In the dark days of early apartheid rule half a century ago, on 26 June 1955, over 3 000 representatives of resistance organisations made their way through police cordons to gather on a dusty square in Kliptown, then a freehold area 40km south of Johannesburg.Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto, commemorates the signing of the Freedom Charter in 1955. (Image: Gauteng Film Commission)This was the Congress of the People, who met to draw up the Freedom Charter, an alternative vision to the repressive policies of the apartheid state.At the time, Nelson Mandela had to stay concealed to avoid the police. On the second day, the authorities broke up the gathering, but not before the charter was adopted as a guiding document. It remains the cornerstone of African National Congress (ANC) policy to this day, and is seen by many as the foundation of South Africa’s 1996 Constitution.That dusty field has now been declared a national heritage site, and on 26 June 2005 President Thabo Mbeki lit a flame of freedom in Kliptown to mark the opening of the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication – and 50 years of the Freedom Charter.R375m upgrade for KliptownConstruction of the Walter Sisulu Square began two years ago, spearheaded by development agency Blue IQ. The square will have a park, a marketplace with 700 stalls for traders, about 17 shops and offices, a multipurpose centre and a hotel.Unskilled labour has been used in the construction work, as have about 90 small, medium and micro enterprises, more than half of which were created to help the project.Kliptown, now part of Soweto, is a sprawling collection of settlements around 40km from the Johannesburg city centre, with a thriving informal business area where the people of Soweto do their shopping. Some 85% of the township consists of informal settlements.Established in 1903 and one of the oldest urban multiracial settlements in the Johannesburg area, Kliptown has long been neglected, and many of its old buildings are now dilapidated.With its history, it is hoped that Kliptown will become “a world-class tourist destination and heritage site offering local and international visitors a unique experience,” according to Blue IQ.The square and monument will form part of the Greater Kliptown Development Project, a massive effort to redevelop the area and make it more habitable and conducive to business.Some R375-million has been put aside for Kliptown’s revival, R293-million from Blue IQ and R30-million from the City of Johannesburg. Project areas include the upgrade of the Kliptown railway station, a market, the relocation of people in informal settlements, new houses, and a new 250-bay taxi rank, which is already complete.The Walter Sisulu SquareWalter Sisulu was a delegate at the 1955 Congress of the People, a major figure in the anti-apartheid struggle, deputy president of the ANC, underground activist and Rivonia treason trialist.Released from prison in 1989, he died in 2003, the year the R160-million Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication project was initiated. Its design was awarded to architects and urban designers StudioMAS.Today the construction of the north and south sides of two squares, one of which is the original square where people gathered to approve the charter, is at roof level.The complex consists of two long, narrow buildings encompassing the squares, with 10 columns on the eastern edge, representing the 10 clauses of the Freedom Charter.Not just a construction projectBut this is not just a construction project. Enormous effort has gone into relocating traders from Union Street, renovating their historic warehouses – in some cases they are more than 70 years old – and creating new functions for the buildings.Between the two squares, on the northern end, is a tall tower, the Freedom Charter Monument. Here a freedom flame was lit by Mbeki, providing a landmark beacon to surrounding suburbs.Opposite this tower, in the middle of the southern building, another tower is rising into the air. The base of this tower will contain a kwashisanyama, a place for preparing food.The north and south buildings will contain offices, banks, retail space, a tourism office, an art gallery and the community hall. The search is on to place a restaurant and boutique hotel in the buildings.Housing and wetlandsThe city and the province are committed to building 7 100 houses in the coming years – 5 700 RDP houses and 1 400 houses for rental. So far only four houses have been completed, and 1 195 stands have been given services, in preparation for building.Housing is a complex issue in Kliptown. The densely packed population of about 45 000 people needs to be systematically moved before houses can be built. In addition, electricity, water and sewage connections have to be installed.The nearby wetlands and parks have been cleared and cleaned, employing about 50 people, with a view to employing another 170 people.According