November 29, 2005

Orphelins.... Orphans....

Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

These kids performing the traditionnal Zulu dance, have been orphanned by HIV Aids and live in difficult conditions. Thanks to community projects, though, they manage to be in foster homes, and to have the support necessary to keep on striving... and dancing. The need, however, is much greater than the available resources.

Ces jeunes qui dansent la danse traditionnelle Zoulou, sont des orphelins du SIDA et vivent dans des conditions tres difficiles. Grace a des projets communautaires, ils sont (parfois) accueillis dans des foyers et obtiennent le support necessaire pour continuer a lutter... et a danser. Le besoin, par ailleurs, reste beaucoup superieur aux ressources disponibles.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !


Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

C'est l'ete austral, ca??? Avec la grele qui nous tombait dessus, je suis un peu perdue !

Was that austral summer??? With all the hale raining on us, I'm a bit lost !

p.s. Merci Phil, d'avoir mis ta tite pinne sur ma grande carte du monde !

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

November 24, 2005

Suburbia in Durban

Suburbia in Durban2005-11-22
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

This, can you beleive it, is the view for our HIV-AIDS clinic. Obviously, the owners of these houses are not very wealthy. Iniquity is defenitely a common thing in SA.

Breathtaking view, though, isn't it?

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Unwanted guest in Durban (Nov.23rd)

Unwanted guest in Durban (Nov.23rd)
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Can you beleive it? I walked right by this guy, in the middle of NGO premises... Snakes are considered to deadly in South Africa, so we had quite a fright.

It was a big scare on the job. Apparently, the people working in that area have the habit of making lots of noise in the morning, to scare off any unwanted houseguests.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Surfin' in Durban

Indian Ocean in Durban2005-11-22_06-36-14
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

I took this picture from my room, just before going downstairs for breakfast.

Durban is a tourist hub, as the Indian Ocean attracts surfers, beachers, and other vacationners.

Can you see the surfers? Apparently, Durban waters are famous for the white sharks. (brrrrrrrr)

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Inside Regina Mundi Church

Inside Regina Mundi Church
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

I finally went back to Soweto last weekend... and visited Regina Mundi Church.

This place of worship was key to the political awareness of Sowetans, as it provided cover for "illegal" political gatherings during apartheid. During the renovations some years ago, a non-detonated bomb was found in the roof of the chuch, as an ancient testimony to the temple's potential role in the fall of Apartheid.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

November 18, 2005

Homeland: Still thriving....

Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Remember my topo about South Africa and the homelands...

Well, 10 years later, they still exist. This is a picture of a shaq built by farm workers who were evicted. (See below post).

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Yet, Apartheid lives !

Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Click on this picture for more images and topos on the conditions of the farm workers, in the country side. This subject has been the inspiration for this photographic exposition, in the Africa Museum of Johannesburg. Guess what I did last weekend !

The below article sums up pretty well the situation...

South Africa: nearly one million farmworkers evicted since 1993

By Patrick O’Keeffe, 24 October 2005

A recently released survey revealed that evictions from South African farms have accelerated under the African National Congress (ANC) government. Between 1993 and 2004 a total of 942,303 people were evicted, whereas under the apartheid regime, from 1984 to 1993, 737,114 people were evicted.

The survey prepared by the Nkuzi Development Association and Social Surveys Africa finds that the brunt of evictions is borne mainly by women and children, who make up 77 percent of evictees. This is due to the fact that landowners treat women and children as secondary occupiers—that is, their security of tenure is linked to the continued employment of a male member of the household. Even when the women and children also worked on the farm this did not protect them from eviction. Approximately 47,000 of the evicted children were involved in child labour while still living on the farm.

Evictees, according to the report, are “vulnerable members of our society, typically having low levels of education and low incomes even when working.”

The survey revealed that 37 percent of evictees have no education, whilst a further 39 percent have between one and seven years of schooling. Only 8 percent have completed their schooling. Women working on farms generally earn substantially lower incomes than men. In the most recent period, between 2001 and 2004, men and women respectively were earning average incomes of R529.00 ($82.00) and R332.00 ($52.00) per month.

Peaks in the numbers of evictions were related mainly to droughts in the pre-1993 era, but thereafter the impact of new legislation sparked increases in the numbers of evictions. The response of landowners to the Labour Relations Act, the Labour Tenants Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Extension of Security of Tenure Act and the implementation of a minimum wage was to evict farmworkers rather than meet the legal requirements.

