Homo Circumspectus

In the absence of trust and friendship
human beings will become cool experts
expecting outputs and outcomes.

In the exchange of benefit for doubt
human beings will become masters
of compliance, calculation and risk aversion

Survival will produce chameleons
Natural selection will train us in adaptation
The gap will ever widen.

The end of sincerity is nigh.

In ons elemente

Daar is nie ‘n teenstrydigheid en kompetisie tussen die vastigheid van rots en die rofheid van ‘n vlam nie. Daar is nie ‘n spanning tussen die sagte streling of donder van wind en die koel volword van water nie. God is in Haar element- Of ons nou skreeu of fluister, dieselfde vlam wat bo-op daal brand binne al voel mens koud. Die vrug van die vuur verteer wat af is en maak mooi wat skoon is. Al drie van die Drie is een, en ons is ook in daai een. Ons is in daai Een en ons word inner genooi. Inner en inniger deur die verstaan van rotse, water, vuur en wind.

Draai of Braai

As tiener was ek bietjie ywerig en dalk te fanaties op ‘n snaakse manier. Ons ken die konserwatiewe kerkstories van draai of braai.

Met nog ‘n publieke vakansie dag om die draai kan ons alweer kies hoe ons ons dag gaan inrig. Party van ons het op 24 September gebraai om eenheid te bewerk, maar as ons eerlik kyk sou ons sien dat meeste vure maar homogeen was. (Wat terloops nie beteken geen homos nie) Ander het gebraai omdat die werk met diverse erfenis te harde werk is. Die vraag van wie sit om jou vuur bly brandend relevant.

Voor Kersfees vier ons advent, voorbereiding vir dit (of Hy) wat kom. Met 16 Desember om die draai, stel ek ‘n n mini-advent voor vir Gelofdedag: tyd om te reflekteer oor die dag wat voorlê, of eintlik agterlê.

Ons menslike geneigdheid to rassepolitied moet nooit ons geloof oorskry nie.
Vergeet van vierkleur vlag, ou vlag, rooi wit en swart vlag, van deesdae se oranje en groen vlae.

16 Desember:
Dit wat ‘n gelofte was as danksegging moet nou ‘n gelofte word van berou en bekering. Dis tyd.
As kinders het ons belowe met ons ‘ere-Voortrekker woord’ met die hand op die Bybel. Dis nou tyd om daai Bybel oop te maak en te lees, om daai hand in ons sak te steek en om die eerbaarheid van ons woorde te herstel.

Ons moet ons bekeer van ‘n Bloedrivier waar Zulu’s ons vyande was. Vandag se 16 Desember is ‘n nuwe gelofdedag, waar ons jammer sê en dankie sê. Ons se jammer oor die geweld. Ons sê dankie dat ander kleure en kulture vandag ons broers and susters kan wees, dankie dat ons nie hoef laer te trek nie.

Die krag van die Gelofde was nog altyd God. Die bloed van Zulus is egter vervang met die bloed van God as Kind.

Hoe profeties is die herbenaming na dag van versoening, vir die van ons wat in ‘n Madiba glo wat in die Midde Ooste geloop het 2000 jaar gelede: die Groot Versoener.

Zille of Pille

Helen Zille should be celebrated by whiteys as an anti-hero. I say anti-hero in the way the naughty kid is made a prefect or a bad guy does a good deed (think Hofmeyer accidentally rescuing a puppy while cutting down a tree for fire wood). Zille is not perfect, but she is the Chuck Norris of South African Madams.
Zille I contest: did shit and will probably continue to do things. When we feel bad we can drink pills or do stuff; reactive or proactive, we can do things. By the time we reach for the tablets, we have already lost. Marx will include the Gospel as one of those pills. Zille is an antidote to our prozac-nation.

Helen Zille took one for the team: thrice.

Many white liberals and most blacks in general got exactly what they wanted from the Madam, the Miesies. They got a statement, a verbal assertion that allowed the aforementioned to discredit an uncomfortable voice. I’ll get to the tweet soon but, before I get to the tweet I am still dealing with the twitbook world we live in where words are becoming hysterically powerful. You can do 1000 good things and say one stupid sentence and your legacy will be the sentence. Cheap advice, for social media and braaivleisvure: Don’t let your sentence be your sentence. Helen is guilty of the coffin-crime: not the stupidity to do something stupid, but the stupidity of filming, typing and broadcasting your stupidity.

