Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Edward Abbey

19 December 2010

The Jaguar - Ted Hughes

The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.
The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.
Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

Lie still as the sun. The boa-constrictor's coil
Is a fossil. Cage after cage seems empty, or
Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.
It might be painted on a nursery wall.

But who runs like the rest past these arrives
At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, memerized,
As a child at a dream, at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged
Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

On a short fierce fuse. Not in boredom -
The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,
By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear -
He spins from the bars, but there's no cage to him

More than to the visionary his cell:

13 December 2010

Canned lion hunting legalised in South Africa

It is with horror that I heard that the ban on canned lion hunting has been lifted. I don't know how we are going to do it, but every single person who cares about animals (human and non-human) is going to have to do their bit to get this reversed.

How can we allow the ultimate symbol of freedom and wilderness to be abused in this tragic manner?

You can read the supreme court ruling for yourself, but be warned that the stone-cold manner in which this judgement was made, will bring you to tears.  I will keep posting on this issue to find better ways to proceed, but thought it best to start with this post and raise awareness at least.

You can also read the gleeful press release by the SA Predator Breeders Association where they celebrate their "victory" in gaining the legal (but not moral) right to murder our beautiful sacred lions.

The Africa Geographic blog has a heart wrenching post on this issue. Read it here:

Shame on us!

19 November 2010

SA becoming a predator state?

“We’re headed for a predator state where a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas are increasingly using the state to get rich.” - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Now I like it when Vavi speaks up. But damn I'm disappointed with his disparaging metaphor. Hyenas are mystical beings who pass between different dimensions, keeping open the lines of communication and connection between animals (including human animals), plants, rocks and the Mother herself.

Hyenas are matriarchal and hence nothing like the demagogues who are raping the land today.

The last time I saw a hyena was just 3 weeks ago. It was just outside Skukuza in the KNP and she was rising as the dusk settled and darting from bush to bush as the humans in their cars gawked at her. It was a momentary glimpse but enough to once again fill my soul with wonder, as always.

Every time I have glimpsed a "wild" (free) hyena I have had this same sense of awe.

19 October 2010

Indigenous rights in South Africa - do they exist?

The recent death of !Khoisan X has brought to the fore the rights of the original indigenous people in southern Africa. The voices of the original people of this region are seldom heard in the raging storm that is the social web, South African print media and the broadcast "media" (sic).

There's a wonderful poem of sorts on the Kak Duidelik blog that highlights some of the issues about black settlers and white settlers occupying the media channels and hence crushing the voices of the indigenous people.

Omdat ek ‘n Kullid is!
I was here before oom Van Riebeeck came,
I was here roaming all these plains.
I was here when uncle Shaka came,
In this land, long before everyone came, I was the flame!
Read the full poem here.

There's also a short piece on the recent march on parliament by the Khoisan rights movement which can be read on the Mahala website or the BruinOu website.

So what can one conclude about all this? Well, it's simply this, the rights of indigenous people (who believe land cannot be owned) will always be secondary to the rights of civilised/Westernised people (who believe land/nature/the planet should be conquered, owned, bought, used, destroyed, mined, farmed, fucked up ... especially if there's money to be made in the process).

Fluit, fluit my storie is uit! All the news you don't want to know and studiously try to avoid, that's what you can read right here on this joyous blog!

05 October 2010

Rhino poaching: who's pulling the strings?

One should never have to say anything about an artwork.
This one says it all ...

Artist: Diane Victor

31 August 2010

Ecosocialists: quo vadis?

Canadian ecosocialist Ian Angus has a thought-provoking piece in the international journal of social justice, about the future course for their movement.

It's definitely worth reading and much of my personal processes are reflected, especially as a long-term environmentalist who has moved towards more radical alternatives to saving the planet, because the ballot box and lifestylism are not going to cut it.

I would love to see the emergence of a global mass movement against climate change. But daily I remind myself that I have to take concrete actions as well, to ensure a future for diversity as the Earth struggles under the weight of feeding and supporting 7 billion humans.

Read Ian's article here ...

Rhino deaths linked to cattle barons

This headline comes as no surprise. After all, wild animals and wilderness areas have no right to exist unless they serve humans. Right? WRONG! Sadly, this tragically flawed thinking is the opinion of most human animals.

White rhino mother and calf
However, praise must go to investigative eco-journalist Yolandi Groenewald who does a wonderful job ensuring stories about the needs of non-human animals, plants and landscapes do get some coverage in the media.

