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Conquering Africa’s Roads With More Than Passing Fun

Africa, as the saying goes, is not for sissies. Life on the continent can be harsh, and driving anywhere—even in posh suburbia—is not without its challenges.

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Our roads are peppered with potholes; hijackings are a way of life; wildlife sometimes seems to have a vendetta against moving vehicles; traffic jams can rival the migration in the Serengeti, and all this is when we have roads to begin with! And let’s not forget the plight of the minibus drivers; having to furiously shuttle their sardine tins full of people, who are sometimes laden like hermit crabs with their personal belongings.

What is to be done about the seemingly Sisyphean mountain of obstacles that befall us as regular road users, you ask? Extreme all-terrain vehicles are, in my humble opinion, the obvious answer to Africa’s daunting road conditions. Take for example the Russian-built Viking-2992 from Aton Impulse (brought to you by the people who built some frighteningly effective submarines, so why not surface-dwelling amphibious vehicles too?). This road-legal behemoth is capable of conquering not only the worst tarmac, but it’s just as comfortable in more aquatic climes.

Looking, for all the world, like a bullfrog on steroids, the Viking’s high-flotation boat frame allows it to traverse the water at speeds of up to 15km/h. Equally suited to that leisurely weekend trip across the Vaal dam in South Africa (imagine the stares from those overpriced boats packed with scantily clad women and cigar-chomping businessmen), or those unscheduled flash floods, the car boasts pneumatic front and rear suspension and balloon tyres—equipped to “minimize environmental impact and soil damage”. Exactly what we were concerned about. And, should the humanitarian bug ever bite, the Viking makes a superb search-and-rescue vehicle; coming in a 6×6 wheel configuration that can transport 12 people. Enough to make any taxi driver flush with envy; especially considering the car’s got climate control and a rear-view camera for ease of parking.

Another contender, in our bid to conquer Africa’s unforgiving terrain, is the Mercedes-Benz Zetros. The towering Teuton comes in either a four-liter six-ton payload or seven-liter, ten-ton variety. This truck is perfectly suited to hosting those pesky, end-of-month shopping expeditions with parking posing no problem—that Hummer’s roof will do nicely, thank you. Hijackers will stare agog, contemplating how on earth to scale the sides so they can point their quivering gun at the safely ensconced driver. Twin axles mean the cabin and payload move independently (like a belly dancer working her way through college)—helpful when encountering potholes the size of Australia, as we do after a brief cloud burst. Water reaching up to a height of 1,100mm (with the additional modifications) holds little fear for this übertruck. Let’s see someone try to push in front of one of these at the next intersection.

When it comes to sure-footedness though, nothing beats the insanity of the Chainlink extreme 4×4. Powered by a fuel-injected five-liter V8 engine sourced from a Ford Mustang, the unique feature of this vehicle is that its one-meter-high tires dangle off the end of hydraulically controlled swing arms that can work independently or as a team. This unsurpassed articulation (two meters in total travel) means the Chainlink virtually bounds over boulders, seemingly negating the need for roads at all. While disturbing to look at, and its gait is reminiscent of a drunkard at a twisting competition, the Chainlink gets the job done.

Ever wary of expenditure, we’ve managed to uncover a more cost-effective manner of taming the African wilderness. It comes in the form of the Desert Fox conversion. Designed to fit your existing Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol (chosen specifically for their impervious nature and easy access of parts), the kit comprises of a fully galvanized platform that simply bolts on (housing eight molded seats protected by three rollover bars) and transforms the ‘bakkie’ into a light infantry patrol vehicle. In addition, the suspension undergoes some radical reworking thanks to new leaf and coil springs, gas-powered shock absorbers, a heavy-duty steering damper and anti-sway bar.

