A few small rules

Every now and then we all have to use public transport. Some of us even use it daily – we don’t have a choice.

We all know that it is not polite to put our feet on the seat – of a train, bus or taxi. It’s not fair to the next person who sits there. Our No feet on the seatshoes might be dirty and then that dirt would get onto the next person’s clothes. Yet… people still do it.

We also know that we should give up our seat if there is an elderly person, a preggy lady or even somebody who has small children who does not have a seat of their own. Even if we are tired and don’t feel like it – it’s the kind thing to do.

Some types of public transport have designated seats for the elderly or the disabled – these seats should be out of bounds for normal travelers, but sadly, people don’t care and they sit in those places anyway. They even have the cheek to be rude if they are asked to move.

It’s the same for parking places in malls, shopping centres and other public spaces that are allocated for handicapped people. They are usually wider than usual parking places to allow for wheelchairs to be loaded on and off the roof of the car. Usually they are also close to the entrances.  This does definitely not mean that somebody can park their big fat bakkie in that space to run into the shop quickly.

There are also spots in some shopping centres for Moms with tots. People sometimes consider that these folk are getting special treatment, but this isn’t the case. It’s not easy humping a pushchair in and out of the car whilst managing small children – let alone having to look for parking in some out-of-the-way spot. It just makes it easier for them to shop at that particular centre – that’s all.

But what’s really rude is to have a loud conversation on your cell phone whilst using public transport. Nobody wants to have to hear what you are ordering for supper, or what happened to you last night, or even what business deal you are doing. It’s even worse if you have to listen to somebody having a fight on the phone.

Please people! Let’s all try be a bit more considerate in future.


Butts are a bit of a problem

Sibo hands

Lately scientists have figured out that cigarette butts are one of the most abundant types of litter found around. Studies estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year.

Much worse, it’s one of nastiest, deadliest forms of waste.

People who would not dream of pitching a cool drink tin out of the car window will happily chuck a burning butt out. Not particularly caring that it can set fire to something. Burning butts are often the cause of serious veldt fires.

People also drop them on pavements or into gutters, where the wind blows them into storm waters and other places.

They also flick butts casually into water – dams, the sea and rivers.

You probably wouldn’t flick a cigarette butt into your swimming pool – but why not? Because you or your family might swallow it whilst swimming and that would be horrible.

So why not care if a fish, bird or animal chomps it instead?

Cigarette butts are tiny little bundles of toxins. They are poisonous. They get into our marine ecosystems and cause havoc with the wildlife and the quality of the water.

We all know that water is extremely precious.

Due to the fact that cigarette filters are specifically designed to accumulate toxins, each butt can contain up to 60 known human carcinogens including… arsenic, formaldehyde, chromium and lead. In fact, there are around 1,400 potential chemical additives.

Toxicological data has shown that these chemicals from discarded butts are capable of leaching into surrounding water where they can hurt aquatic life. Nicotine has been shown to be lethal to various fish, crustaceans, zooplankton, and other aquatic organisms, as well as being a known insecticide.

On top of leeching toxins, cigarette butts present an ingestion, choking and poisoning hazard to wildlife who mistake them for dinner!

Cigarette filters are also composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that can hang around in the environment for long periods of time. Plastics of this sort have been found in the stomachs of sea turtles, fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures.

You know what is also really scary – even those people who put their cigarettes out in the designated places have no guarantee that their butts won’t also end up in the water. The bins get emptied. Butts are chucked onto rubbish dumps. Here they are blown around and it’s highly likely that they end up where they shouldn’t as well.

So what is the answer?  Stop smoking of course!

Mothers Day is Special

Sibo and mum

Our Mothers (or the people who act as mothers) are really special people in our lives – right? They love us unconditionally, listen to us, dry our tears, feed us, look after us and be our private taxi service whenever we need to get somewhere.

Often we don’t even remember to thank them for all the things that they do. Shame on us!

Yes – they also can drive us nuts, nag us to keep us on the right track (no matter how old we are) but they only do this because they love us and want the best for us.

They care.

Like I mentioned last week, Sunday 8th of May is Mother’s Day. This is the one day of the year that we can give back to our moms.

Spoil them like crazy. Make them feel loved.

We can buy flowers and fancy presents, but if we don’t have lots of money there are still things we can do.

Here are a few ideas that just cost time – mostly.

Make a lovely Mother’s Day card. Go crazy – decorate it with anything fancy you can find – glitter, dried flowers, bits of fabric, wool – get creative. You love your mom – show her how much time you are willing to spend on her.

