warlords


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I’ve been asked about my “anger” many times. What do you have to be “Angry” about? Why are you the “Angry African”? Why indeed…

I would rather have a good meal. Maybe help my wife prepare the food. Get the table ready. Talk about whether we should have brocolli or peas or carrots to go with the maple syrup chicken and roast potatoes she just made. That’s what I would rather do. Just have a good meal together with my family. Sitting at the table and laughing at the silliness of my daughters. Making funny noises and joking with their mother. Good times. Me, my family and a good meal. I would rather have a good meal. No need for anger here.

But how can I? How can I just have a meal when I know that somewhere out there in Zambia is a family arguing about how they divide the last of the nsima. Maybe this will be the last meal they share together. Because tomorrow brings no food and no hope. Maybe tomorrow the kids will have to go down to the charity handing out food and slip some away for ma and pa back home. But will grandma make it? Can she wait another 24 hours before she gets a little something to eat. No laughing or poking of fun. Not when the bones on their bodies are poking hard at their skin. How can there be no anger?

I would rather watch telly. Just vegetate and do nothing. Stare blankly at the screen. Flip channels because I can’t decide between CSI Miami or Kitchen Nightmares. Or maybe I should watch that Bond movie I taped? Or watch Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King again? Yeah. That’s what I want to do. Just stare at the telly and think of nothing. No anger here.

But how can I? How can I stare at the telly when tonight someone might be staring at the barrel of a gun somewhere in the Congo? No channels for them to watch. Maybe tonight will be the last time they see anything. I can change the channel but they can’t change their lives. I can play with the remote but they are here. Waiting for me to think of them. Always hiding somewhere in my conscious. Waiting to flip the channel of my brain to their station. No static. Just their lives waiting to be changed while they live a reality life. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather read a good book. Maybe just finish one of the many I am reading right now. Should I go with Mao and his killing or read about hope through the eyes of Obama? Maybe just get away from all that stuff and laugh at Bill Bryson telling me about A Short History of Nearly Everything. Aah. That what I want to do. Just read my book and let my mind slip away for a little bit. No anger here.

But how can I? How can I read a book when tomorrow the children will go and work those cocoa fields? The pages they flip are the pages of their life going past. One empty page after the other. Or maybe it is a horror. The horror of their lives. Living a Stephen King life larger than even he can imagine. But maybe some khat will help numb the pain. At least it will take away the glint in their eyes. And the empty pages of their life can be seen in their empty stares. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather play with my kids. Play outside like the crazy gang we are. Wild splashing we call swimming down at the lake. And go down that snowy hill when winter comes. Just me and my girls. Crazy, crazy, crazy. All I want is to hear their laughing and more laughing at their silly dad. Egging them on. Come on! You can do it girl! That’s what I would much rather want. Me and my crazy girls. Having fun. No anger here.

But how can I? When the other kids are running away from the warlord down the road. Playing dodgeball with the bullets. Not a sound of joy and belly laughs to be heard coming from their mouths. Just cries of pain as the bullets hit. Lucky if it misses. Dodge, dodge, dodge. That the games they play in the Congo. How can there be no anger?

I would must rather lie next to my wife. Falling asleep and hearing her breathe next to me. I can feel the stress of the day just slip away. Here is where I belong. Always telling her how much I love her. I can never say it too much or too often. And I run home because that is where I want to be. Just there next to her. My lovely wife. The one who gives me meaning. No anger here.

But how can I? When the women in Africa have to walk miles and miles just to get a drop of water for their homes. Every day. Down to the river and back. In the rush forgetting to boil it clean. And they see their families die around them. From a simple thing like drinking dirty water. How can I look at my wife and not see those women carry Africa on their backs being beaten and beaten and beaten. Day in and day out. Rape and murder. That’s what lies next to them at night. Death and destruction giving them meaning. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather just go on holiday. Maybe take a trip to Europe and visit those fancy French. Some cheese and red wine. Aah, that’s the life. Or laugh and point at Mickey and Minnie down at Disney. Maybe get away for just a week or two and visit my friend back home. Another trip to Bucks County would be nice. Just me and my three girls. Hanging out in New Hope for a drink and maybe a small piece of memory for the mantle. No anger here.

