Madiba


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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It started with a simple set of questions… “Dad, what are people doing? Why don’t they want other people to marry? Why don’t they do anything about global warming? Why are they always fighting?”

How do I tell her? How. Do. I. Tell. Her?

1001, 1002, 1003, die… 1004, 1005, 1006, dead…

How do I tell her that every 3 seconds a child dies from something that we could’ve stopped? From hunger. From not enough food. From not having an apple. Or clean drinking water. Or just a little porridge in the morning. That we have it in our power to stop it if we want. But we choose not to. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that our friends can’t marry because some people just hate their love too much? That love is sometimes not enough. That caring for each other is not what everyone else thinks should be. That the insecurities of the heart and soul of others drive hate instead of seeing the love. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that some people talk freedom but don’t believe in it? That freedom is freedom even if we don’t like what others do or say. That freedom to marry. Freedom to love. Freedom to see the love of your life die in hospital. That these freedoms are killed by bigots every day. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her the pursuit of happiness is denied for most? That it’s a lie that we are told by so many who deny the happiness of others. That justice, equality and liberty is claimed by many but believed and practiced by few. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her people believe in carrying guns that kill but don’t believe in caring for love? That it’s okay to defend the right to carry a weapon of hatred in your holster but not love in your heart. That it’s okay to defend the right to carry that gun but not the right to love? How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that I don’t know what our earth will look like in her future? That maybe we are killing this world of ours with our greed and want. That wanting, buying, driving, wearing, making, living, eating too much and all those things we do might be killing our world slowly. So slowly that we argue while the pot is starting to boil. Like frogs we are killing ourselves slowly. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that most people don’t really believe in human rights? That they speak of it as if they care and are willing to fight for it and die for it. But that they will deny others those same human rights. Their right not to be tortured. Their right to marry. Their right to choose. Their right to believe and love who they want. They deny it all. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that people are willing to let their fellow Americans die. That they can stop it but they choose to look the other way and walk away? That a public option will save lives but some of us are too selfish and scared and would rather offer up American lives. American blood. All because they don’t care to care. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that so many men carry hate in their hearts. They rape. They kill. They take away. That these are men we see and know. But we don’t see and we don’t know. That it’s okay to love the world. But be careful with who you trust. They will hurt you if they can because we know of those who are dead and missing. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her to not trust the man who speaks of God because they use and abuse His name? That they will hate in His name. That they will lie in His name. That they will give Him different names and still be full of hate and lies. That the hate and lies is preached by bigots claiming every religion – Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim – you name it. That it’s okay to love God but to not trust those who speak in His name. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that there are mad men in caves wanting to kill a dream? That there are enemies everywhere willing to take lives. Innocent lives. And that we live in so much fear that we are willing to do the same as them. We are willing to let innocent people die because of our own fears. That we play into the hand of the warmongers with our weakness of fear. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her all this and so much more? Racism. Discrimination. Child labor. Obesity. Diseases. Sexism. And all this stuff waiting out there in the world. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her all this? How do I tell her that if we all just wasted a little less. Wanted a little less. Cared a little more. Believed a little more. Loved a little more. Spoke out a little louder. Did a little more…

How do I tell her that I see the faces of those kids dying? I know their names in my dreams. That they are my kids. Our kids. Not a number. Her kids.

How do I tell her that I feel the love of my friends being denied? That I only feel threatened because they are being denied the right to love and live in love the way I do? They they are not gay. That they are me. They are her.

How do I tell her I believe in freedom? That it’s worth fighting for even when others are trying to kill it with their freedom-my-way-or-no-way lies and bigotry and double standards. That I fight for the rights for all because I fight for her rights.

How do I tell her I don’t believe in guns? That I hate guns. That guns have killed in my family. That I will still defend those who want the right to have a gun. But that I expect them to fight and defend the right of my friends to love just as hard. That those rights are all hers.

How do I tell her that I don’t know everything about global warming? That I don’t know the science that well. But that I know that it’s better to be safe than sorry. That I will fight for this planet because it is all we have. The only one we have. It’s all I can give her. This little planet in the middle of nowhere is her planet.