If you don’t have money for a gift you could make her vouchers. Little cards or papers that say things like:

“Please would you do the washing up?”
“Please would you make me a cup of tea?”
“Please will you bring in the washing?”
“Please will you pick up the dog poop?” (This only works if you have a dog).
“Please will you wash my car?”
“Please will you bring me my glasses from my room?”

You get what I mean? Anything that you think could be useful for your mom – each family has different needs.

Write the vouchers nicely, decorate the cards or papers and put them all together in an envelope. Or make little holes in the side and bind them together with string or wool.

The cruncher with vouchers is… we have to be prepared to do the job when mom presents it to us.  With no moaning, groaning or whinging! Otherwise they are pointless.

We could also make a meal or a cake – and be sure to do all the washing up afterwards.

Whatever you choose to do – do it with love!


What’s in a name?

Sibo hands

The other day I read a quote that went like this… “People’s names are the sweetest sounds they hear. You should make a point of being good at learning and using them.”

Sjoe! I started thinking that it’s sometimes quite a problem in South Africa because we can’t always pronounce names the way they are supposed to be pronounced.

Sometimes people even get called other names that are easier to say. I wonder if that makes the person sad and if they maybe lose a little bit of their identity.

I started thinking some more – what do names actually mean.  My full name is Sibongile. If you google “The meaning of the name Sibongile” you will find that it means thank you and it originates in Africa. But if you go to one of the American “what does your name mean” sites and type in Sibongile it will (a) tell you that this is not a very common name and (b) maybe you should try the shortened version.

Did you ever!

There are a couple of different sites that you can try too – some of them go into great detail about the meaning of your name. Others have the different meanings for every letter – and then you can sort of summarize all of them and see if it fits.

Then you get some people who make up their own names. Like my friend Luan for instance. He was named after his paternal Grandfather, Lucien and his maternal Grandmother, Anna. It’s not a very common name either.

Some people are named after people that their parents know – like my friend Ginny. She was named after the singer Virginia Lee – not that she can sing a note! The only time Ginny gets called Virginia is when her mother is cross with her! I guess that’s true with all of us.  Ginny wanted to name her elder daughter after her Grandmother – Laura – but her granny really hated the name and was rather called by her second name Margaret (shortened down to Peggie or Peg) for most of her life. So Ginny named her daughter Lauren instead.

She didn’t really think that Lauren could be shortened – but it could – Lolla!

Let’s not even talk about the funny names that people call their animals – or why. That would keep us busy all day.

Try googling your name to see what it means  http://www.names.org/  (for the short version) or https://www.kabalarians.com/cfm/what-does-my-name-mean.cfm – for the long version.

Have fun!


Tricky Trash


Hearing about the Pikitup troubles started me thinking about rubbish.

We all generate lots of trash every single day.

How many people do actually recycle their stuff? I know that some places have bins that are easily accessible for people to throw their paper, plastic or glass in and all it requires is a little bit of effort. Other places provide special bags for recycling stuff and it gets specially picked up every week. That’s also relatively easy to do.

Then you get the places are not so jacked-up and it actually does require a fair amount of trouble to recycle properly.

If your area does not have good recycling habits there are other things that you can do to help out.

Most places in South Africa have people who trawl around the bins in residential areas on rubbish day. They take out all the plastic, glass and paper to be recycled. They get money for this stuff – and often this is their only source of income.

I know some people whinge and mutter because they don’t always leave the bins nice and tidy as they found them, but actually they’re doing the earth a service.

Why fill up the landfill more when we can recycle?

So… the nice thing to do is to help out and try and segregate your own rubbish.

Save all your glass bottles and jars and put them into a separate bag in the bin.

Do the same with tins, plastic, paper and cardboard. Make sure you wash out tins and plastic containers first. It must be really horrible for the people who collect this stuff to have to grovel out yukky miffy old disgusting cans with bits of mouldy dogfood or baked beans clinging to the sides.

You could also find out if any of the play schools in your area need stuff – like the inside cardboard roll in the toilet paper, cereal boxes, plastic trays, jars etc.  They often use things like that for craft projects or for storage.

If you have batteries, bulbs or ink cartridges you can usually recycle those in the bins in Pick ‘n Pay. They know how to properly dispose such nasty things. Some batteries have mercury in them and you really don’t want those to end up in the landfill.

All it takes is a bit of time and organisation.

Give it a go!


