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by Spyti K

To Declare or not Declare?

January 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Seeing as how the school-year started for the coastal provinces today, I thought that education would be a fitting topic to start my new attempt at rebooting my blog.

CNBC Africa hosts a show on Monday evenings entitled Political Exchange and during this week’s edition President Zuma said that teaching should be declared an essential service in order to ensure that wayward teachers do not compromise our children’s educations. In my humble opinion, it would appear to be more than just political twaddle speak, he’s serious about it. Jacob Zuma is a man with nothing to lose. He has nothing to lose because, barring a freak electoral “accident,” his job (and therefore his opportunity to pillage and plunder some more) is secure for at least the next four years. After that he should be done with mainstream politics in the ANC, which is an organisation that seems hell-bent on cleaning house and getting back the lustre of years now long past if one considers the “Integrity Commission” and the proviso that corrupt members can be expelled permanently from the party.

But let’s get back to the topic at hand.

In his latest piece on News24, Eusebius Mckaiser, argues that making such a declaration is in fact a red herring because it would do little to address the problems faced by the schooling system and that teaching is not a life and death matter for the individual. He makes mention of the text book crisis, mud schools in the Eastern Cape, the long overdue return of teachers’ colleges and school inspectors and a host of other problems. Now I don’t think that there can be any faulting Eusebius’s logic on this matter, but someone should remind him that educational refers to a process and not a tangible item. If used in the correct manner, a rock can be equally or even more educational than the world’s fastest super-computer in the world’s best equipped laboratory. Things like proper facilities, et cetera are aids in the educational process and not necessities, but they are very aids that can vastly improve the quality and speed of the learning process, so there is still no faulting the logic.

My disagreement with a much more published and celebrated author than I is that I look at education from a different point of view. I grant that education is not a life and death matter for an individual, but it is a life and death matter for our society and our quest to eradicate the “triple threat of inequality, poverty and unemployment” if I should stoop to the level where I have to use this sort of political prattle. The simple truth of the matter is that the only way in which we will ever reach our goal of a fairly equal society is adequate economic growth and that can only be achieved through better, higher quality education for our young people. I say fairly equal because the kind of total equality preached by certain political parties is impossible to achieve as most modern societies and political systems are built on inequality, but I digress. Better quality education is essential for our society because the current situation where we have a handful of highly successful and educated people supporting a mass of unemployed and impoverished people through social security programs is simply not sustainable. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an attack on our social spending programs, because they were very much born out of need (that still exists today) back in the day, but these programs are reaching a point where they are becoming unviable. They are such because of the growing burden on the tax base, the rapidly rising cost of living and the fact that the root cause of these problems is yet to be adequately addressed.

The question that must be asked is what the difference would be had Bantu Education not existed in Apartheid South Africa; a system whereby black people only received a tenth of the educational investment of their white counterparts that was designed to allow them to only function as low-skilled blue collar workers. That’s the past and it cannot be changed, but it is a heart breaking fact that not much has changed during almost two decades of democracy. What we currently have is a schooling system that produces world class results Private and former Model-C schools and functional illiterates in public schools. This situation got carried over to the last teachers’ strike where public schools ground to a halt, while others continued virtually unaffected. It would be logical to say that during this time, the learners that needed the most teaching were the worst affected by the strike, so it is not exactly conducive to solving our problem.

The answer I arrive at considering all this is that declaring education an essential service is in fact necessary as a starting point of attack on our educational (and therefore societal) disparities, but only a fool would believe that it would magically cause mud schools in the Eastern Cape to transform into brick and mortar buildings or deliver textbooks to schools in Limpopo overnight. This step is not a magic bullet that will put knowledgeable, quality teachers in classrooms, because if it were that easy we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place, but what it will do is provide some stability in the public schooling system and prevent unscrupulous trade unions from using our children as political cannon fodder to serve their own short sighted agendas. I will, however, stipulate to Eusebius that this is but a small part of the solution we seek.

