Posts Tagged ‘johannesburg blog’

Just VOTE – it’s the right thing to do!

May 13, 2011

I was a non-believer. I never thought my vote would count. Like many disillusioned mlungu’s I also thought “what difference would one vote make anyway??” I felt like I was a transient passenger in this beloved country of ours. Proudly South African I liked to think, but not per the few radical politicians who preached that there was no place for whites in the new South Africa. Our presence was tolerated as ‘citizens’ of industry, living off the land of opportunity, trying our luck in the modern gold rush of the burgeoning economy. But don’t you dare ask for assistance from the government. I used to really believe this.

That was until the last national elections, when the ANC lost out on a two thirds majority by a whisker. The two thirds that would grant the ruling party the ominous power to change the South African constitution. And depending on who was in power that could be a very dangerous situation indeed. At least from a pessimistic point of view. AHA!! Now my vote counts! I have a say!

Pessimism is very Anti-South African. Despite it all: the rolling black outs, the Juju Malemas, the xenophobia, we are seemingly a country of optimists. Always believing that things will work out. Mandela illustrated this by example, and led us ALL into a new dawning with his positive attitude of reconciliation and unity.

So when the opportunity came to voice my opinion by applying to The Star Newspapers ‘The Peoples Panel’ – in which they select a small sample (30) of Joburg’s citizens to canvas opinion about the upcoming local elections – and then print their opinions in the newspaper I jumped at the chance to apply, to have a say that is a little louder than an anonymous vote, and to an audience just a little bit larger than a blog! I wonder if JZ was reading??

The question I was asked this week, and printed in today’s edition under the headline “Is withholding your vote good for democracy?” , was if I agreed with Cope’s co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa decision to personally boycott the upcoming local elections.   Whereas a few years ago I might have given a different answer, today my answer was an emphatic ‘NO”. I said that it is absolutely imperative that everyone exercises their right to vote, more so as a result of the general apathy seemingly stemming from the ANC supporters. I believe that Shilowa’s stance is counter-productive, and it is crucial for supporters of other parties to vote, which could affect the ANC’s grip on power in Joburg. I do not believe that the ANC will lose majority in our region, but any perceived lack of support could trigger the ANC into better performance in future years. The ANC’s performance over the years has deteriorated, and a large portion of the public believe that their leaders are more interested in lining their own pockets as opposed to acting in the best interests of the citizens, ironically, as they are appointed to do! Corruption is a fact, again proven by the latest auditor-general findings, and the biggest contributor to the decay of our democracy, in which many less fortunate people are crying out for basic services whilst their leaders pave the roads to their own personal gain.

The other day I was on the golf course, canvassing the opinion of the caddies who were part of our four-ball. The four caddies are young black men, all living in townships. Their aspirations are the same as any person from any background – to provide a better future for themselves and their families. The four caddies, all of whom I have come to know quite well, firmly stated that they were not voting. Their main reason? Corruption, and their lack of trust in the the politicians, who are all “stealing”. All four caddies are ANC supporters. Interestingly enough, when I asked them if they support Malema, there was a difference of opinion, an even split – 2 nays and 2 yays. This is where us whitey’s are flabbergasted. How could anyone support the little Mugabe? But Juju worryingly wields an influential stick amongst the youth. The one caddie, Sputla, who ironically has a remarkable resemblance to Malema (so I think), believes in the ‘nationalisation of the mines’ rhetoric.  I told him, that in my opinion, it is just further means for the fat cats to steal from the national coffers. Sputla seemed circumspect. Propaganda is an illusion.

However, when I canvassed if they would vote for the national opposition, the DA, the cadd’s put their differences aside and unanimously gave a resounding “NO”. When I inquired if it’s because the DA is perceived as a white party (historically, and because their leader Helen Zille is white), Vincent stated the ‘obvious’, “No, it’s because I won’t vote for a woman!”

At least they all said they would vote for me! Perhaps that’s because I was a paying customer.

