Dr Denise Bjorkman: Shrinking Brains in the Digital Age
9 May 2019
Dr Denise Bjorkman has conjoint careers as a behavioural scientist, political scientist, genetic profiler and legal scholar (international law). All contribute to her work. As CEO of the Neuro Business Institute (NBI) she lectures and consults in 19 countries on practical applications of neuroscience in leadership, forensic profiling, woman’s development and upward mobility to the C Suite. She is recognised as a global authority on ‘body language’ and is an opinion leader on major global television networks on current affairs, politics and criminal trials.
Her clients include heads of state, diplomats, captains of industry and women who aspire to higher levels of achievement. Partnering with neuroscience laboratories her team is examining the impact of the digital world, social media, touch screens, the internet and laptops on overall health, mental health, memory, work and school work performance. Denise is a mentor to music educators who wish to learn and apply the findings of Oliver Sacks.
Rusty Labuschagne: Breaking Chains
9 April 2019
Rusty delivers a dramatic account of his transformational experience of 10 harrowing years under horrendous conditions in Zimbabwe’s prisons. In 2003, the successful self -made businessman, who flew his own aircraft and had a fishing resort on Lake Kariba, was wrongfully convicted of drowning a poacher. He speaks eloquently about being subjected to conditions most people would find unendurable, having to dig deep within himself to find solutions to an unbearable situation. His resilience, positive mental attitude, lessons in forgiveness, gratitude and humility are an unparalleled inspiration.
Carmen Warmenhove: The Cheetah Rehabilitation Programme at Welgevonden Game Reserve
12 March 2019
Carmen qualified in 2013 with a BTech in Game Ranch Management through NMMU (Now NMU - Nelson Mandela University), at the Addo and George (Saasveld) Campuses. She developed a passion for cheetahs while working with wild and captive ones through managing volunteer programmes on game reserves in the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape.
After working for over a year for a tour company in the city of Port Elizabeth, she made the move up to the Waterberg, Limpopo to take up the position as Assistant Research and Volunteer Coordinator at the Research Camp in Welgevonden Game Reserve in winter 2017.
Here Carmen helps manage the volunteer, student and research programme where they mainly get groups of international students out to help with their research and conservation work while giving them hands-on experience in the running of a South African game reserve.
She has a devoted interest in cheetah conservation but is also interested in other, especially smaller wild cat species with a particular interest in the use of camera-traps as a tool to help monitor these animals, a method she will be using for a Masters she will be starting this year.
Rohan Quince: Shakespeare
12 February 2019
Rohan Quince grew up in Johannesburg and was educated at Bryanston Primary and King Edward VII Schools. He has spent the last forty-odd years teaching at high schools and universities in South Africa and the United States. He is the author of Shakespeare in South Africa: Stage Productions during the Apartheid Era. He now devotes his time to promoting the reading and performance of Shakespeare through the South African Council for English Education, the National Children’s Theatre and U3A.
In 2017 he performed in What the Dickens!, a two-man Charles Dickens show at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and this year will present Another World: World War 1 Remembered, based on the literature, diaries, letters and memoirs of the Great War.
9 October 2018
Qhubeka is a not for profit organisation that donates bicycles. They are the official charity of the Tour de France and Team Dimension Data represented Qhubeka and cycled in the Tour de France this year to raise funds.
Qhubeka was founded by Anthony Fitzhenry in 2005 and the name comes from a Nguni word meaning ‘to move forward’. Since inception the charity has donated 85,000 bicycles to children to travel to and from school and adults to get to work. The recipients must take a bicycle safety test and maintenance training course. Bicycles are earned in study-to-earn and work-to-earn programmes.
Many more bicycles will be donated in 2018 and we look forward to hearing all about it.
Bob Scholes: Responsibility in our Relationship with the Environment, Aug 2018
Prof Bob Scholes is a systems ecologist with a particular interest in the savannas of Africa. He is among the top 1% of environmental scientists worldwide based on citation. He has led several high- profile studies (e.g. the Assessment of Elephant Management, the Strategic Assessment of Shale Gas Development, the Global Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment) and large research campaigns e.g. SAFARI 2000 and the Southern African Millennium Assessment). He was an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 3rd, 4th, and 5th Assessments. He has been on the boards of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, the South African National Parks and the South African National Space Agency.
