Mhambi has been redeployed.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mhambi's South Africa 2006

Open debate, Aids, Gays, Poverty

2006 was a watershed year for South Africa. It was a year that saw more open debate than at any time since the all democratic elections of 1994. Why? Because the monolithic ANC dominated political discourse was shattered with the infighting between the Zuma and Mbeki camps.

Deputy president Zuma was of course cleared of a rape charge and then the charge for corruption was withdrawn.

For the first time people and the press felt free to openly question excepted wisdom on many issues. As with most open debate, some times this questioning was good, "should the government not have spent more on the poor?" Sometimes bad: "Why give gays rights?" The specter of political campaigning along ethnic and tribal lines also raised its ugly head.

But one of the most benign effects of this opening up was that it allowed more debate on Mbeki's disastrous Aids policy that has the cost the lives of thousands of South Africans. By year end the government had changed its policy, lets hope they can implement this new policy far wide and fast.

The question remained, was this a sign of a maturing democracy or just an opening up as a consequence of a jostling for power in the ruling party?

De la Rey makes a comeback

It was also the year in which some detected the stirrings of resurgent Afrikaner nationalism and unity. A response to the renaming of towns and cities, crime, corruption, affirmative action and a general sense of exclusion of the once dominant group. This even found expression in phenomena like the extremely popular De la Rey song of a young Afrikaner, Bok van Blerk.

White intellectuals made their voices heard to. In concert authors like Brink and Malan lamented the parlous state of law and order. Malan saw a sad decay, but Brink saw slaughter in the future. Nadine Gordimer was mugged in her home, but she stayed positive, preferring to blame the government for not helping the poor.

The meaning of Africaness

Another intellectual, Van Zyl Slabbert, articulated another new trend that became increasingly visible during the year. The growing racial exclusive ideology that only black South Africans could be African, and not white coloured or asian ones.

It was not just South African white writers that were negative, so too people like UK Guardian South African correspondent Rory Carroll. He never quite fell for South Africa because it "took a sledge hammer to his cherished progressive ideals".

Another Brit, Nick Broomfield, managed to produce both the most entertaining and most out of touch documentary of the year about South Africa, "His big white self".

A booming economy

All this pessimism while one could be forgiven for asking what all the fuss was about - the South African economy appeared in rude health - growing at record levels for a record period. But, the growth has so far been very slow on delivering South African jobs. The rich is getting richer and the poor poorer.


White trash
Originally uploaded by Hermosdef.

Violence continued across the country as in the past few years. Black South Africans were still more likely to be killed than white ones, usually by other black South Africans and often by somebody they know. If you were foreign and black you were in real danger. Especially Somali business men were targeted in a spate of killings across the country.

PW Botha, the last apartheid defending leader of the country passed away.

There was increasing debate about the countries history. Events like the Battle at Cuito Canavale in Angola are set to become a political battle field going forward.

And it was reported that nearly 800,000 white South Africans had immigrated since 1994. That's nearly 20% of the total.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy xmas - to a tolerant and warm new year

Mhambi is about to leave for a few days in Spain. Mhambi is not religious, in fact he is agnostic. But in todays UK Guardian he read that most of Britain's inhabitants don't think much of religion either.

South Africa
Originally uploaded by dig4beats.

Weird is it not. Both the Dutch and the British - the two main groups that white South Africans come from - are of the most a-religious societies on earth. Yet white South Africans are uber religious. Just like black, coloured and asian South Africans.

It's infuriating: I often wish my compatriots would pray less and read more. South Africans are described as religious, genuinely warm and friendly, but they are also ignorant, xenophobic and anti-gay.

Originally uploaded by E M i L i A.

The Dutch and the British are also often said to be some of the most tolerant societies on earth.

Yet, something is rotten. The British and the Dutch are some of the rudest and coldest people Mhambi has met.

Could it be that the flipside of the tolerance coin is indifference? Could it be that the opposite of belief is debilitating cynicism?

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Feed or notifications for Mhambi

Yes, Mhambi's got a job. Now you know how I could post so much the last six weeks. And now you know that it will be harder to do the same going forward.

Well to help my regular 31 readers (yes, I'm tracking you) not have to revisit the site for new postings, I have included two new ways to get notified when Mhambi posts.

The first is the Mhambi feed for those of you with RSS readers. For those of you not that technically inclined, you can just enter your email address here, and be notified that way.

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Myths and misunderstandings: South African white racism

Originally uploaded by Barry Lewis.
Mhambi is regularly struck at how the British (and probably most Westerners) misunderstand South Africa racism. I just started a new job, and over a boozy Chistmas lunch, a new colleague told me of his lovely visit to South African shores.

He had a lovely time but was gob smacked when he visited Sun City, playing a round of Golf on the famous course. It was not the fact that there are real crocodiles in the water hazards that shocked him. It was a sign "No caddies past this point" - on the border of a crocodile infested pit.

For a start he did not use a caddie, that smacking too much of white-michief-type colonialism. In South Africa caddies are almost exclusively black. But the sign left him incredulous. "How could this racist sign still be up there, a few years after apartheid ended??" he asked me, clearly exasperated.

Mhambi gave a well practised sheepish laugh. What to say? First off, I was not sure he and I saw it the same way. I certainly was not shocked.

I deduced that he must think that white golf players send their caddies into crocodile infested pits to fetch their racist bwanas balls - hence the sign. And then he said as much. "How racist is that?!!" he asked rhetorically.

I laughed even more, now my embarrassment was tinged with sadness.

To me one could detect signs of racism in the sign, but of a different ilk to the one that had just been spotted and caused such disgust.

The sign was directed at caddies, and not players who commanded them. The caddies were not mere automatons with no power to decide where they could go.

In fact, the caddies probably scour the golf course on their own for abandoned balls, to sell them at a discount to players.

They have a reckless disregard for the dangers of this particular course - hence the sign. That's how I saw it, and I'm pretty sure I'm right. But I kept this to myself.

But my colleague can just not imagine that a caddie would want to try and get a ball in such a dangerous place.

The Sun City golf course management and myself could. But for him, it was easy to imagine whitey golfers sending powerless caddies to their deaths.

Does this misunderstanding tell us anything more profound?

Yes. White South African racism, and in particular Afrikaans racism is of a paternalistic kind: It's a - our blacks that we can't trust to look after themselves - kind of racism. That is the racism this signs speaks of, and it is often mistaken for another more BNP / National Front / Klu Klux Clan - Western kind of racism.

Does it matter? Of course. Any lawyer will tell you that the intention of an offender is essential in determining the severity of the crime.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Taliep Petersen murdered in his home

Some sad news today: South African director producer Taliep Petersen has been murdered in his home.

Armed men broke into his home in the Cape Town suburb of Athlone, tied him up and shot him in the neck.

Taliep, 56, directed and produced many musicals, including District Six, Kat and the Kings, and Ghoema.

Armed men shot Taliep at his home after robbing six other family members of mobile phones and locking them in their bedrooms, the South African Press Association (Sapa) said.

The assailants then took Taliep to the living room where they shot him and escaped with his phone, cash and electronic equipment, Sapa said.

Together with his artistic partner David Kramer, Petersen produced a string of hit productions, some of which have been staged internationally in New York, Los Angeles and London.

Die Burger reports that an emotional Kramer described his horror when he heard the news of his best friend's death in London early on Sunday.

Kramer and his wife Renaye are in London with 10 actors and musicians for the London season of the Kramer-Petersen musical hit Ghoema.

He said Nicolas Kent, artistic director of Tricycle Theatre, woke him and his wife with the news at about 01:00 on Sunday.

