Thursday, February 26, 2009


Our Xhosa Praise Poet. He added a lot to our songs.

The girls and our guitarist

Xhosa Princesses

The Boyz

The Girlz--the girls on the outside our American Exchange Students

The Drummer, Two Singers, and I

The Beautiful Candy and Monique. Monique is our Secretary.
Michelle and I at a seafood place. Watch the hair. Ha!

Michelle's mom and I
At Africa Cafe with Michelle's mom and a nice waiter.


More Sunsets

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SUNSETS & HAIR by michelle

These were taken on top of Table Mountain by my friend Michelle.

They show a bit of my unruly but quite natural hair.

The sunsets are beautiful here. We're lucky that the sun actually sets over the ocean (we're on the west coast of Africa), so it's amazingly beautiful most nights.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

UPDATE - February 21, 2009

21 February 2009

C a p e T o w n S l a n g D i c t i o n a r y

Aweh :

Pronounced: Ah-where.
This is used as a greeting all over the Cape Peninsula . 'Aweh jy, hoesit ?'

Bra :

Pronounced: Brah
This word has no reference to the English word which pertains to an undergarment.
The word Bra in Cape Town refers to a close friend or acquaintance.
It's a term of endearment. 'Yah I know him, he's a Bra of mine'

Duidelik :

Pronounced 'day der lik'
This word is an adjective, describing an ideal state of mind, a cool article, perfect, or an ideal situation.
'How are you doing. Naai duidelik my bru.'

Kwaai :

In Cape Town slang this word refers to something that is really awesome, cool or nice. 'Did you see that kwaai movie?'

Mew :

This is a shortening of the word Music

Minute / Minutes :

Pronounced : Min- eee-ter'
This is one of the few words that can be pronounced in English or Afrikaans.
Meaning, Hold up! A General reference to time. It can also take on a threatening tone. As in I'm watching you.
'Minute my Broe, the train leaves at seven'
'Minute, jy kan nog nooit al my daait op iet nie'

Mos :

This word is typically used as a filler in a sentence. 'you are mos going to the shop' 'you can mos pick it up'
It has no real meaning but is used to colloquialise a sentence.

Nuh :

Pronounced: Ner
The use of the word Nuh is complex and multi dimensional. It can be used to 1. Find out if the listener is following your conversation. 'You turn left nuh, then you turn right nuh, continue straight nuh'
To indicate that your listening to a story. 'Nuh, and then what happened?'

Smokkie :

Noun pertaining to a place where you can purchase liquor any time any day.
This institution is not governed by any municipal by-laws and are operational 24/7 365.
Usually found in suburbs on the Cape Flats and surrounds.' You can get some beers from the smokkie'

Sturvy :

You can use this word to describe a variety of people, but generally it refers to someone who thinks highly of themselves, or who think they are better than everyone else. 'Nee jong, daai kin is stirvy, she only speak for England '

Versin :

Pronounced: Fer-sin
This word can be used to describe someone or something that is crazy, insane or perhaps naïve.
'Are you versin? I would never date him' 'Don't be versin, just ask her out'


1:Always have a personal relationship with your swirl kous
2:Wella Wella Wella is not just a chorus in the song from the movie Grease
3:See if there is any truth in the myth' sugar water and Omo'
4:A 'strykyster' can be used for more than just ironing clothes
5:If it rains stay ma at home and watch DVD's, Oprah,CSI or 7nde Laan
6: If at first you don't succeed, DRY, DRY and DRY again.
7: The Early bird catches the perm, if you wake up early in the morning, put a doekie on your kop to prevent the mist from mincing your hair.
8: When the going gets tough, the hare gets rough. Rather cut your hair short when times are hard..
9. And lastly, According to Delicious Dd: If you've got it.... FLAUNT it; If you don't .....FAKE it; But if you cant do either....EMBRACE THE CHEMICALS ! LOL

(3) For all those proudly coloured mense who can relate!

If you take offense. Then you not coloured. You know you coloured when...

If you go to braai in tokai forest, suip the whole day and don't even braai any meat, then you might be coloured.

If you used to go up to Rhodes memorial at night, to suip then have to drive fast out because you saw the police vans coming up, you might be coloured.

If you used to stand outside Galaxy in your convertible BMW while its 4 degrees outside, just so the kinnis coming out can see you, then you might be coloured.

If 19 inch to you means the rims on your car, you might be coloured.

