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. Currently we are implementing two  large commercial cloud  services: an ERP service and a student information service. These are core systems of record. However, my professional career is drawing to a close soon, although I intend to see the two services in production before I retire.

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.

 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, 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

Zebra stripes and yellow streaks

The MCSA Stellenbosch's first official post-lockdown outing was a weekend hike to Zebra Peak (1458m ASL; Sebrakop on national geo-spatial maps) on Piketberg. It is located on private land on the plateau rim, north-east of most of the cultivated lands. With the...

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HH Epic Trail

Hepic Trail for short. The Hepic is a private hiking trail that follows the route of the original Epic cycle trail above the railway line that snakes out of the Helderberg bowl. It is located north-east of the Gantouw Pass below Hanskop. Access has to be arranged...

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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..

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