Africa


Nelson Mandela

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others

Mandela…

To the world his death is the loss of a leader. Someone that remembered and lived for the people. Someone who fought for the rights of everyone no matter who or what they were. Someone who stood for peace first but with an iron fist and voice when needed. Someone who knew that to lead was to take a journey no one else was brave enough to take.

To the world his death is the loss of a friend. Someone who loved all people big and small, rich and poor. Someone who cared for everyone no matter who or what they were. Someone who knew that his love came with both a warm embrace and a stern word when we lost our direction. Someone who led from the front and guided us on the journeys we had to take but were too scared to take.

To the world his death is the loss of an inspiration. Someone who showed us how to love every single person in this world even those who don’t deserve it. Someone who taught us how to care for every single soul whether they needed it or not. Someone who inspired us to fight for peace when love couldn’t get us there. Someone who made us brave enough to take those journeys we were too afraid to face on our own.

To the world his death is the loss of an idea. Someone  that stood for everything that is good in this world. Someone that stood up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. Someone who refused to be quiet when he saw a wrong.  Someone who knew to be a man was to stand for something good. Someone who stood up and protected us against the nightmares of this world. Someone who made us want to be better than what we really were. Someone who comforted us even when his own pain was too much.

To the world his death is the loss of Mandela. Bigger than anything else that walked this earth. A giant amongst men. A giant amongst all people. The giant who carried us on his back when the road was too tough. The mother who carried us in his arms when we needed just a little comfort and love. Mandela. King of kings. God amongst gods. Nelson Mandela.

To the world he is all Mandela.

To us South Africans he is Madiba. Our father. Our soul. Our Ubuntu. We are because he was. No, because he is. Our daily inspiration. Our voice of conscious. Our everything. Our South Africa. We walk in his shadow. We strive to be the people and nation he saw. We try to love the way he loved all of us. We try to be a little bit of him.

To me he is Tata. Father. Dad. Papa. Respect, honor, love, duty, responsibility and everything I have been taught about being me. The man I want to be is a reflection of him. Who I am to become. He is me and I am him. Because of Tata I am.

Goodbye Tata. Stay warm, Tata. Stay with us just a little longer. Just a little longer until we are brave enough. I love you. I miss you. My Tata.

Rest, my Tata. Sleep well, Tata. Tomorrow is coming. We will make you proud. I will make you proud.

Viva Mandela, Viva. Amandla Madiba, Amandla. Long Live Tata, Long Live.

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Really? Maybe not...

America is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. But one thing is for sure, it seems as if everyone has an opinion about America. How great America is or how bad it can be. It all comes down to the problem with America. What is the problem with America?

Well, as a start, part of the question relates to a little thing called dependency. They are the big guys on the block. Pretty much “the dude”. They sneeze and we catch a cold. And we are a bit like the media – we build them up and then want to shoot them down when given half a chance. Why? Because we can’t live without them. We are dependent on them. And that makes us pissed and jealous. But that’s not the problem with America.

The simple answer is that we know that the problems of the world won’t be solved without America. Whether we want peace or the end of poverty or someone to deal with global warming or a fairer world trade regime – it doesn’t mean jack shit if you don’t have America inside the tent. Oh we can ask the Europeans to do their bit or ask African leaders to be a bit more responsible or get the Chinese cut their own carbon footprint. The reality is that none of that will work if America doesn’t come and play. It’s always better to have them in the tent pissing out than having them piss on our little parade.

We can’t solve it or deal with it at a global scale without America. That’s part of the problem. But that isn’t the problem with America.

Part of the problem is that sometimes we don’t like the answer we get from big brother America. Want a global legal system dealing with global crime? Sounds like a good idea. But a bit toothless because America refuses to sign on the dotted line. Want to stop landmines from blowing kids up after a war? Great! Get an international treaty to deal with that. But we know it will continue to give the bad guys a cop-out as long as America refuses to support it. Want to deal with those computers being dumped in Africa and the kids inhaling the fumes of burning computers for copper? Let’s all agree to keep our electronic shit at home then. Sounds like a great idea. But pretty useless because America doesn’t support the idea. That’s a problem. Sometimes we don’t get the answer we want. And we don’t like it.

Sometimes it just looks like America is in it for themselves. Thinking about what is best for them. What America needs. Instead of thinking of what we need. But that is not the problem with America. That’s just a problem with those darn humans.

Tell me. What do you want from life? Have you noticed how that involves you? Most answers are about the self. The human aspect. Sometimes it’s materialistic things we want – a bigger car and a bigger house and a  bigger telly and more bigger things. Supersize my life. But even those nice warm fuzzy answers are all about the me inside. A peaceful life and some love. You are thinking of you. And your only interest in the outside is how they might impact on your life.

When your government decides to help those on the outside. Do you bitch and remind them of the problems at home? Do you constantly try to tell your government how to make the world a better place or just your little world? I don’t mean the one off donation or being pissed at your government not doing more about Zimbabwe. We all have our moments of madness. Most of the time it’s just me-me-me isn’t it? Oh you cloak it in nice fuzzy language and make as if it is for the whole world. But it’s really about what is good for you and your country in most cases. I haven’t seen it any other way. I don’t judge this. I’m not saying it is wrong. I’m just saying…

Oh I know there are groups out there doing work on a global scale. Mostly crap like global religious fanatics. But I am talking about the good stuff. Making the world a better place. Even when working on these issues you think of yourself and your way and not the others and their way. Or try to find an “our way”. Oxfam? Love them to bits but over 90% of senior management in the UK was British. Sorry, that’s not really global. It’s just colonialism cloaked in goodness. Like the original one. Greenpeace? The luxury of fighting for whales while people die of hunger. None of these people are bad. They are just in it for themselves. But cloaked in goodness and all things nice.

Now what is wrong with that? What is the problem with that?

