When Junk hits the Fan…

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So we woke up on Wednesday morning to the news that South Africa’s annual economic outlook has been downgraded to 0.5%. Just two months ago, the International Monetary Fund “significantly cut SA’s economic growth outlook for this year from 1.3% to 0.7%, the lowest forecast on record so far”.

We’ve learnt to tighten our belts, then make them tighter and it finally looks like we’re well on our way to spilling our guts just by attempting to breathe. While the global outlook hasn’t been entirely rosy, our internal country politics have tempered so much with our economy that it looks like we are heading to where Zimbabwe was ten years ago.

There seems to be no end in sight to our growing misery. Southern Africa has experienced one of the worst droughts in twenty years, pushing food and commodity prices further up. Turn around and witness the rampant unemployment; the floodgates have opened and the system is clogged with both unskilled and highly educated (read over-qualified) individuals. Add to that growing frustration at cadre deployment and looming downgrade to junk status- we’re  one step closer to hell, really.

Anyway, the best thing we could possibly do under these conditions is to remain positive and adapt. Maybe then we might see things from a better perspective.

Adapt is the word. Arguably, one of the things that affects us the most with rising costs is our relationship with food. Unless one has incredibly deep pockets; our natural response is to shop less or to look for cheaper alternatives. This was the basis of a conversation between two women in the bus (yes, we tend to be the loudest and most chatty…and that’s where I get my news :-)) last week.

With the rise of the black middle class in the past two decades has followed an increased level of serious lifestyle related diseases. If the number of people I know opting for a more active and healthy lifestyle is anything to go by, then healthy seems to be the new sexy. As it should be!

So, the two women in the bus were musing about the obvious high cost of food. One of the women’s colleagues had apparently asserted that she wouldn’t recycle cooking oil because “it made her vomit”. What striked me the most was not this assertion, but the reaction to it. “Who does she think she is?” Didn’t she grow up on recycled oil? Like the rest of us?!  By implication, this seemingly health conscious woman is stuck up and should be saving her money before she saves herself.

I can attest that a lot of us are familiar with that one tub of margarine or cup in the fridge designated to receive cooking oil collected from a thousand meals. If things were really bad, the tub would almost empty. Let’s not forget the consequences for one’s skin after a visit to the vetkoek lady on the corner of the street.

While one Yoruba proverb stating that, “The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine” somehow seems to validate the concerns of the two women in the bus by suggesting that those who have don’t understand the needs of those who don’t -it’s rather narrowed in its analysis.

The lady in question has opted for her current lifestyle because she knows and has experienced what the two have alluded to. Having lived it doesn’t mean she has to merely accept it.

Despite a debate in the office about this being to the contrary, let’s face it-healthy food isn’t cheap. Granted, you can grow your own or cut down on meat in favour of vegetables and fruits but the drought has made even basic necessities a luxury. But is it the poor or the upwardly mobile that are dying from lifestyle diseases or have the attitudes towards food on the different sides created similar consequences?

The biggest irony about the condition of poverty, though, has to be its metamorphosis from something that allowed a lot of elderly people to have “long life” (The gogos in Limpopo still play soccer because they survived on a diet of locusts, termites and leafy vegetables) to a health hazard.

The reality is that the current economic environment is gradually forcing all of us to reconsider priorities and non-essentials. The importance of food in any given circumstance is something that can never be under-estimated. As they saying goes, hunger knows no season.

What’s your take?

G*

 

 

 

 

 

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The Elephant in the Room: Can We Really Colour-block the Race Issue?

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”– Steven Bantu Biko

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Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed people around me being on the receiving end of racial slurs which could otherwise be interpreted as ignorant, narrow-minded or narcissistic.

Of course, this isn’t news. Discourse on racial discrimination is an on-going part of South Africa’s history and one is constantly confronted with the reality that the rainbow nation is rather a superficial farce,with tensions simmering underneath.

As opposed to the light-hearted manner in which comedians address stereotypes attached to different racial groups, it is especially challenging to take on the same approach if one emanates from circumstances that render them disadvantaged because of the colour of their skin. You cannot simply laugh it off.

