In an extraordinary show of solidarity with ANC President Jacob Zuma, a poll today* suggests that a huge number of white South Africans want JZ to become President of the country as soon as possible. While this may come as a surprise to many political analysts, there is a very simple explanation: pronunciation.
It seems that many white South Africans have become used to having a president who has an easily pronounceable name, like Nelson Mandela or Thabo Mbeki. The suggestion that Kgalema Motlanthe is being lined up as acting president following Mbeki’s resignation has caused widespread concern amongst paler Saffers.
My wife asked me who was replacing Mbeki and by the time I’d told her, she needed to wash her face and hair. Look, he’s a great guy and all, but I just can’t do a K followed by a G without spitting. In retrospect, I suppose it didn’t help that I was eating a boerie roll at the time.
It was originally thought that the speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, would act as stand-in President until the election next year. And that seemingly wouldn’t have been a problem for most whities:
You can just mutter the surname and then you look all knowledgeable. No-one is going to hear the difference between Mbeki and Mbete after a few beers if you say it quickly and quietly.
Other potential contenders for the post, such as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (“Phumzile” to the whities) and Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma (“That Zuma woman”) would have caused equal difficulties for white tongues.
What we need now is for Zuma to call an election as soon as possible. And then get elected. We don’t care about his policies. Frankly, it’s just embarrassing not being able to say the name of your country’s leader without covering the everyone surrounding area in saliva.
A Zuma presidency can save us from that.
In related news, ambulance service ER24 has also made an urgent appeal to Zuma and the ANC to sort out the presidential vacuum as quickly as possible, as it was hampering their triage routine in head injury cases. Spokesperson Daniel van Wyk** explained:
When our staff attend an incident in which there has been a head injury, they assess the level of consciousness of the casualty using three simple questions: what their name is, what day is it and who the president of the country is. The current lack of a president is causing our staff difficulties and causing perfectly healthy patients to panic, as they think they are actually much more badly injured than they really are.
More later, sports fans!
* which I just made up.
** more make believe.
So he was pushed to the very edge and now he’s jumped.
Well, I say “jumped”: actually, it was more of a dignified step.
Mbeki – gone: “Butchered”, no less.
Yes, it’s big news, but it’s not bad news. It’s not even unexpected news after the Nicholson ruling on the Zuma case. Scandals, allegations, divisions, resignations: this sort of thing happens on a fairly regular basis in democratic society. Of course, it’s a new thing for South Africa, because democracy is still a new thing for South Africa. But one only has to look to the UK (it’s about 6000 miles, I’m told) to see much the same process under way there.
The papers are full of screaming headlines about political uncertainty, mass hysteria, turmoil and disorder across the country. Anyone reading them would think that there is utter chaos here. And of course, there is always a difficult transition period in these matters. But life does go on and it’s going on completely as normal today. Slightly more quietly, perhaps, because there’s a public holiday this week.
Here’s what we were dealing with on the way to work this morning.
Another tough day in Africa after Mbeki resigns
I’m sure there will be more news to come from this story: in fact, I’ll be gutted if there isn’t. But for now, that’s it. Stay calm, don’t panic, watch with interest, enjoy the weather and don’t believe all that you read.
Apart from on here, obviously.
Number 2. Brakpan, a mining town in Gauteng.
The name Brakpan was first used by the British in the 1880s because of a non-perennial lake that would annually dry to become a “brackish pan”.
While in the now defunct uranium mining town named after a dirty lake, you can visit the Gyproc factory, which produces almost a quarter of South Africa’s plasterboard. Alternatively, you can visit the site of the world’s biggest mine dump (higher than the pyramids, nogal!) or just enjoy life as it would have been in a previous age.
An age when people still lived in caves.
For more great places you can’t afford to miss on the South African tourist trail, just follow the TOURISM TIPS category in the sidebar. Suggestions welcome.
I’m a t-shirt, trainers and jeans kinda guy. In fact, throughout winter, you’ll find me in little else, save for socks. Undergarments are a given, obviously – it’s just too dangerous for a bloke of my dimensions not to.
In the summer, I’m more of a t-shirt, flops and shorts kinda guy, but this isn’t a post about summer.
The jeans are invariably Levis, because they’re the only ones long enough. The t-shirts are invariably one of Puma, Nike or Adidas and the trainers have been New Balance since I can remember.
I can like to be a creature of habit.
My latest pair of takkies – as they are called out here – are New Balance 606 Trail Running shoes.
New Balance 606 – I have 2 of them
Of course, I haven’t run any trails in them – they might get dirty. Oh, and because I might get dead.
Because while it quite clearly states “All Terrain” on them upon a silhouetted image of a mountain, they make me look like Bambi on ice as soon as the relative humidity rises above 8%. They’re bloody lethal.
Looking at the sole, one could quite easily believe that they would grip anything, anytime. And indeed, they will – as long as it’s not wet. I can only imagine that they were road-tested in the Sahara.
Sadly, we are still in the throes of an extremely damp Cape Town winter, which has made walking about town dangerous for me, yet somewhat amusing for passers-by whose only concern is avoiding the several hundred invisible ball-bearings that I am struggling with.
I will think long and hard before buying another pair of New Balance “All Terrain” trainers.
Assuming, that is, I live long enough to wear these ones out.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s visit to South Africa to inspect preparations for the World Cup in 2010 appears to be a big success. Despite the unfounded concerns of a vocal minority, all ten stadia are on course to being ready in good time for the tournament. Addressing those sceptics, Blatter said:
They have to admit the stadia will be ready, people will be well received and so on.
What is needed, instead, is a little more enthusiasm in South Africa;
for the whole country to say … yes, let’s go, let’s do it.
It’s about time South Africa got some good publicity from the world’s press over 2010.
However, many of the reports I have read of the FIFA visit have been very keen to mention the political issues dominating our news at the moment and also the crime rate, which they are lining up as their big story of the tournament. I can already see the “FAN MUGGED!” or “TOURIST STABBED!” headlines being readied. Because that sort of thing only ever happens in South Africa. Never in London or Hamburg or Rio. Oh no.
“When I left the plane and arrived on African soil, I started dancing.”
In addition, much of the stadium construction work is ahead of schedule. Which is better than Athens 2004 or er… Wembley. Is that actually finished yet? I mean – really finished?
Work is ahead slightly ahead of schedule at Durban’s semifinal venue, and at the two stadiums in Johannesburg. FIFA general-secretary Jerome Valcke said that even Beijing’s “Bird Nest” Olympic stadium looked small compared to Soccer City. Even Cape Town’s 3.9 billion rand or $490 million stadium – the most controversial because it is in the middle of prime real estate – is on track.
Now the naysayers and the critics have had their naysaying and criticism, I wonder what they think will happen to the World Cup in 2010? Do they honestly still believe that it’s not coming to SA?
Or is this just now a case of sour grapes?
Live webcam feeds of Cape Town stadium site