Monash South Africa Cultural Day

Monash University South Africa - C Block Yesterday Monash held a cultural day. A day in which students from various nations and nationalities may come together as one and explore the contrasts between differing cultures.

One of the major attractions of the day, was the pitting of the different faculties and administrative departments against one another in a cook off. A ‘potjie kos’ cook off, to be precise. Being an Alumni and a part of the South African charter of the Monash University Alumni Volunteer Committee, I was naturally a part of their team.

Unfortunately we did not win the ‘cook-off’. Even so our ‘smoked beef with a touch of apricot’ potjie was a ‘raving success’. Mainly because you had to be stark raving mad to eat it. Mind you, I did have two servings of the stuff.

Smoked beef, with a touch of apricot, potjie Sadly we managed to burn our potjie and drop Blitz into it (fire lighters), hence the ‘smoked’ reference. We did attempt to salvage the meal with a helpful dollop, or three, of apricot jam. Although the jam did help, ever so slightly, there was no real way to lessen the burnt taste before the judges came around.

Thankfully, the judges were very graceful and were kind enough to not pull their faces when they tasted our dish as well as to label it as ‘nice’ – as in, it smells good, looks good but tastes off (synonymous with the descriptor ‘cute’).

All in all it was a fantastic day. One filled with side splitting laughter and the exuberant showing of latent talents.  It was also especially good to mingle with the Alumni crew and to see how our University has grown over the last several years.

For pictures from the event, check out the following album:

By the way if you are wondering about the traffic ‘green’ leggings, our theme was ‘Spring Yellow’. Thus each member of the Alumni Volunteer Committee had to spruce up their Alumni shirts with a yellow item of some kind. Hence my yellow shorts. Additionally, the girls continue to maintain that their ‘green’ leggings, are in fact ‘yellow’. Needless to say, the Fashion Police had a field day!

Ultimately, I truly am proud to be a Monash Alumni and look forward to participating in many more University inspired events. Furthermore, I am heartily looking forward to continuing my Masters studies in Australia from early next year. It is going to be so much fun!

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!


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It’s a walk in the park…

Walk the Talk 09On Sunday, 26th August 2009, I participated in the 702 Discovery Walk the Talk charity event. I was entered representing, and on behalf of, the South African charter of the Monash Alumni Committee.

This is the first time I have actually participated in an event created specifically for a ‘charitable’ cause. It is also the first time since breaking my arm that I have participated in any kind of physical activity. It may also be my last, that is until my arm heals completely of course or until I can learn to stop sustaining additional injuries!

Upon taking part in the Walk the Talk event, I had no idea what charity it was for. For all I knew, it could have been in support of the ‘Foundation for the protection of Swedish Underwear Models’. Unfortunately, that was not the case. A quick Google search revealed that this years Walk the Talk was in support of the ‘Laureus Sport for Good Foundation’. A foundation that I personally, have never heard of before. Apparently, this is what they are about:

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Laureus’ core concept is simple, brilliant and daunting: to create global awards that recognise the achievements of today’s sports heroes; to bring sportspeople together; united in achievement but divided by sporting code and then, once that community is brought together, put their reach and the support and investment of Laureus’ Founding Patrons and Partners to work by supporting a message that can help social projects around the world who are using sport as a tool for social change. That message, simply, is Laureus Sport for Good (, 2009).

Alright, I think I get it. So, this foundation honours sports ‘heroes’ in the hopes that they will somehow, once attaining some kind of sponsorship deal, bring on social change within ‘disadvantaged’ communities? Kind of like how South African cricketers have spurred on the underground movement of illegal ‘cricket-eering’ in the middle of crime ridden Johannesburg?! 

So, to put things into a mildly cynical perspective: I fried my lily white forehead, while speed walking a five kilometre course in under 50 minutes, butchering my tender loving feet in the process, thus incapacitating myself even further than I already am, in order to help some company foundation honour sports “heroes”, who, according to the mission statement, may not actually end up helping anyone? Seriously?!

Look, don’t get me wrong. Considering I do have dreams of entrepreneurial grandeur that are mildly fuelled by philanthropic desire, I am all for charitable endeavours.

Subsequently, all ranting and cynicism aside, the impressive fact remains that over 50 000 people participated to help make a difference in this years Walk the Talk. No matter how small each persons individual contribution may have been, a difference was made. After all, Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka once famously said, “the whole is other [greater] than the sum of the parts”.

So although I do feel that the Walk the Talk event could have raised funds for a different charity, just the notion of so many people compelled toward actively participating for change, in itself, is a testament to the progress of South Africa as a democracy. To have overcome adversity for positive change, even if only for a day, is enough to be considered a great achievement and inspiration to all.

Even after all of my raving, if I had the choice of doing it again, I would do so without hesitation. Next time though, I will just use different shoes and take Baz Luhrmann’s advice… 😉

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!


Mark Anthony Da Mata: 8th May 1985 – 18th January 2009

A dear friend of mine, Mark Anthony Da Mata, passed away in the early hours of Sunday 18th January 2009. The irrevocable loss I feel is indescribable. This is the first time I have lost a friend in death. Mark was a very close friend of mine whom I had known for over five years and whom I will miss dearly.

My sincerest condolences, love and support go out to Mr & Mrs Da Mata, his beloved parents, and Michelle, his cherished sister.

The funeral will take place at Saint Luke’s Methodist Church (43 Kosmos Road, Wilropark, Roodepoort) on Thursday 22nd January 2009 from 14:00 (2pm).

As a good friend of Mark’s, I have been asked to say a eulogy and to be a pall bearer. The following is the eulogy I have written for one of my best friends:

Mark Anthony Da Mata
8th May 1985 – 18th January 2009 

I can still remember the very first day I met Mark, over five years ago. It was our first day at Monash University. As I walked through the primary quad, I heard a distinct voice accompanied by a cacophony of laughing. That unique voice belonged to Mark and the laughing to a group of friends who, over time, would become very close – almost all of which are here today.

From Mark’s Colgate smile and warm demeanour to his caring eyes and infectious laugh, everyone knew that when Mark was around there truly was never a dull moment to be had. I cannot recall how many times we would all burst out laughing, often mid lecture, to something Mark had just uttered about the Lecture, Lecturer or something completely off topic, but somehow, ridiculously relevant. Without a doubt some of my fondest memories of Mark are from our days at University.

I have always admired Mark’s character and his ability to always say what was on his mind, regardless of the often hilarious repercussions, which always allowed him to walk into almost any situation fearlessly and without hesitation. I do not think I ever told Mark this, but it was through our friendship that he had the greatest impact on my character and the person I have become today. He taught me to never be afraid to speak my mind and to always accept myself for who I am because, as he would always say, “you’re fabulous”. 

Mark was a beautiful, kind and gentle soul who touched many lives with his love. It has been my absolute privilege to have been his close friend and to have had him in my life. The times we shared will forever be cherished, never forgotten and will always have a special place in my heart. To one of the greatest friends I will ever know, this is not the end but merely a new beginning with our Heavenly Father. I know that if Mark was here now, he would most likely turn toward me and say “Garra, enough now, pull yourself together, everything will be all right”.