Bob is a Member of the South African Academy, a fellow of the World Academy of Sciences, Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, an NRF A-rated scientist and a winner of the National Science and Technology Forum Lifetime Contribution to Science Award.
It was encouraging to hear what is being done to preserve our environment and what we can and should be doing.
Sam Sole: Keeping up with the Guptas, Jul 2018
Sam has been a journalist since 1986. He has worked for the investigative magazine Noseweek, served as political editor of the Sunday Tribune, and joined the Mail & Guardian as investigative journalist in 2002. In 2003 he won the Vodacom Journalist of the Year award for first reporting the criminal investigation of the then deputy president, Jacob Zuma. With colleague, Stefaans Brummer he has received numerous journalism awards, including for their Oilgate exposes that traced the involvement of an ANC linked company in diverting money from a state contract to the coffers of the ruling party.
Sam was instrumental in revealing the links between former police commissioner, Jackie Selebi, slain mining magnate, Brett Kebble and various figures from South Africa’s underworld, including Glenn Agliotti. Together with Stefaans and Adriaan Basson, Sam won the Taco Kuiper award in 2009 for sustained investigation of the notorious South African arms deal. Sam co- founded Amabhungane in 2010.
This was a wonderful and informative talk about events in South Africa that have affected and still are affecting all of us.
Jonathan Leeming: Venom, Jun 2018
Jonathan was born in the UK into a family who encouraged an appreciation of the natural world. He immigrated to South Africa in 1984 which sparked an interest and fascination for the numerous snakes, scorpions and spiders in our country. Since the publication of his first book on scorpions, Jonathan has worked in 10 countries with people of different cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. He has unravelled the barriers in our values and beliefs that steal the joy and inspiration the world has to offer. The mere image of a spider, scorpion or snake reveals a deeply entrenched phobia that defines our culture, creating fear and developing a disconnection from the natural world. Jonathan’s work does not answer the question of “If it bites me will I die” but rather helps us answer the question of “How do we avoid becoming a victim of our own circumstances?” His purpose has taken aim at the looming target of sustainability and how civilisation’s attitude towards the world is stealing the future from our children and our children’s children. Jonathan is a social entrepreneur, professional speaker, conservationist and author who offers us a unique insight into creating a sustainable future by teaching lessons from the natural world, to create opportunities for change, leadership and innovation.
Joey Evans: From Paraplegic to Dakar Rally, May 2018
Joey Evans' story is an incredible one. It’s a story of unbelievable courage and achievement in the face of odds stacked so high against him that many would have given up. Faced with almost total bodily paralysis, the doctors told Joey that he would never walk again. Yet Joey was healed and and went on to fulfil a long-held ambition by competing in the world’s longest, most dangerous, most arduous rally, the Dakar. At every stage was the opportunity to simply give in and say ‘enough is enough’ and no-one would have blamed him; but he didn’t and he sits here today as a testament to a ‘never-say-die’ attitude. In a further feat of achievement no less impressive, Joey has now put his story down on paper and released a book about his life and his adventures not only through injury and recovery but also in the Dakar Rally at the beginning of this year.
Janet Burgess: The National Sea Rescue Institute_What We Do, Apr 2018
Janet Burgess is the National Donor Liaison for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and has been with them for 7 years. Her presentation will cover the fascinating story of this amazing volunteer organisation and will show details of many exciting rescues. The NSRI was started nearly 50 years ago with the one mission -to save lives in South African waters. To begin with there were only two volunteers and one boat. Today the organisation operates from 32 coastal bases and four inland dams with over 1000 volunteers. Janet is passionate about the organization and travels all over South Africa giving talks on “What We Do”. She studied at UKZN to be a French and English teacher, married Eric and raised three children- only starting with Sea Rescue much later in life.