Now is just as an important time as any to make your mark as a South African. Go vote next week in the Local Municipal Elections… after all, it’s the right thing to do!

Mzansi FO Sho!!

The Star People's Panel

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Long live @Pigspotter!

September 20, 2010

Hands up if you are gatvol of the metrocops whose idea of effective policing is hiding behind the bushes on beautiful Joburg Sunday mornings nailing every motorist who comes their way?

We’ve all been there: just cruising along, window open, taking in the beautiful African sun, and just at the last minute the hazy silhouette of blue shirt/tan pants crouching behind that laser catches the corner of your eye and you know you have been had!! Bliksem!! You curse under your breath as you look down at your speedometer and start doing complex mathematical equations in your head as you frantically try to figure out what the damage is going to be. And then comes the waiting… for the notification to come in the mail warning you to collect your ‘package’ at your nearest post office – that official looking document with the blurry picture of your car which miraculously only seems to be focused correctly around the number plate area… “YLG…GP” Your heart sinks, you know it’s yours, and then your eyes anxiously scan around to look for the damage. R500!! For only going 75kays an hour??? If I was going any slower the taxi behind me would have run me off the road! And just to rub salt in the wounds, the offer at the bottom to pay with 21 days to get a 50% discount, an offer you begrudgingly accept for 2 reasons: 1. R250 is R250 2. The risk of getting pulled over at some random roadblock, in your suburb nogal, and the belligerent metrocop wants to slap the cuffs on you for the unpaid fine. What follows is the bargaining, the arguing, the pleading, the begging and ultimately… the paying + kicker. It’s a lose-lose situation!

And this is the idea of effective policing? More like profiteering. We all know it, we all admonish them for it, yet, as always, nothing gets done about it! We think of the countless unroadworthy cars on the road, the taxis rewriting the roadrules book , the maddening roadblocks during peak hour traffic, the chaos caused when the traffic lights are out and the poor Outsurance points men are outgunned by the number plate-less 4×4’s and said taxi drivers coming at them from all angles… while… yip, you guessed it, our friendly neighbourhood metro cop is 400 m down the road, radar gun in arm nailing each and every person who accelerates madly as they get through the intersection, as we all do out of sheer frustration as we get through a traffic jam!

Before you accusingly point your finger at me for driving too fast, just know that my poor mother got trapped not so long ago. I don’t even think her car has ever got out of 3rd gear! And then just last year, the metrocops have a wild-west like shootout with the ‘proper police’ as they caused untold havoc in the city as they were striking for higher wages – for doing what??

I loosely remember the old, seemingly simpler days in Joburg, when people observed the rules of the road, khaki-clad traffic cops were (somewhat) respected, mostly feared, and speed trapping was few and far between, mostly in notoriously dangerous accident hot spots. And best of all, fellow Joburgers used to flash their headlights to warn motorists going in the other direction that the cops were trapping up ahead. It was the courteous, common thing to do. And certainly much appreciated!

Those were the days, yet I can’t seem to remember when the last time someone flashed their lights at me to slow down – who knows why? Most likely there are just too many speed traps these days, and it’s just too tiring to keep lifting our arms to flick our lights!

But there is someone out there who is trying their utmost to make our daily grind that much easier and cheaper – @Pigspotter. He is the toast of the town, or enemy #1 if the metrocops will have you believe. If you haven’t yet heard he is the guy (who goes by the name ‘Clive’) who warns motorists on Twitter where roadblocks and speed traps are. The metrocops are apparently furious, “We have information that we are following up,” said Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar. “He will face the consequences of his actions.” After he was ousted in the press his following has grown to over 16,000 users on Twitter (that’s about R10 million in lost revenue for their coffers – no wonder the cops are mad!)

With postings such as:

“Pork chop on Jan Smuts just before the Hyde Park lights, he looks like a friendly strip that wants to be greased!”

“One well tanned pork chop playing surprise on rivonia rd by city lodge”

“Ham fritters roadblocking on Main Rd M71 in Kyalami. Random pulling over, checking licenses”

This guy is classic! Certainly makes for comical reading – and a welcome break from the bad-news bears we are forced to endure on a daily basis.

