God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Middle ground or hiding incompetence – South Africa, quo vadis?

The chaos continues in South Africa:
Take the opening of schools through Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga – aimed to happen today – announcement last week, shifted several times and ended almost at one point in time in announcing, that students, who should be at school on Monday, 1st of June at 8 am would be advised by the Minister at 11 am the same day whether they have to go to school 3 hours earlier. Makes sense? No, but it reflects an incompetence, which could drive people crazy in our challenging times.
At the same time President Ramaphosa, who always repeated to adhere to the advice of the health professionals revealed, that the scientists, who advised government, told the minister to go from Level 4 lockdown to Level 1, as the lockdown measures have lost their meaning. The possible unconstitutional Covid-19 Central Command decided to ignore the advice and again lost no time in wasting time to write up new rules and regulations and giving ministers the opportunity to live out their authoritarian habits.
Looking at sciences and the experience of especially Germany, where the Pentecost weekend saw masses on the streets again and going on holidays, the infection figure did not rise. According to those in the medical field, there are some factors contributing to the surprisingly low numbers: wearing of a face mask and being able to be outside during the day. It seems more and more clear, that not the distance alone, but being in a confined space triggers more infections – the face mask and fresh air are the tools to avoid catching Covid-19. The aerosol factor in closed rooms become more and more important in transmission.
Also clear is that the virus will remain with us for a while and that most of us will go through an infection – healthy lifestyle, a safe working environment and again, fresh air and a face mask are the tools remaining powerful in slowing down or keeping down infections till a vaccine is found.

It is beyond understanding, that the government of South Africa, instead  of doing what it promised again and again to do – to adhere to medical advice and at the same time strengthen the economy and avoiding more poverty, hunger, despair and job loss simply ignore their own promises and keep on concentrating on making up rules for levels with no health benefits. Looking at the disaster of opening the schools in a meaningful way, realising how the transport system is not ready as Minister Mbalula had to admit mentioning unprepared PRASA; having the whole ESKOM and SAA dilemma not sorted out, the middle ground is nothing but hiding the incompetence of preparing the country for the new normal. Instead, fighting against booze and cigarettes, supporting a black market with benefits for people certainly “connected”, discerning for days which T-shirt can be bought in which level was the order of the days.

It is not a coincidence that the very same days, people worry about corruption looking at the billions made available for assisting those in need, amaBhungane and its #GuptaLeaks partners publish another lot about corruption and kickback history, reminding South Africa, where we are coming from and that the very same people, who let this happen, are still sitting in government and parliament. Talk is on to take the pension funds of millions of hard-working South Africans to bail the country out and make money available and there is the fear, that we end up like other African countries when all monetary wealth is gone and there is nothing left to loot.

Establishing the Fraud protection unit for the stimulus packet, opening up the country for business again and concentrating on the medical advised tools of face masks, distancing and a safe working environment; this is the only way forward to avoid more harm and more despair for South Africa. Adding a real effort to have enough testing material, hunting down infection hot spots and stopping to abuse the crisis for ideological driven agendas would bring this country back on track and create another new beginning. Covid-19 has shown us that we are all in for it – the virus does not discriminate, but has laid bare the woes of societies. It invites us to open a new chapter of understanding the world and each other and the connectivity between all living. Humility should be the answer, not ideology, common sense, not politics. We can come stronger out of this crisis if we as a society learn the lessons given to us, but for this to happen, we have to get our acts together in a transparent and honest way.  It is up to us to chose wisely – our leaders, our path and our destiny.

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

Bridge between grass root and sciences

Civil and state flag of Brandenburg.

