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Monday, January 26, 2009

For Zimbabwe: Something Better Than a Hunger Strike

I don’t mean to cruelly diminish Desmond Tutu’s hunger strike, but Zimbabwe’s problems are hardly going to be muted by his dietary choices. Admittedly, Jenny Des-Fountain’s food drive won’t make a dent in the Zimbabwe’s problems, but it might actually save a few lives.

Fiftieth birthdays are supposed to be special.

But a party was the last thing on Jenny Des-Fountain’s mind as her half century approached.

Jenny Des-Fountain will drive tonnes of donated food to Zimbabwe

“It just didn’t seem meaningful when Zimbabwe was going through what it was going through,” the blonde life-coach says.

“So I just got hold of my friends and said: ‘Come on guys, bring a bag of mealie-meal [maize porridge powder] along’, and they did.

“They brought beans and they brought fish as well and I ended up with a boot-load of food.”
[...]
Ms Des-Fountain puts the overwhelming response to her appeal down in part to the South African government’s inability to find a solution for Zimbabwe.

“What is our government doing? Let’s be honest - they’re not doing anything,” she says.

“People are calling me asking me what can we do. They wonder what they can do because our neighbours are suffering so much.”

Zimbabwe’s problems are such that Ms Des-Fountain’s truck is barely even a drop in the ocean.

But for Thulani’s village it will make a real difference.

For those with cholera or chronic malnutrition it may be the difference between life and death.

Zimbabwe needs more than a few truckloads of food--and even boatloads of food won’t solve the political and economic problems, either. But though she can’t save the nation nor all of its citizens, though she can’t remove Mugabe nor force recognition of the democratically elected government, she can help some people make it a few more days.

And while South Africa’s government has made a habit of giving Mugabe cover when criticism grows too loud, it’s good to see that some of South Africa’s citizens can still muster a little neighborly care for the citizens across the border.

Lovely woman.

On a completely different subject, can the Beeb’s web site ever run with normal-length sentences? Nearly every sentence on most of these stories is treated as a new paragraph and it drives me absolutely mad. I realize that typical journalist sentences aren’t measured in the same way as your typical essayist sentence, but it bugs me to see the way the Beeb site handles their copy. 

Thursday, March 13, 2008

South Africa: Not a Great Place to be Gay

I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds that serve me up a regular dose of the news from South Africa. The news is startlingly violent and I normally dig past the stories of murders, attacks, and brutality to read the political stories--it’s not me nurturing a blind spot, but the violence is so much of the news that it sort of becomes distracting if you pay too much attention to it.

This story about “corrective rape” caught my eye, though.

Corrective rape, where a male pupil rapes a female lesbian pupil to “make her heterosexual”, was a growing phenomenon in schools, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in a report released on Wednesday.

A gay and lesbian rights group told the commission during public hearings that homosexual pupils experienced “high levels of prejudice” at school resulting in “exclusion, marginalisation and victimisation”.

“There is a growing phenomenon of corrective rape. This refers to an instance where a male learner rapes a lesbian female learner in the belief that after such a sexual attack the learner will no longer be lesbian,” the report said.

There is no greater point to be made but that it remains a vicious world out there and we’re awfully lucky to be living in the developed, Western nations.

Read the story.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Speaking of South Africa (Because I Wanted To, Damnit)

This article linked by Drudge sort of grabbed my attention this morning.

THE icy weather of snow, hail and heavy rain that has swept across South Africa over the past few days has set 54 weather records.

The South African Weather Service said 34 new records were set on Monday and another 20 yesterday. Almost all records were for the lowest maximum and minimum daily temperatures in towns across the country.

Plettenberg Bay and Tsitsikamma both recorded their highest daily rainfall, at 68mm and 71.2mm respectively, on Monday. Plettenberg Bay recorded its lowest minimum temperature, 5.6°C, yesterday. Tsitsikamma had its lowest maximum temperature on Monday, 12.1°C, and its lowest minimum yesterday, 6.3°C.

The lowest minimum temperature recorded was -6°C in Welkom, while the lowest maximum temperature was a mere 1.7°C in Barkly East. Both were recorded on Monday night.

“Why did it grab my attention?” you ask. Because I spent a little quality time on the phone with a gentleman from Joburg yesterday and he was telling me that they were expecting incredibly low temperatures last night--something on the order of -4°, although I’m not sure if he was speaking in Celsius or Fahrenheit. Either way, much of southern Africa isn’t really big on central heating in their homes.

Not that winter (June to August) temperatures don’t drop--South Africa isn’t as warm as many people might imagine. Still, the weather is typically moderate compared to, say, winters in Ohio. Not a huge story, really, but I find myself feeling a little tiny bit of sympathy for my friends in the area.

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