Bridget Impey: A Publisher and Book Lover tells her Story, Mar 2018
Just how much do you need to know about books to become a publisher. Brigid grew up in a bookshop, Fogarty’s in PE, which was owned by her parents. Even though she tried different careers it was books that kept calling her. She worked for two publishing houses, David Philip and later at Juta until becoming the head of the feisty independent Jacana Media about 14 years ago. Brigid will describe for us the heady, high pressure, roller coaster life of a publisher with its ‘delicious mix of very contrary things’ requiring a host of different skills and a very strong stomach.
Andrew Manderstam: The World of Radio Now and Then, Feb 2018
Andrew Manderstam started life as a broadcast journalist in the United States and soon was the New York correspondent for a French radio station and then had a 10 year stint operating from France. He covered conflicts in Africa and the middle East among other responsibilities. Returning to the states he became a member of the White House press corps. Over the years Andrew became more interested in establishing new radio stations in many parts of the world, Including South Africa.. He was part of black empowerment acquisitions, Radio Jacaranda for instance, which flourished after his involvement - growing from, a listenership of 480 000 to 2.7 million in 2 years. Now nearly 50 years down the track Andrew is considering ‘retiring’ here and is hoping that he will be able to transfer some of his unique skills, experience and track record in the media business.to local people – looking for new ideas and fresh approaches.
Rosemarie Kane: End of the year with a harpist, Nov 2017
Rosemarie earned a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Witwatersrand, where she studied under Kathleen Alister. She returned to Wits in 1986/7 and studied under Ventura Rosenthal to obtain a Performer’s diploma. Rosemarie has performed a variety of solo concerts and also concerts with flautist Malane Hofmeyer-Burger. Rosemarie plays a great deal of background music for weddings and business functions and works as a soloist and with a variety of other instruments, including the flute, cello, violin and strings.
Brett Archibald: Lost at Sea, Oct 2017
South Africa held their collective breath when they learned that Brett Archibald had fallen overboard in the Mentawai Straits in the Indian Ocean. Everyone agonised with his family while they searched for him and after an amazing 28.5 hours he was found by a man who refused to give up the search. He was hailed as a miracle surviving surfer but he is much more than that. He is a charismatic, reputed philanthropist who champions Christel House South Africa in between his business interests. Please check out the website to learn more about this worthwhile charity we shall be supporting this year. Find it at
Judge Kathy Satchwell: South African Nurses of WW1, Sep 2017
Judge Satchwell grew up in the Eastern Cape, attended Rhodes studying Anthropology and African languages and then law. She practised as an attorney for 18 years and is mainly known for doing human rights work representing detainees, political prisoners and working with conscientious objectors and trade unions. She became a Judge of the High Court in 1996 and recently retired after 20 fascinating years learning more about people and the law. She has been very interested in WW1 since she was a teenager and first visited the trenches of Northern France and Belgium about twenty years ago.
Prof Amanda Krause: The Role of Genetics in our Life, Aug 2017
Professor Amanda Krause is a Medical Geneticist and currently Head of the Division of Human Genetics, NHLS and School of Pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her major roles are to assess and counsel patients in Genetics Clinics, to supervise the genetics molecular diagnostic service, to teach and train medical genetics to both undergraduate and postgraduate students and to conduct research aimed at understanding the molecular basis of genetic disease in South Africa.
Professor Krause has published over 50 original articles in scientific journals, 3 book chapters and has presented at more than 150 national and international conferences. She serves on the committee of the Southern African Society of Human Genetics.
Trevor Phillips: #Wildfires #Veld Fires The SA Firefighter, Jul 2017
Trevor Phillips began his working life at Stevens Lumber Mills, a forestry and sawmilling company. He currently holds the position, 24 years later, of Forestry Manager in Haenertsburg, Limpopo.
He is Chairman of Letaba and Limpopo fire Protection Associations and sits on two national fire committees. He holds a Diploma and B,tech in Forestry as well as various qualifications in Fire Incident Command and Fire Investigation. He has been an expert witness in a number of court cases. Trevor is the son of our Chair lady.
Dr Frans Cronje: The Power of Ideas, Jun 2017
Dr Cronje holds a PHD in scenario planning. He joined the Institute of Race Relations in 2004 and established the Centre for Risk Analysis which specialises in using scenarios to help business and government leaders make decisions about investment and policy in SA. He is the author of ‘A Time Traveller’s Guide to Our Next Ten Years’ and ‘A Time Traveller’s Guide to SA 2030’.