Civil and state flag of Brandenburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today HOPE Cape Town is graced by the visit of a delegation from Brandenburg in Germany. 55 delegates will come and hear about our work, but also the work, the University of Stellenbosch is doing. More and more we discover how important it is to connect sciences and grass root and create a synergy which is beneficial for both sides. Prof Erasmus, Prof Wolfgang Preiser and myself will present this afternoon and the accompanying minister will then visit the Ithemba Ward. So for HOPE Cape Town an exciting start into the week. Other developments are also to be reported: We welcome our new two doctors and with Izane Reyneke we also have now a program coordinator on board to oversee all our working arms, assess and streamline them. We also bid farewell to Prof Bernd Rosenkranz, who resigned from the Board of the HOPE Cape Town Association and thank him for all his good work, support and advice. It is always sad to let people go, but there is, as Kohelet in the bible already said, a time for everything in life. During the Ball of HOPE Monika Rosenkranz as well as Ryan and Dennis presented each their donation result about the support projects they had run till now for HOPE Cape Town. Also here a word of thanks for the creation of wonderful trappings with the mummies for hope and the hard work of running for HOPE. As one can see, there are so many ideas how to support the good cause and there is no limit to creativity in doing so.

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arrogance, Condoms and Stupidity

As usual I read through all the headlines of news various news agencies and news services send to my email box.  Even though the news are from all around the world and from totally different topics I am interested in, sometimes one can draw lines between the different headlines and it makes sense or bring at least some meaning to these combinations. To give an example:
The new head of the congregation of faith demanded yesterday the resignation of Markus Löning in Germany. He is not only a Facebook user but also the representative of the German government for human rights. On his Facebook page he posted: to stupid to understand science – then try religion. A clear insult, so felt Bishop Müller and stated, that the man is not right for the task he is asked to perform by the German government. The entry is meanwhile deleted by Löning.

Well, right I though first of all watch out, Facebook can be a dangerous place and easy bring someone into trouble, but coming to the core of the matter: faith and science should be compatible – they are both ways of discovering God’s great plan with us and everything living on this planet.

Reading on I discovered an interview of a very Christian radio station with a Bishop in South Africa, debating the difficulties of Christian Faith and African tradition and also the differences between different tribes. Actually very sensitive answers from the Bishop till the question of HIV and AIDS arises. Of course no question about HIV without the “c” question and the good bishop turns on the heat:
I think the international community is always arrogant to us Africans. They come with readymade solutions. They don’t ask. They know what is right for us as Africans and the condoms are part of that arrogance. I think because people, in their minds, they think that condoms prevent the sickness. It helps spread it because every young person even those who are not aware of sexual activity are taught in the school about this condom in sexual education. They try it and that is why you still have a high rate of people being infected with this AIDS epidemic.

Well, besides all the bad feeling of the bishop against the international community: Science tells us clearly that condoms don’t help spread the pandemic and looking into the very area he is talking about earlier. It is exactly this area where condoms brought down teenager pregnancy almost to zero which means that students can complete their school and have a fair chance in life to get a proper education. Of course condoms are only part of the solution and changing the hearts and minds and behaviour of the youngsters has to be added, but unfortunately this is a long-term goal and we need the students alive and in good health and with a good education to be able to achieve behaviour change.

This interview also let me think of the situation in Uganda and other countries, where right-wing evangelical preachers advise government and tell them, what it means to be “African”. And there nobody is complaining that this is done by outsiders, mainly US Americans.

So, drawing lines between all those news what remains as a conclusion to the reader?

First, I realise that Facebook is read in the highest circles of the church or at least summaries are being brought to their attention.
Secondly, and this is much mor serious, the pain and the feeling of being overpowered by the international community – I guess by the white international community  – has to be taken seriously and into account when we talk about the solutions of problems like HIV and AIDS but also many others.
And thirdly there must be much more exchange between science and faith to bring both on the same level so that they can see in each other eye without feeling superior or inferior.
And last but not least there is more to see to the “African identity” and I agree, the world financial and economic system we have is not always listening or even giving time to consider other concepts of living and the experience of reality.

Quite a lot to think of and to consider for one morning’s news intake…

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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