It seems a gang of "farmers" in Mpumalanga are quietly encroaching on one of South Africa's few remaining wild spaces, the Songimvelo game reserve, which also happens to be a plant biodiversity hot spot.

But who is going to bother protecting plants, if we can't even protect wild rhinos?

I quote from Yolandi's article: Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency spokesperson Kholofelo Nkambule refused to comment on the matter "due to its sensitivity" and because "it is sub judice and subject to litigation". He said the agency's legal team is attending to Songimvelo. But agency sources said they are concerned that Songimvelo could cease to exist and that Mpumalanga Parks is not fighting hard enough for its survival. 

Read the full article in the M&G here ...

26 August 2010

Whose side are you on?

Interesting dynamics in the .za political landscape right now and these dynamics are reflected in the organisations coming out in support of the public service strike. In addition to the unions involved in the strike, such as PSA, NEHAWU, DENOSA, SAPTU, HOSPERSA, SAPU, POPCRU, SADNU, PAWUSA, SAOU, NATU etc, are many related unions and even some  ANC alliance partners.

I've decided a list of those supporting the strike would make for interesting reading.

Here they are:
  • The Gauteng SACP "The SACP in Gauteng is fully behind the public service strike and is convinced that the demands of the workers are legitimate. We have thus far taken it upon ourselves to mobilize the rest of civil society and our communities to understand and support this action"
  • COSATU Free State
  • COSATU national "The Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions has declared its total support for the strike by 1.3 million public service workers and demands that the government moves immediately to make a new offer which can lead to a rapid conclusion to the strike."
  • SASFU (SA Security Forces Union) "The continual use of soldiers as scab labour in hospitals is not only unsustainable but is parasitic as the very soldiers stand to benefit to a reasonable settlement and demand of the public service workers. Our government should be careful of developing a negative relationship between the soldiers and the poor as this might strain any future cooperation between soldiers and workers."
  • SACP North West "The South African Communist Party (SACP) North West province calls on all our democratic movement to support COSATU on its call for a total general strike in the country following the unnecessary intransigence demonstrated by our government on this matter."
  • SAMWU Eastern Cape "The Largest local Government Union in the Eastern Cape has today confirmed that it would be pledging its solidarity with Public Sector workers and their legitimate demands. SAMWU in the EC will begin mobilizing its 16 000 workers in the Province, to embark on solidarity protest action with the Public Sector workers."
  • Democratic Socialist Movement "The government’s refusal to accede to the public servants’ legitimate demands has nothing to do with affordability. It has everything to do with making workers pay for the concessions forced upon government by the 2007 strike, to break the power of the trade unions and to legitimise the exploitation of workers."
  • Workers International Vanguard League "We salute the heroic spirit of the public sector strikers in the face of brutal, fascistic intimidation and attacks by the amabhulu omnyama of the ANC-SACP government."
  • SA National Defence Union (SANDU)  "The problem is, if this is not solved, there's a possibility that we might be seen as scab labour, we are not going to allow our workers to be seen in that particular fashion. That is why we are planning action."
Here's the ANC's opinion issued on 25 August 2010: "The ANC strongly appeals to all parties who are involved in the dispute within the public sector to scale down on the unhelpful rhetoric and inflammatory language used, as such do not bring parties closer to the resolution of the dispute but instead hardens attitudes on all sides." 

It is up to each us to make up our own minds about this, but for me the big picture is significant. And that is the fact that the balance of power is shifting in South Africa right now. I foresee two possible outcomes: one is a split in the ANC and the second is a clampdown within the ANC to assert itself, hush any real opposition and ensure a future "one party state" of sorts. I just cannot see any real opposition coming from outside the ANC, it has to come from within and the signs are there that this is happening.

Little splinters like COPE will have no impact. It will have to be a larger split such as the SACP, COSATU and maybe some branches of ANCYL and even the ANCWL joining forces and walking away from the mother body. What happened to the Women's League by the way? I just never hear their voice anymore. It's like they've been silenced???

Either way, major change is coming and sooner than I thought.

History (short term history at that!) will tell if I am right or not.

    23 August 2010

    Sacred Venda sites at risk of "development"

    I was traumatised to read that the mystical, shaded, gurgling, forested, deep-green, swirling, living (plants and rocks included), natural and very eerie Phiphidi Falls near Thohoyondau are under threat.

    Having visited this mysterious site myself some years ago and heard the whispering of the water sprites, it is with sadness that I discover (thanks to African Alchemy) that the threat is coming from within the community. Some local leaders have gotten greedy and want to build ... horror of horrors ... tourist chalets and a b-b-bar UGH at this sacred site.

