Lessons Gleened From Tragedy. By Devi Rajab.

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 3.16.52 PMSome of us may still remember the catch 22 question that often did its rounds in  men’s clubs. Have you stopped cheating on your wife yet? If you said yes it meant that you had been cheating in the past and if you said No it meant that you were still cheating.
The Greek referendum is something like this. It is “Greek” to most of us. Each report that I have read thus far confuses me even more. But what is so poignant is the sheer irony of life’s travesties. The mighty Greeks were once famous for their dramatic tragedies performed in honour of the God of theatre, Dionysos in open air stages in and around Athens. Now the stark stage still awaits human miseries to be enacted throughout the ages.   The players however are not all Greek. They are the IMF, Germany, Spain, Portugal and  the UK which still harbours the Elgin marbles and other treasures that rightfully belong to Greece and its people. How the puppet strings will be manipulated will determine the nature of the dance.
As I write this column I have a tapestry on my wall which speaks to me of memories long gone. It was 1968. We had been dislodged from our home in the Botanical Gardens area. My mother was negotiating the sale of two garden pots at the entrance of the house with a Greek family who were allocated the house. They had come to SA as part of the grand scheme to encourage European settlers to swell the ranks of the white populations. Our emotions were measured in equal amounts of sorrow and happiness which ran in parallel but opposite directions. And then we left ironically stopping in Greece enroute to Germany for my sisters wedding. In Athens we met a wonderful couple at a local restaurant who were planning a wedding in which the bride would be attired in a sari. As my sari clad mother stepped into the scene there was a gleeful yell and we were told the whole story. The Greek bride did get married in a white sari which we sent to her for the wedding. Years later throughout our friendship a tapestry was being woven in fine needlework stitches , a labour of love over 3 years in the making. That tapestry brings me much joy because it tells a human story of enduring friendship and generosity of spirit. During our stay our young Greek couple who lived in a one room apartment which was tasteful in its simplicity took us on a walk about through a small settlement called Anafortica well hidden from tourist traps. To get to the top of the acropolis one had to meander through people’s gardens and pathways. Instead of encountering hostility at this intrusion we were offered freshly made apricot and peach  juices thick with pulp that hadn’t seen the likes of a blender or thinning agents. They were offered to us in small handmade goblets making our journey a charming entrance to the Parthenon built in 447 BC.
The Greeks were once a great nation. They excelled in art, architecture, literature music, drama and philosophy. They gave us great thinkers like Sophocles and Euripides and a pantheon of gods in a mythological world. It is little wonder that Jackie Kennedy was lured into a magical lifestyle of wealth and leisure when she married the famous shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis against all the cries of the American people to “beware the Greeks though they bring gifts”. In one generation this great love story ended in yet another Greek tragedy.
And now as we see the urban misery of the 21st century etched on the bawling face of an aging retired pensioner sprawled against the entrance of a bank door, we wonder about our individual fates. Indeed life is not about certainty. Even a great history cannot protect us from in the words of acclaimed writer Keeran Desai “the inheritance of loss” So what’s the way forward for Greece?   It would seem rational to assume that Irrespective of whether Greece decides to exit the Eurozone or not much will need to be done to restore economic growth and stability to the country.  Having defied earlier IMF proposals for a bail out, prospects for the repayment of its debt are dim given the countries poor economic growth and continuing austerity measures.  It seems that politics would have to be subservient to economics in this battle. “What will be needed are a compromise by Greece and its creditors and a plan to restructure Greece’s debts with some degree of debt relief to allow Greece’s economy to grow whilst at the same time introducing more fiscal discipline within the country” says an informed banking consultant.
Though we may as South Africans feel estranged from the Greek experience, we may have to think again. Marikana is our Greek tragedy and there is much to be learnt from one tragedy to another.  


