31 December 2009

Social Medialess January


In Finland it is somewhat traditional to not drink alcohol in January. Well, we say we don’t drink but when the month is in its halfway mark, I am relatively sure that less people are standing behind this particular New Year’s resolution. Still, after the indulgence of the holiday season, at least theoretically, January serves as a cleansing exercise. It’s kind of what Catholics do for lent except its lack of element of competition but initially increased sense of self-loathing which very soon fades away. It’s My theory that the many failures to keep this promise can be attributed to this phenomenon of the only reason for self-policing being so easily forgotten; at times even changing into the driving force to not to keep the promise.

Since there’s over a year from my last drop of any alcohol and even before that I was hardly your wino in the park, I have decided to do my own brand of cleansing exercise: Social Medialess January.

I am no purist and there may be a few social media tools I’ll have to use, so to be absolutely clear there won’t be any Twittering or Facebooking for me in January 2010. I’ll turn off all the notifications to my email and should you try to contact me I won’t be available through these means of communication – email me. I will, of course, keep on checking my emails. I might upload a few photos to Flickr and update a blog or two at times, but the two main offenders are out of question.

So there. Happy 2010 – the magical year of football and many other good things to come. I’ll see you lot a little later then.

End of this one

It is not just the end of the year, but the end of the decade. And my gosh, I haven’t prepared a speech, not to even mention a list of my favourite albums, books or conspiracy theories of the decade. What a disgrace for a blogger, especially when it has been decade of abundance with regards to the conspiracies.

So many things should be mentioned to do justice to all this, but the past ten years gave us the Peep Show, Akala’s It’s Not A Rumour, Dizzee Rascal’s Boy I Da Corner and what else genii. I wanted to link a few things that for me are appropriate way to say farewell to the decade that pretty much was my twenties.

2010’s going to be a big one. No joke.

6 December 2009

Independence Day

We went to the Finnish Embassy here in Cape Town the other day, on Friday to be specific, for the independence day celebrations. The actual day is only today, but regardless we had a very nice time. Nice food, swim and sauna. There was also Finnish music and even the old version of the classic Tuntematon Sotilas (Unknown Soldier) film. Three full on entertainment hours of black and white war story. It got me thinking first that it’s so long that I saw it last time, and immediately after, why did I see such a brutal violent traumatic film at such a young age? At school. And it was compulsory. It must have been a different zeitgeist.

I am not complaining about the film. Maybe I should revisit it actually. Watching films like this, and holding onto any other kind of signifiers of the land of my peoples is typically the thing you do to stay connected. Sometimes it's nice, although I do have other less obvious films and music to do that already.

The Embassy itself is posh. It is very grand indeed. It’s up towards the hill and overlooks the city. The view to the mountain, ocean and the skyline shaped by all the tall buildings is one of those Cape Town things. I never do this, but I actually, due to the lack of any proper equipment, took a photo with my phone. Or rather, I took a few photos and merged them into a small panorama just to give you an idea.

But nice afternoon with the Finns. Always nice to go and have a proper sauna and all in all good energy all around. It also reminded me, of course, that besides the language and certain cultural characteristics I share almost nothing with my fellow Finns, but the nice thing is that us Finns don’t care about that and even if we do, we’d never say it out loud. Difference doesn’t make things bad; only more interesting.

3 November 2009

New Radio Blog

Radio Student Blog

I have launched a new blog that focuses on radio and studying it. It's really a platform where I write about the documentary project that I am currently busy with, and my observations during the lectures I have been giving to undergraduate students at UCT.

I have uploaded some audio from my last night's interview so go ahead and have a listen.


It's early days and there will be a lot more material in the blog soon; I am very much busy writing at the moment and I am very excited about it. Why didn't I think about this long time ago.

30 October 2009

Another minor personal victory and other things to look forward to

It's a lovely Friday afternoon, I've got a lot of things to look forward to and if that's not enough, one of my photos was again selected as the photo of the day at the official Cape Town Tourism website. Have a look at the link, feel free to even comment here, there or in Flickr.

I am also currently starting up a new blog which deals quite specifically with radio studies. I have been teaching at the UCT and got many ideas and one place where I thought I could share them, and also just organise them, would a be a separate blog. Right now I am writing something and as soon as I am ready to make the link public, I will do so here.

21 October 2009

Few links and photos

Sunset in Cape Town

A, sunset and the ocean

I’ve been busy writing some research and that always has its impact on blogging. Although, I have been writing about my running exercises on Runnin’ Tings. And running has been going rather nicely as well. It certainly has added value in my life.

But the reason I am writing here is to share a few links that I think are very cool.

Cape Town based independent hip-hop label Pioneer Unit, which is behind some of the most talented artists in South Africa, and releases, in my opinion, the most exciting albums in the country as well, has entered the next level with their music videos. The previous ones were cool, but these are something else, and quite frankly should get into the heavy rotation on TV’s music shows.

