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UPFRONT 6 7 8 10 12 14 16


Subscribe & Win – an EcoTraining Birding Course Editor’s Letter – loving the lowveld The Good Life – news, trends & hot happenings Lowveld Books – local writer Annemarie van der Walt Living Review – the singing waiters Living Art – a wonderland inspired by life Lowveld Lowdown – the best in local design & décor




88 LOWVELD LIFE 24 30 36 42 66 110 116


Proudly Lowveld – Hip Hop icon Cheryl Arthur At home with – Mr Ubuntu, Reuel Khoza Lowveld Lifestyle – the deal on two wheels

46 50 56

In Good Taste – local flavours, produce & food shopping Lowveld Flavours – a flamboyant food experience In the Kitchen – Indian home-style cooking

Living Legend – opera sensation Pretty Yende Maputo Living – peace triumphs over war Living Gardens – Maputo’s secret garden Parting Shot – panic in the loo


DÉCOR & HOME 72 82 88 92 100

Country living – a testament to travels in Africa Living Design – embracing the elements Design Promotion – state of art EDM building Modern Living – tripping the light fantastic Classical Living – a stylish, contemporary gem

ed’s letter


of the big attractions of the lowveld is its largerthan-life characters. The region is home to creative, talented personalities who make a giant contribution not only to local society but the nation as a whole. Over the years Lowveld Living has profiled numerous local luminaries, yet we always seem to be scratching the surface of home-grown talent. The more we dig, the more we find. What is it about the lowveld that produces special people such as Cheryl Arthur, founder of the iconic Hip Hop label (page 24), and leading businessman Reuel Khoza (page30)? It’s a fecund nursery that allows them the space to flourish – and when they leave to make their mark on the world, they always come home. “Jo’burg is where we go to for work. This is where we’re from,” Reuel’s wife, Mumsy, sums it up. Cheryl left the lowveld for the vibrant 1970s London street fashion, and then settled in the Western Cape. Yet she still supports lowveld initiatives and visits regularly, not just because her roots and family are here. “I’m a bush girl and get incredibly nostalgic about the smell of an acacia tree,” she explains. Lowveld Living readers will relate to that.


Right: Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve: Hip Hop founder Cheryl Arthur in a leopard-spotted cat suit on her graduation day (See page 24)

ON THE COVER The new, state of the art Ehlanzeni District Municipal Building in Nelspruit was the perfect backdrop for our cover shoot. It’s stylish, fresh,“green” and people-friendly – just like Lowveld Living. Our model, Brutus, soon discovered that it’s also animal-friendly. See page 88 Photo: Murray Anderson-Ogle

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Fiona Macleod | ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sharon Hammond | ASSISTANT EDITOR Ciska Kay | PHOTOGRAPHIC EDITOR Murray Anderson-Ogle | DESIGN & LAYOUT Ingeborg Stapel at INGEWORX Designs | DESIGNER Charlotte Senini EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Sue Adams, Brutus, Nicole Bentley, Vinny Dlamini, Peter Lawson, Naomi Scott PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART Vanessa Berlein, Dr Jack, Gallo Images, Hip Hop Clothing, Rashaad Minty, Massimo Sciacca Published by HomeGrown Magazines PUBLISHER Justin Arenstein | CHAIRMAN Louis van der Merwe | COMMERCIAL MANAGER Liz Bayford | | 013 752 2304 ADVERTISING EXECUTIVES Hayley Armitage | | 072 104 9431 Lynn MacMillan | | 073 221 4958 ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Aserie Ndlovu | SUBSCRIPTIONS COORDINATOR Sizakele Shabangu | | 013 752 7532 PRINTER Intrepid CONTACT US Tel: 013 753 2957 | Fax: 013 755 4119 | PO Box 6896, Nelspruit, 1200 | Suite 30, Promenade Centre, Samora Machel Avenue, Nelspruit | © Copyright 2010 HomeGrown Magazines. All rights reserved. The Lowveld Living brand and trademark are registered to HomeGrown Magazines. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written permission of HomeGrown Magazines or the publisher. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. All editorial information contained herein is, and remains, the property of HomeGrown Magazines and/or its writers and/or photographers. HomeGrown Magazines, its publishers, staff and contractors accept no liability for loss or damage in any form whatsoever arising from information, submissions or opinions expressed in this publication. Public comment and submissions are published at the sole discretion of HomeGrown Magazines. E&OE. HomeGrown Magazines subscribes to the South African Press Code that prescribes news that is truthful, accurate, fair and balanced. If we don’t live up to the Code please contact the Press Ombudsman at 011 788 4837 or 011 788 4829.


the good life


notes, news,

trends &

4 5

1 1. Groovy, baby


Haul out the bellbottoms and afros for the second annual Sixties Weekend, staged in Mbombela over the weekend of October 1 to 3. The line-up includes top South African DJs at the pre-event on Friday at Lowveld Showgrounds and at the main party at Mbombela Stadium district on Saturday, and some chilled-out soul vibes at the Lowveld Botanical Gardens on Sunday. To find out more, call the info hotline on 013 752 2046

2. sweet sounds The Cradle of Life Tourism and Conservation

Lowveld Living

Centre in Badplaas is staging an evening of great entertainment on December 4. The Johannesburg String Quartet will perform in the centre’s gorgeous open-air setting in what promises to be an evening of sheer magic. The concert starts at 17.30. To book a spot, contact Renier on 082 430 5255

3. Bling it on You know your town has arrived when you can pop around the corner to buy designer wear for your pets. The Doggy Hilfiger range of canine bling is now available at the Vet Mart in I’langa Mall. The shop stocks

hot happenings

the good life


You can book a private viewing at the new Boulevard Cinema at Sonpark. Order that art movie you won’t get to see on the circuit and treat up to 33 friends. Public shows range from classics to the latest blockbusters. Contact Monica on 072 247 3275

in the lowveld



veterinary pet food and accessories for cats,

5. Night at the races

for her tableware sporting locally inspired

dogs, horses and reptiles.

Who needs the Durban July when you can

patterns and colours, Antjie has been making

Contact Vet Mart on 013 742 2233

get kitted up for a good cause? The AutoTec

pots in White River since 1986.

Foundation is hosting a fun fundraiser on

Classes are on a Wednesday, starting at either

October 22 at Kavinga, on the Lydenburg/

09h00 or 16h30.

Renowned scientist Rudi van Aarde gives

Sabie road. The dress theme is “racy” and

To book a spot, phone Antjie on 013 751 3274

fresh insight into elephant management

winners get to walk away with R15 000 worth

at the Barnyard Theatre at Casterbridge on

of cash prizes.

7. Urban cool

October 6. It’s an evening event organised by

For more information, contact Jetje Japhet on

Urban street chic arrives at the Riverside Mall

EcoTraining, and the entrance fee includes

083 700 2311, or email

in November with the opening of Ayesha

4. Trunk call

dinner, wine and a copy of Rudi’s book,

Designs, exclusive stockist of JLo Clothing by

Elephants: Facts & Fables. Guests will have

6. Potter power

plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

If you’re interested in pottery but need some

Farm ranges by Kimora Lee Simmons. Also in

To book a table, contact EcoTraining on 013 752

guidance, join local potter Antjie Newton’s

store are fabulous shoes, bags and accessories.

2532, or email

classes at her Casterbridge studio. Known

Contact the shop on 013 752 7973

Jennifer Lopez and the Baby Phat and Phat

lowveld books


mountai n messages

Lowveld Living


writer Annemarie van der Walt (below left) has been writing a

regular column for the Afrikaans newspaper, Beeld, for the past two and a half years. A compilation of the most popular contributions, Talisman teen Troosteloosheid (roughly translated as “Talisman against Despair”), was launched at the Innibos festival in late September. Lowveld Living caught up with Annemarie at her Kaapsehoop home Your columns are in turn poignant, funny and thought provoking. How hard is it to write about personal stuff? One has to be careful when you write about your own experiences, but the more intensely personal, the more reaction and feedback I get from readers. It’s made me realise none of us is as unique as we would like to believe, and people often go through exactly the same drama as everybody else. You sometimes have less than flattering things to say about men. How does this go down? (Laughs) I try not to be too acidic; it’s never my intention to insult men. Strangely, my biggest fans are older men. Go figure. Your columns are often inspired by your teenage daughters. How do they feel about this? They don’t read my columns, but sometimes people tell them they’ve been featured. My oldest daughter says I use too many big words. Although the book has been dedicated to them, they still haven’t read it. I’m keeping them each a copy – perhaps they’ll be more interested by the time they’re 40. You’ve also co-authored a journal, Book of Memories. What’s it about? It was done in collaboration with a university friend of mine, Linda Opperman, who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age as well as losing both her parents to the illness. The idea is to buy the book for your mom, so she can remember and record little snippets from her life. It’s beautifully illustrated and seems to have struck a nerve, as it’s selling really well. You’re quite vocal about your love for Kaapsehoop. What’s the attraction? Mostly the atmospheric weather conditions. When we first moved here about seven years ago, I was intensely aware of my surroundings and especially the in-your-face change of seasons. There is a freedom and wildness about the place – it allows you to breathe, and gives you an excuse to drink copious amounts of red wine! And then of course, there are all the wonderfully eccentric people living in town …