What is the problem with us?

What is the problem with America?

Maybe we are asking the wrong question here. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what the problem is with America. Maybe the question should be what’s the problem with us.

Maybe the problem with America is that they are just a little bit too much like us. Americans are just a tad too much like me and you. Just your average people trying to live a decent life. Their life. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe the problem is that America is in all of us. America is us. And we are America.

Yes, the problem with America is us. You, me and our American friends. All of us. That’s the problem.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that once we realize we are all one then we start looking after ourselves.

All of us.

Us Americans.

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It’s odd how we look at the problems of the world and just continue to live our daily lives. Like driving past a car crash and thanking God it wasn’t us.

Zimbabwe is a car crash of we witness in our world. And we all slow down to stare, shake our heads and say, “Oh shame, I wonder what happened”. But no one stops to help. At most we will phone 911-AU or 1-800-UN and hope they will sort it out. But we drive on. Not stopping to help. Because we don’t want to “get involved” or get our hands dirty. And, in any case, we have an important meeting to go to and just didn’t do that bloody first aid course. We drive on because we have good reasons. Sorry, excuses.

But there are different types of car crashes in this world. We never stop to look at the reason. We assume we know. And behind every assumption is an idiot waiting to crash.

There is the drunk idiot driver that thinks he can just do whatever the hell he wants. Mugabe for example… They drive the way they want and crash where they want because alcohol makes you feel invincible. Just like power politics. Nothing can touch you. And you go ahead and do stupid things and drive as if you own the road, but we know you are going to crash. And take a few people out with you. Innocent bystanders and passengers. But like real people we watch you get drunk and never actually ask you to leave the keys and take a cab. No, we are to scared you might be offended…

But you are an idiot. An idiot for getting drunk on the power the steering wheel of life gives you. And an idiot for the false sense of safety the cacoon car gives you. I would stop and applaud your crash if it wasn’t for the innocent passengers and bystanders.

And then there are those who crash and they had nothing to do with it. A tyre blew and the car is hanging on a cliff – ready to crash down and take everyone on board with them. These drivers drive old cars with worn tyres and clunky bodies. It’s not that they want to have a crap car but they can’t afford a new one. And they have to take the commute of life to stay alive. They drive their crappy cars to work each day hoping that they will make it there and back safely. They don’t want to but they can’t help it. It’s life. And they are at the bottom of the piles of bodies. The janitors of life. Zambia…

My beautiful Zambia. The most amazing people in the world. Never been in a war. More Swiss than the Swiss. But they have a land-locked country with little to sell to the world. But they survive most of the time. And the crash we see is in slow motion. Like a bad dream. We can see it happening and we can rush out to help but like in those dreams… we are always just a little bit too late. It’s the hand they got dealt living on the wrong side of the track. But they continue to move along and try and make it to work for another day. Maybe that crash won’t come today. Maybe not tomorrow or even next week. But we know those tyres can’t last forever…

And sometimes everyone crashes while we drive by in our luxury vehicle of money and ownership. The roads are wet or full of sleet. People go off the road and crash into each other left, right and centre. But we are comfy in our luxury vehicle. We slow down a bit to stop us from sliding off the road and swerve to miss the others crashing around us. We just slow down enough not to get involved or harmed. The slippery dreadful roads are the economy. Making it dangerous for everyone. But those with money will slow down a bit. But they will survive while the others crash without reason. Those others didn’t speed or blow a tyre. It was just that there were no warning signs when they came around that economic bend. It’s a dead-end road. It’s their end of the road.

And even if the luxury vehicle slips and slides off the road they know they will be fine. Their cars have automatic recovery and crash warning systems, the latest safety devices to cushion the blow – and insurance to cover their costs if anything unforeseen happens. It’s life. It’s a hiccup for them. Lose a car or a million but they know they will be okay. Except if they got insured by Madoff & Co. Then daddy will have to bail them out. He always does. For them.

Of course it all is very different when someone crashes through our front door or wall. Then we get all worked up and want to beat the bloody guy up and want the police and insurance to deal with it right now! Because then it happened to us.

It happened to us…

Those people crashing everywhere around us? They are not us. It only happens to other people. Not to us. It’s never us.

Car crashes… That’s life in our little world. One car crash after the other. Thank god we have a few people who stop and help. And a handful of firemen and paramedics. Not enough to save the world. But enough to save a few while we drive past and shake our heads…

Maybe we all just suffer from road rage.

You know what? I don’t have a licence…

The three shot latte has kicked in. So has the third eye. Here is next week’s news for those who won’t have time to read the papers next week.

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Burma Myanmar announces name change

Myanmar has decreed a new name change. Again. Since the win by Win, Ne Win, in 1962 over the government you know as U Nu, Myanmar, taken from the short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw, or Myanma to be literally correct, has changed it name once from Burma, or Bama or Bamar as it is known colloquially, to the Union of Myanmar, pronounced pjìdàunzṵ mjəmà nàinŋàndɔ̀, or WTF for short.

The leader of the artist country previously known as Burma, Senior General Than Shwe (the man with the tan), announced the new name at a special event at the capital of Rangoon Yangon Pyinmana Naypyidaw. Senior General Than Shwe, also the Minister of Defence, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Commander and Chief of the Defense Services, and Super Duper Admiral Main Big Dick with the Stick, announced the name as Nothing, or Nṵjəmàntàiŋɔ, or just nothing. Meaning “nothing”. Best way of spelling is ”                      ” and pronounced ”                       “.

Big Dick Shwe made the announcement at a large public execution celebration held at the capital Shitty City of the kings. Big Dick Shwe said that having no name will liberate ”                  ” as it is impossible to declare sanctions against nothing. And even more difficult to invade. A journalist who asked whether this nothing is also related to morality of the government, freedom of people and economic growth of the country could not be reached for comment. Or be reached at all. He disappeared into ”                    “. They dig deep graves in ”                    “.

