Car Torque with The Real KennyMas
Consciously thinking about ghosts is not exactly a comfortable thing if we are being honest; mostly because ghosts are associated with supernatural malevolence – unless of course you’re referring to the Holy Ghost – which is a different story altogether. However, when people do talk or think about ghosts, it’s normal from two extremes – from one end, is the cute, fluffy being we see in the form of Casper the Friendly Ghost, while the opposite extreme, is the dreaded apparitions we experience in the Paranormal Activity franchise.
In another parallel universe, one inhabited by a flock of strange creatures known as petrolheads, there is another extreme dimension of spectres that exists. This particular group of spooks hails from Goodwood, West Sussex, England. If you have not caught on by now, I’m referring to the non-SUV bevy of beauties made by the BMW owned English car-maker, Rolls Royce. The lineup contains cars with ghost themed names, like Wraith, Phantom, and one time they ran out of ghost names, they just called the car a Rolls Royce Ghost.
In today’s episode of ghostly cars, let’s shine the spotlight on the first Rolls to break the familiar luxury sedan mould with its two-door teardrop coupé style. It is the first Rolls to make a brief nod at sportiness. In short, it is the most dramatic car that the luxury automaker has made, and when you do get to look at it, you appreciate the risk appetite of the engineers and decision makers at Goodwood, and of course those in Munich, because, it has paid off… the wraith is nothing short of spectacular!
The Rolls Royce Wraith is the more energetic and agile of its siblings, and this is thanks to the BMW sourced 6.6 litre twin turbo 624 horsepower V-12 engine. The luxo-barge also boasts of stiffer suspension and better aerodynamics, which makes it very fast and nimble. The 0 – 100 kmh sprint is dispatched of in a brief 4.3 seconds. It will be a mistake to bundle up this car with exotic red or yellow raucous wedges from Maranello or Sant’Agata. This is not a supercar; it is a rapid luxury coupé.
When you step inside, all you will see is the classic coachline building blend of leather, wood and polished metal. Do not be fooled though, the Wraith still has modern technology crammed in it. The most obvious being the infotainment screen that at first glance is tucked away behind a wooden panel, but can be revealed at the press of a button. The infotainment system is based off the latest BMW iDrive. The car boasts of both heated and cooled seats, self-cleaning ashtrays, as well as a bespoke RR umbrella tucked into the car. The most dramatic feature of the car are the doors which are rear hinged. Since closing the doors may result in the client having to exert themselves too much, both the driver and passenger doors can be closed at the touch of a button. As you would expect, the Rolls Royce Wraith carries the family emblem – the spirit of ecstasy, which can be retracted to keep it safe from pickpockets.
The double-R Wraith is a two-door monster, largely handmade, with the finest leather interior, wood, and polished metal that money can buy. A popular option by discerning customers is the star lit ceiling that can be customised to depict any actual constellation in the night sky – talk about excessive opulence! The Wraith’s grill is handmade, and there are no two alike! It takes about 45 kilograms of paint to apply five layers of paint for over seven days, to achieve the mirror-like finish on the car. I should also mention that the artists at Rolls Royce are able to paint your Wraith in any of the 44 000 colour shades they have in store, and if you don’t fancy any of those, they will be able to create for you any colour you like. The coachline that runs the whole length of the car is applied entirely by hand, and all of these are done by one man. While it takes less than twenty hours to manufacture the usual plebeian cars you see on the road, it takes a painstaking six months to build a Rolls Royce Wraith.
The perfectionists at Rolls Royce make the handover of the Wraith such a special occasion; when it’s time to receive the car, the client is taken through a tour of the car which lasts over three hours, going into all the details of the car. The car is handed over to the owner with a special bespoke gift that is tailored to the car. So, if one is inspired to go and get themselves the most luxurious coupé in the world, what are they supposed to do? Well, first they need to have an extremely healthy bank account. A quick search on AutoTrader will reveal preowned versions north of R5 000 000.00, while a new Wraith will cost you a base price of R 6 400 000.00, and that is before the options have been added, which may take the price to an eye watering R9 000 000.00. Unless you are buying a preowned Wraith, you will need to travel to the Rolls-Royce Commissioning Suite where you will be able to customise every aspect of the car, from the usual two tone colour scheme, leather, coachline, and other personalisation touches such as family crests on headrests, ceiling constellation, et cetera.
