September 10, 2023, the South African Slovenians met to celebrate their beautiful country Slovenia. Enjoy reading the article about the event written by Matej Rančigaj:
Fredy arrived with his wife Louise and daughter Mia, Prieur with his wife Isabel, Denis with his husband Harald, Franc with his wife Sue and daughters Nicky and Jacqui, Nicky's husband Rob, Franc's grandsons Rheece and Thomas, Slovenia's friend Paul from Great Britain, living in Free Estate, legendary guitarist Julio Sigauque from Mozambique and my minor highness, Matej Rančigaj.
Among all important Slovenian holidays, we pointed out two, National Day on June 25 and Slovenian Sports Day on September 23. We made a quiz where we remembered that Slovene folk musician Slavko Avsenik produced around 1000 compositions with his brother and is known almost all over the world for his polka Na Golici (Trompeten-echo). We remembered that the last name of the poet whose song is used for the Slovenian anthem, is Prešeren, and that his name is almost exactly the same as the name of our oldest guest, 85-year-old Franc Pirc. We listened to a wonderful instrumental piece performed by Rok Golob, and Mr. Franc was the first to shoot out that it was an old, almost traditional song, titled Vsi so venci bejli. He received the first prize, I Feel Slovenia mini flag. We discovered that the current oldest musical instrument in the world is called the Neanderthal flute, and it is around 55,000 years old and that it was found only recently, near Cerkno in Slovenia. The instrument literally looks like a bone with three holes. To the repeated question of why we are meeting exactly at the Ayama farm, I could explain that it was first randomly but then because of a connection between Slovenia and Italy since the owners of the farm are from Gorica (Gorizia) in Italy, a town that is in contact with Nova Gorica in Slovenia, and I also bolded out that in 2025 Nova Gorica will become European Capital of Culture. We learned about the mandolin, a Mediterranean musical instrument with four double steel strings, tuned as violin (GDAE), and with Julio we jammed out our live version of Avsenik's composition Na Roblek, in the Mozambican marrabenta style. Julio was rocking his nylon string guitar and I was strumming on my steel string mandolin. Our unique version received applause. In general, we emphasized that Slovenes and friends of Slovenes must continue to socialize and that perhaps next time we can meet at the garden of the charming 5-star Mount Nelson Hotel in the heart of Cape Town, where they also keep a tuned piano. We agreed that it is very important to cultivate a love for one's own language, in this case, Slovenian. Instead of long poems, we listened to some short but beautiful thoughts in Slovene language written by Svetlana Makarovič, Tone Pavček, and Feri Lainšček. To our utter delight, we learned that we have young girls in Slovenia who are the best in the world of ski jumping and that one of them, Ema Klinec from Kranj, currently holds the world record in ski flights, an incredible 226 meters flight, and the second is a Canadian girl, with 225 meters. I told everyone my personal record was only 50 meters and it was way back in 1982. We also watched Eva's record flight from 2023 on the screen of my iPad and the expressions on the faces of some were full of surprise and excitement at the same time. Otherwise, the largest and most famous ski-jumping venue in Slovenia is Planica, which every March gets flooded with tens of thousands of people, fans of ski-jumping and beer. Recently, I mentioned to my friend from Slovenia, the coach of the Canadian women's ski-jumping A team, Igor, in front of his sports protégés, that it would be incredibly nice to have a ski jump in the city of Cape Town or its surroundings, it would look really great if it would be under the incredible sight and world-class wonder, Table mountain.
We also mentioned other phenomenal Slovene athletes, including world-famous basketball players, soccer players, hockey players, cyclists, sport-climbing world champions, and mountaineers. There were already 18 Slovenes standing on the top of Mount Everest to date. We also mentioned scientist of Slovene blood, the rocket engineer Herman Potočnik Noordung who made precise plans for traveling through space almost 100 years ago and whose plans were later adopted by NASA, in the '60s, and consequently helped billionaire Elon Musk in his space ventures.
