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I’ve seen the rain in Africa, once in Johannesburg. Now, I only see it thru my wife’s FB messages-she’s spending some time there with our daughter and her new-born boy. A lot of my heart is in Africa, not just because I have family there but the truth is I’ve always been fascinated by the animals of Africa. How different! And then there was the constant noise I heard in grade school that we all came from Africa.


turning the world, maybe right-side up?!

Turning the world, maybe right-side up?! Say what?

You know, as a kid, I always assumed what I was taught in school was basically true. I was never a doubting Gerald. No, give me the facts and I’d write them down for test grades, then I’d go play ball free from the confines of those four walls and imposing blackboards…

Thing is, it turns out some of what I was told about Africa wasn’t true. I remember twirling globes to look at our world; that was the real deal. Actually, not so much. The picture of our world and it’s continents is really a product more of fancy, preference or economic goals than a semblance of fact.  Forget about the size of elephant’s ears; have you ever seen the size of the continent? Maybe not.

Time to listen up--Africa is way larger in comparison to other continents than we ever see it as drawn on any map....

Time to listen up–Africa is way larger in comparison to other continents than it is ever drawn on almost any map….It’s scaled down to fit what?

The bottom line on Africa is simple-calling it gigantic, colossal, bigger than huge, behemoth, gargantuan, elephantine, monumentally mammoth, prodigious or Brobdingnagian would all be insults to its true size.  Basically, you can fit many of the world’s countries inside the size of Africa and still have room to squeeze in most of your dreams comfortably.893ff7359157d3832529bc47799e8854
See? That’s American and China, oh yes India, and few random handful of European countries, hello Spain! all fitting within the one continent…. hmmm…
Example number two=

On a typical world map, Canada is  vast, a huge land area that covers a large part of the northern half of the globe. But, three Canada’s would comfortably fit inside Africa??? In our world’s nut shell— the world maps we see or the globes we spin are misleading. I read the Geert De Kremer may be the one responsible for the twisted geography we all memorized to pass tests….about a zillion years ago this European cartographer drew Africa  in scale to its importance at the time, not in proportion to any reality that involved the earth. Oddly, this misrepresentation has been happily recreated by globe manufactures and map makers ever since?!?!? Even today, google maps does no better,, ,and by the number of places google map’s bubble in Africa, you’d think most of the continent wasn’t there at all.


I've and idea! How about we makes maps and globes that represent the true size of all the continents!!! Just call me brilliant and puzzled....

I’ve and idea! How about we make maps and globes that represent the true size of all the continents!!! Just call me brilliant and puzzled….It all seems so twisted.

Here’s another quote I found who knows where….
“The 1569 Mercator projection was made for navigating the seas — drawing the meridians and parallels as straight lines that cross at right angles helped sailors to navigate some of the their first treacherous voyages around the world. Mercator initially made globes. Later transferring his map from a three-dimensional curved surface to a flat sheet of paper was problematic. Taking the equator as the logical map center left big, confusing gaps near the poles. Mercator’s solution was to stretch out the northern and southern extremities of the globe to fill those gaps, producing an elegant and usable map. While a revolutionary tool for captains and explorers, the projection distorts the relative size of the continents, to the advantage of the West. The repercussions of this are still being felt today.”
Yes, but I’ve a question- did this down play of the continent’s size also go hand-in-hand with people’s prejudices? I think so—and it is all so amazing. I read one article that expressed how different the world might be seen(and be) if map makers admitted they’d no idea what’s up or down when it comes to our universe and had drawn the world with Africa on top!

Now, as the world spins, Africa’s true worth in terms of today’s dollars is coming to light. The powerful countries all jockey  for position hoping to tap into this amazing continent’s wealth….one map is worth a thousand words…


Oh,,, China, Russia and America all rush to Africa's shores

Oh,,, China, Russia and America rush to Africa’s shores


While the world moves in Africa’s direction my mind drifts there as well.  I loved visiting Johannesburg and will one day, with luck, get to Cape Town. These places are  found on a map, but they should be much easier to locate. The size of this place escapes description-the one we were never taught.


Cape Town---Table Top in the distance...

Cape Town—Table Top in the distance…

Not Cape Town

Not Cape Town

South Africa...

South Africa…

people(my daughter's family) sunbath next to the happy penquins

people(my daughter’s family) sunbath next to the happy penguins

My daughter walks through time in South Africa--long shadows.

