Category Archives: South Africa

Is the missing lion waiting to pounce?

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Is the missing lion lurking, waiting to pounce

                     … or is he a figment of our subconscious fears ? 

Let’s face it, the world is currently in a bit of a state, with war and war-induced famine, strikes and greed-induced unrest, millions of displaced and diseased wanderers, missing children and destroyed ancient artifacts. Angry megalomaniacs cause untold harm and pain in the name of God, political power, economic prowess, nationalism and progress. Underlying all the “sound and fury” I detect the same old, same old “I know what is good and right for you” and “I am sure as hell going to make sure you get it even if it kills you.” The supreme arrogance behind much of the suffering in the world today is astonishing in its scope, sickening in its selfishness and horrifying in its self-righteous complacency. Nobody can convince me that this is God slapping down sinners again (Whose God and whose definition of sin?). This pain is man-made. The missing lion who threatens us is not the instrument of some deity; it lives inside ourselves.

Natural disaster

Onto the world stage where we “strut and fret” during humankind’s brief moment in time, the planet shrugs and nature puts us in our place: earthquake, flood, volcano, tsunami and typhoon. One would think we human beings would stop for one moment in our chase after material things, religious justification, political power and nuclear weapons, but oh no:

NOTHING HUMBLES US!

The lion lurks tonight

It is interesting how much publicity the lion lost from Tbilisi Zoo is getting; rather more than the earthquake victims of Kathmandu where nearly 5000 people died (one family lost 18 people) and 10 000 people are homeless. The capital of Georgia has been flooded 5 times before, but once more no preventive measures have been made for the animals. Hundreds of dangerous animals escaped when the river Vere caused landslides after heavy rain, yet they have not attacked people. A rare white lion was shot.

Why? – Symbolic shape of our inner ruthlessness.

The threat posed by a lion was in all likelihood one of the motivations behind the invention of human language. A way had to be found to warn others of the species homo sapiens against things that lurk near the water source or along the path to where the berries grow. It is an old, old fear that we humans carry. Yet I propose that the most dangerous animal on earth is man. How many people were killed by lions so far in 2015, and how many by men?

If I were you, dear missing lion, I’d stay far away from people. They are not a very admirable species.

Ref: Washington Post, Hindustani Times, Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Rand Jitters

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The Rand and the Ripple Effect

The South African Rand made quite a nose dive this week when it hit the lowest point in thirteen years. This made investors and economists quite jittery, not to mention the poor souls in the clutches of debt. Who can afford such bad economic times these days anyway? The weak currency has a tremendously wide ripple effect, affecting almost everything in a negative manner. The Rand gets influenced by so many external factors in turn, of which most are foreign influences.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Inflation-Hike (The Ugly):

The weaker the Rand gets, the higher the inflation rate. Anything above 3 to 4 % of the annual range of inflation is considered as high. A skyrocketing inflation rate would have dire economical consequences! Here are a few general concerns:

–       Rising inflation results in lowering of income, especially for those already facing pay freezes and -cuts.

–       General living costs will rise as the prices of necessities such as food and municipal utilities like water and electricity rise, along with everything else. Usually the elderly and lower income families are the ones suffering the most. In general, everybody is getting poorer bit by bit.

–       People living from the interest on their investments will also get poorer if the inflation rate should go higher than their interest rates.

–       There is a general uncertainty and lack of business confidence as businesses find it difficult to establish their costs and prices.

–       With a weaker Rand value, crude oil will be much more expensive, resulting in higher fuel prices. That in turn will cause rising in consumer prices and directly a higher inflation rate. It’s a vicious cycle, really, which will hopefully be turned around soon enough.

Interest Rates (The Bad):

Interest rates naturally go up when the Rand looses value. The reason for this being financial markets protecting themselves. For those fortunate South Africans with investments and more savings than debt, this is good news of course. Sadly, for most, too high interest rates paint a darker future. Mortgages and borrowing money are getting less affordable, while most cannot afford to buy a house or car for instance without a loan.

The Flip Side (The Good):

This might all seem pretty overwhelming, but our country was in worst situations before. We always somehow managed to get through it in the end. While we cannot do anything about foreign affairs influencing our economy, we can at least take care of our own affairs. There are so many inspiring stories of individuals who managed to claw their way out of debt in the worst economical times and situations. There are just as much help around to teach us how to take care of our own economy. Worrying about the weakening Rand or the global economy won’t change a thing. We might as well take charge of what we can.