What we need most, more than buildings and laboratories, are private school quality teachers across the board and by that I do not mean to say that I support COSATU’s call to nationalise private schools. We should do all in our power to elevate teaching to a level of professionalism we almost exclusively see in private medical practice. For years now the Health Professions Council of South Africa has required doctors to attend a certain number of seminars per year in order to earn a prerequisite number of Continued Professional Development points and remain a registered medical practitioner; why not implement a similar system in the world of teaching? This year’s various school holidays contain about 50 working days during which teachers still get their full pay but are not in class teaching*; so would it really be that difficult or unfair to require them to spend at least some of those days developing and expanding their professional skills and knowledge? Development that must be tested and appraised by the Inspector, it should be added.

And, seriously, how long can it possibly take to re-establish teachers’ colleges?

That’s it, I’m done.

 

 

* This does not mean that I support the notion that teachers are vastly overpaid for working only six hours per day and then getting four paid vacations per year to boot, but seeing as how things are going in certain schools, some of them seem to be vastly overpaid for being less educational than your average cheeseburger.

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by Spyti K

The Roast: We should all do it

September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Last night I finally got to see the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr and despite what you may have read from Chris Roper, I do believe that it was a classic and successful Roast. I’ve seen a lot of these Roasts on Comedy Central since its launch on DSTV. Charlie Sheen, David Hasselhof, Donald Trump, Roseanne, almost all of them and while a major complaint of the normally witty Roper (also from Roaster David Kau, incidentally) was that they were “doing some shit they saw on American TV.” I think it’s quite backwards and just plain stupid to assume that the force known as Globalization would not extend to the world of celebrities and/or comedy.

Look, it’s not like I am a huge fan of the cringe-worthy and taken-too-far sexism we saw on stage last night, because the women on stage did take a beating, but I can appreciate that it falls quite clearly within the spirit and black nature of the Roast. I can also attest to the fact that what we heard last night is actually quite tame in comparison to the things that have been said on the American version of the show. The very idea of the Roast is that it is slapstick comedy in its absolute worst and most insipid form; the Three Stooges had their fists, mallets and anvils, while the roasters have their fat, vagina and faggot jokes. This means to me that Roper’s conclusion that “The genius of comedy is the way it makes us confront the uncomfortable truths of human nature. The evil of comedy is how many people think that laughing at something makes it go away” is not entirely applicable to a Roast and not entirely accurate as two uncomfortable facts of human nature are implied in the Roast.

But allow me to explain.

The very format of the Roast makes it impossible to address certain larger issues of the country or the opinions of the Roastee in the manner that a Chris Rock or a Wanda Sykes would, as it would be near impossible for seven or eight different people to establish the required flow and then reach any sort of reasonable conclusion, unless they were all standing there regurgitating a script written by one person. What the Roast does accomplish is that it exploits a) the fact that us humans secretly relish in the misfortune or misdeeds of others, just like we secretly enjoy the smell of our own farts or professional wrestling and b) the fact that it is human to judge people by their worst attributes.

Why else would we have jokes about next year’s Oppikoppi being hosted at Marikana with Fokkofpolisiekar as the main attraction? Why else would tabloids like People magazine have any fanbase and why else would the world go bat shit insane over seeing Duchess Catherine’s tits? I mean, you certainly can’t expect me to believe that a woman who married into royalty suddenly has a rack that is somehow special or different and it can’t be as if she has beer flavoured nipples or a caramel taste to her pussy, right?  The truth of human nature is that we relish in other people’s shit because it makes us feel better about our own, especially when the other people are celebrities or famous in any other way. We also know that a man who built a thousand bridges will go from engineer to queer in the eyes of the world if he but fucks one other dude. If we can find it within ourselves to make peace with these uncomfortable facts about ourselves and each other, then perhaps we can progress to the bigger things like differences in skin colour or genitalia.

And no, simply laughing about this will not make it go away, but if someone like Steve Hofmeyer, a man with very definitive (and somewhat out-dated) political ideologies can sit and laugh while Trevor Noah (or anybody else that is very different from Steve) is taking a piss at him, then there might be hope for us as a society. I’ve long held the opinion that we as a society would have made great strides to cross the great racial divide when white people can laugh at a black comedian joking about all the shit we whites get up to sometimes and vice versa. Perhaps that is another uncomfortable truth of our nature as South Africans. Can we truly say that we are at a stage in our democratic and non-racial development where we are able to take a look at our own faults or shortcomings and say “what the fuck are we thinking” before we look at the faults or shortcomings of the other guy? How many of us will be able to sit there and take our medicine from David Kau and Kuli Roberts like Steve did and how many will follow the Anele Mdoda example by kicking up a big fuss because we’ve been offended or demeaned yet again?