    This is the site where for thousands of years women elders of the Ramunangi clan perform rituals to ensure rain and the protection the people and environment in the area.

    You can read the horror story here: Resort built on old sacred site infuriates Venda elders

    20 August 2010

    That's what factory work does to you - it fries your brain

    Foxconn gets the pompoms out to raise morale at 'suicide factory'
    Young workers who normally spend their days assembling iPhones and other high-tech gadgets packed a stadium at their massive campus yesterday, waving pompoms and shouting slogans at a rally to raise morale following a string of suicides at the company's heavily regimented factories. The outreach to workers shows how the normally secretive Foxconn Technology Group has been shaken by the suicides – and the bad press they have drawn. Read more here:

    In light of the media tribunal sham - here's Madiba's views on media freedom

    Long-time journo Peter Bruce has posted an item on his Business Day blog which features a speech made by Nelson Mandela in 1994 about, among other things, media freedom.

    Read it here: Nelson Mandela's view on press freedom.

    It is a good time to remind ourselves of the sacrifices that were made to fight for freedom during colonialism, during apartheid and other times of trouble. We should all prepare to be brave and speak out as we move into the next cycle of repression.

    In fact, as with Khoe Chief Autshumato (‘Herrie the Strandloper’), his niece Kratoa, Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani, Ruth First, Lilian Ngoyi, Tecumseh, the Sisulus, Chief Xhore, Steve Biko and the slaves on the Amistad, we may need to do even more than just speaking out? But let's start there.

    19 August 2010

    Opening the unlocked door of my cage

    At this moment in time, everyone on this planet is in a perpetual state of suffering. Those who deny this are most likely watching a lot of television, and/or working 12-plus hours a day and/or taking lots of anti-depressants, alcohol, prozac or street drugs.

    As this penny dropped, I decided to stop looking for the key and instead to simply open the unlocked door of my cage.

    It was in this state of being - beyond hope, beyond pain, beyond innocence - that I knew I had to take action. Even if it meant dying in the process.

    17 August 2010

    Walking with the comrades - an essay by Arundhati Roy

    Arundhati Roy is one of my heroes. I have only a few heroes, because not many people in the world today are brave. There are 7 billion of us, but few are truly brave. She is. She says all the things no one else is willing to say for fear of being assassinated.

    More than that, she goes out into the world and takes action.

    In February this year she went walking with a group of tribal Naxalites who live in the forests of India. These are people who are taking up arms to fight for their land which is being stolen by the state and multinationals who are after the mineral resources left in these remote areas. (Sound familiar?)

    Extraordinary photos taken by Roy during her walk and made
    available  on the Kasama Project website: 
    Some leftists have criticised Roy for being anti-Marxist and romantisising the tribal revolutionaries while ignoring the alternative future envisioned by the Marxists in India. They claim the tribals or adivasis have no future vision other than reclaiming their land. This is a load of crap. The role of tribal people in the coming revolution, and more importantly beyond, is constantly undervalued by modern leftists. It always despairs me (sic) to hear such nonsense, because it is divisive. When the enemy is so powerful and overwhelming as the machine that is devouring the planet right now, then all who oppose it need to stand together and tackle the common enemy. Once that enemy is out of the way, then one can start philosophising about how to move forward.

    But right now the beast must be slain.

    Read the amazing essay by Arundhati Roy, it is a life changer.

    12 August 2010

    What price freedom?

    "This is why being silent in the face of oppression, tyranny, or the abuse of power by the state should not be considered an option by those of us committed to both democracy as well as freedoms of various sorts. Fortunately, democracy and liberty are often positively correlated, so that an increase in the one tends to coincide with an increase in the other." Jacques Rousseau, thedailymaverick

    Read this great opinion piece here: It’s silly to take a penknife to a gunfight.

    11 August 2010

    4 month old baby girls developing breasts

    Doctors and parents in China are blaming formula from a New Zealand dairy conglomerate for the development of breasts in baby girls aged between four and 15 months, who have tested at hormone levels exceeding those of grown women.

    When will people learn that factory farming of animals and treating animals like machines is going to bite them in the bum? You cannot get away with abusing animals and the environment without it impacting on human animals too. It's inevitable.

    Read the article here.

    04 August 2010

    Baby steps as we return to a fascist state

    I am young enough to see through bullshit and old enough to remember the censorship and bullying tactics of the apartheid state. Bluntly put, I REMEMBER WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE IN A FASCIST STATE.

