Is there a god?

When things in Cape Town are quiet and there’s not much with which to enlighten the readers of 6000 miles, I like to take a trivial subject and ruminate on it for a while.

Today, those conditions having been satisfied, I’m going to tackle the old chestnut of god. Is he? Does he? Who he?
There are three thing my mother told me never to discuss: Politics, Religion and West Ham United. She was hopelessly wrong on the politics – it’s the best entertainment that you can get out here in SA, and while she had a good point about the Hammers, I’m going to choose to ignore her advice on the god thing. Religion is important, however misguided it might be. West Ham United are just misguided, not important.
I don’t believe that there is a god. I just see christianity as an excuse to wake me up with church bells early on Sunday mornings. Right when I’m in the middle of that dream about Kari Byron from Mythbusters and the 50 litre vat of sweet chilli dipping sauce.
For me, this proves that there is no god. How could anyone be so cruel?

Which brings me to that age old question: “If there is a god, why does he let bad things happen?”
I don’t know. Makes no sense to me. Sorry.

Another sign of the lack of anyone upstairs is the increasing desperation, frequency and technological advancements with which the godbotherers turn up at my front gate.
The other day, two of them came around with a 20 minute DVD entitled How to get closer to god.
“Can we sit and watch this with you?”, they asked.
Seriously? Why? Don’t you have your own DVD player?
(Of course, living in the crime-ridden suburbs of Cape Town, it’s entirely possible that they just wanted to shoot me in the head and steal the DVD player as soon as they got through the door.)
(Or worse still, discuss West Ham United.)
I sent them packing, but before they left, they asked (begged?), “Do you know anyone that would be interested in seeing the DVD?”
Oh right, so now I have to do your job for you too, huh? No way.
“Sorry, we’re all pretty heavily into Islam around here.”
Cue their hasty exit before I arrived at the front gate with a “special belt” on.
Blimey. I’d better stop. I’m going to alienate everyone. Please feel free to leave offensive comments if I’ve insulted you or your religion. And please also mention (if you think you know) what noise an ostrich makes. It’s one of those things that’s been bothering me for a while now.

Oh – and I’m also looking for a local bulk supplier of sweet chilli dipping sauce…
I know I ask a lot of you, dear reader, but if anyone can handle it, you can.

Wanted: R180 million for an ARS

One (or more) of the posts that disappeared into the black hole which was 123-reg.co.uk’s hosting disaster was on the World Cup, which is due to make landfall here in a mere 3 years from now. Currently, there is a little confusion over whether Cape Town will actually get to see any football played here during that competition.
As usual in South Africa, the issues over building the new stadium are political, financial and race-related. And, with everyone blaming everyone else, nothing is actually being done to build our new stadium at Green Point. Can you imagine a World Cup in South Africa without Cape Town? Really? This city is the icon of SA. Have you seen our mountain? It’s bloody lovely.

First off, before we even consider why no construction has begun, let’s look at the mentality of the people in charge. The new stadium, an example of technology and cutting-edge design, a beacon of new hope for an embattled continent will be grandly named: The African Renaissance Stadium or The ARS.
Great thinking, guys.

OK – cash first. The ARS was meant to cost about R2.5 billion (GBP180m, USD350m). That’s a fair amount of money for a city where about half the residents don’t have access to basic services like water and electricity. This was the original price, which then suddenly increased by R1.2 billion for no apparent reason (as these projects do) but has now settled at a much more reasonable R2.7 billion, meaning that we’re just R180 million short of our target. It’s peanuts, really.
And here comes the politics. The City of Cape Town is contolled by the Democratic Alliance (DA). The Western Cape Province and the National Government is controlled (sometimes) by the African National Congress (ANC). These two parties don’t see eye to eye on many issues. And ooh look – here’s another.


The City refuses to pay out a cent more than they said they would, while the Provincial and National Authorities are refusing to make up the shortfall. And while negotiation would seem to be a great way out of this, it’s become a battle of wills and the parties involved refuse to budge. Anyone hear that clock ticking?

I promised you a bit of racial tension too and I’d hate to let you down. Speaking frankly, in South Africa: football (soccer) is a sport played and watched by black people and egg-chasing (rugby) is a sport played and watched by white people. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t really much of an over-simplification – it’s just how things are. And Green Point is a predominantly (almost exclusively) white suburb. And they don’t want that black sport coming into their back yard.
Of course, there’s the usual bluff over increased traffic and noise, which is fair enough I suppose, but in actual fact, it’s about racial division and prejudices.

“So where do you stand on this?”, I hear both you readers asking.