Big Dick Shwe did disclose that the Military Junta (pronounced åşsħΦļəś) did consider changing their name to the United States of America but that it did not believe that it would be a major move forward under the current global political climate. His exact words were, “Why would I swap my Lada for a Trabant?” He continued by saying that they also prefer to attack their own people without any reason and don’t need to invade other countries to achieve this desired outcome. A collective roll of the eyes could be seen across the whole of Southeast Asia.

North Korea to have multi-party democratic elections

North Korea shocked the world today when it announced the first multi-party democratic elections to be held in North Korea in centuries. If not forever. Chairman Kim Jong-il made the announcement during the Mass Games glorifying his life as the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was attended by his 100,000 most fearful loyal subjects. The elections will be contested by three parties – or as Chairman Kim Jong-Il said, “One more than the Americans”. It is unclear whether he was aware of the Libertarians and the Green Party. Or if Americans are aware of these two parties.

The three parties to contest the elections are The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Party, The Democratic Republic of Korea People’s Party, The People’s Party of the Democratic Republic of Korea. Together they will be known as the Three Socially Trivial Organizations Of Generally Exploited Societies (or the 3 STOOGES). All North Koreans will have the option to vote for any of the three parties. They also have the option to not vote. And they get a free prison sentence with option 2.

In a move that Chairman Kim Jong-il calls “a major leap forward in the evolution of democracy”, a minor deviation from traditional democracies will be part and parcel of the Korean democratic elections. All three parties will be represented by the same people. Each party will receive the same list of people from the Fatherland Accreditation & Representation Team (FART). The parties can decide where they put them on their electoral list. As long as they put them in the same order provided by FART. They can change the header. Almost. As long as it is the same header as provided by FART.

Chairman Kim Jong-il also announced that he will from now on be known as the Uber Chairman, seeing that his now very dead father already took the name of Eternal President. The word “damn” could be heard right after he made this announcement.

Mugabe says he is sorry

From the official Zimbabwean government controlled news agency – the Zimbabwean Information Panel & Intelligence Trust (ZIP-IT): President Robert Mugabe today said that he was sorry. It wasn’t clear what he was sorry about, but is it newsworthy that he said it in any case. We think it was because he forgot to water the plants.

My President kisses this ass 

In a separate development, the Zimbabwean police today arrested Zimbabwe on charges that it is undermining the President of Zimbabwe, Robert “Dick” Mugabe. Police spokesperson, Pa Pitt, said “It is much easier to just arrest the whole of Zimbabwe than continuing with our current practice of indiscriminate arrests. Our police farce, I mean force, is already stretched and we just can’t arrest people fast enough.” Pa Pitt said that the new Constitutional Rules and Accreditation for the Police (CRAP) law “will help cut down on bicycle use as we can’t afford the tyres anymore”. The new law was first mentioned in the Presidential memo known as My African Dictator (MAD). Chaos ensued right after the CRAP law came into force as the police kept on arresting themselves as part of the arrest of all Zimbabweans. President Mugabe introduced a new law to release the police through his ROBERT MUGABE law – Real Oppressive Bastard for Early Release Time: May U Get A Bloody Ending. It declared all military and police personal as non-Zimbabweans and above the law. Presidential spokesperson and brother of Pa, Stew Pitt, said “The puppets of the Big Dick is above the law. And that isn’t too difficult with the law being trampled in the dust”. Journalist were shocked that Stew Pitt actually made sense.

New UN study find Russians to be least corrupt

The UN released their latest study regarding the state of the world economy. The yearly report analyses the latest global development challenges and this year focused on the general health of the world economy. The 2008 report was titled International Trade – Society Under Constant Knowledge & Economic Depression (IT-SUCKED). Apparently the global economy is not doing well.

In a surprise development, Russia was ranked 1st out of 205 countries as the least corrupt country in the world. They were ranked at number 205 in 2007. Russian President Medvedev, not a tennis player, said that it was proof that Russia “is the best country in the world”. Commentators noted that he wasn’t as eloquent as Putin.

In an unrelated story, the UN Research and Empirical Agency for Learning (UN-REAL) was caught in an oil-for-food oh-the-fool controversy. The agency was researching the state of the world economy when they allegedly accepted bribes to influence the research findings. The agency was alerted to irregularities when they noticed that the Russia section included too many unscientific statements such as “wow”, “awesome”, “best ever”, “gnarly” and “wickedly cool”. The intern who wrote the piece, a surfer from Australia, have been suspended until further notice.

US Congress saves US airlines

In another bail-out plan, The White House and the US Congress announced drastic steps in an attempt to rescue the flagging US airlines industry. The steps were outlined in a new report called the Congressional Report on Airline Sustainability Hearings (CRASH). The hearings were initially delayed after most Representatives couldn’t attend the first meeting due to flight delays and cancellations. A number of Congressmen also didn’t have the $25 to pay for their extra baggage. Representative Do Nafin said that it was unfair to charge Congress extra for baggage as “we all carry baggage already and those cash envelopes aren’t that light you know”. Another Representative, Sting Kerr, was overheard saying that “the gravy train is so much quicker”. The new plans outlined in CRASH included charging passengers for landing, planes loaded in commuter rail instead of flying, pay-as-you-breathe slots for oxygen masks, and auctioning safety vest before take-off. The airline coalition, Airline Sillyness Strategy for Humongous Overheads, Legal Excuses and Stupidity (ASSHOLES), said that “it’s about time that politicians listen to us. They should remember who controls their luggage when they fly. And who cleans the toilets before foot tapping at airports.” A spokesperson for passenger rights, New Airline Institute for Luggage and Experience Deficiency (NAILED), responded by saying that “it’s just hot air meeting thin air”.

