Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The South African National Anthem

Below is the South African National Anthem, with translations of the non-English parts in parenthesis.

It is a combination of two anthems, and combines five languages, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English.

The first part (the first two stanzas) is the "Nkosi' sikelel' iAfrika" section, and is a hymn that was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga who worked as a Methodist mission school teacher. Later more verses were added in isiXhosa by the poet Samuel Mqhayi, and Moses Mphahlele translated it into Sesotho in 1941. The hymn was later adopted as an anthem for political meetings during the struggle years.

The second part of the anthem (the third and fourth stanza), is based on the poem "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" by die Afrikaans poet C J Langenhoven in 1918. It was put to music in 1928 by Reverend ML de Villiers. In 1952 it was translated into English as "The Call to South Africa" and in 1957 it was adopted as the anthem of South Africa. Between 1994 and 1997 both "Nkosi' sikelel' iAfrika" and "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" were sung. The new combined National Anthem was adopted in 1997.

Nkosi' sikelel' iAfrika
(God Bless Africa)
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
(Raise high Her glory)
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
(Hear our Prayers)
Nkosi sikelela, thina lysapho lwayo.
(God bless us, we her children)

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
(God protect our children)
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
(End all wars and tribulations)
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
(Protect us, protect our nation)
Sethaba sa South Afrika -- South Afrika
(Our nation South Afrika -- South Afrika)

Uit die blou van onse hemel,
(From out the blue of our heavens)
Uit die diepte van ons see,
(From the depths of our seas)
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
(Over our everlasting mountains)
Waar die kranse antwoord gee
(Where the cliffs echoes an answer)

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
in South Africa our land.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Olympic Training Village

About three weekends ago I had the opportunity to visit the Korean National Olympic Training Center 태릉선수촌. A rare privilege, as the center is not open to the general public. I happen to know someone working at the center who, after a year of begging, sneaked me in for a private tour one Sunday afternoon.

Here are some photos. A glimpse into where South Korea's national athletes prepare for international competitions. The photos are of course selective of my interest in martial arts. The climbing ropes are used by the wrestling and judo athletes to strengthen their arms and grip. The treadmill has connected to it targets for kicking used by the Taekwondo athletes. They basically run and kick at the same time. I merely posed on it. The following photo with the punching bags are also part of the Taekwondo gym. Below that is the general weight-training gym, the weightlifting stage and the gymnastics hall. The last photo was of my lunch meal there. The athletes have a buffet style meal and consumes roughly 5000 calories a day. 

Mmm . . .

"Your therapist sounds crazy."
"I know, but most therapists are. That's what gives them insight."
A dialogue from Bored to Death (Season 1, episode 5).

Monday, 22 July 2013

A Fugue for the Expression of an Unclear Emotion

On Friday I got an urge to compose a piece of music for the pipe organ, which is an instrument I have always been in love with and never have had the opportunity to play on -- not that I have the skills to be worthy such an instrument. Nonetheless, with electronic media and the digital environment any one can make music. So, I downloaded a midi-editor Aria Maestosa and started to compose a piece for the organ. I worked a bit on it on Saturday night and again on Sunday night. And below is the result. The full title is "An Amateurs Attempt at an Experimental Fugue for the Expression of a Dubious Emotion", but for the sake of brevity I've shortened the title to "A Fugue for the Expression of an Unclear Emotion". As I've mentioned before, I have been struggling to express what I'm feeling in words as of late.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Self-Portraits: Floral Print

Bach: BWV 565 Toccata and Fugue in D minor, visualization

I regularly listen to organ music. Few organ pieces are so well recognized as Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and I would suspect few pieces of music is so feared as this composition, possibly because of its hauntingly beautiful sounds and association with the Phantom of the Opera in which an altered version appears as Toccata and Funk in D minor. Originally the song had no ominous associations, apart from the integral minor key.

To me this is an exquisite piece of music and I love being able to "see" it in this visualization. It helps to show the genius of the piece. Beautiful.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Jimmy Scott and "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"

I regularly listen to jazz. One of my current favourite jazz singers I like to listen to is Jimmy Scott. I like what Ray Charles said about him: "This man is all about feeling. He defined what 'soul' is all about in singing long before anyone was using that word!" He has an amazing contralto voice, which he plays masterfully. His career started in the 1940s, and has continued to perform into his 80s. He is currently 87.

Probably my favourite performance of his is his rendition of the Elton John's song "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word". Elton John originally released his song in 1976 (listen to the original here), and there have been many covers since then, but Jimmy Scott's 1998 version is definitely my favourite cover.

I realize of course that the reason I prefer Jimmy Scott's cover, rather most other covers, is simply a matter of genre. Most covers of this pop song keep it within the pop genre, and I don't care much for the pop genre. As far as pop covers of "Sorry Seemts to Be the Hardest Word" go, Sophie-Tith's cover is quite pleasant, Joe Cocker's cover definitely deserves mentioning, and then of course there is the cover by R&B band Blue, in which they collaborated with Elton John; but boy bands (even R&B boy bands) is still too Pop for me. If I'm going to listen to an R&B cover, I'd rather listen to Mary J. Blige, an authentically R&B cover. Fantasia's R&B cover is good too. 2012 X-Factor finalist Diamond White did a great job as well. One definitely has to mention the duet that Ray Charles did with Elton John. This was Ray Charles' last recording before he passed away in 2004. Nevertheless, none of these get close to Jimmy Scott's rendition in my books. He really made the song his own.