Author: Maritha Koortzen

marithak@webmail.co.za

The author writes to various websites and newspapers mostly on Health and Social Issues. She also talks at Ladies Events about Health and Wellness.

Feel free to contact her for any free lance writing.

 

Nkandla and the Views of the Opposition

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Nkandla – Angry opposition

After the release of the Nkandla report by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, it was clear that a large proportion of the nation was angry and unimpressed by the report’s findings. The finding that president Zuma need not pay back the money spent on Nkandla was definitely not what the opposition parties or the nation wanted to hear.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane said that the “President is sending a clear message that corruption does not matter and that he should be above the law” the DA further branded the report a “whitewash” and an “insult to the South African people”. Party leader Maimane said that “The DA will not allow the President to get away with the theft of public funds … We have, therefore, referred the matter to our legal team for the consideration of the rationale of Minister Nhleko’s determination, and our constitutional and legal remedies.”

It was not only the DA who made themselves heard. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said that the party will still continue with their “pay back the money” campaign. They also stated that they would go to court if necessary and that they won’t rest “until Zuma pays back some portion of the money” spent on Nkandla.

Other political parties, like the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), also voiced shock at Nhleko’s report. Kenneth Meshoe is quoted as saying: “I am shocked that the minister of police has found that President Zuma does not have to repay a thing for the additional upgrades at his Nkandla residence”.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling party welcomed the report about Nkandla by the Police Minister. In the report it was also made clear that even more upgrades would be forthcoming, which are said to include motion detector beams and camera monitors with recording capabilities.

Whatever the next steps of the various opposition parties are going to be, it is clear that we have not yet reached the conclusion of the Nkandla and “fire pool” saga. Many citizens hope that this report by the Police Minister will not be the final word on the subject, and welcome the parties taking steps against it.

 

Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

South Africa unites against e-toll

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A nation united against e-tolling

Mention e-toll fees in any conversation and a tsunami of vitriolic responses follows immediately. Citizens aren’t shy to voice their opinions on e-toll fees. Public sentiment has been overwhelmingly negative since the very first mention of e-tolling back in 2007. The general feeling is that we pay sufficient other taxes including steep fuel levies to cover road maintenance and upgrades.

Symbols of Oppression

E-toll gantries have become a symbol of oppression to many road users who feel the Gauteng government and the ANC aren’t heeding the collective voice of the people. People of all colours and creed are united in their resolve to not be bullied into registering and paying for e-toll. The last time such a large and diverse group of people were opposed and stood against a single cause, it was when they fought for the end of apartheid.

Threats: Pay or else…

On May 20, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced drastic methods to cut e-toll fees by half in some cases. He also warned that non-payers would have their licence discs withheld in future. This announcement caused quite an uproar with many calling his bluff, suggesting it’ll be illegal practice to refuse the re-issuing or renewal of licence discs because of non-payment of e-toll dues.

A resounding ‘no’ to e-tolls

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) have called on government to abolish e-tolls. In a recent study conducted by Ipsos “the vast majority of Gauteng motorists (74%) were of the opinion that the government should find an alternative to the e-toll system in Gauteng.”

Government’s seemingly unwillingness to listen to the cries of the people may result in the ANC losing ground in the next elections. We, the people of South Africa have a voice and a say and we want it to be heard. We want a government that will listen to its people and respect their opinions.

References

http://www.fin24.com/Economy/LIVE-Ramaphosa-lifts-veil-on-e-tolls-20150520

http://pressoffice.mg.co.za/ipsos/PressRelease.php?StoryID=258561

Is Luck Overrated?

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What do you mean by “Luck”?

We often wish someone “good luck” in their various endeavours. By this we mean to wish them to be successful in whatever they are about to do. However, if you ask whether luck is overrated, you need to first ask yourself what exactly it is you mean by “luck”. Often the same people who wished someone luck will be angry or jealous when they do reach their goals or are successful. As if wishing them luck is simply pretence and you really wish that they’d fail.

Many will then, out of jealousy, try to break the lucky/successful person down – even spreading lies and rumours to say that the person doesn’t actually deserve their success or didn’t work for it. As if you should have the last say about a person’s success or failure. You want to act as if anyone could reach that level of success if you only took the same shortcut the lucky person got to take. You wish to have “instant success”, not “success you deserve after all the work you’ve put into it behind the scenes”.