The Displaced. By Danny Naicker; Convenor of the Live Poets Society (LiPS)

once there were green fields
touched by the sun.
once there were valleys
where rivers used to run
and lush green fields were
blessed by the summer rains
and the land was enriched
it seemed by the goddess of fertility
and the hands that loved the earth
nurtured the soil
and the harvest was in abundance
and they who tilled the land
were content and able to survive

when thunder and lightning
shook the skies
and storm clouds gathered
over the ominous horizon
did they see its sinister approach
did they realize the momentum
of its destructive force
did they anticipate the calamity
to their lives, their homes,
farms and families

with clinical precision
the apartheid machine
with it repressive hand.
Expropriated the land
and compensation was a pittance.
the subsistence farmers became landless
and in so many ways
they were all dispossessed
and made homeless

where once trees of every hue,
shade and colour stood tall
and gave the earth shade and fruits
of every kind
the bulldozers came and razed the land
and when the dust settled to the ground
no trees no farm houses withstood the
apartheid storm
and like mushrooms concrete match boxes
by the thousands sprung up
where once rich vegetation flourished

like the systematic occupation of Palestine
the apartheid regime killed the dream
of a people and a nation
settled communities like dominions
they fell
uprooted and made homeless
by racial draconian laws
and mass removals
of a voiceless people became legal
and apartheid became a crime
against humanity

have you forgotten places
where dreams of a people died
shall we be reminded to resurrect
headstones with epitaphs bearing the
Cato Manor, Mayville , Clairwood,
Seaview the place of my birth
Bellair, Hillary,
Malvern the place of my youth and
Escombe, Pinetown. Greyville, Durban
Durban North, Riverside
and the list goes on and on

if you want to kill a man’s soul
put him in solitary confinement
in a cell measuring six feet long
by six feet wide and six feet high
if you want to take away
the soul of a people
herd them like cattle into reservations
and then starve them of their freedom

through forced mass migration
they shunted them
to racially segregated ghettos
separated them from a place
they once called home
homes, they would never see again
and all they could salvage from the wreck
were their broken dreams
and their shattered lives.

and from the womb
of the apartheid monster
Chatsworth was born
where the streets had no names
just streets and units with numbers
unit one, unit two, unit three
but you will never find unit four
and have you ever wondered
where was unit four
on the apartheid map
Where did the apartheid arithmetic
go wrong
unit five, unit six, unit seven
where the hell was Unit eight
was this another case of miscalculation
in the apartheid racial equation

unit nine unit ten and unit eleven
all the units put together
became apartheid’s ethnic social
engineering on a massive scale
the final racial solution

the irony of it all
the former land owner
the land lord and the tenant
the Brahmin and the pariah
barriers of religion, caste, creed,
and ethnicity came tumbling down
and in the Chatsworth melting pot
all were equal made
by apartheid’s grand plan

and the people could never be aborted
from the womb of Chatsworth.
and the womb became a boiling cauldron
of resistance and agitation
the resilience of the people grew
the spirit that the apartheid monster
tried to kill, refused to die
and be buried in a shallow grave.

And in the face of great adversity
the human spirit triumphed
sacrifices were many,
their struggles for a better life
for their children and their communities
were fought so valiantly
and in the struggle many gave their lives

and from their meager livelihoods
and with their philanthropic spirit
their generosity knew no limits
and the transformation
of a place of no hope
where match box house stood
like concrete sentries
they transformed the landscape
a miracle to behold
a place that once was drab and grey
like Nazi concentration camps
they beautified the environment
and modernized their homes

now Chatsworth stands
as a symbol and a monument
to the resilience of a people
who rewrote their history
not in the sand
but in concrete and granite
that cannot be erased
and they would leave this legacy
to generations to come
and with their selfless courage
they kindled and ignited a flame
that falsehood and deceit
would never be able to extinguish
from their proud history

Gonapragasen Naicker (Danny)
08/11/2013Screen shot 2015-07-10 at 9.15.33 AM

” one may smile and smile and be a villain…” By Devi Rajab.

