comrade


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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mamaafrica

Mama Africa died. The voice of the people. The song of the people. She is no more. But her music lives on. And with it… Her love for Africa and its people.

This is from one of her first songs that the world got to see. Hum… She was hot! Mama Africa singing Pata Pata.

The one song every bloody Souf Efrikan whitie knows… (And she is still hot!) Miriam Makeba singing The Click Song. (With a bit of an intro into Xhosa and politics – sorry, I had to use a new link so the politics got lost. Someone removed the original from YouTube!)

And this one has a bit of a long intro but it hits you hard when she starts singing. Man… Did I mention that she is hot! Sinead O’Connor of Africa singing Amampondo.

But in the end Mama Africa was about so much more than her music. Miriam Makeba made music. Mama Africa spoke for her people. A glimpse of what she had to say to the UN back in 1963. Being Mama Africa…

Her citizenship was revoked shortly after this. She couldn’t go back to her country. To her people. But she always fought on. Always for justice. Always for her people. The people of Africa. And her people from South Africa. From fighting for justice when she married (and later separated from) Trinidadian civil rights activist and Black Panthers leader Stokely Carmichael to receiving the UN Dag Hammerskjöld Peace Prize. She always fought for justice. Always.

But she saw her country united at last. She came back in 1990. To her home. To her people. And this song was made for her to sing. (The intro is played by Hugh Masekela. Another legend and another ex-husband of Mama Africa.)

Mama Africa never forgot about the fight for justice. Never. She didn’t die at home. She died in Castel Volturno in Italy, in the evening of 9 November 2008, of a heart attack, shortly after taking part in a concert organized to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation. Camorra finances itself through drug trafficking, extortion, protection and racketeering. It is the oldest organized criminal organization in Italy. Mama Africa… Mama World… Mama Ubuntu… No matter where you were, she was with you in your fight for justice, freedom, liberty and equality for all.

She died just after singing Pata Pata. She died on stage.

In the words of Mama Africa, “I will sing until the last day of my life.”

So she is gone. But live on. Always.

Viva Mama Africa! Viva! Long Live Miriam Makeba! Long Live!

makeba_miriam

It’s time that I remind myself what I think of Zuma. The most likely person to become President of South Africa next year. He won his battle with Mbeki. He got Mbeki to resign as President. Okay. Technically it was the ANC who got a little help from their friends the Three Stooges – COSATU, ANC YL and the SACP. But Zuma is Mr Idiot. And that’s putting it mildly… Will someone close the door when he is done? Or at least wipe the rim? I wrote this a few months back when the battle started. It made it into the Mail & Guardian in South Africa and for some reason not everyone was pleased. To those who say I only bash Republicans. Read on. You’ll see I come down hard on any political leader who does’t hold his or her side of the bargain. Let’s bitch…

How did we get to this, Arch?

How did we get to this, Arch?

Don’t bitch about Bush – you got Zuma

I am extremely proud of being African and South African. What we have managed to do over the last 15 odd years have been unbelievable. From the most despicable Apartheid regime to a stable democracy and sound economic growth. From the bottom of the world pecking order, to the leading global voice on justice. A leading light in a world at war. We have shown the world how everyone can live in peace and harmony – and celebrate differences instead of letting it divide us. The region I come from has shown the world how Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Jew can all live together, celebrate our differences and enrich our lives in this melting pot we call home – instead of trying to wipe each other out.

Yes, like all other countries we have challenges. Crime, poverty and HIV/Aids being the biggest. At the heart is poverty – or at least the lack of shared wealth. Too much is still in the hands of a small group of umlungu’s. We have the systems in place to start addressing this – affirmative action will help, but we have lots more to do to address wealth distribution. But as a start affirmative action policies have been integrated into our procurement system in innovative ways, as well as in the workplace. At the same time the government has brought electricity, running water and housing to millions of people. And so much more that still needs to be done. We are very much a work in progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

We have won the Rugby World Cup – twice! Unfortunately, we continue to suck big time in soccer, but will show the world how to party in 2010.

We have shown how democracy can be a powerful way to bring real benefits to all people in South Africa. Since 1994 we have experienced mostly all the good and great things of having a democracy.