living review

wait for it Sue Adams is pleasantly surprised when The Singing Waiters drop a tray


he Singing Waiters started out as surprise entertainment at a wedding celebration. Now they are wooing audiences at conferences and parties across the lowveld. “We work as waiters at functions,” explains Mandla Malaza, leader of the 12-strong group. But what the audience does not know is that

they are actually a talented a cappella musical group. “We begin by waitering. Then one of us drops a tray with an almighty crash and

in the shocked silence we begin to sing.” And sing they do! When I watched them singing at Gordon’s Restaurant in Kabokweni the audience had goose bumps as three tenors began to sing opera to each other across the room. The rest of the waiters slowly joined in and they moved on to traditional African music, gospel and love songs. A cappella means they sing without instruments, but their voices are instruments enough. “All we need are ourselves. We are the music – soprano, alto, tenor and base,” says Mandla. Ethne Cameron, a tour operator from White River, used to take guests to nearby Kabokweni to listen the Fundinjobo High School choir. When some of the youngsters in the choir left school with no hope of employment, she suggested they start The Singing Waiters – a concept she had witnessed in New York. She took the group to a top restaurant in Nelspruit to show them what highclass waitering is all about and encouraged them to expand their repertoire of music. “We perform for the joy of others,” says one group member with a huge smile. “We make sure that each and every performance is the best.” Ethne says the group has received help from many quarters. The Winkler Hotel, on the outskirts of White River, has offered waitering training to group members once they have completed school. Local jazz musicians from The Triple S Band have taken The Singing Waiters under their wing and are helping them with their music. And their outfits have been sponsored by a lowveld businessman who was blown away when he heard them. They might be a small group, but they have big dreams. “Ethne gave us a break by getting us to sing at a wedding. We then sang at two international conferences where we made a great impression and we were on our way,” says Mandla. With an eye on the future, they plan to train up another group of 12 performers from their school choir. “We need to build up the younger ones so they can follow in our footsteps,” he says. For more about The Singing Waiters, contact Ethne on 013 751 1638 or Mandla on 072 952 9498


Lowveld Living

“We begin by waitering. Then one of us drops a tray with an almighty crash and in the shocked silence we begin to sing�


living art

Vanessa Berlein’s art has been sold and exhibited both locally and internationally. Now based in Cape Town, she believes a magical Mpumalanga childhood shaped her artistic expression What’s your connection to the lowveld?

rush era and the ruins of an old hotel. I still have

To me, the lowveld will always be home. I grew

stuff I collected there as a kid, and my dad was

up in Kiepersol on the farm that became Blue

convinced that the inspiration for my abstract

Mountain Lodge. I love living in Cape Town, but

work came from the rock formations in the

try to do a pilgrimage at least once a year to visit

underground shafts I saw as a child.

my mom and brother. It’s also important to me

When I started doing abstracts, I was influenced

that my son, Steph, gets to know where I come

by [Latvian-born American abstract expressionist

from. There is no place on Earth that compares

painter Mark] Rothko and other abstract

to the lowveld. My dad always said that God was

expressionists. As time moved on, I have been

born in the lowveld and holidayed in the Cape

largely inspired by the materials I experiment

– I think he was right!

with – beeswax, metal leaf, liquid glass stain and industrial varnishes.

Go to to see more of Vanessa’s work


Lowveld Living

What are your artistic influences? My dad owned a mine outside Pilgrim’s Rest, and

When did you start painting?

we spent a lot of time there as children. It was

I painted feverishly as a child. I convinced my

magnificent, with old mine shafts from the gold

mom to let me paint a huge Dadaist mural on

my bedroom wall, and was very serious about it all. I also spent hours going through the scrapheap down at the workshop on our farm and constructed sculptural things with engine parts. My parents were very encouraging. You are a prolific worker. Do you paint according to schedule, or as inspiration takes you? I am very diciplined about work, and for the most part respect art as my job. I do a lot of commercial work that is either commissioned or purchased by interior designers or architects. Once or twice a year I take a couple of weeks off to produce a body of soul-inspired work. It always feels like a huge treat, whether it is to make books, paint or produce a series of shrines. What inspires you? My mind is never still. I’m also an art buyer and part-owner of a gallery, so I’m constantly inspired by the work I see around me, and by the artists and artisans with whom I come into contact. To what extent is your work influenced by your life experience? The abstract work I do commercially. Other works are emotionally inspired. The series of Alice in Wonderland paintings is a comment on my experience of marriage and divorce. The reaction was amazing and I realised how many people went through a similar experience. There is humour in everything, even when it is dark, and it was good to see people’s reaction – some cried, others giggled and some laughed out loud at the comedy that Alice and the Rabbit portrays.


lowveld lowdown

lowveld the


latest on local design, décor and trends

Create a happy glow with this funky ball of light from Africa Joy at Casterbridge. Call 013 751 2152

RETROGLITZ Glam Seventies-style and nautical-inspired scatter cushions from @Home Living Space at I’Langa Mall. Call 013 742 9550

MZANZIMOJO Printed with iconic South African images, the Baha Collection from Design Team can turn an ordinary couch into an instant conversation piece. Available from The Little Lamp Lady at Farmstyle Market near White River. Call 078 450 9616

BOWLEDOVER Add interest to your coffee table with a trendy cut-out bowl from @Home Living Space at I’Langa Mall. Call 013 742 9550

COMFYCLASS Flop down in style. This classically styled sofa is a gorgeous invitation to curl up with a great summer read. From @Home Living Space at I’Langa Mall. Call 013 742 9550

HANDY HOLDALL This funky bag from Africa Joy at Casterbridge is the creation of a community project, so it’s both pretty and PC. Call 013 751 2152


Lowveld Living

lowveld lowdown


Eye catching, bright colours and funky design combine to create a bold statement wherever you decide to use this multi-function bowl. Available at Bakos Brothers in Nelspruit. Call 013 755 2331

WOOLWORTHS This bright and breezy maxi dress was launched at Woolies’ Emerging Designers Show during Cape Town Fashion Week. Available at Woolies in Riverside Mall. Call 013 757 5500

FLOWERPOWER Breeze into summer with a bag to match. Sporting this season’s must-have ice cream shades, it’ll look as good in the office as on the beach. Available at Jola at I’langa Mall. Call 013 742 9401

The season’s hot list • Capri pants • Patched jeans • Polka dots • Classic antique lace • Jumpsuits in every shape and size • Floral patterns • Maxi dresses • Spring colours: grey, khaki, pink champagne, coral, turquoise, violet, soft yellows and bright navy • The boyfriend blazer (an overlarge jacket with rolled-up sleeves)

PURPLEHAZE Leap into the future with a space-age designer lamp from Antarte Furniture. Call 013 752 2099


lowveld lowdown




otherwise known as the Zambezi river god or snake spirit, is one

of the most important gods of the Batonga people in Zimbabwe.

Legend has it that the building of the Kariba dam in the 1960s offended NyamiNyami because it separated him from his wife. Flooding and deaths caused by the dam were attributed to his wrath, and he eventually withdrew from the world of humans after the dam was completed. Sculptor Rainos Tawonameso (left) carves walking sticks depicting the NyamiNyami legend. He has created more than 900 of them since 1986, and some are owned by dignitaries such as Britain’s Queen Mother and the Pope. Each stick has its own unique interpretation of the legend, but the symbolism is consistent. It includes spirals representing the waves on Kariba dam, figures doing ceremonial dances, a magic ball to ward off evil spirits and a traditional smoking pipe. A deeply spiritual man, Rainos lives in Graskop and works from the Sunshine Gallery. Most days he can be found quietly plying his trade in a peaceful courtyard. He has been carving since he was 12, when he created a wooden typewriter that impressed his teachers so much they promptly sent him on an art training course. His NyamiNyami design has been copied on tourist products sold around Kariba, but in the lowveld you get the true designs crafted by the original creator of these magnificent African artifacts. Contact the Sunshine Gallery on 083 334 2496