My daughter and child walk through time in South Africa, casting long shadows.



 My Avatar Magic Trilogy can be found on Kindle; I’ve a fourth book coming out soon. Gerald Franquemont.
Ps–you really should visit Japan(see my globes on that country) and Africa—

(click on all the pictures for better views)

Whew! Dale, my wife(I know-it’s an odd name for a gal these days but her parents had so badly wanted another son) has made her way back from the African bush lands. In truth, all I saw in her pictures from there so far is mostly barren mountains. Now, I guess she is making her way to a place of relative civilization–Durban.

One of the schools within my daughter's school districts---see? I thought bush lands in South Africa, but, yeah-no, Mountains.

One of the schools within my daughter’s school districts—see? I thought bush lands in South Africa, but, yeah-no, Mountains.

Dale had been in Cape Town visiting with our Daughter’s family….some places are too pretty for words, but here it goes.  Below, Cape Town is across this bay and my son-in- law’s job there is to help the docking and loading and unloading of ships, like the ones you see in the distance.

Beach walk, South Africa-Cape Town.

My daughter  and grand daughter take a beach walk, South Africa-Cape Town.( click on the pic for an incredible view)

Maya is two and speaks several languages- an African one, Japanese, English, and maybe a bit of that African Clicking language-Xhosa?(sp)

The trouble, the real truth of the matter, is that I haven’t really any idea what Durban could be? It’s not like it’s Dublin, but I wouldn’t think one eleter could make such a difference.

This bridge in Dublin is where the Irish stand to see if the Russians are coming.....

This bridge in Dublin is where the Irish stand and wait to see if the Russians are coming…..

As I read it*,  an ancient, dead, runaway  Egyptian slave floated in a reed basket for either forty days or forty years until he was swallowed by a whale. The whale then spit him up upon the beach of Durban where he came to life and encountered a band of very musical Head Hunters who claimed there were no jobs to be found in the area. When the man claimed to have been dead but now alive, as well as barfed from the belly of a whale, the loco entrepreneurs became restless. But it was only when the living dead man refused to leave that he was tied down to the beach sand and left there to mediate until he rotted for good.


One large fry and one small guy

One large fry and one small guy

This is exactly when Marco Polo who was looking for his lost pair of shorts came to the dead man’s rescue. Now Marco Polo was difficult to see until he insisted those people around him open their eyes! That changed everything and cheated his fate. To have been called and never seen, searched the world over only to remain hidden-that was his fate but for this one request, first and finally made on this very beach.  It’s here in this saga where it’s made clear that either the Egyptian slave was very large or the head hunters were very small.

Certainly, there is also the mention of elves who did all the work and also had actually named the place, Dirt Pile. Alas, Marco’s best translation of the clicking language sounds for Dirt Pile was, Durban.

I thought about fact checking this story but decided I’d browse google on the term first just for the excitement of it all. Here again, I was completely amazed by what I found.

It seems Durban is a type of hat!

Certainly, it had to be a very large hat.

Certainly, it had to be a very large hat.

How odd that my wife, daughter and grand child would be going to visit the inside of an African hat!?!?!It has to be one of those very stretchy kinds, the knitted kind made by Livingstone,  I presume. Still, isn’t it summer time in Africa so why get in a hat! I called three psychics, two co-ed physics majors-why not?- listed on a 900 number site, both who seemed clueless and a bit down on their luck, and then one mail order psychiatrist, maybe, from Russia. None could explain why my wife would visit a hat in Africa.

I dug some more and found that, yes, it is quite possible to live inside a hat.

They do it in Dubai

They do it in Dubai

Two things came to me: my wife’s relatives were hatters in England long ago, and my wife actually does always look great in any kind of hat she chooses to wear. Maybe, it all made sense after all.

images (23)And one more thing came to me, a message from my friends who live up North-

Apparently , a snow man I brought to life so long ago froze to death.

Apparently , a snow man I brought to life so long ago froze to death this year.(1963ish-2016)

I decided it might help me forget my grief if I delved further into this mysterious choice of adventure, Durban, to see what type of hat it might truly be. That’s when I saw it. I’d typed as my query, Turban, not exactly Durban.  Dang it! Well, at least I learned a lot  about Durban’s history from that one site called, Swamp Land. Some people really do a lot of work and post all the information they’ve found on internet out of the good God, I thought my wife had gone to live in a hat!

