the municipality and eventually found work with a bank. However, it clear since her early retirement in 2008 that she has found something that makes her happy on a daily basis. And I received more support from her in the last few years that could be expected. So in this blog post I want to acknowledge her contribution to my life. I honour and praise her resilience and her faith in me. She has never denied me when I asked her for help. And no matter how bad things were growing up, and now as an adult, her love is the foundation on which I built my own life.

So happy birthday Mom. You deserve all the richest blessings from God, and know you are instrumental in the direction of my daily life. The best memories I have is from the times you took me to work on weekends and how we used to enjoy Wimpy burgers on the train home from Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage. All those hours spent running around the bank when I was 4 or 5 comes back to me in a flash every now and then. And the happiness I experienced just being close to you is all that matters.

 

Open Letter to Uitenhage High School

Eugene Exford, Leigh Ann Goosen head prefects Uitenhage High School 1992I have been informed of a number of comments that has been made on a certain Facebook profile regarding a donation and trophy that I’ve made to Uitenhage High School, also referred to as Uitenhage Senior Secondary School in honour of my late friend and classmate Eugene Exford RIP 1999.

Him and his wife died 10 years ago in a tragic car accident near Colchester. His daughter and only child survived the accident. As an ex-headboy of the school and an exceptional leader amongst his peers, I thought it befitting that I should donate a trophy and prize money to a grade 12 learner for “exceptional leadership abilities”, in memory of my friend. I’ve presented this idea to the school and they’ve agreed to it, as well as a couple of other specific conditions that relate to the dispensation of the prize money. Part of these conditions were that the school must invite Eugene’s mom and daughter also to the event, in view of the initial presentation of the award.

Great was my surprise (and disappointment!) when at the time of the presentation of the award NO mention was made that the trophy was presented to the school “in memory of Eugene Exford RIP 1999” (as stipulated in the agreement I’ve made with them). I was sitting next to Eugene Exford’s mother AND his surviving daughter at the time. If I did not stand up and say something at this crucial junction, I would have failed in my duty to my friend, his family and one of the greatest leaders Uitenhage High has ever produced. I stood up to my feet and corrected Mr Ernie Heynes (the MC at the time). The other MC, Mr Joseph Paul Slingers, Jr was in the same class, 10D, with Eugene Exford and myself, and he also neglected to mention anything during the multiple opportunities he had as the co-MC for the evening.

Continue reading “Open Letter to Uitenhage High School”

 

Breakfast with Angela Ludek, aka WildAngel

About 3 weeks I met someone with whom I believe I share a spiritual connection. I cannot explain it in words. Freud came close when he described this type of feeling as uncanny – strange or mysterious, esp. in an unsettling way. And Carl Jung helped me understand how we met when he in turn coined the phrase synchronicity – the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. Well what am I going on about here?

Let me take you back to the days of SABC1’s Simunye Grooves days. Angela Ludek was one of the original presenters during programming. And she later moved to Goodhope FM, also owned by the SABC. She has worked with Lovelife organisation in the past to raise awareness on safer sexual relationships between young people. At the time she was at Goodhope FM, she was based in Cape Town, although she is Joburg-born and bred. I had just interviewed Jeannie D, one of the young new stars in the South Africa media landscape. So I got an invite to the launch of a new television commercial directly supervised by the now infamous Pop Idols judge, Randall Abrahams.

Continue reading “Breakfast with Angela Ludek, aka WildAngel”

 

Goodbye Miriam Makeba, Mama Afrika

Miriam Makeba aka Mama AfrikaFolk singer, Miriam Makeba, died at age 76 early Monday in Southern Italy after a performing at a concert against organised crime and racism. Spokespeople from the Emergency Room at Pineta Grande Clinic, A private facility at Castel Volturno confirmed that she was brought there from the concert.

ANSA news reported that she succumbed to a heart attack 30 minutes after the show, in which she showed solidarity toward Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who had received death threats following on his book, Camorra, which discusses the crime syndicate in the Naples area.

“It’s a monumental loss not only to South African society in general, but for humanity,” said Department of Arts and Culture spokesperson Sandile Memela.

Miriam Makeba or Mama Afrika, as she was affectionately known, was born in Johannesburg on 4 March 1932. The daughter of a Swazi mother (sangoma) and a Xhosa father. She shot to fame in the late 50’s and the 60’s with a documentary (Come Back, Africa) and winning a Grammy working with Harry Belafonte.

She left South Africa in 1959 and spent more than 30 years in exile, becoming known as an anti Apartheid activist in the process. In 1960 when her mother died she tried to return to South Africa for the funeral, but was denied access to the country as her passport had been revoked. Some of her marriages were to Stokely Carmichael (American Civil Rights Activists) as well as Jazz legend Hugh Masekela.

 

Ramon Thomas ends association with DBS Human Capital

WITHOUT PREJUDICE

I am in the process of issuing a letter of demand against directors, Nia Maritz and Peter Jeffrey as well as their company DBS Human Capital (Pty) Ltd (www.dbshc.co.za) for non-payment for organising the Women4Women conference on 5 October 2007 and work done in preparation of the next conference to be held on Friday, 24 October 2008 in Cape Town. While preparing for the 2nd conference to be held later this month a dispute about payment arose between us.

