Thursday, November 17, 2011

The news from southern Africa

I thought I would do something different for my blog this week.  I’m going to give a summary of the most interesting (to me, at least) news items from my neck of the woods.
Julius “Juju” Malema
Julius Malema.  Photo: David Harrison
My last blog dealt with Julius “Juju” Malema, the president of the Youth League of the African National Congress (ANC), which has been the ruling party since democracy in 1994.  I raised concerns that he sounded a lot like the disastrous president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.  I also reported that he was the subject of a disciplinary hearing within the party for undermining party policies and procedures.  The most important charge was that he was involved in trying to overthrow the stable and democratic government of Botswana. 
This week, contrary to what most people expected, the ANC suspended Malema’s membership in the ANC for 5 years and stripped him of his presidency.  Other members of his committee were also censured.  The government received praise from all quarters for this action.  Malema, of course, is going to appeal.  Contrary to media reports, Detective Kubu was not a witness.
Last week saw one of the most remarkable games of cricket ever.  To most followers of the game, it was almost unbelievable.  Everywhere one looked in South Africa, people were wandering around with puzzled looks on their faces, scratching their heads.
The scene was the first test match of the series between Australia and South Africa, played at the glorious Newlands ground at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town. (By the way, Table Mountain has just been voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.  Does Pittsburgh have one of the New Seven Wonders??).
To set the stage further, for those of you unfortunate not to have been brought up with cricket, there are three varieties of international matches: ones that last an afternoon; those that last a day; and those that last 5 days (6 hours a day) – the real McCoy.  This was one of the latter.
Australia batted first on Day 1 and accumulated a respectable, but not daunting or outstanding, total of 214 with 8 of the 10 batsmen out.  Captain Michael Clarke had half those runs and was not out.  Day 1 was a typical first test-match day.
Day 2 wasn’t.
Australian Shane Watson appeals for a wicket
Australia started the day well, adding 70 runs before being bowled out for a total of 284.  This is a so-so score in this form of the match.  South Africa must have been pleased with their performance, and went into bat with confidence.  130 minutes later they were all out for 94 – an abysmal total in very good conditions.  At this point television viewership in South Africa plunged from lots to little or none.  South Africa had tanked again, was the pervasive thought.  Howls of anguish could be heard.
The next 95 minutes were astonishing.  South Africa bowled Australia out for 47 runs, its lowest total since 1902.  At one stage they were 21/9 – that is, all but one of their batsmen were out.  The last batsman – usually the worst – scored the highest score of 14.  This was a true case of "fried brain syndrome".
Finally, South Africa batted again on Day 2, and went on to win handily on Day 3 with 8 batsmen still to bat.   
Only once before, in the 2000-odd test matches played, were parts of all four innings played during a single day.  That too was in 1902.  The match was over in about half its allocated time.  Think of all the hotdogs that went to waste.  You can watch a summary of Day 2 at
Kubu would have loved this game.  And he has a trivia question for you (all except Dan): Between which two countries was the first international cricket game played?
Botswana AIDS proposal
Festus Mogae, past president of Botswana, has proposed that prostitution be legalized in the country as a way of slowing the spread of AIDS.  Botswana has one of the highest infection rates in the world.
Mogae says that legalising the sex trade would also free up police to focus on other crimes, rather than chasing adults having consensual sex with their clients.
Needless to say his proposal has sparked a backlash among religious groups in this conservative country.
"Sex according to Christian values is meant for people in a marriage with the aim to pro-create," said the Catholic Church's spokesperson Father William Horlu.  "It is taboo to engage in sex for money, and I hope Botswana, being a Christian country, will not allow the trade to be decriminalized."
Mogae, who has also called for scrapping Botswana's sodomy law, responded that religious prohibitions haven't worked.
"Italy is a Catholic country well known for prostitution. There is divorce among Muslims, though they have very strict rules.  So we cannot talk about the church-way because it has failed in history," he said.
The former president has won the backing of Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/Aids as well as the main opposition party.  The party he once led, the Botswana Democratic Party, hasn’t taken a position yet.  Mogae plans to bring his proposal to Parliament and the Cabinet soon.
Kubu had no comment.

Stan - Thursday


  1. Impressed to hear, Stan, that southern Africa has been making so many good decisions lately. They're certainly doing better in that regard than most of the rest of the planet.

    As for your inquiry, kind sir, into Pittsburgh's claim to any of the new Seven Wonders of the World, I must ask for a point of clarification: Are we talking natural or unnatural wonders here? Because in the latter category, I think Pittsburgh may have one in Congress.

    Can't wait to check out the video. 1902 you say...

  2. I can confirm that Pittsburgh does NOT have one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
    As a matter of fact, none of the Wonders of Pittsburgh were even on the list of nominees.
    I note, however, that although you are correct about Table Mountain, this is only a preliminary result. Here's the website with the announcement:
    And, oh, by the way, of those preliminary seven wonders TWO are in Brazil - Iguacu Falls and the Amazon.
    Congratulations to us both.
    And thank God for honest judges.

  3. Picky picky Leighton! Remember that Brazil's two are also preliminary. :}

  4. That was a hell of a game cricket Stan!

  5. Aha! You're only pretenders to the throne of wonder! Or is it thrown?

  6. Has anyone, other than me, noticed that Stan and Michael have been put on the list of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011 for "Mantis"?
    Well-deserved, Blogmates!
    And my heartfelt congratulations.
    It's a first-class book.

  7. Can you imagine what lists "Mantis" would make were it based in Pittsburgh? CONGRATULATIONS, Stan and Michael. Well done!