Friday, June 26, 2009

Everybody owns a piece of Michael Jackson

Death is something human beings will never get used to, unless of course it is the death of animals we eat on a daily basis. It is amazing how the death of somebody you’ve never met can profoundly affect you. I normally sleep with my radio on as it is the quickest way to get me to sleep. This morning at three o’clock, while in deep sleep, I was awoken by the news bulletin on Radio 2000 that Michael Jackson had died. I kid you not one second I was fully asleep and the other second I was wide awake contemplating what I just heard and it was sad news indeed.

I am sure we all have a tale about how Michael Jackson’s music had an effect on us. I remember as a kid, not that I have matured that much, in Senior Primary (I don’t know what they call it these days) Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones worked some magic with the song “We are the world”. I had this friend who was hyperactive but couldn’t sing even one note correctly but he loved music. We had this little music group and I was sort of a leader and he approached me with lyrics of " We are the world " and the only way we could get them was if he became part of the group.

Being a spineless individual that I am I allowed him to join the group but other group members would have none of it and pulled out. Me and my friend practiced the song with the view of performing it at the year end function of the school that was to be held in a week or so. And being a feisty individual that he was he convinced me to let the organizers of the concert let us have a slot and boy what an embarrassment that was. Not that I am a good singer but man, I tried to compensate this guy’s lack of talent by trying to accommodate his note that were off the window but boy he would come back with another crap note. We ended up not finishing the song because I had to drag him from the stage and there went my attempt at being a singer.

As young ones we would imbibe ourselves with MJ’s music and we would choose the songs that talked to our souls. Thriller is a timeless classic. My favorite was from his Bad album was “Man in the mirror” amongst a whole lot of his good songs. We grew up on MJ and even through varsity years he was still king of the dance floor. In Black South Africa there is a new dance graze that will grip the whole townships for a year or so and we would dance to that with MJ’s songs. I remember one day spoiling a hectic party circle with “Remember the Time” playing. I got into the circle and just stood there and downed my beer and everybody hated me for that. And people remembered me as Moremogolo who can’t dance. Ja, those were the times.

Aah! And “Speechless”!!. There's a girl who used to leave me speechless and I would play her that song every time we met. And she truly left me speechless such that she never new that she truly left me speechless. Well, she probably knew but felt that at some point I will have to have a tongue. I wonder if I met her today I would still be speechless.

You are dead now MJ and you did what you did out of your profound love of music and humanity. Though they tried to call you many things your profound love of music and humanity will be there for generations to come. (This is really meant for those who are living)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When modesty means creating one's own legacy

I was reading Nikiwe Bikitsha’s article in this weekend’s Mail & Guardian’s newspaper. My week is not complete without a copy of the M&G, there is some serious journalism going on there. Hers is one of the columns I like reading because I think she is seriously sexy upstairs. She was on about her family history and how her great grandfather was just great and what legacies he left. She ended up by saying she has been inspired to also leave a great legacy. Her great grandfather by the way assisted in ensuring that the missionaries succeed in “civilizing” this “Dark Continent”.

Coupled to her column was a whole section about the top 300 young South Africans and a Prince Mashele’s column about the youth of today and what they would answer in future if asked where were they when these top 300 young South Africans were rocking the boat. I must confess I did not read his article and don’t see the need to read it. I also passed a cursory glance at these top dogs to see if there’s somebody I know or to check that maybe my name might appear there (in my dreams of course). I most of the time read my M&G from cover to cover but I did not pay much attention to those 300 bright souls and their conquests…jealousy perhaps!!, and I will not pay any further attention to that section of the paper (more envy, maybe?).

But all this really gave me some existential moments. Why is recognition so important? Why do we have to concern ourselves with legacies when once you are dead you are dead? When Jesus wakes us all up from the dead what is going to happen to those who just were because they were? Why are we so obsessed with reward, be it now or in the afterlife? Why can’t we just be good beings just for its sake? Goodness is a good thing, right? You should not do good because you have been promised a reward, right? One should do good because it is a good thing, isn’t it?

