Tag: South Africa politics

Tuinhuys, in Black and White

Black and White photography, Photography, South Africa Chronicles July 26, 2018

Tuinhuys (the Garden House) is the Cape Town office of the Presidency, a lovely piece of architecture with a history that goes back, as everything does in South Africa, to slavery and colonialism. It was from here that FW de Klerk declared the end of apartheid; it was from here that Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe and – catastrophically – Jacob Zuma steered the ship of state, in JZ’s case pretty much onto the rocks.

In this image, I have chosen to show, not just the graciousness and grace of the structure, but something of what it means in the South African context – appropriately, I would suggest, in black and white.

Tuinhuys

A week is a long time in politics

Issues and Debate, South Africa Chronicles February 18, 2018

A week in politics is more than a long time, sometimes: it can mark the beginning or the end of an era.

It is hard to believe that it was just this time last week that the man who sold his country, former president Jacob Zuma, was flatly refusing to step down from office. By Friday, in the State of the Nation address, a new man, President Cyril Ramaphosa, was resetting the tone for the nation, and Zuma was toast. Those who had depended on Zuma’s favours, who had enabled his vices, who had grown fat and arrogant along with him, those whose dumb stupidity was enough to entitle them to high office, have looks on their faces these days of utter bewilderment as South Africans, with justifiable schadenfreude, await their fall from office and the day of reckoning.

Ramaphosa’s speech on Friday rose to the moment: he spoke of renewal, of hope, of the civic virtues; he put bad guys on notice and asked the good guys – men and women – to lend a hand, with an emotive and effective reference to Bra Hugh Masekela, the great jazz hero who has just passed on to the big blue jazz club in the sky. And if some of Ramaphosa’s speech was mere ANC pablum – the self-deluding soviet-style recital of targets supposedly achieved and miracles of revolutionary accomplishment – that can be forgiven, at least for now, as the nation feels the weight of nearly ten lost years lifted, if only a little, from its tired and disillusioned shoulders.

Perhaps the boiler-plate vacuity was necessary – a consequence of the shortness of time, the speed of events, the need to reassure the faithful and placate enemies. But sooner or later – preferably sooner – the new President is going to have to show what he is made of. As the great biographer of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro famously wrote, in a paraphrase of Palmerston – ‘power reveals.’

His ascent to power will show us all, over this year and the next, who Cyril Ramaphosa is, and whether his presidency is simply an event, in the long chain of events, or the beginning of an era. But let’s be honest: as far as new beginnings go, SONA on Friday was about as good as it gets.

From Parkhurst to Kalk Bay, a non sequitur

Photography, South Africa Chronicles, Travel October 22, 2017

We had barely taken our seats at Coobs in Parkhurst last night when a seeming explosion rent the air, as if from the street two feet from the patio where we were sitting. Moments later the sky opened up, torrential, rinsing rain emptied the sky, the wind grasped the trees lining the sidewalk and shook them.

Meanwhile dinner was served, platters of confit duck legs and pan fried duck breast with Asian salad for both of us, which, accompanied by a bottle of Vergenoegd Merlot, were pronounced delicious.

Think of it as a gift from Nora, our friend in Vancouver, who had generously sent Rob some money – going to the trouble of sending the cheque in Rands, nogal.

On a completely unrelated topic, here are some photos from Kalk Bay, the quaint little fishing village that hugs the coast on the railway line from Cape Town to Simonstown.

Don’t ask what’s the connection – there isn’t one. In South Africa these days – think Cabinet reshuffles, the musical chairs that a rogue President plays with his minions – there’s no rhyme or reason for anything. Might as well get on with photography.

 

 

 

Out and about in Habana Vieja

Photography, South Africa Chronicles, Travel April 8, 2017

I thought I was done with my Havana portfolio, but I’m not – at least not yet. I had planned, this morning, to pull up a final set of images of the Malecon for processing, but decided to go through the complete file, just in case – and came up with these photos instead, which I hope you will agree deserve a life of their own.

After this past ten days in South Africa – a midnight reshuffle of the Cabinet, two ratings downgrades to junk status, by Standard & Poors and Fitch, after protests against Zuma all across the country (followed by wooden-headed declarations from the ANC Youth League and Women’s League, to the effect, ‘who needs the ratings agencies anyway – we love our President!’- as if that’s an argument) I ┬ácan’t help thinking, this is what South Africa could look like, if the tenderpreneurs, the state capture crowd, the ‘a looter continua’ brigade, have their merry way.

Roll on 2019, I say – we still have democratic elections, so let’s throw the bums out.

Enjoy the photographs.