Friday, November 23, 2007

Stellenbosch: in my bloed...

I was back in Stellenbosch and I cannot escape the feeling: the more things change, the more it stays the same. Please hear me our before I am crucified-I love Stellenbosch... Talking to a friend, who also studied at Maties (University of Stellenbosch), we reminisced about the good old(!) days 'op kampus', 'die rooiplein' (the red-square), 'die bib' (library), die 'Neelsie'(the cafeteria), 'die Laan'. He commented that its clear that many thing have changed in Stellenbosch- we almost don't recognize 'die Bos' anymore. Many new shops (especially coffee-shops) have opened, on campus you cannot walk into a building anymore, there is strict access control and you don't see the old familiar faces - its new ones in charge now. We exchanged cellphone numbers and promised to stay in touch, but then one starts to think: what has really changed ? These (new) coffee shops, on the pavements, we so love and hate, still seems to be like something foreign, like sitting somewhere in Europe (not in Africa). As I walked down 'Kerkstraat', most of the time I had to walk in the street, instead of on the pavement, sidestepping groups of camera wielding tourists. I went for a coffee at one (next to the historic Rhenish church). My waitress simply dumped the coffee on my table, never saying anything or smiling, maybe I was too much like her ( if you know what I mean). I was invisible- maybe my color wasn't green- I don't know. Anyway, the rest of the people of Stellenbosch, black and coloured seemed to remain basically invisible... there, but also not there. Our hometown (also) still seems to favor the moneyed and smacks a taste of the neo-colonialism. I loved the family though, spending precious time with friends (old and new) and passionate colleagues, carving out strategies for youth and student work in Southern Africa. It reminded me of why this piece of Africa, with all her ambiguities and hybidity, is, to put it simply- in my blood...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One of life's most embarrasing moments...

Ever prayed that God should open the earth and swallow you ? I felt like that this weekend. maybe this is some sort of search for absolution, a confession maybe... I dont know. I was at church and saw an old friend singing in the choir. She looked beautiful as ever, I thought, notwithstanding the fact that she and her hubby recently had a baby. I thought of her name. I'm sure you know the feeling. Even in church, you loose sense of reality around you. I know this is not suppose to be happening in church but you need to that name, a.b.c.d.e.f..... yea finally, I got it. Amen ! Afterwards I looked to find her, for a chat and yes she was there at the back busy with her camera or something. Brimming with confidence, I walked over to her, greeted, expressing the usual: 'long time.. no see' and then I complimented her on looking so fine after the baby (I don't know if we men are suppose to do it- anyway I did). She looked at me confused, 'a baby ??, I don't have a baby .. what are you talking about' Oh.. man...I was floored...this is someone else, it wasn't she... I offered some pathetic apology, but fortunately she was graceful as ever. Oh... how could I....eish !

Friday, November 16, 2007

Zuma for president of SA ?

I simply cannot imagine that Mr Jacob Zuma (JZ) will be the next ANC president, let alone the president of South Africa. Talking politics is allways a risky business, still we can voice our opinion, right ? With all the hype and hysteria, it seems as if there is a widespread consensus that Zuma is our man. Well, he isn't. The ANC Youth League and the mighty trade union federation, Cosatu might stand by Zuma, because he repressents a populist position, which is closer to their public socialism. It might be that he will be able to spur on the emotions of the Zulu masses in the rural areas of Kwazulu Natal, singing songs of war and swaying his big belly. At the ANC conference in Polokwane, come December, however, the membership will not vote for Zuma. Allthough the ANC is still percieved to be a liberation movement ( and comrade JZ might still view it as such) the last 13 years in government shaped it towards a sophisticated, politcal machine, where pragmatics, financial stability and growth is paramont. Hence, it is my opinion that the voters will go for stability, more of the same and possibly a bigger dose of neo-liberal capitalism, if not corporatism. The Polokwane conference will not be an ideological rubicon or kairos or watershed, it will be business (pun intended!)as ussual.
Is this what I hope for, in terms of our country ? This is a more difficult question. I would hope for a seperation of powers, where the ANC president is not necesarily the president of the country, where where there is direct representation of local constituencies, not proportional repressentation of the dominant parties and where parliament then elects the prez where ..... and so the list goes on. The bottomline: I foresee that Cosatu will (again) bow to the hand that feeds them and like Shilowa, Jay Naidoo, Cyril, Geraldine, Trev, eventually even Vavi and Midisha will will recieve the higher calling to office, serving their real financial interests, not dummy public roles. Am I cynical and disillusioned with partypolitics ? I don't think so, I just think that maybe inside the illusions of media politicking there are more powerful forces, ideologies and structures at work. But then, let me remind myself not to risk too much, talking politics... this is just an opinion....right ?

