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Ammbr: The future of the internet

After taking a look at the ugly side of the internet, I take a look at the initiative that will protect your rights and give you the power to take control of your online experience.

What is Ammbr?

Ammbr is aiming to become the world’s largest wireless mesh network. It is being built using blockchain, to enable a marketplace where bandwidth is autonomously traded 24/7.

According to Wikipedia, “A mesh network is a network topology in which each node relays data for the network. All mesh nodes cooperate in the distribution of data in the network. It can be applied to both wired and wireless networks. Wireless mesh networks can be considered a type of Wireless ad hoc network.”

The platform that Ammbr is creating, through which data is exchanged (the nodes), uses Blockchain to create an economic sub-system, turning the Ammbr network into a peer to peer marketplace for internet connectivity. Blockchain technology is essentially an open ledger that’s accessible to anybody and records all exchanges. Blockchain is the technology used to facilitate transactions for the exchange of online cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

In combination with Blockchain, Ammbr is also using self-sovereign digital identity. This enables pseudonymous but verifiable interactions between individuals.

Ammbr has applies micro payments to billing and payment for internet connection. Users pay AMMBR, the native cryptocurrency of the network, to the Ammbr mesh device (similar to a modem). The owner of the device therefore earns AMMBR tokens, and is incentivized to create Ammbr Network access points.

The Ammbr Mesh device is more than a WIFI modem however. It is a multi-band soft-radio device that can communicate across a wide range of the radio spectrum, essentially increasing the range and throughput of the mesh network.

Users simply download and use an Ammbr app on their phones or PCs. In the app they have a wallet they can load up with AMMBR. They can then connect to the internet anywhere there is Ammbr network connectivity, without the hassle of finding or connecting to a hotspot.

 

 

How do you get involved?

Ammbr will be launching their Public Token Sale (sometimes called an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)) on 1 September 2017. This is crowdfunding via cryptocurrency (coins). The Ammbr Foundation sells AMMBR tokens to people willing to support the project, and so raises funding for further development.

Other instances of ICOs come in the form of the likes of the Tezos Blockchain Project, which smashed the record for an ICO, bringing in roughly $156 million from more than 2,000 transactions. Because the creation of coins is limited by the nature of Blockchain interactions (unlike centralized banks, who can increase the money supply at will and therefore devalue the currency via inflation). This means that the value of your tokens bought in the crowdsale will only increase over time. What’s more, jumping on board with the crowdsale is the means through which you can support Ammbr and help them to realise their objectives of creating a widespread decentralized network that will protect you from the high costs and danger involved with your use of the internet. Ammbr puts the control of your internet experience in your hands!

For more information on Ammbr, visit ammbr.com

The ugly side of the internet

In the 21st century, the internet has changed the nature of our daily lives. However, much like money, or “the root of all evil”, it has become a medium through which elite groups can collude and exploit its users…

Have you ever been tagged in a photo on social media that you’ve immediately untagged yourself from and asked your friend to “delete”? The idea of a web footprint, or the information that an individual freely surrenders to various web pages such as Facebook or other public or private platforms, has long been an issue that has been largely ignored by the majority of internet users. We all know that we need to be cautious about what we post on Facebook or Twitter, because there is a chance that your potential employer or someone else will be able to access an intimate moment of your life that you would rather keep out of sight. The very idea of the invasion of one’s privacy is a very, very scary idea, and boils down to the insecure nature of the internet itself.

A centralized ISP

The internet, in its current form, is accessed through a centralized ISP (Internet Service Provider), such as AT&T, which means that data needs to be sent and exchanged through the ISP’s systems or a core network. This involves high capacity communication facilities that connect primary nodes. In other words, when you plug your Ethernet cable in, or connect to WIFI, with your laptop/PC/cellphone/tablet you are connecting to their network infrastructure, along with other users. You are connecting to systems that allow your service provider, and any government organisations they permit, to access the data you’re transmitting, including the data you’d rather not have shared.

This is why Facebook is able to create algorithms that promote advertisers that cater to your needs. It seems innocent and benign, because perhaps they just use your age, gender and interests to categorise you as part of a certain demographic. But what else do they have access to? Facebook is always asserting that they are committed to protecting your privacy, but have you read every sentence of their terms and conditions? if so, then you are in a tiny minority. Then you need to ask yourself, do you trust a multi-billion-dollar enterprise? What makes the biggest social media platform on earth any different to any other massive corporation that pays lip service to your rights, but is financially motivated and will part with any information for the right price if they think they can get away with it? The same question should be asked about your service provider. The most intimate moments of your life that you share through messenger apps, your purchases while online shopping, and other interactions, are there for anyone to see. It’s not as simple as deleting your browser history…

And, if this isn’t enough, the transmission of data doesn’t just go one way. Net neutrality – the laws governing service providers with regards to providing equal access to all web pages – has become a major point of discussion in the media and is being put at risk by governments, such as the US, making changes to existing protective legislation. If a service provider can throttle your bandwidth to discourage you from accessing a certain website, be it a media outlet or otherwise, it can potentially also be the loaded gun that is pointed at your head in a cyberwar. This extends to commercial services. What if Amazon wants to divert customers from Takealot to their own website by encouraging ISPs to slow down access on Takealot’s website, subtly compelling them to move over to their platform?

How do we change this?

To protect one’s information and only allow it to be accessible to the user as well as maintain net neutrality, we can transmit information through multiple nodes and access points under community control, rather than giant organizations. Kim Schmitz (a.k.a. Kim Dotcom) is a well-known, wanted hacker on the Internet. He is founder of Megaupload and certain other websites that have the Internet police on their heels to extradite him to the US and put him on trial for various alleged crimes. After Megaupload was shut down, Dotcom turned his attention to a new project, Meganet, which is a decentralized platform that won’t use ISPs, and will protect your information from government or corporate spying. The idea is to transmit data from one user to the next through a piece of hardware that facilitates this. From there on, you connect to other users through a community that’s all connected to their private software. This not only protects your information, but it prevents throttling and reduces costs. The only question that remains is how one encrypts the information and verifies the identity of each user. This is an interesting solution, but there is a new kid on the block with some very interesting technology.

The Global Media Dictatorship & The Disastrous Consequences Of A Misinformed Society

A major subject in the news in recent months has been that of the media and its role and influence in our post-modern society. However, very few people understand the magnitude of this issue with regards to the media as a core tenet of any liberal democracy and how it has failed and succeeded in its obligation to keep the people informed.

