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Forgetting Nelson Mandela

This past ‘Mandela Day’ in South Africa, a radical left-wing acolyte of populist politician, Julius Malema, dumped a whole bunch of dead rats at the feet of the Mandela statue in Sandton. (Those of you who applauded the guys throwing their own shit around in Cape Town should have seen this coming.)

Forgetting Nelson Mandela

The implication is fairly clear. Mandela ratted out black people by reconciling with whites. Therefore our problems can be blamed on him. We could be living in a socialist utopia if it were not for Madiba going soft while in jail.

There’s no point to even debating the merits of such an argument, as many South Africans attempted to do with the Cecil Rhodes statue. Once people are throwing rats and feces around, debate has left the building. Nobody ten years ago would ever have dreamt of seeing a young black political activist put rats at the feet of Mandela. But there is simply no end to the process of playing the victim. That is why I think we all need to be brave enough to speak up now before the problem gets worse. Continue reading

Proteas, Panic, and the Unimportance of Winning

There is something so fascinating about the South African national cricket side. They so clearly have a real psychological and cultural block when it comes to knock-out cricket – yet they never even own up to it.

Capture

In fact, one could almost even say that not owning their weakness is truly their inherent weakness.

As a big cricket fan, I admit that I get far too emotionally invested in what is really just a game of cricket – a knocking about of leather by willow – and so my knee-jerk reaction after another classic case of Protea Panic is to forget about it and move on.

But this time I am truly intrigued on a human level with this bizarre and continuous re-enactment of ‘choking’, tournament after tournament, as though they were doomed to repeat the past again and again.

For some reason, one of the great and bizarre quotes from Peter ‘P-Divvy’ de Villiers came to mind on Monday morning. He once said, to general mockery,’There is no difference between winning and losing. The only difference is how you feel after.’

Of course, this was immediately dismissed as nonsense, but I wonder if he was not onto something. Continue reading

Putting the ‘Radical’ into Economic Transformation

Not many people know what the word ‘radical’ really means.

When politicians speak about radical economic transformation (or RET for short), they generally mean, depending on their point of view, violent, militant, extreme, or just plain awesome economic transformation. But what does the word truly mean?

Radical comes from the same word as ‘radish’ – the Latin word ‘radix’, which means ‘root’.

Therefore, radical economic transformation should really mean transformation that gets to the root of our problems. And that would therefore imply a kind of shared agreement about what the root of our problems is.

Of course, the proponents of RET have a simple answer for this – colonialism, which to them was the political expression of the evils of capitalism. And so the solution is obvious. End capitalism. Nationalise banks, mines, land. Let the government run it for the good of the people. Continue reading

Another Time, Another Place… Another Country, Another State of Grace

In order to understand the South Africa of today, and still live with hope, we must understand at least some of the past – its history and its great literature and ideals…

In the fifth century, Rome was sacked by pagan Goths.

This left the Christian world in deep shock. After having been mercilessly persecuted by the Empire in the early days, by some mystical fashion, the Emperor Constantine had been converted in a dream and had legalised the Christian religion. And there was an end to the constant bloodshed.

Despite the attempt of Julian the Apostate Emperor to re-paganise Rome, the march of Christianity continued, and Rome became the centre of the Church – the place of Peter and Paul’s martyrdom, and thus the home of their successors, the Popes.

But then it fell apart. Constantine moved the Empire to the East – to Byzantium which became Constantinople, and is now Istanbul in Turkey. Rome’s power weakened, and eventually it was conquered and the old Empire of the West fell.

What was the point of being Christian if God’s city on earth could be overwhelmed by brutal power from the north? Many people despaired. Continue reading

The Attack on Helen Zille is Embarrassing

Identity politics and outrage culture are poisoning our country.

Everybody laughs when Robert Mugabe blames his country’s woes on Britain and imperialism. That should scare the hell out of South Africans busy fuming at Helen Zille’s innocuous tweeting.

Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, recently travelled to Singapore and was perhaps a little bit over-eager to share the obvious lessons you can draw from one the great post-colonial success stories.

Singapore is a tiny little island country with no natural resources that after decades of colonisation and brutal World War II occupation resisted the surging Communism of the region to become a safe, rich, and stable first world country. Continue reading

The Top 8 South African Songs of All Time

There is such a thing as a South African sound – indefinable, tragic, with a hint of glory.

Growing up in the ’90s, most South African bands were trying to sound like Nirvana. In short, they were terrible. I gave up on South African music. In my little corner, it seemed there was no swing, no roll with the rock.

Last year, I went back in time and listened to more South African music, and gradually I felt like I got a sense, a taste, of a certain sound characteristic of South African music Continue reading

Make Springbok Rugby Great Again!

Five ideas for a return to fun Saturday afternoons.

First of all, Allister Coetzee did not do this to the Springboks. Neither did quotas.

The Proteas have an inexperienced national coach with a heavy quota system, and they are on the up.

No, the rot of Springbok rugby is systemic. It starts with under 13 coaches, and goes all the way to SA Rugby’s CEO (who has been under a cloud of criminal investigation for quite some time – and note that he is a white Afrikaner from Stellenbosch).

So how to rejuvenate the system? Here are my five ideas: Continue reading

Why Small is Beautiful

South Africa needs a dose of ‘Buddhist Economics’.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how South Africans need to start building their own punk rock economy.

In an age of declining institutions, we should embrace a DIY approach to work and life that prioritises authenticity, intentionality, and craftsmanship.

Beneath such advice lies an understanding of work and economics that is radically different to the ideology of modern economics.

I was reminded of this recently when I stumbled again across a book I read at varsity: ‘Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered’, written by economist EF Schumacher in 1973. The fourth chapter is called ‘Buddhist Economics’ and was written by Schumacher decades earlier after he worked as an adviser to the Prime Minister of Burma. Continue reading

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