Category Archives: Correctional

learning from failures

Jou Plakker

Ons Boere is baie vining om polêre teenstrydighede te skep
Inderdaad is die doel van ‘n teenstrydigheid ‘n teenstryerigheid
Links teenoor regs
Liberaal teenoor konserwatief
Progresief teen… Regresief
Die wat laer trek en die wat voort trek

Almal noem my liberaal omdat ek
uithang en werk en veg saam swart Afrikane…
maar ek weier om as ‘n liberalis beplakker te word
Ek is konserwatief. Ek is radikaal in die sin dat ek staan vir
‘n terugkeer na ons wortels.
Wortels wat my anker in waar ek vandaankom en hoe
ek grootgemaak is.
Ek is konserwatief omdat ek glo in konserwatiewe waardes:
Christelike naasteliefde
Wat is ‘n Afrikaner sonder Christelike naasteliefde?
My oortuiging dat my medemens ten spyte van velkleur
Ten spyte van opvoeding of behuising, ten spyte van aksent
my broer is… is in lyn met Jesus se vertel van die Samaritaan
Hierdie is old school waardes.

Dis konserwatief vir ‘n Afrikaner om nie ‘n selfsugtige poephol te wees nie
maar om jou speelgoed te deel met ander
Dis konserwatief of nie geldgierig te wees en mammon na te streef nie
Dis konserwatief om nie ‘n materialis te wees nie
Dis konserwatief om nie af te show met die blinkste kar wat jy op skuld koop nie
So baie van ons dink ons is boere, maar ons is eintlik klein Trumps in kakie…

Ek laat my nie mislei en verlei met liberale sienings
gegrond in humanistiese individualisme nie
‘n Goeie boer kan nooit een wees wat vir gemak en self leef, bo sy pligte tot die samelewing en gemeenskap nie
‘n Konserwatiewe Afrikaner is braaf en nie bang nie
Ek laat my nie mislei en verlei deur byderwetse tendense om myself as slagoffer te bestempel nie
Ek kla nie oor my elke dag en uitdagings nie
Ek pak die bul by die horings

Ek glo in konserwatiewe waardes soos dankbaarheid, ek kyk na wat ek het
Ek fokus nie op die behoud van my regte nie, maar die deel van my voorregte
Afrikaner gasvryheid- vir almal.
Vir my is ‘n goeie Afrikaner een wat glo in waardes,
waardes wat ons nie altyd uitgeleef het nie
maar waardes wat ons opgehou het en aan ons kinders probeer leer het.
Ek glo leë blikke maak die meeste geraas, ek glo in werk voor plesier
Ek glo in een drag maak mag en ek glo in aanhouer wen
Nie konserwatief nie? Se gat

So los my plakker uit
As jy wil plakkers uitdeel, beplak jouself
En vat sommer die liberale plakker
Moenie my probeer plak
omdat jy te slapgat en halfhartig is
om verby jou gemak en klein homogene groepie te kyk nie
As ons van Europa kon trek Kaapstad toe en van Kaapstad af Transvaal toe
Kan ons waaragtig nou in die Nuwe Suid Afrika intrek
En ophou bang en grumpy wees omdat ons nie meer baas genoem word nie.
Die wortels van die Afrikaner is wortels van werk,
nie van baas speel en baasspelerig wees nie

Ek is seker nie reg of regs nie, maar ek’s ook nie links of verkeerd nie.
Ek’s geanker en vooruitstrewend. Eks inklusief en lief.

Daar’s vir jou ’n plakker.

Our Common Goal

“Now it is our contention that true democracy can be established in South Africa and on the continent as a whole, only when white supremacy has been destroyed.”  –  Robert M Sobukwe (2010:23)

This call from the Seventies should still be our rallying cry today. Not to say we have not made radical progress, but the call to end white supremacy is still a helpful one. White supremacy, or so-called white supremacy looked different in the seventies where whites literally ran everything, had all and exclusive access and where black people were exploited and humiliated. White supremacy, or so-called white supremacy lingers on today, stubbornly in the minds of South Africans, both white and black. This is our joint disease that affects our national health. Back then the supremacy was justified by so-called biological differences, a nonsense that has been mostly debunked.