The IRR is the leading free market think tank in SA and stands for economic and political liberalism. It uses research and public commentary to influence policy in SA that promotes investment led economic growth.
Sean Brokensha: The Music Guru, May 2017
Sean Brokensha has worked in radio, television and live entertainment since the mid 80s. He has written, produced and directed shows broadcast on DSTV, BBC, SABC and ETV.
He has presented radio and TV shows about music on a variety of stations, including 702, SAFM, Cape Talk, Mnet, and ETV. Sean also consults to the film and advertising industry, e.g. on ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’.
Sean works as a copy writer to the music industry encompassing biographies, press releases and liner notes. He is best known for the regular ‘Musicguru’ feature on Talk Radio 702 from 1999 to 2016, now on Mix FM.
Selwyn Klass: The 65 Year Reign of Queen Elizabeth, Apr 2017
Selwyn is a broadcaster, presenter and a producer of Moments in Time on Radio Today. He regularly scripts and narrates communal presentations including the highly popular Coffee, Keyboard and Conversation with Tony Bentel. He also appears on People of Note hosted by Richard Cock on Classic FM.
In the mid 70’s he was based in Hollywood as a foreign correspondent, attended the Academy Awards and interviewed many famous people including Ingrid Bergman. He has been presented to H.M. Queen Elizabeth, Queen Margrethe 11of Denmark and Queen Sirikit of Thailand.
He is co-founder of the Majestic Film and Historical Society.
Ian Thompson: The Annual Migration of Wildebeest in the Serengeti, Mar 2017
Ian’s passion for nature and wildlife began in his teenage years. He has always been intrigued by the annual Wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and after having guided over 15 tours to experience this phenomenon, he decided to compile a presentation to explain the background and facts behind this amazing 9 month pilgrimage – one of the longest and largest wildlife migrations on earth. This presentation did not only allay misconceptions and misunderstandings about this amazing event in nature but excited us all with truly spectacular pictures and photos of the migration, crossings and the predators that make this a truly ‘once in a lifetime’ or bucket list experience.
Davis Kinghorn: The lighthouse Stevensons, Feb 2017
Dave Kinghorn will tell the story of how relatives of Robert Louis Stevenson saved the lives of countless future sailors by building lighthouses around the coast of Scotland during the 19th century.
These lighthouses were built and run by men who, for a civil service salary, were prepared to sleep on storm-blasted rocks for weeks on end on the off chance that they might save a stranger’s life. It is an inspiring story of dedication, creativity, ingenuity and tenacity against a backdrop of appalling building conditions.
Joey Rasdien: A Morning of Fun and Laughter, Nov 2016
November is traditionally our year end function where we celebrate with each other before breaking for December and January. In 2016 , we ended the year with comedian Joey Rasdien. He has often appeared on our TV screens and has done television advertisements for Cell C, KFC, Standard Bank and Sanlam. He helped us to relieve our year-end fatigue and take a light-hearted look at life. What fun!
Sven Kreher: The Bateleurs, Oct 2016
The Bateleurs is a South African Non Profit Organisation with over 200 volunteer pilots and aircraft. This company provides its beneficiaries and the public with an aerial perspective of the environment. Its mission is well-aligned with the UN Millennium Goals, ensuring environmental sustainability. Pilot members and their aircraft provide the equivalent of 70% of the annual budget – the balance is sourced through fund raising activities.
Adv. John Myburgh SC: US Presidential Elections with an eye on the 2016 Elections, Sep 2016
This talk was divided into three parts: Who elects the President? Who is qualified and disqualified from becoming President? An up to date analysis of the 2016 Presidential election.
Jodi Bieber: Between Darkness and Light, August 2016
Jodi Bieber, a South African, is an international photographer who has won many international photography awards – 7 World Press Awards – including 4 first prizes. She has exhibited in many galleries in Europe, USA and South Africa. Jodi is passionate about her work. Her photographs reflect whatever she is thinking about the world and it is reflected back through the voice of the people in them.