But how can I? When the only break my people get is another trade deal that fails. Or another empty promise for those dying of aids or malaria. Or the breaking of another leg as the torture continues in countries down South and East. But also here in the North and West. Broken promises to go with their broken lives. How can there be no anger?

I really just want to hang with my friends. Or drink a coffee by myself. Sip by sip. A braai and a good old fire. Learn to play the guitar like I’ve always wanted. Or write that bloody book that’s been bugging me for years. Save some money and retire early. Go for a drive in my car to watch the leaves go all rainbow in fall. The good things. That’s all I ever really want to do. Take it easy and stay easy. A smile, a laugh and good times.

I don’t want anger. I hate anger. It’s not nice. And it is not me.

Why am I angry?

I know happiness. I know what it is. I have it. Oh boy, do I have it. But I can’t enjoy it. At least not the way I want to enjoy it… Fully. I want to give myself totally to happiness. I want to live my happy days by throwing myself at it. Just living it 24/7.

That’s what pisses me off. That I can’t just enjoy life because of bigots. Because of liberty for some. Equality for those who can afford it. Freedom for those who were born free. Justice for those at the top.

I am angry because I can’t enjoy my life thanks to oppression of others. My right to have a fun time is shot to hell because of the rights of others being shot to hell. Bullet by bullet. Every warlord pisses me off because they remind me of what I am missing because of them. They are taking away my happiness because they are taking away the happiness of others.

I am angry because my friends and people I don’t even know can’t just love who they want. I love my wife. I love my wife. But the more I love her the more I am reminded of those who can’t love the way we love. That their love is somehow less meaningful than our love. I am pissed at bigots taking away happiness because they are taking away the rights of others.

I am pissed and angry for purely selfish reasons. I don’t want to fight for the rights of kids to have a shot at a life. I don’t want to fight for justice in the world trade and aid system. I don’t want to fight for the freedom of African women. I don’t want to fight for the equality of my gay friends who want to get married. I don’t want to fight for the liberty of the slaves working the sweatshops or farms in China or Africa. I don’t want to do all this crap. I want nothing to do with any of this.

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This.

I just want to sit back and enjoy my life. Just me, my girls and my friends. Happy times. Good times.

But I can’t. And that is what pisses me off. That is what makes me angry. That is what makes me the Angry African.

I can only go do nothing when there is nothing to be done. When others can afford to do nothing. When everyone has a shot. You bloody people. With your rights and freedoms and liberty and equality and justice. Just have it already.

Fuck. Dammit. And everything and anything else that go with that.

I am because we are. Ubuntu.

I can only stop caring about what to watch on telly when there is nothing to care about. I can only be happy watching my kids go crazy when you have a shot at happiness. I can only have the liberty to drink my coffee sip after slow sip when you have liberty. I can only have my braai in peace when you have peace. I can only be the equal of my wife when we all are equal. I can only have justice when you have justice.  My freedom is your freedom…

I can only be free when you are free.

I can only be me when you can be you.

Until then… I am the Angry African.

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I know, I haven’t done this for a while. It’s a combination of China and cocktails. Too long visiting one and too long just holding on to the other one. Hum, actually that goes for both of them… But let’s give it a shot.

1. Please sir, may I have some more?

Oh now we know we are in a recession baby. The land of true whiners, (Not-So) Great Britian, are feeling the pinch. And they are taking it out on the kids! Oh deary, deary me. You see, like all financial institutions, The Bank of Mom and Dad has been hit by the credit crunch. And they are just not that much into giving at the moment. Not enough cash to go around. So what did they do? Cut down on the pocket money. Those poor English roses just can’t buy the nice strawberry and cream at Wimbledon anymore. Shame poor little darlings. I don’t think I will spill too many tears on this one. It’s more like the yobs can’t afford the Burberry clothes anymore. Or the beers they drink in the park. Or, the latest craze, knives, anymore. Nah. Don’t feel too sorry for them. Britain has changed into a nanny state many years ago and I am sure the government will find a new way to pamper their little yobs darlings. There is no Great Britain anymore. The only “G” that goes with Britain is “Good god” Britain. And remember to role your eyes when you say it.

