23 April is World Book Day, actually World Book and Copyright Day, but the first rolls off the tongue and mind easier. It is a yearly event on 23 April, organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. The Day was first celebrated in 1995. The connection of the date to literature is because it is the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, the death of Miguel de Cervantes, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Josep Pla, the birth of Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Manuel Mejía Vallejo and Halldór Laxness, the first two greats being the main motivation.
From The Economist: ‘Foreigners and local whites out – A muddle over “indigenisation” looks set to slow down an economic recovery’
Tsvangirai ‘snubs’ Ahmadinejad
WEIRD NEWS STORY OF THE DAY
In the last few days we had the story of the senior Iranian cleric who said women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.
Now we have Bolivian President Evo Morales who has blamed “deviations” such as homosexuality and widespread baldness in Europe on modern diet. As my FB friend Conor Walsh said, “Please read this before you eat at KFC again”.
YOU TUBE MOMENTS
YouTube doesn’t actually work for me on my bottom of the range netbook but I see lots of links for interesting stuff.
In the light of the focus on sexual mores within the Catholic Church, here is a cynical offering from Monty Python‘s The Meaning of Life: Every Sperm is Sacred.
And the FIFA world cup ANTHEM South Africa by K’naan
As I and a lot of my friends are very involved with Facebook, this is an important article on the future trends in FB and their implications for privac:y ‘ Facebook’s Future: Less Privacy with Open Graph?
And from TIME, 10 best social networking applications, to enhance your social networking experience:
MEDIA AND MARKETING
This follows a complaint lodged by Cecil Janse van Rensburg about a regular feature on the University of Pretoria’s radio station, TUKS FM, hosted by DJ Konstant de Vos, in which listeners are asked to call or SMS about whether a person’s behaviour is “gay” or “ok”.
KNOW OUR CONSTITUTION
Because of World Book Day and its focus on reading, and yesterday’s focus on global education, here is the right to education from our Bill of Rights:
(1) Everyone has the right-
(a) to a basic education, including adult basic education; and
(b) to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures must make progressively available and accessible.
(2) Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practicable. In order to ensure the effective access to, and implementation of, this right, the state must consider all reasonable educational alternatives, including single medium institutions, taking into account-
(b) practicability; and
(c) the need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws and practices.
(3) Everyone has the right to establish and maintain, at their own expense, independent educational institutions that-
(a) do not discriminate on the basis of race;
(b) are registered with the state; and
(c) maintain standards that are not inferior to standards at comparable public educational institutions.
(4) Subsection (3) does not preclude state subsidies for independent educational institutions.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
‘Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles.’ – Bob Richards
For more quotes like these and excellent poetry, join the Poetry & Quotations Lovers group on Facebook and receive regular messages in your in box with quotations or poetry.
From Wendy Landau:
I realised recently that I have a librarian archetype and that I have a need and passion for sharing information on the web mainly through Facebook and Twitter. I share a lot on these sites and get mainly positive feedback from people to my shares. I have decided to formalise the activity through a daily blog focussing on news and fascinating issues.
I am still working out the structure of these posts so please regard this as a work in progress or being still in “Beta”.
I have to thank my brilliant Facebook friends and equally scintillating Twitter follows for most of these links – thank you for being so fascinated by the news and the world around you and for sharing, sharing. Some are from wonderful Facebook pages like Patheos. Topics and links are however what I find interesting.
Eskom‘s secret deal dossier revealed
This one’s a few days old but I missed it: Goldstone cleared for grandson’s barmitzvah in SA
SAMWU’s municipal strike is over – this means the bins will be emptied today
Charities targeting Africans have questionable motives with particular reference to Clitoraid
Proudly African and Transgender – an exhibition at Amnesty International in Amsterdam
Rwanda opposition chief held for ‘genocide denial‘
And more on this topic: Memory and denial: The Rwandan genocide fifteen years on
Ultra Orthodox Jews protest against Israel’s independence day
Zackie Achmat on what and who Malema represents and what we need to do about it
Stephen Covey on the crisis in education:
GOOD NEWS SA STORY
The South African wine industry has become a world leader with the launch of its new sustainability seal, which assures wine-lovers that the product was made using green techniques at every step.
Vatican blames sex abuse scandal on Eugene Terre’blanche
and I loved the response of friend, Conor Walsh (www.facebook.com/Concubhor ): “I am surprised the AWB lot have not yet tried to blame the sordid circumstances of Terreblanche’s death on the Pope, yet!”