In the early 20th century, people consumed their news entirely through print media, in the form of newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, etc. and journalists at the time were subjected to consistent, factual and unbiased reporting with daily deadlines. A story that was being read in today’s newspaper was written the day before or even earlier. This was because of the restrictions with regards to the printing and distributing of newspapers. Of course, when it came to cases of breaking news, a publication would “stop the presses” and hastily add in a story of great significance. However, this limitation also meant that any article that went to print would be subject to intense scrutiny from not only the journalist, but his subeditors and editors. Then, via television and radio, the distribution of news became easier and news consumers were able to get their news faster and in a more user-friendly format. A 1000-word article could be condensed into a five-minute broadcast, with the added dynamic of primary sources, like sound clips and video, as opposed to photographs.

Now, in the 21st century and in the age of the internet and digital media, these facets of journalism have taken on an entirely new dynamic. News is easily distributed through online platforms almost immediately. News stories are augmented with multimedia story-telling devices, like videos, sound-clips and a number of other forms of visual stimulus, which are easily accessible through smart phones and the power of the internet. Add to this, the influence of social media and an event can be covered in real time or almost immediately after the event. Time restrictions and deadlines are ad hoc and journalists are subjected to far more stringent deadlines, which eliminates the fact-checking and scrutiny that would usually be carried out by an editor. This hasn’t been fully eliminated, but when Donald Trump won the US presidential election or when Britain voted to leave the European Union and other such urgent stories broke, such stories were subjected to less scrutiny due to the principle of “get it first, get it right” in the media. We get our stories first from publication X, but the “get it right” part has fallen somewhat by the wayside. As soon as a journalist finds a story, he or she tweets it and there are no subeditors for personal Twitter accounts. However, those accounts are still supposed to be guided by basic media ethics.

So, to put it briefly, while we receive our news faster and in a more user friendly packaging than ever before, the credibility of our news has been lost in many ways.

This is not to say that there aren’t any publications or journalists out there that practice ethical journalism, but rather that, in the scope of the vast number of articles being published every minute, they are very few and far between. Through ‘citizen journalism’, i.e. stories published via social media and blogs, it is possible for literally anybody to distribute news, which is subjected to no scrutiny whatsoever. A person off the street that writes blog posts on whatever he or she wants (ironically, myself included) is not accountable to the press code, an ombudsman or any other regulative body. They can write a story about how the sky is not blue, gravity is a false concept or anything that is factually flawed, biased or that amounts to hate speech and, as long as their readers are naïve enough, it can be considered as factual evidence. As a result, the pursuit of the truth, a concept which, in itself, is entirely subjective (as has been discussed by the likes of British social critic, Bertrand Russell), is no longer a priority.

As with anything in this world, ethical reporting has been corrupted by financial interests. While it may cost you R30 to buy a newspaper today, it would only cost you a few megabytes of data to read the same news story online, and, of course, the financial reward of an online article is dictated by the number of ‘clicks’ that it gets – which leads to clickbait.

At the same time, thanks to tabloids, the mass consumers of news are more interested in trivial news, such as Kim Kardashian’s new hairstyle, rather than important news events such as bombings in the middle East or Trump’s decision to deploy hundreds of US marines in northern Syria last week. So, as the ordinary people’s minds are numbed by celebrity culture and whatever is happening on MTV, the world around us is crumbling and we couldn’t care less.

What’s more is that, whatever important news we do receive, is almost entirely subjective due to the channels through which it is currently distributed. The number one news source for most people is their personal Facebook news feeds. What’s wrong with that? You are receiving your news via pages that you ‘like’ or the posts that your friends share. So, if you are conservative, you’re reading right-wing news sources and its more than likely that your friends will share conservative articles of their own. As an ordinary citizen, you’re either too lazy or too ignorant to check the facts or trust your news sources to have done so for you. And, furthermore, you aren’t being exposed to the leftist news stories – eliminating your ability to form an objective opinion of your own. Your biased opinion reflects in the way you vote and plays right into the hands of the people who give you the news, the same people who are likely in cahoots with the politicians for whom you are voting.

And then we come to the politicians. Donald Trump is the embodiment of how the media’s influence has devastating consequences. Take a look at the US President’s opinions on the media. He openly admits that his top news sources consist of the likes of Breitbart News, Fox News, The Blaze and other notoriously conservative publications that have the likes of the incredibly beautiful, yet wholly uninformed and completely biased, Tomi Lahren, reporting on their behalf. Any publication, such as the Economist or Wall Street Journal are considered conspirators and use “alternative facts” to cloud the consumers’ judgement. Of course, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, New York Times and other such publications have glowing reputations and are amongst the finest publications in the world, but Paul Krugman, David J. Herzig and the likes are nowhere near as pretty as Tomi Lahren. So the mass news consumer trusts Tomi Lahren’s opinion rather than Paul Krugman’s because she’s easy on the eye and Donald wins another vote. This is where we come back to that celebrity culture.

Then, the real trustworthy news sources come in the form of the alternative media, whose interests lie entirely in bringing you the truth and, by definition, are not financially driven. But these publications simply don’t have the financial means to distribute to wider audiences.

And, even here in South Africa, where the political climate is very different to that of the United States, it is publications such as the Daily Sun that are outperforming, for example, the Mail and Guardian, Business Day or Financial Times. Why? Because the South African masses are more inclined to read about sex scandals than the Spy Tapes or state corruption. Furthermore, there comes the Protection of State Information Bill, which will eventually be signed into law, no matter how much of an outcry it causes. The media will be stripped of its powers to hold our leaders to account and reporting on Nkandla or any other breaches of our constitution will be considered criminal acts, paving the way for the death of our democracy.

In the past, under the Apartheid regime, the media was subjected to a similar state of censorship, where the only permitted reporting came via the state mouthpieces, such as the SABC. Nelson Mandela may have been the champion of ‘the struggle’, but it was journalists such as Govan Mbeki and Donald Woods that exposed the evils of the National Party and the legislative segregation to the world and that kept a poorly educated, non-white population informed. If not for pamphlets and independent distributors that catered for communications during a time where free speech and freedom of the press was nonexistent, mobilising the disenfranchised and an international boycott would have been all but impossible and Mr Mandela may have seen out his years in that tiny prison cell in Robben Island. Nobody would have known about the Sharpeville Massacre or the Soweto Uprisings – in fact, they may not have happened at all…

So, what’s the end game here? There is little to no doubt that the uneducated, misinformed populations of countries around the world, which will be considered democratic and even those which are considered to have a free press, will become putty in the hands of politicians and corporate powers. Winning votes will become trivial and only a very small elite that is capable of seeing through the media’s bullshit will be able to discern between a functional, ethical status quo and a global dictatorship – the mass media dictatorship.