Evictees received little or no assistance after eviction, with 83 percent of evictees not even knowing where to go for assistance. A large proportion (30 percent) of evictees end up in informal settlements on the periphery of urban areas, while a further 14 percent end up in the former Bantustans. Of the 48 percent that end up in formal townships, the majority are found in the poorer sections. The researchers note, “There is currently no provision or planning for the proper accommodation of people from farms.”

The ANC government has a land reform programme, but it has had a negligible effect on evictions. More people have been evicted than have been given their own land.

In the period between 1994 and 2004, while a total of 164,185 households obtained land or tenure rights, this was exceeded by the total of 199,611 households evicted from commercial farms. Tenure security for farm workers has fared poorly, with only 7,543 farm worker households obtaining secure tenure rights.

The survey concludes that “[d]ispossession of black South Africans has continued unabated in post-Apartheid South Africa” and that “Evictions have effectively cancelled out the limited gains of land reform and have contributed to a concentration of property in fewer and fewer hands.”

There is no effective programme in place to limit evictions or to provide support for those evicted from farms.

Behind the evictions

The ANC’s approach to agrarian reform has been twofold: firstly, the deregulation of the agricultural sector and the implementation of a free-market approach to agricultural production—a process which commenced under the National Party government—and secondly a series of limited reforms in the countryside to ameliorate the social pressure created by the implementation of free-market policies.

The ANC’s approach became manifest in the early 1990s. Under the aegis of the Land and Agricultural Policy Centre, set up by the ANC in collaboration with the World Bank, a new land policy was developed. Complete deregulation and liberalisation, the abolition of subsidies and minimum government involvement was advocated. All of these measures were eventually adopted by the ANC government.

The maintenance of stability in the countryside, and especially the commercial farming areas, appears to be the keystone of ANC policy. While the deregulation of the agricultural sector has deepened inequality, a series of measures have been put in place to divert the social tensions created by the defence of agribusinesses. The most significant of these is the government’s land reform policy.

Land reform in South Africa is based upon a capitalist policy. In essence, the state provides grants to black South Africans to enable them to purchase land on the market. Its “flagship” is the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development programme. Applicants can obtain grants only if they put forward a proportion of the investment themselves. This means that in practice wealthier applicants are able to obtain substantial grants, which are also combined with loans from commercial institutions. Operating commercial farms are often purchased by these wealthier applicants. Farm workers, a severely impoverished section of the population, are unlikely to be able to raise a sufficient contribution to acquire anything beyond a “food-security” garden.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Act, 1997, was intended to alleviate the plight of farm workers. The legislation provides a legal process whereby a landowner may obtain an eviction order. The Act further provides for the prosecution of landowners who illegally evict occupiers from their land. Even the extremely limited protection offered by this legislation is not available to the vast majority of farm workers, as evidenced by the National Evictions Survey’s finding that only 1 percent of evictions followed a legal process.

The gains that were supposed to flow from the ANC’s implementation of free-market measures in the countryside have not been realized. Terms of trade continue to remain unfavourable and overall investment in the agricultural sector has declined. Although the government has indicated its preparedness to expropriate land for land reform purposes, this is purely window dressing. Indeed the South African constitution contains a clause guaranteeing the right to property and the state is compelled to pay market-based compensation for any expropriation.

Evictions are the logical outcome of the free market policies being pursued by the South African government. The further consolidation of land under the control of a few will continue unabated, but with a sprinkling of a small number of black farmers. Farmworkers, as the most vulnerable and marginal category of workers in the country, have born the brunt of these policies."


The Beaver
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On the Top of Africa

Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Top of Africa is the tallest building on the continent (50 stories high) and towers over Johannesburg.

Click on picture for a larger version and for other views from the top !

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

November 16, 2005

HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

HIV/AIDS is so prevalent in SA that condoms are offered for free in public bathrooms.

The HIV/AIDS situation in southern Africa is an emergency that has immediate and long-term repercussions for the development of the region and for the lives of its people.

South Africa has an estimated five million people living with HIV/AIDS. There are more people infected with HIV/AIDS in South Africa than in any other country in the world. The disease affects all segments of society, but has particularly ravaged historically disadvantaged communities, such as the rural poor, urban marginalized and migrant workers.

