My country is messed up. Our rivers run bright green with sewage (I would know – I live next to one), you can seriously damage your car if you hit a patch of asphalt between all the potholes in the road, we have a president that makes Nixon look like a boy scout but keeps getting away with it, and a few weeks ago we managed to break democracy when half the opposition was thrown out and the other half walked out during the State of the Nation address.
But at the same time we have an amazing country with amazing people.
Just as I was finishing up tonight’s post the power went out. All part of our government’s plan to get people playing board games and talking to each other again (more on that later). As a result you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the latest instalment of if all else fails… Sorry about that 😉
A little over two hours ago my desk started shaking. Then I realised our entire building was shaking. So this was how it was going to end?
About twenty seconds later the Earth stopped moving and two seconds later #earthquake was trending on Twitter and South Africa experienced a sudden spike in online activity. Someone needs to do a study on what this says about us as a species.
Anyhow, according to the USGS the quake measured a magnitude of 5.3 at the epicentre which is a little under 100km away from us. No damage here, but closer to the action at least one person was killed when a wall collapsed and an as-yet unknown number of miners are trapped underground (oh, yes, the epicentre is in a major gold-mining region). It’s also not known yet whether mining activity could have triggered the earthquake.
Those of you interested in this type of thing can find more information here.
P.S. Did I say no damage? Not quite accurate. My chess set was massacred.
You know I prefer to keep things light on if all else fails. The world is serious enough without me contributing. But sometimes one has to unsheath the hammer and start whacking stuff.
Imagine this: You come home from work. Hang on. Did I say home? I mean the shack knocked together from scavenged wood and corrugated iron sheets without water, electricity, plumbing or a floor which is the only home you can afford. So, you come home from work. Except, your home isn’t there. Some guys in overalls had pulled it down and all your stuff that used to be inside is gone. Normally in a situation like this you’d call the police, but they’re already there, standing in a line between your angry and crying neighbours and the men systematically destroying your homes, protecting the latter.
If you think this sounds like something that happens in third world dictatorships you’ll be right, but not this time. This time it happened in a country that less than a month ago had its fifth free and fair democratic elections as they celebrated twenty years of freedom from oppression. Yeah. Right.
When one mentions George Orwell, most people immediately think of Nineteen Eighty-Four. But a few years earlier Orwell had written another little book, a novella titled Animal Farm. Nineteen Eighty-Fouris undoubtedly Orwell’s master work, with it’s terrifying depiction of a society where every citizen is watched so closely that even talking in your sleep can get you arrested and where the rulers are so confident in their power that they entertain themselves by allowing individuals the illusion of freedom and rebellion, only so that breaking them later is that much more devastating. It is a warning of where we can end up if we sit back and let those in power have too much.
But more significant in my eyes is Orwell’s little fairy tale, as he called it, for Animal Farm shows us just how easily society can reach that state. Animal Farm, for those of you who’ve never read it, is a fable about a bunch of farm animals who rebel against their human master, run him off the farm, and start working the land for themselves.