I have been working on two stories for CNN International’s Inside Africa programme that have taken me on journeys to primal spaces: one into the sea and one back in time, to pre-colonial South Africa.
The first story is about a group of remarkable people who have committed to saving the seabed and its diversity for posterity, specifically the Kelp Forest off Simonstown on the Cape Peninsula. The organisation that led me to this story was the The Sea Change Trust. (www.seachangeproject.com)
Its website presents its case for conservation through the most beautiful images of the secret underwater world in the Kelp Forest near Simonstown on the Cape Peninsula. Having spent a few days with the team, and interviewed their co-founder, veteran film-maker Craig Foster, I was absorbed both by the skin-tingling experience of snorkelling, without a wetsuit, in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the importance of learning the value of bio-diversity through observing and witnessing sea-life. Craig’s commitment to dive every day, and to track the marine life on the coast is infectious. His desire to share this passion should alert more people to the need for drastic conservation practices on our oft neglected coastal doorstep.
Already, the Sea Change Trust has started to build relationships with scientists who are working on mapping the sea bed for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in order to preserve the special spaces under the sea. Craig has taught a group how to snorkel and is teaching them to track marine life underwater, creating even greater excitement around their conservation goals. Loyiso Dunga, Luther Adams and Sizo Sibandla work with the indefatigable Dr Kerry Sink, the SANBI scientist evaluating the diversity of South Africa’s sea-bed by mapping its topography. It is partly the fruits of this research that prompted the South African Government to extend its protection of the sea-bed within its waters by 5 per cent to 5,4 per cent. Twenty marine coastal areas were gazetted for conservation in May this year. It is an admirable advance.
Both Dr Sink and Craig Foster, a film-maker, are harnessing the impact of beautiful images to campaign for conservation. And in this regard, they have a treasure chest to work with. Out filming inside the kelp forest has yielded the most beautiful results. Add drone shots, cutaways, sweeping sea vistas and powerful interviews, and we have an extraordinary insert.
You can watch it this weekend at these times:
CNN International, Inside Africa on GMT: Fri 1630; Sat 0730, 1730, 2230; Sun 0330, 1030; Mon 0300; Tue 0830. (To be clear, those time are GMT not South African Standard Time)
But if you are watching in South Africa, you can go to DSTV Channel 401: Friday 18:30 (31 May), Sat 9:30 and 19:30 (1 June), Sunday 00:30 and 5:30 (2 June) Tuesday 10:30 (4 June)
The second story in my sights is about raising the status of Indigenous culture in post-apartheid South Africa. In this, we track Khoisan revivalists as they walk across the Cape on the Indigenous Liberation Walk. We finished filming this week and I’ll let you know broadcast times in due course.