Tag Archives: apartheid

The Rabbit in Your Ear

Today marks a year after the passing of Nelson Mandela, father of South Africa. I wrote something around that time last year, “The Breath of Sparrows.” This year, with the current government seeming to move even further from Mandela’s legacy, something as trivial as a bunny would have made a huge difference.

The following is a first draft.

Image from The Guardian.

The Rabbit in Your Ear

Made us laugh. It was harmless,
a moment of whimsy
at a time of grief. As quick

as it was inserted in your
stately image, it was removed
without ceremony.

I can only imagine your laughing
with us now, saying
“You should have kept it

in my ear. It makes me
more real.”

-o-

Advertisements

ET Found Home

I wasn’t born here. Everything was alien to me when I first arrived. Check that. I was the alien.

I gawked at the strangeness of the world I had come upon. From high up in the air curious circles dotted much of the landscape. Gold brown fields appeared like carefully braided locks of hair. Then the mountains came into view, majestic and ancient, bounded by deep blue waters.

When I had the chance to meet the inhabitants of this new world I was even more dumbfounded. Some walked with unimaginable weights on their heads, like TV sets and sofas. Some sang at the drop of a hat even in crowded trains. Others greeted me like a neighbour from a common village. Wonder and unexpected connections nearly every day.

And then there were those who sensed the alien blood in me. They must have felt the intrusion of the shadow around my feet, saw my unusual gait, shape of eyes, my hair. These folks made me aware of the blast of winter air, made me shiver. I knew I was unwelcome among them.

I had arrived the very same year this country survived its first democratic elections.  The whole world was in awe. Mandela, de Klerk, and Tutu quickly became household names. Boundaries were broken, new bridges spanned old differences.

That was then. These days different names are hitting the headlines. Malema, Terre’Blance. Cracks that were perhaps smoothed over are showing again. Seeping smell of blood.

They say this is a land of possibilities. It was possible in 1994, why not now? What has changed? What has remained the same?

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the difference, or what hasn’t changed at all.

Within a few years of my staying here I was, at least on paper, declared a citizen, and very much to my surprise.

Yet deep inside I know I’m still an alien. Some people I happen to bump on the street still remind me of that every now and again. The shadows are there.

The odd thing is that I’ve come to love this strange land like my own distant home. I can’t imagine leaving it, good or bad.


The Gaza Report – now what?

UN Fact Finding Mission finds strong evidence
of war crimes and crimes against humanity
committed during the Gaza conflict;
calls for end to impunity


Sorry, Mandela, I won’t be voting ANC

Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela

Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela

(NOTE:  Here I am pretending to be a political analyst, so please indulge my incompetence.  I am only one voter on a flimsy soapbox.)

The great Nelson Mandela was recently used as an onstage prop on the African National Congress’s campaign trail.  He was aided to get on stage and off.  He sat as if for a photo op.  One wonders what he really thought about the whole circus.

It used to be that any word from him would hit local and international headlines.  Now, nothing but silence.

Mandela has proven he can be brutally honest even to visiting dignitaries.  As in the case of the broadly smiling former US President Bill Clinton who was told years ago on nationwide television something not quite subtle.

“You can jump in the fucking river!  We will never abandon our friends!”

This was in reference to the US Government’s request that South Africa sever ties with Libya.  Well, he did say it in Afrikaans, and meant that Clinton could keep his two-faced smile throughout the whole stately proceedings.

But unlike in previous times, Mandela has not said anything about the current South African political situation.  Perhaps age has made him less able to speak his mind more freely nowadays?  Or has the ANC leadership decided not to hand him the microphone at all?

Mandela’s wise words could be just what we need right now in this country before the national elections in April.

In the historic free elections of 1994, Mandela and the ANC were admired the world over.  The ANC had not only the moral high ground but a set of policies that epitomized respect for human rights.

The years under Mandela’s leadership were not free of controversies and burning issues, but they were the first steps out of the dark times of apartheid.  Not everyone thought South Africa could truly make it, but it did.

Thabo Mbeki had a tough act to follow.  How many people can measure up to a living legend anyway?  But looking back to his years as president, Mbeki’s efforts improved the lives of many South Africans through sound social and economic policies – or so perhaps we have been made to believe.  And he had not a few critics, among them AIDS activists.

Mbeki was highly criticized for being too distant from the people he is supposed to serve.  Despite this, one could feel that he deserves your respect.

The orchestrated events that led to the unexpected removal of Thabo Mbeki from the nation’s seat of power, showed how boldly the ANC leadership had grown in paving the way for the crowning of its party leader, Jacob Zuma.  The ANC took Mbeki out of the equation unceremoniously but had the semi-decency to replace him for the meantime with Kgalema Motlanthe.

It seems that they wanted Zuma to “earn” the presidency with an expected majority vote for the ANC from the people of South Africa.

COPE logo

COPE logo

It might be beyond the belief of the ANC leadership that ordinary citizens could be outraged by this act.  Thus was born the breakaway group from the ANC, the Congress of the People (COPE).  Though new and untested in the amount of support it can garner in the coming elections, it is nonetheless one option for voters who crave for change and a move away from what Jacob Zuma and his supporters represent.

ANC President Jacob Zuma supporters already claim him as president-in-waiting of South Africa.   They will try everything and anything to derail all efforts by the National Prosecuting Authority to take him to court for numerous charges of corruption, money laundering, and bribery among others.

Disinformation tactics through “sms texts” and claims from “reliable NPA sources” hit the news a few days ago about the possible dropping of all legal charges against Zuma.  One can only guess the source of such actions.

The same Zuma supporters threw their noisy weight around the courts during his trial for the rape of a friend’s daughter.  This to the dismay of rights advocates.

Zapiros controversial cartoon

Zapiro's controversial cartoon

The ANC, with its countless dubious officials who have been found with their hands in various government funds time and again, likewise led the attack and subsequent demise of the high-level and very successful criminal investigation unit, The Scorpions.

The Independent Electoral Commission reported a huge turnout in voter registration, something unheard of since 1994.  Perhaps the ANC will get a big surprise on the 22nd of April.

I haven’t decided which political party to vote for.  But I am certain it won’t be for the ANC and Jacob Zuma.

-o-

Here is a very interesting article from the Mail and Guardian on the coming elections.