21 January 2010

Can the Cameras Roll Back to Darfur?

OK, first things first, my heart bleeds for the people of Haiti, after living for centuries in abject poverty they had the terrible misfortune of falling victim to a massive earthquake (AND aftershock!) that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions without food or shelter. An atrocity occurred there.. the world needs to do something. quick.

BUT! With all the world's attention on Haiti, people seem to have taken a break from caring about the rest of the world... shame on you CNN! I direct my disdain at CNN because not so long ago it was them that made Darfur so damn popular that even Angelina "I-want-to-save-the-world-by-adopting-as-many-cute-little-poor-kids-as-I-can" Jolie went there with her poodle of a Brad and had a few "glamour" shots taken... I hear Madonna got lost on her way to Darfur and ended up in Malawi.. too late Madge, Tomb Raider beat you - along with hundreds of German couples... but let's clap hands for you, at least you watch a "news" channel!

People continue to die every single day all across the African continent (yes, not just Darfur... it just made for a catchy title)... These people are dying from preventable disease, famine, hunger, pestilence... EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY... Do we care? I guess we can sort of say we do... if ofcourse we sit through the images of these hungry and dying Africans which are made available to us on our flat-screens just after dinner, while we drink some blood coffee... Hmmm, maybe I should sms that number.. I hear I can donate R7.50 to help feed a kid in Port-au-Prince! Done. That is it. "We care". Oh how very dare we? We sit and watch as our continent rots... and yet we jump at the prospect of "saving" people in Haiti! I'll have my hypocrite coffee with no sugar, thanks.

Lest people think that I don't care about Haiti, allow me to reiterate: I do. I get that Haiti seriously needs help and I congratulate all those who have done their bit to aid the country (which btw is the poorest in the Western hemisphere, and after this quake could very well become the poorest worldwide)... What I don't get is people who act like they care or offer a "helping hand" just so they can smile at the camera. Can the cameras please roll back to Darfur? Or did that stop being glamorous around 2006? Yeah. I thought so. Even Somalia's off our TV screens... at least now we can see "Africans" suffering elsewhere, right? It's not all that bad...

A Tale of Two Cities (in one)

Harare, the sunshine city, the city that cannot afford to sleep… My home… Where the heart that beats within me is. Depending on where you are; rich city or poor city, the air is either clean and fresh, as crisp as a fresh mint leaf, or it is so rancid that it nearly chokes you, like the smell of a decayed carcass leaving its pungent legacy for those who did not honour it during its life ready to choke you with its sulphuric grasp. Harare. My home.

The dichotomy that exists in this city is marvellous to say the least… How else can one describe the huge canyon that exists between the haves and the have-not(hing)s? Where have all the middle-ground people gone to? It seems that in the months that have melted into years that I have been away from my beloved home so many have gained, while many more have lost… I dare not delve into the cause, I fear it might be political… and much as I love politics... this is not that kind of tale.

It’s amazing what time can do to a place… the vibrancy of Harare is slowly returning, but only for those who can afford… to the rest, Harare is unliveable, expensive and unbearably restrictive. Driving through town, the sights, the sounds, the smells change like a kaleidoscope… It is amazing how one city, small as it is, can have such diversity. You are rich. You are poor. You are nowhere in between. It is what it is.

Driving through Harare for the first time in a year, with my window rolled up and the aircon protecting me from the intolerable savannah heat outside I couldn’t help but wonder how the people on the other side of my window perceived me. The pedestrians looked into the car I was in, some with genuine admiration glistening in their hungry sullen eyes, others appeared to be seething with loathing… I pretended not to notice either, but I did. Something sunk in me, to this day I cannot tell what, but I checked if my door was locked anyway. I had to remind myself that these weren’t the streets of inner-city Johannesburg, that none of these people were carrying hammers or guns and chances are even though they were probably living from hand to mouth, the thought of hijacking or smashing and grabbing never crossed their minds. I did not lock my door. I felt safe. I was home.


On Greatness...

"If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream."
The words of Martin Luther King Jr... their echo never fades, almost as if they will haunt me forever... I keep hope alive, my dream is one of greatness... everyday, I light a candle and put it at my window so I can light the way for whatever greatness is to come... I do not want it to feel unwelcome, I do not want it to think I am not home... I want it to knock on my door, late at night as I sleep and ask me if it can come in... I wait each day as my candle burns at my window sill... for I have decided: when greatness comes, I will let it in...

Growing up, we are constantly told that “pride comes before a fall”… hardly encouraging words given that it somehow equates all our efforts at greatness to wasted breath. We find ourselves wondering whether our life really has a purpose if we cannot celebrate our successes, rung by rung as we climb up the ladder that is life. I agree that pride comes before a fall, but that doesn’t mean the fall will ever come.. it doesn't mean I WILL fall if I am proud of what I have achieved… Let’s not settle for mediocrity simply because we fear that if we do too much, strive too hard, we may just succeed and, the flying spaghetti monster forbid, that could very well mean we might just be proud… hence we might just fall… We cannot let that stop us; each of us is destined for some greatness…
From coal emerges diamonds… from the bowels of the oyster comes the pearl… so let not greatness be your fear… light that candle and grow… grow exponentially...