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.

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

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Burma Myanmar announces name change

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

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

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

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

North Korea to have multi-party democratic elections

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

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

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

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

Mugabe says he is sorry

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

My President kisses this ass 

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

New UN study find Russians to be least corrupt

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

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

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

US Congress saves US airlines

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

Republicans lays out deficit plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uzbekistan to privatize corruption

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

Minister Itaka Damani at the announcement

Minister Itaka da Muni at the announcement

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

UK crime down sharply

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zuma in hospital

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

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

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

New sports announced for 2012 Olympics

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

Painless circumcision

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

Nigerian 419 scams surpasses oil income

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

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

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

Shocking 20/20 religious expose

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

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

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

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

This is a protest!

This is a protest!

It’s sad really. The US trade unions protesting. I’ve been watching them all over the US lately. Protesting here and protesting there. And they make me want to cry. No! Not the reason for their protests. But the way they protest. It’s sad really.

It always starts with some guy shouting into a mike or loudspeaker. It’s not a pretty sound. You ever watched Apocolypse Now? You know that scene where the two sides are just shooting away at each other with flares going off everywhere? And this guy keeps on shouting through the speakers at the American soldiers. Telling them to give up? Well, that’s what these US trade union “announcers” sound like. The guy from Apocalypse Now used it as a form of torture. And so does the trade union guys. I think it might be banned under the Geneva Convention. They can count their lucky stars that the US doesn’t support the Geneva Convention. Mmm. Makes me think that Dick and Bush should have recorded these trade unionists and used it at Guantanamo? Thank god the trade unions never leaned towards the right. That might have been a bit ugly. The horror… (Those who did watch Apocalypse Now will get the pun…)

Now for another movie scene and the trade unions. You ever seen Midnight Express? The scene where the prisoners all walk in a circle the whole time? Like zombies? Well, there goes the US trade unions. Walking in circles the whole time while protesting. WTF? Is that in some handbook somewhere that I missed? Walk in a little circle and hypnotize the “bosses”? Or is it just part of the regulatory limitations placed on trade union activities in the US? I don’t care what the reason or reasons might be. It’s sad. Really sad. And the worst part is that it turned me into a zombie while I watched them go in a circle over and over again. And again… And again… Yawn… I need a nap. Protest to bore you to death.

And where are the people? You can’t really call ten people a protest. Hell, it isn’t even enough people to make a good old English queue. You need more people to make a statement. Any group of people who number less than a sports team is really just a bunch of buddies hanging out. Not a protest. Hell. My family will protest en mass if you want to call your sorry attempt a protest. And we will have more people than the average US trade union protest. And no screeching speakers either…

Now Souf Afrikans! We know how to protest. We have it in our blood. And in our bones. It’s who we are.

We gather in our thousands. Because it is like a street party! Have fun, bring the kids. Bring something to eat. And drink! It’s like a bring-‘n-braai (potluck).

And we dance. Oh boy, do we dance! Come on! It’s a party right? No party is complete without a bit of a dance.

Okay, it’s not a dance as you know it. It’s a toyi-toyi. And you sh*t yourself if you are on the other side! It’s got rhythm. It’s got song. It’s got chanting. It’s got snappy slogans. Viva! Amandla! Hell yeah! None of this Vietnam guy-on-the-speakers screeching. Nope. Real vibrancy. Real threat. Real protest.

And it’s got beat. Our workers have beat.

And if you face it? You know you’re beat.

You think we will be stopped by some second rate law? Haha! We have our ways and means. We know how to get around it.

Way back in the days when we took to the streets without much of a reason… Anything for a party. Anyway. We have this law in Souf Efrika that says you’re not allowed to have a sit-in. You know, not allowed to take over a building and “sit in”. We went this way and that way. We had to find a way to occupy their buildings. It was the only way to get our point across… And… hum… stop them from doing anything.

Got it! Let’s work on the principle that no one in Souf Efrika knows all 11 of our official languages. And that the boere in charge will only know Afrikaans and maybe a hint of Ingils

We created the Siyalala. WTF? Exactly. That was what we hoped they would think. Wait… Let me tell you a bit about why we were protesting. Apart from the reason to party!