Here’s Driemanskap’s Camagu and The Streets by Rattex.

I have been a fan of K’Naan ever since I heard his Soobax years ago on BBC 1Xtra’s DNA (I wonder if that show is still on). K’Naan is a Somali rap artist, poet and self-proclaimed dusty foot philosopher who now lives in Canada. He has recently released three online mixtapes for free and very much legally in co-operation with an American producer and DJ J.Period. These mixtapes are tributes to Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. You can get them from J.Period’s site.

Of course also a few photographs in this post. They are from one of our family outings by the sea. More photographs in my Flickr site.

29 September 2009

Runnin' Tings

Runnin' Tings
Amkelwa's new trainers.

I have said for the longest time, defiance in my voice, that I won’t start running. I have never liked jogging. I have tried it many times and I basically have always wished that I’d be a bit more of a runner. But with walking I am able to think about stuff and while I am hardly such a philosopher that the UN convention acknowledges my thinking as crucial for.. well anything, I am a dreamer. That might be more accurate term. And I like it. With running, I am afraid this dreaming, let’s call it that, is under a threat. Of course I can dream other times, but now I’ve really digressed far from my motive to open the computer and update this blog. To put it simply: I’ve started running and blogging about it.

Yep, me and my wife Amkelwa have decided to take up a two month experiment where we run and write about it (at least a bit). The reason we decided to blog about it is to ensure that we stick to our promise and not slip so easily. Also partly to try the talk of town, Posterous blogs.

Link: Runnin' Tings blog

18 September 2009

17 September 2009

...CC me as well!

I licensed my blog long time ago with the Creative Commons. At some point, while changing the layout or doing some such reconstruction work I have lost the bit of code; the CC (Creative Commons) icon, that tells what can be done with the content here. I can’t even remember if the licence was based on UK, Finnish or what legislation.

But these things are not so important now. I have licensed it again, now definitely based on South African copyright laws. You may use, distribute and rework all of this material freely so long as you make mention it’s by me and don’t ask money for it. If you should have a money making scheme in your mind, then we’ll talk.

Creative Commons licences are pretty cool. It’s still a copyright only you don’t pursue quite all of your rights to the point that people are allowed to hardly even think about it. I don’t expect, in a blog like mine, this even making too much difference; it’s mainly a symbolical gesture and to be part of the movement because copyright laws as we know them (and as most don’t know much about them) are so incredibly faulty, that something needs to be done.

Here’s a reading list for free content about copyrights. I am currently studying some of this as a part of my Masters Degree so why not share the links if you are interested.

Full E-Books:

12 September 2009

Road trip and few other things.

Sunset on the road
Sunset on the road to the east.

It has finally happened; I am a student again. Officially. I’ve started doing my Masters Degree at UCT (University of Cape Town). Continuing similar media related studies that I already did in England. Getting permits took a moment longer than what I hoped for, but it’s all good in the end. The lectures are few times a week and on evening time so the day time struggle still remains in the real world.

We also had some visitors from Finland which was very nice. Great week with my family from that side who came down to celebrate my new decade. Having off week from University this week, we then decided to do a road trip to the great province of Eastern Cape. The home of so many heroes I look up to. Our destination, as per usual, is Graff-Reinett. One of the least progressive farming towns I’ve ever seen, but home to my in laws and birth place of the late Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

Summer seems to be starting. I was careful today not to get burnt by the sun, and I guess I was successful in that. I am happy about summer and just in general. That’s all I really wanted to say today.

Sunset on the road

Sunset on the road

Link: Flickr site for the photographs.

25 August 2009

Birthday celebration and a photo

I guess it is a bit of serendipity, a fortunate "accident", that today, when I have my thirtieth birthday, the official Cape Town Tourism site selected my photo as their photo of the day. You can see the actual post on their site from here.

Happy birthday to me.

3 August 2009

Coming out of the closet

I've always taken a great pride in the music I listen to. There are songs, even albums that move me like I can't even explain, although last week I started writing a piece for this blog in an attempt to do so. I wrote the first half of a sort of early-Nietzschean analysis of experience of art, which I felt was rather pompous even by my standard. I had selected three records that I can, almost at any time put on and listen to from the beginning to the very end. Those records are It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy, Boy In Da Corner by Dizzee Rascal and It's Not a Rumour by Akala. All of these albums, to me, represent something much more than a hundred years of chart toppers combined. Easily. I also used to present and produce a music specialist programme on radio where I researched music rather globally and played some absolutely amazing music. I was in contact with many artists world wide and got on their promo MP3 posting lists, and it was important for me to treat the music with respect I felt it deserves.

That's the official story. Every word of it is true, but of course I like a lot less cool music as well. I suppose I still have a delusion of some kind of street credibility and it might have stopped me from talking about the other. But because my instincts have told me not to, then probably it is exactly the kind of stuff that I should be talking about. To get it out of my system and to swing open those closet doors.