I believe this is what informed US First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech delivered before graduates at Tuskegee University-a speech rendered “anti-American” and racist because it encouraged black graduates to rise above their circumstances.

Again, this won’t materialise if the world keeps skirting around burning issues and viewing any act of motivation towards economic, social and political emancipation for historical victims of racial discrimination as an attack on other groups.

It is, and should be a good fight-a fight for what is just and equitable.

Anyway, if I may back-track a little: On one occassion when someone I know was told that…well, she can’t blush because she is black, she took offense. Without going too far in my own opinion about the individual who uttered the words, I was more inclined to take a step back and remember that people don’t GIVE offense. On the contrary, people TAKE offense in response to a range of perceived offensive stimuli.

More importantly, the realization that dawned on me was that as Africans; as so-called black people we remain sensitive about the colour of our skin. This to the point where it seems an insult to be referred as such by anyone from a different racial background. It suggests that not even the black man is comfortable in his own skin because then the natural response would be “of course I am!

Our self-hatred rings even clearer when we attack migrants from the continent (and unwittingly our own compatriots) based on the perception that they are too “dark” to be South Africans. Therefore, most of our lives are spent in a defensive and trust deficient mode.

The reality is that the world’s expectation of the black man is to “deal with it”- and that is, of course paramount if our desire is to start building a positive legacy for future generations. However, it shouldn’t be a rushed process that will allow historical oppressors to feel better about themselves. It is a process that will require (without shame or justification) constant and consistent messaging around positive change.

At the same time we must be wary of allowing a defeatist attitude to fester.

In the words of Steve Biko, “Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being”.

G*

 

 

 

Freedom Comes With Responsibility #NoToXenophobia

These statues, mounted at the National Heritage Project’s offices yesterday couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

When our country is this volatile, it is important to reflect on where we come from…

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Cissie Gool and Abdullah Abdurrahman

Zainunnisa “Cissie” Gool was an anti-apartheid political and civil rights leader in South Africa. She was the daughter of prominent physician and politician Abdullah Abdurahman.

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According to the South African History Resource, Chief Langalibalele was “known as ‘Long Belly’ by Sir Garnet Wolesley, who could ‘never spell his infernal barbarian cognomen’. Langalibalele’s rebellion caused a crisis in Natal. It was described as ‘the most wonderful case of blunders for men past infancy to have made’ and strengthened Carnarvon’s case for confederation.”

Chief Langalibalele

Lest we forget what it took to attain our freedom; the liberties we enjoy today are indeed the culmination of collective efforts in and outside our national borders. Until we free ourselves from our mental chains and truly begin to see the world as a place that holds infinite possibilities through collaboration, then we will never be truly “free”.

Witchcraft: The Naked Story

I’ve been mulling over the subject of witchcraft for a while now; probably weeks on end. I guess it’s   pretty tough trying to wrap one’s head around things you’ll probably never understand. It’s worse when they are as old as time because, it would seem the more you try to understand the less you know. So, what do you do? Do you stop questioning, or keep pushing the lid? I choose the latter.

As I was sitting on a taxi headed back home one Friday evening next to an elderly woman, her phone rang, playing Umanji’s Moloi. I thought; what a rather odd song to load as a ringtone and…what a coincidence! All of this happening presented me with an uneasy predicament: I wondered whether this old woman really liked the song because of its catchy tune or that she genuinely identified with the content- that perhaps she felt vindicated by the song, somehow.

Umanji, the late South African folklore singer who was born in Zebediela, Limpopo province warns in the song “Witch” against people destroying each other unnecessarily with false assumptions. In this case, it is the idea that the witch is embodied by old; ugly and unkempt women. Conversely, he asserts that it is the college-going bunch that is beautiful and, seemingly harmless, that one must beware of.

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The late 1990s presented South Africa with a wave of witch-hunts, especially in Limpopo. Paging through that tabloid some of us love to hate on any given day gives one the impression that it hasn’t stopped. What’s clear is that the belief in the existence of the supernatural is firmly entrenched in many corners of our country.