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I opened my diminutive book on Zen spiritual wisdom before writing this column ( more as a detraction from embarking on a task than an inspiration to perform)  and it read ; “Your working life is an expression of what you believe in, and how much good you desire to do in the world”. My mind rambled along to good things, great and small and in case one may think one is too small and insignificant to make a difference the Dalai Lama reminds us of the power of the mosquito under your bed sheets and the havoc it can cause in disturbing even the President of SA more so than the messages from critical journalism. For the power of this insight and other moral lessons the Dalai Lama was banned from entering our country while a man with dubious credentials as Omar al- Bashir the Sudanese President wanted for genocide and human rights abuses by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was welcomed and allowed free access and protection against arrest in SA. Are we hypocrites, sycophants or national imbeciles?  At the helm of our nation is a smiling, dancing, singing, charming President with limited ambitions for us and himself. Shakespeare reminds us of deceptive nature of cosmetic social veneers: that (Hamlet)

In expressing the extent of the good that he desires to leave behind upon his retirement from politics, President Zuma has once again provided the fodder for his critics to label him a failed leader.  It would seem that he is a man of simple ambitions better suited to business than to leading a nation. In fact one wonders whether he would be better suited to be a leader of a small clan when he articulates his desires  to build his own mall in Nkandla and for posterity a square named after him. What a small ambition for a leader of a nation whose fame will be measured by the extent of all his infamous excesses: Shaikgate, Guptagate, Marikana, Nkandlagate….and now Bashirgate . In the Chambers Dictionary of Political Biography what will be written of a man called Jacob Zuma ? It would probably say that under his leadership he displayed a blatant disregard to world opinion and to his own constitutional court orders. It would say that he acted outside of the framework of international law and thrown his support behind the ‘little’ Big Men of Africa. It would say that he displayed  expediency over leadership. It would say that the reasons he gave were politically motivated arguments in the ubiquitous battle against racism perceived or otherwise, between Africa and the West.
True there is ground for serious questioning of the excesses of Western leaders like Bush and Blair but this logic should not absolve bad African leaders from abusive reigns of terror. Up north we see Mugabe trashing his country to its bare bones and yet when he comes to SA we treat him as a stately old gentleman who mouths racial slurs at journalists and has half his countrymen sojourning in a hostile SA with languid dreams of wanting to go back home.
When we defend the indefensible and fight the racial gremlins with a tit for tat philosophy we demean ourselves in the process and compromise on a higher sense of morality.   In doing so, we fail to understand the bigger picture of world cooperation, of law and order and of universal human rights. The issue at stake is about siding with those accused of perpetrating acts of genocide and crimes against humanity instead of acting on behalf of victims of such atrocities as mass murders, rape, mutilation and torture. Where are our values?
A President who dreams of malls and squares surely has no time to read the copious pages of the Marikana report. He needs one month to do so which will cost the nation for the most expensive reader in the world. What does tape aids charge to read a book? All around us our country is being strangled by inefficiency for which we are paying heavily to those whose only real service is measured by the extent of their obsequious patronage. In the meantime we stifle creativity, talent and reinforce mediocrity. Our country is bleeding before our eyes and we as taxpayers are obliged to pay up with gagged mouths.
What most SA want is what I want too, having lived under the oppressive madness of apartheid rule for much of my adult life. Now all I long for is to avert the bleakness which Mathew Arnold warns us of in his riveting poem on human frailty entitled Dover Beach:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night

