24 November 2005

Me and Mr Murphy

I have been having some full contact with the Murphy’s law this week. There might have been something that could have gone more wrong but I cannot point it out right now. My camera was stolen. Considering my love for snapping photos this was a real setback. I have no evidence so I should not point any fingers here, but at the same time as this one geezer was staying at the house, besides mine, also one camera from Sofia’s project was stolen, so it would be very easy to assume that he had something to do with it. I know it was not me, Sofia it was not either, my other housemate Shedrick is on the list of suspects straight after Mahatma Gandhi and only one more person in the house is left. He is now somewhere in Johannesburg and will never come back. The insurance will pay me money back but it is such a shame to lose all these photo opportunities.

The drama with my mattress seemed like a sorted one for a second when I super-glued a patch on the hole and it was almost keeping the air until I woke up one night on the floor as the mattress had a new and far bigger hole. I fixed that as well but now I need to fill it every night before going to sleep and in the morning it is so-so.

While struggling with the mattress I also went through three days of rather unpleasant stomach virus. That was not exactly helping me with sleeping.. or anything for that matter. Very exhausting experience.

I wish I could stop here, you have no idea how much I do, but there is more.

After my chemo therapy earlier this year I have been experiencing some trouble with my fingers and blood circulation in particular. That is what chemo therapy has as its side effect and so far it has been merely inconvenient rather than painful. This week some changes took place and I actually got a frostbite on my finger. I find it ironic that I must come to African summer to get one when twenty six years of Nordic winters did not do it. There was just too little blood reaching my fingertips. I got antibiotics from the doctor who I went to see yesterday. I have not yet started taking them because, and this is the climax of the story, I lost my ATM card and have not got the money to get them from pharmacy.

What happened with my ATM card was odd to say the least. I was trying to get some money out but the machine was speaking only Afrikaans so I did not understand it and then it said something like "you took too long, you bastard you, and I am not giving you your card ever back cos I reckon it’s stolen.. so what’cha gonna do? Ha?". As I said I am not sure because the text was in a language I did not speak but this is what I assume anyway. Now the card is dead, I am not crying but I must admit that things could have gone smoother. At the moment it seems that this incident has not got anything to do with any ATM frauds, that are so common here. No money was lost from my account but I suppose I need to check again in few days just in case if there is a delay in the withdrawal. Fortunately I have Euros with me so I just need to change them to get on with things.

I am not complaining or victimising myself. This is just part of learning experience and I am still here doing the uncompromising radio show and enjoying my time. Like my friend Shane always says – You have to take the rough with the smooth.

19 November 2005

Future of the Radio looks bright after all.. at least here.

One of the most impressing projects that I have seen, or rather heard, at Bush Radio is CREW. It stands for Children Radio Education Workshop. It is a project which gives children and youth opportunity to learn about broadcasting and on the process about everything that surrounds them. I have been fortunate to see fair bit of their action as their shows are before mine. What happens in action is that there are three separate shows - Bush Tots for children between the ages of six to ten years, Bush Kids are from ten to fifteen and Bush Teens are fifteen to eighteen - and every show lasts for an hour. Letters are sent to the co-operating schools which then find few kids who are the most suitable for the project and finally a group of around 10 of them start learning about radio with a help of an adult. This adult supervisor explains practical things and helps with the technical equipment although both the Kids and the Teens operate the desks themselves. They come up with their own ideas which are very mature indeed. As I am typing the Teens are talking about hygiene and before that they covered the topic of respecting everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. Their theme for the day was gender and what does it mean so all the topics where related to the differences and similarities between men and women. Kids were talking about empowering the girls and helping them to grow to respect themselves as a part of their women in media discussion and topic for the Tots was bullying in schools. I cannot help but think what I was thinking when I was younger. I am not sure, but I have not got a recollection of worrying about how women are represented in the media when I was ten.

My trips to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup always take longer than I expect because the meetings to prepare the future shows take place by the big table next to it. The debate there is amazing. I have not met many people in the European commercial radios who would be so critical with their topics and the content of their shows in general.

One importance of CREW is also that it is as multiracial and multicultural as South Africa can get at its best. Young people learn to live with each others, which almost twelve years after the democracy cannot be taken for granted. Last thing that one of them said when the show was ending was, "Hey guys, I think our conversation about human rights rocked today". - I only wish you would understand how much!

16 November 2005

Just a short note..

