Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Springbok squad with 3 former Zimbabweans defiant in the face of xenophobia

Pieter de Villiers' new Springbock squad has been announced and there is no surprises. Many of the regulars like Schalk Burger, Jacques Fourie and Fourie du Preez are injured, but as far as I am concerned, this is solid team that will give the Dragons a run for their money. As an ardent WP/ Stormer supporter I am happy with the number of Stormes, but interestingly and more importantly, 3 former Zimbabweans made the cut- the exiting WP wing, Tonderai Chavanga, and the two powerhouses, Brian Mujati and Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira. These three have excelled in their Super 14 franchises and evidently, they will make us proud as a nation, but also as Africans. Its fantastic to welcome skipper John Smith back as well as Luke Watson, whose proud familyname has been too much for the political sensibilities of the Jake White fanclub. Finally, Watson may show his worth in a setup that value him as a player, irrespective of where he stands. I sense a vibe in the communities, black white, coloured, Indian, Zimbabwean, from wherever, that this is the right squad for our time. The squad in alphabetical order is:
Bekker, Andries
Bobo, Gcobani
Botha, Bakkies
Botha, BJ
Conradie, Bolla
Chavhanga, Tonderai
De Villiers, Jean
Du Plessis, Bismarck
Grant, Peter
Habana, Bryan
Jacobs, Adrian
James, Butch
Jantjes, Conrad
Januarie, Ricky
Kankowski, Ryan
Mtawarira, Tendai
Matfield, Victor
Montgomery, Percy
Mujati, Brian
Ndungane, Odwa
Pienaar, Ruan
Rossouw, Danie
Smit, John (c)
Smith, Juan
Spies, Pierre
Steenkamp, Gurthro
Steyn, Frans
Van der Linde, CJ
Van Niekerk, Joe
Watson, Luke

My team to start against the Wales will be
Fullback: Percy
Wings: Tonderai & Habana
Centres: De Villiers & Adi Jacobs ( with Steyn as impactplayer)
Flyhalf: Butch
Scrumhalf: Ricky
Props: Tendai & Brian
Locks: Botha and Matfield
Flanks: Smit and Watson
Number 8: Spies

Monday, May 26, 2008

Forget about Benni McCarthy

It's time for us to start to forget about building our national pride around players like Benni McCarthy. His latest snub of the national team is nothing new and evidently he should go, as he thinks that he is bigger than football. This illusion is not going to last, however, as English soccer will eventually spit him out. By then, unfortunately all his boats and bridges will be burnt.

The new coach, will do well to focus on youngsters, who are hunger and still play with pride and passion and start to nurture these younger players for 2010. I am so looking forward to the Nigeria game and to see what Santana has up his sleeve. Can't wait !

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A new organisation for African unity

How do one celebrate or commemorate Africa Day, in South African 2008. It's with a sense of shame and embarrassment that most of us experienced this day. Our record in terms of our relationships with our neighbors is failing us and has been dramatically exposed the last few months. This brings us inevitably with the questions: what constitutes our African-ness ? How are we to respond to our challenges and what to do (still) with the pan - African vision that energized leaders at the founding of the Organization for African Unity in 1963. I can do it in no better way than in the words of Justice Malala, in a moving piece named, Generosity to salve our name.

Of course, we have lost the hearts of thousands who have left our shores, who have vowed never to come back again. Our problems in the region is not solved, and indications are that migration will shift to other SADC countries. But in these 'heroes', the 'heroes' of Malala, our heroes lies the seeds our future, our African future.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

At the heart of our xenophobic violence

I've agonised long over whether I should publish this post.... well here we are...I've been in Alex last week and attended a meeting of repressentataives of various religious bodies at the now, almost legendary Central Methodist Church, here in downtown Johannesburg. I listened to churchleaders making nice sounding speeches and offering pearls of wisdom and prayers of consolation. However, what has struck me at my core, was the time spend with the people, currently housed in tents, in police stations, in community halls- the odour of desperation, the utter vulnerability, yet the resilience of the victims, in the face of the raw brutality.

Yes, many commentators have refered to the desperate situation amongst South African township dwellers, have pointed out correctly that government should shoulder the blame for the lack of service delivery, for the squalor in our informal settlements, the evidently inadequate policies on refugees by our Ministry of Home Affairs and so forth. I also have an axe to grind over my Nigerian neighbors selling drugs in our community (organized and supplied by white Afrikaner males, according to Piet Byleveld) Yet, I would argue that these selfsame advocates and defenders of the mob, causing the current mayhem unleashed upon innocent, entrepreneurial and often hardworking neighbors, would militantly resist any conscious intervention towards fundamental economic transformation and redistribution of wealth in South Africa.

Let's be frank for a moment: Irrespective of the veneer of compassion for these South African poor, these advocates don't give a hoot for the poor living in shacks, or poor marginalised communities. They are the reason the current ANC government shifted gear from a strong peoplecentred RDP macro-economic policy to a policy, where 'the fundamentals are in place', for the sake of economic growth for the small elite, a compromise to protect the wealth gained before 1994. Yes, let's be honest, this fundamental shift benefited us handsomely and, irrespective of the whining and bad-mouthing the current ANC-led government, due to this system, they would remain, what is sometimes euphemistically called, 'the most fortunate'. They (we) are fine with a system, that is skewed in favour of those who 'were blessed'. Why then, I ask, would there be these explanations and excuses for the violence as if this is a spontaneous uprising of the poor, the long awaited revolt of the proletariate ?

