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June 12. 2004 #issue 05
In the News
Table Mountain and some Cape History
Hi <> from Cape Town and welcome to the latest edition of the Cape Town eBulletin.
In the News
Disturbing facts from the various large public hospitals in the Cape and elsewhere in the South Africa. Cuts in the health budget and resulting deteriorating conditions in hospitals coupled with understaffing problems are making it difficult for government employed doctors and nurses to provide an acceptable level of health care. This has got to the stage in some cases where some patients have had to be referred to other hospitals.
Frustrations are evident as medical professionals attempt to no avail to get some positive feedback from the Department of Health. More funds are desperately needed to upgrade facilities, more doctors and more nurses are required, as well as better salaries and working conditions. Many professionals are seeking greener pastures overseas. Those that remain work long hours to attempt to provide a dedicated health service to burgeoning low income communities. They are fighting a losing battle within a health system tied up in red tape, which has been predicted to cause a general collapse within 5 years.
Drastic steps are needed to be taken by the Department of Health to address these issues by first encouraging dialogue with health professionals and then putting into place solid procedures to rectify obvious shortcomings. This must take priority before its too late.
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Table Mountain and some Cape History
One of my first memories of Cape Town and South Africa was the distant view of Table Mountain in the early light of dawn as we slowly approached the harbour on the mail ship Athlone Castle. It was the same view that the ancient seafarers would have had as they approached the Cape of Good Hope in the 15th century.
We had arrived 400 years later in 1964. I was 13 and my family was emigrating to a new life.
Table Mountain has fascinated me since then. It has always remained the same, a symbol of Cape natural history, steadfast and solid, a familiar beacon to the sailors on the many boats and ships that have visited Cape Town through the years on the trade route to the Far East.
Human existence in the Cape has been traced back some 500,000 years to the early Stone Age by the discovery of artefacts on the Cape Peninsula. More recently dated artefacts and stone fragments as well as ancient rubbish dumps dating back 20,000 years have been found at a number of Cape sites. These original inhabitants are now referred to as SAN or Bushmen. They were joined by another tribe known as the Khoi who had migrated to the area from the North. The Khoi were the predominant indigenous tribe when the first European settlers arrived in the Cape.
While human history and life around it constantly changes, Table Mountain in our short span of human history has always been there. It's difficult to imagine Cape Town without the surrounding mountains, and yet there was a time when there was no Table Mountain in the land of the ancient Cape, nor any other mountains for that matter.
Africa was part of a greater Gondwanaland continent some 500 million years ago. It was a time when the Cape was under the ocean, of earthquakes and volcanoes. The Table Mountain chain originated from such volcanic activity. The lava pushed out from beneath the sea through a layer of shale and turned to molten granite.
Over the following millions of years most of the the granite and shale subsided and become buried under sediment from rivers flowing in from the north. The sediment solidified and became quartzite or sandstone which now forms the distinctive shape of the seemingly timeless mountains we see today. The eroded granite boulders and formations found along the coastline, date back to those turbulent times.
With its well known flat top and two attendant peaks known as Devils Peak and Lions Head, Table Mountain attracts visitors from around the country and around the world. A stay in Cape Town for many people includes a trip to the summit at 1080 metres either by cable car or on foot. Those who elect to hike up the mountain have the choice of many routes not all of which are straightforward. Rescue services are often called out to assist those injured, lost, or unprepared for adverse weather conditions.
A distinctive table cloth of cloud caused by waterladen air blowing in from the south east often masks the summit of Table Mountain on summer days. For visitors to Cape Town it is a unique and memorable experience.
That's all from me for now <>.
Speak to you next month.
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