Hello 2011

January 11, 2011

So its been a seriously long time since I last posted. Life gets in the way sometimes of sharing one’s thoughts with fellow bloggers and readers. The nice thing about online blogs, is that they are always there to come back to and reconnect with the rest of the cyber world. I have to admit though that I am trying to get things right in the real world. So cyber communication is something that I do when I have the time or the inclination. But in actual fact the online world has become indispensable for most of us, as many of us work or socialise in this space. How our lives have changed in the last 20 years.

Anyways I sense that 2011 is going to be significant for many reasons. Exactly how and why, I guess I will be reflecting on in about a year from now. So welcome 2011. Lets see what you have to offer.

soccah feeva

June 14, 2010

So I haven’t written for a while. Been busy. Doing what you may ask. Oh this and that.

But mostly have been mobilising against the takeover of South Africa by FEEFA. Don’t get me wrong though. Love the game of soccah….it truly is beautiful. Its just that the SA government has sold over much of the country to this organisation, that is going to walk away with the moolah at the end of this tournament. But never mind that I guess. What really matters is this thing called Ayoba… can you feel it ?

Looking at the faces of the folk  attending the matches at the multi-billion rand stadiums…they sure do…and i guess HEAR it too. Socca feeva is here…

Bloggers for a free press

March 24, 2010


Bloggers for a free press

Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of ANC Youth League Spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the secretary-general of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money-laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa.

We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.

The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.

We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but an insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the youth league president.

We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.

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Religious Nationalism rears its ugly head in India again

February 4, 2010

Having followed the last few days of political drama in India, I am wondering about whether India’s claim to being the largest democracy in the world can truly be  justified. When political thugs like the Shiv Sena party can phone up film distributors and threaten them  with dire consequences if they distribute Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film, just because the actor expressed an opinion about Pakistani cricket players, and an inoffensive one at that, and not face the wrath of the law, what is this saying about the rule of law in the nation? It implies that anyone can engage in hate speech, incite people to violence and get away with it.

Representatives of the Shiv Sena party are getting very possessive about Mumbai, after the terrorist attacks of 26 / 11/ 09 and are feeling very hurt about anyone who even remotely suggests that India should have anything to do with Pakistan, given that the attacks on Mumbai were perpetrated by Pakistani based terrorists. But why do these same folk not get worked up about those people who brought the culture of terrorism and political violence to the Indo-pak sub-continent in the first place, viz the British imperialists. I personally have nothing against the Brits, but the truth is that the kind of attacks on India, that are being perpetrated today are really the legacy of the deliberate Hindu Muslim divide set up by the colonialists, hence leading to the splitting of a country, which should never have happened in the first place. Anyone who then engages in any discourse around India / Pakistan, and the possibility of co-operation between the two territories,  is then subject to some kind of bizarre test of Patriotism, ie, condemn Pakistan or condemn India, or else ! Why for God’s sake, must it come down to such dichotomies, and either / or politics ? Pakistanis are effectively Indians too, who had a border forced between themselves and their original motherland. Some 60 years and several unnecessary wars later,  and the two territories are supposedly sworn enemies.

There can clearly be no justification for terrorism, and it should never be tolerated, but should people like the Shiv Sena be allowed to resort to their own form of terrorism,  try and couch it within the framework of patriotism, and not be held accountable for it? How is it patriotic to threaten fellow citizens and try to stop them from going about their daily business? And then ask them to apologise for exercising their democratic rights ?

Its a sad day when religious nationalism and chauvinsim rears its ugly head, and is then not challenged and exposed for what it is. Is this the beginning of the end for Indian democracy ?

New York : The Film

December 30, 2009

So I finally watched New York on DVD this week. Parts of it were very painful to watch, especially the bit where Sam gets tortured while in detention, and having researched waterboarding etc, as part of my doctoral research, it was a sobering visual experience. One can say a lot about this movie but the most memorable bit is about Maya (Sam’s wife) wanting to reform him, and living in hope that he will somehow change his ways. But there was no going back for Sam. I can understand that. The kind of humiliation that many Muslim men were and are subjected to, because of their religion or the colour of their skin, is something that can drive any sane person to want to hit back.

The movie ends with a statement referring to President Obama having signed a document in January 2009, which aims to close down Guantanamo as soon as possible.

Err, one year later, its still open. And he got a Nobel award ? Huh? I’m thinking that there are many Sam’s still out there in the making.

So who is really responsible for terrorism in the end ? Any answers ?

My encounter with Norman Finkelstein

August 23, 2009

It takes an incredible amount of courage to do what Norman Finkelstein has done with his life. From the time he chose to “interrogate” Zionism as his phd topic, life has not been easy, especially as an academic. But I imagine it must have been quite a challenge from the start, being the son of holocaust survivors, and the way in which this fact has made him who he is.

I can’t claim to know the man in any profound way from just a few days of conversation, but I can say with certainty that he is no ordinary individual. His quiet dignified manner belies the passionate intensity of his deep conviction about the injustices that have been done to the Palestinian people, and his committment to making a substantive difference to their lives. He speaks in a measured  manner, but underneath the professorial demeanour, beats the heart of a true activist, a comrade who will stand in front of an Israeli army tank if needs be (well ok, I am assuming this, but I doubt that I am far from the truth), to make his point.

