Thursday, January 31, 2008

Britney, pa, Britney....

Its amazing how you're can think that you're cool and hip, only to be corrected by your 12 year old daughter on names and details etc. Yesterday, we were talking about one of my all time favorites, Lionel Richie and relationship with his daughter, Nicole, from 'The Simple Life-fame. The conversation started with how much we like his ballads in the 80s onwards, despite his trouble back at home. It seemed as if the old conflict between the home and work, the marriage and the stage was too much ( as it seems for some many other stars).Then our 12 year old started to share the details: the expectation of Nicole's baby, her drug habit, the arrests, etc. Now, whether we like it or not, there are certain times in life where you need to listen to your kids and allow them to lead you by the hand, step by step in a world unknown, a world that they inhabit, a world of stories, fantasies, values, powerplays- a whole new world.

It seems to me that irrespective of whether these stars are simple human beings like you and me, they do command a immense authority. The question is whether we as parents, teachers, politicians and other public servants realize this ? Maybe the relationship is much more complext, yet this is one we cannot shy away from. So, I'm certainly only at the brink/doorstep of this world and I will have to be led.... and corrected in terms of my world-view or simply my limited knowledge of this world. So, as a start, I should correct myself: its Britney Spears, not Brittany Spears..... or Britney Houston.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm back with Brittany Spears, Mary-Kate Olsen, being haunted by Heath Ledger

I'm back, behind my laptop again, being haunted in the dark. I was wondering about my blogging ( in the light of the fame of the Nels in South African news... just kidding) Seriously though, I thought about the focus of my reflections. One area that I feel a need to reflect on more consciouly, which also relates to my research is the area of popular culture and media. Admittedly, this will mean in the first place that I learn (read) more about it. So, please bear with me as I stumble along. I suppose my 12 year old will be my guide in this jungle, but I just sense that this is an area (or maybe one of the key ones) where the battles for ideas are being fought. I looked again at the end of the millenium trilogy of Manuel Castells and it seems as if he is pointing to the importance of media and information technology, in what he calls the 'Network society', as the space within which social transformation takes place. This does not mean that my focus on postcolonial thinking will be lost. In fact, I think it will be sharpened as we go along.

What made me to decide on this concentration? I suppose the death and self-combustion of a few pop idols and the ominous presence of drugs and alcohol in this, but more so the prominence of this in the media and the impact it had on fans and the world. Let's be honest: the tragic antics of Brittany Spears are more sexy then the hundreds butchered in Kenya's streets or conversations about party pals, Mary-Kate Olsen and the departed Heath Ledger, then a funeral at a squatter camp in a godforsaken place called, Skielik (Suddenly). Media's infatuation with the lifestyle of these celebrities seems to indicate more powerfully, what captures our imaginations. And as they say it's in the stories, where communities are shaped. This is an area of study that will help us to hope-fully better understand our hyper-text world. So, here we go....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dreyer and Mbanjwa wins the Duzi

Martin Dreyer and Michael Mbanjwa, are the new Dusi-winners. The amazing thing about this feat is that Dreyer (39) has won this title the last 5 Duzis with a different partners, this time with Mbanjwa, who hails from the Kwazulu-Natal. Good one guys

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another Nel in the dock ??

I'm thinking about changing my surname as another Nel is making headlines- this time for all the wrong reasons. Johan Nel, is bringing shame to the Nels, by seemingly being a next sick, trigger happy Barend Strydom. Under the heading, 'Hy skiet sover hy loop', (He shoots as far as he walks) this teenager is evidently on a chilling crusade to kill innocent black people. His latest victims included a 3 month old baby and a 10 year old boy. It is sad and shocking to look at what is reported. Apparently he afterwards, went to a neighbor and bragged about the fact that he 'attacked' this township and asked for more ammunition. Seemingly he thought that he is doing some-one or some people, he reported to, a favor.

This might sound like an isolated incident, but this is not new and might point to something deeper, darker, more sinister. A few years ago another group of white teenagers, went on the rampage in Pretoria, killing and maiming blacks at sight. At that point (Like now in another article in the Afrikaans media, on Nel) it seems as if the action is minimized and the blame shifted, to blacks (again!). This doesn't help our situation and our young people, who have to deal with the fundamental transformations that are taking place and who evidently, are not coping. What is needed is sustained and real intervention to eradicate the racism that still festers under our skins.