The two notions that still plague us are, the idea of cultural superiority and the idea that material wealth and education is linked to intrinsic qualities. You just need to look at a useless corrupt fat cat today, driving a Bentley and realise that theft buys fancy suits and expensive whiskey. It is not classy, it is material profanity built on theft. When the spoilt little kids of this fat cat goes to expensive private schools, how dare they look down on and make fun of struggling kids from hard-working honest parents?

In my description of an exploitative class in the paragraph above, did you imagine a white or a black person? The answer is very important. Whichever picture you had in your head, might point you to your blind spot, whereby you need to learn to see the other side.

Today, for someone living in a shack, notions of white supremacy are real when every day, you walk past a white family in a Prado, going on holiday, getting Christmas gifts, practicing public speaking, discussing books. White wealth is a legacy of white privilege which is a legacy of white oppression and exploitation. Privilege allows certain cultures to develop and flourish. Privilege allows certain cultures to be trampled on and deteriorate. This applies to ethnic cultures, but also the specific culture in a home or in a neighbourhood. Kids growing up surrounded by gangs, surrounded by rapes or violence, they grow up in a new culture. Hatred can infiltrate any culture and hurt can become a culture of rebellion. Culture is not about cutlery and clothing; it is about shared values. Shared values and ethics that put you on a productive and developmental path is a privilege.

Sobukwe speaks of the myth of race that is used to build a myth of cultural superiority linked to colour. Nobody can deny that in todays world certain cultural traits will help members of a clan and certain cultural traits will disadvantage members of a clan; any clan. I hold that our culture should serve us and we should not serve our culture. We live in radically changing times, our groups are not geographically isolated any longer and that which used to make a sub-grouping of humans stronger and safe can today make a sub grouping stupid and dangerous. We need to change.

Our most pressing challenge is that of moving away from race, moving away from ethnicity; towards a shared humanity. This is not contradictory, as long as the notions are prioritised. Sub cultures can be used in service of a unified culture. Tribes can use their tribal heritage to serve the common good. A practical example can be the coming together of Afrikaners in a church with the vision and calling to eradicate white supremacy. That will have two legs, one being the extension of opportunity to blacks and the other being the deconstruction of internal and habitual stupidities that perpetuate racism. A black man or women who becomes successful through excellence and goodness should be top priority and something whites cherish. It would be a privilege to be part of such stories.

A tricky question in the discussion on dismantling white supremacy is that of white suffering. In theory nobody should suffer. In reality, in an equal South Africa, white poverty has to grow. That will be normal and even healthy. Whites should live in shacks, as long as blacks are living in shacks. White people passionate about uplifting ‘their own’ in a context of exploitative racial oppression need to do very serious soul searching. Let blacks look after poor whites. We have a historical burden, we have restitution as prerequisite for reconciliation; or at least the two needs to be implemented in unison.

Whites and blacks need to go about dismantling so called white supremacy in two different ways. Im not going to be PC and Im not going to be rude, but every honest South African knows that blacks and whites have different nuances and narrative we need to voice and advocate in order for our country to be equal and free. Democracy is impossible without the dismantling of so-called white supremacy- it is our call in this day and age to fight towards this same, unifying goal.

It can only be achieved if we work together. Other countries have shown that it is not something that is automatically fixed over time. We need a concerted effort, a brave leadership and a sacrificial life-style in order to be counter cultural and show the world that indeed we belong firstly to a human race.

To give up, is to have failed.

To give up is to have caused the thing you were supposed to fight.

Liefde Wen (Jammer Madiba)

In this world, in this country, we find different kinds of people.
Some are fun and some are kind.
Some are sad and some are hurt.
Some are inspirational and some are courageous.

We should never allow sad individuals to hijack a conversation introduced by inspirational examples.
Septic hurt easily turns into resentful anger and cheap hatred.