2. The law is going to the dogs

This woman called Leona Helmsley let her fortune go to the dogs. You know, she left about $8 billion to look after the poor mutts of this world. Stupid? Of course. Silly? Without a doubt. But now some wise ass Boston College professor claims that “we” are giving almost half of that money and not her. Why? Because the donation is not taxed and therefore indirectly comes from tax money – my money and your money. Really. It’s a stupid argument to make. Yes, there are better ways to spend the almost $4 billion that comes from “us”. But he makes one hell of an assumption to think that government will spend it on anything useful. I would rather let Skippy eat steak every night thanks to Crazy Auntie Leona than spend one single dollar more on a stupid war. Leona might be crazy (and she was as ugly as hell with that all that cosmetic surgery), but not as crazy as some of those people in DC. I have one specific guy in mind… And I really don’t want to give him anything more to play with.

3. A country of Wieners

So Gramm made a bit of a “misspoke”. Calling Americans a country of whiners. I would shut up if I was Gramm. His surname is way to silly to take seriously. I mean really, it sounds very similar to what we will call lightweight in the metric system… Anyway. I actually almost agree with him. But I think he got the wording wrong. It’s not “whiner” it’s “wieners”. For two reasons. Firstly, you guys really like hotdogs. And with baseball season in full swing it makes sense with the wiener sausages and all. But, more seriously, we also use the term “wiener” back home to talk about someone who gets scared easily. Or who falls for some weird scary story. Like in “Donner dude, you are such a wiener. That’s not a shark, it’s a dude with his wienersticking out.” (This is another meaning of wiener – meaning… hum… go check Wikipedia.) I mean really. Scared of Iran? You can’t rule through fear. Because you will end up fighting everyone and hating everyone and not trusting anyone. Get a grip people. You (we) need a new leader with some real leadership. Stop being a such wieners.

4. I don’t give a flying…

Airlines are being hit pretty hard by the high oil prices. So hard that they are now asking people to lobby government on their behalf. Hum. I don’t think so. You start NOT charging me $15 per bag. Or maybe you can start arriving on time – or leaving on time for that matter. And maybe you can serve me crap food instead of no food on these long haul flights. And a drink while I am stuck on the tarmac for a few hours after another “delay”. And just maybe you start upgrading your plane to a post-Nixon grade planes. Or include something more entertaining than barfbags to keep me entertained. And a little more legroom than than a Grade A classroom. And I haven’t even started with you yet American Airlines… You want to know why you can’t compete? Because you are incompetent and know nothing about customer service. We’ll pay more if you pay more attention. Go ask why some of the other airlines like BA, Virgin, Comair (in South Africa), China Air, Air Cameroon and many others can all look after us and still turn a profit. Come back when you have an answer. I won’t hold my breath. But you did give me an idea. Maybe I should start lobbying government to open up the air to some foreign competition. Yes, people might bitch for the loss of “sovereignty” but they’ll very quickly forget once they sit in comfy chairs and bite into a nice juicy BA sandwich. One they didn’t have to pay $5 dollars for.

5. The world got neutered… by President Bush

Sometimes the world is willing to show a bit of guts (or show they have balls) and take on a leader who is truly evil and (possibly) guilty of turning on his own people. Sudan in this case. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan might just be charged with war crimes committed in Darfur. Makes sense doesn’t it? We know what has been going on over there. Murder, rape and mayhem. And that was on a good day. So the world decided to take a stand. And charge the guy. Of course the guy will say “I am not guilty”. That’s what the court is there for, right? In this case the International Criminal Court. But we won’t see this guy being taken to court – all thanks to President Bush. WTF? You heard me right. Blame President Bush for the ICC not having the teeth to take this guy on. Why? Because the guy is using the same argument President Bush used against the ICC. They both claim that the ICC have no jurisdictionover anything. They don’t recognize the ICC. This was the only court that could tackle Serbian war criminals. But President Bush wants special treatment for US citizens. He argues that everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law – but some are more equal than others. He doesn’t want Americans to be held accountable to this court even if they have committeda crime against humanity or genocide for that matter. Yes, everyone else should be covered by the ICC. Just not Americans. Do you truly believe Americans should have a higher right in this world? Should Americans be above the law? I don’t think we will ever see the day an American will be charged at the ICC. It’s aimed at warmongers and despots. but we have to make sure everyone is covered by the same law. Shouldn’t we? Your argument is like me saying that me and my family should be immune from being charged for theft as we will never do anything like that. Is that okay with you? I promise not to steal… Come on Bush – you are either for us or against us… The Darfur blood is on your hands. What options did you leave us with? Invading as a first option? I guess you don’t like it when people first try to take the legal route? It’s easier to go in with guns blazing isn’t it? You set the precedent. Invade Sudan – even the rest of the world think he is evil and worse than Sadam used to be. Be proud – you and the President of Sudan have something in common… I hope you are proud of your legacy.

