Last week I had some adventures in North West Province (one of South Africa’s lesser known provinces). It was a fascinating trip on many levels. I can’t possibly recount all my North West adventures in a single post, so I’m starting with the adventure that I think will garner the most excitement among my South African readers: a visit to the President Jacob Zuma Site of Arrest. Site of Arrest. I’ll preface this narrative by saying I generally avoid blogging about South African politics, especially President Zuma. The last time I blogged about Zuma, during “The Spear” controversy at the Goodman Gallery, the post garnered quite a bit of strenuous debate. I’m really not looking to get into any political debates this time. But I just happened to find myself at the brand-new Zuma Site of Arrest and the experience was too good not to blog about. For those of you who don’t know Jacob Zuma: He is the third president of South Africa, currently serving the ninth year of his ten-year, two-term presidency. I’m not going out on a limb when I say Zuma is…controversial. In many ways Jacob Zuma is the Donald Trump of South Africa. I’m sure […]
It’s 1:36 a.m. and I’m at my desk, staring at my computer. This never happens. The reason it’s happening now is because: 1) I’m jet-lagged; and 2) I’m sad. I doubt I’ll be sleeping for a while so I might as well do something useful. Two days ago I caught a flight from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg. It was the night before the American election. I arrived in Johannesburg a day later, Tuesday, while the election was still in progress. I couldn’t stay awake late enough to see the results — South Africa is seven hours ahead of the American east coast. But when I switched on my phone this morning, Wednesday, there it was: “Trump looks set to win presidency.” It’s weird that this happened just after I returned from a trip to America. I was shocked beyond belief at the headline above but I think the shock would have been greater — perhaps heart-attack-inducing — if I’d been living my normal life in Joburg for the last two weeks, with my head in the sand regarding U.S. politics. Even though I was there in America, watching hours and hours of news coverage and talking endlessly with everyone about the election for […]
I’m in the United States just in time for Halloween, and also for the peak of American presidential election madness. (Don’t worry, I’ve already voted. I dropped my absentee ballot safely into a U.S. Postal Service box last Saturday.) It’s quite a circus. I’ve been watching CNN for the past hour and other than commercials, there hasn’t been a single second of anything other than Donald Trump coverage. When my dad called this morning and told me Donald Trump was appearing at his new Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., I grabbed my camera bag and hopped on the Metro. I wanted to see some Trumpkins — the term Dad uses for crazy Trump supporters — with my own eyes. Trump’s new hotel is in the historic Old Post Office building, which used to house an eatery where I ate lunch back in the day when I worked in this neighborhood. Ben Franklin, America’s first Postmaster General. A Trumpkin from Manassas, Virginia. The sign in her right hand reads “Dogs for Trump”. The Trumpkins in attendance were mainly ladies. Sorry lady, I don’t think Maryland is for Trump. This lady frightened me the most because she seemed really normal. There were some male Trumpkins […]
If you are in South Africa and don’t reside under a rock, then you’ve likely heard about the controversy raging over an artist’s portrait of South African President Jacob Zuma, called “The Spear”. If you don’t live in South Africa, or do reside under a rock, you can read about the controversy here. The ANC (South Africa’s ruling party) has expressed outrage over the portrait, by prominent artist Brett Murray, which portrays President Zuma with exposed…ahem…private parts. In an ANC press release distributed on Thursday, spokespeople called the portrait “vulgar and distasteful” and claimed that it violates the president’s constitutional rights. The ANC has demanded that the Goodman Gallery — the well-known Johannesburg art gallery where the portrait is displayed as part of a Murray exhibition called “Hail to the Thief II” — remove the picture, and has taken the Goodman Gallery to court over the matter. The gallery has vowed to keep the portrait up. (Obviously.)
I don’t write often about South African government and politics. Politics here are complicated and contentious — even more so than other countries I think, due to South Africa’s incredibly tumultuous history over the last half-century. As a foreigner who only moved here a year ago, I generally don’t presume to understand South Africa’s history and current affairs well enough to provide my own commentary. But last night I attended a political event that I’d like to comment on: a candlelight vigil protesting the South African Parliament’s proposed Protection of State Information Bill, also called the Secrecy Bill. Protesters show their opposition to the Secrecy Bill at last night’s candlelight vigil, which was held on Constitution Hill in Joburg. Similar events were also held in Durban and Cape Town.