How do I tell her that human rights means we have to give it to everyone? To those who are like us. Who love like us. Who live like us. Who believe like us. And those who don’t believe like us. Don’t want to be us. That human rights means we take the higher road and don’t torture. That human right means we allow everyone to be treated the same way we are treated. In love and in marriage. And that I will speak out and fight for those rights. Every single day until we all have it. Because it is her rights.

How do I tell her I believe in justice, equality and liberty? That I believe it is fundamental to who we are and how we want to live. Even though other say it but don’t live it or truly believe it through action. That I will fight for her to have justice. That I will stand up for her to have equality. And I will defend her liberty. Because justice, equality and liberty are hers.

How do I tell her that I don’t want these Americans we live with to die? That I want them to live. I want to help look after them. I want them to have an option to get looked after when they are sick. And that the only option for them is a government option. That I have not option but support an option that will let Americans live. Because I believe that Americans are good. And that it is our duty to love them and respect them and help look after them. Because we are them. American health is her health.

How do I tell her not all men are bad? That there are good men out there. Men who love and care. Men we can trust. And that it’s worth trusting and finding the men we can believe in and trust. That we men will fight those who hurt. Because these are her men.

How do I tell her that God is good? That it is okay to believe and not be part of the lies told by those who claim Him – no matter what they call Him. That God is good and God is love. That I will fight for Him and claim Him back from those who use and abuse His name. Who lie and spread hate in His name. Because He is her God.

How do I tell her not to fear the mad man in the cave or anyone else who lives to hate? That fear is not what makes us who we are. That love makes us who we are. That the love we have is stronger than the hate of others. That love should never be seen as a weakness. Because I will fight for it. Because this love is her love. My love for her. My gift to her. Love.

How do I tell her that when I am alone in my thoughts… On the bus. Running. In a hotel. Flying. That I cry inside when I am alone. And sometimes I cry on the outside for all these strangers to see. Thinking of this. Knowing that I don’t know what we are doing. That I don’t know what we are leaving for her tomorrow. For her future. Her world. I just don’t know.

I don’t know what world she will inherit from us. I don’t know what world we will leave behind. For her. And for her kids.

But I do know that I will fight for what I believe in. I will fight for her rights. Her right to love, believe, be free, have no fear, carry a gun, marry who she wants. her right to be herself. My big angel. Because I love her. And it’s all I can give her.

I want to tell her that the world is full of good people. That every single day I work with people who make this world a little better. One step at a time. Sometimes small but always forward. I want to tell her we will fight the good fight. Every single day. There are more of us than what the world might think. And we are strong. And we will never give up.

I want to tell her I do what I do because of her. That I see her face when I work. I see her face when I fight for what is right. I see her face when I live my life. It drives me. I want to leave her a world to be proud of. I want to leave her a dad to be proud of.

But I don’t. I don’t tell her any of this…

I take her hand and we dance on a Saturday. I joke with her and I tickle her. I play with her and I tease her. I help her with her homework and I say I’m proud of her great work. I have fun with her and walk her to the bus stop. I hang out with her and watch Harry Potter with her. I lie watching music videos with her and write silly stuff to her on Facebook. Sometimes we talk about Madiba or God and space-time limitations. Or science and mathematics. Geography or food. Even a little bit of serious stuff like politics and rights. And then I talk to her about crazy silly things and give her my books to read. I pull her finger and burp as loud as I can. I go mess up her bed and chase her around. I just do the things a crazy silly stupid dad is meant to do. Because she is my girl. My oldest girl. My big angel. And I’m just her dad. That’s all I want to be. The cool guy who loves her more than life.

She is my Ubuntu. I am because we are.

So I don’t tell her. But I know. I know we have to fix this world to make it ready for her. She deserves nothing less. She is perfect. She needs a perfect world.

We’ve got work to do. My big angel is coming and I’ve got a world to clean and get ready…

barney

He used to drive me absolutely bonkers. Really. Just bloody crazy. The big fat purple blob called Barney the Effing Dinosaur. But there he was again. Singing the Barney theme song…

Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination
When he’s tall he’s what we call
A dinosaur sensation
Barney teaches lots of things 
Like how to play pretend
A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s
And how to be a friend
Barney comes to play with us
Whenever we may need him
Barney can be your friend too
If you just make believe him

Yeah… I would just like to “make believe” chopping his bloody head off. That’s what he “taught” me.

