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Tuesday:  October 27, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in World Cup (24)

Monday
Jan032011

South Africans Ask: Should Murder Suspect Shrein Dewani Apologize? (Perspective)

By Roxy Marosa

(HN, January 3, 2011) One of the pieces I wrote in 2010 was about my tour with friends of one of the first townships in Cape Town - the sprawling and impoverished Langa. I expressed my emotions on a video clip.

It’s a township where a large number of poor black South Africans reside. Although there are a few residents regarded as middle class, the majority of the people are poor and face daily security and health hazards. On the tour, our guide explained that people freely roam around the streets during daylight hours but, as early as 7:30pm, most retreat into their homes - due to the security risks at night.

Their fears are well-grounded: there have been a number of muggings and even murders in Langa. People have reported these to the authorities, and in some cases, the perpetrators were never caught or brought to justice.

Fed-up, the community has taken charge and formed a community policing forum - essentially a group of responsible residents who receive crime reports and take swift action. They also work together to quickly bring the crimes to the attention of law enforcement authorities, who are then forced to act fast on the crimes. When a member of the forum witnesses a crime, they punish the perpetrators immediately, in addition to making a formal police report. This innovative collaboration has seen the crime rate in Langa decline. The members of the forum are known and respected in this township.Langa women returning from church services. CREDIT: Michael Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS

These acts of crime are a clear indication that South Africa is a country still overcoming it’s apartheid history. The highly-publicized November 2010 murder in nearby Guguletu Township of Annie Dewani - allegedly by a hit-man hired by her wealthy British businessman husband Shrien Dewani - reinforced the doubt many people here have in the security of the country and in the government.

It is no secret to South Africans that many people who were previously disadvantaged before apartheid are still mired in grinding poverty. Indicative of this is is the reported $2,200 payment received by the perpetrator and killer of Annie - in what has now become known as the "Honeymoon Murder." Although many people, especially the disadvantaged, want situations to change fast or have their society changed already, it is logical that this will not take place overnight. And the past 16 years have demonstrated change as a process, that it takes time - sometimes a painfully long time.

South Africa’s political future is also capturing worldwide attention. The blood and sweat of many who have contributed to the country’s current prosperity are seeing a growth in tourism fuelled, in part, by the 2010 World Cup.

Although an attractive tourist destination for many, South Africa still attracts ample criticism from others, due to a high murder rate (nationwide an average of 46 murders occurred daily last year, among the world’s highest rates), low level of safety and security and other reasons.

Having said this, the murder of Annie left many South Africans apologetic and doubting their own country. Even many South Africans government officials, fearing a backlash to tourism, offered apologies or felt compelled to explain what happened. As friends reflect on the country’s aftermath of the killing, interesting views were expressed to me, particularly about South African’s lack of confidence in the country. It came to light that these friends had pride over the country’s legal system.

In the end, the murder was solved (the suspect is on $350,000 bail in the UK, facing extradition back to South Africa) with the puzzle put together in a relatively short space of time. My friends acknowledged the soundness of the legal system and saluted it for the action and fast resolution.

All this begs the question: ‘Do South Africans have overall trust in their country?’ Responded to by friends, the answer was a clear ‘NO’. More views about other countries were expressed. ‘If Shrien had taken Annie to what is regarded a dangerous area in America, and she got killed there, Americans would protect their country by saying ‘What were they doing in that area at that time? People should not be hanging around the streets during that time,' " said one friend.

Is this confidence and love for a country or what?

So, knowing that South Africans are still recovering from the apartheid history and that the healing process will take years, should the accused Shrien Dewani apologise to playing on the vulnerability of South Africans?

Cape Town-based Roxy Marosa is host of the Roxy Marosa Show and runs several projects assisting people affected by HIV and Aids in South Africa. 

Saturday
Jan012011

HUMNEWS Person of the Year: Orphan Sephora in Lesotho

(HN, January 1, 2011) - Sephora celebrated New Years Day today the same way she observed it ever since she lost her mother five years ago - cleaning the small house she shares with her grandmother in a remote village in Lesotho.The HIV epidemic in Lesotho has hit children disproportionately hard. CREDIT: HUMNEWS

Sephora is known to aid agencies and statisticians as a "double orphan." She lost both parents to AIDS, giving her unenviable membership in the orphan community in this impoverished southern African country - a neglected group now estimated to number between 270,000 and 400,000.

Like Sephora, almost half of all orphans in Lesotho do not live with either parent. Almost 20 percent of all orphans have lost both biological parents.

