RIP Ernesto Nhamuave

As this morning’s Cape Times reports, Ernesto Nhamuave – the “burning man” whose image brought the horror of the xenophobic violence in Johannesburg sharply and sickeningly to the attention of the world – has been laid to rest in his village of Vuca in Mozambique.

Two weeks on from that violence and those images and the world has moved on to the next big news story. In one way, I suppose that we should be glad that things have settled down, but once again, it demonstrates just how fickle the world’s media are.

The UNHCR estimates that South Africa has 42,000 people in need of shelter (and a whole lot more besides) having been displaced by the xenophobic violence. People in Cape Town and other affected cities across South Africa have pulled together to provide shelter, clothing, food and service for the refugees displaced by the troubles of the last few weeks; in our case, this is despite the well-publicised, childish spat between the City Council and the Provincial Government that has reportedly delayed help getting to those who need it. Sometimes, politicians are utterly pathetic. This is an ugly and embarrassing display by both the City and the Province. But guess what? It’s always the other party’s fault.

Although we had a bright weekend, it came after a run of several days of cold, wet weather and there’s more on the way this week. And while there is still no shortage in the number of volunteers or those willing to give items to help, one has to wonder how long that will last once the refugees’ plight starts to slip from the news and therefore from the public eye. Just in time for winter.
Sadly, it’s only vivid images like that of Nhamuave and stories like that of Adam Degol, who has not seen or heard from his wife or 8-month old son since he was attacked in Lower Crossroads two weeks ago, which will keep this matter in the news for any length of time.

How you can help refugees in Cape Town.

The 6000 miles… James Blunt review

So we went, we saw, we listened and it actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had been fearing. And I’d been fearing a lot.
James Blunt came onto the stage a distinctly Capetonian 25 minutes late, to what I can only really term as “polite applause”, looking like a slightly rougher, scruffier version of my housemate.
My ex-housemate, that is. Not my current housemate. My current housemate is obviously my wife and she never lets her stubble get that long.

He kicked off with a few pseudo-uptempo efforts, which sounded like they were being played through treacle. Despite the fact that his voice sounds much better in person than on CD, my mind, which I’d fought hard to keep open, closed and I settled myself in for a couple of hours of frustration waiting in vain for something special.
And then, about 3 or 4 songs in, he did something remarkable. He put his guitar down (not in the veterinary sense) and headed pianoward. And there he sat and gave a 2 minute comedy routine about having an orgy with the audience, which left the two 14-year old girls next to us in fits of hopeful giggling, before launching into a jolly version of I’ll Take Everything (Blunt, not the girls).
From the ridiculous to the sublime though as he chucked the rest of the band off stage and weighed in with an unbelievably powerful, emotionally candid rendition of Goodbye, My Lover which gained a proper, old-fashioned, appreciative standing ovation and then moved onto No Bravery, with the backdrop showing footage of shallow graves, burnt out villages and distraught mothers in Kosovo. That shut us all up pretty quickly and it struck me that – like him or not – he’s actually rather good at those haunting, meaningful, heartfelt ballads.

Sadly, it never really reached those heady heights again as he ran through some of the more lively (but sadly, still really treacley) stuff off All The Lost Souls; the only exception being the finale – a pleasing, fresh version of 1973, which sent the audience off home abuzz.

All in all, a good evening’s entertainment with a couple of exceptional tracks, and although it didn’t come close to dislodging Muse from the top of my best live performances – much to my surprise – it would probably be close on the top ten, if only for that 8-minute spell in the middle where he had us all transfixed.

EDIT: Just to clarify – this post tells you why I was there last night.

Serves you right

Fresh from yesterday’s Cape Times and it’s sister paper, Pretoria News:

An agency that sold tickets for a Celine Dion concert in March and a cancelled Josh Groban concert in April has been placed under final liquidation.
An application for the liquidation of Ticket Connection (Pty) was yesterday brought before Judge P Burton-Fourie by the agency itself, which said it was unable to pay debts of R7 million.

Just as the Nuremberg Trials and the legal processes against Saddam Hussein and his henchmen brought to justice those who had inflicted pain, suffering and misery upon their nations, so Ticket Connection (Pty) must also atone for their crimes against humanity.

 

Gutted

Tuesday: Shower. Breakfast. Traffic. Work. Tea Break. Such is the life of a lab rat.

But with Tuesday tea break comes Ben Trovato’s column in the Cape Times. Today, I open the paper even more eagerly. How will someone with such obvious compassion for those around him and an incomparable understanding of South African cultures handle the recent xenophobic problems?

Surprisingly subtly, actually. But whatever, because then, halfway through the column – the bombshell:

And so, to matters more serious. It is with a heavy heart I inform you of circumstances necessitating that I relinquish this valuable piece of literary real estate with immediate effect.