to Blue IQ, the purpose of the Kliptown project is to redevelop this traditional apartheid-style buffer zone township between Johannesburg and Soweto into a desirable and prosperous residential and commercial locality.The aim is to use Kliptown’s rich history, as the meeting ground of the Congress of the People and the birthplace of the Freedom Charter, as a tool to boost tourism and transform the fortunes of the settlement.The Congress of the PeopleThe Congress of the People was a dramatic affair held over two days and attended by 3 000 delegates from all over the country, including 320 Indian, 230 coloured and 112 white South Africans.It came about through the efforts of the Congress Movement, which was made up of the ANC, the SA Indian Congress, the Coloured People’s Organisation (later the SA Coloured People’s Congress), and the Congress of Democrats – white South Africans who identified with the movement.“When the great day was upon us,” wrote one participant afterwards, “we set out on our journey to Kliptown, many of us travelling hundreds of miles, wondering what was going to happen. For it was not as if we had been allowed to campaign in peace. Every meeting was watched by the special branch, our organisers were hounded and arrested, documents seized in raids.“Cars and lorries were stopped, contingents held back on one or other pretext until it was too late to continue their journey. Yet in spite of all the harassment and interference, about 3 000 delegates pierced the police cordon and arrived at Kliptown, where a patch of open ground had been prepared to seat the huge throng.“Just imagine the problems of organisation – 3 000 delegates had to be fed and housed. But from every point of view the Congress was an outstanding success.”The various clauses of the charter were introduced, there was an opportunity for impromptu speeches from delegates present, and the clauses were then read out and acclaimed by a show of hands. The Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe – the highest honour awarded by the ANC – was awarded to Chief Albert Luthuli, president of the ANC, Yusuf Dadoo and Father Trevor Huddleston.Only Father Huddleston was able to accept his award at the Congress of the People, as Luthuli and Dadoo were under banning orders and unable to attend.In the afternoon of the second day proceedings were brought to an sudden close by the arrival of a large detachment of police bearing sten guns.They took over the speakers’ platform, confiscated all the documents they could find, announced that they had reason to believe that treason was being plotted, and took the names and addresses of all delegates before sending them home.But the Freedom Charter was signed a year later by Luthuli, and has remained the central document in ANC policy ever since.Sources:City of JohannesburgSouth African History OnlineAfrican National CongressBlue IQWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? 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Soccer City is Soweto’s supreme pride, drawing thousands of foreign and local visitors. (Image: Local Organising Committee)Soccer City stadium rises above Johannesburg’s skyline as a symbol of rich cultural diversity and African pride – and, thanks to some innovative partnerships, it’ll remain a tourist draw card long after the last World Cup goal is scored there.Although the post-tournament viability of the R3.4-billion (US$461-million) facility – which will host both the opening and closing matches – has been questioned recently, a steady stream of tour groups since January point to its income-generating potential over the long term.There are currently seven Soccer City guides who conduct 90-minute tours focusing on the history of the stadium and the importance of its design. Some 7 000 individuals signed up for tours in March alone.“Everything about the stadium has its significance, from its shape, its colour, the seating and the architecture,” said Soccer City guide Letlohonolo Mokone.The stadium is designed to look like the African pot, or calabash, which is used to brew beer. It rests on a raised stand that represents a pit of fire. With a capacity of 94 000, the stadium is one of the largest in Africa.“The stadium is in different shades of red, which symbolise the fire,” said Mokone. “There are glass windows around the stadium, and at night when it’s lit up you can see the proper affects. It looks like something is brewing in the African pot.”The stadium is above all a symbol of Africa and the diverse cultures that will mix during the World Cup, inside the stadium, he added.The chairs are orange, the closest shade to gold, to symbolise the area’s mineral wealth and many mines. The tunnel that joins the field to the change rooms is designed to look like a mine shaft, giving the players who run through it a feel for the history of Johannesburg, which was once called “The City of Gold”.Bringing in the bucksAfter the World Cup, Soccer City will be handed over to the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, which will ensure that the facility continues to function and bring in funds.The municipality has hired a task team to supervise the process. “We will be doing ongoing tours after the World Cup and are anticipating that large numbers of people will continue to show up,” said Clifford Duffey of Stadium Management South Africa.To make the stadium and the tours more sociable and marketable, Duffey said they plan to have coffee shops and merchandise stores set up where visitors can sit and relax before and after tours or games.