Most of the orphans in Lesotho come from families devastated by HIV AIDS. Lesotho has the third highest HIV AIDS rate in the world - with almost 30 percent of the adult population affected - according to the charitable organization Sentebale. It estimates that every day, 100 children in Lesotho are devastated by the death of a parent. With so few orphanages in the country only about one percent have access to institutionalized care.

An 'orphan' is defined by the United Nations as a child who has 'lost one or both parents'. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 16 million children under 18 have been orphaned by AIDS. Around 14.8 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to international HIV and AIDS charity AVERT.

Sadly, Sephora was born into a family with parents belonging to the highest risk groups: her father was a migrant miner in neighbouring South Africa and her mother was among the 40,000 people toiling away in Lesotho's garment factories.

Now at 14, Sephora does not attend school - she hasn't been inside a classroom for many years. Even when she was in school she was forced to repeat classes due to low marks and non-attendance. The stress of living in a troubled household made studying difficult. And even
though primary education in Lesotho is compulsory and free - there were weeks in winter time when Sephora didn't have shoes and stayed home. There were also days when teachers sent her home because she didn't have money for basic stationary items.

Sephora wasn't enrolled in Grade One until she was 10 years old - in fact about half of children I'm Lesotho start Grade One at six years old and above. Each year almost a quarter of all students must repeat classes and drop-out rates are extremely high. Only two percent of boys and eight percent of girls from the lowest wealth quintiles enroll in secondary school, which is not free.

Sephora's younger brother, Oscar, does attend school - one of the reasons is he receives a free meal at lunch paid for by the World Food Program (WFP). On some days, her hungry grandmother goes to the school yard to get a portion of Oscar's lunch. Sadly the school feeding program may be discontinued shortly due to funding shortages.

Sephora says she and her classmates have never touched a computer or surfed the Internet. There is a dire lack of good-quality textbooks and education on how to protect themselves from HIV/Aids and other dangerous diseases. A recent study of southern African countries funded by UNESCO pegged Lesotho's children as having the lowest knowledge of HIV and Aids prevention measures.

Indeed, Sephora had the odds stacked up against her well before she was born. With one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world her chances of either contracting the disease during birth or becoming infected as teenager was extremely high. The district of Leribe, where Sephora lives, has the highest prevalence rate in the country, at 30 percent. By the time she reaches 24, she could be among half of all women at that age that have been infected. And by the time she reaches
18 she will have probably reached middle age: life expectancy in Lesotho is just at around 40 years old.

According to UNICEF: "The nexus of significant levels of poverty, chronic food insecurity and a high prevalence of HIV has dealt a serious blow to child survival, development and protection in Lesotho."

When Sephora's parents were still alive they rarely sought health treatment for themselves or their children. Only 34 percent of poor households live within an hour of the nearest health facility. Even
those who do make it to a clinic are more likely than not to find a lack of medicines, poorly trained health care workers and few doctors. It is still unclear where doctors will be found to staff a multi-million dollar hospital in the capital Maseru.

Lesotho is a small mountainous country of 1.9 million people surrounded by South Africa. With about half of all households living in poverty, it has been mostly sidelined by the economic miracle happening across the border. When the 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa, many of Sephora's relatives were prevented from traveling to their jobs across the border due to a sudden border tightening imposed by the Government of Jacob Zuma.

So for Sephora - and the millions of other Aids orphans on the African continent, today will be just another day. Many will be asking, as they start a new decade, whether change will come quickly enough to bring them back into school before they become adults, to bring them at least one meal a day, and to save them from deadly diseases such as HIV/Aids.

Sephora represents the millions of children like her living with poverty, disease and inequity and is a character composed by HUMNEWS based on official statistics, mostly from the World Bank, and on interviews, other data collected by HUMNEWS and on real children we've met in Lesotho. She is HUMNEWS' person of note for 2010.
To help children in Lesotho such as Sephora, visit Sentebale and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Both have substantial and well-regarded programmes for children impacted by HIV and Aids.

Lesotho is one of the 116 countries in the geographic gap covered exclusively by HUMNEWS.

Wednesday
Sep152010

South African World Cup Border Policy Turns Lesotho Into "Gaza of Africa"

A river divides some parts of Lesotho with South Africa(HN, September 15, 2010) -- Border controls imposed at South Africa's border posts with Lesotho during the World Cup are causing havoc with the small mountain kingdom's economy.

The situation has deteriorated to the point where one senior government official in Maseru said it has transformed the landlocked nation into "the Gaza of Africa" - equating it to a blockade by South Africa.

Last weekend HUMNEWS visited the main crossing between the two countries at the Maseru Bridge. Pedestrians and car drivers alike were reporting waits of up to 90 minutes Friday. However diplomats and expatriate business people say they have also experienced waits up to four hours to make a crossing that used to take just 5 minutes.