Remember his other “hits”? I Love You? Or maybe You Are Special? Okay Barney my mate… I don’t love you, but you are way “special”. Or maybe Barney Barney Go Away instead of Rain Rain Go Away? Do Your Ears Hang Low? No Barney, it’s just my mood dropping… The Bear Went Over The Mountain? Excellent! Why don’t you follow him? Are You Sleeping? No, I’m just praying that you would go away! The Itsy Bitsy Spider came down and sucked the life out of Barney. If You’re Happy And You Know It… Then just shut the hell up and keep it to yourself! The Wheels On The Bus is about to hit you and I am the driver. If I Lived Under The Sea I won’t have to see you or hear you!

You get the message… Barney used to drive me crazy. No sh*t Sherlock.

But we had to suffer through it. Day in and day out. Why? Because…

Because our oldest one had a her first crush ever on the purple blob called Barney the Dinosaur…

“Dad! Can you put Barney on for me please? Big pleeeeaaazzzeeee!”, was what we woke up to almost every single day. 6 am – just before the rooster woke up. Barney when she woke up and Barney when she fell asleep. And about another 60 hours odd of Barney videos packed in between waking up and falling asleep. Yes I know there is only 24 hours in a day, but you try and watch Barney again and again. And some more. And then again. One more time. How about a last time? It feels like a lifetime.

Of course there was all the Barney books to go with it as well. And coloring-in books. And tapes to listen to in the car. The the soft toys. Of Barney and all his friends. Baby Bop with her weird way of talking and even weirder blanky dependency. BJ the over-achieving sport star and older brother of Baby Bop (Is that a Red Sox cap he is wearing?) And let’s not forget Riff. The odd looking late-comer with punk hair and spots like chicken pox. Yeah. Real inspiring stuff.

The worst was the talking Barney. WTF? No. What the hell were we thinking? A talking purple blob? “Look dad! I just push his hand and he sings and dances with me. And if I hug him really tightly he talks!” Wow… I eventually did some “surgery” on him and removed his batteries. “Sorry girl. The batteries must have gone flat. I don’t think this is the type where you can change the batteries.” I had to do it. I could handle it during the day when I was at work. The nervous twitches subsided the further I moved away from blobbie Barney. But it became too much when you are deep asleep and she turns in her sleep and effing Barney starts talking or singing. He is bad at 2 pm. Try 2 am.

Of course it didn’t help even if you removed Barney when she is asleep. Prying it from her hands. Hoping she won’t wake up. You remove it slowly, making sure neither the little one or Barney wakes up. You slowly put him down amongst the other toys. You go back to bed and gently fall asleep again. And then you wake up in a cold sweat with “You are my best friend!” The bloody dog decided to go lie on the toys and accidentally sat on Barney. And not even our fat big-boned dog could keep that sound down. So I wake up in a cold sweat. The dog barks at the crazy toy and is about to go into attack mode. The cats go wild because of the racket. And the little one wakes up crying because Barney isn’t in bed. Good old days I tell you…

And did I mention that Barney is also a bit of a goody-two-shoes? Bloody charity clunk if you ask me. Subversive. People used to come visit us and our daughter would hand out toys left, right and centre. People didn’t even have to ask. She’ll just give them toys and insist they take it home. That they should have it. For keeps. Why? Like you really didn’t know the answer. Well, according to our daughter, “because Barney says sharing is a special way of caring dad!” I blame Barney for half of the poverty that we have suffered in our lives. I never saw him handing out Barney toys. Oh no, those you had to buy. Jeeze.

Oh, we went to the concerts and the plays. She had the outfit. The posters on the wall. You name it. Barney was bigger than Purple Rain was in the 80’s. Well, purple mullet blobbie Barney sold more stuff to our little household than Prince The Artist Previously Known As Prince Symbol “that guy” sold albums worldwide in the 80’s.