Republicans lays out deficit plan

In a bold move to try and be relevant again, the Republican Party denied that it was developing a new economic policy that will include the US changing its name.  GOP leader Michael Steele (pronounced My-Kill Steal) said that, “we are a proud nation and won’t do something silly and stupid like that”. He chuckled when reminded of the 2004 Presidential vote.

Mr Steal did acknowledge that they considered various options, including a name change, to be able to finance the budget deficit under a new Republican Party plan to get rid of the deficit. Apparently they realized ignoring it won’t do as it just won’t go away no matter how much you laugh at it or roll your eyes. Steal said they were under the impression that the US won’t have to pay back the debt to China or the Saudis if they changed the name. “How can they make us pay if the contract is under the name of the USA and we are known as something else like America or The Mighty One?”, he said. He said that Uncle Dick Chainy Cheney told him it won’t work. His idea of going under a new name and under the witness protection program would also not work. He is, however, considering this as a personal option after he leaves his current employment as the first African American leader of the Republican Party.

Steal said that they have instead come up with a much better plan that takes the best of the free market and mixes it with the land of the free. “A bit of freedom for all can go a long way,” was the specific words he used. Instead, he said, the Republican Party has decided to sell the naming rights of states to the corporate sector in a similar way that the NFL runs their stadiums. The initiatives will be led by the GOP-led State Technical Under-secretary of Property and International Declarations (STUPID). Early state name changes include T-eXxon-ASs for Texas, Ben & Jerry’s Taste of Vermont and Kentucky Fried (Virgina is being sought after by a cheap South African wine producer). Steal said that they have already told Mexico that New Mexico is not for sale. They also turned down the Chinese offer for naming the whole of the US “Little China Market”. Steal confirmed that they have yet to receive a single enquiry for either New Jersey and Utah. Not even when they offered to pay for someone to take them.

In another leaf taken from the corporate sector, the Republican Party’s new policy include changing the current Federal system to a Franchise system. The initiative has been dubbed the Federation – Working On Renaming Designations (F-WORD). Each state will be sold as a franchise. Steal said that they have yet to figure out the finer details of what people can do with the franchises, but that they might be able to “sell donuts or hamburgers or maybe even name a potato or orange after each franchise”. A collective roll of the eyes could be seen across the whole of the Americas.

The Republican Party also announced a new financial plan for when they take over again, the New Order: Monetary Obligations for National Economic Yield (NO MONEY), to stimulate* the economy. The NO MONEY plan include drastic measures to increase the budget income without too much of a burden on the expenses side. Some of these measures are:

1. A collection box at the White House. A collection box next to the visitor’s comment book at the White House. Heads of State visiting the White House will be asked to make a donation to their favourite White House charity. They can choose from the White House International Treasury Executor: Government Utilities Yield (WHITE GUY), Dick Cheney’s charity the New Objective: Here Everybody’s A Real Terrorist (NO HEART), and Backhanded Independent Gains: Overt Increased Liquidity (BIG OIL).

2. Dick Cheney to be switched off at night to save on electricity. Steal was especially proud of this step as he called it the Republican Party’s “green legacy”. They strengthened their environmental credentials when they mentioned that the Republican Party head office will also be powered by wind power (hot air) from now on and can’t do any environmental damage (or any damage for that matter) while being “switched off”.

3. New drilling concessions to oil companies. Steal announced that new concession will be given to selected oil companies to drill for oil in the Rose Garden at the White House. The first concession was given to a little known company called Go West: Big Utilities for Social Humiliation (GW BUSH). Ownership of the company is unclear at this stage and only list Real Objective Voice Enterprise (ROVE) as the PR (Political Relic) company handling GW BUSH communications. They could not be reached for comments.

4. Refocus on military spending. Military spending will be tightened under a new plan put forward by the “Shadow” Secretary of Defence, Ivino Eyedee. The plan, named National Obligation: Government Earnings And Redistribution (NO GEAR), will focus on the military equipment for soldiers in the field in Iraq. Eyedee denied that troops will not get the equipment needed to protect them and called the measures “a reversed increase in the procurement procedure for the acquiring of protective garments and other miscellaneous products, goods and services”. Journalist were seen working until late in the evening trying to figure out what the hell that meant.

5. Changes in election procedures. Steal, with rare support from the current Democratic powered Congress, announced drastic changes to the election process that will save millions of dollars – if not tens of thousands. Or “lotsa money honey”, as he called it. Steal and Speaker Pelosi released a joint statement that said the “two-pronged approach makes it easier for people to participate directly in the democratic process and bring some much needed cash into the economy”. Journalist were stunned by the clarity of that statement. They could almost understand it.

Firstly, at a Congressional election level, seats will be sold on a lottery basis at $100 dollars a ticket. Anyone can buy a ticket as long as they are an American citizen or if they have loads of cash they can buy a ticket at a premium price of $1 million per ticket. The national draw will be done on the first Sunday of each November – after church services but before Desperate Housewives. This was a compromise between Steal and Pelosi that threatened to derail negotiations.

The second improvement in the election process relates to the Senate elections. Or better stated – ex-elections. There will be no elections. US companies will participate in a bidding process for the right to nominate their own Senator. Steal said the “removal of the middle man will make the whole system much more efficient and open”. The middle man being the American voter. But the public will still be able to show their support for the Senators by buying products with the Senators faces on it. For example, milk cartons will have the face and name of the Senator on it with the slogan, “Have you ever seen your Senator?”. Although in principle only US companies can bid, Saudi Arabian and Chinese companies have been given permission to participate as they already own half of the US.

* Certain Republicans were seen giggling whenever Steal mentioned the word “stimulate”. Apparently some female White House interns were seen rolling their eyes.