If your car can't go over speed bumps or you can't visit some of your friends because you can't get up their drive-way, you might be coloured.

If you have a ringtone of 50c and biggie smalls on your phone, you might be coloured.

If you wear 3 gold chains, 4 bracelets and gold rings on every finger (with dollar signs) but you cant afford to pay your childs welfare, you may be coloured.

If you have gold teeth, you may be coloured.

If you used to wake up early on a Saturday morning to paint your purcells white before going to Vibe, you may be coloured.

If you use lightbulbs for other purposes, you may be coloured.

If you live in Mitchells Plain , Delft , Athlone or anywhere else on the Cape Flats , you are coloured!!

If you meet a foreigner, and the first thing you wanna do is teach him to say 'jou ma se...' you might be a coloured.

If you have ever gone to bed with a swirl kous on your might be a coloured.

If you've ever had a polony gatsby cut in four and a litre fruilaatie then you might be coloured.

If you use the word 'woelag ','awe', 'Duidelik' and 'HO$H'... you might be a coloured.

If your parents call your friends by their nicknames like Kos , Brood, Sloffies, Goppie and The Moor... you might be a coloured.

If your hair isn't straight and u still can make might be a coloured.

If you ask your friends for petrol money for driving them around cos you smaak to skut... you might be a coloured.

If u can eat a gatsby without messing on your purcells... u might be a coloured.

If you organise a trip to the beach and you take a whole pot of breyani and half the contents of your house with... you might be a coloured.

If you own a Zippo lighter and its laying at home cos u can't afford liquid... u might be a coloured.

If u walked to Arena from the taxi rank in Cape Town in a bomber jacket and don't take it off till you got home with sweat marks under your arms and back... u might be a coloured.

If the word 'Vibe' brings back fond memories of dark corners, DJ Fast Eddy and bluezing with that lekker burk/kin you been eyeing all afternoon... you might be a coloured.

If the replies to the 'Please Call Me's' are 'Please Call Me's'.... then the girl you smaak ... might be a coloured.

If you ever practiced dancing in the mirror before going to a jol... you might be a coloured.

If your car sounds like it's speeding down the road, but it's only pulling out of the driveway, then you might be coloured.

If you go into Edgars Red Square and spray you before meeting that kin by the movies.... you might be a coloured.

If you ever platted your 2 colour laces on your north star might be a coloured.

If your mother threatened u with a houte lepel before... you might be coloured.

If you went to go greet on xmas/labarang and the pants your mommy made for you matches someone's curtains, then you might be coloured.

If you go from house to house on xmas/labarang just to eet the mense's pan peanuts... you might be a coloured.

If you go greet on xmas/labarang and u don't get paper money from the mense then u take a vrag of sweets and mebos to spite them... then you might be a coloured.

If you go home with 2 barakats from a wedding... you might be a coloured.

If you go to a wedding and your mommy has a pick n pay bag in her bag and when she gets home its full of slangetjies and endearmints... you might be a coloured.

If you eat warm breyani and cold chicken at a wedding with that bakkies of ice-cream for dessert... then u might be at a coloured wedding.

When you & the taxi gaardtjie are friends... then you might be coloured.

If a bergie loafs an entjie by you and you give him a royal and he laughs at you, then you are a dom coloured.

If your mommy take cold chicken and koesiesters and a flask coffee/tea and cream crackers with cheese to the beach, then you coloured!

If you smaak boentjie kerrie more then your girlfriend...then you might be a coloured.

If you still got a Pepe dungaree in your cupboard... you might be a coloured.

And if you laughed while reading this....



Hi, this is Victor. It's good to write to you again. So much is going on and yet so little.
Excuse the lateness in the reply. I write updates outside of work and I have not had a working laptop at home in 3 weeks. The outlet at my house blew out my adapter (it had been sparking before supposedly [I didn't know or wasn't told this]), and I really didn't know what to do as it wasn't my fault. Luckily I just found out (Friday the 20th) that it is under warranty (purchased December 10 2008) so I am taking it in on Monday the 23rd to see if they will replace or fix for free!

This is likely my last semester here, so there is a nice tension of both an increase of responsibilities and a preparation to say goodbye. Actually at the university, there has been a decrease in responsibilities. My supervisor only gave me one course, and only 1/3rd of that course to lecture. So there's less pay. They still have not paid me for last semester and they are still claiming more money back as they overpaid 3 times now.