But then there is this pervasive culture of wanting recognition for the good that one does, be it a blessing from god or the receipt of some medal or some bestowing of some honour or some legacy. This might not be a bad thing but in this now world material possession is the best form of recognition you can get. You have to be a Bill Gates or Warren Buffet before you can think about giving to the poor, and the poor and everybody else have to respect you. You have to be respected and respect is earned through having a name, like a Mandela, a Bikitsha and so on and your path to stardom will be easy. Some people earned recognition through their hard work and it has become important to jealously guard the name they have made for themselves and their offsprings should never let them down….legacy!! I should give Mr. Buffet some recognition because according to him any other Buffet or his relations must make their own names if they want to and he is not going to use his name or wealth to prop them up except for the bare minimum required of a parent.

Do we really have to celebrate stupidity because some of the well known people, be it because of their money or because he happened to be at the right place at the right time were or are incredibly stupid. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see on one of these famous people/celebrities/trendsetters an epitaph that reads “herein lies an incredibly stupid person”. If truth be told this world has been led and continues to be led by incredibly stupid people. Now that would be a true testament to that person’s legacy and to us as a people, because sometimes our stupidity comes out through these leaders. Just look at the USA, Germany, Italy, South Africa, and Soviet Union for examples of stupid leaders who have left and will leave legacies behind.

Is it really necessary to teach our generation and those to come about heroes or should we just be teaching kids about the inherence of being good for its sake.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fuck off, we are preparing for the World Cup

“The World Cup is going to bring so many things to the people of South Africa. In fact it has already done so by giving job opportunities to a lot of people since preparations began four years ago.” Joseph S Blatter, the FIFA president recently told a press conference and went on about how successful the Confederations Cup has been up to so far.

In the meantime the preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup is well underway. Billions have been pumped into ensuring that everything runs smoothly and the Local Organising Committee and the government have ensured that all obstacles towards preparations are removed as soon as they occur. This involved ensuring that despite the tripling of the budgeted amount for the world cup, money would always be available. Where does all this money come from, after all poor people have over the past 15 years be told to be patient with service delivery because government can only do so much with a limited budget. Over the years some government departments have had to cut back seriously on the anticipated expenditure as there was not enough money in the fiscus.

There have been crippling strikes over the years where workers were trying to assert their muscle but they have been effectively told to fuck off over the years because there is no money. We know of the terrible conditions our public hospitals are under and recently doctors have taken matters into their own hands because they are tired of being shunted from pillar to post. And all of this is because they have been told time and time again that there is no money.

The SABC – I admire Dali Mpofu, that big shot lawyer who took the corporation from a profitable entity under Peter Matlhare and in a couple of years turned it into a huge deficit and he is seen as a hero in the corridors of power, even by the self same employees of the SABC who cannot get their promised bonuses as a result of their bosses messing up – has always relied on government for bail out after squandering money but this time it is proving difficult because the really is no money. The world cup budget has gobbled up everything.

Hard working civil servants, even those lazy ones, have had to wait for performance bonuses to be paid to them because there was no money. There has been a lot of uncertainty over the budgets the departments would get because there were other priorities. Within the social development sector NGO and CBO that provide a vital service to the community and rely on government for funding have had to wait for up to 6 months for their grants to be paid and they were given all manner of reasons for the delay.

Negotiations over the Occupation Specific Dispensation has been dragging on for long because if truth be told these striking doctors are viewed not as a priority and as a nuisance because there are important matters of the world cup to attend to. The government is still trying to check where it can get the money to shut up these ungrateful loudmouths.

Our government has shown that where there is a will there is a way. Against all odds preparations for the 2010 preparations are way ahead of schedule and its like there is no recession or global financial crisis. In the meantime everything has taken the back seat and the poor and everybody else will just have to wait for 2010 to pass. In a period of less than 4 years insurmountable problems have been overcome and we have shown the skeptical world that Africa can do it. Contrast this with the track record of our democratic government over the past 15 years. The poor have been told over and over that they have to be patient because apartheid cannot be undone in 15 years.

It has been announced that doctors will get up to 53% pay hikes with effect from July but nothing has been said about the poor conditions our state hospitals are in or the doctors have to work under. I hope that they will take the strike to another level and ensure that they work under conducive circumstances. They should wring out of government and undertaking that coupled with salary increases the government will ensure that the state hospitals are well equipped.