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❤ Africa, Blog, Lesotho, My Life in Africa

Visiting An African Prophetess’ Cave

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2This is the cave of Makhetha Mantsopa. The prophetess was a renowned healer, rainmaker and diviner. She was also sister to King Moshoeshoe I – founder and first King of Lesotho. I wrote about Lesotho earlier this week. She was born around 1795, in a place called “Likotsi” or “Ramakhetheng” near present day Maseru (the capital of the Kingdom). In 1851, she predicted that the BaSotho (the people of Lesotho) would triumph over colonial troops led by Major Warden.

There are about 10-15 visitors per week to this cave – where she gave healings, performed miracles, announced prophecies and said prayers. A lot of people pray through her at this place to their ancestors and to God, much like the Virgin Mary in Christianity. The Priory of St Augustine’s is a monastery next to it, established in 1871.

There is a spring at this site, where people come to drink waters they believe are sacred and provide cleansing and good fortune. Watch the video below and read on for photos! Leave any questions you have in the comment section below! (more…)

❤ Africa, Blog, Lesotho, My Life in Africa

The Faces of Africa

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Tami Scripps

I wrote before about Lesotho – the African Kingdom I visited last October. Now, I’d like to put faces to the name. Here are some children at an orphanage in Maseru, the capital. There are also pictures of children I met while on my way to a school in the Maluti Mountains. The culture and history of Lesotho are so rich, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the people and the kingdom. Stay tuned for a piece on a spiritual cave nearby…. where a prophetess used to give healings and prophecies in the 1800s about the future of this kingdom. Have you ever considered going to South Africa? I’d love to know your thoughts + questions!

Tami Scripps
“Dumela” means “Hello” in Sotho
Tami Scripps
A child smiling at an orphanage in Maseru
Tami Scripps
Children ride donkeys to school in the morning
Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village
Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village
Tami Scripps Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village
Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village
Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village
Lesotho Food
A buffet breakfast
Lesotho food granadilla
Lesotho Hotel in Maseru …. the Basotho hat is the symbol of the country
Lesotho Herder
Herding cattle
Monastery Lesotho
A monastery outside Lesotho
❤ Africa, Blog, Port Elizabeth

Connecting To Your African Heritage This Black History Month

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The Most Famous African Proverbs

South African Ubulawu

South African traditional healers use “ubulawu” to open their intuition and dreaming and to increase their learning ability. It’s a medicianal herbal plant. Some species are also used for people who need to heal aspects of their minds, while laypeople use it for dreaming and to increase general health and energy. It is a wonderful tool for integrating the self. Thus, “ubulawu” can be said to be both a physical and psycho-spiritual healing medicine.

I recently published a piece written by a fellow South African + bona-fide traditional Phytoalchemist/Herbalist/Medicinal Plant Researcher. His name is Jean-Francois Sobiecki. He has his Honours in Ethno-Botany + his Diploma in Clinical Nutrition.

The piece is a fascinating look at a traditional herbal plant medicine called “Ubulawu” – made mostly from the roots but sometimes the stems or bark of particular subtle acting African psychoactive plants.



Herbs are a good way to reconnect to your African heritage because they are such an intrinsic part of traditional African rural life. Indigenous people of Southern Africa use herbs to cleanse the body + treat a variety of maladies. In using natural plant medicine, they also feel they cleanse the mind + open to ‘knowing’.

South Africa’s natural vegetation boasts an abundance of herbs and flowers which can be used for healing of all kinds.

The Cape Floral Kingdom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering only 78,000 square kilometres and featuring over 9,000 plant species!

Did you know that traditional healers remain the first port of call for the vast majority of South Africans? Up to 80% of the population currently choose accessible + affordable home-grown herbs + plants to treat a plethora of health issues.





Here are 5 of South Africa’s Top Performing Plant Healing Medicines.


+ Anti-inflammatory

+ Antiseptic

+ Treats high blood pressure, UTI infections, arthritis, gout and countless other ailments.