Anyway, to get over this recent fiasco of a search, I scanned through pictures my wife has sent from a beach near Cape Town.

Cape town is located in the distant cove just beneath Table Top Mountain.

Cape town is located in the distant cove just beneath Table Top Mountain.(I think that’s table top?)

people(my daughter's family) sunbath next to the happy penquins

People(my daughter’s family) sunbathe next to the happy penguins.

But, is it safe to be near penguins?!?!? Turns out, there is a degree of danger.

Is it safe tow be around Penguins? Well, there is a certain degree of danger as the sign reads-

Meanwhile, Dale also went to where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean…

Yes, the two ocean's meet at Cape Point, South Africa. They are shaken, but never stirred.

Yes, the two ocean’s meet at Cape Point, South Africa. They are shaken, but never stirred.

So the whole trip for Dale (and me vicariously) has been quite a sight-wow. Basically, our daughter is shuffling us around the globe as we follow in her working life foot steps. First we went to Japan, twice, and then to Johannesburg, South Africa, and now this….my wife goes to Cape Town and to a large hat in South Africa.

So much about hats....

So much about hats….

More to come on South Africa.


*Or, this may have been a dream-not sure.



We can help a young South African school aged child by donating as little as ten dollars to this link:

This post is about helping school age children who live in South Africa.  47% of the schools in many

districts have no (5)


Kelly Shiohira is organizing this effort through seeking donations from family and friends. Me? I wanted to tell you, my glob-blog readers, about this task at hand … and why I believe that with your help the effort will succeed.

But who is Kelly Shiohira?

Kelly Shiohira is organizing an effort to help students of South Africa. Kelly is dedicated to improving International Education by finding  teaching methods that might better help students assimilate knowledge. I’d imagine there’s nothing like asking a child who speaks the “clicking language” to learn from a text-book printed in English or in any other language as well!

Kelly has her hands full of challenges, but that’s always how she has liked life to be. I know.

Kelly is my  daughter.

Kelly has been in South Africa for over three years now, and before this time she taught English in a Japanese High School for five years. She’s a keen knack for devising well thought out plans and effective ways that might bring vision and intention into action.

As a young child, Kelly took an interest in music.


I rocked with my first-born at an early age. At 17, Kelly’s classical playing abilities earned her the highest rating given by an international review board


Kelly has thought big from the get-go, and has always seemed to be a bit larger than life…

While in college, Kelly continued her childhood fascination and love for  horseback riding by winning a U.S. Southeastern Hunt Seat Championship, and ran an entire stable of horses, giving lessons , etc., while earning her BA at the University of Florida.

One with her horse, Toby.

One with her horse, Toby.

Soon, her quest to learn the hardest language she could think to learn while at University of Florida  led her to go abroad to Japan.

Whle teaching in Japan, Kelly decided she'd like to wander around in the Himalayas with one other person....she did-

and, oh yeah, Kelly passed the official, Japanese government run test to show fluency in the Japanese language while teaching English to Japanese children…

During her time teaching English in Japan, Kelly decided she’d take a trip to the Himalayas with one other person.”Is this safe? Love, Dad.” She went-

And then there’s that annoying trait of hers to always want to be on top of things-the very top.

Really, Kelly? Love , Dad.

Really, Kelly? Love , Dad.

This inner drive is also what landed Kelly earning her black belt in Japan with the guys, breaking this bone or that in the process.293311_10151109849187020_138221013_n

Then came that one year at U of Penn where she was invited to join the Philomathean* Society founded in 1813 for the purpose of founding a society for the advancement of learning. Kelly soon landed a husband and then the two of them packed off for Africa after she’d earned a Masters in International Education, .

That’s really where this post starts and where you and I come into the story.

Why should we donate?

Working in Jo-burg, South Africa, for an educational firm was an eye opener for Kelly. She traveled the bush-land, Swaziland, and other remote places seeing first hand how the rubber meets the dirt roads of education in South Africa. Now, several years later, she is working in absolutely rural areas outside of Cape Town. For many, what Kelly has encountered along her way in this new region might make looking away or closing those opened eyes a reasonable choice, but not for Kelly. She opened her eyes wider, and took a hard look at the logistics and needs of the educational system in the region.

