Roar young lions, roar

Since 1994, a culture that has developed is the celebration of our public holidays in a huge way. Then again, these holidays are of extreme significance marking important events in the shaping of our country. One of the most important holidays – well, in my view – is the June 16th holiday marking the day that the students of Soweto rose up against the education department and told them NO, we will not be subject to your oppression. The image of Hector Pieterson being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo after Pieterson was shot by riot police became an important anti-apartheid image. Today, I celebrated this auspicious day in Galashewe Township in Kimberley.

I had been to the Township the previous day – Kimberley in general is such a friendly town. People around greet you when you drive past and the drivers are courteous. Terribly terrific I tell you. The Youth Day rally featured the Northern Cape premier and the Education MEC. They were to give the usual speeches followed by some live entertainment – more on that later.

The speeches – well, these were pretty good actually. Though at the moment in South Africa, I guess this period just after elections is full of promises. The foundations have been laid and it seems that the governments of each province as well as central government are keen to tackle the issues at hand. One huge revelation I found out about this province is the huge amount of corruption going on that really can’t be dealt with by national government. It’s pretty easy to do:

• Tender for a government contract that will be handled by either local or provincial government.
• Make sure that the right officials will be getting kickbacks.
• Organise with the auditors that they will get kickbacks too.
• Get the contract – organise a sub-standard event and pocket most of the money.
• Allow other companies to bid for smaller events and let them get it. Also, pay them off with a small cut so that they are kept happy and it appears that there is no corruption seeing that your company is not getting every event.
• When national government needs proof of what happened, make paid-off officials write the report.
• When an audit is required, get the paid-off auditors to give you a clean bill of health.
• National government now has word from two separate sources that you are clean and doing a good job. They approve as they don’t have any reason not to believe the two independent sources. Also, no complaints have been made because you’ve paid off the competition, so National government is happy.
• Rinse, lather, repeat…

It’s a deep rabbit hole and unfortunately, it is happening and the taxpayers are the ones who are losing out. The thing with it is that, as I have mentioned, national government has absolutely no reason to go into these issues as nobody is complaining about it and the documents that have been submitted say that everything is right. If you were on the board of a company and got two separate reports stating that one sector of your company is running normally, would you go do an investigation as to why it is normal?

Just before the transition in presidency, there was an act passed which, mind my uselessness in terms of constitution law, attempted to centralise government much more than it is at present. Basically, this would mean that in cases like this where a lot of corruption is occurring, by going to the local or provincial government, nothing will be done because of the corrupt officials. If you do go higher, to maybe SARS or to the new monitoring department, this corruption can be weeded out. This is happening. I heard stories that the HOD that gave a contract to a corrupt contractor was sacked and is under investigation. Good things are capable of happening after all…

With all this floating around my head, I walk into the VIP section. Okay, now this was purely by chance as Kershen is one of the greatest guitarists that this world knows so he would be playing as lead guitar for Grace Gomolemo. I carried his equipment in so BAM, I ended up in Grace’s seats in the VIP section. Anyway, the first thing I notice is a bevy of overweight ladies dressed exquisitely in those hugely popular African crossover garments. I’m sorry – all I could think about was, “fat cats!”

Grace Gomolemo is a brilliant and pretty popular singer on the South African Gospel music scene. Her voice is absolutely angelic and when I met her, I just got that vibe that she is doing it because she is truly talented and has that passion and love for music. I don’t react that favourably to gospel music – I don’t really like music of the devotional kind. However, maybe it was because I couldn’t understand a word that she sang or it was just the intricate intertwining between the variety of vocals and instruments, but damn, it sounded absolutely amazing! I was very much tapping my feet and bobbing my head as I sat amongst these people who weren’t able to move much.

The crowd didn’t react that favourably to Grace’s performance. I found out why just as she ended her set. Three rather built black guys walk into the VIP enclosure holding the characteristic thick plastic briefcase that their type carry. You could see the Jozi in them. They were DJs. Rather good DJs at that – the formidable DJ Vetkoek vs. Mahoota. That actually is just one person – the one dude was the guy who did the setting up and the other helped him DJ. The crowd saw this and went wild like you wouldn’t believe. I looked over towards the fence that was used to separate the VIPs from the normal folk (so much for ending segregation…) and the look on this one young girls face was much like that of a Beatles fan from the 1960s.

Before they graced the stage, another guy came up on stage (he is a rather accomplished local singer but alas, I am forgetful) and sang a revolutionary song – it was the one, “My mother was a kitchen girl, my father was a garden boy.” The premier and the MEC and their entourage got up on stage and jived. It felt really great! There was so much of energy and power being exuded by those onstage and the crowd. One quirk though – Kershen had a Chris Hani t-shirt on and when Grace shouted, “Viva, Chris Hani, Viva,” the crowd were rather perplexed. One of the lines in the revolutionary song was mis-sung, “That’s why I’m a communist.” Yeah, that works. Earlier the crowd was singing a lot of praise for Julius Malema though. He does have support. A lot of it, mind you…

After this, and whilst the big DJs set up, two rappers from Kimberley took the stage. We weren’t sure who they were but wow! The rhymes were just unbelievable. Even the big Jozi DJs were amazed at what they were hearing. The talent we have here is phenomenal. I don’t think any American rapper could come anywhere close to what this local duo dished out. The Americans would retreat back into their G5’s and jet their way back home.

You’ve never truly experienced house music until you experience it in a township played by DJs that ARE house. It was electric. The love, passion, flavour, rhythm and everything else was just so much more pronounced. These rallies are truly great South African events. If you haven’t been to an event of this magnitude, do yourself a favour and go to the rally at the next public holiday. It was really a great way to spend the day…