Ever wondered how a book gets written and published?

Sibo Looks Right cover small

In the case of the Sibo Series there are different scenarios. Several of the titles in the Sibo Series were straight up published by Lets Look Publishers. Okay – that sounds confusing – all of the books have been published by Lets Look  – but six of them were published without knowing that we had already sold x amount of copies up front.

A few years ago, it was guaranteed that the school system would snap up any worthwhile books that were published but since CAPS came in, things are not quite the same. A publisher can publish books (usually 3000 is the minimum print run) and they can sit in a store room and trickle out very very slowly.  As you can imagine, this is not good for business.

Some of our books have been commissioned. This means that x amount of books are ordered before we even write it on a particular topic.  Sibo Fights Malaria was one of those – The Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control and the Department of Health wanted a different way of telling people about what a nasty disease malaria is and how to avoid it. (Ginny knows about this first hand because she had malaria when she was a kid.)  So we wrote the book in conjunction with both of them and they are using it in schools in some areas in Limpopo. The good thing about this book is that students from the Education Department at the University of Pretoria are using this book in some of their projects – so we will get feedback as to whether it has any effect or not.

We’ve also written books to celebrate International Years – like Chemistry (funded by BASF, the chemical company).  Astronomy and Biodiversity were funded by SAASTA, who also commissioned a book about nanotechnology. That was interesting. We knew nothing about the topic when we started and had to do a lot of research. Strangely enough – it’s one of the most popular books in the series.

Then we get books that are sponsored – or partially sponsored…

Ginny feels strongly about animals being abused and hates the way kids get pets and then only love them when they are small and cute. Once they get bigger and more demanding they tend to be ignored. Pets are for life – not just for the two minutes they are adorable and tiny. Luckily she found a like-minded person who was willing to help sponsor Sibo Saves a Stray.  It was very hard to find funding for this book because most people would rather spend their money on the animals themselves, instead of educating kids (and their parents).  If you would like more information about the Sibo Series please visit the website.

Our latest title – Sibo Looks Right is all about road safety. This is a topic that is very important to both Peter Sanderson (Lets Look) and Ginny. The first draft of the book was written years ago and at various stages different people showed some interest in sponsoring the book. Sadly none of these prospects paid off and the story mouldered in Ginny’s laptop for way too long. Every time there was a road, taxi or bus accident or incident Ginny would hiss and spit and say that we have to get this knowledge out to the kids (and their parents) somehow. She’d fire off another round of frantic emails to try and drum up some support for the book.

Towards the end of last year, Chris (Ginny’s lovely husband) asked her if she had considered crowdfunding to get the book on road safety published.  She didn’t know much about crowdfunding and so got stuck in and did some research.  She also sent out a plea on Facebook and Thandi suggested that she try Thundafund as a South African crowdfunding platform.

Ginny is not one of those nice cautious people who likes to sit and brood and stew about things for any length of time. Once she’s got an idea it needs to get out of head immediately and get going. She bounced the idea of crowdfunding off Uncle Pete from Let’s Look and got the go ahead.

Thundafund were great – they replied immediately and sent a form to complete so they could see if the project was going to be worthwhile or not. Typically they would reply within a few days with the answer. Indeed they did reply positively within the allotted time.

There followed another learning curve. Part of a Thundafund campaign includes having a short video on the project. In our case it was not something that you could just go out and film. Ginny had to get cosy with some software she had not used much before and make a little video from scratch.

After all – the whole point of crowdfunding is for potential funders to think the project is worthwhile and not just a little whim of some bankrupt person who fancies doing something with other people’s money!crowdfunding

Ginny showed Chris her first attempt at being a filmmaker. No no no! He screeched before he’d even seen half of it. He ranted and raved for a few minutes about what he expected to see. She considered sulking and pouting – she hates it when he pulls his “Professor” tone on her and treats her like one of his students – but she grudgingly acknowledged that he had a point.

A new and vastly improved video clip was made that passed muster on its first showing.

The campaign went live. We had to reach the tipping point in 90 days otherwise all the money that had been donated would be returned to the backers. Pete, Sharon, Chris and Ginny all promptly plugged cash into the campaign to start it off.

The tipping point was just enough to pay the layout artist and the illustrator. If we got enough money to do this we’d be able to have an e-book at least.  Of course first prize was R140,000 so that we could print 3000 books and distribute them freely to kids and schools around the country.

