Wednesday, November 01, 2006

PW Botha 'defiant to the end'

Yes, sooner or later we all have to leave this world. PW Botha's passing, see article lower down, will be greeted with mixed reactions. He was the last stalwart of Apartheid, a fierce hawkish president who ruled while South African whites were caught in the grips of a border mentality - not unlike what America is experiencing at the moment. Granted modern America is a full democracy and South Africa was not - in the 1980's only whites had the vote.

Very few will feel sad about his death. However, in the shadow of the Truth and Reconciliation process that South Africa went through, the respect with which his death is being treated is remarkable. The ruling ANC, the erstwhile Apartheid government's biggest enemy, responded with a statement which wished Botha's family "strength and comfort in this difficult time".

Botha will mostly remembered for 'what could have been'. He is famous for an important speech he made, dubbed 'The Rubicorn Speech'. In the speech he declared that South Africa has crossed the Rubicorn, implying that the country was heading down the road of reforms for good. He drove through Soweto (South Africa's biggest 'black' township) waving at excited onlookers who waved back and ran alongside his cavalcade. The majority of whites never dared to enter a township. Those who did, mostly did so as conscripted soldiers sent in to 'enforce law and order'. A signature photograph showed only Botha's white hand visible through a partially open car window with the rest of his body hidden behind darkened (probably bullet-proof) glass. Yet, that awkward reserved gesture, on the back of his Rubicorn Speech, created huge expectations. (2008 update on a similar photograph available on the internet here).

Sadly, he didn't follow through on the foundation that was laid. It should be noted that the first contact with the then still imprisoned Nelson Mandela was made on his watch, with his approval. The challenge was huge though. South Africa was isolated and its white population felt threatened from within and without. It believed that it had the blessing of God in carrying the torch of civilization into darkest Africa. The rest of the world was viewed as simply being ignorant, as not grasping the complexities that was South Africa.

However, all the potential was there for change. The Afrikaner population (white Afrikaans speakers) has changed from a not-too-educated rural farming nation to a well-educated mostly urbanised group. The 'ship of knowledge cleaving through a sea of ignorance', the mantra of the HQ Administration Building at the University of Pretoria, was having it's effect on the Afrikaner nation. Increased 'knowledge' gained through much improved education was eroding the arguments at the foundation of Apartheid.

Segregation (separate development) was looking more and more like the pure discrimination it has always been and not the noble cause it was pitched as. The idea of human rights and liberty for all was making more and more sense. Importantly, the biggest of the religious Afrikaner's churches, the Dutch Reformed Church, issued a document in 1986 entitled "Church and Society" in which it retreated from it's previous support of Apartheid. It basically concluded that there was no basis in scripture for Apartheid and that as such the church has erred in providing religious backing for it (it's against this kind of background that intellectuals in South Africa balk at the current influence Evangelicals are having on American politics).

What was desperately needed was strong, visionary, leadership. Botha was definitely a strong leader, as bold as they came (once again the similarity with American President Bush in this respect is not comforting). Importantly in that time, as with all the Apartheid leaders, he publicly proclaimed his Christian faith. He thus met the religious requirements Afrikaners was looking for. He showed promise of vision, but alas did not follow through on this.

I was busy with my 'national military service' (compulsory for white young men at the time) as a 18 year old when Botha had a stroke. On Botha's return to office a leadership battle ensued, with FW de Klerk leading the protagonists. For a short tense time everyone in South Africa held their breath - white and black. For most it was clear that Botha was leading the country down a dead-end. I was heading home on a weekend pass from the Army when our bus stopped at a road-side 'one stop' (filling station, convenience and food store). There was no radio in the bus and I was curious as the crisis seemed to be heading to a conclusion, one way or the other. I approached a black family in their car, knocked on the driver's window, and politely asked the driver if there was any news on the Botha vs. De Klerk issue. Grinning from ear to ear the driver informed me that the 'groot krokodil' (big crocodile) has resigned and de Klerk has been sweared in as president. In a very unusual moment a young white Afrikaner (boy) in his army uniform and an adult voteless black man shared excitement of what the future may hold (neither of us probably realised just how big a change was waiting down the road...)

At the time I did not fully grasp the significance of de Klerk's leadership, most South Africans were simply relieved at Botha's departure. However, de Klerk picked up Botha's spilled opportunities and set to work making something of it. The rest, as they say, is history. He re-established contact with the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, unbanned various liberation movements (including the ANC), released political prisoners (including Mandela) abolished various apartheid laws and lead the government in negotiating a largely peaceful transition to a full democracy in which all of South Africa's citizens could cast their votes.

De Klerk's visionary role is today often disputed by some commentators. They argue that he had no choice and simply acted under huge international pressure. I believe the life of PW Botha shows how flawed this argument is. Apartheid South Africa, under the leadership of hawks such as Botha, could have survived for at least another few decades. There are many examples in the international world of undemocratic strongman regimes surviving despite our much more open global world. South Africa was in desperate need of a strong leader with vision, and de Klerk was the ideal person to fulfill that role. Elaborating on Nelson Mandela's incredible contribution to achieving a democratic South Africa and then steering it down the path of reconciliation will be addressed in this column sooner or later. But de Klerk should be given his due, the pretty picture of South Africa's transition to democracy would not have existed without him - period.

For now the Groot Krokodil has taken his final bow. He has been a mixed blessing for this country. Hamba Kahle PW!

PW Botha 'defiant to the end': "Johannesburg - PW Botha, who died on Tuesday, was a finger-wagging hawk who defied the world while ruling apartheid South Africa in the turbulent and violence-wracked 1980s.

Nicknamed the 'Groot Krokodil' for his tough-talk and uncompromising stance, the feisty 90-year-old Botha continued to cock a snook at critics and remained combative to the very end.

During an interview ahead of his 90th birthday this year, Botha said South Africa would have 'gone down the drain' if it had achieved liberation in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the same interview, he said he never regarded blacks as inferior because 'many blacks and coloureds (mixed race) cooperated with us'."

Monday, October 23, 2006

You'd like a coffee-coloured skin? White or black sir?

I noticed the very interesting story below on a friend's blog (Attie Heunis says). In the article an evolutionary theorist speculates that the human race may split into two genetic classes, an elite class and a dim-witted lower genetic class. He also makes a couple of other predictions. I find the idea of the human race splitting in two over a period of 100 000 years quite viable, given current socio-economic disparities. Who knows, maybe us humans can start caring enough about each other to have the commitment to wipe out poverty and under-development in the next 100-1000 years, in which case we may just avoid this scenario?