Lowveld Living


lowveld lowdown

upping the ante Esqueira (below) describes the products in Antarte Furniture, his showroom in Riverside Industrial Park, as “upmarket, but

not in a snobby sense – more in a sense of quality”. Antarte is an established Portuguese brand, and Jorge comes from a long-established lowveld Portuguese family. “When I saw their products, I knew the region was right for them,” he says. “Antarte offers a cosmopolitan product and a way for lowvelders to access what’s happening in the rest of the world.” The furniture is modern, sleek and mostly monochromatic. It provides a neutral backdrop for colourful ornaments, rugs or lampshades to create a vivid contrast. Jorge also stocks a range of über-funky wallpapers and fabrics, but it’s the lampshades and chandeliers that steal the accessory show. Mozambican visitors often recognise the brand and are excited by the shop’s opening. “The furniture ranges from classical to radical,” Jorge says, pointing to a headboard carved in a zebra skin pattern. “And as you can see, it’s even got an African touch.” Contact Jorge on 013 752 2099, or see


lowveld lowdown

“Interiors are living, breathing, evolving spaces�


Lowveld Living

French flair Lowveld

designer Mariette Venter (left) spent a year in Paris after finishing school, which she says greatly influenced her decorating style. “There’s such a wealth of design and antiquity in Paris – it only takes one year and you’re converted.” There’s a distinctive French country flair in the faded colours and weathered furniture in her interior store near White River, called Ariel Design Studio. But the edgy interiors of Zest and Magnolia restaurants, two of her corporate commissions, give an indication of her versatility. She says restaurant design gives her the opportunity to do “outlandish and big”. “I don’t like ‘catalogue design’ where everything looks like it’s been done according to a formula. I prefer to combine different styles and to add an element of surprise or humour to décor.” At her shop in the Farmstyle Market she recently opened The Little Lamp Lady, an old-fashioned tailor’s cabinet brimful with tantalising fringing and baubles – everything you need to doll up a lampshade. “It can be an elaborate Moulin Rouge design or as simple as you want it to be, though I do try to persuade clients to be adventurous,” she says. “If you can imagine it, we can make it.” She also does upholstery and stocks funky, cutting edge and mainly South African fabrics. Building relationships with clients is important to her – some of her biggest clients approached her to have a scatter cushion made a few years ago, and still support her. She’s reluctant to recommend upholstery fabrics unless she’s seen a client’s house, for instance. To Mariette, decorating is an evolutionary process that can’t be finished in an eight-week period. “Interiors are living, breathing, evolving spaces,” she says. “It’s like building roads – you start at one end and by the time you’re finished, the first bit needs attention again.” Contact Mariette on 078 450 9616


at home with

Mr Ubuntu

Top businessman and transformation leader Reuel J Khoza is a born-and-bred lowvelder who is most comfortable at his Kiepersol home Words: Ciska Kay | Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle


Lowveld Living

at home with


at home with


euel J Khoza is surrounded by a purposeful air, an unmistakable vitality. And he’s always stood out, according to his wife Mumsy, his sweetheart since their high school days in rural Thulamahashe. “He was head boy in 1969 and had that distinguishing character even then,” she says. “I was looking for someone who stands out – I didn’t want an ordinary guy.” There’s certainly nothing ordinary about Reuel. After running a successful management consultancy for two decades, he entered the corporate arena. His list of current and former chairmanships and non-executive directorships reads like a who’s who of South African business: Eskom, Glaxo Wellcome SA, IBM SA, Vodacom, JSE Limited, JCI Limited, Standard Bank Group and Liberty Life, for starters. He is a leading proponent of a new management culture and leadership based on inclusivity, afrocentricity and ubuntu. He is also a sought-after lecturer and consultant. The Khozas divide their time between Lonehill in Johannesburg and a working avocado farm in the Kiepersol area. There’s

Lowveld Living

little doubt about where their hearts lie: “Jo’burg is where we go to for work,” says Mumsy. “This is where we’re from.” The farm is managed by HL Halls & Sons and has a regional pack house for the export market. “Our granddaughter, Zoya, insisted we buy the property because it has a Wendy house. We don’t know much about avocados,” they chuckle. But they love the traditional farm homestead, and were attracted to the sturdy structure, wooden beams and oversized doors. And it has enough space to accommodate a large extended family at Christmastime. Reuel was born in Acorn Bush and grew up in Bushbuckridge. His grandfather, a lay preacher and traditional healer, was “loving but very, very strict” and believed boys shouldn’t sleep past sunrise, especially herd boys like Reuel. His duties often kept him busy until sunset. “He was quite different from his siblings and his father wanted to make sure he was educated,” says Mumsy. He was expected, though not pressurised, to do well at school. Money was tight and before sending him off to university at the beginning of each year, his grandfather would have to sell a cow to cover the fees. The Khozas have a strong sense of family

Previous pages: Reuel Khoza treasures the peace and quiet the family farm at Kiepersol affords him Right: The Khozas at the breakfast table. Reuel and Mumsy were childhood sweethearts and rate their family as a top priority Below: The couple are selfconscious about posing for photos, as “our daughters laugh at us when they see us in magazines” Inset: Eminent author and thinker Es’kia Mphahlele is one of Reuel’s mentors


brief 1949: Born at Acornhoek. 1969: Completed matric. 1970 – 1974: Completed a BA and honours in psychology at the University of the North. During his postgraduate years, he worked as a junior lecturer and research officer. As chairman of the choral society, he irritated the authorities with the political messages in his choice of songs. In 1974 the security services moved in and he was asked to leave the university. 1978: Successfully applied for a scholarship to study in England. Completed an MA in marketing at the University of Lancaster. 1981: Established a marketing consultancy, called Coordinated Marketing. 1997: Appointed chairman of Eskom. Received the Black Management Forum Presidential Achievers Award 2001: Established a private investment firm, AKA Capital. Received Unisa’s Leadership in Practice Award. 2005: Received an engineering doctorate (business) from the University of Warwick in the UK. 2006: Became the chairman of the Nedbank Group. 2008: Accepted honorary doctorate from Rhodes University. Currently president and fellow of the South African chapter of the Institute of Directors



at home with


Central to Reuel’s leadership model is the idea of African humanism or ubuntu. In his book, Let Africa Lead: African transformational leadership for 21st century business, published in 2005, he explains a new model for leadership based on co-operative values such as trust and integrity, combined with an aggressive pursuit of excellence. “Entrepreneurship, discipline and vision have an important role to play in the rejuvenation of Africa,” he says. “We must make our own destiny. If not us, then who?”

Top: Reuel in his study. Nelson Mandela wrote the foreword in his latest book Inset: A family portrait. “I don’t stand a chance,” says Reuel about being surrounded by women


Lowveld Living

commitment. “We live for our extended family,” they say. “We both come from very poor backgrounds and believe we need to help other people. “We don’t even have a sense of ownership over this farm – it belongs to the people working on the farm and in the pack house. It gives them something to do and some form of income.” Mumsy retired from nursing in 1995 to look after the family’s portfolio of business interests. They turned a Johannesburg smallholding into a guest house and own three properties in the lowveld. Mumsy says she’s still busy, but her life now is a breeze compared to the large-scale entertaining she had to do when Reuel was a consultant. She is a natural and inventive cook, and her husband is her greatest fan. “When I travel what I miss the most is a home-cooked meal by my wife. It’s always the same: I come home, overeat and then have to go to the gym,” he laughs. They have two grown-up daughters, the eldest an IT specialist and the youngest at Stirling University in Scotland. They are a great source of pride and are constantly mentioned in conversation. “The kids have their father’s character,” says

Mumsy. “Our youngest was St Stithian’s first black head girl. They never ride on their father’s coat tails or mention his name. They’re mature, independent women who can survive on their own.” The Khozas love their sprawling gardens and proudly show off two koi ponds, a recently acquired hobby. “We’ve both learned to love them – we like the idea of having living creatures on the farm, even if they are only fish,” says Reuel. As the chairman of Nedbank, Reuel is expected to host the Nedbank Challenge every year, but he hasn’t taken to golf. “My wife and I actually argue about this,” he laughs. “She enrolled me for lessons so I could speak intelligently on the golf course. I think I went for three sessions …” Both enjoy a bit of fly fishing, but his real hobbies, Reuel says, are reading and writing. Let Africa Lead, his explanation of how ubuntu can become an organic part of business ethics, was published in 2005. There’s no talk of retirement anytime soon, although Reuel has scaled down his corporate responsibilities considerably and is on the board of “only about four or five companies. We may slow down eventually, but for now we’re still very active,” he says.


Lowveld Living

lowveld lifestyle

lowveld lifestyle

free wheelers The lowveld is the perfect place for one of the fastest-growing sports in South Africa. Vinni Dlamini finds out what’s the deal on two wheels Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle


lowveld lifestyle



eing a bit of a cycling philistine, the image that always pops into my mind when someone mentions cyclists is one of sweaty, sun-burnt health nuts who look like they have raided Evita Bezuidenhout’s closet to borrow spandex cycling tights. That is until I discovered that cycling attracts an interesting mix of lowvelders, who for various reasons find their Zen with two wheels and peddles. “It’s an activity that attracts those who want to be healthy and keep fit, but it’s also a very social sport and I think that’s the main attraction,” says Christian van Oudtshoorn, a keen cyclist who is one of the lead guides at Induna Adventures in Hazyview. He adds that cycling can be expensive, but it is an easy sport to pick up and the region lends itself to participation. “There are lots of scenic places for people to ride in the lowveld. You don’t have to go far

Lowveld Living

to find spectacular routes for on- and off-road cycling,” he says. “Anyone can ride” is the mantra of almost every cyclist I talk to and it becomes clear that, in a rainbow nation kind of way, cycling is all-embracing. It also becomes apparent that, no matter how you look at it, cycling is a somewhat costly undertaking if you want to be serious about it. This dynamic has attracted not only the young and funky, who throw themselves in for every penny, but the wealthy and glamorous who won’t spare any cost for the extra trimmings. Some enthusiasts start cycling to replace other, more traditional pastimes. “Cycling has become the new golf,” says Charné Achterberg, estate mom and keen cyclist. “The lowveld is infinitely suited for it, the whole region is a cycling hotspot.” Charné and other local ladies shared with me their love for cycling. They represent, in an untypical way, the consummate modern cyclist. Eat your heart out, Evita.

