The Circumcision Genocide: The Unkindest Cut of them all

During the period June 2006 to June 2019, the traditional initiation procedure for African males has resulted in a veritable genocide in South Africa. Yet year after year all that government provides as a solution and solace for grieving parents are platitudes and promises.

What is the extent of this travesty?

Main picture: Xhosa initiates

The extent of this disaster is obvious from the cumulative statistics for this period. These statistics relate only to the Eastern Cape.

Consequence Number affected
Hospital admissions   8218
Deaths      794
Amputations      317

What has been the response from the government? Apart from some platitudes and proposals, no concrete action has been taken. Has any person been charged for culpable homicide? Has anybody been incarcerated or even fined? A deafening silence will be heard. Instead somebody is fined R200,000 for uttering the word Kaffir. The use of such a pejorative and demeaning term cannot be justified but none of the perpetrators of death was even fined by a derisory R1. Where is the justice?

On the other hand what has been the response when one black scholar was drowned while on school-organised adventure in the North West? Immediately the Education MEC for Gauteng, Pansy Lesufi, was baying for blood. The principal of the school was suspended, the South African Human Rights Commission became involved and vitriol was heaped upon all and sundry. Yet 794 black youths can callously die without nary a raised voice. The school officials deserve to have  opprobrium heaped upon them as all the basic control procedures such as the issue of life jackets seemed to have been ignored but what about the rights of 794 youths on the cusp of attaining adulthood. Does tradition trump life itself? Any government truly concerned about the rights of all its citizens would have put in place the relevant controls and punishments to prevent this senseless slaughter.

Why the asymmetrical treatment? Surely one irregular death is the same as another. This demands equivalence in the treatment not only between the various methods of death but also the severity of crimes such as crimen inuria versus death.

At this rate, South African doctors will become the most experienced in the world in performing penis transplants. In fact we will be in the invidious position of inviting foreign doctors to hone their skills in this little-practiced area in medical treatment.

Port Elizabeth of Yore: From School to Synagogue, Then Church to Café

Not many buildings in Port Elizabeth have experienced such a varied usage over their lives. If buildings could divulge their secrets, this humble unprepossessing tiny building on the corner of Belmont Terrace and Western Road, would have many tales to tell.

Main picture: The Diocesan Grammar School on the corner of Belmont Terrace and Western Road

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The End of the World is (ge)Naai

I think we’re f%$@ed no matter what we do.  Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but I believe that unless we make radical interventions soon, it will be too late no matter what we do then.  I’m not referring to the tearing of the social fabric of society due to social media or violent pc games, or the destruction of rain forests, or the bleaching of coral reefs – I am only concerned here with climate change. 

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Why Eskom is a Basket Case?

Imagine that one has a net income of R10,000 per month but owes the bank interest of R15,000  per month on loans of R.5m. Despite this disastrous financial position one nevertheless decides to increase the children’s pocket money by 20% whilst simultaneously taking unpaid leave amounting to 20 days. To prevent one’s family from starving, one then approaches one’s retired parents for a stipend of R5,000 per month. This will keep the wolf from the door but unless drastic cuts are made to the expenses, reductions made in the number of free-loading married children, and boosting one’s income, one will have to approach one’s aging parents on a biannual, if not annual, basis for increases in one’s allowance.

That is the quagmire in which Eskom is mired.

Main picture:  Eskom plant at full production

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A Description of Port Elizabeth in 1874

In his book A Descriptive Handbook of the Cape Colony, John Noble provides a description of all the major towns in the Cape Colony in 1874. His narrative about Port Elizabeth itself is glowing. However he concludes by stating that the “country about Port Elizabeth is very uninviting.” Included in the blog are the census figures for 1874 as well as a detailed description of the wool washing process which had by this time become more mechanised.

This is a verbatim transcription from Noble’s tome.

Main picture: View of Port Elizabeth in 1873

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Human Dimension of the 1908 Flood

Port Elizabeth was renowned for its severe floods having experienced periodic flooding with the most notable being in 1867 and  1897. Previous river floods had caused little damage in the valley and around the mouth of the Baaken’s Valley as there were no buildings on the flood plain. But this time it was different. In the period subsequent to the previous floods, the lagoon had been systematically reclaimed and buildings had been injudiciously built on the flood plains. This was to exacerbate the effect of the flood waters.

The moniker for this catastrophe would forever be The Great Flood.

Main picture: Debris accumulated against the main bridge across the Baaken’s River forcing the water down Commerce Road to the Harbour Board building

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Economics and Forecasting the Future

Over the years, I have read plenty of articles on economists forecasting the future but what troubles me is why they are so abysmal at getting them correct

Take the crash of 2008. Why didn’t they predict it years before based upon the facts on hand viz the granting of loans based upon dubious or non-existent security? Subsequently why didn’t they predict the rapid recovery – one can even call it an over-exuberant recovery.

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YENTA breathlessly chasing mills

Passionata, my enthralment with mills.   I was terribly disappointed last year when I was unable to join the Border Historical Society, in East London as an invited speaker, on the subject of my passion, ‘mills’. 

‘Raised’ in my formative years, in the NE Transvaal, by my beloved grandfather, {and orphan, escapee from Estonia 1917} he indulged my interest, as a true Rabbi  by searching for mills while was away at boarding school. On my return, there would be an adventure to a farm in the district, to visit, that had a mill.

Main picture: Bradshaw’s Mill

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Eskom: What really Happened?

Numerous reasons have been trotted out over the years by the powers-that-be as to the exact cause of load shedding. Amongst them were the unbelievable such as the coal being wet to the non-sensible excuse in which Apartheid was blamed. In the latter case, the logic was that Blacks were now permitted to use electricity, thus creating additional demand. Finally, last week, the real underlying cause of the shortage of electricity was eventually revealed. Why have these reasons been hidden from the public’s purview for so long?

Main picture: Cartoon encapsulating two of South Africa’s ogres – corruption and load-shedding

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Estina Dairy Farm: The World’s Greatest Business Plan

Even according to the most favourable estimates, the Estina Dairy Farm was at best, a marginal enterprise. Even giving the proposers the benefit of the doubt regarding its viability, surely the accountants who perused the proposal would have poked numerous holes in the financial logic.

On checking the current status of this project, the Sunday Times has uncovered an even deeper hole.

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