Criminals stand no chance against the Desert Fox’s optional armor plating, and it even comes with its own water supply (100 liters) and dual battery with charging system. Making this kit a must-have for those expeditions to war-torn territories is the optional gun turret. A handy feature, to keep the masses at bay; especially if you’ve opted to purchase another product from the same company—the mobile field kitchen. Simply throw this contraption onto the tow hitch, and you can almost literally make food for Africa; 300 people at a go, and up to 1,000 in total. The kitchen uses diesel to power its hot plates (switching over to solar when hot) and can pump out 24 loaves of bread in 20 minutes. That’ll satisfy the biggest appetite! No wonder military brass, from numerous countries, are showing interest—and it’s exactly what a hungry, take-no-crap, sick-to-death-of-traffic road user really needs.

If the Desert Fox has piqued your interest in military grade vehicles, take a gander at www.milweb.net—apparently they are “the world’s largest and busiest military marketplace for military vehicles”. Nothing says “get the hell out of my way” quite like a tank, which is why we’d simply have to opt for one if we inadvertently won the Lotto. While owning and driving a tank on public roads might be completely illegal, such technicalities haven’t stopped a host of drivers in our laissez faire continent, thanks to the pliability of our cash-strapped authorities. Ah, Africa—the cradle of mankind. We might not have invented corruption, but we’ve certainly come close to perfecting it. And yet, this is our land—diverse, unique, challenging and exciting. If you don’t like it—well, you know the rest…

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John Smit leaves everything on the field

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A game does not end when the final whistle blows. Its impact reverberates throughout a community when the stadiums are empty. Former rugby captain John Smit, in his role as CEO of a security company, has ensured that the tournaments are alive and kicking.


As captain of the World Cup-winning Springboks in 2007, John Smit was, “Mr Right Place, Right Time”. He was the centerpiece that connected management to the players and the players to the fans.

His talents have evolved into the commercial sphere, where he now sits and curates a partnership that could save rugby and have a much more meaningful impact on the communities whose lives revolve around club rugby.

Security and maintenance company SSG Group – for which Smit is acting CEO – were, in March, named co-sponsors for the Gold Cup, a rugby tournament steeped in the blood and sweat of community involvement.

“A lot of our clientele are the mines in the North West and Limpopo area,” Smit says.

READ MORE | Bryan Habana Swaps Sweatpants For Suits

“Those communities are massively passionate about the game and we wanted to show that this company not only wanted to leave a footprint within the community using SMEs but also, we wanted to help keep a tournament alive that is quite important to a lot of them.

“It was really just to show our gratitude for the community that we were allowed to work within. I met the Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club guys a few weeks ago and rugby is really important around that mining area.

“It’s a massive part of their culture and their working environment. When this thing happened, Jorge Ferreira (SSG Group CEO) called me to get my thoughts on what this sponsorship would entail. I said to him it’s an unbelievable partnership because everyone wants to go straight to the top but this is where the real rugby starts and ends.”

Fans pack the creaky stands, making a ruckus and cheering uninhibitedly for their sons, fathers and uncles as they put their bodies through the dirt for the sheer pleasure of it.

In most communities where club rugby is played, it’s the only recreational outlet with the gravitas that pulls 12,000 people to a game, like last year’s Pirates Grand Challenge Final between Villagers Worcester and Roses United in Worcester last year.

Put into perspective, 14,000 people watched the Stormers play the Lions at Newlands in February. Goliath-eque franchise budgets were brought to size by passionate, ordinary folk.

“There was a guy that came to one of the games on horseback. There were so many people at the game that he could not see, so he watched the game on his horse to get a view,” Smit says.

You can only get that at Gold Cup games. It’s something magically unique. These people play for free, they play for the community and they play for each other.

“The games are well-supported because the communities have a vested interest in the game – their husbands, uncles, brothers, friends, cousins, employees or employers are participating in them. Everyone comes.”

The Gold Cup portfolio landed on Smit’s desk by chance. One might say there was some alchemy involved. Ferriera’s untimely death, last year, meant Smit was redeployed from shareholding company Richmark Holdings to hold the SSG fort.

When he got to Ferreira’s seat, he saw the founder’s plans for the partnership with SA Rugby were complete. The baby was in the right hands. Smit wasted precious little time and stamped the deal.