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That’s it folks. Have a splendid weekend! Hope that sounded English enough. I am especially sour with them at the moment because they are beating us in cricket. Unheard of, I know…

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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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Here we go again…

1. They virtually found Bin Laden

It’s been going on for months. Hunting down the Recruiters. Those terrorists who prey on the young and vulnerable. These terrorists are smart. They play the game the way the kids do. It starts with a chat. And it moves on to training at a special place – behind the guarded gates. Well, we now know the terrorists are hiding just behind those gates. If only we knew how to get in. You never know. Bin Laden might be hiding behind those walls. Who knows. Who knows. Problem is that the gates are difficult to get past. Not only is it heavily guarded, but it is virtually coded. What? I am talking about the government agency IARPA hunting down terrorists in the virtual gaming world. IARPA is not a character name, but out there to find new and innovative ways to hunt down terrorists. Cool idea. Really. No, really. I think they should try every angle to find those bastards. You never know, we might at last find out where Bin Laden has been hiding… Problem is that it seems as if they are struggling just as much to find virtual terrorists than real ones. So far they have only managed to hunt down a few kids who fit the profile. Wonder if they have thought of having a virtual “Gitmo” as well? Hey, torture is allowed in the virtual world. No need for a memo there.

2. The dark side of Global Warming

A lot have been said about Global Warming. The debate is raging on and on and on. Every scientist forms a new group with a new theory. Some deny it and other tell us about the new apocalypse. It’s become part of our cultural debate. Day in and day out. Households are torn. Father deny it’s getting hotter – it’s just the central heating that needs to be turned down. Daughters cry and accuse their parents of killing this little world they hoped to inherit. Friends are arguing in the ballparks (is Manny getting thinner because of the sauna affect?) and debating in the bars. Yes. It’s Global Warming – the OJ trail of nature. But we might just have reached tipping point. Where all those SUV and pick-up driving deniers of Global Warming might have met their maker. They are turning to the pro side now. Urging government to do something before this world of ours goes up in a ball of smoke. And who should we thank? Beer! Yes, good old beer. It seems as if Global Warming will hit that one place that really hurt – the beer belly. Beer experts (not the “expert” drinking type) are saying that those precious crops are in danger of getting hit by the hotter weather. So we won’t even be able to have a cold one when the frying starts. (Damn. Damn you all.) Now that is something that will get everyone hot under the collar.

3. Are you just happy to see me?

Is that a _______ in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? In Frisco – city of fun – it got a whole new meaning this week. San Francisco voted a while back that they wanted to ban all handguns in the city. I think they thought they were already a barrel of fun and didn’t need anything more to prove that they are men. I don’t know if it was because I visited them earlier in the week, but the “will of the people” of San Francisco was overturned this week. The ban on handguns got overturned – thank you NRA. Now the place where men are well… pretty much anything they want to be, can carry their concealed weapons again. And we can again ask them – is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Actually, I don’t know if it needs to be concealed or whether it means they can just let it all hang out. It is Frisco after all. Back to “if you’ve got it – flaunt it” I guess.