There were various “rewards” that could be purchased. For R500 you could have your child’s name written into the story line. R300 and your logo would be displayed on the inside cover. R100 got your name mentioned. Everybody who donated would obviously receive an e-book as well.

A few days into the campaign – Mike Ward from Nash Nissan in Alberton catapulted the campaign from a “wannabe-book” to a “this-is-now-happening-book” with his very generous donation of R33600!  This meant we had passed the tipping point and could sleep again.

Nash Nissan

The Department of Arts and Culture also decided it was a worthwhile project to back and donated several thousand rand to the campaign as well.

There were lots of lovely friends and acquaintances, not to mention family members who all backed our project. These donations came in from all over the world too!  Ginny contacted as many of the car companies as possible – for a measly R300 they could have their logo included in the book. To no avail – they all had some sappy excuse or other. Even Peugeot – and Chris had just bought a brand new car from them.

We also tried repeatedly to get the attention of the major radio stations. This might have made a great difference as far as funding was concerned. It’s not like we were trying to make money out of the project – we wanted to be able to distribute as many books to the children as possible. Road safety is an issue.

Pippa Hudson at Cape Talk interviewed Ginny but by that stage there were only a few hours left to the campaign.

After 90 days we had a grand total of R54,550.  Whilst not as much as we hoped for, it was enough to publish an e-book as well as printing 800 copies.

Ginny realised that she had not exactly done her homework prior to starting the Thundafund campaign. Whilst she’s quite good at bombing people on email and Facebook, her tweeting habits left a lot to be desired. This is an integral part of crowdfunding and we sucked at it. It’s something that she is working on to promote the book.

After much haggling and to-ing and fro-ing between, Ginny, Uncle Pete, the layout artist and illustrator – we finally have a product that we are very proud of and are excited to share it with the world.

The files went to the printers this morning and the e-book will be ready in the next few days.

Lets Look Publishers and Ginny are very grateful to all those who helped make this book happen. We hope and trust that it might save some of our precious children’s lives (and those of their parents).


PS – If there is anybody out there who missed this campaign and would like to contribute now – it’s never too late – we can print more books and get them out there – contact Ginny.

A little consideration goes a long way


Rude Sibo

I know I am a kid and am not really supposed to have strong opinions about stuff but sometimes I do get mad.

Like yesterday… some dude came and stood right next to where I was sitting outside and blew his smelly cigarette smoke all over me. He could have easily stood somewhere else – away from me.

I made coughing and choking noises but he carried right on. So I had to move.

Isn’t it against the law to make kids smoke?

I know you are not supposed to smoke in the car if you have children – so shouldn’t that apply to other places as well?

Then I nearly got flattened by a bakkie that did not stop at the pedestrian crossing. The cars on the other side had stopped and people had started to walk already, but he just screamed through without even looking. He was talking on his cell phone.

One of the other ladies who also nearly got smooshed yelled something rude at him and shook her fist.

It’s against the law to talk on your cell phone and drive – isn’t it? For exactly that reason… you don’t concentrate properly. Zebra crossings are supposed to be a safe place to cross. What is the point if cars don’t bother to stop?

I watched a lady pushing a wheelchair try to manoeuver through a door. First she opened the door and was about to push the chair through when the door blew shut.

So she had to squeeze around the chair and try and push it open again. It blew shut for a second time.  There were lots of people sitting near the door but they just watched her struggling.  In the end I leapt up from three tables away and held the door open for her. She was very grateful and gave me a big smile.

What is wrong with people?  Why can’t they help each other and be nice.

We all live in the same space and yet everybody is just rushing around, swamped in their own lives, too busy to take time out to smell the daisies or take note of when another fellow human being needs a bit of help.

It’s so sad.

Be nice people.


Back to school

Miss Ball and Sibo

Sjoe! I can’t believe that the holidays are over and it’s school time again.

This year started out a tad on the sucky side.  I overslept and mum had to come and wake me up the first day. I had set my alarm clock because Wayne and I wanted to get to school  long before the bell rang.

Somehow I did not set the alarm properly and instead of waking up nice and early to get ready peacefully and calmly – I ended up being in a big fat rush.

First I buttoned my shirt up wrongly and then I could not find my socks. Totally ridiculous because I knew I had put them out the night before. They were all neat and tidy on my chair with the rest of my uniform. In my hurried scramble they had rolled off under my desk. I had to grovel around to find them which took extra time.

