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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It happened to us…

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

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

Maybe we all just suffer from road rage.

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

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A life worth living...

A life worth living...

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that make me live life.

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From the Loose Ends files…

charity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we go again…

1. The Long and Winding Road

Well, it’s not only the scientists who are all getting hot under collar with the global warming thing. It seems as our beloved veggie, Paul McCartney, decided to go all green as well. I guess green makes sense after losgina few to the one-legged wonder heathen Heather Mills. She took a few green ones off him. Okay, I am not a huge McCartney (or Beatles) fan. Especially not Sir Paul. Anyone trying to force tofu and soya down my throat better run fast. But this time he got the pale people vegetarians greenies all worked up for all the wrong reasons. He bought a hybrid. Okay, not actually bought one – got it for free from Lexus. They are not pissed because he got it for free. Nah, it is interesting that those who have will get more, but that’s not the reason. No. Sir Pale Paul got his hybrid flown in all the way from Japan… A bit of an environmental footprint hey? The equivalent of driving it 300 times around the earth. I’m not bugged, I say just Let It Be.

2. Libya liberated

It is official. Libya is back on the good side of life. Yes, the country called Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, but known to close friends as just plain old Libya, is now officially the place to be. Okay, not really official, but still – the signs are there that it is the in place right now. No Gaddafi didn’t hand out oil for free or open a Arab Disney. Actually, I don’t know why they are the place to be. I just know they are. Just the other day they caught 240 illegal immigrants hanging around the beaches at Tripoli. Must be the weather. Can’t be that they were trying to get into Italy by any chance. I mean really. Italy? Why the hell would you want to do something like that? You know how I feel about Italy

3. Flip-flop, here we go… again

Question to Presidential candidate: “Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?”

Presidential candidate answered: “They’re the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it’s a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.”

So McCane would be all over your… hum… backside it you said that right? I mean come on. Obama shouldn’t be saying things like that. Talking to extreme governments. It should just not be done by an American President. What? Obama didn’t say that? Oh… McLame said that… Just 2 years ago. Maybe it is his age catching up. I can understand that. He can’t even remember where he put his teeth last night. Or his comb-over hair. Sad thing is. People will swallow this and vote for the man. I think it is Kool-Aid. Or could be stupidity.

4. Monster sue Monster sue Monster sue Monster…

So you are just playing a nice game of mini-golf and when you think to yourself. I should really get cable from these guys. It must be the blue lights getting you all confused and the putter feels a bit like a remote control. Now, you must be pretty stupid to confuse mini-golf with cable right? No – I don’t mean watching Caddyshack on the box. I mean thinking that a mini-golf outfit will sell you cable on the side. Stupidity knows no end. Monster Cable is suing Monster Mini Golf because of copyright infringement. WTF? My question exactly. But it’s okay. They’ve also sued Discovery over their Monster Garage series. And Monster.com. And Disney for Monster Inc. And the Red Sox for Monster Seats on the… Green Monster. I guess they are hoping for a Monster payout. Keep dreaming guys. Acting like Monsters, sorry little “m” – monsters, won’t get you much sympathy. I’ll sue if you dare register Angry Monster on the Loose. Monster! Monster! Monster! monsters. Now, let’s sit back and wait to get sued.

5. Stopping poverty at the door

I think this Samuelson dude (sorry, Robert J. Samuelson) needs to get back to university. Start reading Logic 101 instead of The Economist. I think he might be conservative. Hear him out. “Finally, let’s discuss poverty. Everyone is against it, but hardly anyone admits that most of the increase in the past 15 years reflects immigration — new immigrants or children of recent immigrants. Unless we stop poor people from coming across our Southern border, legally and illegally, we won’t reduce poverty.” Hum… Dude. I apologize. That is way logic. You will reduce poverty by letting less poor people in. Hum… Dude. I really don’t know what to say. Maybe you should become Mac’s economic adviser. Your sense of economics makes about as much sense as his views on war, torture, foreign policy, Hamas flip-flop, Sonny & Cher, (sorry, Sunni & Shiite), gas prices and his comb-over. Here’s another few pieces of logic Mr Smartypants – stop the killing by stopping the war or stop the dying by giving people health-care or stop the bigotry by giving people equal rights or stop the pain by stopping the torture or stop global warming by stopping the oil. Puh-lease. As if you have the balls or logic to do that.

That’s it folks. See ya later. And have a great, great weekend.

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I know. Many of you will tell me, as you have, that this election has nothing to do with us foreigners. That it is all about America. The American choice. The American future. And you are (mostly) right. This is your choice. This is about the American future. This is about America.

