Public Announcement:Easter Cancelled in South Africa

In what has been described as another insane moment in South African politics, the government in line with its new policy of testing public tolerance to the limits, has refused to issue a Visa to the Easter Bunny who usually visits this time of year. Since Easter just wont be the same without the Easter Bunny, it has been decided to cancel Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday, for good measure.

Newly appointed government spokesman, Pu Forbranes (recently seconded by China to assist the SA government with the fallout created by the refusal to allow the Dalai Lama into the country) issued a statement late this afternoon that they did not want to draw attention away from the upcoming elections by allowing the Easter Bunny to visit. He was quoted as saying that “people with bunnies on their mind are liable to concentrate more on a certain other social activity, than on voting. For this reason it is imperative that we as government, keep any distractions away from the voters, until after we’ve secured their votes.”

Later, in a follow-up to the announcement, another ruling party bigwig was quoted as saying “…there should have been consultation…” It has thus been established that anyone who wishes to enter the country (also known as the government’s own little fiefdom) should first consult with the SA government, especially of it coincides with a big government sponsored or brokered event. The most probable pupose of the “consultation is to determine if you’re contributing materially to the government’s cause, or if you are a tin-pot dictator. If you’re not contibuting to government’s (personal) cause, you’re a detractor, a real obstacle to the ideals of bigotry which apparently, are worshipped in government circles. Alternatively if you’re an outright dictator, or even one with a questionable human-rights record, then you’re most welcome in South Africa.

This government is of the opinion that the population are all half-wits who need to be protected from “distractions.”  This government demands centre stage and efforts to divert attention away from their peculiar antics, will be frowned upon.  If you must enter the country at all costs, and don’t wish to be insulted by government interrogators, Home Affairs, Customs Officers, or the police, then please enter via Zimbabwe. It’s so much easier by road; ask the multitide of Zimabweans who are here already.

Why was the Dalai Lama refused entry into South Africa

The South African government has in recent times sunk to some new lows, but their refusal to grant a Visa to the Dalai Lama to attend a peace conference associated with the showpiece 2010 Soccer World Cup, has to rate as a new record for crass arrogance and wanton disregard and contempt for the public it is supposed to serve. I say supposed, as it is becoming increasingly clear, that this government’s main aim seems to be to serve itself. There are a few reasons why the government may have taken this stance, but there is only one which makes the most sense. 

First off is the official response: while denying suggestions that the ban was as a result of official Chinese pressure, a government spokesman said he did not want anything to distract from South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup. Absolute bollocks. It’s more likely that the only thing this government does not want to be distracted from is the potential for self-enrichment, which evidently could result from pleasing the Chinese government.

What about a more practical reason? The ruling party recently announced through their leader Jacob Zuma, that The church’s support for the African National Congress (ANC) was an “unequivocal biblical declaration that if God is for us who can be against us,” and their re-election campaign [to gouge at the trough for another 5 years] has been milking these religious assertions for all its worth. Given their new-found religious affiliation with Christianity (spiritual awakening?), could allowing the leader of an opposition religious faith into the country be construed as being in conflict with this relationship? Somehow, I think not, as politicians are not particularly discriminating about which religion they use to serve their purposes.

It’s been reported that an official at the Chinese embassy in Pretoria confirmed that allowing the Dalai Lama into the country would hurt bilateral relations between the two countries; even unnamed government sources were quoted in the same article as saying something similar.  Which brings us back to the most likely reason; the South African government succumbed to pressure and is more concerned with maintaining a relationship with a discredited government than in doing the right thing. But what would have made the decision that much easier is that it is very very lucrative…for a select few decision-makers at least.

A Week of Eruptions continued…

I was hoping that the week that started so badly, would not have to end that way either,  but it could not have ended worse than it did. Pope Benedict’s disastrous foray into Africa has ultimately claimed the lives of two innocent women in Angola. Apart from the two women who were crushed to death in a stampede at a stadium where the Pope was scheduled to address young Angolans, about 40 others were hospitalized. Although His Pompousness “regretted” the deaths of the two women, it was not enough to dissuade him from continuing with his scheduled appearance; apparently death and destruction is still an acceptable consequence (after thousands of years) of bringing the “word of god” to the masses of sinners out there.

As a final event in Angola, the Pope was scheduled to hold Sunday Mass (delusion, presumably) at a vacant site near a cement factory. One can only hope that attending worshippers who wish to be “one with god,” don’t in fact become one with the hard ground there.