Described by Media for Justice as, “a publication notorious for publishing untested rumour and unexamined accusations and allegations regarding the supernatural” Daily Sun is probably (at face value) a newspaper for the guy who’s lazy to read. It is not hard to imagine the guy at the bottom of the food chain having it in hand, whether for the purpose of reading or using it as toilet paper. It takes flak in intellectual conversations, if it even makes it there in the first place. Who in the upwardly mobile department wants to be associated with ‘nonsense’?

The truth is the belief in witchcraft seeps into many spheres. Although predominant in rural areas, its reach is indiscriminate with respect to social or financial status. It goes beyond religious commitment, education or even age. Of course much of the intent of religion is to fight spiritual warfare and therefore acknowledges that evil in its many forms exists side by side with good.

The most recent case in point is that of a senior cabinet reportedly embroiled in a messy divorce with his ex-wife. According to The Times, accusations of witchcraft and/or the “causing of witchcraft practices and rituals to be conducted” in their home were levelled against the respondent.

Now, I’ll have to admit that I’ve laughed off some rather absurd-sounding things like people being able to purchase lightning and other sinister things  destined for unsuspecting victims for as little as fifty bucks from openly public places like taxi ranks.

But some of the stories I have heard among peers and old folk alike can make for some chilling experience and quickly dampen the mood. One person recounted how they witnessed someone stark naked in another’s house in the dead of night. Manala, MJ explains that “The essence of witchcraft and sorcery is the causing of harm to persons or property by invisible means”. So “go tshwarega” is an expression describing a perceived witch being caught in the act, and possibly not being able to flee the scene. It is common belief that witches turn against their own people as opposed to strangers and driven by envy, malice and jealousy.

In all respects it is not easy to gauge the extents to which people can go when they feel that life has dealt them unfair blows in comparison to others. Therefore, it is easy to dismiss the belief in witchcraft as nothing more than unfounded accusations and rumours that could be averted by educating certain groups of people. Unfortunately, the issue runs far deeper and has created other societal challenges like ritual killings for muti and the sale of body parts.

It makes one realise that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it does not exist. In the same breath, it’s all the more clear that whatever one believes manifests. Such irony…

 

 

 

 

Shades of Black…

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There exists a hierarchy in society. At the top sits the White man who is perceived as a model of all that is superior and good. For many years, the so-called Coloured communities saw themselves as being inferior to Whites but superior to Africans.

Owing to the conditions of the Apartheid system, many Black people who could pull it off assumed coloured identities to gain access to social liberties that they would otherwise not be able to. The latter distinguishes himself superior to others in his group based on physical, ethnic and (interestingly) on skin complexion. The ones with the darkest complexion sit at the very bottom of this hierarchy.

At least, that is what is highlighted in “Dark Girls”. I recently sat down to watch this eye-opening American documentary about the deep-seated biases against dark skinned Black, as well as Asian women. It opened my eyes to the reality of many women whose pigmentation renders them less favourable candidates in labour markets, relationships; reproduction and to the somewhat deeply entrenched perception that they an attitude problem.

I have been regularly been mistaken for a Coloured person until I spoke my mother tongue, (un)fortunately the absence of a Cape Malay accent betrayed me. One of those occasions was when, as a child, I was shopping with my mother. A Coloured lady approached us and uttered something to me in Afrikaans. I just stared back blankly. I take no pride or pleasure in being what they call a yellow bone. As Steven Biko once wrote, Being black is not a matter of pigmentation, being black is a reflection of a mental attitude”.

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We are so deep in it, and our self-image so severely distorted that bridal parties sing silly songs like, “Tswa’ng tswa’ng tswa’ng le boneng, ngwana o tshwana le leColoured” (Come out and see, the girl looks like (a) coloured).

When Nomasonto aka “Mshoza”Mnisi started bleaching her skin and announced plans to do further work on her nose so she could look White, some of us were really shocked. It was hard to fathom how in this day and age –when we enjoy so many liberties- someone could possibly hate herself so much! Of course it was simpler to dismiss it as a typical tendency of someone who had just discovered money and had no better use for it. If only it were that cut and dried.