And then she met him…

That broke the ice a bit. Barney looked like Barney. He was pretty friendly. Signed her a nice picture of himself – the one he just gave her. Smiled for a photo with her (Okay, he always smiled. Like it was stuck on. Or as if it was a mask.) He gave her a big hug. A big old Barney hug. He danced a bit. Did the stuff she loved. But there was one tiny little problem. This Barney had a South African accent. Haha! Revenge! No more crushes. Or rather… Barney, feel me fists crush you! Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaa! (Dr Evil laughter in the background.)

After that came Horatio Hornblower. A television series about a swashbuckling Englishman roaming the seas. The guy she had the crush on is the same guy who played the stretchie guy in Fantastic Four. She never missed a program. Oh, he was a bit of a wimp really. An English toff. But he was better than her third crush…

Steven “Budda” Seagal… Yes, it was that bad. We left the television on by accident and didn’t realize that Under Siege was on. She walked past as Steven… I mean, Casey Ryback, was about to hit another guy into oblivion by just moving his thumb at lightning speed. Bam! The guy goes down and Steven takes another 30 guys down by flicking his hair back. You know how it goes. And my daughter was staring at the telly. And all she could say was, “Dad. Did you just see that? This guy is tough! Hey dad? Can you do that dad?” Thanks Steven. I think I still have problem with my left leg muscles in winter. I looked more like Spongebob Squarepants doing karate than Steven Seagal. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I know the dog never truly recovered. It was an accident. I swear.

I was really hoping her first crush would be Nelson Mandela. No luck. She loved him to bits. But he really isn’t much of a pin-up. She read his books, but no crush. Heck. I would have been happy with Bruce Springsteen. Hell, I played his music often enough. But no, she went with Purple Blob, Toff and the Fat Guy.

So that’s the stories of my oldest daughter and her first crushes. Now it is some smooth boy from High School Musical or something. Not sure. They change faster than I change my underwear nowadays.

Guess what? I think my youngest has got her first crush as well. Guess who?

“Dad! Look! It’s President Obama!” Yeah! I think she might just have a crush on him!

Or maybe it is me pushing my luck here. Maybe it is Mandela all over again. Maybe she really likes him. But more like a photo and a story. Nothing more. Maybe she’s got a crush on the dinosaur. Oh God please no. Not McCain…

It’s fun to watch the girls grow up. To see their crushes. Better than seeing actual boys visiting…

But tell me, who was your first crush? You want to know who was mine? You’ll never guess. I was just a little bloke. A laaitie as we would say in South Africa. You really want to know? Haha! You’ll be surprised! Go here and see for yourself. She was in all the movies late on a Sunday night back in South Africa. Once we got television in 1978.

I am just happy that she didn’t last long. Stevie Nicks and then Cindy Lauper were much better picks…

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Yeah! America… Meet your new President! Barack Obama!

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Meet the new A-Team. Obama and Biden! You go boys! Go kick some butts!

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At last a guy with some brains…

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You’ve come a long way my man… Can I call you boet?

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A very, very long way since you took that swing…

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I am a Happy African today. And how better to express it than by giving you a Madiba smile.

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And let’s not forget Martin Luther King Junior. Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

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Lastly…

FUCK YEAH!

and…

THANK YOU!

__________________________________

(Tomorrow we can go back to normal…)

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 am ashamed. Ashamed of being a South African. Ashamed of the behaviour of my countrymen. Ashamed of South Africans. Ashamed of South Africa. And every South African should be. Be ashamed.

I have never been ashamed of being a South African. Well, not since 1994 anyway. Before that – I was very ashamed. But for all the right reasons. We were fighting against the most corrupt and violent system in the world. Against Apartheid. Against oppression. Against discrimination. Against the violence they committed against our people. Against murdering the innocent. Against killing those who can’t protect themselves.

But now I am ashamed. For the first time since 1994. I am deeply ashamed. Because we are doing to others what the Apartheid regime did to our people. To us. And we are doing this to those who already suffer the most. Who have already suffered at the hands of their own people. Their corrupt and violent regimes. Their Apartheid regimes. And now we do it to them here in our own country. Against those who have been hunted down in their own country. And tried to find a bit of safety in the townships. In the streets. And you turned on them.

