Recently, the first ever grassroots study took place into mashonisas and how they operate. The research revealed some pertinent and unexpected insights.
While the vast majority of the middle classes might simply dismiss South Africa’s unregulated lenders as criminals or crooks, that’s not the view everyone in the country is willing or can afford to take.
Although we know that unregulated ‘loan sharks’ or ‘mashonisas’ have been operating in South Africa’s townships and informal communities for many years, very little was known about the extent of their lending or the role they play.
Recently, the first ever grassroots study took place into mashonisas and how they operate. The research, conducted by the research and analytics consultancy Eighty20 on behalf of the short-term loan provider Wonga, revealed some pertinent and unexpected insights.
Mashonisas are much more widespread than first thought
One of the study’s more surprising findings was just how widespread the phenomenon of the mashonisa is. In recent years, the short-term lending market has contracted in South Africa following tighter lending criteria brought in by amendments to the National Credit Act in 2015. While this reduced access to formal credit for many South Africans, the need for quick cash loans remains. This has enabled mashonisas to flourish.
The study found there are now approximately 40,000 mashonisas operating in South Africa, which is many more than first thought. That means there’s an estimated 1 mashonisa for every 100 people who live in the townships and informal communities.
Mashonisas are not all criminals
The pervading view of mashonisas is one of crooks and criminals who bully and intimate borrowers and charge extortionate rates on loans. The research found that this is not always the case. In fact, mashonisas are often valued figures in their communities who can be of any age, any gender and from many different walks of life.
One of the few similarities mashonisas seem to share is the fact that at some point in their lives, they have found themselves with a surplus of money, often from a redundancy or pension payment. This has allowed them to set themselves up as money lenders, with many seeing it as a viable career choice.
Mashonisas fill a gap in the lending market
The research found that one of the reasons why mashonisas are so popular is not simply because they provide access to credit for those who might not be able to find it elsewhere. In fact, many of the borrowers who were interviewed said they use loans from mashonisas to complement existing lending from regulated sources.
The main reason for their popularity is the type of loans they provide. These are quick cash loans, usually for small amounts of between R500 and R1,000. As the mashonisa is embedded in the local community, there is no travelling required to access the loan and the money can be in the borrowers’ pockets in minutes. The pricing structures applied, with 30-50 percent interest charged on loans regardless of the amount or term, are also very easy to understand.
Given this simplicity, while many might be quick to bemoan the rise of the mashonisa, until regulated short-term lenders come up with a viable alternative, this form of lending looks set to soar.
Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Holland America Line Launch Fantastic Fresh Fish Program
This news is so fresh and fabulous!
Holland America Line’s “Fresh Fish Ambassador,” was on hand and in the kitchen as he brought his signature style to curated dishes. Guests at the lavish affair were served in the ships’ special dishes that will in Dining Rooms this fall, as well as in a new pop-up restaurant available fleetwide by early 2024.
At the party the program that showcases Morimoto’s dishes was on full display and provided delicious tastes that were mastered to perfection.
Delectable creations that will be on menus for a supplemental charge fleetwide include “Fresh Black Cod Yuzu,” “Morimoto Epice Lobster Tails” and “Fresh Halibut XO.”
“Embarking on this type of culinary journey at sea is a first for me, and I am excited to bring my passion for fresh fish and fresh ingredients onto Holland America Line’s fleet,” said Chef Morimoto. “I chose to partner with Holland America Line because we share a commitment and passion for fresh and regionally inspired foods, and you will see that come to life in the special dishes and pop-up experience we’ve created together.”
Fresh Black Cod Yuzu is made with yogurt miso pickle vegetables, kimchi eggplant, fried rice and garlic soy; Morimoto Epice Lobster Tails with lemon foam, seasonal vegetables and Morimoto Epice; and Fresh Halibut XO with Asian vegetables, dried shrimp and scallop XO sauce. Each one is dynamic and creates an elevated culinary experience.
