CONTEXT

September 7, 2012

In other news…

What with all the hoopla in Charlotte this week, you might have missed some noteworthy items that failed to make the front pages – herewith are two.

Desmond Tutu attended a book launch in Cape Town on Labor Day and a mellow, chatty evening of no great significance was suddenly shattered.  No one seems to know exactly what precipitated his outburst, but the Bishop’s voice came through loud and clear:

“Is this the kind of freedom people were tortured and people were maimed for?”

He made a number of other pithy comments, all reflecting his outrage over the current state of his country, but rather than lift them from the original, I refer you to The Guardian, which ran the story on Tuesday.

Bishop Tutu’s anger was, he said, triggered by the most recent government travesty – charging the striking miners of Marikana with the murders of 34 of their fellow strikers (all of whom were shot and killed by police), under a vicious law left over from the apartheid era.

The charges of course infuriated not only South Africans but the wider world as well and have since been dropped.

But in the two decades since the end of apartheid, it seems that very little has been accomplished for those who were its victims.  For a further description, I refer you again to The Guardian and an essay by William Guimede. Guimede sums up current conditions. as well as describing the pivotal importance of events at Marikana:

“Poorer South Africans continue to despair. The CEO of Lonmin, Marikana’s owner, earned R15.8m last year. Rock drill operators, who have one of the most physically demanding jobs in the mines, earn around R10,000 (£750) a month, and after deductions take home about R4,500. Those with jobs cling on to them, for fear that they may never get one again. There is a pervasive sense of systemic unfairness. And as well as the black elite, they resent the fact that so many whites can prosper based on the social capital, wealth and education obtained during the apartheid years.”

[R10,000 equals about 1,200 dollars. Miners take home $600 a month while the CEO is paid about $2 million a year.)

Maybe it wasn’t something someone said that upset Bishop Tutu. Maybe it was the thought of the 34 dead miners juxtaposed with the history of the book being launched – it is called Redeeming the Past and its author, Michael Lapsley, had been a chaplain for the African National Congress under apartheid. Lapsley lost both hands and an eye after opening a letter bomb sent by the apartheid regime.

* * *

Another story worth noting comes from Canada via the Huffington Post – apparently fracking earthquakes don’t distress the commission that reported on 40 of them in British Columbia, saying fracking there continues to be ‘environmentally responsible,’ but we might do well to take a lesson from the details.

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2 Comments »

  1. Knew about fracking earthquakes but not the Tutu response. Thanks for the good info. Difficult to make a response to either of those items.

    Comment by Carol — September 7, 2012 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  2. Xcary stuff

    Comment by avery zia — September 9, 2012 @ 6:40 pm | Reply


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