Like cowards. In numbers. Because you think you are so tough with your tyres and your matches. And your pangas and machetes. But you are cowards. Cowards. Because you kill from behind the safety of your numbers. Killing their dream. And killing my dream.

The dream is being shattered by a group of cowards. Bastards. Traitors. You don’t deserve to be called South African. You are not worth the dirt on our streets. You are not worth the spit on my shoes. You are dead to me. Dead to me.

You don’t do that. You don’t kill other people. You don’t murder them because you hate foreigners. Don’t blame the immigrants. You don’t blame them for being without a job. You don’t blame them for being without a house. You don’t blame them. You just don’t blame them. And you don’t take it out on them. Never.

Look in the mirror you bastards. Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are worth it. Worth the breath that I take. Worth the words on this page. Because you are not. You are nothing. You are animals. Not even. You are nothing.

How you forget. How you forget how these same people housed our people when they were hunted down in South Africa. Zimbabwe. They housed you. They housed your people. Our people. When we were in exile. When we were hunted down like animals. And now you do it. Like Mugabe did it to them in their own home. You are no better than Mugabe. The mad one. You are no better.

You are no better than the perpetrators of Apartheid. You are no better than them. You are no better than the animals that did this to our people. Look at this picture and ask yourself. How are you better than the people that did this to our people? I tell you how. You are no better. You are no better than Craig Williamson. No better than Ferdi Barnard. You are Eugene de Kock.

You spit on our people who died at Sharpeville. You spit on the killing of the Guguleto 7. You spit on the deaths at the Bisho Massacre. You spit on the 27 years Madiba spent in jail for people like you. You spit on the murder of Biko. You spit on the memories of Braam Fischer. The memory of each and every South African who died and suffered for you to have freedom. Every mother. Every father. Every wife. Every husband. Every sisters. Every brother. Every child. You spit on their suffering.

No. You are not just as bad as those perpetrators of Apartheid. You are worse. Because you should know better. This has happened to you. How could you? How the hell could you?

You are dead to me. You are not South African. You are animals. You deserve nothing. You fight for your country. You don’t fight the oppressed. You don’t fight those who have suffered like our people have suffered. You comfort them and protect them. You don’t hunt them down and kill them. You are bastards. And you deserve nothing. Not a crumb of bread. Not a drop of water. Not an ounce of sympathy. Not an inch of understanding. Not a second of analysis. Nothing. Because you mean nothing.

You bastards. You traitors. You animals. The blood is on your hands. You are dead to me.

And my dreams are dead.

____________________________

Note to my government: Mbeki. Be the leader we need. Be the strong and just leader we need. Be a President in action and not only in name. Lead us. Right now. I have always stood up for you. Defended you. No more. Now is the time to show me why I believed in you. show me it wasn’t just empty words. Time to show what you are made of. The burden is on you right now. This is your hour. A defining moment in your Presidency. Will you fail or will you succeed? Show no mercy to these murderers. Be a leader. Lead. Zuma. Shut up and be the leader we need to know you are. Show us what we can expect. Have no sympathy. Because these dogs deserve no sympathy. None. But most of all. Protect those who are being hunted down. Hold them tight and tell them it will be okay. And make it okay. Because they are our flesh and blood. Not the bastards who are traitors to our country. Those who try and call themselves South Africans. They are dead to us. Show them they don’t deserve our great country. They are not South African.

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Yes, South Africa is failing us. No wait. Not South Africa. The ANC. The ANC is failing us. Our government is failing us. Us – the people of South Africa. And it has nothing to do with Apartheid.

Let’s get this straight – their failure has nothing to do with Apartheid. Apartheid was a despicable oppressive system. There was nothing good about it. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Okay, maybe for the white South Africans it was a holiday camp. But for the majority of South Africans it was an oppressive system who gave them no rights – a concentration camp. No political rights outside of a failed red-herring joke of a homelands system. Ha! 13% of the land for 80% of the population. No right to ownership. You want land? Go and eat dirt. In your homeland. No right to economic wealth. The best jobs were reserved for whites. Ever wondered how all the top jobs were occupied by white faces? Now you know. Reserved parking only. South Africa was covered by one single sign that we saw on the benches and doors and busses every single day under Apartheid – Whites Only.