However, with my church work in 4 areas, I've been given increased responsibility. Musically, I am now the official choir director for my church! We had auditions on Tuesday the 17th, and we start singing every other week on March 1st! Moreover, I've been asked to play for the church's musical worship time and people had all kinds of nice remarks when I first did it (I do it once a month due to Kids work I do otherwise all band members play every other week in a rotation). Secondly, as I do HIV/AIDS counseling I'm being certified for crisis pregnancy counseling. I'm currently studying adoption (one of the modules). Third, in Jubilee Incredible Kids (JIK—Sunday School for grades 1-3), I've been asked to mentor/coach the JIK leader who admitted that she fell into the role a few years ago and wants to get the leadership right. So I'm being led by her and coaching her in leadership. Lastly, I'm a Life Group Leader, and to have fun and teach important lessons (and ease the workload) I'm having my group alternate every week between bible study one week and service work the next week. And we'll do the same service work in order to develop a relationship with the people we're serving each week. On top of that I'm having them do a book study--“Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne.


Completing and implementing a computational simulation of blood flow through thinning arteries was tough enough. Fixing the problems with the simulation has been extremely difficult without the normal tools I'm used to using. So it's been stuck for months. Luckily I was blessed by TotalView (a software package and company) that gave me a 15 day evaluation license to use their parallel debugging software (it's software that helps you find bugs in computer code that's for parallel computing on supercomputers). I have 10 more days (there have been problems with installation), but they said they could give me a few more days if I lost days due to the problems. Yay! I think the end may be in sight.

Otherwise, I hear the same question over and over. What will you do next year? What's next? Well, to start, I don't believe I will be an astronaut for sure. They never contacted me directly, but I did have a friend say he was not asked to interview. I don't know how he found out, but I definitely wasn't asked since I have not heard anything one way or the other, so I wasn't chosen. I'm not dejected. It was expected. I don't know of anyone who got in on the first time in this new era of non-military applications. I expect to keep applying a few times. We'll see what happens.

The only other thing that has come up is the chance to be a science advisor for the U.S. government in the executive branch in the area of defense.

I've explained this before, but to re-explain, the U.S. government seems to give a few appointments of science advisors for Congressmen (Senators and Representatives) staff to 30 different American science organizations (API, AGU, AAAS, etc.) in different areas of science (materials science, geology, physics, general science, optics, etc.). Each of those organizations can appoint 1 or 2 PhD scientists/engineers to be the science advisor on a Congressman's staff. In addition the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) also gets to appoint 15-30 science advisors to advise executive branch organizations in four areas – defense, diplomacy, energy/environment, and health/human services. With AAAS you can apply to up to 2 areas including congressional fellowships. I applied for a diplomacy and a defense fellowship (due to my experience). I was not selected as a semi-finalist for the diplomacy, but I was for the defense fellowship. Possible executive branch organizations include Department of Defense, FBI, Homeland Security, etc. So I am flying to D.C. to interview in 2 weeks and immediately flying back because my supervisor wouldn't like me to be gone for too long.

Funny that I'm interviewing in defense. One good friend of mine (Dave-an American volunteer in Cape Town) sees it as an opportunity for redemptive work in the government with which he is disillusioned. He didn't vote and never has.

PAX AMERICANA & DEFENSE (much from "Everything Must Change" by McLaren)

I've read a string a books over the past few years that draw visible connections between the Roman Empire and the current American Empire (if you disagree that America has had a type of empire in this world, you probably have not really looked at all the statistics and facts yet). These books can fall in many areas—political science, history, sociology, but even religion and the intersection of politics and religion. Many people see this strange comparison both inside and outside of religious contexts.

This comparison can be looked at in many ways—wealth and prosperity (the U.S. is the wealthiest nation ever by some definitions of wealth over a period of time), the widening equity gap (can it get worse than in the U.S.?), defense (huge in Roman days, huge in the U.S. who has the most massive defense budget ever), the promise of peace through victory, etc. But since I'm considering another defense position, I'm curious about that connection. Let's start with a quote from the publication Optimum:

The status of the United States as the world's superpower is likely to continue for some time. There is no other country which has the United States' potential economic might or capacity to make war. In 2008, the US will spend $623 billion on defense, or more than the rest of the world combined. The next 10 largest military budgets amount to less than $350 billion.

It sounds a bit problematic: why does our defense budget need to be so large? Let's look deeper.

