Xolela Mangcu on the writer who is trying hard to rehabilitate South African president Mbeki through the book Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki:
"My criticism, for the most part, is a political one. What Mbeki has never got, and what Roberts does not get, is that we never wanted a “rigorous student of language and stereotypes” for a president.
What we wanted was a leader who could reach out into the “vast deep” of despair and despondency and mobilise people towards action."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Xolela Mangcu on the writer who is trying hard to rehabilitate South African president Mbeki through the book Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki:
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Yahoo!'s founder, Jerry Yang on retaking control of the management of the troubled company sounded more like an Insead graduate than a switched on Dotcom entrepeneur:
"My immediate and overarching priorities are to realise Yahoo!'s strategic vision by accelerating execution, further strengthening our leadership team and fostering an even stronger culture of winning."
Err... sell your Yahoo! shares fast.
The UK Guardian reports that in the US Facebook v MySpace - a class divide | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited: "Social networking websites MySpace and Facebook are increasingly splitting along class lines, according to a US academic."
Facebook users "tend to come from families who emphasise education and going to college. They are primarily white, but not exclusively". MySpace, meanwhile, "is still home for Latino and Hispanic teens, immigrant teens" as well as "other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm".
Thursday, June 21, 2007
This morning Mhambi woke with a song in his heart. A heavy hearted song -
You're pulling me back
Yes, it ain't a nice song.
umshini wami, khawuleth'umshini wami
My machine, Please bring my machine (gun)
But a rather angry one.
News has it that the African National Congress (ANC) want's to abolish the national rugby team's Springbok emblem. On top of that the South African team has been gagged from speaking to the foreign press.
The official reason given is that the symbol represents a racially divided past. Mhambi thinks otherwise. It's potential as a sybol of reconciliation is well established. What's more its embebed in the sense of identity of Afrikaners. Mhambi - it has to be said - sees control freakery and shortsighted spitefulness.
Strange that Mhambi frequently sees black (presumably) South Africans (but not exclusively so) wearing the Bok rugby jersey in London. I have not seen anybody wear Bafana bafana, the national football teams' colours.
This is a report from the New Zealand Yahoo Xtra rugby site.
Yeye has taken on a high profile in the team, fronting the media with an injury update every Monday. Relations between the team and local media are frosty.
Scribes were reduced to pleading for a player to interview on Monday, and after several refusals Schalk Burger was eventually enlisted when he was spotted drinking coffee nearby in the hotel lobby.
At Tuesday's training in Durban, media were escorted from the training venue 15 minutes after it started, the same time as the gates were flung open to the general public.
At the team announcement, newly-confirmed captain Victor Matfield was nowhere to be seen. Only hooker Gary Botha and replacement Bismarck du Plessis were available.
NZPA's one-on-one interview with White, promised for two days, never happened as Yeye urged him from the room.
"We don't want people cornering the coach," Yeye explained.
A group of journalists did manage to "corner" White, albeit briefly.
He was courteous and engaging, but media minders ended it before he was asked how he had coped with the past few months.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Springbok rugby has not had good international press for decades. The stereo-typical image was of its big brutish and boorish players. Not creative or clever but gagging to bulldoze the opposition. Oh and probably racist.
Originally uploaded by bloudraak.
The recent Super 14 semi-finals and England tours revived the prejudice.
In an article titled No one has told the South Africans rugby and war are different Phil Gifford said:
Playing South African teams at home can still be the most physically, mentally and emotionally draining task in rugby. South Africans and New Zealanders share the same obsession with rugby, but the way that fixation is expressed is at its most extreme in South Africa, especially in areas where Afrikaaners dominate the game.An English speaking white South African - Kevin Putt - who played for the Boks concurred:
"Here's the difference," said Putt. "When you play in Durban, for example, it's a great party atmosphere. They're there to enjoy themselves. The others (in Pretoria, home of the Bulls) are there to kill you."Gifford was spot on when he remarked:
"You quickly discover, when you visit the country, that in South Africa rugby is a key expression of nationhood for a lot of the white population".Stuart Barns wrote in the same vain when the English rugby team rode into South Africa's "Afrikaner towns".