    So recent political shenanigans in this country and particularly events of the last 24 hours in South Africa have me very worried. As of today, journalists can be arrested without being charged, plucked off the street and spirited off to an undisclosed location.

    Sound familiar?

    It is terrifying when the colonised become the coloniser ... or at the very least adopt the horrible mindset of the very people who dominated and abused them. How do we break this cycle?

    The ANC is leading this country towards fascism and we the people must once again rise up and fight against this with all our might.

    One should never give the state too much power. There must always be checks and balances. Fellow South Africans, wake up and get involved!

    Read the article in today's Daily Maverick titled:  
     then go away and think about what you are going to do to change this situation and to fight for democracy, fight for the people, fight for the landbase, fight for the future generations.
    It is a sad irony that this happens the very same day that a wonderful initiative like:
    LeadSA is an initiative to grow our spirit of unity and respect for one another. It "aims to to remind us that it is in our power to change ourselves and our country, that we all have the ability to lead. It's up to you to Stand Up for South Africa and our future."

    On second thoughts, maybe it's not a sad irony but a wonderful coincidence that we now have the opportunity to channel our anger over the journalist's arrest, the corruption and greed etc into something positive, where we can make a difference and STOP THE ROT.

    18 July 2010

    90 year old Katie Lee - "eliminate humans"

    Like many eco-anarchists Katie Lee - 90 year old protest singer - believes we (humans) have overstayed our welcome on planet Earth.

    "I don’t like the human race," Katie Lee said. "The Glen Canyon dam broke my heart." (A much-reproduced photo of Lee in the buff in the since-drowned canyon failed to convince Congress to stop the dam.) Lee was rolling now: "Mother Nature is going through menopause, hot one day, cold the next. She’s going to take other actions as well (including bring down the Glen Canyon dam). One day she’ll get rid of us. And that’s a good thing, baby!"

    Read the amazing article

    Monkey wrenchers keep on keeping on

    Ed Abbey's spirit lives in today's eco-activists

    here ... 

    Misanthropy is growing, but is it fast enough to save everyone else who shares this planet?

    16 July 2010

    The Hidden Struggle Behind the World Cup

    "South Africa is ranked 129 out of 182 UN member states in the Human Development Index - 19 places below the besieged territories of Gaza and the West Bank."

    Quoted from a great article on the Workers' Solidarity Movement website.

    14 July 2010

    Stop covert killing of Cape Peninsula baboons

    I know that people living on the Cape Peninsula feel they are being "harassed" by baboons, but I am asking them to take one moment to think what they would do if roles were reversed. If you were the baboon and had these human animals encroaching on your ancient landbase and you had nowhere to run, just raging ocean on all sides.

    With this in mind ...

    A sinister precedent has been set by the government authorities in the area …. implementing a new secret protocol without consulting stakeholders, yet claiming they did. 

    When William, an alpha male baboon was trapped, the authorities lied to the full-time baboon monitors in the field. They told the baboon monitors that they were relocating him to deep within the nature reserve where he would be less bothersome to residents who leave their houses open and are therefore ransacked. The next day the monitors walked many kilometers beyond the call of duty to look for him and check up on his wellbeing … to no avail. It then came to light that the authorities had actually removed him to kill him.

    (See William's portrait above as photographed by Tim Newman.) 

    Please sign the petition below:
    Then please read this lovely tribute to Prince William of Scarborough:
    Finally, visit the Baboon Matters website or if you are in the Cape, contact them to do a baboon walk:

    01 July 2010

    Asian animal activists in SA need your help

    Hi Activists,

    As most of you know, we’re still finalizing the location of our anti-fur public education event on July 8th. I apologize for the delay in finalizing the details for the event, however we are waiting for clearance of our permit to come through. In the instance that our permit is not approved, we would like to have a back-up location option in place and we are looking for a rooftop location (of an office building, parking garage, or anything else you might have access to) with a view of a Johannesburg landmark in the background (for example, the Telkom tower in Hillbrow). Please let me know if you have access to any similar locations, or have any contacts that might be willing to help.

    Also, we are still badly in need of skilled make-up artists for the 8th. The event we are doing will feature nearly-naked painted supporters painted as the flags of the countries participating in the World Cup. The event will be at 1pm on the 8th, and we’re looking for painters to help for several hours before.

    Thanks very much for all you do for animals!