In 2004, global military expenses surpassed $1 trillion but terrorist attacks (international) increased from 175 to 655.
Cold War militarization (1948 – 1989/1990)
US and USSR created about 70,000 nuclear warheads whose combined power is 1,000 times the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
US alone spent $5.48 trillion on nuclear weapons and systems to deliver them since 1940 according to an estimate by the Brookings Institute
by 1969 Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) had been reached and a US nuclear sub could destroy 169 Soviet cities simultaneously

These figures and info (and the following info) come from “Everything Must Change” by McLaren and indirectly from “Hope in Troubled Times” A New Vision for Confronting Global Crises” by Baker. McLaren points out that one might think since mutually assured destruction ceiling had been reached, the arms race would stop. Instead, it continued as US government officials removed the ceiling and allowed more weapons to be amassed. Kissinger said “The joint Chiefs of Staff cooperated because they understood that the doctrine of assured destruction would inevitably lead to political decisions halting or neglecting the improvement of our strategic forces, and in time reducing them. We therefore developed in 1969 new criteria of strategic sufficiency.”

So the limit was removed, and we were able at one point to destroy 10 planet Earths with American nuclear capability (in a defense planning document Military analyst William Arkin said that no target on the earth or in space would be immune from American attack; for more on defense by attack, see and Noam Chomsky). Today we have the ability to destroy many planet earths, though many warheads have been dismantled. Still thousands remain and there is a current fight about non-proliferation (don't make more and increase the numbers; most agree I believe), disarmament (decreasing the numbers) and total disarmament (decreasing the numbers down to zero; VERY FEW government and corporate leaders believe in this).

Today the U.S. spends $100 million/day to keep weapons ready for a preemptive strike. As Rumsfeld said “We do not exclude the possibility that for the defense of our interests we will be the first to use nuclear weapons.”

So we have to remember, as McLaren points out, that this type of mentality is not new (especially when you compare it to Rome) because it's been in US governmental ideology for awhile, regardless of the party in power. Clinton even said we have the right to “'unilateral use of military power' to ensure 'uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.'”
by 2000 (before 9/11) US defense budget had risen to 20% of fiscal budget (over half-trillion dollars), over ½ of US national debt was related to defense. this has increased since 9/11
by 2003, the US military budget was larger than the next 15 nations combined, spending $2billion/day on military expenses
by 2006, military budget had increased by over 49% of it 2000 levels without including Afghanistan and Iraq; in this year it was larger than the next 25 nations combined

McLaren says the strongest 25 nations would all have to become U.S. enemies for the U.S. to be confronted by a larger military force.

Here are three priorities from the national security strategy of the U.S. (

1.Perpetuate U.S. military dominance globally so no nation can rival or threaten the U.S.
2.Be prepared to engage in preemptive military strikes, whenever the US government considers another nation to be a threat to the U.S., its forces or installations abroad, or its friends or allies (very similar to the Roman empire where pretty much every area of the known world at that time was seen as of some interest to the Roman empire. According to Shumpeter in “Imperialism and Social Classes”, if the interests were not Roman, they were of Rome's allies and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. Edward Walker Jr (former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs said that “the president doesn't see any difference between American interests and Israeli interests with regard to the Middle East now” indirectly from 18 Aug 2006; This is why some Israelis (I think unnecessarily) fear Obama because they are not sure that he sees things the same way)
3.Maintain immunity for U.S. citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

Let's destroy some myths for a moment that people always tell me:

1.The U.S. is the most generous nation in terms of actual numbers of dollars. This is false. Japan gives more in actual numbers.
2.Well, the U.S. gives the most percentage-wise of any other nation. We are the most generous. This is not true. In 2006, for example, the military budget was 21 times the diplomacy and foreign aid budget combined. The U.S. was last that year among developed nations in foreign aid as a percentage of GDP. The U.S. is around 21st globally giving about 0.068% in aid. Denmark gives 1.04%. This reminds me of that rule we find quite true on an individual level; the more you make the less (percentage-wise) you give. This works among countries as well.

If we invested on 10% of the U.S. defense budget into aid, basic needs for the entire world's poor could be met (including the U.S. poor). Or just ½ of 1 percent (0.5%) would cut hunger in half in Africa by 2015 according to McLaren.