Previous pages: On-road enthusiast Eva Strydom says it’s important to have functional, comfortable cycling gear Below: Getting kitted out can be costly, as the starting price for a good bike is around R10 000

m, 45 Eva Strydo s ith two kid Married w , te a Est Shandon Nelspruit

What got you on to a bike? I started riding three years ago because of a sore knee. The knee messed with my golf swing and someone suggested I get into road cycling. I think there are a lot of people who got into cycling that way. Do you prefer on- or off-road cycling? Definitely on-road cycling. There is something different about it, you get into a rhythm and it feels almost like meditation. Off-road is more bumpy. I’ve tried both and although I enjoy the outdoors, I don’t really enjoy offroad cycling. Why do you ride? I enjoy the meditative state of road cycling. Also I ride with a fantastic crew. I can carry on doing this until I’m old. Memorable moment on the bike? For me it’s when you finish a race and you realise that it’s quite an achievement, that you’ve gone beyond yourself. And the cost? A decent road bike will cost about R10 000, but it will last for a long time. What about the look? There is definitely a certain look in cycling. It’s important to have the right gear. There are obviously a lot of expensive brands available, but I look for comfortable and functional clothing.


lowveld lifestyle

What got you on to a bike? It started as an outdoor pursuit at school three years ago, when I started riding in the afternoons. Then I got a bike for Christmas from my dad.

Emily Cla rk, 17 Matricula nt at Uplands College White Riv er Countr y Estate

Do you prefer on- or off-road cycling? I generally prefer off-road but training on the road is cheaper. Either way I still love being out there on my bike. Why do you ride? Because cycling is awesome! The lowveld is ideal for riding, especially off-road, and for me it’s an opportunity to explore my surroundings. Once you are hooked it’s like a drug. Memorable moment on the bike? Every time I get on my bike. To see what’s out there is a privilege. Every time I see something great that I wouldn’t normally see, it’s memorable for me. What about the costs? I’ve been fortunate because I’ve had a lot of support so far, but it’s definitely a very expensive sport. To pay for my bike’s maintenance I do a lot of babysitting and waitressing. And the look? There is no one look for cyclists because it attracts a wide range of people. Anyone can ride a bicycle and we all suffer the same pain, we just suffer it at different speeds.

Take five With its breathtaking views and challenging routes, the lowveld is a popular race venue. Five of the top cycling events in the region are: • The MTN Panorama Tour – This four-stage road cycling event showcases some of the best local scenery. The four stages run over four days and cover White River, Hazyview, Sabie and Nelspruit. • The MTN Sabie Classic – This event in Sabie boasts mountain bike races of varying distances, ranging from 15 to 110 kilometres. • The Noon to Moon relay race in Sabie – This is a 10-hour relay race with teams of three off-road cyclists. It’s considered a very technical race. • The Sudwala Mankele MTB race – This has become a popular race for mountain bikers from all over the country. • The Barberton Messer race – The event has varied long- and short-distance races, and is popular event among Jo’burg cyclists.


Lowveld Living

Charné Achterbe rg, 38 Married with two kids. White Riv er Country Estate What got you on to a bike? When we got back from the United Kingdom four years ago, I saw eight dedicated women cycling around the estates and I decided to join them. It was also a way to make friends. We do all the races around the lowveld on and off the road. Do you prefer on- or off-road cycling? Off-road is definitely a lot more fun and is better for fitness. It’s obviously more physical and you can get bruised easily. Why do you ride? Cycling offers more than just exercise. There are many enjoyable aspects – riding in the forests, for instance. It’s also the feeling you get when you know that you are out of your league technically and physically in a race, but you are able to overcome. Memorable moment on the bike? In the Johannes-Kempton Park race last year I found myself in a cycling bus and I was travelling much faster than I would have ever managed on my own. More recently a group of us were chased by elephants while doing the Tour de Tuli Cycle Race. Costs involved? To buy a decent bike is expensive, and this tends to put cycling in an elitist bracket. Bikes can go for anything up to R140 000. Then there is the cost for your gear and maintenance. And the look? I would say it is more a lifestyle than a look. For most of us it becomes part of our lives. Our family holidays are centred on finding cycling spots. As for the fashion, there is nothing more ugly than cycling clothes.



lowveld flavours


your guide to

Well-known White River-based chef Jonathan Robinson is opening Mahoy’s restaurant at Bagdad. Go there for mouth-watering comfort food and fine company. Contact 082 788 5171

local flavours, 3

2 1. Slow lane

is a great excuse to round up your girlfriends

a twist. “No fancy French cuisine here,” she

In true lowveld style, good things happen

and head for a lazy lunch at Casterbridge.

laughs. Best sellers include a giant mushroom

at a reduced pace – including the yummy

Stacked with avocado and grilled haloumi,

and cheese breakfast omelette, bobotie and

Slowveld Pantry jams, jellies and preserves

mixed lettuce, cucumber ribbons, halved

rice, and boerewors served with stampmielies.

produced by Schoemanskloof couple Anthony

cherry tomatoes and bean sprouts, the salad

Contact Stoep on 013 741 2551

Clarke and Louise Kuhn. Based on traditional

is perfected with a sweet chilli dressing.

recipes and with absolutely no artificial

To make a reservation, call Magnolia

4. In the box

ingredients, they make the most of regional

on 013 751 1947

A hand-picked selection of locally grown,

fruit and produce. Look out for delights such

3. Stoep talk

in syrup, marula and chilli jelly, and their best-

Stoep at Sonpark Boulevard in Nelspruit is

and a summer diet becomes a pleasure.

selling macadamia liqueur.

a buzzing book store, art gallery and coffee

Cheryl Lewis, owner of The Veg Box, delivers

Contact Louise on 013 733 3465 or 072 796 3077

shop that has trendy locals clamouring to

packages of fresh vegetables to hundreds

secure a table on the, well … stoep. Cook

of clients around the lowveld every week.

Hannah Trichardt can’t keep up with the

A dedicated vegetarian, she also regularly

demand for her traditional boerekos with

e-mails them delicious, simple recipes and

2. Summer salad Magnolia Restaurant’s cheerful calamari salad


organic vegetables is a great incentive to

as naartjie and watermelon preserves, litchis

Lowveld Living

eat healthily. Throw in a great recipe or two,

lowveld flavours



produce & food shopping 6


7 cooking tips.

6. Kasi vibes

7. Eastern flavours

Call Cheryl on 082 312 1659, or e-mail

Choose your day and you can choose your

Erica Platter, editor of the Platter Wine Guide

entertainment at Gordon’s Restaurant in

and a part-time lowvelder, launches her new

Kabokweni. This unique venue allows you

book, East Coast Tables, at Exclusives Books

to choose your cut of meat to be braaied

in Nelspruit on December 2. It’s packed

Frustrated with frozen, poor-quality fish from

and served with pap and chakalaka. Some

with exciting recipes for lowveld produce

companies supplying out of Jo’burg, former

Sundays there is laid-back lunch-time jazz,

such as avocados, amadumbe and bananas.

Singita chef Clinton Drake used to drive to

and if there is an important soccer or rugby

Interesting personalities share cooking and

Maputo’s fish market once a week. When he

match three big-screen TVs

decided to give gourmet cooking a break,

provide an “Mbombela Stadium

as delicious curry,

he opened The Fresh Fish Co in White River

in Kabokweni” experience.

biryani and preserve

and now supplies top-quality seafood to

Gordon’s has safe parking, good


lowvelders from his Mozambican contacts.

security and is an easy drive

For information on

He also stocks highly recommended oysters

from Nelspruit.

the book launch,

from Knysna.

Contact Mpumi on 072 551 7492

e-mail sheldonl@

Contact Clinton on 013 750 0067

to find out what is on

5. Off the boat

spice tips, as well


lowveld flavours

“People appreciate the fact that my products are fresh, hand-made and not mass produced. I also don’t use preservatives or any of that yucky stuff” 48

Lowveld Living


pleasures At

just about every food and fun fair in the lowveld, you’ll find Claudia Peoples quietly peddling her delicious bottled products and spreads. Personal tasting is a successful selling strategy, she says. “If they taste, they buy. People appreciate the fact that my products are fresh, hand-made and not mass produced. I also don’t use preservatives or any of that yucky stuff.” She recently introduced an olive range to her Cook’s Deli delights. It includes Moroccan olives with cumin, lemon and chermoula; olives with sundried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar; and harissa olives, with roasted chilli and harissa spice. Her personal favourite is the olive crush, a blend of olives, capers, garlic and fresh basil. “But they’re all delicious – a must in everybody’s fridge,” she says. Claudia has been cooking up a storm from her farm near White River for the past decade. “I come from a cooking background,” she says, “and I enjoy experimenting with recipes.” She develops new products by trial and error. “I choose a flavour or feeling I like, and push and pull until I get the desired result.” She regularly assesses her range and focuses on what’s popular, even if it means dropping some of her older products. Besides food markets, Cooks Deli products can be found at Farmstyle Market, Stoep and Crossing Superspar. Some products are available in three-litre glass bottles. Contact Claudia on 083 325 1621 or


lowveld flavours

pic your spot Summer’s

the time to slow down, un-plug and rediscover the simple pleasures of fresh air, nature, delicious food and good company. What better way to combine all this than a picnic? With the arrival of Capetonian franchise Dail-A-Picnic in the lowveld, even busy and lazy people can enjoy a picnic – all they need to do is pitch up at the right spot. Local owner Kerry Dunshea (right) sources, packs and delivers picnic baskets filled with locally sourced, tasty goodies. “I use cheeses from Tzaneen, trout from local farms, herbs from White River and sometimes even my mother-in-law’s preserves,” she says.