Still: for me, and it’s just me, our society revealed something of itself in the way Zille was devoured like a fresh carcass by intellectual and self-righteous vultures. The very same who would now want to interject with a ‘but do you know what she said?!’ or a ‘racist BS needs to be called out’… I understand fully why what she said was fucked. I understand that a rapist can’t remind a victim that he at least left her the mattress after the deed. That is not my point so get over that. My observation is that if we are willing to reduce a life to a sentence there is something wrong with us: a lost humanity, a loss of grace. I contest that the veracity of the Zille whipping reveals more of our piranha souls that devoured ubuntu the day we gave up on each other and especially when we gave up on people different from ourselves. If you don’t have grace you can’t fight for love, if you don’t have love, you can forget about justice.

Before 94, Zille became woke, or wokeish at least. She has cred. For me credibility does not always mean you have integrity, but just that your story is not 100% fake, you might not have been in the game, but you were at least on the field. Proximity buys credibility although character buys integrity.
While most white folks withdrew into privatised lives hoping to stay on the post-94 raft Zille plunged into the dirty game of politics. Is she an angel? Probably not- but she did not hide. Hiding: the whitest of sins. She stood up to faces we only see on Facebook. Maddam or not, while the other maddams sipped tea, baked premix scones and shopped in Hyde Park, this Miesies was being brave. Perhaps even a bittereinder?

When she made her now infamous tweet Zille said something in public I have heard hundreds of times. A sentiment that is extremely prevalent amongst whites. The feeling is: surely we are not all bad? Are we not human too? This line is taken to extremes by the likes of Afriforum who is in a constant victimhood competition with all others who position themselves as victims. Some are just emotionally weak and feel bad, scared and unwanted. Whites are not fighting fit when it comes to not feeling like the good guy. We need to be the good guys. So Zille let go a sentiment that millions of whites secretly feel. Instead of being streetwise (like a pro politician should) be she spoke without thinking long enough. She spoke with her heart. If she said: Whites are also human we are not all-bad – there would be no issue. Many whites do not understand that colonialism and apartheid are not synonyms with whiteness or progress. By saying what she felt she took one for the team again. The white team that hide behind safe lives was too scared to jump to Zille’s defence. There was a few exceptions, but too many cowards betrayed their own weekend-talk leaving Zille out to dry.

Lastly, by stepping down as leader of the DA, she took one for the team again. Allowing a black person to lead the official opposition. Again, my issue is not whether she or Maimane is the best, whether it is real or if Maimane is a puppet. If there is a white face on top it gets criticised, so if that is changed with a black face it should be celebrated; otherwise you were playing games. Let’s be consistent. Celebrate small victories, don’t diminish historical gains with a yes but what is still not fixed… It was the same BS with Obama even Mugabe. You complain, it gets sorted and you don’t take even 5 minutes of posting something positive and affirming about the victory. Always ready with a new protest, a new enemy, a new problem to critique. Like first year varsity students learning to debate and then so surprised and in love by their voice and ability to make sounds that they can’t get their mouth shut again.

Skepticism seems to be the new sexy, but I pray to God or whoever is in charge of millennials, that this will also pass.

An Alternative to White Tears

There is a biological and metaphorical alternative to white tears and it is situated in elongated fashion parallel to and flanked by the ring- and index finger.

For a while now my latest closet-career or jobtacy (fantasy job) is to start a t-shirt or fashion range. The shoes are easy: vellies. Done. Retro-cool and symbolic. Buno-chic.
Rooted, proud, unapologetic, yet secure enough not to chase European BS.

Then for the t-shirts, a hashtag campaign without hashtags:

1. YNCU (You’ll Never Catch Us)
2. Unapologetically Apologetic
3. Jammerlappie
4. kleurblinderig
5. Afrikan
6. jysbeterasdit
8. parabox (mix mampara en doos – vir mense wat nie met paradox kan deal nie)
9. Askies!
10. ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan
11. Zille of Pille
12. Meer Jammer – Minder Drama

I can go on and on… THe idea behind each concept is to leverage some form of cultural tradition or pride (even stereotype) to leverage and inspire a new way of thinking that can lead us out of the current identity impasse and socio economic madness.