“We are also planning on using the auditorium, which takes 200 people, to show short videos about the history of the stadium. This will include footage on the build-up to the World Cup, which will be shown to visitors as part of the tours,” he said.Duffey said the municipality will get tenant teams to use the stadium on an ongoing basis. It’s also currently in serious talks with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to have at least 25 to 50 big games played there each year.One of the first major clashes at the stadium will be the Nedbank Cup final in May between the two top PSL teams. The league plans to sell 80 000 tickets for this game, which will be used as a test run before the World Cup kicks off in June.The name of the stadium will also be changed to National Stadium after the World Cup, Duffey said.“The stadium is an iconic structure that all South Africans can be proud of. It was not only designed for soccer, other sports – such as rugby – can be played here too.”Historical significanceSoccer City was rebuilt from the FNB stadium that was established on the outskirts of Soweto in 1987. Over the years it has witnessed some of the nation’s most poignant sporting and political triumphs, and human tragedies.In 1990 thousands of South Africans gathered there for the first public address by Nelson Mandela after his release from prison. Just years later in 1993, mourners gathered at the same place to pay their last respects to assassinated South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani.In brighter times, in 1996, the stadium hosted the African Cup of Nations, which national squad Bafana Bafana won. South Africans are hoping that the revamped site will bring the same luck to the national team 14 years on, when they face Mexico there on 11 June.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The 2016 Ohio Beef Expo kicked off on Friday. It’s certainly one of the most popular events for Ohio cattlemen to attend. This event attracts over 30,000 participants from 25 states and Canada each year. The Expo included breed sales, shows and displays, educational events, a highly competitive junior show and a trade show with over 140 exhibitors.On Friday, Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo spoke with Bruce Smith of COBA Select Sires. Listen to the interview here:Bruce Smith Select Sires Beef interview with Dale Minyo 3-18-16This annual event, coordinated by the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, included breed sales, shows and displays, trade show and a highly competitive junior show. This year’s junior show was the largest ever with more than 850 junior heifers and steers and more than 450 exhibitors competing in showmanship.In the Junior Show, the Grand Champion market animal was the champion crossbred exhibited by Kendra Gabriel from Pickaway County. The Reserve Champion market animal was the reserve crossbred exhibited by Caden Jones of Allen County.The Grand Champion Heifer was the Champion % Simmental Heifer exhibited by Tyson Woodard of Darke County. The Reserve Champion Heifer was the Champion Purebred Simmental Heifer exhibited by Ali Muir of Auglaize County.There were also several breed sales. The Angus sale grossed $183,870 with bulls averaging $3,512 and females averaging $3,473. The Hereford Sale grossed $115,305 with bulls selling for an average of $3,013 and females selling for an average of $2,573. The Maine-Anjou sale grossed $250,050 with bulls averaging $4,270 and females averaging $3,087. The Shorthorn sale grossed $165,260 with bulls averaging $2,369 and the females averaged $3,294. The Simmental Sale grossed $307,520 with bulls averaging $3,753 and females averaging $3,332.On Friday, March 20 at 10:00 a.m. New Holland Agriculture presented a Forage Seminar,l featuring discussions by Dr. Francis Fluharty, Research Professor in the OSU Department of Animal Sciences, and Robert Hendrix, New Holland hay and forage product specialist. Also new in 2016, United Producers, Inc. sponsored an online feeder cattle sale.Over 140 exhibitors are on display at this year’s trade show.Each day was filled with many activities for a wide variety of interests. Sires of several different breeds were on display at the Genetic Pathway throughout the event. Breed shows and parades were held for Angus, Hereford, Miniature Hereford, Murray