I ended up snarfing down a piece of toast for breakfast instead of sitting quietly and enjoying my cornflakes. Plus I forgot to pack in my lunch and mum had to come charging down the garden path in her dressing gown. This really annoyed her. She does not like going outside unless she is properly dressed.

Wayne was standing at the gate tapping his toes. He too was not impressed that I was late.

We thought about running but then remembered that it’s not good to run in case you trip and land up in the road. So we walked really fast.

It was great to see our friends again. There were also some new kids lurking around on the outskirts of the hubbub going on in the playground. They looked all shy and insecure.

Shame – it’s horrible to be a new kid at school and not know anybody. Wayne, Lizzie and I went and chatted to them. Turned out that one of the new guys is in our class and he’s really nice.

It’s great to know that there is a whole year ahead of us where we can learn new things, meet new people and do different exciting stuff. Our new teacher is quite nice too.

Hope your first day at school was good.

See you next week.


Cool word of the week.

Word: Hubbub
Meaning: A noisy situation
Example: The hubbub in the class room quietened down when the new teacher walked in.

New Year’s Resolutions

Sibo bed-head

Hi Everybody!

I hope that you all had a happy and peaceful festive season. I can’t believe that it’s almost time to go back to school.

I decided to make some New Year’s Resolutions – not too many because it is always hard to keep them. We usually start off with such good intentions and then get lazy or we just can’t be bothered. In fact, a few weeks into the year it seems like most or all of them have fallen by the wayside.

I decided to keep mine really simple as well.

I’ve written them out and stuck them up on the wall by my bed – so I can remember them each day.

  1. Smile at a stranger every single day. (More than one is even better.)
  2. Be grateful for all the lovely stuff that I have (even if I sometimes wish I had something else).
  3. Be nicer to Mum and Dad. (I can only have one hissy fit a week.)
  4. Make friends with kids who look lonely at school.
  5. Save as much water as I can. (Turn the tap off when I brush my teeth.)
  6. Remind Mum to recycle more. (Even if it means taking stuff out of the trash.)
  7. Ride my bike to school at least 3 times a week

See! They are not really hard ones – are they?  I should at least manage to do half of them.

The smiling stuff is really easy – and you know – people tend to smile back at you, which makes you feel good.

Number 6 might cause me to have some of my allotment of hissy fits with Mum. She gets fed up when I remind her to recycle – but I’m not ready to give up yet.

Number 7 might be a bit hard too, especially when it’s so hot. But the exercise is good for me and it saves my Mum petrol. Plus my friend Lizzie and I have great fun cycling to school. We are very careful because there are lots of hooligans driving around on the road who don’t always worry about bicycles.

They seem to think that we don’t have any right to be on the road – but we do.  Although some cyclists just cruise straight through stop signs or red robots – they don’t bother to adhere to the rules of the road or traffic signs.

That’s just silly.

Hope that 2016 is a great year for all of us.

Be happy


People Protesting

Sjoe! There was fun and games on the TV last week.

Well, I know it was not really on the TV but that was as close as I came to it.

All those people protesting about University fees going up so much that they would not be able to afford them. But it seemed to me that they behaved in a very calm and controlled way instead of burning and destroying things. That always makes me mad. What’s the point?

Hope it gets sorted out soon.

I’m just a little kid – but it makes sense to me that the Government should invest in their youth. Just because you don’t have the money to study further does not mean that you should not be able to do it.

It excludes people from reaching their full potential.

Somebody might be really clever and be able to come up with an innovative idea or plan that helps save the country somehow, but instead they never get to even try. That would be really sad.

I keep wondering why nobody has come up with a plan for solar-powered traffic lights. Or if they have – where ever are they hiding it? Especially in Gauteng where the traffic is busy and the sun shines brightly most days.

Those suckers would just keep on working – never mind whether Eskom was alive or dead.

Then we would not have traffic jams and we would not be late for school. It always feels like such a silly reason to be late for school… Sorry I’m tardy Miss but the robots were not working! She always looks at me like I’m fibbing when I’m really not.

But I was thinking… if we are all going to have an opportunity to study further one day and learn lots of lovely new and exciting things, then we should better pull up our socks and start working really hard to get good grades. Probably Universities and Technicon’s will be full and so they are going to choose people with good grades first because it shows that they want to learn.

No more chatting, I’m off to do some revision now.

Good luck to all the matrics who are about to start writing exams soon.


Cool word of the week: gripe
Meaning: protest, grumble, moan
Example: The students were all having a serious gripe about the hike in university fees.

Sibo standingMe with my socks pulled up!