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Language Lesson From South Africa

Richard Lautens - Staff Photographer

My colleague, Bill Schiller and I just returned from several weeks in South Africa working on a couple of stories.  In the news business we are not supposed to talk about the story until it publishes of course, so look for some pix, video and story towards the end of November.

One of the things we do at the Star when we are in a new or dangerous place is to hire a 'fixer'.  These are local people who know the lay of the land, speak the language and help us maximize our time in the field while helping to keep us from blundering into unsafe situations.

On this past trip, we spent several days with a lovely man named Mbulelo Sisulu.  He is a freelance journalist in the Eastern Cape region and a member of the Xhosa tribe.

He was great at helping find what we need, translate and was happy to roll with the punches.  He didn't even bat an eyelash when we suggested we get him a room at our lodge rather than his going home (a two hour trip) as we wanted to get some early starts.

Mbulelo speaks very good english and of course his native tongue.  At one point I asked him about the clicks and clacks of his language.  My children are very interested in languages (they are 12 and 15 years old) and so I asked him to explain a bit of the language in a video letter to my kids on my iPhone.  Note that he loved the Canada hat I had given him and took a liking to my jacket that he was happy to wear when it turned a little cold and rainy.

Click here to see the video here

Mbulelo is seen on the left getting the correct spelling of some names with writer Bill Schiller.




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