In the shorter term he predicts that race will be ironed out through interbreeding creating a 'uniform race of coffee-coloured people'. I find this proposition quite attractive. I wouldn't mind a coffee-coloured skin. You won't have to do all of that sun tanning during summer holidays and will be less likely to burn (if you're a whitey as I am). It does sound quite attractive.

So maybe we, the human race, can avoid splitting in two but succeed in becoming a coffee-coloured single race? Sounds good to me...

I'm assuming that Dr. Curry's referring to the colour of 'white coffee' (with milk), or that of raw ground coffee? If you think about it, 'coffee-coloured' could mean anything from light-brown to pitch black. I suppose if everyone turns out the same colour, it wouldn't really matter which applies. It will become a non-issue. Now that will be truly welcome!

BBC NEWS UK Human species 'may split in two': "Human species 'may split in two'

Humanity may split into an elite and an underclass, says Dr Curry Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years' time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said.

Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge. The human race would peak in the year 3000, he said - before a decline due to dependence on technology.

People would become choosier about their sexual partners, causing humanity to divide into sub-species, he added. The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the 'underclass' humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures. "

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mboweni OK with his Afrikaners

A recent edition of the printed FIN WEEK publication caught my attention. Tito Mboweni, ANC member and Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, graces the front page. The portrait photo of him is in photo-comic-book style. A text cloud emanating from his mouth contains the following words: "I'm OK with my Afrikaners. They stay and do the work, and become experts".

I'm sure the words was spoken in a humoristic fashion, but it remains an incredibly bold and non-PC statement all the same. Tito Mboweni was known for cold factual analysis well before he entered the all important Governor position that he's held for a couple of years now. His statement on Afrikaners is one that is sure to draw criticism from the ANC's left wing.

As the FIN Week article, below, points out statements like that uttered by a white South African will very likely be labeled as racist. Hopefully Mboweni will not be the last black intellectual to venture a brave opinion on this matter.

As a white Afrikaans male I very much appreciate his statement, even though it was phrased rather paternalistic. I entered the formal job market in 1994. Within a year or two the first black colleagues was appointed in our then Lilly white department. It was obviously long overdue. What was immediately apparent though, was that a very high turnover was going to be a feature of black appointees. Not only were they appointed at senior salary level, even though most had no relevant experience in the (marketing & PR) field, they did not stay long. I remember my silent astonishment when a black colleague left the department for a three-fold salary increase plus perks such as a luxury Audi. She spent less than a year in our department and had not yet had a chance to make any impact, let alone gain any meaningful experience.

If we did not have 40 years of formal Apartheid and 300 years of colonialism before that things may of course have been different. All the same, affirmative action is a necessary evil at best. It is something that most South African whites grudgingly accepted. But 10 years down the line serious misgivings about the continuation of affirmative action is starting to arise. I attended a seminar earlier in the week where a very dynamic coloured (mixed racial descendancy) speaker said in so many words that BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) is doomed to fail. His argument is not unique. The core thereof is that dividing the economic pie, if the pie stays the same size, will only cause everyone to loose. What you need is to grow the pie.

Of course making sure that an larger pie is fairly distributed will require at least limited government intervention. History has shown clearly that pure capitalism mostly favours the 'have's' and does little for the 'have not's'. The ideal is that this intervention is achieved through taxation, not social engineering. However, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is under ever increasing pressure to deliver benefits to the poor masses.

One of the real tragedies of affirmative action is that the white population has shrunk by approximately. 800 000. Some sources put the figure at 1 million. That's from a population of approx. 6 million, a massive decrease. This decrease has been primarily driven by the 'brain drain'. Skilled whites who are pessimistic about their professional future in South Africa do as many other skilled individuals from across the world do in a globalised world, they go where they are appreciated. That is where they can obtain a challenging position on merit and receive the financial and other benefits associated with the particular position.

In South Africa the same person will often have to silently accept being passed over for promotion or appointment, in order for a black candidate to move up the ladder. Truth be told, white males over 50 were often already in senior positions at the time Apartheid ended. They may be frustrated at not being able to progress further while affirmative actions propels black candidates to the top. But they could have been stuck at the entry level where many 20-35 year old whites find themselves. Not surprisingly the majority of whites who have emigrated fall in this age bracket.

Another very interesting statistic is that 1 of 4 white males are now self-employed. That's a whopping 25% or a 4% increase in just 5 years. In the Apartheid South Africa in which I grew up only a very small number of whites were self-employed. Afrikaners were often referred to as the staatsdiens nasie ('government service nation'). These days if you attend a trade fair or see a group of business men (still mostly men) huddled around a coffee shop table, chances are fairly good that they're speaking Afrikaans. Compared to just ten years ago that's a truly surrealistic image - but it's very much reality today.

The positive angle of this is that Afrikaners (and English whites) are forced to apply their privileged education obtained under segregated Apartheid to start and build small enterprises. In the process jobs are created. I'm one of those newly converted entrepreneurs. However, the world of self-employment can be scary and shaky. Gone are the government house subsidies, medical aid, study allowances, unemployment insurance, etc... You're on your own boykie. By the way, if you make a success from all your sacrifice and 100 hour weeks the government will reward you by slapping taxing BEE requirements on your business - the irony...

Whichever way you look at it, loosing almost a million mostly highly skilled workers is something South Africa can ill afford. Sooner or later the ruling party will have to face the unpopular fact that making things uncomfortable for your most skilled citizens are going to cost you in the long run.

Many mostly black commentators bristle at the above debate. They retort that black South Africans can take up the slack, surely blacks aren't inferior or unable to perform as well as whites? If we haven't lived with colonialism and Apartheid for as long as we have that simplistic argument would have been very legitimate. However, the fact is that the majority of black South Africans, non-withstanding their equal potential, has lamented in pathetic schools and socio-economic conditions. The sad truth is that the majority of black citizens has simply not had the opportunity to develop their potential to the degree that they can make a meaningful contribution in the sphere of highly skilled workers. To disregard this is to bury your head in the sand. Worse, while privileged black kids now enjoy quality education in formerly whites-only schools, the majority of black kids still suffer incredibly poor education. Sooner or later the current government will have to start owing up to that, never mind how huge the challenge Apartheid and colonialism left it.