It's not always that this happens, but recently I revisited my childhood favourite Roxette and realised what kind of brilliant pop music they made. Now, this last weekend, I made myself a playlist that I must say few words on. It's a compilation of songs from various years from the late 70's to almost today and some tracks are very classy, but the ones I cannot turn off aren't.

I've been listening to You Are My Destiny by Lionel Richie basically non-stop. It's pretty amazing song in its innocence, and the incredible naivety of the lyrics describe exactly how I feel about my wife.

One of my all time secret favourites Tainted Love by Softcell is also on the rotation, but what I myself see as the unlikeliest song to occupy my space with repeat 1 is Alice Cooper's Poison. Yes, Alice Cooper's Poison. I never liked it much because I took a stand against rock music. Where I grew up you had to basically select rap or rock and I was the only person to choose rap. Not that I chose it against my will, I still prefer it, a lot, but at the tender age I was in, I was far too insecure to give any props to anything else.

So how much is it with irony that I listen to these songs? Does it matter? I actually think that the ironic experiences don't have much difference in this types of cases; I listen to these songs because they are catchy, nostalgic maybe, but I like them. To call it irony would be just to try to disguise it. These are great songs. There, I said it.


Rainbow in Cape Town

22 July 2009

Crime vs. Lawlessnes

People talk about crime in South Africa in an extreme manner. This is not to say there's no crime or even suggesting that the statistics lie because I don't know if they do, and I suppose I don't have any particularly good reason to doubt they would. But the point is that someone is not definitely trying to murder you.

But law in South Africa appears to be a weird thing for an outsider like myself. It is understandable because of the history, I guess, because a certain section of the society has traditionally been, if not above, then at least favoured by the law, and other one has been oppressed by it. So I guess I can see how not thinking about it as a consideration as such could happen and even become a norm for some. Not for everyone, maybe only minority, but for someone from every section of the society.

When I talk about the general disregard of the law, I am not talking about people who get called gangsters, tsotsis or even criminals. Not them alone, at least, as they are one part of the situation and their actions get reported in an in depth manner in other platforms, but I am also talking about the soccer mums talking on the phone while driving, people going out drinking with their own cars and all the other convenient shortcuts just before the junction of what one should actually, according to the law at least, do. It's a general disregard of the law and we end up ignoring some important questions if we only talk about the the impact, and not the general mind set and set of values that allow one to select which laws are to be followed.

Everyone who breaks any laws breaks them in their own context, and as we know, hardly anywhere do the contexts differ as much as they do in South Africa. These contexts might not be very easily understood through each others but only through themselves. Therefore a highjacking might not be as far from a supposedly innocent text message on N1 as it might initially seem.

Immanuel Kant introduced an idea of the Categoric Imperative. He wrote:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Immanuel Kant, 1785)

We can argue that we don't approve of stealing and so we don't steal ourself, but if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture then we must ask that what if we take the liberty of selecting the laws that apply to us. In my context it's maybe only a disregard and in someone else's it's a question of trying to counter the inherently unequal conditions of the society; to provide some bread on the table. Of course there are many other reasons for the crime but those really aren't so important for the point that I am driving.

I remember a few years ago in my home country, Finland, a Member of Parliament said how she had been smoking cannabis. To me that seemed quite unacceptable considering her mandate as a part of the law making organ. If, as a law maker, you select which laws apply to you, then can you be upset at the industrialist on the other end of the political spectrum who feels that the labour laws are basically holding him/her back and are quite oppressive. Isn't he/she then allowed to select that as an unjust law not to be respected?

This, of course, isn't to say that all laws are always just and the previous example was an extreme one as the person in question makes laws for living, but law generally is what we have and if you can select then so can I, and my decision might not always please you. Some lawless things don't necessarily hurt anybody in any way, but it is the idea here that is on the table, not so much the practice at this point.

But to take the idea of crime vs. general disregard of the law back to the South African streets. I live in Cape Town and I have never been a victim of the traditional crime. It's long time already since I was in Johannesburg, 2002 I believe, and I must admit that there the situation seemed more serious. That might, again, be due to the context that I was in, which was more humble than my rather middle class life style in the Mother City. In Johannesburg I thought about the possibility of dying twice, incidentally, in one day on two unrelated occasions, and that was also partly due to my own choices of where I was, but still, I don't feel threatened by the crime much. I have not personally had problems with it. With the disregard of the law however I have been in two car crashes in less than a year, both due to the other driver just not caring, looking or thinking. These have set me back financially and in other ways and the other drivers have been completely unapologetic. I find that to be more immediate threat to me, and maybe that is what we should warn the next year's world cup tourist about. Since it seems to be so important to let them know everything that can go wrong in this scary country.

