Benoni, South Africa
Where to begin? My name is Wolvain (aka the Martian) ^^
I stumbled upon the Guild running around in Rift looking for a home and friends to share in fun and adventures. The first guild member I met was none other than Fog himself. He was standing at the steps on the main city and I liked the look of his character, so I took a random chance and poked for a guild invite and was greeted with open arms. Never in my life did I think I would find a gaming guild that would become such a huge part of my life and ultimately lead to becoming my family. My heart raced when I read through the guild page, designed professionally and elegantly - a true eye catcher. I then met with Jex, Jess, Izzy, Pops, Prissy and Brie, who treated me as more than just another player by showing me respect and friendship, and accepting me for who I am – a gay furry.
It’s not easy to be accepted into a gaming community that understands my way of life. Some questions were asked that brought about a very funny conversation between those who know what a furry is and those who don’t. There was also a great deal of fun giving me the title of the “Martian”, brought on through my country’s less-than-perfect network infrastructure that created so much in-game lag that it seemed I was speaking another language unheard of.
I live in South Africa- no not quite Africa, South Africa - same continent but culturally, socially and economically much more European. Our democracy is young but thriving, ever growing. Not quite on par with the rest of our friends in the Western countries but we’re getting there. Being a young country has many advantages, one of them being that citizens are open-minded, kind and accepting. Culturally diverse, full of life and beautiful - all we now need is better networking infrastructure (haha).
Before I go on delving further into the details of my country and its wonders, I wish to give a huge shout out and thanks to Fog and Pops for being there for me anytime I needed, guiding me and helping me find my way around the guild rules, site and members. You guys have always been patient with me and are loads of fun to talk to, teaching me a lot and helping me learn new things. Pops has been a bottomless source of information on more than just gaming, freely sharing his knowledge and passions.
I’d also like to make another shout out to Jex - when I started playing Guild Wars 2 I was somewhat lost and a little behind due to the game downloads taking longer than pretty much the rest of the world. Jex took the time to help me by teaching me many things and showing me around - thank you SO much.
Now we come to Jess... wow what a character. The second she learnt about my acceptance into the guild she was intrigued and showed a lot of interest in me. She peppered me with questions - where I’m from, how I became part of the community, why I sound so funny - and our friendship just grew from there. We shared in loads of in-game fun and real life stories; whenever I would log onto a raid call she would go beyond ecstatic to hear my voice and sometimes we would just take over the chatroom catching up from the last chat we shared.
Thank you for always being a beacon of light and joy Jess, you’ll always have a very special place in my heart. Lastly to Brie and Prissy, wow what can I say - fun, caring, helpful beyond words and always ready to offer an ear to gaming and even non-gaming issues.
Thanks guys, ALL of you have a special place in my heart, I don’t think of you as guildies or friends, you are my family and I’m proud to be part of yours.
You live in Africa? Wait what?
So now onto the fun stuff - time to learn about my home and what makes it so amazing. Generally what the media tells us is rife with sensationalism and negative reporting. It seems easy to lose sight of the good in life and the little things that make South Africa the magical place it is.
Let’s start with my home town Benoni, a small suburb in the part of Greater Johannesburg known as the Ekurhuleni municipality. The name Ekurhuleni means place of peace in Tsonga, one of our 11 official languages. The municipality is an important manufacturing centre in South Africa, and has been described as “the workshop of the country”. Benoni itself is built around a large lake and more on the outskirts away from the hubbub from the industries and international airport. Interestingly, Benoni has more horse stables per square kilometre than anywhere in the southern hemisphere… Who exactly did this kind of research and why is somewhat beyond me, but anyway. Benoni has one more card up its proverbial sleeve–the lovely Charlize Theron (or “Ther-on” as our American friends pronounce it) was born right here.
I’d like to take a little bit of a broader view of the country now…By looking at us on a map it would be impossible to tell that we actually have the world’s largest verified meteorite impact crater. The site is referred to as the ‘Vredefort Dome’ in honour of the town in the centre of the dome (Vredefort is an Afrikaans word meaning “Peaceful Fort” in reference to a peaceful conclusion to a territorial war in the 1800’s). It is estimated that the original crater was approximately 300km wide, caused by a meteorite about 10km across (190mi and 6.2 mi respectively) somewhere around 2.02 billion years ago. Today all that remain is concentric circles of low-lying mountains and ridges. It is in these mountains that South Africa’s rich deposits of gold, coal, diamonds and uranium are found. The Dome is a UNESCO World Heritage site as of 2005. Apart from the geological interest, the actual area is incredible and worthy of exploring. I’ve attached some photos a friend took over December at a little place called Schoemansdrif next to the Vaal River – in the heart of the Vredefort Dome:
As you can see – summer in the Southern Hemisphere! Apart from a skirmish with a mud crab and assaults by thousands of caddisflies, the photographer returned to the city unscathed.