Uzbekistan to privatize corruption

The Uzbekistan state department dealing with corruption, the General Regime of Accounting for Fund Transfers (GRAFT), announced today that all government corruption will be privatized. Minister of GRAFT, the Honorable Itaka da Muni, announced the decision at the yearly Banquet for Respected International Buy-off Executives (BRIBE).

Minister Itaka Damani at the announcement

Minister Itaka da Muni at the announcement

Minister Itaka da Muni said it showed the willingness and commitment of the Uzbekistan government to clamp down on uncontrolled and rampant corruption. He continued by saying that, “this is the end of tax-dodging corruption as you know it. We will be able to tax corruption as it should be by organizing corruption into a single department”. A key part of the policy is that all corrupt officials and the public at large will have to register to practice corruption in future. No corruption will be allowed without a government approved licence. Of course, they could take the option of paying GRAFT a bribe to be excluded from the registering process. Minister Da Muni acknowledged that there were still a few wrinkles that needed to be ironed out.

UK crime down sharply

Crime in the UK has dropped sharply over the first few months of the year. Minister of Police, Weir Pafetik (Welsh), said that the government policies introduced at the end of 2008 is starting to show some real results. He said that, “We kept these policies secret, but it proves our hard work is finally showing results”. He unveiled the policy, the highly confidential State Taxes Utilized for Fighting Felonies and Economic Depression (STUFFED), at a ceremony at Downing Street. (Recently renamed Down Street to cut back on letters and highlight the general health of the economy). Minister Pafetik said the policy had loads of stickers on to show how secret and confidential it was. He also acknowledges that he was forced to unveil it after Prime Minister Brown left it on the London Underground while visiting his gran.

The STUFFED policy was based on the very simple principle of supply and demand. Minister Pafetik said that, “We knew that if we can cut the supply off then there will be no demand and therefore no crime”. The supply in this case is the wealth and goods the average citizen owns in the UK. By slowly but surely strangling the economy to death, the government was able to make each and every UK citizen so poor that there was nothing left to steal or kill for.

Prime Minister Brown released a statement saying that this is more proof that his “tax-them-to-death” strategy when he was Treasurer is at last showing results.

The downside of the success of the STUFFED policy is that millions of criminals will now go on state benefits. Prime Minister Brown shrugged when asked about this and said, “We are what our policy says we are”. He refused to explain any further.

Prime Minister Brown did admit to rumors that he is currently considering removing himself as Prime Minister. He said that he is doing it “for the good of the country”. He went further by saying that there will not be a direct replacement as the government is currently considering outsourcing the role of government to either India or China. “The UK just can’t compete anymore and we have to be realistic that we need to make changes to ensure we remain competitive in the world political market.”

Tony Blair could be seen rolling his eyes, but most of Britain did notice as there was footie on the telly and the announcement was done on a Thursday when they are all in the pub anyway.

Zuma in hospital

Just in: President Zuma has been taken to hospital for urgent lip surgery. Presidential spokesperson, Gota Noklu, said that President Zuma developed a serious infection after kissing the asses of both COSATU and the SACP in “such a very short period of time”. Noklu said that it was serious as the President can lose the use of his lips and that the President will not be kissing any more asses until fully healed.

In an unrelated development, there were general celebrations in the streets all over South Africa with slogans such as “Read My Lips – No More Blades” and “From Your Lips To Vavi’s Butt”. Celebrations quiet down when people were told that President Zuma might still be able to lip read and blow kisses.

In a seperate political health update, All Most Health or Care hospital announced that the operations on Zuma and Zille went without a hitch. Known as the ZZ-Top operations, Zuma successfully had a brain implant and Zille a personality transplant. Doctor Ai Kutya, said that it was unfortunate that Marthinus Van Schalkwyk was not as lucky. The recent backbone transplant and morals implant both rejected Van Schalkwyk.

New sports announced for 2012 Olympics

London used the hype created by the less than recent Beijing Olympics to announce the new sports that will be introduced at the 2012 London Olympics. London Olympics for Special Entertainment and Recreation (LOSER) spokesperson, Sir Moannallot, said that “the new sports will show the world the true British contribution to sport and the world. We know that we are the world champions in these sports and we hope to build on our medal success at Beijing 2008”. The new sports include long distance queueing; breakfast swimming in fat, oil and lard; wrestling with bad breath; beach volleyball without a ball but with long socks and a rolled-up newspaper; diving like the influence of a lost colonial power; canoeing the flooded streets in a bowler hat because it always rains; sprint for the dole; and the semi-modern pentathlon to include M25 gridlock dodging gymnastics, hunt the immigrant, and knife fencing with a yob. Some of the events will take place at the Superiority Complex. London did consider bringing cricket and rugby into the Olympics but Sir Moannallot said that “we just couldn’t find any Englishmen who are good enough and we are really sick and tired of losing against the South Africans and Aussies”. Sir Moannallot said that Great Britain is proud to bring their own “unique flavor to the Olympics. This will be as exciting as our cooking”.

Painless circumcision

Scientists today found a new method to bring smiles to the faces of millions of young boys and tears to the eyes of grown men – painless circumcision. Russian researcher Ayi Kutof from the Observatory for Unilateral Circumcisional Health (OUCH) said that he believes that the old method “is just a rip-off”. He said that he can’t take all the credit and a special “thanks for the tip” to prof. Klippion the new method. When asked to go into more detail on what the new method might be, Ayi Kutof said that they are still trying to “cut through the” red tape and “that’s a sore point” but that the new procedure is “cutting edge”.

Nigerian 419 scams surpasses oil income

Nigerian 419 email scams has officially overtaken oil as the single largest export product. Minister for Socio-Political Order and Outside Finances (SPOOF), Taika Kash, said that “it is crucial for the Nigerian economy that we diversify our BOGUS* income streams. We can not rely on oil providing us with the only opportunities to RIP-OFF* foreigners”.

