CLIFFCENTRAL.COM – First Month Round-Up

June 2, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 8:46 am

ccCliffCentral.com – launched on 1st May 2014 – celebrates one month of “netcasting” with almost a million page views.  Having taken the leap from traditional terrestrial radio to the future of internet and mobile, Gareth Cliff and team plan to create the pre-eminent “infotainment” online content hub.   It’s about sharing in real conversations – everything that happens in our world – everything we all experience every day – makes us think…makes us laugh…makes us cry…..makes us angry….inspires us… what makes us human. CliffCentral.com broadcasts from 6am – 6pm and the programming is repeated so you can always catch up later.  Alternatively, podcasts are available to listen on demand.

CliffCentral.com starts the day every weekday morning with “The Gareth Cliff Show” and his trusted team – Mabale Moloi. Leigh-Ann Mol, Damon Kalvari and Siya Sangweni-Fynn – uncensored, real conversation about everything in the news, everything that happens in your life and everything we all experience every day, along with first-class guests, edgy material and a healthy dose of humour, intelligence and inspiration….and lots of phone calls!  “The Gareth Cliff Show is simulcast on Comedy Central (DSTV Channel 122), will be moving to the earlier timeslot from 06.00 – 07.15 on Wednesday 4th June.

Between 09.00 and 15.00 every weekday – hourly shows hosted by well-known personalities and experts covering a wide range of topics and issues news with the Daily Maverick journalists; “Candid Business” with Business Report Editor Ellis Myandu; Leadership with Adriaan Groenewald; “The CasperRadio Show” with Casper de Vries and his team; “TG Squared” with Trevor Gumbi and Gabi Mbele; “The Buzz” with Jen Su and Jason von Berg; “Blaque Issues” with Tumisho Masha and Monwabisi Thethe; “Rockstars and Rookies” with Hlubi Mboya and Jade Reinerstsen; “Womandla” with Phumi Mashigo; Sex Talk with Jonti Searle and Black Spider; Law with Garry Hertzberg; Health with Dr. Jonathan Witt; “Heavy Petting” with Leigh-Ann Mol and even “Keeping Up With The Kalvaris” with Damon and Bernice….just to name a few.

While having some of the most well-known broadcasters, personalities and experts in the CliffCentral.com stable, the aim was to also encompass ordinary people who may never have had an opportunity before to showcase their talents or even just share their areas of interest. To this end, some 1000 live auditions were held during May yielding amazing results.  Every afternoon between 15.00 and 18.00 “CliffCentral Conversations”, hosted by young up-and-coming broadcaster Arye Kellman will include guests (and successful auditionees) bringing  their particular flavour and engaging with the wider audience with live phonecalls, social media and WeChat messaging.

The range of conversations include sport, finance, legal, beauty, fashion, “The Stars” – astrology…as well as “The Stars” – celebrity gossip, technology, gaming, youth panels, education, entrepreneurship, health and fitness, love and relationships, social media, inspirational stories, television, movies, lifestyle related topics…everything that is relevant to our audience.   There will also be a slot for ongoing auditions so the door remains open to join in.       Some of the applicants who are potential talk show hosts will be developed by co-hosting some of the shows in preparation for weekend programming on CliffCentral.com

Listen live on www.CliffCentral.comwww.dstv.com; Wechat CliffCentral Account

In case you were in a coma…

May 19, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 5:23 am

If you haven’t yet figured out that we’re live and doing our show between 6 and 9am, don’t beat yourself up, lots of people don’t know stuff. Some o these people died because they didn’t know fire was hot, or they thought wireless internet was a phone trapped in a gauze maze. I’m here to help. so for the people who are slow to catch on, don’t be ashamed, just pretend you knew right from the start and catch up on the podcasts (number 4, below). here’s how to listen to the Gareth Cliff Show:

1. Go to CliffCentral.com on your web browser. The stream will start immediately. If you’re on uncapped wireless at home or work, you can listen freely

2. Go to WeChat on your phone, no matter where you are. On WeChat, go to ADD CONTACTS. Then go to OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS. Type in CliffCentral and add us. Now we’ll appear as a contact. On the message screen you’ll see LISTEN. Press that, and you’ll hear us. If you’re on Edge, 3G, 4G or LTE you’ll pay normal data costs. If you’re on a wireless connection, no extra cost. We’re working on ways to get those data costs down.

