Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who's afraid of the Dalai Lama ?

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism is being feared by our South African government. Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, acting as 'president', therefore don't want him attending a peace conference, organised by the soccer guys. Of course, the 're-called', dismissed ex, sitting at the back, also feared this religious leader 10 or so years ago.

When I was a child, I also feared strange weird characters, especially men in red dresses. Maybe they had special magical powers, which would reveal my own dark secrets. As I grew up, I however became fascinated by the rituals, the symbolism, but at a deeper level the kind of values and commitments that are embedded in their understanding of the world, spirituality and justice. And yes, in a way as a Christian, I am often unmasked by their perspectives and commitments to the point of sacrificing comfort. Its therefor no surprise that the Dalai Lama is in exile in India, because of his resistance to the cruelty and unjust repression of a neo-colonial China on the Tibetan people. If I did not grow up, I would have still been a captive of my childhood fears and fear often robs us from growing up. Fear inhibit the flourishing of our human-ness with others. Whilst colonialism, was at the heart driven by economic interests, it fed on the fears of the other and exploited the fears in order to unjustly ravage the livelihood of people and in that way it de-humanised us all.

The current ban placed on the visit of the Dalai Lama, or (the double H, as he is known amongst close friends) says a lot. Whilst we marvel at 'pastor Zuma' parading as God's divine messenger in the pulpits of Rhema and other obscure faith communities, the real movers and shakers of South African politics are trembling and shaking, because of the unnerving presence of a weird man in a red dress. Maybe he has strange, magical powers.... or what do you say, 'my China' ?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

“What colour is our flag? Red or JZ?”

Mondli Makhanya has hit the nail on the head with a collumn that lays bare the weakness of the left. His contribution speaks volumes and can be found here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ja, baas Shaik !

The new ANC is shamelessly still serving the interests of the rich, and even JZ's humble backgrounds nor his singing and dancing will save it. The most recent blight on our liberation movement's struggle credentials are the 'medical parole' farce of business tycoon and convicted crook, oubaas Shabir Shaik.

No matter how delicate the footwork, no matter the spin (read: lies), the ruling party lives out of the oily money bags of shady billionaires and will continue to serve their masters after the elections. Mail and Guardian, who recently exposed the moral decay within the erstwhile liberation movement has done it again. High five to Ferial Haffajee ! Today, M&G reports on Shaik's verbal offer of R 10 million for a house from his deathbed, so to speak. With the liberation movement in tears over our dear comrade Shaik's inevitable fate, who languished two years in hospital jail, the nation knows. Yes, we know what is happening and won't be fooled, again. So wipe your tears and own up to reality: our ruling party has morphed into the kind of political machinery that is reminiscent of the racist National Party, back in the bad old days. What we see today, amongst these Gucci-comrades, is what emeritus professor in economics, Sampie Terreblance researched and published on. Pity we don't hear him because he is a white Afrikaner.

The question is whether the well-meaning bishop and now defrocked rev is able to provide us with an alternative. The cynical me thinks not so. We've seen them in action and it seems as if this holy party unfortunately, props themselves up with 'have-been' pastors, who failed to read the message of the hand, writing on the wall, 'mene mene tekel ufarsin'. Today, we don't need lackeys of big capital in pursuit of profits, but prophets able to discern truth from falsehood, to speak clear on the fact that the 'new South Africa' or better, the politically connected, in her haste to become rich has failed to address the dire needs of her poor people. Whilst theologians like Boesak en Dandala, at some point were revered around the world as examples of the sharpest thinkers in black liberation theology and have led the masses in protest against injustice, today they have become nothing less then court prophets, selling their wares at the highest price. They have failed the liberation of the poor. The danger is that they now tragically might be exposed at the polls, having sacrificed their own.

What is the point of this bitter (?) rant and lament? The point is that we trusted these names. We hailed then. They were symbols of hope for our communities- they represented our struggle for dignity. The point is that this year, the ANC will still, for the sake of oubaas Shaik and his ilk, mesmerise the masses and the rest will still scramble for the crumbs. There is however hope, but the source of this hope of a better future, is shifting. It is shifting from charismatic orators to unassuming prophets like the few independently thinking journalists, a handful of brave faith leaders, and yes a few brave intellectuals and institutions like our Constitutional Court, who will speak out and stand up for the outsider, the voiceless ('stemloses'), for those who are really sick to death. They don't stoop to the new 'baas', they walk tall in dignity.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Genoeg is genoeg !

What a shocking, shocking travesty of justice!
Beeld and The Herald Online tells the story of the bitter anger of families of Port Elizabeth, as yet another taxidriver, who killed 6 children on their way to school, was send to jail for a mere 8 years, a meagre 8 years.

Recently I joined a campaign to push our government to clampdown on criminal taxis, especially in the light of the tragic killing of Bernadine Kruger, of Pretoria. Ralton van Rooyen, convicted last year for killing Primary School Triomf's Darren September (13), Kirsty Topley (11), Nazira de Kock (12), Vuyo Masoka (10), Candice Esau (10) en Zoƫ Walton (10) on 10 September 2007, in a reckless drive of hell, however got a light slap on the wrist yesterday as he was send to jail for 8 years. This is the kind of injustice that victims of our criminal justice system have to live with, which point to a deeper contradiction in our so-called new South African society. I therefore support the current arrests of reckless taxi drivers, the impounding of their deadly vehicles, but also the bulking up of our criminal justice system. But there is another side, no tragedy (!), to this sordid tale.

Painfully, in the running of this case and now in the aftermath of this shocking conviction, there was no sign of the Afriforum with pink t-shirts, nor 45 000 members of Facebook, ready to lynch van Rooyen. The cruel death of our children however, will never be forgotten, but also, the injustice of this conviction, yet again reminds us that our struggle for dignity and equality before the law, is not over yet.