Still on the topic of bodachs, the Rolls Royce Wraith is one ghost that should be on top of everyone’s wish list, together with the gold at Fort Knox, as well as immortality. It’s a magnificent vehicle with which you can waft in luxury and opulence – but you may just need to rob the reserve bank first.
Connect with Ken through Instagram on his handle @tharealkennymas.
Women in STEM – Hlalani Samantha Mlilo
For the longest time I wanted to be a Medical Doctor because I thought that as a lady good in Science and Mathematics, that was all I could become.
Engineering has never looked more classier! This past August our cover feature was Hlalani Mlilo, an Industrial Engineer. August being Women’s month, we figured we would feature a strong, intelligent woman who exudes confidence, boldness and power. She currently works in a Supply Chain Department at an Electronics Manufacturing Company, managing their Logistics and Distribution network for the company headquarters in Johannesburg and remotely doing so for three other branches in Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Cape Town.
What/who inspired you to choose a career in STEM?
I come from a big family, full of engineers (males), including my late father and nurses (ladies). For the longest time I wanted to be a Medical Doctor because I thought that as a lady good in Science and Mathematics, that was all I could become, until I had a conversation with an older sister of mine who resided in South Africa, while I was doing my high school in Zimbabwe. She told me that she was seeing a breed of young women in Engineering in the mining town that she lived in and she thought it was something I would be interested in. I started reading about engineers and inclining more to my brothers and fathers for career advice. I watched my dad more closely. He was nicknamed “MacGyver” because he could literally fix and create anything. I knew then that if I ever got a chance to study and become like these men, I was going to make it.
What did you have to do to get to where you are now?
I was in the Sciences class in high school (Physical Sciences, Biology, Mathematics, and Integrated Science where all my strong points), but for my Ordinary level (O’ Level) in Zimbabwe, I wrote 11 subjects including Commerce, Religious Studies and History. I did not really want to limit myself in what I could do. In my Advanced Level (A’ Level), I added Business Management and Communication Skills.
My university modules included Mathematics, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Digital Systems, and Software Design for my first qualification. My second qualification included Project Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Systems Design, Information Systems, Project Research, Quality Management and Logistics Engineering, which is currently my main focus at work.
What challenges did you face at university as a woman in a male dominated faculty?
My first qualification was Electrical Engineering. A lot of wiring for practicals had to be done and help did not come by easy, I must say. Generally, boys play with hard toys and wires, climbing trees and other structures from a young age. We girls on the other hand may have the brain, but getting our hands to catch up with what our brain knows sometimes takes a little more effort, and guidance is required. Luckily, I was drawn to a group of friends which had a good mix of males and females, so we held each other up through the qualification. But the general vibe from the guys was, “You chose this course, so do all the work yourself!”
How did you overcome those challenges?
I had to constantly remind myself that everything that the University was asking of me at that point was all preparation for the real job which I would have to do for myself. So I had to step up to the plate and learn fast how to do everything for myself. It took a couple of sleepless nights and tired days. Weekends simply ceased to exist on my calendar. What also played a big role for me was that I had a supportive family structure behind me and a few individuals who were knowledgeable on my subject matters. So when I got stuck I knew who to call. I also had the privilege to do vacation work at one of the Anglo American coal Mines, and that hands-on experience boosted my theoretical knowledge, because when I went back to school after the holidays, I now had practical experience to refer to.
What is the biggest challenge that you face at work as a woman in a male dominated industry?
The discrimination against women exists, yet so subtle. Males believe that we belong behind the computer screen, typing reports from their field findings; yet we want to be on the field as well, doing the hard work, climbing the masts and fixing the world’s problems and coming up with life changing solutions. Women still need to work multiple times harder to be recognized or found worthy of doing certain tasks in the Engineering space. Lastly, no matter how hard women work, when promotion opportunities arise, it is mostly inclining the women to general management roles, and seldom is there a push for women into technical management roles.
What do you think can be done to address this and other challenges faced by women in your position?
As women, we have to be our own motivators and redefine our own narratives. Any woman can be absolutely anything they want to become. We just need to keep our focus on our goals. The appeals and social media drives are clearly not giving us the equality results we need. Study those science subjects, pass them well, go to university and apply yourself fully, graduate, nail the job interviews and get on the job and do it well. Let your results and job trail speak for you and qualify you where society generally says you cannot fit.
What are your biggest achievements so far?
Successfully completing two Engineering degrees, Electric and Industrial Engineering.
What are your future career goals?