So what's the solution? I believe it lies in courageous bold leadership. The kind of leadership that will acknowledge that non-withstanding the sins of their fathers, whites who choose to stay in South Africa (very few don't want to) have a very valuable contribution to make to the welfare of the country. Downscale affirmative action, focus more on merit in appointments, BEEF UP EDUCATION and be patient. We need to grow that economic pie, at present it's way to small for 45 million people to share. The pie is only going to grow if nurtured, disregard the laws of intellectual capital and you risk making the future worse. The ANC's motto since the 1994 election has been 'A better life for all', indeed a noble cause. Social engineering could result in 'A worse life for all'...

I concede that it is probably too early to adopt a totally colour blind approach to fighting poverty in South Africa, thanks to our Apartheid past. But wouldn't it be nice if policies addressed poor, middle-class and wealthy South Africans - irrespective of race? Instead we're still stuck in racially based policies that provide or withhold opportunities based purely on race. Sooner or later that has got to change.

FIN24 : Empowering Financial Decisions: "Johannesburg - Any white male - more so if he's an Afrikaner - who says anything about affirmative action is now quickly relegated to being irrelevant, writes Finweek Editor Rikus Delport in this week's edition.

He writes: 'If you're someone who belonged to a previously privileged class your views don't count in the current debate.

'However, it's different if someone like the Governor of the SA Reserve Bank, a former Labour Minister and a respected figure in ANC circles, vents his views,
especially if he says something positive about whites in the workplace and -
believe it or not - about Afrikaners in particular.

'And that's precisely what happened when Governor Tito Mboweni spoke recently at a breakfast session in Johannesburg. When describing the dilemma the Bank is facing - black people who seek greener pastures shortly after being appointed and trained, his words were: 'I get so upset... I'm stopping this recruitment of black people. I'm okay with my Afrikaners. They stay and do the work and become experts.'

Must learn from experts
'However, what Mboweni said - probably in a joking and light-hearted manner - is what every company is experiencing but is afraid to say, and what blacks - with the exception of a few, such as Mboweni - aren't prepared to admit. Especially not in government circles. 'And that's to the detriment of SA's economy and empowerment. Because how can you empower a person if he can't learn from experts? And due to their previously privileged positions, it's the whites who have that expertise.'

Delport concedes that under the current government, SA has experienced unprecedented economic growth. And it's been said repeatedly that the economy has probably never been managed aas well as since 1994. "However, unless it's accepted that if all SA's people aren't set to work properly and don't use their skills correctly, then we won't reach the above-average growth levels government has targeted.
"To achieve that will necessarily mean that there must be equal opportunities for
all, that the unhealthy trend of putting people in positions just because they
belong to the right racial group or political party will have to stop and that skills must count above all else."

Time to drop the race issue
He says it's disturbing to learn that research shows that nearly 1m people, many of them experts, have left SA over the past 10 years - mainly due to affirmative action
and crime. "Especially if you remember that many of them had the potential to make a contribution to our economy and also create jobs." Delport points out that SA's current unemployment figure shows encouraging signs that the battle against that evil is slowly but surely being won.

"But it isn't happening fast enough, and politicians in particular should realise that people are becoming impatient at the slow progress. So why not use the expertise that we have at home to promote government's own aims?

"What Mboweni said is by implication applicable to most whites and not just Afrikaners: they're committed to the success of SA and they're prepared to work hard, even if opportunities for promotion are limited. But hasn't the time come for us to drop the race question?" "

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Inside the SABC blacklist report : Mail & Guardian Online

Oh my.... The way the SABC Board is handling the very important report on the enquiry into the rumored blacklisting by the SABC News head of commentators (critical of South African President Mbeki) makes for as much concern as the contents of the report itself. Less surprisingly, the way SABC News is reporting on the document smacks of willfully misleading the public.

I was driving in my car when a bulletin was broadcast on SABC Radio News stating that the report on the enquiry found no evidence of the rumored blacklisting. I only caught the end of the bulletin as the main news was recaptured. The shock and disbelief nearly caused me to leave the road. I decided though that the summary was perhaps unintentionally misleading and that if I heard the full report earlier in the bulletin I may have been treated to more balanced reporting. However, judging by the SABC's online news bulletin on this issue and reports in the general press, the SABC has indeed decided to whitewash the report and present a sanitised summary thereof to the public.

This is shocking. While it is never a very convincing exercise when any institution scrutinizes itself by means of an internal enquiry, the SABC's handling of this particular issue has cost it valuable public trust should it decide to have an internal enquiry on anything else in future. The irony is that the enquiry, and resulting report document, seem to have been well conducted and drafted. My impression is that it was carried out without favouring any one 'side'.

However, the SABC arrogantly decided that it could present it's own skewed representation thereof to the public and thus sidestep the painful but very necessary actions needed to rectify the situation. Alas, the news head stays on and the journalists at SABC News remains under pressure to play to his specific view of the world. Lucky us, Snuki Zikalala will make sure that the South African public is spoon fed with his particular medicine to fix how we see reality. Now we can keep on celebrating all the successes of our vibrant young democracy and ignore all the major challenges that face us. Rather than open debate on these issues, those who rely exclusively on SABC for their daily news -and there are many- can live in bliss ignorance. Snuki will see to it.

The commissioners who drafted the report rightly points out that the last thing the SABC as public broadcaster should be doing in our hard-won democracy is to repeat the practices of the old order (Apartheid South Africa). Thus disqualifying South Africans from democratic discourse and debate. In South Africa, the more informed, will often respond to a questionable statement or story with a sarcastic "Oh, did you read that in the Huisgenoot!" (English = "You"). The more ignorant will often try to bolster their story by pointing out that they read it in the Huisgenoot... The Huisgenoot being a sensationalist human interest weekly magazine featuring the stars, their marriages and babies as well as a guy who survived a crossbow shot through the head or something to that order. It's a glossy magazine version of cheap Sunday tabloid checkbook journalism. The way things are going now, the SABC is in danger of taking Huisgenoot's place in that expression.