Forget all this Absa Stadium corporate nonsense. To those with a rugby memory this ground will forever be Loftus Versfeld. It is the spiritual home of Afrikaans rugby, the very epicentre of their formidable culture of forward play. On the high veldt the English will receive little in the way of a welcome.Listening to a post match video analysis on the Yahoo Xtra rugby site rugby Mhambi was amazed when commentators casually remarked on how amazing the feverish flag waving support of the the Bulls was in the super 14 semi final. It was great, and it reminded you of 1940's Germany they said.
South Africa always love to beat the English and having recently lost seven straight internationals against their old foe there is a sense of relish here right now. Next Saturday could be something of a gladiatorial event, as much coliseum as rugby stadium and there is most definitely the scent of English blood.
Pretoria is known as Jacaranda City. The social attitudes of the locals may be harsh but as you drive into the city the trees are things of beauty. Beautiful or not, if England get this one wrong they will be travelling home, not from South Africa but from a rugby hell which will have left too many scars for England and too much buoyancy - from an English perspective - for South Africa.
Time to board that plane.
But Mhambi was amazed himself. The intensity of the level of overt support, with supporters decked from head to toe in the colours of their team, was as much as that of the play on the field.
This overt expression of support was allot more than it had been a couple of years ago. What is going on? Perhaps the answer is similar to that of the explosion of Afrikaans music in recent years.
It's evidence of a identity under threat. An identity looking desperately for legitimate and successful symbols to cling to. Increasingly alienated from the South African state previously so dear to them, the Bulls offer a home.
And Afrikaner identity is so insecure. Mr Gifford of course was more accurate than he perhaps he realised. War and rugby go hand in hand for Afrikaners. The Springboks toured England for the first time in 1906. Many of the players had fought in the Boer war, and had learnt playing rugby as prisoners of war.
Because of this war Afrikanerdom had been devastated and utterly impoverished, the republics had been conquered its farms burned to ground en masse. Even before the war the Afrikaners were poor and many only semi-literate. Now they were nothing.
The success of that first 1906 tour to England (they drew 6 all) and the fact that they were an invincible team for almost 30 years soon after - did Afrikaners the world of good however.
But soon this devastating rugby prowess contributed to delusions of grandeur and hopped into bed with rising Afrikaner nationalism. Afrikaner nationalism in turn helped begat an accursed offspring called apartheid. Who in turn provided ample anti-bok fodder for prejudiced rugby hacks.
Sea change in opinion
But Mhambi also noticed a significant sea change in reporting recently. A sympathy, which although not misplaced has come perhaps too late.
News that there might be heavy racial quotas imposed on the Bok team suddenly became less palatable. The BBC, Stephen Jones in The Times, and the Australian's Bret Harris were concerned. Even in the normally rugbyless New York Times opinioned: "With renewed burning of tires on the streets, with protests about poor wages and inadequate facilities in education and public services, politicians still speak of "Africanizing" rugby."
It was probably due to the conflation of a few factors that the tectonic plates of received wisdom is shifting.
Firstly the Boks had once gain become real contenders. They had been largely ignored, or ridiculed whe staggering from one record lose to another. And Mhambi suspects few international rugby hacks thought the Boks could climb their way back to rugby domination. But now they are hot, it's World cup year and suddenly the side and South African rugby is being scrutinised. And as is the habit of particularly the English and New Zealand press, if you beat them, you must be a fantastically good side.
Secondly news of serial ANC corruption and its protection of Anglo Saxon bogeyman Robert Mugabe eroded some of the natural sympathies the ANC have enjoyed in the past. The third factor that was opperating in the Boks favour is boredom. New Zealand's All Blacks realise now how much they missed a strong Bok rugby opposition. Beating all comers with large margins creates a certain lack of dramatic tension.
Ironically the Boks have been picking players on a racial quota basis for years, but nothing had been said before now. The inclusion of Eddie Andrews and Hanyani Shimange had cost the Boks dear in the past few years. But currently it is hard to argue that any of the 'black' Boks don't deserve their place in the team.