The target was a major clothing retailer in South Africa – Mr Price. Blah blah blah. I won’t bore you with all the details. But it we wanted them to sign a document where they supported an anti customs fraud initiative. But they refused. Why? They didn’t say  but we thought we knew why. We caught a few containers in the Maputo port (Mozambique) that already had the Mr Price tags hanging on them. What’s the problem? The clothes were meant to have “added value” in Souf Efrika for them to get the tax break. Meaning that some of the “value” of the garments must be added in Souf Efrika. Needless to say, but no value was added if the Mr Price tags already hung on the clothes in a foreign port…

So we created the Siyalala to target them and those supporting them – the banks. A Siyalala was another piece of genius from old Ebrahim Patel. Man, I loved working with him and learning from him. He always found a way. And this time it was the Siyalala.

We gave them notice of our protest through something called a Section 77 – the Souf Efrikan notification of mass action. Wait, let me see if I still have that…

I’m back – here it is. Word for word:

____________________________

Annexure 2: Nature of Protest

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union intend initiating socio-economic protest action against the Mr Price Group, associated operations and the banking sector in the following ways:

  1. Mass rallies outside any Mr Price Group associated stores and banks in general. These include those situated in malls and stand-alone stores.
  2. Placard demonstrations at targeted retail warehouses, retail company offices, distribution points and any other commercial centre associated with the Mr Price Group, associated operations and banking sector.
  3. Solidarity campaigns aimed at the media, shareholders, employees and any organisation or individual sponsored or in the employment of the Mr Price Group, any of the Mr Price Group associated operations and/or banking sector.
  4. Picketing outside targeted Mr Price Group, associated operations and banking properties or properties linked to any of these companies.
  5. Demonstrations at events sponsored by the Mr Price Group, associated operations and banking sector
  6. Targeted contact with customers of the Mr Price Group, associated operations and banking sector informing them of the reasons for the protest action.
  7. Call for consumer boycotts of the Mr Price Group, associated operations and banking sector through general mass gatherings and protest campaign activities.
  8. Call on financial sector to discontinue supply financial services to the Mr Price Group and it’s associated operations.
  9. Siyalala’s at the Mr Price Group, associated operations and divisions and banks and bank properties during operating hours for the purpose of retarding and/or obstructing work in order to defend the socio-economic interests of workers.

____________________________

Notice hidden in number 9? Highlighted just for you? The Siyalala. The “lie in”.

Yes! If we weren’t allowed to “sit in” then we might just as well “lie in”. And we did! Well, everyone knows you need a good rest after a protest party. And what better way to rest than “lie in” for a little bit? Did I mention that Mr Price also sold pillows and blankets? Aah… Now that is much better. A good old “lie in” after spending much of the day partying protesting outside.

I miss a good protest. Us Souf Efrikans have got the worker beat. I think the unions over here have the workers beat.

Gotta go. It’s late. And I’ve been watching US trade unions protest. Yawn. They tire me out. I’m going for a Siyalala. See ya later.

____________________________

From the Loose Ends files…

Not this time...

Not this time...

Today my beautiful country will go an vote in the general election. I won’t. I could if I really wanted to but I decided not to vote. Why? Well, two reasons really.

Firstly, I don’t believe that South African living abroad should vote. WTF? Yes, you heard me right. I don’t think they should allow me and the others outside South Africa to vote. And no, it’s not because so many South Africans abroad moan and bitches so much about South Africa. It’s a fair point though… Why should you vote if all you want is the “good old days” of Apartheid and/or have nothing good to say about the “new” South Africa? But hell, everyone should be allowed their opinion so I won’t hold it against them or withhold their right to vote. For me it is a simple matter of economics.

We are not a rich country by any stretch of the imagination. Somewhere in the middle. Not Gabon but not Luxembourg either. I just see every single Rand (or Dollar) being spend on having someone vote in a foreign outpost in Vietnam or somewhere as a waste. That money could provide drugs for someone dying of Aids. Or maybe help put another cop on the street to stop the rape. Or feed a hungry street kid. Why should the money go to a few South Africans who could “afford” to go overseas? And if you do it for one person in one country then you have to do it for all of them in every single country. You can’t just pick the UK and the US because there are so many South Africans there. Nope – that would be discriminating against the minority hanging out in Venezuela or Fiji somewhere. You know how much money is going to be wasted giving those 16,000 odd people the chance to vote? Yes, that is how many South African abroad registered to vote. Millions of Rands going to a few…

And don’t give me that crap about the government wasting money on other things like the stupid arms deal or some big fancy party. Remember what your mother used to say? “Are you going to jump in the fire if they do?” Two wrongs don’t make a right. And two stupid actions don’t make either of them right. They are wrong and so are you. At least stop moaning about their waste if you do go and vote or fought for your right to vote in a foreign country. You are part of the waste cycle now. I hope you are proud.

