Category: Current Events & Politics

On being democratic

As mentioned, today we had elections in South Africa.  Election day is always a public holiday so as to allow everyone an opportunity to vote.  Naturally all the shops are also open so people can make the most of the public holiday and go shopping.  Some stores even had election day specials.  It’s good to know democracy and civic responsibility is so important to the businesses in South Africa (but seeing that more than half of them belong to Walmart by now…)

Anyway, the wife and I slept in (I returned from the coast with a bit of a cold, so I had to drag my carcass from bed in any case) before heading to the polls.  Our voting station thankfully had a short queue so my blocked sinuses didn’t have to spend hours standing in the late autumn sun.  Ten minutes after arriving we had both made our mark and had our thumbs marked in turn.

Marked thumb after voting

It is apparently illegal to take a photo of one’s ballot paper (or to take a selfie in the voting booth), but if you click here you’ll see a photo of the national ballot for today’s election with all twenty-nine parties that took part (and yes, we have a political party who calls themselves KISS.  They’ve actually been around since 1994.)  I have to confess I have never heard of more than half of them (I’ve known about KISS; have no idea what they stand for, though), and that in spite of doing quite a bit of reading over the past couple of months trying to figure out for whom to vote.

In the end, I voted for a party whose leader I trust.  They’re definitely not going to win the election, not on national or provincial level, but hopefully I have helped them to get at least one seat in parliament.

Now the wait for the results starts.  We all know who’s going to win, the only question is how far (and whether our president will manage to hang on until the end of his second term, but let’s not go into that…)

In two weeks’ time South Africa is having our national elections…

SA Flag ballot box…and initially that was all I was going to say about that.  I don’t want to sully this blog with local politics, which can really take anything good and utterly corrupt it (but I suppose that’s true of local politics everywhere, isn’t it?)

But last week there was a new development that piqued my interest.  Someone said something that got me thinking about the meaning of words, and George Orwell, and the abuse of language to manipulate people.  And my hammer started vibrating (and if you know anything about hammer-lore you’ll know that means it’s time to whack something).

What was said that awakened the urge in me to apply some percussive maintenance?  Someone accused a group of people trying to bring about change of being counter-revolutionary. Continue reading “In two weeks’ time South Africa is having our national elections…”

Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba

Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba

By now you’ve probably heard the news that Nelson Mandela has died at 95 years of age.  I’m sure many will write tributes in the days to come.  I’ve already seen a few, with at least one turning it into a soapbox to criticise our current government and others rushing to point out that Mr Mandela had been a terrorist in his early life, thus hardly deserving of our tribute and respect.  This saddens me, for though he was far from perfect, he was still a great man in the way that very few men in history have been. Continue reading “Rest in Peace, Tata Madiba”

On greener grass and all that…

Let’s be honest:  at one time or another we all buy into the myth that the grass is greener on the other side.  If that wasn’t so people wouldn’t keep on changing jobs, homes, towns, partners, countries.  We’re always looking out for something better.  But once in a while something happens that reminds us that what we have maybe isn’t all that bad.  I’ve been feeling that way this week as I watched developments abroad.

Warning: this post will be taking a tongue-in-cheek look at the US government shutdown from an outsider’s perspective.  If that is a sore topic, you’re a flaming patriot, or if anything that seems to disagree with your views causes your brain to shut down, I suggest you stop reading.  My regular commenters are a decent lot, but if you’re new here you might want to check out the about page and comment policy first. Continue reading “On greener grass and all that…”

On South Africa – land of many tongues

On South Africa – land of many tongues

Goeiemôre, good morning, dumela, molo, sawubona, salibonani, ndi matseloni, avuxeni, ǃGãi tses, goedendag, bonjour, bom dia, guten Tag, hari yang baik, subaha acchā, subha-ba-khair, marHaban, shalom, Zǎo ān and nzuri asubuhi.

No, I’m not swearing at you.  Today we celebrate Heritage Day in South Africa.  Our country is incredibly diverse in terms of cultures, histories, religions, languages and natural heritage.  The purpose of today is to remember and celebrate who we are and where we come from.

South African flag heritage day

One of the most obvious signs of diversity in our country is in the languages we speak.  To start with, we have eleven official languages protected by our constitution.  Several of those eleven languages have various dialects and there are a couple of pidgin languages as well, combining several official languages into one.  And I don’t even know how many other languages are spoken here, either by descendants of the original European settlers or more recent migrants.

So be greeted today in just a few of the many tongues spoken in South Africa. To learn a bit more of each of the languages used above, click here