"Getting news like that, the first reaction is absolute shock.

"You can't comprehend it immediately.

"Then a numb feeling overwhelms you. "It's only later that you begin to realise what has happened. We made music together."

Orphan child, Karoo blues by David Kramer

South Africa's premier and most enduring musical partnership, between Kramer and Pietersen, stretches back over 20 years to the bittersweet musical hit District Six, which was first performed in 1986.

"Taliep was my best friend. He took me into his confidence and I confided in him. We were very close," said Kramer, very near tears.

Kramer and Petersen last saw each other shortly before Petersen left by air on Wednesday, after visiting London last Monday for the opening night of Ghoema.

Kramer said Taliep wanted to stay longer but was unable to get a later booking home.

No London performances of Ghoema will be cancelled, and the season will end as planned on Jannuary 22.

Taliep was was still working when he was murdered, appearing as a judge on the Afrikaans version of the TV talent show Idols. He release his first Afrikaans album earlier this year.

"I'm a workaholic, involved in a zillion things. I come from a hard space in time, remember - I'm a proud child of District Six," Mr Petersen said in a 2005 interview with a South African newspaper.

"I played in white clubs and had to enter through the back door, and I wasn't allowed to mingle with the crowd."

See some gorgeous footage of the area, District Six, where Taliep Petersencame from, and for which he wrote one of his most famous plays.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The coolest party in Cape Town

Ever wondered were besides hip-hop, R & B and hippy trance one could go for a party in Cape Town South Africa? Well look no further. If you like your music ironic, synth pop or you genuinely dig Phil Collins, Jaluka and even Annelie van Rooyen, the Wedding DJ parties is the place to go.

Brought to you by co-founders of that uber-zef-but-cool Afrikaans website - Watkykjy - you will dance your ass off. It's as close you'll get to a late night at Mother in London's Shoreditch south of the Sahara.

But be warned you need to be able to speak either Afrikaans or Xhosa to get in.

Just kidding.

Visit the Wedding DJ blog for more info.

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Iron Maiden The Trooper By Gauchos

Is Bok van Blerk's De la Rey song actually loaded with meta textual references to Iron Maiden's The Trooper?

You'll take my life but Ill take yours too
Youll fire you musket but Ill run you through
So when your waiting for the next attack
Youd better stand theres no turning back

The bugle sounds as the charge begins
But on this battlefield no one wins
The smell of arcrid smoke and horses breath
As you plunge into a certain death

Yes, It's the silly season, news is slow. The link is tenuous to my other high minded discussions on South African identity politics. So what.

Shout out to Wedding DJ Donald for the link.

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Yes, Rose and Olive aka Tetheredtothe sun, my favourite ex Flickr photographers, are back. And their pictures are still stunning. Oh, Joy!

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and Olive...

green green green
Originally uploaded by roseandolive.
(This is Rose in the picture by the way).

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are back

Originally uploaded by roseandolive.
Rose and Olive are experts at playing with light and bodies.

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Can you see my left red foot?

A picture sometimes is worth a thousand words....

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bok van Blerk is big

Mhambi's blog has never been so popular. Yesterday I had just shy of 120 visitors for the day. But alas its not due to my quick wit and incisive analysis. Unfortunately not. It's because of Bok van Blerk and his De la Rey song.

Not seen the De la Rey video yet? Well please do, and here is the English lyrics for all the rooinekke out there.

Some people have started to comment on it. Is it racist? An expression of Afrikaner frustration at being marginalised? Please feel free to join in the debate.

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SA growth fails acid job test

Groom Farm Morning03
Originally uploaded by Picherthis.
Business day reports that inspite of record breaking economical growth, the South African economy has failed to produce the number of jobs to reduce poverty.

THE economy continued to create jobs in a slow and steady fashion in the third quarter, increasing the number of people employed in the formal, nonfarming sectors by 73000 (1%). According to Statistics SA, which released its quarterly employment statistics yesterday, this brought the increase from the same quarter last year to 193000, or 2,7%.

The quarterly figure was an improvement on the 62000 jobs created in the second quarter but analysts said it was still insufficient to make a significant dent in unemployment, which is estimated to be 25,6%.

Government wants to reduce the unemployment rate to 15% by 2014, and has established the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for SA (Asgi-SA) with this aim in mind.

According to Business day this is especiallly true in South Africa's second largest sector, manufacturing. Why could this be? Apparently measures taken as part of Asgi-SA are intended to boost economic growth to an annual average of 4,5% until 2009 and 6% between 2010 and 2014. But why is Asgi-SA delivering growth but not all important jobs?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

UK multiculturalism come in two flavours - Anglo and Saxon

One of the UK Guardian's most interesting columnists - Gary Young - this week contrasted the US and UK's approach to multiculturalism:

This private Muslim school is the only one of its kind in Minnesota. Wazwaz, who is originally from Jerusalem, does not regard her desire to send Maryam there as one of segregation but as one of "preserving some sense of Islamic identity for the child". "Everybody needs a sense of their identity," she says.

In a country where every national group gets its own day, complete with a parade, flags and delicacies from the home country, there is greater scope for understanding the difference between autonomy - a distinct cultural space base from which people interact with the rest of society; and segregation - where people seek to separate themselves from the mainstream. To qualify your national allegiance through ethnicity, race or religion is not necessarily regarded as diluting it (unless you're Mexican and demanding immigration rights).

The Britishness currently on offer from New Labour, however, comes in just two flavours: Anglo and Saxon. Thus are the limits of the political class's understanding of cultural hybridity, rendering Britain a racially monolithic, ethnically pure and culturally static state into which non-white and non-Christian people can either adapt, or from which they should be banished.

Read the whole article At least in America they understand the notion of cultural difference

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SA grows - to grow faster we need more skills more roads

The Business Day reports that the South African economy is in record breaking territory. One worry is the high debt house hold ratios, and the low levels of saving. And to sustain and even better it, the country needs better infrastructure and skills - that it does not have now.

THIS year, SA’s economy made history, reaching record highs and long-time lows measured by a range of rates and ratios.

The “making history” idea was the starting point in a paper on SA’s economy by Harvard economist Jeffrey Frankel and colleagues at Stellenbosch University. They commented that by early this year, economic growth, consumer spending, household debt, the gold price and the current account deficit were at levels not seen since the early 1980s, while inflation and interest rates were at lows not seen in more than three decades.

Since they presented their paper, a few more records have been broken. The budget surplus (now expected next year) would be the first on record (though the records go back only to 1960); household debt has risen even higher; interest rates and inflation are no longer at the lows seen in the first half of this year; but SA’s equity and bond markets have seen an unprecedented R102bn of foreign investment so far this year. Household debt is at a historic high and national savings at a historic low. But investment spending has risen to 18,7% of gross domestic product — the kind of level last seen in 1990. We’re still some way off the 25% that government has targeted as the level needed for SA to sustain growth of 6% or more, but it’s headed in that direction. And raising the rate of investment, public and private, is core to the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (Asgi-SA).


But is it too late? The question is raised by Nedbank economist Dennis Dykes in the bank’s latest Guide to the Economy. There is evidence, he argues, that the investment drive has come too late and economic growth is likely to be constrained in the short to medium term. Dykes points to the lack of efficient transport and energy infrastructure and capacity. That is being addressed, but will take time.

But the problem is not only public infrastructure; Dykes notes the private sector also lacks effective productive capacity, hence the shortages. Net domestic investment (after depreciation) has been below 6% of gross domestic product (GDP) for over two decades; under the circumstances, it’s surprising the economy has grown as well as it has.

