Mhambi has been redeployed.

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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