To summarise, it's complicated, South Africa is a beautiful but scarred country and things most often aren't as simple as they may initially appear.

20 July 2009

Meantime in between time

I've been recently living a bit limboish existence. I haven't quite been here or there, actually, but somewhere halfway waiting to hear which way I am able to go. Yeah, this is just the kind of cryptic stuff I like to write when I am not prepared to give any actual details and facts. In South Africa it happens a lot because in South Africa nothing is sure, and you wait for stuff most of the time. It's part of this whole process.

I have been trying to make peace with the process recently because not making peace with it seems like a lot less appealing option. I am preparing something that I will make public later; maybe in a year's time or so. It's a write up for myself about what do I really think about it all. As in life. It's for me, but when it's done you are also welcome to read it. I also hope that the waiting game ends soon and I have something cool to write.

There are a few cool things actually in the pipelines. My family from Finland is coming to visit us closer to my birthday. That's great. Also, the birthday, the 30th at that, has had few resolutions to accompany it. I promised to get moderately fit and I think I am doing alright with that. Last week saw two hikes and one day basically running on the beach. I have also promised myself to try to cut down my coffee drinking into two cups per day maximum. It's going okay as well, although I have already had my two cups today and I am feeling like getting some more. But one day doesn't count... only the downfall of a resolution that potentially starts from it. Then again, maybe I need to allow myself an extra cup and learn to be a bit less like my own prison warder. For goodness sake, it's just coffee, not heroin.

Link: Check some hiking photos from my Flickr site.

3 July 2009

Vertical (u)Panorama

By clicking the images you are able to see a bit larger versions

My last post was about panoramic photos. I started to think about them and imagined how it would be to shoot them vertically. I am sure it's been done many times, but I have never thought of it. I am actually quite happy with the way these came out. They are from Newlands Forest, Cape Town where we go for our walks quite often.

Link: Other recent photos on my Flickr site. I have uploaded today some images from Constantia Nek hike and Kommetjie beach picnic

19 June 2009

Ndumiso Ngcobo on National Identity in South Africa

We have been recently working on few ideas that focus on identity on an individual and national level. We have thought about questions like what does it consist of and how could it be strengthened. Is there even a national identity in South Africa and if there is or at least could be, what would it be like.

We talked with one of our favourite authors Ndumiso Ngcobo (Some of My Best Friends Are White & Is It Coz I'm Black?) and he shared his views:

Listen Now:

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Link: Read Ndumiso Ngcobo's Blog at Thought Leader (Mail & Guardian)

18 June 2009

Re-thinking Work

This is where I had my cup of coffee this morning. Where did you? Click here to see a bigger version of the panoramic shot.
Few things need to be re-thought

A few things need to be re-thought. Of course, I believe absolutely everything needs to be re-thought constantly, but specifically, the concept of an effective working day.

Work as a word comes with a package. It’s a question of status, livelihood, pride or shame and a large part of our life in hours. It is something that should start either 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning and take our time until the early evening. If this criteria isn’t met, it does sound suspicious. But even more suspicious it is should some part of the working process take place in an unusual location. Outside the office or wherever one is expected to sit nicely for all those hours every day. We the people have adopted these rules of work and even if we had a chance, which not everyone does, we would guard our own jail door with a vigilance of the worst prison warden with one unquestioned mission in mind: must look like I am doing something and then, almost definitely, I am.

Ok, maybe some of these words are a bit strong and for most people, there isn’t really a choice where to be when the work takes place. Many probably don’t even care. They just clock in and grind out. Also, for most people, there might not be anywhere nice nearby where they could come up with better ideas. I, however, am lucky enough to have plenty.

Cape Town is a big city that combines urban and natural within a smallish area. The mountain and all the beaches are accessible especially if you have a car and a bit of time. There’s some of the most amazing places up there on the hill and I can see our house from there. That’s how close they are.

So, today we decided to have a strategising meeting up the mountain. Or somewhere on the way to the top. To have a nice cup of coffee in the most amazing natural environment in quietness while watching down to the buzzing highways of the city and the stressball that is the city centre. It’s a healthy exercise. In order to see, one needs to metaphorically take a step back and look at the context and the bigger picture. This is exactly what you can do up here not only as a figure of speech but also literally. The active hiking reduces your stress and uses the energy in things other than frustration should that be the case otherwise. It leaves you with you, the nature and your ideas.

It’s pretty great. I feel we had a very productive meeting in the most positive atmosphere, and enjoyed a very refreshing cup of coffee from the flask and took in the winds of the two oceans. It’s easier to think outside of the box when you step out of it. Isn’t Cape Town great sometimes.

Amkelwa on our coffee break. Notice the new hair do.