Read more.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Multiculturalism is Dead

The BBC reports that British PM Mr Blair today joined the growing European chorus against multiculturalism. He did say that "multicultural Britain" should not be dispensed with, adding: "On the contrary, we should continue celebrating it."

But he claimed the suicide bombings in London on 7 July last year had thrown the whole concept of a multiculturalism "into sharp relief".

"The right to be different, the duty to integrate: that is what being British means."

Mhambi can't but be amazed that one such an event can make for such a change in perspective. British police warned that it was only a matter of time, a bomb would explode, it would happen. Why had Mr. Blair not reappraised British multiculturalism earlier?

The Head of the British Commission of Racial equality, Trevor Phillips has already warned a few months ago that racial ghettos might develop in the UK.

"We are sleepwalking our way to segregation" he said.

One has to wonder where this change in European attitudes to multiculturalism leaves a truely multicultural country like South Africa?

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

French Congolese rapper Kamini and the farmers

I come from a lost village in Aisne to Picardy. Easily 95% of cows, 5% inhabitants And among them only one family of blacks -Kamini

AFP reports - A rapper from a Fench backwater village is becoming a media sensation after a tongue-in-cheek video of him debuted on the internet.

Marly-Gomont, France - A black rapper from a backwater village is rapidly becoming a media sensation in France after a tongue-in-cheek video of him singing about his rural experience debuted on the internet.

Kamini, as he is known, has been thrust into the spotlight since his tune about his home town (population 423) of Marly-Gomont first hit the web in September.

He has been interviewed on television, sung on a talent show, and been fought over by record labels who see him as a new entertainer offering a rap wrested free of the urban angst common to the genre.

"Marly-Gomont is a song about my life," the 26-year-old told AFP as he sat outside his home in the rolling countryside north of Paris. His father, a Congolese doctor, has his practice on the ground floor.

The video, made over three days by a friend doing film studies, features Kamini rapping about being a young black guy growing up in a rustic setting populated by cows, tractors, old farmers, and more cows.

Although humoristic, it takes stabs at the latent racism he often ran up against, with for instance lyrics that go: "There's no concrete, only pastures, but even so I've come across a lot of trash."

Locals from the village are seen dancing along in the video, which has none of the flashy cars and g-stringed models common to the more traditional rap clips, even in France.

After being sent in as a sample to French music companies, it found its way on to video websites such as YouTube, where the number of viewers has grown to over a million. Its success on Kamini's own site shows no sign of flagging.

Shout out to Wedding DJ Donald of Cape Town for this info.

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Buying fruit locally makes for an unfair world

Transporting (yes even flying) food to Europe from Africa is not bad for environment. Mhambi was at a talk organised by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) at the RSA in London about how Western consumers could help African cotton farmers.

In reaction to the persistent argument from organic campaigners to buy food locally their was a emphatic retort. Dr. Camilla Toulmin, Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (iied) said that transporting fruit, vegetables and other agricultural products from African countries to the UK, including by air, contributes less than 0.1% of the current carbon footprint of the UK. This is even true of perishable products like fruit, and even more so for products like cotton, which can be shipped by sea which emits even less carbon than air cargo.

Considering the fact that more than 1 million of the world's poorest farmers depend on this trade, the point was made very forcefully that by targeting this 0.1% carbon footprint, organic and environmental campaigners were completely misdirecting their activism with very unfair results for developing societies.

Buying locally produced food is often used by organic, environmental and the European subsidy lobby, to argue against the lifting of subsidies to European farmers.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Male sexuality is a disgrace

Shame and lust
Originally uploaded by anastasiyamaleeva.
Are you male and embarrassed at your feverish desires? So is Mhambi.

Just think about how much we'd get done if we did not think about sex so much. Just think, none of those idiotic advances, embarrassing rejections, uncomfortable erections, distracting fantasies, and browsing off for a bit of porn when we should be editing our blogs.

But Mhambi is in good company. Surrealist Spanish film director Luis Bunuel wrote in his biography what a relief it was, when at old age he got rid of his libido and could concentrate on what matters (or so Mhambi hears). So too Kingsley Amis, who said on old age and loss of his libido: "For 50 years it was like being chained to an idiot."

The Last Dance.
Originally uploaded by inanutshell

Which brings me to J M Coetzee's Disgrace. When Mhambi read it first time round he thought it was a damning comment on male sexuality, and not primarily a post-colonial novel about the loss of white power in South Africa - as most people apparently do.

Ever wondered why lesbians dress badly?

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Some nice tatoos

Originally uploaded by mattsharkeyphotography.
Check out Californian Mattssharkey's other pics on Flickr. They're gorgeous.

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Boom times for SA economy

Construction at sunset
Originally uploaded by Parks ZA.
South Africa has just entered a record seven year economic upswing. The expansion largely driven by the contruction sector and services. Mining and agriculture continue to play a smaller part of the economy - which, in the long term can be only a good thing. Agriculture incidently contributes only 3% to South Africa's GDP. It ain't a Boere-republiek no more.

Because os this growth some commentators are lambasting a growing chorus of fierce critics of government: Why are you moaning, the economy is in rude health.

Sonneskyn en Chevrolet

Well, yes, but so was the economy booming it in 1975. In fact, SA had the fastest growing economy in the world then, but a highly unequal one, full of conspicious consumption. We all know what happened in 1976.

But all things being equal, economic growth is good news, and here is some more: The government has changed its controversial Aids policy, which the UK Guardian also sees as a sign of a weakening of the power of president Mbeki. And Australia, oft mooted as an alternative venue for the 2010 world cup, has backed SA.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Van Zyl Slabbert, Africaness and oppressive stability

Former South African politician and sociologist Van Zyl Slabbert recently gave a speech at Wits University under the theme, Am I African? Van Zyl warned on new myths and invented history threatening the country.Whiteness and Africaness is a theme close to Mhambi's heart.

Yolandi Groenewald was there and the report was posted on the Copy Ninja blog.

Former opposition leader Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert’s definition of himself is disarmingly simple: “I live in Africa; therefore I am an African.”

Slabbert said South Africa’s struggle past was being selectively used to establish a racially exclusive Africanism as “the new dominant ideology”. He pleaded with South Africans “not to fall for an invented history”. This included the myth that Cuban and Angolan forces had defeated the South African Defence Force at the Angolan battle of Cuito Cuanavale, and FW de Klerk’s “romanticised” claim that he had acted out of conscience in unbanning the ANC.

“A lot of the historians have invented events about the transformation of South Africa, just because it had the right feel and creates a feeling of nationalism,” he said. “By inventing the past or co-opting it ideologically, it becomes more difficult to avoid repeating mistakes and dealing with the problems of the present.”

Oppressive stability

Sounding like Rian Malan's "where you live is boring" just after his return to South Africa, Slabbert also spoke - hold onto your seats - about the oppressive stability of the apartheid regime.

“We now have a vibrant civil society, and this translates into a more consensual society,” he said. “Crime is also a form of civil society participation, a negative one, but riddled with entrepreneurs.”

It might be thought that with profound divisions emerging in the ANC, South Africa was at risk of a military coup or Zimbabwean dictatorship. This was unlikely to happen because of South Africa’s vibrant civil society and the South African habit of questioning government.

Oppresive stability, goodness me, Mhambi wonders how Britain would rate on Van Zyl's scale?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

SA police commisioner Jackie Selebie corruption allegations grow

Allegations about Jackie Selebi, SA police commisioner and head of Interpol and his relationship with corrupt individuals have now made it into newspapers outside of South Africa, the UK Guardian featuring it prominently on Monday.

