Who would have thought such sweltering heat would have given birth to a fresh new t-shirt company! It's hot here, intolerably so. Worse, much worse, is the humidity. It weighs down upon one to such a degree that all the ceiling and standing fans in the apartment and office have shared sense of inadequacy. Yet this sticky Hades is home to great creativity, particularly in the area of design. Some years ago, when I first started out on my own, similarly unbearable summer conditions gave me the idea for my company name - Swelter. Somewhere along the line, I thought it would be great for a t-shirt brand. Mid last year, that brand saw the light of day and is now being worn by quite a few people (bless them!) from around the world. Today's the day I start to share with you some of the Swelter designs and the stories behind them (hey, and if there aren't any, I'll make them up. You might want to help me along there.) Right now, I have no energy, I'm in the mood for a chat, and I keep filling up my glass with water. Pray for rain!

Sunday, 20 May 2007


We're headed for the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve set in the heart of Zululand. Established in 1895, it is purportedly the oldest game park in Africa. If you look really hard, searching through 96 000 hectares of hills, bush and the Hluhluwe River Flood Plain, you'll likely come across the Big Five - lion, black and white rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard. Not to mention an abundance of other animals, from cheetah (one of my favourites) to giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, hyena, jackal, warthogs, baboons and all kinds of buck (like waterbuck, nyala, eland, kudu, impala, duiker, suni and reedbuck). You'll even find crocodiles and hippos. And over 300 species of birds.

It's one of my favourite places to visit.
I love the indigenous growth, the wild dusty smell, and the sounds of thousands of insects and birds in conversation at the same time. Not to mention the feeling of intense heat pounding down on your skin, forcing even the most intense of individuals to relax and be at one with the African world.

Watching animals takes time and patience.
We have to respect that we are in their territory and must honour their natural rhythms. But the wait is always worth it. I have been privileged to have been amongst wild African animals all my life yet every time I see a giraffe I am struck by its graciousness, every time I see a lion or lioness with its cubs, I am in awe of its balance between purring gentleness and immense power, and whenever I see a cheetah, I cannot believe its beauty and speed.

I was in Hlulhuwe earlier this year with my partner, entertaining an American guest. And soon we will be lucky enough to go there again, this time with family from Australia. The game park is only three and a half hours drive from our place and yet we don't go there often enough. A few days out in the bush and you feel totally renewed.

Of course, the trick is to go well equipped. Since it is swelteringly hot most of the time, you'll need to wear something comfortable and cool ... like a t-shirt or
two from the appropriately named Swelter, perhaps. This range is just beginning. Expect it to take unexpected twists and turns, like the rocky pathways down to the Umfolozi River. The creation of each shirt is an exploration unto itself. Demanding, exciting and surprising. I'm approaching it with a pioneering spirit. And anticipate both the journey and the outcome to be a little wild.

1 comment:

Mirabel said...

Well written article.