Oh I can go on and on about how bad Apartheid was. But I won’t. You should know that. If you don’t – go read the TRC document or any decent and recent history book. Or pull the bigot stickers off your eyes. If you liked Apartheid stop reading now. You won’t like the rest of this piece either. But neither will the ANC.

Make no mistake, we can blame Apartheid for many of the problems we experience in South Africa today. The legacy of Apartheid lives on. And the chickens are still coming home to roost. Only problem is that these bloody chickens don’t know the farm is under new ownership. But here – have a few of these on the side.

The education system in South Africa sucks. No surprise there. Under Apartheid the per capita expenditure for white schoolkids were 5 times more than for black kids. Oh, and the ratio between white teacher and white kids were about half of the ratio for black schools. Yes, they had separate schools, separate authorities and a separate curriculum. No surprise there. And due to the lack of adequate financing and training, teachers in black schools were generally less qualified than white teachers who had some of the best universities in the world. So what the hell did you expect to happen when Apartheid ended? That everyone will all of a sudden get the same education as traditionally white schools? A system change was needed and that takes time. Make the per capita expenditure the same, but you still had to rebuild the infrastructure of the traditional black schools and retrain many of the teachers – white and black – to get up to speed to a non-racial curriculum. And merge all the different education departments in South Africa and those in the homelands. No easy task hey? Imagine the largest corporate merger in the world – and instead of two make it about ten or more companies merging into one. So stop bitching. The education system is much better than under Apartheid for the majority of South Africans.

How about policing? Yeah! Under Apartheid the primary function of the South African Police Service (SAPS) was the suppression of political dissent. Stopping criminal activity, beyond that which directly threatened the white minority, was a much lower priority, and there were almost no tradition or expertise in criminal investigation in South Africa. Between 80 and 90 percent of criminal convictions were gained on the basis of confessions, obtained by what was called the “choke and talk” technique of police intimidation. Oh yes, and in 1994 they had to consolidate eleven Apartheid-era policing agencies into one. So, reform was needed while at the same time show the public it can actually reduce crime as well. Or, as a senior SAPS officer once said, “Police reform is like rebuilding a ship while it is in full sail during a hurricane”. No problem, hey Sherlock?

Okay, let’s see where to go next – last one. Healthcare. On the one hand we had a system that provided first-world healthcare to a small minority – provided by a well-resourced tertiary system. I mean really, we had the first heart transplant done in South Africa. On a white South African. Because only they had access to this level of healthcare. The rest? Let’s just say that they had very little health to care about in the first place. There were no basic or essential services provided in any structured way. So come 1994 – what did you expect? To continue to live the life of luxury while the majority remain dying from bad water and weather?

Wait – let’s do just a last few. Basic services like water, housing and electricity. Except for a few toilets build in the middle of nowhere, the Apartheid government did jack shit for black South Africans. Don’t tell me about the single line of electricity that ran into a selected township under Apartheid. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. It’s like saying that anyone can now sit on the bench in the park – but only whites are allowed in the park. Or that anyone can now swim in the sea – but only whites are allowed on the beaches. Sorry to disappoint you. The Apartheid system sucked. And nothing good came of it for the majority of South Africans. And we still live with the failure of that system. The sins of our fathers…

The end of Apartheid wasn’t just a change from one government to another. That would have been easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. No sweat. No problem. ‘n Boer maak mos ‘n plan. Geen probleem broe. Daasie kakkie want daasie kossie. It was a revolution. It made the fall of the wall in Berlin look like a walk in the park. And we had no money compared to them. The fall of the USSR – no problem. Here? Each and every law had to be rewritten (yes – we wrote more laws between 1994 and 2000 than any other country in the world). We had to merge ten to 15 departments into one for each group under Apartheid. We had to retrain people to serve and not kill. We had to reallocate budgets when South Africa was already an emerging market with extremely limited funds – comparable to Argentina and Egypt and India. Not the US or UK – that was the life of the whites in South Africa. We had to change from a limited healthcare system to one that provides primary healthcare to all South Africans. We had to change an economic system from inward looking to export-oriented. And all of that isn’t even half of it. We still had to get rid of institutional racism and go through the rebirth of a nation (thanks TRC – you got us closer). So don’t think it was a change in government. It wasn’t. It was changing from Nazi Germany (without any money or a world plan to finance rebuilding) to a free society overnight. Like that – “Snap!”. Now you see Apartheid – “Snap!” – now you don’t. Gone. Welcome to freedom – now let me turn your world upside down.

