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Archive for the tag “New Zealand”

SABC: Sport and Faith

A few months ago there was an intense public debate about the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and its former head, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. I don’t know if the SABC has a new head yet, or if it is still drifting along flapping its wings like a headless chicken, but yesterday we were made acutely aware of two things that the new head, who ever that many be, should look into.


Yesterday there was a cricket match where the South African national team was playing against New Zealand. But only the rich could watch it on TV, and it wasn’t broadcast on steam radio at all.

Now this might not matter if you think that sport is a luxury, especially for spectators. No one actually needs to watch other people playing, and there’s nothing to stop them getting out and playing themselves — they could probably do with the exercise.

But the government also keeps banging on about “transformation” in sport, by which they mean that the demographic groups represented in national sports teams should reflect the demographic make-up of the country. But if only the rich can watch those sports on TV or radio, then only the rich will tend to play those sports. Those who can afford to pay to watch those sports on TV will also be the ones who can afford to send their children to the fee-paying schools where those sports are played and effectively coached. If you want to level the playing fields (pun intended) then you must make it possible for the widest range of people see our national teams play. And the government, which controls the SABC, needs to make sure that the SABC encourages this transformation by broadcasting matches where the national teams are playing, both home and away.


For the last few months, on Sundays when we go to church in Atteridgeville, we’ve caught the second part of a radio programme on SAfm called Facts of Faith. The first few times we heard it, it sounded like a paid denominational broadcast. There was a group of people drawn from various religious traditions who were asked to challenge the views of a very fundamentalist speaker, who then demolished their objections to his point of view in a rather condescending manner.

For a while we wondered which denomination was sponsoring the show. Was it Seventh-Day Adventists? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Or some new fundamentalist sect from the USA trying to gain a foothold in South Africa?

We listened to the end of the programme, but they never said which denomination was sponsoring it. It was followed, at 11:00 am by the Sunday morning church service, where one was told which church the service was in, so at least one knew what one was getting.

Eventually we looked up Facts of Faith on the web, and found that it apparently was not intended to be a paid denominational broadcast, however much it sounded like it. Instead it was

Facts of Faith is a platform for religious and faith communities to have a say in social, political, cultural, sexual and general issues. Facts of Faith affords the country and the general SAfm audience’s the benefit of hearing what faith communities have to say about the issues of the day.

Now that sounded as though it could be interesting, except that one wonders why they would broadcast it at a time when most Christians in the country would be in church, and so would not be able to hear it. That too seems a very sectarian thing to do. Nevertheless we continued to listen to the second half on the way home just because we found the main speaker so overbearing and annoying.

But yesterday’s one took the cake.

They were talking about women’s leadership in church, and there was a Muslim, and a bishop of something or other, and someone from the ACDP. We didn’t catch the names because we only started hearing it halfway through.

solascripAt one point they took phone callers from outside, and one caller said he could offer an interesting instance of something in African history that could illustrate women’s leadership from the point of view of Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. He was quickly ruled out of order by the boss of the show (he was the boss, not a chairman or moderator or anything impartial like that). The name of the show, he said, was Facts of Faith, and that meant that they did not accept anything from history, or culture or tradition. It had to be from Scripture and Scripture only. Well that certainly confirmed the fundamentalist bias of the programme, and I was sad, because I would like to hear what the caller had to say.

And I wonder which “scriptures” are used by African traditional religions.



Alien wasps abduct ants

Now here’s an alien abduction story with a difference — Alien Wasps Abduct, Drop Ants to Get Food:

Looking for a way to banish ants from your picnic? According to a new study, wasps have developed a unique method for dealing with the pests: airlifting them away from the food.

In an experiment done with wild insects, scientists in New Zealand recently witnessed the common wasp, an alien invader to the island country, competing for food with the native ant species Prolasius advenus.

When a wasp approached a mound of food swarming with ants, the wasp would pluck an ant from the pile, fly a ways off, and drop the still-living insect from its jaws.

Maori rugby too racial for South Africa?

Maori rugby too racial for South Africa?:

In one of rugby’s great ironies, the proposed match between New Zealand Maori and the Springboks in June could be canned because of the racial composition of the Kiwi side.

The match, mooted to be played in Soweto as one of a couple of warmup clashes for the Boks before their series against the British and Irish Lions, is now in doubt because of logistical issues, primary of which is South African objections to the ‘racial’ selection of the Maori side.

The Boks are due to meet Namibia in Windhoek in late May, but wanted to add the much tougher fixture against the Maori lineup in June as a final shakedown.

The irony is more delicious than they can imagine.

Back in the bad old days of apartheid the South African government banned a New Zealand rugby team from touring South Africa because it included Maoris. They said that constituted “outside interference in our domestic affairs”.

At the time I was a student in Pietermaritzburg, and as white elections were impending Nusas (the National Union of South African Students) organised a “Reality Week” in which spokesmen for the various political parties could put their own viewpoints. The National Party was represented by a provincial councillor called Klopper, and it took the form of a debate with a representative of the Liberal Party, John McQuarrie, who was a member of the education faculty at the university. All the rugby fans were there in force to heckle.

To save typing, I simply reproduce an extract from my diary at the time:

16 September 1965

I went up to the Nat-Lib debate. The Main Science Lecture Theatre was packed pretty full, and I found myself sitting on the right-hand side behind four young fascists. Macquarrie spoke first and started with education, which was his own field. He dissected Bantu Education, and all the developments that had taken place since the government came to power, and especially over the last five years. He then went on to other fields, and did the same, quoting figures in evidence. He is a rather dour old Scot, and spoke drily and quietly, without any fuss, and was politely rather than thunderously applauded. He did not make any emotional appeals at all, just
facts and figures.