Our saving grace at this time is that a lot of our newspapers still value proper journalism and a selected few still practice investigative journalism. Amongst them the Mail and Guardian has been a stalwart both in the old and new South Africa. While the SABC may accuse the newspaper of having stolen the report drafted after the enquiry, which the newspaper denies, I really don't give a damn. The newspaper should be commended for making the full document available to the public. It's a pity that most of the public will still not get to see it as their only access to information is through a politically correct public broadcaster. At least a fair number of people, those who have internet access, can now get their hands on it. You can find the full report, as provided on Mail and Guardian's website, here. For the newspaper's full reporting on the issue, click the link below. Make sure to read the then SABC's Pippa Green's letter of protest to her erstwhile colleague Zikalala. It's sad that someone with the courage of conviction that she shows in the aforementioned letter has been lost to the public broadcaster. I fear more are due to follow...

Inside the SABC blacklist report : Mail & Guardian Online: "The South African Broadcasting Corporation has violated the recommendations of the commission it appointed to probe a blacklist by releasing only a sanitised summary of its findings on Thursday.

(Read original SABC report - PDF, 200k)

Commissioners Gilbert Marcus and Zwelakhe Sisulu said that 'it would indeed be abhorrent, and at gross variance with the SABC's mandate and policies, if practices of the old order were being repeated in the new, with the effect of again disqualifying South Africans from democratic discourse and debate.

'For this reason, we are firmly of the view that this report should be released to the public after consideration by the board.'

The SABC issued a seven-page summary and statement about the commission."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kevin Pietersen giving South African whiteys a bad name

It's a sad fact that South Africa loose thousands of very talented and skilled citizens to emigration every year. This is partly due to globalization, which makes professionals and otherwise skilled individuals globally mobile. In South Africa's case other factors that play a role include crime, affirmative action, unwillingness to live under a black government (racism), etc.

Around the time of the fall of Apartheid (1994) the term "the Chicken Run" was coined. The Chicken Run basically referred to white South Africans who were scared out of their wits by the prospect of living under black rule. The writing was on the wall for Apartheid. This had definite implications for the advantaged life that whites have enjoyed for 300 years of colonialism (Dutch & British) and 40 years of Apartheid. Many wealthy and skilled whites hastily packed their bags. Most headed for Britain, as many English speaking South Africans still have British passports. Others headed for Australia ('packing for Perth'), New Zealand and the US. At one time a bumper sticker appeared reading: "Will the last person to leave the country please switch off the lights"...

Luckily many more whiteys decided to stay put. Many English speaking South Africans have no wish to leave the country of their birth and would love nothing more than to raise their kids on African soil. Afrikaans speaking whites (mostly referred to as 'Afrikaners') find themselves in a rather unique position. A large portion of them have been living in the country for over 300 years. In that time Afrikaans evolved from Dutch, German, French, Malay and other influences to a distinctively separate language. While it is still close to Dutch and Flemish it is a language in its own right. Afrikaans culture went through a similar process of evolution and is totally separate from the original Dutch culture, as well as others which influenced its development. The simple fact is that Afrikaners cannot easily assimilate into the Dutch culture as many may believe. I for one do not feel at home in the Netherlands at all. On visits there I do find the similarities in language intriguing, but the land could not feel more foreign. Thus, Afrikaners who joined the Chicken Run tend to stand out as immigrants with a strangely different culture wherever they choose to relocate to.

This is not to say that Afrikaners can't successfully start a life outside of South Africa. Most Afrikaners have enjoyed a privileged education. The Afrikaners also has a long history of rising above difficult circumstances. Thus many Afrikaners are able to succeed, even in difficult circumstances that may be foreign to them. The issue is rather whether they will feel at home anywhere else, but in South Africa? In my mind the answer in the majority of cases is a resounding NO WAYS.

In the end the vast majority of whites chose to remain in the country, most because they would never consider leaving anyway and some because they did not have the financial means to leave. Many whites in the country have developed a extremely strong 'new South Africa' patriotism. I believe most has no longing for the 'old' South Africa whatsoever. However, an uncomfortably large number of whites still view the country through thick racist spectacles. Crime is not only an unacceptable fact of life, it is simply 'proof that blacks can't manage anything' (sic). The same goes for, admittedly huge, problems regarding school education, the beleaguered struggle against Aids, way too much corruption, etc. This last racist grouping cannot talk about these serious scourges without race entering the picture, it's like a badly prepared gravy poured over your beef. Whether you like the beef as is or not, they can be trusted to always spoil the meal by pouring the gravy of race (blacks this and that) over your meal...

One of the ironies of present day South Africa is witnessing how national sports can unite not only different races in their mutual passion, but also racist and non-racist. Few things peeve white South Africans more than having their national teams face South African born opposition. We absolutely 'hate' the likes of Clive Rathbone and Kevin Pieterson. These guys are excellent sportsmen, but how on earth can they be playing for a team other than South Africa? This country gave them only love and tender care in their formative years. Rathbone played in, and celebrated with, the victorious (South African) under 21 world cup winning rugby team. Everyone was looking forward to seeing, among others, Rathbone move on to the senior squad (the Springbok rugby team). How on earth can he pull the Australian jersey over his head to face his former compatriots and not feel like a COMPLETE FAKE, dare we say - a traitor? To add insult to injury the other half of the centre-pair is South African born as well.

However, where South African sports lovers completely loose any sympathy, not that much is left to start with, is when these fools start bad-mouthing the country that raised them and nurtured their skills. Finally, if you then have the complete lack of style or brains to give a South African crowd the middle finger you should seriously consider never touring South Africa again - ever. If you then feel aggrieved getting boo-ed by capacity crowds whenever you do something on the sport field, good or bad, then all hope is lost. You've lost the plot mate.

Archie Henderson plays to these kind of feelings in his column in News 24 (excerpt and hyperlink below). I could not agree more with his final paragraph: "But good luck to KP ((Kevin Pieterson)). He is a rare talent, he is also a real 'windgat' ((blow hole)) - and he is good for the game. But he should just stop being such a cry baby. He gives the rest of us whiteys a bad name."

'Let your bat do the talking': "Archie Henderson.
Kevin Pietersen is a modern South African tragedy.
It has less to do with South Africa's perceived unrequited love for the man, or his alleged victimisation than with his attitude towards the land of his birth. "

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Our hopes are being destroyed

The article lower down (with hyperlink) refers. Tim Modise is a well respected talk-show host and current affairs anchor person. He made his appearance on the national broadcaster's English television channel in the last years of apartheid (early 90's), as the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) grudgingly started reflecting the change that was underway in the country. Modise has a pleasant persona and quickly gathered quite a following. After a few years at the Corporation he faced the typical dilemma that many popular talk-show hosts / anchor persons have to grapple with, how long do I want to do this? If you think about it, these kind of positions probably loose their appeal quite quickly. To a large extent you're a figure head. Yes, you have to be able to think on your feet and have good interviewing skills. But all the challenging preparation, digging, research, etc. is done by someone else.

