The Joke is on Us

It has been a week of volatility and chaos in South Africa. In my last blog I mentioned the protest that we in South Africa were calling ‘Black Monday’. Norm and I were both participating by wearing all black and tweeting our support of the cause. I tried about a dozen times to get a decent pic of Norm in his protest gear that evening but his dog pack would not eff off and leave him alone so we have a Navajo rump shot included for free. As always Panda has his eyes locked on his love, that dog adores Norman.


One thing that the protesting does is it opens up lines of dialogue with other people of all races which might normally not occur. I work with a very wise young African lady with whom I can openly discuss issues around race and other history which I may not fully understand as an American import. She knows my heart is in the right place and I can ask ‘why is this considered racist’ and she answers me from her heart, explaining the history behind the feelings of the people who have lived their entire lives here. These dialogues are necessary if we are to bridge the gaps between the races and the socioeconomic divides which are still so prevalent within SA.

I was saddened when saw on Twitter that many people were criticising the #BlackMonday protest and calling it #WhiteMonday as it was predominately white people who were protesting even though the corruption probably affects the poor even more than it affects the middle class.

I was utterly disgusted this week when my friend told me about a racial issue she had experienced with a local Guesthouse. She is busy buying a flat and as there are still tenants in the property it was not quite ready to move in on the first of the month, so the lawyers arranged for her to stay in a local guesthouse. She was given all of the booking info and she only had to phone to confirm with the owner what time she expected to arrive. She did so and the owner was very friendly on the phone until she asked for my friend’s name. My friend’s accent does not distinguish her as any specific race, but once she gave her name, her name is very obviously of African origin. The woman asked my friend to confirm her ‘nationality’. As she already had my friend’s SA ID number she knew my friend was South African, so what she was actually asking was ‘are you African?’. When my friend confirmed she is indeed African, the woman went quiet and terminated the call. A few minutes later the agent who had booked the guesthouse rang to say to my friend that ‘there is a double booking’ at the guesthouse and they must change where my friend will stay.

My friend very calmly told the agent that she knew the woman had refused to accommodate her because she is black.

The agent then sputtered and panicked and said that she would phone back and resolve the issue, but my friend said she did not want to force the woman to accommodate her and she would not feel comfortable staying there after the owner’s feelings about non-white guests were known. She also told the agent that if she did not sort things out quickly with her flat she would be suing them for breach of contract as well as taking the guesthouse to court for breaking the constitution with their discriminatory practices.

I was so upset for my friend. I was ready to blow things up about the guesthouse on social media, but my friend is far more mature and rational than I am (despite being almost half my age) and she asked me not to. I am also not mentioning her by name to preserve her anonymity. But I want to drive to the guesthouse and punch the racist beast of a woman in the face. Because that will make a difference right? No, it won’t. But it would make me feel better.

A nice bit of local news that I saw this week from the Thula Thula Charity was that one of the haunting photographs that was taken during the recent Hout Bay fire disaster  was made into a painting and auctioned off and the proceeds will be put towards helping both the local animal shelter as well as the actual child in the photo.


At least one positive item came from the devastation of the fire.

On the subject of Art, I recently mentioned in one of my blogs that my artist friend Carol Phillips is looking to part with a few of her beloved pieces. If you would like to look at them, you can view her website here. Carol is a photographer and an artist and has a brilliant eye and talent.  She recently had an exhibition in Vienna and has been invited to exhibit her work in New York next year in collaboration with Amsterdam Whitney International Fine Art Gallery. So if you want to get a piece of art from her before she blows up even more in notoriety, this is your chance.

This is my absolute favourite of all of her pieces, it is just so stunning!

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Many of her paintings have such depth and texture. My friend Retha bought one of Carol’s pieces herself recently.


The bad news for those of us who live in SA just continues, we heard on the news late Monday that S&P downgraded SA to junk status. This was a direct result from Zuma’s late night cabinet reshuffle that I recently blogged about.

A ratings downgrade will lead to lower access to credit and‚ potentially‚ an interest rate increase‚ which would affect many South Africans because they would be paying more to borrow money. Higher interest rates increase the cost of families financing things like home loans and vehicle finance payments. The Rand has already started to decrease further in value‚ causing a rise in the price of imported goods.

But Zuma cares not at all as long as his own pockets are full.

Today we hear that more rating agencies have downgraded SA to junk status.