But still. I blame the ANC for failing us. Because they are. They are failing us. I don’t give a damn about how tough a job they had and have. I know the legacy of Apartheid. I know that it hasn’t been easy. I know what shit they inherited from the Apartheid regime. I don’t blame them for not building enough houses. I don’t blame them for not creating enough jobs. I don’t blame them for the violence and crime. I don’t blame them for the kids failing school. I don’t blame them for not building the clinics fast enough. Because all of those things are better than under Apartheid for most South Africans. But I do blame them for failing South Africa. And failing us – the people of South Africa.

I blame them for creating a false hope. I blame them for promising us a better government than what they have become. They are not a bad government. They are just a government. Making bad choices. And making good choices. A mix bag of some good stuff and some bad stuff. Like other governments.

The arms deal and corruption? Nothing special. Bloody hell, they actually dealt with it better than others. Finding Tony guilty and sending him to jail! The Chief Whip of the ruling party! Can you imagine the UK or US doing that? Here Dick and Halliburton was so closely linked but no one blinks an eye – never mind investigate. Or Blackwater and their backhanders. And the UK? The UK government refuses to investigate the bribery that took place in the arms deal with the Saudis. Why? Because it will “threaten national security”. So, sorry people, the ANC is no worse than other governments. They all fail foreign policy. You think Mbeki and Zimbabwe is bad? Have you heard anything from the US on the Saudis who have one of the worse human rights record in the world? No, sorry people, the ANC is no worse than other governments. They are just like them. And that is why they are failing us.

We believed naively that the end of Apartheid meant the start of a super-government. That our government is above other governments. More just than any other. They are better then the best. The most human of all humans. The fairest of them all. They lied to us – without saying a word. They made us believe in a world that is better than any other.  We somehow believed that we are the chosen people. And our government who gave us our freedom will somehow give us the freedom of our souls.

And when we had Mandela we actually entrenched that belief. A South Africa where miracles happen when Madiba snaps his fingers. Our “Special One”. The one who brings hope, love and peace to all. We love him. We truly love him like no President or leader is loved. And that is right. Because he is like no other. He is our Madiba. But still they failed us.

They failed us because they made us believe that we are somehow better than others. That somehow they will be better than others. They failed us by being just another bloody typical government. Like all others. That is their failure. For being too normal. And we were the suckers for falling for it in the first place.

Sorry South Africa – welcome to the world. You are now just as normal as the rest of the world. With a government that sometimes fail and sometimes succeed. Nothing special. Not what the ANC promised us. But still – just a government like all governments. And just a country like all countries. We are not special. We are just people. Just a country. Just South Africa. Like anyone else. Just normal. Normal. Normal at last.

Free at last…

___________________

Note: We still have biltong, Simba chips, Stoney, boerewors, Liqui-Fruit, mopani worms, afval, Marina braaisalt, Marmite, putu, bobotie, sosaties, Top Deck, Cream Soda, Castle, koe(k)sisters, beskuit, vetkoek, pannekoek and Peck’s to name a few – okay, drop the afval and mopani worms. And I haven’t even started on the Rugby World Cup or Kaizer Chiefs (I am an Ajax CT supporter but acknowledge power). If we lose that we are stuffed. Then we won’t be able to even brag about the bloody food or sport anymore. And then we have nothing but a cute accent, good looking people, Table Mountain and crap music. Hey wait. Apart from the music the left-overs aren’t that bad either. I’ll just blame the music on Apartheid or the ANC. You pick boeremusiek or kwaito – blame it on the boogie… man.

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