The pioneering initiative engages a global network of 60 ports to source and serve 80 types of fresh fish on board in all restaurants, going from port to plate in less than 48 hours. As the first cruise line to serve 100% fresh, certified sustainable Alaska seafood on board its ships in Alaska, Holland America Line is now taking fresh fish worldwide. Under the new program, the cruise line will offer guests fresh fish and ingredients native to various regions, yielding destination-inspired menus and local specialties that tell the story of each itinerary through cuisine.
The ‘Morimoto by Sea’ pop-up is set to be featured on every ship beginning in November. Holland America Line guests can indulge in a full Chef Morimoto experience with an exclusive pop-up restaurant: “Morimoto by Sea.” The restaurant and its menu of artfully presented dishes and beverages will take over Tamarind or Pinnacle Grill, depending on the ship, at least once per cruise. Offered to guests for a $55 per person cover charge, the experience will include a multi-course menu, along with vegetarian and vegan selections.
Additionally, an evening at “Morimoto by Sea” is a multi-course dinner that celebrates the fresh fish program with inspired cuisine for a broad range of palates. “Morimoto by Sea” also showcases Chef Morimoto’s exclusive alcoholic beverages including Morimoto Brut Rosé and Sake Junmai Morimoto that complement his fresh dishes. The pop-up restaurant will be open fleetwide by early 2024.
‘Morimoto by Sea’ menu items include a Sushi Plate: (Vegetarian can be requested.) Nigiri with salmon, hamachi, hotate, maki with ebi tempura, Dungeness California, salmon shikai maki; Morimoto Fresh Tuna Pizza: Anchovy aioli, kalamata olive, red onion, jalapeno for appetizers. Main courses are such a Crispy Fried Whole Market Fresh Fish: Sweet spicy chili sauce, pickle vegetables; Ishiyaki Buri Bop: Fresh Pacific yellowtail on rice, cooked at the tableside in a hot stone bowl; and Shrimp Three Way “Morimoto Style:” Tempura, panko, arare-age, tartar, tonkatsu and gochujang sauce.
There is also an incredible Alcoholic Beverage program (by bottle & glass) with the fantastic sample selections of Morimoto Brut Rosé, Sake Junmai Daiginjo Morimoto, and more.
Full details about the global fresh fish program can be found at https://www.hollandamerica.com/en/us/onboard-experiences/dining/fresh-fish.
For more information about Holland America Line, consult a travel advisor, call 1-877-SAIL HAL (877-724-5425) or visit hollandamerica.com.
Photos courtesy Holland America Line
Travel: Chasing Waterfalls at The Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap encompasses nearly 70,000 acres of breathtaking scenery along 40 miles of the Delaware River, which winds through the Appalachian Mountains. It encompasses both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is a wonderful day trip from New York City.
Silver Thread Falls is a waterfall that is passed on the way to see Dingmans falls. It is also located in upper Pennsylvania less than 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from Dingmans Falls via the boardwalk. This waterfall very steep, it has a drop of about 80 feet (24 m) with a narrow channel constructed by prominent rock-joints faces. The volume of flow is much less than of Dingmans Falls.
Dingmans Falls is the second highest waterfall in the state of Pennsylvania with a plunge of 130 feet (40 m). It is located at the northern end of the park. There is a beautiful boardwalk that leads you to the base of the Waterfall where you can see the 80-foot (24 m) cascading drop. This boardwalk is roughly 0.5 miles (0.80 km) long and only takes you to the base of the fall. the broad walk include the sites of Dingmans Falls and Silverthread Falls. You can continue on up a series of stairs to the waterfall and see the entire 130-foot (40 m) plunge from the birds eye view. The best time to go see this waterfall is about 24 hours after a good rain then it will be flowing fast a steady. This is most known waterfall of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Park.
Buttermilk Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls of New Jersey. A dirt road (closed to vehicles in the winter) goes past its base. A series of steps lead to observation platforms further up the waterfall, which is nearly 100 feet (30 m) high. A trail continues eastward from the topmost platform, reaching the Appalachian Trail, about 1,100 feet (340 m) higher in elevation than the base of the falls, in about 1.4 miles (2.3 km). The waterfall is near the north end of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in New Jersey.