3. Watch COMEDY CENTRAL Channel 122 on DSTV between 7h35 and 9h00 every weekday morning. The show is broadcast live on TV.

4. Download the podcast of whatever show you want to hear by going to CliffCentral.com. Every show should be available an hour after it has gone out live. Go to PODCASTS. Downloading the show won’t take long and then you can listen whenever, wherever you are for free.

5. Listen live on DSTV.com and check out your favourite TV shows at the same time.

Remember if you have a smart phone you can connect it to most modern cars which will put the stream on your car radio. On very smart phones you can also use Bluetooth

Have fun, and tell us what you think. Remember you can call in on 0861-555-189 any time.

Freedom Day Thoughts

April 27, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 5:40 pm

BlbhrugCYAAbF8NHappy Freedom Day to my favourite country on Earth. But with some sombre thoughts…..This possum ate it’s way into a box of pastries, overdosed on sugar and got too fat to fit through the hole it used to get in. So it just waited to be found, jam-smeared for rescue. Thanks to Tom Eaton on Twitter for this. I suspect you know a few examples of people just like this, well-known people, who are so greedy they can’t help but help themselves.

The ANC (government)(include the latter term if you choose, because there is such a blurring of lines) is overwhelmed with corruption – and on the grandest scale. Just the other day I heard about a man who gets tenders from a government department and in return lets the minister in question have his way with the man’s wife, regularly. Many hundreds of thousands of rands change hands in this transaction, not to mention the dignity of the man’s wife. Part of the deal is that the cream the man takes off the top gets returned in sizeable portion to the minister in question. I’m not sure the story isn’t just gossip, but then I’m not sure it isn’t. Who knows how much more nefarious the deals get, especially lower down the pyramid of influence where the amounts are smaller and the recipients more desperate and depraved.

Part of the rotten, depressing problem we’re faced with is that most deployed cadres wouldn’t be employable in the lowliest of jobs. They know the gravy train is their only hope at wealth and the material rewards of success, and they’re determined to get what they can out of the deal before the tap is closed. This isn’t some casual observation tainted with racism (because I’m already assuming that will be the first counter-argument) – the Auditor-General agrees with me. We have dysfunctional, uneducated, dishonest, immoral people in government office, starting right at the top. Because they don’t know better, they can’t tell the difference between a few thousand and a few million, but they know they want some. Like that possum, they gorge themselves on public money and perks like a fat child eats cake until they can’t anymore – and they always get caught – because they’re too fat to fit back through the hole.

Gwede Mantashe can call those of us who criticise this disgraceful stealing whatever he likes, but we’re not in North Korea, and his propaganda hasn’t got the power it might have had in years gone by, when he trained as an apparatchik. In fact people are so furious that they openly boo the President, laugh at him more than with him and are deeply suspicious of every single thing the ANC does and says – including their (it deserves to be said) very positive, powerful election campaign. It’s time we pull all the pigs away from the trough and force them to earn their office, earn their reward and deserve our respect. If they won’t, we’ll ridicule, insult and cajole them into humiliation and resignation – even the thick-skinned ones who refuse to budge. There are good people in politics, even a skeptic like me can admit that, but they’re becoming few and far-between as they end up tarred with the same brush as their less salubrious associates.

I don’t want fat possums making important decisions and helping themselves. I demand public service – from people who want to serve our great country, not pillage from it. Is anyone listening? Turning 20 means we can’t behave like teenagers anymore.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth…..

April 19, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 8:11 am

Liars 1The reason Jacob Zuma, Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani make us all so cross is because we know they’re lying and we know we wouldn’t get away with those kinds of lies if we tried them. Imagine someone builds you a R240-million house, all you have to do is lie that you didn’t ask for all the extravagances, and they’ll shut up and pay – and because people are scared of you, you’ll get away with it. Imagine you kill your girlfriend, lie that you thought it was a burglar, hire some lawyers and cry a lot – because you’re a celebrity and people are stupid, some of them will believe you. Imagine you hire killers on the Cape Flats to murder your wife and then tell everyone you have mental illness and suicidal tendencies in order to delay your extradition to a trial – and waste two years before you’re eventually made to explain yourself. These people annoy us because common sense tells us they’re bullshitting and yet, in civilised societies we’re not allowed to point fingers. We want to point fingers. We need to point fingers.