The effects of AIDS on children are devastating. Children, particularly girls, are often pulled out of school to care for a sick parent. After the trauma of watching a parent die, these children face the additional burden of adjusting to a new home and experiencing increased economic hardship and uncertainty. One of the most troubling effects of HIV/AIDS is the growth of child-headed households - households where children, once again, usually girls, are left alone to care for their younger siblings. There are about 660,000 children under age 15 in South Africa who have been orphaned because of AIDS and many more who have suffered from the effects of the disease (Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, July 2002. UNAIDS).

Home care services are crucial in communities where most people cannot afford even the most basic medication and have little access to formal health care. Community volunteers-often poor themselves—are the heart of home—care programs and are at the forefront of our battle against the pandemic.

South Africa is a middle-income, developing country with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the ten largest in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to cut into high unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime, corruption, and HIV/AIDS.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

November 14, 2005

Hommage to Hector Pieterson

Hommage to Hector Pieterson
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Click on it for a larger version. This explains the June 76 uprisings against the imposition of Afrikaans in school.

The Beaver
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Nelson Mandela Square

Nelson Mandela Square
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

View of the gigantic statue of Nelson Mandela in the heart of the "white" district.

The Beaver
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Nelson Mandela Square

Nelson Mandela Square
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

in the heart of Sandton, an expensive commercial complex with beautiful (expensive) restaurants.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

View of Soweto

View of Soweto
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Soweto is a "black" township around Johannesburg, and was the theater of many uprisings prior to the fall of the Apartheid.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

View of Soweto

View of Soweto
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Youpi in SA

Youpi in SA
Originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Here we are, First pic of Youpi (the now departed Montreal Expo baseball team mascot.) Youpi now works for me as a photo model.

View from my room, in Jo-Burg.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

November 11, 2005


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

November 07, 2005

About South Africa / A propos de l'Afrique du Sud

About South Africa / A propos de l’Afrique du Sud

I dedicate this post to all the South-Africans of all origins who died, suffered imprisonment, or just took the risk to get out there, to make the Rainbow State a better place. I dedicate this post to all those who suffered unjustly because of their gender, color, religion, sexual orientation or political opinions.

Je dedie ce texte a tous les Sud-Africains de toutes origines qui sont morts, ont ete emprisonnes, ou qui ont simplement pris le risque de s’exposer pour que l’Etat Arc-En-Ciel soit un meilleur pays.  Je dedie ce texte a tous ceux qui ont injustement souffert, en raison de leur sexe, couleur, relition, orientation sexuelle, ou opinions politiques.

South Africa is famous for its ominous apartheid era.  Though this segregation system was abolished 10 years ago, it still hovers in the mind of all who thread its soil.  Indeed, the wounds are not yet healed.  I will further in another post the aftermath of Apartheid as I observe it in Jo’Burg, but for now, let’s go down the road of past history, to better understand the present.

L’Afrique du Sud est celebre pour l’infame periode de l’Apartheid. Bien que ce systeme de segregation ait ete aboli il y a 10 ans, il plane toujours dans l’esprit de ceux qui foulent son sol.  En effet, ses blessures ne sont toujours pas gueries.  Dans un texte subsequent, je ferai le decompte de l’abolition de l’Apartheid tel que je l’observe a Jo’Burg.  Mais pour le moment, explorons le passé, afin de mieux comprendre le present.

The first inhabitants
The first known inhabitants of South Africa were the Bochiman, also known as San, and the Hottentots, also know as Khoikhoi.    The Bantu then emigrated in the region.  The iron-age technologies developed by these early inhabitants were not surpassed in Europe until the Industrial revolution of the 19th century.

Les premiers habitants
Les premiers habitants connus en Afrique du Sud etaient les Bochiman, aussi connus sous le nom de San, et les Hottentots, aussi appeles Khoikhoi.    Les Bantu migrerent plus tard dans la region.  Les technologies de l’age de fer de ces premiers habitants n’ont pas ete surpassees en Europe avant la Revolution Industrielle du 19eme siecle.

Who are the Afrikaners?
As a by-product of the European race to Asia, the Dutch East India Company implemented the first European settlement in South Africa in 1652.  This was on the Cape of Good Hope, known today as Cape Town.  Cape Town is at the tip of Africa, on the western fringe.  The original colony grew and this early settlement became the destination of Dutch Calvinists and other European Protestants who were fleeing religious repression.  Overtime, they developed their own language, Afrikaans, a mutated version of Dutch.
The settlers, known today as the Afrikaners or Boers, became a close-knit community and imported slaves from other African regions and South-East Asia. This was one of the root origins of the people denominated under the Apartheid as “colored”.