14 June 2009

Book Fair '09

I was thinking about writing something incredibly witty, informative and all around top notch stuff here, but then I decided against it. I sometimes try it - actually almost always - but now I surrender to the tiredness and that's just fine. Still, I wanted to post some photographs from Cape Town Book Fair '09, which we attended this weekend. Last year we were on the scene like James Brown every day of the event, but this time, as the book store chain's bonus card only provided us with a moderate discount and no free entry like last year, and in all honesty, the offering didn't look as good as last time, we decided on one day visit. After initial inexplicable, yet distinct sense of awkwardness we went to listen to some pretty cool talks and panels. That's where the event really is. Rest of it is quite elitist and self-congratulatory.

At some point I will finish editing some audio we recorded with Ndumiso Ngcobo. He's definitely one of my favourite South African writers.. the books and the blog and all. We talked with him last year as well. He's a cool guy. Not one of those times when meeting your favourite whoevers will ruin enjoying their stuff because they were unbearable.

Ndumiso Ngcobo talking, signing and with Amkelwa.

Another talk we attended was a panel about a book called The Prize & The Price. The book is a collection of writings on sexual equality in the society. We initially wanted to hear Professor Kopano Ratele's views, but ended up enjoying a good variety of speakers.

Professor Kopano Ratele from UNISA

As said, the audio material will be uploaded as soon as it's edited.

4 June 2009

Four Years of This

Early June 2005 was warm in Finland. I remember it well. The story in itself might sound a bit grim, but I have fond memories myself. I was in hospital somewhere halfway through my chemotherapy. The hospital ward in Helsinki is on the 7th floor of the building. That might not sound too high up, but considering that the city isn't built upwards, the views are good and there's nothing much to block them. I sat down in the corner of the communal meeting space where the new computer had been installed with a free internet access. From a window I saw the Baltic Sea and the seagulls flying near the coast line and its tall trees next to the rowing stadium of 1952 Summer Olympics. I had been thinking about blogging a lot for some time, but now, a drip in my hand I decided to start my own.

After that a lot has happened and quite a lot of it is recorded here. Some periods were more quiet and some quite active when it comes to writing, but all in all, it's been one of the best hobbies I've ever had. After opening this blog I've also had five other blogs, some of them still ongoing, that I've managed, I've created few more and contributed to some others as a writer and photographer. It's been an addiction of some kind.

The look of the blog has changed few times and most recently it did last week. I liked the previous one as well, but unfortunately the code had some trouble that I didn't manage to fix so I decided to change it once more. Now I am rather happy about it.

While my blog celebrates its 4th anniversary on 8th of June, two days before that on the 6th Inner Sense, my wife Amkelwa's blog has its first birthday. I find that to be really cool as well.

Thank You for coming and do come back. I intend to be here for some more time.

2 June 2009

Prepaid Existence

A bit of moaning here. Or maybe it is just a lesson learned. Prepaid everything is the way to go in South Africa. I have decided to minimise the amount of signed contracts because they are hard work and in my empirical study, some would call it just life, a full hundred percent of them have caused me unnecessary bureaucracy, a lot of faxing (many companies are yet to figure out the beauty of emails) and basically just a lot of time and money wasted. I've been blamed, guilt-tripped and ignored, but most of all sent bills for services I haven't used in a flat I haven't lived in in a long while. Oh, and of course those faxes I mentioned generally get lost at the offices so they had to be re-sent.

We are still trying to address some of our past mistakes of signing the dotted line with all kinds of companies, but currently we have prepaid electricity, broadband and of course mobile phones. It has been a great relief as I haven't had to make one phone call or send one fax and everything has worked really well. Also, getting the prepaid services generally is much less stressful exercise as it doesn't require any copies of passport or an ID book, your grandmother's maiden name or a pencil test.

Now our broadband cost has gone down nearly by half and electricity by 75%! Also, I haven't yet spent any of my prepaid mobile phone airtime to plead anyone to fix their mistakes and I haven't had to fax one copy of any payment as a proof that it's been made (as if the bank wouldn't communicate this anyway). It might sound insignificant, but I used to spend few hundred rands a month to be transferred from one uncaring person on the phone to a next one. That is a lot more than we now pay for a whole month's electricity. I wish this would have happened a long time ago.

I started writing this post feeling a bit angry at a specific electricity company, but while I am still waiting for them to rectify their mistake from February and give us some money from deposit, I actually realise that our current situation is pretty cool. How nice.

29 May 2009

An Open Letter to South Africa.

Let me, once again, start with a disclaimer: I love South Africa. I wish to see this country and all of its people prospering in peace. A bit utopian and extremely idealistic, I know, but that is what I want.

In the field of medical science the illness must be diagnosed before it gets treated. Without the diagnosis one cannot know what even needs to be addressed and with what kinds of medicines. You cannot cure a cancer with a painkiller. I doubt no one even wanted to try it. For some reason, however, the same logic doesn’t get applied with the societal problems. I guess it is largely due to the broad spectrum of various diagnosis that everyone offer; that’s the democracy, but when there is a distinct lack of willingness to openly debate something that is so incredibly obvious, it makes you wonder. I am talking about the R-word. The most unkind, uncomfortable topic that in its awkwardness scare most people away. Even for me, it took two paragraphs before I could say it: Racism.