Many people don't realize this. In fact many people don't realize what is going on in general with government, politics, defense, wealth and prosperity. But I am encouraged by the many pockets around the world of people who are waking up and seeking to make this a better world. Anyway who acts as if this situation is specific to the U.S. isn't telling the truth. Such things happen with any empire or with anyone who becomes the sole superpower. It is not specific to any one people, space, or time. It's what happens with power. The desire is insatiable. And power corrupts. Eisenhower said “It happens that defense is a field in which I have had varied experience over a lifetime, and if I have learned anything, it is that there is no way in which a country can satisfy the craving for absolute security—but it can easily bankrupt itself, morally and economically, in attempting to reach that illusory goal through arms alone.”

The concept where the wealthiest nations manufacture and sell arms (conventional arms not nuclear ones) with the right hand and then promote peace with the left hand. Jimmy Carter said in 1976 “We cannot have it both ways. We can't be both the world's leading champion of peace and the world's leading supplier of arms.” for more info

McLaren quotes Baker quoting John Ralston Saul in “Voltaire's Bastards” (p 82) commenting on McNamara during and after the Vietnam War era: “McNamara concluded that it would be rational to limit armament costs by producing larger runs of each weapon and selling them abroad. The U.S. also happened to be running a three-billion-dollar general trade deficit. Foreign arms sales would be a way to balance the situation.” Does this make sense? To pay for military weapons, let's make more and sell them to people who will use them against us (and thereby increase our suicidal, cyclical need for more).

I've said it before: all the permanent members of the UN Security Council manufacture weapons (they produced and sold 86.7% of the market on global weapons sales in 2004). The U.S., though, produced 53.4% of the world's weapons.
In 2003, 80% of the top buyers of U.S. weapons (20 of the top 25 clients) were countries the U.S. Department of State labeled undemocratic or countries known for their human rights violations (i.e. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
In 1991, the U.S. supplied arms to 92% of the conflicts anywhere on the Earth and many times supplied both sides of the conflict
between 1998 and 2001, the U.S., the U.K., and France earned more money from selling weapons than they gave those same developing countries in aid

Here's a quote from Tutu in “Everything Must Change”

For many years, I've been involved in the peace business, doing what I can to help people overcome their differences. In doing so, I've also learned a lot about the business of war: the arms trade. It is an industry out of control. Every day, more than 1,000 innocent people, including children, are killed by conventional weapons, according to the UN.
There have been international treaties to control the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons for decades. Yet, despite the mounting death toll, there still is no treaty governing sales of small arms and other conventional weapons, from handguns to helicopters. . . .
This is allowed to continue because of the complicity of governments, especially the governments of rich countries that turn a blind eye to the appalling human suffering associated with the proliferation of conventional weapons. It is estimated that every year small arms kill more people than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together. Many more people are injured, terrorized or driven from their homes by armed violence.
The world has the chance to finally say “no” to the continuing scandal of the unregulated weapons trade. . . .No longer should the peace business be undermined by the arms business.

So this was the Roman way. Peace through the sword. I believe it's in direct opposition to Jesus who also offered peace but through a different means. I think he would say “I'm not willing to kill for what I believe in, but I'm willing to die for it.” And we (Christians) believe he did.


One of the reasons I like Christians with a leaning towards the Emerging/Emergent view is that they actually look at what I do as missions. In a traditional Christian view, there are Christians who don't consider service/humanitarian work to be mission unless it is evangelical or proselytic. So if you did medical missions, construction missions, educational missions, etc. it wasn't considered missions work. For some reason it didn't make sense to me. This was especially so because I was moved and prompted to do such work by the very relationship with Christ and God that I had. It was because of Him, not in spite of him, that I had a love of people.

I remember when I was raising money to take student abroad to do service work, my church didn't support me at all; they gave me no money. I was completely shocked that both the next church for whom I was working (playing piano) called West University Baptist Church/Crosspoints and an emergent-style church called Eclessia (both in Houston, TX) gave me money WITHOUT initiation on my part. I didn't ask. I loved this. And people naturally understood the heart and the call and the cry and the burden. They connected. I didn't have to explain. It is part of the redemptive work my friend was talking about when he said I could do wonders as a science advisor for the government.

I guess he's right.

I recently watched a presentation (emergent) of the gospel on a blog-friend's site. It's here if you would like to take a look at it. It's very interesting. It's a two-part video. Each one is a few minutes.


Just wanted to check if you saw this message to the Obama girls from the Bush girls.