Mike Worthington: Bank Fraud, July 2016
Mike spent 38 years with Standard Bank. He will be discussing fraud, who does it, how it is committed and what we can do to prevent it from happening to us. This talk helped us to ensure that we do not become part of the current crime statistics.
Ros Lamont: Sex in Victorian Fiction, June 2016
According to Victorian times. “Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should only be practised in the dark.” Ros Lamont is a firm favourite with the Cornelians. She is an English teacher and school librarian at Holy Rosary School in Edenvale. She is a popular speaker and lecturer. Her subjects include education, history, literature, language, communication and humour. This wass a highly amusing, delightful and fascinating morning.
Prof Jonathan Jansen: The State of Education in SA, May 2016
One of South Africa's leading educationalists, Jonathan Jansen is well known as a champion for excellence in education at all levels and an outspoken critic of the current state of the school system in South Africa. He is currently Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State and professor of Education at Wits. The wide ranging reforms he instituted at UFS have kept him much in the news. He has an outstanding academic record, has written numerous books and consults widely on educational matters in SA, including to the government, as well as extensively internationally. We were thrilled and very privileged to have him speak to us.
Dr Kelly Marnewick: Captive Cheetahs and Lions in SA, April 2016
Dr Kelly Marnewick is the Manager of EWT’s Carnivore Conservation Programme. Since 2015 carnivores have been the talking point in the press and social media. We have more carnivores in cages here than anywhere else in Africa. She discussed these issues, the role that tourists can play in conservation, welfare issues for the animals and much, much more.
Dean Allen: Empire, War and Cricket in S.A. Logan of Matjiesfontein, 8 March 2016
James Logan, born in Scotland in 1857, became known as the `Laird of Matjiesfontein' after the Karoo town which he developed. Dean's presentation will explore how Matjiesfontein grew into a renowned health resort, and then we'll hear the amazing story of how Logan financed a South African cricket tour to England in the middle of the Boer War. Dean Allen is Senior lecturer at Bournemouth University. We were so fortunate to have him address us.
Peter Greaves, Of Coffee and Hats, 9 February 2016
Peter has travelled to 70 countries on 7 continents. In Panama the Canopy Tower and Lodge is host to very shy and exotic birds. Costa Rica is ‘home’ to coffee as well as very unusual creatures. It is a must visit country for avid birders. This talk provided a most unusual travel and birding experience for all of us.
Jonathan Roxmouth, Cornelian Society 55 Year Celebration, November 2015
Jonathan is a South African actor, pianist and performer extraordinaire. He's been seen in: The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, A Handful of Keys, Call Me Lee and many many more. In addition he has produced the albums: Stage by Stage (2013) and From the Footlights (2015.) We were delighted to have Jonathan come to inspire and entertain us at our 55 year birthday celebration and year end party.
Bronwyn Maree, Albatross: Unstoppable Force, October 2015
Bronwyn is the leader of the acclaimed Albatross Task Force, called ATF. She has led her team in the conservation of the Albatross on board local trawlers and long line fishing vessels. She shared with us what life at sea is like for her as the only female on board a boat of fishermen and all the difficulties she faces in educating them about the importance of the Albatross. October was our Charity Month and our donations formed part of Bird life SA and the amazing work that the ATF does.
Gary Els, Water the Sun and Life, September 2015
Some recent discoveries made on the properties of water, are startling new findings. Gary will give examples of some unexplained and unanswered questions in science, where water is concerned. The work carried out by Dr Gerald Pollack and his team at the University of Washington found that water is not an uninteresting liquid or just a solvent to other substances. It is not only found as a solid, liquid or vapour but there is a 4th phase that plays a major role in all sciences. This was presented to us in layman language! Gary has been with the Rand Water Board for 37 years.
Jane Marston, The Looting of the Baghdad Museum, August 2015
In spite of all the efforts of scholars, archaeologists, national and international organisations the USA chose not to protect the Baghdad Museum during the invasion of Iraq. It sent its troops to guard the Oil Ministry and certain oilfields instead. As a result, the Iraqi National Museum was looted and suffered a devastating loss. No excuses were proffered by the USA for their failure to protect the Museum. Jane completed a BA degree, majoring in archaeology and the Ancient Near East, at the University of SA.