Nelson Mandela stands tall in Johannesburg

Marco Cianfanelli's Shadow Boxing sculpture of Nelson Mandela (2013)

Marco Cianfanelli’s Shadow Boxing sculpture of Nelson Mandela (2013)

In a week in which the country and the world has held its breath while Nelson Mandela fights a lung infection in a Pretoria hospital, he stands tall and powerful on an inner city block. Nelson Mandela as a public figure is returned to Johannesburg, and specifically to the places he inhabited in the 1950s. Marco Cianfanelli’s newly unveiled sculpture of Mandela, “Shadowing Boxing” towers above Fox Street, Ferreirasdorp. Placed between Chancellor House and the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court this must have been a path that a young Mandela walked many times. Continue reading

Barack Obama makes Saturday Night as good as Live

#108. Watch Barack Obama do shtick. And he’s funny, really funny. He spent Saturday night doing a live act at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. There are references to Michelle Obama’s “right to bare arms” after her sleeveless dresses made the UK media gasp, give high praise and spend column inches telling women how to get rid of their chicken wings, Dick Cheney’s new book “How to shoot people and ….” and the warm and fuzzy relationship between him and Hilary Clinton. She came back from Mexico and gave him a very big hug.

He outlined ambitious plans for the next 100 days Continue reading

G20 breakthrough

#95. Watch anarchy on TV. The G20 protests are in full swing with lots of grainy footage, numerous tweets as the twittersphere tells the story in short bursts of 140 characters at a time, and the sounds of breaking glass. Right now protesters (wearing headbands) are breaking into the RBS bank in London — and Sky is reporting they are now breaking out of it. I suppose they realised too late that banks aren’t quite the moneypots they once were.

The demands are broad — from fighting poverty to injustice and of course global warming. The people are tired of the fat cats. US President Barack Obama said today, according to CNN, that “world leaders meeting at the G-20 summit ‘cannot afford half-measures’ as they try to hammer out ways to address the global financial crisis.”

Affordability is the big issue. And I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy as I watched Barack Obama  arrive in England with an entourage of hundreds in tow and a few helicopters (the real one and the decoys) stashed in his plane. A little too much bling for a G20 meeting.

Maybe he should have worn a headband.

Barack Obama is following me

#81. Love social media. After having spent a week in England learning about digital journalism which explains my absence from this blog, I hope, I have been converted to Twitter. Twitter is where people go to micro-blog. It’s like Facebook for the SMS generation. You get to follow people and they get to follow you. It’s all very flattering really plus you get say what you want in 140 characters.

Pithy is good. It’s a life lesson

And so it was with great excitement that I received the following news today.

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It’s social media tools like Twitter and Facebook  — that are providing the opportunity  to create networks and foster a sense of community around common interests — that helped Barack Obama get to The Oval Office

As for my own Twitter-use, it may not be the first time I have been called a twit but it is the first time that I’ve enjoyed it.

A local Obama?

#80. Wonder whether SA can produce an Obama. Last night I was  at University of Johannesburg listening to a panel discussion convened by The Weekender on the topic: “Can SA produce its own Obama?” The premise for the discussion was: “In the USA the system was able to produce – against all odds, defying conventional wisdom, unsupported by the party machinery and despite deeply rooted racial discrimination [sic] – a new kind of leader. Barack Obama was elected because of his values, his message and his charisma. Could our electoral system produce the “right” leader?”.

Adam Habib, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the university and panel host took on the role of  “devil’s” advocate (and I am not for a minute suggesting he was pretending to be Michael Hulley) Continue reading

A 10-year-old's take on Obama

#72. Support an Obama interview by Damon Weaver. Ten-year-old Weaver, a student reporter from Kathryn E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary in Florida, US is making a bid to interview Barack Obama during the week of his presidential inauguration in Washington DC. Weaver made Joe Biden his “homeboy” in an earlier interview, reports The Huffington Post.

Poised, articulate and smart as a whip, Weaver posted a You Tube video to prove to Obama why he should allow the interview even asking “your people to call my people” — Weaver’s people happen to be his elementary school reading teacher. The 10-year-old is an articulate spokesperson for the case of so-called “citizen journalism” that takes “making the news” out of the hands of the privileged few.

In a four-minute video he showcases his school’s TV studio “where the magic happens” and tries to convince Miami Heat basketball stars to go one-on-one with Obama and let him win if he grants Weaver the interview. This kid is worth watching.

Bob Cesca on Barack Obama and that White House

#64. Post some of Bob Cesca’s answers to my questions in Obama won and we won. Cesca is a featured blogger on The Huffington Post — a collection of great blogs that is one of the world’s most successful news websites. I read that he will soon be launching his book called “One Nation Under Fear” described as “a collection of blog-style essays which examines the politics of fear during the “dark ride” of the Bush years.” I ‘ll be ordering a copy.

In his post “At long last, it’s beginning to feel like America” Cesca puts into words what many of us, and we are outside the United States, feel the rise of Barack Obama, represents. It is not the triumph of one man but the triumph of a nation who chose to put aside their prejudices, and to transcend their limitations. Continue reading

Obama wins in Troyeville

#61. Head to Troyeville to celebrate an Obama victory. Troyeville, east of Joburg’s city centre has had a few bohemian flirtations. The most memorable for me was Bob’s Bar, circa the early 1990’s, a haunt for the city’s writers, filmmakers and poets, misfits and activists, the lost and the found. You would leave whose ever car you had arrived in on a dark side street, and open a door into a world of coloured lights, vinyl decor and charged conversations that got more drunken as the night wore on. Alliances would be forged, feuds declared. There was so much alcohol it was easy to drink Troyeville pretty. Continue reading