Maar Liefde Wen.

Faced, face to face with a generous and kind person, someone with honest integrity, our stereotypes melt away and we recognise a shared humanity.

Madiba did not sell us out. He opened a door, he opened a door in the most beautiful way possible.
For 21 years (too)many refused to walk through into the invitation. Our selfishness stopped us from responding.
That was our mistake: we were cowards and uninspiring to the extent of killing his magic.

Let’s look in the mirror and search for courage and beauty, instead of vomiting disdain on the father of a nation. Hatred and resentment are sad expressions of cowardly frustration.

Maar Liefde Wen.

If we’re smart and brave enough.

What We Tell Ourselves

I think I can… I think I can… I think I can… the little steam train and many other stories illustrate how we ‘talk’ to ourselves. ‘Come on, you can do this’ or even ‘nou’t ek kak aangejaag’ are examples of how we attempt to order our lives by employing artificial objectivism as we assume the role of teacher for ourselves! A good motivational pep talk surely has it’s place as we encourage ourselves to run up a hill we really want to walk, a pre-rugby game ‘op-psyche’ to eliminate fear and transform our adrenalin into aggression, a ‘just stay calm’ in traffic or a ‘count to ten’ before I tell a colleague what I think of her. But the person speaking and the person listening is still the same person, and although our self-talk can assist in some ways and make a difference, the very fact that you have to say them proves that something in your heart or mind is not there, where you want to be. Speaking to ourselves can easily become repetitive, cheap and ineffective. We need to hear things on a deeper level if we want it to penetrate our patterns of thought and habit.

A better way we can consciously speak to ourselves is through deeds. I say conscious, because we are doing this automatically every single day, without realising it. Our actions and behaviour reinforces unexpressed thought patters as it solidifies in our character through deeds. Our actions first reflect our insides, but then our actions create our insides! We believe what we do. As simple as that. Surely there is a place for spiritual or inner transformation, changing from the ‘inside’ out. I’m all into and for that. The best way to live is through a natural overflow of the soul. The problem is if we find our insides to be broken or weak. One could argue that this needs fixing not by trying harder or being legalistic, yet prayer or meditation like silence, journaling and reflection are still all efforts and deeds! The end-goal should not be mechanistic obedience or artificial compliance, the end goal is indeed a heart transformed. The question is: how to transform our inner beings?

My suggestion here, no, my realisation in my own life, is that I have to tell myself what the good life is by doing it. Planned practice and discipline are the keys to unlocking doors of greater maturity and depth. That is not a new thought. We are not the first humans to be faced with this reality and choice. Yet, in todays world, in todays churches and todays seminars we prefer language and knowledge over discipline and instruction.

I know that in my life I reinforce my beliefs and values every day. They run on momentum, so when I start to lose it, I can get more and more lost. When I make a brave decision it seems to introduce further smart choices. In this way, how early I get up on a Sunday morning and how I reflect, says something about my desire to be ‘grounded, growing, good’; and then when I had to buy a car I was aware of my temptations and desires. I could choose to act out my beliefs and not to embrace temptations through rationalisations. Having a ‘different’ friend over for dinner, knowing they can’t return the favour, might not feel rewarding in the present, but you announce to yourself what kind of a person you want to be.

The things we tell ourselves will bear fruit, they will germinate and manifest in other, unexpected areas of our lives. It’s a game of momentum and whether you play it subconsciously or consciously does not influence the fact that the game is being played; always. As in most games it helps to know the rules, have a strategy, learn the skill and execute the play.

Every deed affirms and engrains an underlying belief. So we literally choose what we believe, through speech and deeds.

What is important to me? What is my definition of the good life is? What am I committed to?
Comfort or Growth?

I make my own compass, daily, through my deeds.
We are all craftsmen.
If I make selfish or short-sighted decisions, I am making a compass that can only take me in a few directions. I am limiting my own life.

Much grace is needed.
When much grace is given,
much action is required.

Let us not kid ourselves.

It’s actually simple
and plain
for anyone to see.