In a time of austerity, load-shedding and budget cuts, Smit saw the forest for the trees.

“I can’t take credit for that because it was the brainchild of our previous CEO,” he says.

“I am delighted that I am a part of this and that things have worked out in such a way that made it possible. This was pioneered by Jorge Ferreira and supported by two other companies (Blu Approved and M4Jam) who made it possible.

“The unique positioning, the timing of my transition into SSG, I don’t think there would have been anyone else who understood what the Gold Cup means to this country and the communities that hold it dear.

READ MORE | Super Rugby In Sin Bin

“It’s hard to quantify that commercially because it is more of an emotive vibe. These communities have passionate people who stick with the game after school. They are the backbone because they are not playing for money.”

Indeed, if it isn’t a man atop his steed looking for a glimpse of the action, it’s a “tannie” (older woman) selling boerewors rolls on the grass bank. It’s kids running freely along the touchline, collecting balls that have been kicked too long and returning them to their hometown heroes.

It’s a second and third chance at the game for players who’ve been hooved by professional rugby’s cut-throat contracting system – such as MB Lusaseni, College Rovers captain and former Lions lock. It’s a combination of all these factors that make a mineworker spend his or her free time in the hot sun, absorbing the Gold Cup.

-Sibusiso Mjikeliso

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HUGO BOSS Partners With Porsche To Bring Action-Packed Racing Experience Through Formula E

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Brought to you by Hugo Boss

HUGO BOSS and Porsche have partnered to bring an action-packed racing experience to the streets of the world’s major cities through Formula E.

Formula E is known for its fascinating races globally. The partnership will have a strong focus on the future of motorsport. In doing so the races will host a unique series for the development of electric vehicle technology, refining the design, functionality and sustainability of electric cars while creating an exciting global entertainment brand.

HUGO BOSS which boasts a long tradition of motorsports sponsorship – has been successfully engaged in the electric-powered racing series since the end of 2017.

In this collaboration, HUGO BOSS brings its 35 years of experience and expertise in the motorsport arena to Formula E, as well as the dynamic style the fashion brand is renowned for.


Alejandro Agag (Formula E CEO) and Mark Langer (HUGO BOSS CEO)

Mark Langer HUGO BOSS, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says that though they have been working successfully with motorsports over the years, he is exceptionally pleased that as a fashion brand they are taking the cooperation to new heights.

“As a fashion brand, we are always looking at innovative approaches to design and sustainability. When we first encountered Formula E, we immediately saw its potential and we are pleased to be the first apparel partner to support this exciting new motorsport series,” he says.

The fashion group is also the official outfitter to the entire Porsche motorsports team worldwide.

The fascination with perfect design and innovation, along with the Porshe and Hugo Boss shared passion for racing, inspired Hugo Boss to produce the Porsche x Boss capsule collection.

Its standout features include premium leather and wool materials presented in the Porsche and HUGO BOSS colors of silver, black and red.


Porsche x BOSS: introducing a new collaboration | BOSS

Since March, a range of menswear styles from the debut capsule collection is available online and at selected BOSS stores. In South Africa the first pieces of the capsule will come as a part of the FW 19 collection.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Formula E says he is confident that the racers will put their best foot forward on the racecourse.

“This new partnership will see the team on the ground at each race dressed with a winning mindset and ready to deliver a spectacular event in cities across the world. As the first Official Apparel Partner of the series, we look forward to seeing the dynamic style and innovation on show that BOSS is renowned for,” says Agag.


Hugo Boss x Porsche  

Oliver Blume CEO of Porsche AG says Formula E is an exceptionally attractive racing series for motorsport vehicles to develop.

“It offers us the perfect environment to strategically evolve our vehicles in terms of efficiency and sustainability. We’re looking forward to being on board in the 2019/2020 season. In this context, the renowned fashion group HUGO BOSS represents the perfect partner to outfit our team.”

