ROWING TO RIO. Zirk Botha, an extreme sportsman, was one of many speakers who have enthralled Rotarians during Zoom talks, when live meetings were not possible. He gave a talk on his experience rowing to Rio from Cape Town in 2020 during the lockdown.
Botha, a former member of the SA Navy, built the boat himself. After his original departure on 5 December, he was blown back to Cape Town within 18 hours. He finally departed from Kommetjie with the Southeaster at his back on 19 December and managed to catch the trade wind and rowed to Cabo Frio in Brazil in 69 days – a world record for a solo passage of the South Atlantic. According to Botha the trip was physically and mentally very challenging due to the rolling of the boat. When he tried to sleep, the big swells made him feel as if he were “in a cardboard box on a roller coaster”. However, he believes one can achieve anything that you are truly committed to.
TOWNSHIP ECONOMY. GG Alcock, author of the book KasiNomics, gave a fascinating talk on the township economy and how South Africans manage to thrive through entrepreneurship, without any government support. According to Alcock, the informal economy is much stronger than what official unemployment figures suggest. Alcock, who was raised in a rural Zulu village, is a marketing consultant on the informal sector.
PANDEMIC. Ants can fight disease in the same way humans fight a pandemic, according to entomologist Dr David Phair, who addressed Paarl Rotary during a zoom talk. He explained that, like humans during a pandemic, ants protect the colony by sanitising (grooming), social distancing (keeping the queen and youngsters separate from the rest), self-medicating (eating antimicrobials) and lockdown (cutting infected groups off from the rest of the colony).
ANIMAL LORE. Brent Harris, owner of Primal Pathways, shared some of his knowledge and animal lore gained as tracker and safari guide. He gave Paarl Rotarians insight into the natural behaviour and intelligence of wild animals which he has gained while specialising in walking tours in game reserves. “We must rehabilitate ourselves to understand nature, instead of taking it for granted, because it is becoming a scarce resource,” he said.