Qui sont les Afrikaners?
Un effet secondaire de la course Europeenne vers l’Asie, la Compagnie Hollandaise des Indes Orientales fonda la  premiere colonie europeenne en Afrique du Sud en 1652.  C’etait au Cap de Bonne Esperance, connu aujourd’hui sous le nom de Cape Town.  Cape Town est au bout de l’Afrique, sur l’extremite occidentale.  La colonie du debut a grandi et ce premier comptoir devint la destination des Calvinists Hollandais et d’autres Protestants Europeens fuyant la repression religieuse.  Avec le temps, ils developpernet leur proper langue, l’Afrikaans, une version mutee du Hollandais.
Les colons, connus aujourd’hui sous le nom d’Afrikaners ou de Boers, devinrent une communite tricotee serre et importerent des esclaves d’autres regions d’Afrique et d’Extreme Orient.  Il s’agit d’une des origins des gens appeles sous le regime de l’Apartheid “gens de couleur”.

The first clashes
Between 1652 and 1779, the Afrikaners expanded East of Cape Town and clashed violently with the Bantu tribes.  The Xhosa put their expansion to a halt in the first tribal war in 1779.  

Premiers conflits
Entre 1652 et 1779, les Afrikaners s’etendirent a l’Est de Cape Town et affronterent violemment les tribues Bantu.  Les Xhosa arreterent leur expansion pendant la premiere guerre tribale en 1779.  

English occupation
In 1806, the English annexed Cape Town.  This led to further exile and Boer expansion away from Cape Town.  In 1834, England abolished slavery.  In Cape town, over 35000 black slaves were emancipated.  This led to much discontent in the Afrikaner community, who perceived this to be an unacceptable interference in their affairs.   As  a result, what is known as the Grand Trek in history happened : countless Boer families migrated across the Orange River deep in the country to what is now Bloemfontein in the Free State (an actual province of South Africa).

L’occupation Britannique
En 1806, les Anglais annexerent Cape Town.  Le resultat direct fut l’exil loin de Cape Town et l’expansion des Boers en territories inexplores.  En 1834, l’Angleterre abolit l’esclavage.  Au Cap, plus de 35000 esclaves noirs sont emancipates.  Cela mecontenta, la communaute Afrikaner, laquelle perçut cette mesure comme une ingerence inacceptable dans leur affaires.  Ce fut la cause directe de ce qui est connu dans l’histoire comme le Grand Trek: d’innombrables familles Boer migrerent au dela de la Riviere Orange, au coeur  du pays, et fonderent Bloemfontein dans le FreiStadt (aujourd’hui une province d’Afrique du Sud).

War, war, and more war
Although the English had abolished slavery, this did not make them allies to the Zulu and Xhosa tribes.  Their pressure, combined with the Boer migration, allowed the Zulu king Shaka to come to power.  He waged war mercilessly on the neighboring tribes and caused immense suffering and a mass migration of the Bantu tribes in what was known in history as difaqane (the Scattering).  Eventually, the Zulu were defeated by combined British and Boer forces.  However, their relationship remained tense as the Boers harbored a secessionist agenda, which concretized in the Boer Republics of Free State and Transvaal.

La guerre, la guerre, et encore la guerre
Bien que les Brittaniques aient aboli l’esclavage, ils n’etaient pas allies des tribues Zulu and Xhosa.  Leurs pression, en conjonction avec la migration des Boer, permis au roi Zulu, Shaka, d’atteindre le pouvoir.  Il fit la guerre sans pitie aux tribus voisines, causant ainsi de grandes souffrances et de massifs mouvements de populations Bantu, connus aujourd’hui dans l’histoire comme le difaqane (l’Eparpillement).  Eventuellement, les Zulu furent vaincus par la combinaison des forces britanniques et Boer. Cependant, leur relation resta tendu, car les Boers avaient un agenda secessioniste, lequel se contretisa dans les Republiques Boer de Frei Stadt et du Transvaal.

Diamonds and Gold
In 1867, diamonds were discovered in Kimberley and gold was discovered in 1886 on the Witwatersrand ridge in Johannesburg.  This attracted both English miners who were heavily taxed but unable to vote in the Boer Republics and British imperialists to the Boer Republics, much to the irritation of the Boer farmers.
Amongst them, a British businessman, Cecil Rhodes, found interest in the Boer Republics.  His interest was for British rule to overrun the Boer Republics, thus he fomented uprisings amongst the English miners.  