I have been far too busy with the Cape Town International Film Festival and work to write this week. Besides Tsotsi, that I already mentioned in my last post, I have also seen now Le Grand Voyage, which was fantastic story about father and son driving from France to Mecca and on the way finding each others and Cuban film Scent of Oak. It was a period drama with its good moments and nice message but generally ... let's just say that I am not going to buy that on DVD.
My show will be two hours from now on and it can be heard every Saturday 12 - 14.00 GMT.
I am also hosting the Sakhisizwe, Building the Nation, this Thursday and Friday. It is a talk based programme. The actual presenter needs to go to Johannesburg so I am filling in. That is on 10 -12 GMT on both days.
And lastly few pictures from the beautiful Table Mountain. We went hiking there on Sunday with Shaqir. The trail is covered by clouds so what seems like a fog is a cloud. Few of the first images are old from the False Bay. That is only because the photo service is giving me continuously some problems.

12 November 2005

Great Film, No Electricity and Being Starstruck.

Yesterday (11.11.2005) I had one of the strangest days in a long while. I was quite exited in beforehand as I knew that the biggest Kwaito stars of South Africa, including Zola, were to come to Bush Radio for an interview and I was interested to meet them. Or just to see them actually. I was also excited about the tickets I had for the South African premier of Tsotsi, a film about township life. Tsotsi has been well received at some international film festivals, such as Glasgow and Toronto, and now it was opening up the Cape Town International Film Festival. Our tickets were also valid for the after party where all these stars were supposed to perform. That is a good prospect for a day.

Everything was quite normal until the afternoon. I was editing some sound production for the morning show when electricity went low but did not stop completely. Victor, our morning show host who also has the technical know-how at the station, looked a bit worried. Not quite as worried though as he looked two minutes after when everything went down. No electricity and we started running to the storage room where we got the generator and started the broadcast again. That was five to ten minutes of the dead air - the two words that radio people have nightmares on. The situation was surreal as the whole station was dark and quiet and only mixer, CD players and few other gadgets were on. Soon the generator run out of petrol and as we learned that the whole of Cape Town did not have electricity, we could not get more of it from the petrol station. They cannot function without power either.

So few brave men used the tube and the old "sucking the petrol tank of the car to get the petrol -trick" and we went on again. This time we suffered twenty minutes of dead air. Which was not too bad considering the circumstances and the fact that also most radios listening to us were off as well. Power cut continued and our Managing Director Zane Ibrahim gave the order to shut the output until we got the power back.

I assume it was due to the power cut that the artist could not make it to the interviews either. I also had one interview for my documentary project and had to use microphone and minidisc and take the hit with the sound quality. I have never experienced a radio going off air because of power cut. It was quite hectic.

I left the station after five and all the traffic lights were still out and everything was slightly chaotic but nothing major happened. My friend Shaqir, who was coming to the film premier as well, picked me and my housemate Shedrick from our place after seven and we arrived to the town centre soon after. The film premier was held in the Artscape Opera House which is as central as it gets and seats more people that most cinemas that I have seen. As we were walking in we crossed the red carpet where the superstar of the evening, Zola himself, was entertaining people and welcoming the audience. He shook some people's hands and when I past him we did the South African handshake, which at this point I know already although there are some variations out there, and he said "Wait wait… I wanna talk with you". This was said in the microphone in front of the blinding lights and everybody's attention, not to forget the TV cameras, so I was not quite sure what is happening. He complimented my style (there is a first time for everything) and asked me am I from Soweto as I was wearing my Loxion Culca trainers which are quite loxion indeed (=location which means township). He was talking to me for a while and I was starstruck. Probably more than ever before.

I am not sure, but I think Shedrick was also quite impressed by what happened. He is actually from Soweto, from Naledi, which is right next to Zola which is where Zola gets his name and comes from. Shedrick also enjoys Kwaito music a lot and he lives that life, so obviously he should have been interviewed but apparently a white boy in Cape Town wearing baggy trousers and township style shoes was "quite something else" as I was told afterwards.

Film started a bit behind of the schedule and audience were rather sarcastically demonstrating against some speeches by some ministers that just took a bit too long and which had a bit too political manner. But finally the film started and what a film it was. I am not going to talk much about it, as I recommend you to see it yourself if you are interested in African and particularly South African life. Tsotsi means a small time criminal or a thug and the story was about young Tsotsi growing out of his habits in a different way that we are used to see these things happening in the films. Cinematography was great and I hoped that I could take similar still images with my camera. It was a very stylish film and soundtrack was amazing. Zola was responsible of that and he also had a supporting role in the film.
I can also imagine what kind of emotions the organisers of the event had gone through during the day and the power cut, that could have stopped the opening night of the festival at any moment.

After party took place outside in front of the opera house. It was a strange environment for such a great evening of Kwaito, which generally is more Johannesburg than Cape Town and which definitely is more township than city centre, as we were in the middle of the tall buildings and the neon lights of the big corporations. We saw Brickz, Ishmael, Zola of course, Pitch Black Afro, DJ Cleo and Cape Town's DJ Ready from the Prophet's of the City, who was the one to start hip hop in South Africa.

Fantastic day ended with a ride home with Shaqir's friend Kurt and his sister and brother. They found me being interviewed hilarious. I ended one of my previous pieces by talking about how seven means everything is great. It is actually Zola who has made this saying common on his TV show Zola 7, so I think it is only right to end this one with a number as well - 7!

8 November 2005

Deeprooted racism in the media language.

Often I hear people, both ”westerners” and Africans, talking about adult men raping kids in Africa. The misconception is that by having sex with a virgin you can cure the HIV/Aids. It is not surprising that everyone feels sickened about the matter – just like they should. In Europe grown men also rape kids. We just call them paedophiles, we do not like them either, as no sexual act should be forceful and we do our best to put them in prison. Sometimes it is hard because they have the funds to travel to the different side of the world to rape kids who are not looked after in the countries where police does not have the resources to catch these criminals. I think they should not have opportunity for this, but that they should be imprisoned when found guilty. What I do not agree with is that why their African counterparts are not called paedophiles but ignorant Africans. I am sure that if any tradition in our parts of the world would give people an excuse to sexually abuse anybody, there would always be people to hide behind it. Surely few Africans are doing these crimes because they are desperate and willing to try all the methods to get healthy again and few because they were denied to get proper education, but I would argue that majority are just plain old paedophiles - the ones who are attracted to have sexual relations with young children. In our news, could an African for once just have a problem other than being stupid or ignorant?

This obviously is a matter of our media discourse which is determined by the western broadcasters and publishers. Some people were paying attention to this matter during the hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, when white people were reported to try to survive and African American were looting and misbehaving. It is the same matter but it has been ongoing with Africa for decades and we are so used to it that we do not ask any questions about it.

“Westerners” are always quick to point the finger to places like South Africa, where racism undoubtedly exists. What we need to understand and realise is that racism is everywhere, just like sexism, and we all need to work in order to reach some sort of equality. We need to remember that we are not any better just because our media practice is the dominant one. To prove a point I want to give few more examples. Why would I be constantly asked about the living conditions in Africa, electricity and clean water, if our media would not only give news on famine and destruction? Yes, it exists but Africa is a diverse continent and talking about it as it was just one dodgy neighbourhood is not only ignorant but also very disrespectful. Why do we raise up the issue of religion in our media only when it is other than Christianity? And lastly, and this partly confuses the earlier point, do we really think that it is only the Catholics causing the trouble in Northern Ireland? Are they fighting alone? While I am not particularly supporting anyone in this conflict I am pointing out that maybe Protestants, like Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), are having their part in the drama. Why does IRA ring everyone’s bell but not many know about UVF? These are just some questions that we should think as people who consider our media as free and unbiased.

The trouble with Africa seems to be that the propaganda has been so strong that it has also been bought by many Africans themselves. Even many “westerners” who mean good, fundraise and organise different events to help Africa are contributing to this problem. Africans are always seen as the weaker ones, the ones who need our help. Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, all the ones who I consider as “western” countries, regardless of their geographic location, are not helping Africans, Asian or South Americans to decolonise their minds. Not that they necessarily should, as it is something that needs to be done by people in question, but we do not actually want to give it a chance to happen even without our help. Have I said this already, Steve Biko – where are you when we need you.

7 November 2005

Some Observations

Lot of small things are taking place at the moment. I have been doing lot of technical stuff lately which is not necessarily my goal but equally if help is needed I am not going to say no. Documentary is going well.. or it is coming around I should say. I am doing interviews all the time and editing them when I have some time for it. Last Friday I was talking to Nomzamo Sinaze, 16 years old girl, who was giving her views on the situation in the country. Her father is a counselor in the towship of Delft, which means that he has plenty of opponents who are willing to take his place. Her family is threatened constantly, their property vandalised and because their house is promised to be burnt or shot down, the whole family sleeps on the floor to avoid the bullets. She was very mature for her years and I suppose that is exactly what the environment causes. More power to her.

Other things that I have found out lately are as follows:

Pat Robertson, yes the one who wanted United States government to assassinate Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, is the head of Christian Broadcasting Network and hence controls all the money given to Christian media pretty much all over the world including here in Africa. Things are not looking very good regarding the Christian broadcasting media. Hardly ever it is good to have fascist leader.

One of my favourite rappers Jean Grae, who I knew was born here in Cape Town, is the daughter of Abdullah Ibrahim. They exiled to New York when Jean, whose real name is Tsidi Ibrahim, was just a young girl. I knew previously that her parents were jazz musician but my western sources would not expect one to know Mr Ibrahim. I still do not know the name of the mother so I am working on that. Quite a lot of musical talent in one family. Very interesting… unless if you do not know who Jean Grae and Abdullah Ibrahim are. In that case this paragraph would be rather useless read.

