Chennai news 30 April

Ronnie Govender

I was really sad to hear of the death of Ronnie Govender possibly one of SA’s greatest authors, playwright, director and orator. The association between Ronnie and my family started in the late fifties when he began teaching in the Fosa primary school under Mr Leslie Peters. We lived at the settlement. He was my teacher in class 2. Even at that time he was very interested in staging plays and used to do so at school. I am proud to say that he chose me to act in our school play. I am not sure of the name but my role was that of the Grumbler. Later when I met with him he insisted that I call him by his name and not Sir. 

During the sixties he was a popular announcer at the Curries Fountain stadium. 

I remember once in a school that I was teaching in Chatsworth, we were short of money to conduct the annual sports meet. We contacted Ronnie and within a day he raised the money for us. I taught with his wife but not sure if it was at this school. 

Ronnie is famous for his plays like The Lanie’s Pleasure, Swami, At the Edge etc and won international accolades like the Commonwealth writers award and the English Academy medal. 

Ronnie Govender

He was so pleased to see me when I attended the staging of At The Edge in Chennai starring Leander Reddy. Although the audience did not know about Cato Manor they were however left in stitches with the performance and humorous content. 

I last met him a few years ago when he came on a visit from Capetown and there was a meeting of authors at Selvarani’s restaurant. He invited me when he heard that I was in SA. 

Although a man of the world he was quite proud of his Tamil origins and would use common Tamil words while speaking socially with friends. He had an immense knowledge of Dravidian history and politics. Go in peace Ronnie you will never be forgotten. 

Although I had heard of this documentary because of an article on Chennai girl Swati Thiyagarajan last year, I did not actually see it. However after hearing that My Octopus Teacher had won an Oscar for best documentary and that it was a South African production, I just had to watch it. I must say that I really enjoyed it. Because of my son Mahesh we are very partial to anything that involves wildlife. The story is basically the relationship that develops between Craig Foster and a young Octopus. Craig dives into these waters every day and studies an Octopus that he sees by chance. After some time a kind of bond develops between the two of them. Through Craig we learn so much about the life of an Octopus. The documentary is directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed. Foster’s wife Swathi is a filmmaker, environmentalist and journalist and served as an associate producer and production manager on this project. She is a core member of the Sea Change Project that sees to the protection of SA’s marine environment. It also won the Bafta last year. 

The Tamil film industry was saddened by the death of director KV Anand (54) who was also a cinematographer. He was famous for movies like Ayan, Kaappan, Anegan, Ko and Sivaji (where he was the cinematographer). 

I recently watched the Telugu movie Mallesham on Netflix. The movie is based in a village in Andra where the main source of income is made from weaving sarees. A son watches his mum work on the processing the yarn every day and sees how it affects her shoulder. Once the ladies cannot perform this duty then the chain is broken and the men cannot do the weaving. Mallesham decides to build a machine to do this manual work. However he is scorned by everyone in the village including his father. The story is based in the life of Chintakindi Mallesham, who invented the ASU machine that processes yarn for sarees mechanically and was then awarded the Padma Shri title. The movie is the struggle that he went through in achieving his goals. 

A big thank you to all of you who have contacted me to find out how my family and I were faring during the surge of the second wave. We are safe and try not to go out unnecessarily. In fact the only time I go out is when I take our dog for its daily walk around 10 pm. It is quiet as lockdown starts at that time but I still wear a mask. More than covid there is an acqute shortage of oxygen at the hospitals. The second wave has really caught the government unawares and the recent election rallies and large gathering at the khumb mela has added to the problem. Sunday sees the counting of the votes so hopefully celebrations will be muted by the winning candidates and their followers. 

I was quite taken aback when I heard that the SA Musicians against Covid19 site was hacked and the original administrators were blocked. This site has done so much for the music scene in SA. Happily Lexi and team are back online. I can’t imagine why anyone would attack this site however there has been a pattern of targeting musicians in the last few years by fake accounts. 

SA musicians against Covid

We just sent out our first consignment from Chennai. At the moment the parcel is with the courier company in Mumbai as they are trying to get it onto a flight to SA. Because of the lockdown most flights have been cancelled. 

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Read: Chennai News 24 April

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