And then there was Zuma.

Zuma has just been elected as the leader of the ANC – the political party I have always supported and voted for in South Africa. He is now in a perfect position to become the next President of South Africa. The ‘Comrades’ at the ANC Congress last month celebrated his win as proof that democracy works and that anyone can be elected as a leader in a free and fair election.

But lets be clear about something. Zuma is an idiot. I have met him a few times and he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He has the charisma of a damp dishcloth. And the morals of a rat. He didn’t deny sleeping with the young girl that was not only HIV positive, but also a family friend. Whether there was consent or not is irrelevant. You would expect more from someone who is supposed to be a leader we look up to – who should be a shining light for us to follow. And the fact that he took a shower afterwards to ‘ensure’ he doesn’t ‘catch’ HIV speaks to his intellect. And I am not even going to go into the corruption charges. How the hell can the ANC Women’s League justify supporting this guy during the election? And when I was a unionist in South Africa we all saw Zuma speak at the COSATU Congress – how could you even think for a minute he would be a leader for the workers or the people?

I know that people don’t like Mbeki, but you don’t drink cyanide just because you don’t like Coke. Pick something else that won’t kill you. Okay, cyanide will kill you quicker than Zuma, but the outcome will be the same – Zuma will drag everything that Madiba and all our great leaders have worked and fought for through the mud. We will be the laughing stock of the world. Mbeki is a statesman respected across the world for not bending to popular demand, but sticking to what is just and right. Well, most of the time – he is fallible (read his HIV/Aids policies). Hey, I don’t even like him that much. But Mbeki is a giant compared to Zuma.

What really gets to me is the fact that these same ‘Comrades’ will be the ones bitching and moaning about Bush and other world leaders , but especially Bush. As they used to say at union meeting – ‘Comrade, you are out of order’. You lost your right to criticize the democratically elected leaders from other countries when you elected Zuma as your leader. Bush might be an idiot with policies we don’t like or agree with, but he was democratically elected (twice) by his people. Okay, he IS an idiot – just like Zuma. So, stop your bitching about Bush or Brown – or even Mugabe – you got Zuma. YOU just moved us from standing on the moral highground to crawling in the mud. YOU voted him in. YOU are responsible. YOU will be the laughing stock of the world. YOU just lost your right to bitch.

You know me. Pretty much a patriotic South African. Proud of our history. And deeply affected by Madiba – Nelson Mandela. I think the guy did an incredible job starting us off on the right track. Oh, we had a few other great leaders as well. But Madiba was our big daddy. Our Patriot. The John Adams of South Africa. The man who fought so hard to bring freedom to our little country down South. Just like John Adams and the other Patriots did over here in the US. (Oh yes, just like with the US, most of our subsequent leaders have been less “patriotic”, loved, reputable and effective as leaders than those original Founding Fathers.) So, I read with interest the recent flood of opinions regarding Nelson Mandela needing a special waiver to enter the US because he is still classified as a terrorist. As a South African I will refrain from commenting on whether he is a terrorist or not. That should be obvious. I will also refrain from blaming President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney for this as that would be easy, but also opportunistic and a cheap shot. The fact is that President Mandela’s good friend President Bill Clinton had 8 years to undo this injustice. As did his partner Senator Clinton. I am more concerned with the policy behind this terror list and the message it sends to other “liberation” organizations and individuals across the world.

Nelson Mandela, and the African National Congress that he belonged to, were put on the list because the US government supported the Apartheid regime’s classification of the ANC as a terrorist organization. This indicated support of the Apartheid regime by the US government – both Republicans and Democrats. Again, I will refrain from discussing the Apartheid regime. I think we can all agree that it was a regime based on one of the most unjust and oppressive political systems in modern history. Really, take it from me and the people who suffered and died at the hands of that regime, they were not a nice bunch of guys to be associated with. Trust me, your mother will be most disappointed if you hung out with them.