The Division of the Pursuit of Happiness

Division of Labour is in a way natural and no one can argue the efficiency.  We produce more and the average person has access to more for cheaper.
I’m typing on this laptop which thousands of individuals made, each doing his own part.
I’m sitting in my flat, which hundreds of specialised people built. Using electricity, generated and distributed by thousands more.
My house was financed through a bank, with even more individual cogs in a big wheel.
The clothes I’m wearing is also a result of the division of labour.
All the above occurred, not because I wanted it, but because others derived a plan as to make a profit. That is, they orchestrated production of goods in excess to enable bartering and stock up on currency.
I can never escape this preoccupation. First, the economic goal was meeting needs, but the process, once it got going did not only meet needs, it created needs.
At what price? Obviously the market puts a monetary price on every singe item that is excess to the producer. The buyer (the wanter) sells some of his own exxcess (time and skill) in order to purchase the excess of the seller.
At what human price?
An ever increasing division of labour turns individuals more and more into machines. It is inescapable and I won’t argue with the relevance and force of the market.
I will however, argue and resist the dehumanising affects the system has on me.
As a spiritual person it is good, in some ways to travel light and not be too anchored, too rooted.
Yet, as a human it is also important to be rooted, to connect. With people and process. That is why even the wealthiest of individuals still have hobbies. The immitation of being involved in a complete process nurtures a hidden part of our humanity. Growing your own vegetables or gardening is perhaps the best example.
Here in my flat, suspended in the sky I make a some symbolic attempts at resistence:
I planted and nurture a few plants. At present I can see new fruits forming on the trees. It is a cyclical process of life and death. The plants and their fruits grow so slowly, but it is beautiful and miraculous in nature.
This morning I baked bread again. Sure, I did not grow the wheat or sugar cane. I did not produce the yeast or salt. But every step closer to the process serves its purpose of grounding my soul. The sight of the dough expanding, the smell of the bread baking and the satisfaction of cutting a freshly baked bread does something for the human inside of me.
All of us cannot be subsistence farmers. Well, we can, but it won’t happen. So I’m not advocating an Amish extremity. I’m advocating a balance. A rhythm that merge a bit of slow into a fast paced division and bartering of labour.
When I was young I told my dad I don’t want to learn how to wire an electric plug. I told him I will make enough money as lawyer to pay someone to do it. It was such a seminal conversation. My dad had the patience and grace to allow me to discover these things by myself. I didn’t get a speech. Only during my first year in Mozambique, at 19, did I start to experience the pleasure of doing things with my own hands. Today when I see Builders Warehouse buzzing with clueless yet excited individuals on a Saturday morning, I know that I am not alone.
Unfortunately Facebook, video games and the television is cheap numbing device that keeps humans from realising all of this. Ironically, TV, Facebook, playstation, magazines, clothing, beer and restaurants exist due to individuals devising excess production to eat our money! They don’t care about us wasting hours and keeping our minds numb. They care that someone pays for the TV, the decoder, the movie, the shoes, the bling, the music, the beer. They produce in excess through the division of labour so that others will spend their own excess (in the form of currency) on these products. Some products are obviously better or less harmful than others. Hats off to the bastards that get you to buy cigarettes and shooters. The price we pay for consuming useless things is a bombardment of advertising that floods and pollutes our minds to the extent of us not realising it.
We need to learn to say no to some things before we are allowed to say yes to others. What do you say no to? What do I say no to?
As I get older, I want to move away from the spectacular, the comfortable and the quick.
I want to discover rhythms of slower and deeper moments.
Shaving with my old fashioned cut-throat razor is one of these things, like bread baking or gardening that slows me down. By activating my hands and seeing a tangible complete outcome or result of a particular labour I am connecting myself with a way that I think is healthier and more human, more humane.
We are all in pursuit of happiness. So this is not a point of morality or spirituality; although it might affect both.
For some the pursuit of happiness entails new shoes, music videos, beer, smart cars, fashion, gossip, fast foods, walking in the mall or watching TV shows.
For some it entails creation, reading, growing, traveling, writing or cooking meat on a fire you made yourself.
Mostly it entails a weird mix of all of the above.
I won’t say one is right and one is wrong. If putting mags on your car and smoking cigarettes makes you genuinely happy; go for it.
My point is that I think the system sells happiness as a shallow by product of entrepreneurial profit drive. Our happiness are automatic assumptions derived from the market that creates, advertise and sell products that are easy to like… The super rich rely on our uselessness and ingeniousness to consume what they create for us.
My way to escape some of that is to do very basic things that are holistic rather than dissected.
My pursuit of happiness hopes to do basic things well and to derive satisfaction from integrated processes. Why? It makes me feel grounded and in touch. And being grounded in my body and outside, grounds my heart and mind, which in turn allows me to think more clearly.
And being smart and wise (one day) is a non negotiable in my pursuit of happiness.