K@k Praat (explicit language warning)

As ander aanhou afkak gaan die kak spat.
(Afrikaner verduideliking van white privilege in ons konteks)

Dis maklik om op iets te kak… jy moet net ‘n posisie inneem waar jy jouself hoër of verhewe bevind, en dan moet jy jou binneste, lelikste, stinkste, laat uitkom.
Soms voel mense kak, omdat hulle bekak is en nie omdat hulle self deur die kak is nie. Party is in die kak maar dis ‘n ander windgat, slapgat se kak.

My tesis is dat ons wit mense die meeste kak aangejaag het en ander in die kak laat beland het, nou moet ons skoonmaak. Ons moet ons nie afvee hieraan nie, maar ons moet skoonmaak en reg maak en mooi maak sonder om doekies om te draai. Behalwe om ou harde kak skoon te krap moet ons net heel eerste seker maak ons hou nou op om nuwe warm slap kak te veroorsaak en ons moet ophou om ander mense uit te kak.

White Fragility

As in faith, so in politics; remember that your voice is currency. If you make it cheap it will devalue. Making cheap comments to strangers is not awesome, it is not brave, it is not heroic and it is finally not clever. Why? Because it does not work. Poverty alleviation requires pragmatism. If wmc is real and the power so one sided we need to see each powerful white as a potential ally. If we then care about the country and the poor we must be sure to win over these whites with their power and capital. We can literally not afford to estrange them. It might feel good to say go back to Europe but that wont help the poor we claim to be in solidarity with. We need a total project of cooperation. Why is the carrot better than the stick? Because the stick is illegal and counter productive. White privilege is a reality and a moral imperative to deal with, but it is not a crime. Whites can survive BBBEE and land reform, better than the bottom third of South Africans- in fact it might make us stronger, smarter and even more privileged! But since whiteness in itself is neither a sin nor a crime we need to very carefully, as pragmatic as possible try to answer: what is the best way to assist white folk to have a posture of humility, to share wealth and opportunity, to embrace diverse friendships? My opinion is that a moral cause needs a foundation and fabric that is humane, loving, kind and respectful. Why would someone sacrifice if they are already classified as evil? Unless there is no real intention to assist and work with eg Afrikaners; then all our ‘calling out’ and ‘standing up to with verbal proclamations’ are actually just serving our own validation and conscience. If we dont love and respect everyone our moral crusades will lack gravitas and integrity. Humanity sees the human and beauty first, true morality does not disperse labels, but is willing to get to know and journey together. If you cant commit then be quiet and rather think of advisory slogans for yourself.

Field Notes: Massingir PNL

In ethnographic study one of the main challenges is for the researcher to deal with his or her bias. From metanarratives to small daily events, one has to recognise and reflect on issues that can inform one’s observation and analysis. When someone says that bad behaviour occurs because people were messed up mentally through slavery, I immediately have to recognise that the irritation I feel is really a fear of guilt and a protest in what I deem to be reasonable resistance against cheap excuses. When I don’t sleep more than two hours at a time for three night running due to rats eating our stuff, I have to recognise that my view on the Park and it’s management will be influenced.

Below follows me dumping my observations and some emotions, it is not refined, it does not reflect my well considered opinion or stance, it is just a dump of things I see and things I’m tempted to think. I think I will start my reflections on lighter issues and get progressively deeper, so herewith a few observations:

Anecdote 1: One of the PNL workers, the person doing receipts and bookings asked me to give him boerewors when I passed through before my wedding. I obliged and gave him Woolies Grabouw worth R100. I left it for him. He never sent me a message or email to thank me. I then got a message from Doc saying the guy liked the boerewors and wants more. What Doc didn’t tell me is he said he wanted R200 worth and will pay me. Nevertheless, in Phalabhorwa I made effort to go to a good butchery and I bought the guy a small pack of boerewors. When we were seated at a restaurant on Sunday evening, he showed up and before greeting and chit chatting immediately asked where his wors were. When we gave him the wors he loudly threw a tantrum going on that it is too small and an insult. He wanted to pay, and this small ‘gift’ looks like a bribe he said. He wouldn’t take it, a gift offered freely and which took effort to bring from South Africa. In which culture would such behaviour be polite? No thank-you, no grace, no calm explanation. For someone with a small admin job his ego is out of control. His admin by the way is also shocking and unprofessional. Imagine this guy had a big job or leadership position… That by the way also happens more regularly than not. I asked his colleague why this guy has not been fired, to which he replied ‘witchcraft (drogas) is real’.

