Somewhere/Anywhere a clock is ticking

In the past few months we have seen many instances of people in the free world, minding their own business, being targeted by extremists in the name of religion. Religions I’m sure do not advocate this behaviour.

The Manchester Arena attack is the most recent and it chills most people to the bone. To think that children could be targeted as repayment for what the Crusades had done (to paraphrase what was put on the radicalist’s website. This is irrational on so many levels as so called “punishment” and “retribution” should not be dished out at will and today’s society is not responsible for what happened so many years ago.

But no, I don’t really want to get into the ideology about this. I just wonder what a free world is going to look like into the foreseeable future. You can not stop traffic to stop one crazy in a car. We can not stop gatherings for fear of one crazy with a backpack. If we start doing that we have lost so much and some would say that the baddies have then won. But in the meantime, we have to live in a world where security will be exhausting and you will not only be looking over your shoulder, but into the street and into every crowd with a sense of scepticism. The UK has responded as well as can be expected and religious leaders have shown a united front and a lot of the taxi drivers who helped post attack were Muslim but unfortunately I think these responses are not going to quell the fear and the subsequent hate for “the other.” It’s not fair or rational but human preservation is a strong force so here we have a world divided. Whatever motivated Brexit and Trump will be stronger than ever and I am sad because my free world is falling apart.

I want minding your own business to truly be that: Knowing that you can move freely without anyone judging or threatening you and you not threatening or judging anyone because if we do not threaten each other then our differences should really make no difference. We need to accept that it takes all sorts to make a world – that’s life. That is also the only world I want to walk down the street in but here we are and my simple liberties are under threat. No one expects a bomb to blow up next to them at any moment but here we are and world leaders are going to have to figure this one out quickly because we’re all slaves to the radicalism for now.

It’s about the people who want to #saveSA

So my optimism from last week got completely slammed after last Thursday’s events. Along with many fellow South Africans I am down in the dumps because we truly expected more from an ANC leadership who claims to be for the people. The ANC as an organisation used to stand up for the right thing, the greater good, the people and now we’re facing a party who are about one main man, bits and pieces of their own skin and the main man’s buddies buddies and some weird power he yields. I really am astounded and I keep imagining what made the leadership do this. Some people know but they’re too scared to talk. I support I can’t blame them.

So what do you do when your leadership let you down? Well, in South Africa we march, and we sign and we stand united around a common goal. Telling the leadership that we are unhappy. #SaveSA has gained a lot of support and some people are marching in their thousands at organised rallies while some people are standing on street corners in their tens to make their voices heard. Today is a day for voices. Today is a day when you can stand united with someone from another colour, race, religion and even political party and know that differences mean nothing when you’ve essentially be cast out of the city which offered you protection.

Those protesting for Zuma do so because they think the ANC is under threat (not the case today) which is fair enough if it were even vaguely true but some also do it because they want to be assured of the protection of the leader who is clearly pulling all the strings. In a time of turmoil it’s often easier and potentially better in the short term to be with the leaders who control the money and power because for a moment they will have your back. Who wouldn’t want their back protected after all?

The good news though is that the answer today is “A lot of people do not want their backs protected by smoke and mirrors by a leadership which lies to it’s citizens”. Whether you voted for Zuma or not, as your president he has an obligation to look out for you. That is a president’s job first and foremost and South African’s today will make it known that what we are receiving is anything but protection.

He will protect a few, but we are not for the few, we are for the many.

I saw a tweet earlier that bemoaned the fact that we’ll protest united today but then go back to our very different lives tonight. And why this is technically true that doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge the disparity in our society and that we think it’s fair or right and than nothing should change. Unfortunately, and herein lies the crux, the only real way to help the disparity is for those who hold the biggest purse’s strings, the national budget, to spend it wisely and create jobs through investment and growth and education and upgrading facilities wherever possible.

The government has officially failed it’s people because the desperity is definitely still at a completely unnaccpetable level but whil eone many looks out for himself andhis inner circle and literally allows money to be stolen and wealth to be destroyed we will get no where.

Politics and economics are highly complicated issues and sometimes they are even counter to each other but today South Africans are at least saying that both state of affairs is not acceptable. We the people will not sit back quietly any longer.

I don’t know what’s going to happen after today in terms of momentum and real leadership and I actually want to walk up to Gordhan and simply ask “What now? What must we really do to make a change?”

I don’t know the answer but I am proud of my fellow South African’s for coming together and I’m hopeful that together we can make a difference. I suspect it’s going to be a long road and it’s not going to be pretty but it’s a fight worth fighting because South Africa is the poster child of a place where right can win and I’ll be damned if that imagine it replaced by a king with a shower for  crown

The Optimist vs the Realist vs the uncommon Pessimist

 

So, like many South Africans, I’ve become completely engrossed in the Gordhan recall and what is to come next. This stop gap between the recall and anyone being told whatever reason for it, is absolutely killing me. It’s killing me because I hate waiting for anything but it’s also affecting me because I keep imagining and wondering what is happening behind the scenes.

