About Me

I am employed by Stellenbosch University‘s IT division as Director: Institutional Software Solutions, a new role as from January 2016.  My role entails technical responsibility for the design, development, procurement and maintenance of institutional (large) software solutions and information systems.

I have led a sustainable IT initiative on campus in line with my convictions about sustainability and environmental protection. 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, krugerpark.com and ecoAfrica’s Blog). Ecoafrica and the web properties were sold during and before 2009 and it has been sad to see some of them disappear recently.

Over the last couple of years I was privileged to contribute to the design of our new, green ICT Building, a building that promises to help modernise the division and change its work culture.

I was a member of  the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA for a number of years and 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 (finally!) become a member of the Stellenbosch section of the Mountain Club of SA as well.

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. I believe that the twin challenges of our time are the depletion of our endowment of energy sources, mainly fossil fuel, and climate change.

I am married to Marion who hails from the Koo, and we have been blessed with two lovely daughters, Leigh and Heather. Leisure time is spent  windsurfing, reading, travelling, sea kayaking and hiking. The university has generous leave conditions and I work hard at exploiting them optimally. Working myself to death is not an option. My motto for this phase of my life is: ¨Play hard, work smart¨.

My father, Felix Pina, is 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), is a Capetonian through and through and I was born on the slopes of Table Mountain as well, but I now call Stellenbosch “home”.

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.

Aboe Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves) Above Kasteelspoort, Table Mountain (photo by Peter Groves)

visited 29 states (12.8%)

Recent Posts

Canal du Midi video clips

Here are five short, amateur video clips from our recent Canal du Midi boat tour. They are probably boring to watch, but they are a good record of our trip - and they may give you a sense of what to expect should you be planning a canal boating trip. For us, it was...

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Canal du Midi

Canal boating from Négra Lock to Argens-Minervois July saw the realisation of a lifelong fascination near the end of my sixtieth year celebrations: a canal boat trip on the canals of old Europe. I had seen a TV documentary about the Canal du Midi some years ago. Its...

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Welcome to RalphPina.com

Thank you for visiting my outdoor blog. RalphPina.com documents my experiences over many years of appreciating, and adventuring in, Nature. It celebrates visual beauty, advocates minimal impact, reflects on humans’ relationship with our ecosphere, spans the planet but focuses on the wild diversity of southern Africa. Photos, videos and GPS maps of hiking, cycling, kayaking, abseiling, canoeing and windsurfing..



Jan 2021