South Africa's national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi, is under investigation after it was revealed that he maintained a close friendship with an organised crime boss recently arrested over the murder of a corrupt mining magnate. Read more.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

The dirty work of democracy (part 1)

coke raid
Originally uploaded by flutential.
Jonny Steinberg calls Anthony Altbeker's The dirty work of democracy "one of those rare books that transcends its subject matter and tells us something about the state of a country's soul."

Mhambi agrees.

Altbeker spent a year with the South African police, attempting to understand the challenges of policing at the coalface. The book documents his year.

If this book was a documentary, it would be cinema verite. Obeservational documentary, where, from what you see and hear you can deduce allot more than a narrator ever could tell you. And boy is the prose beautiful.

But The Dirty work of democracy is not a didatic free zone. Often Altbeker includes incisive analysis on the nature of policing, South African violent crime, the frustration felt by the cops, the feelings of unwantedness he encountered among white cops, pervasive corruption, whether crime is falling and to what extent South African police can actually address the problem of crime. With most of his analysis Mhambi is in agreement.

But because he does give his opinion on some issues, Mhambi was left with the impression that Altbeker chose not to expressly say some other things. Uncomfortable things that he perhaps hoped we'd deduce ourselves from what he were describing.

Altbeker points out that society gives police the exclusive right to use coercive force to sort out those situations, those conflicts that arrise when many people share a common social space. It is a precondition for a viable society.

One learns that an inordinate amount of time is spent by the South African police sorting out citizens domestic problems. A situation for which they are ill-equiped and that saps their energy and time. But domestic violence also drives much of the countries homocide rate.

No more ubuntu

Altbeker is confounded by an area - Maluti - where lack of the state's presence by way of police and its crumbling roads, had not stopped it from having half the national average homocide rate. All large and anonymous societies needs its intitutions, but: "In the smaller, more settled communities of the past, the simple fact that everyone knew everyone else is enough to keep the peace. Whatever we tell ourselves about the strength of social bonds in our communities and the power and currency of ubuntu, those days are gone forever."

Anonymous predadory crime

Another revelation, is how hard it is to solve a crime where the perpetrator is unknown to the victims without catching the criminal red handed. Altbeker tells how two Rosebank cops dithered - in his presence - while a violent robbery was in progress. The result is that criminals that could be accosted, escape. Altbeker justifies this behaviour: "

With anonymous predatory crime, witness statements are often so general that its of little use, and physical evidence like fingerprints and DNA unlikely to lead to tracking down a criminal.

A raw untamed force

For Altbeker, visits to places like gang infested Elsies river, showed how power operated like a raw untamed force. The courtesies demanded by our law of law enforcers, had no place in these communities. "They simply gained no purchase". He also qouts V S Naipul, to explain that these communities may live vicariously through the glamour and power of the gangs.

People are the cause of crime

Then in Ivory park an Inspector Mokhosi tells him - after they investigate one of many murders - simply: "People are the cause of crime." It's not only poverties fault, because says the inspector, he comes from a poor background. "There is something wrong with them."

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The poets are restless

André Brink and Petter Nome
Originally uploaded by RolfSteinar.
Kevin Davie muses in the Mail and Guardian on South Africa's unhappy poets, Rian Malan and André Brink. Davie wonders - in the midst of a booming economy - what the fuss is all about?

Braaied fish as an economic indicator...

The poets are unhappy. First I read that Rian Malan saw only sad decay for our future. Then André Brink was being quoted around the globe spreading similar doom and gloom. Malan worried me no end. The last I heard, he was living in Fish Hoek or thereabouts with a person called the Princess, or something like this.

His day seemed to be little more than some light typing and a stroll down to the wharf to select a suitable fresh fish to match the white wine that was chilling in the fridge back home. Braai the fish, drink the wine.

Now, judging from the result of the light typing that appeared in The Spectator, he has concluded that “almost overnight we have come to the dismaying realisation that much around us is rotten”.

Some of Malan’s distress appears to derive from journalist Justice Malala.

Malala, judging from his columns in the Financial Mail, is a reasonably happy person, seemingly endlessly and fashionably out to lunch with his lovely wife.

But Malan is unhappy because Malala is unhappy. Says Malan: “You know you’re in trouble when an eminent black journalist like Justice Malala dismisses the Mbeki administration as an outrage characterised by a shocking lack of leadership on the part of a Cabinet riddled with incompetent, inept and arrogant buffoons.”

I know of people whose job it is to sell this country who are unhappy because Malan is un-happy. This even made me wonder whether they should not put more effort into keeping Malala happy. Someone could be deployed to call him in the morning to see if there were any irking things that they could fix.

Malan does not forecast an apocalyptic future of destruction through civil war, but rather, just sad decay. But fellow scribe, André Brink, does.

Brink, according to an article in The Scotsman, has warned that the World Cup in 2010 threatens to be a “potential massacre which could make the Munich Olympics of a few decades ago look a picnic outing”.

There will be no 2010, says the worst-case scenario. The best you can hope for is a couple of umfaans kicking a pap plastic ball around a blackened veld.

The best-case has tourists wearing body armour and employing bodyguards with Uzzis -- just to watch the tournament from their hotel room.

But Davie reflects that the performance of the South African economy says otherwise.

But the economy is having none of the collective depression of Malala, Malan and Brink. The JSE continues almost on a daily basis to trade at new record levels. South Africans have collectively added several trillion or so to their wealth since the market lows in 2002. You can buy a lot of braaied fish with this money.

Malala’s home is on my route home. I have been half-expecting to see a huge pantechnikon parked outside to take his stuff to Perth. But not so.

He is expanding his house, making his own contribution to the building boom that has seen property prices double in the past three years.

Car sales -- a bell weather of economic confidence and performance -- also continue to notch up new records on a regular basis. Even Cadillac is opening up shop.

Economic growth has been so strong that the taxman pulled in R17-billion or so above what was budgeted for. The budget, give a bob or two, is, embarrassingly for a developing country, balanced, and projected to remain that way for the next three years.

Pass the valium.

Mhambi can add to the list of the disgruntled thespians. There's J M Coetzee, he immigrated recently. Only Nadine Gordimer seems to stay positive. But then she owns a house in Houghton that must be worth a small fortune now.

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Can columbia teach SA on crime?

10 Bogota - Columbia 020
Originally uploaded by Crash Davis1.
The UK Guardian reports on the astonishing success Columbia has had in cutting violent crime. The Brazilian city Rio has now decided to try and emulate the Columbian example.

Rio de Janeiro's newly elected governor, Sergio Cabral, recently announced plans to use Colombian security techniques in an attempt to pull the Brazilian city out of a cycle of violence that claims about 6,000 lives each year. According to a recent study of violence based on World Health Organisation figures, a total of 55,000 Brazilians were murdered in 2005.

Officials in Medellín, Cali and the capital, Bogotá, have presided over plummeting crime figures since the early 1990s. The initiatives included community policing schemes and increased investment in the police force, as well as educational projects which saw former gang members giving speeches in primary schools, additional street lighting and the modernisation of shantytowns.

In 1993 Bogotá was the scene of 4,352 homicides, or 80 killings per 100,000 inhabitants. This year the figure is 18 per 100,000 - a 75% drop and less than half that of Rio de Janeiro, which has a murder rate of about 42 per 100,000 inhabitants. There were 858 homicides in 2005-06 in England, Scotland and Wales.

Mhambi knows that there were some 18,793 homocides in 2005 in South Africa, of which 3,600 were in the province of Gauteng, which is really just Johannesburg and Pretoria. The ratio is 40.8 per 100,000 inhabitants for Gauteng. And 40.3 for the country as a whole. Very similar to the current level for Rio.