D E V I L ‘ S   C L A W

+ Treats pain

+ Enhances mobility

+ Provides relief from a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, diabetes, neuralgia, headaches and menstrual problems

A F R I C A N   P O T A T O


+ Immune boosting

+ Effective in the battle against Cancer, TB, asthma, HIV Aids and a host of other chronic conditions.

S O U T H   A F R I C A N   G E R A N I U M


+ Antibacterial

+ Antiviral

+ Treatment of chronic respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis, sore throat, sinusitis, colds and flu.

A F R I C A N   G I N G E R

+ Treatment of coughs, colds, asthma, flu, candida and menstrual cramps

You can find these products at African Botanicals. Or, alternatively, Walmart has a lot in liquid form, such as Buchu here. Also, Nature’s Way has Devil’s Claw. This website sells African Potato in a cream format here.

❤ Africa, Blog, Port Elizabeth

Ubulawu: Africa’s Self Transformation Plant Healing Medicine

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Phytoalchemist-Herbalist-Medicinal Plant Researcher: Jean-Francois Sobiecki. BSc.Hons. EthnoBot. (UJ)., Dipl Clin Nutr. (Aus).




My path as a herbalist healer took a long time to realize where I was for many years seeking answers to who I am. The path was not easy, yet I found great breakthroughs with plant medicines such as Ayahuasca and then later in my African healing training with Ubulawu– an African Teacher Plant medicine that helped me see or face who I am. In this article I will share with you more about this mirror medicine that I believe can help many people to connect to the deepest parts of themselves on the path of self enquiry.

Ubulawu is an undiscovered − to Western society, yet is an anciently used African plant medicine that heals the body and mind. Ubulawu is commonly used in African society to open dreaming and intuitive sensitivity and this is why I think they are called “lucky medicines” because it is lucky to experience these things. Ubulawu is made mostly from the roots but sometimes the stems or bark of particular subtle acting African psychoactive plants. Though a number of different species are used as ubulawu in Southern Africa, what is common to all these species and what makes ubulawu, ubulawu, is its ability to open the mind and increase sensitivity and intuition.

Ubulawu is a powerful medicine to enhance ones ability to listen to ones deeper personal truths.

How It Is Made

Ubulawu is prepared by soaking a certain amount of the roots or stems into 5 to 10 litres of water. This preparation is churned with a forked stick usually made from other medicinal trees. The species used in ubulawu often produces foam when churned though this is not always the case. In the morning, first thing before food or liquids are consumed, the person churns the ubulawu (ideally in a quiet, undisturbed space where one can burn a candle and have objects of prayer and spiritual devotion) and one can typically pray to ones ancestral relatives, angels or whatever one believes in, to acknowledge their place and yours in the Universe we live in, as well as to the medicine itself for healing and knowing. The person then drinks enough of this liquid to feel full and then vomiting is induced with two fingers placed to the back of the throat.


Who Traditionally Makes It

Ubulawu is used by the indigenous people of Southern Africa to cleanse the body so as to cleanse the mind and to open knowing. Vomiting, or what can be called emesis therapy, is an important treatment method used in both African and Ayurvedic (Indian) traditional medicine (Sobiecki, 2012). In Ayurvedic medicine it is known as vamana therapy, and is used to rid the body of excess mucus and water (that is known as kapha) that collects on the lungs and “disturbs the mind and clouds the senses” (Sobiecki, 2012). This is the same purpose that the medicine has in Southern African healing as my late teacher Mrs Letty Maponya indicated when she said: ““It [ubulawu] is important to clear the lungs, which if she does not do, “clouds her inner vision.” (Sobiecki, 2012). There is an important relationship between having a clean body (chest and stomach) and a clean and open mind in African traditional medicine.

Opening Intuition + Dream Life

South African traditional healers use ubulawu to open their intuition and dreaming and to increase their learning ability. Some species are also used for people who need to heal aspects of their minds, while laypeople use it for dreaming and to increase general health and energy. It is a wonderful tool for integrating the self. Thus, ubulawu can be said to be both a physical and psycho-spiritual healing medicine. My late teacher explained that ubulawu as a medicine “gives you who you are” (Sobiecki, 2012). This in my experience is exactly what the medicine does, by slowly encouraging an opening of ones own deeper awareness one can face deeper questions about ones life and therefore the medicine can teach you about yourself. In this way ubulawu is similar to the psychoactive plant teachers of the Amazon, both having the ability for one to learn new knowledge via the medicines.  Ubulawu works similarly to ayahuasca in opening the mind, though it does this much more gradually over days and vomiting is induced rather than occurring spontaneously as happens with Ayahusaca. Ubulawu is a legal traditional medicine.

