Illusion of Voice

Fuck – im so privileged its scary. That was the original title to this post. Since whenever I think about something critical, it gets dismissed as a luxury point of view due to privilege obtained through colonial and apartheid domination. Never underestimate how persistent the tokoloshe* can be.

I see a great corollary between the way people support a football team and a political party. In both, the dominant theme is ‘association with success’. Nobodies grab onto the colours, emblems and slogans of successful teams and parties and due to their so called support they feel a sense of legitimate belonging! In football the number of Barca, Madrid and United fans living in small African towns proves the point. The problem is not The support, it the fervour and disproportionate vigour that makes me question the legitimacy of the relation. he sudden rise and subsequent following of teams like Bayern, Chelsea and City proves that for many the choice of following has been made recently. Even the support of lesser teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Dortmund or Valencia, still holds the same implications, but instead of choosing the no-brainer, one goes for the top underdog. Higher stakes supposedly yields higher reward?

In politics, its a bit more complicated. But there is still the dominant no-brainer, assured of winning: ANC, ZanuPF, Frelimo. The majority can’t even begin to think critically beyond emotions. Even reading this, you will have an emotional response and back that up by pseudo-history and quasi-intellectualism. People convice themselves that their opinion is the perfect and only smart opinion. Yet, despite the overwhelming support of the top dogs, some folks are beaten for supporting MDC, Renamo has people currently killing and being killed. Clearly there are different ways of looking? In SA the struggle is still framed as against the 20 year old tokoloshe* that is post-apartheid denial and blame. I’m sitting in Mozambique and I wonder if folks desire the ideals of democracy to the same extent as they value the consumption of capitalist consumerism? Everyone wants to chow the fruits, few has the vision to plant and care for the tree.

Back to sport: Instead of simply enjoying good football and supporting your team with a smile, recognizing your team is one of many, people prefer brainless dedication – exhibited in tunnel vision fighting mode. The same in politics. Yet, football is about entertainment and politics affects the lives of millions in significant ways. No one can blame you for supporting Hull, Black Aces or Rangers; its even cute. But in politics your choice makes a huge difference. Once every four years your party respects you- for those 2 seconds that you make a cross, then you are the boss, you decide. Do you use your cross to say ‘thank you, keep up the good work’, or to say ‘no, wake up – Im not happy’?

Still whether I read a Chelsea or ManU post on Facebook or an ANC comment, to me it all sounds the same. The fans see all the good, the hope. They play down or rationalise the bad and the ugly. Nothing will swing the fan, the idea of loyalty to this arbitrary decision they made at some point is the cement that keeps the bricks of ignorance and naivety together.

Fanatical support in football and politics reveal the same thing: The lure of the illusion of having a voice.

Why the title refers to my privilege? First I know how little I mean, to Arsenal and to whichever party I vote for in an attempt to strengthen democracy.
Knowing your sad limits is important. Once you know how small your role is, only then can you play it with dedication, intelligence and balance. Not as a pawn, but as a player.

Being free to vote without emotional blinds, having a real relationship with the football club I support makes me feel lucky. Realising the finite nature of both and that we are friends before we are enemies, knowing we have more in common than we have differences- that makes me feel privileged.

Ans I apologise to all who never had the opportunity to think about this.

I also apologise for my privileged upbringing that taught me to type in English and I apologise for my privileged education that taught me how to be sarcastic.

Working Holiday: Part Two

As mentioned in previous post, for us over talkative, over spending, over consuming quasi intellectuals, there is great meaning in doing visible things with our hands.

One of my examples is creating a different space, a cool place to relax. Below the pictures showing progress of the Futeco picnic/braai spot. It all happened in two days.

Obvious but corny lessons: a small bit of creativity plus sacrifice can make life better. Even if it doesn’t cost money. Don’t let the desire of perfection stop you from doing something nice. Personal Reflection: resist the temptation to do it alone, because doing it together adds meaning for others and memories for you.

picking a spot: bush only! lots of funny insect ready to fight back!
picking a spot: bush only! lots of funny insect ready to fight back!
Bushes cleared, steady progress
Bushes cleared, steady progress
Don't do it alone: here is Short and Cheriffe
Don’t do it alone: here is Short and Cheriffe
Not perfect, but working! Falta so inauguracao!
Not perfect, but working! Falta so inauguracao!

Working Holiday: Part One

Working with one’s hands, getting them dirty, literally is more fun and relaxing than lazily doing nothing:

One example is wanting to cut grass, then discovering the lawnmower blade is half the length it should be and there are no blades to be bought around here. $8 and two hours later: problem fixed.

Obvious but corny lesson: as with the sharp axe, make sure your equipment/strategy is sharp and effective or you will waste a lot of time and effort with little result. Personal reflection: go big on maintenance.

worn out blade
worn out blade
blade extended by 16 year old kid
blade extended by 16 year old kid
Chichone showing off 'new' machine
Chichone showing off ‘new’ machine
General Secretary, Razao now cutting grass!
General Secretary, Razao now cutting grass!

