Letter from Les, 2019-04 Edition
December 19, 2019
Good News Komani, 2019-04 Edition
December 19, 2019

Good News Stories, 2019-04 Edition


We have probably all heard of the Facebook group, #ImStaying, which started making waves across the internet in September when it garnered over 200 000 members in less than a month following its creation. As of 08 November, it had a total of 865,167 Members.
Western Cape-based estate agent, Jarette Petzer, started the group with hopes of creating a platform that helped make people feel good about their country.  And as though everyone had been eagerly waiting for it, it was not long before ImStaying grew in leaps and bounds, reaching over 800 000 members by early November, with an official ImStaying website in the pipeline.  “Our platform which is all positive is currently dominating the news. I think people naturally want to feel good about themselves and their environment, and we are helping them to do that as the group,” Petzer told the Hi-Lite. Videos, photos, messages of hope and uniquely South African jokes pour in daily, members of the group declaring their love for SA despite political, social, and economic turmoil. “We have plans to grow beyond the platform… We are still getting a handle on what this could mean for the people of South Africa from a socio-economic standpoint,” said Petzer. Though the group started off as a platform for celebrating the many unique elements that combine to make our rainbow nation, through the active engagement of members, its mandate soon broadened to initiatives aimed at economic growth through SMME support.  A post on the group from 16 October reads: “…the newly formed NGO has a three-prong approach; National events, Crowdfunding and Merchandising. All funds raised will be used to implement business initiatives in the micro and SME space.”

On 26 October 2019 we saw the start of the 2019/2020 East London Cruise season when the Port of East London welcomed the MS Albatros for a half day visit. This kicked off the start of the 2019/2020 Cruise Ship Schedule. These cruise ships bring thousands of foreign tourists into our city every season, who spend their ‘very welcome’ foreign currency, visiting local tourist attractions in and around our city. This season is expected to be one of our best yet, with a number of cruise liners planning to make our city one of their port stops. While there are quite a few in the pipeline pending confirmation, here are the 8 ‘confirmed’ cruise liner stopovers that will be bringing international visitors to the Port of East London between now and end of February 2020.

Operated by the Germany-based travel agency Phoenix Reisen, the MS Albatros cruise ship was built in 1973 for the Royal Viking Line, and was known as Royal Viking Sea.  Over the years her name has changed on numerous occasions and she has sailed under the names Royal Odyssey, Norwegian Star and Crown.  Known for her QE2-esque funnel, MS Albatros is the second Albatros for Phoenix Reisen and she replaced the original SS Albatros. With a capacity of 812 passengers, this 28,518 ton, 205,46m stunning cruise liner sails under the call sign (C6CN4) and reaches a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h).
The AIDAmira belongs to AIDA, Europe’s largest cruise line and targets younger and more active travellers.  She was launched in 1999 for Festival Cruises under the name MS Mistral.  In November 2013 she joined the Costa Cruise Fleet and sailed as Costa neoRiviera until 1 December 2019 when she joined the AIDA group and sail under her new name, AIDAmira. This 20 year old ‘young and vibey’ cruise liner weighs in at 48 200 gross tonnage and has a capacity of 1248 – 1498 passengers, housed in 624 cabins.  At 216m in length, she achieves speeds of 20 knots (37 km/h).
MS NAUTICA (13 & 27 JANUARY  2020 + 7 FEBRUARY 2020)
The MS Nautica is an R class cruise ship, originally built for Renaissance cruises in 2000, before they went under as a result of the 911 attacks.  She sailed for Pullmantur Cruises from 2002 – 2004 before  being taken over by her current owners, Oceana Cruises. On 30 November 2008 while sailing in the Gulf of Aden, The Nautica came under attack by Somali pirates, but was able to get away, with no injuries to passengers or crew. Operating under the call sign V7DM4, the Ms Nautica weighs 30277 gross tonnage, is 181m in length and has a capacity for 824 passengers and 386 crew.  She reaches a speed of 18knots (33.34km/h).
Built in 1984, the MV Artania, currently chartered since 2011 by Phoenix Reisen, a German-based travel agency, was originally built for Princess Cruises.  In November 1984, she was officially named Royal Princess by the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  In 2005, control of this cruise liner was taken over by P&O Cruises, and she was renamed Artemis, before being charted by Phoenix Reisen in 2011. Weighing in at 44,348 gross tonnage, the MV Artania has a capacity of between 1188 – 1260 passengers with a crew of 537.  At 230.61m in length, she achieves speeds of 22 knots (41 km/h).
The MV Azamara Quest is an R-class cruise ship that was built in 2000 for Renaissance Cruises as an R Seven.  Following the collapse of Renaissance Cruises in 2001, she was laid up for two years until Germany-based Delphin Seereisen chartered her under the name of Delphin Renaissance. Renamed Blue Moon in 2006 when she was sold to Spain-based Pullmantur Cruises, she sailed under that name until 2007, when she was transferred to Azamara Cruises. Carrying up to 710 passengers plus 410 crew, the MV Azamara Quest weights 30,277 gross tonnage, is 181m in length and reaches speeds of 18 knots (33km/h).
Everyone loves to moan about how dirty and unkept parts of our city are, but few ever take the time to actually do something about it.  Someone who actually rolls up her sleeves and puts actions to words is Nicole McComb, a dynamic young woman striving to make East London ‘cool again’! You might know her better for her extremely popular monthly event, The Shack – held at the Lifesavers Shack at Nahoon Beach.  This popular event is extremely well supported by the community and encourages families and visitors to use our beautiful beaches, chasing away the undesirable elements and making them accessible to the greater East London community. Earlier this year she also managed to get permission for a road closure on the very busy Beach Road in Nahoon, when she held the kick-butt Beach Road Street Party with food trucks and live entertainment.  Her Vincent Street Play Park Takeover has shown what strong will, good planning and local support can do to change the community landscape. This bland and boring park attracted only vagrants and was not a space that encouraged the community to visit. Nicole and her fabulous team  took on a huge project to clean up a neglected community play park in Vincent Road, Vincent.  For 5 days, Nicole and her team cleaned up the park and converted a bland wall into a beautiful and uplifting mural, completely changing the face of the park. The full week’s itinerary of events was sadly disrupted by gale force winds. However on Sunday, the day after our magnificent 3rd Rugby World Cup win, Nicole unveiled the beautiful mural by inviting the public and neighbourhood to enjoy a community day at the park. There were fantastic local musicians providing live jazz and laid back sounds!  Youngsters climbed on the play park jungle gym, merry-go-round and seesaw and even got to play mini-soccer. Their parents and community members relaxed under the shade of the park trees, some lying on blankets and sleeping bags… possibly getting over the ‘excitement’ of the day before. There were coffee and food trucks with snacks… and fun and laughter!  The event brought the local community together, and all enjoyed re-connecting in this rejuvenated public space. It has taken a ‘Skinny Gangster’ (Nicole’s nickname and the inspiration for her company Skinny G Productions) to show us that if we put in a little effort, we can start reclaiming our community spaces and our community spirit. A huge thank-you to Nicole and her team for RE-ACTIVATING the Vincent Road community play park.  We are excited to see you replicate this throughout the city, and we call on ALL communities and local businesses to support Nicole and her fantastic team in this amazing initiative.  Donations will be needed to help purchase the materials and items needed to clean up these spaces, so if you can contribute, please contact her via her Skinny G Productions Facebook Page. We cannot wait to see what next Nicole has up her sleeve!  But there is one thing for sure, whatever it is… it can only be good for Buffalo City and our local communities.