Intense States of Introspection

From my experience the process of using ubulawu requires discipline and as it is an opening medicine, even though gradual, it can lead to intense states of self introspection and questioning after around two weeks in some cases. People differ in how fast or slow they respond with the medicine too. Therefore, using ubulawu is a process of healing that requires mentoring and guidance by a trained teacher.

Different ubulawu species should not be mixed and used without the guidance of a trained traditional healer as the incorrect mixtures can cause physical and psycho-spiritual disturbance and worsening of conditions. That is why I recommend using only one species at a time as a medicine.


As with any mind opening medicine the correct dosages is important as well as the right setting. One should try focus on ones internal process rather than be directed outwards during the time using the medicine. Social entertainment and sexual relations should be avoided. However people can still work using the medicine (day jobs) though one should try be as self focused as possible. The ability of ubulawu to open to deep states of mind and allow for dream journeying makes it very much a shamanic medicine. Ubulawu is a safe medicine though as with any vomiting therapy ubulawu is contraindicated in people with problems with digestive problems such as cardiac or gastric sphincters, reflux disease, hiatus hernia, peptic ulcer disease or surgery done on the stomach.

Cleansing The Body

From my experience ubulawu is one of the most powerful ways to cleanse the body and to open deep levels of the mind. Being initiated as an inyanga-herbalist with ubulawu it was fascinating for me to see how the medicine promoted an increased sensitivity to ordinary stimuli and like an internal mirror it slowly yet surely made me face deep questions related to my life-path.

By showing me parts of myself in this gentle yet powerful way, ubulawu can be considered a profoundly instructive plant teacher medicine that we in the West can utilize as a shamanic technology to know and heal ourselves.

“Dream Root”

A word of caution is that some ethnobotanical-psychonautical suppliers here in South Africa provide incorrectly identified plants labelled as “dream root” but that are not the correct species. I would be weary of obtaining ubulawu from online suppliers and the best approach is to work directly with a healer.


What Does Jean Do?

Jean Francois Sobiecki is a herbalist healer and qualified nutritionist and one of South Africa’s leading psychoactive medicinal plant researchers (ethnobotanists).

His work of Phyto-Alchemy (pronounced “Fyto”) is about helping teach and guide people to heal themselves with through integrating:

Life and stress-anxiety counselling, nutritional assessments, plant medicines and self development process into a medicine wheel model he calls The Phytoalchemy Self Transformation Toolbox. Ubulawu is one such tool used in this process and can be used alone without the other techniques.

He has his practice based in Fourways Johannesburg, South Africa.

For more on his work see his practice page at www.phytoalchemy.co.za and for his papers and Khanyisa Garden Projects see www.khanyisagarden.co.za

Jean can be contacted at phytoalchemist@gmail.com and he does long distance skype consultations.

Ask Jean how he can help you on your healing path today!



African Folktales, Blog, South Africa

An African Folktale About The Hippo

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Here is an African folktale about ‘Why Hippos Don’t Eat Fish’:

When God was giving each animal a place in the world, the pair of hippos begged to be allowed to live in the cool water which they so dearly loved.

God looked at them, and was doubtful about letting them live in the water: their mouths were so large, their teeth so long and sharp, and their size and their appetites were so big, He was afraid that they would eat up all the fish. Besides, He had already granted the place to another predator – the crocodile. He couldn’t have two kinds of large, hungry animals living in the rivers. So God refused the hippos’ request, and told them that they could live out on the open plains.

At this news, the two hippos began to weep and wail, making the most awful noise. They pleaded and pleaded with God, who finally gave in. But He made the hippos promise that if they lived in the rivers, they must never harm a single fish. They were to eat grass instead. The Hippos promised solemnly, and rushed to the river, grunting with delight.

