The idea was to show some key US bloggers what our country is made of: the good, the bad and the complex. I decided to tag along for the Cape Town leg of the tour, which is an exhaustive/exhausting nine-day trek around the country by plane, bus, helicopter and boat. (See 360 degree pic of bloggers)
Asoka blogger meetup
The night before we organised a meetup of local bloggers and digerati with the US tour at Asoka bar. People seemed to enjoy themselves and I hope good contacts and ties were forged. As a recent emigre to Cape Town, I have to say that its informal title of being the “Silicon Valley of Africa” is proving justified. Apart from the usual local blogging illuminati, Marcel Oudejans was there to do some Derren Brownesque tricks which I have to say, freaked me out. He’s brilliant.
Helicopter ride around Cape Town
Monday morning’s helicopter trip showed bloggers the Cape Peninsula — an area which surely must rank amongst the world’s most beautiful. Some local innovation was on display when we visited the offices where the country’s first electric car is being developed. It’s early days, but these guys are moving in the right direction.
The Wind Farm in Darling, run by German immigrant Herman Oelsner who has been here for more than 40 years, was also an example of innovation. It’s also an example of innovation against some odds, given that he’s built the wind farm with little or no government assistance. Given the insatiable electricity consumption here, you would think we had more windfarms in the country. It’s a private initiative with only four wind turbines, but plans to add another 20. The four turbines could power 80% of a small town like the local Darling, estimates the wind farm’s owner.
!Khwa ttu San Cultural and Educational Centre
About an hour away from Darling, was the !Khwa ttu San Cultural and Educational Centre, where bloggers learned the “five clicks”, part of San vocabulary and pronunciation, formed by pushing the tongue against the roof or sides of the mouth. It’s an exhibition in celebration of the San people, a subculture that were abused and decimated by the ravages of colonialism. Today there are something like only 19 000 San living in South Africa.
Good ‘ol Stormhoek
The blogger bus then took us to the Stormhoek Winery, where the well-known Stormhoek wine brand is produced. Bloggers were shown around the wild and dramatic Stormhoek vineyards by Graham Knox and Sir Chris Rawlinson. We were exposed to the philosophies behind the wine and later, at the glorious Lanzerac hotel, were given a presentation on their unique marketing methods. The Stormhoek brand has become famous for its innovative marketing methods involving word-of-mouth, particularly focusing on blogging communities.
I got home at 2am a broken, but happy man. The blogger bus continues northwards and the tour lasts till Tuesday, ending up in Joburg. I was tempted to stay on the bus Congratulations to Simon Barber and the International Marketing Council who have pulled off an interesting and innovative tour. Thank you to the bloggers that I met — had some great conversations.
My pics on Flickr here.