The costly bottleneck started in the run-up to the World Cup in June, when South Africa unilaterally slapped new conditions on Lesotho nationals. The change - reportedly demanded by FIFA amid reports of criminality originating from Lesotho - meant that passports needed to be produced for entry into South Africa instead of just six-month certificates that did not require time-consuming id scans.

During Friday's inspection, HUMNEWS calculated at least a one to two minute processing times per traveller. To make matters worse, the South Africans have only one pedestrian checkpoint in each direction and few vehicle booths.

For the expatriate community and for business people crossing back and forth on day trips, the delays translate into huge delays - and costs. One hotel manager who lives in Ladybrand - a popular border town on the South African side of the border - complained it has turned a commute that had taken just 30 minutes into a multi hour headache.

Commercial and private vehicles compete for space on the narrow border bridgePeople had hoped that the misery would be alleviated when South African President Jacob Zuma visited Lesotho last month on an official state visit. But according to published reports the issue was hardly raised, if at all. The Government of Lesotho has little leverage on its larger, wealthier neighbour as it relies on the latter for most of its food supply. 

It’s not only ordinary people and commuters being inconvenienced. Trucks laden with crucial imports are also stuck in long lines. On Friday the only vehicles that moved quickly were in a heavily guarded armoured vehicle convey carrying diamonds - a crucial export from Lesotho.

The border changes couldn't come at a worse time for Lesotho, one of the poorest nations in the world. The country of 2-million is struggling to deal with the impact of the global economy crisis - which has slowed the flow of foreign remittances and triggered at least 10,000 layoffs in the garment industry. One of Lesotho's main streams of income - revenue from the South African Customs Union - has been dropping, from 35% of GDP in 2009/10 to a meager 14% in 2010/11, according to the World Bank. Since 1990, an estimated 65,000 mining jobs based in South Africa have been lost.

The new controls are also hurting border businesses on the South African side. Lesotho national and expatriates who used to cross on weekend are cutting down on spontaneous cross-border shopping trips.

Diplomats have expressed concern about serious medical cases being tied up at the border due to the new controls. And business owners worry about the knock-on effect it will have on Lesotho's small but important tourism and convention business. There are frequent and convenient daily flights between Maseru and Johannesburg - operated and controlled by South African Airways - but flights tend to be expensive and fill-up quickly.

Expatriate workers say if the border chaos continues for much longer, it could make it harder to attract aid workers and consultants to the small nation. "Being able to crossing on a moment's notice into South Africa on weekends - even if just to walk our dogs - is one of the biggest benefits of working here," said one.

Part of the government's new economic policy is to transform Maseru into a dynamic economic node, integrated with the southern African regional economy. It also wants to link Lesotho small agribusiness into the high end of the South African value chain. But these goals now seem more distant than even with the ongoing border squeeze.

Said the World Bank in a report issued this year: "Inefficient customs procedures and processes on Lesotho's borders with South Africa hamper trade with this important neighbour."

---- Reporting by HUMNEWS in Maseru, Lesotho.  

Wednesday
Aug112010

THE POST WORLD CUP MOOD IN SOUTH AFRICA (Perspective)

By Roxy Marosa

(HN, August 11, 2010) -- Many South Africans seem to be proud of the upbeat mood generated by the World Cup 2010. After all, it was the first time that the world’s most watched sporting event was hosted on African soil. It was also a coming out party of sorts for cool South Africa, for a post-apartheid country yearning to shake off years of being seen an ostracized state.

South African President Jacob Zuma said the World Cup is "the single greatest opportunity we have ever had to showcase our diversity and potential to the world."

National and regional governments spent an estimated 40 billion rand ($5.2 billion) to host the games. When all is said and done it could boost economic growth in South Africa by as much as 0.5 percentage points this year.

On the first day of the World Cup on June 11, many companies closed early allowing for their employees to join in the festivities. Some people described this day to be more festive than Christmas or New Year’s day.

A white Afrikaner friend, Sandra Barr, who owns a modelling agency, said she and her husband, James, did something June 11 they’d never contemplated doing before. They travelled by train from their safe suburb of Bellville - about 20kms west of Cape Town - to one of the main fan parks in the city. Sandra says the mood on the train was surprising, with people chatting amicably.

Even though they were of a different race and colour, the camaraderie on the train got everyone interacting with each other. This is something they had not witnessed in years, given South Africa’s racial historical background.

Arriving in Cape Town, Sandra and James walked through the streets, taking in the festive mood. They even treated themselves to a traditional Cape Malay meal – Vetkoek (a traditional Afrikaner pastry) and curry mince, and ate while walking in the street – all unusual to them. They felt safe and later took the train back to Bellville.

