Tag: South Africa

That was interesting…

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.

A lone tower remains standing

When humans forget they are

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.

Continue reading “When humans forget they are”

On donkeys and democracy

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-Four is 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.

Animal Farm 1954 DVD cover
Cover of the 1954 animated film

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.

Continue reading “On donkeys and democracy”

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…)