Minister Kash said that the new diversification of exports is part of the Nigerian government strategy to reduce their environmental impact. “Every email scam makes us less dependent on oil from the Niger Delta.” When asked what he meant, Minister Kash responded, “have you ever been to the Niger Delta area?” Minister Kash also announced plans to provide training courses for unemployed Nigerians to start their own small scale scam operations. “We will provide them with the training, computers and internet access to start their own scams”. Ministers Kash’s brother-in-law runs the training operations, but Minister Kash denied that he favored his family or that there is any truth in the rumors that people paid for training but never received any training. He said, “my brother-in-law, Runna Wey, is an honorable man and his business, Lessons for African Universities and National Direct Education in Refocusing International and National Graft (LAUNDERING), is known for the hard work they do all over the world. I just received an email from him telling me how hard he is working and that he requires another advance to complete the curriculum. It just shows how hard he works as he always needs more money”.

*After further investigations and pay-offs it was clarified that BOGUS stood for Buy-Off, Graft and Underhanded Strategies and RIP-OFF for Real International Potential: Overseas Financial Felonies. Both these strategies were identified after Minister Kash answered an email from a dying wife of the ex-President of the African Developmental Bank in Bamako. He apparently paid $500,000 to help the woman transfer $24 million dollars to his account. A letter from his bank informed him of the BOGUS transfers and that it was just a foreign RIP-OFF. But only after he paid the bank clerk for the information. Another transfer of $100,000 for the clerk to redo the transfer is currently in process. The clerk, Ura Sukka, told Minister Kash that the transfer is needed to implement the Bank Alliance Strategy for Transferring Accounts and Reversing Dollar Services (BASTARDS). Minister Kash then received a call from a branch manager, Cilli Naimes, informing him to come and pick him up the check in the Niger Delta area. Without any police involvement. Minister Kash said he hasn’t had the chance to pick up the check yet.

Shocking 20/20 religious expose

A shocking expose of religious groups in the US was done by 20/20. The first expose investigated a break-away Mormon sect in Utah that believed in monogamy. The sect leader, Wan Wyfe, denied allegations that he only had one wife and that he preached religious tolerance, respect for individual right and racial harmony. Wan Wyfe said “I deny that we are some group of happy people living normal lives. This is the type of rumor that gives sects all over the world a good name and we won’t tolerate that.

20/20 also showed a evangelical church where the Minister, Nou Maani, asked his congregation to not give him any money and that he was doing God’s work not for personal gain but because of his belief in God’s word. He denied the allegation when approached by the 20/20 team and said that “I have a responsibility towards my own life and greed and will not stand for the false allegation”. He also denied rumors that he is happily married and that he does not pay for prostitutes. “It is a disgusting rumor and I will not stand for these type of attacks on the evangelical right-wing churches”, he concluded.

In their last story on alleged religious mavericks, 20/20 investigated a radical fundamentalist Muslim cleric, Iluva Busch, who runs a Mosque that preaches love to Americans and all Westerners and who condemns terrorist attacks in any form. Imam Iluva Busch is alleged to have called off all jihads against Christian countries and Israel, and to have preached tolerance and love towards all religions in secret meetings at the Mosque where he teaches. Imam Busch refused to answer any questions, but a spokesperson for Imam Busch, Ilah-Ava Peece, said that the Imam has always been a radical and will not stand for the vicious rumors spread by the Western media. He refuse to respond to photo’s showing Imam Busch swimming in swimming trunks that looks like an Americans flag, having a laugh with woman wearing two-piece bathing costumes on the beach and Imam Iluva Busch reading The Satanic Verses.

20/20 stands by their allegation that “there are some pretty normal people out there in religious circles”.

A life worth living...

A life worth living...

The thing that always surprises me about Africa is not that people die from hunger, poverty, war, diseases, etc, but that so few die when compared to the struggle to survive. I mean really. Have you seen the hellholes in the DRC? Or in the Niger Delta area? Or Sudan?

And those are just the extremes. For many the daily life in Africa is one tough and stretched out battle. Getting the next meal. Staying warm in the shack during winter. Running out of medicine. It comes down to the basics of survival. Not everything in Africa looks like the Kenyan Serengeti. Trust me…

Still. Put a few umlungus in those same circumstances and you’ll have people dying like flies.

But even in this struggle Africans manage to create businesses by selling fruits and other goods next to the road. And they do this and continue to remain proud people. They maintain hope even in the worst of circumstances. Okay, not in places like Rwanda back then, but I mean in the “everyday” world of poverty, hunger, corruption and warlords. How come they can maintain their will to fight, stay strong and proud, live a life worth living, breathe in their ubuntu – while others in Western countries don’t?

Okay, I don’t know how this fits in here but I have this story I always tell to people looking at the charity pictures of Africa. You know, the one with the woman carrying the water bucket on her head or the poor hungry kid with tears in his eyes. Anyway, you look at those women of Africa and you feel sorry for them. Sorry for them? Pity? Puh-leeze! Think Bill Gates. You see those women of Africa selling their goods next to the road. Fruits and vegetables being standard issue. Here you have an African woman with most likely no schooling, definitely no business training, not a smell of financing in a 1,000 mile radius, and struggling to sell her goods next to the side of the road. With a hundred or more competitors each side of her. And she supports an extended family with her daily takings. And you want to feel sorry for her? You should sit down at her feet and learn from the master. Bill-Bloody-Gates I tell you. She is running a business where most of us won’t even be able to survive for a week. And she makes it each and every single day. By the skin of her teeth on most days – but she still makes it. Applaud her. Learn from her. But never feel sorry for her. She is strong. She is Mama Africa! Listen to her instead of telling her what she needs. She knows what she needs. Just be quiet and listen for a little bit. Shhh… L.i.s.t.e.n…

Anyway…

The point I am trying to make is that the greatness of Africa is not defined by the crap going on each day. Warlords? We’ll survive them. Hunger? We’ll share our last meal. Poverty? Of money but not the soul. Diseases? Okay, that one we can’t beat…

I don’t want to romanticize life in Africa. There are too many bad people living amongst my beautiful people. Too many people dying of war or hunger or senseless diseases. Or from a simple thing like dirty water. It is tough out there. It is tougher than you can imagine. But it doesn’t define Africa. And it doesn’t define Africans. Look past all that and you just see people. Proud people. Friendly people. Ready for a laugh. And ready to share their last bit of food with you. With a sparkle in their eyes. Proud and strong.

