Flight of the Storks

I’ve visited two stork villages in Austria this summer. Before introducing them to you here, a documentary about their treks to and from Africa. They ave an Eastern and a western route. Also storks are part of the cote of arms of the city of The Hague, the place where I live.

Dutch Return Head of Ahante Chief to Ghana

Nana Baido Bonso (or Bonsu) II
Nana Baido Bonso (or Bonsu) II

In 1838 a Chief of the Ahante tribe, Nana Baido Bonso (or Bonsu) II, killed two Dutch soldiers who invaded his farm. He was court martialled, hung and beheaded. His head was send over sea and ended up preserved in a bottle in Leiden University University Centre for Medical Research….I assume the chief did what every farmer would do to uninvited invaders of his property….

The issue of Nana Baidoo Bonso (or Bonsu) II’s head came to light when a Dutch historian Arthur Japin raised it during former President John Kufuor’s official visit to the Netherlands in October last year.

After hearing the story of the head, the former President instructed the Ghana Embassy to negotiate to secure the release and the return of the head.

After much negotiation the Dutch government finally allowed the release and the head was finally returned to Ghana on July 24.

I’m currently reading two books that shed new light on the influence of the Dutch on both the UK and the US. I will come back with the names and bearings. This is why this story drew my attention. It is part of our colonial history. I’ve not read much about it in our Dutch press….tellingly?

The people of Ghana will be glad to have the opportunity to give the chief peace with a proper ceremony…

Read the entire story by Francis Kokutse in the African Press blog:

2008 Cinedans Amsterdam

I have been invited to have a look at the Cinedans premiere in Amsterdam tonight. Cinedans is an International Dance Filmfestival, dedicated solely to films that have a connection with Dance and held simultaneously in three Dutch cities: Amsterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht.

Find more videos like this on Cinedans

Dance for All

The opening film is quite interesting. It is a film about the South African Dance for All project started 17 years ago to bring dance to Cape Town Townships. An amazing tale of white dancers from the Capetown Ballet Company who started this project long before Apartheid was abolished.

Philip Boyd, a former principal dancer with CAPAB (now Cape Town City Ballet), founded Dance for All in 1991 as Ballet for All. This was to build on the legacy of Cape Town ballet chief David Poole, who started teaching ballet in the townships of Cape Town in the mid-80s. Ballet for All began its life in a classroom in Gugulethu with 34 children participating. These numbers quickly multiplied and with the recruitment of more dance teachers, Boyd expanded the programme to include a diverse range of dance forms and in 1995, Ballet for All became Dance for All.

Today DFA runs an Outreach Programme of daily dance classes in ballet, African, contemporary, musical theatre and Spanish dance for over 700 children and youth in the historically disadvantaged communities of Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Samora, Athlone and the rural areas of Barrydale and Montagu. Beyond teaching dance, these classes promote the personal development of the children by encouraging their creativity, self-discipline and confidence. DFA’s students receive first-class training from a talented and diverse teaching team.

The film showed lessons by Philip and Phyllis Spira and their students and how the students gradually grew to professionally trained dancers culminating in the formation of DFA’s own profesional youth dance company, creating full-time employment for six of the previous year`s Senior Training Programme graduates in November 2005, that has toured several countries already.

Unfortunately Phyllis Spira died a few months ago. We were happy to learn at the after party that one of their senior students who had left DFA to take dance lessons in Switserland and had been offered a second year of now sponsored training in Switserland had decided to return to DFA to take over Phyliss’ position as a teacher.

About Phyllis Spira:

Phyllis was accepted into London’s Royal School of Ballet when she was just 16. Within months she was a soloist with the Royal Ballet Touring Company. She returned to South Africa in 1964, having turned down an invitation to dance with the legendary Rudolph Nureyev and, a year later, joined Capab (later the Cape Town City Ballet), where she remained for 28 years.

After retiring from performance, Phyllis devoted her time and energy to Dance for All, which was founded by her husband Philip Boyd. Her understanding of young people, her sense of values and her wisdom made her contribution immeasurable. A pragmatist and a realist, she was often both a voice of reason and a pillar of strength. A remarkably humble and caring woman, Phyllis was a wonderful role model and inspiration to so many of the children whose lives she touched. Dance for All will strive in its daily work to live up to her extraordinary legacy.

Phyllis received South Africa’s highest civilian award for excellence, the Order of Meritorius Service Gold (1991). She twice received the Nederburg Award for Ballet, while she also won the Lilian Solomon Award and the Bellarte Woman of the Year Award for the Cape (1979) and was named a member of the Order of Disa (2003) for her contribution to ballet and its development.

Why I was invited? Not as Happy Hotelier. It was closer to home: as proud and happy father of DanceGirl who helps with organizing Cinedans.

High Five (3): Back to Hotels, African Cities and Art

Gorilla High Five

My High Five no 2 are for:

  1. 11 Bizarre Hotels That Will Knock Your Socks Off, most of them featured at my Unusual Hotels page or on the site Unusual Hotels of the World One minus in the post: I know that “Amsterdam” always draws visitore to your post, but this time the Dock Crane hotel room is actually situated in Harlingen (about 2 hours driving from Amsterdam and without proper Public Transport and approximately half way between Amsterdam and Hamburg in Germany:-).
  2. 10 Insanely Beautiful Hotels Worth Traveling For
  3. 5 African Capitals You Should See in Your Lifetime.
  4. 7 Bizarre Tours You’d Actually Sign Up For…Maybe.
  5. The efforts of Esmé Vos going into the new Hotel Review Site Mapplr.

For some picks I was inspired by the Travel Subgroup of Reddit.

About Happy Hoteliers High Five

A high five is a celebratory gesture made by two people, each raising one hand to slap the raised hand of the other — usually meant to communicate mutual satisfaction to spectators or to extend congratulations from one person to another. The arms are usually extended into the air to form the “high” part, and the five fingers of each hand meet, making the “five”, thus the name.(High Five on wikipedia)

I will not publish it on a scheduled date. I will publish it each time when I have found five persons or sites or posts that I deem worthy a High Five. It even may imply me echoing old news here.

If you want to draw my attention to a post you may e-mail me at gje[at]hetnet.nl or give me a message at Twitter

About The New High Five Logo
I miss a large part of my right hand thumb. Technically I am not even able to offer a High Five: Its more of a High 4 and a half:-)

The Gorilla hand looks closest to my right hand with the small thumb. The photo is from a sculpture by Lisa Roet, born in Australia and currently living and working in Melbourne. She had a couple of her sculptures exhibited at the annual The Hague Sculpture. One sculpture inspired me for my post The Finger of Suspicion.

Presently The Hague Sculpture is being built up again and so the circle is full again.

I am looking forward to bring you a timely photo tour of the 2008 edition which is interesting again from what I have seen.