During a visit to Rio, Mr Velásquez - one of the Colombian security experts behind the anti-crime initiative - emphasised the need to mix social services with brute force. "It wasn't just police and the law," he told the O Dia newspaper. "[We asked ourselves] how many schools are there in this place? How many children studying? How many health clinics? Does the lighting work in this neighbourhood? Is there rubbish collection? Or rather, we went in with all of the institutions to make improvements."

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bok van Berk hijacked by international facists?

Do a search for "Bok van Blerk" the name of the singer of the song De La Rey and see what unsavoury links you get. It seems the hateful flotsam of the global extreme right wing has latched onto the boytjie from Pretoria.

One of the sites claim that the only way South Africa will belong to the Boers is through the removal of the jews and the blacks (some comment on the stupidity of this claim below). Very little will damage long term Afrikaner political interests more than being associated with this lot.

The De la rey song has caused quite a storm in South Africa.

See the dramatic Bok van Blerk video here.

In the meantime Mhambi brings you the lyrics, nicked from one of those sites (All is fair in love and war). I actually had to correct it a bit because the translation I ripped was not too acurate.

Delarey - Bok van Blerk lyrics

On a mountain in the night
We lie in the dark and wait
In the mud and the blood
As rain and streepsak (translation?) clings to me

And my house and my farm were burnt to the ground so they could capture us
But those flames and those fires now burns deep deep within me.

De La Rey, De La Rey can you come and lead the Boers?
De La Rey, De La Rey
General, General we will fall around you as one.
General De La Rey.

The Khakis (The British) that laugh
A handful of us against an massive force
With our backs to the clifs of the mountains
They think its over for us

But the heart of a farmer is deeper and wider, they will come to see
On a horse he comes, the lion of West Transvaal (the monicker given to General De la Rey).

De La Rey, De La Rey can you come and lead the Boers?
De La Rey, De La Rey
General, General we will fall around you as one.
General De La Rey.

Because my wife and my child are in a camp dying,
And the Khakis are walking over a nation that will rise again

De La Rey, De La Rey can you come and lead the Boers?
De La Rey, De La Rey
General, General we will fall around you as one. General De La Rey.

So now your wondering, who is this General De la Rey fellow?

Afrikaners and Jews

It's undoubtly true that there was much resentment amongst Afrikaners when a Jewish community settled in Johannesburg after the discovery of gold. There was also well documented involvement by Jewish and German industrialists in instigating Britain to attack the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek (Transvaal).

How anti-Jewish were the Afrikaners? Well for a start some Afrikaners were jewish, the common surname Koen has its origin in the jewish Cohen.

Secondly, when the Afrikaner Nationalsits came to power in 1948 Jewish South Africans endured a period or prosperity and protection they had not had before.

Chris MacGreal wrote an excellent article titled Brothers in arms about the "special relationship" between Jew and Afrikaner.

Anti-semitism lingered, but within a few years of the Nationalists assuming power in 1948, many Jewish South Africans found common purpose with the rest of the white community. "We were white and even though the Afrikaner was no friend of ours, he was still white," says Krausz. "The Jew in South Africa sided with the Afrikaners, not so much out of sympathy, but out of fear sided against the blacks. I came to this country in 1946 and all you could hear from Jews was 'the blacks this and the blacks that'. And I said to them, 'You know, I've heard exactly the same from the Nazis about you.' The laws were reminiscent of the Nuremberg laws. Separate entrances; 'Reserved for whites' here; 'Not for Jews' there."


Then Nationalist prime minister Vorster was invited to visit Israel.

At a state banquet, (Yitzhak) Rabin toasted "the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence". Both countries, he said, faced "foreign-inspired instability and recklessness".

Vorster, whose army was then overrunning Angola, told his hosts that South Africa and Israel were victims of the enemies of western civilisation. A few months later, the South African government's yearbook characterised the two countries as confronting a single problem: "Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples."

Shocking, yes. But hardly what these international white supremacists wants to hear.

Vorster's visit laid the ground for a collaboration that transformed the Israel-South Africa axis into a leading weapons developer and a force in the international arms trade. Liel, who headed the Israeli foreign ministry's South Africa desk in the 80s, says that the Israeli security establishment came to believe that the Jewish state may not have survived without the relationship with the Afrikaners.

Well well, the new found darlings of the international extreme right (during the Boer war they were the darlings of the left) helped save the Jewish state. Eat that.

And today after the collapse of the nationalist regime the Jewish community has dwindeld dramatically. The South African economy might be booming, but the jewish community are leaving South Africa.

There is a wider point here. The Afrikaners might have been ideologues, but their politics were primarily driven by practical concerns about their survival. It trumped everything else.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Crime expo site is a scam

The South African Independent reports on the crime website that caused such an outcry:

Independent Democrats Cape Town leader Simon Grindrod will be at the Caledon Square Police Station on Thursday to ask police to conduct a criminal investigation into the founder of the crime expo website.

"Only three days after The Citizen exposed the site as a scam, it has been shut down. A message at the site indicates that it has closed down - its malicious architect has run with the money," says Mr Grindrod.

It is alleged that founder Neil Watson is a fictitious character.

The crime website attracted massive interest and solicited hundreds of thousands in donations, advertising and SMS revenue.

"Under false pretenses he systematically stole money from the public and attempted to destroy our country’s image at home and overseas," says Grindrod.

Shout out to Donald who alerted me to this. Mhambi supported the site, provided it was set up with the right intentions. Lets hope this revelation does not further dent the goverment's apparent lack of will to fight crime.

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Africa on the Move: African Migration and Urbanisation debate

If your in Johannesburg around the 29th of November, get yourself to the Old Fort Braamfontein for a good old debate.

The debate focuses on the hot-off-the-press Wits University Press publication, of Africa on the Move: African Migration and Urbanisation in Comparative Perspective, edited by M Tienda, S Findley, S Tollman and E Preston-Whyte.

The panel, to be moderated by Denis Beckett, includes the Wits-based editor Stephen Tollman, human rights lawyer Jacob van Garderen, and Directorate Population and Development Research manager Niel Roux.

According to the marketing blurb: "Africa on the Move pushes the frontiers of ongoing African migration and urbanisation research, challenging certain traditional notions about migration, revisiting concepts of the urban and rural and exploring how communication technology influences movement. It explores how people are moving, staying (put), and passing through in Africa in a context of rapid social, economic and political change. "

Do go, the who's who of the South African inteligencia will be there. Including some really sexy and interesting ones. And drinks on the house. Lets face it, clever people that pepper their sentences with words like "notion" and "imperative" makes our hearts race. And Jacob van Garderen, one of the speakers is a veritable mine of incredible information and a good friend of mine.

Date: 18h00, 29 November 2006

Venue: Women’s Jail Lekgotla Space, Women’s Jail, Constitution Hill, Kotze Street, Braamfontein. (There is secure parking in Kotze St.)

Time: 18h00 for 18h30 for refreshments, with the debate commencing at 18h30 promptly.

RSVP: to Nadia Pisanti on tel 011 484 5906/7

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Bo alles - District six, Koeka's sad video with Boereplaas score

Mhambi mentioned the other day why PW Botha almost destroyed Afrikaans because of what he did to Distric Six.

But what did he destroy? Watch this video Bo alles, by artist Koeka Stander and weep for District Six.

Filming of the original 16mm was commissioned by the BBC in the 70s. The footage was confiscated by apartheid police at the time and discovered 20 years later by Stephen Bourne, a 16 mm enthusiast. He asked Koeka to convert the film to DV. Moved by the children's faces, she created this short video.