But the thought that at least 10 'black' players will be enforced won the Springboks long overdue sympathy. If they win the World Cup in France 2007 the embattled laager boys might get even more help from their erstwhile detractors. It looks like they will need it. Sphere: Related Content
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Second life, the best know online 'world' allows its users to design and build houses and almost anything else besides, including clothes and shoes. And because all users keep copyright, and because its easy to copy items in a digital world, a brisk trade in digital items are taking place.
Apparently this also makes second life 'manufacturing' and retailing into a low margin high volume business. Unless of course one can establish a brand. Some established brands like Puma are already retailing trainers in Second Life.
But Mhambi reckons its only a matter of time that a brand which originates in Second Life goes 'real' and finds it's was into a shop near you.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tomorrow is the 30th aniversary of the first elections of the modern Spain. This formally brought to an end the Francist dictatorship.
In this pic Adolfo Suárez, the first prime minister lights up a sigaret in parlaiment.
Smoking was banned - even in bars - in Spain in 2005.
News has it that Facebook has hit South Africa like its something-like-a-phenomena. Mhambi wonders whether the explosive growth is even more acute amogst its internet users than elsewhere?
Mhambi is part of a group dedicated to the weird and wonderful Afrikaans band Kobus! Already a 100 members strong.
Some members of the volk van Main!
Today I got this message from the Kobus! admin.
Yeah dudes and lady dudes who love KOBUS! We are now more than 100 strong! Exellent. Play KOBUS! to all non-believers. Play it to your girlfriends, boyfriends, friend girls, friend boys, imaginary friends, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, dogs and gerbils and then get them all to join our group! Thank you all for joining and giving the best damn band in SA (and the wordl) the respect they deserve!
Thanks to you all, die volk van MAIN!
There a campaign brewing against Flickr censorship. Users, originally in Germany and now increasing accross territories on the site are uploading this pic and including this text:.
If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service so won’t be able to turn SafeSearch off. In other words that means, that german users can not access photos on flickr that are not flagged "safe" ... only flowers and landscapes for germans ...Copy and upload this picture to your account - show flickr who we are!
Some Flickr users like Avolare have been increasingly vocal in their criticism of the site.
do we have a problem here?
Originally uploaded by Donald....
Of course this protest was precipitated by a new Flickr release recently, including country specific versions in different languages. Do spare a thought for the Chinese, apparently their government is blocking the whole service. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
It's difficult, tedious and not very nice to harp on about things going wrong in South Africa. Allot of my leftie friends suffer from bad news and battle fatigue. Thank goodness for journalists like Rhoda Kadalie and Xolela Mangcu that never shirks the journalistic watchdog slog.
Originally uploaded by SouthAfricaLogue.com.
This week Rhoda Kadalie tackles the fact that:
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki will go down in history as someone who fired only one person from his cabinet, and not for mismanagement but for being a political competitor.
She runs through a list of cabinet ministers that deserve the sack and in particular she does not mince her words when it come to the portfolio for agriculture and the affairs of the Landbank:
I can go on and on about our cabinet ministers, whose services should be terminated for good reason, but the one who escapes scrutiny is Agriculture Minister Lulama Xingwana. Her failure to stem the farming crisis is astounding. The Cape Times reported recently that 20000 farmers have left the land because of “low import tariffs and the dumping of cheap agricultural products from rich countries where farmers are heavily subsidised”. Add to that the more than 2000 farmers murdered since 1994, and the picture looks grim.Sphere: Related Content
Such is South Africa: Just when the news from the country gets you down something happens that demonstrates the character and strenght of its people and institutions.
Acting Labour Court Judge Mzo Ngcamu this week ruled that it would be a national embarrassment if Harry Charlton was found to be unprotected by whistle-blower laws. Ngcamu said it did not make any sense for Parliament to make laws that protected whistleblowers and then have those laws not apply to MPs who were guilty of criminal activities.
Parliament’s efforts to avoid explaining publicly why it fired former chief financial officer Charlton have suffered a major blow following Ngcamu's Labour Court ruling that Charlton was protected as a whistle-blower.
Charlton has consistently insisted that he was dismissed and persecuted as a member of the parliamentary staff for blowing the whistle on MPs guilty of stealing about R20m of taxpayers’ money in the Travelgate scandal.