However, it seems that he has stopped referring to the cops as Piggies/Porkies/Bacon – apparently the cops don’t like being called names. Ag shame soooo hectic for them! (Pigspotter said P.I.G. stands for Police in Gauteng. Borat has nothing on this oke!)

In true Superman-style Clive posted “PigSpotting will continue, the only valid issue is the roadblock reporting, but I will continue 2 help innocent drivers from being extorted.

The perception amongst us Joburgers is that it the cops are finally getting a dose of their own medicine. If they want Joburgers to change their attitudes about law enforcement, the authorities need to take a look inwards and root out corruption, laziness and ineffectiveness. If they want our respect they have got to earn it! Stop motorists going through red robots waaay after orange, driving without licence plates, cutting in off straight-lanes to avoid long queues, not following safe distances on highways… the list is endless.

To quote tweeter themba_m who left this message on Pigspotters page “I wish the pigs were as hysterical about violent crime as they are about @Pigspotter

Now that just says it all…

@Pigspotter Fo Sho!!

Bafana BaGhana Basasta Disaster!

August 12, 2010

(AKA The lessons that were NOT learnt during the World Cup 2010…)

Its 8:40pm, and I should be at the game tonight.

Instead, I have just got home after an hour and a half joy ride trying to get to the game between Bafana Bafana and Ghana (BaGhana was sooo July ‘10), and now I have resorted to watching the game live on TV, match ticket in hand, as opposed to my unreserved seat at Soccer City, oops, I meant FNB stadium 🙂

This was supposed to be my much anticipated ‘Return of the Mlungus’ as my brother and I excitedly geared up for the match. It was like a scene out of Rambo as we laid out our battle outfits as we did countless times during WC2010: Makarapa – check, Vuvuzela – check, Bafana jersey – check, SA scarf – check, and the coup de grace, the green overall with “Mlungu 1” adorned in bright yellow on the back spotted numerous times at many world cup games. We were ready! A mocking parallel to those many freezing nights during WC2010 is that it was bitterly cold tonight. So we had to pack our Winter Warmer Emergency Bag including Beanie, Ski Gloves, and personally for me, knee high Ski Socks. After the recorded coldest night in the history of Joburg for the month of June, during the Brazil/North Korea game, we weren’t taking any chances!

We were up for it! Both of us were looking extremely forward to going to the game to support Bafana, to blow vuvuzela’s for our stars Mphela, Pienaar, Tshabalala, Khune et al and to play our part in carrying on the GEES generated by the World Cup!

Sadly, that is where it ended

Buying the match tickets on Computicket was the easy part. At R100 a piece to watch the clash of our nations favourites against our adopted & beloved quarterfinal cousins, it seemed fair value, compared to the R350 I paid to get a ticket to watch the off-form Springboks at the same battle ground next week. The only thing that raised an eyebrow was that the seats were unreserved? According to the SAFA spokesman, it seems many people haven’t been to Soccer City before so they will “struggle to find their seats”! (hmmm… I wonder how the Mexican, Brazilian and South Korean fans managed to find their seats during the WC2010?)

Getting to the game was potentially the deal breaker for making this gargantuan effort – note that the weather had no bearing on our decision to go. That said, based on the pleasurable experience of going to Soccer City no less than six (6!) times during the world cup, I assumed that the transport organisation would be if not as efficient as during the colonialists FIFA’s brief reign over South Africa, then at least up to a similar standard. In hindsight, as someone once said, assumptions are the mother of all…!