Modise was then appointed as chairperson for the Proudly South African Campaign that got of the ground a couple of years ago.

I find his article (see link below) both encouraging and perplexing. The encouraging bit is that a prominent black individual is highlighting serious issues that faces not only black South Africans, but do impact hugely specifically on that section of our nation. He asks critical questions about (black) African culture. It is not a popular line to take and for that he must be commended. Modise points out in no uncertain terms that black males, in his view, have become the 'bogeymen' of their own people. In his guest column he deals mostly with the position of women and their victimisation through heinous crimes such as spousal abuse, rape and murder.

What I find perplexing is his proposed remedy. I find it strange that he focus exclusively on males when it comes to addressing the above scourges. In his column it seems to be the male population that has failed society and it is the same section of our society that is called upon to remedy the situation. All of this has merit. But what about women? Is a view of society / community that places power and responsibility exclusively in the hands of men not part of the problem? I would argue that elevating women in terms of their position in society is a crucial ingredient in all of this. If women are to be the powerless recipients of all things good, rather than taking control of their own destinies - can we realistically expect any improvement?

My view is that the hierarchal position that men is entitled to in traditional patriarchal African culture is a fundamental part of this problem. The patriarchal approach to society is of course not unique to (black) African culture. It is very much present in the Afrikaans community in which I was raised. However, traditional (black) African culture seems to trump everyone else in this respect. I assume that Modise has simply chosen to address black males in his article and does not necessarily exclude women from the issue. However, in the broader debate it is crucial that the emancipation of women should be placed centre stage.

Our hopes are being destroyed: "I deeply appreciate that I have been given this opportunity to reflect on developments in the public arena as well as on current affairs in general. I suppose this will give me an opportunity to reflect on what our society talks about on radio and television as I enjoy a sort of front row seat into the psyche of our nation.

I was approached to write this column during the month of August, a month when our country, correctly, commemorated the role played by women in the struggle for justice and freedom.

The usual but unflattering issues were again highlighted. Women living in abusive relationships. Women living in fear of violence and being raped. Women still not socially and economically empowered enough to determine power relations in the scary era of the rapacious HIV and Aids pandemic. The era where the dominant family structure is the single-parent-mother-headed home.

Fifty years before, women had marched for justice and freedom, yet they were still living in fear of, this time, their own brothers and fathers. They were now more terrified and angry with the very men who made it part of the democratic state's agenda to have women empowered and represented fully in all spheres of society.

These observations made me ask troubled questions. Why would the men who historically have been the custodians of the fate of the African people become the bogeymen of their own people? These are men who for centuries negotiated difficult and hostile environments to create communities and cultures that sustain up to today."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

CO2: Humans to blame

The caption above comes from an article posted in today. My reaction - what's new?

This is not because I'm skeptical of the whole global warming concept, quite the opposite. I'm in fact flabbergasted that some world leaders still bristle at acknowledging the fact of global warming, and the policy implications thereof. Of course, therein lies the rub (policy implications). I'm afraid when considering this issue, the US's President Bush comes to mind most prominently. Which big-business-serving-president in his right mind would seriously consider conservation-based policies that may make life slightly more complicated for some of his main constituents?

But will reality eventually enter the current White House Administration's decision making process on this issue, can one dare hope for that? Many commentators have ventured strategies on how Pres. Bush can secure a lasting positive legacy. They play this game in the context of perceived failures in engaging in, and the management of, the Iraq War; the questionable approach to the 'war on terror'; domestic policies; etc. I for one, would love to see President Bush opt for taking the lead with a bold, principled and fact-based approach to addressing the very real issue of climate change.

Don't get your hopes up... I cannot see an administration that is hell bent on defeating the opposition at every turn, politicking and media-spinning every issue, being interested in following sound logic when deciding on this very important issue. The problem is not only that the policy implications of climate change is difficult to face, it is also a pet subject of the opposition party - making it a very unattractive issue to embrace.

One possible glimmer of hope is the sprinkling of Christian religious leaders in the US that are starting to embrace the issue of global warming from a bible-based angle. In addition to big business, bible-belt-America is an important constituent for the Bush administration. However, it seems like too many American Christian (evangelical) congregations are still hung-up with casting the Iraq endeavor as a religious calling.

While politicians haggle and struggle to hang on to votes (and money) climate change will slowly but surely continue. When will it be too late? The problem is that while scientists are finding new sources to prove the existence of global warming, from every conceivable angle, no one can say for sure when the first domino will fall to indicate the proverbial point-of-no-return. When do we reach the point when climate change has affected so many different natural systems, wiped out so many species, that life as we know it is doomed? Even though that damnation may play out over multiple life times.

For me the obvious approach should be to avoid that point by all means possible. It requires radical and bold political leadership from world leaders. If we don't know when we'll reach this point, if we haven't already, why take the risk of crossing it? It is mind-boggling that humanity can act so passively in the face of such a major risk.

I did hear an interesting comment in a discussion on this issue recently. The speaker said that if global warming lead to an environmental catastrophe, eventually after a few millennia or longer, Earth will probably recover. However, humanity will not be around to witness the recovery.

In such a scenario I can imagine our planet being quite well off...

CO2: Humans to blame: "Norwich - Air from the oldest ice core confirms human activity has increased the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to levels not seen for hundreds of thousands of years, scientists said on Monday.

Bubbles of air in the 800 000-year-old ice, drilled in the Antarctic, show levels of CO2 changing with the climate. But the present levels are out of the previous range.

'It is from air bubbles that we know for sure that carbon dioxide has increased by about 35% in the last 200 years,' said Dr Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey and the leader of the science team for the 10-nation European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica.

'Before the last 200 years, which man has been influencing, it was pretty steady,' he added."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Crime, grime and chickens

An interesting column by Georgina Guedes was posted on today (scroll down for excerpt and link). I agree with her, you see and experience as much as you choose to - unless you live in squalor in which case your choices are severely limited...