People (especially pious people) keep telling me not to judge. Judging is what got us to this point in our evolution. You judge the distance between the sabre-tooth tiger and the tree, and you make a dash for it. You judge that the ledge is too high to jump off of, and you survive. You judge another person’s trustworthiness and you either do business with them or you don’t. When people tell you not to judge, they usually mean you shouldn’t criticise them or their decisions – or a situation where they have the opposite opinion to yours.

The onus also seems to have shifted in cases where someone is caught in a web of lies. There seems to be either a lack of authority about the truth or a lack of accountability for it everywhere. Either way, if you accuse someone of talking nonsense, somehow you’re the bad guy. It should be the other way round, don’t you think?

Imagine you’re at a lunch and some guy can’t shut up about how he just bought a McLaren or owns a house in Italy. You know this is patently untrue. Something we’re taught from childhood seems to make us want to shut up and tolerate this kind of pea-cocking. What really should happen is that you should get up and tell the guy in question to stop talking rubbish. Nobody does that. If they do, people round the table might actually think he’s the rude one. Unless you come like Gerrie Nel, armed with files and photos and bloodstained duvets that prove someone is being dishonest, you should humble yourself and let them keep mouthing off. The difference between truth, fiction and opinion is so blurred.

I think much of this comes from a general dislike of confrontation. That’s why Zuma, Pistorius and Dewani can keep up their lies. People don’t want to cause a scene, disrupt the peace or make anyone uncomfortable. Being quiet and allowing them to continue corrupting the truth will only delay the inevitable and make the truth, when it eventually comes out (and it always does) that much more painful to hear and bear. If we all had more regard for the truth than for being popular with our fellow citizens, associates, friends and family; we’d be willing to stand up and ridicule these lies in open, public ways. I’m going to ask you to imagine again, but this time instead of making you frown, I’ll make you smile:

Imagine the ANC NEC calling an emergency meeting and telling Jacob Zuma to either repay the full cost of Nkandla and resign immediately or face prosecution. Imagine Oscar Pistorius breaking down in the dock and admitting that he’s an incendiary, complex man with a lot of psychological problems and that he might have been responsible for the murder of a girl who engaged him in a furious argument. Imagine Shrien Dewani manning up and saying “I’m willing to face trial, to present my case and to stop putting every obstacle to justice in the way of prosecutors.”

Now go back to that lunch I told you about, stand up and look the boastful guy in the eyes and tell him he’s a bullshitter. Do it, you might upset the party, but you’ll gain bucketloads of respect in the long run.

Into the future

March 31, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 4:22 am

GC TEAMToday, 31st March 2014, I did my last show on 5FM after a decade at the SABC.   It’s time for a change. My team and my audience are like my dysfunctional radio family and we want to offer something new and exciting. After two suspensions and several close-shaves, dozens of BCCSA complaints and almost as many management changes at the SABC, it’s time to get unhinged!

What about the team?

Leigh-Ann Mol, News Anchor alongside Gareth since he hosted the Afternoon Drive in 2003 and moved with him to the Breakfast Show in 2006, has also left 5FM.   Leigh-Ann confirmed that this was not an April Fool’s stunt and that she, in fact, would be joining Gareth – “I could always stay at 5FM, drink more and continue farming cats or I could do something really brave.  I’ve chosen the latter. I must be drunk!”

Executive Producer Thabo Modisane and Thabo’s Assistant Damon Kalvari crossed the floor from 702 in 2003 to join Gareth on Afternoon Drive and also moved with him to 5FM Mornings in 2006.   Both Thabo and Damon will be crossing the floor once again to join Gareth.  “The timing is now perfect to embark on a new journey with Gareth” says Damon Kalvari , “As 5fm also prepare for their own voyage into the future, we part ways, like an amicable divorce. In this case, of course, Gareth gets custody of the children.  I only hope the catering will be good wherever we’re going”.  Thabo Modisane added “It’s been nightmare keeping Gareth within the rules. Hopefully I won’t have to do that where we’re going”.