Being typically sceptical Joburgers we didn’t go into this one blindly. We double-checked of course, and after some nifty googling we stumbled onto the www.safa.net website, which conveniently emblazoned all over the home page travel arrangements for tonight’s match. The three options were: Train it; Rea Vaya bus it; or Park & Walk it (for the WC2010 uninformed that means DRIVE). The ‘specially arranged’ trains leaving from JHB Park Station were at 14:53pm, 15:36pm and 18:21pm. So for the working class that only left one feasible option: the 6pm train, also, who wanted to arrive 4.5 hours early?? Against making the 6pm train was fighting the notorious peak hour M1 South traffic to get to the stattion, and we couldn’t run the risk of missing the train. Thus Metrorail was ruled out. The fore-mentioned traffic hindrance didn’t seem all that appealing so Park & Walk was ruled out… although I did buy a ‘Shareworld’ Park & Walk ticket anyway as an emergency option (At R15 it was worth the safety net). The website clearly stated that Rea Vaya busses were leaving from “Con Hill” every “5 minutes between 5pm and 8pm”. As Con Hill was suitably located for us, with plenty street signs dotted along the way pointing us to the location, and also due to the great reviews this mode of transport had during the world cup, this was the option for us!

Con Hill here we come!!

But we came… and… left.

We arrived at Con Hill, and there was not a bus in sight! The security guard pointed us in the direction of the Civic Centre. But we weren’t taking our chances. If SAFA can’t get it right, what chance did the poor security guard have?

Cue the safety net Park & Walk ticket! Luckily for me, I learnt a secret route during the World Cup, via the western suburbs of Jhb snaking through the northern parts of Soweto, to get to Soccer City (if my mom only knew that her precious boykies were driving through Soweto at night!) If it wasn’t for the secret route we would have missed the WC2010 opening game due to the now infamous ‘Opening Match Gridlock’. As we embarked on my secret route through areas of Joburg my suburbanite brother had never seen before, we ducked under the highway and I noticed the peak hour traffic back up that we would now avoid. I quietly gave myself a pat on the back. The secret route worked again, and it took us next to no time to get to Nasrec Road…  But that was the beginning of the end.

There are only 2 ways to get to Shareworld – via Nasrec Road or via Main Reef Road. The route in from the other side was closed off by the cops (I know because we tried it!) During the World Cup we sat in traffic on Nasrec road, which moved along at snail’s pace but eventually we made it to the game on time. But that was with the advantage of arriving plenty time in advance and with a battalion of metro cops to marshal the traffic. Tonight the back-up down Nasrec road spanned the length of the entire road – that is a couple of kilometres – and not a metro cop in sight! Based on my world cup experience I knew that we were in for trouble, and there was no way in hell, with just over an hour to go before kick-off, that we would make it into the stadium on time, let alone find a parking in the chaos.

We had to make a call: sit in the car, tear our hair out and struggle to get to the game. Or call it.

Common sense prevailed – we called it!

I did suggest to my brother that we try finding an alternative route. But that was taking a chance it would be better elsewhere, further complicated that we did not know how to find any other way with no marshals to assist us. My secret route only knew one direction! As I did a u-turn to hit it back onto the highway, I felt guilty that we were wimping out of it. But my boet, wise beyond his years, consoled me with these words “It shouldn’t be this hard to get to the game”.

We came, we most certainly tried, and we sadly left.

All kitted out and nowhere to go!

So what does this all say about our post world cup abilities? For those who doubt my optimism and patriotism and think I am conveniently backing the naysayers, go read my other blog entries … I am the biggest Advocate for Mzansi! But this whole experience left a very bitter taste in my mouth, as I have read countless articles on how the Administrators of the game were going to take the lessons learnt from the world cup and move forward in a positive direction (and the leaders of our country on a more general basis). Yet, the first opportunity they had was blown. Badly. They spoke of how they wanted to attract more whitey’s (whose pale faces were plentiful at the world cup games) to support local soccer. But based on tonight’s experience, would I dare try it again? On tv the stadium was half full. I read an interesting article by the sports columnist Mark Gleeson in which he said that low attendances at local soccer games are caused by the “appalling experience” of going to a game, from the “transport, parking, seating, concession stands and general bonhomie in the crowd”. I cannot comment about the inside of the stadium, I never made it there, but from a transport point of view, the organisers definitely missed a trick. Even my mother commented to me, as I was despairing to her on the way home (moms give the best sympathy!), that how could it have messed it up SOOOO badly as there was a perfect transport infrastructure from the world cup!