“The Afrikaans for Oy Vey is Ag Vok” – Juan Coetzee
1 GOAL Action Week this week – for Education for All
50,000 school children in South Africa will participated in the ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ on Tuesday along with hundreds of thousands of others across the continent – and millions more around the world. They were backed by teachers, politicians and influential figures from the worlds of music, film and football – all demanding Education for All. Hlubi Mboya (Nandipa from Isidingo) and Mark Haskins (Wits soccer star) took part in the special 1GOAL lesson in Johannesburg at the Isu’lihle Primary School in Soweto.
“Education is a basic right and yet millions of children are still unable to go to school,” said Lucas Radebe, former captain of South Africa and 1GOAL Ambassador. “Millions of children around the world are taking this lesson and showing their support for 1GOAL. By joining them we can send a powerful message to world leaders – it’s time every child had the chance to attend class.”
Along with Aaron Mokoena, Matthew Booth and other members of the current Bafana Bafana squad and South African greats such as Quinton Fortune and Mark Fish, the World’s Largest Lesson is backed by some of the biggest names in world football, who are supporting what promises to be the greatest legacy of the FIFA World Cup – education for all.
With Africa’s first World Cup just over 50 days away, the campaign is seeking to secure US$16 billion in funding from world leaders to ensure that the 72 million children who are currently unable to go to school can receive an education. 1GOAL says this new funding should come from both increased aid commitments from rich countries as well as budget commitments from developing countries.
As President Jacob Zuma – who is a committed supporter of 1GOAL and the aim of education for all – said last week, the South African government will be hosting a high level summit during the FIFA World Cup that will set out a road map to achieve this.
1GOAL is calling on people to add their name to the campaign during this week by either signing up through the website (www.join1goal.org) or through twitter (@join1goal) or through Facebook.
For information and interviews please call: Richard Lee, Media Manager – 082 820 7637 or Richard@join1goal.org
Photo (c) Betony Lloyd:
and Desmond Tutu chimed in for the cause:
RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
What is the future of Islam?
Video: U22 interview with Tenzin Palmo
Four Secrets of Sacred Sex (Or, Why Catholics Do It… Infallibly)
Interview with green preacher, Matthew Sleeth
A third of teens with cell phones text over 100 messages per day
Google Inc. has set up new tool to show where it’s facing the most government pressure to censor material and turn over personal information about its users.
Facebook fairytales come true
MEDIA AND MARKETING
The advert for DSTV everyone is sharing
Earth Day turns 40: An animated tribute
The 2010 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced:
And here is background on what exactly the Pulitzer prizes are:
This week: Parliament is completing the consideration of the various budget votes.
Tomorrow, Thurs 22 April In the National Assembly the following votes (budgets) will be considered and debated in Extended Public Committees:
Sport and Recreation
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
International Relations and Cooperation
Tomorrow, Thurs 22 April in the the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), there are policy debates on:
Next week is a constituency period for parliamentarians – how can one check that they are in their constitutencies? Got any ideas?
GAUTENG PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE
Coming up in the Gauteng Legislature in a sitting on Friday 23 April:
Debate and Adoption of the Standing Committee on Public Affairs reports on:
Department of Economic Development (2007/08)
Gauteng Tourism Authority (2007/08)
Gauteng Gambling Board (2007/08)
Cradle of Humankind (2007/08)
Gauteng Film Commission (2007/08)
Gauteng Economic Development Agency (2007/08)
Gauteng Film Commission (2006/07)
Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (2007/08)
Gauteng Tourism Authority (2006/07)
Gauteng Liquor Board (2006/07)
Gauteng Economic Development Agency (2006/07)
Impophoma Infrastructure Support Entity
Gauteng Provincial Government Precinct 2007/2008
KNOW OUR CONSTITUTION
This is the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa, 1996:
We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the
supreme law of the Republic so as to-
Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values,
social justice and fundamental human rights;
Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government ibased on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person;
Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people.Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.