We all know that South African past is characterised by institutional and consistent racial discrimination. It started hundreds of years ago, but somehow, the expectation is that it ended in the early nineties when Mandela was released. Or latest, few years later when he became the first democratically elected President. The problem, of course, is that how could that end racism, which really is a mindset, a world view and a set of values that impact the society on its various levels through imbalanced economical power struggles, when imprisoning him wasn’t what started it. It didn’t even start the apartheid. All apartheid was racism but not all the racism is apartheid. Therefore doing away with a system, or even just a word itself, doesn’t address the mindsets of the people and their cultural practices. Racism is something that is a deep-rooted illness of South Africa (amongst many countries) and cannot be treated before we really know what it is about.

Of course, the ones who have been subjected to racism know what it is. They’ve had to deal with it ever since they were born, but do we white people in South Africa and beyond have any idea what we are talking about here? I suspect that by and large the answer is no, and that is the problem. There is no diagnosis so we don’t know what to treat. Other problem, of course is that there is not an immediate need to address something that doesn’t hinder your life, and a general attitude which appears to suggest that racism is purely a problem of the receiving end. But racism isn’t just name calling and most of all, the main problem is not your eugeneterrablances, who openly hate, but the closet racist. The ones who basically have no idea how racist they are, because that is how they have been for generations. It’s normalised and a standard practice; a kind of comfort zone.

I am not here to tell how things should be (another convenient sub-disclaimer there), but there must be more open debate and public discourse on what actually is happening on the streets, workplaces and homes of South Africa in this regard. Unfortunately the reality needs to be rubbed on people’s faces for it not to be ignored. Right now the doctor is recommending us some rest when in actual fact we have a life threatening illness. And much like with cancer, the treatment can first make you feel much more sick than you were, but you know that you are going forward, not backward. Racism is everyone’s problem and everyone needs to step up and start addressing it. It needs to be tackled where it happens. It’s not just theory but a practice.

I applaud people like Charles Cilliers, who have realised this and started, what I can only imagine to be rather unpopular action in some circles. The debate must take place both internally within every community and also on a national level. We must rethink the cultures and traditions because the history is a cruel story of intolerance, and therefore useful mainly as a warning example in this regard. The true transformation is for everyone taking action and responsibility, and not waiting for the Government, or anyone else for that matter, to transform us. It is crucially important to acknowledge the history, but while saying sorry might be an appropriate start, this is not a question of apologising the past, but changing the future attitudes in real terms and not just in theory. A headache tablet is not going to cure this cancer.

27 May 2009

Family Reunion

Just posting a few photographs from the last weekend. My brother in law Kaya, who lives in the UK, was in Cape Town with us for a week and a half, and on Sunday we went to Kommetjie to take few photos. My wife and her siblings are very rarely all in the same place at the same time so we had to use the opportunity.

Some more fotos on my Flickr site.

24 May 2009

Wittness to Fitness

You know you are doing something you want if you wake up before 7 am on Sunday to do it. It really isn't typical for me to get up at that kind of time, and even less so, to do it because I am on my way to hiking. Yet that is exactly what I did today.

Recently I wrote about the promise of getting moderately fit for my birthday that is in August, and after that our friend Tanja invited me to join their Hiking Club or at least a hike this weekend. I thought that since it sounds like something I don't do, I should probably do it. It was great.

We started around 8 am from the parking area of Silver Mine national park area (or some such) in Noordhoek. The early part of the hike was varying degrees of climbing up in the cool and fresh morning weather on a small rocky path. The difference, I found, between jogging and hiking is that when you start running you initially feel like it is the easiest thing and you may as well go on and do a proper marathon there and then, and only about three to five minutes later you realise that you were wrong and feel like you are going to need hospitalisation. With hiking, however, it goes the other way around and after the hump, you feel like you could go on forever.

The views from up there were pretty amazing while strong winds were opening and closing the cloud curtains around us. After three hours we found ourselves back at the parking area. Only eleven o'clock on Sunday and I had already felt the sense of achievement. Nice one.

So I am still on my way to be moderately fit on my birthday. Let's see where this takes me. Might do this again. My brother in law suspected that I might get addicted to exercise. I doubt that though; I only get addicted to things like Twitter or checking my email every two minutes, but I am still determined to give this a fair and proper go.

Link: Hiking Club Facebook group (Cape Town area)

23 May 2009

New Identity Portraits for Inkokhelo.com

Few more Identity portraits I took for Inkokhelo.com. These were our first shoots in the Eastern Cape in Graaff-Reinett. More information is available at www.inkokhelo.com

In memory of a friend

I received sad news yesterday. My friend Shadrack Kgosane had passed away. Today I went to his memorial in Landsdowne in Cape Town. Based on the speeches given, both by their quantity and quality, it is easy to say that he was well liked. I certainly think he was cool.

