South Africa is a land with abundant natural resources. They have deposits of every mineral, except oil, and are among the world’s largest producers of coal, gold, and diamonds. They have 90% of the world’s titanium. And they are self-sufficient in food production – not necessarily in food distribution though. The only thing they must import is oil.
Many of the issues our guide in Richards Bay told us about were very true. In 2009 AIDS was rampant among the rural black population where polygamy is common (4-5 wives is average), there was massive unemployment, especially among the unskilled black population so crime is rampant. The country has 11 official languages and long-standing tribal fueds that need to be navigated. Add in corruption at all levels of government and services, plus horrendous poverty and you have a plate-full of serious issues to work on.
However, there has been much change for good, first being education is compulsory for all children – although sadly there are often not enough class rooms for all children in an area, nor teachers, nor money for uniforms and supplies. So many social and judicial issues are intertwined that it is difficult to unravel enough strings to begin setting things right. Time can be an constant enemy to change.
But the countryside is lovely; with rolling hills, grasslands, vineyards, and farm land. And critters. I never get enough of seeing animals.
The city of Durban is situated on the southeastern coast of South Africa and has a natural harbour. The area is the beginning of a paqrticular weather phenomenon which can cause extremely high seas, which, fortunately we did not experience on the sail in or out. Durban is not only the busiest container port in South Africa but the busiest in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to the warm climate and beautiful beaches Durban is a favoured holiday spot and tourism is a large part of the economy. As per the plan to see as many animals as possible we once again went on a game drive: this time to Tala Private Game Reserve, a private 3000 hectares (7500 acres) of grassland, thornveld and wetlands. Twenty years ago it was a massive sugar plantation and vegetable farm. The owner turned it into a game reserve, re-introduced all the indigenous plants that attracted animals. There are no elephants (they are too destructive to the environment) and none of the big cats, but many of the other animals are plentiful. The drive through the Tala lands was very enjoyable. Our ranger guide was a young lady who was knowledgeable about the animals and the reserve.
We saw two new animals – the Blesbok (an Africaan’s word for the wide white stripe down the face) and the Eland (the largest of the antelope species). A large building was being re-thatched. I don’t know how expensive it would have been in Africa but thatching is not an inexpensive way to roof a house. At one of the large water holes we saw some more rhinos and wildebeest. Not too far from the water hole there was a dusty hillock that was a comfort spot for a couple of rhinocerous and we were able to drive up quite close to them. We drove back through Durban in the late afternoon. The re-fueling tanker was finished and we set off for a day at sea before reaching Cape Town, where we were to stay for three days.