Koeka decided to use Mimi Coertse's O, Boereplaas as emotive accompanyment to the film. For her, Afrikaans Opera star Mimi, represented the period when District six was destroyed. She spoke to coloured South Africans and they - perhaps surprisingly - identified with the song. Not with the yearning for the mythical farm expressed in it, but with the love for the Afrikaans language.

The song enthuses about a deep attachment to the Boereplaas (Boer farm), as geboorte grond (birth place, but also about the moedertaal (mother language), a reference to Afrikaans. Ek het jou lief bo alles. (I love you above all).

"They are Afrikaners too" Stander said to Die Burger. That Afrikaner nationalism destroyed an Afrikaans community in the heart of Cape Town, makes the use of the song sad and ironic.

On 11 February 1966, the apartheid-era government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968, directed by P W Botha. By 1982, more than 60 000 people had been relocated to the comparatively bleak Cape Flats some 25 kilometers away, and the old houses bulldozed. The only buildings left standing were places of worship. International and local pressure made redevelopment difficult for the government, however. The Cape Technikon (now part of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology) was built on part of the former District Six and the area was renamed Zonnebloem, but apart from this the area was left as a wasteland until relatively recently. Big shout out to Bonnie who sent me this link.

Original Director
Cas van Rensberg

Koeka Stander

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Contests in sport and war involve no abiding ill-will

A hundred years ago South Africa played England at rugby for the first time. It was only 4 years after the Boer War ended. In fact allot of the Afrikaners had learnt to play rugby in British prisoner of War Camps. The game ended in a draw and this is what the English press said on the occasion:

Daily Telegraph: "The South Africans have won golden opinions. Several of the present team fought with the Boers, and doubtless showed the same dogged and brilliant qualities, inspiring respect and admiration."

Daily Mail: "Contests in sport and war involve no abiding ill-will. The participants are best fitted to work together for the common good."

Morning Post: "A sheer hard fight in a morass ended fairly with the cry of 'Quits'.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gay marriage allowed in South Africa

Mhambi has been very critical of the ANC government of late, but this week they did something that made him proud to be South African. They instituded a law that enables a form of gay marriage in South Africa. The first country in Africa and only the fith one in the world to have these provisions, and most certainly against the wishes of the majority of South African and the ANC's own supporters' whishes.

Now, there are problems with the new legislation. It created a new civil marriage law which includes all South Africans, but had retained the old marriage law that discriminates against gays and lesbians. But others thought the gay marriage legislation was out of touch with Africa, not reflecting the views of Africans anywhere on the continent.

"The bill did not have the approval of the majority - the minority in the society had actually set the wheels in motion for the bill in the 1990s, when the constitution was being written." said Sehlare Makgetlaneng, head of the southern Africa desk at the Africa Institute of South Africa, a Pretoria-based think-tank.

The ANC has defended its decision to push the same-sex marriage bill, saying that since it had brought the constitution to life, it had a duty to ensure that all its laws were in line with it. "We cannot provide for equal rights in the constitution and then take it away [by not enacting legislation]," said Smuts Ngonyama, the ANC's spokesman.

Mhambi salutes the ANC's courage. If South Africa is to address its many social probelms more of this kind of strong moral leadership is needed from its politicians.

Of course gay South Africans have a distiguished record in fighting and speaking out against Apartheid. Ivan Toms, Zackie Achmat, Edward Cameron, Johannes Kerkorrel, Joan Hambridge and many others all played their part.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Democrats bring with them their own pitfalls

Mhambi was glad to see Bush get a bashing. However, if you think the world is going to come up smelling like roses think again. a stronger Democratic party is not all good reckons the Guardian's economics editor, Larry Elliott.

We might see a retreat by the US from the world stage and increased protectionism by them. This is good news for Iran but bad news for the Palestinians. It could also be bad news for negotiations on climate change as well as the opening up of the US market to developing countries.

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The sun rises again with Rose and Olive in tow

You all know Mhambi has a thing for Olive and Rose, the delectable photographers that suddenly dissapeared from Flickr. Well Mhambi got a really nice email from them in response to some friendly advice. And the good news is they will be starting their own site. Although unfortunately its not up and running yet.

Good morning, Mhambi. Yes, flickr deleted us without even a moment's notice, throwing away everything we'd posted, including the writing, which went unsaved unfortunately. But when the pieces fall apart, you put them back together in a new way, a stronger way, a more interesting way hopefully. so, where is your neck of the woods? You know we're not exactly opposed to finding good excuses to travel. And we're good houseguests. We've been known to bathe our hosts in lavender and bubbles, for instance.

Mhambi wrote:
no probs... keep up the good work...

if my gf and i were in your neck of the woods we'd volunteer to be
models anyday :)

do keep a book in mind as well. taschen would be crazy not to take you. did flickr delete your account as well?

On 26/10/06, rose andolive wrote:
> Thanks for this honest and insightful mail.. we've taken it in... We have
> wanted to be a part of nerve for a while, and doing that doesn't exclude us
> from pursuing other things. We have a temporary site up on
> If you're interested in looking around on nerve until
> that's a more functional site, I'll include a login below.
> Thanks again for the input...

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Dutch strive to ban the veil

Well well. Mhambi has to eat his words again. Is the Dutch reputation going the way of their smelly cheese? Today the UK Guardian reported:

The Netherlands may become the first European country to ban Muslim face veils after its government pledged yesterday to outlaw the wearing in public spaces of the niqab, or veil, and the burka, or full-length cloak covering the head...

Rita Verdonk, the immigration minister, signalled that the government would now push for a total ban, even though the legislation would be likely to contravene Dutch religious freedom laws.
"The cabinet finds the wearing of a burka undesirable ... but cannot at present enforce a total ban," the Dutch news agency ANP quoted her as saying after a cabinet meeting.


The announcement is in stark contrast to the laissez-faire image of the Netherlands. The country is known for its tolerance for drugs, prostitution and euthanasia, but in recent years has passed some of Europe's most unforgiving entry and immigration laws.

Religious tensions have been heightened by the murder of film director Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan militant in 2004, and by the dramatic rise of Pim Fortuyn, an anti-immigration and anti-Muslim gay politician who was assassinated by an animal rights activist days before national elections in 2002.


The proposal comes at a time when the debate on veils and whether they prevent Muslim women from integrating, has gathered momentum across Europe, and has drawn comments from Tony Blair and Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi. In 2004, France banned wearing of overt religious symbols in schools, arguing they were contrary to its separation of church and state.

This Ducth clampdown reminded me of a discussion I had with friends about the absence of radical islamic activity in South Africa. Their were bomb attacks, like the one on the Planet Holliwood restaurant in Cape Town in the late 90's, and later some action, ostensibly against gangsters. But since the September 11 attacks on the US World Trade Centre, there have been no radical muslim activity in South Africa. But why not?

I's arguable that it should be easier to operate in South Africa. The police are under severe pressure, under trained and under motivated. But still, nothing has happened. If fact, the relationship between muslim South Africa and the rest has never been better. One reason might be the South African governments support for the Palestinian cause.

But Mhambi thinks their may be annother reason. Unlike most European countries and even the British under their old (now abandonned) policy of multi-culturalism, South Africa had apartheid. Here the seperateness and peculiarness of the muslim community was actively encouraged. So far, except perhaps on language policy, the new ANC government has done little to put pressure in order to integrate South Africa's disperate communities. Muslim South Africans I expect don't feel the pressure to conform, like they do in the Netherlands, France and even the UK.