Iain Turner, 48, husband, father, friend, and my uncle

In the early hours of Thursday morning, my uncle Iain passed away in Paarl Mediclinic in a truly tragic, devastating manner that has left us all shocked. The streams of messages that have been coming in from his friends and family over social media, WhatsApp and the phone are testament to a great life lived and a man that touched the hearts of every person he came into contact with.

bama-iain-di-fiona

Iain David Turner was born on 23 March 1968 in Cape Town to Tony and June Turner. He was the second of three children and grew up alongside his sisters, Diane and Fiona. The tight-knit Turner family was where all of the love started for Iain. My mother, Diane is only two years older than him, while Fiona is two years younger. I think it’s one of the reasons I felt so close to Iain as well – because we were both the “middle child”. If there’s one thing I’m certain of though, it is that Iain had a near-perfect upbringing.

Turner family.jpg

If I was sitting down for a couple of drinks with him, one thing you can be sure of was that Iain would regularly have one of those moments of nostalgia. He’d tell us about the grumpy old military man, my grandfather, who would make them wake up early in the morning (even on holidays!) and get them to do chores. He’d tell us about my grandmother, who he loved beyond belief, and how she would cook breakfast early in the morning and treat all the kids with such a nurturing attitude that none of them have ever forgotten.

I got to listen to all these stories over and over again, because being a Turner made Iain into the man he was. I never grew tired of it. The way his face lit up when telling these stories was as if he was describing a vivid dream, the kind of dream that most of us would fantasise about. But he lived it! Then there came the next part of Iain’s childhood, the teen years…

iain-school

There were a few things that Iain and I disagreed upon, but what the best school in the world is, was never agreed upon. I would say that Rondebosch Boys’ was that school, but I always knew I would never, ever, convince Iain that it was anything buy Grey College. While Diane and Fiona attended high school in Pretoria, Iain decided that he wanted to go to boarding school. I remember my mom telling me how Iain would phone home in tears to start with, but that my grandmother told him to see out just the first year and then he could make up his mind about changing schools. By the end of the the first term, Iain had no doubt that he wanted to stay.

iain-school2

I could always relate to that sense of camaraderie that Iain and his mates from school felt, and those friendships stood the test of time. Thirty years after they left school, Iain remained in contact with those friends and they would still go get smashed at the Grey rugby games together. This time in Bloemfontein was probably also why my uncle was such a naughty guy and found himself in so much trouble. Well, it was either that or his time in the army.

young-adult-iain

After spending time in the national service, Iain  told me about his time at the Pretoria News, where he would describe his very brief stint as a “real journalist” to me years later. However, it was not in media where Iain found his passion, but the hospitality industry. My first real memories of Iain came at the time where he worked for the Carousel and, later, when he worked at Sun City – visiting him there was possibly one of the best times of my life. It was when he worked in casinos that he met his greatest friend, Ettienne, who later married Fiona, and, of course, his beautiful wife, Petrovien.

iain-and-peta

Now we all meant something to Iain in our own ways, but there’s no doubt in my mind that his life truly began the day he met Petrovien. In Petrovien’s own rendition of Iain’s words from when they met in 1995, “he said he saw me playing pool, looked at my ass and knew he was going to marry me.” They were married 16 years and were together for over 20, but I can testify to the fact that they were like newlyweds right to the  end . What an awesome testament to true love. They had the kind of marriage that many can only wish for. Of all the things I admired my uncle for, it was the fact that he found the perfect woman, that their love is undying and that, even though he’s no longer with us, their special connection will endure.

Iain and Peta2.jpg

The two of them were party animals, they loved to entertain, they enjoyed the finer things in life together and every glass of red wine tasted that much better because they were together. It’s the kind of love that I couldn’t ever find the words to describe. And, what’s more, their beautiful daughter, Megan, was, and forever will be, an embodiment of their love.

iain-and-peta-and-megan

By the time Megan was born in 2008, he and Petrovien were completely ready to bring another soul into the world. Megan could never want for anything and she was loved so much by her father. I saw exactly how much she meant to him in the last months of his life. He could hardly bear to live apart from them and, even though he made several FaceTime calls to them a day, I could see that look in his eyes that said “my life isn’t the same without them”. I could hear the scratch in Megan’s throat when all she ever wanted was to be right next to him. The two were inseparable. Iain was everything that anyone could ask for in a father. Even to me, he was something of a father figure, because I felt loved and like I could turn to him when I needed anything. Perhaps my biggest regret will be that I could never return those favours. It must be said that Iain knew exactly what it took to be a father and that Megan is far better off for having a bit of him in her heart. A little bit of him still lives inside of her and that’s another comfort that we can take from this tragedy.

turners-and-de-villiers

iain-and-fiona

iain-and-family

Family always came first for Iain. I was truly blessed to spend a few weeks with the Turners and the De Villiers’s at the end of 2013 where I got to see how Iain spent his life. He and his family spent every day together braaing, playing golf, partying and doing nothing more than living their lives together. And it never stopped there, I was also able to see his great friends, Linky, Brad, Sergio, Simone, and Freddy, just to name a few. The kids running around, swimming, and jumping on the trampoline, the grown-ups, having a couple drinks, making food and the dogs making themselves at home… It was that kind of “white picket fence” lifestyle that would make Tony and June proud, but it had a naughty twist that was the kind of thing that made Iain who he was.

iain-mom-and-me

iain2

To me, however, I have to say that the best times with Iain came in the last few months. He took a job as the general manager of Aquila game reserve in Touws River. He was a couple hours’ drive away from our house and, for the first time since I was a young child, I got to spend a lot of time together with him and see him regularly. My mother loved inviting him to spend a few nights in our home, where he would have a bottle or two of wine, eat lavishly, take himself off to bed and wake up at 6am without any kind of hangover. That’s exactly who Iain was and I got to live that life with him for a brief period of time. It was even better when Petrovien and Megan flew down to see him and I saw him as a whole man, because, without them, he was never truly complete.

iain-and-ettienne

Iain’s death was a true tragedy. He slipped down the stairs and hit his head in the wrong way, and it comes down to nothing but bad luck. We’ve all cried many tears and it’s going to be so difficult to let this man with so much love in his heart go. But, I think we can all take comfort in the fact that he didn’t suffer and that he will forever live in our memory.

iain-and-i

My dearest uncle, goodbye for now. One day, I hope that we may meet again and I hope that I can spend the rest of my life exactly the way you would have wanted.

