Oh look out

I’m mostly going racehorsing today, so here’s one from earlier. And it’s a proper ATTENTION! PASSOP! ACHTUNG BABY! of a warning.

Oh noes! Please save us all!

Presumably, this threatened intervention requires the both of the remaining members of the Zimbabwean Armed Forces to source enough petrol to get them to Harare Airport.

But if they manage that – and manage to work out where Iran is – then look out, Donald!

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe…

This one is for the folks back in Blighty (although some over here may not have seen it, I guess). There are currently issues in Tokwana in Zimbabwe. OK, so there are currently issues everywhere in Zimbabwe, but I am focussing particularly on the heinous events which have recently befallen the Ndlovu family in Tokwana.
You know, the ones who were co-habiting with Rah the goblin

HELL hath no fury like a goblin scorned!
A Plumtree family in Tokwana area has deserted their homestead and fled the marauding goblin which they lived with for the past seven years.
The owner of the homestead, Richard Ndlovu; his sister – Sithokozile Ndlovu; their mother only identified as Gogo NaNancy (Nancy’s mother) and three juveniles fled the homestead with nothing except the clothes they were putting on and sought safety in Plumtree town.
The reportedly bilingual goblin (speaks Kalanga and Ndebele) which introduced itself as Rah to the family started demanding human flesh in June 2009 and thereafter started reigning terror on the family after its request was turned down.
Sithokozile said they started co-habiting with rah in 2003 but they lived with him in harmony.
“We have lived with the goblin for the past seven years but it was not violent at all,” she said.
Rah became violent in 2009 after his keepers denied him human flesh.
“One day June 2009, he woke up and said he was tired of goat meat and as such wanted human flesh. We asked him whose meat and Rah mentioned my name,” Sithokozile said with troubled voice and spirit.
Sithokozile’s mother, gogo NaNancy could not kill her daughter and the goblin was infuriated.
“I was not going to sacrifice myself for the goblin and my mother could not do the same. Rah got angry and started beating everyone in the family. We have never head peace since he demanded that I become part of his meal,” she said.
It is said that at times Rah would tie children onto a tree using jerseys and spend the whole day thrashing them with switch.
The family has since deserted the homestead and is seeking refuge in Plumtree town.

That’s the way life is when you choose to live with a goblin. One minute they’re quite happy with goat meat, the next they’re demanding human flesh and reigning terror on your family.

Please note that in presenting this story to you, I am certainly not belittling the African belief in goblins and evil spirits. No more than I belittle other fanciful beliefs, anyway. It’s the individual’s choice as to whether or not they wish to believe in these things. Those in the Western world who read these sort of stories and mock such “primitive” ideas would do well to go and think about how exactly they differ from those people going to church each and every Sunday.

So no, I don’t believe in goblins, but I recognise that for some people, those beliefs are very real and form an important part of their culture.

I really do love the way these articles are presented in the Byo (Bulawayo) Daily. And thank goodness it’s there to keep us informed of these things, such as the man who stole his wife’s urine to go and do a pregnancy test:

The comical incident, which seems to have been posted on the popular social networking site, Facebook occurred at Number 18 Clark Road after the man suspected that his wife was trying to abort the fruits of his all night sweat job.

Interesting to note that the protagonist in that one is also a Mr Ndlovu. A Mr Polite Bukosi Ndlovu, in fact.

Or the woman who pulled a gentleman “by his manhood over a distance of 50 meters after failing to pay $15 he owed her”.
His name?

Mr Ndlovu.

I think I see a pattern developing here.

More great publicity for SA

There’s no such thing as bad publicity? Really?

From the front page of the BBC News website: some more negative stories about South Africa.

Negative perceptions

I’m not saying they’re not true stories. Just that I’m fed up of having to dig deeper for the good news, while the bad stuff is repeatedly thrust into my face.

Crossing borders: South Africa hit by Zimbabwe’s cholera crisis 
HIV drug high: South African teenagers smoking anti-retrovirals

Anthrax – the bug that keeps on giving

So, in addition to all the other problems that Zimbabwe faces, which are too many, too varied and far too well-documented to even think about listing here, and following hot on the heels of the recent cholera outbreaks, anthrax has now reared its ugly head.

Anthrax can kill when infected meat is touched, or eaten or when infected spores are inhaled. A quarantine zone has been declared in the affected areas of Matebeleland North, but because of the desperate hunger in the region some families are still eating infected meat. Traders have also been seen taking potentially infected carcasses out of the restricted zones to trade in Victoria Falls, which risks the disease spreading across Zimbabwe and even over the border into neighbouring Zambia. 