Self-image has been distorted in the context of the Black community for centuries and the baton passed on from generation to generation. The popularity of skin-lightening products soared among Black South African women in the 1970s and 1980s* and many of those who coveted lighter shades now have “Dichubaba” (dark blemishes brought on by the dangerous combination of mercury and hydroquinone) to prove it. It remains true that what is on the outside reflects what’s inside and the price paid for a low self-image a hefty one.

According to enca.com, Nigeria tops the list for skin-lightening products, with “nearly 8 out of 10 Nigerian women bleach[ing] their skin.” It is also reported that regardless of how rich a Nigerian woman may be, if she is dark skinned, she is as good as a pauper. In South Africa, you can buy cheap skin-lightening products off a street vendor for less than R15.

On the flip side of the coin, the criminalization, virtual alienation and statutory harassment experienced by dark complexioned men is another bone of contention. It has escalated to a point where the perception is that anyone who is dark skinned can’t be South African. It’s worse if one is using public transport.Just a few weeks ago, the son of former Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni was pulled out of a taxi because of his dark pigmentation and requested to produce a passport.

In a similar incident, my sister and I were travelling to varsity a few years ago from home when our taxi was stopped by police just outside Harties. Seated behind us were two men (Zimbabwean nationals)who sat quietly during the trip. I still remember the sinking feeling as the two were loaded into the police van, as timid as sheep going to the slaughterhouse.

There is a definite mental shift that needs to occur. It will have to happen at every level of this social hierarchy through the rejection of entrenched ideas that one human being possesses superiority over the other for whatever reason. Consequently, superficial and shallow masks put on by those with an inferiority complex will be dismantled.

 

 

X Marks the…

As we look forward to next year’s polls, -what with some of us being first time voters- I can’t help but think how there are more questions than answers when it comes to the current state of South African politics. I can effectively say that I have no clue who I intend to vote for.

This is not because our country is spoilt for choice (that would have been wonderful), but because we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. More so that some would rather keep their right to vote to themselves than vote for any of the political parties campaigning at this point.

This will not deter some of us who intend to vote, even if it comes to an “eenie-minee-mo” situation, something HAS GOT TO GIVE! When Dr. Mamphele Ramphele launched the “political platform” AgangSA earlier this year, there was a lot of certainty on my part about who I would be voting for.

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With her struggle credentials, corporate leadership experience, own money and racial inclusivity, this woman made sense to me. So strong was my conviction that I swore I would become a card-carrying member; hell, even I was surprised. I have never been interested in party politics.

I have to admit, though, that the effervescent euphoria initially felt has all but fizzled. For starters, the strange voyeuristic feel of this political party was problematic, perhaps it’s one of those things that one needs to get used to.

Then again, the Patricia De Lille’s of this world also sported their peachy smiles all over street posters for a long time before that marriage to the DA. It is arguably a one-(wo)man show, with the rest just handling the logistics and sundry bits, preferably, for the middle class citizens of this country. Not really inclusive now, is it?

Let’s not forget the proposal to review BEE policies from its very beneficiary. At least we are familiar with the fact that hypocrisy is by and large a prerequisite for any politician.

When the brain-child of none other than BigBaby aka Julius Malema, EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) was born, I was sceptical. After being stripped naked by the ruling party (with good reason) and the Receiver of Revenue, it wasn’t hard to see why Malema would clutch at straws. So goes his rhetoric about fighting for the “under-dog”; the poor, the disenfranchised, the working class.

Perhaps it is easier to mobilise these groups and to declare shared empathy now that Malema himself has descended from his splendid Sandown mansion’s balcony views. There are many corners of society, particularly the liberal cliques that are quick to shoot this party down as nothing but a get-together of fools with highly romanticized ambitions. Ambitious, it is. So are the radical policies on land reform, nationalisation and expropriation of land. I wouldn’t be so quick to do so, however.

The question is whether the EFF’s policies appear absurd because of Malema’s leadership? Is this vehicle likely to sink simply because of who is in the driver’s seat and not necessarily because society does not recognise the need for such policies to be tested?