And worst of all? I missed a perfect start to Pitso’s reign as Mphela scored a cracker for a 1 nil win!

We begrudgingly arrived home after the 1.5 hour ride around Joburg.

My brother got out my car, and all he could say was “Thanks for the ride…”

Mzansi Fo Sho!

* I have print-screened and saved the SAFA website transport details in case of any denials! Let the typical weak excuses begin. I am going to ask for my money back… watch this space!

Unused match ticket for sale!

Moving up in the world of blogging!

August 10, 2010

Sacksinthecity has been invited to blog for the up and coming Newstime website (www.newstime.co.za).

Check out my profile at http://www.newstime.co.za/blogger/Sacksinthecity!/97

Onwards and upwards!

Mzansi Fo Sho!

Does Joburg need Superheroes?

August 9, 2010

Yet another long weekend in Mzansi – we are truly blessed with our liberal culture of needing to celebrate and honour almost anything: woman, youth, freedom, Selebi going to jail – or is it all just an excuse to put our feet up and relax? I thought that’s what strikes were for! I guess it’s all in the name of Ubuntu!

Nevertheless, today gave me some time to do a spot of housecleaning. Or, as most spring cleanings tend to up for me, a few hours spent perusing through my old comic books.

Like many teenage boys of the time, I got caught up in the mid-90’s comic boom, a massive comic craze created by speculators who believed they could make a fortune in unearthing rare comics and selling them on for a handsome profit.  Together with a cousin of mine, I would trawl the handful of comic book stores in Joburg – I remember one being in Edenvale, another at the top of Grant Avenue in Norwood – debating which rare gem of a comic would lead to an early retirement.  This was before the days of the internet, and we had to batch-order new titles from overseas, and then wait excitedly for weeks for the snail-mail postal system to deliver the slew of newly created comic titles or yet another spin off series of X-Men or Spiderman.  It was only when I entered university, and happened upon my first Economics 101 lecture, did I learn about the phenomena of ‘Supply vs. Demand’. Needless to say, my Gen 13 #1 edition is worth less now than what I paid for it, and I never got to retire young!

My lasting legacy of this craze is the big box of individually plastic-wrapped comics that I now store in my cupboard (I didn’t sell one), together with my vast collection of Archie comics… Every now and again I flip through a couple of books and get lost for a few hours as my mind wanders through the imagined world of Metropolis or Gotham City.

I am a day-dreamer supreme, and I often lose myself in thought as my mind wanders through its labyrinth of crevices. So as I read through Green Lantern #56 this morning, I wandered what Joburg would be like if Superheroes were real, and if they were, what kind of characters would they be?  I think these heroes would specialise in tackling and combating the problems evident in our city. There would be characters such as METROMAN, the only honest traffic cop in the city. He would cruise around the city in his Orange customised superfast bike battling his arch-nemesis, HiACE, and his evil army of Taxi drivers. METROMAN would never accept a bribe, take no mercy on the cowboys who drive without number plates, would never hide behind a speed camera, and would certainly be in a physical shape capable of running at least 30 metres to chase down a suspect! Then there would be the dynamic duo of ELECTRO, and his boy wonder sidekick, HYDRO, who side with the honest citizens to rid the city of the lazy and corrupt ‘OFFICIALS  of the MUNICPALITY’ who hide out in their secret lair called ESKOM. Of course there would be a group of vigilantes, appropriately named ‘the CHOOKIES’, who would roam the streets of Joburg, during all hours of the night, tackling the scum of the city, the criminals, aka the TSOTSIS. Everyone has their favourite character, and mine would certainly be JACK TAR, who has the ability to shoot bolts of tar when he points at a pothole, instantly filling it up. In his  Tar-Tank, with indestructible wheels, he would seek out those Telecom company managers who dig up our roads (without fixing them properly), and puncture all their tyres! Cameo appearances would be made by characters such as THE REPORTER, who reports on the truth on matters that count, in total disregard of the mechanisms of dictatorship such as the Media Tribunal, and the creepy ghostly spirit TOKOLOSH, commandeered by the SANGOMA, who appears in the bedrooms of politicians during the middle of the night to scare the kak out of them whenever they say or do something stupid in the public eye. Julius Dilemma would be a frequent host of the TOKOLOSH.