    Best regards,
    Ashley Fruno, email: AshleyF at
    Senior Campaigner
    PETA Asia

    How Much Longer Until We Run Out of Enough Drinkable Water?

    NASA ASTER image of an approx.  1443 km² area of fields  in Kansas which are watered from the Ogallala aquifer with center pivot irrigation systems.

    ... and here in SA is the creeping crisis of acid mine drainage and just plain old pollution.

    SA dams: a rapidly worsening water crisis
    Stop ignoring the water crisis
    Union chides Aurora, Grootvlei gold mine water fears return
    Why world's taps are running dry

    30 June 2010

    Goodbye José Saramago - a hero

     I am saddened at the passing of José Saramago, who I consider one of the people who has most influenced my thinking and is therefore one of the people responsible for opening my eyes.

    He once said: "Is a world in which fewer than 300 people own as much as the poorest 40% a great achievement?"

    I keep asking people that question in various ways, but I always get the same answer: "But I cannot do anything about it. The problem is too great for just one person to solve." Or, "I'll sign the petition, but then I have to get on with my job otherwise my boss will complain that I'm not working." etc etc

    Ho hum.

    Good bye Saramago and thank you for sharing your soul with us.

    09 June 2010


    What is this "reality" that everyone's talking about?

    Username, user experience, user user user culture.
    Forgot your username, forgot your culture.
    Make a new way. Follow a new path.

    It's so tiring staring at a screen all day.
    It's so trying to scream in silence all day.
    Why whould one be willing to sacrfice?

    Reality. Reality bites. Virtual reality.
    Socialising means chatting to friends on a screen.
    Scream. Scream. Stare.

    Mommy let's go play in the park!
    Okay son let's go. Mommy look I'm climbing the tree.
    Yes son.

    Mommy you're not looking, you're staring at that screen.
    Blackberry is more important. Virtual life is more interesting.
    Than watching my son climb a wise old fig tree.

    Around trees. Elders. Trees. Acacias. Trees.
    Free the trees. Seringas, knobwood, paperbark, hear your heart.
    Heartwood. Heart would ... lemon wood.

    By Kim

    03 June 2010

    “Do It! Scenarios of the Revolution”

    “A dying culture destroys everything it touches and language is one of the first things to go. Words have lost their emotional impact and intimacy, their ability to shock.” Jerry Rubin

    Andy Rice has really impressed me with his writing on the Daily Maverick. it's amazing how many wonderful writers we have in South Africa when they are given free reign to write about what really matters and not just what the advertisers.government/corporations.theANC wants them to write about.

    Viva Daily Maverick!

    More resources on just how powerful language can be, especially once we start listening to the non-human or more-than-human world. Here are some good books on this subject which is very close to my heart. (That phrase by the way is an example of words with meaning much greater than the words alone!)

    28 May 2010

    We are marinated in a war zone

    In present time we may feel marinated in death as its ubiquitous presence threatens to overwhelm us. It is as if we are being asked to walk through a war zone, witnessing around us the fallen everywhere and not knowing if we ourselves will survive. And we my wonder, why can't we just get to the other side and as Thomas Paine said, "begin the world all over again"? 

    Carolyn Baker 

    I've been reading Carolyn's daily alerts for some years now and following her move out of civilised life and transition to a kinder gentler path, out in rural Vermont on Turtle Island.

    I have bought and skimmed through, but not yet thoroughly read her book
    Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Collapse which I nevertheless recommend, for I too am trying to find a true path in life. I also feel desperate for emotional and spiritual tools for preparing for living in a post-industrial world. And i really need to deal with the warzone. All those animals dying in the Gulf of Mexico are crying out for us to stop our madness.

    The book is available here.

    04 May 2010

    Major breakthrough in the fight against biopiracy: Pelargonium patents

    Liberate the flowers man. I do love a good news story, especially when a minnow takes on a giant corporation ... and wins!

    "Geraniums" - or more correctly Pelargoniums - have got to be my favourite flowers. And they are here in South Africa en masse to help wherever they can, be it healing human animals, non-human animals or even the entire ecosystem where they love (I mean live).

    We sure could learn from that!

    18 April 2010



    “Poverty is the mother of all revolutions” – Motsoko Pheko
    “All books are damaged trees” – Willem Boshoff
    “Think ten times, then act once” – Willem Boshoff

    17 April 2010

    12 March 2010

    The not so illustrious history of work

    By Jan Lundberg

    The dominance of work, like so many aspects of Western Civilization and its economy, is seldom discussed openly beyond disorganized griping. For we are asked as good citizens to not question the idea of work. Indeed, we are required not to question it. Jobs are sacrosanct. However, that belief may be part of the old paradigm that is being ushered out as the pace of change keeps up.

