Democracy Africa Style

I found the following meaning of the word” democracy” in Wikipedia which you can see at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy

Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[1] which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.[2]

The first sentence gives a wonderful concept of what democracy should mean and be in an ideal world. As I get older, I am sorry to say that I am getting rather more cynical. Sadly,”Democracy African Style” does not encompass the original Greek concept of this word. What in effect happens in Africa is that the majority give the power to certain people to rule over them and in most cases not in the voters best interests. The individuals voted into power become a brotherhood for self enrichment of family and friends. Once in a position of power it is extremely difficult to get them out. I defy anyone to name one African country that has not followed this trend and sadly I include South Africa near the top of the tree.

More Africans have died at the hands of Africans in power than were ever killed by the colonial powers. Here again I defy anyone to prove me wrong. One of the root causes of this is plain tribalism which is still rife throughout Africa.

During the rule of the colonial powers in Africa the clarion call was to free the inhabitants of this tyranny. In my humble opinion the tyranny that exists in Africa is far worse and a great deal more sinister.

Most of us have read Alan Paton’s book “Cry the Beloved Country’’ which he wrote during the apartheid years. This book was on the banned list.  As a parting thought I wonder what the contents of his book would be if he wrote it today. The title would stay the same but the contents would in all probability be vastly different.

Butch Hannan

Racist, Do We All Qualify

At the present moment there is much debate and posturing about racism. As I start this post I must state that I am a “whitey” and proud to be so. I do not consider myself a racist. The definition of a racist in my A E D on my P C is given as:a person with a prejudiced belief that one racial group is superior to others. There are people in every race group who are superior to other people not only in their own group but across other racial groups as well. In most instances this is through education and hard work.

Our politicians are at this point in time formulating new legislation to basically criminalize name calling. I have my doubts about this and I honestly believe that it is going to open up a can of worms. This going to be extremely difficult to control. Who is going to decide what words are racist?  Are we going to have a list of racist words and phrases put into legislation. If the deciding factor is whether the word or phrase is deemed to be derogatory we will then all be in deep trouble. We could in all possibility end up in prison.

Are there any among us who can honestly say that they have never indulged in name calling. As children growing up it was a game where we tried to outdo each other. It normally ended up with the idiom “sticks and stones can break my bones, but, names can never hurt me” being recited. As an adult in South Africa I was called rooinek, soutie, soutpiel by the Afrikaners which were considered derogatory words. Like wise I called Afrikaners names such as dutchman, tickey whisker, slopey and boertjie to name a few. They were intended as derogatory words.

How you react to name calling I believe says something about you as an individual. If you are a mature person who is sure in himself you would most probably ignore it or give a suitable retort but not sinking to the level of the other person. People who react badly to name calling show a great lack of maturity and most probably do not really know who they are. I personally could not care  what any person calls me. If you call me a monkey, so what, I might just consider it a compliment.  At 75 years of age I have been called some choice things which I cannot repeat here. I know who I am!!

Presently in South Africa it would appear that only white people are the main culprits when it comes to racism. In all honesty this is surely not correct. Tribalism is alive and well in South Africa. I would say this is pure racism. Shaka Zulu and Mzilikazi are reputed to have killed between 1 to 2 million smaller ethnic groups as well as some of his own smaller tribes during the Mfecane  Mfecane – Wikipedia Was this not in fact racism and in the worst form actually genocide. The words uttered by Penny Sparrow did not kill anyone. Shame, it hurt some people’s feelings. Ask any of the other tribes of South Africa whether they trust the Zulus. I know you will be surprised and shocked by some of the answers you get.

What about xenophobia? The dictionary definition for this word is given as ” a fear of foreigners”  So, if you are scared of them you must kill them. Is this not a form of tribalism and in fact thus racism. We have had some very nasty incidences over the last couple of years where peoples property has been destroyed, shops looted and some people have been killed.

The politicians, political parties, churches and civil society in general are having a field day on the racism issue. This is going to divert what should be the focus of our efforts in this country. It needs to be taken note of that calling a person a name does not kill them but that hitting them on the head with a brick can either maim or kill.There are so many more important issues that should be receiving attention by the whole of South Africa. These issues are as follows and in no particular order of importance.

  1. Our basic education system needs a major overhaul. An adjusted pass rate of 30% in some subjects is honestly not acceptable. We are fooling ourselves and above all our children.
  2. Crime and especially violent crime is a major issue in this country. This needs to be attended to urgently.
  3. The raping of our women and children. The fact that we have men who rape a child as young as 6 months makes me ashamed. We are indeed, a very sick society.
  4. We need to stop killing our farmers.
  5. Service delivery needs urgent attention.
  6. Stop the burning of infrastructure such as educational and other government institutions. I have difficulty in comprehending the destruction of these facilities.
  7. Job creation. People need work so they can start paying for themselves.
  8. Bribery and corruption. We cannot afford to have people in state employment who have long fingers. These stolen funds could be put to far better use.

The above are the real issues that are destroying our South African fabric of society and need fixing. We do not need to get involved in name calling and mud slinging. Let each and everyone of us rather sweep our own doorstep clean