South Africa’s often nutty racial politics

Had to point you to a must-read comment piece on the phenomenon of “Coconuts” that caused a stir in the twitterverse today.   If you are not familiar with the term it’s a derogatory label for black people who are thought to have sold out being black by not being black enough. This sounds complicated I know. So I will leave it to Lerato Tshabalala, my former Sunday Times Lifestyle compadre, to explain and tell it like it is.

A fascinating, smart and funny  piece of commentary on South Africa’s post-apartheid generation.

“As I’m sure you’ve noticed, dear reader, I’m black. I know this because my parents are black, both my siblings are black and should I forget that, whenever I turn around, my ATM (African Trade Mark), reminds me that I was definitely at the front of the queue when God was handing out thighs and behinds.

But even with all this strong evidence, it appears that my “blackness” has come into question several times. Continue reading

Nando’s pecks on Dianne Kohler-Barnard

#184. Enjoy Nando’s take on Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard’s momentary lapse of composure in Parliament (thanks to Matthew Buckland). Kohler Barnard was been suspended for five days after uttering the phrase “Fuck you” in the house – clearly it’s not that kind of house. To read the back story on what made her do it, go here. She also answered Chris Barron’s questions in the Sunday Times.

South Africa’s famous chicken brand and one of the country’s most lucid political commentators was quick off the mark with …

Nando's ad

Nando's ad

Come to think of it there’s no shortage of chicken jokes you could throw at Parliament involving pecking orders, “Chicks rule”, “It’s cooking in there” and “Parliament – No place for chickens”, a nice variation on the sissies theme.

The 2010 Flux Trend Review

#183. Plan ahead. The annual Flux Trend Review is a collection of essays brought together by Dion Chang, to put words to the “state we are in”. This year’s edition (the third) is from an eclectic mix of viewpoints on mostly everything under the formerly cloud-laden sky, from our relationship with technology and the social web to our overwhelming desire to slow things down, from the anticipated real impact of the soccer world cup to the world become undone by the global recession.There are big questions asked and answers given on everything from our health to the labels we covet.

Flux Trend Review Cover 2010

There’s talk of the power of word of mouse and lots about what’s shaking up the old media business (Irwin Manoim) and even an essay on how the rainbow nation hasn’t ended with a pot of gold by Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya. I liked the cute piece on soccer players eclipsing rock stars as the new celebrities and the idea that as the world reels from massive retrenchments and job losses there is a trend towards reassessing our working lives and re-crafting them to be less of a wage slave cliche.

So that’s the state we are in and you have to humour a trend consultancy that labels itself Flux. At this point I should disclose that I had a small hand in the book (as a copy-editor on the project). But it’s not for this reason that I am planning on attending the Conference this week (it’s my consolation for not making it to Cape Town’s Design Indaba). It’s an opportunity to have the bones thrown on what the future just might look like.

It all happens on Thursday (February 25) at the University of Johannesburg theatre in Auckland Park and the lineup includes City Press Editor Ferial Haffajee on the state of our nation (If all I know about Ms Haffajee is true then the nation would have got a better deal had they had saved their TV time for her instead of tuning into the more”official” S O N last week) and the “Green Bishop” Geoff Davies on the state of the planet. There is also Mokena Makeka, creative director and MD of Makeka Designs on the topic of “Urban Spaces for Modern Tribes” (he’s also in style bible Visi this month) and Sylvester Chauke, Marketing Manager of one of SA’s cheekiest brands, Nandos SA. There’s something on wellness in the 21st century and lots about living a digital life.

There’s even a bit of poetic license as corporate poet Lebo Mashile rounds off the proceedings. Definitely something to do in Joburg this week. For more or to book a ticket go to http://www.fluxtrends.co.za/

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang doesn’t answer

#170. Wonder what made Manto do it. What made her unravel on HIV/AIDS? I started thinking about this yesterday after I saw the news of her death on twitter and watched as a “robust debate” [early term Manto terminology] was stoked up between the RIP crew and the “Ding Dong the witch is dead” brigade. So far I haven’t joined either.

I interviewed her as she took office as Health Minister in Thabo Mbeki’s Cabinet. As the Sunday Times health correspondent then I also accompanied her and her health department delegation to Uganda to look at how that country was dealing with HIV/AIDS. I was impressed. She seemed compassionate, warm even [when she took office she was the equivalent (in Lord of the Rings speak at any rate) of Bilbo Baggins to her steely-eyed predecessor Nkosazana Zuma’s Sauron] and in Uganda, utterly committed to facing the challenges head on. And then … Continue reading

The messianic bergie at Circa 2009

#167. Take in Joburg’s newest and hippest gallery space. Saturday morning and the sun was shining, the jacarandas dropping purple snow while artist Willem Boshoff held court outside the Circa gallery looking part messiah, and as a friend remarked part “bergie”.
I have spent months driving past that corner on Jan Smuts Avenue growing ever more intrigued by the ambitious oval-shaped building with its clean lines, spiral concrete staircase and it’s finned exterior. No cupolas, no Toscana Afrikana pretensions — just clean, beautiful lines, as they should be.

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

Continue reading

Clarkson on Joburg

#87. Reach out to Jeremy Clarkson. In Joburg it’s raining Jeremy Clarkson. The British king of car reviewer’s article on this city titled “I dare you to visit Johannesburg, the city for softies – It’s the least frightening place on earth, yet everyone speaks of how many times they’ve been killed that day” is flooding inboxes, circulating faster than Joost van der Westhuizen’s alleged sex video or a minibus taxi going down Louis Botha Avenue. Continue reading