Tag Archives | South Africa

Reliving The South African Struggle In London

London School of Economics Coat of ArmsLondon: Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again” years ago, and its core truth keeps popping up in my life even as I tend to retrace some of my life journeys, in an endless walk down memory lane.

I am back in London, cold and wet as I remember it, to attend an event honoring those of us who went to South Africa on underground missions at my mid 1960’s alma mater, The London School of Economics and Political Science. I was on political side of he College’s split personality back in 1966-68.

This event marked my real “major” in what the Rolling Stones called “street fighting years:“ imagining world revolution.

Our group of solidarity stalwarts is now called “The London Recruits.” There is now a book out from Merlin Press telling our story in the words of many participants, including myself.

Yes, I was an activist in those pre-journalism years, blamed by some in the then Fleet Street press for sparking the LSE’s student “troubles” that soon morphed into an occupation and dramatic student protest.… Read the rest

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Warning: South Africa Is An Angry And Frustrated Nation And On The Brink

DurbanSign1989Durban, South Africa: These are not the best of times in South Africa. It seems clear that there is fear and loathing everywhere as the press is packed with fresh allegations of corruption, and a restive mood spreads even as the country prepares to host the economic Summit of the BRICS countries it is part of–Brazil, Russia, India, and China which is facing a growth in joblessness and economic/political malaise.

Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, the brilliant Mozambican leader who married the man everyone here calls by his clan name Madiba, is speaking out even as her husband Nelson Mandela no longer can because of age and infirmity.

She calls South Africa an “angry nation… on the brink of ‘something very dangerous’. She was speaking at a memorial for a Mozambican cab driver whose killing by the police was caught on a cellphone camera and went viral. The police deny they were brutal, despite the video, which further outrages a country that seems to be increasingly turning on the politicians they see as plundering its resources.… Read the rest

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Malls for the ‘Sheeple’

Into Boksburg and ERMDurban, South Africa: Back in 2002, South Africa hosted a UN environmental Summit on sustainability. It drew a rag tag army of green activists from all over the world, many excited to visit the now free South Africa that they fought for through the apartheid years, and hoping to meet members of the liberation movement led by Nelson Mandela

The closest to Nelson Mandela they got was to gather in front of a giant statue, created by a Swedish artist, in a commercial Square named after the South African icon. When they pictured the new South Africa, they probably saw the townships where tens of thousands of people marched for justice.

Instead, they found themselves in Sandton, a “township” that only capitalists could imagine, an upscale enclave within the city of Johannesburg devoted to corporation, banks and giant malls even more opulent than similar temples of consumption in other countries.… Read the rest

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South African Women Victims Of Satanic Murder Shortly After Texting About ‘Dangerous Prayer’

A horror movie scenario sprung to life, via South Africa’s news24:

Two Centurion women have been found dead in killings that have been linked to Satanism. Natacha Burger, 33, and Joy Boonzaaier, 68, were stabbed to death in Burger’s townhouse in a security complex, hours after she SMSed a friend the following message: “I did (the) dangerous prayer. The Lord protect me.”

Burger, Boonzaaier and some of her friends were involved in a religious ministerial group working with former Satanists. According to a neighbour, someone had knocked on Burger’s door on Wednesday night but she refused to open. The next morning, blood was found in a gutter outside her house. When she told a friend about it, the friend had apparently answered “you know what that means”, to which Burger replied that she had done the “dangerous prayer”.

 

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Prisoner of Mandela

Cape Town, South Africa:  Nelson Mandela was released from prison 22 years ago. He has been “free” ever since. At the same time, I sometimes feel as if I became his prisoner—imprisoned by the work I have been doing enthusiastically in service to the struggle he led ever since the mid 1960’s.

I don’t blame him, of course, and he can’t release me the way he was released on that sunny afternoon of February 11,1990 while the whole world cheered.

I was cheering, too, in the darkness of a TV edit room far away in New York. We were working on a prime time documentary that would air a day later about “the day.” It was called FREE AT LAST.

My “incarceration” on the issue was well along by then. I had first visited South Africa in l967 when I was 25, a civil rights activist and soon an anti-apartheid militant.… Read the rest

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South Africa’s Political Wars Begin To Resemble Our Own

Cape Town, South Africa: When I came to South Africa, I thought I was escaping the way our news programs are totally dominated by political coverage even though the election is months away and everyone knows none of this polling and hyped-up speculation matters until October.