Learn, Un-learn, Repeat

When we are small we learn at a heck of a pace.

Then we start learning less.

Then we start learning useless things.

Then we start learning the wrong things.

Feeling clever, consolidating our knowing makes us feel safe.

Learning implies the acceptance of not knowing.

Not knowing makes us feel unsafe.

To learn, we need to unlearn.

Its so hard that we need tricks, starting small.

As an adult some of my interesting and humbling learnings include:

Playing football, speaking Portuguese, welding, shaving with a cut throat, playing golf…

I should find more: learning Zulu, understanding my camera, handy-man and carpentry, formal studies, keeping rhythm.

To remain a learner is hard, but we can make it fun.

Finding the habit of listening, looking and learning in small things, sets us up to be able to grow and change when it comes to fundamentals.

 

 

The Bearable Shortness of Being

There is only one thing each person has to discover. There is only one thing that each of us should comprehend deeply, that we should ‘get’ or ‘catch’. The one thing that will change everything else is if you understand how short life is. Grasping how short my time on earth is will change everything.

Our concept and expectation of time is instinctively on auto-pilot, but seldom articulated. We adapt our behaviour automatically based on our expectation of time. If you go to an exotic island on a luxury boat and you know you have two days to spend on the island, you will behave in a completely different way than you would have if you shipwrecked on the island and expected to be stuck there for 30 years. We behave differently when we know our ride is waiting. And despite our contradictory expectation of indefiniteness – our ride is in fact waiting.

Once we realise how quickly we grow up, how soon we leave behind the cuteness of being a toddler, how quickly the uncertainty and arrogance of a teenager passes by, how fleeting those students years are, how fast the next generation grows up and how quickly our bodies remind us that we are set on a very particular path of outward decay; then we realise that our journey on this planet is shorter than we thought. Years fly by. We realise all of this when we look back and realise that time is running out and we never realised the crazy ambitions and dreams of our youth.

Every day is followed by night and each sign of life is mysteriously intertwined with pending death. This can be depressing, ugly and sad, or it can just be what it is. Once we know how short our time in these bodies are, we can let go of some of our vanity. Once we realise how short our stay on this planet is we realise that we can own nothing and that everything is gifts. A gift not given, but loaned. Once you get to borrow something for a short time, you learn to hold it in the correct way, to look at it in the right way. People, experiences, nature, places, art, music, achievements, or whatever- these are all temporal gifts that will come and go.

It seems our ‘natural’, perhaps animal instinct is to act as if time is endless. We gather and build and hold onto things as if we will live for 2000 years. We hold onto people as if they will live forever. We cling to ideas as if the changing of minds and truths threaten our very being. We are mostly in denial of how fast life is flying by. Why? Maybe because if we realise the loss of what has gone, if we articulate the failures of wasted years it will place us in front of such a clear mirror that we would be forced to re-evaluate our ideas, our world views, our patterns our behaviour and our choices. We subconsciously think that if we sneak along in mediocrity nobody will notice- not even ourselves.

But we know.

We get glimpses.

We need brave and courageous friends to help us fight for the rays of life that we are so so accustomed to avoid.

Time is ticking… We are getting old. Each day a hundred ungrasped opportunities pass away.