I am always surprised how few people in Africa look for excuses. You great them with a “howzit” or “how are you doing” and all you get is a smile and a wave of the hand to sit down and share a beer. Talk about Kaizer Chiefs or Pirates (I was a Seven Stars fan so in a bit of a limbo. Maybe Santos if pushed. Ajax on a good day.) Tell a joke or two. At my expense of course… But it’s not just in South Africa. You can go from Zambia to Mali and get the same response. “Sit down brother. Have a drink. So, what do you think of the time Senegal beat the French hey?” Never an excuse of why life isn’t as great as on the telly.

Maybe it is because we don’t define our lives by the material things we don’t have or even the hunger pains. It’s defined by… I don’t know. Something inside telling us that life is okay. As long as we have a little love in our lives and good friends to share anything with. Beer, food or even just a story. The meaning of life takes on many masks in Africa. We make life worthwhile instead of seeking reasons to give up. We just have to look around us to see a reason to moan and bitch. That part is easy. It’s easy to find a reason to curl up and die. But we don’t. We look at the little things that makes it all worthwhile. The little treasures of life – love, family, friends, beer, soccer, meat, putu, and… hum… more beer.

But back to my question: How come they can maintain their will to fight, stay strong and proud, live a life worth living and breathe in their ubuntu while others in Western countries don’t?

You know when I was shocked by poverty for the first time in my life? San Francisco. Yes. The City of Angels. I saw a homeless person in the streets. Nothing new. I’ve seen street kids all over Africa. High on glue or selling their souls on the corner. But it’s the eyes…

I’ve almost always seen hope in the eyes of my fellow Africans. Sometimes it is just a little sliver. A dying flicker of light. But it is there. You have to dig really deep sometimes. You can just make it out in the darkness surrounding it. But you can crack it open a little. Make it a bit stronger. Just by smiling or winking or making a joke or a hug or a shared moment or… the little things.

But in those eyes of the homeless guy in San Francisco? Empty. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Not a flicker of hope. It was the eyes of defeat. Of death just waiting to happen. Nothing left to live for. No reason or meaning anymore. Just dead lifeless eyes.

Why? Why do people give up? I know we have problems in this world. I know I am damn lucky. But do we have to stop trying to live when trying to survive to the next meal is tough enough?

Maybe the lesson from Africa is that things can always be worse. Can always get worse. And you can let that define you in two ways – give up and slowly die or stay strong and have the will to keep on fighting and keep on living. Just to live a life worth living for.

I don’t have a clear picture on this. I really don’t know why some people give up and some people somehow find a life amongst the dead and the buried lives and ruined land around them. But what I do know is that I have always been amazed that everywhere I have been in Africa – the slums, townships, war, poverty, dying kids etc – those things hardly ever actually defined the people I met and worked with. It was there but it wasn’t who they were. They were so much more than that in their own eyes.

They are alive in their own eyes. Even when they are dying.

And that make me live life.

____________________________

From the Loose Ends files…

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Actually, they won’t say that. Maybe behind closed doors somewhere. But even then they won’t use the word African. No they’ll use something much more harsh than that. They’ll tell public jokes about people from Pakistan or Poland, but they’ll stay away from Africans. Ever wondered why?

Maybe because they have raped and pillaged Africa so much that there is no joke left for them to tell. Not without feeling guilty. It’s easy to tell jokes about people that are down and less fortunate than you. But it is more difficult to tell a joke about people that you messed up so badly. Where you drew the borders with a ruler and a dice. Hey, it was a half a century ago, but it takes the fun away when you see your handiwork in the news every single day.

But even those outside Europe don’t tell jokes about Africans. But they don’t do it because of their history of exploitation. No. They do it because of what they are still doing today. Want a trade deal? We got one for you. Okay, it’s not what you want, but it’s all you gonna get. Want some help with economic development? No problem. Just sign on the dotted line and take all the strings that’s attached. Want to deal with a health crisis? No problem. Here take these pills, but pay up and break your neck if you want the stuff that will really help. No fun telling jokes about Africans now is it? Not when what you do is no joke. It kills people.

There is another reason why they don’t tell jokes about Africans. Racism. Plain old vanilla flavored racism. It is difficult to tell jokes when you know you discriminate against people from Africa. Because you can’t laugh out loud when your conscious drowns out the laughter with its screaming. And the tears of laughter gets replaced by tears of sorrow when you are reminded of that kid you saw on the Save The Children poster. No fun now is it?

Oh, they’ll hide that racism away. And hide behind their politically correct walls. But we know better. We see it in their eyes when they can’t look at us for too long. Or the condescending voice they use when describing how much they love Africa. A good friend of mine described it in the perfect way – the “snobbery and veiled superiority of the Brits”. (Don’t worry John, I won’t give away your identity, but those were beautiful words. I just had to use it.) They don’t believe that they are better. No never, not them. They know they are better. And it is so subtle. It’s just the slight tilt of their head, the slow knowing nod of the head, the soft voice almost whispering, their chin resting on their folded hands as if in prayer, and the way they sigh in a caring way when they talk about the people of Africa and the suffering. But we know. Oh yes, we know.