The fight between the Democrats and Republicans is an obscenely costly affair which none of our political pundits care to investigate in terms of why so much is being invested and what the likely payoffs will be, and to whom.

Business Day, the Wall Street Journal of South Africa, featured an essay recently with a headline that offers insight into the motivation of politicians in both countries: “PUBLIC OFFICE JUST A WAY TO PILLAGE THE STATE.”

In the US, of course, we have two principal parties, almost like two wings on a plane. The Republicans, now the captive of the hard right and the Democrats, firmly ensconced in the center, partial to corporations but with some issues and positions that appeal to liberals and even, parts of the left.… Read the rest

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‘Dead Man’ Wakes Up Inside South African Morgue

DeadmanReports BBC News:

A 50-year-old South African man woke up inside a mortuary over the weekend and screamed to be let out — scaring away attendants who thought he was a ghost. His family presumed he was dead when they could not wake him on Saturday night and contacted a private morgue in a rural village in the Eastern Cape.

He spent almost 24 hours inside the morgue, the region’s health department spokesman told the Sapa news agency. The two attendants later returned and called for an ambulance.

The man — whose identity has been withheld — was treated in hospital for dehydration. “Doctors put him under observation and concluded he was stable,” Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said. “He did not need further treatment.”

Mr Kupelo said the man woke up at 1700 local time (1500 GMT) on Sunday, demanding to be let out of the chilly morgue in Libode village, frightening the attendants on duty.

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As The World Marks International Mandela Day, Mandela’s Legacy Is Debated: Which Narrative Will Prevail?

Nelson_MandelaAt 94, Nelson Mandela is still kicking, inspiring an international day of community service on Juy 18th in his name. This seems to be an idea that Barack Obama borrowed for similar events in the USA.

While activists, athletes and entertainers are honoring him by responding to his call for engagement, journalists in the obit departments of the world’s news networks are quietly, even secretly, combing their archives for footage and tributes that will air when he moves on to the next world.  They are getting ready and seem to think it will happen sooner rather than later.

I have already seen a program length obit that a major network has ready to go.

Barring some major disaster at the same time, Mandela’s death may receive more visibility than the achievements of his long life.

The question is: which Mandela will be memorialized? Will it be he leader who built a movement and a military organization to fight injustice or a man of inspiration with a great smile who we admire because of the many years he suffered behind bars?… Read the rest

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Durban South Africa, Friday Night at The Movies: We Can’t Escape The Tensions Around Us

Soweto. Photo: Michael Toft Schmidt (CC)

Soweto. Photo: Michael Toft Schmidt (CC)

It’s Friday night, and the motorways are packed with cars heading for the mall. Here in Durban, the Gateway Mall is the destination of choice. It’s huge, the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s stuffed with stuff, much of it upscale, calling itself a “theater of shopping.”  (It is actually built over what was once a dump.) The parking lots are packed with late model cars, many of them high end.

I have to confess, I was invited there to see America’s latest high culture import, the 3D version of the movie Transformers 3, based on a toy and cartoon, in a modern movie complex with 18 theaters and rows and rows of packed gates where you line up for endless popcorn and soft drinks.

Business was booming; the theater was full. Most of the crowd seemed to be whites and Indians but there were also many blacks now firmly anchored in the consumer life style.… Read the rest

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South Africa’s Cancer Of Corruption

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: Twenty one years after Nelson Mandela walked free, corruption has become the issue du jour in South Africa.

Even president Jacob Zuma who narrowly slithered out of a corruption trial before his election is blasting corruption in the ranks of the African National Congress which came to power as the morally superior alternative to an apartheid regime that shamelessly used the wealth it controlled to benefit Afrikaners and deprive the black majority of services.

“Let’s make a plan,” were the code words members of the all white National Party used to scheme ways of stealing state resources to benefit themselves, a cozy reality overshadowed by the vicious racial policies that outraged the world.

As the ANC prepared to win power democratically, there was concern among leaders that a deprived black majority might feel it was “their turn” and thus, their right to cash in on their political victory.… Read the rest

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