On Religion, Tolerence, and Harmony. By Devi Rajab

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 3.16.52 PMMyopia is a dangerous condition of mental burrowing. At some point or the other the mole in us is forced to resurface and for a short while we have a wider view of things around us.  If we dare to look beyond the seas we will discover that religious fanaticism is the new 21st century scourge and that we may become the new battleground on which this war will be waged on the African continent.
On a daily basis we SA are so consumed by our own national issues of poor governance, crime and corruption that little else matters. Yet Jon Donne warned us that no man is an island and that we are all inextricably bound together condemned to a planet under environmental siege. Recently however it would appear that the siege has grown tentacles to incorporate a mental contagion driven by religious fundamentalism and SA has become ensnared into its mire. Isis we are told is slowly but surely making inroads into SA spreading its tentacles of darkness to claim its ‘victims’ (whom they would prefer to describe as liberators) among our nationals.
How far fetched are these stories? In reading the account of a latest SA recruit who described his desire to revert to a life strictly governed by Islamic values, I recall the instance of a young medical doctor who engaged me in a discussion of the formation of caliphates a good few years ago.  He described in great depth how he viewed the entire world under the formation of geographical entities where the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would govern every aspect of its functioning. He displayed no regard for the diversity of other religions. His mother a progressive Muslim woman was of the opinion that her son was quite mad. His logic was weak but his passion was strong. Excessive passion is a dangerous by-product of fundamentalism.
There is a growing religious fervour among youth of most faiths today. Religion may be regarded as the new opium of the young as they struggle to deal with an increasingly unsettling world.  In a recent India Today Survey of 16-30yr old it was found that religion was very much in vogue. 94% of the people surveyed said that they believed in God. A substantial majority (86%) categorised themselves as very religious. In all ≤ of the people surveyed felt that religion had become an essential part of their lives. On all university campuses worldwide there is a resurgence of religion among the youth. On South African campuses the dramatic return to faith may be discernable through an increase of the numbers of student religious clubs and societies- a distinct departure from the past when political parties were the order of the day and Marxism and existentialism reined supreme. Today the scene is strange for us youth of the 60’s where humanitarian values emanated from a political consciousness that transcended religion and unified likeminded people from all disparate groupings. So Christian, Muslims, Hindus all came together to fight an unjust ideology. At this given point in time young people are faced with the challenge to survive a cruel world of child abuse and domestic violence and it is perhaps this need that gives rise to a Godhead.com. But while this may be understandable it invariably also constitute a problem of ethnic fragmentation and may lead to divisiveness among the youth if they choose to politicise religion and make it into a weapon of possession, building compartments between themselves instead of bridges.
Our world today is being torn asunder by mainly young men and women, who claim that God is on their side, and who, perpetrate acts of violent destruction in the name of religion. Such individuals are driven by the certainty that they are privy to sacred truths and are therefore morally obligated to do everything in their power—no matter how many people may suffer—to act upon these truths. They tend to display an inflated sense of personal righteousness, moral superiority, and ideological purity. Against this frame of reference there is a tendency to dehumanize and even demonize those who oppose them. Religious fanatics are not easily identified as being wild-eyed or deranged; quite the contrary, they can present themselves as thoughtful, educated, well mannered, quiet, controlled and responsible people inspired by the loftiest of ideals. Nevertheless, their absolute confidence in themselves and their cause, their willingness to create massive destruction for a supposed higher good, and their dehumanization of their opponents, all indicate the imbalance of a personality disorder.  The nature of this condition is such that it can afflict anyone, from the person on the street, to the international terrorist, to the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.  The dynamics that underlie religious fanaticism have been recognized by many psychological thinkers. For example, C. G. Jung (1966) wrote of “positive inflation,” Alice Miller (1981) described grandiosity used as a defence against depression, Gary Rosenthal (1987) utilized the phrase “inflated by the spirit,” and Greg Bogart (1995) warned against “the shadow of vocation.” More recently Robert Jay Lifton (2000) has described this type of personality structure in his concept of “functional megalomania that fuels what he calls the new global terrorism.
The question arises why are we producing so many anarchists in the name of religion and why some religions are more fertile grounds for this personality aberration to occur.
As the global influences of the world bring cultures together in a desperate need for mutual survival, religious fundamentalism threatens to tear all the major faiths apart.
How can people who claim that they worship a Oneness in God wantonly destroy the creation of others in search and praise of the very same God. It is theorised that fanaticism and addiction grow by crowding out a person’s other values, and therefore a person who is firmly committed to a broad range of personal values is better able to resist fanaticism. Kofi Annan former United Nations secretary general pleaded “true faith elicits respect for others and also demands respect for what is sacred to others”.  In this regard SA has a proud record of religious balance worthy of emulation and preservation.

Through Different Eyes. By Devi Rajab.

