Friday, August 29, 2008


The Africa that I am building has a golden platter in front of it that will never be empty and has the ability not only to feed its own people but to feed the nations of the world.


HAPPY Women’s Day and Women’s Month!!!! (Aug 9 and the month of August)

Last Saturday was Women’s Day, and the entire month of August is Women’s Month. These are both important due to strong place that gender roles hold. For me, specifically, I have been looking at its effect on AIDS. Men don’t feel like men wearing a condom, they need flesh on flesh; men don’t feel like men when the women tell them to wear one. Men feel a lack of trust when asked to wear one. It’s ok for men to have multiple partners but it’s not ok for women. A man is like an axe, he is meant to borrowed (Botswana). Your boyfriend doesn’t love you if he doesn’t beat you. Etc. I could go on.

Female condoms were supposed to empower wives and women whose husbands/partners have the virus but they are large and noticeable. Microbicides were supposed to help with this but they have not yet been approved for use.

So these things are touch. Women (young women are especially vulnerable to HIV) need to be empowered in so many ways. I just talked about a few of the troubles related to HIV and gender. So I welcome Women’s Day and Women’s Month and was saddened that I was not able to speak (Ross and I talk to women about their concerns, issues, and problems; Herma, a woman who works at the church wanted me to speak at the women’s tea. Most girls at Jubilee (my church) laugh at this and start saying “Why would I want a man to speak to me about women’s issues or speak at my women’s conference?” I just say “But when you hear us speak, women change their mind because (I start snapping in rhythmic way) we just start speaking truth and something stirs in the heart of a woman.” We all laugh at this. But Herma really didn’t schedule me for the Women’s meeting last weekend. So maybe the next Women’s Tea.

Anyway, there is a phrase here in South Africa:

Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo!

you strike a woman, you strike a rock

When I first heard this I didn’t know it was an actual slogan or renowned phrase. Well in 1956 on August 9, women in Pretoria marched to the Union Buildings to leave petitions with over 100,000 signatures protesting an amendment to the pass laws (the laws that required that people carried a pass [similar to your passport in size] stating where you could go and where you couldn’t go in the country and province) of 1950. Those 20,000 marching women stood silently for 30 minutes and sang a protest song: Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo!. Since then it has stuck, and Women’s Day commemoration started in 1994 with the end of apartheid.

I was busy working on blood flow problems in human arteries that suffer from thinning instead of out celebrating. Normally in your home country you may not worry about but because I’m here temporarily I try to go out and do all the national events and talks because I may not have another chance and I love to discover and learn about the people here.

In other news, Jacob Zuma, the president of the ANC (strongest party, the liberation party) is now closer to prosecution. You may remember when I arrived the NPA (like the DA or actually like the Attorney General’s office) was working on the case against him to charge him. Well they have finished. And if he is convicted he may not be able to serve as president. The election is next year in April, and South African politics and governance is in shambles, honestly. Just to brief you quickly, Zuma was relieved of his duties as Deputy Vice President by President Mbeki in 2005 amid corruption allegations against Zuma. You see, Shabir Shaik, Zuma’s friend and financial advisor, was tried and convicted of corruption and fraud (bribery) due to extraneous spending on Zuma’s estate, a Durban waterfront development, and the purchase of German-made South African naval surface ships (this is the big one). The problem is that if Shaik is guilty, there’s a high chance that Zuma was, too. I’m only speaking of probabilities. Zuma was already being investigated before this but the case was dropped due to insufficient evidence. Zuma was a key person mentioned in Shaik’s trial and he was implicated. After Shaik was sentenced to prison for 15 years starting at the end of 2006), the judge commented about the relationship between Zuma and Shaik. The NPA ten went on to pursue this but the case was dropped from the list when the prosecution applied for postponement (I’ve read them claiming that Zuma has not been forthcoming with material. Ha!). Well, they’ve finally got their case together and charged him. In the past two years, though, Zuma has tried to get a permanent stay on the proceedings so he could never be tried. This failed. And now, today, after being formally charged, Zuma and his lawyers are trying to get the courts to throw out the charges or case. He had over 3,000 people/supporters outside the courts as he attended court to ask for the dismissal of charges. He appears to have a majority of the country behind him as poor people, war veterans, apartheid sufferers, and ANC members. I think the strategy is to keep challenging and appealing to delay court proceedings until after the election which he would probably win. This would give him much more power.