My attorneys have instructed me not to published any details until they have reviewed the list of demands and checked all the facts with everyone involved in 2007 and 2008 conferences.

What is a letter of demand? Read more here.

Sincerely
Ramon Thomas

 

Qhubeka moving South Africa forward with Nine Million Bicycles

The song Nine Million Bicycles by Katie Melua is perhaps not the most inspirational song in the world. However, it does make you feel good, if you are even just a little bit as nostalgic as I am. Recently the Facebook social networking website has moved from a boring distraction to a powerful communication tool for me in the last two months. I cannot say exactly what the trigger is; maybe it is simply connecting with like-minded people directly and just in time.

One of those people is Anthony Fitzhenry whom I first met in May 2007 at the now defunct Futurex event. Anthony is the founder of a non-profit organisation, Qhubeka Bikes for Life, which helps poor, previously disadvantaged communities across South Africa purchase bicycles to solve a serious transport and movement problem that exists, especially remote towns or villages. This has been my first exposure to this project and it hit my like a ton of bricks…here is a real solution.

It was starring me in the face all along. And its especially poignant for me because I’ve been talking about purchasing a bike to increase my fitness levels. I’ve always hated jogging and the machines in gyms are even more mechanical. The beautiful things about a bicycle is that I can do some sight seeing while working out as well. In this day and age I suppose the environmental concerns are valid when it comes to reducing car pollution.

Anyway I still have to get my own bike but maybe the Qhubeka movement I can get one for me, and for the Uitenhage community. Taxi fare from the Rosedale, Gamble suburbs into the Uitenhage town area is R7.50 and that makes a return trip R15. Now multiply that by 5 or rather 6 days a week and you’re spending R90 per week on travel and a whopping R378 per month. That monthly amount is particularly important because its about enough to purchase food for a week if you stretch it. The taxi drivers, in my view, do very little to give back to the communities. They monopolise transport, especially in Gauteng where trains and in general, the entire public transport system, is horrendously unsafe and unreliable for a multitude of reasons.

Back to bringing Qhubeka to Uitenhage and the Kwa-Nobuhle township…this is really something tangible for the community to work towards. Its just ironic that most of the people working at the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage, the biggest employer in the town, will never, ever be able to own the vehicles they are building.

Here’s some more from the Qhubeka Facebook group:

In the Nguni languages of South Africa , of which Zulu is one, Qhubeka means “to carry on”, “to continue”, “to progress” or “to move forward”.

Transportation is a fundamental element of development. Most of Africa’s rural population have no access to any form of transport and people have to walk long distances to access economic opportunities, education, healthcare, shops and other community services.

Rural schoolchildren are particularly badly affected by this lack of mobility. Of the 16 million children in school in South Africa, 12 million walk to school. Of these, 500,000 walk more than two hours each way, spending four hours getting to school and back each day.

The bicycle is the most effective and economical method of quickly (and permanently) addressing some of the problems relating to lack of mobility in the disadvantaged communities of South Africa. Bicycles play a vital role in advancing sustainable socio-economic development in both rural and urban communities around the world.

Some of the potential benefits attached to bicycle transportation include:

  • Cost effective transport
  • Environmentally-friendly transport
  • Time savings
  • Healthy extra-curricular activity

 

Fathers, Sons and questions from reading Manhood

Noel Murray and Raymond Thomas circa 1975Last weekend I spent some quality time with my best friend Bradley Minnaar. He’s mother passed away recently and now moved back in from a granny flat into the main house. All his sisters are married with kids and his one brother is married with kids, while the other became a missionary after his wife passed away only a few years after getting married. Sometimes while growing I envied to luxury, as I perceived it of having both your mother and father available to you.

One of the things we discussed was the missing father syndrome in so many families, including my own. One obvious thing for me is how strong the link is between poverty and missing fathers. I grew up primarily with my mother in Uitenhage, outside of Port Elizabeth, and probably one of the poorest towns in South Africa. The biggest employer is Volkswagen, Goodyear and some other factories, all which remove fathers from the household.

Anyway back to my own story. Until my father married his 2nd wife, when I was about 12 years old, I used to visit him for extended holidays in Johannesburg. I recall the feelings of trepidation I had when I realised my father was having another son i.e. my brother. The love that comes with a new born soon replaced whatever insecurity or anxiety I had about his arrival. Looking back, maybe the biggest disappointment for me was when my father could not make it for my 21st birthday in 1996. This was also the same weekend I graduated with a BSc degree, becoming the first person in my extended family to complete a university degree.

Continue reading “Fathers, Sons and questions from reading Manhood”

 

How to stop smoking one day at a time

There are some addictions that are so common you may believe they are normal like drinking coffee or for some people smoking a cigarette. I was probably 12 years old when I tried my hand at smoking one of my mother’s cigarettes. She’s since quit about 20 years ago before my sister was born. And it’s so funny after all these years of divorce my ddd still smokes the same brand, which shows they had at least this one thing in common. I ended up developing this habit early on in my teenage years, reaching it’s peak during my high school and university years. This was likely the age which was most impressionable. There was a sense at the time that smoking was cool, fun and the in-thing to do. There was also the drama of hiding or doing things behind your parents backs and even the thrill of being caught every once in a while. Continue reading “How to stop smoking one day at a time”