Let us not get trapped in cycles of desperate pettiness. Let us not get addicted to pathetic patterns of  perverted self-love.

Life is short.

We get one chance and we’ve lost half of that already…

 

 

 

 

 

I have an urgent obligation to search out and appreciate every drop of beauty, to juxtapose evil and sadness with beauty and goodness so the latter can be illuminated even in the presence of the former.

Leisure

Sometimes the wealthy are proud to refer to themselves as a man or woman of leisure. In a way, leisure is the fulfilment and culmination of wealth; in the absence of a higher or lower purpose.

This December was the first time in about 12 years that I did not spend my festive season in Manica, Mozambique. Manica is nota tourist town at the coast, and when I’m there I try to serve- the place is not geared for my pampering. 2014’s end saw me go to holiday spots. I’m inclined to say white holiday spots since despite the fact that 90% of our country consists of black people, only 10% of the ‘holiday goers’ were black. This is a persistent legacy of apartheid: white leisure.

On Port Alfred’s Royal golf course I spoke to an old Afrikaner and when he heard what I do for a job he said: “Do you still have hope for this bloody country?!” to which I replied: “Oom, as mens nie hoop het nie moet jy maar trek.” The uncle was complaining about the country, but he is substantially unaffected by any of the things he complains about. He ended our chat with a “let’s not talk politics, I’m supposed to enjoy my retirement.” A man of leisure.

To be clear, I was part of the white holiday vibe. I spent endless ZAR’s on myself and my biological family, justified by the notion that for 10 years I spent all my December cash on Manicans. The justification only numbs half of my conscience though…

Driving through the Karoo, I stopped at a farm stall and was talked into buying half a lamb. Great meat at a cheaper price. The Afrikaner lady explained all the different pieces of meat to me and to bags consisted of weird things like bones, chunks of fat and kidneys. She asked me if I have dogs to which I replied “no”. So she said, in Afrikaans, in front of other customers which included black people: “gee dit dan maar vir die bediende”. This little anecdote first shocked me and then made me think of reality: The majority of domestics would in fact even buy those pieces of meat, and some whites would indeed give it to their dogs. All the while the Umlungu (or very wealthy blacks) would nibble on the premium chops, steak and ribs. Meat of leisure vs meat for sustenance.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved my holiday. I too was raised as a son of leisure. Not because we went on fancy holidays as kids (in fact we didn’t), but because I grew up expecting and anticipating these ‘finer’ things in life. 2014’s holiday was an indulgence for me and I used my girl and family as a rationale for feeling less selfish about it all. Something can indeed be wrong and right at the same time. #greytruth

Our country is in shit, the irony is that the only ones complaining are the ones that don’t need to complain! Complaining whilst playing golf, driving a Mercedes, sitting in a holiday home (yes there are such things!). And the millions sitting in badly built shacks waits for a dream that wont show up. The wealthy enjoy their perpetual leisure, but they also perpetuate their wealth by working hard and sharpening their skills. After their December ‘rest’ they will hit the marketplace hard and build up more resources to enjoy at the end of the next calendar year. The poor remains trapped. Their leisure is not built up over the year. The leisure of the poor is short term: cheap dring in cheap places.

Before we blame the rich white people for their sophisticated leisure, be sure the poor don’t save the whole year to invest in the community, books, children’s education or missions trips. The majority of poor men uses their extra Rands to sit and dring and talk shit. More money and the leisure becomes more sohisticated: instead of papsak it’s bottles of beer, instead of beer it becomes Jack Daniels, instead of alcohol it becomes shoes, instead of shoes it’s cars…

Mzansi: we are united in an endless pursuit of selfish leisure.

You can blame…

You can complain…

Instead of pointing fingers, we should rather ask ourselves a simple personal question. A personal question that will shatter our generalisations and philosophical arguing and justifications:

Will you present and lay your leisure- not in front of the Christmas Tree, but in front of the Tree with a Man hanging on it?

And what would He say?

