About Me

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Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
I am a white African. Contradiction in terms? I think not. Sometimes my blog will be serious; sometimes sad; sometimes irreverent; sometimes witty; always my truth simply written.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

High School at last!

In South Africa the new school year starts early in January.  Today was that day and my son approached his first day in high school filled with nervous anticipation.

There are a number of great things associated with this day for him.

Previously he walked about three kilometres to school - uphill, downhill, uphill - rainy day or South African sunshine day.  Now he has to walk the equivalent of two city blocks.  He quickly saw the advantage of this.  The most important one being that he can sleep for an extra 45 minutes each day and still get to school on time.

For me the greatest advantage is that he will hopefully come straight home from school each day and, at worst, bring all his mates with him for Playstation challenges.  That way I know exactly who he is hanging with and where he is.

The downside of this particular school is that it is a 'poor' school in a less affluent suburb in the east of Johannesburg.  As I sat in the hall with the other parents this morning, watching the resigned expressions on the faces of most of the kids, I noticed that there are massive stains on the ceiling and many of the planks holding the ceiling together are falling, or have fallen, out.  Obviously the roof is in serious need of repair.  However, there was no excuse for the fact that the hall looked as though it had not been cleaned since its last usage in 2010.  There was a chair that was covered in pigeon poop. A glance upward showed that a spotlight directly above the chair was also covered in pigeon poop.  Glancing idly around the hall what did I see?  The poor pigeon lying dead on the floor near the stage.

No good, people.  The school can be 'poor' but there is no excuse for dirt and dead pigeons in a hall that you knew the new pupils and their parents would be using today.

Another good thing about the school is that the intention is obviously to have a well-disciplined bunch of learners neatly attired in school uniform.  However, seeing the existing learners one can be forgiven for doubting that they are achieving their goals.  I saw at least eight learners arriving at the school at 8:40 as I was leaving.  School officially starts at 07:50!  I saw a few kids slouching around with earphones dangling from their ears - a forbidden practise.  There was one dawdler who was puffing on the remnants of a cigarette at approximately 08:50 as he trawelled up the hill towards the school.

Altogether my son's first school day marking his school days for the next five years seems to have passed without incident and even less work!  I certainly hope they get into the swing of things sooner rather than later because these kids need every second of tuition they can get considering the amount of teaching time lost last year during the national teachers' strike.

Good luck Lungi.  May you find schooling more interesting and challenging this year than in previous years.  I still have high hopes that you will come into your own and achieve your full potential.  Godspeed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Even More of my Favourite Things....

There are many, many good things about South Africa.  It is these good things that will ensure that I never succumb to any desire to emigrate.

We have an average of 8.5 hours sunshine daily!

You've heard that Africa is 'wild'?  Well, in South Africa we have modern cities with skyscrapers and shopping malls and world-renowned restaurants.  Below is a picture of the Johannesburg CBD.

We have modern hotels lining the beach in our seaside cities.  Below is Durban beachfront in KwaZulu Natal

We have major contrasts in our landscape with some regions being semi-desert

while others are rain-forests

Apart from our wildlife and wonderful scenery our country is also blessed with great mineral wealth, particularly diamonds, gold and platinum.

In South Africa we have few natural disasters, the worst I can recall in my lifetime being the occasional flood, one small earthquake that caused a bit of damage, and a tornado every now and again.  Loss of life due to natural disasters has been minimal.  The mining operations in our country are far more dangerous and take their toll in human life.

We have golf courses that look like this....

and any sport or outdoor activity under the sun that you could want to participate in.  Hot air balloons are one of the ways to enjoy our wonderful scenery.

Dare I say it again?

We have sunshine for an average of 8.5 hours per day.

Please visit again and find out more good things about my wild and wonderful homeland.


Monday, November 8, 2010


As my previous postings have been largely about what I do not like about South Africa, I am now doing a series of postings about what I do like about my beautiful homeland.  This is the second posting in the series My Favourite Things...
  • The sun shines for an average of 8.5 hours a day.
  • We  have the Great White Shark frolicking along our coastline... Crazy folk come from all over the world to go cage diving with this ugly brute... Give us a kiss Gorgeous...

  •  The Right Southern Whale is also resident along our coastline...

  • In Kimberley we have the biggest man-made hole in the world.

  •  Since our first democratic elections in 1994 thousands of citizens who had never owned a house have received houses like these, with electricity and running water.
  •  the people of South Africa are a very friendly bunch....


  • On average we have 8.5 hours a day SUNSHINE!

These images are courtesy of
SA Tourism
Stefan Jacobs

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A few of my favourite things...

A few weeks ago a visitor to this blog pointed out to me that non-South Africans might like to know about some of the positive aspects of South Africa. I told her I would do it some time in the future ... and the future is now.

