Sunday, May 20, 2012

THERE IS A LOT OF UBUNTU IN MSANZI



Traffic on the N2 (National highway)


I think it is time to get a bit of background into the whole story. While I am going through my creations and evolutions there are other things happening in the bigger world. I am living in a rather interesting country, namely South Africa and although I am an African I am also white, from long ago European decent, but never the less an African.

I have lived and loved through a part of the apartheid era, by the end of the era in 1994, I was in my mid twenties. 
I can remember a specific incident from when I was a child. We lived in an industrial town called Vanderbijlpark and my father worked for a big steel Co-operation, Iscor, now known as Mital Steel. My mother was reading me a bed time story one night and like so many other nights a risen went off. I am not sure what time it was, probably about 8 or 9 0’clock at night. I asked her what that noise was and her answer was the following “that means all the black people must now be out of town, so we can sleep save” , this was obviously said in Afrikaans, but I am translating for your convenience. I will never forget those words because as a child of about 5 it was probably my first awareness of a reality outside of my own small white world. 

Indirectly she was saying that all black people are dangerous and we can only sleep in peace if we can keep them out of our space. Even then I just could not get why somebody would be dangerous just because they are a certain color, but I said nothing. Obviously there was a lot of fear towards the darker races and this fear was kept in place by politics and religion. We had churches for whites only! And the average whitey supported the politics (apartheid) of the day more out of fear and ignorance, than anything else. A lot did not support it, but kept out of “politics” for their own safety. If you went out protesting you could get arrested and detained without trial, which simply means they can keep you in jail for as long as they want and for a lot of people with families and a lot to lose, it was just not worth it to risk their own downfall for the sake of others. I was one of them.

There was turmoil and things got out of hand and people got killed, on both sides of the color spectrum. This violent part of our history is rather well known all over the world, but this happened in the townships and did not affect suburbia very much, that is just the truth. The Sharpville incident is a well known story the world over. Sharpville is a “neighboring” town to Vanderbijlpark, so is Sebokeng.

And then the miracle happened. People actually started talking to each other and South Africa became the first country in Africa to go through this kind of turmoil without it ending in civil war.


Another rural Village

Eighteen years down the line. There is no more Mandela, he is still alive and still very much loved, but he is old and frail. We now have a Zuma and a Zille and a JuJu, the latter is at least entertaining. To make a long story short the average South African is no better off than 18 years ago, we once again have corrupt and greedy politicians. I am not trying to paint a bleak picture, I am just giving facts and I think people in this country know how to stand up for their rights and others are willing and learning how to.

There was this whole incident very recently in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area (Gauteng). A whole network of tollgates was planned and promptly accepted and approved by our dear government. It added up to (op top of the current petrol price) ridiculous amounts of money just to get to work and back. Unlike other taxes and toll and fees the government just demands and people just give, this tollgate thing did not go down well in Gauteng. People did not take to the streets and burn things, they simply made a big noise all over the media and social media and refused to buy the tokens and got some legal advice and one of the issues that came to light is the following – to maintain those roads will cost roughly 32 Billion, in that same period of time the income from these tollgates will be roughly 72 Billion, where exactly is the other 40 Billion going to? 
The whole project is on hold until further investigation, at least our legal system still (sometimes) work. There was no color divide in this thing, this was across the board, just Gautengers (is there such a word?) that said enough!  I salute the people from Gauteng for standing up for their rights.

We are a fascinating and furious bunch of creatures living here at the bottom of Africa, governments will come and go, but the real progress in this country will not come from them, them who prefer to line their pockets while others starve. The change will come from the people on ground level, simple people with big ideas and mostly small budgets.

In a lot of towns all over South Africa people are also doing the Sannieshof on their corrupt, unethical and incompetent Municipalities. Let me explain the Sannieshof thing to you. Sanieshof is a small town in the North West Province, it is the biggest province, but it has the smallest share of the population. In Sannieshof the people from the town and the people from the township both got fed up, the people from the township where angry because the promised services where just not happening and the people in town got fed up because their services went from good to almost non existing. Instead of protesting they decided to get smart and a long story short, they opened a trust account and everybody paid their monthly rates and taxes and other services, but they paid it into the trust account. The municipality was brought to its knees simply by cutting off their finances completely; now they are setting up their own systems using the money from the trust, so far so good. Even Kei Mouth is following this route. Victory without violence.

The fact is we have, like everywhere else in the world, selfish and greedy people in power. We can no longer afford their arrogance and ignorance, we need to act and if we act together, regardless of race or color or whatever other differences, we cannot lose, there is incredible power in numbers.

That being said; do not underestimate the power of one. Here are examples of a few remarkable individuals that are making a very big difference – Rasikarai das just decided he will not complain; he will do something. This man has decided to go and live in Redhill, a very poor area on the Cape Flats, near Cape Town. He lives there in a shack and goes out and “begs” for food from everywhere, he then takes this back to Redhill and he cooks meals and hands out fruit to the children and other people in the area.

Another very brave lady, I cannot even remember her name, (she obviously did not do this for fame or fortune, I cannot even find her name in the internet), but this lady took on the mighty food Manufacturers and they now have to tell us if our food contains GMO's or not, it has to be on the label. 
Then this whole thing came unstuck because of lack of enforcement, Manufacturers and the persons in Government responsible for the implementation simply suck their heads in the sand like a bunch of Ostriches and hoped it would all go away.  Unfortunately for them so much noise was made from the side of consumers, that the story was eventually picked up by the Lame Stream Media. We are actually starting to see the labeling and a specific sad case in Government got fired.

There is also a guy, Michael Tellinger, he is actually suing the mighty Standard Bank over transparency issues, some people think he is mad, I think he is insane (I like insane people) and very brave and he is creating a lot of awareness amongst South African regarding the way banks in South Africa (and all over the world) actually work.  It is not really covered in our Lame Stream Media, but it is all over the social networking systems, so a lot of people know about it.

There are many more individuals like these.

Stuff the selfish and the greedy; let them live in isolation and fear; there are enough good people in this country that will make things better.

There is a lot of Ubuntu in Msanzi.


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