Or et Diamants
En 1867, des diamants furent decouverts a Kimberley, et de l’or fut decouvert en 1886 sur la chaine du Witwatersrand a Johannesburg.  Au mecontentement des fermiers Boers, ceci attira dans les Republiques Boers a la fois des mineurs anglais, surtaxes mais interdits de vote, et des imperialists britanniques.
Parmis eux, un homme d’affaire britannique, Cecil Rhodes, pris interet dans les Republiques Boer.  Ayant interet a etablir la suprematie britannique en Republique boer, il fomenta la revolte des mineurs anglais.  

The War of the Boers
The miner rebellions augmented the already existing tensions between Britain and the Afrikaners and in 1899, the war known as War of the Boers erupted.  This was a cruel war, as Britain pursued a Scorched Earth policy to combat Afrikaner guerrilla, destroying homes, crops and livestock.
Between 1899 and the end of the war, 26 000 Afrikaner women and children died in what became known as the first concentration camps in history.  In 1902, British rule over South Africa was confirmed and the Boer Republics were annihilated.

La guerre des Boers
Les rebellions minieres aggraverent les tensions deja existante entre la Grande-Bretagne et les Afrikaners et 1899 vit l’eruption de la Guerre des Boers.  Ce fut une guerre cruelle, car la Grande Bretagne appliqua la tactique de la terre brulee afin de contrer la guerrilla Afrikaner, detruisant foyers, cultures et betail.
Entre 1899 et la fin de la guerre, 26 000 femmes et enfants Afrikaner moururent dans ce qui est maintenant reconnu comme les premiers camps de concentration de l’histoire.  En 1902, le controle britannique sur l’Afrique du Sud etait confirme et les Republiques Boer detruites.

The institution of Apartheid: a timeline
These are only a few dates to situate the history.  I do not have the pretension of being exhaustive.
  • 1910: the Union of South Africa was created, with the whites in total control of the in political scene.  Moderate protestations on part of the black majority, in the form of strikes and political gatherings were mercilessly repressed.

  • 1948: the Afrikaner National Party won the elections and went further in preventing all non-whites from having any political or economical power.  Brutal enforcement of this is common practice.

  • ? : Creation of the African National Congress, first organization against apartheid.  In response to the government’s unwillingness to undertake reforms, the ANC undertakes guerilla.

  • 1960: one of the bloodiest episodes of the repression happens in the Sharpeville massacre.

  • 1960’s: arrestation and imprisonment of ANC political activists, including Nelson Mandela.

  • 1970’s: creation of the Bantustans, theoretically independent countries and so-called Black homelands (Transkei, Cickei, Bophutswana and Venda.)  All blacks within “white” designated areas are considered guest workers and thus lose all political rights.  Not having a residence pass means being deported to a “home” land.

  • 1976: dozens of Soweto school children protesting against the imposition of Afrikaans in school are shot by the police.  Following this event, Soweto was the stage of bloody and senseless murders of black children by the Police.  This marks the beginning of international awareness of the fate of the black South-Africans.
Without dates, I will add that political activists were such as the well-known Steve Biko imprisoned, tortured, and killed.  Settlements were evacuated and bulldozed, such as the “colored” suburb of District 6, in Cape Town.  

L’institution de l’Apartheid: quelques dates
Il ne s’agit ici que de quelques dates dont le but est de situer l’histoire.  Je n’ai nullement l’intention d’etre exhaustive.
  • 1910: L’ Union de l’Afrique du Sud est creee, avec les blancs en controle total de la scene politique.  Des protestations moderees de la majorite noire, prenant forme de greves et de regroupements politiques, sont reprimes sans pitie.

  • 1948: le Parti National Afrikaner gagne les elections et va plus loin dans l’exclusion des non-blancs du pouvoir politique et economique.  La brutalite policiere est de coutume.

  • ? : Creation de l’African National Congress, premiere organisation anti-apartheid.  Devant la mauvaise volonte du gouvernement, l’ANC se tourne vers la guerilla.

  • 1960: un des episodes les plus sanglants de la repression se produit lors du massacre de Sharpeville.

  • Annes 60: arrestation and emprisonnement d’activistes politiques de l’ANC, y compris Nelson Mandela.