There is no doubt that Steve was the Rock Star of that roast. Nothing said during the entire Roast fazed him in any way and I think it’s because he learned not to take himself too seriously. If we could all learn to do that, I think we’d be way better off and if the a day we manage that ever comes, it will be marked by Jacob Zuma sitting on that stage and allowing himself to be Roasted by the likes of Helen Zille and Julius Malema, with or without a glass of gin in their hands.

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by Spyti K

The Spear Marches on; the Spear marches alone

May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Sad, is it not? That a nation can get so up in arms about a satirical painting of a man with his wobblies exposed or a white girl (that poses in her under- or swimwear to make a living) that uses a certain word in a tweet, but say nothing when it comes to the constant abuse of and violence against women and children or the deplorable state of health care and other forms of public service in this country. This is especially poignant given the fact that all the other aspects mentioned must logically affect the black population more than the white, given the fact that the majority of people in the country are in fact black; it’s a simple question of odds.

First of all, I reject Sipho Hlongwane’s assessment that the Spear painting insulted millions of black people because the painting depicted the President. I reject this notion because I fail to understand how people can relate to him on the mere basis of skin colour. If that were true I would have to relate myself to said model, to the Reitz 4, the Skierlik Killer and the people who killed Chris Hani on the basis of my skin colour and even go as far as to relate to the doings of one Adolf Hitler on the basis of my German family origins. I also want to know, without any mockery or ill-founded intentions, if black people relate in the same manner to men who whip out their wobblies to urinate in public places or to the serial rapist Cedric Maake? Or is it a question of that relation only applying to people who make it, like Barak Obama, Jacob Zuma, Kenny Kuene and Patrice Motsepe? If that is the case, then Bill Gates better start paying up if you catch my drift.

No, ladies and gentlemen, I do suspect that this is but another example of the racial extremism and racial polarization that the Zuma camp within the ANC has grown to depend on in order to keep their hands on our country’s political steering wheel, because it doesn’t seem to bring anything else to the table. An assessment that seems to be supported by the fact that this is not the first time that the President has been depicted with exposed genitals; an artist by the name of Ayanda Mabuluha done the same thing in 2010 already and that went to pass without so much as a whisper.

 

Since the Jessica dos Santos debacle, I have been grappling with the racial question and why it seems to be on the up after nearly two decades of living in the rainbow nation.

The simple answer is that the issues are being cherry-picked because we are allowing the charlatans posing as our leaders to use the watered down and rapidly thinning excuse of “racism” for reasons of political convenience and in order to preclude logical and reasonable debate, thereby stifling certain democratic processes. We have organizations like Afriforum and Solidarity in combination with people like Steve Hofmeyr claiming that farm murders are in fact an organized low level genocide aimed at exterminating the “angelic providers of a nation,” but I would still like to see statistics on causality and correlation of some other aspect like labour disputes, robbery, et cetera, because I know that a lot of farmers are not as they are being made out to be by these organizations. We’ve had Jacob Zuma on stage with his erstwhile puppet Malema who said nothing when the latter threw racist insult after racist insult at white people and his silence on the hate speech aimed at Lindiwe Mazibuko (tea girl, coconut, etc.) was equally deafening.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we get up in arms when a model uses the word kaffir in a tweet, but remain silent when a black man tweets that “he’d be doing the country a favour by raping Helen Zille.” If we truly want to see an end to racist incidents like this we need to start fighting racism and hate speech in all its forms (white-on-black, black-on-white and black-on-black) and not just when we find ourselves in the wronged camp, because for as long as we do not we are treating the symptoms and not the underlying disease.