Secretary to Parliament Zingile Dingani has said that Charlton was fired for financial mismanagement.
Ngcamu said: “The conclusion I have come to accords with the purpose of the Protected Disclosures Act to root out corruption. The applicant is protected by the PDA. To hold otherwise would deal a blow to government intentions and would be a national embarrassment.”
He said “evidence still has to be led to establish the true reason for the dismissal. It is only where such evidence has been led that it can be said whether the court has jurisdiction or not”.
The Open Democracy Advice Centre, which runs a special service to the public on access to information and whistle-blower protection, said it welcomed Ngcamu’s judgment. A spokesperson said: “We are particularly pleased that the judge underlined the absurdity of an outcome where staff in Parliament could not blow the whistle on corruption perpetrated by MPs.”
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
“Sport cannot be exonerated from the broad picture of government programmes,” said committee chairman Butana Komphela, who is a member of the governing African National Congress.
“Sport cannot be excluded from imperatives of empowerment and transformation."
This was the language used today in parliament in reaction to the fact that the Springbok rugby team is considered too white. Three months before a world cup where South Africa are considered real contenders.
Today, Tony Leon, ex South African opposition leader gave his first post-leadership speech. He had this to say about South Africa's creeping new ideology:
"Not confined to the public sector, (the programme) now engulfs every nook and cranny of the private sphere of life in SA. Yet this instance of Orwellian overreach is the direct consequence of conflating the concept of transformation into a pervasive instrument of control and manipulation."
Hoor hoor says Mhambi.
There have been hints at changing the SARU constitution to effect chnage.
"I'm not happy with the pace of transformation as the leader of SA Rugby," Hoskins told the parlaimentary committee on Tuesday.
"Our current constitution might have been suited to an amateur era. We need to look at it and put it to the President's Council for possible modification.
"To move rugby forward SARU must have more authority. Change is not something we need to fear."
Not all the MP's were engaging in double speak however. Some had more direct allegations, but failed to produce any substance.
ANC MP Tsietsi Louw said that black players were being held back from reaching their true potential.
"There is a deliberate political agenda to keep these black players where they are," he said.
"Only three or four will (succeed)."
I wish Mr. Louw would back up his claims with some evidence. He should put up or shut up, because this is a serous allegation to make. The kind of allegation which is goes unchallenged is used as a battering ram for racist agendas.
White - the ironically named Springbok coach - is under fire for not agreeing to gross political interference is Springbok rugby selections.
Springbok coach Jake White will receive a letter from SA Rugby on Tuesday forbidding him to meet President Thabo Mbeki on Friday.
"We are completing a letter in which we inform Jake that there will be no meeting with President Mbeki," SA Rugby Union deputy president Mike Stofile said on Monday night.
"We cannot allow this to happen," he added.
"We are also writing to the Minister of Sport. All the presidents of the provincial unions feel the meeting (between White and Mbeki) should be cancelled. Jake is undermining our authority."
The Saru leaders are due to appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport on Tuesday to discuss the issue of transformation.
White has also been in the firing line for an incident in a Cafe in Santon Johannesburg. To read an eye witness account of what went down go here.
SARU is a veritable dictatorship-lite. It would have ben funny if it was not so serious. Sphere: Related Content
Monday, June 11, 2007
Has it ever happend to you that someone has told you about something, and the next day another tells you about it, and then another.
Mhambi was told about Facebook last week. And again. And then I got an invitation to join.
So Mhambi joined Facebook last week. Now Mhambi has a MySpace, Flickr, Digg, YouTube, Muti, Blik account, but never have I found signing up and finding friends so easy. As you use it, its simplistic power wonders and charms. It's the social networking site of social networking sites. A meta web 2.0 site.
And then today on the Tube I read Jeff Jarvis' always excellent Media Guardian column. It was about, you guessed it - Facebook.
What is Facebook's secret sauce? I think it starts with identity. On the otherwise anonymous and pseudonymous internet, this is a place where real identity matters: I use my name and I associate with people whom I actually know. Soon after I started, I got invitations from strangers and asked my blog readers about the etiquette of responding. I was told that, in school, one accepts all invitations, because you are all in the same institution and it's rather like an arms race; school is, after all, a popularity contest. But we newcomer adults already seem to be developing a rule (borrowed from the similar business site LinkedIn) that we should befriend only those we know; it is an endorsement. So we are the masters of of our identities and our communities, which establishes trust. I think internet users have been yearning for such control.