Lowveld Living

She has worked out several set menus to appeal to lowveld tastes. Options include vegetarian, Mediterranean, kiddie and champagne breakfast baskets. “You’re also welcome to create your own menu,” says Kerry.“It can be indulgent or an easy affair between friends – we can work according to a budget.” Baskets can be delivered to your location of choice, or you can use the beautiful river-side venue at Kerry’s house near Sudwala Caves. “We have such incredible scenery here in the lowveld,” she says. “We want people to slow down, get out there and enjoy it.” Contact Kerry on 082 57 333 72, or e-mail

lowveld flavours


lowveld flavours



Lowveld Living

lowveld flavours


lamboyant foodie personality Bruce Robertson is fondly referred to as “the afro-gastronaut”, both for his vibrant personal style and his penchant for pushing the boundaries of food preparation. Not content with run-of-the-mill cooking, he’s a self-confessed adrenaline junkie who peddles “radical dining”. “It’s cooking and dining with a serving of adrenaline,” he explains. “I present extreme and radical dining experiences in breath-taking, bizarre or perilous locations.” A former head chef at Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand reserve, Bruce is

inviting lowvelders to join him on “epicurean safari adventures” in the Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves. He is a professional skyjumper, cave climber, leisure diver and rapid shooter. His lowveld gourmet safaris include a “walking with lions and herbs” picnic breakfast, “bubbly” tastings and fun-filled cooking demonstrations in Opposite page: Bruce demonstrates that “radical dining” can be a balancing act Above, left: His Modern Tiramisu with candy sugar Above, right: Game Caesar – a collection of venison and tilapia


lowveld flavours

the bush, and evening activities such as “sosaties and stars” in the boma. Bruce set a benchmark for sophisticated dining as founder and chef-patron of Cape Town’s acclaimed restaurant, The Showroom. He likes to experiment with dishes served by traditional South African communities. “African food enhances the African experience,” he says. His radical dining experiences have taken high-end travellers and food lovers to the Koakoveld of Namibia, a moon dinner on the Magadigadi salt pans in Botswana, Devil’s Tooth in the Drakensberg and the Wolfberg


Lowveld Living

Crags in the Cederberg. The four-night gourmet safaris are slightly cushier. Up to 12 participants take over the run of upmarket lodges such as Singita Sweni in the Kruger, with a bar and wine cellar at their complete disposal. For more information, contact Bruce on 083 305 8533 or, or Singita Game Reserves on 021 683 3424 Above, left: The wild chef Above, right: The Wild Gia – guinea fowl served Thailand-style

in the kitchen


spicE Lorraine Naidoo is living proof that dynamite comes in small packages. Sue Adams samples her popular Indian home-style cooking Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle


Lowveld Living

in the kitchen


in the kitchen


orraine and her specially designed caravan parked in the heart of Nelspruit city centre may both be small, but their reputation in the lowveld is huge. Customers travel from far and wide, and if you don’t get your order in by lunch-time, expect to be disappointed. “People get indignant when I shut shop and take leave,” she says, “but everyone has to have a holiday.” She serves real home-cooked food and is a stickler for freshness and quality. “I never serve leftovers. In fact I never have any leftovers because I am always sold out,” she laughs. She has a large Indian family who send her special spices from Johannesburg and Durban. Doting husband Marty goes to the local downtown market to buy her the red and green chillies that give her food a distinctive, delicious flavour, “The secret is in slow cooking and the methods you use,” she confides. Even with all the best spices in the world, you need to know how and when to use them, how long to fry things and when to add what. One trick she is prepared to share is grinding black pepper and cumin together, and then adding the mixture to chicken curry after it is cooked and just before it is served. Her business, Shavani’s Fusion Flavours, is named after a granddaughter. She serves chicken, beef and mutton curry as well as biryani, samoosas that are freshly fried as you watch, and a popular bunny chow. “I am sold out by 1.30 every afternoon, and then I go to buy fresh meat and vegetables for the next day.”

Lowveld Living

She says South African Indian cooking is different to that in India. “We use more ground ginger, garlic and green chillies.” Lists of spices trip lightly off her tongue, conjuring visions of exotic places and making my mouth water – cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, curry leaves, bay leaves. She makes her own green masala with ginger, garlic and chilli, and is particular about the kind of garlic she uses. “The garlic you buy in a shop is too rough and has usually been too long on the shelf,” she flares her nose in disgust. “Garlic must be ground smooth like a paste.” Lorraine revels in entertaining. Even when she gets home after cooking all day in her caravan, she is happy to cook dinner. “My family always pop in to lift the lids and see what is for supper,” she says, cuddling one of her grandchildren. She even made 200 miniature wedding cakes for her son’s marriage. Her customers call her “Auntie” and treat her like they are part of the family too. “Everyone loves my food,” she says. “White, black, coloured – people from all cultures like my Indian food. “I tried to serve ordinary stews once, thinking that not everyone wanted Indian, but they did not sell. People want full Indian home-style cooking.” Previous pages: Customers queue up in Nelspruit’s CBD to get their hands on Lorraine Naidoo’s bunny chow and other spicy treats Below: Lorraine in her specially designed spice caravan Opposite page, from top right: Shavani is named after Lorraine’s granddaughter; a spicy dessert; prawn curry

Contact Lorraine on 082Â 449 6936. You can phone in your order and it will be delivered if you are in the city centre. If you give her fair warning, she will do catering for you.


in the kitchen


fish currY Ingredients: • 1 kg fish, cleaned and sliced • 7 cloves fresh garlic • 1 tsp ground ginger • 4 to 5 green or red chillies • 5 to 10 curry leaves • 1 small onion

• 1 kg puree tomatoes • 125 g tamarind • 3 tbsp masala • 1 tsp sugar • 1 tsp salt

Marinade for fish: • 2 tbsp masala • 1½ tsp salt • ¼ cup lemon juice • 1 tbsp fresh ginger and garlic paste Method Sauce: Fry onion in oil. Add curry leaves, garlic, chillies, masala, ginger, tomatoes, salt and sugar. Soak tamarind in water, remove seeds and strain through a sieve. Add thickened tamarind water to tomato mixture. Cook slowly until sauce thickens. Marinade for fish: Mix above ingredients and marinate fish for 1 hour. Dip fish in cake flour and fry in oil until brown. Place fish in sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

Serve e ic with r


Lowveld Living

functions market place


Lowveld Living

your year-end


party-planner guide Your guide to venues and suppliers to make your year-end function one to remember


your year-end


party-planner guide

Your guide to venues and suppliers to make your year-end function one to remember


Lowveld Living

functions market place


country living


veranda vibes

Lowveld Living

country living


country living Previous pages: It’s a dog’s life. Saxon relaxes on his favourite Nguni skin on the oversized L-shaped veranda This page: Bespoke wall boxes house a stork by a local beader, ebony carvings from the DRC, banana leaf balls bought in Rwanda and a Thai viper in alcohol


Lowveld Living

An English couple transformed a 1940s farmhouse into an inspirational tribute to their travels through Africa Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle

t took Paddy and Amanda Bond Gunning two years to find a site to match their vision of the perfect “holiday villa experience”. Having run both a safari company and family guest house for five years, they wanted to create a modern, comfortable home that could double up as luxury accommodation. The setting was a priority – they needed a site that embraced the essence of Africa and promoted the values of responsible tourism. After travelling thousands of kilometres, “from Tulbach to Tzaneen”, in the end their search ended right back where it started: in the lowveld. They fell in love with a property at the foot of Legogote Mountain near White River – and a garden filled with mature, indigenous trees. Overlooking the Masoyi tribal area with views to Pretoriuskop in the distance, they could finally picture their African villa. The original dwelling on the property seemed to be in immaculate condition and they drew up plans for its refurbishment. Their biggest priority was to instil symmetry into a lopsided design. Balance was to be restored by adding a generous L-shaped veranda off the living area and a dramatic, sweeping entrance staircase to replace what looked like a fire escape. An open-plan kitchen, dining room and sitting room were designed to flow on to the veranda with its spectacular views over the rural landscape. The renovation was scheduled to take only four months, but a nasty surprise lie in store: as soon as the old tile roof was removed, the house collapsed “like dominoes”. It seems that essential building materials were in short supply during the 1940s, when the original home was built. “We were left with a very expensive foundation,” says Paddy, “and an unbelievable heap of rubble.” The budget had to be rewritten in 12 hours – what was supposed to be a 70 percent refurbishment and 30 percent new build turned out the other way round. While a neighbour carted off the rubble to build an access road, the construction company started on a new brief and revised building schedule of seven months. Ambience-wise, the couple wanted “that whole lowveld veranda vibe”, says Amanda. “We pondered every aspect of the