On the other hand, the ANC was a peaceful organization for most of its history. It was established in 1912 in direct reaction to being excluded from having any political rights under the Union constitution of 1910. They remained an organization who believed in peaceful protest against the oppressive governments that gave no political rights to black South Africans. They did not even revert to violence when widows of black soldiers who died fighting in WWII received no pension whatsoever. It was only after 69 people were shot, mostly schoolchildren shot in the back, on 21 March 1960 in Sharpeville that the ANC got banned for calling a national stay-away campaign. Note, still no violence called for by the ANC – just a stay-away. It was only after more murdering by the Apartheid government and the arrest of more than 2,000 people that the ANC took up the armed struggle against the Apartheid government – while they were banned from South Africa. Their “military wing”, Umkhonto we Sizwe(Spear of the Nation), was only established in 1961. They officially took up arms when exiled. They took up arms when their people got murdered, arrested and taxed to death and they were banned from being in South Africa to represent the oppressed in even a peaceful way. Remember this bit – people being taxed, not represented in government, no ownership, murdered and arrested left, right and centre AND their “party” being banned even though they are promoting peaceful resistance.

In short, the ANC was a peaceful organization for 48 years before they took up arms. And only after they got banned and people were murdered in public did they take up arms. And they continued this armed struggle against the Apartheid regime for the next 30 years. So yes, they were peaceful for much longer than what they were in the armed struggle. But still the US and many other Western governments declared them a terrorist organization. And before you get on your high horse – they only started taking in money and support from the old USSR when all those Western governments refused to provide them with any support against the Apartheid regime. Many, many years after they got banned and classified as a terrorist organization. A case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend…”

Let me put this in language and context you might get. A bit closer to home. Imagine you live in the US. Peacefully. Oh, there is a colonial power in charge, but you don’t care much for them. But then they start shooting your people when they protest against the unjust laws and taxes these colonial powers instituted against your people. And, of course, you don’t have full representation – only token representation. So after many years of continued oppression you say “enough is enough” and you stand up and have a big old war for independence. And you take support from anyone – even those who also have oppressive systems in place in their own country. Let’s say like asking the French monarchy for support even though they did not give their own people the rights you were fighting for and who were an oppressiveregime to their own people. Oh, wait – that happened here right? Imagine that, those Patriots who stood up against the British rule would have been branded a terrorist group if the current US application of the term terrorist was used by the colonial master back then. See, the ANC was like the Patriots back when you fought for your independence… And I for one will defend John Adams and anyone else who dare call them terrorists. They were freedom fighters on the side of the good and the brave. On the side of the oppressed. They were the good guys. They were the brave guys. Full stop. Not terrorists.

But the problem they would face today is that there is no clear guidelines on what will constitute a terrorist organization in the eyes of the US government.

So, does the US classify organizations based on their opposition to legitimate governments? No. As the case in South Africa highlights, the US government supported an oppressive regime and not those seeking democracy. It did the same in Angola and in Mozambique. It supported the warlords in both those countries who fought the legitimate governments. Governments who continued to win the popular democratic votes in elections from before, during and after the wars that ravished these countries. And, of course, the US supported the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and many Latin American dictators who were as oppressive as these African and Middle Eastern dictators. Yes, it was during the Cold War, but it still… The US build their partnership in the same way the ANC did – not being picky, but just picking anyone who will fight against the injustice they believe their own people will or are facing. Both picked dirty friends. And neither of them can claim that the other one had “worse” friends than the other. You willing to make a call on whether you would prefer the Taliban or a Communist? Not an easy choice is it? A bit like a pan and a fire choice I think. Hello pot, cheers kettle.

But it still leaves the question open – does the US classify organizations as terrorist if they take up arms against any type of government then? No. The US government is not averse to supporting organizations who take up arms. As mentioned before, they supported violent groups in Mozambique and Angola. And they have continued to do so – who can forget the call to arms of Iraqi’s during the first Gulf War? And the direct or indirect support for those who take up arms against oppressive regimes.

So what is a terrorist in the eyes of the US government? Who knows? And that has been the problem with declassifying Nelson Mandela as terrorist. We have no clear guidelines. How can we declassify someone when we don’t know the classification in the first place? It’s a bit like just building a road and seeing where it takes us. Or a railroad. And remember the big railroad bubble of 1893? This road is just waiting to blow up in our face and create panic.