Somethings Kelly has seen there are difficult to read about, and nearly impossible to imagine if you are like me, a working American. I hate to add–in the past 30 days within Kelly’s working region, a 4-year-old child and a 6-year-old child, both in different schools, drowned in toilets that gave way while the children were using them. See? It’s all hard to imagine.

Kelly’s note is below, it explains more, and posts links to where you might help her endeavor to create healthy, working, learning environments for the children in her region. She’s asking for as little as ten-dollar donations….Two links are below, and I note that Kelly thinks the  PayPal  link is a bit harder to use, especially if you don’t have a PayPal account, where the second link is easy.

(the easy link to use to learn more and donate, )

If you know anyone who might help her in this regard……please forward the post…and I hope you now have a good idea of why and how I think this effort will succeed-Kelly’s in the driver seat.

From Kelly Shiohira:

“Hi everyone,

After a long year of working in the most rural of rural schools in South Africa, a friend and I are working hard to set up a charity that will address some of the challenges the children we interact with routinely face. While they are struggling to improve their circumstances and move out of poverty through investing time and energy in education, their lives are endangered by poor school infrastructure and their future success stymied by lack of quality education.

Our plan is to set up a charity in early 2016 with the following objectives:
1. Placing USA and UK Mathematics and Science teachers and students in rural schools in South Africa during their holidays as part of a culture and knowledge exchange.
2. Periodically engaging in community-based development projects such as maths and science Olympiads, local festivals, etc.
3. Helping the schools build safe, eco-friendly toilets and other infrastructure supports desperately needed.
We hope to have our first batch of teachers in place during the Northern Hemisphere Summer holidays, so more about that later. But in the meantime, we thought that we would start with objective 3 and try to raise money over the Christmas period amongst our friends and family to help some schools build safer, cleaner toilets. We would like to ask that instead of sending a Christmas card (I know you are all rushing to the Post Office to send me one!) you might be interested in donating money through  this link….. This is an easy link to use for donations.

We have calculated that £250 / $380 will be enough to build an eco-friendly toilet. The communities will assist in the building but require the material.

To contribute: Please follow this link if you want to use PayPal!

or this one if not….

We will ensure that the money we receive will be placed in a bank under the charity name (which…ideas and suggestions welcome!) and you will have access to the balance, and we will supply you with the details of how/what we purchase and how it is used.

We hope you will join us!” Kelly Shiohira.

So this is it in a nut shell.

I bought a fast food hamburger combo this past week that cost about $6.50. It’s odd to think about how so little of all that we have here in America can do so much in another country.

Cheers, and please help Kelly help the students she’s come to know and love. Help her make it over this next hurdle in her life. If you do, her vision and dream for a better education for African children will come true.

The children are counting on us, and don't even know it.

The children are counting on us, and they don’t even know it.



Okay. I love to people watch. As a kid in high school,  it seems like I took the train from Mineola to Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, maybe caught the E-8th ave. subway from there to  Greenwich  village-that’s a bit fuzzy for me some 50 years later.  But, sitting on the sidewalks in Washington Square with my buddies where we’d watch the people going by is clear as bell in my mind. The cost for a slice of pizza had recently risen from fifteen cents to 25 cents-it’s hard to forget that appalling fact too.

Circa 1960 Village street scene....

Circa 1960 Washington Square street scene….looks like that guy’s getting a ticket-maybe the only car in town?

Fast forward a few bazillion years and I found my wife and I visiting Johannesburg, South Africa. There, I put my people watching skills to good use.

Honestly,  an interesting, quick two-week trip to Johannesburg left me with many vast  impressions drawn from slim pickin’s when it comes to my sample size. My conclusions are much like a poll that broadcasts it showed  75% of people love whale watching on first dates and then mentions off -hand that the sample size was four people. So, in this case, we really had one happy couple and one last date. Still, my daughter’s associations in Johannesburg gave me access to  a wide and varied group of professional, local and working people but, in each case, these people were few in number.