Talking about the South African government…

My second reason…

I have been an ANC supporter for most of my life. Proudly so. And that is why I can’t go and vote this time. I have always voted for them but no more…

I don’t like Zuma. He is a bad reflection on the “struggle”. I remember listening to him at a COSATU conference many years back. Man… Man, man, man. I looked at my “comrades” and we just shook our heads. He was one stupid dude. Sorry to say it but that was what we thought back then and we said it out loud. And I am ashamed that my same COSATU buddies are supporting him. A snake oil seller. You’ve been duped brothers and sisters. Hum… I mean comrades.

I know the ANC is never about a single leader. It has always been about the movement. The movement to bring an end to Apartheid and give every South African the same rights. But leaders do play a role. They lead our people. Zuma? How can he lead us? He is a populist who showed his ignorance during the rape case against him. Yes he got away with that one. And even if he is innocent – tell me how can we make someone our President who thinks that washing yourself afterwards will stop the spread of Aids? Oh, he didn’t deny sleeping with the young girl who was a family friend. He just said it was a “mutual thing”. Real proud guys. Real proud…

And maybe he got a “get out of jail card” with the corruption charges. Maybe he didn’t take any money. Maybe Mbeki planned it all. So what? Being innocent doesn’t make him a leader. It just makes him innocent. Zuma is no leader. Not a leader to be proud of. Not a leader who can really carry the hope of our young nation on his shoulders.

So that’s why I don’t want to vote. I am an ANC man through and through. The DA is a bunch of weaklings that reminds me of those yapping little dogs. Lots of noise but you know they don’t have any substance. I’ve had the “pleasure” to work with a few of them and boy… Let me tell you… They are lightweight and “skelm“. (Skelm – not to be trusted, devious.) I don’t trust them as far as what I can throw a rock at them.

It leaves me with very few choices. The PAC doesn’t mean anything anymore. A leadership vacuum that slurps up the dirt left behind. Patricia could do it but she is a one-woman show. UDM… Bantu… Puh-leeze. An ex-General from the homelands? Get real! COPE? Maybe. Just maybe. I like Terror. He’s a good one. But I don’t know enough about them right now. They are still young. Hopefully the true soul of the ANC. Hopefully the new ANC going back to our roots. But it’s too early to tell. For now I must sit on the sidelines and watch my once proud movement slowly kill itself. Falling off the moral high ground. And it’s a long way down.

I love my country. I loved the ANC (and maybe one day we can meet up again.) But not Zuma. Not for me. Not for my country. Not now. Not ever.

No more “Long Live the ANC! ” or “Viva ANC!” or “Amandla ANC!” for me. I’ll sit and watch and see if the soul is still there. I don’t see it from over here. But you never know. You just never know. We always said that the struggle was bigger than one person. Let’s see if the ANC still believes in that. I’ll be waiting…

pw_botha

This is going to be a long post – sorry. But it is about two people I met that made me rethink my definition of what evil might be. Two guys I always thought were the definition of evil. But I met them both briefly (and “stalked” one) and that made me question the meaning of evil. So I have to tell you about them to get to my story. Sorry – be patient. You know I am not into short blogs in any case!

———————————–

The Big Crocodile (1991):

One of the most evil men in the history of South Africa was PW Botha – Pieter Willem Botha. He was the last Prime Minister of the Apartheid Regime – and their first President of power. Oh man he was bad, bad news. Under his “command” more than 2,000 people died at the hand of the “security forces” (Security? As if they were protecting anything valuable). And more than 25,000 people were detained without being charged and often tortured (this last one sounds oddly familiar to recent US policies – except for the number of people). While he was Prime Minister in South Africa he also started the South African secret nuclear weapons programme with Israel and established the notorious police counter-insurgency unit – Koevoet (Crowbar). Yes, he was bad, bad news.