Eish! My imagination is running wild…

But does Joburg need Superheroes? Do we really need METROMAN, or ELECTRO, or the TOKOLOSH. Or… do we simply need honest and capable officials, who perform their jobs admirably, with pride, and most importantly, put the needs of their citizens first and foremost.  Is that really such an outlandish, imagined ideal or does it need to be drawn up in comic books??

Whereas a Superman is an impossibly fantastic concept, a hard working city official isn’t. You don’t need an imagination for this one, all we need is a bit of faith, as perhaps one day the impossible will happen!

Now wouldn’t that be a great story to read about…

Mzansi Fo Sho!

Winner and Losers of WC2010 Part 2

July 29, 2010

A friend of mine, who just got back from London, messaged me now and commented that Joburg “seems strangely quiet.”

Did the World Cup really happen??

When I started typing this blog on Sunday late afternoon, it was exactly two weeks ago since I was in ‘football’ heaven, excitedly weaving through the masses at Soccer City, match ticket and last Bud (thankfully!) in hand, for the greatest extravaganza South Africa has even seen… the World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands. This was the final act, the last stomach-twisting turn on the thrilling roller coaster which was Africa’s first world cup. And what a world cup it was!!

Against all the ‘supposed’ odds, as those naysayers prophesised, South Africa pulled off one of the greatest events in the long history of the World Cup. Why was it so great? In my opinion, the world didn’t know what to expect (if anything low/negative expectations), and such is the psychology of the mind, when one has no expectations it can only go up from there! Almost akin to a quiet night out with a planned early bedtime, which turns out into the biggest alcohol-induced bender of thrills, spills and crazy interactions in places you have never seen or been to before. The kind of night when you wake up, head throbbing the next morning, and with blood shot eyes  you smirk into the bathroom mirror and slowly whisper to yourself “what a night, what a great fucking night”. And I think that is exactly what every South African, foreign visitor and journalist thought on Monday the 12th July, the morning after the final:

what a night, what a great fucking night!!

Now almost two and half weeks later, I am sitting at my dining room table, which is only just large enough to play host to streams of paper and files of work which literally had to ‘take a hike’ during the month long festival of football. Whilst I sip my freshly brewed cup of Milo, a song by Arcade Fire plays in the background, somewhat aptly named ‘Antichrist Television Blues’ as the 24/7 football channel on Supersport is a fading memory, I am sensing how ‘strangely quiet’ Joburg seems.

So, a couple of weeks after the fact, after my initial Winners blog, it is a good time to ponder who were the losers of the World Cup? Hmmm, when I think about it, were there actually any real losers to this world cup?

Perhaps it was the superstars who were supposed to light the field alight with their world class skills, and their even bigger ego’s. Ronaldo, Rooney, Messi, Kaka are a few of the players who come to mind who arrived at this world cup and were punted to be its headline acts. As the building-wrapped billboards and seemingly Hollywood-directed TV commercials would make us believe. But that didn’t happen (Did Ronaldo even play??) But are they losers? I think not! They are all home now, earning their fat salaries, being pampered by their supermodel wives or girlfriends and jetting off to practice in whatever supercar there $150,000 a week salaries have bought them this week. So they didn’t exactly get a winners medal draped around their neck. No sir! These guys are Winners!