“Wie is die ONS in die ‘Ons vir jou Suid Afrika'”?

Other Side of the World – Same Story

I flew via Dubai to Kuala Lumpur for a ‘Sport for Good’ summit. I wont get into the merits of non-profits flying across the globe to inspire and share, but rather reflect on what I saw in Malaysia, how blatant it was and how similar it was. The inequality in Malaysia can easily be blamed on British colonialism. But reality shows that cash is king and the rich don’t give a shit about the poor. In Malaysia…

As an Afrikaner I do not live a week where I am not confronted with stories about the evil of apartheid and how bad our selfishness was and how it lacked moral integrity. I agree fully with those remarks of course and I am dedicated to play my small part in ‘paying back’. But whilst I am 100% anti-apartheid and 100% pro-equality I always have a funny feeling when people talk about such things. Being far from home in Malaysia, I realised and managed to articulate what I have seen and felt in South Africa. Sweeping statements and generalisations make us stupid and shallow. There are always a narrative and a counter narrative. When my white friends say blacks will always be stupid, I try to provide a counter narrative with stories to illuminate. When my black friends say all whites are fake and no white can be trusted, I try to provide a counter narrative.

My father was a white farmer, born during apartheid and farmed during apartheid. Yes his workers were black, yes they were extremely poor compared to my dad, yes they could not vote. All of that is bad and unfortunate. I want to reflect, however on my dad’s journey. Despite his ‘white privilege’ he had a journey and a battle, like the ‘a luta continua’ of liberation struggles. My grandfather was one on nine kids growing up in a mud house without electricity and they washed their clothes in the river; like a seen from rural Africa – which it was. Knowing where you are is the start of changing things. My family, 80 years back had nothing. My grand dad was a bar man without education. Growing up, my father had meat to eat once a week. They lived a humble lifestyle.

Even as he farmed and became wealthier, he was never ever flashy. My dad never went overseas. He bought his farm on a bank loan, his profits from farming just paid the interest on the loan. As a child we never went on holidays and never stayed in hotels. My dad drove a Nissan 1400 bakkie. Second hand. All our cars were cheap second hand cars. We never owned a new or fancy car like a BMW. The same goes for all my friends. Out of a hundred ‘privileged’ white kids, during apartheid, maybe three had fancy cars like BMW 3-series or Mercedes C Class. A few months ago my dad bought a new car. A Toyota Etios. The cheapest Toyota available and probably the ugliest car on the road. Clearly he sticks to his principles and clearly his ego does not demand the borrowing of money to buy fancy cars to impress people and feel the luxury as you drive.

What I saw in Malaysia reminded me of what I see in Johannesburg. People who in 15 years get what my family had to work for over 80 years. No, I mean surpassing my family and the 15 years is often 5 years and the Nissan 1400 is laughed about and a BMW is now considered ‘normal’. Yet, we love reminiscing about the evils of apartheid… And as new pockets of wealth takes shape, young people learn the vocabulary to rationalise and complain with extra vigour and drama. Yet, the things my parents are accused of, are perpetuated by our democratic millionaires. The problem I think is not one of colour or religion, but one of greed and lust for money, status and luxury. This in a world where 50% of our ‘brothers and sisters’ are starving and suffering.

I used to say the problem is not with making lots of money, but with how you spend it. To a large degree I still feel that way, but I also realise more and more that for one guy to get rich others need to stay poor. If you make money, you are making it from someone. Someone pays for your wealth. You call it smart and hard working. Hitler and Mugabe are also smart and hard working. So please don’t bring an economic knife to a moral gun-fight… The question is not of ability, but of application. You can, but should you? That is the question.