My optimistic self imagines at least 50 business leaders and MPs making frantic phone calls to each other to try and stop the fiasco in it’s tracks. My Realist self says that this battle is epic and we the people must just wait because what else are we really going to do but things are not looking good. My pessimistic self says that the president is putting himself and his friends ahead of the country and this time he will continue no matter the consequences. The damage will be done no matter how the party reacts so I don’t think he is scared because any backlash will amount to naught. Sigh

I do believe in the greater good. And I believe in the good of our real leadership. The people who are in the trenches getting things done. I work with some of those people and I know they really want to do the right thing. So, I’m gonna back my realist self but she’s scared and will be infinitely sad and disappointed (not shocked though) if she is wrong.

I don’t know either show very well but it feels like SA are currently staring in a combination of House of Cards and The Game of Thrones, and there’s probably some Blacklist Thrown in there which is ultimately stoking the fire.

One can only hope we’ll know soon enough so that we can all know how to respond and, in my case, get back to work.

“It’s a strange strange world we live in…

…Master Jack. No hard feelings if I never come back” so philosophise Four Jacks and a Jill in a song they released during the struggle in South Africa. The song was popular internationally and locally. I suspect the local popularity might have been because people liked the tune not knowing it was a struggle tune. I’ve always liked the song and only learned about 7 years ago that it was a struggle song. It didn’t matter to me and to this day I often get it stuck in my head. I really like it.

It resonates with me today because we are still living in a strange strange world. Frankly, for the first time in maybe forever (baring the World Wars) it feel like the whole world is experiencing strange times. Some stranger than others but we’re all in some version of it globally.

Of course in SA our strange times are what I refer to as interesting times but for others they are scary times. There are lots and lots of people I know that simply say “no hard feelings if I never come back” as they starting packing theirs hearts and eventually their bags for immigration.

I don’t know how to respond to these people. In reality I want them to know that I am disappointed if they go. If I can see a future for this country why can’t they? If I can argue that every country has it’s issues (and now potentially more true than ever) and moving will only result in some other drama then why can’t they see that?

Yes, living in what some perceive as high stakes mortal danger (versus say, Canada where violent crime is rare) might seem stressful but I’d rather live in a way where I can do my best to manage my danger than potentially get killed while watching Batman in the cinema. It probably helps that I’m quite fatalistic and that I feel that dying could range from a tree falling on me (I know someone who dies like that), to being hit by car (a fear I really have) then being a victim of crime. Yes, there are preferential ways to die but either way I’ll be dead. Oh, I don’t believe in jinxing my fate either if anyone in concerned by my musings.

I know leaving is about more than just dying but for me staying is all about the living.  I choose to live in a country where  have seen people beat all the odds time after time, where I have seen altruism and gratitude. Where I have seen good win and seen good people lose with dignity and extreme victories not boasted about. I have space and freedom here, I have other South Africans and I have that African dust on my boots. These are real things and these are things worth fighting for.

So, I don’t argue with those who want to leave because they need to make their own choices. But I do hope that my example and dedication could keep more people here and at the same time help develop a country we can all be proud of. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime (because who knows how short that will be anyway) but it will happen and I want to know I helped.

 

We’re in it for the long haul

I’m living my life in kind of the best of time and the worst of times. I live in a country where we have amazing human rights, lots of land and great wine but our political climate causes the kind of uncertainty that sometimes just wants to drive your head into the nearest hole or even on the path to immigration.

I’ve made it clear that I find these times interesting as I think our political climate has reached a point of frank discussion and the man on the street understanding that he has power. More and more questions are being asked around corruption and while not everyone will get taken to task for their dishonesty more and more people are at least asking questions which prove that we are not satisfied  as a nation by fat cats and tax abuse. The people who defend our version of a free world are constantly being badgered but they are strong.. They are as strong as past leaders who liberated this country who realised that while they might not win the fight they will win the war.

I was inspired today by a video clip I watched as produced on Beautiful News South Africa as produced by News24. You can watch it here. It’s a good story in itself about how Enos Mafokate worked for what would become his symbol of revolution and success and  how he became a community leader and business man in a free South Africa. What struck me as really powerful though is his simple statement at the end of the clip: “I have learned a lot. You mustn’t look only [at] yourself. You must look far away.”

This is powerful because it summarises struggles and hardships in such a simple way. He’s version of struggle is different to the current struggles (youth unemployment and corruption) but they are struggles non-the-less and we simply can not expect them to be solved overnight. It’s not always about now and me, it’s often about us and tomorrow because it’s only by working hard and forging ahead that we will realise the other thing he said knows with certainty “Give South Africa a chance; you will see a miracle. I’m telling you, it’s number one.”

I’m here to agree with him and do what it takes. I’m in it for the long haul and I know there are many others like me. Despite how hard it might be now, it will be worth it.

My part of city

I seldom get a chance to just sit and enjoy my house in solitude during the daylight hours. I’m either at work or doing one of a million weekend activities or playing with the dogs or whatever. This weekend was an exception when I found myself lounging in my sunroom with nothing better to do than just unwind.

