Archive by Author

Flames of Hate

21 May

Warning, this video involves GRAPHIC scenes of recent violence on South Africa streets:

http://multimedia.thetimes.co.za/photos/2008/05/flames-of-hate/

flames of hate

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Obama the winner!

18 May

time_cov Time magazine has declare Barack Obama the winner of the Democratic race. Sort of…

Love the asterisk. I wonder if Time is behaving in a responsible manner by declaring that Obama will win the race.

Although Hillary is not out, the media (and it would seem the majority of voters [um… except in West Virginia]) have turned against her completely.

It would seem America isn’t ready for a female candidate for President, let alone President (sorry, Condi!)

But Obama has to be feeling happy that until the convention, the media is going to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy about his seemingly inevitable nomination.

Xenophobia in Alex: Another shame of South Africa

16 May

Last night I was having dinner with great friends, and afterwards over coffee, in the tradition of the chattering classes, we got down to talking about the ethical bankruptcy of our civic society. That South Africans as a general rule are lawless and lack empathy or respect for the lives and integrity of other human beings, this explains our high violent crime rate, and the taking of lives for things worth no more than a few pounds.

This total failure to empathise, to care about other human beings, is finding itself manifested in the criminal and violent attacks on foreigners in the Alexandra township in Johannesburg. But can we really be surprised?

In a society were violence goes unpunished by the government, the authority figures appointed by the people, and there is no common sense of dignity for one’s fellow man, how can we be surprised when mobs rise up and lash out at those who are different.

This is surely a criminal act, but it speaks to a deeper issue in society. It speaks to the complete absence of avenues for change. South Africans will continue to turn to violence to resolve civil issues – the tools of the violent criminals that terrorise our nation are to become the tools of the abused society that government has failed in its duty to protect.

The first cause of a government is security for the people. Secondary concerns such as education and health, and tertiary concerns such as diplomacy and financial regulation are all out of whack in the ANC government.

And let us not forget that the South African government belongs to the ANC. The cadres who now fight and drink and swear at conferences around the nation, who support Zuma and his ‘change’ are the same people who have done NOTHING for the last 10 years as South Africa’s government and infrastructure turns to dust; and the ones who suffer the most, the poor, go unfed, insecure and uncared for.

South Africans are not secure. And now they are venting their rage, in a criminal and inhumane way, against foreigners who don’t deserve their violence. But it is a stark reminder that South Africa is no haven from violence : yes, the violence of African conflicts does not exist in South Africa yet, but a far more insidious violence dominates South African society, it is a violence and criminality that goes unchecked by South African leaders. They DO NOT CARE! No member of the ANC can say that they care about the man in the street when they are complicit in the greatest crime of all: the death of empathy and dignity in the South African nation.

The South African Liberal Constitution is a fiction. Because the people, and the government South Africans choose DOES NOTHING to ensure the rights and freedoms entrenched in it, are delivered by the government. A South African’s right to health care, education, housing, safety and security ARE NOT PAID FOR BY HIS TAXES. Therefore if he doesn’t have the means to pay for these services and rights privately, he would not have those things, the government wouldn’t keep its end of the social contract.

That is a failed society.

South Africa is a society to be ashamed of.

South Africa is a society which must be renewed.

Bring of the elections of 2009, so that The People can decide on the ANC’s policy of self enrichment and oppression of the poor.

The Quiet Revolution in South Africa

12 May

I was reading the Time 100 recently, and it included Jacob Zuma, the President of the ruling ANC party.

A very important point was made. Zuma, for all his faults (which are numerous, and will hopefully be found out in the South African courts in August) succeeded, despite his seemingly impenetrable traditional veneer, to conduct a very unafrican process in South Africa: the taking down of an entrenched and established centralised autocrat from within (Thabo Mbeki); without bloodshed and without civil war.

As this weekend’s tripartite summit proves, Mbeki is a lame duck president. This may have more to do with Mbeki’s atrocious handling of this country, and less to do with the enigmatic yet flawed Zuma.

But there is a glimmer of hope. As was stated previously to me at a dinner party, all politicians are on some level crooked; I agree. And Jacob Zuma might be as bad as any, again I’d agree. But the real victors in the impending removal of Thabo Mbeki from the high office in this country is that it sends a strong message to all future presidents, first and foremost Zuma, that civil society in South Africa, especially amongst the black majority, will not tolerate an autocrat.

Now that is a very interesting and powerful thing; and a true sign that the African renaissance is taking place – but not in the way Mbeki had suspected it would.