In Kuala Lumpur I paid R60 for a can of Coke. I thought it was crazy since for R60 I am supposed to get 6 litres of Coke, and then the factory, distributor, retailer, etc all still make their money. But the R60 can of Coke soon became ‘normal’ when I saw the cars parked outside our hotel: Two Ferrari F450’s, an Aston Martin and a Rolls-Royce!  Walking in the mall looking at the Cartier, Armani and Louis Vuitton stores I realised the planet has a disease. And for all the evil of apartheid, at least the way I grew up I did not see this perverted addiction to Brands and superfluous luxury. No one argues about the quality of a Mont Blanc pen, the quality of a Hermes jacket or the quality of an Aston Martin. Sure, they are magnificently made. That does not make it right though. At the airport I saw a cell phone for R250 000 and a bottle of Whiskey for R40 000!  Is this extreme and isolated instances of excess? Or is this merely the end result of a game which everyone tries to play? These examples are not anomalies, they are just the toys the people get who are the best at the ‘game’. Don’t play innocent or pseudo moral because you don’t buy those extremes, its probably only because you cant. Everyone seems to buy as much as they can. Where you are now, what TV did you buy, what kettle, what laptop, what car, what house, what clothes? We are all in the game… And it takes the winners of the game to reveal the stupidity, desperation and moral bankruptcy of the game.

So don’t come and talk to me about apartheid if you don’t give a fuck about the poor yourself. Don’t talk about religion and democracy if you are a selfish consumer living for yourself and your biological family. For every ass in a Ferrari or Porsche, there are 200 kids not going to creche or not having food. Does it feel that good to drive it?

Do I judge? Yes I judge. I judge myself to my own standards, but I surely also judge people who drive cars costing R1m or $100 000 and those who shop at the fucking baby Ralph Lauren shop. The little baby clones that will fit in their outfits for 6 months was perhaps what drove me over the edge.

So, let’s then just be honest and say together: FUCK THE POOR

– the pictures I took this week will excite or embarrass you.

You will look at them and say either WOW or WHY?

The very last picture shows us what we are sacrificing to have these nice things.

jw

rolls

aston martin

kid perversion

family

 

What We Don’t Want Goes Without Saying

Om fout te vind is nie so sleg nie.
Want om niks te sien wat fout is nie
Is meer as pateties, dit is hartseer
En verskriklik.

Maar net soos fout vind nie die ergste simpelste ding is om te doen nie
Net so, is dit ook nie die slimste en beste ding om te doen nie.

I like the expression: “it goes without saying” and although what goes without saying normally needs to be said, it is also good to sometimes not say the obvious.

I opened my laptop this morning activated by an expectancy of patriotism. I opened my laptop to discover and create an articulation of hope. I have a desire to dispel the paralysis of fear and hopelessness that slaps my face every waking hour of my life; and at times my sleeping hours.

South Africa – Africa.

It takes only two drinks to transform most wage earning South Africans into critics of government, the president, the opposition, the economy, infrastructure, budgets, tax, corruption and crime. The list sparks a general afro-pessimism and very soon normally nice folk become negative, uninspiring and depressing. Personally I don’t even need the drink. My idealism is so strong that the deterministic symbolism of small things like littering, potholes or beggars upset me deeply on a daily level. I’m a prime candidate for complaining, feeling depressed and giving up. My natural disposition is one that analyse and draw conclusions from the observable. Mzansi provides plenty, especially in the media to feel angry, scared and depressed about.

All the above goes without saying. Bar the millions of uneducated super-poor trapped in racist narratives and images and the diamonds that is suited by denialism, it is pretty obvious that there is much to complain about.

So, let’s not complain. Every single person can complain and some do it in more sophisticated ways than others, but complaining is common in both senses of the word.

What is scarcer and more admirable than complaining is the ability to envision a certain future. This forward-looking approach is rare and most people do not have a picture of what they want to see, nor of how to make that happen. Very few, on top of that, have any idea of what contribution they should make.

What is obviously nobler is to rephrase questions and conversations and explore ideal visions, next steps and possible contributions. Looking forward, seeing and talking about a future we want to create. Without the vision it will definitely not be reached, if we can’t describe it, how will we make it happen?

Do you have a picture for South Africa? Do you have a picture of your contribution? Have you explored exactly what you want?

Very often, on numerous levels people do not know how to answer this question:

What do you want?

Not what don’t you want. That goes without saying.

What do you want?