He was a racist to the core. Here, read this and see what you think. In his own words, “Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike. If God wanted us to be equal to the Black, he would have created us all of a uniform colour“. I hope you don’t need more convincing that PW stood for “Pure White” or “Pretty Wretched”.

He wasn’t just a racist and killer though. He was also a coward. Of sorts. He started his career by supporting the South African Nazi movement in WWII. But then changed his mind when he saw that they were going to lose. So he is cowardly in his warped convictions as well. Just a bad man all together. As evil as you can get. But to the Afrikaners who supported him during Apartheid – he was their bread and Botha. He meant everything to them because he kept them in power. And kept them “safe and seperate”. With a strong hand on the rifle. Of course you won’t find any of them today. It’s like asking the school class who had the “accident” in the bathroom – no one is willing to admit that it was them in public.

We called him “Groot Krokodil” in South Africa. Meaning Big Crocodile. Mostly because he will take a bite at everything and his skin was as thick as the skin of a crocodile. And he was pretty ugly as well. Just like a crocodile. We didn’t shed any crocodile tears when he died on 31 October 2006. No tears for him. He was a bad dream from our past. A past we didn’t want to be reminded of. And I met the man. Briefly. But I was also a bit of a stalker in my own way.

My wife’s father used to own a local car dealership in the town close to where Groot Krokodil lived. And he used to come and buy a new car there every few years. And with our luck we were there when he came the last time. My wife was working at the garage during the university break and I came up to visit her. And I worked at the garage as well. Worked at the forecourt – or petrol pumps. Yes, he owned both a car dealership and a gas station. All I did was sit in the forecourt and enjoy the scenery. Filling up cars as they came back from the beach or taxis taking people home. It was fun. I sat outside in the summer sunshine and enjoyed working there. I got to see my future wife often enough – and that was a major bonus.

I went inside to say hello – she was working the telephones. And we hang out – not to make out. Not with her dad there! I had my own nickname for him – but not for public consumption! He is an unbelievably nice guy. I really love and like him. Good guy who always pulls the mickey out of me. Hey, I took him to his first Bruins game (and mine) when they came to visit. But, again, I digress.

I was hanging out with her when he walked in. PW. He was old. Really old. This was back in December 1991. The ANC was unbanned and Mandela was free – but we were still negotiating the terms of our new democracy. It sounds odd – the terms of our democracy. But back then the Apartheid ruling party, the National Party, still believed that democracy was too good to share with everybody. PW wasn’t in charge anymore. He suffered a mild stroke in January 1989. He resigned as leader of the National Party in February, hoping that his hand-picked man will take over. But the National Party elected FW de Klerk as the National Party leader in February and as President in March. PW Botha refused to go. Typical. But by August he was completely alienated and forced to go. Oh man, you should have heard his speech. It was full of hatred for everyone – especially those in the National Party leadership. But he was history by now. A few months later FW would free Nelson Mandela and unban the ANC. PW was a bitter old man by the time he walked into the dealership.

He came in to service his car. My future wife and I walked into my father-in-law’s office and we walked right into PW. They knew how I felt about this guy so there was no way we were going to hang out with him! My father-in-law introduced us and PW started asking my future wife what she was studying. He studied at the same university as us when he was young – Stellenbosch University. My wife looked at him and gave him a little knowing smile (her I-dare-you-to-go-there smile). And then she said slowly, “Political Science”. He blinked and pulled his head back even further – as if he smelled something bad. He stared at her for a little while and then said quietly, “Another cat amongst the pigeons”.

I knew that look in my future wife’s eyes. It was a challenge. A challenge saying – come-on-you-want-some-of-this? You think I am the Angry African? Ha. Don’t piss her off. She is the tough one. I knew that it was time to get her out. He was an old old man. And a stupid man. An easy target. And he would underestimate her and get his backside kicked. So I made my excuses and got her out of there. But it wasn’t the end of me and PW.