At the very least we need to know what a terrorist is. I don’t mean some global definition we can all agree on. I am not that naive. All I can ask is for the US to have a clear definition. But there isn’t. Do yourself a favour – try and find a clear definition anywhere in the US laws. Too vague and too many loopholes. How can we win a war against terrorism if we can’t even define who or what is a terrorist? So far we have been more or less lucky. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were relatively easy calls. Sadam not so easy. And the more we go into this “War Against Terrorism” the more fuzzy it will become. I would really like Nelson Mandela to not be classified as a terrorist. And I really don’t want us to start a war against the next John Adams and his group of Patriots. He was a Patriot. And so was Mandela. Let’s not shoot at anything that moves. Not every shadow is a threat. Let’s know who we fight. Because how else would we know when we have won?

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I was just a face in the crowd. There must have been 500 of us. Swaying to the music. Maybe it was 50. I don’t know. My memory paints a beautiful picture. Filling the crowd. Swelling the numbers. There should have been a big one. Even if there wasn’t. But here I was. A wit oukie. Standing out. But I was here to listen to the master himself. Mr Cape Town. Mr Jazz.

I lived and studied out in Stellenbosch and we didn’t get these opportunities often. We weren’t really the hub of liberation arts down there in the bundus. We were only going to get the Voëlvry Toer a bit later in the year. And then everything will change overnight. Well, it felt like overnight. For now we were still the backward university run by the Broederbond – a secret society of Afrikaner leaders in key positions. With the names of our university buildings celebrating the Apartheid founders and leaders like the Verwoerd Building and the Vorster Building where I studied. Political Science of all things.

But somehow Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee decided to come and play to us boere. Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee! Man, I was as exited as hell. He just came back from an overseas tour. And he was coming to Stellenbosch? He was a legend. In my eyes, Mister Cape Town Jazz. Yes, we were blessed with some of the greats down in the Cape. Dollar Brand, sorry – Abdullah Ibrahim. Legend himself. And maybe the popular choice for the best of Cape Town. But he was too fancy for me. Too complex for a guy like me with no musical ear. And Hugh Masekela up north. Great, but not being from Cape Town meant he couldn’t speak to my heart. My head yes, but not my heart. For me it was always Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee. I liked the simplicity and beauty of Basil. His passion was so raw. On the edge. As if he was going to explode any minute now. And here I was. Listening to “The Man”. Live! As if God came to town to visit the little people for a few minutes.

The stage where he played was small. Not much bigger than a large office. We were so close to him and the band. Sabenza. They were almost on top of us. But we didn’t care. We just wanted to hear Mannenberg. The song Mannenberg. Play it Basil! Play it! That’s all we wanted to hear. It calmed us down. The song of Cape Town. And no one played it better than him. Or with more passion. And he played it. And he played it. Sweat running down his face. His body swaying back and forth as he played it. Sometimes jerking as if he was being beaten by the cops in the streets of Mannenberg. He was loving it. He was living it. He was Basil from Mannenberg. Playing the song of his people. And we just soaked in his music. His passion. His love for our little spot here at the bottom of the continent.

It was unbelievable. Basil played. And every now and then he’ll stop and stare at the crowd. Sometimes it felt as if he was looking straight at me. The boer in the crowd. He wouldn’t know who I was. He just saw the face. I didn’t realize straight away that I was the only guy who looked like a boertjie in the crowd. And it was a marginal call at best. But I still stood out in the crowd. I guess the long hair didn’t help either. And he’ll stare a bit and then give us a political lecture.

But not the type of lecture I had at university. This was full of passion. In my language. The way the people spoke it. Not some academic using words that sounded like Latin plant names. He spoke about people being forceably removed from their homes in District 6. How they struggled on the Cape Flats. Like his family. Like he did. Moved from District 6 to Mannenberg. And he told us how we must be the difference. The difference between yesterday and tomorrow. That we are the tomorrow. We make the future. And then he’ll play a bit more. All of them – Khayalitsha Dance and CT Blues and more. All from Sabenza. I just bought the album a while back – okay, the tape. And he played them all. And he played us all. Working us into a frenzy with his words and music mix.