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For Xolani Luvuno Its Mind Over Matter

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A story of hopelessness, drugs and crime and an athlete who conquered land and sea, on crutches. 

Xolani Luvuno will enter this year’s prestigious New York City Marathon flying the flag of South Africa, but this is no ordinary athlete; he will complete the run on crutches.

Luvuno’s story is one of hopelessness, drugs and crime, but then a life turned around in the most remarkable fashion as he became an ambassador for good; taking on, and defeating, some of the most grueling athletic pursuits on the planet. All with one leg.

Luvuno continues to defy the odds and, ahead of his journey to New York, will also compete in a full IRONMAN African Championship event, in April, which includes a 3.8km swim, a 90km bicycle ride and a 42.2km run.

That would present the mightiest of challenges for an able-bodied athlete, but Luvuno must do all of that having had his right leg amputated 11 years ago, after he developed cancer in the bone.

Xolani Luvuno’s right leg was amputated 11 years ago, after he developed cancer in the bone. Picture: Supplied

The 34-year-old has already proven his superhuman mental and physical strength after completing the 89km Comrades Marathon on crutches last year, and followed that up by completing a half IRONMAN event in East London in South Africa earlier this year.

“I started running as a distraction from the substance abuse that had gripped me earlier in my life; it focused my mind in other areas and gave me a purpose,” Luvuno tells FORBES AFRICA.

“The events are one part of it, but the training is what helped me the most. In the townships, a lot of the drinking and alcohol abuse happens over the weekend, and that is when I would go running. I would head out with my crutches in the morning, and by the time I had finished, I would just crash at home and sleep the rest of the day.

“It provided me with a new interest away from drugs and alcohol and motivated me to do something with my life. I really needed a change at the time, and running provided me with that.”

Luvuno’s teenage years were difficult. Falling into the grip of substance abuse, he ended up living under a bridge in Pretoria and spent five years in jail, having been convicted of housebreaking.

Xolani Luvuno and Hein Venter at Comrades finish. Picture: Supplied

He would beg, steal and borrow to fuel his drug habit, before his life was turned around by a chance meeting with Hein Venter, at a traffic light in 2016, who took pity on Luvuno.

Venter gave him a job in his perfume factory and it was from there that his running career was born.

“I could see his potential and I wanted him to meet new people, away from his old life. Good people, normal people who he could use as role models,” Venter says.

“We created a running club within the company and, literally overnight, two-thirds of the employees took up running. It was amazing! Xolani had his challenges, but he didn’t want to miss out and started to go out with them too.”

Venter arranged formal accommodation for Luvuno in Mamelodi and had a prosthetic leg made.

He was later sponsored with a running blade, an attachment for his leg that should have enabled him to compete with able-bodied athletes. But, as a result of the long-distances involved in marathon running, he began to develop sores and returned to running with crutches.

But his progress was incredible, and within 18 months, he was lining up in one of the world’s most famous road races, the Comrades Marathon, albeit five hours before the scheduled start of the race, completing the event in 15 hours and 50 minutes.

“I always finish a race, no matter how long it takes me, I will never quit,” Luvuno says. “I always want to push myself further, to break down new barriers. After I completed the Comrades, I needed a new challenge.

“That is when I turned to IRONMAN, though cycling and swimming were completely new to me. But after four or five months of intense training, of really hard work, I was ready.

“Now I want to complete a full IRONMAN in April, that is my next challenge, and after that, it is the New York [City] Marathon. My entry for that has been accepted, it will be an amazing experience.”

Xolani Luvuno giving motivational talks. Picture: Supplied

Luvuno’s story is an incredible tale of triumph over adversity and how, even in the depths of despair, there is always the opportunity to change the situation. He is now also a motivational speaker, mostly sharing his story with school children, many of them handicapped themselves.

“It is something I have a passion for, it allows me to give something back,” he says.

“There was a time when I was not society’s ally and I accept that, but that is in the past now and I can only look forward to the future. Maybe my story will help some youngsters gain perspective and take on the valuable lessons that I have learned.”

-Nick Said

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