My condolences goes out to the families of these young people that died in this savage attack and we hope and pray for healing and reconciliation, but we also need to work towards cleaning out the festering wounds of the past.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Peter de Villiers are to be supported and celebrated

He is standing in big boots, having to take over from World cup winning, Jake White. Some people are saying he has to prove himself to be a worthy selection, over Super 14 winner, Heynecke Meyer. For others he is simply an unknown Bolander. Many images, interpretations and expectations will follow the new Springbok coach. Afrikaans Sunday, newspapers also have their say. Typically and sadly so, not surprising, they portray his selection in controversy and suspicion. Media coverage of the reaction of only one of his contenders, the pole from a handful of anonymous players, indicating a lukewarm reception seems to be the only way in which his appointment is greeted. But is this the true story, the real and complete story ?

Having listened up in the North to various radiostations, within a majority black market, the antics of Steven Pienaar, in anticipation for the AFCON competition seems to have eclipsed this announcement. The reason for this is however that rugby has been rejected by the majority of black people as a white racist sport. This however doesn't mean that black people don't play or support rugby at all. In only indicates the 'success' of the Afrikaans media on portraying the myth that rugby is a white sport and soccer, a black sport. This is however not the case and never was. The appointment of De Villiers, is in line with a long history of non-racial sport, under the SACOS banner, which has seen scores of talented young people, attaining their provincial and national colours, under apartheid. Where the issue of his appointment were raised on these radio stations it was welcomed with elation and much expectation. Why ?

De Villiers is a salutary reminder of a history unknown, yet a proud and living history in the memories of our most tallented, coloured and black sportsmen and women, of old. Their legacy, continued in our clubs, provincial and national teams today are revived as we see our children, white and black reaching their potential.

On 2 Jan 2008, I was sitting on Newlands, watching the Proteas-Windies game, with two teachers in our rural areas in the Boland. They were telling the stories of how de Villiers is still (last year, 2007 )involved in these schools amongst young boys, from under resourced, farmschools. They were recounting the stories of how he still remains, at heart, a primary schoolteacher caring for the poorest of the poor.

Bra Peter, you don't have to prove yourself to us or anyone. By dreaming big dreams, by developing our young people, irrespective of where they come from, to achieve their potential, by standing tall, you have already made us proud. Your achievements amongst these, are what we support and celebrate.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Charges against Nel dropped...

Well, there we have it. The dramatic arrest of Gerrie Nel, main investigator in the National Prosecutor's case against 'top cop', Jackie Selebi, seemingly was an attempt to stall the process of charging Selebi and a botched smear campaign against Nel. This is part of this ongoing sick saga, where it seems as if our top cop think that he is simply above the law. By the way, Nel is not my brother or family, as far as I am aware of. In fact, I told myself that I will not say anything on this matter, but then, here I am at it again.

This saga is in my view, one of the low points of the postcolonial South Africa. Here we have our head of police, up to his chin in the muck, parading as the best South Africa has offer for law enforcement in the world. In the mean time, drugcrooks are preying on the young people in our local communities. This seem like sick old SA joke ! And then, the audacity to simply charge the prosecutor involved in the case, with some frivolous whatever. It's laughable, if it wasn't so serious.

Of course, the Selebi case have to go to court first before we know what actually happened during the course of his term at the helm of policing in South Africa ( and later Interpol). So, the issue is not at this stage with Selebi's guilt or innocence. The matter is the manner in which power has been abused to smear and intimidate Nel. Whoever is behind this will have to face the book. What we need now, is that the respect for the rule of law, but also the organs of law enforcement in our country has to be restored. The hope would be that Comm Tim Williams, the acting head of Police, would start with this process.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Again African mayhem in the wake of elections

This is our story all over again. And this time around, we cannot simply blame the West or colonialism or the US. What happens in Kenya is, to say the least, disasterous to the much talked about, African century. Kenya have been amongst the countries, in the African postcolonial era, that has had some sort of political stability. The plunder and corruption of the arap Moi regime was replaced in a relative peaceful polical transition. Now the mayhem, bursting open, with shameful and downright barbaric media images and grassroots stories, that defy explanation. The thought of marauding youths, armed with machetes, forcing people in a house of worship and setting the building to light, is beyond anyone. This on a continent that cries justice and ubuntu at the drop of a hat. Yes, there are glimmers of hope in the tireless role of retired Archbishop Tutu, in the international outcry and humanitarian effort, in the role of other African leaders. Possibly, a coalition government is on the cards, and we indeed hear cries for calm and stability from both sides. This will however not take back the damage done (again) to the image of Africa, of the state our democracy and governance. The stench of irregularities at elections, the perceptions of abuse of statepower by those on government to copy Mugabe, the irrational violence and bloodshed ( or even threat of it)in the wake of loosing at the pole is an all too familiar feature of our postcolonial political culture. It is this rotten culture that all people of conscience need to expose and transcend, where-ever it manifest itself.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New year 2008!

Looking forward to an interresting, maybe challenging year. Lets square up to these with humility, but also with hope...