  • 1970’s: creation des Bantustans, en theorie des etas independent et pretendument lieux d’origine des noirs (Transkei, Cickei, Bophutswana and Venda.)  Tout noir en territoire designe comme etant “blanc” est considere comme un travailleur etranger et perd ainsi tous droits politiques.  Ne pas avoir de laisser-passer residential signifie la deportation dans un Bantustan.

  • 1976: des douzaines d’ecoliers de Soweto protestant contre l’imposition de l’Afrikaans comme langue d’instruction sont abattus par la police. A la suite de cet evenement, Soweto devient le theatre de meurtres sanglants et insenses d’enfants noirs par la Police.  Ceci marque le debut de la conscience internationale du destin des noirs d’Afrique du Sud.
Sans dates, j’ajoute que des activistes politiques tells que le bien connu Steve Biko furent emprisonnes, tortures, et tues.  Des lieus d’habitations furent evacuees et rases, comme la banlieue “de couleur” connue sous le nom de District 6, a Cape Town.  

International politics during apartheid
While Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were successfully fighting for liberation and implementing Marxist inspired governments, South Africa was becoming more and more of an isolated case.  
This led to aggressive behavior on the part of the South-African government and to the invasion of South Angola by the South-African army.  South Africa also refused to participate in earnest negotiations about the independence of Namibia and sponsored anti-revolutionary groups in Mozambique and Angola.

La politique internationale pendant l’apartheid
Alors que l’Angola, le Mozambique et le Zimbabwe menaient avec success les luttes de liberation et voyaient naitres des gouvernements d’inspiration Marxiste, l’Afrique du Sud devenait de plus en plus un cas isole.
En reaction, le gouvernement sud-africain adopta une politique d’aggression et envahit le sud de l’Angola.  Dans la foulee, l’Afrique du Sud refusa egalement de participer aux negotiations concernant l’independance de la Namibie et commandita des groupes anti-revolutionaires au Mozambique et en Angola.

At last, international awareness
After the riots in Soweto in 1976, awareness budded in the minds of the white Johannesburg university students.  The Chinese government sent official letters of support to the liberation fighters of Soweto.  In the West, citizens became more aware and civil society movements for racial equality erupted. Eventually, the UN imposed economic and political sanctions.  
In response to international pressure, the South-African government made concessions aimed at pleasing the international community and instituted a new parliament constituted of whites, colored (mixed race) and Indians, but still excluding the black South-African citizens. Needless to say, this was considered to be insufficient by the UN and the international community.

Enfin, une conscience internationale
Apres les emeutes de Soweto en 1976, une conscience emergea dans les esprits des etudiants universitaires blancs de Johannesburg.  Le gouvernement chinois envoya des lettres officielles de support aux combatants de la liberation de Soweto.  En Occident, les citoyens devinrent plus conscients et des mouvements de solidarite sociale pour l’egalite raciale virent le jour.  Eventuellement, l’ONU imposa des sanctions economiques et politiques.  
En reponse aux pressions internationale, le gouvernement sud-africain fit des concessions dont le but evident etait de plaire a la communaute internationale et constitua un nouveau parlement constitue de blancs, gens de couleur et d’indiens, maintenant par ailleurs l’exclusion des Sud-Africains noirs. A l’evidence, ce geste fut considere comme insuffisant par l’ONU et la communaute internationale.

In 1989, Frederick W. DeKlerk was elected president of South-Africa.  In response to the pressures from the international community, the release of political prisoners began.  Amongst them was the famed Nelson Mandela, tribal king and leader of the ANC, who was imprisoned for nearly 30 years.  DeKlerk initially proposed to free political activists without repealing the act that rendered black political activity illegal.  Mandela refused to be freed without political rights, and eventually, obtained the signing of a peace agreement with ANC and other anti-apartheid groups and the annulment of the Bantustan’s institution.  Nelson Mandela was freed on February 11th, 1990.
In 1994, the country’s first democratic elections took place, with Nelson Mandela’s ANC winning 62.7% of the votes, and the “white” party gaining 20.4%, enough to enable representation.  This was as well the period of the national reconciliation commissions, which allowed South-African citizens of all ethnicities to express anger, remorse and forgiveness.  Not everyone agreed, but Mandela’s philosophy was to allow the white South-Africans to remain, and to foster harmonious rapports amongst all citizens.