Fire and Brimstone: A Week of Eruptions

It all started on Sunday when ANC President, Jacob Zuma (in the middle of an election campaign) addressed the congregation of the Rhema Church at the invitation of Pastor Ray McCauley. The resulting eruption and fallout in the South African Christian community, lasted for days as recriminations were hurled back and forth. So much for the separation of Church and State. Zuma needed some extra votes and Pastor Ray needed a sympathetic ear to push his delusional beliefs, re: “…concerns Christians have about abortion, same-sex marriage, the inclusion of evolution in the school curriculum and the elimination of prayer in schools.” Political and religious needs superseded the need to honor the ideals of secularism. All I can say is that we should watch how this parasitic relationship develops in future.

While this farce was settling down, Table Mountain erupted in flames, amidst allegations of arson. Meanwhile Pope Benedict, who began a week-long visit to Africa, in Cameroon, caused an international eruption by publicly mouthing a long-held view of the Catholic Church which is unfortunately out of touch with reality. Speaking about HIV/AIDS aboard a plane en-route to Cameroon, he made the remarkably dumb statement that “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.”  And if that was not bad enough, the Pope’s visit was preceded by the destruction of informal traders goods and businesses, by the Cameroon government, in an apparent bid to give the city a “face-lift.” Needless to say, the Pope did not make too much of a fuss about this, nor did he say too much about the human rights violations that Cameroon President Paul Biya has been accused off. The Catholic Church has a long history of being more concerned with the “rights” of god and religion, rather than those of humans.

While the Pope settled into his meaningless mission into Africa, across the oceans in Tonga, an undersea volcano was erupting. Meanwhile, across the world, bouts of raucous laughter erupted from rational people who had just heard of a new Darwin exhibition at the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Kentucky, depicting “that natural selection – Darwin’s explanation for how species develop new traits over time – can coexist with the creationist assertion that all living things were created by God just a few thousand years ago.”  Further eruptions of laughter followed founder of the Christian ministry AIG, Ken Ham’s assertion, that “We wanted to show people that creationists believe in natural selection.”  Perhaps the large sign “Natural Selection is not Evolution” which greets visitors to the exhibition, should be changed to “The Mental Gymnastics Exhibition.” It surely takes some serious mental contortions to fit the absurdities of creation and intelligent design into the theory of natural selection and evolution.

Yep, there you have it; a collection of natural and unnatural eruptions for this week. And the week is not over yet. Who knows what the religious fraternity have in store for us next…

What’s So Surprising? Jacob Zuma at Rhema Bible Church?

So Jacob Zuma spoke at the Rhema Bible Church on Sunday, and now all theists, mostly Christians are up in arms. I can’t understand why everyone is pointing fingers at Zuma, since he was invited by Rhema’s Pastor Ray McCauley to address the congregation. Zuma is just another opportunist politician, who saw a chance to assault the public and media with his unsavoury presence once more, and grabbed it. No problems there.

I’m surprised that it does not happen more often; politicians are as much home behind the pulpit as preachers. Both politicians and preachers share a common interest; self-interest. The preacher uses fear and religion to achieve his goal and the politician uses fear, misinformation and plain old lies to achieve his. The tools off course work equally well for both, so it is certainly not out of place for Zuma to be in Church, using religion to scare up a few more votes. I’m sure once elected, Zuma will return the favor to Pastor Ray, when he requires “political backing” for one of his “religious” ventures.

Yes, religion and politics make great bedfellows; the only problem is that the resultant sexually transmitted disease affects only the poor observers.

Some Random Thoughts on Creation, Death, Re-creation, Heaven and Hell

Creation stories have been around for a long, long time, from ancient civilizations to modern man with his Monotheistic religions. Strange tales of creation abound, such as those from Greece which tells of Gaia (or Eurynome) laying a monster egg from which emerged Uranus, whose “incestuous partnership” with Gaia gave rise to the Titans, one of whom Prometheus finally created humans from clay, after two previous botched attempts by the Titan gods. And the Mesopotamian tale of the battle between Marduk and Tiamat which led to the creation of mankind from the blood of Kingu, Tiamat’s champion in battle. Persia produced its own delightful creation tale which tells of the battle between Ahura Mazda who created the first man, and Ahriman, his (Ahura’s) brother, who introduced evil to the world. These tales have long been classified as Mythology, but  for some reason, the Genesis creation myth and the Hindu “Bramha” creation myth, no less strange than the other ancient myths, are largely believed as the literal truth by the Western and Eastern religions that still teach it.