Grey, and Shorthorns. Other Friday highlights included a Nutrition Seminar and the Junior Show Welcome Party and Fitting Demonstration.The Saturday schedule was full of activity. Breed sales held included Angus, Hereford, Maine-Anjou, Shorthorn, and Simmental. Junior activities included a judging contest, a Beef Quality Assurance Program, and the Junior Show Showmanship Contest. The Trade Show and Genetic Pathway were open as well. Sunday is the final day of the event. The highlight of the day was the Junior Heifer and Steer Show.For more results from the Ohio Beef Expo, go to: http://www.ohiobeefexpo.com/ Feeder Cattle Sale Shorthorn Show Shorthorn Show Hereford Show Over 140 exhibitors are on display at this year’s trade show. Dale Minyo speaking with Bruce Smith at the Ohio Ag Net booth. Ashley Peter, Defiance Co., sets up her Shorthorn heifer for the judge. Karly Goetz, Ottawa Co., leads her ShorthornPlus steer. Nathan Siebold, Madison Co., looks over his ShorthornPlus steer. Blake Martin, Huron Co., with his High% Maine. Maddox Cupp, Fairfield Co., won his Hereford heifer class. Brooke Weeks, Champaign Co., leads her Maine-Anjou steer. Amanda Nething, Richland Co., and her Hereford steer Ryan Flax, Clark Co., and his Hereford steer Josh Elder gives a fitting demonstration for Stock Show University. Kendra Gabriel, Pickaway Co., won her market heifer class. Delaney Jones, Allen Co., with her Simmental steer Samantha Parks, Warren Co., with her MaineTainer heifer Taylor Elliot, Richland Co., watches the judge with her MaineTainer heifer.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The ruffed grouse is one of the most prized game birds in North America and the hills of Ohio are part of its southernmost habitat range. An elusive and difficult bird to hunt due to its flighty craftiness and habitation in dense undergrowth that reduces hunter visibility and accessibility, the ruffed grouse is a real trophy for hunters in the Buckeye state. But its numbers in Ohio are drastically declining,A brown/gray-brown bird with a fan-shaped black banded tail and barred flanks, the grouse physically resembles a chicken, but the comparisons stop there. This beautiful, wary bird that prefers and needs thick, impenetrable cover — such as clear cutting regrowth — to survive, is a constantly alert master of its domain that is a revered symbol of the American forest.American author and avid bird hunter Robert DeMott, of Athens, has stalked the hills of southeastern Ohio in pursuit of grouse for nearly five decades and has harvested hundreds of the species over his hunting career. Beyond a long list of academic publications and titles, DeMott has written prolifically about bird hunting and bird dogs over the years. He edited and contributed to the book, “Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs,” and frequently writes for upland hunting magazines such as “Gray’s Sporting Journal,” “Upland Almanac,” and “The Contemporary Wingshooter.” His writings demonstrate the author to possess a reflective, intellectual pursuit of all things wild and winged and a keen, perceptive attention to his environment, his dogs, and his quarry.In a recent discussion, DeMott shared his views on the pursuit of Ohio’s ruffed grouse and the bird’s status in the state. He said that he enjoys hunting this bird because of the challenge and difficulty that they present to even the best wingshooters.Preferring to hunt grouse accompanied by his beloved English Setters, DeMott said, “The grouse is not considered the number one game bird for nothing. Killing a grouse requires patience and determination and stamina. The success rate on grouse is extremely low. They are wily and always have some trick up their sleeves to fool the hunter or the dog. The flush is always explosive; it really gets your blood going.”This sentiment is echoed in DeMott’s article, “Early Birds,” when he writes about his appreciation of “the physical immediacy of the upland moment, with its intense points, flushes, shots.”Another aspect of grouse hunting which appeals to DeMott is the physically demanding nature of the chase.“Part of the challenge and value of the hunt is that it is very strenuous, especially down here in southern Ohio, where you will walk miles in pretty rugged terrain and on steep side hills that can twist your ankles and make for a hard hike. There were times that I’d get to a dog on point and be almost too tired to lift the gun! Because we live in such a hilly part of the state, it is better if the bird dog hunts close; if it doesn’t, you have to do a lot of trekking to get to a dog on point,” he said. “Back in the day when the grouse numbers were high, it was worth it because there was a promise of action, and with my best dogs for a couple of years, I never had a grouse flush wild. We would get into the woods at 10 and quit by three or four, and that was a pretty full day. The dogs would get a little tired and lose their edge after that.”As anyone who has hunted alongside trusted canine hunting companions for years can attest, the truest joy of upland game hunting comes from observing one’s dog in the field, doing what is in its instinctive nature and breeding to do. DeMott concurs.In “These Among Many: A Gallery of Good Fortune,” DeMott writes that “A day afield with bird dogs, even when they are acting badly and not themselves and even when birds are scarce, is still preferable to most other kinds of recreation I can name.”When interviewed, DeMott expanded on this.