And… we’re back

The Word Press server this blog is hosted on is accessible in China again. Time to start updating this blog.

I’ll be back soon with more information on the upcoming relaunch of Danwei.

Birds of Kwazulu

Secretary Bird

I spent a few days in early June with my family in Hluhluwe game reserve in Kawazulu Natal, South Africa. Below is a list of some of the birds of we saw in our three days there, without really trying.

As much as I love the mountains around Beijing, they just can’t compete with Africa for bird life. Central and southern China are of course different and have a much greater variety of birds.

But up in the north, between the harsh winters and the local appetites for feathered creatures, it’s a hard life for a bird.

• Sacred Ibis
• African Hoopoe
• Mousebird
• Fiscal Shrike
• Common Francolin
• Burchell’s Coucal
• African Fish Eagle
• Cape Turtle Dove
• Fork-tailed Drongo
• Black Widow Finch
• Black-eyed Bulbul
• Waldburg’s Eagle
• Woolly-necked stork
• European Masked Warbler
• African Hawk Eagle
• Southern Bulbul
• Yellow-eyed Canary
• Grey Heron
• African Pied Wagtail
• Scimitar-billed Wood Hoopoe
• Three-banded Plover
• Hamerkop
• Natal Francolin
• Groundscraper Thrush
• Blue Waxbill
• Secretary Bird
• Cape Glossy Starling
• White-backed Vulture
• White Egret
• Ostrich
• Hadeda
• Red-billed Oxpecker
• Emerald-spotted Wood Dove
• European Bea-eater
• Indian Mynah
• Pied Crow
• Little Egret
• White-faced Duck
• Egyptian Goose
• Grey Heron
• Giant Kingfisher
• Stone Chat
• White-throated Swallow
• Crested Barbet
• Brown Snake Eagle

20 years, 15 years

Today, February 11, 2010, marks the twentieth anniversary of the day Nelson Mandela walked to freedom from Victor Verster prison, not too far from Cape Town.

I watched his release on TV with some new friends in a student dormitory, and later that day burned my draft papers for the South African army. Until that year, all white males had been required to do military service in the military machine that defended the apartheid state.

The next day was my first year at the University of Cape Town.

On February 11 1995, I arrived in Beijing for the first time, with 20 dollars in my pocket and a job teaching English to engineers in a factory in the Beijing Economic Technological Development Zone south of the city. Fifteen years later, I’m still in Beijing.

South Africans — black and white — are very proud of Madiba as he is affectionately nicknamed. He is almost universally loved and admired in what he called the Rainbow Nation.

Something else happened today:

A Chinese court on Thursday upheld an 11-year prison sentence for prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo for writings that called for multi-party democracy — perceived threats to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.

From The Washington Post

The image above is from the Nelson Mandela Foundation. VOA has a good summary of the circumstances of his release from 27 years of imprisonment: 20-Year Anniversary of Mandela’s Release From Prison.