What struck Mhambi is that one of ots peculiar successes is how Facebook somehow gets you to send messages to friends that are in your email address book anyway. And that you never message. Why? Perhaps because it's a more social, easier, friendlier environment than an email interface.
Facebook has two other incredible features which Jarvis explains:
Next, Facebook introduced what it calls a newsfeed, filled with simple updates about what your friends have done on the service: one posted a photo, another a video, two more befriended the same person, four others started using a feature.
...it is not news as we know it, but it has news value: if four friends I respect start using a program, that's good enough reason for me to look at it. As one blogger said, this isn't the wisdom of crowds but the wisdom of my crowd. It is like the talk around the cracker barrel in a frontier general store: the protonews of my small society.
But Facebook is also becoming a programming platform.
That is, it enables anyone to create applications on top of the service. Already there are scores of aps hooking up users' information with other services such as calendars, maps, chat, music, news, shopping, and much more. Every media, entertainment and web company needs to figure out how Facebook can help their communities. It is not just about widgetising content - the latest web 2.0 fad - but about people doing things together.
Zuckerberg's ambition for Facebook -which he has so far refused to sell, even though it is said he has been offered more than $1bn - is nothing less than for it to become the social operating system of the web, the Google of people.
MySpace eat your heart out. Sphere: Related Content
No blog that attempts to touch on South African identity can be worth its salt if it does not take a careful look at... you guessed it... rugby.
Lucky you, Mhambi just happens to be a huge rugby fan and has been spending allot of time on Keo's blog. Say what?
Flag waving England supporters
Originally uploaded by elhamisabel.
Don't know what Keo is? Keo is Mark Keohane's blog and is about all things South African rugby. Did I mention it's South Africa's largest blog by quite some margin? It is probably more than double the size in terms of readers and comments than the next 10 pretenders to the South African blogging title put together.
If you want to entertained, infuriated, informed, and get an insight into the minds of a significant and passionate part of South Africa, visit Keo.
In response to news that the Springboks might be forced to select 10 black rugby players, one poster - kilikijaan - on Keo said today:
“picking ten blacks will only strengthen the bok team.Just like the maoris strengthened the all blacks.
Its all about genetics and the coloureds and blacks are far superior.”
Can they identify with white players?
kilikijaan is of course right, genetics does matter in sport. A few years ago sports scientist Prof Tim Noaks showed why persons of West African heritage are very likely to win world sprint titles. East Africans are also thought to have an edge in distance running.
West African heritage also dominates heavy weight boxing. It’s also no coincidence that the All Blacks have many Polynesian players in their back line (but never at lock). It’s unlikely that Japan will ever win the world cup rugby, because of their diminutive size.
In 1994 the papers carried a few stories about how the new SANDF has to create a number of smaller uniforms to accommodate the new black troops into an erstwhile mostly white army.
The fact is that South African blacks - even the Zulus - are not only smaller than West Africans they are smaller than whites with British heritage, who in turn are smaller than Afrikaners.
Unfortunately size matters in Rugby. Games are by and large won and lost in the forward pack. South Africa is in luck. Afrikaners are the largest rugby playing brutes on the planet. If countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Germany and the Netherlands started to take the game seriously, watch out.
So race matters, but some societies choose to ignore its stifeling deterministic logic. Why? Because it’s banal business and people that get hung up on it are creepy. It also obscures the poetry of individual quirks, team work, organistation and passion.
Now England has a ‘black’ population of 4% (allot of them Indian) and the national football team is routinely 50% ‘black’ (but no Indians). Do they care that their team is not representative? Nope, guess what, the vast majority want the best team to represent their country. They select on merit. And a minority gets to feel that they belong. Sphere: Related Content
Sunday, June 10, 2007
JM Coetzee's Notes on Eden published in Poetry magazine:
Ina Rousseau's poem "Eden" was published in 1954, at a time when white Afrikaner nationalists were riding the crest of a wave: internally they were on the way to crushing opposition to the apartheid state they were building; externally their strident anti-Communism had ensured the support or at least connivance of the West. The future they promised their adherents was prosperous and secure. "Eden" is thus a surprising and disturbing text to emerge at this moment, from the hand of a young Afrikaans poet not known for politically divergent views.
