Thursday, May 28, 2009

A very happy belated birthday

It was my birthday on Tuesday and I got a belated present in the form of Barcelona thrashing and outclassing Manchester United. Barca dished out football that was out of this world and for the first time the Man U players never knew what hit them and they panicked, the manager panicked and Barca dished out precision football.

I think it is only fitting for purists to watch that game over and over again and being a fanatic that I am I will ensure that there is a second, maybe third viewing. I will watch it as if I do not know the score.

Football is such a simple art and Barcelona showed how that can be done. You just need a ball, brains, composure and self belief and each and every Barca player had loads of that.

If only our stars from here could learn!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bling, god and the Black sisters

Religion is a very important cultural practice the world over and many people do not feel complete without acknowledging their god or giving him some sacrifice. Christianity is big business and this is evident in South Africa where there is a mushrooming of charismatic churches all over. In the not so distant past we used to talk about priests but now pastor is the in word. Pastor Macaulay, Pastor Zuma, Pastor Niehaus and Pastor whoever wakes up and finds that he has been inspired to open a church.

Women have always been the devout types that have kept churches going for ages. Men have always been on the sidelines and their involvement has always been in pursuance of some material benefit, be it a powerful position in the church or getting a beautiful woman he has been eyeing for some time.

Young and upwardly mobile sisters are very religious in a new kind of way. Out is the traditional way of worshipping and in is the style where god is hip and happening and is rewarding the sisters abundantly. Traditional churches are losing membership as fast as you can say hi because they were caught napping…and there is a lot of skeletons in their closets. And it is fashionable nowadays to punctuate every conversation with praise to the lord or a need to acknowledge him. Worshipping god in this new kind of way is like newly found success. It is like it’s a new consciousness.

As I said earlier on you will invariably find men as leaders in these churches, no matter how few they are, and women will be the followers. I find this disempowering to women and perpetuating the practice that man shall always lead and women will follow and this permeates society as a whole. I suppose it is an old age practice that keeps reinventing itself. The old apostolic churches are gone and now it’s your chick, charismatic churches where bling is the thing. But there is one constant, the few men that are there are occupying leadership positions or are fighting for those positions and women are taking one side or another in these fights.

Am I bonkers to see this ‘new found’ spirituality in women just as an illusion that helps keeps them subjugated. It is like a makeover where after some time the impurities that you were trying to hide always have a way of showing. That is why the church will always keep reinventing itself in order to be palatable to new ways of life, while keeping their most important constituency, women, firmly in their place – at the bottom of the heap.

Honestly, this new fad of our Black sisters needing to acknowledge god for their fortunes makes me sad and mad. It is like emulating the tannies in the apartheid days who were devout church members but had racism inscribed in their every bone. But then again us black brothers are just like the ooms that used to oil the apartheid wheels. Where there used to be blacks and whites, it is now reach and poor. We have opened a little crack where a few of us can creep in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Leadership is action, not position" - A call to the PAC and BC formations

“This is one country where it would be possible to create a capitalist black society, if whites were intelligent, if the nationalists were intelligent. And that capitalist black society, black middle class, would be very effective….South Africa could succeed in putting to the world a pretty convincing, integrated picture, with still 70 percent of the population being underdogs.”
(Steve Biko, 1972)[1]

I think it is a moot point that today South Africa has put across a pretty convincing, integrated picture, with 70% of the population still living in abject poverty. The difference is that the nationalists did not have to raise any finger or be intelligent for that matter, they just had to give power to the ANC, or chaterists as Biko and his colleagues would call the ANC.

The ANC came into power with an overwhelming majority in 1994 and in 2004 they received a two-thirds majority and with the 2009 elections one has for all intents and purposes seen the demise of the two liberation movements, the PAC and AZAPO together with all their splinter groups that could challenge the moral authority of the ANC. What happened, besides the fact that we know that the nationalists were brutal in crushing these nascent movements? What happened to that alternative view that got South Africa reinvigorated and changed how the struggle was viewed?

The formation of both the PAC and Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) resulted in a fundamental shift in the fight for liberation in this country. Both these organizations had visionary leaders and philosophers in Robert Sobukwe and Bantu Biko respectively. Both died at a critical time in the history of their organizations and the history of the struggle. With both their death there was stagnation in the philosophies and the policies they were espousing. In my view the politics of expediency took over and replaced what had been noble intentions. The leaders who remained panicked and totally lost the plot. This is evident in the result of this year’s elections. Whatever support these organizations have was based on their history as liberation movements. Going forward they had no alternative to offer from the ANC. Why, when it was clear to them from the beginning that the ANC would never bring true liberation to the majority of South Africans?

It is clear that although the ANC has tried to relegate the contribution of these organization and their two leaders to the footnotes of history, they have failed because of the forcefulness of their ideas. The ideals that these organizations were founded on are very much alive today and need much more forceful articulation. It is however clear that these organizations are not equipped to articulate such ideals. If not them who will then? There needs to be a serious introspection by these organizations and their leaders and it needs to start from the beginning. The introspection needs to first acknowledge that the leadership of these organizations post Sobukwe and Biko dismally failed to carry forward their ideals. They will be forgiven because the apartheid government was brutal in dealing with their leadership in particular and membership in general.

