Posts Tagged ‘Emergency’

Some disturbing news has recently surfaced around one of South Africa’s eight Heritage Sites, The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape which lies on the open savannah of the Mapungubwe National Park.

The South African Department of Mineral Resources has awarded an Australian mining company called Coal of Africa (CoAL) unconditional new order mining rights for the Mapungubwe area.

A stakeholder group consisting of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Mapungubwe Action Group, the Office of the International Coordinator for the Greater Mapungubwe Trans-frontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA), the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists, World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa, BirdLife South Africa, the Wilderness Foundation South Africa and Peace Parks Foundation objects to all industrial activity in that part of the very sensitive Limpopo Valley without an approved Integrated Regional Development Plan. No replies by the relevant authorities have been received thus far.

Even before having obtained the necessary water license or any other kind of environmental approval, large-scale destruction is already underway on the bank of the Limpopo River, just a kilometre or two from Mapungubwe. CoAl has already cleared many hectares of indigenous forest in order to start building its controversial Vele coal mine on the bank of the Limpopo River.

Mapungubwe's famous gold-foil rhinoceros

Mapungubwe was home to an advanced culture of people. The civilization thrived as a sophisticated trading center from around 1200 to 1300 AD. It was the center of the largest kingdom in the sub-continent, where a highly sophisticated people traded gold and ivory with China, India, Persia and Egypt. According to the archaeology department at the University of the Witwatersrand, Mapungubwe represents “the most complex (historical) society in southern Africa”.

Gold was mined in haematite at Ngwenya, and iron ore and copper at Phalaborwa. Virtually all the copper and tin deposits of the Northern Transvaal were worked, and hundreds of workings remain.

Although the University of Pretoria excavated the site when it was discovered in 1932 it was kept top secret. The findings provided evidence contrary to the racist ideology of black inferiority that underpinned apartheid. The apartheid regime remained tight lipped for more than 40 years. The evidence was only made public a few years after the first democratically elected government came into power in 1994.

Additional gold artifacts found at Mapungubwe

The mine has the potential to bring all this to an end, threatening the World Heritage Site, the transfrontier conservation area and the tremendous tourism potential.

The presence of heavy industry in the area will impact enormously on its tourism and conservation, to such a degree that these activities will have to be reconsidered for the future. South Africa signed a binding document whereby it agreed to be a partner in a trilateral conservation development. By allowing that same conservation area to become part of an industrial area, it is not adhering to the spirit of that agreement.

To add insult to injury, the Order of Mapungubwe is South Africa’s highest honor that can only be granted by the president of South Africa, for achievements in the international arena, which have served South Africa’s interests. How can this honor maintain its prestige when the government that claims to hold it in high esteem is systematically destroying that proud heritage?

Kevin Carter

On the 24th of July 1994 South Africa lost one of its greatest photographers, his name was Kevin Carter. He died under suspicious circumstances with his death being reported as a suicide. Carter was born in 1960, the year of the banning of the ANC, into a Catholic family that accepted Apartheid. He, like many of his generation questioned the regime and saw the inherent injustice that the Apartheid system carried; he would often have serious quarrels with his father about it.

He was conscripted into the South African Defense Force (SADF) as was normal for any young white male at the time that was not disabled or could not obtain a student deferment. He loathed upholding the Apartheid regime and was once severely beaten and called kaffir-boetie (“nigger lover”) by some of his comrades in the SADF for trying to take sides with a black mess-hall waiter.

After completing his military service he got a job at a camera supply store and this is where his journey began. He made his name as an upcoming photographer with the local newspapers. By the year 1984 riots began sweeping the black townships and Carter aligned himself with other young photojournalists who sought to expose the brutal regime. He was the first to photograph a public execution by the cruel method of “necklacing” where a tyre is put around the victim, doused with petrol and set alight. This was a common execution specifically for individuals identified as working for the oppressive state as informants.

He also captured images from the unsuccessful invasion of Bophuthatswana by white right-wing outlaws. Their intentions were to give support to the setting up of a black homeland which was part of Apartheid’s separate development policy. These images were quite jarring as they graphically displayed the dead bodies of the right-wingers after having been executed by black Bophuthatswana policemen.

This blatant exposure of the ills of the Apartheid state was reaching far and wide and increasing the calls that would rally the world against the immoralities of the regime. One begins to foresee the kind of attacks that would most likely arise from the tyrannical state known for having units of assassins and unscrupulously eliminating any opposition. Knowing the background of the government would surely lead one to worry for the safety of Carter.

On April the 12th, three months before his death, the New York Times called him and notified him that he had just won the most coveted prize for a photographer, the Pulitzer Prize. The prize was awarded for an eerie picture he shot in famine-stricken Sudan which depicted a gravely malnourished child being watched by a vulture waiting in anticipation for the child’s death. He was jetted to Manhattan, New York where he was celebrated and he wined and dined with the top echelon of the photographing industry.

Two months later he was back in South Africa. He did little work in this period. During a lunch with a colleague he mentioned that he was thinking of forming a writer-photographer free-lance team and traveling Africa. This clearly shows that he was harboring ideas for the furthering of his career. It is therefore strange that barely a month later he was found dead in what looked like a death by suicide.

The Pulitzer Prize gave him a much greater status and only served to popularize his pictures that visually divulged the usually state-censored inner workings of the Apartheid regime to the world. The prize also meant that he would not find difficulty in finding work as a photographer and was an omen of good luck for his future. Why then would this gifted, budding photographer take his own life? The absence of evidence pointing to murder leaves a shadowy cloud around the circumstances of his death. At the end only he would know the events which would lead to his ultimate demise.

State of Emergency?

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Here is a quick update about the Acid Water Crisis that rocked Joburg last week.

Jaco Mulder, the Freedom Front Plus spokesperson on water and environmental affairs, says that Joburg’s acid water crisis should be treated as a state of emergency.

According to an article published by News24, Mulder stated that the true extent of the crisis was greater than the attention it was being given, despite welcoming the fact that the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs has started to take legal action against certain mining companies.

Mulder predicted that without the proper communication and cooperation between local, provincial and national governments, the current situation could quickly transform into a “national water disaster”.

Is the government doing enough to address the crisis? Personally, I think they should be doing more to protect the millions of people that will ultimately be affected by the acid water across South Africa.

I’ll bring you more details about the crisis as soon as I find them.