    Hard work has been relatively recently been enshrined as a natural obligation, while it conveniently maintains the state and its ruling elite. For the vast majority of people, work invariably confers no equity stake in the enterprise or product. Whether it's called civic participation or a right, or whether it is as Nazi Germany depended on it (Arbeit), work as we know it is an acquired trait and a recent phenomenon in human experience -- that is, when it is a form of evolved slavery for the masses of people. Perhaps 99% of our time on Earth has been as hunter–gatherers, habitually spending on average much less time on what could be called work, compared to members of agricultural and industrial societies. 

    By recognizing work as forced, and not particularly kind for the body, spirit, or the Earth, we can regard work as linked to overcrowding -- or overpopulation. A large, hard-working population produces surpluses, fueling more population, especially with technology to help. We are now overdosed on technology applied regardless of consequences. Doing more work isn't going to help if it's to cater to endless growth or to further technology for its own sake. It's like digging a hole deeper for no good purpose. To differentiate between such work and purposeful, voluntary activity that benefits the whole community, we can create a designation that means the work is vital and widely appreciated: “Chosen Work.” Chork, anyone?
    In general I try not to copy and paste the words of others on my blog. But Jan Lundberg's words above are so perfect and resonate with power, that I did not want to even attempt to precis them. The full article is available on The People's Voice:

    11 March 2010

    FIFA looting South Africa?

    Here's an alternative view of the world cup and its impact on South Africans by an outsider:

    The South Africa World Cup: Invictus in Reverse
    You see it the moment you walk off the plane: a mammoth soccer ball hanging from the ceiling of Johannesburg International Airport festooned with yellow banners that read, "2010 Let's Go! WORLD CUP!" If you swivel your head, you see that every sponsor has joined the party ...

    By the way, if you are in Durban you can join the author Dave Zirin ata seminar:

    The University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society Seminar welcomes you to a seminar on Friday:

    Topic: Fifa's Looting of South Africa
    Speaker: Dave Zirin
    Date: Friday, 13 March 2010
    Time: 12:30–14:30

    Venue: Memorial Tower Building F601, Howard College (NEW LOCATION: CCS's new quarters atop Durban's highest building)

    Dave Zirin is one of the world's greatest social commentators on sports, and has authored four books, including A People's History of Sport in the United States. He writes for The Nation, Huffington Post Sports Illustrated, and many other outlets, and is a regular television and radio commentator. His visit to South Africa is sponsored in part by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and Harold Wolpe Trust, and on 11 March he appears twice at the UKZN Centre for Creative Arts Time of the Writer festival honouring his late friend Dennis Brutus (noon and 5:30pm). Zirin will comment on the new documentaries "Trademark 2010" and "Fahrenheit 2010", and describe his experience with "Bad Sport", i.e. when commodification and commercialisation destroy the grace and art of sport - and how civil society can resist.

    01 March 2010

    British govt's outrageous plan to create “marine park” on territory which is not its own

    Look what they've done to what was once a beautiful jungle atoll. This is Diego Garcia, one of the Chagos Islands near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. First they removed the local fisherfolk. Then they destroyed the non-human animals, birds and most of the landbase. Now they want control of the surrounding ocean as well.

    View Larger Map

    I don't believe any land belongs to a government, but when a government does what the Brits are planning on Diego Garcia, I am outraged. It's bad enough that half the once verdant island has been converted to a US airbase and military outpost, but now they UK wants to "improve on" (sic) what Nature once provided and build a marine park! Fook.

    I wonder if they are going to make the dolphins jump though hoops during airbase lunchbreaks?
    Read the article here:

    Greenpeace has once again backed the wrong side and is supporting the plan. I suggest you read the comments at the bottom of the article as they are very revealing, especially the one by Mauritian journalist Yan Hookoomsing: .

    28 February 2010

    The rebel alliance - revolt!

    I firmly believe that for children to become successful adults in a demanding world, they have to learn to break the rules.

    Jansen called it wrong on the UFS fiasco, but I agree with most of what he says in the above column. I have no time for automatons.

    24 February 2010

    Avatar in India right now

    An indigenous people, the Dongria Kondh of India, face the destruction of their lands and extinction at the hands of British mining giant Vedanta Resources as we speak.