Furthermore, how you experience things are influenced by previous exposure to crime and grime - the effect thereof depending on whether you allow this exposure to enrich and deepen your insight or simply to irritate. Middle- and upper class South Africans, who choose to, are exposed to a lot of third world realities in their own back yard and are thus mostly well prepared for what awaits them in third world countries. That is if you define South Africa as a 'developing country' and not third world per se - which is not really in dispute. Most developing countries are home to the first and third world at once - which is definitely true of South Africa.

Yet there are many wealthy white South Africans who have never set foot in a township, never mind a 'squatter camp' - of which there are many. Most have however been affected by crime in one way or another. In the context of mass poverty in our society, 'wealthy' (whites) include middle-class white South Africans. Those black South Africans that escape a life of poverty, thankfully an increasing number, are still linked by family and friends to the townships and are thus well informed of the realities of poverty.

Strangely, from the perspective of someone who grew up in middle-class white South Africa..., many buppies (black up-and-coming professionals) seem to be involved in a new struggle - this time not against apartheid but a struggle to acquire material wealth. In the ten years of democracy since 1994, most economists agree, this spending spree by buppies has been a major contributor to South Africa's economic growth (building up scary levels of credit along the way). In that respect the spending spree helps to create jobs for the unemployed.

But in an ideal world, newly gained wealth would have flowed from buppies back to their extended families in the townships. In the process society at large would benefit - albeit slowly. According to the conservative (cynical) view of African culture, this would in fact hamper the progress of 'good blacks' (sic) who could prosper if not for the poor masses pulling them down - claiming their share of the loot... The irony and somewhat worrying fact is that many buppies, probably the majority, are proving very much adept at gaining personal wealth and looking after their own needs - rather than spreading the love around...

Anyways, I'm drifting away from the topic. An extract from the Georgina Guedes column follows below, click on the link for the complete version.

Crime, grime and chickens: "While travelling in South East Asia, my boyfriend Ter and I befriended a really nice Canadian couple.

They were clever, had senses of humour and even though they had come from somewhere as advanced, both in technology and social infrastructure, as Canada, they were having a wonderful time in the Third World.

One evening, we ended up discussing the differences between our expectations of the places that we had come to and what we had actually ended up experiencing.

The Canadian girl's mother, in particular, had been horrified by her daughter setting off for exactly the kind of environs that good Canadians had worked so hard to advance beyond.

She was further flummoxed by her daughter's seeming unwillingness to buckle up and speed along the career path that lay dazzling before her. But in the end, she was forced to acknowledge that however incomprehensible her daughter's wishes were, the adventure was going to be had, and there was very little she could do about it.

She managed to distil all her fears into one neurosis, and instructed her daughter to 'avoid all areas where birds might have been', in an attempt to thwart the bird flu virus that, in her mind, threatens to infect with every breath drawn in Asia. "

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Reuters: Blow-ups 'make it safe'

This short article appeared in today's I can see something like this actually taking off in South Africa, with the number of car hijackings we have. It will make for great humour as well...

Blow-ups 'make it safe': "London - He fits in a car's glove box, appears at a flick of a switch and when a woman has finished using him, she can just pull the plug and he deflates.

He's the 'Buddy on Demand', a blow-up man launched on Tuesday with the aim of making solo female motorists feel less nervous about driving at night.

According to research by the inflatable friend's creator, insurer Sheilas' Wheels, 82% of women feel safer with someone sitting in the car beside them and nearly a half don't like driving alone in the dark.

'We're not saying that an inflatable man is the only answer but we do hope it will give women extra confidence and make journeys in the dark less fearful,' said Jacky Brown, the spokesperson for Sheilas' Wheels."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BBC NEWS: India bloggers angry at net ban

The comments that follow relates to an article on the website of BBC News (online edition) today. The Indian blogging community is up in arms (a lot of Indian bloggers at least...) about the banning of a number of blogs by the Indian government, scroll down for excerpts and a link to the story.

I'm an avid reader of Time Magazine. It offers a limited amount of reading per issue, as opposed to some of its more weighty competitors, but tends to have interesting features in manageable portions. The first issue of July featured India. It had some really interesting comments in regard to the country's entrepreneurial spirit. Having noticed the article below on today's BBC News online edition, two elements of Time's feature comes to mind.

Time noted that much of India's economic boom is due to the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals, pursuing opportunities brought about by globalization and the internet - regardless of the government not coming to the party. The latter being stated in the context of bureaucracy, poor service delivery and generally poor infrastructure.

The Magazine also noted that India's economy was booming because it is a (the most populous) democracy. Within the unrestricted realms of a democracy, regardless of the government's poor performance, individuals have the opportunity to excel - only requiring drive, innovation and skills. Time contrasts India with China more than once, with the editorial staff's American bias for the former -because of its democratic nature- coming through quite strongly. It is argued that ultimately the Indian model is more viable, by virtue of being based on the freedom entailed in a democracy. In the long run it has to outperform the centrist, restricted and top-down Chinese model.

Although Time's coverage is peppered (or spiced?) with a good dose of American idealism, it does ring true. Especially if you prescribe to democratic values... It has to be said that major failures / challenges in Indian society (poverty, Aids, etc.) is not glossed over by the feature. Time also points out that the success of India's IT industry has lead to an increase in wages, moving some of India's IT giants to, ironically, look towards outsourcing some functions (read jobs).

Having read the above mentioned feature and having been quite impressed by India's promising future, the BBC article below comes as a bit of a disappointment. It could easily be blown out of proportion, I know. However, it is a worrying development. Freedom of speech should ideally have no barriers. Never mind how many people are offended by the contents of a particular blog. One can only hope that this is a trend that will die in its infancy and not be allowed to mature. The seemingly strong response from India's blogging community is a good start. I hope India will not start copying the bad habits of its nemesis China. Then who will the West bet on as its favoured emerging super power...?

(This story provide interesting similarities with an issue on which I blogged earlier this month, under the caption Citizens, bloggers & the 'Fourth Estate')

BBC NEWS South Asia India bloggers angry at net ban: "India's burgeoning blogging community is up in arms against a government directive that they say has led to the blocking of their web logs.

The country's 153 internet service providers (ISP) have blocked 17 websites since last week on federal government orders.

Some of these sites belong to Google's Blogspot, a leading international web log hosting service.

Indian bloggers say that the decision is an attack on freedom of speech...

