Study carefully the picture above. (The inset is mine of South African protests, today.) That’s the website page that millions, maybe billions of people worldwide access to understand U.S. foreign policy. And that’s how it looked this morning: Come Back Later.
As a group of activists in my small town discussed the possibility of creating a new political force, I found particular use in the image above.
Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump are as different as the politics and societies of South Africa and the U.S. Yet the similarities make me wonder if we ought to watch carefully now what’s happening in South Africa as Zuma incrementally destroys the country he leads.
Yesterday the Rand ended a struggled recovery, the country’s bond status fell to the junk floor, there was yet another major cabinet reshuffling, the Deputy President of the country criticized the President, and Parliament began what in America we call impeachment.
File “science as scandal:” For a long time South Africans have culled heavily in their national parks even as many scientists vociferously argued against doing so. Now it seems that in some kind of warped tolerance if not outright trickery South African officials managed a big cull of jackals… to prove that culling jackals doesn’t work!
Why would they cull to prove culling doesn’t work? Well, that we don’t know. What we do know is this:
Women marched Saturday across Africa, across Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Take heed oh women of America of your African sisters’ history. This was not the first such women’s march in South Africa. That was in 1956 and what followed it was … 37 years of unimaginable repression.
Can a piece of art be hate speech? A year-long furor in South Africa blew up yesterday when a gang of white men calmly entered Cape Town’s prestigious National Art Museum and plastered a large sticker reading “Love Thy Neighbour” over a “F**k White People” pop-art canvas.
What’s illegal here? The vigilantes believed South Africa’s strict hate speech laws weren’t being enforced, but were they breaking laws protecting the artist’s freedom of speech?
Why was Anna Galland so happy last night? Who will put peerless pen to my personal petulance? I found him. In South Africa.
Trump is “Nazi sludge…trapped in a Twitter feedback loop as a gift for a riled-up white electorate who had seen the ass-end of globalisation.”
The alt-right may be ecstatic, but the majority of us in the world are increasingly depressed. And now guess what? There’s no comic relief.
A much watched tongue-in-cheek news podcast in South Africa recently replaced twenty years of sarcasm with all that’s left: “there’s only bad news.”
I thought of South Africa’s much loved Evita Bezuidenhoutis after watching this week’s opening sketch of Saturday Night Live. Plays on Trump’s naivete if ignorance are less funny now, because they’ve turned out to be real. The news was wrong: Sarcasm is the truth.
Xenophobia infects, kills and spreads like any biological virus: “Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba … speaks loudly about illegal foreigners and tells them to leave his city … because of the right-wing frenzy whipped up by Trump.”
A pandemic spreads until it dies out: It’s not reversible. Trump may have softened his xenophobic rhetoric in the U.S., but it’s only growing in South Africa.
If you’ve got something to say, say it now.
The world is contracting into conservative populism and freedom of expression is in the gun site. Trump idly suggests shutting down the internet or incarceration for flag burning, and legislators in Kenya and South Africa kick gleefully into high gear.
Stalled legislation in both countries to curtail the press and freedom of speech is moving forward, again.
Anyone taking a picture is arrested or shot. Then, Facebook takes down the pictures of the courageous who manage to post the massacre. A Kenyan TV journalist is charged with “abetting terrorism” for taking … TV video.
And most noteworthy of all, the organizer of the massacre, self-imposed Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni poses for a “government picture” in sunny South Africa with its despised leader, Jacob Zuma. You can truly wonder in Trumpian vernacular, “What the f*#! is happening in the world today!”
Today Elle magazine’s South African cover was the controversial, victorious woman athlete Caster Semenya. Semenya trounces all others in track and field and carried home Olympic gold for South Africa this year.
Her critics contend she is either not a woman or too androgynous to be allowed to participate as a woman. She’s undergone intense scientific scrutiny which certainly became personal humiliation. Legitimate concerns about the efficacy of the division between “men” and “women” in sports competition got hopelessly muddled in the process of investigating her gender.
In the end sports authorities accepted she had crossed the finish line first as a woman, but they’ve punted on the issue of whether or not she is a “woman.” Where does this leave us?
Russia wasted no time using Trump’s election to increase its global power. Yesterday it thrust a masterful spear between Africa and the U.S. by aligning itself with African countries threatening to withdraw from the World Court.
The renegade power’s lightning fast global moves have been reported this morning in Central America, Syria, and of course right here in America, but it is in Africa where Russia may be most successful acting so quickly.
One of the world’s gentlest, most thoughtful and consequential men is sick and dying but more importantly, suffering. After 85 years he has changed his mind: euthanasia is right.
Desmond Tutu, the revered Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate and winner of countless other peace prizes including America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, is above all a deeply religious, non-violent man. His prolonged sickness broke his resolve against euthanasia two years ago when he wrote in an Op-Ed in the Guardian “I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying.”
Tutu’s arguments are not religious ones, and that is what has attracted me to his thinking. His arguments are practical, political.
Look, it’s happening all over the world. I’m going to compare two places I know, South Africa and the U.S.
South African society is just beginning to seriously hurt about a year after a similar sort of political turmoil hit them to our Trump election, the re-election of a clearly incompetent executive that an entrenched political party was then only partially able to control.
Year-long protests nearly shut down the country’s educational system and the economy has started to decline much more seriously than globally or for other African countries. About a year ahead of the U.S. in terms of political change, this could foreshadow the U.S.
Predictions matter. Trends across divergent, widely different worlds matter. This isn’t just a cathartic prognostication of a released Cubs’ fan. Tuesday, remarkable changes will afflict the already fatigued and troubled people of the U.S. and South Africa.
Call me superstitious but you’d be wrong. The world is so globally connected, media so lightning fast, that everything effects everything else in similar ways. Tuesday both the U.S. and South Africa may both have new presidents that the majority of their people don’t like and don’t want.
Is this democracy?