It is Frantz Fanon who said “ It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of people, their laziness, and let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps”.

This is so true of the Black society in South Africa today. Taken with the quotation from Biko above one can see that there is a total lack of intellectual discourse on whether what we have is what the struggle for liberation sought out to achieve. When Mandela came out of prison in 1990 the first thing he said was to shout “nationalization” and two days down the line he changed his tune without any consequence. Mbeki is lazily dismissed as an intellectual president who was out of touch with the masses, just as the BCM was dismissed as a group of intellectuals who have no touch with reality. Looks like in South Africa intellectualism is frowned upon and this has its roots in the liberation struggle. Anyway I digress.

These organizations needs to go back to the starting blocks and examine their decline, right from the moment their influential leaders died. They need to intellectualize influences that were brought to bear on them by events outside their organizations like the fall of communism, the relevance of Marxism, the formation of the UDF and the role the ANC played in their demise. Importantly these constant fights for leadership positions need to be critically examined. A lot of historical texts that are outside the mainstream by leaders past and present need to be revisited and the history of the liberation movements needs to be properly contextualized.

Strini Moodley, one of the founders of the BCM, had these profound words to say “You see, the ANC had a program, together with the SACP, that there is a two stage revolution. The first stage is to capture capitalism, and the next stage is then to transform it. Now that’s bullshit argument. It defies logic. Because once you’re involved in state power without changing the economy, you’re fucked. Because now you’ve become part of the program.” (2005).

The existence of the PAC and BC formations is very important but it will take leadership to recognize that they have been barking up the wrong tree.

[1] Quoted from “Biko Lives: Contesting the Legacies of Steve Biko” A. Mngxitama, A. Alexander and N.C. Gibson, eds, 2008

Friday, May 15, 2009

Alternative Medicine - how alternative is it

Growing up comes with its own wear and tear. Being a young man and very impressionable I fell in love head over heals with this certain lady and a few months down the line she dumbed me for a sugar daddy teacher. This really got to me such that for more than a year or so I developed and carried stomach ulcers without realising it. I only became aware after I befriended a food nutritionist and he explained to me what was bugging me and how I got to get it.

I have since then been to doctors to help me cure me of this incurable disease. I have had minor altercations with some of the doctors because I became a bit of an expert on what was needed to control this affliction. I have been in and out of doctors consultation rooms for many a years until a friend recommended acupuncture as a possible remedy. He told me that he had been suffering from back problems which also made him a frequent visitor to doctors consultation room until he was referred to the acupuncturist and the problem was gone there and then. He has never had the problem since.

I tried the procedure and you know what, I could feel the difference the minute I worked out his consultation room. That was about three years ago and I have never had a problem since until about three weeks ago. I could not sleep peacefully at night and this past weekend was worse and Monday I rocked up at my trusted acupuncturist and I could feel the difference the minute I walked out of his consultation room. I have been sleeping peacefully since.

Now I asked him and he explained to me in broken English how the body works and what the needles do to blood flow and it made a lot of sense. You will be impressed about how knowledgeable these guys are about the functioning of the body.

Now my problem came when I had to pay. I produced my medical aid card and was promptly told that they do not accept medical aid cards because he is not recognised as a doctor by the medical establishment. Why? because theirs is alternative medicine! Why is it called alternative medicine because they are pretty scientific in their approach? Well because the establishment says so! What I know is that these people can heal your ailments and it can last forever.

And by the way while I was still there, there was this young lady in a wheelchair who came for treatment. She could not walk for whatever reasons which I never found out but man! was she screaming while she was being attended to. I heard the good doctor tell her that she must feel pain in her legs and the mere fact that she is feeling pain shows that the treatment is working and she is improving. And all this she could explain scientifically!!

I remember growing up as a young boy it was common in the township for boys my age to get STD's. It used to be called a "drop", I don't know the scientific name for it. There were always these old men who would provide these unlucky young men with some medicine which would make the STD disappear plus they could also cure some other ailments. But I suppose the case for African Traditional medicine is different because some of these doctors don't want to expose their cures to scientific testing yet. But to view acupuncture as alternative medicine and therefore not worthy of medical aid coverage smacks of protectionism. It sucks big time!

There is also a black lady in downtown who mixes her physiotherapy practice with acupuncture. She tells me that she went to China (or is it Japan) to study acupuncture for a number of years and she has got qualification to show for it but her practice is not recognised. And she is nursing the poor and the marginalised of Soweto back to health through this practice of hers but for her pains she is not recognised as a doctor by the medical establishment. Governments suck!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The past two weeks or so have been hell because I have been without internet. As you might know I have recently changed jobs and location. I am staying in a beautiful part of the country where people are friendly and everybody seem to know everybody. It seems to be the norm that the mill grinds slowly and there is truly no hurry in South Africa.

So many events have happened over the past two weeks since my last blog and being an opinionated son of a mother it has been so frustrating that I couldn't say my piece of mind. I also means the great South African blogs that I am addicted to. I had to be hospitalised in order to handle my withdrawal symptoms. Am back and hooked once again.

I will definately blog a little about this lovely town and its lovely people and the not so lovely. In the meantime let me catch up with blogland.