“The older you get, the less interested you are in bagging birds. I just enjoy watching the dogs work cover, watching them go through their moves,” he said. “They are tremendous athletes. It’s all about watching and appreciating the dog’s athletic ability, its intelligence, and its gracefulness. That is more important to me than killing birds, especially given the fact that the numbers of grouse in Ohio are so low.”Though there are pockets of grouse still to be chased in Ohio, their numbers are dwindling, which makes for some tough hunting with little to show for it these days.“I started hunting southeastern Ohio for grouse the first year I moved to Athens in 1969. I kept at it through the ‘90s. The 1970s and 1980s was the heyday for us. The height of the grouse population was in 1983 or 1984, and then it gradually subsided after that. In the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, it was possible to find birds, but probably in the last eight or nine years, hunting for grouse has become quite fruitless around Athens, Meigs, Vinton, and Morgan counties where I hunt. People still harvest a few over the year, but it is no longer regular,” DeMott said.As DeMott notes in an essay about some of his favorite bird dogs entitled “Four Queens,” “According to the 2009 Ohio DNR survey, the range-wide flush rate for ruffed grouse in Ohio is 0.38 per hour, which is to say that something close to three hours of hunting are needed to flush the equivalent of one whole grouse. To put it another way, thirty-three hours of hunting are required for each bird bagged.”“Southeastern Ohio never had the grouse numbers as the northern tier states, but it was ample,” DeMott said. “ I always prided myself on that fact that I didn’t have to go up to Wisconsin or Michigan to grouse hunt like a lot of guys did, because I could find grouse around home. However, since 2009, I have had to take trips north to really get into birds. It is disappointing that with all of the open territory we have down here, there is not as much habitat for grouse as there once was.”DeMott said that without the fall woodcock season, when good numbers of resident and migrating timber doodles can still be found, there would be little very little game bird life in his neck of the woods for his dogs to work.“The woodcock have really taken up the slack for the dogs. Looking back through my hunting diaries, there are so many entries where I was recording flushes and harvests of both grouse and woodcock during woodcock season. Now, I am only encountering woodcock. You don’t see them mixed together as we once did, which always made for a really fine upland trip,” he said.There is far less clear cutting being done in the Appalachian foothills around Athens and that means a lot more mature forests, which is a habitat in which grouse do not thrive.Anecdotally, DeMott also thinks that the increase in wild turkeys throughout the state may contribute to the decline. Turkeys may scratch up grouse nests and maybe eat some of the same foods that grouse feed upon. Certainly, the rebound of turkeys seems to coincide with the diminishment of grouse numbers. The “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds” points out that “many areas forests are maturing, eliminating the undergrowth this species needs; where this is happening, reintroduced Wild Turkeys are increasing and grouse are decreasing.”About the future of grouse hunting in Ohio, DeMott is not optimistic. Grouse numbers are down due to habitat loss and not hunting pressure. The grouse season has been shortened by one month in the state due to the population decline and the birds continue to be few and far between.“The days are gone when we could follow multiple grouse tracks through newly fallen snow in early December or hunt some mild days in February and get into some birds. The decline in birds sure has been precipitous, and there doesn’t seem to be any rebounding,” DeMott said.Nonetheless, he holds out hope that despite the loss of habitat and disappearance of large numbers of ruffed grouse in the state, there will remain some vestiges of this regal and charming bird into future, as it adds diversity, beauty, and wonder to southern Ohio’s natural ecosystems.As DeMott tells his readership in one memoir, “Truth to tell, I can live without bringing another Buckeye state grouse to hand, but not without believing there is another bird for the dogs to find and point.”