4. McCain and Jeffrey Dahmer

These so-called Conservatives just don’t know about being subtle do they? And one of the speakers, David Bellavia, said, “Rest assured that people like Senator McCain will be the goal and the men that my two young boys will emulate an admire. You can have your Tiger Woods. We have Senator McCain.” Now where do I even start with this? Was he trying to be funny? About the best golfer in the world? You want to tell me there wasn’t a racial tone in this? That people should support Phil Michelson and not the black dude that is beating his ass week in and week out? Okay – let’s play the race game. “Rest assured that people like Senator Obama will be the goal and the men that my two young girls will emulate an admire. You can have your Jeffrey Dahmer (or any other bad white dude). We have Senator Obama.” Puh-lease. Stop the racial slurs – you are not even being subtle. You are just being stupid. Next thing is you will start calling the Vietnamese gooks. Oh, sorry – you did.

5. RIP Robert Mugabe… or maybe not

Bob, Bob, Bob. What the hell are we going to do with you? I mean really. This is not even funny anymore. You control the newspapers. You control the television. You control the radio. You control the farms. You control the army. You control the police. You control the economy. Oh, sorry – you don’t control the economy. Not at 100,000% inflation. (Not a joke.) But you control everything in Zimbabwe except the economy and your wife’s shopping at Harrod’s. You even control the judicial system and the elections. You set up the Zim election body and filled it with your guys. And then you somehow still manage to lose the election! How the bloody hell did you get that right? I mean come on. You are giving tyrants across the world a bad name. At least you are standing up and refusing to even give us the official results a week after all the other results are in – even after it was posted outside the poll stations. And arrested your own puppets who ran the elections – demanding a recount. I guess your education system is failing faster than the economy. Your own puppets can’t even add enough votes for you to win. And it looks like you are staging a coup against the government of Zimbabwe. Wait a minute. You are the government of Zimbabwe. Sorry Bob. It is getting a bit much now. Just get the hell out of there for us to start looking after your people. It is obvious you can’t hear their crying and dying. Bye-bye Bob. The sooner the better.

That’s it folks. See ya all next week for more news. Maybe…

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So the people are in the streets everywhere. London – stiff upper lip protests and Brown decided not to touch the torch. France – pull off a riot and put out that flame like only the French could. San Francisco – hanging off the bridge to stop the hanging. Yes! China is all over the news. Well, not China only. The Olympics and China. It seems as if there are a few people who actually do care about this little world and the people who live here. It’s not only the warmth of the globe that gets people going. No. It’s also the warmth of the human heart that makes us look after each other.

But where do they all go when the torch passes by? I always hear that people don’t really care. That people worry more about their own lives and where the next big buy will come from. You know. That Westerners don’t really care about the world where people suffer and die. But again we have seen that they do care. Yes they do. It’s been with us this whole time – just hidden away where the press can’t find them. Why? Because there are no stories and pictures to go with the protest of the heart. It’s not Seattle ’99 every day you know. But I have a plan.

All we need is a regular chance for people to express their outrage. To show their anger. To highlight their unhappiness with the world. To come out in their numbers and stand up against injustice. To give the media the stories and pics to go with these scenes of protest. And I have the perfect solution for that. The Oh-Limp-Pic Games.

This is how it works. Every four years the tyrants of the world will come together and celebrate the ways they murder people. To show the world what they are made of. To give the world a chance to take pictures and see for themselves how tyrants and oppressors deal with anyone who stand in their way. The Games to celebrate all those broken limbs and the limp of humanity – the limp of death and destruction. It’s a time for the world to stand up against these bastards I mean… tyrants and show the world we care. We can hang banners off bridges. Protest in the streets. Pressure our governments. Lobby our politicians. Boycott our companies. You know – get the stories and pic to the media for front-page news. Yes. Every four years we will have our Oh-Limp-Pic Games. A celebration of broken promises and the death of the innocent.

Of course we will need someone to coordinate all this. Don’t worry – already thought of that. How about the IOC. The International Oppressors Committee. They will set the guidelines and select the winning regime who will host the next Oh-Limp-Pic Games. Only those who murder and kill can sit on the IOC. I mean really. Murder is too good to share with everyone.

Some guidelines for selection? You have to be a warlord or tyrant in charge of the country or have “People’s Republic” or “Democratic Republics” in the name of your country. Sorry Tamil Tigers and Al-Qaeda, you just don’t make the cut. Honorable mention, but you haven’t done enough to be part of this exclusive group. Work harder. Maybe next time. But just murdering from behind a mask doesn’t do it for the IOC. You need to be loud and you need to be proud – in your own country of mayhem and death. Just attacking other people you don’t like is way too cowardly. Get your own spot to practice proactive oppression. Until then – get in the back of the line please.