He’ll play a song and then he’ll stop and shout a slogan or two. And then, right at the end it happened. He stopped and stared at us. And then stared at me. And slowing started playing Song for Winnie. While looking at me. I was sure he was looking at me. I hope he was looking at me. He looked down as the song ended and slowly looked up. Straight at me. I was sure I could see a smile forming slowly while he looked at me. Sweat dripping from his face. And then he jerked his head up and quickly punched his clenched fist into the air – the liberation salute – and shouted, “Amandla!”. Everyone punched the air and shouted back, “Awethu!”.

I did. Followed his lead. Without even thinking. It’s a gut reaction. My fist went up like a flash. And I shouted as loud as I could. Because the man spoke. And when I looked back at the stage where he stood I realized he was looking at me. He saw me. No. He watched me. His smile was much bigger now. He got the boertjie. He got me. And then he winked. He winked at me and shouted, “One settler, one bullet”. And then he laughed. Everyone laughed. Even I laughed. It was for me. But in fun. Yes, he got me. I got me to laugh. And he got me to remember “the people”. Why we do this. Amandla! Awethu! Power! To the People! Basil and Mannenberg got me. And he winked at me. And it was sweet. It was an honor beyond belief. Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee saw me, watched me and taught me. About Mannenberg. And what I had to do.

May you rest in peace now Basil. Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the wink. I still see it. And I still live it. Hope you’re watching from up there. You’re the man. Just keep on playing that Cape Town jazz. That’ll keep them going. It got me going.

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Hey, April is almost over. But the madness not. Let’s look at the weak as it happened.

1. Dude, I just smoked the house

Those bloody Aussies. They are taking us all for a ride. No wait. More like a riiiideeee, dude. And sometimes just taking the piss. But good for them. See, they are always trying to find new ways to pull a fast one – those damn Aussies. Give them half a chance… And now they are using the “green” debate out there to create new “eco-friendly” ways of living their lives. I always knew they were a bunch of pot smoking Irish convicts entrepreneurs. But the latest one take the cake. Or should I say “brownie” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The Aussies are now claiming that they are building “green” houses by using hemp. Yep. That’s pretty green hey. I think it is because they first have to dry out the leaves. What better way than build a house of dope leaves and leave it to the Australian sun to dry it out nicely. And when it is nice and dry? “Sorry officer, I have no idea how the fire started. The house just went off in flames…” Dude. What a plan, maaan. That’s dope man. And I mean it. But they didn’t stop there. The other question they faced? What to do with all that… hum… pee that comes from drinking too much XXXX. Just recycle it brother. Yes. Recycled water. I guess they can use that when they burn the house. Or burn the house when they drink the water. I would. Just to get the taste out my mouth. I think the Aussies are taking the piss.

2. Just bomb Global Warming

Okay, we are now officially… hum… you know… stuffed. Global Warming is going to wipe us out. Or maybe not. It seems as if we might now have two ways to die as Global Warming creeps up as bites us in the more delicate places. We can either fry in the heat or be bombed to smithereens. At least we have a choice now. All thanks to the Royal United Services Institute. And no, that isn’t some think-tank about Prince Charles and his bevy of servants – it’s the “leading forum in the UK for national and international Defence and Security”. Founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI is the oldest institute of its kind in the world. Yes, the same guy who gave us those nice rubber boots to walk with in British crap rainy weather also gave us a think-tank to come up with new ways of justifying war. Thanks Duke. Anyway, the RUSI says that Global Warming will get so bad that we will go into wars that will last for centuries and will be worse than the previous two World Wars. So I guess we need more military funding then hey? Nice one – not even Dick could think of a better way to keep Halliburton in the black for a hundred years or more. I do see a little flaw in their argument though. If Global Warming will fry us all – how come we can still be alive to fight wars for a few hundred years? Hum… that’s the thinking part. You concentrated a little bit too much on the tank part buddy. DO YOU HEAR ME SOLDIER! OOH-RAH! (Sorry Marines.) Never mind, at least I will have those Wellington boots when the sea levels start rising.