Now onto a little more social fun...
Recently a group of friends (furries) decided to go to a resort for a small meet to relax, enjoy nature and probably get drunk (well them at least –I don’t drink but certainly get a kick out of watching them fall over one another). Our chosen location was Roodeplaat Dam, a large nature reserve to the North East of Pretoria. We unpacked at a nice spot at the border of the lake, a peaceful place where we can get away from city life and just enjoy the comfort or nature; also considering it being summer here it’s nice to get out into an open landscape to cool off.
We were barely there when it started raining. But that was not a problem. Not at all. There is no comparison to the beauty of what we saw. Standing on the shore, watching the storm roll in over the lake… breaks in the clouds letting through streaks of sunshine in defiance of the downpour… and then we saw the incredible. A perfect double rainbow, in its entirety… all 180 degrees. I don’t remember ever seeing this in my life. No-one even spoke much. We watched it until it faded into nothingness.
It was nice to stand on the edge of the shore in the rain enjoying the beauty nature has to offer. Not many people do that these days, most would rather run for shelter rather than enjoy the feel of the drops on your face, the view of the fog it created over the dam and the drops hitting the water just goes to show that this world has more to offer than just sadness and destruction.
After the rain had subsided it started to darken. Myself and two enthusiastic exploring friends decided to go for a nice long walk and see what awaits in the bushes. After losing some track of time we decided to head back to camp. On the way back we came across a strange sight: a cactus that decided to call a tree home, growing up its branches into probably the biggest cactus I’ve ever seen… The unlikely symbiosis gave the tree a very unique look:
On our way home from this remarkable trip we stopped to see one final sight, as we came across some Zebras (or as you Western friends like to call them Zee-bra). This brought about the best riddle to date, are they black horses with white stripes or white horses with black stripes?
Shall we move onto more modern social experiences now?
The following weekend myself and my best friend took a trip to rAge.
rAge is a local technology and gaming expo that takes place annually. Think Africa’s E3 and you know exactly what rAge is all about. The NAG LAN hosted at the expo is the largest continuous gathering of gamers playing nonstop for 53 hours in Africa, with up to 2500 gamers connected to the same network and sharing petabytes of data. The expo itself exhibits the latest technology and computer hardware including exclusive previews to unreleased games and systems, and many of the exhibitors sell some incredible geek stuff such as figurines, comic books, art and related kit. This is of course a perfect opportunity for the attendees to dress up as their favorite game characters – cosplay!
And of course… any convention wouldn’t be complete without a group of furries invading it... yes we are everywhere >.<
Most recently we met again to attend Geekfest, an outdoor convention catering more to the geeky among us and not as much to the computer nerd. This was also the first time this convention was held in South Africa. The theme was definitely cosplay and tabletop games, but we had a good look at a few 3D printers in action – what a remarkable breakthrough in technology.
There was also a medieval centre displaying battle-ready armor and weaponry. We sat on the grass and watched a couple of skilled warriors engaging in battle with and competing in an authentic medieval game of running of the sheep’s bladder from one goal to the other and trying to avoid the armored opponents trying to take you down.
Yet again we were entertained by people dressing up for cosplay but what stood out the most for me was an adorable sight – I’d say more, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves ^^
The paint used was a clever base of water and powder and therefore not harmful to the adorable little puppy who’s only real pain was the heat. If memory serves correctly, the owner spent most of his time stationed by the water outlet with the pup’s bowl.
To wrap things up…
Thus we come to the end of my simple life down in the South tip of Africa. I hope you all enjoyed reading this article as much as myself and my dear friend Wolfers enjoyed writing/editing it!
I leave you with this final piece:
“Life is short, live it, love it and enjoy it to the fullest; we only get this chance once and have to make the most of it. Share in the joy you experience with others, don’t hold it back - the world has enough greed and hate filling it so let’s add a little of the opposite and we will have taken the first steps into making this a better place for us all.”
The above rings true for our amazing leader Fog, who ignores the rabble of rules guilds demand, and thus goes against all gaming law to make his own guild for those rejected by the rules and demands of others. This all resulted in the creation of one of the largest guilds I’ve ever seen - a place of peace, happiness and fun, oh and of course adventures... like bridge diving without ropes in Guild Wars 2 :D We love you Fog, and we’ll follow you anywhere... literally >.<
Thank you all for being part of this with me and for taking me in, giving me a place I can call home and a sanctuary, I’ve shared in your joys and sorrows and I regret none of it. I look forward to the future of this guild and the gaming community ever growing!
*hugs all round*