God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.
www.readthespirit.com, ReadTheSpirit is an online magazine for readers who believe that spiritual diversity builds stronger communities. We bring you the best in books, films and inspiring voices from a wide range of faiths. (USA)
www.mnn.com – Mother Nature Network (USA)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Reverence the highest, have patience with the lowest. Let this day’s performance of the meanest duty be thy religion. Are the stars too distant, pick up the pebble that lies at thy feet, and from it learn the all.” – Margaret Fuller
http://www.gratefulness.org/word/index.htm – this changes daily
Spring has arrived now we’ve had our first rains
I don’t know about you, but for me it doesn’t feel like the start of spring until the rains come. Yes the weather is warmer, in fact it’s been a heat wave. The trees and plants have changed to their summer uniforms of greenery while blossoms indicate where the fruit trees in the local landscape are – all novelties to this newcomer. But below all this has been a layer that is yellow, brown and dusty – evidence of parched ground and the fact that the rains seem tardy in coming.
Then today after 5 pm I go for a neighbourhood walk with the dogs and hear this faint rumbling in the distance. I call out in Afrikaans to Maria, the housekeeper at the centre, as I pass her house: “Is that rain?” She says “ja” but ignorant of the area I ask is it not blasting from a local slat quarry. “No it’s rain” she tells me.
So I set off with the dogs over our nearby small hill which we call Temple Hill in the direction where I now see grey is beginning to show over the horizon. Occasionally I see small slivers in lightening in the distance. We return while I see the local bigger koppies covered in green vegetation change colour as the light around them changes.
We return home and the storm draws nearer – I hear more and more rumbles as I answer emails. The light gets darker as the sun is setting. The wind is now blowing vigorously, shaking and pushing an empty plastic cold drink bottle left by the builders and drawing up dust. Tashi the cat sits on a wall observing it all. The dogs are a bit on edge and nagging that I feed them before it rains.
I am reveling in the seasonal moment, the light, the wind but Josh who is building a wooden cabin two storeys up for us, is worried that plastic temporarily in place on its roof won’t hold up during a big storm.
Then it’s here! The rain has arrived amongst the wind – small drops showering away on the ground and on the roof. The lightning tumbles away over the hills to other farms, rivers, valleys.
It’s not yet 7 pm but something I had not even expected two hours ago has come, done its awesome thing, and gone. It’s passed over but the air is transformed – it’s cooler, fresher, more moist.
I am elated by it all – and personally refreshed and revitalized. Hopefully it will rain again, for here and for me.
Letter from Groot Marico, South Africa No. 1
For the past two months I have lived, apart from visits of a few days to Joburg, in quite an isolated area of South Africa, twenty five kilometres from our nearest village (Groot Marico). I have been a volunteer at a Tibetan Buddhist place called Tara Rokpa Centre. Tara Rokpa owns a fair amount of land in a valley of pretty hills and streams., including a big natural pool fed by a waterfall during the rainy, summer season – at present, in winter, it is a trickle although the pool is still there. Tara Rokpa’s base land is part of a farm called Rhenosterfontein (Rhino Fountain/Sprint) and we are neighboured by areas called Kuilfontein (empty/bare spring?) and Draaifontein.
The isolation comes from being on the periphery of the information society of the twenty first century. The roads around us are full of sharp stones and slate but are still in good working condition and we are either ten or 20 kilometres from the tar road depending on what direction you head. Fixed line communication is on a shared line through an exchange operator in Groot Marico and is a poor service due to people on the other end not being able to hear us clearly and the shared line causing callers not to get through to us easily or we having often to wait for the line to be free to make a call. It also means listening out for the particular ring of our number, amidst everyone else’s calls and their ringing up the exchange. One can also not access the Internet or run a fax machine via a shared line.
Cellphone reception is also almost non-existent – in order to receive and send smses (it is not sufficient for voice calls) I can walk onto the adjacent koppie (small hill) and pick up two bars of reception in one particular place. While it is quite pleasant to sit on a rock with a great view and send and receive smses, I find that naturally everyone does not reply immediately and so I toddle off back home and then they reply and find that I don’t reply for several days until I toddle back up the hill again!
We don’t have TV as broadcasts from the SABC do not reach us by ordinary means – many of our neighbours, however, do have it by buying satellite dishes and their associated services. I think radio can be picked up with difficulty but I haven’t attempted picking up a radio station.
To get cellphone, radio or TV reception you need to use a long antenna or satellite. We in the office at Tara Rokpa are fortunate that we have a cellphone booster antenna which we use to access the internet via a data card, and when we are not online can give us the limited one or two bar reception from inside on a cellphone.
So for those highly dependent on phones, smses and TV this place is a challenge. Fortunately those are not major in my life and I get by with the phone and occasional smses. I think being without email would have been a challenge for me as it is my main form of communication with friends and family. I am fairly addicted to email and the internet and this addiction may be something I need to work on.