I have a short-list ready for those who can lead the IOC in these early days:

1. China – Hu Jintao. The clear leader of the field. It takes a special regime to rule a country of that size with an iron fist. Well done. You make the IOC proud. You deserve the first Oh-Limp-Pic Games. I mean really – it took balls to kill that Tibetan flame quicker than the French did in Paris. See you in the summer.

2. North Korea – The Eternal President, Kim Il-Sung, would be proud. Not only do you execute and torture like there is no tomorrow (or yesterday), but you rank dead last when it comes to democracy. No pun intended with “dead last”.

3. Sudan – President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, excellent job in keeping genocide in Africa. Just when we thought we got over that… You even managed to make Darfur a household name across the world. And in such a short period of time.

4. Equatorial Guinea – President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, or as the state-operated radio and you declared – that you are God who is “in permanent contact with the Almighty” and “can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell”. And Condieven calls you a good friend. Man you managed to pull this one off big time. Thank you oil. Thank you oil. Even the Pope sees you. Just wonder if they pray to you? Special touch – cannibalism.

5. Burma – Senior General Than Shwe, no need to pussy-foot around with titles hey? How do you manage to stuff up a country for so long and still not get caught? Guess it must be big brother from the North hey? Oh stop moaning – the name change didn’t change anything.

These are the Five Rings of the Oh-Limp-Pic Games (also know as the Ring Leaders). The Supreme Gods of the IOC. They embody the spirit of the Oh-Limp-Pics – torture, death and war-on-their-own. They will have to decide who would join them in the IOC. A few just missed it – Saudi Arabia (King Abdullah Bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud) could well lead the Middle East in the IOCas they have special connections to hide their abuses; Zimbabwe (Robert “Bob” Mugabe) just missed the cut with an inflation of 100,000%, but the possibility of him losing his own rigged election really hurt him.

The Oh-Limp-Pic Games itself will have “sports” such as shooting, shooting and more shooting. The winners will all receive a medal. Of course they will. But not just gold – that’s so yesterday. Nope, here we will hand out blood diamonds set in child-laboured gold. Second place prizes? No medal sorry. Remember in this sport of shooting and mayhem there will be no second place at all. Maybe just a Free Tibet with every Happy Meal.

But the biggest reason for having the Oh-Limp-Pic Games is to give people the chance to show their distaste for tyrants and oppressors everywhere. So the IOC will bring the tyrants to you – the people. Every four years the torch of torture will be paraded through all free countries across the world. It will be the theme of the stories and the pics to highlight our distaste. Of course, the flags we burn and the posters we hang will all be made in China, but that doesn’t matter. We are here to protest, and damn you we will. But the path of the torch of torture will give us a chance to show we care. The Pic of moment.

Yes, it is a joke. But we need a regular opportunity to show our feelings and show our numbers. Because those who care. Those who really care. Those who hang off the bridges and those who force their Prime Ministers to not hold the torch and those who extinguish the flame all deserve to be heard more often. I blame the media. They need their moment they can capture in a picture. Their soundbite. And those who care? Well, they don’t live in a soundbite. Or in a picture. They live for others to live. For others not to die. They live for humanity. I salute you bridge hangers and protesters. You are my brothers and sisters. The media should be embedded with you to learn about humanity. To remind themselves that they were once the watchdogs. Today? More like watch, dogs.

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Man, these umlungu’s over here really like their big cars. Okay, not all of them. And I have more of a problem with those who don’t drive big cars than those who do. They are all up in arms about the impact on global climate and the emissions by these big trucks – bakkies back home in South Africa. And the car manufacturers are all gunning to become the new green and number 1 eco-friendly company.