With a glass of Gentleman Jack in hand, “cheers”

  • “You were the love of my life and my best friend. Not a moment of the day went by that I did not know how much you loved me. Seeing myself through your eyes made me feel like the most amazing person in the world. I love you and always will. I am not ready to be without you. Thank you for all the years of joy you have me.” -Petrovien Turner
  • “My big brother we will miss you forever. Our hearts are truly broken right now and it is so very difficult to comprehend life without you. Go well and fly high. Until we meet again.”- Fiona de Villiers
  • “The bestest brother ever! My heart is broken. Petrovien and Megan my loss pales in comparison to yours. May you by wrapped In the knowledge that the three of you shared an unbreakable bond. And comforted in knowing that the brightest star in the sky tonight is his beautiful soul looking out for you from a better place. Gentleman Jack in hand.” -Diane Smith
  • “Iain, you are so many things to me. There was never a dull moment. You always inspired, always uplifted and I’m am so not worthy. Your famous last words, “I love your work”, do not do you justice. You are “the last legend”. There was nobody before you and there’ll be noone after. Play hard, love hard, because who knows what tomorrow holds. I love you my brother and, until we meet again, I will take care of yours and mine, because we were mates. We met on the wrong side, but finished on a straight line. You went too soon, but you were never too late.”
  • – Ettienne de Villiers
  •  “I was never lucky enough to have a big brother but I was lucky enough to have you in my life… and it was better. Noddy, my heart is shattered because I’ve lost a friend of more than 10 years. We had such a special friendship. We ripped each other to shreds and swore each other broken. But I loved you so much. You were there for me whenever I needed you and always at the milestones in my life, every single time. You put up with my moods all the time and that in itself is a lifetime achievement. I will miss you with every piece of me. I will love you always. And I will never stop ripping you off because that is how we rolled. NoddyClubspoon, you were a legend. RIP my brother friend. I will never forget you xoxo” – Simone West

  • “Iain had one of the best sense of humours I have ever known in a person. Sometimes so dry but always so sharp.” – James Brown

“Losing a friend which was more like a brother makes me realize once again how short life truly is… One has to live everyday as if it’s your last day And ensure that you shared love, peace and happiness wherever you are!!! Rest in peace Iain Turner We promise to look after Petrovien and your little princess Megan” – Charmain Roux

“What fun times we’ve all had together …. Great memories and hysterical laughs!!!! Rule 5 and Rule 14!!!! Iain will be greatly missed by all of us!!!! RIP Iain Turner”  – Zenda Vorster

“This is how I will remember Iain… Having a cigar and a whiskey with Lance. I am sure you will always look back on today as one of the worst of your life, but please always know how loved Iain was. You were with us the night we got engaged, spend our wedding weekend with us, 40ths, 50ths and many braais and precious times in between. He will always be alive in our memories xx RIP Iain” – Sasha Hurly

“This is how we remember Iain whilst trying to sell ourselves. But he made it happen. He believed in us. And we in him. The tragic news after just spending our first rugby match with him just a few weeks ago and developing a friend in business has devastated us. We hoped to spend many more. RIP. Petrovien Turner our hearts go out to you and family.” – Rolanda Swart

“salute my friend. I am starting a 400km tour tomorrow and Petrovien. I am dedicating each and every km over the next 3 days to my mate Iain Turner and will have a drink I celebration of his life after every day. RIP Sargent…” – Lance Sterley

“I’m proud to have been part of his life…My heart and soul are with his family Petrovien, Fiona, Ettienne no words can explain” – Grant West

“Knew him from many years ago but only got to really know him recently. Family man and a person that enjoyed life to the fullest. Will be missed as my fellow fine red wine drinker. Who will I tease when Paarl Boys beat Grey again? I’m sad. Been a hard two weeks for me. Too close to home.”- Volker Hellman

“Gister het ek weer besef hoe vinnig kan dinge verander! En dan besluit ek weer om elke dag te leef of vandag die laaste is…. Want jy weet nie of jy more nog daar is vir jou geliefdes. Petrovien, jy en Iain was een van die true love stories. Sterkte vriendin vir die dae wat kom.” – Corna Scheepers

“He was such a great guy. The world will not sparkle quite as much without his wonderful sense of fun in it. Love, light and prayers for you and your family” – Caron Cloete

“At the memorial service at Aquila, I looked at everybody and I thought of what Iain would have said about this… and I could hear him, “aah, people… love your work!”

– Gerhard Pienaar

“I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that he flew down to Cape Town in February. Sitting , listening to sounds of silence. That was one of our matric serenade songs. Tears are flowing freely. Turner is a legend. I’m sending him off in my own way, out in the Texas ‘bos’, with a bottle of scotch.”

– Glen Fichardt

“The news is sinking in and I’m battling with my emotions. When time heals, I have many stories to tell for the last 35 years or so.

– Freddy Lapage

““For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3 1-8

I loved having you share my life as a dear friend. I valued your opinion and I loved it when you teased me. I was honored when you and Pete asked me to be Megan’s God Mother. Frans and I will be there for her, and Pete, Always.

Be at peace my dear friend.”

-Robyn Badenhorst

The way forward for SA’s youth

Over the past few weeks, we (myself included) have engaged in a discussion that has been largely negative in tone about the student protests around the country. In my blog post written a week ago, I discussed how the demands of the Fees Must Fall protesters are both unreasonable and discriminative in nature. The movement has shifted the goalposts from a free education (which I haven’t even gone into, in terms of how this is financially impossible) to an Afrocentric education. As anybody that has heard my strong opinion on these issues would know, I do not condone the manner in which the protests have been conducted – although, I do support the general idea, as idealistic as it may be. With this said, I would like to put a positive spin on the events and paint a picture of what could become of it.

In the pursuit of change: The death of apathy

One thing that these students have done, which we haven’t seen in decades in South Africa, is to organize an actually communicate their grievances. Whether the ends that they are pursuing are valid, whether the means to which they pursue these ends are morally acceptable or not, they have shown a fire in their hearts that has not been part of the South African populace since the transition to democracy. While the Soweto uprisings and the state of unrest in the 1980s were characterised by violence and made South Africa an uncomfortable place to live, there is no doubt that it led to the demise of apartheid. Perhaps the result of this wave of protests can be something of equal magnitude and significance.

Since the euphoria of politic freedom being granted to the majority of South Africans, since the global community embraced Nelson Mandela as a symbol for the conquests of yhe human spirit, not much has changed in terms of of economic equality, and millions of South Africans are still living in squander and are unemployed and/or illiterate. One of the primary reasons for this is the failures of our education system, which is behind the Fees Must Fall protests. In the 20 or so years where we saw little to no progress in the general state of well-being for South Africans, the only real indication of intent shown by the disenfranchised came in the form of workers’ strikes. Of course, these strikes were not only organized by COSATU – an entity that is explicitly tied to the ruling elite, the ANC – but they were remonstrating a symptom of the problem, not the cause. Demands for increases in wages will provide a short term solution, assuming the demands are met, and faceless corporations will continue to be controlled by the same people who emphasise profit over the rights of their employees.