Who, after all, wouldn’t want instant success without having to have put hours into reaching that success and be the lucky one who made it? The various inspirational quotes which are sent around each day certainly contribute to this as well. It makes me think of a quote in Wee Free Men by T. Pratchett: “If you trust in yourself… and believe in your dreams… and follow your star… you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy”. We all want the luck to be instantly successful, but few are willing to really put the work into what they want to achieve.

We’ve turned luck into a mythological force that chooses random people to become successful overnight – a force that is just too spiteful to choose me and instead chooses them. But waiting for luck to come your way and fulfil your desires is like wanting to be a successful artist/photographer/CEO/athlete or whatever your goal is, by sitting in a corner doing nothing and waiting for someone to come and ask you out of the blue to suddenly be one of these things. Working towards being lucky, however, means working at it every moment that you can and looking for ways in which you can take your skills further.

Instead of not wishing someone good luck/success, we should rather let go of the petty jealousies we want to hold against each other and work towards our own success. After all, if you know how much work someone else has put into reaching their goals, you should be proud of them, not angry and jealous of them. Rather learn from them than break them down.

 

Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archaeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

Xenophobia – stop the hate now!

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The Horrible Face of Xenophobia

Xenophobia once again reared its ugly head in South Africa. Social media is ablaze with horrific photos and eyewitness accounts of foreigners being intimidated and even killed by mobs of machete wielding thugs. Bloodthirsty mobs gang up on foreigners, loot their shops, steal their belongings and threaten them with violent deaths. Foreigners, fearing for their lives, run for all they’re worth with only their clothes on their backs. They’re stabbed, burned and slaughtered on the streets – for trying to eke out a living here and calling our country their new home.

News reports sent across the globe portray South Africans as a hateful, intolerant and murderous bunch.  It’s hard to comprehend how someone can stab or burn another human being to death. Who’s to blame? The jeering onlookers? The photo journalists that are vying for close-up shots of the macabre scenes? The foreigner who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time? The crazed murderer who metes out a sentence he thinks is justifiable?

What motivates a person to barbarically kill a man who pleads for his life – and that in full view of spectators and cameras? Where does this anger and hate come from? Is it because some foreigners are guilty of criminal activities such as prostitution and drug trafficking and communities are fed up with what’s going on on their doorsteps? Is it because some foreigners take up jobs natives feel they were supposed to get? Is it because some foreigners come to South Africa with nothing but hope and then, through entrepreneurial willpower, guts and sheer hard work, manage to build up successful small businesses and make a decent living?

Then there’s the herd mentality that seems to egg mobs on to commit acts no human being in his right mind would ever contemplate of doing on his own, like pouring petrol over someone and setting him to light. Why do ordinary people become like wild animals when they operate in groups? Look at the faces of looting people – they seem to enjoy what they’re doing!

A lot of debate and action are needed to understand and curtail xenophobia as well as mob mentality. As a nation we cannot tolerate violence in any form and we should stand united against it at all cost. Xenophobia should have no place in the hearts of a rainbow nation. Also, mobs should know they‘re not above the law because they operate in numbers. You’re not faceless when you’re part of a mob – your face may just be plastered on tomorrow’s newspapers!

An Easter Tradition

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Traditional Easter Food

The pickled fish tradition lives on either as custom passed down by their parents or because they consider eating meat on Good Friday as “unholy”. Most people are totally oblivious of where the tradition originated, but the absence of facts don’t stop them from following the tradition.

Surprise your family with scrumptious Eater Pickled fish, using this recipe courtesy of the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market. You’ll be their hero for a long time to come. Perhaps until next Easter, when you’ll have to make it again.

Easter Pickled Fish Recipe for 4

Ingredients:

400g – 500g hake or any firm white fish
2t (10ml) Seasoned Sea Salt
2T (30ml) flour
Canola oil
2 onions, finely sliced into rings
½ cup (125ml) water
½ cup (125ml) cider or white wine vinegar
1t (5ml) turmeric
1t (5ml) Seasoned Sea Salt
1 x 200ml Yogurt with 1T curry mix
Fresh coriander

Method:

Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and season with salt. Heat oil in a frying pan, coat the fish in flour and fry for about ten minutes or until cooked. Set aside. Combine the onions, vinegar, water, turmeric and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Place cooled fish in a deep casserole or large jar and pour the sauce over. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve with curried yoghurt and fresh coriander.