The racial killing of a young white Glasgow boy recently by a group of Pakistani youths illustrate the huge gap between SA and the UK when it comes to relationships between Muslim asians and the rest of the population. In South Africa it would have been unthinkable. Lets hope Mhambi remains right on this one.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kinderen voor Kinderen song / video - Two Fathers

Ah! But you have got to love the Dutch! This boy Terrace sings about his two fathers and everybody sings along. A far cry form the homophobic debate around gay marriage we have seen in South Africa.

When the Afrikaans South African Dutch Reformed Church recently surprised everybody and came out as the only South African church in favour of one marriage provision for everybody, instead of a separate provision for Gay South Africans, as is now being suggested, Mhambi thought - at last the old conservative church is doing proud the Dutch part of it's name.

I doubt this will be sung on Afrikaans channel Kyknet however.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Pronto condoms Zuma video

Condoms, which promoters say can be put on in just one second, are going on sale in South Africa this week.

The firm's adverts, which can be seen on its website, feature video with jokes at the expense of two senior South African politicians - former Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

"Using an ordinary condom is a real pain," says Pronto condom designer Willem van Rensburg.

"By the time the condom is on, the mood is halfway out the window." Pronto condoms do not need to be unwrapped.

Mr van Rensburg told the BBC he hopes it will encourage people to use condoms in a country where 5.5m people have HIV - one of the world's highest figures.

"If you're slow, it'll take you three seconds. You can really do it in one," Mr van Rensburg's former business partner Roelf Mulder told the AFP news agency.

So there you have it, no you can live fast and not die young.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

In praise of Nadine Gordimer

A leader in this weeks UK Guardian opinioned about Nadine Gordimer:

A women about to celebrate her 83rd birthday who was attacked at home by a gang of robbers and assaulted when she refused to hand over her wedding ring might be forgiven for at least lamenting the parlous state of law and order.

But last weekend, Nadine Gordimer, Nobel laureate and friend of Nelson Mandela, proved as doughty as any fictional character. Other victims of South Africa's lawlessness have paid a heavy price for resistance. Gordimer's response, after half an hour locked in a cupboard while her attackers fled, acknowledged the continuing hardship of many South African lives as generously as she once supported the anti-apartheid campaign. She refused to flee the country then, as she refuses to join compatriots like her fellow Nobel prize winner JM Coetzee - and her two children - in the white liberal exodus now.

She will not even leave her old family home in central Johannesburg for the security of a gated compound, living with two family servants, the only concession to the perils of urban life a panic button.

Mhambi was wondering. Does the Guardian think its only white liberals that are immigrating? Or does the Guardian think it's lametable only if white liberals leave? It's sister paper, the Observer, begs to differ.

Mhambi noticed something interesting and depressing on his blog today. Just look at the ad at the top of this page. There's a good chance Google's algorythm thinks an add about immigration is what would get you clicking on it's ads.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Sit dit af sit dit af

Sit dit af (Afrikaans: Switch it off) was a song by Johannes Kerkorrel, lambasting PW Botha's pervasive and pugnacious face on the South African TV during the 80's.

Met sy vinger in die lug
Gaan hy my lewe net ontwrig...

With his finger in the air
He will disturb my life...

...sang Johannes...

Mhambi has been musing about the reactions to the death of PW Botha this week, the UK Guardian's Dan van der Vat for instance called him "The jibbering, trembling Great Crocodile, exposed at last as one of the worst tyrants of a bloodsoaked century".

But Mhambi wonders whether Dries van Heerden from the South African Mail and Guardian might be more correct: "The hindsight of history will treat Botha much kinder than the quick appraisals following his death this week."

I will let you into a little secret: Mhambi remembers defending Botha's reforms in his high school history classes in the early 80's. Most of my classmates did not care a hoot and those that did thought he was becoming a dangerous liberal.

It's only later when I heard Johannes's and the likes of Koos Kombuis's songs, and the brave weekly's Vrye Weekblad and Weekly Mail exposed police death squads - that I came to really dispise PW.

Mhambi was late yes, but not the latest. In 1998 Mhambi worked at the Truth and Reconciliation Commision (TRC). All of Mhambi's colleagues were black lawyers between the ages of 26 and 35. And on a bright sunny day in Cape Town PW Botha was due to apear before the commission, and all the talk was of Die Groot Krokodil and his crimes. My colleagues confessed that they never new how bad PW was untill then!?! They never knew they said. Genugtig!!, Mhambi thought to himself. That's weird! What does that say about South African society?

Now Mhambi wonders, was Botha in fact a kind of Ariel Sharon figure, a war monger with the necesarry stature and strongman legitamacy to take his people out of the wilderness, but then got tripped up by ill health before he could do so? Na, Mhambi thinks, in the end PW had no idea how to get us out of the mess we were in. (Maybe we still don't, but thats for another day.)

Strange then that PW Botha's legacy is still up for grabs, and not written in stone: PW was a BAD BAD BAD boy - sela!

And to a great extent the fact that its not cut and dried is his old enemies fault: How well the ANC governs South Africa now will determine how we see PW in the future.

Nostalgia, o nee!

What about the Afrikaners who Botha claimed he was trying to protect? How should they feel? It's easy for Afrikaners, their language and culture under servere pressure and crime rampant, not to look back nostagically to PW Botha.

But one of the biggest calamities visited upon them was by PW himself. PW shot his people in the foot. The removal of our Afrikaans coloured brothers and sisters from District Six in Cape Town have been part of the critical blows to Afrikanerdom. Only time will tell if Afrikaners can recover from this brutal stupidity.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

NUL Afrikaans electronic music

Nag Adder
Originally uploaded by Wildebeast1.
This is Adriaan, creator of Afrikaans electronic music. Think a cross between NIN and Squarepusher in a weird African language of Germanic origin.

Adriaan is an old friend of mine, and this Saturday he gigged at The Bohemian Johannesburg. Mhambi can't recommend their music too highly. It's a touch avant guard and inteligent crafted music, but very groovy. You can download it for free from their website.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Comrade + oppressor = compressor

Mhambi, attended a breakfast hosted by the Sociology of work unit (SWOP) at Wits university. Here research of declining solidarity at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), South Africa's largest union, were presented. The reasons given were ethnic conflict, corruption, increased outsourcing, and shop stewarts drawn into management structures (the compressors). NUM commisioned the research and should be congratiolated for being so open.

Talking of compressors of a different kind, the BBC has finally reported on the murder of Somalis in Cape Town by local business men. Mhambi has it on good authority that its taking place country wide, especially in the Free State province.

Here are the official figures of asylum seekers in South Africa (2004).

DR Congo 9,516 refugees and 4,622 asylum applications
Somalia 7,118 refugees and 3,893 asylum applications
Zimbabwe 5,789 asylum applications
Ethiopia 2,795 asylum applications
Angola 5,774 refugees
Burundi 2,075 refugees
Rwanda 1,266 refugees

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Goldblatt revisits some Afrikaners

Watching home movies
Originally uploaded by Wildebeast1.
The Michael Stevenson gallery will present David Goldblatt's Some Afrikaners Revisited from 24 October - 25 November 2006 in Cape Town. It's an expanded view of a body of work first published in 1975 as Some Afrikaners Photographed.

Between 1961 and 1968, Goldblatt photographed Afrikaners initially around small-holdings near Randfontein, next in the Marico Bushveld and then more generally. Some of the black and white photographs were reproduced in specialist magazines, but it took Goldblatt until 1975 to find a publisher for the book that he envisaged - today a much-sought-after collector's item.