In an effort to find compelling reasons (apart from faith) why these creation myths have endured, I have rather found more reasons why they should be consigned to the “bizarre , but persistent” section of ancient mythology. Let’s suspend all credulity and for a maddening moment, imagine that these creation tales were true. I will start with the Christian creation myth, being the most incessant ideology. God “creates” you for a purpose, according to his divine plan; no problems there, but I am not so much concerned with the “beginning”, as with the “end,” that is what happens when you cease to exist, or die. Assuming you were a “good” person or a bad-egg who has been forgiven, you go to heaven. Simple, right? Well, more people than not, are bound to wind up in heaven, and only the really, really “bad guys’ (presumably this includes Atheists), go to hell.

Well, since man first appeared on earth (about 6000 years ago, if we are still suspending credulity), if you consider all the people that have expired, this means that heaven is seriously bursting at the seams by now. But wait, we still haven’t factored in all the animals that also go to heaven. I mean seriously;  how could god not allow his very own creation into heaven (bar that evil snake of course who tempted Eve, and who is now roasting very nicely in hell). But why stop there? What about all the dinosaurs (and other assorted weird creatures) that existed prior to man. By now, even the most fundamentalist Christian has got to admit that there is ample evidence for the existence of these creatures, even if it was only 6000 years ago. Surely, god has admitted these creatures into heaven as well? Okay, so heaven is a huge place, and maybe its only dead souls that are there, floating around like soap bubbles. Meanwhile, back on earth people and animals continue to be “created” only to eventually end up in heaven. What’s the point? Is earth the great holding area for man and beast, while god sorts out his space planning in heaven?

So what about the Eastern creation ideologies? Here again you are created for a purpose, but unlike the more fortunate Christians who get to go to heaven (or hell) immediately after death, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, some Gnostic Christian and Jewish sects, Native Americans and Inuits have to suffer the ignominy of being constantly reborn into different bodies, until they get their act together and prove that they are ready for heaven. Even animals are not spared this fate. And if the Jains are right, a human may be reincarnated as a lesser being (such as a fly or ant) if his transgressions were particularly bad, prior to his death. You’ve got to feel for Satan in this scenario; waiting in vain for evil souls. Here again, what’s the point? An all-knowing god would know that his “creation” would turn out bad, and apart from satisfying some sort of sadsistic desire to inflict pain, there is simply no reason to subject a man or animal to constant suffering. But, I guess even god needs to have some fun, because watching his “creation” incessantly trying to destroy each other really sucks all the enjoyment out of living for so long.

So while credulity is still suspended, I have to reasonably conclude that god favors the reincarnation model because it gives him more time to do space planning, while getting a few laughs watching puny humans, and mindless beasts squirm and suffer,  while still finding the time to have a go at the idle Satan. And yes, you really have to be a dumb-ass loser, to end up in hell, because you get a chance to pull the wool over your creator’s eyes in the Christian model, and you get to be born again and again in the reincarnation model.

But the eternal satirist that now resides in my body, concludes that god creates you to wait around on earth for a bit, die, then float up to heaven to become a sort of floating soap bubble. The alternative conclusion is that god creates you knowing full well that you’re going to screw up, so he waits for you to die, then re-ignites your motor and lets you have another bash, only to watch you blow it again, because it gives him a few giggles, each time you fail. So there you have the meaning of life, in a nutshell.

Seems god has hitched his wagon to the ANC election crusade

If the leader of the ANC, and President-in-waiting Jacob Zuma is to be believed, god has declared his unequivocal allegiance to the ANC. Speaking at an election rally in Mpumalanga yesterday, Zuma “says his party is approaching the general elections knowing very well that God is on their side.”

Zuma was further quoted as saying “When priests pray for poverty to end and for development, then it means God agrees with the ANC because the ANC stands for those things,” and “We in the ANC know God. When the ANC was born, it was baptised. We have respect, we are beautiful, we conduct ourselves in a good way.” Notice how easily anyone can speak on behalf of a non-existent entity. Notice how easily the self-praising lies flow of the tongue.

As a cynical believer you might want to question why god, who once threw his weight behind the former apartheid government, has now changed his allegiance. Or, you may also wonder why god has abandoned the multitude of religious political parties that are also contesting the upcoming South African general elections, to favor the ANC. And the cynical believer might rightfully conclude that god in his wisdom somehow approves of corrupt politicians and  inhuman political systems. As a cynical non-believer you, like myself, might conclude that god (and by extension, religion) is simply the most powerful tool in the hands of power-hungry zealots, manipulated with contempt to coerce and enslave.