Monday, November 05, 2007

NG kerk and Belhar...

It seems as if the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, sadly, is still a prisoner to her colonial racist past. It was hoped that this church could lead her predominantly white, Afrikaans membership out of a fixation with separatism and supremacy, towards a new mission and calling in unity and reconciliation with her black sisters and brothers. An article in an Afrikaans weekly, recounts the most recent set of new (!) reasons why re-unification hasn't yet happened (and may not happen)- the most important being a growing opposition within the DR Church to the Confession of Belhar. Belhar, is a coloured township in Cape Town, where this confession was born, opening new insights in God's desire for unity, reconciliation and justice.The reasons for this growing opposition, however, does not reside in their theological rejection of Belhar, but in what can only be called a general hysteria that the acceptance of Belhar would constitute an acceptance of the new South Africa. An acceptance of the new SA, so they argue, means the acceptance of rising levels of violent crime, corruption and the abuse of power. Where, of course they are correct is that, in the Belhar call, God does call for restitution of injustice, for visible unity hence for the re-formation of colonial type race segregated churches.

In this article one of the ministers of the DR Church, Andre van Niekerk, correctly, express the need for re-unification succinctly '“Kerkeenheid sou ons kon bevry en laat beleef dat alle swart mense nie dieselfde is nie, dat talle nog swaarder onder misdaad en swak bestuur ly, en dat talle gemeenskaplike waardes met ons deel en vir ons voorbeelde daarin is. (Church unity, would have liberated us and let us experience that not all black people are the same, that many share a bigger load under crime and poor management, and that we share many common values of which they are examples to us'). The tragedy is however, that Belhar now becomes the latest 'reason' why the DR church cannot transcend her colonial legacy.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jake White's dramatic exit-no talks

The dramatic exit of Jake White, triumphant coach of the RWC 2007 champs comes to me as no surprise. I might sound like one of the SARU officials, but scouts honor, I don't have any ties with them. I just love the game, passionately and speaks my mind, sometimes. It's therefor just that the cynical me, was waiting for something dramatic after the victory fires, to reminds us of where we are. It happened in 1995, when the Boks threatened to boycott further participation in games, unless they are paid more and now, again, basking in their victory, aware of their bargaining power, they push their luck for more. I expect some key players and former players to start pushing SARU for more perks and to revisit the Jake saga now. They will threaten that unless SARU reinstate him, they will leave SA's shores to apply their trade somewhere else. Of course the SA Rand cannot compete with the Euros or the Pounds. I stand to be proven wrong, I admit, but I am so deeply disappointed in the way our games, playful as it is suppose to be, embodying the values of fairness, communality, but also excellence and hard work, has under the pressure of global economics, bloated disproportionately, larger than life. The Carlos Alberto Perreira, Eddie Jones-case proves the point and may I add the names of Allan Donald, Kevin Petersen, Andrew Strauss, previous Bok coach Nick Mallet (and now Jake White ?) that whilst we naively hug each other in the streets as a proud 'winning nation' and wait in the rain, wrapped in a SA flag, from 3/4 o'clock in the morning to see our Bokke, coming home...they don't give hoot about national pride or patriotism. While we shed tears singing the anthem, what seems to matter more is the number of zeros of the highest bidder. Playing the game is for sale and going, going is being sold to the highest bidder-I am willing to sell my soul to the whoever is willing to pay. Irrespective of the accolades from all over, even from the prez to Nelson Mandela, why would Jake felt the need to publically disgrace the very people that afforded him the opportunity to be involved in the game ? It can only be because he knew that, in his back pocket, he holds the trump cards, financial offers from all over the world. Maybe I am old fashioned (and naive), but I so hoped that these guys in a small way could have said, now its my time to bring back home the skills and experience and invest and develop our youngsters, to help and make this a winning nation, or I've been so wonderfully privileged, if not blessed, to help make things to change in our nation, in Africa and from here, to the world.
Let me admit: for once I hope that I am totally off the mark, but from where I sit, with regards to Jake and some of 'our heroes', it will not be the case: it will be a matter of money talks... and it will come as no surprise.