What is crucial is to give perspective on what's happening, albeit only one perspective.
1) The xenophobic attacks did not start in Alex, 10 days ago. Alex, was only another outburst following on what happened in Cape Town, last year with Somalians, in Attridgeville and Mamelodi earlier this year, which I posted here, ironically only a few days after our Human Rights Day 'celebrations' in South Africa, but also on
Alpha Christian Community in March and Mod South in April.
2) South Africans at large, are shocked and ashamed of what's been happening. We pride ourselves as having overcome the scourge of racism and now this. It has already been pointed out by others, that this is not about foreigners in general, this is about black foreigners, those that are considered 'darker than black'. We have not yet been able to transcend the fundamentally racist colonial legacy, which, not simply divided Africa along ethnic lines, but has hammered into our psyche a brutal social and economic hierarchy. We maintain it in a highly sophisticated fashion and are surprise when 'they' (the unsophisticated) break ranks.
3) In general, there is a difficult uneasy conspiracy of silence over racism perpetrated by black people. Of course this is not the case amongst all black people, Coloureds and Indians, but it is like 'bloedskande'(incest), we don't talk about it, yet these things have a way of haunting us. How can we deal with it whilst we are still in denial? Which brings me to the next point.
4) I have a sense that we have not yet been able to translate the symbolic impact of the Truth and Reconciliation process, in terms of the realities where people live. Reconciliation is not pursued consciously, as a national priority- hence as Christi van der Westhuisen has pointed out, possibly taking a cue from Achille Mbembe's On the Postcolony, we are at heart (still) a very violent country. But then, indeed, this is not news in a world of Wars on Terror, xenophobia in Europe (Belgium, France, Italy, England and Germany), a world where violence has become the bread of life.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Allan Boesak spreek hom uit oor die situasie in Zimbabwe

Allan Boesak, het sterk standpunt geneem langs die kerke in Zimbabwe en die wat ly onder die geweld en onreg in daardie land. In 'n pastorale brief aan die Zimbabwiese kerke hoor ons weer die stem van die onverskrokke Boesak waar hy die situasie analiseer, teologies daarop reageer en duidelik die pad aan dui vir die kerk in terme van haar mandaat. Ek haal hom woordeliks aan:

DIE situasie waarin die kerke hulle bevind, is egter anders. Ons mandaat kom nie van die SAOG nie, dit kom van God.

Ons moet die fundamentele vrae vra oor geregtigheid en ongeregtigheid, ons moet daarop aandring dat mense eerste kom in alle politieke besluite. Ons moet vir ewig die lyding van mense vooropstel. Ons moet vir hulle praat wat die reg ontneem is om te praat, selfs al gaan dit teen die “protokol”.

Of Mbeki dit wil hĂȘ of nie, ons moet hulle wat ongeregtighede pleeg aankla, wat lyding veroorsaak, wat mense van hul reg beroof om keuses te maak in die politieke proses – wie hulle ook al mag wees.

Om al hierdie redes, en nog baie meer, het ons begrip vir wat politici dalk wil doen, maar begrip mag nooit toegeeflikheid of onvoorwaardelike steun beteken nie.

Daarom sal die kerk aanhou om sy stem dik te maak, om die verontregtes by te staan, selfs al sou dit die magshebbers in die verleentheid stel.

Hoofman Albert Luthuli se woorde oor Suid-Afrika se stryd is ewe waar vir julle: Die pad na vryheid is via die Kruis. En sonder om daardie Kruis op te neem, is daar geen hoop op opstanding nie, nie vir ons nie en nie vir die mense van Zimbabwe nie.

Dit is duidelik dat hier die gisting is van 'n profetiese kerk wat nie net betrekking het op Zimbabwe nie, maar wat spreek tot kwessies ook in Suid Afrikaanse politiek en kerklike getuienis.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Alex also on the list of shame

Xenophobia, the ugly twin sister of racism, is destroying the image of Alex, spreading to Diepkloof, but actually it cast a ominous veil of shame over our rainbow. The human rights of Zimbabweans is not only destroyed by the monster Mugabe and his braindead strongmen, but also South African residents in Alexandria, Mamelodi, Attridgeville and now also Diepkloof. What an embarrassment this must be for those who still think that we have dealt with racism and oppression, simply because there is black and coloured faces in parliament. This scourge is running much deeper, but more so, as with the Reitz-4 video, the leaders is trying to explain, describe and justify it.

It should be appreciated that Winnie apologized, on behalf of the residents, but the wholesale outcry against this crime against humanity is missing, possibly because there is no white person in the video footage. In this case there is no white students involve, as perpetrators, hence no marches by the ANC youth league or Cosas. There is also no white people involved as victims, therefore the rest of the world is silent. Because this is black on black, there is no racism and of course, no reason to panic. It's simply the criminal element and the Jackie Selebi's police service will deal with them, appropriately or (as we hear lately) a commission of inquiry will look into the matter.

For me, there is more here. There is a concerted pattern aimed against people from other African countries, a pattern of discrimination and violence. There is need for more than a criminal investigation, there is a need for a UN intervention in South Africa's own and growing failing human rights record. This is a call for speedy intervention, otherwise violence against the other, whether it be Zimbabweans or Congolese will become violence against Indian shop owners, Coloured busdrivers and white plumbers rendering service. This evil culture, raging in the Alexmob, will spread to another township, another residential area, the towns and eventually taking over. I am shocked by what is happening in our country... I am appalled by the deafening silence of our leaders....