Politically, the ANC continued to make promises before elections and grants that provided a source of income for impoverished families, as small as they may have been, which keep the so-called “masses” in a state of ignorance and at the ruling party’s mercy. This kept the votes rolling in and South Africa was in a state of equilibrium. The student protests have disrupted that equilibrium and, better yet, young people are showing that they’ve had enough and want real change that leaves no man, woman, or child behind. This means that something truly incredible can happen, something that would make the late Nelson Mandela smile…

Global pioneers – A solution to the biggest challenge facing our generation

Wherever you live, from America to Zanzibar, abject poverty is actually not the greatest threat to mankind. If there’s no world for us to live in, rich or poor, that’s a problem! Apartheid may have left an ugly legacy for South Africans, but the worst legacy left behind by previous generations for the entire world is pollution, greenhouse gasses, and climate change. Fortunately, South Africa is not amongst industrialised nations like the United States or China, whose carbon footprints are far greater than ours and where infrastructure is already in place – making it difficult to dislodge. What is worse, though, is that third world countries are determined not to agree on pacts to decrease emissions, because they believe that the already industrialised world has had a head start. But, this is bullsh*t.

Our young people need to demand that our leaders are at the forefront of creating a sustainable industry, on a nationwide scale. We have a crumbling infrastructure and widespread unemployment. Why not be at the forefront of what could become a global trend? Of course, we have solar panels and wind-powered turbines around the country, but we are also about to sink in excess of R1 trillion into a nuclear power plant that is anything but sustainable.

In addition to this, the idea of nuclear power and industry is not in alignment with Afrocentric ideals. This would be a complete lack of respect for the land upon which we live. The benefits of it would not be communally shared and, in essence, this is about as “Western” an agreement as you would get.

Nuclear power is supposedly cleaner than coal power, which makes up the majority of South Africa’s grid at present. According to government statistics, that contribution stands at 77%. But, assuming this is true, the major problem is that the construction of the nuclear power plant will be outsourced to Russia, which means that it will undoubtedly cost more, through underhand deals, tenders, and corruption. There are undoubted a huge number of engineering firms both in the country and around the world that would kill for a chance to be part of a large-scale project that I’m proposing here.

Not to mention, such a project would create millions of jobs, not only for engineers at the top end but for labourers at the bottom as well. Not only would this create long-term prospects in terms of employment (power sources also need to be maintained), but it may inspire other countries to take on similar initiatives, from which any patents that we may own would be another source of income. Like demands for education in order to benefit future generations, something like this needs to be at the forefront of every South African’s demands. Then, in addition to this, we could make attempts to create an automotive industry entirely focused on electrical- and hydrogen-powered cars.

If you look at the American economy, you would find that the construction of the Hoover Dam was phenomenally important stimulation of their economy during the Great Depression. You’ll also find that their automotive industry, made up predominantly by General Motors and Ford, makes massive contributions to their GDP, year after year.

Final thoughts

The spirit of the Fees Must Fall movement must be carried through to something beyond the way in which we run our universities. As these students grow up and become productive members of our economy, they need to shift their focus to a different idea. South Africa has the opportunity to join the industrialised world in a sustainable way that is unprecedented. If such an initiative is nationalised and the resultant wealth shared by all of our citizens, it could provide a simple solution to the issue of poverty and, who knows, perhaps a free education may be an attainable goal.

Op-Ed: #FeesMustFall – A Bastardised Movement With No Sense Of Direction

My blog has stood untouched for several weeks now, simply because I haven’t had the energy, or the patience, to express my opinion objectively about the current state of affairs in South Africa.

For the first time in my life, I have deeply considered that my future does not lie below the Limpopo river, west of the Indian Ocean or east of the Atlantic. Why? At present, if you’re not reading a story about our finance minister facing criminal charges for his investigation into perhaps the most blatant case of corruption and cronyism in the history of our country (no small feat), or the ongoing saga involving South African student’s showing utter discontent with the state of tertiary education (while denying their fellow students access to that, albeit unaffordable, education), then you are probably reading Soccer Laduma (big ups to my colleagues on this one), where we’re incredibly proud of Mamelodi Sundowns’ 3-0 thrashing of Zamalek in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final.

So, with no intention of disregarding the other events, I would like to discuss the Fees Must Fall debate, which not only has elicited the  biggest emotional reaction as far as I’m concerned, but is also probably the most important story with regards to the future of our fine nation.

If you aren’t familiar with the reason behind the riots (I feel that the term “protests” doesn’t adequately describe what’s really happening) at our institutions of higher education – UCT and Wits most prominently – then I will try to break it down:

As a result of our terrible economy (where government is boasting about a quarter-on-quarter growth of 3,3%), our universities have had to ask for higher fees year after year, given that inflation seems to increase every year. So, with the cost of education being so high already, students have to fork out ridiculous sums of money that leaves them either unable to attend university or with a massive pile of debt to their names after they get their degrees. Now the main reason behind this is because government has failed to do its part by supporting the universities in covering their costs and because the government has done a bad job of helping the students themselves secure loans through NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme). And, another major part of the problem, to which students have attached the vast majority of their grievances to is the matter of structural inequality – a standing legacy of the apartheid regime – which boils down to the fact that white South Africans have access to a larger share of wealth, and therefore opportunities, than black South Africans, who make up the vast majority of the population. Ultimately this means that the students that will be hit hardest by fee hikes are black students, whose parents are unable to fill the gap that the government’s failure to provide loans and bursaries has created. The term that has become popular to describe this phenomenon is “white privilege”. The first thing that I would like to discuss with my fellow white South Africans is the fact that white privilege DOES exist.

Part I – The ugly state of higher education in South Africa

According to Statistics South Africa, in 2016 the South African population is made up of roughly 55,91 million people. 2013 estimates claim that more than 80% of the population is black, while just over 8% are white, another 8% are coloured and the rest are Asian or Indian. In terms of structural inequality, South Africa boasts the highest Gini coefficient in the world, where the figure has been variously estimated to be between 0,63 to 0,70 by KPMG and the United Nations Development Program. So, it goes without saying that South Africa is a remarkably unequal country where the difference between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor is monumental, to put it lightly. And that gap grows every year, along with unemployment – which was 26,7% in March 2016, compared to 24,5% in the previous quarter, according to Trading Economics.