...A federal government notification of July 2003 says it can ban websites in the interest of:

  • sovereignty or integrity of India
  • security of the state
  • friendly relations with foreign states and public order
  • preventing incitement to commissioning of any cognisable offences.

The sites that have been banned include ones with right-wing Hindu links and an anti-Communist one. At least four of them are on the Blogspot hosting service."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Johannesburg Rises Above Its Apartheid Past - New York Times

I'm a great fan of the New York Times (NYT) - online edition. Their articles are often on the long side, but very informative. While some may be put off by the fact that the NYT definitely caters for Democrats (as in supporters of the USA's Democratic Party), it mostly provides ample exposure for various conflicting opinions on the same issue - where applicable.

As a South African, active in our tourism industry, I'm always very curious to read foreign perspectives on our product in general, or specific attractions / destinations within South Africa or the greater region (Southern Africa).

Sometimes, with some of the enquiries we get at Africa Deluxe Tours for South African tours, potential clients will clearly state that they want to avoid Johannesburg at all cost. This is due to their perceptions of it being a very dangerous destination, because of high crime levels.

Truth be told, it can indeed be a very dangerous place - especially if you don't know it. We normally recommend visitors to include Johannesburg in their itineraries (depending on what they want to get out of their travels of course), but that they make use of a reputable operator in doing so. Otherwise they may well run into trouble. The main reason for using a reputable operator, in this case, has to do with safety considerations. However, a tourist guide -if (s)he's worth his salt- will also add a lot of value in unlocking an unknown city for you. This is especially true of a destination like Soweto (part of Johannesburg), which features a culture and way of life alien to most non-African visitors.

Today's NYT includes a very well written, very comprehensive, article on visiting Johannesburg by Michael Wines. One irony in this article, is the recommended hotel at the end of it, taking into account what the writer had to say about Melrose Arch... The same goes for the Moyo Restaurant, also located in Melrose Arch. Having said that, I agree with his assessment of Melrose Arch - and at the same time agree that both the hotel and restaurant would make a worthwhile visit for most tourists. The hotel is a very funky, designer-type, establishment with off-the-wall humor in its room interiors. It will appeal to a hip crowd, definitely not your style if you prefer colonial establishments. The restaurant provides a vibey, fresh, African experience - often with live entertainment.

I agree with the author that tourists should venture out of the wealthy northern suburbs, which may feel quite familiar to western visitors. Venturing into the city centre and Soweto, once again in the company of a local tour operator / tourist guide, will provide much more unusual experiences and insights. However, don't shun the northern suburbs, as here to, there is much to learn about modern-day South Africa.

Excerpts and a link to the article follows below:

Johannesburg Rises Above Its Apartheid Past - New York Times: "TAKE the M1 freeway south, past the spas and high-end restaurants of Melrose Arch, through the leafy suburb of Houghton and past the nearby clubs and galleries of Melville. Go past all that, and past downtown's concrete towers and the booming Newtown cultural district, and get off at Rissik Street. Just a block away, in the shadow of the elevated freeway's pillars, there awaits the finest selection of porcupine skin and baboon entrails in all Africa...

...Yet many South Africans insist that it is the one city that no visitor should miss. At more than six million people, it is the biggest city in South Africa and the most transformed. Twenty years ago, much of Johannesburg was the preserve of South Africa's white minority. Today, it is a stewpot of colors and languages, the fruit not only of liberation but also of a huge influx of immigrants and refugees. Johannesburg is a place where purveyors of muti - the porcupine skins, ground herbs and baboon entrails touted as cure-alls for everything from flatulence to flagging love affairs - hawk their wares a few blocks from skyscrapers....
...A proper place to begin is the Apartheid Museum (, near Soweto, a powerful series of exhibits and multimedia presentations documenting the last century's oppression. Visitors begin the journey with a pass arbitrarily labeling them white or nonwhite; inside, the concrete-and-steel space, with nooses hung from the ceiling and exhibits caged in wire or trapped behind bars, brings home apartheid's brutality with unusual force.
Soweto, a city of more than a million people, is rife with reminders of that brutality. The Hector Pieterson memorial and museum in the Orlando West neighborhood recounts the 1976 Soweto riots, the event that sounded apartheid's death knell. Orlando West is also the world's only neighborhood that housed two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and the Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu..."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Qwelane: " SABC's Snuki 'plain bad news' "

Jon Qwelane is a columnist who, amongst other outlets, is published weekly on In a column published today he takes up the topic of my previous post. Qwelane tends to be extremely outspoken and seems to like stoking a bit of controversy now and then. With most of his columns someone ends up being seriously unhappy. In this case, I believe, most readers would heartily support his views. Excerpt and link to the column follows below:

SABC's Snuki 'plain bad news': "The sticky pickle in which the SABC finds itself is one of its own making and, in my opinion, there is absolutely no need for an internal inquiry - which, I believe, lacks credibility anyway - but there still is a way out of the mess.

The solution is quite simple really: chief executive Dali Mpofu must fire his news executive head, Snuki Zikalala, immediately.

Zikalala is the reason some cynics are now derisively saying SABC is the abbreviation of Snuki African Broadcasting Circus, and I can see their dejected point of view quite clearly."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Citizens, bloggers & the 'Fourth Estate'

On 30 June 2006 Lizette Rabe, head of the postgraduate Department of Journalism at the University of Stellenbosch, wrote in a article:

Become more media savvy: "It's not only a matter of being media literate, to be able to read between the lines, that enables us to understand any given news, whether in print, broadcast or new media.

It is also knowing about your rights as a citizen in terms of freedom of expression - and how it is or is not manipulated by those who think they have a right to decide what others may think and say."

Summarising and paraphrasing freely the article argues the following: South Africa's media freedom is largely dependent on citizen's appreciation of their constitutional right to freedom of expression. When 'apparatchiks' of the public broadcaster claim the right to manage how journalists cover the news, even indirectly, one has to be worried. While South Africa boasts a 'well-developed media infrastructure' we need 'media literacy campaigns' to create awareness of the important role of the Fourth Estate in a democracy. In protecting the Fourth Estate, an emerging "Fifth Estate" (bloggers) is sometimes mentioned as protector of the former - but this is not the solution. Members of the media have to fend for themselves by standing up to undue interference.