I’m aiming at bagging a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA), which will allow me to aim at more Strategic Management positions in my prospective employer’s organizations. My plan is very clear. My first qualification was a technical one. Allowing me to acquire hands on technical experience. My second qualification routed me into Operations Management, allowing me to have hands-on experience on how a company operates on a day to day basis. My next qualification should score me a seat at the table where strategic decisions are made. There is no limit to what one can do, if they set their mind to it.
Given an opportunity to start over, would you still choose a career in STEM and why?
Yes, I would choose a career in STEM because I’ve come to realise that there is no industry or economy not contributed to by science, technology, engineering or mathematics; from medical, farming, education, accounting to construction. You name it.
How can you encourage younger girls to be more exposed and more interested in STEM?
I think MENTORSHIP is the biggest challenge. The fact that girls are discouraged or not encouraged in STEM fields very early in their education, means society is not breeding enough mentors for girls. It is always so much easier to look up to someone that you can relate to. When you look at another woman, you know that some of the challenges that you face, she will understand them because she has gone through similar phases, and when you see older women winning, then you know as a young girl, you can win too.
Although I still need mentoring myself, what I can do is give my time to share knowledge and guidance to girls through formal and informal mentorship, and maybe even start WOMEN in STEM clubs at schools, which can become as popular as Interact or Debate and Toast Mistresses Clubs in schools. This allows for platforms for girls in schools to also share their dreams and encourage each other and instill interest and competitiveness in STEM.
📷 IG @shotsbymrandmrs3
Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu
Tech Outlet – Updates for Everything
Who would have thought that I would be getting a notification on my phone that my earphones need an update?
Updates for Earphones
The current trend in personal audio right now is buds. I even got myself a pair because of the hype and all; they are your normal earphones, just without the wires. Truly wireless buds they are. Who would have thought that I would be getting a notification on my phone that my earphones need an update?
Well, that is where we are right now, but why don’t we wind the clock back a couple of decades.
History of Updates
Updates, back in the day, were restricted to computing devices that came with an operating system and a processor; and because the internet was still very young back in the 90s, companies that made computers sold software updates as physical floppy disks and compact disks or CD-ROMs. Imagine having to check with your tech shop every now and then for that new Windows update.
It was even more chaotic with smartphones. You had to get a CD with the update, load it up onto a computer, install a PC manager that links your phone to your computer, and then run the update. At times your data would be wiped during the update, so you needed to first run a backup before running an update.
Now you can just click a button and the update will be downloaded and installed while you grab yourself a coffee. By the time you get back, everything will still be where it was, and maybe your device will have a pretty new look too.
Why updates are important?
What is the purpose of updates anyway? To understand updates, one needs to understand that the more complex something is, the more points of failure there are – but on the flip side, the more versatile that something is. Updates look at both these aspects.
Points of failure usually fail due to bugs in the system, which results in the software not producing an expected result. For example, you can click on the camera icon and the calendar opens instead. These are the bits that can be ironed out nicely with software updates. Some bug ‘fixes’ include making a device more efficient in terms of it being faster at executing tasks while using very little power.
Updates can also add new features to a device that may not have been there before. Your device can get a fresh new look with a User Interface redesign; it can get new camera software allowing it to take even more spectacular photos; it can get features allowing it to wirelessly connect to other devices, and also it allows you to enjoy the latest features in programs that will be installed in the device, for example some games will run on a computer if a software known as DirectX is updated to the latest version. Currently, the latest version is DirectX 12.
What can go wrong with updates?
As much as updates are recommended, there are times when things go wrong with updates. There is a Windows 10 update that was deleting files on people’s computers and most recently, iPhone users that have installed the iOS 14 update are experiencing overheating issues and their phones are noticeably slower too.
These are some of the risks involved with updates and it’s ironic how the only way of solving this is to run another update. This does eventually solve the issues, so it’s not that big of a deal but if it does turn into a big deal, then a repair center for the device can help solve it for you.
Crazy stuff that is now getting updates
Traditionally only computing devices were eligible for updates but tech has improved so much that even the most rudimentary devices are now becoming smarter. Speakers can now answer questions and tell you the weather; fridges can now browse the internet and your car can now talk with your house.
All these at some point will need to get software updates to improve their performance over time as well as to add more features to make them more useful. Devices, in general, can now do a lot more than they could just 10 years ago to the point where earphones also get software updates. What a time to be alive.
Weird stuff that will soon be getting updates
It does not seem like this craze will stop anytime soon. It’s very possible that in the future, items we considered dumb like laptop and smartphone chargers, will also be getting software updates.
