9-Year-Old Boy Marries Woman 53 Years His Senior, for the Second Time

Nine-year-old Saneie Masilela has managed to accomplish something that probably no other kid his age has ever done – he’s been married twice! And as if that wasn’t shocking enough, his bride is old enough to be his grandmother.

Saneie has married 62-year-old Helen Shabangu twice in the span of one year. The second wedding ceremony was recently held at the bride’s home in Ximhungwe, in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. As the highly unusual couple exchanged vows for the second time, 100 wide-eyed guests watched on in utter bewilderment.

Saneie, the youngest of four children, belongs to the nearby town of Tshwane. His first wedding to Helen took place last year at his parents’ home, after he claimed that his dead ancestors had ordered him to marry her. While most parents would brush away such claims from a little boy, Saneie’s parents actually took him seriously. They hurriedly contacted the bride, paid her $800 as dowry and spent over $1,500 on the arrangements.

Sanele-Masilela-wedding

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South African Homeless Man Refuses to Beg, Makes a Living by Selling Books on the Pavement

Philani Dladla, a homeless man living on the streets of Johannesburg, is probably the last person you’d expect to be a bookworm. Yet, the 24-year-old is quite a voracious reader. And instead of begging like other homeless people, he has chosen to make a living by reviewing and selling books.

South African director and cinematographer Tebogo Malope played a tremendous part in bringing Philani’s unique and inspiring story to the world. Malope, 29, recorded an interview with Philani called the ‘Pavement Bookworm’; the videos have gone viral since he put them up online last year.

The two-part interview features Philani speaking about the books he has read and why he likes them – the man is so full of infectious joy as he discusses his love of reading. His sense of passion and appreciation of books is extremely rare, especially for someone who leads a difficult life. Philani seems unfazed by his own living conditions, he only wants to tell the world how great it is to read.

pavement-bookworm

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Izhikhothane – South Africa’s Bizarre Money-Burning Sub-Culture

Izikhothane, which loosely translates to ‘brag it’, is a South African subculture of youths who dress themselves in designer clothes they can barely afford. They arrive in minivans at public spots and participate in elaborate dance-offs against rival gangs. During these performances, they indulge in burning wads of cash, destroying their clothes and spilling expensive food and alcohol on the streets. Why, you ask? To show off, obviously.

“To be Izikhothane, you have to be like us. Buy expensive clothes, booze, fame, girls, driving, spending. And when you are dressed in Italian clothing it shows that you’re smart,” said one gang member. In a nation where almost 50 percent of youths are unemployed, this sort of blatantly extravagant act is rather surprising. Most of the Izikhothane are funded by their working class parents with modest incomes.

There’s also a huge generation gap between these youths and their parents. Most of the Izikhothane belong to a generation that grew up after the end of white minority rule, unlike their parents. According to one kid, “Being born free means we can shop where we want and the country is no longer under oppression. We can express our views without being imprisoned.” Some use the extravagance as a means to escape their poverty, and for others it is just a culture of bling.

Izikhothani

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You Can Win $1 Million Playing on the World’s Most Extreme Golf Course, But You’ll Need a Helicopter

The Legend Golf and Safari Resort is truly, well, legendary. The one-of-a-kind golf course is located in South Africa’s north-eastern Limpopo Province, nestled within the 22,000 hectare Entabeni Game Reserve. It is the longest par 72 golf course in the world, and of course safe from all the wildlife. It is also the only one with all 19 holes individually designed by golf legends like Trevor Immelman, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, among others. There’s a tribute course too, made up of perfect replicas of nine of the best par 3’s in the world.

But the thing that makes Legend Golf and Safari Resort really special is the hole that everyone comes to play – the Xtreme 19th. It is believed to be the longest, highest and most dramatic par 3 in the world. The hole itself is 587 meters away from the tee-off box and if you manage to hit a hole-in-one, you are guaranteed a special price of US $1 million. But, truth be told, you’d probably have a better chance of winning the lottery.

To get a shot at the prize money, you first need to take a helicopter ride to the tee box, which is high up a cliff on Hanlip Mountain. Standing up there could make you feel like you really are at the edge of South Africa. The tee box is 430 meters above the green (shaped like the African continent), providing a breathtaking panoramic background and plenty of leverage as well. As soon as you reach the high ground, you are handed six balls equipped with tracking devices and then you are welcome to try your luck.

extreme-golf-course

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South African Pastor Tells Congregation to Eat Grass to Be Closer to God

Pastor Lesego Daniel, of Rabboni Centre Ministries, is a highly unusual person. In order to be closer to God, the South African preacher is encouraging his congregation to eat grass. He also tramples on them for added effect.