Is this high level of inequality defined by race? You bet it is. According to the Pew Research Centre, the average income per annum for a South African household in 2011 was R103 204.  In white households that figure stood at R365 134, in Indian households it dropped to R251 541, in coloured households that figure stood at R112 172 and the average black household earned R60 613. So, there’s no denying it, white South Africans have better access to wealth than anyone else.

But, the argument here is about education, isn’t it? In the national census of 2011, it was found that, among the South African population, 35.2% of black/African, 32.6% of coloureds, 61.6% of Indians/Asians and 76% of white citizens have completed an education of high school or higher. Even more damning, data on higher education in 2013 finds that university enrollment increased by 23% from 2008 to 2013, with 983 698 students enrolled at South African universities in 2013, as per the Council on Higher Education. Of those students, 171 927 (17,4%) were white, 53 787 (5,4%) were Indian, 61 034 (6,2%) were coloured and 689 503 (70,1%) were black. So, even though there are more black students in university in absolute terms, the demographics do not represent that of the total population and only 1,6% of the total black population has been afforded the privilege of a higher education, while almost 4% of the white population is able to attend university.

So these are the facts:

  • White South Africans earn more money than black South Africans
  • White South Africans have a higher standard of education than black South Africans
  • Relatively fewer black students have access to tertiary education than white students

So, for those who like to think that white privilege doesn’t exist, I hope this enlightens you. With that said, the numbers are generalized and there are always exceptions, but I’ll get to this later…

Now, as is frequently the case, I’m not going to make an argument for coloured or Indian South Africans (for which I am truly sorry, but this is an entirely separate argument). However, I will try to explain why this state of affairs exists. In 1990, South Africa’s population was made up of, roughly 35,2 million people. As was the case for the majority of the 20th century, the national party was only accountable for a small fraction of the population’s educational needs. Data is difficult to come by, but let’s assume that of 2,8 million (8%) white South Africans, 112 000 (4%) attended universities. That number was probably far lower, given that, in those days, it was far easier to find employment with a matric. So, in the intervening years, a new government (which had no experience in how to run a country and was riddled by instances of corruption, incompetency and other factors that degraded its ability to make provisions for the increased demand for education) had to cater for, roughly, 1000% more students, while trying to cater for increasing demands for basic education, healthcare, electricity and a number of other public goods.

So now, we are dealing with the consequences of the legacy of apartheid, combined with a steadily growing population that is now governed by incompetent buffoons like our minister for higher education, Blade Nzimande, who, when asked for a comment on the Fees Must Fall protests in October last year, said “students must fall” and has also recently been caught with his pants down when a female student, who he was f*cking, took a picture of his grotesque naked body.

Part II – Left “fallists” aren’t doing anything to help

This part is based far less on fact and far more on opinion. Now, while I acknowledge the existence of white privilege and, even though I can never truly empathise with the experiences of black students, I’m trying as hard as I can to try and relate to their struggles and support their quest for a free education. I truly believe that education is the best way to escape the poverty trap and, as a Marxist, I believe it should be free.

However, these “fallists” are frequently using bullsh*t rhetoric that criticises Western systems of education, not the difficulty of gaining access to it – which is what you’re fighting for aren’t you? The most prominent example of this is when students called for science to fall – saying that Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity was arbitrary and should be done away with. They are literally trying to disprove gravity and would rather pursue the study of Afrocentric beliefs of scientific knowledge, including the idea that you can cause lightning to strike somebody through thought alone (or gypsy magic, or voodoo – honestly, I don’t really understand it).  So these students have bastardised this movement from a struggle for free education to a struggle for Afrocentric education – something that I simply cannot endorse for scientific study. I can agree to it in the Arts faculty, to an extent. So these students need to come out and make a public statement where they call for Afrocentric universities if that’s what they truly want. I’d love to see you land a job with a qualification from one of these, but knock yourself out.

Furthermore, the movement has been turned into a sham because these students have forced their universities to shut up shop and suspend academic activity. The students who were more interested in making the most of their education were forcibly removed from their lecture halls and have been denied valuable hours in class that will be vital for their upcoming exams. I have yet to hear an explanation as to why this has happened, but I fear that, even if I do, the chances of it being legitimately justified are slim at best.

However, this is not what’s bothering me the most. What really is bothering me is what these students’ liberal ideologies that makes them think that make them think they are immune to being found guilty of hate speech or discrimination. They’ve read a couple of Steve Biko essays and maybe Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and all of a sudden they think they’re Nelson f*cking Mandela! Let me remind you that these black students make up less than 2% of the black population, how many of them do you reckon have experienced real black struggles like not having access to running water or toilets, sleeping on the street or going to bed hungry? And how many of them do you think have parents that earn a decent living, that drive expensive cars, and how many went to former model C schools?

And yet, they feel that, by virtue of their skin colour they can throw the term “white privilege” into everyone’s face when their calls for the fall of science and western education are met with laughter and outrage. What about “black privilege”?

Following the transition from apartheid in 1994, before most of these students were born, the South African government formally introduced the racially selective Employment Equity Act in May 1998 which brought about some major changes in the labour market, with scores of black South Africans benefiting from what was planned to be a large scale of redistribution of wealth – intended to counteract the consequences of the system of apartheid. Now, while many black people were able to join the elite echelons of South African society, entering upper management positions in corporate entities, the majority remained impoverished and the only real change was that the fat cats in South Africa now looked a little less monochromatic.

Yet, all of these “fallists” make use of these new-age, hippie terms like “lived experiences” and have long-winded discussions about them in their “safe spaces” where no judgement can be passed, supposedly. Perhaps these safe spaces were created so that they could feel less ashamed by the fact that they left their fellow black South Africans in the mud while they sipped champagne and ate caviar in their mansions in Sandton, Ballito and Newlands.

But, this so-called liberalism, tolerance and acceptance comes with a clause. If you are not part of the majority, if you’re not a person of colour, if you’re not a member of a formerly marginalized group of people, there is no “safe space” and your “lived experiences” are not up for discussion. So, because this is my blog, my safe space, allow me to enlighten you what it’s like to be a South African white male.

Wherever I go, it is assumed that I come from wealth. This is plainly not true. I won’t deny that I have been afforded privileges and opportunities that anybody would be beyond satisfied with – I am well-educated, come from a loving family and have always had my basic needs met – but, I was raised by a single mother who had to raise three children on her own and inherited no kind of wealth from her family. Granted, she was a product of apartheid South Africa, but she entered the labour market with no more than a matric and had to work for everything she has today.

