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Deputy president Zuma was of course cleared of a rape charge and then the charge for corruption was withdrawn.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

Sphere: Related Content

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?

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content


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

Sphere: Related Content

and Olive...

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

Sphere: Related Content

are back

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

Sphere: Related Content

Can you see my left red foot?

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

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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?

Sphere: Related Content

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

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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?

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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?

Sphere: Related Content

Some nice tatoos

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

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content