country living

build, but needed architect Bethilde Potgieter’s input to turn our scribbled drawings into a reality. “While we had struggled with the interior layout, she designed a house with an easy flow. Having 3D graphics from Silo Studios helped tremendously in ironing out potential problems.” They named it umSisi House, after the colourful, indigenous lucky bean tree they planted along their drive. Neutral colours throughout the house are offset by splashes of lucky bean-flower red – starting with the striking roof. High ceilings and cavity sliding doors ensure a flow of air and energy, and also eliminate the need for air conditioning. Other “green” credentials include an elaborate rainwater catchment system, solar geysers, skylights and an organic kitchen garden. Living areas are generous, yet with enough cosy nooks and crannies to provide privacy. The library, with bespoke floor-to-ceiling bookcases, oodles of natural light and comfy seating, is particularly inviting. In a house where the neutral colour scheme forms the prevailing backdrop, wood, beads and wire add texture and visual interest. Bedrooms and bathrooms were kept simple, emphasising the dramatic window views of the garden and beyond. Fittings are sleek and unobtrusive, highlighting an extensive collection of art and ornaments. Objects from almost the entire continent are beautifully displayed on walls, shelves and bookcases. “Every artefact has a special story to tell and many of them were carted here on the roof of our Land Rover,” says Amanda. “The house is a testament to our life and travels through Africa – all 75 000 odd kilometres of it and still counting. There is nowhere else we would rather be.”


Lowveld Living

Local leads Amanda’s tried-and-tested local suppliers: Architect – Bethilde Potgieter on 082 462 2244 Builders – Mark Mason of A1 Construction on 082 332 8460 Bespoke hand-painted furniture – Phillip Eloff from Eloff Gallery on 082 464 9688 Fitted cupboards, bookcases and display units – Marius Slippers on 082 323 3570 Soft furnishings – Bernie Spearpoint from Curtain Studio on 083 455 7939 3D graphic rendering of plans – Marius van Zyl of Silo Studios on 084 247 2534 Rainbow skylights and extreme extractors – Johann van Vuuren on 082 807 6850 Screed flooring – Jo Trading on 072 281 2345. Screed materials and advice - Grant from Winmar on 082 440 9933 Solar geysers – Glen van der Vyver of WaterLite Solar Geysers on 083 442 0467

country living

Opposite page: Skylights shower a passageway with natural light This page, clockwise from right: A still life by Leon Muller and a carver chair by Phillip Eloff; Masai gourd lamps from Kenya and Indian shaving mirrors; an antique feather headdress from Cameroon forms the centrepiece on top of a mantel from Sleeperwoods; scrap metal art from Zimbabwe; a collection of indispensable cookbooks

“The house is a testament to our life and travels through Africa – all 75 000 odd kilometres of it. There is nowhere else we would rather be”


country living

Objects from almost the entire continent are beautifully displayed on walls, shelves and bookcases

Clockwise from left: The sweeping staircase and wooden shutters create a colonial-style entrance; oranges on display in an Ethiopian Njira coffee tray; a Senufo bed from Ethihopia doubles up as a coffee table in the peaceful reading room


Lowveld Living

Living areas are generous, yet with enough cosy nooks and crannies to provide privacy. The library, with bespoke floor-to-ceiling bookcases, oodles of natural light and comfy seating, is particularly inviting

country living

get look Amanda’s five top tips for creating the perfect screed floor finish: 1. Install a 40 millimetre-thick screed topping. 2. Use a 4:1 ratio of crusher dust to cement mix (and no river sand). 3. Trust your flooring contractor to recommend the correct number of expansion joints for each room. 4. Allow adequate drying or curing time in your building schedule. Six weeks is recommended. 5. Use a two-pack polyurethane gloss seal for a magic finish (for interiors only as the seal is not ultraviolet-stable).

Clockwise from top right: An Oscar Eames elephant stool on the smoothly screeded stoep; geyers heaters on the lucky bean-red tin roof with views to Legogote; essential cook books Above inset: The lucky bean tree served as inspiration for the home’s colour scheme


Lowveld Living

living design Stonemasons used local sandstone and almost no mortar in the building process


Lowveld Living

living design

earth,wi n d and fire An engineer and an eco-architect combined their skills to build a monument of the natural elements, writes Sue Adams Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle


living design


erlorenkloof owner Eric Johnson knew he wanted heating the building naturally. This involved filling a 60 metrean earth-friendly design for the owners’ centre at long trench behind a retaining wall with 400 tonnes of sandstone his share-block estate in the heart of the trout triangle and inserting two hollow wire ducts into it. between Machadadorp and Lydenburg. Eric, an engineer, The system pumps hot air from the roof of the building through the rock store during the day. The rocks retain the sat down with Nelspruit-based eco-architect Gavin Smitsdorp to explore ways to make the building as “green” as possible. heat and at night strategically placed vents are opened to “We started with a flow chart looking at who would use the circulate the heat in the building. building and what paths they Eric and Gavin would take,” explains Gavin. minimised their carbon footprint by sourcing “From there the building building materials locally. kind of designed itself. They used soil from the site We had a brainstorming and made their own rammedsession and the building earth bricks, which interlock just materialised. It was rather like Lego. amazing.” Verlorenkloof is nestled The centre serves two against the Lydenburg roles. It is a reception and escarpment and is rich in administration area for the sandstone. Eric trained local share-block estate, and the stonemasons, and their stone central building for a future work is so well fitted that hotel. It houses a restaurant, almost no mortar was needed lounge and library as well as to hold it in place. services for the share block. Feral gums growing on “We had two guiding the farm were chopped down lights: our spectacular and used as wooden props. surroundings and the rich White poplar, an invasive archaeology of the area,” species in South Africa, says Eric. was used for the window The houses in the share and door frames as well as block are called “crofts” counter tops. and are built in traditional Iron Age sites in the stone and thatch. The region are renowned for design that Eric and Gavin their use of scalloped brainstormed for the centre buttresses in the walls, and combines modern glass and this ancient design tradition steel with stone – a real has been emulated in the break from the traditional owners’ centre. designs of Verlorenkloof. Despite their earth“It took a great deal of friendly intentions, it convincing the owners,” sometimes seemed nature says Eric, “but now was against the building. A everyone loves it.” run-away fire put a halt to The building comprises Opposite page, clockwise from top left: The underfloor rock store heats building for almost a year two storeys, with the the building naturally; spectacular surroundings determined the design; and twice huge wind storms services level below. the building is comfortably settled into the Lydenburg escarpment; blew down some of the The main entrance is a strategically placed vents circulate heat; the main entrance is a dark rammed earth walls. long passageway that is passageway that is purposefully dark, narrow and high “At times it was purposefully dark, narrow heartbreaking, but we and high. always knew it would turn out well,” says Eric proudly. “This passage leads you on a journey to the heart of the The process may not have been easy, but the end result is a building, where you emerge to see all the mountain views,” says building that settles comfortably into the mountainside as if it Eric with animation. all came naturally. Gavin enthuses about the innovative rock store they built for

Lowveld Living

living design

“We had two guiding lights: our spectacular surroundings & the rich archaeology of the area�


living design

live life 5 Green tips

from owner Eric and architect Gavin: Use local wherever you can. We trained local labour and it worked really well. You don’t need to go high tech. We did a huge amount by hand and did not even need to bring in a crane for our roofing. Low tech and high design is the best combination For example, we used pivot opening windows that look good but are simple to make and use. Let the site design the building. We used the natural contours and the views. Take advice from every quarter. Faith Rubin, who heads up catering at Verlorenkloof, is a talented designer and provided the colourful finishing touches to the interior. Landscape designer Estelle du Toit finessed the areas around the building.


Lowveld Living

Above: The centre houses a restaurant, lounge and library Below left: Owners Eric and Heidi Johnson Below: Soil from the site was used to make rammed earth bricks, which interlock like building blocks Below right: High ceilings, glass and steel are offset by colourful finishing touches to the interior

Low tech and high design is the best combination



State of

New Ehlanzeni District Municipal Building


he current Ehlanzeni District Municipal Council, led by the Executive Mayor, Councillor Constance Mkhonto, has finally implemented a dream of the previous council, led by the then Executive Mayor, Councillor Jerry Ngomane. Up until recently, the council operated from rented premises in Nelspruit’s CBD. Striving to live up to the district’s vision of being the bestperforming district municipality of the 21st century, an attractive and state of the art building was purposely built next to the civic centre, on the corner of Samora Machel and Nel streets in Mbombela.

A group of three buildings were envisioned, representing a Swazi homestead with the central “hut” being that of the “chief” and containing public facilities and the council chamber. The supporting accommodation of the administration flanks the main building in an embracing way to echo the two doves of the coat-of-arms. The main building is covered with a strong shield-shaped roof as a gesture of “protection”. The building resembles the coat-of-arms and portrays influences of the Swazi architectural heritage in a sophisticated way. The building was placed on the edge of the site to provide adequate parking on the remaining area.