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 3.16.52 PMHow does one bring to the fore a deeply imbedded visceral problem? In a program entitled Through Different Eyes I subject my class to a video conversation among 10 men of all racial hues in the US and the outcome is mind boggling. The pain of the Chinese is not the same as the Chicano but the pain of the black man is the worst of all. At some point they all converge in a battle against white superiority. Racism is more that the sum of its parts. So even though I may think that I am a kind person and I treat all people equally I may have to think again. Racism is a deeply imbedded feeling of who one is in the pantheon of racial groupings. Where is one positioned in terms of ones history,economics architecture, monuments, writings, knowledge, scientific contributions, language and culture?  When ones culture is made invisible and inconsequential the bearers of this tradition are diminished.
Chumani Maxwell a fourth year student at UCT whom few of us would ever have known has captured the headlines for his wanton behaviour of dousing the great Cecil Rhodes in township poo. Like a human volcano he has erupted to release an inferno of racism against his alma mater against a backdrop of centuries of oppression? It could have been that he recently discovered what kind of a man Cecil Rhodes really was and he would be right if we removed him from the context of his times when there was a period of rapid colonization of the African continent by European powers. At a certain period in history when Europe’s misfortunes and Africa’s potential met, the Dark Continent was ravaged by the French, the Dutch, the English, the Portuguese and the Germans. The great Indian continent was also the subject of 300 years of colonization. So Africa is not alone in this respect. The times enveloped the conquerors with the conquered.  Who is to be blamed at this stage, the coloniser or the colonised?
The knowledge of a captured history with its by-product of ingrained superiority sits uneasily on the chest of morally indignant youth.
As disgusting as the act of the UCT student may be the symbolism of his message is potent. He has managed to shock and force his institution to start seriously engaging with black student perceptions of an uncomfortable institutional climate. How is it possible that in twenty years of our democracy having abolished institutional racism we are still struggling with interpersonal racism.
According to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) the lack of transformation taking place at SA tertiary institutions is of grave concern. Commissioner Lindiwe Mokate said that black students were largely the victims of racial incidents, with an increase in them being called k*****s. The “k-word” has featured in a number of racist complaints the commission received between April 2013 and February this year, making up 45% of the 529 equality complaints it received in that period. Although these did not all stem from universities, they were a reflection of the wider problem of discrimination. In my capacity as Dean of Student Development at the erstwhile University of Natal we received many complaints of racism on campus which warranted workshops and interactive discussions on the nature of the problem. Many students felt that they were invisible to their lecturers who seemed to reinforce white students in the lecture theatres more than others. I observed aspects of this behaviour at faculty board and senate meetings where colleagues would not greet or engage with you on or off campus. They simply did not see you and when you spoke they didn’t really hear you. Of course there were always the few who were open and receptive and kind. But the perception of prejudice as Adam and Moodley in their recent book entitled Imagined Liberation state is often experienced by individuals as personal rejection; the unspoken bigotry may be more hurtful to victims than legalised collective discrimination”.
Some forms of racism are so deeply disguised as social naiveté, intermingled with cultural chauvinism, where one believes that one’s own cultural ways are the benchmark by which everyone else has to conform that even the perpetrator is oblivious of his faults. . Ralph Ellison in his book Invisible Man and James Baldwin in his book “Nobody Knows my name” have referred to this phenomenon of prejudice as one of invisibility. When the dominant other does not see his inferior he makes him invisible and hence angry. On the other hand when the dominant other sees his inferior too conspicuously he makes him over visible and hence uncomfortable. The literature on racism distinguishes between conservatives and liberals. An old American adage runs …‘ In the South, whites let blacks get close so long as they don’t get too tall. In the North, whites let blacks get tall so long as they don’t get too close’. Parallels may be easily drawn on the home front. Whites who have roughed it on the mines or on the farms often hold the prejudicial attitudes about race and politics but their behaviour to other races is often more inclusive. Currently under black rule they appear to be making the transition more easily in their day to day interactions than their white liberal counterparts who have the tendency to articulate the right beliefs but who display shock or are repelled by the realities of a different culture.
Despite their differences South Africans seem to share one ineluctable similarity. They all cry ‘racism’ at the drop of a hat and each points a finger at the other.
For as long as there are people in the world, there will always be the affliction we loosely label as racism. The phenomenon of prejudice, which causes the condition, is as endemic as the common flu. Presently, the world is grappling with grave political disputes that have transformed into ‘cultural intifadehs.
So let’s not feel embarrassed or apologetic about what is a natural inclination of human kind that one needs to come to terms with rather than hide in a closet of denial.  In this respect both the victim and the persecutor need to reflect introspectively on each other’s condition. Unless South Africans openly air these spirals of prejudice they will never be able to truly reconcile and reconstruct a nation. Perhaps it is time for institutions of higher learning to heed the Chumane Maxwells on their campuses. In taking heed of their cries for help we need to hear their voices.