They’ll let in everyone with a white skin (or money). You’re from Poland? No problem. Come on in. America? Welcome to London. South Africa? Sorry, you were okay before, but you know now that you have a black government running the country we are experiencing all these problems with visas. It was okay way back then when you only came over to visit and spend your money, but now you want to work here as well? Really, that is just too much. Give an African a finger and he’ll take the middle one. Yes, South Africa has at last become like almost all other African countries. We can now call ourselves true Africans. We have passed the last hurdle. The UK will charge our people just enough money for visas to keep the majority of black South Africans at home. Welcome home South Africa, welcome home.

But the joke is on them. Those borders they drew never kept us in. Or out for that matter. We are not some animal you can cage. We will explore the world like we always have. Move around and find a nice little place to hang out. Hey, you can thank your lucky stars that we have this eagerness to explore. A couple of us got sick and tired of hanging around hunting in this bloody heat and decided to go north for a bit. Just a winter break. And decided to stay for a while. We gave you life. And a few thousand years later those same bastards came back with white skins and a gun. Jeez umlungu, what happened to you? You leave for a few days and come back looking like this? Go wash yourself. You look ridiculous.

Hey, gotta run. Want to see the Cullinan Diamond in London before I need a visa. Oh yes, that was one of ours before as well. After London? Who knows. I hear Switzerland still takes us. Just a shame about all the Swiss. Have I ever told you the joke about the Swiss?

charity

You want to hug a dolphin? Or maybe plant a tree? What about buying a goat for a village in Ethiopia? Or a desk and chair for a school in Banda Aceh? No. Mm-mm, difficult one. Wait, I have just the thing for you – how about supporting the Foundation for the protection of Swedish underwear models?

And you think I am joking about that last one. It might be tongue in cheek, but this cause has over 400,000 signed up members globally. Okay, it is a Facebook cause – but one of the most supported causes. They even managed to raise some money for their nonprofit – after specifically asking for NO money. Yes, this is a nonprofit and their aim is the “promotion of international understanding”. No, I really am NOT joking.

The point I am trying to make is that we now have a cause for every taste and need. And then some. Once you find your cause – which organization within this cause do you want to support? And so on, and so on. The list just gets longer and longer.

This shouldn’t be a problem. People can now match their passions with the right organization. And there are enough charities out there to still have a slight different individual flavor that makes you so much more different from the plebs who support Oxfam (joking people…). Oh no, you support Project Africa – because it is so much more than a goal, it is a mission. A cause that goes with your evening dress and another that goes well as a car refresher hanging from the rear-view mirror.

And it makes life so much easier if you run a company. All you have to do is pick your cause and adopt the charity or nonprofit that is still available. You feel strongly about education for kids? Make your pick – we still have EduKiddiCare and KEDUCare available. (Man, how many times can someone focus on education before we run out of charities or ideas?)

But the growth in charities and causes can have a bad impact as well – apart from the bad jokes (sorry). Firstly, it waters down the important stuff and diverts attention. Instead of tackling the real big issues facing the world – Climate Change, Abuse, Poverty & Hunger, War, Disasters and Health (the Big 5 plus Climate Change) – we tackle every issue that comes to mind. Can we really justify saving the dolphin, battling bottled water, fighting immigration, protesting GM crops and anti/pro-abortion marches (the Little 5) while people are dying of hunger, disease, abuse, disasters or war? Of course all these other issues are important, but more important than people dying right now in this world we all share? I don’t know – your call.

Even more important than the long list of options and diverting attention – the diversion of funds. Two dynamics stand out. Firstly, aid only increases marginally each year – and even then it goes to certain causes that are important, but not really charity for the needy. For instance, where do you think 80% of US federal ‘aid’ go? A handful of countries that are not really on the most needy list – Israel, Pakistan and Egypt. And oh, it includes military aid… And it gets worse because the money is now spread across and even wider range of causes and organizations. Each year another nonprofits comes along that wants a piece of the pie – and reduces the share of the next one.

But the single biggest problem I have with the proliferation of charities? They divert money away from Africa and other places of need. Instead of the funding going directly to the charity in the country suffering, it goes via other charities and donor bodies first. And everyone takes their cut. The money for empowering women farmers in Zambia doesn’t go to Women for Change. Oh, they might get a small amount. But the money first goes to DFID or USAID or GTZ – or whatever government agency. And then it goes to Oxfam GB or US or Germany. And then it goes to Oxfam Southern Africa. And then it goes to Oxfam Zambia. And the leftovers go to Women for Change.

Businesses always try and streamline their value chain. We should do the same with funding. No more than 2 steps before it gets to the actual people that need it and should benefit from it. Cut out the middlemen. Hey, they make money for campaiging in any case by collecting from door to door and in the streets. It doesn’t mean the end of Oxfam or Care or Save The Children and mates. Just the beginning of the nonprofits who can really bring immediate change to the people who need it most. It will force every charity to focus on achieving real change and doing the bit they are best at. And more of the program money will go to the charities who are closest to the real issues on the ground – they are part of the people who suffer in their community. We just need to streamline the charity supply chain a bit.

Of course there is another reason for my little rant. Is it about caring about something or doing something? The caring bit is about you. But the doing bit is about those who need the help. It’s a slight but important difference. You can pick a charity or a cause the way you pick a dress or shoes – something to fit in with your needs and different tastes. But please don’t forget that this isn’t about you. It’s about those who really need you to be part of them and part of the solution. I worry that the causes are so diverse that we start forgetting who and what this is all about. It’s not a clothing outfit to fit with your personality. It’s about people. And what they need.

Mm-mm, maybe I just found the cause that fits my charity. The AA BARF charity needs your support. Really… The Angry African Beer And Rugby Fund never really got the funding or supporters it deserved in any case. And the money will go directly to the cause it supports. I promise…

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