I grew up bearing witness to her struggle in convincing banks not to repossess our home, her struggle to gain meaningful employment with her race counting against here in every job application, every fight for a promotion. Not to mention the lesser discussed reality that women, on average, still earn far less than males in the working environment. Furthermore, if I am to roam the streets, I am subjected to judgement by my fellow citizens. Ask yourself, how many times have you been called a “white p**s” when you have no change to give a homeless man? On the same token, I grew up knowing that I had little to no choice when it came to going to university. The chances of me, as a white male, of getting a well-paying job are limited significantly due to my race and my gender – for no reason other than that I was born this way, not because I have done anything wrong. The 20th century (and pretty much the entire millennium, if not more) was defined by white men making the world their own and exploiting everybody else for it. The 21st century has, thus far, been defined by everybody else’s retribution for those evil acts committed by other men. My generation is paying the price. Is that fair?

Now this is my lived experience, but, as I said, I do believe that I am privileged for the most part. However, there are other white men out there that haven’t been privileged at all. Their parents didn’t enjoy a high level of education, they didn’t get three square meals a day, they haven’t had the chance to attend a good school and opportunities of employment are even more limited. I can’t imagine how they feel when they are being told that they enjoy the benefits of white privilege.

How many times has this view been addressed by the media? What makes a black South African’s lived experience deserve more airtime than a white South African’s? The answer may well be that black South Africans make up the majority of South Africa’s population. If this is so, then why does the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States get so much coverage?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying white South Africans experience the same kind of discrimination as black Americans. But at the end of the day, white people are discriminated against in the new and inclusive South African rainbow nation. When has a black man ever been indicted for hate speech when he used the term “Umlungu”, which is a racial slur no matter how you look at it, or when a political leader incites violence against white South Africans, does he get summoned to appear in front of the Human Rights Commission? Is this the South Africa our forefathers fought for? Is it OK to have this double standard? As a 25-year-old, I stand against it, and I hope to god that the “fallists”, who are supposed to be the future of our country, will not allow this general attitude to prevail. Otherwise, their movement loses any kind of validation and I fear that the state of our education system will never improve.

Final thoughts

So, what it boils down to, in my opinion, is that the grievances of South Africa’s disgruntled students is ultimately a result of the structural inequality that was created by the National Party and the apartheid regime. The existence of white privilege is something that everybody has to acknowledge and work to eradicate, by holding our existing government accountable for the improvement of our education system. However, as we learned in our transition to democracy all those years ago, the fundamental change that we so desperately need can only be achieved by a compromise on the behalf of both sides. The pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-liberal fallists need to stop stepping on their fellow students’ toes if the dream of a free, quality education is ever to be achieved. If we can’t do so, that will forever remain a pipe dream.

Global economy on the up: A sleeping giant awakens

The glue binding a still-aggressive global monetary policy response to a struggling world economy and almost daily record highs for world stock markets along with record low bond yields is set to remain intact in the coming week

– BDlive (14 August 2016)

SA’S economy has regained the position of Africa’s largest in dollar terms, more than two years after losing it to Nigeria, as the value of the nations’ currencies moved in opposite directions

– BDlive (10 August 2016)

It may be too soon to tell, but the current global trend that is seeing more and more economies shying away from their policies of austerity that have defined the state of affairs of the global economy for the past decade or so may be a sign that the financial crisis is about to end.

Yes, that’s right, economies around the world are pulling back on trade restrictions, spending more and we may actually see some real economic growth. What’s even better for us South Africans is that our economy seems to be in a far better state than it was a year or so ago, when we were all worrying about being degraded to “junk status”. While Nigeria is heading into a recession, we are reaping the benefits of an election that will force our politicians to act more responsibly and with some degree of accountability.

The Rand improved dramatically after the municipal elections and, in short, things are (hopefully) going to “get better”. For almost everyone in my generation, this will be unchartered territory…

It has been the case for a long time now that we are considered lucky to have a job, that an increase under CPI is acceptable, that we basically have to settle for being caught in a poverty trap. What’s more is that my generation is better educated than any before us. We are settling for shitty jobs, shitty pay and a shitty standard of living, even though we’ve been to university, graduated with degrees (mostly postgraduate) which have left us in crippling debt. Meanwhile, at my age, my parents had two kids, were married and were able to buy a house a few years later – and both were university dropouts.

For any rational South African coming through “the system” today, we have all operated under the assumption that prosperity lies beyond the borders of our country, in Australia, Dubai, Europe or America. But, I’m feeling very optimistic about sticking around… for now at least.

Africa may be perceived as a garbage dump, but I’ve always thought of it as a land of opportunity and this is especially the case in South Africa, where, as an entry point to the continent, we can be at the forefront of those opportunities.

We may think that the politicians are crap here, the living conditions are poor and that there’s too much poverty. BUT, we have it good here. Imagine living in Somalia… or Sudan, or Liberia, or Mali… we have it pretty good here, in comparison.

But I digress, my point is that Africa is a resource-rich continent. Gold, silver, diamonds, arable land, we have it all here in South Africa. There are even oil deposits in places like Nigeria and I have little doubt that if the land is properly surveyed, we will find more. Add in that we have a growing population and that one-third of the world’s population will be living on this continent.

This concoction just needs a little bit of political stability and some economic growth and we surely can achieve a healthy standard of living across the board. Gone are the days when Africa was looked upon as a stain on civilisation, as a synonym for poverty. We are now part of a generation that can turn things around.

And now that we’ve had to endure austerity, much like the Baby-Boomers generation in post-war Europe and America, we will be able to approach the opportunity for growth responsibly and grab it with both hands.

 

 

Women’s Day Special: My Sentiments

Overnight, very

Whitely, discreetly,

Very quietly

 

Our toes, our noses

Take hold on the loam,

Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,

Stops us, betrays us;

The small grains make room.

 

Soft fists insist on

Heaving the needles,

The leafy bedding,

 

Even the paving.

Our hammers, our rams,

Earless and eyeless,

 

Perfectly voiceless,

Widen the crannies,

Shoulder through holes. We

 

Diet on water,

On crumbs of shadow,

Bland-mannered, asking

 

Little or nothing.

So many of us!

So many of us!

 

We are shelves, we are

Tables, we are meek,

We are edible,

 

Nudgers and shovers

In spite of ourselves.

Our kind multiplies:

 

We shall by morning

Inherit the earth.

Our foot’s in the door.

These were the words of the great Sylvia Plath in her poem, Mushrooms,  and the sentiment of it has resonated with me my entire life.

I don’t want to get too elaborate here, but on this Women’s Day, I just want to remind you that women will one day undo the terrible deeds done by men throughout history. All the world needs to do is to give them the chance.