I knew where he lived. Every now and again we would drive there and stop a bit down the road where he lived in a quiet dead-end road. Dead-end road made sense for a dead-end human being. And I would wait in that car to see him come out for his daily walk. Security police and all. Him, his wife and their dogs. Little brakkies en mat-kakkers. Little dogs – useless dogs for a guy like him. And we’ll sit in the car and stare at this old man, his wife and their dogs walking down the road. He was getting really old now. Walking with a walking stick and slowly moving along. Playfully patting the dogs and his wife with his walking stick. Like any old man just taking a walk knowing that it is one of those last pleasures left in life. Just an old man walking the dogs and loving his wife with the sun shining on his back. He wasn’t much of a crocodile anymore. Just a slow shuffle of a walk like a wounded crocodile trying to get back into the water. But a toothless one.

The Guguleto 7 (2002):

We were down at the beach at Betty’s Bay with our friends. They had a place there. Or rather, her dad had a place there that they used. We had fun. The girls were playing on the beach looking for shells and playing in the little pools. We had a few beers and some crayfish and a braai. It was fun. Just the perfect weekend. Away from the craziness at work. Just the six of us hanging out and talking crap. Yes, Oosie and me knew how to talk crap. We were very different – me an activist and him a cop, but we could talk crap for hours and hours. Amuse ourselves with stories that just kept on piling up with the sh*t we spoke. My wife and his wife would just look at us and laugh at the nonsense we could talk without any signs of slowing down. But it was time to go and stock up. So we took a drive to Kleinmond (“Small Mouth” refering to the mouth of the river) – a town just a few miles down the road.

I love Kleinmond. I have good memories of it. My ouma (grandmother) used to live there and I remember going there to visit. And she used to make me roosterkoek (type of bread) on the open fire. She made the best roosterkoek ever. With butter from the farm melting as she took it off the fire and broke it open with her bare hands. I was young when she died. But I remember her. This fragile old woman who used to smell like fresh bread and hugged me when she gave me those roosterkoek. I loved my ouma. Again, I digress.

We drove into Kleinmond and bought our “things” (beer and… hum… more beer. Oh, and wood for the braai). Oosie decided to take us for a drive through town. Down to the beach area to show us where they fish. We drove slowly as there were loads of people hanging around. Oosiestopped the car as an older guy walked up to the car waving. He looked like a typical newly retired guy. A wide open friendly face with not a worry in the world. They spoke and laughed a bit about some guy they both know who got into trouble with the fisheries inspector again and shared news on how their families were doing. I was between Oosie and the guy leaning in the window talking. I can remember his face well. He had laugh lines all over his face. He looked like a guy I can sit and have a beer with. And share crap stories with. He had shorts, an open buttoned checked shirt, socks with sandals, and a fisherman’s hat on. Typical South African though – he had a paunch from the beer and meat – what we call a boep. He could be anyone’s dad. He just looked and sounded like a really good guy. A family man with friends and stories to share around the fire.

Oosie and the guy said goodbye and we drove off. Oosie knew my politics, but we hardly spoke about it. We didn’t share the same views on everything. But then, I never let politics alone define my relationships and friendships. If I did I would have very few friends left in this world. Anyway, Oosie was quiet for a bit while we drove off. After a bit he asked me whether I knew who the guy was. I said no – but obviously a friend of Oosie’s family. He looked at me and said, “He was in charge of the Guguleto 7 hit squad”. Oh man, it was like a ton of bricks hit me. Stunned.

The Guguleto 7 were 7 guys from the ANC who got brutally murdered by the a secret police hit squad in South Africa in 1986. This police hit squad operated from a secret location called Vlakplaas. The most evil things happened there. Murder, executions, torture, rape – you name it and they did it. It was the centre of all things evil under Apartheid. The Guguleto 7 were ANC supporters who got lured in by the hit squad and were brutally murdered. For ANC supporters (including myself) the Guguleto 7 became a rallying cry for the murdering of our people to stop. It united people against Apartheid. And hardened the resistance to Apartheid. And this guy was in charge of the hit squad who murdered the Guguleto 7. He was what I saw as the epitome of evil. Leading a hit squad. And now I knew who he was.

That was the problem. I thought he was a good guy. Someone I can hang around with. Someone to sit with around the fire and share a few beers and talk crap. How do you hate someone you liked 5 minutes ago? But the same someone who you hated for 16 long years?

