WAZA – quality Japanese goods in South Africa

WAZA – quality Japanese goods in South Africa

Since my first visit to Japan for New Years 2005, it’s been a country that intrigues me. So much so that I even enrolled for Japanese language lessons for a few years in Cape Town, but I was never a good student. Such a complex language requires daily effort to master, which I unfortunately did not have.

Pine tree in Takamatsu

Pine tree in Takamatsu

The interest did not wane, however, and after two more visits in 2008 and 2014 I realised my interest requires another outlet. What was frustrating to me after each visit was the fact that very few of the quality products that permeate Japanese life were available in South Africa. We are used to many things from Japan like Japanese vehicles, pens, electronics and increasingly food, but many of its small-scale manufacturing / craftsmen industries are not represented.

Ritsuren Koen, Takamatsu

Ritsuren Koen, Takamatsu

Japan has a long and complex history and a large part of its society and economy is built on small to medium sized businesses, which often have a very narrowarea of specialisation. This is something I also learnt from reading Yoshio Sugimoto’s An Introduction to Japanese Society – the typical ‘salary man’ of Japan is not the majority group within the economically active part of society.

In 2014 I started working on an idea to establish an import and distribution business in South Africa which would focus on small quantities of high-quality Japanese goods for the house and garden. Products like hand forged secateurs, or durable notebooks and art supplies, or kitchen tools. It’s been a long road (30 months to be exact), but this weekend on 9 July 2016 my business partners and I launched our online store WAZA with a first range of products and focusing specifically on the South African market.

Every new project I work on and every new business I become involved in is a learning experience, so I welcome feedback and suggestions on this new venture, or on our products. And if Japanese tools are your thing too, feel free to contact me through the shop with any order requests!

Banshu Hamono

Banshu Hamono

WAZA055_01

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Prenegotiation in South Africa (1985 – 1993)

I love inadvertent digitisation – when something you previously only had in hard copy is suddenly available on the internet. Last year, my masters supervisor, Prof Pierre du Toit, emailed me and asked if he could nominate my MA thesis for upload to Stellenbosch University’s SUNscholar, as they are slowly updating the repository with pre-2009 theses and dissertations. The title was Prenegotiation in South Africa (1985-1993) : a phaseological analysis of the transitional negotiations (I still don’t know if ‘phaseological’ is a word).

I said yes, not only because it took me three years to write and I lost my digital copy in a late 20th century computer crash, but also because the topic of South Africa’s transitional negotiations remains relevant today, 20 years after the formation of our democracy. The thesis is now available as a downloadable PDF here.

South Africa between 1985 and 1993 was a case study in how an interplay of multiple factors – from the pressures of the global political economy, to domestic unrest and civil disobedience, to the sheer will of individual personalities – could realign a whole society towards a new future. South Africa in 2014 is in the middle of a multifaceted debate over the real gains and losses of its diverse population groups and how systemic and persistent inequalities should be addressed during a period of slow economic growth.

We tend to forget how significant and unexpected our (relatively) peaceful transition was, or what lessons we learned at the time. It might be opportune to revisit the transition and do a fresh analysis of the success factors then, to gauge their relevance for a new national compact for the next 20 years.

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Climate Change in Southern Africa and the role of universities

Climate Change in Southern Africa and the role of universities

University World News published an article on the SARUA Programme for Climate Change Capacity Development and the recently published results of the Climate Change Counts mapping study, which I project managed as part of the HEMA Consortium.

“The mapping study involved a needs analysis and an institutional assessment, focused on the higher education sector and undertaken on a country-by-country basis, bringing together information from 12 countries across a multiplicity of disciplines.

“By making the results of the mapping study available, SARUA is providing a platform for self-organised knowledge sharing and collaboration among universities on the issue of climate change,” said Piyushi Kotecha, CEO of SARUA.”

Read the article here.

Download all final reports:

Volume 1, Number 1: Knowledge Co-Production Framework

Volume 2: Country Reports

Climate Change Counts in Botswana workshop

Climate Change Counts in Botswana workshop

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