I reckon it is naïve to assume that those who have joined (or support) the EFF need to have their heads examined, or that they lack intellectual capacity. It would also be naïve to assume that those with vested interest in maintaining the status quo as far as land ownership is concerned wouldn’t want to fight tooth and nail to keep it that way.

Most importantly, it would be virtually irresponsible to let some individual who has obvious personal scores to settle with the ruling party, and never mind a long trail of greed and rot behind him lead us anywhere. Some of us were born semi-shackled. That is, not quite as politically energetic as the 1976 generation yet not as politically indifferent as the Born-frees’.

I harbour little emotional attachment to the ruling party except for the nagging need to hold them accountable for their actions because they have direct impact on ordinary citizens. Credit can be given where it is due and criticism likewise.

I am more eager than ever to put an X on the ballot paper next year because of the increasingly arrogant stance of the ruling party. It will be more an exercise in getting the chip off their shoulder than one in acknowledging that AgangSA or EFF resonate with me. They have yet to prove their stripes.

Protected by Law, Hunted on the Ground

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Earlier this year, 26 year old Duduzile Zozo from Thokoza on Gauteng’s East Rand was found murdered. Her corpse was found not too far from her home, a toilet brush inserted into her vagina. –SAPA– A “cleansing” ritual?

On the morning of June 9 2012, openly gay Thapelo Makhutle was found dead. He was, “beheaded, his genitals hacked off, his tongue cut out, and his testicles stuffed into his mouth”. Makhutle was 23 years old. –Mail &Guardian , 28 June 2012- Another “cleansing” ritual?

Take a moment to ponder the two cases. They are just two of many cases of “Corrective”(Rape)measures intended to cleanse homosexuals of their orientation. To some, the world is better off without the Zozo’s and Makhutle’s and yet, to some of us the senseless killings of the LGBT communities ring alarm bells. Moral “justice” carried out in the name of culture or religion, unfortunately, raises questions about the people doing it than the victims themselves.

Last month, the Ministry of Police released annual Crime Statistics for the financial year 2012/13. Criticized for being the “worst ever”, the Ministry made assurances that SAPS would beef up their crime-fighting efforts so the rest of us can witness downward trends in future statistics. Yet again, it would appear that this lot hasn’t woken up to smell the coffee. Perhaps they’ve been drinking far too many Irish coffees?

In a country dubbed the world’s “rape capital” where “144 women report rape to police everyday”-www.iol.co.za -, seemingly very little has changed if the 0.4% decrease in the number of reported sexual offences is anything to go by. More alarming, as the Minister said himself, are cases that go unreported. So what the heck do we have to be jovial about?!

Ours is a nation of many paradoxes. Our constitution is a world first in the prohibiting of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and South Africa was the first country in Africa(fifth in the world) to legalize same-sex marriages. However, this has done very little to change conservative perceptions on the ground and civil society organizations have their hands full.

It’s been years since 3rd Degree broadcast an episode on the sexual violence specifically targeted at homosexuals but I can still recall the faces of some of the offenders who spoke boastfully about their deeds- about “teaching” lesbians how it feels to be with ‘real’ men. Their words smacked of arrogance and, more specifically, ignorance when stating what the status quo “should” be. Who better than they to mete out lessons in domination and submission?

The Minister and Police Commissioner can mull over statistics all they want but it won’t change anything at grassroots level regarding the apathy and indifference that victims of sexual offences (especially gays and lesbians) receive from law enforcement agencies. It will not change that part of the reason that our country keeps taking two steps forward and five backwards is because our corrupt police service.

Homosexuality isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Neither is heterosexuality. The fluidity of our current existence renders almost anything under the sun to be possible. Isn’t that why one is likely to find some of the vehement opponents of homosexuality sneaking out of their closets when they assume nobody is watching?

I guess the lingering question in my mind remains whether those who deem themselves to be morally ‘superior’ –when carrying out horrific hate crimes against homosexuals in the name of culture and religion- will remain so even after the fact?

