It's easy to forget that when we started out our African journey in early May 2018 there were only two of us. Alan Wise (Wise-O) was still in Australia and Gabba (Gabriel) was still taking driving lessons!

It was left to Morgs (Morgan) to accompany Oom (Joel) to Litha Park and TT Section informal settlements in Khayelitsha and then proceed to Murray and Block 6 in Philippi - all in Cape Town, our home city.

Morgs' first walkabout in an African slum.

We also went to Manenberg where we met some of Oom's old comrades and saw a new housing development on land secured by the South African grassroots network with which Oom has worked for over 25 years - the Federation of the Urban Poor

Housing Estate - "The Downs" in Manenberg

It was a matter of days before we were off to Durban. Again it was Morgs and Oom. Gabba was taking his test for his driving licence.

We started out in Piesang River, a neighbourhood upgraded by the Federation, where women stalwarts gave us a rousing welcome

We visited several informal settlements where the SDI SA Alliance was busy with upgrading projects - giving Morgs his first real insight into the world his Oom has been moving in and out of for almost 30 years

Of course Morgs, being such an engaging bloke, made a host of new friends

The Young
The Exotic
The Radical
And the Rich and Famous

A Few weeks later and Gabba had his driver's license and the twins had their "Men in Black" hoodies.

The twin mobile had its logos designed but not applied ... and
we still could not find Alan Wise, our Aussie Michelin Star Chef, not even in the Michelin Guide, but that is because we did not have one.

We were ready (almost) to hit the road.

Our first stop was at Mokala, a little known national park about 50kms from Kimberley in the Northern Cape. This set the scene for the rest of the trip: travel overland from one informal settlement to the next, stopping along the way in wilderness areas. In the process we combined our focus on the urbanisation of poverty with a secondary focus on human habitat and its impact on biodiversity.

To say nothing about encountering history at places like the big hole in Kimberley as well as contemporary reality by nearly being hijacked at a street light in the city centre.

Then it was off to the Free State to visit the houses of the Free State branch of the Federation of the Urban AND RURAL Poor (average age of members: 65) in a number of towns in the northern region of the Province that was once the butt of many a South African joke. That honour was bestowed on it once again a year or two ago, thanks to Zupta's man, Ace (in a hole) Magashule and a hapless dairy farm near the Voortrekker town of Vrede. South African history is replete with sarcasm.

There are times when the cosmic wave ends up sending you on a detour down memory lane. So it was that we made our way to a very specific street in the dreary town of Kroonstad: Robb Street, where Gabba and Morgi's dad, Steve, was born almost sixty years ago.

And to the boys' surprise (but by Oom's design) they bumped into their old man outside his childhood home - passing through on his way to Northern Zimbabwe to set up a camp in Mana Pools.

First time in over 50 years that four Bolnicks walked down Robb Street in Kroonstad

Then we drove in convoy to Johannesburg where, for nostalgia sake, Steve took the boys to one of their late grandfather's hang outs: Parreirinha Restaurant in Rosettenville.

Father and son deep in conversation - but not with one another - at Parreirinha restaurant, famous for its Lulash, Peri-Peri Prawns ...
and ties hanging from the ceilings

Our week in Gauteng was spent mainly with the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and in the traffic (fed up)

Introduction to African Wildlife

In Gauteng we finally teamed up with Alan Wise, the Ace Cook from Australia (via New York) and thanks to Steve we got to take him to Kwalata Lodge in Dinokeng - the only big five Game Reserve in Gauteng, where, among other things, some of us enjoyed a close encounter with a bush baby.

Dinokeng, less than 1 kilometre from the shacks on the edge of the sprawling human settlement of Hammanskraal. (The essence of our journey captured in a satellite image)

Having spent over a week with the Gauteng Federation, at last getting to learn a bit about the struggles of the URBAN poor, we were ready to head to the North West Province and our first clean cooking event. On our marks, get set, were we ready for "Hell's Kitchen - Ghetto"? - chapter one of the Wise O and Gabba show (with supporting roles for Oom and Morgs)

The First SDI clean cooking event held in Magogoe township (don't ask Wise O to pronounce that!), Mahikeng, North West Province, South Africa

A Spruced-Up Ace Cook
A Spruced-Up Ace Cook in his Michelin Chef regalia announcing the winner of Slum Master Chef South Africa
Two Tired Twins at the end of a long cooking event
A very random dude at the cooking event

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