God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

The gloves are off

Election year in South Africa – and already since the beginning of the year it shows that the gloves are off and the usual South African chaos becomes the norm of daily life. the reaction of the State of the Nation Address of the President Cyril Ramaphosa was instant: a day later the country plunged into darkness with Eskom announcing load shedding stage four – signaling that the country is short before being brought to its knees. A surprised president who seemingly has not noticed in the long years of being the vice-president and now leading the country how bad the situation is with the State owned enterprises including Eskom as he also had not noticed the state capture happening under his co-watch. Billions of Rand’s siphoned from the State coffers to individuals and, now revealed through the Zondo commission, millions in bribes have gone unnoticed by the politicians who seemingly never read newspapers which disclosed this information ages ago.

The miracle of blind spots continues until today – and it was also present at the debate about the address of the President yesterday, where the opposition parties tried to hammer home this fact in a diversity of ways. But there was something else creeping into the debate – the question who sold out whom during apartheid times: a clear sign that the gloves are off and the nerves are blank and a sort of desperation sets in before the 8th of May, the election date.

And so it seems South Africa falls in line with the rest of the world where decency and real considerations are the exemption but pure reaction to crisis and activism and populism is the norm of today’s politics – paired with the given impression, that ethics or honesty have no say anymore in today’s political, social and environmental challenges.

The dream, that the human race is able to find to each other and jointly overcomes the challenges of today’s world has faded away – ideology and the lust for fights and bullying one another has won for now – but hopefully it is not the final verdict.

The gloves are off in so many ways and in so many spots of this world that one could despair – but there is always hope, there are always pockets of common sense, there are always people who don’t give up to work for the greater good of society and there is always the chance that those pockets are network and together form the safety net for societies, so that the madness of politics don’t destroy the very fabric of those societies. Most non-profit organizations, most volunteers, most good people can attest to it. May they succeed.

 

Filed under: Africa, General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Violence and no electricity

Working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in South Africa isn’t for the fainthearted, keeping the work up to standard, adjusting to new developments, identifying the gaps government is not able to fill – not to speak about the ideological and dogmatic difficulties for a priest to work in this field. Recent days and weeks are making this work even more difficult as South Africa seems to go again and again through phases of xenophobia resulting in looting of shops of foreign nationals and the wounding and killing of those seemingly being more black than a South African skin. Xenophobia and racism against other African nationals is also prevalent in our days with Durban inner city looking like a war zone and violence spreading to Johannesburg and Pretoria and other places. King Goodwill Zwelithini triggered those incidents happening now through his comments asking Non-South African people to leave South Africa accusing them of creating problems. The press quoted him saying: “As I speak to you, you find there are unsightly goods hanging all over our shops. They dirty our streets. We cannot even recognize which shop is which. They are all blocked by foreigners… We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries.”
After the killing spree in 2008 ,various flames up of xenophobia attacks on a yearly returning base and the last ones recorded beginning of the year in Soweto,it seems that nothing has been learned by politicians or society to prevent an re-occurrence. It did not help, that Edward Zuma, son of the president, adds his public comments that foreigner are exploiting South Africa and that they should rather leave.
This all creates an explosive atmosphere in the township communities, where residents ask themselves what is next watching the pictures of killings and thousands of displaced people within their own country.

Adding to this situation is the ongoing Eskom crisis in the country which plunges again and again in a more or less systematic roll out of blackouts parts of South Africa into the dark. Load shedding now for days, for most of the country three times a day no electricity and the situation is self-inflicted: the government has messed up a great deal in not allowing the national electricity provider Eskom to develop. Cadre deployment, nepotism, incompetence , Black Economic Empowerment and ignorance added and is adding to the troubles we are in here in South Africa. According to Minister Brown, the electricity problems will continue for the next two years.

What does this mean to the work environment of an organization like HOPE Cape Town? No electricity no modern communication, and even if we have electricity in our offices it does not mean those have we are trying to contact – work is constantly hampered in the moment. No electricity means in Cape Town no robots functioning – in South Africa’s most congested city, when it comes to traffic it means that travel time doubles and rush hours become a nightmare similar to Bangkok. Xenophobia gives thugs and criminals a reason to exploit such a situation and one can sense the unease building up in black township communities. No electricity means closed shops, lost business, candlelight meals and much more…

Violence and no electricity, illegal land occupation and fighting the demons of history (and their statues), crime and corruption, nepotism and unemployment  – South Africa has more than enough challenges in our days and makes daily life not always a pleasure. But still HOPE Cape Town and all the other NGO’s and people of goodwill (punt intended) will continue to assist turning the tide in their respective area of expertise to give hope and future to those living in South Africa.

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , ,

Cable theft…

It’s the fourth time in a row that thieves have stolen the cable providing electricity to HOPE Cape Town’s container in Blikkiesdorp. Even burying the cable under the soil did not help – Eskom’s efforts to support the community in Blikkiesdorp by providing electricity to the containers have failed again. This in itself is bad news as the uplifting of the community, the computer training, the cooking courses: they all depend on electricity and stealing the cables again and again does harm to those in need.
What is even more regrettable is that those harmed in this way know exactly who are the culpable but out of fear they will never reveal the names or give it to the police.
And with this we are at one of the devil’s circles of South African township societies – it takes long time and lots of courage to break free from all those thugs and criminals terrorizing those vulnerable  and in need of assistance. It is amazing how patient people are in suffering the consequences of crime and violence, up to a breaking point, where they take the law into their own hands and start killing those they want to get rid off. Dead people don’t do revenge!

Blikkiesdorp is not there yet – the stealing of cable and the continues sabotage of the assistance to their disadvantaged lives seems not to trigger such violent reaction yet – and it is understandable: There is no sense for community and belonging in this part of Delft where more than 38 nations are crowded together – some for a longer period of time, others since Sepp Blatter didn’t want to see certain individuals roaming the streets of Cape Town during the Soccer World Cup.

Blikkiesdorp is or should be semi-permanent – all containers and structures should be disappearing – and with it crime and violence in this area – but it seems that the City of Cape Town has other plans – a small park with a braai area for barbecue is now built next to it – a meeting point where people – who hardly can make a living –  should come together and grill their meat in the open. Maybe it works, but maybe there are also chances that this “public park” will be an ideal place for gangs to meet up and do their business at night. The park signals permanence in many ways – and maybe some more hope is again dying that life will become better within life’s time.

Blikkiesdorp is a sore in the eye of everybody who thinks that decent human living should be applied to everybody. It’s a sore in the eye of those who acknowledge what it means to be able to live as a decent human being. But Blikkiesdorp remains a reality and there are so many other “Blikkies” in South Africa that one could lose hope. But HOPE Cape Town remains steadfast in their approach to better the lives of those living there. And even those pulling the cables out at night will not stop this fine organization to deliver as much service as possible to those in dire need for it.

 

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
8 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2019

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 18th, 2019
61 days to go.

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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