Who Is Mac Maharaj? By Devi Rajab, award winning Columnist

Who is Mac Maharaj? Who was Mac Maharaj? There is a tendency in history to demonism prominent figures that have fallen and view them only in light of their transgressions. Everything else does not matter. One sees this in the life of Lawrence Van der Post once the darling of his followers and whose books now are found languishing at give away prices of less than a loaf of bread in second hand bookstores. He lied, he forged and he made up stories or so the aspersions go.  Salman Rushdie is another example of a fallen anti hero whose earlier writings ought to still be read for their intrinsic value and appreciated as works of art. Instead the man has been tarred and feathered discredited with all his good deeds embroiled with the bad. It is in this regard that I ponder about a man like Mac Maharaj whom I think should not be dismissed as a product of his latter failings alone. He surely was more than being Zuma’s  ‘imbongi’ , his puppy dog who loved licking his master’s wounds as though it were his very own. He is surely more than the man accused of corrupt practices. The Mac Maharaj that his comrades describe is not the same person that we the public know or think we know. He is often remembered for being a crusty but fearless thinker who orchestrated after meticulous calculations how the smuggling of Mandela’s 500 page autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom out of prison by painstakingly transcribing the entire work into 60 foolscap pages. This called for dedication and guts because if he were found out he would have had to pay heavily for it
When is an individual his or her true self?  Perhaps Descartesian logic is applicable in this context. In conducting his famous wax experiments he first considers all the sensible properties of a ball of
wax <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wax>  and points out that all these properties change as the wax is moved closer to a fire. The only properties that necessarily remain are extension, changeability and pliability: I recall sitting under a tree and teaching this course which was a compulsory one for every student from Science and Medicine to Humanities at the University of Lawrence in Kansas. ( I wish this were the case at all our SA universities today). The students were mesmerised:   Let us take, for example, this piece of wax: it has been taken quite freshly from the hive, and it has not yet lost the sweetness of the honey which it contains; it still retains somewhat of the odour of the flowers from which it has been culled; its colour, its figure, its size are apparent; it is hard, cold, easily handled, and if you strike it with the finger, it will emit a sound. Finally all the things which are requisite to cause us distinctly to recognise a body are met with in it. But notice that while I speak and approach the fire what remained of the taste is exhaled, the smell evaporates, the colour alters, the figure is destroyed, the size increases, it becomes liquid, it heats, scarcely can one handle it, and when one strikes it, no sound is emitted. Does the same wax remain after this change?
Lets draw this analogy to human beings like Mac Maharaj and perhaps then we may understand a more holistic personality. Mandela in the forward to the book entitled Shades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the struggle for SA by Padraig O’Malley describes Mac as an insightful personality whose thinking on any issue broadened the understanding of his comrades strategically. He taught the underground that it must respect rather than simply hate the enemy. “If you hated the enemy, you dismissed him, depersonalised him and as a result you would always underestimate his ability to destroy you. Whatever your feelings, you had to put them aside and remember that the enemy was a clever fellow, not some stupid Boer. Hatred would kill you not the enemy” In battle these insights are crucial and yet history shows how even the great John F Kennedy misjudged the enemy in his battle with Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. But strangely Mac never took his own advice as he was known to be very argumentative with his warders, quick with backchat and barbed remarks, often the bane of his comrade’s lives. He was not an easy person to get along with but they respected his integrity and dedication to his convictions. Perhaps on account of his feisty temperament he was severely tortured significantly more so than any of this comrades. In one instance he had been hung out of a window on the 7th floor of the Grays, suspended by his ankles, first two and then one, nothing but empty space between him and the street below. In many instances prisoners were accidentally or deliberately dropped to their death which was then reported as suicide. What ever happened to the Swanepoel  who Mac and others regarded as the most brutal of all the torturers. Ruth First saw fire in his eyes.  Instead a humane TRC offered amnesty to all these officials.  So which Mac is the real man? The brave dedicated freedom fighter or the spin doctor who underestimated the intelligence of the broader SA population  and forced us to believe his pathetic attempts to cover up for his friend who gave him a job. And all the while we as tax payers had to foot the bill for this idiotic scam.
I would venture to say that as SA we have to see the whole picture and claim responsibility for our past. In doing so I would like to salute Mac Maharaj for being a product of his whole history and not to just dismiss him as Zumas stooge. Surely we owe him more than that. Let wisdom prevail in all matters of judgement.