PW and the nameless monster (I never wanted to know his name). The two of them taught me a lesson on evil. People do evil, evil deeds. But somehow they still manage to look in the mirror and believe in themselves. Bigots yes. But they are not the woman beaters, serial killers, child abusers or rapist we think they are. Evil people are people who do the same things we do. They are never the obvious bad people that stand out in a crowd. Or who we hope they are. They love and live their lives in very similar ways we do. Talk crap with friends while having a beer around the fire. Taking their loved ones and the dogs for a walk. Loving their kids and wives and enjoying retirement. Enjoying the sunshine and open spaces. Evil people are normal people. They are around us and they are in us. You will walk past them in the streets without looking twice. They can sit on the other side of the table and you might never know. They can lean in and talk to you with a genuine smile on their face. And that makes it hard to hate. And knowing that they live lives just like us. When you have met them and stalked them. And when you have liked them. That makes it difficult. How do they do it? How do they sleep at night and still laugh and love. How do they do it when they do the things they do? And how do we hate them when we see their other side? It’s not that easy…

I knew the grandson of PW. I knew him before I knew who his grandfather was. He was at university with me and although not an activist we still shared friends and good times. And even when I knew who his grandad was it didn’t change our relationship. Just every now and again I would rant against PW and his evil ways and he would go quiet and say in a whisper, “But he is still my grandad”. That’s the thing. We can hate the sin. We must hate the sin. But it is difficult to hate the sinner. Especially if you know them and have seen them live their lives the way we all do. It takes a special person to hate those they know. Evil. Evil is evil. But just not always expressed the way we expect or hope.

I don’t know. I don’t know much about handling evil. But I know we walk with crocodiles everyday. We just don’t always know it. And they don’t always look like crocodiles.

This is a little bit of bragging. I am sorry for that. (No, really!) But I am really proud of having been part of this team. And I am proud of the role that I played. Most of all.. I am Proudly South African.

proudlysa

How do you get people to buy South African goods when they have this perception that something made elsewhere is so much better? Well, Nelson Mandela wanted a campaign to get people to support South African goods and services. And what Madiba wants Madiba gets. At least in my books. The question was – How do we get people to support South African made goods and services in such a young democracy still redefining what being South African means to us? With difficulty… And I was asked to get this off the ground. It wasn’t as easy as you would expect! But it was fun…

Nelson Mandela got everyone and his dog (government, business, civil society and trade unions) together back in 1998 to get them to agree to a joint effort to create jobs in South Africa. His Presidential Job Summit was a breakthrough. Getting everyone on the same page was key to moving us forward in more or less the same direction. It didn’t come up with too many tangible things, but just getting everyone to share thoughts was huge for us. Hell, we were tearing each other apart a few years earlier so we had to get our heads together if we were going to make it together as the new Rainbow Nation. So we got together around the virtual campfire and agreed to many things that should be at the forefront of this new “partnership”. One of the things they agreed to was a short little paragraph about initiating a Buy South African campaign. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Should be easy to get off the ground right? But nothing happened until 2000. Yes, we work in African time…

The problem was that business hated it, government was indifferent and the trade unions were split. But I worked for one of the key supporters of this idea – Ebrahim Patel. Ebrahim was a genius. A hard man and difficult to please, but still a genius. And I loved working with this guy no matter how difficult it was. But I’ll leave him for another day.

Ebrahim was the reason why I joined COSATU and because of him I was made Convener of the Trade and Industry Chamber at NEDLAC. NEDLAC was where all these “stakeholders” (government, labour, civil society and business) negotiated almost everything that had something to do with the economy and social development before it goes to parliament. And the Trade and Industry Chamber negotiated and developed anything from trade deals to competition policy. You name it we negotiated it, wrote it and did it. NEDLAC is light years ahead of anything I have seen in any democracy in the world. The only institution actually making people part of government policy decisions and processes. Imagine that. By the people and for the people. That is a novel idea…

So it was only logical that this Buy South African idea would eventually land up in our laps. And it was my job to make this argument. Well, at least according to Ebrahim. So I made the arguments and threatened and threw my toys until they agreed. Not because they wanted this, but because they thought it would be best to humor me instead of facing a possible mass action (read protest) against them. And they really did not want to face Ebrahim when he was pissed. But they had something up their sleeve as well.