Of his decision to revisit this work and publish a new book two decades later, Goldblatt writes:

I have frequently been asked why I didn't produce a second edition. There were two reasons. First, I had done what I set out to do and was strongly disinclined to go over the same ground again. Second, since the reproduction negatives and plates and many of my original prints no longer existed, I would have had to produce a new set of darkroom prints, a hugely time-consuming task, especially unattractive when I had other projects in progress.
But then in 2004 I again visited Gamka's Kloof (Die Hel) and met Annetjie Mostert Joubert, the last of the Klowers still living there. Her infectious love of the place and of the community that was no more moved me greatly, and when I got home I looked carefully at the work I had done there in 1966-67 and 1967-68. There was quite a lot that I hadn't put into the 1975 book and it seemed sufficiently interesting to merit publication now, particularly since that unique community had completely disappeared. This led me to think not simply of a second edition but of an expanded book bringing into it various photographs from the work of that time as well as commentaries by two people whose views I value: Antjie Krog and Ivor Powell.

The possibility of a new book was made far more attractive by the experience I had gained in the past few years in digital reproduction of photographs. This technology obviated the need for me to produce a new set of hand-prints, while attaining subtleties and qualities in the new reproductions comparable to anything I could do in the darkroom.

See some of Goldblatt's Afrikaner photos here.

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My traitor's heart 2

Rian Malan, South African author has had another change of heart. Two years ago the rebel Malan - who had lived in New York and had written My Traitor's heart, a lucid, eloquent and intellectual defence of white fears of black South Africans (some would argue racist) - had recanted.

He confessed that he choked on the generosity and enormity of Mandela's gift and had not seen it for what it was.

So redeemed was he in the eys of the left, that he was even qouted in the UK Guardian by Rory Carroll on returning to Johannesburg: "Foreigners think we're nuts, coming back to a doomed city on a damned continent, but there's something you don't understand: it's boring where you are." (Yes, that Rory Carroll.)

Now Malan has written in the British Spectator "Not a civil war but sad decay" (registration required), that he recanted too soon.

When the winter rains closed in on Cape Town I thought, bugger this, I’m selling up and moving somewhere sunny. To this end, I asked the char, Mrs Primrose Gwayana, to come in and help spruce up the house. We were scrubbing and painting and what have you when Primrose’s broom bumped the dining table, and crack — a leg snapped off, its innards hollowed out by wood-borers. I thought, uh-oh, here’s an omen. Something awful is going to happen. And it has.

Nine months ago South Africa seemed to be muddling through in a happy-go-lucky fashion. The economy was growing, albeit slowly. Trains ran, if not exactly on time. If you called the police, they eventually came. We thought our table was fairly solid, and that we would sit at it indefinitely, quaffing that old Rainbow Nation ambrosia. Now, almost overnight, we have come to the dismaying realisation that much around us is rotten. Nearly half our provinces and municipalities are said to be on the verge of collapse. A murderous succession dispute has broken out in the ruling African National Congress. Our Auditor–General reportedly has sleepless nights on account of the billions that cannot be properly accounted for.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Filling station

Filling station
Originally uploaded by Wildebeast1.
This pic I took on this South African trip reminds me a bit of Walter Meyer's paintings.

Meyer has been compared to Pierneef as an inportant South African painter. But where Pierneefs painting's show the glorius wide empty spaces of SA, just waiting to be explored, Meyer's are quite different. Often bleak and desolate they speak of the depopulated platteland (rural areas) and slow decay.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

De la Rey Bok van Blerk musiek video

The music video of Bok van Blerk's Delarey song. A song which has made Tim du Plessis, editor of Afrikaans Sunday papper Rapport, warn about resurgent Afrikaner unity. See an English translation of Bok van Berk's Delarey song here.

Bok is not the only Afrikaans boytjie touching on Afrikaner nationalism. Fokofpolisiekar - the boere punks - recently released a track called, "Brand Suid-Afrika" (Burn South Africa).

Think back 16 years. The alternatiewe Afrikaanse beweging (alternative Afrikaans movement) then was very political. They sought to challenge the Afrikaner Nationalist regime. But since then Afrikaans music has - on the whole - shied away from political references.

Interestingly enough, Shifty records, the little record lable started by the rooinek Lloyd Ross that launched the whole Alternative movement, has now recorded an album by author Rian Malan. Operating from a caravan hitched to a Ford V6 truck, the Shifty studio would produce an album by the likes of Koos Kombuis, Johannes Kerkorrel and Bernoldus Niemand (James Phillips) every two months until 1993.

Malan's album is the first from the Shifty's stable in more than a decade. Called Alien inboorling (Alien native), its a very well produced, excellently crafted album (both lyrically and musically) capturing the current zeitgeist of the so-called alternative Afrikaners. And the state of mind is not that different from the Afrikaner mainstream: It's about identity crisis, marginalisation, crime, guilt, hope and immigration. Malan just says it better and more beautifully.


Bok's song has caused such a commotion that he has saught advice from Afrikaans cultural icon Koos Kombuis.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Yahoo! get their knickers into a twist

Mhambi would like to register his displeasure. His favorite Flickr members Tetheredtothesun have disappeared, including hundreds of gorgeous (and titillating) photos and all from Flickr. But Mhambi expects he knows what happened. See Flickr is owned by Yahoo!

Now Rose and Olive certainly did not get the boot because their pictures were too risque. Nope, there are many pictures on Flickr far more revealing and with less artistic merit, than these two delicious gals' pics.

Nope, one suspects that some manager (with an MBA no doubt) read on their flickr pages that Olive and Rose were starting a paid for site at Nerve, thus soliciting business to a rival! How can they! The outrage!!

Now only an old style manager with no conception of how new media works would try and keep his audience from wondering to other websites, and destroy good content and allot of good will to boot. Yahoo! will always play catch-up while their new media savvy staff have to play second fiddle too a bunch of managers that still don't get the net.

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The unbearable whiteness of being

iPod Ad
Originally uploaded by sirgeoph.

Talking about whiteness is suddenly all the rage here in South Africa. But it's not so much the whities talking about their whiteness, as it is black South Africans and academia that are.

We all know about black. It's the now fashionable little number you seldom keep closeted if you happen to be black. It gets bandied anout allot, this blackness. Its cool, even the likes of ostensibly white David Beckham claim it.

A friend of mine has just left for Brazil where she is to give a paper on Whiteness in SA. And this week on SAFM - the premier South African radio station - there were a number of programs where they touched on the subject.

It all kicked off when Afriforum, a bunch of white Afrikaner students from the University of Pretoria, painted themselves black during a protest at the seat of government. Their spokesperson a certain Ernst - if I recall correctly - said on Radio that they wanted to be recognised as African.

As part of the protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the students each completed the labour department‘s EEA1 form, in which they classified themselves as African.

On the form, to be filled in by employers as part of government‘s equity reports, people are given a choice of being either African, coloured (a very South African classification), Indian or white. The clear implication, therefore, is that whites, coloureds and Indians cannot be African.
Although Ernst valiantly protested this outrage by painting his face black and defending what he did on radio - he made one mistake. When asked whether this thing of whites wanting to be African is new, Ernst reluctantly agreed, and mumbled that it is indeed a new thing. Duh Ernst!! The word Afrikaner means African!

Good heavens Mhambi thought to himself! Does the boy know nothing about his own Afrikaner history?? If an Afrikaner student leader is such an ignoramus, perhaps the Afrikaners deserve to see their history trampled. Sies man!

Then later in the week Prof Melissa Steyn talked about her new book "Whiteness just Isn't What It Used to Be". Professor Steyn expressed worry about the lack of contrition on the part of white South Africans for what happened in the past. This lack was very dangerous she lamented. Mhambi agrees.

What followed was caller upon caller who heaped scorn on the whities. They had done nothing to reconcile with their countrymen, they obstructed redistribution of wealth, and they were downright racist. In short, they were not sorry for Apartheid.

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