Mabale Moloi, the “baby” of the team, joined Gareth with the launch of his breakfast show when he introduced traffic reports for the first time on 5FM.  Mabale, then an honours student at KZN University, called into the show one afternoon and before she knew it, she became what Gareth called “the listener in the studio”.  Mabale commented,  “My family thought I was crazy to defy convention and ditch microbiology for this crazy white boy.  It was the best move I’ve ever made and I’m again excited about following Gareth into the future”.

The Ginger Ninja Sports Coach Sias du Plessis was the last member to join to the team and that comes with a penalty!   Sias still has time to serve.

5FM Mornings comes to end but we’re just getting started.   April is the month of Idols Theatre week at Sun City and holidays.   1st May will usher is a whole new era and I look forward to you joining me. Stay tuned!

Gareth

Close to home

March 16, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 5:58 pm

Oscar-Pistorius-20910935-1-402The trial we are all talking about, and how close to home it is.

I knew Reeva. I haven’t really spoken about this before, but she came to two of my birthday parties and showed my mother how to use a new dishwasher once. She was a friend of one of my ex-girlfriends and she and my brother were briefly interested in each other (I think, but don’t want to speculate). That girl was happy, beautiful, balanced, self-assured and very congenial. I’m not one for speaking too well of the dead (You may remember less kind comments about Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Eugene Terre’Blanche) – so take it from me – all those nice things people are saying in those terrible, soft-focus documentaries about her were true.

I also knew Oscar. Well, I interviewed him once or twice and ran into him occasionally in public, at parties and events. I didn’t like or dislike him. We never swapped numbers or invited each other to anything, so I’d be lying if I said we were anything but shallow acquaintances. I admired that he had a sense of humour about the things I’d say during interviews about him getting legless on boats and standing up for himself. They were cheap shots and he knew I was making them for purely entertainment value… I hope. I try not to be mean, but I try even harder to be funny.

This trial is an ugly business. Like any other moron, at times I’m prone to jumping to the finish line and proclaiming him guilty or not guilty without going through the process the court has to, but I’m trying to keep level-headed and objective about what happened that fateful night. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t have to be meticulous about my arguments, and I’m not a fool, so I don’t have to boisterously and ignorantly claim that I know he’s either guilty or ‘innocent’. I’m sure you find yourself vacillating between arguments too. If you’re even an amateur behavioural observer you will have picked up a few things about Oscar, some of which are common in athletes, some of which you’ll recognise in celebrities and some of which are typical of a man or woman with a physical disability:

Athletes have to be dogged and determined. They need to win. They don’t like to lose and they have brittle egos. Athletes are used to being judged on performance and if they deliver results, aren’t used to having to comply with any other conditions. Check all of these for Oscar. Celebrities get away with a lot. They think they’re better than the common folk and usually can get past ordinary obstacles with either fame, money or connections. They have other celebrity friends and live in a rarified environment which exposes them to less and less of the day to day problems that confound people with normal jobs. They’re also often rich, and feel the rules don’t apply to them. I know these things because in my less guarded moments, I have been guilty of just that kind of bad behaviour. Some celebrities have relationships with models, actors and other well-known people because they’re cynically hoping to stay in the tabloids. The higher the celebrity climbs, the less people will tell him or her the truth , or risk offending or upsetting them, and that can include their families. Oscar’s desire to be considered ‘normal’ and compete against anyone in the Olympics must have been fuelled by some narcissism and egomania, as much as what might be regarded as healthy self-confidence. I’m in no position to comment on the psychological trauma of being born without legs, or having an amputation early in life, or losing a parent at 15. They must be devastating for a child to cope with, and I’m sure there is emotional detritus that stays with even the strongest people for most of their lives. I won’t guess at any more than that. I’m pretty sure Oscar’s drive to win came from a dark, sad place as much as it might have from a desire to overcome his adversities.

The manifestation of some of his less salubrious behaviour is coming to light too – firing off guns and being in perpetual fear of attack; smashing doors and chasing girls out of his house; mouthing off about a competitor’s blades in unsporting terms; threatening people like Mark Batchelor and Quinton van der Burgh with violence; the fact that ex-girlfriends were positively terrified of him; the lowly and frankly dodgy company he would keep; the outward displays of devil-may-care irresponsible public behaviour and ultimately shooting to kill a person – these must be seen in context. The context is a psychology doctorate waiting to be written.