Being enthusiastic rugby fans who always have season tickets, Sandra said they rarely watched soccer games from home. Many rugby fans not keen on soccer say that during the World Cup, they actually enjoyed the soccer more than the concurrent rugby games. Some say that they are still surprised at their newfound curiosity and love for a game that has been traditionally embraced by black South Africans.

In the immediate aftermath of the World Cup, one could still hear the vuvuzela’s been blown as pedestrians were walking in the streets. Of course this happened a lot during the eight weeks the World Cup was being played in our country. 

Even though it’s now been almost a month since Spain’s Andres Iniesta scored his victorious goal over the Netherlands in Johannesburg’s Soccer City, many people say that they are still recovering from the hectic socialising and outdoor life of the World Cup. I have spotted some cars still driving around with the South African flag, a patriotic symbol that was commonly seen during the games period. Yet some people miss the ‘vibe’ and the mood. In the streets, the improvements are visible and many people are glad to be enjoying the roads, train links, new signage and other upgrades that brought our cities up to world class standards. 

Though not everyone had smiles during this euphoric period. Some businesses took a knock, and one of the activities forced to cease during this time was filming in public areas. That meant the film industry - which employs 30,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than R2.65 billion - and especially production of commercials, took a painful hit. Sandra said her agency had little to no work coming in for her models and talents. Some agencies are said to have closed down. Fortunately, the challenges she experienced in the years previous running her business were great lessons for her to manage in this challenging time. 

Clearly, the socialising and the hustle and bustle of the World Cup encouraged many people to spend a lot of money during this time. The street dwellers also seem to have benefited from people’s generosity, although they are still living in the streets. 

In short, the World Cup was a badly-needed shot in the arm for a country mired in tough economic times. It also demonstrated that a once-divided South Africa can come together. 

As retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu said during the World Cup: “Yet again we've been shown just how we are a rainbow people..that we are there for one another."

---Cape Town-based Roxy Marosa is host of the Roxy Marosa Show and runs several projects assisting people affected by HIV and Aids in South Africa

Saturday
Jul102010

Post World Cup Fun in South Africa 

HUMNEWS and Savvy Traveller have teamed up to catalogue a selection of dining and accommodation options for post World Cup visitors to South Africa. This short list of discerning recommendations has been validated by our team and are unreservedly recommended.

Johannesburg

Protea Hotel Fire and Ice: Cool and trendy - come here to meet friends at the large bar. Within the popular Melrose Arch shopping and dining complex.

Piza e Vino and Orient: Delicious pizzas and a decent wine list come together in an informal setting. Also within the trendy Melrose Arch complex. For contemporary Asian cuisine try the Orient at 4 High Street. Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, including dim sum and Peking Duck.

Shayona: Operated by Gujaratis as a non-profit organization. Come here for first-rate vegetarian curries, rotis and pappadums. Incredibly, the menu changes every day - depending on what the chef finds in the markets. 74 Church Street in Mayfair. Open Tuesday to Sundays.

Lucky Bean Restaurant: The chic and diverse neighbourhood of Melville deserves some time. One stand out is the Lucky Bean (formerly Soulsa) at 16 7th Street. Its name is derived by the elegant tree mural indoors. Owners Natasha Pinuc and Conway Falconer embrace HUM's philosophy to life: "We love good food, we love wine and we love the idea of people getting together."  Food is described as "funky and fresh" and good service and a decent wine list rounds out this unpretentious eatery. Try the red bean burger, Thai-style wraps and for dinner - prawn and chorizo risotto.

Circle Bar, Rosebank Hotel: Voted as the best bar in the country. We like the plush leather seats and ever changing colour pods. In Rosebank.

Rosebank Flea Market:  Voted Joburg's premier flea market for 10 consecutive years. Come here for an amazing selection of African arts and crafts to freshly-baked bread, olives (pictured below), Polish meats - even wigs. We were intrigued by the wooden masks from Congo and the traditional wired embroidered crafts from Zimbabwe. Skilled African artisans can be found from Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Togo and Senegal. At the corner of Craddock Ave and Baker St. in Rosebank. Sundays only from 9am to 5pm. The African craft market is open daily.Herbs and Potions at the Rosebank Flea Market (PHOTO: MBociurkiw, HN, 2010)Bloemfontain 

Villa Bali Boutique Hotel: Friendly service, comfortable, quiet and safe. What more can you ask for? Walking distance to the city's main shopping mall.