I am sure this isolation is typical of many rural areas throughout Africa and that we are fortunate with working roads, a telephone service (with all its quirks) and access to the web, email and smses via a cellphone booster. The isolation from the metropole is proving healing for me at present, giving me space to live with myself, my faults and to listen within the silence, open spaces and fresh blue skies.
|Nan Cross was a very dear friend of mine, and I was sorry to have not been able to attend her funeral as am living away from Joburg at present.
Nan Cross: Supported men resisting apartheid conscription
|Published in The Sunday Times:Jul 22, 2007|
She was driven by a commitment to social justice that was underpinned by a quiet, unpretentious bravery.
Nan Cross, who has died in Johannesburg at the age of 79, popularised conscientious objection in South Africa in the ’80s.
The woman who helped start the Conscientious Objector Support Group in 1980 and the End Conscription Campaign three years later was a very small person physically but had the heart of a lion.
She was driven by a commitment to social justice that was underpinned by a quiet, unpretentious bravery that manifested itself in a simple refusal to be cowed.
Many conscientious objectors from that decade remember her as their moral compass.
But there was nothing self- righteous or self aggrandising about her. She was as down-to- earth and practical as was the advice she gave to youngsters facing what for many of them was a terrible dilemma.
Cross’s Kensington, Johannesburg, home was not only an important venue for meetings. It was also where anti-apartheid activists on the run from the security police knew they could get a decent meal and bed for the night.
Conscription was introduced in 1967 but it was only in about 1978 and 1979 that conscientious objectors who were not from the “peace churches”, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, began to make a stand.
By the late ’80s, thanks to the efforts of Cross and a small band of volunteers who encouraged, organised, assisted and supported conscientious objectors, it had become an issue of some concern to the government.
In 1983, when the End Conscription Campaign started, the penalty for refusing to do national service was increased from between 10 and 18 months in jail — with time often suspended or reduced — to a non-negotiable six years.
In spite of this, the numbers of young white men refusing to fight what they saw as a war to defend apartheid increased steadily. Almost 2000 applied to the Board for Religious Objectors and more and more left the country to evade the call-up. By the late ’80s there were mass objections.
In 1987, 23 conscientious objectors made a combined stand. In 1988, the number rose to 143, and in 1989, there were 771 who refused conscription.
Many of them received moral as well as practical support from Cross. To stick her neck out like that in the repressive climate of the time took courage. And she was under no illusions that helping young men evade military service made her a target for the security police.
Although she was never detained, she was harassed by them and interrogated several times at her home. It was broken into several times and suspicion fell heavily on the security police.
The level of their interest in Cross was further demonstrated by the fact that a person who attended meetings of the conscientious objection support group at her home was subsequently exposed as a security police spy.
In addition to writing pamphlets, Cross helped conscientious objectors with their statements, visited them in jail, and was a consistent source of comfort and strength for them and their families whom she supported any way she could.
Although Cross had a very forceful personality, she kept out of the limelight. Extremely articulate, she was no public speaker. Yelling slogans from the podium was not for her. She did the hard, time-consuming, nitty-gritty background work that oiled the wheels of conscientious objection.
A stickler for detail and getting things absolutely right, she did this necessary work with a pedantry that even those who loved and admired her often found extremely trying.
As selfless and brave as she was, she could be very difficult.
After 1994 Cross helped start the Ceasefire Campaign which fought for disarmament and the reduction and eventual elimination of arms trading by South Africa.
Cross was born in Pretoria on January 3 1928. Her father was a lawyer for the Pretoria City Council. After matriculating at Pretoria Girls High School she completed a degree in social science at Rhodes University and embarked on life as a social worker. She worked for, among many other projects, the African Children’s Feeding Scheme and was in Soweto running the Orlando sheltered employment workshop for the Johannesburg City Council housing department on June 16 1976, when the Soweto uprising began.
She never spoke much about this other than to say that getting out of the township that day was a terrifying experience.
Shortly before her retirement, in order to ensure that she would qualify for a half-decent pension, she was deployed to the Johannesburg library service where she delivered books to elderly people and invalids.
Cross was deeply inspired by her religion although, funnily enough given her religious pacifism and commitment to social justice, the Baptist Church of which she was a lifelong member had no “peace” tradition itself and was politically conservative. This made her a fairly isolated member of her religious community.
She never married and is survived by two sisters and 15 nieces and nephews.
— Chris Barron