They were pretty sure that this thing will never get off the ground. There were just too many people against it. And the then new President, Thabo Mbeki, wasn’t that eager for it either. It would be a legacy of Nelson Mandela and he was trying to get away from under the shadow of this great man. So they decided to set up a task team that would get this campaign off the ground. Knowing that it would never happen – not if they had anything to do with it. You know – the best way to get rid of something is to create a committee to deal with it! And who better to lead this task team then me. Yep, I pushed so hard that they thought the best way to get back at me is to set me up for failure. So I was the “lucky” one who got selected to lead this campaign. Thanks Ebrahim…

They gave me total freedom to include anyone in the team that I wanted. They were sure that I would fill it up with unionist who would be supportive of the idea. But no. i knew that wouldn’t work. I needed those who were against the idea even closer than those who loved it. Keep your friends close and enemies even closer. Or the tent and the pissing story – you know the deal. So I selected key people from government and business who were totally apposed to the idea. I had to convince them if we wanted any chance of this actually getting off the ground.

They also gave me an almost unlimited budget to work with. And like anyone with too much money I hired a few consultants. Rupert Barnard and Kaiser in Cape Town were perfect. They didn’t give a damn who liked it or not. Their aim was to make it work. And get paid a bucket load if they could pull it off. But the opposition pulled out their first trump card at our first meeting – World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements.

As a member of the WTO, South Africa agreed that the government will not do anything that supports South African companies above foreign companies. All should be treated equally. But we needed the support of government because they had the money. And they could influence business. And we needed business to implement it if we wanted it to be viable.

So we came to standstill almost immediately. We couldn’t move until we knew whether it would be allowed under WTO rules or not. We argued this way and that way. We did research and more research. And still we couldn’t come to an agreement. Four months went past and we still didn’t get any closer to an answer. And then it hit me. A piece of genius. A tactic out of this world! I picked up the phone, called the WTO in Geneva and asked them if we could do this campaign under WTO rules. They said it would be fine and even put it in writing for me. Needless to say, but the other guys were less impressed with my tactics. It was a bit underhanded to contact them directly! To actually ask them. The audacity. Imagine that. I am such a rebel… Not. Wow! The reaction from some of the others were less enthusiastic. Or maybe they were just pissed at the answer that I got. But they had to go ahead with it – they were part of the team. Now we had government on our side – and their money as well. One down, one to go.

We blew money left right and centre to convince everyone that this is a good idea. We benchmarked similar campaigns in Australia, US, Canada and even Indonesia. Our problem was that none of the other countries included environmental and social standards to their campaigns. We wanted the products to not only be of good quality and be made in South Africa, but we also wanted it to be done in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Yes, we were way ahead of everyone else at the time. So we just made it up as we went along.

But consumers would be key to this all. They had to believe in the campaign and buy the products in the end. So we blew some more money on consumer studies to see what would drive consumers to support this campaign. And although we didn’t know it at the time, this would be a breakthrough for the campaign. But not in a way we would have expected.

Those in business opposed to the idea found another obstacle they could throw our way. They couldn’t agree on a name. Business wanted it to be called Made in South Africa. But the unions wanted it to be called Buy South African – the original name they agreed to in 1998. But business was adamant. They would not go for the Buy South African name as it was to prescriptive and they wanted it to say more about the product – that it was Made in South Africa. And the unions refused to budge. They wanted people to buy the stuff. Stuck again.

We used this in our favor for a little while. Getting other key things passed like the budget, management structure and marketing plan. But we knew there would be no campaign if we couldn’t get them to agree on the name. And time was running out.

And we struggled. Again going this way and that way. Trying to convince each side that they should just go with the other name. But no one was willing to budge. Then one night I was reading through some consumer research when it hit me. What was the number one reason people would support this campaign? Easy. Over 80% of people said they would do it because they were proud to be South Africans. We had a name – Proudly South African. They couldn’t fight it. They would not be very proudly South African if they didn’t go with this. They caved in and we had a name. Business was on board.

The rest was easy. We removed one obstacle after the other. And more and more people came on board. And the name was a killer. It just captured the “Madiba magic” in a way no one thought we could. A few more twists and turns and we had everyone on board. We were ready to rock and roll.