Anecdote 2: The manager of community affairs gave me a speech about communication, by which she really means reporting for the sake of control and showing off. Everyone wants to look good with their bosses. I pushed back on the issue emphasising the youths needs freedom to ensure ownership, she didn’t budge but danced around with words. Yet, when she and her colleague took our leader and leather products to an event in Zimbabwe, they did not bother to inform Doc or I; neither before nor after the event. Surely communication is a two-way street? If it aint, it’s called reporting.

Anecdote 3: Doc played in a top4 football final. He was a stand-out player doing well. Because he passed the ball on the floor (which is good) and did not just kick it forward in the air (like the majority of players on the field) the spectators commented that the ‘ball is too heavy for Doc’ and that the spirits surrounded him so that his team mates won’t understand his intentions. Before the game, as is common here, the coach wanted to give Doc salt to put in his socks for ‘protection’ for neutralising the ‘magic’ muti the other team put against them. I was not shocked at all, this is normative.

Anecdote 4: This area has a massive poaching problem. Killing a big rhino bull and selling it’s horn gets a group about R5m from the Chinese who want their own horns enhanced. The discrepancy in cash is staggering. The army and police are severely under-resourced, getting R2k salary a month you have to fight and risk against poachers who are themselves armed… The police end up asking transport from the poachers they are supposed to catch, like the grey Toyota double cab this morning. The policeman climbed out and asked me ‘onde esta minha coisa’ where is my thing, meaning, buy me a gift. A begging culture created by a sense of poverty. There can be no poverty without wealth and here the wealth is introduced by Chinese people who want rhino-horn. With each cash injection the community gets poorer, the good guys get poorer and the appeal of education, hard work and patience lose its value. The money is literally killing the community. The poachers get shot and the ones that get away kills the life and integrity of their villages. Crime cash can never bring true wealth; but it can buy cars and beer.

Anecdote 5: Speaking to the adult group of football players involved in the leather project, we spoke for more than an hour about the challenges of making a table. 15 minutes was used to discuss and conclude that the table would definitely be stolen, so it was not worth it. Government gave solar lights and a water pump and someone stole it. The whole town knows who did it, but nobody says anything. Now people walk 3 km to fetch water, because of one selfish stupid who stole the town’s pump. At night it is dark. Nobody replaced the lights or pump, the stolen vandalised installations stand there as monuments; of a thief and a communal culture that wont take charge of their communal good. Fear, hierarchy (chiefs) and witchcraft inform a culture that seeks non-confrontation over all else.

Anecdote 6: The main section of the table discussion centred around the notion that if it was build and left on the veranda, people would shit on it. Initially I smiled and thought it was a joke or metaphor, but each individual went on to confirm that a human being would actually climb on it and shit on it; it happens. Perhaps kids? No, adults. In the end the conclusion was that a cement table had to be built and it needed to belong to one person, a respected (feared) poacher. If government builds it or if it belongs to the community, shitting and theft is fair play. But if it belongs to an individual people will be too scared to touch it. Talk about tragedy of the commons.

Anecdote 7: Next up: water was needed for a building project. At first the young men simply said it was to far to carry. Even with the user-friendly hippo roller drum. Then the road was to bad for the drum to roll. Fetching water was impossible. Eventually, the point was made: we can’t fetch the water, it is the women’s job. Not that they were embarrassed or lazy, the women would be angry. So then surely one should ask them to carry the water for the building? Nope, they could never do that to them and burden them with such extra tasks… What to make of this? Perhaps the importance of repetitive ingrained culture and rhythms that provide a sense of security and order. If one aspect of daily culture could be contravened, what is to say all order would not be eroded. Maintaining the status quo is more attractive than disruptive pioneering. Kind of obvious who will stay behind in a globally competitive economy.