What’s the 419? Part Two

…One cannot stress enough how much we have become so engrossed in racial profiling and stereotypes that we can barely navigate through it all. What made me uncomfortable about this experience was not the fact that I nearly fell for it but the fact that I felt some comfort, appeasement even, from receiving unsolicited mail from a white person.

To be blunt, it is indicative of how we readily assume that black people are suspect and whites aren’t. As if the many cases of sophisticated white collar crimes in South Africa don’t offer enough reason to reconsider. Then again, with the recent cloning of Facebook accounts by scammers, it is anyone’s guess.

There is also the assumption that certain individuals are especially vulnerable to scams because of – amongst others- their socio-economic status, level of education and emotional intelligence. I can certainly recall the day I watched one of Pastor Mbhoro’s ardent disciples on a local talk show as he boldly wiped his face with a “holy” sanitary pad, revelling in its “amazing” healing powers(much to my horror and amusement).

I was taken back to a time when we had decided to visit a new charismatic church in the neighbourhood: On one of our visits, “holy” Sakdoeks (handkerchiefs) selling at an inflated amount,were presented for sale to the congregation. We took one home to mother. Sigh.

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Socio-economic factors may well be the major push factor towards people being (easy) targets for con artists. Priest, traditional healer, business person, potential employer and more seemingly credible personae are what scam artists can easily morph themselves into.

 In 2011, the Cape Argus reported the tragic death of Roz Van der Vyver after she responded to a casual stock-taking job advert at a Cape Town supermarket. On arrival for her ‘interview’ she and others were informed that there were no vacancies. It is reported that she woke up the next day with the recollection of being hit on the head while having the refreshments that were offered and, worse, she had been gang-raped.

Rural women and children are especially vulnerable to human traffickers who target them through job scams. The Daily Voice reported in January 2012 that “South Africa is a hotbed for the billion dollar human trafficking industry”. With the rate of unemployment, child-headed households and non-existent laws on human trafficking- it is not hard to see why.

It is a scary thought that being the victim of such can open up doorways to the seedy underworld of prostitution, sex slavery, drug trafficking and cheap labour within and outside South Africa’s borders.

The truth is that, just about anybody can fall for a scam. NBC News’ Bob Sullivan writes that, “Most people think they’ll never fall for a scam. In fact, that frame of mind is precisely what con artists look for [because] those who believe they know better are often the last to raise their defences when criminals are nearby”.

In a funny way, I reckon my saving grace was my love of money (and being a bit of a scrooge). The thought of taking out a loan for nearly a thousand bucks in exchange for a lucrative yet sketchy proposal detailed over a series of e-mails just didn’t make sense. It gives me great pleasure to raise my middle finger to the wicked.

There are a lot of helpful resources on the net to assist in identifying and protecting oneself from scams including “The Internet’s most successful scams” by Bob Sullivan. Help yourself, help a friend.

What’s the 419? Part One

They usually say that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I learnt, through trial and error that if my heart beats a little too fast at a decision making point then it is an opportune time to stop and THINK. Through it all I have also learnt to trust in the precision of my instincts.

Can you think back to the first time you or someone you know received a random text on your phone informing you of your exciting R 100 000 win in a draw from a competition you never entered? How about when you picked up the phone to “claim” your prize, do you remember that odd echo behind the voice on the other end of the line?

Did you suddenly clamp down when asked to provide your bank details so the money could be conveniently be deposited in your account? Maybe, like me, you looked up a job in the paper and were told to come in for an “interview” as soon as the following day without the company having seen your CV first? Maybe you’ve never been so naïve.

Here’s a little story: A few weeks ago, something a little strange occurred. An inbox in my Facebook account set off a series of events in motion. I was being informed of my profile picture being selected for a Samsung billboard ad by a rather decent looking white woman.

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Initially, it seemed odd that an obscure picture of me seated in an airport could be all that appealing. I glanced at it a couple of times before excitement set in. I thought, “White woman from Pretoria, hmmm?  ‘seems legit.”

