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…

Day 37: Hi, my name is Fred and I stuff toads

So I start of here as I regularly start off – cursing myself for not blogging earlier! This is especially important seeing that I actually had some real cool things to blog about. Alas, the thoughts have evaporated high into the stratosphere to be maybe found one day by a Russian oke name Johan – you know globalisation nowadays, names aren’t the best way to figure out where somebody is from.

I remember reading something somewhere about this lecturer that invited an old guy to his class one day and made him come to the front of the class and answer any questions fielded by the students. So the students started of asking him the usual stuff that you ask people when you meet them – basically, stuff which just lets you get to know the person on the surface. It’s something people do – never really delve really deep into someone when you first meet them. So after a while, there was that atmosphere of like boredom, well, not boredom, but that feeling you get when you run out of things to ask people and then talking to them starts feeling a bit weird because you seemingly have nothing to talk about! Anyway, then one student asked the dude what made him so special and then the guy told them this really awesome story. I can’t remember what the story exactly was but after that question broke the ice, the students were engrossed with the guy’s stories and they ended up talking to him for a few hours.

Something similar happened to me today with this guy I met. He basically had been with us for two full days taking us for Presentation Skills and, well, I knew that he appeared to be a good oke who, course-wise, was actually a real good facilitator even though the method he used would make you think he wasn’t! Just on that, basically, for the whole first day, he basically briefed us on certain skills and then left us for an hour, then told us some more stuff. This went on for the whole day and, because my presentation was done already, didn’t really feel right to me! Well, on the next day, when I did the presentation, everything came together and by the end of the day, I was seriously impressed. I need think and put my finger down on this style of teaching though!

Anyway, at the end of the second day, which was the end of the course, I asked him a few questions and it just brought this depth that I wanted to explore more and more and more! He is a writer by profession, per se, as he has a book that will be released soon and he also plays music – I think he does gig doing blues and jazz type music. He actually is in the process of self-teaching himself the saxophone. The saxophone is a pretty difficult instrument to actually play mind you! His son also plays in a relatively new, but pretty successful Metal band.

There is a little theory I have which I apply especially to Durban. In Durban, it seems that everybody there is a stoner. People from all walks of life; colour, creed, economic stature, social stature – people in every sector of life smoke! Getting hold of weed is easier than shopping for bread at Spar. It’s absolutely everywhere and is probably the reason why a lot of people don’t go hungry at night – they have a little business selling weed! Also, the types available are endless as you can pick and choose the potency and price that you want and you will get some weed of that price somewhere! BUT, the thing with this is that if you don’t know where to get weed from or if you don’t smoke because you were never exposed to it, you WILL be completely oblivious to this! You could live your entire life not meeting a single smoker or even a dealer. You would believe that weed, as a drug, is not a problem at all.

I’m sure everyone remembers the movie, “Fight Club,” with its underground culture of bare-fist fighting to satiate the needs of some people. I’m sure you remember Guy Ritchie’s, “Snatch,” with the unregulated boxing matches run by prominent underworld figures who accept bets on matches that are thrown. Well, take these two movies, remove all the niceties like gloves, medical care, and staying alive and you won’t get anywhere close to what is, apparently, rife in the underworld of South Africa. What actually is happening is that there are these Fight Clubs run by the underworld guys where they get people to fight to the death and there is a whole gambling system attached to this. Also, there apparently are a lot of young children who are pulled into this and they are made to fight opponents that they could never match up to. And, as I said before, these fights are to the death. The scary thing is that this is happening in the world and, if you are reading this from a city in South Africa, it’s happening less than 50km away from where you are presently sitting. There is a movie that’s in the pipeline that will expose this but, well; it will only come out by next year. Imagine how many people are going to lose their lives by then. It’s quite mind-boggling to really believe that the type and nature of parallel lives people in this country actually lead. Then again, look at that kid who did some sword-wielding whilst wearing his Slipknot mask and ended up killing some innocent guy. I’ll go into at some other point in time. Anyway, I met another dude that was involved with this. Scary huh!

Anyway, the whole amazing thing was that I got exposed to something in the world that I would never had known about if it not had been for asking this guy what he’ll be doing after the course. And this too was provoked by him saying that he won’t be doing this course with subsequent students for the next month because of commitments with his publishing firm. And without that, I would have not found out about the guy involved in the film. The untapped knowledge out there is so vast yet we, as people, haven’t fully tapped into it. The other thing is, how do you actually find out if someone actually has stuff of value to impart onto you? You can’t really go up to some person waiting for their burger at KFC and start a conversation with them with the line, “So what make’s you so interesting?” I guess that blogging by people in the know helps and my new found favourite toy, StumbleUpon which has completely altered my life even though I’ve been using it for a week! Just bookmark your site and someone will surely find it and maybe, just maybe, it will help them in their lives in some way.