Now the president Mbeki himself has been implicated (not yet charged) in the arms deal of which Zuma was supposed to be a part. The media is reporting that someone has gotten hold of documents showing Mbeki received R30 million from a German company, Ferrostaal. Imagine if Mbeki pushes legislation through to protect a sitting president. Well Zuma could then use that to his advantage when he becomes president (conjecture but it’s probable).

The politics here are a mess. Corruption is a huge issue. And now the ANC has succeeded in disbanding the Scorpions who were investigating corruption among ANC leaders to name some of their high profile cases.

Other than that, SA is

Looking at ways to improve the status of women and empower them

Confused about whether white women should fall under Affirmative Action

Discussing price-fixing as some want to outlaw it

Discussing the Zim crisis

Bemoaning high food and fuel prices and energy shortages

Lamenting that as of today (Wednesday, August 13, 2008) there are no SA Olympic


And that reminds me. We only watch highlight reels here. It’s like someone edits out commercials and any dead/wait time. And they cut out the waiting periods between different athletes. After the last person competes, it cuts straight to the medal ceremony which only shows them standing with the medals and then moves on. So we are not watching the actual event in real time. It’s much shorter as it switches from highlight clip to highlight clip (we have only 4 regular channels nationwide—3 are governmental). If you have M-Net (5th pay channel) or satellite TV you may watch more of it on your own time.

People are complaining here because of the lack of even one medal. And so they asked (at least the news has) the South African Olympic team heads what the problem is. The coaches and heads of the South African team blame the lack of medals on a lack of government support and interest. They say the government has politicized sports and you cannot do that and expect to win. The athletes and their concerns and needs must be first. I wonder why this didn’t come up before the Olympics.

The traveling of the Olympic athletes from around the world reminds me of a couple that traveled here. Did I ever tell you the story about the couple who came to visit a friend in Cape Town. This friend was one of the speakers for my AIDS course. The couple was told by everyone NOT to go to SA because they would get raped, carjacked, and get AIDS. It wasn’t safe. They were unsure themselves. In the end, they decided to try it. They came, and the speaker showed them ALL of Cape Town. They saw the poor parts, the townships, the Cape Flats. They were able to volunteer and do health work with the people. They developed a heart for the people. They took in the totality (if possible) of Cape Town and decided that they liked it. They would love to come back. They were sad to leave. But, alas! It was time to go and they traveled back. Their hearts touched by HIV and AIDS in Africa as much as it was, they decided to go give blood (after returning back in the US). Well, the nurse asked a serious of questions. One of them was something like this.

Have you been to sub-Saharan Africa?

Uhhh, yes.


South Africa

I’m sorry.

What do you mean?

I’m sorry. We don’t want your blood.

Oh, no, you’re mistaken. We did not engage in any risky behavior or have sex or use needles for drugs or anything like that.

It doesn’t matter. We do not take blood from anyone who has been anywhere in South Africa in the past year. [maybe she said 6 months, I don’t remember]


Lastly, you remember the horrific xenophobic attacks that started 3 months ago. Well, the situation is trying to come to a close. The government plans on closing the temporary refugee shelters in Johannesburg. Some of the refugees (foreign nationals who were in-country refugees running from xenophobic attacks regardless of if they were already refugees from outside countries) had went back to their country. Some have moved into the city. Others have resettled back home (in the townships from where they ran). I don’t have number or statistics on percentages. But many are still not comfortable going back home, and they want the government to do something about. The government claims it is doing something or has been. But people feel it is too soon as many do not yet feel comfortable. Particularly troubling is the strong anti-refugee anti-foreigner sentiment endemic here. It’s something we must address—no resolve, replace. . .with love.

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