I didn't really know him that well. A lot less, I assume, than most other attendees at the memorial. I lived as his house mate for some time in 2005 in Wynberg. I remember those times with fondness as it was also when I met my wife and in many ways was starting a new chapter in my life. I didn't talk at his memorial, but there is one anecdote that I wanted to share.

It was 11th of November 2005 and Sithengi Film Festival in Cape Town. A radio station I worked for had some tickets to a world premier of brand new South African film called Tsotsi. That film, of course, later on went and won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Film. I asked Shadrack to join me. He was from Naledi and Sowetan through and trough. He enjoyed Kwaito music which this film was promised to have and I thought that it'd be cool to ask him to join me that evening.

Tsotsi starts with, in my opinion, a very strong scene where the main characters walk defiantly through the streets and on the background is Zola's Mdlewembe. As soon as the beat kicked in he started singing along... “Hey wena!”. I realised immediately that for me this was just a cool experience and for him maybe something much more. That night we danced the night away to all the top Kwaito artists of the time and even got to talk to Zola himself. Whenever I hear that song, Mdlewembe, I think of him. He was a cool guy and left a strong legacy to his colleagues who unanimously admitted that at the memorial. The time I knew him, I was very impressed. I might just put Zola on my headphones and just appreciate what I've got in my life.

20 May 2009

Reflection and a promise.

If happiness is a loaded gun, then this is mine.

Who did that song “Life is Life”? Of course, the statement in itself is truism, how could it not be, but then again, life is so many things. I am now on my last 100 days of my twenties. Soon enough I'll start the thirties and I am very excited about it. No crisis or anything like that. I think I've done okay and overcome as many obstacles as someone like me has to. As a white European man I am very privileged in this sense, but that's another topic.

Some statistics of my life. On my thirtieth birthday I have lived 10% of my life on the African continent, most of which in South Africa. I lived around 13% of my life thus far in UK, 3% in Ireland and just under 2% in Denmark. The rest, after deducting shorter traveling periods I was growing up in Finland. Of all these times I am happy even though at times it felt difficult. But one is a sum of all experiences so if I am happy with myself now, I wouldn't be who I am without, say, few lonely years in England.

What does one have to achieve in the first 30 years? Many people around me are around the same age so I have been exposed to some ideas. I really don't think that there is any set standard, and I can only talk for myself, without comparing myself to anyone or anything. There are few things that could always be a bit better, but I do have a wife and son and great family in the homeland. I have had a chance to live in a few countries and travel a few more, and work with some cool people and then just some other people. I have had a chance to have great education and my life has been saved by amazing health care which I am so happy about. I've survived cancer and done few things that were even harder, but it's all good. I've had a chance to enjoy some brilliant music and great cinema. I have had access to read and even own some books that has inspired me and made me more than I was before reading them. I am a very fortunate man and I am very grateful for that. Life has been kind to me. It feels good to be where and how I am now, I am happy about the experiences that took me here and made me... well, me, and on top of that, I am excited about the future. To see my son grow and soon probably start talking, three languages mind you, and learn more with him and with my wife.

So yeah, it's been established that I am feeling content. There are few goals for me for this last 100 days. I wanted to write one of them down so I cannot cheat myself away from it. I am going to get moderately fit for my birthday. I say moderately, because I am hardly a person who has stuck to his fitness decisions previously, and also, doing all the family related things, it's not always so easy to have time and energy for extra-curricular activities. But I am going to start with some basic push ups and such and then see where my ambition takes me. So definitely only moderately fit. It's always good to under-promise and over-deliver, and even if you don't over-deliver, it just looks like you have reached your goal.

There won't be any before and after photos on my birthday, but I might just keep the blog updated about how it's going. Just to keep myself in check.

5 May 2009

Just let me be, Please.

I am not trying to offend anyone here. Why do I need a disclaimer every time I am about to say anything I think or feel about religion? Of course, I really don't want to offend anyone since I am not very confrontational person, but in actual fact, should you feel at all offended by what I think, then you really need to gain some confidence into your belief system.

I do have my opinions on organised religion and other social aspects of faith. They are not very supportive towards the cause itself, but I am not really interested in writing about them. If that is what suits you, then knock yourself out. And that, actually, is exactly what I wanted to write on. You must do exactly what you must in the name of your personal faith as long as the emphasis is on the personal.