Men, please look after and respect the women in your lives… or else, you may regret it.

On a personal note, I’m so grateful for every single woman in my life and the vital role that they have and will continue to play.

Happy Women’s Day everyone!

Jacob Zuma: South Africa’s unlikely savior

As I sit down to write this, the final election results are just about in and, as we all expected, the ANC took home the majority of the votes. However, something happened that seemed all but impossible a few years ago.

At the age of 24, I am not quite a “born free”, but am still young enough to have no memory of pre-democratic South Africa. And, throughout my lifetime, all I’ve really known is South Africa under the rule of the ANC. As I remember it, my “political awakening”, so to speak came back in the general elections of 2004, when or beloved liberators, the ANC, won roughly two-thirds of the vote and the “opposition party”, Tony Leon’s DA, came away with less than 10% of the votes. The next best party was the IFP and nobody had ever heard of Julius Malema.

What was significant about the 2004 general election, besides that it was the first time I ever really, comprehensively understood what was going on, was that that election put the writing on the wall in terms of something we’ve now taken for granted, the ANC will be holding onto power in our country for a very, very long time…

2004 marked the 10-year anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994. And, by then, it was already clear that the ruling party would not be fulfilling its electoral promises of free housing, free education and improved living conditions, which the voters bought into so naively when they ticked their ballots in the historical election that brought Nelson Mandela into power and has kept the ANC in charge ever since.

And, to this day, the impoverished citizens of South Africa, the uneducated, the disenfranchised… the majority of our population continue to cast their votes for a once-great party, because they truly believe that their lives will get better. Or perhaps they just believe that their lives can’t get any worse. After all, the ANC has been very smart about the way it can blame any problem in our country on the legacy of apartheid. And, if you were to believe some of the things you hear in the media, any vote not for the ANC, is a vote to bring back apartheid. This may explain why our voter turnout in the municipal elections was a mere 57.72%. Perhaps the ANC’s discouraged voters are simply choosing not to vote, rather than changing allegiances (the stupidity of which I will not even bother getting into).

Staying with the present, and with the ANC, let’s discuss our honourable president. Say what you want about president Jacob Zuma, the man has balls. He’s a fucking rock star. The Charlie Sheen of politics if you will… I’m not going to go into the man’s list of (alleged) criminal accolades, but when you can be involved in the Arms Deal, get charged with rape and corruption and still find yourself elected to power, you’ve done something right. When you can make outrageous remarks like that you thought you could prevent yourself from contracting HIV by “taking a shower” and when you struggle to read numbers that go beyond four figures, but you still hold the most important office in the country, you must be a different kind of genius. When you can get away with spending hundreds of millions of Rands of public money to turn your house into a mall, you are a boss.

I mean, it would be like showing up to work with your dick hanging out, drinking the free coffee, stealing the stationary, leaving at lunch and laughing at your boss when he calls you in for a disciplinary hearing. From Shabbir Shaikh to the Guptas to the SABC to Marikana, Mr. Zuma’s term in office, as well as in the Vice-President’s office. and even before then has been dirtier than a farmer’s clod hoppers.

And, even though it seemed like it never would, South Africa woke up. Starting with the youth, those younger than me, the “born-frees”. I was not a fan of the #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall protests, but it showed that there’s a new generation of South Africans that will not be apathetic. And now, the ANC may have won a majority in the municipal elections, but they won narrowly over 50% of the votes. They couldn’t win by an outright majority in Johannesburg, the DA won the Western Cape (by miles), Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane.

So, the ANC’s grip is loosening as it struggles to keep power in our country and South Africans are no longer taking any shit. The government is being held to account. And who’s the hero? I have to say that I think it’s Jacob Zuma. He’s taken corruption, stupidity, insolence and sheer evil to a whole new level. A level that woke South Africa from its long slumber and has us calling for our democracy back.

2016 municipal elections: Get this sh** off my timeline!

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is adamant that it will hold onto power in all the municipalities currently under its control, as well as wrest the Midvaal municipality in Gauteng from the Democratic Alliance.

“We are going to maintain all the municipalities that we are in charge of and we will also win Midvaal [municipality] here in Gauteng [and] Western Cape as we never go into a battle with an intention to lose‚” the ANC’s elections head‚ Nomvula Mokonyane‚ said on Sunday.

Business Day, 31 July

That time of the year has come around yet again where we, the fine citizens of South Africa, get to cast our votes under the pretence that our votes actually mean something.

For starters, we all know the ANC will win, just about, every province, because they control the majority of South Africans through shameless propaganda, media censorship, a substandard education and by reminding us about the demons of our past.

And then, of course, we know the DA is going to win the Western Cape because the Cape is unlike the rest of this country, and the majority vote here is not the same as it is elsewhere.

Now, there are a number of factors at play here and a few socio-political and economic realities that are behind my rather defeatist attitude here. I am not a fan of either of South Africa’s dominant parties, but I think we all know what the state of our political environment is and that it will be a long time before things change and we move forward.

However, I would like to discuss with you, dear reader, something that is even worse. When we grow up, we are all told that there are two subjects that should not be brought up in polite conversation – politics and religion. 20 years ago, hell even 10 years ago, people would avoid having conversations about political views and would keep their views to themselves, because they wouldn’t want to disrupt the harmony of their friendships or offend those in their company.

Now, in 2016, we have a different platform for such interactions, namely social media, and the “no politics” rule has gone completely by the wayside. How many of your friends are posting images of why we need to end corruption in the ANC or something along those lines? Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram seem to be polluted by this kind of trash.

Now, this kind of political endorsement may well just come down to an expression of opinion, which is, of course, well within your rights and completely up to the individual. However, there may be some of you out there that actually think you will be changing people’s minds and this is downright stupid.

Of my +/- 600 friends on Facebook, I would say that comfortably 90% of them vote for the DA and, of their friends, the number would probably be similar, if not the same. So, really, your message about how we need to spread the truth about the ANC’s media blackout or corruption in government is reaching an audience of citizens that already know the truth behind the various shortcomings of our ruling party.

So that begs the question, “why the f*** are you sharing this BS?”

You know that it’s impolite to share your political views and you know that the vast majority of people that it reaches agree with your view. Are you hunting for likes? Or are you looking to spark a reaction from one of your friends that will disagree with you?

I am not faultless in this respect because I have done the same thing on numerous occasions. But, at the end of the day, your decision to share these pictures, memes or statuses are nothing less than a reflection of your own vanity or desire to create conflict. Ergo, the final question is, “are you full of yourself, or are you just a troll?”