En 1989, Frederick W. DeKlerk fut elu president d’Afrique du Sud.  En reponse aux pressions internationales, la liberation des prisonniers politiques fut amorcee.  Parmi eux, le celebre Nelson Mandela, roi tribal and chef de l’ANC, qui fut emprisonne pendant presque 30 ans.  A l’origine, DeKlerk proposait de liberer les activistes politiques sans annuler la regle rendant l’activite politique noire illegale.  Mandela refusa d’etre libere sans droits politiques, et eventuellement obtaint la signature d’un traite de paix avec l’ANC et les autres groupes anti-apartheid et l’annulation des Bantustans.  Nelson Mandela fut libere le 11 fevrier 1990.
En 1994, les premieres elections democratiques du pays eurent lieu.  L’ANC, representee par Nelson Mandela, gagne avec 62.7% des votes, et le parti “blanc” obtint 20.4%, suffisamment pour etre represente en chambre. Ce fut egalement la periode des commissions nationales de reconciliation, qui permirent au citoyens sud-africains de toutes ethnicites d’exprimer colere, remord et pardon.  Ce ne fut pas unanyme, mais la philosophie de Mandela etait de permettre aux Sud-Africains blancs de rester, et de permettre l’etablissement de rapports harmonieux entre tous citoyens.

What now?
In 1999, the country voted again.  Although Mandela retired, the ANC won the elections once again.  Thabo Mbeki is now the current president.  Early on, his presidency was welcomed with a reasonable amount of skepticism, as the general public did not know him quite as well as his predecessor, Nelson Mandela.  
In the early days of his presidency, Mbeki was the target of a fair amount of criticism as he apparently denied the existence of the South-African HIV-AIDS crisis, a situation that a number of international organizations acknowledged to be a humanitarian emergency.
One of his bolder moves was a power-sharing deal with the New National Party (the reformed architects of Apartheid), to face the co-opting opposition parties.
From 2001 up to recently, Mbeki has given reasons to worry to foreign investors and white landowners.  Indeed, Zimbabwe’s president Mugabe has pursued an aggressive (if not violent) reclamation of white-owned farms.  Mbeki’s obliviousness to this policy has been interpreted as tacit support and creating fear for white-owned land, further leading to an alarming devaluation of the Rand, the local currency.  

What now?
En 1999, le pays vota de nouveau.  Bien que Mandela a pris sa retraite, l’ANC gagne une fois de plus les elections.  Thabo Mbeki est le president actuel.  Au depart, sa presidence fur accueillie par une part raisonnable de scepticisme, car il etait moins bien connu du grand public que son predecessor, Nelson Mandela.  
Au debut de son mandat, Mbeki fut la cible d’une part raisonnable de critique, alors qu’il nia l’existence de la crise sud-africaine du VIH-SIDA, une situation reconnue comme une urgence humanitaire par nombre d’organisations internationales.
Un de ses gestes les plus audacieux fut de faire une entente de partage de pouvoir avec le New National Party (les architectes de l’Apartheid rebaptises), afin de faire face a l’opposition.
De 2001 a recemment, Mbeki a donne un motif d’inquietude aux investisseurs etrangers et aux proprietaires terriens blancs.  En effet, le president du Zimbabwe, Mugabe, poursuit depuis 4 ans une politique aggressive (sinon violente) de reclamation des fermes appartenant aux blancs.  L’absence de reaction de Mbeki a cette politique est interprete comme un support tacite et cree de vives inquietudes concernant les terres appartenant aux sud-africains blancs, menant directement a une devaluation alarmante du Rand, la monnaie locale.

Source: Africa on a shoestring (Lonely Planet)

November 04, 2005

Paris Weekend

Vendredi, j’ai quitte la Guinee. Il commencait a etre temps ! J’ai tellement eu d’embetement logistiques a l’hotel, que je pense que ca commencais serieusement a affecter ma sante mentale. Entre une clim aleatoire, un degat d’eau a l’etage superieur, des bonnes qui m’enlevait mon materiel de cuisine tous les jours, et un chauffe-eau qui a explose (3 minutes apres ma douche!), j’avoue que je commencais a avoir la poisse…

On Friday, I left Guinee. It was about be time! I had so much logistic troubles at the hotel, I think it was literally driving me crazy ! Between random a/c, water flood from the superior floor, a maid which removed my kitchen tools dayly, and a water-heater which exploded (3 minutes after my shower!), I acknowledge that I was starting to be jinxed...