Based on this idea I really mainly have one problem with Christianity; Matthew 28:19-20. That is the bit that tells the good Christians to go and bother everyone else with their thoughts on heaven and hell and everlasting life. Without that bit all the other bits would be just ideas on use it don't use it basis, and it would be easy to never hear much about them if you so chose, but because there seems to be somewhat strong emphasis on converting everyone to see things in a same way as they do, the Christians don't give up on us non-believers. In my experience the most arrogant aspect of this particular religion is that its followers assume that my lack of religion or even personal faith in any God-like concept is due to not knowing enough about it. And I am not talking about Easter Anglicans or Christmas Catholics, but the ones who actually believe in what they say they believe in. Thanks very much, my knowledge on religion, its history and dogma is just fine and maybe just because of that I find it impossible to relate to. I mean think of all the atrocities that can be attributed to various types of organised religions. It's gang mentality all over.

For many years I didn't have to address the topic of my religious views. It was fine, no one asked and no one probably even really cared. In South Africa, however, these matters are taken very seriously and the reason I am writing now is because earlier today there was some lady shouting loudly about her religious values on our living room couch (some relative of relative), and I thought that it was a bit much. Since this is my home and no one here subscribes to any major religion. And while I don't share her values and in all honesty I was rather annoyed by them, they were not my problem, but the fact that they had to be broadcasted on my time. Why would they even concern me anyway? What is this obsession of having to make sure that everyone thinks like they do? None of my Moslem friends do that. That's not to say that I believe any more to their religion, but what I like about it, or maybe it's just my Moslem friends, is that what is something beautiful, like a personal faith can be, isn't being made my problem. I stand against converting and going around trying to babtise the world. It really is annoying and quite arrogant.

My Christian friend (this is not a token Christian friend like every girl's gay friend or so, just a person who subscribes to this religion) once told me that Richard Dawkins' book God Delusion needs to be hidden from the Christians. He felt very threatened by it and it made me wonder that is there still some underlying lack of confidence amongst Christians to their faith. I mean science suggest that evolution has more to it that creationism; even the Pope agrees now, world is not flat and Adam and Eve might not have been how it all started. So considering all those times the church was seemingly wrong, I guess it starts to be difficult to prove without evidence that anything of bible should be accurate. I mean it could be, but it doesn't seem likely to me. But maybe there's an element of if I say it enough times, it'll become the truth. Like Weapons of Mass destruction, although that might be a bad example.

So if I could be a God for a day, I'd give Christians confidence to their cause and I'd erase that bit from the bible, where it says “...go around judging people and try to force them to start thinking like you do; be offended by other opinions and approach strangers on the streets with Jesus stuff”. I am not sure if my quote is absolutely word by word, but that's more or less how whatever is said there seems to be interpreted.

23 April 2009

Another Identity Portrait

One more portrait from inkokhelo.com shot by Mikko Kapanen (that'd be me).

About month ago we started working on our identity project Inkokhelo. Our starting point was iziduko, the clan names of Xhosa people. Being located in Cape Town it seemed like a convenient natural starting point. But it was never to be the end of it; of course project like this has its own life span for however long and it really is about the journey and not the destination.

Our latest model is Shaqir who has his roots in Khoi Khoi, Java and French Hugenots, which makes him uniquely and so distinctly South African. I find this stuff powerfull and I am currently editing an interview where he talks about his identity. That will be uploaded soon and you can hear it from this blog as well.

17 April 2009

New look.

It was time to finally change the look of my blog. I know I changed it not so long ago a bit, but this one is bit fresher all around. Well, in my view at least, But I am the one who has been looking at the bugger for nearly four years. I suppose it is time to freshen up a bit. It's not quite there yet, so to speak, but it's getting towards it.

Life has been busy and full of obstacles. I am not complaining, just stating. It feels good to be here in this particular junction where I feel like getting up. I am not gonna get into the whole "I try to write more" and "Oh, how long it has again been since I last wrote". I write when I write and if you are interested more then you can follow me on Twitter which I actively use.

13 April 2009


We've been working on a new project that combines photography with African Clan names. All the information is on www.inkokhelo.com, but here's some samples. Thought I might post them here as well.

18 March 2009

More Fire!

The smell of the last night's flames is calming down. It certainly was an experience I had never had before. News say that some people in areas closer to the fire had to flee their homes in the middle of night, which sounds mad ,but only because it wasn't happening in a township where fires cause so much damage relatively often. It's a sad story indeed and makes me think that the sirens and smell that kept me up the whole night were quite small in comparison.

Another outcome of the last night is that one of my photographs is being used on Cape Town Tourism blog.

Fire on the Table Mountain

Real time news. Ridiculously big fire is currently ravaging the Table Mountain and the strong winds bring in smell like I was sitting in the middle of a bonfire. Let's hope they can control this. Long night tonight for the Cape Town fire fighters.

15 March 2009

Photo Shoot with Gaba

Masixole getting ready for the photo shoot by the river

While shooting a portrait for Masixole Nkumbesi we talked about the signifigance of the Clan names for him and their relevance in today's world.

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Masixole talks about his family and and the Gaba clan

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