The pastor is said to have claimed that humans can eat anything they choose to sustain themselves. When he put up pictures of the grass-eating event on Facebook, he faced severe criticism from thousands of people across the world. Rabboni Centre Ministries is now a trending topic on social media. But none of that has bothered Mr. Daniel’s followers; they defend their pastor and swear by his methods.

eating-grass

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Dancing with Death – The Train Surfers of Soweto

There’s no sea in Johannesburg so the poor young men from the inner city of Soweto get their kicks by surfing high-speed commuter trains. This dangerous pastime has claimed many lives throughout the years, but despite several initiatives to put a stop to it, train surfing remains pretty popular.

South Africa is considered the birth place of train surfing, with reports of people performing stunts on top of moving train cars dating back to the early 1980s. From here, the extreme hobby spread all around the world, from Brazil, to Germany and Russia, but Johannesburg remains unique through its variety of styles. The most common and least dangerous form of train surfing involves climbing on top of a car, jumping off as it starts moving and climbing back on again while it’s in motion. Then there is side surfing, with the wannabe stuntmen running alongside the train on the passenger platform as his friends keep the door open, or swinging out the door when the train passes through a tunnel and running on the walls. Another one has daredevils get under the train while it’s moving and kicking the gravel with their legs. But the most lethal of all is surfing on top of the train while trying to dodge power cables and bridges. All the different moves have names like Matrix, 2020, Gravul or Svandals.

train-surfing

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A Gap in Style – Front Teeth Removal Is Trendy among South African Youth

It’s rare for fashion trends to last as long as 60 years. But this one tradition has never gone out of style among generations of youth in Cape Town and other regions of South Africa – dental modification. It sounds odd, but the South African youngsters actually like to sport toothless smiles, after getting their front teeth removed. Dressed mostly in baggy sweaters and caps drawn low over shiny sunglasses, the gummy smile is unique to these young South Africans who like to strike gangster poses. According to 21-year-old Yazeed Adams, “It is fashion, everyone has it.” The trend is often referred to as the ‘Cape Flats Smile’. The name comes from a populous neighborhood where this bizarre body modification is done by a large number of teens. But Jacqui Friedling of the University of Cape Town’s human biology department, who studied the phenomenon in 2003, says that she found fashion and peer pressure to be the main reasons for removing teeth, followed closely by medical reasons and gangsterisms. “It is the ‘in’ thing to do,” she says. “It went through a wave, it was fashionable in my parents’ time.” True enough, the practice has been around for at least 60 years now. Traditionally, dental modification such as filling of teeth and ornamentation was found only in tribal people. In modern Cape Town, it is seen as a rite of passage for teenagers, most often from the poorer families. Some stories say that the tradition started from the fisherman, who couldn’t communicate with each other on boats. So they created the ‘gap whistle’ as an effective means of communication. The men today feel their ‘gaps’ attract women, and vice versa.

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Sleazy Avatar-Themed Nightclub Opens in South Africa

Somehow I thought Avatar-themed nightclubs would be kind of cool, but recently opened Avastar (I know, right?) proves they can be sleazier than you ever imagined.

Judging by the success of James Cameron’s Avatar movie, it was only a matter of time before someone used his fantasy world as nightclub theme. Only I think anyone could have done a much better job of it than Mike Basson, a South African entrepreneur who looks like one of the gangster Guy Richie uses in his movies. He came up with the “brilliant” name “Avastar” for his new nightclub in Rivonia, South Africa’s version of Las Vegas, slapped cheesy artworks of nude Na’Vi women on the walls, and described his idea as a mind-blowing combination of nature and technology. It’s also got some fancy chandeliers supposed to look like the Tree of Life and some fire-spitting volcanoes, fog machines and lasers, LEDs, pretty everything an Avatar fan dreams of finding in a nightclub themed after their favorite movie.

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The Iconic Goat Tower of Fairview

The Fairview Wine and Cheese farm in South Africa is famous for more than just its wine and cheese. Owned and run by Charles Back, it houses a unique monument built for the comfort and use of the farm’s goats – The Goat Tower. Acknowledging the fact that goats love to climb, sometimes even up on livestock, to get a better view, Back first got the idea of the tower some thirty years ago.

The tower, a first of its kind, is built of brick and mortar, and consists of a steep metal roof. It also has a spiral staircase made of wood, and windows too. The goats in Fairview farm have the privilege of climbing the two-story tower at will, resting within it. Since 1981, the tower has become a symbol of the winery, so much so that they produce a wine called “Goats do Roam”. The goat tower is by far, the first known to be built with such a purpose in mind. However, according to Back, the tower was inspired by a similar one his parents had seen during a vacation in Portugal. As a result of that trip the farms first goats were purchased, and the tower built.

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