I don’t claim to know any more than this, and I’m not saying Oscar is a murderer, but he’s an emotionally precarious chap. Ordinarily this would be more than enough to make me avoid someone like the plague. I only wish poor Reeva could have done the same.

Do you find the Oscar Pistorius trial trying?

March 3, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 4:07 pm

indexIn the midst of all the emotion – a beautiful girl’s family grieve and a country mourns the fall from grace of a superhero – and the media melee, we can often lose track of what matters. The law (and I’m very careful to claim nothing but a cursory knowledge of that great field of expertise and practise) can be very confusing to the casual observer, and its application can bewilder even very intelligent people.

I don’t know about you, but I spent the better part of Monday watching the charges being read and the first witness being led and cross-examined. I know the purpose here is to see the law applied to facts and to obtain some semblance of truth from circumstantial evidence… But my god it’s plodding and dull. And this is only the first day…

Might I also ask (since I have been told how skilled Barry Roux and Gerrie Nel supposedly are as practitioners of the law) whether all our trials are quite so frustrating and whether communication is so very difficult between parties that we need to cover the same ground quite so exhaustively? Perhaps I’m an idiot and that is why I don’t have a career in the law myself, but it does all seem terrifically pedestrian and lacking in flair. I have had more interrogative, illuminating and argumentative discussions with even my less worldly friends than I see displayed in the North Gauteng High Court. No erudition, no skill, no strategy. To and fro like bureaucrats with differing stamps they go.

Perhaps I have watched too many shows like Suits and Boston Legal, and perhaps I’m a sucker for imagining that people who argue for a living and charge like wounded buffalos for that living might actually be better at it than they appear to be, but I find myself disappointed.

What is being tried is the quality of argument, and it appears South Africans aren’t terribly good at it. Forget about Oscar for a while, let’s think about the last time you had a good argument with someone. Chances are that nobody won – that no conclusion was reached. It probably ended with a “you’re entitled to your opinion..” accommodation. That means you wasted your time and they wasted theirs. If sufficient evidence is brought to bear, or someone argues a causal link and logical pattern more conclusively than another, the argument must achieve at least a progression towards a result. Not everything is about opinion.

I might have an opinion about the Earth being flat, but in the face of photographs from the International Space Station or calculations based on the curvature of the Earth (or even seeing the Earth’s shadow on the moon during waxing and waning) I should be encouraged to amend my opinion to a more educated and truthful one. If I do not, I am obfuscating and ignorant. Every day newspapers and television shows present us with two sides to every argument and infer a false equivalency on both sides. If one side is patently false, there seem to still be those who patently adhere to it, claiming their ‘opinion’ is valid. It is not.

I like arguing, and I think many people do, although too many confuse it for fighting. It is possible for two people to respectably argue things and respect each other. In fact, I would aver that the best conversations I have ever had are usually with people who disagree with me, or who have a very different point of view. These are the only opportunities we get to take in new information and to test our own understanding. If I argue with you, I take you seriously. Those I am anxious to agree with, I’m also usually in a hurry to get away from. Seeing two opinionated people who are unwilling to concede their point in the face of better information or evidence is like watching the Paralympics (and with no disrespect to the competitors in that event, the Olympics get the lion’s share of audience ratings, and this is no sleight on the Paralympics – it just seemed a fitting metaphor thanks to Pistorius).

Argument has become a fine art and most people are incapable of it, even those we expect to have enhanced strategies to employ in the exercise of it. The saddest part of this realisation for me, has been that many people regard argument as an inherent ability to always be right and engage in conversation armed with the power of opinion and to opt out of uncomfortable collisions with verity by claiming they have a right to their opinion. That is failure.

Of course, it all “depends on what your definition of the word ‘is’ is…”

Madiba Tribute – New York 2014

February 19, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 7:35 pm

Imagine sharing a stage with an Academy Award-winning actor? Or being part of a performance by Grammy Award-winning artists? How about thanking a US President after a powerful speech? How about all three of these at the same event? Too much, right? Wrong. Last week, I got to do just that, and the only way that could have happened was if it was about our beloved Nelson Mandela.