Perhaps it was football itself who was the real loser? Seeing game after game of players diving around the field in a manner that would make Olympic high divers proud, or the acting of the players feigning injuries with such masterclass and passion that I heard they were going to bring Simon Cowell in as a studio guest to rate these ‘performances’. Or, and this is what I hated the most, the players surrounding the referee in manner akin to assault whenever a  decision went against their team. FIFA promoted the ‘Say No To Racism’ campaign before certain games, a noble effort, but what moral message was all this ‘simulating’ sending out to the kids, the clichéd leaders of tomorrow? Dive, roll, or swear your way to get ahead? Certainly didn’t do much for promoting the beautiful game! But is football the loser? I think not! It’s just 2 weeks till the kick off of the English Premier League and I couldn’t be more excited! The world is addicted to football (ok, maybe not the Yanks, but they can have their baseball!) and come World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Mr Blatter is going to rake in another $2billion, hopefully including a few bob for my match tickets!

Perhaps the figurative losers were Netherlands for doing their best imitation of Bakkies Botha by trying to thump the Spanish off the field during the final after playing so attractively in every other game? Perhaps the losers were the people, on those Durban-bound flights, who missed the semifinals? Perhaps the losers were some traders or hospitality vendors who lost money as the business didn’t come their way? Perhaps it will even be South Africa itself, who might not take the lessons it learnt to heart and build on this fantastic momentum?

When I really think about it there were no real losers of this world cup. There was no troubling breaking news, there was no massive crime wave, nor tourists left stranded without accommodation or transport. Perhaps an isolated story here or there. This isn’t Utopia afterall. The Dutch will always be regarded as purveyors of entertaining football, those unlucky travellers stranded in Durban will hopefully remember the rest of their magical trip, there were plenty vendors who did great business, and South Africa was the most popular phrase in the world for 4 long weeks (followed closely by “vuvuzela”)  – where else can the Ministry of Tourism get great coverage like that!

Ultimately, the unlucky losers are us poor sods, who two weeks after the World Cup, have been dragged back into a normal sense of reality. Gone are the throngs of previously unheard of foreign accents clogging the restaurants and bars; the jovial acceptance of the daily nuances that bothered us so before; and the adrenaline rush caused by the anticipation by the next game to go to or watch. This place was pumping!! Back is the impatient Joburg attitude; the daily cursing at the taxi’s weaving illegally through the peak hour traffic; and the nervous anticipation of what Julius Dilemma is going to spurt out next… Xenophobia anyone?

Zapiro, The Times, 14 July 2010

When I started this blog I was sitting on a couch at the impressive Hyde Park Hotel Bar, daydreaming out the window and wandering to myself “Did the World Cup really happen??”  The setting sun caught my eyes, forcing me to squint. As I refocused onto the purple hue of dusk, I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of Joburg encapsulated by the glory of an African sunset, one of the city’s most endearing and loved characteristics.

Woza! Tomorrow is a new day and, with or without the World Cup, a new adventure awaits. Afterall, this is Joburg… a place where anything but the expected happens…

Mzansi Fo Sho!

And the good time GEES just keeps on rolling…!

July 18, 2010

I enjoy writing. I really do. And one thing that is apparent to me is that every writer – from occasional blogger like myself to seasoned author – needs some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. If its inspiration you are looking for, best you quickly head down to South Africa, because inspiration is being given away by the bucket load at the moment.  Just take today for example…

In celebration of Nelson Mandela’s (92nd ) birthday, the 18th of July has been designated ‘Mandela Day’, an annual celebration of Madiba’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual ability to make an imprint and change the world around them. The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: “Nelson Mandela has given 67 years of his life (since 1942) fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.”

Today, all around South Africa, Mandela Day was in full swing, as countless Mzansi citizens, from the platteland to the urban jungles, gave up some of their time to help make a difference. The momentum of the patriotic GEES (pride) generated from the world cup just keeps on flowing… I haven’t seen this much goodwill in SA since the Red Nose Days of yesteryear (remember that!)  So this morning I joined a group of guys at Immaculata Hall, a homeless shelter in Rosebank. Brilliantly organised by my mate Squeaky, contributions were made for purchasing much needed meat for the shelter and a small group of us went to the shelter to give our 67 minutes. It was a heart-warming experience as Jacob Modise, the manager, welcomed us all with open arms, gave us a tour of the facilities and even shared humorous anecdotes of the history and the day-to-day activities of the shelter (they even have a computer centre to teach computer literacy).