Well, I know that R2.7 billion could go a long, long way to sorting out a lot of the problems Cape Town faces. But I also recognise that when (if?) this stadium is built and the World Cup comes to Cape Town, the money generated for local businesses and therefore the added job creation and increase in money coming into the city and surrounds will far outweigh the inital costs of the build.
South Africa knew the problems it faced when it bid for the right to hold 2010. Now that it’s won that right, it must deliver. This isn’t about throwing money at problems which might help in the short term, this is an investment for the long term – it’s an opportunity which could really be a turning point for Cape Town and for South Africa.
Thabo, Ebrahim and Helen: I know you’re reading this (ja, right!) please let’s just get it sorted out.
Whatever it takes.

Thanks.

Back to the future (sort of)

I found a web-based version of HG Wells’ infamous Time Machine (thanks Ender) which has allowed me to relive certain moments of my life over the last 4 years. Sadly for you, it also means that I can let you relive them too, and thus the slow and tedious task of putting all that archived material together into a W3C compliant, user-friendly format has begun. Or at least, has been thought about being begun.

In other news, friend of 6000 miles, dear Manto, is rather ill. Her doctor suggests, among other problems that she is suffering from severe anaemia. I can sympathise – it’s the damn mosquitoes – at the moment, each night is like a bloody feeding frenzy. It’s my belief that they’re draining everyone in South Africa of blood and then they’re going to take over the world. Possibly. Either that or they’re in cahoots with the SA National Blood Transfusion Service.
Although saying that, I very much doubt that the opportunity to save Manto’s life would attract many more devotees to their cause.
Anyway, a quick count here indicates that I’m currently sporting 31 bites of various sizes. I itch.
It amazes me that I have any blood left.
While getting the link for the Manto story, I came across this little gem. Astounding.
If I didn’t know differently, I’d guess that story came out of South Africa – it’s typically bizarre enough: “sharpened kite strings”, indeed…

Finally, I was interviewed last week by a British journalist working for an emigration newspaper. They’re going to do a story about me and my experiences since I moved out to Cape Town.

No-one will believe a word of it.

Guess who’s found a cure for AIDS now!

There is a terrible disease sweeping across Africa. OK – there are several of them, but this one is really nasty. The symptoms include false hope, political gain and setting HIV/AIDS programmes back immeasurably.
We’ve mentioned South Africa’s own dear Health Minister – Manto Tshabalala-Msimang – on this site on more than one occasion, including her support for the Germanic conman Mattias Rath and her advice that a diet of garlic, african potato, turnips, lemon juice and olive oil can cure HIV. (Incidentally, even dear Manto is unwell). We even chatted briefly about the Deputy President of the ANC and his belief that taking a shower after having sex with an HIV positive individual will prevent you being infected with the virus.
Thank heavens that these individuals aren’t in positions of power and responsibility, hey?
Hmm.

Anyway – it’s all over now. Step forward Yahya Jammeh (ja, ja…) – who “just happens” to be President of The Gambia. He’s sorted all our problems out by discovering that a herbal remedy and a good dose of prayer will rid your body of HIV. And yes, that includes removing its intergrated nucleic acid from every last one of your cells. Incredible. He treats people on Thursdays and claims he can cure them in 3 days. Which should make for a pretty good Saturday night out, assuming all goes well. Sky News interviewed him while he was actually doing the biz – a superb demonstration of multitasking and altogether fascinating stuff.

The thing is, I can see you laughing at these stories in your comfortable Western homes and offices. What you need to realise is the terrible truth is that people believe these claims, they stop taking their ARVs and then they die.
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. The answers to curing HIV or the answers to the dubious methods of African politics.


Frankly, I’m just shocked that “Uncle Bob” Mugabe hasn’t got in on the act yet…

The Lowdown

Just a quick update on the news from ballacorkish.net and from South Africa.


Let’s get the dull bit over first.
Great news! My new RSS feed is up and running. This one is via Feedburner, so it should be universally acceptable. To subscribe, just click this little icon: Click me for updates! and we’ll tell you each time the site is updated.
It really couldn’t be simpler. (Unless of course the icon clicked itself.)

I’ve also spent a lot of time streamlining the page, so it should load more quickly than before and it’s also properly coded for the first time in years. The other pages on the site (pictures, Nix’s page and Alex’s page) will be returning soon. We’ll let you know.Meanwhile, in South Africa, it’s summer. You can tell this by just looking at the beautiful weather during this football match in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening. You know that I don’t put YouTube clips on here unless they’re really worth it. Don’t miss this – it’s amazing. Finally, the most unjust criticism of the new Faithless album To All New Arrivals, which I think is just lovely, came from my wife, who I think is just lovely too. She described it as:

“Good, but a bit Faithlessy.”

Proof, if any were needed, that you really can’t win when it comes to women.