But it does have something to do with us Johnny Foreigners. We do have a stake in this. Why? Because most level-headed people in this world still look to America for direction. We still look up to America. We look for guidance. We look to America for leadership in this crazy little sphere of ours. A beacon we can follow. A little light in the dark world of wars, hunger, poverty and injustice.

Others might not acknowledge that this is what they want from America. But they know that this is what they need and this is what they want. Think about it. If not you then who? The UK? Come on. It’s just a sh*tty little island and a has-been world power. Overtaxed and oversensitive – and trying to punch above their weight. The days of colonizing the world is over, but we won’t forget. And we won’t allow them to direct us and lead us. Not with their history. And do I need to remind you that even they follow you. Even when their people don’t want the war – they still followed.

France? Too French. No, seriously. Too many Frenchmen. You don’t get anything done over there – and they are in the same boat as the UK. A spent force. Germany? No thank you. We haven’t forgotten yet. Italy? Haha. Running out of options here…

All of them will deny it. But they know. They know we need America to lead. And all of us in smaller little countries know. And people fighting for justice know. We all know we need America. We need that light to shine on us. That light we can use to point to. Show people the hope of a better future. A world where I can look at my countrymen and say, “Look, I know it is tough. But keep on pushing forward. We can be a little America.” A world where I can help the poor and the marginalized and say, “Look, I know it is tough. But don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep on pushing forward. You to can have the freedom of an America.” A world where I can hold the hands of the dying and oppressed and say, “Look, I know it is tough. But you have the just and the right on your side. You are not alone in this cold world. You are not dying for nothing. There is a better future for your children. And their children. Keep on pushing forward. You to can have a life to live like an American.”

You might not want to give it. And you might not want to play that role. But that is not for you decide. Sorry. You have no choice. You are the superpower and with that comes influence. And most of all, with that comes impact. Impact on the world and the people who live there. So I might be harder on you than on anyone else. But that is because I love you. Because I know how much I need you. How much you mean to me. I hold you to a higher standard. Because I know my hope lies with you. My hope of a better world. My hope of a just world. I know it isn’t fair that I expect more of you than from others. But that just life. I think you are the greatest and for that reason I hold you to the highest standard. When I buy food at Whole Foods I expect more than from Wal-Mart. When I buy a Cadilac I expect more than from a Chrysler. When I buy business class seats I expect more than from economy class. That’s life. I hold you to higher standards because frankly, you are our only hope in this world. AWithout you I have no future. And my people have no future. And no hope.

We look at you and know that somehow you are on our side. We don’t want a China. We don’t want a Russia. We want a world of freedom. We want a world where we can talk about the World of the Free. So we need the Land of the Free.

We don’t want a Bin Laden. We don’t want Mugabe. We want leaders with vision. And we want leaders who sometimes look at us little people of the world and smile. I know you have your own issues you want sorted. And I don’t want to take that away. I just want a little light to shine on my path. Just a little warmth from standing next to you in this dark cold world. Just a little smile. Every now and again.

Yes. I know. There are people out there who don’t want this. Who wants their own little world to oppress. But most of us in this world just want a life to live. And a life to love. With little interference from those above us. A land we can call our own. A country we can be proud of. A world that has a little bit of space for each and every one of us. A world where we don’t have to look over our shoulder when we run. Most of us just want to be American. Wherever we are.

But right now we are lost. We walk around aimlessly in this world. Stumble from one hope to another. We look to America but we don’t see the light. We look to America and we don’t feel the warmth. And we are rudderless. We are without hope. Without direction. We need you America. We need you more than you will ever know. But we need an America that is strong. That is just. And that is right. If you don’t – then no one will.

We need an America where freedom reigns. Where the government doesn’t tap into phones. Where people can say what they want and when they want. I never liked it, but always understood that people can say what they want in America. I come from South Africa. And we have a history. A history that reeks of racism and hate. And here in America you have the KKK. Never got it. Never got why you tolerate that. And then I understood. That your freedom comes at a price. A price of allowing people to say things that you might not like. But that is the price of freedom. And we need that. We need that to show the world what ultimate freedom looks like. The freedom of tolerance and living with differences celebrated. But do you still have that?

We need an America where the rights of people are protected. Where the people are the people. And the people govern. Through their leaders. A true democracy. A democracy for the people and of the people and by the people. A democracy we can look up to and say. That’s how the people rule. That’s how the people rule. But the voices in DC. Oh, those voices in DC. The corporate voices drowning out the voice of the people. We need an America where the people rule. Do you still have that?