Traditional in its form and imagery, "Eden" is nevertheless a cryptic poem. Internally it bears no trace of South Africa—no trace, that is, save the language in which it was written. But once the key phrase "South Africa" is breathed, the poem opens like a flower. The first European settlers were planted at the southern tip of Africa to supply the Dutch merchantmen sailing to the East Indies with fresh fruit and vegetables. The garden they laid out—the so-called Company Garden, still standing in the heart of modern Cape Town—is linked by Rousseau with the paradisal garden of Judeo-Christian myth, and hence with the promise of a new start, a return to an unfallen state, that operated so powerfully in the European colonization of the Americas.
by Ina Rousseau
Somewhere in Eden, after all this time,
does there still stand, abandoned, like
a ruined city, gates sealed with grisly nails,
the luckless garden?
Is sultry day still followed there
by sultry dusk, sultry night,
where on the branches sallow and purple
the fruit hangs rotting?
Is there still, underground,
spreading like lace among the rocks
a network of unexploited lodes,
onyx and gold?
Through the lush greenery
their wash echoing afar
do there still flow the four glassy streams
of which no mortal drinks?
Somewhere in Eden, after all this time,
does there still stand, like a city in ruins,
forsaken, doomed to slow decay,
the failed garden?
Translated from the Afrikaans by J.M. Coetzee
Read more notes by Coetzee on Eden.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
"I am one of you". Nelson Mandela signified by wearing the number 6 Springbok jersey.
Today the message is much different.
Mhambi is sad. I read a troubling story on the web today.
How does one unpack - in a positive way - the meaning of the announcement that the government will step in to ensure that the Springbok rugby team will have at least 10 black players in the starting line-up in 2008? The team will be "Africanised" it is said.
Originally uploaded by rogan.w.
How does one spin this positive? Add another layer of Rainbow Nation gloss? Have Hunt Lascaris make another multi-racial beautiful people ad where South Africans down Lions at a braai?
Is this a move to restore the racial imbalances of the past? Is it a move to ensure that deserving black players who are not being chosen for the national team are selected?
Apparently not the later, because the designated new 'black' coach, Pieter de Villiers has already indicated that South Africa will have to experience a bit of rugby 'pain' in the name of this 'transformation'. So the team will not necessary be the best, but it will be black. (What black means in South Africa is a moving target. If suits a political aim it appears that it can mean African.)
Will it address the imbalance, the vast gap in education, skills, and money between white and black South Africans? Err no.
So why then?
To Mhambi this reeks of the new racist identity politics that Van Zyl Slabbert already has had a whiff of for a while now. He warned of the creeping racial ideology amongst key members of the government.
At a talk at Wits he reiterated that South Africa’s struggle past was being selectively used to establish a racially exclusive Africanism as “the new dominant ideology”.
It seems that for some very significant South Africans in government, it is better for the country to under achieve at an important sports event, than to have a succesful team that is too white. That is naked racism.
And in South Africa rugby does matter. Especially to Afrikaners. A student of history will tell you that rugby was central in rebuilding Afrikaner identity and reconciliation with English South Africans after the Boer War. It also helped our post apartheid reconciliation, when the country united behind the World Cup victory of 1995.
If these forces are put in reverse? How destructive could they be?
Thursday, June 07, 2007
There's a buzz about Tokio Sexwale's talk at wits University tonight. And no wonder. south Africans would like to have a public debabte about who should be the next president of the country. So far Sexwale has been the only person to publically announce his candidacy AND engage with the public.
Xolela Mangcu says in Business day today :
History tells us that it takes courageous, public-oriented leadership to bring about that adaptive transition into a new world.
In Tokyo Sexwale’s talk at the Wits Great Hall tonight is fully booked. It can be obtained on www.public-con-versations.org.za.Sphere: Related Content