Well, the matric pass rate (the passing rate for seniors who take nation-wide exams on all subjects they have studied in order to get into a university). You now know that South Africa uses a fairly new system called Outcomes Based Education (OBE). The pass rate (for 2008) is down for the third year in a row. Only 1/3 of the final year students passed. Now guess what the percentage required for passing is? It's only 30%. Only 1/3 of students writing this exam scored 30% or higher. A member of Parliament has called for a review of the OBE system.

The biggest bit of news for us now that Obama has been elected and is serving in office (it really was national news) is our own upcoming election. I was at a friend's house (Li is one of the most humble and overly chilled girls I know and she has a huge heart for missions I believe) and she had a monthly Christian magazine that I happened to pick up. It's called Christian Living Today. It had an article in it entitled “Prayer for the Nation” with a Subtitle “Things to consider before casting your vote in the upcoming South African elections.” Below the subtitle was a subsubtitle “Zuma will face corruption charges” in larger letters than the subtitle.

Well, as you know on the 12th of January the Supreme Court of Appeal gave a reversal of the earlier Judge Chris Nicholson's judgment which said the government (Mbeki) had been politically motivated in its pursuance of Zuma's charges. The Supreme Court of Appeal called Nicholson's judgment “unwarranted” (it was unnecessary to say that), “erroneous”, and “incomprehensible”. So the door was opened by the Supreme Court of Appeal for the NPA to continue their investigation and indictment and impending trial against Zuma. This means the front-runner for the presidency will likely face corruption charges. Elections are in April (less than 2 months away), and he will probably be elected (should he win) before any trial is started. The article is interesting because it has a bottom section called “Before you vote” where it quotes scriptures saying the Word of God (meaning the Bible) is clear about the qualities needed for church leadership and that maybe we should consider these same words before we vote for the ministers and politicians that will oversee South Africa. Pretty strong and yet implicit statement about not voting for Zuma. It made me laugh.

Zille, the head of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and mayor of Cape Town, has called for Zuma to step down. That will probably not happen (like it would in the United States). The presidential race roars on. And the new opposition party Congress of the People (COPE) has chosen a presidential candidate, Methodist Bishop Mvume Dandala who is also general-secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches. COPE chose him because he had no political baggage as the two possible front-runners (Shilowa and Lekota) would have. It seems they didn't want to propagate the perception of COPE being a party of disgruntled ANC members, but instead a new party.

The rest of the Christian magazine dealt a lot with Valentine's Day, a big industry world-wide, including South Africa. Of course you had the usual suspects of single people who feel bad on Valentine's Day. I do regret that that happens. But I love the day, as a single person or married person (even when I was single). And I usually try to use it to show love to important people in my life. My mom and dad were sweet enough to send me a Valentine's Day card. I hope they also got to celebrate it between each other.
So I read a lot about love in South Africa, between people that had been married for years, between newlyweds, between engaged couples, between dating couples, and a love of life for people who were single. I think that would be my wish on this day for the world. No matter where you are, love. Love life and shine—either in marriage or in single-hood. Both can be gifts.

The 1st of February this year, abortion will have now been legal for 12 years. I'm dealing a lot with this through abortion and adoption counseling of women, partners, and couples. I'll talk more about abortion and adoption and share some love letters in the next update.

I will say that adoption and abortion don't seem to be the most pertinent issues to South Africans with the upcoming election. I think housing is huge (remember there are people in informal settlements and shanty-towns who still have not received adequate housing since 1994 even if they signed up on a list that year!). Another hot topic is crime. It's rampant; it's everywhere. I have luckily not had any personal interactions with it but I have had two incidents (someone breaking into the car while I was in a bookbinding shop and someone breaking into the house while I was at the university). In fact, right now, police are warning people to be careful and vigilant while drawing money out of ATMs. Some robbers are watching you do that and following you only to attack or mug you later to get your money.

There are over 150 different political parties registered to compete in the upcoming election, but normally there is one dominant party—the ANC. Now COPE is challenging that, but I'm not sure they have the support of enough Black South Africans to win. The ANC is clinging hard to Mandela since he was part of the organization (he has retired from political life). He appeared at a rally for the ANC in the Eastern Cape (where Haley was studying) last week. Reports are suggesting that perhaps he was forced to go against the priority of his ailing health. His grandson who appeared (and Zuma) with him deny this. Either way, he is quite weak, and everyone wants to know who's side is he on? Normally the Mandela Foundation takes care of his needs, travel, food, etc. But the spokesperson for the Foundation claims not to have known about this appearance until the day before (possibly implying that it was not Mandela's choice to do it). Zuma and the grandson are outraged by the implications.