We need an America where war is the last option and not a preemptive action. Where peace rules before war. Where America goes to war as a last resort. An America that find new ways to break down the walls of injustice. The way America helped break down the walls of Apartheid. An America that broke down the Berlin wall. An America that broke down the communist regime of the old USSR. That’s the America that we need. And that’s the America that shows us how to bring peace and justice to the world. Without war. An America that goes to war with the support of the free world. Like we did in the war against Afghanistan. But not in Iraq. We need an America that uses the carrot more than the stick. Do you still have that?

We need an America where rights rule. Where people are treated with respect for human rights. Even when they don’t show that same respect themselves. An America that is morally and ethically above those who will murder and terrorize the free world. Because that is what the free world is about. We don’t sleep with pigs. Because we know it is a slippery slope when we do what they do. We need an America that doesn’t torture. Even when they torture us. We need an America that stands for more than what they stand for. An America does does less than they do. We need and want an America that says torture isn’t right. No matter who you are. Torture is for those who hide and those who are cowards. And those who have no respect for the people of the world. And who have no respect for the freedom and rights that go with that. A torture free America. A message of hope. Loud and clear. Do you still have that?

We need an America that shows no fear. Who are never scared at what others might do. An America that says, “Bring it on. Is that the best you can do?” An America that fears nothing. Because it is an America that can never be bullied or terrorized in their hearts. An America that stands for more than a single action. We need and want an America that is strong. That tells us and shows us that no matter what is thrown at them, America will always stand tall. Stand proud. An America we can stand next to because we know together we have nothing to fear. Nothing to fear but fear itself. An America that knows no matter how many times sick people fly their airplanes into buildings and plant bombs on trains, America will stand tall and not be scared. They can hide. But that can’t strike fear into the hearts of America. Do you still have that?

We don’t need you to be perfect. Nobody will ever be perfect. You’ll always have a Texan talking to loudly when visiting our shores. Or an oil company that forgets their responsibility. We know Reagan wasn’t perfect. We know Clinton wasn’t perfect. We know Bush Sr wasn’t perfect. Hell, we know Nixon wasn’t perfect. But we always knew that they were just and they were true to us. Always there for us. Always saw us as their partner – even when we don’t agree. But now? Now we have a world divided. A world that looks to America and doesn’t recognise the one we loved. Because it is an America that tells us there is but one way and that is their way. Not in partnership. But in forceful domination. We need an America that says it wants to be our friend and be part of a greater good – even though we know you don’t really need us. But do you still have that?

We need an America with a vision. A vision of a better world. A vision of a better future. A different future. Different from where we are today. All divided and alone. We need that America that can point us to the path we will walk. Walk hand in hand. Together. Do you still have that?

And we need an America that knows what a vision can bring. The power of a vision. The power of tomorrow. The power of hope. The power of change. Not looking back over our shoulders, but looking ahead to the path we create. The power of the people. We need to know that you have a vision. Not a vision of a better version of the past. But a vision of a better future. Like when you moved west. You didn’t want to build a new England. Or a better version of the East. No. You went west to create a new world. Of hope and change. A world still undefined. But a new world nonetheless. But today. Today you show us leaders who look back and have no vision. Do you still have it?

Yes you do. You still have it. You hold in your hands an America we can follow and look up to. An America that will be that light and banish the darkness. An America that will embrace us with the warmth of love and life. An America that smiles at us and holds out a hand. An America that is the land of the free. An America that is ruled by the people, of the people and for the people. An America that changes the world without us knowing it. An America that says no to war and yes to peace more strongly. An America that says no to torture and yes to justice. An America that shows no fear. That shows power without abuse. An America that can take us into the future without fear. That brings hope to the hopeless. Justice to the oppressed. And change to a dark world.

America. It is your world. Your choice. And we have little say. We have only hope. Hope you will remember us. Your friends who need you. We are watching. And we are waiting. We hope we can walk this path together again. Be wise. Be strong. Be just. Be free. Be American.

You choose. I just hope that you choose wisely. You choose and we hope to follow. We have little choice…

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Baikong Mamid as guestblogger on Angry African on the Loose. We started talking a while back – when we were young bloggers with hope of changing the world. Today we are slightly dented bloggers still out to change the world. Out paths crossed many times in spirit and in virtual space. She is from the Philippines and I am from Africa – Mindanao and South Africa is what we call home. Thousands of miles away, but so the same. Baikong want to change this world of ours and she is every single day. We might be worlds apart, but we share a passion for our people – and all people. Baikong – keep on fighting. The world will catch up with you at some stage if it is lucky. This is Baikong – Life of a not-so Princess

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Just like life of a not-so Princess by Baikong Mamid

Baikong is my name. You haven’t heard it right? It sounds like Chinese? Or Thai? But no, no, no. It is a local dialect combined from the words “bai” meaning princess, and “ko” as “my.” When added with “-ng” it is an endearment, my princess.