Factory Falls located on the George W. Childs Park Trail in Pennsylvania, it follows Dingmans Creek so you are very close to Dingmans falls. The Brooks Family ran a woolen mill from 1823 to 1832 next to this fall, the remains of the mill can be seen next to the fall. You will take a single path through the woods that runs on both sides of the creek that is roughly 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length. This waterfall is the first one in a set of three that is on this traill. Factory Falls drops twice and makes a 90 degree turn with the creek.
Fulmer Falls is the second waterfall you will see on the George W. Childs Park Trail in Pennsylvania right after Factory Falls. This fall is 56 feet (17 m) tall and is the largest in George W. Childs Park. This waterfall has a unique feature of falling in a semi-circular basin of rock and then flowing downstream. The base of this waterfall is not accessible unless the fence is jumped, this is not prohibited.
The third last fall of the trail of George W. Childs Park is Deer Leap Falls. There is a bridge over top of the falls that gives it a very majestic look. The fall itself can be seen from all sides well including above because the bridge allows site-seers to walk on top of the fall. There is a very large wide shallow pool at the bottom of the fall, swimming and wading are not permitted. However this does not stop a lot of people from getting into the water for a selfie. The walk back is about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) before the parking area is back in view.
There are eight waterfalls in and more than 2 miles (3.2 km) of trail for these 300 acres (120 ha) located in Pennsylvania also near the top of Delaware Water Gap National Recreational park. The drop of the main fall of Bushkill Falls is about 100 feet (30 m). While the drop from the first falls to the bottom of the lower gorge is about 300 feet (91 m). This set of falls is on privately owned land, and has an admission charge. They are advertised with the slogan “The Niagara of Pennsylvania”.
Raymondskill Falls are a series of three cascading waterfalls located on Raymondskill Creek in Pike County, Pennsylvania that is the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania. The three tiers of Raymondskill Falls have a combined height of approximately 150 feet (46 m).
And last is Van Campens Glen Falls is the terminus of the Lower Van Campens Glen trail hike near Walpack, NJ. The top of the falls features a deep, large pool that cascades down a slanted rock face. The areas surrounding the upper pool require extreme caution as this area has been responsible for numerous accidents and deaths in years past. The trail itself features a densely covered hemlock ravine that hosts various delicate plants and species of wildlife. The root systems at the base of many of the hemlocks have been damaged due to high foot traffic in the area. This, in addition to storm damage and a lack of funding, has led the National Park Service and Department of the Interior to close the Lower Van Campens Glen trail indefinitely, due to public hazard, as of Spring 2019.
Expect to walk at least a mile and climb stairs, but the serenity and the beauty can not be surpassed.
Travel: Millbrook Village a Town Long Forgotten
Millbrook Village, is a part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area In 1832, a local farmer built a grist mill along the newly-finished Columbia-Walpack Turnpike where it crossed “Van Campens Mill Brook.” By 1875, this one building grew into a small community calling itself ‘Millbrook’. One family began the community, but by its peak in 1875, the town had reached a population of 75 people and had about 19 major buildings like houses, barns, a church, and workshops.
Taking a walk back in time. Millbrook Village represents what life was like in the mid-1800’s. On select weekends, volunteers bring the town to life by demonstrating the skills of the day, including woodworking, weaving, spinning, blacksmithing, gardening, and more.
Millbrook also serves as the trailhead for the Orchard Trail, Coventry Pond Trail, and the Donkey’s Corner Trail. When you finish your hike or need a break from exploring Old Mine Road, there is a picnic area with tables to enjoy a lunch and take in the scenery. The Village is open from dawn to dusk.
Stratford Festival Non-Verbalizes a Powerfully Moving Frankenstein Revived
Marcus Nance as The Creature and Charlie Gallant as Doctor Victor Frankenstein with Laura Condlln as Mary Shelley in Frankenstein Revived. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.