That was the most difficult time for me. We had to employ people to run this. My job was only to get it to the launch stage. It took 18 months of my life. It consumed me and took everything out of me. I had to out maneuver opponents and overcome obstacles every day. It drove me crazy, but I loved it. And we had a great team backing it and working on it. But it was time to let go. My little baby has grown up and was ready to leave home. So we let it go. And the rest is history.

I was proud. I was Proudly South African

french

Trotsky would have been proud. I started my own little revolution during my time at the University of Stellenbosch. Okay, most of it was unintentional and more like the Oasis song ‘I started a revolution from my bed’. It all started when I became a tutorial lecturer in Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch.

I didn’t want to be the standard lecturer. I wanted to teach and engage. So I made two simple rules that my students must follow. Firstly, they didn’t have to come to class if they wanted a degree. I would just give them whatever mark they wanted if that was their intention. For those who wanted to study – be careful, I will challenge you and try and get you outside your comfort zone. The intention was to get them interested in learning and not focus on the end goal. The second rule was even easier to follow – it better be Liverpool I see if you wear any clothing that highlights some commitment to a sport or team. Anything else and you are out of there. And I am not joking, many students were thrown out of class for breaking this cardinal rule. Hey, even us revolutionaries needs to draw the line somewhere. Come on, Pope John Paul II was a Liverpool supporter as well – so I wasn’t that much of a revolutionary.

Anyway, here I was at the Bastion of Apartheid, the University of Stellenbosch. Banished from most of the more popular anti-Apartheid movement meetings on campus because I questioned how committed they were – see The (student) spy amongst us for more detail. Just like old Trotsky, I was fighting my own fight. The problem was that I wasn’t much of a Trot, I just had as many hang-ups when I was young.

I had my first taste at starting a revolution when I went on my yearly rant against the Student Representative Council (SRC). They were a pretty useless bunch. No power and no backbone. They were very much in line with any university system of voting – whoever is the prettiest and made the most populist promises will win – for a student this meant the one promising the biggest party will be gauranteed the popular vote. I used one of my classes to point out that voting should at least reflect some or other relevancy (this was before reality TV shows). And that the SRC was irrelevant. They pandered to the Nationalist government who controlled the University of Stellenbosch. They never spoke out against any of the injustices of the university rules or questioned the political alliances of the ruling mob at the university. One student piped up to say that her sister was on the SRC and worked really hard. My response was to say that I am sure she worked really hard. But that is different from working on something relevant. Planning the next big party did not translate into something relevant. And that I was sure that the Apartheid government worked really hard at oppressing people. But it didn’t make them right. Hum, she didn’t like this and decided to go for the ‘I-want-a-degree’ option and left my class. And I ranted on about what we needed was for students to take responsibility and show their unhappiness with the system. And in any way they felt was the most relevant – just as long as they show they didn’t believe or support a political structure that had none of their interests at heart. It was a mistake to let them decide what the ‘appropriate action’ should be. A big mistake.

I meant for them to have a protest vote. Maybe a placard ot two. I actually expected them to do nothing. Go out for a few drinks after class and talk about the revolution like good Trots. And then go home and do nothing. Like good Trots. But no. They had other ideas. Unlike Trots they decided to do something together in unity. (Trots usually split into two groups when two gather). I didn’t realize that the revolution started while I was in bed.

I took my normal route to the office and quickly realized that they went completely overboard. Every road sign and wall were sprayed in anti-SRC or anti-establishment slogans. Graffiti everywhere. Not a protester in sight, but their handywork were everywhere. Oh, yes. I was in trouble. People knew it was me behind this protest almost immediately. How? Well, the bloody students sprayed a path that started at the SRC offices and that ended at the entrance to my class. Like Hansel and Gretel leaving little breadcrumbs for everyone to follow. Right to my doorstep. I could feel a headache similar to the Trotsky ice-pick coming my way.

I got to class and my revolutionaries were waiting for me. All smiles and high fives. They were so chuffed with themselves. I sat down and stared at my desk. Where do I start? Do I give them the ‘we’ll fight them on the beaches speech’? Or do I just walk away and go have a drink? After a long pause I looked up and said, “Okay people, rule number three. What happens in the class, stay in the class”.