And to this day, hippos always scatter their dung on the river bank, so God can see that it contains no fish bones. And you can still hear them laughing with joy that they were allowed to live in the rivers after all.

IMG_3216 IMG_3221

My Life in Africa

#147notjustanumber: The Victims of Kenya

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As a three-day period of national mourning ends in Kenya for the massacre of nearly 150 students at a university in the country’s east, a social media campaign has coalesced around the mounting outrage and grief to commemorate the individual victims.

People are using the hashtag #147notjustanumber #theyhavenames to join the discussion on social media about the massacre in Kenya. The death toll has since risen to 148. The students were murdered when four gunman from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, stormed Garissa University College last Thursday. They were seeking out and killing the Christian students. Here is the university’s website.

I ask myself how the world has come to this? The campaign to humanize the victims is extremely potent. It’s a powerful effort, making it all too real for those outside Kenya to relate to the horror that occurred on its soil. Looking at the photos of the victims, I feel physically sick. They were innocent, helpless + killed at the whim of a militant group.

Will Rhodes Must Fall Turn Fatal?

I’m writing from the South African banks of #RhodesMustFall, where a well-intentioned protest started turning ugly this week. My view of the “revolution” (as it has been labeled by Twitter activists) has been tainted. With a statue in Uitenhage being set on fire, a monument in Pretoria being defaced + then the horse memorial in Port Elizabeth being vandalized by rebels, I dare say a similar horror could be broadcasting out from our soil next.

#RhodesMustFall is a story I’ve been following closely. It had its roots on a university campus in Cape Town where a group of students called for the removal of a colonial statue. But it’s taking an unexpected turn – militant, criminal action by politically-charged groups on the streets of the ‘real world’ off tertiary grounds.

Who was Cecil John Rhodes?

Cecil John Rhodes was an English businessman + financier who founded the modern diamond industry + controlled the British South Africa Company, which acquired Rhodesia + Zambia as British territories. Unfortunately, he did so through the gross intimidation + oppression of black people.

History has revealed Rhodes as power-hungry and greedy, using mercenaries and gangs to evict people from their land down the barrel of a gun. If that didn’t work, there was always bribery and corruption. When he died in 1902, Rhodes was one of the world’s wealthiest men. He had a vast mining empire and had seized more than 8.8 million square kilometres of land through the annexation of present-day Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. The students contend the statue represents everything Rhodes stood for: racism, plunder, white supremacy, colonialism, pillaging, dispossession and the oppression of black people.

I always supported the removal of the statue from the UCT grounds to a more appropriate place, such as a museum or dedicated park. But I never supported the violence. I knew it would have repurcussions for the less-educated who simply see pictures of black students rallying + defacing buildings on campus in their “campaign”, then perceive it as a purely black vs. white issue. As Steve Hofmeyer sums up, illiteracy is to blame. According to UNICEF, we have 5 million illiterate people in South Africa. We (the literate; educated) take for granted our ability to research, understand + educate ourselves with the deeper topic at hand; the reason they are protesting. We have the luxury of investigating the broader concern, reading up on history + reasonably looking at both sides of a very complex debate. But the majority walking the streets who have access to Twitter or Facebook don’t have such inclinations. They just see photos, read militant words + sum up such a complex issue to its basal form of “black vs. white”. With our already sensitive history, this hasty “revolution” was a dangerous + irresponsible call for the group who started this at UCT. Is murder on our cards next as a debate about colonialism/imperialism + *institutional racism* turns into just an ugly race war? Xolela Mangcu sums it up nicely in his article: My biggest fear is that we will find ourselves in a racial civil war.