A large circle of light takes over the back wall with a vengeance, highlighting a darkly clad woman in a full-length period dress rising up as if lifted by her own legendary Elements. She is, in fact, the famous author, Mary Shelley, played hypnotically by the actor Laura Condlln (Shaw’s Casey and Diana), leading us through the unpacking of her Frankenstein. The billowing of her gown, courtesy of the fine work done by costume designer Dana Osborne (Stratford’s Chicago), emphasizes the sway she has in the room, and the high Romantic idealism that takes over Stratford’s Avon Theatre. From the moment this intellectual study of movement and art brilliantly combine to unpack the tale of its Romantic hero, or anti-hero, the story is hers to tell, yet in Morris Panych’s dynamic and powerful rendition, purposefully called Frankenstein Revived, the words she once used to tell the story of the doomed scientist who dared to wrestle with Death and the unknown, has been taken away from her, and it is only through the framework of all those magnificent contoured bodies in motion that the story we know and love unwraps itself before us. Wordlessly.
A trap door center-stage opens, and the bedeviled story rises up and crawls out, ready and able to contort itself in shadows and light spectacularly and monstrously. Created with exacting elegance and sharply defined formulations by creator and director Panych (Stratford’s Wanderlust), Frankenstein Revived expands the limits of the known theatre world, filling in the spaces that are usually held by the spoken word, with unfathomable movement so well defined that the poetry we associate with Shelley and her brooding literary masterpiece somehow feel unneeded, and actually unwanted. The electric motions of the exceptional black-clad Elements (listed below) flow through their muscular frames with an unspoken force, thanks to movement choreographer Wendy Gorling (Stratford’s Moby Dick) and dance choreographer Stephen Cota (Grand’s Mary Poppins), populating the space with their energy and sharp focus. It’s almost too captivating to take in, as these forms sensually and powerfully flow in with such elegance and determination.
Biting into the apple of knowledge with a dark curiosity, the fantastically powerful Dr. Frankenstein, embodied most handsomely and hypnotically by Charlie Gallant (Stratford’s Richard II), rises up from the fog and ushers forth this emotionally exuberant piece of theatre and movement. He’s stunningly sensual in his madness and manners, forever guided by the presence of the tumultuous morality of Mary Shelley, portrayed solidly by the quill-holding Laura Condlln (Stratford’s Casey and Diana). Like the woman herself, who had an insatiable desire to question the origins of our life force, the piece is daring and provocative. She stands above and just beyond with an unmistakable force, leading us all through the dark spaces like a magician, designed impeccably by set designer Ken MacDonald (Soulpepper’s Parfumierie), and lit most gorgeously by lighting designer Kimberly Purtell (Stratford’s Hamlet) with a strong finely composed sound design by Jake Rodriguez (ACT’s Fefu and Her Friends) unpacking the compelling music by David Coulter (The Black Rider).
The story unfolds hypnotically, as we watch the doctor ride the rotating train of knowledge through the landscape of long-held scientific beliefs and assumptions concerning the power of God, the natural force of life, and the unknown limits of the human mind. The drama unfolds with precision and an expertise that astounds, even when the sometimes thoughtful, sometimes overwrought set pieces, symbolizing nerve systems as trees feel a tad clunky rolling in and rolling out from the wings. I entered hesitantly, wondering if the story would captivate without the use of the spoken word, but as the blood majestically flows down from the heavens into the body of The Creature, embodied by the powerful Marcus Nance (Broadway’s Jesus Christ Superstar), brought to life through the currents of electricity. Unlike the horrified Doctor, who recoils and hides at first from his self-created monster, the story rises up fascinatingly, much like the slowly evolving monster, making us lean in with awe and take surprising notice of the tale revived.
