Africa’s Largest City

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt

This postcard of Africa’s largest city, Cairo, comes from Asmaa who lives in Egypt. Cairo is not only the largest city in Africa but also in the Arab world and is also the capital city of Egypt. Cairo is also the 16th largest city in the world, as well as the 10th largest urban area. Cairo was first founded in 10 AD and has been a bustling city since. Today it is home to over 9 million people within its city limits and a staggering 19.5 million people in its metro. It is one of only 2 cities on the African continent (along with Algiers) that has a metro and the metro is one of the busiest in the world, with 1 billion passenger rides each year. It is truly one of Africa’s only mega-cities. Thank you Asmaa for this great postcard!

The Mountain Kingdom’s Feat

Katse Dam, Lesotho

Katse Dam, Lesotho

This great postcard of the Katse Dam in our neighbouring country of Lesotho, comes from Hape. The Katse Dam forms part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. It is a joint project between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa, that supplies water to both countries, making it Africa’s largest water transfer scheme. There is also an element of hydroelectric power generation, which is good for my coal-dependent home country. The Katse Dam, which has a surface area of 3580 hectares was Africa’s largest dam until the Tekezé dam was completed in Ethiopia in 2009. I think that was quite a feat for our tiny little neighbour. The Katse Dam was first opened in 1996 and by 1998 the reservoirs had been filled. That is one very large dam. When I think about dams filling up, I am always reminded of a not-so-bright South African politician that once said the previous government had built the dams too big, so they take longer to fill. It was argued that if the dams were smaller, they would fill up quicker and there would be more water to go around. Now, with that kind of logic in our government, all I can say is: No wonder! Thank you Hape, this is truly an awesome postcard!

My 300th Postcard

Ghana

Ghana

It just so happens that my 300th postcard comes from Chris, who is from the rare country of Ghana. It was pretty awesome to reach another milestone in my postcard collection with a rare country, just like my 100th postcard came from Luxembourg. Ghana is a country located in West Africa. The name of the country actually means “Warrior King.” The capital of Ghana is Accra. The land mass of the country is 238 535 square kilometers and has a population of 24.2 million people. The country is ranked as a lower-middle income country, which puts it far ahead of many of its other African counterparts, economically. It has the 9th largest economy on the continent, is the world’s 10th largest producer of gold and the second largest producer of cacao in the world. It was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to declare gain its independence in 1957 and has been a democratic state since 1992. On the sports front, the soccer team of the country, the Black Stars, was the flavour of the month in South Africa during the FIFA World Cup in 2010. I proudly supported the country at one of its matches in the quarter-final in Johannesburg but unfortunately Uruguay was just too tough an opponent. As a result of that soccer tournament, it is one of 2 countries’ flags that I own, along with that of Germany.  Anyway, thanks a great deal Chris!

Sunny Seychelles

Seychelles

Seychelles

Terry, the globe-trotter, who is originally from Seychelles but now lives and studies in Russia sent me this postcard from his home country on a trip there. Seychelles consists of 115 islands spanning a tiny 451 square kilometers and is home to 84 000 people. Seychelles’ economy is mostly based on tourism but the government has worked hard in order to diversify the economy somewhat into other sectors as well. Seychelles has the second highest GDP per capita of any African country (after Equatorial Guinea,) which is great, however, the income inequality that exists here means that not all people can enjoy a lifestyle of that level. At any rate, I think it’s truly a great country! Thank you Terry for the awesome postcard!

An Algerian Gift

A Gift from Khaled

A Gift from Khaled

Khaled, from Annaba, Algeria, sent me this postcard as a bonus during a swap that we arranged. It was definitely very thoughtful of him to add a bonus postcard. Since the postcard does not display a real theme about which I would traditionally write, I’m not going to indulge in that practice. So, all I will say is thank you Khaled.

A Kenyan Surprise

Mombasa, Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya

The awesome Mary surprised me with this great card of the African city that I’d most like to visit, Mombasa. Mombasa has a population of over a million people, making it the second largest city in Kenya (after the capital, Nairobi) and is a regional tourism hub. Mombasa was first founded in 900 AD and was already a trading post by 1151. That would make this beautiful Kenyan city at least 3 times older than any city in South Africa not too far South of it. Mombasa is known for its sea port, at Kilindili Harbour. The city also boasts a large cement manufacturing plant and an oil refinery capable of producing 80000 barrels per day. Other than that tourism and the boom in call centre outsourcing has also added to the diverse economy of this great city. Thank you Mary for a brilliant surprise and a wonderful postcard!

Eating Algerian-Style

Making Food in Algeria

Making Food in Algeria

These 2 postcards also come to me from Khaled in Annaba, Algeria. It should be fitting that he sends me postcards of food in Algeria, as I swapped him South African rooibos tea for these postcards. The woman at the bottom is making a sort of Algerian bread, the name of which I don’t know. Do you? If so, please comment. Algerian cuisine is a distinct mix of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern style foods. This country has seen an influence of a great number of cultures in their cuisine. These include Turkish, French and Berber foods. In Algeria, breakfasts are generally light, with pastries being eaten for lunch and dinner being eaten late at night, especially during Ramadan. Very interesting stuff to learn, especially as I know nothing about cuisine.

Annaba Map

Annaba, Algeria

Annaba, Algeria

This postcard comes to me from Khaled in Algeria and is so far my favourite postcard from his country. Annaba is the 4th largest city in Algeria and has a population of approximately 260 000 people. Annaba is also the biggest industrial centre in Eastern Algeria. Annaba was founded by the Phoenicians in the 12th Century BC and was known as Hippo Regius. The famous Augustine of Hippo was also a bishop here for 34 years during his lifetime.  Annaba is also an outrageously warm place with average daytime temperatures never falling below 16 degrees Celsius and with summer highs going as high as 48 degrees Celsius. Crazy! Thanks for a great postcard Khaled!

Alley of Baobabs

Alley of Baobabs, Madagascar

Alley of Baobabs, Madagascar

This stunning postcard comes from Rindra, who lives in Madagascar. It shows the Alley of Baobabs, which is also known as the Avenue of Baobabs. The dirt road Alley stretches for about 260 meters and has 20 – 25 baobabs along its sides. The area is being preserved by the government of Madagascar as part of an effort to make it Madagascar’s first natural monument.  The baobab tree is my favourite tree and a true symbol of Africa. So many myths and legends exist about this stunning tree. My favourite being the following: The baobab was the first tree of the forest and when the gods created the palm tree, it was jealous and wished it was taller. When the flame tree was created, the baobab cried out because it was envious of its beautiful flowers. Then came the fig tree and the baobab prayed to the gods for fruit. The gods were then so enraged that they uprooted the baobab and threw it head first into the ground, so as to keep it quiet. That is why the baobab looks like an upside down tree. Interesting, no? It is said that if a person picks a flower off a baobab, you will be eaten by a lion. So, I’m not going to try!

Oops!

Informal Settlement, South Africa

Informal Settlement, South Africa

This less than flattering view of my country was actually the first postcard I ever had. I found it while ruffling through a box of old letters to find a fellow postcard collector some used stamps from South Africa. It was given to me by Michelle, an American missionary who was here and with whom I had crossed paths on a few random occasions. She wrote me the most beautiful message and she is also one of the few people I’ve met in my lifetime that I could call a woman of God. So awesome finding this postcard when least expecting it. So, after 8 years, thank you Michelle!