The fight for one charger for your smartphone, laptop, tablet, portable gaming console, earphones, and smartwatch is on. This will mean that this charger needs to be smart enough to know how much power to supply whatever device that it’s connected to, and that’s going to be a smart charger.
The same goes for eyewear, backpacks, caps, and jackets. They will soon have smart features that will most likely demand some updates. Imagine that. A future where clothes are getting software updates. Both scary and exciting!
Women in STEM – Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet
I think that it’s important for parents to discuss career choices with their kids, to advise them based on their own experience and guide them as much as they can.
Gabon, a central African country, is rich in natural resources. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, it borders Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. It is sparsely populated, with a population of 2 million as of 2017 and forests covering 85% of its territory. It is in this small country where a smart and gifted young lady was born and named Marie-Ange, which is translated to Mary-Angel. Serene, diplomatic, astute and wise, are just a few words to describe our ‘Women in STEM’ September feature. We caught up with her and got to find out more about her education and career choices.
You have a very interesting job at a very prestigious financial institution. Can you tell us what your job entails?
I am currently working in a sub-regional banking institution as “chef de service” (Head of Service) of the Communication Unit in Yahoundé, Cameroon. I organise and execute the institution’s external and internal communication for our branches which are in a number of countries across Central Africa.
How did you manage to secure such a high profile job?
First of all, I am a Christian and I feel blessed to work where I work. I followed a multi-phase entrance process (application, written and oral tests, and then interview) and was successful. I then did a 10-month training programme in between headquarters based in Cameroon and Central African countries. I got the job at the end of the training phase. It was quite an adventure and I really enjoyed the experience!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I must admit that I like working in the banking sector and particularly for an African institution, as it is a key sector for our countries’ development. I also like the fact that my work gives me the opportunity to represent the institution and inform the public about the work that we do. I appreciate the community aspect of the company. It implies taking into account the environment, habits and realities of each Member-State and it gives me a global perspective.
Finally, I’ve learned more about economics, monetary policies, finance and many more subjects related to the banking sector and I’ve found it really interesting.
Before you moved to Cameroon, you were working in Gabon. Can you tell us more about your job there and what it entailed?
I was working in the communication department of an agency in charge of coordinating the execution of Publics Work’s projects on behalf of the government. At that time, my country was engaged in many major infrastructure projects (roads, bridges, dams, stadiums and so much more). The agency was in charge of supervising those projects for the Ministry working with contractors, “bureaux d’études techniques” (Technical Design Office) and other stakeholders.
The Communication team was in charge of presenting our projects and their benefits to the public from beginning to end, as well as the benefits and perspectives for the country. I was working on external communication which included production of documentation (presentations, press releases and advertorials), liaising with the media and organising events.
What is life like in Gabon and what are the differences between living in Gabon and living in Cameroon? Which country do you prefer living and working in?
Well, I was born and raised in Gabon. I have my entire family and friends there. I can say that life there is what I have always known. I have my favourite landmarks there and therefore I like it a lot! Consequently, it was particularly nice to go back home and work in my country after my studies. I liked my job mainly because it allowed me to get involved in projects pertaining to the development of Gabon.
Working in Cameroon is undeniably very different. I had to discover and learn a lot of things about the country, as well as learn about Cameroonians’ ways of living. I have been living here for a couple of years now and I have found my marks. Working in a regional institution has also allowed me to see the bigger picture, to think from a community of many states’ perspectives and to adapt my work in accordance. I like it and I like my job.
Of course I will always prefer working close to my family and friends, but working in Cameroon has helped me grow as a person and as a professional.
You completed both your Undergraduate and Postgraduate education at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Can you tell us more about your tertiary academic journey?
I got my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and then a Postgraduate Diploma in Management specialising in Marketing and Communication from UCT. Prior to joining UCT, I studied English. It was compulsory as French is my first language and I did my primary and secondary studies in that language. After my English studies, I passed the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, one of UCT’s requirements for French-speaking applicants.
You mentioned that your parents convinced you that if you wanted to have a good job and make it in life, you must study Computer Science because I.T was the next big thing. Were you personally keen on studying Computer Science or you had another programme that you were passionate about which you would have rather done?