Speaking of ‘jokes’ that no one finds funny, this week I received a rather alarming email message from a travel company called Travelstart.

It all started with an email to notify me that I should verify my departure information prior to travel. It advised me of the amount spent on the tickets to Rome which I had purchased:

travelstart booking

The confusion was strong as Norm and I have been looking at trips for our 20th anniversary and I thought I had maybe near-sightedly clicked on something and a transaction had inadvertently occurred. Then I started to panic that someone had stolen my card information and I was a victim of fraud. I frantically logged onto my banking app and checked my bank account, and then my credit card account and saw that no money had left either account for this booking.

I emailed the company and asked them to confirm the card number which had been used for the booking but I received no reply. Then when I went into work on Monday I notice a second email from Travelstart.

travelstart 2

What a ridiculous idea, to make a joke about someone spending over R6k on a trip! Especially with the high numbers of fraud cases that are so prevalent in South Africa. The company obviously panicked when their customers did not see the humour in the marketing ploy and their founder, Stephan Ekbergh issued a tweet saying oops, my bad.

travel ceo tweet

As if the world (or even their customers) know who he is and follow him on Twitter and notices what he says?! What arrogance. I would have far preferred a prompt reassuring response to the query I raised directly with Travelstart – a reply I still have never received. The company obviously received far too many complaints to actually respond to them! I will never use their services and I strongly suggest that none of you use them either. If they are capable of such poor decisions regarding how to deal with their customers, why would you? What utter imbeciles.

The 4th of April was  “Equal Pay Day” but it isn’t a holiday that we women should celebrate. It’s the day that marks how far into the current year a woman has to work to make the same amount a man made in the previous year. Because women who work full-time, year-round in the United States are paid just 80 cents on average for every dollar men earn, it takes them over fifteen months to make what a man makes in twelve. Women – regardless of which country they are living in – do not earn the same wages as men.

If you add in race to the mix then the pay gap is even wider as black or Hispanic women have an even greater pay discrepancy. We have a long way to go to reach equality.

On Tuesday evening Norm had a sports tribunal to attend so I was responsible for managing the evening household duties. I got home from work and tried to figure out what I could create for dinner while trying to get Cordelia home to the township and the hungry boisterous dogs dealt with. I dropped Cordelia home, then fed the beasties their raw mix of meat and then tried to plan something for dinner. I had beef mince in the fridge so I thought I could do low carb tacos so I started frying the meat. However I discovered that I had no lettuce to make a salad base and I had no baking paper to do my cheesy shells in the oven. A dilemma.

I had already started down the Mexican rabbit hole, so I decided to make an alternative plan on cooking the cheese ‘shells’ without baking paper. I had watched a cooking show where they put tortillas in a muffin pan and made crispy little baskets to hold their Mexican food. Cute heh? In my rush I had not thought it through and did not consider the fact that the cheese would just drop to the bottom of the pan when hot and melt into a cheesy puddle. Duh.

I mentally wrote off the provolone cheese as a failure but left it in the oven to cook and the little gems actually came out as crispy cheese cracker type things! Thank you baby jesus for spray & cook as they did not stick.


I still can’t believe it worked.

I was still left without a salad for a base, and I decided to chuck into the meat the single can of kidney beans I found in the cupboard and rebrand it as chilli con carne with cheese crackers. I fried onions and peppers in a separate pan and prepared the toppings and it all turned out just fine. It was actually rather delicious if not banting compliant as I used beans.

I ended up with Chili con carne topped with fried onions & peppers, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, salsa & fromage frais ❤️

On Wednesday I delivered my latest project to the client and the executive head of the team was to be in attendance. I was receiving last minute changes to my presentation slides 10 minutes prior to presenting. In what felt like a microsecond I created a potential road map for any subsequent phases and packed up and started sprinting. I was wearing a suit and had 5 minutes to make it over to the client offices. It is not terribly far but it was incredibly windy and hot so I arrived dripping in sweat with my hair looking like I had been dragged backwards through a hedge.

hedge

Not a great look.

I was so stressed out! Then there was no projector in the room and that took a bit of dancing around to find one. Luckily the exec was late and by the time he arrived I had touched up my lippy, combed my hair and cooled off. The presentation went brilliantly, the exec wants us to do a large piece of consultancy work next. I left work on a buzz!