Frankenstein Revived climbs mountains with those intricately arranged bodies as obstacles, dynamically racing forward with torches aggressively ignited in search of what the townsfolk all fear. The second act feels less precise, but more complex in its storytelling ideals as the moving tale travels forth powerfully to the beautiful bitter end ever so forcibly like a black-and-white graphic novel lifting itself up from the page. The boundless story is told almost obsessively, dramatically bounding over the limits of what we know of the gothic tale and the desired framework with ballet-like precision – huge kudos to the Elements, who really move and shape the piece magnificently at every turn and junction. Shelley holds tight to her glorious deadly monster, guiding the story with a grave studied interest as the Michelangelo fingers touch, igniting the whole theatre with its uncompromised spark of expansiveness and creativity. It’s a passionate piece of storytelling, climbing mountains of expectations with a worldless movement that astounds. Don’t hold back from engaging in this experience. Put down the novel (that I can’t wait to read for the first time), and get yourself to the Stratford Festival to see imagination and skill unbounded by preconceived notions come alive with force on that Avon Theatre stage. It really is something that must be seen and experienced. No words can really explain its monstrous beauty.
For more information and tickets, go to https://www.stratfordfestival.ca
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Introducing DJ Milica, The Hottest New Producer on the Electronic Scene
Within the booming deejaying scene, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more daring and innovative presence than the burgeoning mononymous mixmaster, DJ Milica, who has been dominating the UK and Southern European club scene. From her distinct house beats to her deep-rooted connection to the Ibiza club scene, it’s evident that DJ Milica is here to stay.
Between being a globetrotting DJ, producer, and mom, it’s hard to believe that Milica Mazzoncini has taken a full breath in the last four years. More commonly known as the mononymous moniker ‘DJ Milica,’ Mazzoncini initially entered the music industry nearly 15 years ago as a writer and producer, but found herself gravitating toward Europe’s booming DJ landscape while residing in Tulum, Mexico with her daughter and partner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a now-multi hyphenate mainstay of electronic music, the DJ has found her recent years of success to be somewhat of a whirlwind. “Even places that refused to book DJs before the pandemic are now starting to host in-house entertainment,” Mazzoncini said. “Whether it’s restaurants, lounges, or hotels, opportunities for DJs like me have absolutely skyrocketed throughout the past year and a half. This lifestyle is definitely not for the faint of heart.”
For Milica, the idyllic shores of Ibiza have proven to be the perfect backdrop for the launch of her emerging career as a DJ, allowing her to rub shoulders with the likes of German producer and label owner Matthias Tanzmann, as well as the iconic American house music duo, The Martinez Brothers, who have similarly managed to carve out their careers on the Mediterranean outpost. Alongside the Martinez Brothers, Mazzoncini also credits her long-time friend, British DJ and label owner, Nic Fanciulli.
“I feel so lucky to have had so many talented people help me to hone my craft,” Mazzoncini said. “Between Ibiza, Miami, and New York, I’ve encountered some of the best people and crowds by being my authentic self and sharing my passion for electronic music. Watching people jump up and down to my songs and live mixes means everything to me.”
Whether traveling stateside or working on the other side of the globe, DJ Milica has encountered her fair share of challenges within her newfound career, but has nevertheless managed to find purpose in the hurdles.
“Even within the past few years, there has been a massive transformation within the DJ scene in regard to women professionally deejaying at clubs. It’s not only the music itself — our presence has been missing at the forefront of electronic music for too long, and I think it really needed a flux of strong women coming in and contributing their talents to the scene to create this change. It’s an honor getting to work alongside them and witness this in real time.”
Citing London’s infamous E1 nightclub and Ibiza’s Destino as being amongst her favorite live performance venues, Mazzoncini is now looking forward to conquering the globe with her newest mixes, this time under the latest facet of her career as a producer. Her two most recent productions, Somebody At Space and Bad Room, both come from her forthcoming EP, and have already been played in sets by renowned Italian DJ Marco Carola and the UK’s Nic Fanciulli.
When asked what motivates her to keep pursuing an often tiring career path, Milicia’s answer is simple: sheer passion. “Above all, I would advise new DJs to be almost doggedly persistent in their pursuit of opportunities. Patience is your friend, but your passion for the music will continue to carry you when the ‘trendiness’ of DJing wears off, and it’s time to get down to work. Always be ready to jump into the booth, because your next biggest success could be just around the corner, I promise.”
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