One Euro equals now 40 000 Zimbabwean dollar on black market. When I was there in 2002 it was 500-750 Z$. Not very good Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Maybe you need to step up your game, no? I asked the Zimbabwean fella I was talking with, how much the bank charges but apparently there is no more bank rate.. just the street one. Once again I want to emphasise that my dislike towards Mr Mugabe has nothing to do with Tony Blair’s one. Mine is not post-colonial “Good African is westernised African and good African leader is on my leash” –type. I just cannot appreciate the way he treats his people. I also acknowledge that he was a great leader when Zimbabwe was fighting for their independence and I think that Prime Minister Blair should understand that United Kingdom is hardly in a position to criticise after all that they have done on Zimbabwean soil.

To finish this one why not to share few photographs from our weekend trip to False Bay. Did not quite make the whole way down to Cape of Good Hope but saw the penguins and the magnificent views, beaches and the 7… as they would say around here… meaning all or everything is good, sharp and tight, but I am not quite sure about this slang yet.

1 November 2005

Bad karma

Recently I have had the worst luck with material possessions. Or buying them to be precise. It all started little less than two years ago when I bought my laptop. I got it from Finland and soon after getting it I went back to England. As I got back, I noticed that the CD burner was not working like it should. It could not make a CD without something going wrong. Sometimes one track did not work, sometimes the whole disc and in worst cases the whole computer got a bit mad. I obviously had the warranty so when I got back home for the next time I walked back to the shop only to be turned away. I was told that they are not responsible but I should return the product to Hewlett Packard and they would then continue shipping it to Holland or Belgium or Denmark, the salesman did not remember, and then they could fix it. Unfortunately this would take two weeks but in reality, the salesman told me, this would take closer to a month at least. And the best part was that as they would reformat the computer it was possible that I were to get my computer back speaking Dutch, Danish or French. It had happened before, I was told. Altogether not very good deal especially if you only have one week time to do all of this. At this point I would like to remind that I paid the full price with real money and on time.. well before I got the product.

Next item to give me trouble was my MP3 player. It was working like a dream for the first few months. I appreciate that and its presence helped me over some hard times in the hospital. After some time though it started giving me some problems. The plug for headphones was not working properly and I could hardly hear any of the music. It was, and still is, impossible to walk and listen to music because the wire is moving and the listening experience is merely frustrating. I went back to the shop because the product had one year warranty. Unfortunately this product needed to be sent to some country far far away and this time it would actually only take two weeks to fix it, said the salesman. At that time I had one and half weeks left in the country and nothing could be done. Again, I would like to emphasise that I paid with cash.. hard currency and full price.

Next gadget that I bought was a stereo system for my sister when she moved in to her new flat. For some reason, that once again as a consumer I could not understand, the machine was not playing CD:s like I was promised in the shop it would. Once again I paid the full amount, no discounts and once again the product I got was not working properly.

Latest chapter in this sad story took place in Cape Town, South Africa. Although the money spent was not as much as in my previous examples this one possibly is even more frustrating. When I moved to my friend’s house there was no bed for me. So I decided to get myself one of those mattresses that are filled with air. They are not the most comfortable ones but quite convenient. So I got one and came home and did whatever it was that I needed to do and then started filling the mattress. I went to sleep and woke up early next morning which was Sunday and at the same time my only day off in the whole week. First question was where did the mattress go? Seconds later I figured out that there is a hole in my air mattress. It does not take an Einstein to understand that an air mattress with a hole is almost as good as no mattress at all. I tried to find the receipt and I could not. But I found the fixing kit. That unfortunately could not fix the hole.

It would be easy to say that just go to the shop and they will give me a new one which could happen. Even without the receipt. But the trouble is I do not have time to go to the shop. Eventually I might but now, after two more weeks of sleeping on the floor and fourteen mornings of backache, I have not had. The shop is only open at times when I am not available. So it ended up being my problem again that the item sold to me as perfect, was not as promised. Also this product I paid like I was supposed to, smiled and even wished them a good rest of the day. They, whoever they are in which case, will sleep their nights well on their comfortable beds which might or might not be filled with air.

Only one question is left. Where are my bloody consumer rights? They are rather theoretical it seems. If this is what capitalism is then put my name on the list that opposes it. I have been thinking about this a lot and the only logical explanation I can come up with, is that this might be a sign from Ganhi’s spirit which is trying to tell me to get rid of my material possessions. I start off by giving out my mattress. If you want that – hit me with an email.