My encounter with him, was like one who has been seeking for the light, in Plato’s simile of the cave and has finally found it, staggering out from the illusion of the shadows. I have always known that I was committed about Palestine, but my convictions pale in comparison when measured against the sacrifices that Norman has made for the cause. And what makes him stand out from the masses, is that he is like a soldier willing to take a bullet with such humility and  certainty of his true purpose, that you cannot but salute the integrity of the man.

He has I believe, more than most in the contemporary era, taken on the intellectual and political task that will begin the unravelling of the Zionist project, which has been the bane of humanity for the last century. Several generations have been destroyed in the effort to create a militarised ethnic enclave for the Jewish people, many of whom have distanced themselves from this mythical homeland, which has only brought death and destruction to the global community, in various ways.

He claims that Gandhi inspires him in many ways. I suspect if the Mahatma were still alive, he would say the same about Norman Finkelstein.

On Ethnic Discrimination

June 7, 2009

So I’ve been following the story about Indian students studying in Australia being beaten up regularly over the last few weeks, by the local Australians and I’m wondering what the deal is here. Some Australian guy commented that actually its “poor” Australian youth beating up poor Indian students. Huh?

I’m reminded of the xenophobic attacks that went on here in SA, last year, and I tried hard to understand, whether it was poverty that was driving those attacks (given that it was largely black / African people attacking and killing other black / African people) or whether it was ethnicism / nationalism.  It was even more outrageous, when some SA men started saying that people of other nationalities deserved being treated like that, because they are stealing jobs and women from the local men. Huh again? I think that must have been the most shameful point in our post-apartheid history as a society.

Why can’t people just get along ? Sigh !

Suffering from BAD…and other afflictions

June 2, 2009

So a colleague and I came up with a new mental illness today… well actually she takes most of the credit. Given that we have to deal with some hectic characters at the university on a daily basis, we decided to give  this pathological behaviour a name. Its called BAD or Borderline Academic Disorder. I’m working on putting together a list of symptoms that go with it. But in the interim… heres a list of other (make believe) illnesses, with somewhat cool acronyms. Feel free to add on.

MOM – Mammary Obsessive Madness

RAT – Rubbish Attachment Tendency

FAT – Figure Analysis Trauma

SWAT – Sex With Attitude Temperament

Ok, I better stop before this list degenerates any further.

When words dry up

May 20, 2009

Sometimes words like tears dry up, and one is left looking at a blank space, willing the blackness of characters, symbols and squiggles to appear, but they don’t. There is no real reason why this happens, it just does occasionally. And even if the black symbols do appear, they are not quite what one had hoped for. This is the space that I have been inhabiting for a while. Its not quite writers block, nor is it an inability to say what I want to say.  Perhaps one can describe it more like a retreat from the busy – ness of the written world, inhabited by spell checks, editing tools and peer reviews.

It is not the case that I have not been writing, but it has been a somewhat dislocated and fragmented chiselling of words, that have often produced unfinished and incomplete chunks of roughly sculpted material.

But heres to rediscovering a beautiful piece of artwork hiding within something not quite yet finished.

On Remembering…

December 16, 2008

Memory. Its a powerful aspect of the human condition. The idea that human beings remember, recall, reminisce or reflect on past events, so that they can either savour them or not forget things that will help them to not repeat mistakes. Sadly the latter is something we don’t seem to do very well, while the former is one we sometimes take for granted.

This post is inspired by many recent events happening around me. But perhaps the catalyst is a film I watched recently, called Amu, which documents the story of  the 1984 riots and massacre in Delhi. Hundreds of Sikhs were killed, by Hindu nationalists in a revenge attack for the assasination of Indira Gandhi, whose bodyguard was a Sikh. When the film first came out (2005), there were attempts to suppress it, more particularly by Indian officials, with the argument being made that it is better  to forget such things that  only bring about unpleasantness. Forget ? How convenient.  Its the same argument that gets made by American officials who would be happier if the world forgot about their role in Vietnam and Iraq or the Isreali government, trying to cover up Sabra and Shattilla (amongst dozens of other massacres) or the Saudis wanting us to forget the murder of innocent schoolgirls because of the actions of their police officers. And then theres the whole legacy of European colonialism, slavery, genocide in Germany, Rwanda, Bosnia and elsewhere, and of course apartheid.

These are the atrocities that have been committed by human beings against their own kind. How they get justified through the writing of history is truly an education. Slavery and colonialism have been  justified as the white man “civilising” the savages and beasts of the new world, and bringing “God” to the dark continent. In all of these acts of brutality, God gets implicated a lot of the time. I reckon He’s not too pleased about being blamed for things that humans do, in His name. We need to remember that its people carrying out these violent acts. No where does it say in any of the religious texts that God sanctions the killing of innocents.  

And then there are cases where remembering becomes a reason to kill. A history of persecution and genocide as in the case of the Jewish community has indirectly led to the murder of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians over 6o years, by Israeli fundamentalists who, afraid that they will be “wiped out”, continue to kill people whose own birthright has been stolen from them. Let us remember that it was the Romans that drove the Jews out of Palestine in 70AD and Christian Germans who killed them ruthlessly in the second world war.  The price though gets paid by people who had nothing to do with the historical persecution of the Jewish community, but they are constructed as the ‘enemy’.

When we remember what has passed, it is important to do so without the coloured lens of tribalism, religious affiliations, nationalist sentiments and emotional clutter. While these things give context to our memory, it is important that the truth does not get distorted because of our occasional inability to see the trees from the forests and vice versa.

Remembering is perhaps both a gift and a curse. Either way, we should not forget (excuse the weak attempt at a pun here) the responsibilities that come with it.