Social attitudes in South Africa

Came across a report today, which has been published in a book by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Reflections on the Age of Hope makes for pretty interesting reading – and interpretation.

The one that interested me the most is this:

The HSRC study revealed that the most trusted institutions in the country were churches, trusted by 80% of the respondents, and the SABC [South African Broadcasting Corporation], trusted by 75%.

WTF? The masses trust snake-oil salesmen and the government propaganda machine, more than any other institution? This can’t be right! If the sample can be assumed to be fairly representative of South Africans, then this statistic explains why the masses persist in delusional thinking, and voting the Hog Trough Cartel (a.k.a. the ANC) into power at every election.

Here’s another:

The least trusted were the police (46%), political parties (43%), and local government officials (49%).

Less than half the people trust the police. No surprises there; our last Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi has been tried, convicted and sentenced for corruption, and the incumbent, Bheki Cele appears well on his way to distinguishing himself, likewise. Most of  the remaining police officers are relics from our apartheid past, and were trained to serve the government, not the people.

Further, less than half the population trust political parties and local government officials, but it seems the public broadcaster (SABC) is doing a bang-up job of convincing them to vote for these loathsome creatures anyway.

Now this one’s no real surprise; it’s inevitable:

But as much as 75% of the population felt that they don’t really trust people from other race groups, so, despite the strides we’ve made since 1994, and race relations improving, we still don’t trust or like each other too much.”

As a matter of fact I distrust people of my own race group (Indians, if you didn’t figure it out yet) much more than people of other race groups. And the reason why is that I don’t like the fact that so many of them seem to be hovering around President Jacob Zuma, wherever he happens to be.

And finally, these two are no-brainers:

  • About 83% of black and 58% of white respondents listed unemployment as their biggest concern;
  • 73% of Indians and 68% of whites were concerned about crime, as opposed to only 36% of blacks;
  • Even though a sizeable number of Black people don’t have formal jobs,the ANC policy of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and cadre deployment [deployment of mostly incompetent ANC cronies] into strategic positions in the economy, is really hurting the credentials of competent black job seekers.

    White folk and Indians are more concerned about crime because they are materialistic and hence tend to have a lot of shit which they would like to guard well. Which is fair enough, I suppose…

    Baptism of fire…but first, an unspectacular watery ritual

    Last week while visiting my brother in Durban, I was told that his teenage daughter was at baptism rehearsal. I remember laughing out loud, because it seemed strange to me that the baptism ritual would require rehearsal.

    I mean, how hard can it be to be baptized? Is there an elaborate process of walking in step, or skipping to a tune,  that needed to be followed meticulously? Did she need to memorize a segment of a Pauline epistle, or perhaps a chapter and verse from the Gospels? What is it about this whole ritual that necessitates a rehearsal? I was intrigued, so when I got back to Johannesburg this week, I decided to find out.

    It turns out modern baptisms involve either a sprinkling of water to the head (aspersion), or pouring of water over the head (affusion), or lastly the dipping of the body either completely or partially under water (immersion). So far so good. I can’t see any reason why one would need to rehearse for any of this; unless off course you have an aversion to water, which most people don’t. Apparently until the middle ages, baptisms were performed completely naked. If that were still the case today, I suppose it would require a bit of practice keeping from dying of embarrassment, as the baptism is a very public affair. Since only complete exhibitionists would agree to being baptised in the nude, in public, I don’t think any practice is required of your ordinary prudish member of church.

    Some baptisms that require complete immersion in water are performed in a river or stream, or even in the surf it seems. If you can’t swim or have an aversion for flowing water, then some practice would be in order. I suspect that most modern baptisms does not involve full submersion, as it does not seem very practical. But then, when it comes to religion, practicality is usually tossed out the window in favor of blind adherence. Nonetheless, most people would not need to practice for a full immersion.

    The conditions for being baptised seem simple enough: the candidate requires one or more sponsors who make a commitment to the church and to being a mentor, and the candidate also needs to accept Jesus as his or her saviour and renounce the devil. Pretty straightforward. People make commitments all the time – no practice needed there.  Anyway, if you need to practice accepting a saviour or renouncing the devil, then it probably means that you don’t really want to. Incidently, the church is committed to ensuring you stay committed to them; it’s called self-preservation, and they’ve had 2000 years of  practice perfecting their grip.

    So, I can’t really find any reason why a rehearsal is necessary. It just seems to me that it is done to give a totally unspectacular event more importance than it actually deserves; perhaps to reinforce the supposed importance of the church and clergy, just in case the baptism symbolism is lost on the initiate. Perhaps you need to be a captivated member of the church to see the logic; because I don’t.

    I guess I’m just disappointed that my niece who is aspiring to become a journalist or writer, allowed herself to be convinced that a baptism is necessary, or that religion itself is necessary, I was hoping that she would have adopted a more skeptical attitude towards supernatural beliefs, and a more open and exploring mind. She may yet become a good writer, albeit another tool of the religious propaganda machine.

    But then again, perhaps a baptism of fire will one day release her mind from religious slavery. I can only hope…