This week, toppling of statues went from 50% to 3% of social media. Meanwhile…

coup d'état, anyone?

Coup d’état, anyone?

KING GOODWILL ZWELITHINI, King of the Zulu Nation, said this :

When they (foreigners) look at South Africans, they say let us exploit this nation of idiots. As I speak, you find their unsightly goods hanging all over our shops. They dirty our streets. We cannot even recognize which shop is which, there are foreigners everywhere. I know it is hard for other politicians to challenge this, because they are after their votes. Please forgive me because this is my responsibility…. As King of the Zulu nation, which is respected worldwide because of the role in played in fighting for freedom in Africa, I will not keep quiet while our country is led by people who have no opinion…..We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries”.

And Xenophobia ramps up in Joburg and Durban.

Last Saturday, I took a walking tour in Jeppestown, an old inner city neighbourhood. We visited a building used by foreigners to sell their goods in a sort of mini-mall. This is an old bank building and was converted to this use because it has only one entrance (on the left) which can be closed quickly if there is unrest. Buyers then go to the barred up window on the right of the doorway and they can purchase from the street without coming in to the mall.

Welcome to the Xenophobia Mall !

Welcome to the Xenophobia Mall !

On Wednesday, the first reports started coming out about xenophobic attacks in Jeppestown and by nightfall it started looking like this:

Jeppesetown, April 15

Jeppesetown, April 15

Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi. During the struggle, those countries are where the freedom fighters were sheltered. They trained and were helped by their neighbours. And today the folks who have come to South Africa from there are being told to go back home.

It’s a complicated issue, like many other issues in this complicated country. Yes, there are so many South Africans without work and without much hope of work. People come from other countries and take jobs or open businesses. This is an old story of the migration of people the world over.

How many times did I hear “Those Somalis get all the subsidized units before us real Canadians” when I was at CCOC? And the white folks in my Ottawa neighbourhood always complain about “Chinese garbage” on Somerset Street.

So, since King Z  made his pronouncement:

  • There are now refugee camps for foreigners in Durban
  • Mozambique has closed its border for fear that vehicles with SA plates would be attacked
  • Bob Mugabe came down to beg for $ and irritated everyone here with his usual claptrap
  • Two Somali shopkeepers in Cape Town were locked in their shop and the place set on fire
  • Some neighbouring countries are talking about boycotting South African goods
  • I got an email from the Canadian consulate, telling me not to attend any demonstrations and avoid large gatherings.
  • On the plus side, there was a  huge anti-Xenophobia demonstration in Durban

And I heard on the radio last week that the Department of Education was thinking of making history a mandatory subject in schools. Apparently only 22% of SA students take any kind of history! And what’s the saying about those who forget the past being doomed to repeat it?

Making lists, drinking beers…

Things to give away, people to thank, work to finish, all things that need to happen before I head home. Yes, I now have one “foot” in each of Joburg and Ottawa. And I think the weather in both cities now is about the same (sunshine but needing a jacket).

In one of my latest posts, I attached my work plan for those who were wondering what the heck I was doing here. One wag (Future Landfill guy) posted a reply asking what kind of mischief I was really up to.  Well, here it is:

my secret work plan

my secret work plan

I have to drink a lot of beer to make sure the Rhinos are safe. But the Boucher (pronounced Bowchur) Legacy project will continue even after my return to Canada.  You’ll have to admit to being born before 1997, but check it out:

And speaking of beer

There’s a big craft beer movement here too and all the upscale venues try to keep some in stock.  The Western Cape, home of wineries galore, is now also the birthplace of many small breweries and they make some excellent ones. My favourite right now is Darling Slow Beer.

However, “craft beer”  has actually been around forever in South Africa. It’s called Umqombothi (the “q” is a click sound like a horse hoof clop). It’s the home brew and still is the staple in most township shebeens. Women tend to be the brewmasters, since they also tend to be the shebeen owners. It was one of the reasons that police could arrest women during the bad days of apartheid and many spent time in jail for it.

Interesting article/videos at:

But none of the venues in trendy Melville have any umqombothi on tap, so I may not get to sample that brew before I leave. Too bad. 

And speaking of trendy

Like elsewhere, shipping containers are being plonked around town and re-purposed for retail and residential uses. I think it might work better here, where you don’t have to worry about living in a metal box at forty below. But I’m curious what these buildings will look like in 20 years.

Up the street from me, there’s a retail development that’s been advertised since I arrived last May. Called “27 Boxes” and I think initially there were 27 containers on site. Now there seems to be 127 but work is finally progressing. However it doesn’t look like it will open before I leave, unfortunately. Supposed to have a small outdoor amphitheatre for live music and they’re redoing the original kids playground that was on site.

another mini-mall

another mini-mall

And down in the CBD, the same company re-purposed containers to provide residential units for the thousands of university students who flock to Joburg every year. They obviously had trouble finding cheap land and decided to put them on top of an existing structure! Pretty cool.

what to do with your old silos.

what to do with your old silos.



That’s all for now folks….




4 thoughts on “This week, toppling of statues went from 50% to 3% of social media. Meanwhile…

  1. Maija Kagis

    i remember dear jessie hating the indian guy on Somerset and Booth. Scary ain’t it.
    look forward to seeing you.

  2. alsandor

    “And what’s the saying about those who forget the past being doomed to repeat it?”

    It’s not exactly a saying. It’s a quote from George Santayana.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – Life of Reason, vol., Reason in Common Sense (“Aquellos que no recuerdan el pasado, están condenados a repetirlo.”) There are many variations of that quote.

    There is an older somewhat similar comment from Edmund Burke: “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.”

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