Clever Idiots by Nanda Soobben

I don’t know what all the fuss is all about ! I think Verwoerd was very Clever. I also think Hitler, Zuma and Mugabe were very clever.  Well, how do you think they got to where they did without being clever, sly and manipulative !

 On the other hand, I think George W Bush was an Idiot. Well then, how did he get to become President of the most powerful country in the world?  Was it because of his Dick !?  I mean Dick Chaney and the Bush family influence.

Can you really believe that George W Bush actually got through Yale with a BA degree in history.  Yes history, from a guy who couldn’t tell if Africa was a continent or a country or that Tennessee was in Texas !  Better still he went on to get an MBA from Harvard Business School.

This is the guy who was famously quoted as saying, “They Missunderestimated Me” !  He does have the degrees to show, though.  In spite of the accusations of alcoholism and absenteeism.  How much of his family name and money played a part in him getting those degrees.  We might never know !


Coming back to Verwoerd, he could not have become the architect and mastermind of Apartheid if he was not clever!  Allister Sparks was right in saying Verwoerd was clever. He just chose the wrong forum to say it.  He said it at a political conference in a racially divided country.  By saying that a White Supremacist was “clever” it gave the impression that he was singing his praises, even though he was probably right.


A lot of people think that Zuma is stupid, Mugabe is clever and Thabo Mbeki is an intellectual.  I think both Zuma and Mugabe are very clever and manipulative.  We all know how Mugabe became an “Elected Dictator” through clever manipulation !


Zuma on the other hand has not let us down.  We expected the worse when he took over from Mbeki and he has delivered !  It’s not because of his machine gun.  It’s because of his clever manipulation of government institutions to keep him in power and out of jail.  He has the ability to make die hard former anti apartheid activists sit at a press conference and lie with a straight face to cover up for him. A stupid man might not be able to do that.

Having said that, there is a lot of stupidity in his predictability.  There is no subtlety in the way these manipulations are carried out.  You can see right through them !


As far as Thabo Mbeki is concerned I don’t think he is an intellectual.

I think Moletsi Mbeki is an intellectual.

Thabo Mbeki is very intelligent and knowledgeable, but had he been an intellectual he would have been able to deal with the Aids debacle better. He read a lot and was knowledgeable but he could not filter that knowledge that he accumulated to see the right from the wrong.

He had read what the aids denialists were saying, that “HIV does not cause AIDS” and that HIV was a Virus and AIDS was a Syndrome.  A nonsensical statement from a politician without a medical background to be making which cost the lives of thousands of people.

All he did was read what the denialists were saying by absorbing the information, not filtering it and then blurting it out. Had he been an intellectual, he would have been able to filter that knowledge.

To be an intellectual, you need three elements.. intelligence, knowledge and wisdom.  Mbeki had two.  He did not have Wisdom !

 If only all those Politicians were more Wise than Clever !