Jusqu'à la derniere minute, la malchance a colle a ma peau. A l’heure ou j’ecris ce message, je n’ai toujours pas mon bagage, reste a Conakry en raison d’un probleme technique de chargement.

Until the last minute, bad luck stuck to my skin. As I write this message, I still do not have my luggage, which remained in Conakry because of a technical loading problem.

Je suis donc arrivee a Paris le samedi matin, a 6h30 (heure o combien barbare!) Je devais contacter ma tante qui vit en banlieue, mais, timide, j’ai attendu 9h pour la contacter. Mal m’en a pris car a cette heure, tous etaient sortis, ne m’attendant pas ailleurs que la semaine suivante. J’ai donc eu tout loisir de m’installer dans ce petit hotel de Montmartre que j’avais reserve (chambre grande comme un mouchoir de poche, mais quel plaisir d’etre a Paris!) et de me promener a Paris avec S., une amie de longue date dont les vacances coincidaient avec mon passage a Paris. Nous avons descendu les Champs Elyses, paresse au Tuileries, et traverse la place de la Concorde. J’ai meme eu l’occasion de revoir la Tour Eiffel. C’est peut-etre un peu stereotype, mais j’etais bien contente de revoir sa silhouette. J’en ai profite, d’ailleurs, pour acheter un appareil photos… Je vais enfin pouvoir vous regaler !

  • Au Jardin des Tuileries avec S et son cousin
  • (at the Tuileries Gardens, Hanging out with S and her cousin)

I thus arrived in Paris on Saturday morning, at 6:30AM (O barbarian hour!) I was to contact my aunt who lives in the ‘burbs, but, being my usual shy self, I waited for 9AM to contact her. That was a poor calculation on my part, because at this hour, all had left, not awaiting me until the following week. I thus had the leisure to get installed in this small hotel of Montmartre which I had reserved (a room like a pocket handkerchief, but what pleasure to be in Paris!) and to walk around in Paris with S., an old friend whose holidays coincided with my passage in Paris. We walked down the Champs Elyses, loitered at the Tuileries Gardens, and crossed the Place de la Concorde. I also had the occasion to see the Eiffel Tower again. It may be a stereotype, but I was quite satisfied to see her silhouette again. I also took advantage of being in Paris to buy a camera... I’ll finally be able to treat y’all to some Beaver pics !

Ce qui m’a le plus plu, dans tout cela, c’est de marcher librement dans Paris. Un mois encabane, c’est pas tellement drole. Il va falloir que je trouve des solutions a long terme.

  • Vue du Jardin des Tuileries
  • View in the Tuileries Gardens

What pleased me the most was to be able to walk freely in Paris. Spending a month locked up in a hotel insn’t too much fun. In the long-term, it will be necessary that I find solutions.

Dimanche matin, j’ai ete reveille par un coup de fil de ma tante qui etait finalement rentree chez elle. Heureusement, mon vol vers l’Afrique du Sud etait en fin de soiree. J’ai donc pris le train de banlieue pour rejoindre ma famille. C’est agreable de se retrouver entre personnes familieres, de retrouver la chaleur de nos intimes, quand on est souvent solitaire en pays etranger. J’ai meme eu l’occasion de rencontrer (et dans certains cas, retrouver) des amis de la famille que je n’avais pas revu depuis bien longtemps.

  • Ma tante, juste avant de partir de l'aeroport
  • My aunt, just before leaving for the airport

Sunday morning, I was woken up by a phone call from my aunt who was finally back home. Fortunately, my flight towards South Africa was at the end of the evening. So I took the suburban train to join my family. It was good to find myself amongst familiar people, to feel the heat of close friends, when one is usually solitary in foreign countries. I also had the occasion to meet (and in certain cases, to meet again) friends of the family, which I had not seen since quite a long time.

Finalement, mon weekend a ete parfaitement equilibre. Sans compter le bien qu’il a fait a mon equilibre mental.

Finally, my weekend was perfectly balanced. Not counting the good it did for my mental balance..

Me voilà arrivee lundi matin saine et sauve (mais sans bagages) a Johannesburg. Une nouvelle aventure commence…

So here I am on Monday morning, safe and sound, (but without luggage) in Johannesburg. A new adventure starts...


Mise a jour : Mon bagage est arrive (entier et en un seul morceau) hier a l'hotel!

Update : My luggage arrived yesterday at the hotel (complete and in one piece!)

The Beaver

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