The Executive Mayor, Councillor Constance Mkhonto




Green Technologies Initial evaluation was done to obtain a Green Star rating for this building. The building was designed to be “intelligent” and “alive”: • Heat sensors in the roof of the atriums activate electronic window mechanisms to allow hot air to escape when the temperature rises above comfort level.Windows also act as smoke extraction elements as they open at the first activation of a smoke alarm. The regular opening and closing of these windows to control the temperature resembles a breathing organism. • Rainwater and condensate from the air-

conditioning plant is collected in a purpose-built grey water tank in the basement, and is used to flush toilets and irrigation. • Motion sensors activate the light switches. Lights will never be left on without someone present. • Shutting mechanisms on all doors leading to balconies minimise the loss of cool air. • Solar geysers are used throughout the building. • All covered parking areas are naturally ventilated to eliminate toxic gases from entering the mechanical ventilation system.


New Ehlanzeni District Municipal Building

Ehlanzeni District Municipality Tel: +27 13 759-8500 Fax: +27 13 755-3157 Email: P.O. Box 3333, Nelspruit 1200 8 Van Niekerk Street, Nelspruit

Benefits of the Development This building offers purpose-designed office space for the district municipality. Other benefits are: • The development creates a formal, civic face to the visitor when entering town. • On-site natural elements have been preserved as far as possible. • An identity has been created for the Ehlanzeni District Municipality, previously a fairly unknown entity. • Thought has gone into the well-being and comfort of the occupants, and an active

attempt has been made to eliminate the “sick building” syndrome. • A much needed disaster management centre is provided for the entire district, and also doubles up as a conference facility. This eliminates the rental of expensive venues for training, seminars and workshops. • Adequate parking has been provided for both visitors and staff. • Cafeteria facilities provide meals for staff. • Stringent security measures ensure the safety of the staff and the protection of their property.


The Municipal Manager, Advocate Hugh Mbatha

The central block houses public areas like the tender room, cashiers and main security areas, as well as the offices of the Speaker and the Chief Whip on the ground floor. This is followed by the council chamber on the first floor, with function areas for the council above. Semi-private areas are glazed to emphasise the transparency of the organisation. The shield-shaped roof is visible from the interior of the council chamber and serves as a constant reminder of the protection it represents. The council chamber is lit naturally and will be blacked-out when required. The physical form of the council

chamber protrudes to the outside and will stand out as a beacon of light during afterhour functions, emphasising the “directiongiving” function of the council. The entire building is equipped with state-of-the-art electronic equipment. This includes motion sensors to switch on lights, biometric scanners for access control and high-tech visual and audio facilities for the council chamber. A very high level of security is maintained throughout the building. The building’s gymnasium, added to maintain staff’s physical health, has direct

access to a beautiful garden. To ensure flexibility for future expansion, the existing structure was left partially unfinished internally until the need arises for additional future office space. A basement laboratory handles health and safety issues. Recent changes to the powers and functions of the district municipality, as well as guarantees required by FIFA in order for Nelspruit to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup, created a demand for a disaster management centre. This was added to the office complex as a free-standing building.

modern living

light fantastic Ciska Kay visits a Nelspruit home where strong design elements cleverly capitalise on natural light Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle


Lowveld Living

modern living

These pages: The perfect setting for sundowners; the open-plan bed and bathroom suite is an ode to sleek, modern living


modern living


inding the right architect can be tricky; co-ordinating a building project long-distance, almost impossible. Europe-based couple Dietmar and Claudia Ley managed both at their sun-drenched home on Shandon Estate. For six months every year the retired couple lives in south-west France, but they had no trouble deciding where they would like to spend the other half of the year. “We love nature and being in environments that are as diverse as possible,” says Dietmar. “We spent the past five years studying butterflies in each of South Africa’s provinces, but we connected the most to the lowveld area. We love the year-round warmth, mix of ecosystems, beautiful rivers and proximity to the Kruger National Park and Mozambique.” He admits the building project was challenging. “It was key that we liked, trusted and was able to communicate with our architect, Paul Schumann. And without our builder, Kevin Wills’s sense of ownership and responsibility, the project would not have been successful.”

“We spent the past five years studying butterflies in each of South Africa’s provinces, but we connected the most to the lowveld area” Before they started, Paul was clear about how the owners needed to structure their thinking in providing him with a brief. “He wanted to understand us as individuals, our style and the elements that made us happy and comfortable,” says Mozambican Clockwise from top right: Symmetrical, glass-fronted trusses placed between the walls and roof throughout the house enhance the natural light and create playful beams of sunshine; the open-plan dining area makes for easy entertaining; sunlight creates an ever-changing dappled display; architect Paul Schurmann’s drawing of the ‘butterfly’ house


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Local leads Architect: Paul Schumann of Tasker & Schuman Architects on 013 753 2769 Building contractor: Kevin Wills of Gateway Construction on 082 443 1185 Kitchen and cupboards: Willie Oosthuizen of Soldor on 013 751 2541 Decorative glass tiles: Riverglass Lighting at Casterbridge on 013 751 1349

modern living


modern living

born Claudia. “He also needed to understand our requirements in terms of living areas and their various functions.” The couple wanted a minimalist home with clean lines and a strong sense of space, light, flow and nature. “Oh yes, and the butterfly… Dietmar wanted the external structure to look like a butterfly – and it does.” Built on a steep slope, many substantial rocks had to be blasted to create space for the house. “It’s in Shandon, which meant the rock was an absolute nightmare,” says the architect. “Preserving trees also meant that the placing of the structure was critical.” Another hurdle was maximising natural light. Because the stand is east-facing, this required some clever footwork. “By pushing back the dining room – and giving the ‘butterfly’ a long neck – we created a north view and easyflowing light through the open-plan living area. “Although the clients were very particular and exact, they were also understanding when we needed to adapt the initial design,” Paul says. Symmetrical, glass-fronted trusses placed between the walls and roof throughout the house enhance the natural light and create playful beams of sunshine. “The play of light is fantastic,” says Paul. “The mood changes every hour. From a light point of view, this house is very successful.” The owners were able to visit the site about once a month during the building. “We felt a combination of nervousness and excitement each time,” Claudia says. “As the project neared completion, I can honestly say we had our breath taken away. “I think my favourite part of the house will always be drinking the morning’s first cup of tea in bed, watching the sun rise over the eastern mountains.” Below: Natural stone and wood add texture to a corner of the living area

The play of light is fantastic, says Paul, the mood changes every hour


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livelife Architect Paul Schumann (left) offers food for thought when considering the large-scale use of glass in domestic buildings: • Place glass strategically to take advantage of the view and light. Kitchens and studies need natural, but not necessarily direct light. • Place windows so that large panes take advantage of the faraway view and smaller windows of smaller, intimate views. • By carefully considering the placement of windows, privacy can be ensured. In this house, not one of the windows has a street view. Timber balconies offer additional screening. • Glass sliding doors are the easiest way to attain climate control. The same principle is used in Japanese houses – sections slide open or are closed to suit the season and weather. • In terms of security, large, solid pieces of glass are safer than smaller panes found in French doors, for instance. Intruders are loath to take on a massive pane of reinforced glass. • Blinds are the best window treatment to retain an uncluttered, minimalist look. For a cooler effect, choose light colours and for a cosier atmosphere in bedrooms and studies, use timber blinds. • If the glass is hard to reach, consider including a ledge or walkway of sorts to make cleaning more accessible.


classical living


Lowveld Living

classical living


classical living


Lowveld Living

usinesswoman Charmaine Mabuza and her husband, Eric, have a hectic schedule so when they come home they want peace and tranquillity. Their house in West Acres reflects their need for restfulness. “I like colours that make me find peace, that calm my life down,” says Charmaine. “I want a place that does not make me feel tired.” The couple bought the house 10 years ago and immediately decided it needed a drastic revamp. It is situated on the same grounds as their business office, Empilweni, which they built from scratch. After interviewing several interior designers, Charmaine decided to work with Valma Muir, former owner of the Blue Mountain Lodge in Hazyview. Together they chose a neutral palette of shades of black and white, to which they added flashes of colour such as burnt orange and lime green. “I would describe the style as contemporary classical African fusion, with the emphasis on classical,” says Valma. She and Charmaine clicked from the start. Charmaine wanted the house to reflect her family’s lifestyle. “We love to entertain and have three children, the youngest of whom is Previous pages: Businesswoman Charmaine Mabuza styled her home to accommodate her family’s lifestyle Left: A crystal chandelier in the lounge delicately compliments the monochromatic colour scheme. The silk panels look Japanese but the acacia design roots them in Africa Inserts: Neutral colours are offset by splashes of lime green and fuchsia; carefully chosen ornaments add a touch of glamour


classical living

They chose a neutral palette of shades of black and white, to which they added flashes of colour


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Above: In the main bedroom, dark, masculine colours are brilliantly combined with dainty, feminine elements Left: Contrasting textures and patterns create a rich, layered look