    The tribe opened their annual festival of worship on their sacred mountain to the media and activists for the first time ever in order to try and raise awareness of their plight. I can imagine the strength it must take to do this.

    The UK mining company is determined to mine for aluminium ore on the Dongria Kondh's sacred mountain.

    22 February 2010

    WARNING: Some makes of "rescue remedy" not whale friendly!

    We live in hectic times. Our culture is insane and people turn to remedies of all kinds to deal with the insanity.  Some watch lots of sport, some drink too much alcohol, some kill their life-essence with anti-depressants, others turn to stronger drugs (legal and illegal) and  some take "Rescue Remedy" when the going gets tough.

    I was saddened to learn today that a South African version, namely Natura Rescue contains an ingredient sourced from sperm whales. Ambra grisea, ambergris, Ambre gris or ambergrease is a fatty substance found in the intestines of sperm whales and was used as a fixing agent in perfumery for centuries. 

    Trade in Ambra grisea is illegal in some countries because it is extremely valuable, and one can never be sure if the source was found on a beach (vomited up by a whale) or if it was extracted from a slaughtered whale!

    So my advice to you is to use the Bach flower essences version of rescue ie Rescue Remedy, which contains NO AMBRA GRISEA!

    ... and don't get me started on Ethiopian civet paste.

    So what do you say to climate change denialists?

    What do you say when a usually perfectly rational friend asks: "But how do you know climate change is happening and that it's caused by humans? What if it's all just hype?"

    And I'm not talking about engaging in long intellectual debates here. I think the most dangerous thing we can do right now is intellectualise the debate about the future survival of our planet.

    So how do you respond simply and intensely, in such a way as to change that person's mind?

    Perhaps you can point them to the amazing resource:
    The effects of Anthropogenic Climate Change
    which lists in alphabetical order articles from the mass media which refer to the human impact on climate change.

    Perhaps you can say:

    In May, 2007 Ahmed Djoghlaf, head of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, said that "Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost."


    ... you could say something poetic like:

    "When the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another Heaven and another Earth must pass before such a one can be again." William Beebe (1877-1962)


    ... I could relate how

    I found the satellite images of a shrinking north polar cap, as published in National Geographic late last year,  moving. They showed the earliest images of the polar cap and superimposed on that the extent of the polar cap in winter 2006, 2007 and 2008. If I remember correctly, winter 2007 produced the smallest ice cap on record.

    Another effective tool are the images of deforestation. Again satellite images are powerful indicators of the rapidly shrinking rain forests of the world and hell it is surely impossible to argue that these are not a human created problem!

    But I guess ultimately a belief that climate change is happening and that it is human-made can only come from the heart. For every climate scientist confirming climate change, there are 10 who will produce some stats to counter it. So one can no longer depend on the scientists to be of any real assistance here. There are far too many vested interests pulling them in all directions. So best make the decision on your own.

    Oh and for South Africans, a drive through the back roads of the new Mpumalanga coal fields should be all that's needed to see what coal fired power stations do to the planet.

    For more intellectual debates and links:

    ... and one last comment. Let's not forget what's happening in the oceans.  Some 90% of all the large fish in the ocean, including tuna, swordfish, sharks, cod, marlin, flounder, and halibut, are gone—fished out of existence. In the oceans, plastic now outweighs phytoplankton ten to one. In 2009 marine biologists confirmed that large predators such as sharks and barracudas no longer roam the reefs of the Caribbean due to disease, hurricanes, and warming oceans.

    I could go on and on ... but the point is, we have a problem here and arguing about whether or not the current radical climate change taking place in our home is "man-made" or not, is secondary. Saving what's left is primary.

    15 February 2010

    Camping is an expensive business

    This blog would appear to be way too serious and negative for anyone to actually read anything here. So it's time to link to something light and frivolous and even indulge in a little navel gazing.

    There's a wonderful take on camping on Christian Landers' website Stuff White People Like.  I particularly loved the line about how sleeping on the ground should be inexpensive "and yet as with everything in white culture, the more simple it appears the more expensive it actually is".

    08 February 2010

    Andaman tribe’s extermination complete

    Her language dies with her: as her tribe goes extinct, hear the last Bo woman's song:
    What are we going to do about the 200 species per day that are going extinct? What are we going to do about the indigenous tribes whom civilized humans are destroying. Should we do like the Navi in Avatar? Should we join the indigenous, take up arms and fight?