Anecdote 8: Kids here hear the word voetsek more than any other words. Nobody is friendly with the kids, nobody playes with them or asks them how they are, never mind asking them their opinion. The adults are embarrassed by the dirty little kids, perhaps they mirror the poverty in an embarrassingly real way. The go to job for villagers is seasonal orange picking in Tzaneen. Bottom of the food chain; unless you take out a rhino or elephant. There are no girls sports, no boys training football in the afternoon. The majority of the towns are unemployed and no one is taking time to occupy and develop the kids. Why? Yet the ‘cool’ men sit and drink every day. On a Monday morning, on a Sunday afternoon. Drinking and playing gambling games… Talking about what? Gossiping, talking badly about others literally takes half the time. Complex analysis of why this one or that one’s behaviour is out of order and wrong. Explaining why another person is actually bad or unfair. I know everyone gossips, but when gossips become the reinforcement of fear and paralysis it becomes something different than when two successful people gossip about each other.

Anecdote 9: The brightest young girl we took to SA last year now left school. Ten guesses why? A boyfriend. We know her father and I wondered why he would allow that? Not in the name of love, the guy that took (grab) her owns a small tuckshop in the village, which allowed him to buy a small car. A car worth $500 and a tuckshop made of mud, is all that was need to take the best and most promising young girl. She was not taken to be the wife, but the girlfriend, who would become the second wife. Shock and horror? Not so much, for her dad owns a small car and transport business, bringing supplies from South Africa. His house is the size of a South African RDP. This wealth allowed him to have three wives. So the promising young girl already has a father who is husband to three. Before the enlightened academics in fancy universities give me a speech about respecting all cultures and the traditional right and beauty of polygamy, I would just like to know, here in this village, how does it impact on this girl, her development and her future? The same happened again and again in Manica, the more a project developed a young female leader, the more attractive she became for a local man to make her pregnant (typical) or take her as a wife (best case). Should one invest in girls in such a culture? How should one confront the men? Can it change? Will it change? What I learn is that making comparisons of wealth between cultures and countries or races is a disingenuous and erroneous game played by elites for political sympathy in the public domain. If one really cared about equality and human rights, leaders should have been breaking their heads trying to crack the real issues of jealousy, witchcraft, fear and patriarchy.

Anecdote 10: A community and park leader told me he is tired of drinking. Too much 2M does not help. He will not give his life to beer. He would rather give his life for women. You must just not get caught by your wife. At least by ‘playing’ with girls, one day when you die and God asks you why, you can say to him that he made you for this, he gave you a penis and desires to do these things. But if you drank your life away, you would have no answer to God, because God made alcohol for us just to take a bit so we can deal better with life’s challenges. Again, fun for the man, where does it leave our sisters and mothers? Or are they okay with the gifts of clothes, one litre liquid-fruit or little material ‘thank you’ gifts?

Anecdote 11: Where I sit and type, I have small pleasures: little birds chirping and making the odd appearance, a fish eagle instead of a rooster greeting us in the mornings and sitting around a fire at night. Small instances of solace in nature. I never thought such small simplicities could be life-lines for my mental sanity. They are not ‘nice to have’s’ but necessities.

The Arimathians

For a famous book the Bible isn’t very well read today and I include myself. Even the easy or user-friendly New Testament is neither scrutinised nor memorised in the way the Jews familiarised themselves with their writings. How many modern Christians for example are familiar with the young man that ran away naked, leaving the guards holding his bed sheet? Why is he even mentioned? If he was mentioned as a witness, why no name? Was he perhaps mentioned for comic relief, in such a serious moment? Or was he a shadow of another young man who would soon be left naked with guards holding onto his garments? I have my own issues with the Bible (and it’s people), but I also discover and rediscover inspiration at unlikely times an in unlikely sections. I struggle to fathom that something smart was written so long ago.

