When Mcebo Spoke his Truth on Power…

Last week we got to interview Mcebo Dlamini on #PowerPerspective (Power FM) and hear his side of the story surrounding his ousting as a Witsie and thus Wits SRC President. 
Earlier this week it turned out that the SA Jewish Board of Deputies were outraged at certain remarks he made in the course of the interview and were taking legal action. 

Here it all is, the interview, in which he speaks his Truth and ruffles yet more feathers. What is your sense of it? Is he correct? Was the University? What of the Board of Deputies? Post your comments below… Thanks 



What crinkum crankum means…

There’s a hilarious clip of a Naija dude called Patrick Obahiagbon, that’s during the rounds. It’s the one below…

I quoted the first line on Twitter and aside from tonnes of laughter I also got quite a few queries about WTH dude was actually saying. So here it is. The transcript and a translation. Props to Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporter for this. 

“Let me say as quickly as possible, the political “crinkum crankum”, if you like, the political “higi haga” that has enveloped the politics of Rivers State for a period of time now has all the trappings of an odoriferous saga cum ‘’gargantua gaga,” and I am bewildered that this situation is of no serious concern to the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…

It is very crystal clear like the biblical ‘teke teke menoyafasin.’ It is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind…If you look at the totality of the crisis in Rivers State just now, it leaves me with two conclusions that 2015 is inherently laden with a political and democratic ‘Thalidomide.’ Two, some social scientists like myself have gone to town for donkey’s years, saying that what we have is not democracy but civilian rule. But with recent events, I say no. Nigeria is neither witnessing civilian rule nor democracy but what we have at best is a form of government I call ‘kakitomoboplutocracy’ and that is bad for us as a nation…As far as I am concerned, I can see the ship of the Nigerian state hovering around the political Bermuda Triangle, and if we do not take urgent and responsible steps… My critical history and historiography of the study shows that the war of attrition in Rivers State did not commence with the Obio/Okpor political tendency. It commenced, strictly speaking, from the suspicion that Governor Rotimi Amaechi nurses an ambition for the Vice- Presidency of this country.’’ ~ Patrick Obahiagbon. 

Here’s what the phrases in quotation marks above actually mean. Or not! 

1. Crinkum crankum: Something full of twists and turns; A thing fancifully or excessively intricate and elaborate. 

2. Higi haga: (Synonym of above?) 

3. Odoriferous: Giving off a strong and offensive odour; Morally offensive. 

4. Gargantua gaga: Huge, widespread madness; Celebration of insanity? Was Obahiagbon referring to the 16th Century novels written by the French author, François Rabelais, based on The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel, the story of two giants, a father, Gargantua, and his son Pantagruel, and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein? 

5. Teke teke: Was he making reference here to the 2009 Japanese horror film, titled “Teketeke” directed by Kôji Shiraishi and based on urban legend? 

6. Menoyafasin: !!!#%@?Help needed!!! 

7. Thalidomide: An anti-nausea and sedative drug that was introduced in the late 1950’s to be used as a sleeping pill, and was quickly discovered to help pregnant women with the effects of morning sickness. It was sold from 1957 until 1962, when it was withdrawn after being found to be a teratogen, which caused many different forms of birth defects, including still- born babies. 

8. Kakitomoboplutocracy: A Kakistocracy is defined as a government by the worst. A Mobocracy is a government by mobs or crowds, while a Plutocracy is either – 1. The rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy. 2. A government or state in which the wealthy class rules, or 3. A class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth. A ‘Kakitomoboplutocracy’ would therefore imply a merger of all three forms of government.  

9. Historiography: The writing of history, especially based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particular details from the authentic materials of those sources, and the synthesis of those details into a narrative that stands the test of critical examination; The term also refers to the theory and history of historical writing. 

The father of #AfricaDay Speaks…

The speech that Kwame Nkrumah, the founding chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), gave on its founding on 25 May 1963, the day that is now known as Africa Day. 


“I am happy to be here in Addis Adaba on this most historic occasion. I bring with me the hopes and fraternal greetings of the government and people of Ghana. Our objective is African union now. There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish. I am confident that by our concerted effort and determination, we shall lay here the foundations for a continental Union of African States. A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our union at this conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now, the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be created.

On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.

From the start we have been threatened with frustration where rapid change is imperative and with instability where sustained effort and ordered rule are indispensable. No sporadic act nor pious resolution can resolve our present problems. Nothing will be of avail, except the united act of a united Africa. We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-a-half centuries of political independence.

As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in its international associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist domination of Africa.

…African unity is, above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means. The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round. Is it not unity alone that can weld us into an effective force, capable of creating our own progress and making our valuable contribution to world peace? Which independent African state, which of you here, will claim that its financial structure and banking institutions are fully harnessed to its national development?

In independent Africa, we are already re-experiencing the instability and frustration which existed under colonial rule. We are fast learning that political independence is not enough to rid us of the consequences of colonial rule. The movement of the masses of the people of Africa for freedom from that kind of rule was not only a revolt against the conditions which it imposed. Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African governments could cure the ills of the past in a way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule.

Our continent certainly exceeds all the others in potential hydroelectric power, which some experts assess as 42% of the world’s total. What need is there for us to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water for the industrialised areas of the world? It is said, of course, that we have no capital, no industrial skill, no communications, and no internal markets, and that we cannot even agree among ourselves how best to utilise our resources for our own social needs. Yet all stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ore.

Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy. Fifty-two per cent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from our shores. Africa provides more than 60% of the world’s gold. A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries – the basic economic might of the foreign powers – come from our continent.

We have the resources. It was colonialism in the first place that prevented us from accumulating the effective capital; but we ourselves have failed to make full use of our power in independence to mobilise our resources for the most effective take-off into thorough-going economic and social development.

…Unite we must. Without necessarily sacrificing our sovereignties, big or small, we can here and now forge a political union based on defence, foreign affairs and diplomacy, and a common citizenship, an African currency, an African monetary zone, and an African central bank. We must unite in order to achieve the full liberation of our continent. We need a common defence system with African high command to ensure the stability and security of Africa. We have been charged with this sacred task by our own people, and we cannot betray their trust by failing them.”

Dear John: the day I become an anti-Semite…

My response to the partner that pulled out when they saw me support #IsraeliApartheidWeek. In Daily Maverick



We’ve got to trade ourselves into wealth

First published in City Press on March 1, 2015. Some slight edits have been made since.

Last week I witnessed something truly unexpected at the Gauteng state of the province address.

It wasn’t some of the members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) making fools of themselves with a few volleys of unspirited interruption during the premier’s speech.

It was what Premier David Makhura said.

Hardly 15 minutes into his speech, Makhura broke with orthodoxy and declared that the focus of his speech would be “the economy, the economy, the economy”.

WTF? But we want to hear about e-tolls, many of us thought.

Over the next hour, the premier outlined his economic plans for the Gauteng city region, an idea that will undoubtedly spawn a New York-style conurbation over the next decade. He kicked off with stats highlighting Gauteng’s current economic prowess – a trillion-rand economy, 36% of the country’s GDP, 10% of Africa’s, 60% of South Africa’s exports and 40% of its industrial output.

The plan pragmatically leveraged what was already existing, five corridors around historical economic hubs, while ambitiously reconfiguring the spatial and economic divides of the province.

The economist Ha-Joon Chang explains what happened in his country of birth, South Korea, for it to become an economic powerhouse over 50 years. Following a devastating war with North Korea that killed 4 million people, the average citizen took home just under R1 000 a year. Meanwhile, folks in Ghana, Africa’s shining star, earned double that.

Today, the South Koreans earn nearly 10 times what Ghanaians earn, live 14 years longer and are 70% more likely to be employed. Incidentally, South Africans actually fare worse. Our people live 30 fewer years and are 87% less likely to have a job than South Koreans.

Chang contends South Korea’s rise can be attributed to “a clever and pragmatic mixture of market incentives and state direction”.

There are, he says, things a developing state can and should do to grow its economy:

Developing its own manufacturing industries and protecting them in their infancy;

  • Banning the exportation of raw materials, such as our minerals;
  • Either banning or taxing to high heaven any products that compete with products local industries make (as the West does with farming);
  • Incentivising innovation and being lax about protecting  other countries’ intellectual property;
  • The development of transport and financial infrastructure; and
  • The subsidisation of key industries and the standardisation of products, such that the country can benefit from scale production thereof.

These things are all simple to conceive but difficult for most emerging market nations to achieve.

Firstly, they put you on a collision course with developed nations. Secondly, most governments that take their eyes off social benefits usually find themselves on a collision course with their voters.

In unequal societies such as ours, there is little patience for an outlook that advocates short-term spending sacrifices for long-term investment benefits.

Both of these require massive gumption in leadership, of the sort not often seen in African liberation movements.

And that’s what was so unexpected about Makhura’s speech.

He invoked four of Chang’s solutions. The others he could never implement at a provincial level. One then wonders if he would if he were a national leader.

“He sounds almost like a Republican,” I heard someone whisper as Makhura extended his government’s hand to the private sector for the umpteenth time in the speech. It’s a dirty word that, especially in a liberation movement.

But he was not alone. President Jacob Zuma in his state of the nation address two weeks ago punctuated “small business is big business” with a huge grin.

Even in the concessions made to small business in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s inaugural budget speech on Wednesday, one gets the sense the powers that be have realised we can’t hire ourselves out of unemployment or nationalise our way to equality. We’ve got to trade ourselves into wealth.

Truth be told, it was refreshing to know we are beginning to believe Africans can indeed be more than workers, hewers of wood and drawers of water. 


The Selfie… (a professor’s view)

This mini thesis on the Selfie comes from Laurence Allard, a French Professor of Communication Sciences in Paris and Lille, co-author of the book Mobile Phone and Creation (Armand Colin / Recherches), and creator of the Mobactu blog. She was interviewed by Olivier Laurent for Time Magazine in mid-2014.

“The selfie originates from established self-portrait practices in the history of painting and photography, but also from online practices best represented by the use of profile pictures.

“It possesses a real genealogy. But it has also found its own autonomy and definition. Today, we’d be mistaken to define the selfie as a narcissist object or simple self-portrait.
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Mandela’s first words as a “Free” Man

25 years ago, after 27 years imprisonment, Mandela is finally released and proceeds to make his first public speech in three decades.

Be warned, this clip is long… and captivating.