Then came Klopper, the member of the Provincial council. His speech was vague in the extreme, just the opposite of McQuarrie, who was concise and to the point. He gave nothing substantial to support his argument, but just gave a glowing picture of the wonderful utopia just around the corner. He made several appeals to patriotism. Every time he said something particularly hairy the five little fascists in front clapped dutifully like Pavlov’s dog salivating when the bell rings. He said something about Mr Wilson learning his lesson at last, and that the Britishers were determined to keep their racial blood pure, which sounded just like something out of
“Mein Kampf”, and Pavlov’s puppies burst into clapping and cheering.

After Kloppers’s speech came question time, and Macquarrie was virtually ignored — most of what he had had to say was virtually indisputable, but Klopper had put his foot in it many times, and he was subjected to a barrage of questions. Several people asked why people were banned without trial, among them some students
generally considered right-wing and conservative, like Howie Miller, who had had a far-right manifesto for the SRC election.

Klopper always ended up by saying, when pressed by each successive questioner on this subject, “The Minister in his wisdom sees fit”, and eventually Ray Rutherford-Smith added “… in his infinite wisdom.” When some people questioned the wisdom of the Minister, Klopper assured us that he was an “honourable man”, and an “upright Christian” — yet he won’t let Elliot Mngadi or Dennis Brutus attend church services.

Colin Webb asked him about two things he had said in the course of his speech. One was that all races are equal in the eyes of the government, and the other was that he himself had helped personally with cases of many people who had done themselves the injustice of applying to be classified as coloured (“you pay for that,” a coloured in the audience has shouted when he said it). Colin Webb asked him why, if all races were equal, it should be an “injustice” to be classified as coloured. “But you don’t understand,” exclaimed Klopper, “they did themselves the injustice, they asked to be classified as coloured.” Three times Colin Webb tried to explain to Klopper what he was getting at — that if all races are equal, then there would be no injustice in being classified as coloured, but Klopper could not see it.

Then Hilton Kobus asked why the Maoris were banned from playing rugby. That, according to Klopper, was New Zealand’s fault. “They called them Maoris, not us. If they called them white we’d play them tomorrow” and went on to explain a fantastic biological theory that when the white genes rise above 75% there is a corresponding
rise in intelligence, and so Martin Luther King was a white man, because he is too clever to be a kaffir. To judge from Klopper’s efforts tonight, he must, according to his own theory, be a black man. In his summing up he said he was glad to see that people had only questioned him about little things, which showed that they must be satisfied with government policy in the broad front.

McQuarrie ended his summing up by asking whether the gold mines belonged to the black people or to the white people. If to the white people, did they belong to the English or the Afrikaans speaking? And then pointed out the futility of trying to divide things up in this way, seeing that the land belonged to all the people in it. “The earth is the Lord’s,” he quoted.

After the meeting we had a postmortem on the grass outside. All agreed that Klopper had made a poor showing, though one had to admit his courage in coming along. It was more than the United Party had. They had been booked to debate with the Progressives, to get all four parties on the platform, but consistently refused, but
consistently refused, Klopper had wavered, first saying that he wouldn’t come if the meeting was held under the auspices of Nusas, and then wanted guarantees that there would be an all-white audience (in the event the audience wasn’t all white) but he came none the less. Also, he kept his temper throughout the tough questioning he received. And at the end the fascists were no longer clapping him.

So now I wonder — if the New Zealand government decided to call the Maoris white, would we still play them tomorrow?

It’s just not cricket

Justice triumphed when England lost a one-day cricket match to New Zealand because of a fielding error on the last ball. An overthrow enabled New Zealand to get the crucial last run.

BBC SPORT | Cricket | England | Last-ball error hands NZ victory:

New Zealand won a remarkable one-day international when England somehow allowed last man Mark Gillespie to hit two from the final ball of the match.

He scampered a single and came back for the overthrow when Graeme Swann’s shy at the stumps was not backed up.

Earlier, Grant Elliott, guiding the tourists home, was controversially run out as he was injured in a collision with England’s Ryan Sidebottom.

The wicket could have been crucial, but England’s modest 245 was not enough.

I think most people who watched the match thought that it was supremely unfair that Elliot should have been given out after what looked like a rugby tackle by Sidebottom, and rejoiced greatly that the English fielding bungle enabled New Zealand to win.

Perhaps the rules should be changed to say that a batsman cannot be given out in a run out if physically obstructed by a member of the fielding team, otherwise cricket could turn into a variant of Red Rover.

Claims mother died during Maori exorcism

Claims mother died during Maori exorcism:

“Claims a young New Zealand mother-of-two died as relatives tried to remove a Maori curse from her are being investigated by police. A homicide investigation is under way into the death of Janet Moses, 22, at a house at Wainuiomata near Wellington on October 12 as relatives looked on.”

Anglican Maori Church archdeacon Hone Kaa told the newspaper makutu-lifting ceremonies were often used to cleanse victims.

The curse was believed to have been linked to a relative stealing a taonga.

Dr Kaa said water was often used in such ceremonies, but not the amounts understood to have been involved in Ms Moses’ case.

He said lifting curses was a difficult process and was wary of doing it.

In some cases victims needed to be held down by several people as the spirit fought, but he was not familiar with injuries such as scratches and grazes being inflicted.

The Archdeacon does not say that this particular ceremony was an Anglican one. I wonder if they are done by other denominations.

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