I read it once. I read it again. And I was left numb. Seriously, Ben Trovato has kept me going through some difficult times since I moved over here. I have all his books and I agree with every sentiment therein – maybe even the bit when he called my car “gay”. I have lived vicariously through his words, possessing neither the bravery (foolishness?) to do the stuff he did nor the literary ability to describe the things I dared not do. And now he’s hanging up his pen.

At times like this, you can either mope, depressed in the knowledge that Tuesdays will never be the same again. Or you can celebrate the chance for a new columnist to fill his boots (something Ben Trovato has been doing for 5 years+).

Well sod your happy-clappy positivity. I’m in mourning.

RIP Ben Trovato. (Unless this is all a big hoax in which case I’m coming after you with a big stick.)
I know that you read me like I read you, so thanks. And all the best.
I hope I’m still going to be able to read you somewhere… sometime.
Otherwise, how will I know what to think?

In memory, I present to you his finest hour:

Why, in the name of God, won’t someone bring Jacob Zuma his machine gun? I can no longer stand by and watch the man suffer like this. Has he not been through enough?
There is an organisation called the Friends of Jacob Zuma, and yet not one of its members is willing to do as he asks. Some friends.

Jacob Zuma has anywhere between two and five wives. But what good is that if none will go the extra mile? Who brings him his pint of Ijuba after another exhausting live concert outside the Pietermartizburg High Court? As a proud Zulu man, he cannot be expected to fetch his own sorghum beer and automatic weapon.

Jacob Zuma is clearly someone who treasures his machine gun above all else. So what of it? He doesn’t ask for much. All he wants is his machine gun.

And maybe the presidency.

I don’t want to sound churlish, but it might help if he told us where he left the damn thing. It must be somewhere. He definitely started out with one, otherwise he would be singing, “bring me a machine gun”. By referring to his machine gun in the possessive, he is telling us that he already has one, but that he has either mislaid it or somebody has moved it from where he last saw it.

Perhaps his machine gun is at his mother-in-law’s house.
Maybe he can’t remember which mother-in-law.

EDIT: Incoming email from Ben Trovato himself suggests that I should look out for the Sunday Times on 8th June. Could it be that he is taking the place of thankfully-sacked columnist Bavid Dullard?
If so, sign me up, Mr Makhanya!!

Luister Engelsman…

… as jy dit nie hier laaik nie, hoekom gaan jy nie maar terug Engeland toe nie?*

Why do people always ask me that?

So asked a commenter on one of my bosparra.com posts (scroll down to comments – his is the very first).  Normally, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of something said over there. I select posts which I think might be of interest to the bosparra audience and I thought that one fitted the bill. The selection process is more about choosing something topical and South African than choosing something sycophantic. If people don’t agree, well – that prompts (occasionally heated) discussion and that’s fine by me. People must say what they want to. It’s the only way things get sorted. Well, that and rubber bullets.
Also, I must admit that my Afrikaans isn’t all that it might be, which leaves me a little behind when posting on a predominantly Afrikaans site, (although a GCSE in German stands one in surprisingly good stead when it comes to the basic vocabulary).

However, two things changed that plan of (lack of) action in this case. One was the same commenter popping up over here and the other was the point at which I got my basic Afrikaans together and realised exactly what he was moaning about. Either of which would have made him fair game, to be honest… but both together – well…

Yes, My Name is Botha (as in Earl) – let’s call him “MNIB” for short – is upset about… (and here I pause for dramatic effect)… the title of my blog. He whines:

HY impliseer dat ONS nie beskaafd is nie!
(HE is implying that WE aren’t cultured!)

No, I’m not. Unless you’re Australian. Are you Australian?

MNIB has failed to see the heavy sarcasm dripping from every letter of the title. However, rather than lecture me on the good (or civilised) bits of South Africa, he instead goes on the attack – telling me about how my native country is assisting with the destruction of Islam and is at war with the Irish (really?!?).  

So: Luister MNIB – I think I’m more in love with SA than you are. While you can only be negative about the UK (so far as to make up fake wars!), I’ve long been waxing lyrical over how great this country is. About the milk stout, the optimism, the people, the mountains, the spirit, the beaches etc etc.
The title of the site is very much tongue in cheek – when one has seen Oxford’s Blackbird Leys on a Friday night, one could never truly accept the UK as a bastion of civilised behaviour.  

As I said in my reply to your comment – I won’t be changing the name of the site, even if you pay for the rebranding. I honestly can’t see that your suggestion: 9,600 kms from s**t would really attract as many visitors as the now (in)famous 6000 miles… brand does. Also, as I have absolutely no bearing upon the decisions of the British government, which is nearly (but not quite) as barmy as their SA counterparts, I will be unable to prevent them participating in conflicts overseas.

Maybe you’ll actually choose to read a few of the posts on here and you’ll see what I mean. But more likely, I guess you’ll just mutter doos and start whining when I post at bosparra again.

Your choice. But asb… think before you moan.

* “Listen Englishman, since you don’t like it here, why don’t you go back to England?”