    04 February 2010

    Gauteng taps to run dry by 2013

    M&G today reports on a study by Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) concluding that South Africa's water demand will exceed supply by 2025. Areas in the Witwatersrand are likely to experience "water shortages" within the next three years. THREE YEARS. Yes, THAT'S THREE YEARS FROM NOW.

    Many millions of people in SA already face serious water shortages and surprise, surprise, they are the poorest members of society.  But the rivers themselves and the plant and animal communities that depend on them are suffering too and will not be recognised, as only human rights are protected in the constitution. But that's a whole different debate.

    Read more about South Africa's human focused water wars:

    25 January 2010

    We need a new vision for the world

    Arundhati Roy:  "It makes you wonder — is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism? Think about it — the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnam War, the anti-apartheid struggle, the supposedly Gandhian freedom struggle in India… what’s the last station they all pull in at? Is this the end of imagination?"

    The interview was conducted in 2007 but is as relelvant today, if not more so:

    The albatrosses of Midway Atoll

    Photographs of dead albatross chicks taken in the Midway Atoll - one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries - show stomach contents comprising mostly colourful plastic. The images are stark reminder of the fact the the planet is a closed system and every piece of plastic created will eventually be dumped ... somewhere ... even if it's 4000 km from the nearest continent!

    There's copyright on all the pics, so the best way to see these mind-blowing images is to visit Chris Jordan's website:

    An image of an albatross chick with a large red plastic cigarette lighter in its stomach really moved me. This is the new Battle of Midway.

    Nesting babies are fed pieces of plastic by their parents, who soar over the North Atlantic collecting what looks like food to them but is actually floating human debris. Every year thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

    If you're not yet in tears, let me add that plastic is not the biggest threat to the survival of the Midway albatrosses. That dubious honour goes to longline fishing.

    22 January 2010

    APF and EarthLife activists assaulted at NERSA hearings


    This morning, the NERSA public hearing into ESKOM’s application for tariff increases got underway at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. Both Earthlife and the APF were present, having made written submissions and requests for presentations in opposition to ESKOM’s application.

    Not long after proceedings began, a small group of Earthlife activists silently placed several posters on the walls inside the venue. Almost immediately, Gallagher Estate’s private security personnel arrived and tore down all the posters, whilst forcibly escorting those activists identified as the ‘perpetrators’, outside the venue. They then locked the doors and when a larger group of APF activists arrived, refused them (alongside the Earthlife activists already outside) entry.

    Despite repeated attempts by these activists to point out the public nature of the hearing, and thus their right to attend, the private security personnel continued to lock them out. When the gathered activists then started toyi-toying, the SA Police Services were called. Three of the APF/Earthlife activists tried to reason with the police and to inform them of their democratic right to participate in the public hearing going on inside the building. The police then assaulted, arrested and hauled them off to the Midrand police station where they were charged with public violence and resisting arrest.

    The names of the three activists are Makoma Lekalakala, Mashao Chauke and Nomaliza Xhoma. At present they are being held at the Midrand police station while a lawyer engaged by Earthlife and the APF continues attempts to get the charges dropped.

    For further comment/information contact: Ferrial Adam of Earthlife on 0741813197

    20 January 2010

    Haiti still paying for resisting colonisers?

    Crises are often abused as a pretext for pushing through policies that you cannot push through under times of stability. I cannot write anything more passionately or succinctly than some of the wonderful articles embedded below, outlining the tragedy that is Haiti today.

    The great journalist and environmental resistor John Maxwell has written a moving piece in the Jamaican Observer about how the west has crushed Haiti.

    It is my contention that the modern world was born in Haiti

    Quote from the article:
    "Imagine, Niggers Speaking French!" William Jennings, US secretary of state to Woodrow Wilson and fundamentalist lawyer, when speaking about Haitians and preparing to invade their country some 90 yrs ago.

    Naomi Klein of the wonderful DemocracyNow has written a powerful piece:

    Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again
    “We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy—which is part natural, part unnatural—must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again.”

    For those with ADD, here are some brilliant cartoons about Haiti:

    18 January 2010

    Dennis Brutus: you will be missed

    I only heard today that one of SA's greatest rebel voices has gone quiet.

    Dennis Brutus (28 November, 1924 - 26 December, 2009)

    I never met him, but I read many of his poems and always listened intently when I heard him speak via footage.  Good bye fearless Dennis. If only all revolutionaries were half as brave as you, we could solve this climate quandary.

    Dennis in some of his last video interviews:

    * Dennis Brutus Part One:
    * Dennis Brutus Part Two:

    On Copenhagen from his hospital bed: