28 December 2008

Not many things, few photos and some links for the holiday season

It’s good to have the quiet holidays done. While generally speaking I am happy enough with not hurrying and taking it easy, it still is good to do something at some point of the day. Our holiday has been great really. Not too much snow here, but some still and that is nice. The members of the family who have fewer experiences with it are enjoying to the fullest. That gives me also a new appreciation for it.



More anecdotes and such later and another time, but here’s few phtographs and few links and recommedations. (check more from flickr)




One of my favourite artists Lowkey has a new record out. Listen to some tracks and then buy it when you realise that it’s pure gold.


Check out promo video for the song The Government by Rattex and Ben Sharpa. It’s great.


Download free mixtape from Jarring Effects label. They’re French electro, hip hop and things like that.


You can sign the petition and get some free cool music from Virus Free Generation. I got it because I do like Zuluboy’s tracks in general. This is the video for the track that is available from him.

2 December 2008

Thoughts from my desk

It never gets any less confusing. Hearing Christmas music when the temperature is above 30 Celsius degrees. The whole holiday season image is very Northern Hemispherean. I pity the people who boil in the Santa suit here. But either way, the end of the year and all that it brings is very nearly here and we are getting ready to hit the up north, spending a month in Finland. I am looking forward to that and I’ll be the first to admit, I really need a holiday. Starting up business, raising a baby and generally just living can be taxing experience. It’s rewarding as well, of course, but without elaborating more, I am ready for a break. Maybe even my first sleep-in in months. Babies don’t take weekends off from their demands. I don’t even know if I like babies in general, but I am the biggest fan of my son.

Other, completely unrelated things.

I have been writing a lot about Zimbabwe. I’ve said before and I still do that it’s difficult to know the accuracy of the news from there as they tend to be biased one way or another. Having been in the country during the land reform and seeing how the situation was demonised was disheartening and after that I decided to take most news from anywhere
, but especially from the African continent with pinch of salt. Still, it looks bad now and it’s the ordinary people who always suffer the most. I hope there will be a peaceful solution as these military interventions tend to cause problems that are worse than the originals.

South Africa has its own brand of trouble. Well, not exclusively their own, but racism is still rife and especially Cape Town seems like the racism capital of the world. Racism is a weird phenomena as it seems that it shouldn’t be talked about. At least, and indeed the most, the racist themselves will go to their graves denying it while complaining how black people have ruined this country. For anyone who has never been to South Africa it can be difficult to actually understand how deep these feelings are. I was re
ading a book called For Whites Only by Charles Cilliers. It’s an honest book and hopefully it opens up a little more meaningful public discourse, but I still found it being almost a little conservative. I am still glad it was written and I hope the people will read it.

Last week I also read another book called Leave the B@$T@*D$ Behind by Richard Maun. It’s book meant for people who are planning or have started their own business. I fall into the latter category and this book was great. It didn’t patronise me once and it didn’t try to make me feel like if I don’t want to be bigger business man than Trump himself I am fool. It’s a very cool, informative and witty book about how to do some basic stuff that can often be the hardest. Not that I wasn’t excited about our busi
ness before, but now I am even more. That’s a beautiful thing.

Business wise we have been working hard as well. Trying to create something new is not always easy, but if it was, everyone would do it. We’ve got few really cool new projects on their way. We’re are starting to record an audio book next month with a high profile author who will be reading the book herself. I am not getting into details yet who we talk about, but I suspect this could be that project that really puts us on the map. We are also dealing with another project that is partly audio and partly visual exploring the clan names of Xhosa people in South Africa. The most famous of those is Madiba, of course, because it has become synonymous with Nelson Mandela, but we easily forget that the guy who sells newspapers on the traffic lights also has one. Who knows if there are some Madibas there as well. I’ve got two at home at least. There are fair few of these clan names and we are currently looking how to best execute something out of them. It’s th
e photographic project that I have been cooking for some time now. Concepts are very cool and the designs and some test shots are coming along nice as well. It’s the most elaborate photographic project for me yet and I feel very ready for it.

So yeah, some cool stuff and some not so cool this time. The next piece may be coming from Finland already. I cannot believe they already had 30 cm of snow and now it’s raining again there. I never thought I’d say this but I hope it’ll be snowy and even a bit cold when we get there. I can manage that for a month.



Street Life

In Cape Town they say local is lekker. It means good or nice or something like that and almost every time I hear it used it refers to music. I really like Capetonian music so I agree with that statement. This week I got link to the new album by Terror MC called Street Life and I’ve liked his stuff for some time now. Go to this link to find out more and support the artist if you can.



Street Life by Terror MC (from the artist's flickr site)

Well done for the Aevenger Camp and Mustafa Maluka for the hours they've put in throughout the years for the local art and culture. You can also check out the video for the song Liberate Yourself
and Terror MC's MySpace.

15 November 2008

Weather Talk



Climate change has been enough to make weather talk interesting. Cape Town summer was interrupted by heavy winds - the kind of ones that were enough to make car unstable on the road - and some rain as well. After these thunders the other night when the sun was setting behind the Lion’s Head, the rays of light coloured the clouds red. Amazing sight from our flat once again.

10 November 2008

Sad News Today

I don't have much time today, but I want to pay my respects to late Miriam Makeba. I have all the respect in the world for her art and her political activity. For all the awareness she raised globally and hope she gave locally. Rest in Peace Mama Afrika.

6 November 2008

A Change May Have Come

A Change Is Gonna Come is one of my favourite songs of all times. It’s been remade several times but maybe with the exception of Otis Redding, no one has quite put as much feeling in it than the original singer and writer of the song Sam Cooke. The song was made in a different time during the North American civil rights movements and many of the people who felt the words since their birth are no longer here, but change is - finally. Well, we hope that the change is here, but in all honesty some change definitely has already happened. It’s the change in climate. Not environmental, which we don’t like so much, but in a political climate. I welcome that.


The South African political analysts already commented that there isn’t so much to be expected directly for Africa from Obama’s presidency. The man inherits wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and awful mess of an economy which may keep him busy for a good while, and the job description of the post he applied for is tricky. Contrary to popular belief I don’t think he’s a superman and I don’t think that’s pessimism, but realism. I still feel that he’ll be a great leader and that the change is very positive and international dialogue will almost definitely improve.


But for South Africa there is more. Elections are knocking on the door in less than a year and this weekend will see people registering to vote. I will participate in that only as my wife will have to register in our new area, but it’s exciting nonetheless. It’s exciting because of the new climate. Not only has there been a new winds in SA politics in a form a new political party, which may or may not be better than the old ones, but at least it forces sides to be taken and everyone to step up their game. It is a beautiful moment in a history of young democracy as far as I see it. It is also new as voting, through the circus that is US election process has become probably a lot cooler for young people and change is seen as a possibility, not as a theoretical concept that would be nice if it ever happened.


Of course, change is not a new phenomena for South Africans. Out of all the countries this one has seen some amazing changes in our living history and that revolution is still ongoing. A lot of great things have happened since Mandela took the office, but now, these recent events here and elsewhere may give this forward movement a new momentum; a new excitement and hope. I firmly believe that it is all good for the people who have long suffered. In never dying words of Sam Cooke: It’s been a long time coming but I know the change is gonna come - Yes it will.

20 October 2008

Internetlessness

Getting internet connection is not supposed to be hard. Actually, buying any service should be easy. Give money to someone and they give you what you want. If you can afford it, then you should get it unless you want drugs and guns and things like that; I am not talking about illegal things but basic stuff. Isn’t that what capitalism is all about?

I thought as much, but the saga of our internetlessness is long as Siberian winter. It’s difficult in South Africa with these services and it really doesn’t help that I am used to, what can only be called as the opposite.

The service provider who has done such a bad job at convincing me that they take me seriously has to contact the Telkom which is the company that needs to connect the wires, but they don’t have the keys and means to do it without the agent that represents the building where we stay. The building itself is very nice. It looks beautiful, but it’s build in a hurry, I assume, or something has gone awfully wrong, because there’s so many things that just don’t work and I am tired of complaining. Gosh, to make the story short, it very much looks like the building doesn’t have the right wires at this point and electrician needs to fix it after which these all other parties may or possible may not do what they are expected to do. I am sure you get the message; it’s complicated, and it doesn’t help that one should have all these people attending their various tasks in co-operation and ideally simultaneously so that I could work better from my home. To buy a service that I am determined to have and need and indeed can afford. It’s important to note that I am not asking or expecting to have anything for free.

One day I hope it will be ok. I have never heard anyone saying anything good about internet service in South Africa. I know there are many much more pressing matters as well, but in order to have the competitive edge in business or any other aspect of life, this could improve. I am still forced to go to the internet café to send email although I can fortunately check them from my phone.

Well, rant’s over. It is what it is I suppose.

A topic unrelated to the negativity that is the internet connection: I realised that I have not one but two Nelson Mandela special 90th birthday five rand coins. That’s nice. I don’t know why it’s nice, but it feels so. They’re pretty new things anyway.

Also, a photograph from our home. Or rather the view. The sun is setting behind the Lions Head (the mountain formation that is part of Table Mountain in Cape Town) and the rays are just so cool and powerful. It’s a beautiful city, isn’t it.

22 September 2008

Just one photograph

Sometimes things go right. Well, often they do, but I cannot stop looking at this photograph I took. It just came out so nice. I pride myself of taking decent photos in general, but this one is somehow very special. Everything is just quite strong here, lighting is nice and the moment is right. I guess I am giving myself props here publicly, but why not. It is a good one.


Thabo's out

So much has happened again. Zimbabwe got its agreement which of course wasn’t important because of the economic crisis. Thabo Mbeki received super props from Zimbabweans but got sacked on the home front and now South Africa has no president. I am not Mbeki’s biggest fan but I am not his hater either. He has done good and not so good things in power, been a statesman and represented at least some part of the nation really well. But his presidency was almost over anyway so I am not really writing about him, but rather, what I think would be the best for the country in my humble opinion; the new kind of opposition.


The main opposition party in South Africa DA (Democratic Alliance) is very white and quite Cape Town. Now I know I live in Cape Town and “being Cape Town” can mean good or bad, but lets just clarify that when it comes to political transformation, this city isn’t exactly the front runner, but somewhere far back still very much denying that there ever was any problems. Possibly because white Capetonians, it seems, fancy themselves as more liberal than rest of the country. This in my books mainly means that they are washing their hands and not taking responsibility as they supposedly didn’t even vote for the apartheid people. I haven’t met one white South African yet who would say they did, yet the Nationalist Party won the elections decade after decade in the whites only elections. This leaves me no option, but as a side note, to assume that dealing with the past, as it goes for the PDI’s (this is an actual acronym for Previously Disadvantaged Individuals), does not concern the previously (and let’s face it still) super privileged people of the same nation.


Of course DA isn’t all Cape Town and surely has some voters elsewhere as well, but I would rather have Mugabe coming to rule South Africa than them because I find DA unfortunately to be very traditional opposition for life party. Its policy is to oppose the government and disagree as dramatically and visibly as possible. Also, I can never see them getting enough support to be anything but a barking dog in a relatively short chain. The truth is that such a white led party cannot at this time lead South Africa purely because the race scars are so deep, not much time has yet passed from the previous white government and that didn’t go too well, and since ethnicity is such a big consideration in the country, the whites, while economically and seemingly generally in their own opinion at least are powerful, in numbers they really aren’t. The rest of the parties in the country’s politics are pushing the agenda that they do, but are smaller.


The official reason ANC NEC (National Executive Committee) gave for Mbeki’s sacking (officially of course asking him to step down) was to unite the party. I think that in order to have a little bit clearer idea of what this may mean, one must try to understand what is ANC. Originally SANNC (South African Native National Congress) was formed 1912 and according to Francis E Meli (This Country Belongs To Us: The History Of ANC, 1989) it was merely a discussion group for academics. Decades later when it was called, as it now is, African National Congress, it went on to be transformed into more direct action by its Youth League lead by Anton Lembede (membership included Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu and Sobukwe). This change was given blessing by Chief Albert Luthuli, then the top man of the party. Fast forward into more recent times. The party negotiated the democracy for the nation and Mandela became the first democratically elected president. This extremely short history doesn’t do justice to the movement that has done so much, but what’s important is that it was a liberation movement. It was a home for all kinds of people who opposed apartheid from communist to church leaders and goers and from academics to peasants. All of its members were brought together by their common enemy. While South Africa has been going through the delicate process of transformation so has the ANC; from liberation movement to a governing party.


In South Africa the ordinary voters get to vote only for the party and after the election the winners have the mandate to do as they see fit. ANC’s Secretary General Gwede Mantasha said in a TV interview (Interface, SABC 3, 21.09.08) that it is a great system because then the party will always be responsible, but I can’t see it that way. I try, but I can’t. Because a party is not a person. It’s no one in specific. It is group of people who may change as has happened since the ANC actually was given the mandate last time by the voters. It baffles me really. I guess the party has such a great history that no one wants to leave, but a voter in South Africa is still, fourteen years after the first elections, asked to give their vote to a group that consists of communist and business tycoons and everyone in between. From Billionaire to shack dweller quite literally. Seems a bit broad to me, and when they say that the decision to ask Mbeki to step down was to unite the party, then I am not sure if that many kinds of people should even be in one party. Not at least if the electoral system is as it is here. You know, just for the poor voters sake. So now, what was it that I was thinking could happen.