Jeez... Did she have any idea how much effort I would have to put into figuring the positive aspects out? It is just so much easier to focus on the negatives, isn’t it? After grinding my teeth and pulling my hair out - oh no, that was because I was doing a reinstall on my pc at the time and almost everything had to be reloaded - this is what I came up with. I have thought of so many things that I am going to do a few postings every day. Hope you enjoy...
  • The sun shines for an average of 8.5 hours a day.
  • We have endless beautiful white sunny soft sandy beaches
  •  Signs that used to segregate us by race, such as "Beach and Sea - Whites Only" (you'd better believe it), are not part of South Africa today.
  • In 2010 our rapid transport rail system became operational in one small but economically vital section of Gauteng.  Citizens are so excited about this that they are having family outings to take a fifteen minute ride on it.
  • We have 232 mountain passes in South Africa

  • In addition to buses, trains, planes, and metered taxis, we have millions of mini-bus taxis that take us here there and everywhere very cheaply.
  • We have an amazing range of wildlife.  The best known are lions, leopards, elephants, water buffalo and rhinos, commonly known as the Big Five (although they could soon become the Big Four if rhino poaching continues unabated).  Contrary to what some people believe these animals do not roam freely in our streets but the do roam freely in hundreds of game reserves around the country.
  • By far the vast majority of people are extremely hospitable and friendly.   
  • We voluntarily stopped manufacturing nuclear weapons.
  • The sun shines for an average of 8.5 hours a day.


    Images courtesy of MediaClubSouthAfrica and photographers as follows:
    Elephant Cow and Calf - Mary Alexander
    Tsitsikamma Forest Road - Rodger Bosch
    Baobab Tree - Graeme Williams

    The other images are property of MEC Friedenthal 

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    SA's Political 'Youth' Leagues...

    The age group of members of the ANC Youth League is 14-35! The IFP’s age bracket is 18-40! The DA has an age group of 18-30 which is more reasonable, but still a bit off, I think. Insofar as other political parties go, I’m unsure of their age requirements for their ‘youth’, but I think the three aforementioned parties suit my needs for now.

    Surely by definition ‘middle’ means halfway? At present the average life expectancy of South Africans is approximately 60 years of age. Therefore, middle-age would be approximately 30 years of age. Yet these ‘middle-aged’ individuals are running the “youth” leagues in this country... Some of them will even die of illnesses related to ‘old age’ before they qualify to join the main political organisation!

    What really bothers me is that members of any ‘youth’ league are allowed to be so old that they could have been the parent(s) of the youngest members of the ‘youth’ league? E.g. a 35-year-old could quite easily be the parent of a fourteen-year-old!!!

    I would think that 18-28 is the desirable age grouping for any ‘youth’ league in this country, or anywhere for that matter. This age grouping would target young adults as opposed to individuals ranging from puberty to middle-age!!

    In South Africa one only becomes eligible to vote at age eighteen, so the ANC with its 14 lower age limit is catching its members at a very vulnerable age.

    Ask yourself: What does a 35-year-old have in common with a) youth and b) a fourteen-year-old? Nothing, that’s what! I would think there are some very unhealthy relationships in existence in some of these organisations.

    I would like to ask the supporters of all the many registered political parties in South Africa to call upon their organisations to rethink their ‘youth’ league age groupings to more accurately reflect the voting ‘youth’ of the country as opposed to middle-aged voters.

    What do you think?

    (All rights reserved.)

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    When Murder isn't Murder

    A recent Reuters newspaper report about the trial of a ‘teen soldier’, Omar Khadr, who killed a special forces soldier, US Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer in 2002, has left me very confused.

    In the report (The Star, Friday October 29, 2010) Speer’s widow, Tabitha Speer, apparently told Omar Khadr that “You will always be a murderer in my eyes.” Please do not think that I do not feel the utmost sympathy for Tabitha and her kids, but I cannot understand why Tabitha Speer can sincerely believe that this was an act of murder as opposed to an act of war. Premature death is an occupational hazard for anyone in the armed forces.

    This Muslim Canadian teenager was living in a village in Afghanistan when a firefight broke out between villagers/militants and the armed forces. During the ensuing fight this Canadian Muslim teenager, aged 15 at the time, apparently killed US Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer and was severely wounded himself.

    If Speer had killed Khadr, would Tabitha have considered Speers to be a murderer? If a soldier dies during a firefight is he ‘murdered’ or is he slain on the battlefield?

    Each of these men (well, one was a man and one was just a boy who had been brainwashed into thinking he was a man) were fighting for something they believed in.

    Perhaps I am a total idiot, but I cannot see Khadr as being a cold-blooded murderer in this instance. Of course, had he been a suicide bomber targeting civilians in a shopping mall, I would have considered that outright murder. But in a politically motivated skirmish in what was to all intents and purposes a war zone?

    This is obviously a very complicated story, made more so by the fact that Khadr was tried in a US war crimes(?) tribunal, but even so, from where I sit, I’m not sure that it is right to call a ‘soldier’, who kills another ‘soldier’ during battle, a murderer, irrespective of which side he/she is on.

    Tabitha, as a soldier your husband knew that the very nature of war is death and I hope you, and your lovely children, can find it in your heart to forgive this man for killing him because if you can’t you are going to be eaten alive by hatred.

    (All rights reserved.)

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    One Wish...

    For some reason, with Christmas just around the corner again, I got to thinking about what I would ask for if a genie granted me one wish.
    • I could ask for world peace
    • I could ask for South Africa to be crime-free
    • I could ask for an end to world hunger
    • I could ask for an end to all disease
    • I could ask for education for all
    • I could ask for women to rule the world
    • I could ask for politicians to fulfil their election promises
    • I could ask for orgasm-less sex to control the world population

    The list seemed endless.

    As I pondered all the weighty issues that the world is confronted with, I felt my shoulders drooping – yes, actually drooping - with the responsibility of making a good wish, even though it is just a wish in theory. I know that a wish has to be very specific or it can go s-o-o-o wrong. In my last job I used to wish that I was anywhere except in my corporate office and ABRACADABRA!!, without even offering me a wish, a genie granted me a medical boarding I didn’t want and I am no longer in that corporate office...

    So, based on past experience of wishes coming true, I knew that my wish would have to be a good wish. A wish that would not be wasted. A wish that was specific enough not to be misunderstood. A wish that would not just cause even more problems in the world.

    I mulled over the right wish for a long time and then... By jove, I had it!!!
    In a moment of absolute clarity and honesty, I realised what my one wish would be. If it was granted it would give such joy.

    If a genie granted me one wish I would ask that I, (me, myself, personally) have the only winning ticket for the Powerball jackpot that is drawn in South Africa on 2 November 2010.

    Call me shallow, but I have needs. (I also have some fears... Is that wish specific enough... Is there room there for any misunderstanding... Could I get millions of something else by mistake... ) If a genie gave me three wishes I could worry about the problems of the world, but one wish only enough to take care of own needs...

    So, if a genie, true to form, grants my wish without even offering me a wish to begin with, I promise you I'm not going to tell a soul.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Near Death Experience

    Somehow I feel cheated ... I’ve been thinking back to my recent operation and, where I had anticipated such a lekker sleep after the anaesthetic, all I got was nausea... Lots ‘n lots of nausea. And pain that wasn’t controlled properly for the first 24 hours... Oh, ja, there was lots of that too.

    That isn’t right... If one has to have an op, the least those medical types can do is ensure that you have a GOOD anaesthetic experience that allows you to sleep blissfully afterwards and... KILL THE PAIN people...

    I have also been wondering what weird questions or statements I may have come out with when I was being ‘resuscitated’ after the op... Fortunately there’s no one who can tell me. I can remember, with a previous operation, as I came around I could hear kids crying. I didn’t know at the time that the poor little blighters had just been subjected to tonsillectomies. All I was aware of was the fact that I had just had knee surgery and, even though it was &*(#$%@ sore, all I wanted to do was sleep. You know, that lekker anaesthetic sleep that the anaesthetist for that op at least got right...

    Anyway, at the top of my lungs I told anyone who would listen to ‘tell those kids to SHUT UP!’ Not once, but numerous times. I’m surprised they never gagged me to shut me up.

    Did you know that ‘they’ say you are technically dead when you have a general anaesthetic? Yup, technically dead. It’s no wonder we talk such crap when we come around. I think the brain and the mouth need a while to reconnect... Strange though, if we are technically dead under anaesthetic why is it that I have never had a near-death experience? I’ve had numerous operations but not even one near-death experience. My dad, who was basically an atheist his entire life, had a near-death experience during an operation when he was in his fifties. If there is no after-life someone should explain to me why, after that experience, my dad went from being a total atheist to someone who walked with God every day for the next twenty or so years of his life.

    When my dad told us about his near-death experience (he was shocked back to life after dying during the operation) we never thought he was being weird. He was totally sincere. Somehow it wasn’t strange to hear him say, inter alia, that he had seen a ‘being of light’ who told him: “Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

    Far weirder are some of the things I know that other people have said when they came around after general anaesthetic:
    “Give me my panties...”
    “Give me my teeth...”
    “Let work know that I’m alive...”
    “That doctor has the sexiest smile...”

    Man, we can talk crap when our defences are down, can’t we? Sometimes we can talk crap when they’re up too...

    There are a lot of truths in this posting, but if you only pick up on one bit of truth in it, let it be the fact that my dad genuinely had a near-death experience that changed not only his life, but ours as a family too...

    Ciao for now.

    (All rights reserved.)