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The Odeion – music for the masses

I’ll be the first to admit that while living in Bloem I never made enough use of this musical facility (except when taking part in Spanish dancing concerts at the amphitheatre). I’d drive past the Odeion at the University of the Free State everyday on my way to class for three years, and never once thought of looking up the programme of events and expanding my musical horizons. But I made up for it last night when I attended a concert by the Free State Symphony Youth Orchestra (FSSYO) – mostly because my sister used to play the double bass in this orchestra when she lived in Bloemfontein, but also because I’ve started to take note of the wide variety of events advertised in the Volksblad, this being one of them.

Unfortunately the FSSYO is about half the size of what it was when my sister belonged to the group, due to lack of funding in previous years (come on government, pump more money into the arts!), but it was wonderful to see the racial diversity in this newly established group. Directed by Alex Fokkens, and led by 16-year-old violinist Bonolo Kgaile, the FSSYO (mostly made up of string instruments) is a showcase of passionate young people keen to jam some classical music. My favourite part last night was during the last item (name? Well, sorry, I didn’t have a programme and I’m new to this classical music stuff!), when the entire group plucked their instruments with great gusto.

Although I paid for this show (tickets were R20 and R50), the Odeion also hosts a lot of free concerts. They’re ususally an hour long, so it’s a great way to escape from the everyday routine and just cosy up to some good tunes. Even the M.Mus. and Ph.D. students at the university give public examination recitals in the Odeion, and there are lunch hour and sundowner concerts by other talented musicians throughout the year. Keep your ears open for the next concert by the Odeion’s own popular string quartet and look out for the Odeion Spring Festival.


Sista, this one's for you!


The details

Visit and click on ‘calendar’ for upcoming and past events.


Upcoming events

17 June, 19:30 UFS Jazz Ensemble

R50 for adults; R30 for pensioners, students and learners

Call 051 – 4012504


23 June, 19:30 Jean-Pierre Calitz piano recital

Free admission

Call 051 – 4012810


Let’s Go Bowling – family fun

If  you, your mother, your brother and your friend can’t reach a consensus about which film to watch at Northridge Mall, I suggest you make a 180-degree turn and enter the big glass door staring right at you. Let’s Go Bowling is guaranteed to make everyone happy. I mean, who can say no to a little bit of fun that’s sure to get you laughing at everyone – yourself included! Of course, there are those who are a little bit more professional and take it seriously (such as those people who come here to play tenpin-bowling tournaments and are part of a whole league), but in general it’s just a few hours of good giggles and good-natured competition.

Bloemfontein’s tenpin bowling venue even sports a foozball table, and two pool tables, as well as a sports bar for those needing a drink to celebrate their win (or embarrassing loss!). Many players order in a pizza from Quattro Fratelli Pizza Trattoria across the way (next to the cinemas) and guzzle this down in between turns at trashing the pins. There’s also a cool student special going: R60 for two games of bowling plus a 500ml Castle Draught.

And if you’re looking to host a kiddies’ party and aren’t keen to do it in your own home (all that cleaning up afterwards!), you can host it here for R60 a child, which includes a game of bowling, a party pack, a burger or hotdog and a colddrink. There’s also the additional option of having a pin-shaped cake (cool!).

The details

Opening times: Sunday-Friday 10am-10pm

Saturday 8am-midnight

Cost: Monday-Thursday R30 per game

Friday-Sunday R35 per game

Call 051-4331091

Crazy Daisy – eats and treats

Outside stands a silver milk jug filled with purple flowers; to the one side of it, an empty bird cage; on the other side, two heart-shaped boxes. This eclecticism is just a little hint of what you can find inside Crazy Daisy, a gift-and-yummies store that manages to pack in a whole lot of fun details into a relatively small space.

Divinely named cakes (who can resist titles such as ‘malva milky bar’, ‘custard’ and ‘hot chocolate’?) fill one of the store’s wooden tables; smaller sweet treats fill another; while the fridge is packed with savouries (the kind you want all to yourself – no sharing!) and traditional treats such as koeksusters. Every few hours another freshy baked dish makes its way from the oven to the counter top, to be displayed alongside the meringues, fudge and cupcakes. Breads, quiches and home-baked pies fill the store with an addictive aroma, and are the neighbourhood’s popular quick-fix lunch-time meal. Behind this counter is a blackboard wall, filled with white-chalk writings by regulars. The black and white is offset by the vibrancy of various reels of colourful ribbon – standing ready to be wrapped around one of your gift choices from Crazy Daisy.

Everything from fabric brooches and diamante photo frames to trinket boxes and quirky greeting cards can be found within these four walls. There are also cushions, gravy bowls, notebooks, gift bags, cutlery, ornaments, bookmarks, aprons, and hearts… lots and lots of hearts – everywhere!

Oh, and let me not forget such a store’s staple ingredients: rusks and biltong! You get the point – anything you want, it’s here. And, to top it all off, you even get the uber-friendly service of store manager Stefanie, who takes an interest in each and every customer. She’ll go so far as to help customers who get carried away with the shopping to carry their goodies to the car. Yip, that’s the kind of thing we’ve got going here in Bloem. Crazy Daisy indeed!


The details

Preller Square 051-4366230

Langenhoven Park 051-4464099

Fleurdal 051-5220462


Crazy Daisy at Preller Square.

Greeting cards for every occasion.

Out-of-the-ordinary gift ideas.

Quirky objects for your own home.

Fabric brooches to liven up your look.

Who can resist a meringue so obviously made with great inspiration.