What the conversation is looking like on Twitter

Photos of the destroyed monuments

Uitenhage Statue on fire
War memorial in Uitenhage set on fire
horse memorial port elizabeth
Horse memorial in Port Elizabeth vandalized
Paul Kruger statue
Paul Kruger monument in Pretoria defaced
My Life in Africa

Trevor Noah: New Host of The Daily Show


Trevor Noah Twitter Controversy

South Africa’s Trevor Noah just got an awesome promotion to host The Daily Show after Jon Stewart steps down. Unfortunately, like anyone in such a public position, comes a host of relentless scrutinizers. It seems he now joins the legions of celebrities who’ve said regrettable things on Twitter + received the wrath of a frenzied public that goes with it. It’s almost like it was inevitable; a rite of passage of sorts. There was huge backlash on the Internet after tweets from his earlier years as a comedian were brought to light. These tweets were jokes of his, about Jewish people + women. In fact, critics say some of Noah’s nearly 9,000 tweets are sexist + anti-Semitic. CNN summarized them here.  In my view, it’s hard to deny they were insensitive + offensive. It warrants an apology. To avoid an apology when a huge number of people are clearly insulted by them seems counter-intuitive.

But is my view of him tainted? No. It’s a huge achievement. He’s been a prominent figure in South Africa for years + I always enjoyed his shows. I like his humour. I think he’s a polished + articulate ambassador for our country. Patton Oswalt had a hilarious response in a series of 53 tweets which defends the comedian. Below are some positive responses to the backlash:

Mr. Noah often posts irreverent statements that reflect his interests in popular culture, global politics and issues of race. As with many comedians, Mr. Noah’s jokes can test the boundaries of what is socially permissible and what is in bad taste.

– New York Times

The guy made some sort of, you know, off-colour, irresponsible tweets, but he was trying to be funny.

  – Aasif Mandvi

I’m not concerned if Trevor Noah made fat jokes five years ago, I just hope he has learned to raise the bar since then.

– Twitter user

Noah Taylor is a comedian, not a political aide for a possible presidential candidate nor is he a Communications executive for a media company. To hold him up to this kind of standard is absurd.

– Reddit user

I don’t think 6 years ago (when he was 25!!!) he knew they’d be getting this much scrutiny.

– Reddit user

This topic got me thinking about what happens when celebrities sully their reputations by tweeting inappropriate comments to their fans. Or when they say things on social media that could backfire. Is it something that happens often? Are they any less effective afterwards? It seems it is something that happens a lot. And I guess what happens after depends how they choose to handle it. Or how their employer does. I’m reminded of the Bill Cosby social media disaster last year which he never came back from. Even now, accusers are speaking more in depth about their rape allegations. Or Jessica Sacco, the PR executive who was fired over her racist tweet before boarding an aeroplane to Africa in 2013. In this case, Comedy Central has chosen to stand behind Noah. He speaks in the video below about how his career as a comedian up until now + how he feels prepared for this.

It amazes me how celebrities can use Twitter, knowing their reach + the scrutiny they’re under. They’re either too flippent or too emotional. Hopefully Noah can stay somewhere in the middle. See some other examples below, as well as this awesome post about the 13 best deleted celebrity tweets.

Al Roker

In May 2009, Today show weatherman Al Roker was called for jury duty. In a thoughtless but ultimately harmless breach of court rules, Roker tweeted a photo of potential jurors. Oops. Roker was the butt of countless jokes after the media caught wind of his mistake, with the New York Post running the story under the headline, “Oh, What A Twit!” Roker apologized for the indiscretion, but also said that he thought people should lighten up a bit too. “I’m not breaking laws… just trying to share the experience of jury duty. One that I think is important and everyone should take part in,” he later Tweeted.

Mary J Blige

In July 2010, singer Mary J. Blige excitedly Tweeted that she had been accepted to Howard University. Unfortunately, the college then tweeted back saying that she was still in the application process and had not been accepted, causing a backlash amongst her fans. Blige then hilariously responded with, “Why is that people always try to understand estimate my intelligents? They should never do that!”

Anthony Weiner

There’s no eloquent way to describe how Anthony Weiner offended people on his Twitter; tweeted a photo of his private parts in men’s underwear for the world to see. The man had once hoped to be mayor of New York City, but with a tweet of just 24 characters that consisted of a link, his political career and public image were completely destroyed. Originally, Weiner blamed the photo on hackers, but after investigations were done and other allegations were surfacing, the public had to face the fact that Weiner did indeed tweet the inappropriate photo. Weiner soon after resigned from his position.