I am not foolish enough to discount the role the ANC, SACP, AZAPO and COSATU played in the struggle against the racism and oppression of Apartheid, but then they should not be as foolish or proud as to think that their triumph excuses or exempts them from fighting these aspects in the new South Africa. The same goes for the whites that “fought” Apartheid and/or voted yes to release Nelson Mandela and unban the ANC; you are neither done nor excused from continued service.

I also don’t deny for a second the existence of black anger, black pain and white obliviousness, but I must caution against these concepts as they are easily abused in the same manner as “racism” by politicians. Like Patrick Craven, any politician would be tempted to say that black-on-white racism or violence is “understandable” because of black anger and it would be equally simple to dismiss the political opinion of a white person because they are oblivious to, and therefore ignorant of, the plight of black people. The fact of the matter remains that these are still emotional responses that preclude rational, logical debate and would thus not serve to put an end to the many problems we face as a country. If we are to do this, we must acknowledge our own obliviousness or anger and guard against these aspects with fanatical vigil. Anger can only breed more anger and obliviousness will cause us to do damaging things that we then try to bury beneath our freedom of expression; this is not what we need right now.

Ultimately, our society is like a small child that has just learned to speak and express itself, we do things because we think we can and without any regard for the pain and shame we might inflict on others. So let those who would march on the Goodman Gallery march, but do not let them march for one man’s dignity. Let them march against all the indignity that still occurs in our country today, like the violence against women and children, poor service delivery, fraud, corruption and tenderpreneurship.

Let them march for the dignity of a Nation.

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by Spyti K

For GGP: A quick post regarding comments

May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

The WordPress platform seems to have a few built in anti-spam measures which makes it rather confusing to comment on a blog for the first time.

As best I can figure, the platform not only has the little Captcha box or whatever the hell it is called, but all first comments on a blog needs to be moderated by the author of the specific blog before they are shown to the general community. What this means is that you have to check the little “NOTIFICATIONS” tab on the top of your blog to see if any comments are awaiting moderation, where you can either approve or mark them as spam/trash.

As a side note, commenters cannot (as far as I am aware) edit or delete their own comments on another blog; that priviledge is reserved for the author of the blog in question, so please be careful what you say in comment to someone else.

GGP, I hope you find this in good time.

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by Spyti K

He returns

May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yes, folks now that the News24 section of Lettercrash is no more, I return to the 24.com community on WordPress in my usual mocking style:

Who’d have thunk it? Comrade President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma actually has a pair of balls, or at least according to artist Brett Murray he does when his term as President of the Nation seems to prove otherwise. 

But let’s be honest here for a moment folks. Our P.I.M.P (Player In a Management Position) does seem to be a tad sensitive when it comes to this sort of thing, I mean, does anyone remember the furore he created over the showerhead imparted on him by cartoonist Zapiro? If memory serves, that one almost wound up in the courts as well, but still the big question remains. 

Is he angry because the Spear is shown or is he upset because that which is shown is not big enough for a man who seems to have a million wives, a hundred times as many booties waiting for that all important call and President of a Nation to boot? And don’t tell me you haven’t wondered about that either, because as far as I can tell Zumatello (he looks like one of them Ninja Turtles) is not exactly an oil painting and if you’ve ever heard him speak, you know he ain’t the sharpest crayon in the box either; so what’s the attraction or are people just that desperate to get on the Gravy Train before the last stop? 

Come to think of it, thank whomever it is we thank for these things that Brett didn’t name the painting the Gravy Train of the Nation; A bride a ride! Damnit and Shit! That which has been thought can never be un-thought and I’ve just scarred myself for life. 

Truth is that the man did bring this upon himself and don’t give me that African Culture crap either, because in an overpopulated World where a disease like AIDS is running rampant people still see African men as savages incapable of controlling their own libido, nobody can even begin to justify polygamy, especially an organisation that aims to rule until Jesus comes. Wasn’t he the guy who said that a man shouldn’t have more than one wife? 

I don’t necessarily agree with the painting, I mean it is rather distasteful, but so is pornography and pop music. Ultimately, I will defend with conviction, passion and some mockery Brett Murray’s right to paint whatever the hell it is he wants, especially when the President’s latest actions again proves that the work is clearly a piece of fiction; the man has no balls and no spine.