I did not really want to major in Computer Science. I did not study that subject in high school, therefore I did not know what to expect. I have always liked science so I wanted to study something in line with Biology or Chemistry. However, when deciding on my major, my parents advised me to choose a promising field like computer science. I.T was the ‘it’ thing in my country at that time and I have always been adventurous and eager to discover new things; so I applied for a BSc in computer science like my parents wanted, rather than Biology or Chemistry.
What modules did you focus on for your undergrad degree in Computer Science?
You’re taking me way back (laughs). I studied programming in Java, C++, MySQL, and I also did the following modules; Database Management, Operating Systems, Networking, Problem Solving, Algorithms (Brute force, Divide & Conquer, etc.). I also did Programming in different environments (Microsoft and Linux). Those are the ones that I remember (laughs).
Computer science can be a very difficult and stressful programme. What challenges did you face during your studies? What encouraged you to keep on pushing till the end?
My biggest challenge was the fact that I had not studied computer science in high school but it was my major. Therefore I had a heavy programme meant for students who already had good knowledge of the subject. This meant that I had to spend twice as much time learning the basics and trying to understand the concepts, but mainly to practice, practice, practice! To improve in coding, you have to program day and night. That’s the only way to learn and to master the technique. I remember now how I felt at that time; it was like I was forever studying and practicing and doing nothing else.
I told myself that I would not quit so I worked hard and battled until I graduated. Actually, once I got my degree I was so glad and so chuffed that I made it (laughs).
Being a Francophone national, did you face any language barriers during your studies at UCT and if yes, how did you overcome them?
I definitely faced language barriers while at UCT. My biggest challenge was the fact that I had to learn the language in about 6 months and be fluent enough to comprehend tertiary level English. At the beginning I was struggling to understand entire lectures. I couldn’t understand everything so I had to read notes and books to fill in the blanks. Of course at that time my dictionary was my best friend. Fortunately, with time, my English improved. Like with many things, practice makes perfect!
Why did you choose to shift your focus from technology to communications for your postgrad qualification?
I graduated but I didn’t wish to work in this field my entire life. I found that programming was “machine orientated” so I didn’t see myself being a programmer. I felt like I wanted to interact with people more than with my computer. I needed a job where I could meet more people, talk more, travel more and organise events or activities. Working in my current field allows me to do all of that.
You then chose a career in communications; what is it that you enjoy the most in your field?
I am a very talkative person so I find myself doing the right job which I absolutely enjoy. As I said previously I enjoy interacting with people, discussing and learning from that process. I like the aspect of informing audiences what comes with institutional communication. I enjoy learning about each sector of the company as communication requires transversal knowledge and acts as a relay of information. I also appreciate my current position which affords me the opportunities to get involved in institutional processes on a national or even regional level.
How has the knowledge and skills gained from your first degree been useful in your chosen career path?
During my programming years, I learnt the following; first of all, you must persevere – as a programmer you have to continuously work on coding, testing and problem solving. You have to keep trying and keep debugging until your program works. Secondly, you must think out of the box – you have to think out of the box to find solutions. Often, new ways of doing things come up with new concepts and that will help you to improve your solution. Finally, it is important to have a method of operation – you have to be organised and disciplined when programming.
You are as passionate about Career Guidance as we are. What advice would you give to parents who do not want their children to follow their dreams and do courses that they are passionate about, but would rather have their children doing courses of their choosing?
Firstly, I believe that parents want what’s best for their children. However, things have changed a lot. There are no longer certain study fields that guarantee a job at the end. Children can have a good job and a beautiful career in the field they embrace and they will be happier doing what they like. Therefore I think that it’s important for parents to discuss with their kids, to advise them based on their own experience and guide them as much as they can. But when children have decided what they want to do, it is important for parents to respect theirs choices.
You are a successful black woman at a prestigious institution in Africa. What advice would you give to young Africans who would like to get to where you are one day?
Well, that’s a tough one!
First of all, I still consider that I have so much to do and so many challenges to tackle so that advice will also be relevant to me. First of all, work hard because opportunity or luck cannot compensate hard work. Your hard work will definitely pay off. Secondly, be convinced but even better, be passionate about what you do. It will help you to stay focused during hard times. Thirdly, it is okay to fall – just don’t stay on the ground forever. Stand up and carry on. Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself! Acknowledge your very little accomplishments; you deserve it.
I would also like to emphasise the potential of Africa. The current economic situation is not so good but we can change things. Let us not lose hope. I am a real Afro-optimistic. There are so many areas to explore here and the future belongs to our continent. We need to become leaders and also raise new generations of leaders who will want to work and unleash Africa’s potential.
Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu
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