Dying in New York is a chilling story of child abuse I finished earlier this year. I'm torn between the three covers below and need your help!
Ps: Sincere thanks to Anne Tellestio in Johannesburg for her amazing design work!
This is an email from a dear friend Dr. Chris Herold to S, in which Chris sets out his views on Black Economic Empowerment as practiced in SA. I share Chris's views and he puts forward his arguments more eloquently than I ever could.
I have no doubt that you got where you are through your ability, which is exactly as it should be.
I very much want blacks and all other races to succeed and take up positions in all levels of society in proportion with their numbers. For too long the NP [National Party] tried to do the genetically impossible – get the 5% to 10% of professionals out of less than 20% of the population. Their quota system wound them down like an ant trying to cross a floor covered with spilled treacle. Replacing it with yet another quota system based on a different set of numbers but ignoring training and merit is just as destructive, especially when combined with poor attitude (the “They owe me” syndrome that has held sway for so long). The raw numbers say one thing, but the necessary skills paint a different picture. Our distressing unemployment figures reflect the sad fact that most of our unemployed are near unemployable because of their lack of effective education and lack of opportunity to better it. This is compounded by diseases of grinding poverty, some of which, like childhood malnutrition, have impaired their ability to progress academically.
I agree with you that fronting is wrong and should be avoided. But when faced with the choice of being mugged into giving up shareholding for free to spoiled BEE fat cats, or losing their ability to do business, we shouldn’t be surprised if some choose to resist the unjust legislation.
During the apartheid regime companies found ways to successfully circumvent unjust job reservation legislation. (For example I know that construction companies made it possible for black employees to work as plant operators – a job that was strictly reserved for whites. Transport companies did the same for drivers – which was also forbidden under early apartheid laws. Lawyers found legal technicalities to get around unjust laws to defend the victims of apartheid, etc.) Would you say that they were also wrong to do so? Should they rather have meekly accepted the evil laws? If they had, where would we be now?
Passing even more draconian laws to defend ones that are already bad cannot be construed as justifiable. It is just one more step (a big one) towards a totalitarian state.
And by the way, BBBEE is not just voluntary – it is already a legal requirement. (Otherwise what do you make of the statement: “Certain companies feel as though they are not obliged to comply with BEE legislation, despite it being a legal requirement.”?) This legislation is aimed at adding a penalty to enforce its adherence. As such it will go hand in hand with enforcement of the BBBEE quotas.
It is also unrealistic to use statements like: ”a higher percentage of blacks were employed in lower management levels” and bemoan the fact that there are not enough black CEOs to justify this action. Everyone needs to start at the lower levels and build their useful capacity before advancing. In most instances they also require the necessary academic capacitation to advance to the top of their profession. You cannot short-circuit this process without unravelling the organisation. (Exceptional individuals can move more rapidly through the ranks, but even they need to learn the ropes along the way and cannot simply leapfrog to the top without destroying their own credibility and the functioning of the organisation.) Given our unfortunate history we started with very few blacks with adequate academic training to fill management positions. The tertiary education outflow has improved, but disappointingly slowly due to serious educational defects. Even where such skills are available, it is intrinsically unfair to hold back one and advance the other based on their colour. Not surprisingly, private businesses are not queuing up to commit suicide by prematurely advancing candidates who have yet to develop their skills and prove their worth. That is precisely what has gone wrong in the civil service – promoting managers to levels way above their experience and skills levels.
Today I scraped the bottom of my last bottle of shito. Only a Ghanaian would understand the ensuing feelings of loss and anxiety. It's as if the world has tilted on its axis, leaving me disoriented and lets face it, a little afraid. Every Ghanaian swears by his favourite shito chef. I swear by Auntie U. She makes her hot shito sauce with the basic ingredients of ginger, shrimps and dried pepper then throws in extra helpings of love and care like no one else can. I'm not ashamed to say I hoard Auntie U's shito, fending off eager friends who ask if I've received any new supplies from Ghana, with a straight faced "No." I don't feel too bad about that, they probably do the same.
Now as I wait for a fresh consignment, I imagine this is how the Cypriots must be feeling as they too wait to be bailed out and restored to equilibrium. Except they don't make shito in Germany. It's only made in Ghana.
He went down on his hands and knees. Well, not right away. First he stretched out his right foot under the table, feeling about with his toes. It wasn't there. That's when he went down on his knees. He disappeared under the table like a diver plunging to the bottom of the sea. He was gone for less than a minute and when he came up there was a broad grin on his face. He'd found it and he didn't care the others were looking at him like he was funny. He'd found it and that's all that mattered.
He tied it in a loop around his wrist and made it as tight as he could without cutting off his circulation.
"Are you allright?" he heard someone ask. He turned towards the voice with a triumphant smile. "Of course!" he began to say. Then he looks down at his wrist and it's gone! It does that all the time.
"Are you sure you're allright?" He just waves her away. She won't understand he says. He feels lost as he walks out of the meeting room, not sure where to go although he's worked here for several years. Then he sees it, gleaming brightly ahead of him. He leaps after it and seizes the golden tassels in both fists. And that's when he hears her laughing, that coarse, throaty laugh with merry tinkles on the end. It's her two-tone laugh and she's still got it. He feels her tug on the rope, gently at first and then faster and faster. She must be using an overarm action, with one foot wedged on Mars and the other in a crater on Venus. He catches a glimpse of her and his mind goes blank because he doesn't have any words to describe her. Not one. But she is glowing all over and her hair is as black as the sky. She tosses her head and a strand of hair cuts him across the face.
"It's OK," he says but it's not. It stings like she's poured lemon juice into the open wound.
"Just a little more," he hears her say.
"That's just how it is," and her voice comes to him from far, far away.
He keeps hunting for that silvery thread, the one with shimmering tassels on the end. Sometimes it's as fine as if a spider spun it. At others, it's as thick as the ropes that pull the fishing boats into the harbour. He holds one end in his hand and tugs gently and she always tugs back. With one foot wedged on Mars and the other in a crater, somewhere on Venus.
The writing challenges posted here are set by Allaboutwriting, an invaluable and multifaceted resource in Johannesburg for aspirant writers. The challenge for March was to...
"In 150 words or less, tell the story of the origin of the world, as understood by an innocent who’s never been exposed to either religious or scientific explanations."
Here is my entry.
The pilot tugged nervously at the lobe of his third ear. The last thing he’d expected was to be summoned in front of the Great Oompah himself. He was starting to hope it had all been a misunderstanding when he heard the Great Oompah trumpet his name.
“Your report?” One tentacle pointed at the pilot while another pointed through the panoramic window at the blue orb shimmering in the blackness.
“They drink tea your Greatness.”
“Yes, then they spend the rest of the time talking about a book.
“Is that all they do?”
“Yes Sir.” His mind was still reeling with the memory of the crash. There hadn’t been time to do a proper survey. He’d just hidden in the first dwelling he’d seen.
“So their planet is built on tea?
“No, your Greatness. Not all of them had read the book. I would say it is built on lies.”
"If this is the dream God has placed in your heart, who are you to doubt?"