New York is indisputably the centre of the human universe. On Thursday 13 February, along with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, CultureHorde and my company, One On One, we hosted a tribute concert to Madiba in the grand Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle.   New York Magazine and the Wall Street Journal hailed this as the ‘event of the week’. Hollywood A-list actor Morgan Freeman and I told the story of Mandela’s life, interspersed with the magnificent Soweto Gospel Choir performing some of the most poignant songs to the delight of the audience.  President Bill Clinton concluded the evening with a sincere, adulatory keynote address about his friend Madiba.

Former mayors, some of the the wealthiest men and women in America as well as ordinary people came to honour the former President of South Africa in the first international commemoration of his life since his funeral in December 2013. It was an intimate and uplifting affair – there was nothing somber and pretentious about it. Freeman even got up and danced during the choir’s lively “Pata Pata”. “That’s what Madiba would have liked”, said his longtime assistant and friend, Zelda La Grange.

Not even the inclement weather could dampen the spirits of the occasion. The day of the concert was also the day of one of the worst snowstorms in the city this winter, and on the morning of the show, nobody was in town except me. A state of emergency was called because roads had become treacherous and many flights were cancelled. For a few hours I was more than just a little bit nervous that I’d have to do everything – what if the choir, Clinton and Freeman didn’t pitch? Luckily by the afternoon it seemed that the paths miraculously cleared for the safe arrival of all the participants and the several hundred-strong audience.  In true “Madiba magic” style, everything seamlessly came together.

The essence of President Clinton’s tribute was that if it was possible for Mandela to forgive and reconcile, after the 27 years he served in prison, that it might also be possible for us to walk away from even justified anger with another person, especially if they were different. He said that was the problem with the whole world – that people fought because they saw each other as different, and because they thought their anger was justified. He said that he had asked Madiba if he hated his jailers, and that he had replied “Yes, but only for a few seconds, then I forgave them.” And that Madiba had told him that continuing to hate them would have kept him in prison forever. To be truly free, he had to let go of anger and bitterness.

Doubtless many people in the audience knew the story of Mandela’s life, and I’m sure many of them had heard President Clinton, eloquent as he is, speak before. We had all heard the beautiful, distinctive voice of Morgan Freeman in his countless movies – he had played Mandela and even god. In America, the Soweto Gospel Choir are even more popular than they are at home. What made that night so special was that it was all very sincere, and it was about keeping the Mandela legacy alive. That must remain our focus in South Africa, and if Clinton is right, we can apply his philosophy to the world and make it a better place. The world loves South Africa, and they love our story. Let’s give them even more to be impressed with as we head towards 20 years of democracy, next year.

THE NELSON MANDELA TRIBUTE CONCERT

February 3, 2014

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 2:19 pm
As an advocate for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, I’m honoured to host this prestigious event alongside Madiba’s friends, President Clinton and Morgan Freeman. It’s gratifying to see the commitment to Madiba’s legacy not only here in South Africa, but worldwide.

Featuring: President William J. Clinton, Morgan Freeman, Gareth Cliff, & Soweto Gospel Choir

Thursday, Feb 13th @ 7pm

The Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle
405 West 59th Street, NY NY

The tribute will take you through the life and times of the late, great Mr. Mandela, and includes musical performances by the Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman will perform dramatic readings of Mandela’s early uprising speeches, letters from Robben Island imprisonment, and presidential speeches. President Bill Clinton will close the evening with a lengthy tribute describing his relationship with this great man.

Former Mayor David Dinkins will host a special VIP reception after the event for just 75 people, where guests will have the opportunity to meet and speak with Morgan Freeman, President Clinton, Foundation staff, and other VIPs.

Ticket proceeds benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela-Invitation

Where to from here? fabd

December 23, 2013

Filed under: Blog — Gareth @ 1:54 pm

The death of Nelson Mandela has stirred in all of us some powerful emotions and perhaps in some, a desire to retrace the unsteady first steps of a fledgling democracy, even if some of us were too young to experience them first hand.

I am utterly bereft and I never thought I would be. I’m cynical, and I admire cynicism in others; I don’t believe in idol worship or iconography; I’m not persuaded by propaganda or politicians, even good ones like Obama. I have been moved and had my heart ripped open by the extraordinary events of the past few days, by the man who manifested them, and by the attention our little country received, punching far above our weight in influence and attention. In a rare failure of the head, the heart won.