We also mentioned the second Chancellor of the German-Prussian Empire, Leo von Caprivi, and the connection between him and the annexation of a 500 km long and about 60 km wide strip of land between Botswana and Angola to the then German colony of South West Africa, which has been called Namibia since 1990, due to independence. The aforementioned annexed territory is today called the Caprivi strip, i.e. after the surname of this peaceful leader of Slovene blood, whose original surname was Kopriva and was only later renamed to Caprivi. It’s funny also that his origin comes from the similarly named village of Koprivnik in Dolenjska.
We learned that today's national symbol of Namibia, the Welvitschia mirabilis flower, is named after the Austrian botanist with Slovenene roots, explorer Friedrich Welvitsch, who was the first to discover this special fossil plant in the oldest desert in the world, the Namib.
We also confirmed the fact that Slovenia, unlike many large but also some small European countries, is one of the very few that never had its own colony anywhere in the world and still does not have one today, which we are somewhat proud of because it is a kind of basic human ethics. We are proud of our country, on whose territory Slovenians have lived practically without movement for more than 1,000 years. That's why we celebrate June 25, 1991, as the Statehood Day of Slovenia, which is today just over 32 years old.
Honorary Consul of Slovenia in South Africa, Mr. Prieur du Plessis, a naturalized Slovenian with a Slovene passport for about a year now, stepped in front of the microphone and told us his witty story about how he and his wife discovered Slovenia quite some years ago when he was searching for a mini version of Prague. Later, he, his wife Isabel Verwey, an actress and TV presenter, and a team of Slovenes and South Africans, filmed an extensive and interesting documentary film about Slovenia, which was translated not only into English but also into the youngest language in the world, Afrikaans.
For the main course, we had Italian specialties and we learned that spaghetti was brought to Italy from China, but via Slovenian territory, so we can call it a Slovene dish too. We tried several types of wine and olive oil produced on the farm here. Among the white wines, we loved the uniqueness of Vermentino, and among the reds, Shiraz was our favorite. Guitarist Julio was most enthusiastic about the olive oils, choosing his definitive winner, Frantoio Unfiltered.
We had listened also to Slovene music playlist from Spotify, so we could hear Ditka, Rok Golob, Aleksander Mežek, Andrej Šifrer, Pepel in kri, Tomaž Domicelj, Faraoni, Klara Jazbec, Perpetuum Jazzile, Hazard, Iztok Mlakar, Marta Zore, Neca Falk, Magnifico, among other Slovene music performers.
The guests wanted to hear also my story, as I was mostly telling other stories. I explained that I arrived in Cape Town, after crossing Africa solo, on a Japanese enduro motorcycle. I started my trip near the Equator, in Kenya, and took a unique route south, on the eastern side of the African continent, through Tanzania, Mozambique and Swaziland. After my delayed arrival to The Mother City several months later, Mr. Du Plessis, Honorary Consul of Slovenia in South Africa, allowed me to park my motorbike in the garage next to his car, in Durbanville, some 30 km outside Cape Town, as my visa didn't allow me to stay longer. Four months later Prieur called me to move my motorbike due to the relocation of their offices to another location, so I had to fly back to South Africa quite urgently. That return trip somehow turned into a longer stopover, and while staying in this beautiful city of Cape Town, I grabbed an opportunity and bought a flat in the city center, so that in the following years I could start calling it home. I cleared also that I have traded my previous life's 8 AM till 5 PM work schedule in Europe, for a retirement without a pension, with current odd jobs in tourism and sometimes also the film industry. A good part of my work is voluntary and charitable as well. Among other things, I have helped with some natural disasters before, such as the cyclone in Mozambique and with reforestation in Zambia and ecosystem restoration action festivals in South Africa. I also like to share experiences and personal luck in retirement homes, hospitals, schools, and various other social centers.
Thank you all for your participation and good mood. I hope to see you again soon.
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