15,” she explains. “We wanted a home where we could all be comfortable.” The house certainly lends itself to entertaining. It has a large living space with a bar counter, movie screen, welcoming couches and a snooker room. This space flows out towards a swimming pool on one side and an enclosed braai area on the other. The children entertain their friends in a separate lounge-cum-television room upstairs, and each child has a plush bedroom with bathroom en suite. There are also lots of areas for privacy. Charmaine points out both indoor and outdoor havens for “hiding away and reading a book”. Tucked into a nook in the main bedroom is a quiet place with a log fireplace and television. “This is where we come for peace and a chat – just the two of us,” says Charmaine. “And this is my woman’s world,” she announces with a giggle as she steps into her dressing room. Clothes and shoes are lined up in rich colours, and everything is carefully displayed so that outfits and accessories can easily be matched. The art works in the home are an eclectic mix. She is an art fanatic and during her travels around the world she buys pieces, even when she doesn’t know where she is going to put them. She points out the stainless steel schools of fish that grace her entrance hall, which she bought from a man making them on the Greek island of Santorini, and says she chooses art for enjoyment, not for value and investment. “When I see something I love I just have to have it.” Some pieces were commissioned from local artist Maria Brink and others to fit in with the style of the house. In the lounge a series of panels on silk look Japanese but a clever acacia design roots them in Africa.


classical living

Inspirational tips from interior designer Valma Muir (above): • Use your imagination and intuition. • Textures are vital. Blend and mix them. • There is huge talent in this country – use it. • Think differently and use abstracts. For example, turn a Japanese design into an African acacia. Contact Valma on 083 267 2746 or


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Charmaine says Eric gives her leeway when it comes to decorating the house, but is particularly fond of one or two art pieces. “He doesn’t say much, so when he does I do listen,” she laughs. Chandeliers in almost every room reflect her love for bling. They were specially designed and consist of miniature crystals that add to the textured feel of the walls. “Texture is very important,” says Valma. “I try to emphasise texture everywhere as I think sub-Saharan Africa is pretty tactile. “Your eye needs to be guided around a room. For example, a bedroom has strongly patterned wallpaper on one wall – your eye is drawn to that – and then the other walls are painted.” Valma is adamant that the style of a home must fit that of her client – it must not be recognisable as her own. “I love it when my client is happy,” she says. There is no doubt the Mabuza home is a happy and peaceful one. Clockwise from far left: Opulent silk and velvet scatter cushions on an inviting guest bed; a dramatic backlit light box fits perfectly into the colour scheme; interior designer Valma Muir; the owner chooses art pieces for enjoyment rather than investment


classical living


Well-known lowvelder Tom Uys (below right) recently turned his steel-crafting hobby into a full-time business. He explains why steel is such a versatile design product: • Mild steel (wrought iron) can be used to make a wide variety of products, from balustrades to chandeliers to garden pot stands. • Steel lasts forever and needs very little maintenance. • Mild steel can be paint-techniqued, coloured and even given a rusted, ancient look. • Stainless steel can give a house a modern look. Contact Tom at Steel Craft on 082 299 1065

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LIVING Your easy guide to some of the lowveld’s best house & home services


living gardens

garden 110

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living gardens

Maputo’s lush botanical gardens have been lost to the world for more than 20 years, but renaissance is finally a-foot, writes Naomi Scott Photos: Murray Anderson-Ogle


living gardens

on’t go to Tunduru Botanical Gardens if you are looking for neat rows of lilies, each marked with their own little specimen label. Do go if you are looking for a divine secret garden filled with magical plants that swallow you whole. Despite my frequent city walks, it took a few months before I discovered Maputo’s botanical gardens. Its six hectares are hidden behind virile acacias that appear to be making a break for it through a wrought iron fence. Situated one block down from the cathedral and municipal buildings on Independence Square and across from the famous Gil Vicente theatre, Tunduru is guarded by a statue of former Mozambican president Samora Machel. Its beautiful Manueline gate is adorned with the Maltese cross of the old Portuguese colonial regime. The gardens were established by the Lourenço Marques Horticultural Society in

Visit www.mozambique for a fantastic resource on Mozambique’s flora


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1885 and were brought to splendour by British landscape architect Thomas Hooney. His aims were to propagate indigenous plant species and to educate Mozambicans about exotic plants. A typical Englishman abroad, Thomas did his best to tame the city block into something civilised, ordered and aesthetically pleasing. Fresh from sculpting a luscious mirage for the Sultan of Turkey – still a reference point in the botanical world – he worked his green fingers into the salty Maputo soil with miraculous results. In the space of just two years, he managed to shoehorn an astonishing 132 species of indigenous and exotic plants into the gardens. When he left he set up a meticulous routine to tend the gardens, which were maintained until Mozambique’s war of independence. What a visitor experiences now in Tunduru Gardens is quite different, and perhaps equally as wonderful. Whether Thomas would have approved or not, crossgermination and spreading roots have enabled a hybrid culture to run rife within the confines

Previous pages: Left wild since the start of the civil war, the neglected nooks and crannies of Tunduro beg exploration Left: A statue of former president Samora Machel stands guard over the botanical gardens Right: Cultural promoter Filimone Mabjaia is the brain behind the Tunduru International Arts Festival, held in the botanical gardens


living gardens


of the gardens. Flaming acacias blend with Japanese monkey puzzle trees and the royal palm is crusted with Norfolk pine needles. The gardens undulate with the contours of a golf course as serpentine tree roots gently lift the lawns in strange places. Although you do find mothers strolling around with prams, they are definitely the 4x4 kind. In the greenhouse someone has painted red lips on to a Greek statue, giving her an ethereal beauty as she lazes nakedly above empty fish pools. Much like the old days, people from surrounding offices flood into the bougainvillealaden tunnels at lunchtime seeking sanctity and shade. The northern section features an excellent set of tennis courts (how very British) that host a constant stream of white-skirted players. In typical colonial fashion, they spend more time sipping mango juice on the spacious veranda than on the courts. In the heart of the gardens, people gather below the elegant bandstand with books in hand or lie in the sun beneath 18th century statues,

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relaxing in the assurance that the summer will never end (which it doesn’t in Maputo). Having been lost to the rest of the world for more than 20 years, Tunduru’s renaissance is finally a-foot. An ambitious renovation plan that will see some areas restored and others left fittingly “lost” is being funded by the national railway company CFM and Vale de Rio Doce, the country’s largest mining company, in conjunction with Maputo Municipality. August saw the launch of the Tunduru International Arts Festival in the gardens. The festival was the brainchild of cultural promoters Filimone Mabjaia and Eline Jakobs, and was backed by the embassies of Spain, Italy, Germany and France. In keeping with the concept of crossBelow: pollination, the festival brought artists from as Red lips have far as Morocco and Germany to the stage with been painted on Mozambique’s rich talent. There is no doubt the festival will grow and, to a Greek statue; the beautiful despite the years of neglect, the restoration of Manueline Tunduru will begin in earnest. But, as with all entrance gate good things, it won’t be a walk in the park.




LIVING Your fast guide to some of the Lowveld’s best gardening and flower services



parting shot

panic in the loo O

n a recent visit to a local home for the aged, I was greeted with pandemonium in the Alzheimer’s ward. The normally calm staff members were running around wide-eyed in panic and shouting at the patients to move away as they tried to hustle the poor old dears to their rooms. When at last I could find someone calm enough to talk to, she pointed to an open toilet door and exclaimed, “Look up there!” I crept forward slowly, not knowing what I would find, and a shaky voice directed me to look at the ceiling. Next to the light was a rather large Rain Spider, a beautiful specimen of Palystes. With a leg span of 100 millimetres


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and a plump body between her eight outstretched legs, I suppose she did look formidable. I couldn’t blame the care workers for trying to protect their charges. I stepped into the room and stood on the loo seat to reach her. Someone slammed the door behind me, to stop the unwelcome visitor from escaping in her direction. Now I was also petrified, not because I was alone with the spider, but because I had never been locked in a ladies loo in an Alzheimer’s ward. Rain Spiders are harmless and will not even bite if handled carefully. If they do bite, the venom is no worse for humans than a bee sting. But their aggressive display, usually with their banded front legs raised in warning, is enough to strike fear into the stoutest of hearts. Despite my panic, I managed to coax the spider to step on to one of my hands and her long, gangly legs filled my open palm. When I stepped out of the confined space, she was moving from hand to hand at speed and there was a stunned silence from the onlookers. I managed to contain her in a glass tumbler and some of the patients were fascinated when I showed her to them. I was impressed that these patients seemed not at all scared of her. Rain Spiders are so named because of their habit of coming indoors before rain, when insects are most prevalent. They usually take up an ambush position next to a light that attracts their prey. You may notice one being dragged around by a wasp, or find a dead spider on the pathway after it has been stung and immobilised by a wasp. The female Pompilidae wasps hunt spiders to stock their nests. They lay eggs on the paralysed spider, and when larvae hatch from the eggs they have live, fresh food on which to feed. The Rain Spider in the Alzheimer’s ward loo must have come through an open fanlight from the garden. If you find a large bag of papery white silk and leaves in a hedge, have a look behind or under it and you’ll probably find the female crouched there with folded legs protecting her brood. It’s best to leave her alone, because she is not going to harm you and will pay her rent by destroying unwanted insect pests. – Peter Lawson

Lowveld Living Issue 26  

Lowveld Living Issue 26