There is a cover that I do really like listening to, and it is my favourite after the one by Jimmy Scott, by Natalie Dawn, of Pomplamoose. Listen to it below.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Vreemde lukraak gedagtes oor totties

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As kind het ek die Afrikaanse roep vir ganse baie vreemd gevind. Wanneer 'n mens hoenders roep, sê jy “kiep-kiep-kiep!”, maar 'n mens roep ganse met “pielie-pielie-pielie!” Ek kon nie verstaan wat ganse en die kraswoord piel met mekaar te make het nie. Is dit dalk 'n visuele assosiasie met 'n gans se nek en kop? My kinderlike verwarring was dalk onskuldig, maar dis nie net in Afrikaans dat daar 'n konneksie tussen pluimvee en penisse is nie. In die Engelse volksmond gebruik ons tog “cock” (haan) as die metaforiese term vir die manlike geslagsdeel. En in Afrikaans is voël ook algemeen in die volksmond, soos 'n Nando's advertensie al humoristies uitgebeeld het.

Ouers praat ook soms eufemisties met hulle seuntjies oor hulle voëltjies. Die bekendste Afrikaanse eufemisme wat kinders geleer word is sekerlik tollie. 'n Snaakse eufemisme, dink ek, want 'n tollie is tog 'n bul-kalfie. Is dit Afrikaans se boere-wortels wat hier te sprake is? Maar hoekom praat ons nie van meisies se geslagdeel as versies nie? Ons verwys allermins van 'n onaangename volwasse vrou as 'n koei. Betreffende metaforiese eufemismes en kindertotties het ek nog altyd gedink Antjie Krog se beskrywing in 'n gedig van haar babaseuntjie se penissie en skrotumpie as 'n slakkie my sy skulpie is mooi beskrywend. In Korea word rooirissie (“ghôtjoe”) as eufemisme gebruik. Op 'n visuele vlak is vrugte en groente sekerlik heel gepas, dink byvoorbeeld aan piesangs, komkommers en wortels, maar ek dink nie dat mense in Afrikaans juis na hierdie kosse verwys met konneksie tot die penis nie. Ook nie juis in Engels nie. Ek wonder of ander kulture, soos in die geval van Korea, kosse as eufemismes gebruik.

As jong man het ek begin dink dat dit dalk nie toevallig is dat piel en siel so 'n sterk rymingspaar maak nie, en het al selfs 'n gedig geskryf wat die konneksie uitlig. Dis dalk iets wat vroue sal verbygaan, maar dis onbetwisbaar dat daar by mans 'n baie sterk band is tussen hulle penisse en die kern van hulle wese. Daar is 'n archetipiese simboliek aan 'n penis wat ons in alle kulture regoor die aarde vind. So oppervlakkig as dit mag klink is daar min dinge wat 'n man so manlik kan laat voel as 'n sterk ereksie. Dis 'n primitiewe, tog onbetwisbare, werklikheid.

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Die konneksie tussen 'n penis en 'n wapen ('n tradisioneel manlike instrument) is byna voor die handliggend. Dit voel byna soos een-twee-drie om die sinaptiese spronge te maak tussen mans, penisse en wapens, en daarom is daar 'n hele swetterjoel wapens wat as metafore vir penisse gebruik word: knopkiere, spies, swaard, pistool, misiel, atoombom. Aai, ou Freud.

Dit is seker nie te verassend nie dat mans partykeer vir hulle penisse name gee. Persoonlik het ek nie 'n troetelnaam vir my “meneer” nie, maar op 'n keer het ek tot my eie verbasing vir iemand gewaarsku: “Don't wake the dragon!”

So wat vir 'n ding is 'n “tottie”? Is dit ook 'n metaforiese eufamisme? Ek benodig duidelik 'n Afrikaanse etomologiese woordeboek. Die Afrikaanse sakwoordeboekie wat ek hier in Korea het lys nie die woord nie, en my elektroniese kopie van die HAT (e-HAT, 5de uitgawe) werk nie op Windows 7 nie, gevolglik kan ek nie die etomologie van “tottie” opsoek nie. Miskien weet een van die lesers waar die snaakse woordjie vandaan kom. Dis moontlik 'n speling op die woord “tietie”;  'n vermanliking daarvan. Sou 'n mens dan kan praat van 'n volwasse man se “tot”? Ek dink nie meeste mans sal daarvan hou nie. “Tot” klink so kort . . . te verknot, te bot, te stomp. Dis gepas dat 'n seuntjie 'n “tottie” kan hê, maar 'n man soek 'n kragtige naam vir sy swaard. Watter kryger sal die oorlog in jaag met sy swaard “Tot”? Nee, Arthur het Excalibur, Beowolf het Hrunting, Charlemane het Joyeuse, Gandalf het Glamdring, en Harry Potter het die Swaard van Gryffindor.

'n Thai-man met fallus-gelukbringers.
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Nietemin is dit paradoksaal dat die instrument wat deel het in voorplanting—in die skep van 'n nuwe lewe—ook so 'n destruktiewe konneksie het. Die penis is 'n destruktiewe simbool, ja, maar dit is ook 'n simbool vir energie en lewe, gevolglik is fallusagtige standbeelde, obeliske, en selfs klein replikas in party kulture gemaak, en partykeer word selfs die baculum (penisbeen) van sekere diere gebruik om voorspoed, gesondheid, liefde ensomeer aan te trek.

Ek is duidelik besig om te prokrastineer. Het werk om te doen, maar is nie lus nie, so nou skryf ek opstelle oor ganskoppe.