Closed for business

This blog is closed today due to rainy weather and general blogger laziness that has seen me stay indoors sporting my purple-and-green slippers the entire day. I’m sure I learned in Geography class that Bloemfontein receives summer (not winter!) rain. Bloody global warming.

Bloemfontein personality – empowering learners

There was no time to run around town blogging today, as I was busy doing real work for most of the day, interviewing an inspiring 24-year-old student who is making a great difference in the lives of children in public schools in the area. Nangamso Koza (or Soso, as most people know her) is originally from the Eastern Cape, but was drawn to Bloemfontein to study, a decision she doesn’t regret for a minute.

Having attended what she terms a ‘bantu’ school all her life, she’s filled with empathy for the kids who are not being afforded the opportunities to which they have a right, and hopes to enrich them with a greater consciousness of what they are entitled to receive during their school years, while opening dialogue with them to see what it is that they desire in order to make their educational journey easier and more enjoyable. She launched (at the age of 23!) her own NGO called Inqubela Foundation, which is set to change the lives of learners in Mangaung. Fifty-two learners have already attended a leadership camp with her team, where they were taught that if they want changes for their school, they have to do it themselves. She also has a library project going, where grade eight learners are in the process of creating their own school libraries (as she doesn’t believe in spoon feeding and handouts, and says that if the learners have ownership of their library – from organising book drives to finding shelving sponsors, they will make more use of it and take more pride in it). There’s also the literacy and numeracy project developed by her colleague Sibusiso Tshabalala, where high school learners that have been part of Inqubela’s programme will be mentoring primary school learners and helping them with maths, reading and writing. Soso and Sibusiso have been invited to Argentina to the South American Business Forum for students in August – the only two South Africans to crack the nod!

Soso never thought she’d be working with children, but here she is, juggling various projects in between studying communication sciences and journalism, while living every day with the kind of zest that is evident in her gorgeous smile. I went with her to Moemedi High School in Botshabelo today, where she met with four grade eight learners to see what changes they would like to see at their school (they want people to stop writing on their classroom walls, they want sports fields, and they want computers – all things that people like me took for granted throughout our school career). Soso will continue working with these kids to see how they can reach these goals together, getting their entire grade on board to instigate and follow through with the changes themselves.

This is just one of the many passionate people living in Bloemfontein that I have the privilege of passing by on a daily basis. Feel free to leave comments with your own stories about passionate people you know of in this city.

Nangamso Koza is helping public-school learners to empower themselves.


Sundays are lazy days

Okay, so to that friend who originally said ‘good luck’ to me when I first said I was going to start The Bloemfontein Blog, because she didn’t think I’d find content to fill each day, I’d like to assure you that the only reason there’s no posting this Sunday (although, this could actually qualify as a post!) is because the jol with Jack Parow (‘the original international Afrikaans rap superstar’) at Die Mystic Boer was so huge last night that I really wasn’t lus to mission out of the house today. But let it be known that Bloemfontein’s streets were cooking last night.

Here’s a taster of the Parow arrow’s moer-cool gig last night. Let it be known that I’m not the biggest fan of swearing, but it just sounds so full of passion when it comes out of this mal man’s mouth! ‘Dans, dans, dans, ek wil fokken, fokken dans…’


Church bazaars – boerie rolls, moer koffie en pannekoek

The sound of vasdans music wafted through the air as I entered the grounds of the NG Kerk Gardeniapark for its annual bazaar. These sounds hit me at the same time as the smell of boerewors rolls – straight from the braai – reached my nose. Outside stood the oomies, massive boeps sticking out from under their shirts, while their good wives bought them yet another pancake from inside the hall. This was community togetherness the way I remember it from when I lived here, where everyone gathers to enjoy a day filled with traditional food, goeie geselskap, kids’ games such as sack races and jumping castles, and even a meat auction thrown in for good measure. (Today, two big packets of pork were bought for R850 by a lady who was told by the auctioneer – hopefully a friend! – ‘You’re already married to a pig, so another one won’t make a difference.’)

Even though I’m too old to take part in egg and spoon races – a fact that was proven when I was called ‘tannie‘ – I’m definitely not too old to enjoy the essence of a lekker church bazaar. Note that you don’t have to belong to the church to join in the fun, and the only reference to church things was that it was held at the community’s church. Live music outside (when last did you hear a boereorkes?), and familiar Afrikaans tunes playing inside the hall (O liewe Lulu, sal jy vanaand by my kom doedoe?) make for a day of interesting Afrikaans culture with people of all ages.

If you search hard enough (or just listen to OFM like I do), you’ll find a church bazaar somewhere in Bloemfontein every weekend. It’s a great way to avoid having to make lunch on a Saturday, especially as all the food is super cheap! Six cupcakes for R12; cakes starting from R30; and then potjiekos (seafood, chicken and mutton, which take about four hours to cook in their pots, which the one potjie-cooking man said to me is a very good time to drink!), curry and rice, slap chips, pancakes, boerewors rolls, malva pudding, jelly and custard, soup and bread, and, of course, moer koffie and tarts.

Man… I’m full!

Sakkie sakkie sakkie boeredans.

Bloemfontein: where you can still find exotic treats such as granadilla cake packaged in blown-up plastic, for only R30!

One of my favourite Afrikaans words takes on a new meaning when in a church setting. You figure it out.

How many tannies does it take to make a pannekoek?

Gotta love a regte egte bed sock.

Someone's junk (sorry Cape Town) is another's new (second-hand) bedroom decor, for only R5.

Real manne know how to make a potjie, and yes, that man - um, I mean that potjie pot - really is that big.