For those who wonder about the “look” of the people in Johannesburg, only my New York City area upbringing could prepare me for seeing such an assortment of people from different nationalities in the local(huge) shopping mall. Wacko’s, beggars, sophisticated ladies, spiffy professionals, causal window shoppers, those sporting traditional African dress and your average run-of-the-mill teen clothed in black made up the crowd.

images (2)fashion showWe didn’t meet any of these Women, or see any other fashion shows like this one, but the Rosebank Mall offered  a good view of the many types of clothing worn daily in the country. The mall  was huge, the top story being multiple movie theaters. It’s size was equal to about four times that of Gainesville, Florida’s largest mall. 

images (2)spacious mallPolished walks, huge plantings, sky lights, even several grocery stores were just a few of the intriguing aspects of the Mall. Oh, and the food prices were equivalent to US prices, but for the meat-Filet Mignon ran about $2.25 per pound! I ate a little bit of meat while there, right? But this is cow country. My wife said their Constitutional Court Building was adorned with huge cow hides hung on walls and draped in the parliamentary chamber. 

lots of storiesBig, open spaces inside the Mall, though this one, I don’t recognize. Still, this huge Mall had other malls connected to it…like the African market mall where traditional wares of all types were for sale.

Two stories; vendors loved cash but took ATM bank cards as well.

Two stories; vendors loved cash but took ATM bank cards as well.

We ran into street dancers often…

Oh yeah--music, dancing, all of it for fun on the streets surrounding the Mall.

Oh yeah–music, dancing, all of it for fun on the streets surrounding the Mall.

images (2)regular joysLots of everyday folks shopping in casual dress.
hot shot dresses

 But, many shoppers were well attired, especially, it seemed, the Dutch descendant Afrikaans. Breezy is a word that came to mind as I checked-out the clothes on people passing by. Of, course, Spring had just begun, so color was all the rage.

A simple outfit that reminded me of  the many layers of clothing I saw most often worn in Japan.

A simple outfit that gives the impression that one is wearing many layers of clothing like I saw most often in Japan.

Then, to my wonder, was the multi-colored patterned outfits worn by those I thought of as indigenous to the area….

I was struck by the beauty of these types of outfits.

I was struck by the beauty of these types of outfits.

And some times I found myself thinking these outfits looked much like those worn by Peruvians who lived far away, high in the Andes.

Here, a Peruvian couple.

Here, a Peruvian couple.

This, a dress worn in Johannesburg.

The two outfits, one for Peru,the other from Jo-burg have the similar looks.

The two outfits, one from Peru,the other from Jo-burg, have  similar feels.

Usually  the colors, and always the hats!!!

Usually the colors, and always the hats!!!

Moving the motif up a notch....

Moving the motif up a notch….


“The people I did get to meet, speakers of English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Swahili and others languages, all seemed rather up-tempo when it came to their country’s politics-I had to laugh hearing that they all knew their presidential elections would be coming next year but the exact date of the election was still uncertain. Can you imagine:” Oh, the election should be sometime in November.” Americans, as I get it from my travels, are generally an uptight lot when it comes to things like punctuality, the time of day, day of the week, what month it might be or even what year. American’s , as a people, need to relax more. Anyway…….

And I learned during my visit, to my chagrin, that it’s politics as usual all over the world. Julius Malema, who got kicked out of the ANC (the ruling party in South Africa) for generally being an idiot and saying stupid things surprised me as I listened to him speak over the radio.  He explained that it was all true what the reporters were saying, that he’d pounded his female work associates into the mattress so hard (my translation:-)) that it was a near miracle the beds didn’t break but, he added, at least he was being honest about this. His fellow running mates, he went on to say, should not be trusted because they all do the same thing but lie about it. He is, as well, now the head of his own party (the EFF – Economic Freedom Fighters) and is running for President in 2014. Should he call himself, “Honest Julius?”*

Ha! What Ex-President Clinton could have learned from this  Julius Malema guy huh?

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Current President, Jacob Zuma, was, in fact, convicted of rape before becoming President.

I found the general populace to be politically involved and well aware, call it concerned, about the random shootings in America. More than once I heard the US described as the elephant they hoped would not roll over.  To the issue of Syria, people uniformly thought those troubles to be the result of America’s interests in oil, Halliburton’s influence in the region was often mentioned. Everyone I spoke to  said they loved Obama—

Love bloomed there too.
Love blooms there too.
And dogs still need to be walked.....

And dogs still need to be walked…..

Visiting a Jo-burg beer joint was great fun too–that and more on this fascinating place later on. Oh, and it’s a beautiful city.

The street my daughter lives on is lined with jacaranda tree, as many are in Johannesburg.

Many  streets are lined with Jacaranda trees.


* Thanks to my daughter who lives in South Africa for making these corrections as to the facts of the matter here.

Avatar Magic, by Gerald Franquemont, is out on Kindle and it can be downloaded onto most reading devices.

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