3. ZZ Top

Yes, it is the battle of the Z’s. Zambia against Zimbabwe. And I am cheering for Zambia. I love Zambia. The most peaceful nation on earth. Never been in a war – internal or external. And you have to know Zambians to know why. The nicest people on earth. And they didn’t even have to build those Aussie “green” houses to be laid back. Okay, also one of the poorest nations on earth. But that didn’t stop them from standing up to the tyrant of the South – Mad Bob Mugabe. You see, China is trying to deliver some weapons to Zimbabwe. Yes, war and instability pays – just Halli and Burton. Back to the South. First the trade unions in South Africa refused to unload the weapons (well done comrades – what we call them back home). And they called Mad Bob out for the coward that he is. You don’t mess with a unionist in South Africa. The Teamsters are as tough as accountants compared to the South African version. If they say the ship won’t be unloaded… then the ship won’t be unloaded. Ever. Even the rats were to scared to make a move on the ship or dare get off the ship. Anyway, Zambia decided to show some political leadership sadly lacking from my own beloved government. President Mwanawasa from Zambia stood up and stood strong. Saying that any weapons delivered to Mad Bob’s puppets can and will undermine any possibility of breaking the violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe. And the Great Chinese ship turned around and headed back home. Head hanging down in shame and tail between their legs. I love Zambia even more. Now. If we can only get Mwanawasa to target a few other warmongers out there. Dick, you beter watch out. You might just piss off anger a Zambian. And as Mad Bob just realized, that ain’t no pretty thing to face.

4. Drive-thru shooting

“You talking to me? You talking to me?” Some of the last words heard at the McDonald’s drive-thru before the shoot-out at the OK Corral Golden Arches. You see, Makyala Hall went for her standard quality dinner at McDonalds and knew that you have to wait to get quality. I mean really, Le McDonald’s isn’t just some fast-food take-out joint. It’s the premier dinner destination in Tulsa. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve been to Tulsa. So Makyala waited patiently for her food at the rathole restaurant that inspired Gordon Ramsay. But after an hour she thought this might be taking a tad longer than what she expected. It is a crappy joint gourmet restaurant, but she ordered drive-thru. And she couldn’t idle her car waiting for her bag of fat handmade burger the whole evening – not with gas prices being the way they are. So she marched up to the manager and told him where to stick his fries where the burgers don’t fit. A super-sized verbal fight broke out and he flipped her faster than those patties. And then good old Madman Thurman showed up. The Cola dude from behind the counter. But he was off duty and stuffed with either beer or Quarter Pounders. In other words – he was drunk with power. I mean, he is the Spongebob of Tulsa. And he was faster on the draw than on the service. And shot the guy in the car behind Makayla when he interrupted their little argument about whether the King can take out Ronald. And all he wanted was some ketchup with his fries. He made it though. Still alive. But just. See the health nuts were right – McDonald’s can kill you.

5. A Bush I can get to like Good Bush, bad Bush

And I am talking about the one on the left. Not the smiling paw-paw in the middle or the smiling papa on the right. They are so not cool. It’s drool, not cool. But Jenna. If you take the two pees peas puh-lease P’s away and she might just look like she is at a Metallica concert. Okay, not a fan of Metallica, but you get my drift. Anyway, it seems as if she might actually think before she decides who to vote for. Now stay with me people. Yes, a Bush that can think before they take an action. Any action. I know, this is revolutionary. Or maybe evolutionary, but it is happening. I actually don’t care who she votes for. I just like the fact that she refused to be put in a little box when asked who she will vote for. Remember, her mother was sitting next to her and just said that she will vote for “the Republican”. And when Larry asked Jenna? She said she wasn’t sure as she hasn’t made up her mind yet – and then followed this up with, “I mean, who isn’t open to learning about the candidates and I’m sure that everybody is like that“. Huh-duh, like half the US isn’t open to learn sweetheart. Okay Larry, you actually got someone to not agree with their mother in public. I hope you feel proud. You should. Great work Jenna. Now, if only I can talk to you about a little war thing going on.