Toyota has a lunchbox called the Prius. Gets unbelievable miles per gallon – kilometers per liter for most of us. (Still trying to understand why they don’t go metric). General Motors are planning on bringing a better looking and more efficient hybrid out in the next few years. Ford has given the world the SUV hybrid. Chevrolet has got a monster of a truck called the Silverado that’s also a hybrid. And others are trying to bring out battery operated cars and cars that drive on corn and even some driving on a bit of air and water. Sounds cool doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t start sucking on those exhaust pipes just yet. They still spew out dirt and pollute. And they still don’t get close to the mileage that the European matchboxes get. For all the funfair associated with the Prius – VW brought out a standard diesel that gets better mileage. Without much of an effort. The Americans just like big cars or small inefficient ones.

But I don’t care. I just don’t care how efficient these cars are or how much they cut emissions. But I do care about cars – especially bakkies and minibuses. Now they play a role in Africa. And we have other bigger things to worry about when it comes to these bakkies and minibuses. Death.

Let’s start with the minibuses. I have been on a few. And it has always been a ride in more than one way. Firstly, they get me where I want to be most of the time. Just stick out your hand and show the hand signal and they will come screeching to a halt. They’ll pick me up, squeeze me in, ask me for a few coins and off I go to my destination. Secondly, they are made for us. We like being in each others face and sharing and talking. Squeezing 20-30 people into a 15 seater works just fine for us. It’s Ubuntu stretched to the limit – I am because you are. Well, I am sitting boxed in and squashed because you are sitting on top of me to fit in the other 20 people. Thirdly, well not so good. The driver drives like hell. And if we are lucky he’ll have a steering wheel and not a spanner for steering. And tyres thinner than a mosquito net. And as non-smoking as a Frenchman before 2008. But that’s just the way we improvise to make sure we get from point A to point B. We make a plan and we make things work – even when it looks like falling apart. Mechanics and fixers by nature.

But the car manufacturers – now that is different story all together. They sell us these minibuses knowing that it won’t pass the safety test anywhere else in the world. That Hiace we love so much? Why do you think they don’t have it in the US or Europe? Because they don’t comply to the safety standards in those countries and regions. But these travelling coffins keep on selling back home. Maybe it’s time they have a global standard – or at least a basic standard that will make them just a little bit safer. I am more worried about how I might die now when traveling in these coffins, than how I might die in 50 years time from either global warming or smog.

But it is not only safety that is a more important issue than emissions. Safety could still be argued as in the eye of the beholder. That we in Africa shouldn’t be too worried about that when we have other more serious threats to our life – like war. Fair enough.

So what do you think your local warlord and his henchmen drive? A Hummer or a Jeep? Unlikely. No, these guys generally drive a nice (and sometimes not so nice) Hilux or Nissan Hardbody or Isuzu or Land Rover bakkie, right? These are the real issues for me.

All these manufacturers are great in telling us all about their commitment to the environment and some even tell us how well they treat everyone in the supply chain. Great codes of conduct to ensure good working conditions and fair wages. However, none of these major car manufacturers actually take any SOCIAL responsibility for what happens once the car leaves the garage floor. They’ll tell us how committed they are to safety – airbags, safety belts and some even advertise to drive safely during the holidays. Others will tell us how they guarantee you a good ride with little breakdowns for 100,000 miles. And some tells us how clean the air will be when you drive their car compared to others. Yes, that type of responsibility they love to talk about – clean air and safe driving. But not what you do in that car.

Your local warlords will be environmentally friendly and enjoy a safe ride, but don’t think that for a minute that they will encourage your warlord not to buy their bakkie. Oh no, not that. They will sell their bakkies to anyone who can afford it. Never mind that people get chased and shot from those vehicles. They carry no responsibility there. But maybe they should.

Are they not an accomplice to the crime? They provide the car, right? They don’t drive it, but without them the crime would either not be committed or at least be made very, very difficult. These vehicles are used as military vehicles. And maybe we should bring in some global standards on the responsibility of car manufacturers in the same way we have rules on armoured and military vehicles. Not everyone can sell it or buy a tank. It won’t stop the warlords getting their hands on it, but it will make it more difficult and make the manufacturer think about their social impact and not just their environmental impact. Ensure some level of responsibility and control – a starting point.

Who knows, your local warlord might even start worrying about their emissions next. And buy a hybrid on the black market. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if you knew the guy chasing you and who is about to shoot you or rob you, are at least an eco-warrior as well?

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