Walking into the shelter this morning I didn’t know what to expect in terms of acceptance and interaction, but I don’t believe it was an eye-opening experience for me. Having lived in Joburg for the better part of my life, I am very cognisant of the harsh realities many people face in South Africa on a daily basis. If anything, the street beggars, a hallmark of Joburg life, are a daily reminder of this fact: An ex-South African mate of mine was driving with me the other day and commented on the numerous beggars we encountered at almost every intersection. He asked me how I was able to seemingly ignore each beggar ambling past my window every time we stopped at a traffic light. I said to him that I don’t ignore them; it’s just that we are most likely desensitized by this near daily routine.  If you live in Joburg you will know what I mean. Sadly in South Africa there are millions of people who need assistance, not only the beggars in the streets. There are probably too many people for us as individuals to reach out to. But I believe, and as I preached to my friend in the car that day and something that I strive to practice, we don’t always have the ability as individuals to assist every single person we encounter daily, but if we focus our resources on helping maybe just one person, or even a few, and effecting a positive change in their lives, be it for a moment or for forever, than that is playing a significant part in helping South Africa. Someone might question the shallowness of seeing people suddenly give ‘only’ 67 minutes of time to help another today or to spend some time at charitable organisations, but you know what? Those 67 minutes, (and the donated meat!), might just have positively impacted on someone’s life. And even if it was seemingly just for a moment, the goodwill that it imparted might just have given them a little bit more spirit to keep on fighting the good fight, and that much more HOPE. If anything, the wonderful experience of goodwill today might just encourage us to make a little bit more effort in ‘giving’. And I think that is the main hope and idea behind behind Mandela Day… Madiba is a wise old man after all! 🙂

Zapiro Sunday Times 18 July 2010

The cherry on the top of a fantastic day, and to divert a little, was watching Louis Oosthuizen, or the endearing “Oosthoozen” to the Afrikaans-challenged overseas golf commentators,  absolutely destroy the best field in golf today to capture the most coveted trophy in golf: The Open Championship aka the British Open. Little Louis, a 200-1 rank outsider at the start, and whose slight frame belies his ability to pound the ball further than most, won his first ‘major’ at the Old Course of St Andrews, the literal home of golf for those less golf astute. I laughed as the colourful French commentator Jean van der Velde exacerbated “I am struggling to pronounce Louis correctly, never mind his first two names!!” (Ludowicus Theodorus “Louis” Oosthuizen).  Being a golf nut myself, I joined some mates about a year ago to go ‘hack’ my way around the hallowed links of the Old Course, and I sat glued to the TV this weekend with my course play book I got that awesome day tracking each and every hole. For me, when a South African is in contention in a big golf tournament, it’s as exciting to watch as a Springbok rugby game. Luckily with the talent we have in this country, these moments occur quite regularly. Watching Louis and his caddy, Zack Rasego (black caddies are a very rare sight in world golf), proudly marching down the final fairway, graciously receiving the deserved applause from the massive galleries I (somehow!) found myself cracking open the bottle of Edradour whisky which I bought at the distillery the day after I played St Andrews, and whose opening I saved for a special moment. Never mind the Bells advert, this was an EXTRA special moment and never has a single malt tasted so fine!

The first thing Louis, a humble, well-mannered man of few words, so typical of South African golfers on the tour, said as he gave his victory speech was to wish Nelson Mandela happy birthday. Well done boy! As the commentators were throwing out every superlative about Louis, Ernie Els, Gary Player and the best of what South Africa offers to the golfing world (for such a small country in the scheme of things we definitely punch above our weight) and as they also acknowledged the recent positive imprint South Africa has had on the world recently, I found myself toasting under my breath to King Louis, Madiba, Mandela Day and to the events of this past month, as it was bladdy lekker to be Proudly South African… “Mzansi Fo Sho!”

Louis & Zack Rasego walking down the final fairway

Another great 'South African' moment!


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