Family Ties

Despite our addiction to numbers, categories, labels and the illusion of control they give; we mostly build our lives around metaphors. Easy ideas that help us to make sense of bigger issues. Some see themselves as advanced monkeys, some as children of God, some see themselves as human resources or investors, some as unrecognised celebrities or even as soldiers in a war. To use a metaphor, we need to be acquainted with the subject. If you see yourself as a pawn, you probably know something of chess. The trick for me is therefore to use images and metaphors most people can understand. If you view yourself as an animal in the circle of life, being part of a human group (I wont say herd), you are probably into nature and ecology.

One of the no-brainers I guess is family. Be it good or bad, we all have an idea of what a good family should be like. Hence, the following articulation of the most important investment guideline, blueprint, compass, operating system, telescope, text book, voice, game plan, or whatever image you might also use:

As a human being the single most important question that you need to answer is: “Who do you view as your family?” It’s not a question to resolve some day or say that you don’t have an answer. Your daily decisions, now, reveal who you think is part of your family. Who is your brother and your sister? Once you have an honest and conscious answer on this question, your life will never be the same again. Unless you’re an asshole and you just give a shit answer to it.

Clever Is As Clever Does

Ultimately all words are and should be precursors to actions.
Words for the sake of words or intellectual masturbation are dangerous since they are still precursors to action; the act of doing nothing and talking shit. Hence, my definition of talking shit, is stringing words together that are void of activation- no matter how smart the sentence sounds.

These very words of mine also has an aim: to help me to talk less.

Tata Nelson Mandela

I was in Kamaqhekeza when we heard that Madiba died. In a way it feels like he has been dead for a while. Not just due to his prolonged sickness (think of his timid body when they drove him out to the World Cup Final or got stuck in the cold of Midrand with a broken ambulance) but also due to his failing legacy. Now, everyone is respectful and kind but in the preceding months what I heard on the ground was ‘Mandela was too soft’, ‘he did not take enough from the whites’ and ‘nothing has changed’. Add to that our democratically elected president singing Mshiniwam and young Julius’ divisive EFF and you might understand that Mandela has been dead for a while. That is why I always found the whites with their ridiculous story of ‘night of the long knives’ so stupid, the story that blacks will start killing whites once Mandela dies. How stupid: Siener van Rensburg and everyone that believes his crap. Add to the stupid category all the fundamental Christians who hate Madiba for ‘taking attention away from Jesus’ and the conservative whites that prefer speaking of Madiba as the young ‘terrorist’ that bombed innocent people.

So all the stupids aside, I can’t help to draw parallels between Mandela and Jesus. Firstly, I draw the comparison because both of them embodied suffering, love, sacrifice, forgiveness and inclusiveness. Secondly, because as with Jesus, people love to ‘praise’ Mandela and talk about him, but few seem willing to imitate their lifestyles and ethics. A hero can inspire or a hero can be an excuse to do less.

Back to Kamaqhekeza. After training football with these very poor and rural kids and mothers, we stood in a circle and my friend Doc asked everyone what they remember of Madiba, what did Mandela mean to them. The answers shocked me. Rich people, like you and I think of Mandela’s perseverance, inclusivity, forgiveness, nation building, love, dignity. The poor gave answers much closer to home. This was literaly the complete list of answers: “He gave us RDP houses and took us out of the shacks”, “he gave us free schools”, “he gave us free pension and grant every month”, “he gave us voting”, he gave us good jobs”. Some of these might be disputed, but the main theme is that Mandela is simply seen as a liberator, a friend of the poor black person. A friend because he gave stuff. The fact that the list contains things given freely, speaks of the entitlement, which is not totally unmerited considering pre-94 society.

So as more than 70 world leaders fly in to Joburg for the funeral, I think of the poor youths and mammas. I asked them, how do you want to celebrate Mandela’s life and death?” they replied: “we don’t care we just want to play football and enjoy ourselves because those things are far away from us”. The World, our country, ‘care’ for Madiba, but we don’t care for the children and people Madiba cared for. Sure there is a time to honour and mourn, but that should be part of doing. I’m sure Mandela would gladly take the attention and expense of travel and banners and direct that to poor youths without homes and kids without attention.

For the mourners: I believe if you didn’t honour Madiba through a life of reconciliation when he was still alive, you should now stop mourning and go back to making money while complaining about the country.

For those trying: keep trying. It is a long walk to freedom.

For the masses: Don’t be sad, we have nice leaders like Jacob and Julius to continue Mandela’s legacy.

Viva ANC. Obviously we have to keep voting ANC to show respect and say thanks to Tata.

So it is a doubly sad good bye from me:

Tata Mandela.