An emergency assessment by the Save the Children and the Ministry of Health found 32 cases of human anthrax in Binga district. Anthrax infections have also killed 160 livestock, as well as two elephants, 70 hippo and 50 buffalo. But with symptoms lying dormant for up to 21 days or more and no communications in the region, the death toll could already be higher.

In all likelihood, this outbreak is due to the breakdown in veterinary services and the routine vaccination of livestock – a similar effect was seen with diphtheria in the independent states formed when the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 1990’s. And while the lack of vaccination is probably the main reason behind this new threat to Zim and its people, it is ably assisted by a general lack of medical resources including antibiotics, a shortage of food and no decent communication network throughout the country.

This isn’t Zimbabwe’s first anthrax outbreak. In fact, the country holds the dubious record of the largest ever human anthrax outbreak, which occurred during the civil war in 1979/80, with close on 11,000 human cases and 182 deaths. The spores of Bacillus anthracis from that episode almost 30 years ago are the little buggers responsible for this new outbreak. What I didn’t know until recently was that there is evidence, albeit nothing concrete, that the 79/80 outbreak was probably caused by deliberate release (i.e. biowarfare) as part of the bitter conflict which was taking place at that time.
Much like landmines once the war is over, the spores don’t just disappear once the epidemic has passed. Vaccination of livestock has kept the disease at bay since independence, but the spores have just been hanging around, waiting for their moment in the spotlight.
Thanks to Mr Mugabe, it’s now turned into a talent contest for bugs. Pop Die-dol. Strictly Come Dying. Whatever. I’m not sure Zimbabwe can take any more. Microbiologically, it’s pretty interesting though.

UPDATE: Nice piece by Rowan Philp in the Sunday Times on what life is actually like in Zim right now.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Exactly what are our politicians up to while the well-documented violence against foreign nationals spreads to each and every corner of the country?

President Thabo Mbeki has been widely criticised for his lack of prompt action when the attacks started in Alexandra last week (or earlier, according to some sources). And rightly so, I would argue. Whether or not you believe that deploying troops sooner would have stopped the violence from spreading (I don’t), not deploying them merely allowed the attacks to continue almost completely unabated as the police, outnumbered and outmanoeuvered by the mobs in the townships, were obviously unable to cope.

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a woman generally well-respected since her intervention in the country’s HIV policy-making decisions had been quiet – until yesterday. At which point, I wished she’d stayed quiet. Visiting Nigeria, Mlambo-Ngcuka issued South Africa’s first public apology for the violence. Like this:

We are very much concerned and apologise for all the inconvenience that the incidents have caused

The “inconvenience”? That’s what I expect from the local supermarket manager when they don’t have stock of seedless raspberry jam. It’s what I want to hear on the loudspeaker on Platform 6a when my train is 10 minutes late. Personally, I don’t think “inconvenience” is quite enough to cover over 40+ dead and 20,000 “displaced” (read “fleeing for their lives”). Another government own goal?
Even charismatic Jacob Zuma, our President-in-waiting, who spoke out early on against the violence, has since fallen silent as the wave of attacks continues to escalate. I find this very strange – Zuma has previously been quick to capitalise on any sign of Mbeki’s weakness. It’s almost a trademark stategy of his. So could it be that even JZ doesn’t have an answer to these problems?

So while the ANC provaricates and struggles to provide answers, solutions, reasons or even a half-decent apology for the violence, what has the oppostition been up to? Well, finally, Helen Zille, leader of the DA, has come out with a statement. Not surprisingly, she blames government policy for the troubles and not surprisingly, she suggests that her party would do better if they were given a chance to run the country. Keep dreaming, Helen.   
What’s missing from that statement is any short-term solution. And while most people are well aware that the reasons for these problems need to be addressed, people are being killed every day. So yes, we need “proactive steps to address the root cause of the xenophobic violence”, but first we need to actually control what is happening in the informal settlements across South Africa right now.

I mentioned yesterday that Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils had noted the involvement of opportunistic elements in the violence. And in an interesting opportunistic move, the Zimbabwe Government – the reason that most Zim immigrants are here in the first place – have offered to help repatriate those displaced by the attacks. Presumably, those repatriated individuals will then vote ZANU-PF in the upcoming Presidential run-off.

Other developments:
Tourists cancel trips to SA – an over-reaction
Army kills man – not an over-reaction
Miners may leave – completely normal reaction