Well, if the approximately 40 % of the party members that stood behind Mbeki (or possibly just against Zuma) in Polokwane meeting would do the unthinkable and break away. I feel that it would make the democratic process a little bit more functional as the parties would have their own characteristics and one maybe would be more left and other right and so on and so forth. Voter would have an idea what they are voting for. There’s been distinct quietness and mysterious air around some of these matters and if something happens soon, it wouldn’t be all that shocking surprise to me. Of course anything can happen, but I doubt this party would win the elections; I only hope they would create a respectable and intelligent opposition that represent the nation and drives the government to their best effort. Keeps them on their toes so to speak. Right now the problem of the country seems to be that the leading party can do what it wishes because the opposition is nothing much to be feared.


Well, what will happen will happen, and I must admit that all this is an outsider’s speculation. I don’t even have a vote here, and it would be arrogant from me to say how things should go and that really isn’t what I am after. I also understand that I can never understand political struggle on an experiential level. To me, fortunately, it is just a concept. I have understood that the uniting power of such experience should never be underestimated. That may mean that break away is not realistic, and that is understandable. Also, leaving the Mandela party, the one that according to the history books at least (which may have been written by them as the victorious people get to do) gave people their freedom, doesn’t sound like a sensible thing to do. It can go either way. I cannot wait to see how this actually pans out.



Zimbabwe does it

I was watching live the signing of Zimbabwean agreement of Government of National Unity and what a show. I was so impressed. I’ve never felt like living such historic times. Some great speakers there as well on the podium. Funny how I was surprised about Mugabe. He gave an excellent speech, but then again, they found the fifteen second clip for the news where he looks like a wino from the park shouting at kids who are playing ball. He talked very emotionally without notes about the history, recent events and future and made some points that were pretty clever. Not to say he’s the best leader ever, but good speech nonetheless (which is not action… only speech). Professor Mutambara also spoke really well. Great ceremony. Much better than any MTV awards ever and I’ve seen my fair share of those as well.


Well, agreement was reached. Who would have thought. Not any of us westerners anyway. The anti-Mugabe choir was calling for military intervention and what not like those have gone so well in the past. Just ask Iraqis. This was an African solution to an African problem as it was said and that is great.


I have previously written about the future prospects. I was wrong about how this happened, and I am happy that I was. I think national unity is the best way forward and I didn’t see that coming, but then again, who am I to even see these things. The trouble is though the loans that are taken from the IMF to support the new currency (at least based on the plans). Those harsh conditions of the loans are not going to help the people who have long suffered. I hope there will be some solution that comes out of the blue like the agreement did (to me at least). Who knows; even the Americans are nationalising (AIG) now so maybe IMF has to think again the sweeping privatisations. I doubt, but I guess there is hope that Morgan Tsvangirai finds ways of dealing with finances and like the old uncle Bob Mugabe said in his speech, there’s something that can be learned from their successes as much as their failures. That’s pretty big from someone who has demonised to be the like of Mobutu Sese Seko or Idi Amin (both supported and somewhat installed by west by the way).

9 September 2008

Few bits and bobs

There was a time not too long ago, when I had all the chance in the world to update the blog whenever I wanted, but didn’t really do it much. It seems a bit distant now that I barely have online access to update but almost always some posts already written on my laptop and many topics are left unwritten on because getting online isn't that easy. I do check my emails and read whatever I want and need from my phone, but it's not really very convenient to type anything too long with it or to upload photos. So let me just say few quick things here in one convenient all around post.


I already talked about the car we bought. It's pretty cool indeed, but it's not all. We also just moved to a new place. A lot nicer than the old one, which wasn't bad, although it was rather small. We are also joined by a little man called Lwandle. He's been staying at his grandmother for his first year and half. So definitely enough changes. All very good.


Previously I posted some of my panoramic photographs from the top of the Table Mountain here in Cape Town. I got one of them printed professionally for a gift and I was very pleased with the way it came out. It's almost 1 m long and the quality is good all around. I wanted to add the photo of the photo and the subject being a subject again.


(click here to see the original)


Weather. Don't even get me started on that. It's awful here in Cape Town. Rain and more rain, cold heavy winds and then some. I actually saw the stream of water turning upwards in the gutter as the two oceans blew their hardest winds towards it. Good news is of course that the summer should be here soon. I need it already.


That's it really... it wasn't even that many things but at least I got them out. The situation with internet should change rather soon as we're getting broadband hopefully in few weeks to our flat.