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.

Childcare 101

While checking up on the news from back home in the Republic of South Yorkshire, I came across a story detailing how an 18-month old toddler had injured his mother by putting an aerosol under the grill.
The aerosol – somewhat predictably – then exploded in her face and she ended up with some (probably quite nasty) burns.
The toddler, bless his little cotton socks, was unharmed in the incident.

Reading this story will have divided the 6000 miles… readership.
A percentage of you, who do not have children, and who enjoy watching shows like Jackass and Dirty Sanchez are thinking: “Cool, dude… Exploding aerosol!”.
This percentage will then probably snigger like Beavis and Butthead.

A disappointingly large percentage of you aren’t really very bothered and haven’t even read this far.
You’re missing out. Really. And you smell.

The remainder of you are either mature, balanced individuals (like I used to be) or parents (like I am now).
You are probably wondering what on earth an 18 month old was doing with access to:
a) an aerosol can, and
b) a grill.

Back at Chateau 6k, the jury is still out on whether we are going to allow the “naughty” coffee table to stay around after it “attacked” little Alex twice in as many days*. It’s currently on a final warning, and with plans for a braai this weekend and a sudden hike in the price of Namibian Camelthorn, it had better watch its step.
As for Alex, I can’t imagine that he will enjoy the company of aerosols and grills for several years to come. I don’t think that’s being over-protective, I think that’s being responsible. When he’s old enough, I’ll be there to demonstrate the dangers of putting an egg in the microwave. And then we’ll try a 60W lightbulb.
And we’ll both sit back and snigger like Beavis and Butthead.

* Actually, the first time, he just fell over near the table. But we blamed it anyway.
I think the second time was merely its act of petty revenge.

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.

Banner-tastic

I’m well used to people looking at me, shaking their heads, a pitying look in their eyes, telling me:
“You need help. Seriously.”
But as I go back to chatting to my tuberculosis bacteria, singing the Cookie Jar song and chasing lesbian mice around the lab (long story), I have to think that they don’t know what they’re on about. It would be hard to find a more balanced, more mentally stable microbiologist than myself. (Believe me, I’ve worked with a lot of microbiologists – they’re an odd breed).

When it came to updating my banner though, I was forced to admit that these people were right. I don’t have access to Photoshop and even if I did, I would have no idea how to use it. So even for the (apparently) relatively easy task of adding a Sheffield United badge and a picture of our dear Table Mountain onto each end of the title bar above, I had to turn to someone much more experienced (with Photoshop, not with microbiologists) (probably anyway).
Step forward Cloudgazer (presumably not his real name) (probably anyway).
I have no idea what he did, how he did it or how long it took him to do, but my banner is now a little more interesting than before. And a lot more interesting than what you’re reading now.

Anyway. The upshot of having a slightly more detailed banner is that now I think that this site is completely lovely. Since everything from last year disappeared in a cloud of 123-reg.co.uk incompetence, it’s nice to be up and running again.

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…