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Columnists > James King

James King
James King is a writer, blogger and photo-artist. Born in England, he travelled to over 20 countries and in 1995 emigrated to South Africa. In 2011 James moved to Thailand, in semi-retirement, where he built and sold one house, renovated another, wrote various e-books and started a blog at

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 8 – Back For Good

Posted by: Carole on Sunday April 12, 2015 (17:04:54)   (1849 Reads)
James King
Cutting the ties

On October 22nd 1995, at the ripe old age of 53 and following a two week cheap package holiday in Malta, I left England’s green and pleasant land for a new life. My destination was Cape Town, a city I had grown to love over the preceding four years on several short visits and longer stays. In anticipation of planting some new roots and finding a new home I had packed and stored my worldly goods and chattels at my mother’s home in Nailsea near Bristol. My travel bags were stuffed to the gunnels with as much as British Airways would allow without requiring mid-air refueling and I was off with no intention of ever returning.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 7 – Tina Turner!

Posted by: Carole on Thursday January 22, 2015 (06:50:41)   (2653 Reads)
James King
Sea of change

The thought of leaving England for Durban in February, for the third time, to soak in the balmy Indian Ocean was pleasing enough. Equally exciting was the thought that I could be involved in some of the many changes that would envelope South Africa post-apartheid. For many years South Africans had been denied the chance to see their talented young athletes and sportsmen and women compete on the international stage. In 1970 South Africa had one of the finest Test Cricket teams ever and after drubbing Australia in the same year the cricket world would never see them in action again.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 6 - Mission Two

Posted by: Carole on Saturday December 20, 2014 (03:56:23)   (2757 Reads)
James King
Preparing For England

Within minutes of our arrival I was on the beach and wallowing in the warm, shark-infested, waters of the Indian Ocean. Cape Town beaches are great; with wide open expanses of sand and dunes on the West Coast you can walk for miles and often hardly see another soul. But even brass monkeys don’t swim in the Southern Atlantic. The Indian Ocean on the other hand is so warm and inviting that it is easy to forget the undertow of the huge rollers and the razor toothed predators that skulk nearby. The lifeguards and surfers are watchful and skilled and the shark nets generally provide adequate protection to the beach-goers.

But leisure time is limited now as I prepare to return to England after my first three months at the bottom of Africa.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 5 – Langebaan Here We Come Penguin Wake-up Call

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday November 19, 2014 (03:15:58)   (1935 Reads)
James King
No need for alarm clocks here. Inquisitive penguins were playing round the boat before dawn broke. Seagulls, cormorants and oyster catchers added their voices to the cacophony of the morning chorus long before we rose and set sail north, along the Western Coastline to Langebaan.

Most of the other yachts had sailed on to Langebaan the night before so we were one of only a few who stopped off at Dassen Island. This part of the cruise was very leisurely, as the Lagebaan leg was organised as a holiday for a few days before Christmas, where the crews socialised in the marina restaurants and bars and played at water-sports.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 4 – On To Cape Town [Dec 1990]

Posted by: Carole on Monday October 20, 2014 (14:32:43)   (1628 Reads)
James King
Out of Transkei

As Umtata disappeared behind us in the early morning mist I breathed a sigh of relief at escaping the rawness of this part of Africa. It was, indeed, a short and unique experience and a vastly different environment from the Durban I had left a week ago. At the time I wondered if this was just a taste of what was to come and how I would receive and deal with the many facets of life in South Africa if I stayed for long. In the ensuing years I was to experience the vastness and diversity of this great multi-tribal and multi-cultural land.

I suspect South Africa is the only country in the world with eleven official languages – Afrikaans, English plus nine African tribal languages.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 3 – Launching the Transkei Lottery [Dec 1990]

Posted by: Carole on Monday September 15, 2014 (23:55:03)   (2163 Reads)
James King

Mvezo village, Umtata, is the birthplace of Nelson Mandela who was only released from prison in February 1990. Nine months later the main square in the centre of Umtata had been decked out with gazebos, a massive stage had been erected, loads of bunting and enough plastic chairs to seat the nation were in place. This was a big occasion and there was feverish excitement over the launch of the Transkei lottery ‘SCORE-A-LOT’. Hundreds of black and white footballs, the Score-a-lot signature, were placed around the square ready for the ‘kick-off’.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 2 – Unexpected Welcome In Transkei [Nov 1990]

Posted by: Carole on Saturday August 16, 2014 (01:58:30)   (3174 Reads)
James King
The real worth of Castle lager

I didn’t realise the significance of the case of lager we were carrying nor did I know its real worth until we hit a ‘road block’ after crossing the Natal border with Transkei. The border post was manned by a handful of soldiers, each of whom was brandishing an AK47 with all the care that a child would handle a water pistol. This was no regular road block and the soldiers (I use the term loosely) were clearly not highly trained or disciplined military.

Despite the heat of the night my skin quickly began to feel decidedly chilly and a prickly sensation settled on the back of my neck.    more ...

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 1 - Why It Took 25 Years To Get To South Africa

Posted by: Carole on Saturday July 19, 2014 (04:19:29)   (3108 Reads)
James King
Shattered dreams

When I heard the news, on 11th November 1965, that Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) had declared UDI I was devastated. I had just been selected to represent the combined British tobacco companies in a party of cricketers to tour Rhodesia for six weeks. We were to be the guests of the Rhodesian tobacco farmers and would have, by all accounts, been royally accommodated and entertained. In addition the scheduled cricket matches would have been of a generally higher standard than our regular weekend encounters at club level. All expenses including an allocation of ‘fun’ money for personal use were to be provided by the British tobacco companies and our salaries would continue to be paid as though we were still making ‘cigarettes’.    more ...

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