I have been a committed environmentalist for most of my adult life and a sometime entrepreneur. Those convictions were also responsible for me being a co-founder of ecoafrica.com – an inbound ecotourism website – way back in 1995 (other web properties included krugersafari.com and krugerpark.com). Ecoafrica and the web properties were sold during and before 2009 and it has been sad to see some of them disappear recently. Originally I graduated with a degree in electronic engineering from Stellenbosch in 1979 and followed it up with an MBA in 1994. I am something of a permanent student, so in line with my “green” interests completed an MPhil in Environmental Management in 2004 and a BPhil in Renewable and Sustainable Energy at Stellenbosch’s Sustainability Institute in 2009. My personal philosophy is outlined here.
I was employed by Stellenbosch University‘s IT division as Director: Institutional Software Solutions. My role entailed technical responsibility for the design, development, procurement and maintenance of institutional (large) software solutions and information systems. My 35-year career at the university came to an end upon retirement in 2022.
As I entered what I call the “community phase” of life, I joined Jonkershoek Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) as a volunteer wildfire-fighter, but resigned after 5 years’ service. A lifelong love of hiking and mountains led me to become a member of the Stellenbosch section of the Mountain Club of SA .
I am married to Marion who hails from the Koo, and we have been blessed with two lovely daughters, Leigh and Heather, and now, two grandchildren so far. Leisure time is spent windsurfing, reading, travelling, sea kayaking, cycle touring and hiking. The university has generous leave conditions and I work hard at exploiting them optimally. My motto for this phase of my life is: ¨Play hard, work smart¨.
My father, Felix Pina, was Dutch, from Wassenaar. He emigrated here with his parents and brothers after WWII and settled at Koelenhof near Stellenbosch. There was a romantic theory that we are the descendants of Sephardic Jews, but my brother’s recent research into the roots of the Pina family indicates that we descend from French Huguenots who fled to the Low Countries. My mom, Cynthia Pina (Visser), was a Capetonian through and through and I was born on the slopes of Table Mountain as well, but lived most of my adult life in Stellenbosch, before retiring to Rooiels on the Kogelberg coast.
I am a football fanatic. World Cup 2010 was an absolute highlight, a spectacular and uplifting experience. I played competitively for almost 30 years, and coached too. I have always followed Ajax Amsterdam, Oranje and FC Barcelona – it’s a football philosophy thing.
I would have loved to have been a virtuoso jazz pianist – or a rock star – but sadly the love of music was never matched by raw talent. So although I took piano lessons in my mid-thirties for three years, I ended up frustrating myself no end. There has been a recent, enjoyable re-acquaintance with the guitar, however.
Above Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves)
visited 29 states (12.8%)
Some of the benefits of being a mountain club member are that you get to go to places that you would not normally be able to explore - and camp out there - and share the mountains with like-minded people who also know what they are doing in these lofty places....
So there I was in bed, sleepily easing into a lazy Saturday morning with no particular plans or obligations when an SMS pinged in on my 'phone: would I like to join the mountain club party that was heading up that morning to the Dwarsberg plateau to overnight under...
19 to 23 January 2013 I last hiked the Otter Trail, perhaps South Africa's most famous hiking trail, circa 1994 with some friends. It was mid-winter, fairly cold and mostly cloudy. Nevertheless, I remember that it was spectacular and never really expected to walk it...
It sounded like a good idea: an unsupported bicycle tour through the Swartberge and Anysberg for me and Gaucho Pedro (Peter Groves) who was visiting from the UK. It is a good idea, except when the Karoo decides to visit a heatwave on you. Three successive 40+°C days...