That night all of the family contributed to making dinner. Norm shopped the day before and bought zucchini noodles and we decided to do a pseudo pasta with chicken and bacon in a creamy sauce to go with them. Norm chopped the chicken breasts then he had to nip out to the shops again as we discovered that the zucchini noodles bought the day before had gone slimy and icky already. While he was out I grilled the bacon and seasoned the chicken and Caitlin came home and took over and she put it all together and added the broccoli and coconut cream.

It was all low carb and high fat and was tasty and nutritious. But I am starting to get a bit burned out on the taste of these zoodles. Meh.

We woke to insane winds on Thursday. When I was making my coffee that morning I was chatting to the lady who cleans the office and she said to me that she barely slept the previous night. The wind was rattling the door to her shack and so she kept being startled awake, thinking it was criminals or the ‘tsotsis‘ as they are called locally, trying to break in. She said even though she has a padlock, a good kick would take the door off. There are still millions living in poverty in South Africa. A poverty so deep that most of us middle class people have no comprehension.

Despite the howling wind I went for a walk at lunch time to The Lunch Depot  as I hadn’t taken lunch in with me that day. The sun was out so it was not cold but it was difficult to even navigate in the wind. On the positive side, once I arrived I had a pulled pork wrap so good it would make you wanna slap your mama. I have no idea where that strange saying comes from, ironically I picked it up from my own Mom! But I would never smack her just to celebrate a wrap no matter how divine it was. Promise.

We had another heart-breaking tragedy in Hout Bay this week but I have minimal info on the details of exactly what happened. We heard rumours and then we read an article about a father who killed his twin children on Thursday afternoon. It was a girl and a boy, aged 3 years old who were murdered. The father was Spanish according to reports and was staying in his holiday flat near the beach, the children’s mother came to collect the children and found them strangled to death by their father. The father took off in the mother’s car but as they had the license plate and we have camera license plate recognition in this area he was quickly caught and arrested. I cannot imagine how the mother of those babies is coping with this tragedy, it would break your heart beyond recovery. RIP to those precious babies.

The week has been building towards the planned protests which were scheduled across South Africa today.

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We saw on the news and on Twitter that the city was feeling the impact of the march and roads were being blocked off.


We also saw plenty of intimidation by the police and army.

 

Why did dozens of MKMVA (Umkhonto we sizwe military veterans association) members feel it was necessary to form outside of Luthuli house? Were they protecting the rotten Zuma?


But we were not intimidated and slowly the people came……

And they came…

march.jpg

And they kept coming….

march crowds.jpg

Image credit.

Norm and I went to Tokai to join the other people forming a human chain down Main Road, from the southern suburbs through to the city.

march norm me chain.png

We linked hands with everyone, there were protestors of all ages and races attending and it made me feel such unity.

march human chain.jpg

Many ANC supporters tried to brand it the ‘DA March’ which implies it is led by mostly white residents of SA, however the truth was evident. All political parties were protesting the corruption which is endemic in our political ‘leaders’.

COPE, DA, ANC and EFF members all stood together as one.

march unity

Image source.

And the attendees showed that we have not forgotten the sins of Zuma’s past and that we will no longer tolerate his current games.

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For me and many others, the words from Mandela echoed in our ears:

“If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.” – Nelson Mandela, Cosatu Conference, 1993

The ANC has done very little to better the lives of their constituents. Keeping the voters uneducated and poor suits their aims, ignorance usually results in malleability and compliance. We will no longer be neither ignorant nor compliant.

After Norm and I left the protest we hoped to find somewhere open for lunch as many businesses shut completely to allow their employees to participate in the march. We spotted that there were a few people on the patio at Green’s Constantia so we popped in there and were lucky to snag a table out in the shade.

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I had eggs benedict and it was perfectly cooked with crispy bacon and a soft centred poached egg.

Norm had an omelette. It looked more like a frittata but it was nice he said.norm omelette greens crop.png

After our quick bite we headed home as I had promised the office I would work this afternoon to prep for a workshop booked first thing on Monday.

I am off to the city tomorrow early to get my hair done and then we will see what the weekend has in store for us. I am still on such a buzz about the unity shown today in South Africa, it gives me hope in a period of such despair about our future.

Today I choose to focus on the love that unites us rather than the hate that divides us.

 

 

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One thought on “The Joke is on Us

  1. Pingback: The RBF Empath | Kitten in the City

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