I am sitting in rural Mozambique, in a hut where a rat kept us up the whole night. We are inside Parque Naçional do Limpopo (PNL), an extension of Kruger. Rural Moz, sometimes seems to be 100 years behind South Africa. 100 years is a long time, so the effects of 2000 years on a story, context or concept seems beyond my grasp. This morning I am intrigued by another marginal figure on the periphery of the Gospels. The periphery of the Good News being an interesting concept in it’s own right. We all drift in and out of the story. Peter for example, who got the revelation of the Kingdom and cut of ears is the same guy that ‘followed at a safe distance’, same guy that denied and wept. Even the Kingdom heroes seem tainted or fake. But let’s get back to the peripheral figure that grabbed my attention this morning…

At school, I was good and naïve; assuming that is possible. In Grade 12, when I was head-boy I cared deeply about my ‘job’ and I can remember how often in anger and disillusionment I wanted to ‘give in my badge’. I often fantasised about the moral integrity of quitting from an unjust system or walking away from a group without integrity. And indeed I’ve ‘given in my badge’ on many occasions in my life, at times it is what we have to do; especially when our minds have not caught up with our hearts. I have walked away from jobs and out of conversations many times. But indignation and statements in abstract solidarity does not always bring the peace and justice we imagine. I think it is easier to train the mind than it is to train the heart, so I will never be harsh on anyone who needs to ‘run from a lion’ or create space between their aspirations and temptations. We have to protect our convictions while we have them I guess.

When reading about Jesus’ last days in Mark, we quickly see how shit the religious leaders of the day were. Allow me the grace to infuse my contempt with a bit of Mzansi flavour: It’s easy to note the conniving, spiteful and useless batch of Gupta-like, EFF behaving, Zuma-led and apartheid inspired Jewish Council (Sanhedrin). I mention all the associations South Afrians won’t like in 2017 to highlight what a bunch of bad apples this little broederbond was. They bloody killed God’s Son! How bad do you have to be to take out the ‘94 Madiba in such a public and disrespectful manner? If I was member of the Jewish Council I would have handed in my badge a long time ago. At worst I would have walked out when I realised they were about to kill the King.

2000 years ago however, I was not even in Heerde, Holland yet. There was no Schalk, nobody to hand in a badge. Who was there though, was a guy called Joseph. Not the famous Joseph who got a kid without getting lucky; another Joseph. Joseph of Arimathia. A peripheral figure in the Gospel story. Obviously important in that his request ensured a verification of the death of Christ, fulfilled a prophecy about the Messiah’s tomb and important for giving a dignified burial to the person who deserved it more than anyone else.

Joseph of Arimathia, like the book of Mark in general makes a quick, strong statement. Plain and simple: a bit of info, a bit of action and a bit of effect. I take encouragement form Joseph of Arimathia, and if I were to ever establish an order of The Arimathians I would base five founding principles on this short account in Mark 15 (also considering the other Gospel variations).

1. Sacrifice: Joseph not only used his money to buy a linen shroud, he gave his own grave. He gave time to attend the body of the dead. Without giving time and things nobody can be part of any story. Joseph had bucks, apparently, but Joseph knew about sacrificial giving.
2. Living expectantly awaiting the Kingdom of God: He did not sulk and blame when JC died, when things didn’t pan out the way everyone expected, his convictions were activated and his expectation transformed into duty. His expectation made him courageous and he included others like his chommie Nic. We cannot expect the KoG as a one man show.
3. Respected amidst the rot: Pravin Gordhan was fired, he did not walk out. We now know how big the gap between him and JZ was, but Pravin stayed and served the country amidst a box of rotten apples. Joseph of Arimathia stayed in the Jewish Council, although it must have driven him up the walls. Not only did he stay, he was respected.
4. Secrecy: Joseph of Arimathea did not perform and talk on the public platform when Barabas was released. Joseph’s contribution was done behind the scenes, he contributed to the unspectacular, away from the stage and attention. He bought burial cloths and no PR company was hired to profile his good deed. (Yet here I sit in PNL 200 years later blogging about him)
5. Joseph of Arimathea (J.A.) cared for Jesus’s body. An Order of Arimatheans would care for the body of Christ. Today, the body of Christ is the church. Not only did Jay Ay (J.A.) stay in the Jewish Council, he cared for the body of Christ. It is plain to see how I make the link between the actions of Jay Ay, and me (or us) faced with a decision to stay in or get in the NGK and FGK in particular.

Today the Jewish Council and the Body of Christ is often the same thing- a thing in desperate need of Arimatheans willing to care in sacrifice, secrecy, expectation and resilience.

I am left with the question: is caring for the Body of Jesus a calling or a duty?