Patriotism is a hollow thing, harmlessly put to use in sport, and dangerously wielded by exploitative political forces. National identity and pride are more valuable, omnipresent and useful. Until very recently we hadn’t golden thread to What binds us together in this country? What is it to be South African? I’m not ambitious enough to attempt to answer that, but I can think of a few things we can do to get there:

White people:

1. South Africa does not belong to you, and it never did. Owning things is a big part of being white: We toil away so that we can own our houses, pay for our children to go to good schools, to buy things that impress other white people. You cannot own a country, and in 1994 nothing was taken away from you that you had any claim to. You need to understand this and show some integrity.

2. You are responsible for apartheid, even if you didn’t support it, or you were born long after it was dismantled. Your history is the same as the plantation owners of America before the abolition. If African-Americans are still dealing with that inheritance more than 150 years later, you would be callous in the extreme to imagine that black South Africans must somehow ‘move on’ a mere 20 years since Democracy.

3. If your guilt keeps you looking inwards instead of out; if you keep building laagers and insist on your culture being under threat from some non-existent foe; and if you keep teaching your children that there was more good than bad before 1990, you are condemning them to irrelevance or exile.

4. If the whole wide world is joined in an opinion that is opposite to the opinion you harbour, you’re just wrong. And if you’re wrong, you can change. If you think they made too much of a fuss over Mandela, or that blacks will never run things as well as whites, or that life in 1983 was better than life is now – you’re objectively wrong. You cannot allow your own romanticized idea of your youth or a more innocent time obscure the truth of a brutal reality that went on for other people under your halcyon sky.

5. Don’t tell people, just because you fear change, that things have gone ‘far enough’ or that you are now the victim of unfair discrimination. You are not. You are still the beneficiary of history, even if you didn’t get the job that one time. When you talk about reverse racism or affirmative action you sound like someone who hasn’t read enough history books.

Black people:

1. I’m sorry. Nothing I can do can rewrite the disgrace of the past. Please believe me that I’m sorry. Not because you have to, but because I care about history and while I might not have lived through the hopeless, desperate degradations you or your parents did, I have taken the trouble to learn about them. I know you don’t trust the white man, and I know we have lied to you for thousands of years, but I don’t want you to be my friend – I cannot ask that of you, I only want to be your equal. If you won’t accept my apology, we can’t get there.

2. You have been asked to compromise over and over again. It is not fair, but I will ask that you give even more: Taking everything I have will not reverse our roles and give you satisfaction, it will only make you into the same creature that oppressed you. You know how  much you hate what racism and apartheid did to your mother, your sister and your own soul. To wish to exact that upon another would mean you have learned nothing.

3. Your chief is not your leader and your leader is not a chief. Just as white people have oppressed and asserted an authority they did not have over Africans, a black man who abuses you from a position of power is as much an oppressor. Freedom is something you have fought for. Nobody can give you freedom – and once that freedom is yours, they can never take it back, no matter who they are.

4. Please understand that white people are very easily scared. They’re skittish and nervous and the ones that are here in South Africa were chased out of Europe by other white people. In the back of their minds, they are waiting for any excuse to run again. They really believe that every black person secretly wants to kill them. Sometimes the dangers they perceive are real (the same dangers you face every day) and sometimes they are irrational and hysterical. Keep telling them everything will be OK. If they feel safe, white people can make a terrific contribution.

5. We need to enhance our self-esteem. Black South Africans have been beaten down and told for generations that they’re second-rate. You can break that cycle. Yours could be the generation to stand proud in the face of overwhelming odds against you. Nobody can do that but you, and you needn’t be lied to or be made to feel inferior again. Don’t let racists and sexists and religious bigots of all kinds try to own you or exact loyalty for anything.

Being black or white is not the most important thing about you. I don’t like the collective nouns or classifications people use to describe me. If you want to describe me, use adjectives like funny, ugly, sarcastic or relaxed. Don’t say I’m white, rich and young. I’m an individual. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that’s a healthy attitude. I know black people who behave the way racists think whites should and I know whites who think they’re black. They’re the most interesting people I know. Don’t let us develop a new lexicon for discrimination by calling people chizkops, coconuts or amaqaba.

We have an opportunity to embrace change and take the high road or hide away from each other and turn the fairy tale into a tragedy. I know which I’d prefer… Do you?

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