It didn’t seem strange that she referred me to the PR (also Modelling Agency, strangely enough) company’s Yahoo! Mail address. My prompt, and albeit curious, response was met with an even quicker one from the supposed agency. In a clumsily written email, I was informed about the hundreds of thousands of Rands one would typically earn from the “short-term” contract.

My family shared in my impending-riches euphoria, although we would occasionally stop and wonder if it really wasn’t a scam of sorts. For one, an online search yielded no comprehensive results of the local affiliate of the agency- only the one based in the UK (that managed top models like Naomi Campbell, imagine!).

Dare I say, we started planning for the money; never mind the R 985 requested as payment for registration and “moulding” (WTF?) of the photo- nah, it was a mere drop in the ocean compared to the Randelas I would be getting, and mother would loan it to me.

Upon asking for a contact person, I was referred to agent “Simon Edward Brown” who said he didn’t have a social networking profile (at least LinkedIn). His accent is probably what set alarm bells off in my head. Everything seemed to be quickly coming apart at the seams as I was provided with a funny address in Cape Town (also no show on Google), but never a land line. To add to that, the bank account provided for the cash deposit belonged to someone new. It was not adding up!

I realise now the level of denial I was experiencing. It just didn’t seem possible that a grown ass, knowledgeable and smart individual like me could (almost) fall victim to such rubbish… [ To be continued]

When We Can’t Afford Silence

 

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Where I come from, an air of mistrust exists towards people deemed to be “too” quiet. These people, otherwise known to you and me as introverts are faced with the perception that they are too deep and secretive. Dropping bombshells when people least expect is their speciality. Perhaps this is what irks people; that they don’t know it all hence the discomfort.

A few frustrated outbursts have come my way once too often particularly from my mother. She, of course knows the introvert in me all too well. ‘Still doesn’t understand her, me…it. As it would occur, introverts not only like their words at a minimum, they like their space too. I have settled for being ‘misunderstood’.

There’s an old song titled “Silence is golden”. While the high pitched melody can be confusing irony, the phrase in itself is true. Silence, in comparison to noise and much ado about nothing, is dignified and  can reveal more about an individual’s sense of integrity than anything else. Let’s rememberwhen he was ‘recalled’ from office, former president Thabo Mbekiremained silent while the rest of us bemoaned the treatment rendered to him by his own comrades. It was silence that also hurt KgalemaMotlanthe’s chances in the presidential race preceding the ANC elective conference in Mangaung.

Who knows how things could have turned out had Motlanthe been vocal enough? Possibilities abound, however, we will never know. Of course some will insist that one fakes in until he makes it. In this case, being strategically silent until the crap that hit the fan dissipates.

 I reckon our dearly beloved President Zuma is one of those who believe in this tenet. How can one assume differently when all but the man spoke out during the many scandals of his career? Corruption trial  –silence. Rape trial –silence. Concubines –silence. Nkandla –silence. Guptagate…

This kind of silence is not of a golden nature, I’m afraid. It is one that is actively pitting one South African against the other. It is of the kind that says, “I’m out of my depth and God, I don’t even know it!” Hence when something is uttered, statements like “The problem with South Africa is that everyone wants to run the country”are first in line. Oh well.

Over the past week social media has been abuzz, as has been traditional media with the Gupta clique landing their jet at a National Key Point (without proper customs procedures being followed and with absolute disregard for the sensitivity of our national sovereignty by those who authorized the landing) and receiving high level escort to the wedding venue.

While the president has not been implicated in this storm-in-a-tea cup, his ties to the Guptas go far beyond acquaintance level. The loyalty exhibited by his loyalists is admirable but I reckon it is time some took off their rose coloured glasses. This current scandal is a clear indication that our country has been sold to the bearer of the deepest pockets. So, which Master do we really serve?

Silence is not golden. It is fatal. A collective silence from the masses to the decline of our country into a state that does not command respect in all the necessary arenas, demanded by those who are against criticism of those at the helm of government, is an active reversal of the strides made by others in the past. Our silence will be the vehicle ensuring that the narrow interests of a few continue to flare corruption and rot in our society. We cannot afford to keep silent.