Her comments follow on two disturbing incidents in recent times. The one is a decision by the powers that be at the public broadcaster (SABC) to cancel, at the last moment, the broadcast of a 'un-authorised'-style documentary on President Thabo Mbeki. The other is the revelation that journalists at the SABC were instructed to avoid using a number of commentators in putting together news stories. What the blacklisted commentators seem to have in common is critical views of President Mbeki and the policies of the ruling ANC government. In both cases the SABC aggressively defended itself against accusations of censorship, but commentators and other sections of the media cried foul. The SABC at first flatly denied the blacklisting of some commentators, but reverted to an enquiry into the matter after a SAFM (English radio service) presenter confirmed on air that he in the past received instructions not to interview some commentators.

With accusations and counter-accusations flying around it's always difficult to form a clear picture of what's going on behind the scenes. However, to paraphrase an Afrikaans expression, where there's smoke there's a fire. That is, while the finer details may be disputed, it is clear that all is not right.

Is media freedom under threat in South Africa?
What was sorely missing in the whole saga, at least in the coverage that I was exposed to, is a strong and unequivocal statement from the SABC and the cabinet on the importance of, and their respect for, the media's freedom. Pleading ignorance and discrediting your accusers is not a satisfying answer to the core question - is media freedom under threat in present day South Africa? Truth be told, we have never before seen the impressive media freedom in South Africa, that has become a feature of our democracy since 1994.

Citizens of any country, including ours, cannot take this extremely important pillar of democracy for granted. If it crumbles, the whole democratic temple will follow suit. In the bigger picture of the South African media the two incidents that has caused so much discussion is in my view an exception, rather than being the rule. However, the way the SABC and cabinet responded to the accusations, is cause for concern. It suggests that in the case of the public broadcaster much more pressure needs to be applied to guard against the cancer of censorship.

I believe the privately owned media is at present more or less free from undue interference from their owners. Most definitely something to be thankful for.

Citizens' role in protecting media freedom?
But what to do about the SABC and its 'owner'? That journalists should have the courage of their conviction to stand up against even the mildest form of censorship, is a given. Where this does not happen all hope is lost. But what about the rest of society. Can we play a role?

The idealistic answer is 'hell yes!'. In practice it's not so simple. The management of the SABC is not elected and often not seen by the general public as their servants. This is off-course a misconception. In this sense Ms Rabe's contention that South Africa needs 'media literacy campaigns' makes a lot of sense. The media often performs well in informing, reminding and educating citizens on important events in the past. Programmes and content around Youth Day (commemorating the Soweto uprising of 1976), Sharpville, etc. come to mind. Sometimes the coverage of these events take on an almost religious element.

However, in taking a critical view of current affairs and policy implications for the future the same vigor is not always displayed - especially at the SABC. The South African public needs to reminded by the well covered events of the past, that if the Fourth Estate does not function freely the first three estates (government) is bound to get up to no good (think blacked-out sentences on the front page of South African newspapers in the 80's...). We as citizens should think about the dangers of any level of censorship today in those kind of terms. Even a government voted in by the kind of majority the ANC received in the last election should still continuously be put under the microscope. Being elected is a responsibility, not a chance to do as you please.

Blogging community
I was intrigued by Ms Rabe's mentioning of the Blogging community as the 'Fifth Estate'. Being new to the act of Blogging it creates the temptation in me of taking on an air of smug self-importance. Uh-hum, I'm looking out for your rights bro - I'm a blogger! However, she shoots down that notion in her very next sentence. I concur. The media's role is unique and cannot be substituted by blogging. In fact, the notion could be quite dangerous. Bloggers answer only to themselves and are notoriously subjective. While it is an obvious fact that no media outlet is fully objective, the profession of journalism is a well established and developed one. It does have checks and balances built into it and tend to be transparent. Blogging is all too often a bunch of ignorant hooligans who rant of subjective, untested and unbalanced arguments and statements. Often blogging is an act of activism, rather than empowering readers through information. Covering contradicting viewpoints in a fair and balanced manner is something I've seldom encountered in the bloggosphere.

Still, even though the medium is very much flawed, it does have an important role to play when it comes to civil liberties such as freedom of expression. In the ideal world we still mingle with the people in our street and know our neighbours by first name. In the real world we don't. Most of us are buried in work, we socialize and discuss issues with a small group of like-minded close friends or associates in our very limited spare time. This can be replicated on the Net off-course, but you can also choose to talk to strangers as much as you like.

In the world of blogging, as opposed to chat-rooms and news groups, you can get to know strangers intimately in terms of their thought processes. Something which normally takes weeks, months or years in the real world. Multiply this hundreds of times and a potentially life-enriching experience awaits you. It's like walking through a massive stadium where scores of people are huddled in small groups discussing interesting (or frivolous...) subjects. You are free to walk around and join or leave a discussion without being frowned upon. The guy who happens to be speaking can do so uninterrupted for as long as he/she likes.

If you walk around enough you will get to hear really smart people with interesting opinions or fascinating tales to tell. In short you can deepen you insight on just about any topic under the sun. You can do so by talking and listening to people who you would never meet in real life and may not feel comfortable meeting in the company of your like-minded real life friends. In a space like this, questioning and discussing at length the state of civil liberties can progress unhindered (unless you're living in China or the like...).

I suppose a difference between the (electronic & print) media and the bloggosphere is that the former speaks to millions at the same time while the latter speaks (potentially) to thousands or even millions on a personal level one at a time. Try to tell your breakfast programme presenter that his/her take on an event is totally skewed and shortsighted...

So how can blogging assist in protecting the Fourth Estate? One way is probably by making netizen-citizens used to exercising freedom of expression on the Net, unhindered. The idea of a state apparatchik censoring your blog or limiting which opinions you may quote in it is simply absurd. The extension of this to the journalist delivering your dose of daily news is obvious.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A new blog about to be born

Hi all

I'm about to start this new blog. For now I'm just getting to know the ropes of what offers.

I'm a 36-year old city-boy currently living in the platteland (rural regions), on the coastline of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. I have a limited journalism background, spent a few years working as spokesperson for the University of Pretoria and have been the co-owner and managing director of Africa Deluxe Tours since 1998.

I have a keen interest in various aspects of my home country, the Southern Africa region and global issues. This blog will focus on my impressions, as a South African (based) individual on all things South(ern) African as well as insights on global issues as seen from this southern corner of the globe.

I'll be blogging away soon...