Self-interest is the hallmark of politics (and politicians) and religion serves self-interest very comfortably indeed.

Triple Fraud: The Premature Release of Convicted Fraudster Schabir Shaik

The South African public has been defrauded yet again. On the first occasion Shaik was involved in some rather “imaginative” business dealings involving high-ranking government officials and public funds, for which he was convicted on fraud and corruption charges. Then our intrepid businessman schtupped Joe Public yet again by conveniently becoming sick; which effectively commuted his richly deserved stay in prison, into a tenure at an “upmarket” hospital; at the taxpayers expense.

And now, the final insult to all decent South Africans has been realized with the release of Shaik, not from prison, as you would expect but from the hospital where he “served” almost all of the 28 months of his 15-year jail term. But perhaps the greater insult is the actions of the Correctional Services Minister, Ngconde Balfour who apparently “applied his mind” and decided that Shaik’s release was correct because it satisfied the requirements of a medical parolee. He has further unilaterally decided that there are no grounds for review of his decision. And judging by the pictures of Shaik upon his release, he is the healthiest looking terminally-ill person I’ve ever seen and if reports by hospital staff are anything to go by, he was certainly “living it up” in hospital.

Coming back to the issue of the Minister “applying his mind” to the situation: I wonder if you, like me is thinking that the Minister applied his mind to his personal situation rather than to the public interest. Could it be that the Minister applied his mind and realized that releasing Shaik was in his (the Minister’s) own best interest to solicit favour with certain political figures. I wonder?

The Election Circus is in Town

Once every four years or so, South Africa’s finest “political” acts crawl out from under great big slimy rocks where they have been hibernating (well, actually living it up on their ill-gotten gains), to take to the stage and act out a grand farce known as the Elections. This year a fantastical collection of 117 National acts and and a motley assortment of local and regional acts (39 or so) are jostling for centre stage, trying their utmost to showcase their outrageous talents for lying, conniving, cheating, backstabbing and not forgetting the customary ass-kissing.

You will not have seen or heard from some of these acts for quite a while; four years in fact. But here they are for the next few months, right in your face, promising the same shit they did the last time, only this time they have “a better plan to make it happen.” You will notice some familiar faces from the past, only this time they have been recruited by another act. Same faces, different acts, same promises, slightly different tactics; the same sorry result – disappointment.

The leading acts have wasted no time in “putting on a show.”  The ANC this week held a rally in Chatsworth, which resulted in the injury of 63 supporters who were stampeded by crowds trying to get into a stadium. A look at the pictures in an on-line newspaper reveals mostly African supporters present at the stadium, which is strange considering that Chatsworth is an Indian settlement. Presumably, all the Indians were attending a free lunch and concert at the local beach, sponsored by the Minority Front. Another look at the pictures of hapless supporters sprawled on the ground after the melee, reminds one that Julius Malema was perhaps on the mark when he commented that “we will die for Zuma,” but perhaps “we will be stampeded first” is more likely.

Meanwhile, Allan Boesak of Cope has taken to the stage claiming that his conviction for fraud should be “overlooked” as he did it for the struggle. Seems that all the other acts were too busy making fools of themselves to take notice. Else we will by now have heard all the other fraudsters from various other acts claiming the same. And in other news, Helen Zille, the champion of rich white minority rights has also been busy showcasing her talents for comedic debate, with the leader of the ANC Youth League, whose unfortunate attempts at woodwork has not helped his appreciation of good humor.

As far as some of the other acts are concerned, the Keep it Straight and Simple Party has so far managed to stay out of the limelight, presumably keeping it simple, until they don’t have to any more. And what about the goofy assortment of religious acts such as The African Christian Alliance, Africa Muslim Party,  African Christian Democratic Party, African Nazareth Democratic Movement, Christian Democratic Front, Christian Democratic Alliance, National Christian Democratic Party, ChristenParty/Christian Party, Divine Kingdom Party, God’s People’s Party (???), Christian Front (not democratic?); man this list is long.  Any idea why religious acts feel the need to become political acts? The less said about this lot, the better.

All of this from just a few of the top acts in this year’s election circus. I unfortunately have not had the time (or patience) to catch up on the antics of all the minor acts, but you can be rest assured that they will reveal themselves in time. Just sit back and enjoy the show…