It was then that I could enjoy one of the best things about living in Joburg: I could chill in my centrally located house and look out at my large green garden and pool while listening to the hustle of traffic (city life) just a block away. A lot of people in the world have to experience city life from apartments where your space is limited and your green views only the top of trees (if you are that lucky). Yes, there are great conveniences of living “in” the city (as apposed to suburbia) but it comes at a price of space and peace and freedom.

However, in Joburg a lot of us lucky folk have a completely different experience. While I live 3 minutes drive from a highway and 5 minutes from a large mall and I can easily walk to my corner cafe or a smaller mall or my local restaurant strip (such as city life offers) I can also just take a moment and enjoy all the trees and birds and calmness around me from my actual house which overlooks a park.

And I have all these benefits without having to life in an expensive of “upper class” neighbourhood. Nope, I’m just an average Joburg Joanne. It’s a little bit surreal if you think about it: traffic and the richest mile in Africa a stones throw away and then complete serenity right at my feet as my Retriever lazes away in the midday sun – too content to even chase the weavers and finches snacking on my lawn.

While the sounds of traffic might seem annoying it’s something I love for the simple reason that it tells me where I am and that I am surrounded by people, industry and ambition – it’s inspiring. While Ariel from the Little Mermaid yearns to “be where the people are” I already am there while also being completely on my own in.  See, surreal.

There is a lot to do in Joburg if you live here but for those moments where you just want to be on your own it’s good to know home is right in the middle of it.

It is the worst or times, it is the best of times

I’ve got to admit that I’ve never read Great Expectations but I feel like now would be a great time to write a sequel. Like the setting of Charles Dickens’ novel I feel we’re on the cusp of a revolution albeit quite a different one: more social and humanitarian than industrial (though some would argue for this point too) in nature

Although the world has been through a lot throughout history I feel like the mark of this revolution starts with two massive political occurrences: Brexit and Trump.

Like many other people I’ve been stewing over these things for the past few months. I’m pretty sure I know why people chose these two ends but I’m not entirely sure those who didn’t want these things to happen ultimately know how it happened. Trump was elected back in Nov and CNN had a feature on the how as recent as yesterday. It’s this not knowing how it happened to the people it happened to that absolutely baffles me. How in this modern age is the so called “free world” stumped by these questions? So that’s my “how?” questions and my biggest peeve about this whole situation

I will not be told that the Brexit margin of favour was large enough to really reflect the will of the people when the margin was so narrow (less than one percent) exasperated by the fact that some people thought there may be an opportunity of a do over or that this wasn’t serious. How can the free world be so naïve?

Similarly, how is the American democracy set up that someone can lose the so-called “popular vote” but then because of the College set up still win the right to rule the nation? Do the American’s know that’s not really a democracy? Do people know that some people’s votes count more than others? How would they feel about that? How can the free world sit back and not realise they are not as embowered as they think they are?

And when some votes ultimately count more than others and you feel very strongly about not having Trump as a president why did you wait until after the election to have rally’s and marches? He raises a good point (yes I said it) actually: did you, disgruntled American scientist, vote?  Or did you think that there was no way it could happen and you didn’t feel strong enough about Hilary to go and vote? Look, Hilary is not the greatest alternative but you’d probably be in a better place right now had you at least chosen anyone but Trump.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is because as a South African I know that democracy and rights are hard earned and hard fought for sometimes. Real democracy and freedom – not some version of it where people can still be discriminated against because they are women or because they are gay.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who was involved in the struggle. Where the Americans had a great civil war we had a quieter battle which resembled something in between a cold war, a civil war and a cold should world war (sanctions).   It often got ugly, it was often beautiful, striking and inspirational. And while I’m sure good people did things they regret (things that had to be done) and I am sure a lot of bad people on both sides got away with very bad things, thank you for everyone who was involved whether you are a retrospective villan or hero today. Thank you for a society which, at the very least, understands that elections are important – that they can make a difference. And thank you for a constitution which at least promises to respect me for who I am provided I respect those around me. It’s a fairly simple rule actually.

Yes, the realist in me knows that there is still a lot of unfairness and injustice and people are still being treated in the worst possible way because they are the “other” but when it comes down to it, the law will stand up for all of us. That law was hard fought for and agreed upon after the fact and therein lies another reason it’s great to be South African.

So, while the world it reacting in all kinds of ways to Brexit and Trump and I am sure there will be minor and bigger battles fought over these things I do hope that the world can walk away years from now less naïve of what freedom, choice and freedom of choice really mean. These are not things that should be taken for granted so maybe it warrants another battle or two if it’s going to make the world really reflect and stand up for itself and each other. This is the time to get interested in politics and make a stand on behalf od everyone being discriminated against and being run away from.

What the Brexit “yes” vote people and the Trump supporters seem to be overlooking is something a lot more critical than protecting what is “theirs”. It’s the fact that the people they are discriminating against en masse is actually the enemy of their enemy as well (do you think they would flee if they supported the baddies?) and frankly, you probably will want to count their numbers in their favour if this ever becomes a huge show down.

I could end dramatically by saying Good Luck to all of us the free world” but no, I’m thinking more along the lines of: Now is the time to take responsibility for the free world you want to live in and become informed and active in it’s true formation” because honestly, luck has nothing to do with this.