But my life is a not-so Princess tale. 

Because a princess lives in a beautiful place, and an exalted palace. But I live in place where chronic and protracted armed conflict is a part of daily life. My homeland Mindanao is a very lovely place despite the conflict. That is why I keep on sheltering myself in a humble house with a lovely family that I call home. 

A princess is a daughter of a king. But I am not a king’s daughter. I am a daughter to a land aggressed by conflict, racial discrimination, prejudices, and misunderstanding. I am a daughter of history. I was born in the times when a ceasefire between the conflicting troops of government and revolutionary groups were enforced, and Philippines was set to liberty from dictatorship.  

That is why I was born and raised in an urban place, tasting and smelling Peace – reduced military presence, but still fear resides in each heart and mind. Just like a princess. She can have almost all the things money can buy. But could hardly touch what’s the real essence of life and happiness. Just like me, I am having a difficult time to touch and hug the real essence of peace in my land.  

I am a part of a family who has experienced so much suffering of the past – injustices, discrimination because of our identity, and severe conflict. It has rotten the good relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims in the place. That makes the colonizers laughed out loud seeing us fighting from each other, falling from the trap of divide and rule tactics. This made social harmony a ruined past. This past is hunting my life now. 

Whenever I sit over my prayer mat after performing prayer inside my small bedroom, my heart begins to beat faster, I breathe deeply, and my tears falling rush. I close my eyes and start wishing that Allah would give me enough courage to surpass obstacles coming in my way for the fight of my people, for the fight of my future, my love, my happiness.  

My society that I grew up with has great teachings with my thinking and perspective now. My goal is to be able to help others realize to abide from justice. That justice is not elusive. That even a not-so princess like me can grasp and feel it. I see people as equal breathing creature; men or women, poor or rich, tall or short, white or black.  

I want to correct things and put them in the right place. I want to see that discrimination will soon be over. Those women will not be perceived and judged as weak; men will not be perceived the greatest; that children will be perceived as an important role player in the society; and, finally, persons will not be judged according to his/her religion and race, ethnicity and gender. 

I am just one out of many who is suffering from the impact of the past. I was perceived weak, but I have proven them I am not. And the battle is not yet over. Mindanao is a hopeful land – strong, loving, sensitive, and optimistic – despite it’s past.  

It is not a land of terror, just like what others think. It is a rich land. But, inequalities have derailed its growth. I still see practices where voices of the poor and underprivileged are unheard. I still mingle with women who are really empowered, but don’t have venue to exercise their rights. Aside from armed conflict, food shortage, poor health, lack of access in quality education, and poor governance are included in the list to combat.  

What gladdens my heart is seeing my people driving change for the better, even without others to help them. And a woman like me who can’t give and buy any solutions to fight all the problems, will continue to be inspired to support them to achieve their dream of justice and to claim their rights. My dream, too, is to grasp justice in Mindanao, and see people especially the poor claiming their rights. Just like a life of a not-so princess. 

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I am on the road today – so here is a short one.

As you might know by now, I didn’t like reading fairy tales to my oldest daughter when she was younger. And the same goes for those rhymes for children. I just couldn’t stand that these “stories and rhymes” where so far removed from reality. But I think I might have found a nice little loophole. Bringing those rhymes to politics. Yes! Make them relevant. And I’ll start with an old favourite. Because the “piggy” part is just so relevant to politics. So let’s go.

This little piggy went to market…

And the market crashed. But don’t worry, all you find in the market is Chinese made in any case. 

This little piggy stayed at home

Because there is no job. And then he lost his home in any case. Thanks to Mr Foreclosure and Mrs Subprime.

This little piggy had roast beef

Because he can. The rich always gets richers. Just ask the Bear. Where’s my $300?

This little piggy had none

Some little piggies will always have none. No health. No home. No hope. No nothing. None. Just. None. The poor will get poorer.

And this little piggy went… “wee wee wee” all the way home…

No they won’t. They will never get home because the Mac said he’ll keep them there for another 100 years or so. So many will never have the chance to say “wee wee wee”. Just a cry from those left at home. The little ones, wives, husbands and folks. They’ll keep on crying a “wee wee wee”.

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