“Bad Joke… But alotta those wives would make me consider it”, he was referencing the fact that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills‘ Taylor Armstrong’s husband, Russell, had committed suicide. From the show and recent press, the man was dealing with a lot of personal demons, a newly filed divorce, and accusations that he abused his wife. When news of his death surfaced, reality stars and celebrities tweeted out their support and condolences to Armstrong. But Ice-T’s insensitive tweet stuck out like a sore thumb. The “Law & Order: SVU” star and rapper’s comment was not appreciated and was heavily criticized on mass media and by Armstrong’s fan base.

Scott Baio

“Taxes are DONE…That should feed, house & provide medical for a few lazy non working people at my expense. Have a great Monday!” The popular Gawker media blog Jezebel picked up the tweet and made their disapproving opinions on Baio’s tweet known, and it escalated into a near digital war between the blog site, Baio, and his wife. Then Baio’s fan base got involved in the fight and major news organizations picked up on the battle. It just goes to show you that if you’re famous and you want to maintain all of your fans, some personal political opinions may be best kept private.

Blake Shelton

The country music sensation found himself at the receiving end of accusations of being homophobic after he tweeted, “Rewriting my fav Shania Twain song.. Any man that tries Touching my behind He’s gonna be a beaten, bleedin’, heaving kind of guy …” LGBT leaders immediately criticized Blake Shelton for turning Twain’s song about female empowerment into a song about hate crimes. Shelton soon made a statement apologizing for offending people, saying that his tweet was misunderstood, and that it was originally meant to be from a female perspective. Most weren’t entirely convinced by this excuse.

Jim Carrey

When Tiger Woods was in the midst of his infidelity scandal, everyone had some words to say on the subject. Comedian and actor Jim Carrey was not excluded. He tweeted, “No wife is blind enough to miss that much infidelity. Elin had 2 b a willing participant on the ride 4 whatever reason. kids/lifestyle ;^)” The tweet was considered to be an odd Twitter attack on Woods’ former wife, and it sparked controversy as well as a mix of negative and positive feedback from his followers. Carrey had to clarify that he was not approving of infidelity and that Woods had to fix things within himself before trying to fix things around him.

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian came under massive fire from animal lovers and animal rights activists in 2010 after posting a photo of herself holding a kitten by the scruff of its neck. Perhaps it’s because she is a Kardashian, or maybe it’s because she was holding the internet’s favourite animal, but she was met with tons of accusations of animal cruelty and received much backlash for the tweeted photo. Kardashian didn’t apologize for her actions, but instead basically told everyone to calm down. She stated on her blog; “Rest assured, the owner and vet were on set and showed me how to pick him up. The cat was not harmed in any way and is perfectly fine! I love animals and would never do anything to harm animals.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow got a lot of backlash for her tweet, “N****s in Paris for real” which divided the hip-hop community. The tweet was accompanied with a photo with Jay-Z and Kanye West. Several hip hop artists gave the actress a “free pass” to use the word, while other members of the community thought the tweet was offensive and disgusting. The mainstream media took the tweet and ran with the story, adding embellishments and exaggerations that only made the situation worse. However, Paltrow defended her actions saying that the tweet was the title of a song and was taken out of controversy. The controversy was named, “N-Word Gate.”

Jason Biggs

Jason Biggs found himself in hot water after he tweeted from his account @JasonBiggs, “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?” This tweet occurred 65 minutes after it was announced that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had crashed. Needless to say, the timing of the tweet, combined with the content, came across as insensitive, heartless, and making light of a tragic situation. Immediately after the tweet was posted, followers began to reply with their disgust over Biggs’ words. The offensive tweet was soon deleted and Biggs issued a four part Twitter apology, which was fairly well-received by the public.

My Life in Africa

A Heart Full of Sunset

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I enjoyed a sundowner in Camps Bay recently. I really do live in a beautiful city! It’s awesome being by the beach. My favourite time of day is sunset… I usually try make sundowners on the weekend somewhere along Victoria Drive, Cape Town.

camps bay cape town