That’s all folks. Have a good one and speak to you later.

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I have received a few emails and comments about South Africa from South Africans ever since I wrote my blog on Zuma. It was also published in the Mail & Guardian Thought Leader section – a respected South African newspaper. In my eyes still the best paper around no matter where you go in the world. And it caused a bit of a stir over there. No problem with the comments. People were just being their typical South African self. Either calling me too white or too black – depending on where they stood politically. And either defending South Africa or moaning and bitching about South Africa. But what I didn’t like was people assuming that I somehow have something in common with them because I don’t like Zuma and I don’t trust Zuma. That I somehow don’t like the South Africa of today.

Most of these people were white South Africans. Most of them thought I didn’t like the current government or the “new” South Africa. And most of them decided that I am one of them. One of those who think of the good old days before 1994 when the ANC won the election. The good old days of Apartheid. Sorry boet, you got the wrong guy here. I am not one of you.

Yes. These countrymen of mine complain about crime. They moan about affirmative action. They bitch about corruption. And they cry about how their beautiful country is going down the drain. Sorry guys. You are… hum…  barking up the wrong tree. You won’t get any sympathy here.

You are living in a dream if you think it was better under Apartheid. Maybe it would have been for you. The same way it was better for the “Aryan race” in Germany while Hitler and his “people” were killing their “enemies” – Jews and Gypsies to start off with. And after that – everyone. Maybe it would have been better for you then. If you had blue eyes, blond hair and a nice white skin to go with that. Yes. That was what South Africa under Apartheid was like. An no thank you. We don’t want to go back there. It was never better for South Africans under Apartheid – only for some.

You think that crime is a problem in South Africa? You are damn right it is a problem. And it is a problem in the USA. And in the UK. And in China. And in Japan. You name it and there is a problem. But let’s remind ourselves how bad it was during those “good old days of Apartheid”.

Imagine you are sleeping in your bed. Just lying there in your shack. Lying with your loved one while the rain comes down in buckets. Your leaky roof can’t stand the rain forever. And then it starts leaking. Somewhere there is always a hole to plug. Tonight you are lucky. It isn’t leaking over the bed. Just on the floor. And the floor has no covering. It is a mud-pool by now. And the carpets you picked up at the dump is starting to smell because of the water running all over it. But it is okay. You are safe. You have your loved one with you. And tomorrow the sun will shine and dry your home. Tomorrow will be a better day. But it is time to rest those weary eyes and the weary body for a little bit tonight. Tomorrow is another long day looking for a job at the factory or the mines. Another day looking for something to feed your family and survive another day.

But then you get ripped out of your sleep with the sound of doors breaking and people shouting. It’s your door tonight. There are flashlights everywhere in your house. Just everywhere. People shouting. You can see them coming for you. Those lights are coming for you. You know who they are. They do this almost every night. And tonight it is your turn. It is the cops. The special police. The police who take people away. And they almost never return.

You try to fight but there is no hope. Your shack doesn’t have a window big enough for you to jump out of. And there is no time in any case. You go for your panga under the bed. But it is too late. They are on top of you and they start hitting you with their guns and kicking with their boots. And you can feel the skin break away from your face. You scream for help. But you know there will be no help tonight. You beg them to stop. To just leave your wife alone. But you know they never stop. And then, thankfully, you lose consciousness. The darkness sets in and you can’t feel the pain anymore.

You wake up and you are in the back of the van. Just you tied up and a tire to keep you company. That tire. You have heard of it before. And the cops go for a spin. A joy-ride through the veld. And the tire starts bouncing all over in the back of the bakkie. You know they do this on purpose. Because nothing can stop that tire. Nothing can stop it from going wild in the back where you two are alone – just you and the tire. Nothing stopping it from hitting you with all its might while you are tied up. And you wonder where is your wife. Is she alive? Did they rape her like so many other of the woman? But tonight you are lucky. The tire hits you on the head and knocks you out. No more pain from the body shots you take from the tire. And no more thinking of your wife. Just you and the darkness.