To completely blow their minds, also give them:

Easter Hot Cross Buns

These spicy Easter pastries are delicious.

Ingredients

2 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup raisins, currants, or golden raisins (or a mix)
Finely grated zest of half an orange
1/4 heaping teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
2 teaspoons fine salt
3 1/2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 medium egg
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

Method:

In a bowl, combine the flours, water, milk, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough.

Add the dried fruit, orange zest, and spices and knead until silky and smooth. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Deflate the risen dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour. Place on a floured board, cover with plastic or cloth, and leave for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. For the crosses, whisk together flour and water until smooth, then transfer to a pastry bag and snip off the end to make a fine hole. Pipe a cross on top of each bun, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Melt jam and water in a pan. Brush over the buns to glaze as you take them from the oven.

Now see if you don’t get the biggest Easter egg ever!

Ref: http://www.capetownmagazine.com/recipes

What does success really mean?

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The true meaning of success

Define and refine and ja-well-no-fine

The definition of success has changed over the ages. We live in a grossly materialistic time, and more often than not success is measured in terms that relate to Forbes Ratings (in certain echelons) and cheap but shiny bling (in other circles). The value of a happy family life and personal integrity in business dealings seem to have taken a backseat, while conspicuous consumption and acquisitive delight have overtaken the quiet joy of self-sufficiency and living within one’s means.

The Way of the Samurai

The Bushido code has seven laws that comprise a successful life:

  1. “Gi” – Integrity (The ability to make the right choice even if nobody knows about it, to do what is right for the clan).
  2. “Yuuki” – Bravery, courage.
  3. “Jin” – Kindness and compassion to all regardless.
  4. “Rei” – politeness and caring.
  5. “Makoto”- Honesty (respecting the laws of the universe).
  6. “Meiyo” – enjoy the honour (honour can only be enjoyed when it is earned).
  7. “Chuugi” – Loyalty and trustfulness (unconditionally practised)

Nowhere is there the law that requires one to have things at the cost of others, to demand and display your wealth, to exploit and damage the planet for your own immediate comfort in order to be considered successful.

Closer to home

An extraordinary South African, Jan Smuts, was called by the Master of Christ’s College at Cambridge “one of the outstanding minds in 500 years of college history” (along with John Milton and Charles Darwin). He coined the term “holism’ and after Albert Einstein had read his book “Holism and Evolution”, he said the two mental constructs that will direct human thinking will be his own of relativity and Smut’s of Holism. In 1946 Smuts spoke to the world in a broadcast on BBC, emphasizing *that the human will not long be satisfied with materialistic achievements; that the debasing of values would end in force, that the advancement of culture and dignity of persons was the only antidote to violence.

This man was present at the signing of the treaty at Vereeniging ending the Anglo-Boer War, as well at the treaties at the end of World Wars I and II. How magnificently, tragically, prophetically right he has been: The humiliation of the Afrikaner by the British for centuries, and the evil machinations of the Jingoes (Rhodes and Milner) to engineer a war to steal the mineral wealth of this land, lead directly to enactment in the form of Apartheid, and the humiliation of the Germans at the end of the First World War culminated in the Second World War, exactly as predicted by Smuts. Look at the world at war in our time, and examine what mankind is doing to mankind, in Palestine and Syria, India and Israel… Then go back and back. Trace what has been done to groups that permit them to do what they are doing to others. Business acumen and amassing of wealth by the few, miracles of science and medical wonders, have not prevented us from harming our own kind. Then look at what Smuts said above.*

What does success mean to you?

Is success having a super-healthy bank balance or doing no harm? Does a successful society produce whole children who can of themselves impart meaning and impetus to their lives, or people that feel that happiness can only be found behind the steering wheel of an expensive car and surrounded by things that glister? Can a successful entrepreneur also be kind? Would success lie in finding a way to share the resources of the planet more fairly or in exhausting it for instant riches and with no thought given to our children’s children? Can we get away with lack of respect for one another or will we destroy ourselves in the process? Lack of dignity and respect is fertile soil for anger to grow, and it will target anything in its way, seldom reaching the actual cause.

What does success mean to you? Isn’t it time we redefined?

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speechwriter, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.