The news here never ceases to stop, even I don't report much. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has warned that Obama risks losing momentum and support (or goodwill) from the world if he squanders the chance to make huge steps. For instance, he urges Obama to support the International Criminal Court (please see the section on Pax Americana and part of the National Security Strategy, item #3). Second he urges Obama to be hard on African dictators. Tutu also thought it would be great if Obama issued a general apology on behalf of the nation to the world and especially Iraqis for the invasion and the resulting disaster.

Also, South African Airways (SAA) staff have been caught transporting drugs. At least 30 agents were arrested for smuggling drugs.


One place the SAA could take you to is Zimbabwe, and it is the biggest story in Africa. Everyone is involved from the AU to the EU. Everyone has an opinion. On the 30th of January, Tsvangirai acquiesced and agreed to join a unity government without achieving any of the conditions for which he was waiting. He did it in the name of diplomacy, perhaps that something would come out of it.

He was sworn in on February 13th and started working that week as prime minister. Still many are dubious as none of the agreements for which he fought were attained. Mugabe still controls the police (part of the Ministry of the Home Affairs), and political detainees are still being detained. And of course the central bank needs reform. I last heard the inflation was in the quadrillion percentage. Is that even possible? In Zim, they take American dollars (USD) and South African Rand (ZAR).

At the public ceremony on the 13th, Mugabe brought 22 ministers when the agreement was for his party to have 15 of the cabinet ministries (and the MDC would have 13 while a small opposition led by Mutambara would get 3). All the leaders of the security force were absent that day of the ceremony and Mugabe said nothing about it.

Rumors abound about regular meetings outside Harare of the leaders of the army, police, prison and intelligence services, and groups responsible for seizing white farms. Some people believe they are planning an attack, a coup, a revolt against the new unity government. Some say Mugabe doesn't have control of them while others believe he does. No one knows what's going on.

The EU and the U.S. are maintaining their sanctions which are against specific people (not the country as a whole)--Mugabe and some of his senior political officials. Humanitarian aid still goes into the country. But development aid is not entering the country though Tsvangirai has asked for $50 million a month. He has asked for his countrymen to forgive, that without forgiveness there will be no healing. It reminds me of Mandela.

Equatorial Guinea's capital was attacked by men in gunboats, but it was unsuccessful. I have no idea why they chose that country or where the men were from.

In other news, they have made a new formulation of the same malaria medicine to make it more palatable for children. The new formulation dissolves both in water and milk. And it has a fruit juice taste. Developers believe it will impact the fight against malaria in a big way.


I know those of you in the U.S. just had your annual Academy Awards show, and I think you may have heard enough about this. But I would like to say the acting was excellent. I wasn't sure about Amy Adams in the past, but even if her characters seem to be very rare naïve people, she does truly believe she is her character when she is acting. So that's cool. Streep and Hoffman were on point. It's not very eventful in terms of action, but it's a nice drama where it's character vs. character. And they did excellently. Watch and enjoy but if you need a lot of action, you may want to go with a friend to jab you awake. The drama, however, is quite active and engaging.

Books (I'm reading 3 right now)

“Where is God When it Hurts?” by Phillip Yancey (I love him and his honesty and it's timely with my counseling work)
“Everything Must Change” by Brian McLaren
and the same African History book by Basil Davidson

Express Your Dreams: Essay Competition

I'm writing to you on behalf of LittleDrops Orphanage Fund (a 501c3 nonprofit) to announce our first annual online Essay and Arts Competition, Express Your Dreams, which gives the public an opportunity to connect with orphans not just statistics but as real individuals. We also hope to raise funds for orphans in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Express Your Dreams is a unique initiative bringing the thoughts, experiences, hopes, and dreams of over 200 orphans to the global stage of the world wide web. Their art and writings are accesible online at . We are inviting the public to view and vote for the essays and art through the duration of the competition (from February 15, 2009 to April 15, 2009).

The donations received will provide food, clothing, shelter, education and other necessities for over 2000 orphans in our sponsored orphanages. Please visit our website for more information or send us an email.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Demi Ajayi

Microsoft MSW Article on LittleDrops:

Express Your Dreams Flyer:

YouTube video about our work in Kenya (2007):

LittleDrops Contact: or