Clinton’s ideologue tells her to throw in the towel.

8 May

08clintonw_600

George McGovern, the former Senator and Democratic Icon, has told Clinton she should give up in her race against Barack Obama.

His 1972 campaign inspired Clinton to get into politics. She’s a hard woman, and I doubt the personal nature of the denouncement will cut her to the core, I suspect it will give her some pause as to whether or not continue with her campaign.

More on this story at the NYT and Washington Times

Literacy and communication

23 Apr

Google’s blog is highlighting today the importance of World Book Day and The Literacy Project.

Its shocking to think that 1 in 5 adults is illiterate. But as I reminded someone at a party on Saturday night, even if the WHOLE world was literate, a world without books is useless. And Google is doing good by joining UNESCO is attacking the nexus of the problem, books spawn literacy and vice versa, and that is often forgotten.

When I was in High School, I remember going to debate in township schools, and invariably the debate would happen in the ‘library’. I use this term partially, since most of these rooms had few if any reading materials, let alone books. Generally there were government sex education comics, a couple of bibles, and possibly a few donated books; but the sheer LACK of books shocked me, and reminded me that literacy without something to read is useless; it becomes nothing but a perfunctory aspect of government action, and not the development of a educated civic collective.

Couple that shock of a LACK of books, with the abundance of books and bookshops in the UK. I never fail to be amazed at how much reading is going on in the UK. It’s great for the health of that nation, as an outsider, and surely provides them with a national competitive edge far beyond Monty Python sketches and good television.

Literacy with books leads to better communication. And in an increasingly globalised and competitive world driven by information, and subsequently knowledge, we can’t ignore the VITAL nature of good communication (and therefore literacy) in the battle for competitiveness.

Literacy, like the free market, is not a zero sum game. Like trade, the more literate actors in the ‘market’ of ideas communicated in local communities and the world, comes to benefit all communities in ever greater extends.

Considering this then, should we not be considering the inclusion of literacy as a basic human right. To deny someone access to the well of human ideas, is no different to the denial of good drinking water to the thirsting man. He might be able to survive on muddy waters, but he will only thrive if he has access to the true benefits of the written word, and the education that provides.

The revolution of the printing press cannot overthrow the dangerous ideas in the third world until populations are literate and educated.

It then is a great fear that governments hide their populations from truth by keeping them in a perpetual uneducated, yet partially literate (i.e. no books – such as in many [sadly most] schools in South Africa) state, so as to ensure a fearful and sheepish populace which can be stretched, beaten and oppressed without the knowledge that a better existence awaits them should they strive for freedom and the removal of despots and tyranny.

Obama and Hillary in Pennsylvania

22 Apr

The Obama/Clinton machine rolls onto a much sought pugilistic moment, the April 22 Primary in Pennsylvania.

Could Clinton have ever imagined having to fight this hard, so late in the race for the Democratic candidacy? She thought she was a lock, and would have it all wrapped up by Super Tuesday if not before.

Could Obama have imagined that he would get soft soaped by the media just long enough for his inspirational message to resonate with American voters?

And even now, as the two candidates twist and turn, name calling and underwriting why one another are not capable of holding the highest political office in the world (which is why this is relevant for people like myself, an African), one has to ask: has it been worth it?

Has the Democratic Party of the United States done itself any favours by allowing this battle to rage on?

Admittedly the media exposure has been great, and the campaign war chest has been phenomenal, probably far larger than anything a single candidate could have raised in battling John McCain.

But with the race and fight turning bitter (there is THAT word again) and nasty to ever increasing degrees by the day, will either candidate be able to present their platforms as something fresh and positive come election day in November?

All this time, the Republican election machine is able to study and collect ‘mind bullets’ to fire at either candidate once one is chosen. Is it still too late to ask for a compromise candidate, like, let’s say (since its Earth Day and all…) Al Gore? To really throw this election into the cement mixer of chaos?

Democracy is a funny thing, and American democracy is a very 18th century version at times. Perhaps the Democratic candidates have engorged themselves too much on the blood and fat of the cable news channels. Americans think that they know John McCain, as they think they know the Democratic candidates, but only once the two party race begins, after the Democrat horse trading has ended, will the true dirt get dug up on all sides.

As for today… the polls say Clinton has it.

I can’t help wishing there is a surprise on the day, if for no other reason then to end this primary race by letting Obama take it. I’m tired of the opening comedy act, someone please bring on the band!