Contact: florabundu@lando.co.za

THE NEW SOUTH AFRICAN BUDGET

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THE NEW SOUTH AFRICAN BUDGET

NENE’S NOBLE ATTEMPT

Let’s face it: our latterday finance ministers Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan and now Nhlanhla Nene are rather clever. But in spite of the statutory “challenging but hopeful” refrain, even these smart chaps cannot spin gold from straw. (If you don’t know the fairy tale, google it and see what life lessons one can glean from old, old stories).

Unpack it as one might, Minister Nene’s budget speech to the nation is more of the same: Keep our fiscal policies progressive and make responsible choices. Surprise! Surprise!

PRO-POOR

            …………………………………or PROP-UP RHETORIC?

Oh yes, there was some token support for small business enterprises and some tax relief, but the bottom line remains: “Responsible choices are required!” One agrees, and of course alcoholic beverages and cigarettes should be heavily taxed. But no amount of ducking and diving can hide the fact that the budget deficit is under pressure, and thus the government’s ability to deal with pressing economic problems is restricted. Basic services are sadly lacking. Unemployment figures are high. Also, the very (small) businesses that are supposedly benefiting are the ones most crippled by road tolls and fuel levy demands. (We now pay R2.55 tax on every litre of petrol.) Silently and stealthily the disposable income of the poor is placed under even more pressure.

 CONTRA- INITIATIVE

Growth in the economy is further retarded by the reluctance of foreign investors to embark on initiatives that are restricted by property rights, corruption and unreliable electricity supplies. (Nobody seems to mind the tax levy for skills development, workman’s compensation and customs and excise taxes.)

BURDENS ON THE BASKET

Fiscal health is a slippery eel that is impossible to grip in slimy water. A fiscus is Latin for a basket or purse. Fiscal pertains to the public treasury; the fisc is the state revenue. A basket full of state dosh to fund the many things the ruling party is responsible for can become empty, you know. It is not a bottomless cup of coffee. It is not the Biblical widow’s urn. A huge civil service has to be paid from this basket. (Not to mention the many boards of enquiry into corruption charges against civil servants ….the court cases and ‘Cadillacs’.)

Government’s ‘commitment to positive retirement outcomes’ encourages personal accumulation of capital, (to the tune of untaxed savings of R500 000) which will reduce dependency on the basket. But, underlying this apparently sound (if pie-in-the sky for most of us) advice is the message:”You’re on your own! Don’t expect government to take care of you!” This is not in itself a bad message, but it is difficult to keep one’s eyes on that distant goal when clean water and effective education remain out of one’s reach. It sort-of dooms us (South Africans) into remaining dependent; into remaining financial basket cases.

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway

Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speech writer, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.

Contact: florabundu@lando.co.za

 

Proud to live in South Africa

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We are very lucky to be living in South Africa

 Lucky to be living in South Africa? “What the …!” I hear you say. “Just look at the news, read the papers, look around you, for goodness’ sake! It’s mayhem, corruption, murder and economic collapse everywhere!” you rant.

 OK, it is true that South Africa experiences many problems. There are incompetent leaders and many inert civil servants, there is crime and employment is a big problem. Yet, there are also many things that can justifiably make you proud of living in South Africa. Just forget about the negative issues for the moment, and think about the positive.

We have the Mandela legacy

 Nelson Mandela left each and every South African a priceless legacy. He serves as an example of what can be achieved. No other country in the world boasts such a powerful legacy by a man that will forever remain a giant in the eyes of the world. If everybody strives to follow this example, South Africa will become a giant amongst nations. We are lucky to have received such a generous legacy.

We have unparalleled beauty

 Every country has beauty, but none can  surpass the all-encompassing variety that South Africa has. We have spectacular nature reserves and is home to the biggest variety of fauna and flora in the world. We have magnificent beaches, sunshine all year round, majestic mountains and mysterious forests. South Africa is the cradle of mankind and boasts one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We are lucky to live here!

We are free

 The Constitution of South Africa grants all citizens a level of freedom that is the envy of people living in most  other countries. Just look at how successful civil organisations have been in challenging the government in court. Their successes mean that the system works! We are free to be whoever we are, to associate with whomever we will, to worship in the way we choose to and to marry whomever we want, even someone of the same gender! Yes, we are lucky to be free in South Africa.

So, stop a minute and count your blessings

 These are just three reasons why we are lucky to be living in South Africa. There are many more. Perhaps things will be better if we count our blessings instead of complaining all the time.