You wake up and you are still tied up. But this time you are hanging from the roof of a cell. Hanging from your arms tied up. Hanging with your feet off the ground. The pain doesn’t mean anything anymore. You know where you are. You know where you are. And there is no way out. You are in their place. The place where people die.

You open your eyes and slowly look around. You see their faces. Those white faces smoking and telling jokes to each other in Afrikaans. You try and be still so they can’t see you are awake, but it is too late. You hear them say something and pointing at you. But you don’t understand their language. You have heard it on the streets in town. But you don’t speak it. You are fresh from Transkei. And speak only Xhosa.

But you hear that word when they poke you with their batons. Kaffir… You know what that means. Oh, you know what that means. Kaffir

They shout at you. You don’t know how to answer. You don’t know what they are saying. You just don’t understand. You ask them in Xhosa about your wife. But they hit you on the soles of your feet. Oh God it hurts. But you still don’t know what to say. Or how to ask. They show you the pictures you had in your house. The pictures of Biko. And they hit you and hit you. And you scream and you cry. For you. For your wife. For Biko. And for your people. But you still don’t know what to say. And all you understand is kaffir. And then the darkness comes again.

Tonight you were lucky. They didn’t kill you. Not tonight. They drop you off in the township. Far away from your home. Just kicked you out the back of the bakkie. And let you lie in the street while you try to get up and get out the way. You just want to find your wife. Just a last few kicks from them and then they are off. People help you up and take you away. Strangers. But not. These are the people who suffer like you.

No job. No house. No vote. No restaurants for all to use. No toilets to use as an equal. No bus to ride with the people around you. No hospital to look after all the people. No police to protect you. Just to hunt you. No man or woman to stand up for you in parliament. Just the head tax you have to pay and the pass you have to carry. You do not exist in the eyes of the white man. Only as an animal to work their mines and their factories. No ownership and no say. You have no right in this country of your ancestors. Nothing. You are nothing. But you are everything.

Tonight you were lucky. You were lucky to make it back. You were lucky to make it out alive. Biko wasn’t that lucky when they took him. He was chained to that window grill for a whole day. And brutally beaten for 26 days – day in and day out. And he fought and he fought. Until he could no more. And then, on that day on 12 September 1977 he died. In prison. From those injuries. From those beatings. And the judge said the head injuries were self inflicted. That he committed suicide. And the police were innocent. Because there were no witnesses. Yes. Tonight you were lucky.

So don’t think that I am one of you. Don’t think that it was ever better under Apartheid. It was never better under Apartheid. NEVER. People were killed. People were murdered. People were treated worse than the dogs of the white man. People had no rights. They couldn’t own anything. They couldn’t take any job – only those lowly jobs. People couldn’t go to the best schools. People could even buy their food where you bought yours. They couldn’t vote and they couldn’t own anything. No political rights. And no economic rights. People were treated as nothing. No. Worse than nothing.

So don’t think that I should feel sorry for you. Is it tough today? Yes it is. But life is tough. Life isn’t fair. Life can never be fair after Apartheid. You can decide if you want to give up and moan and bitch about how bad you have it. How “they” discriminate against you. How corrupt the government is. How bad Zuma is. And that could all be right. But never ever think that it was better under Apartheid. Think of Biko. A man of peace. A man who was tortured for 26 days. And then he was murdered. And we still don’t know. Still don’t know who did it.

Go read Antjie Krog’s Country of my skull. Go read the volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And then go to your mothers and your fathers. And ask them, “How could you allow this to happen? How could not have known? What have you done? What have you done to me – your own child?”

We have forgiven. We cried together as a country. We got it off our chest. The pain. The pain to us and the pain of those who lost their lives under Apartheid. But don’t ever think we will forget. We are not allowed to forget. We owe it to Biko. And we owe it to the namesless faces who just never made it back. We owe it to them to make it better. we are not a perfect country and we all need to work to make it better. Our government can be better. Our economy can be better. Our police can be better. Our bloody electricity can be better.

But there never was any “good old days of Apartheid”. And don’t forget it. I am not your friend. I am your brother. I am your blood and I am your fellow South African. But I am not you. And never will be. Because there never was ANY “good old days of Apartheid”.

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