The Block & Cellar Restaurant: Attached to the Southern Sun Hotel, this is where you come for excellent steak, including ostrich steaks (pictured below). Extensive wine list, cigar lounge, friendly service. Derives its name from the block where diners can select top quality cuts of grained beef. For a South African starter, try dry or wet biltong - cured meat.

A tasty traditional meal at The Block & Cellar Restaurant (PHOTO: MBociurkiw, HN, 2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greater Cape Town

One and Only, Cape Town: This has been THE venue in Cape Town to watch the World Cup games. But come here for impeccable service, a great bar scene, excellent food (Nobu and Gordon Ramsey's Maze) - and free Wi-Fi and parking!

Bukhara: Indians represent one of the largest ethnic groups in South Africa, so little wonder some of the best culinary treasures are to be found here. This is North Indian cuisine at its best. Get seated near the open kitchen and watch the army of chefs work their magic. The tandoori chicken is an absolute must! Some diners claim they detect an "African twist" on Indian cuisine - and indeed, the beef served here is true South African. The original of four Bukhara outlets in the Rainbow Nation, this one is located in the central business district at 33 Church Street.

The Grand Cafe and Beach: When a former Miss Universe suggests a venue, you don't ask questions! Finding the Grand takes some detective work as it is discreetly tucked away near the Green Point soccer stadium, on the waterfront. But tenacious travellers are rewarded with a splendid and unique setting. The main restaurant is in a converted warehouse and even features a small shop selling local souvenirs and artifacts. Dine and drink inside or outside - on its own private beach overlooking Granger Bay. Globetrotter/owner Sue Main's has brought artifacts from around the world to make this a very special venue. Her creations range from a 3-foot long pizza to cray fish sandwiches.

M'Hudi Winery, Kraaifontein: The only black-owned winery in South Africa. We recommend the Pinotage. An extremely warm welcome is extended to all guests. M'Hudi was started by family members passionate about agriculture and wine, who left their regular jobs and overcame substantial obstacles to work magic with grapes. This is a rustic winery but look out for great things in the future!

Diale Rangaka of M'Hudi Winery explains his vision to a reporter (PHOTO: MBociurkiw, HN, 2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diemersfontein Winery, Wellington: Few words in our lexicon of love for wine match up with our affection for Diemersfontein wine. The Carpe Diem Pinotage, with hints of chocolate and coffee, is nothing short of sublime. Set aside an entire day for this winery, to allow for a proper wine tasting and a lazy lunch at the winery restaurant.

The menu board at Diemersfontein Winery (PHOTO: MBociurkiw, HN, 2010)-- Objective research done by HUMNEWS staff on location. (With appreciation to Air Canada and Lufthansa for travel assistance to and from South Africa.)

Saturday
Jul102010

Using Soccer to Fight HIV in Lesotho

(HN, July 10, 2010) Maseru, Lesotho -- In 2005 brothers Steve and Pete Fleming of the United Kingdom founded Kick4Life, a non-profit organization focused on tackling HIV/AIDS in Lesotho in southern Africa. 

They could not have selected a more needy country: Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world - about a quarter of the population is infected - and hundreds and thousands of children have been orphaned by the disease. Out of a population of 1.9 million, there are an estimated 64 new HIV infections and 50 deaths due to AIDS each day. Kick4Life is committed to playing and important role in addressing this crisis. Kick4Life co-founder Pete Fleming. (PHOTO: MBociurkiw, HN, 2010)

Using football and sport to inspire, unite and make a difference by providing sports-based health education, voluntary testing, life-skills development and support into education and employment. 

Kick4Life has two main projects that it focuses on: National HIV Prevention and Testing Programme which includes the K4L Curriculum to youth across Lesotho. If focuses on heath education, HIV prevention and life-skills development. It also incorporates the award-winning Test Your Team Campaign – a series of one day football tournaments where HIV education and HIV testing is provided on site. Teams earn tournament points for completing HIV educational sessions, getting HIV tested, and for winning matches. 

In the last three years some 8,000 children have been tested, Pete Fleming told HUMNEWS in an interview. Most would have been tested for the very fist time.

The second project is the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Initiative focused on supporting extremely disadvantaged youth who are living on the streets of Maseru, Lesotho’s capital city. It included the Maseru Street League, mentoring and Fit4Work - a training course offered to orphans and vulnerable children who have completed high school. The aim of the programme is to equip young people with the skills to continue into further education, training or employment. 

Pete - who has a degree in sport science - says that since its inception about 25,000 children have gone through a 12-hour education programme. "For the testing events we use football as the hook," says Fleming. "We arrange one-day football tournaments with interactive education focused on the importance of getting tested. We have trained up the national football team to deliver the curriculum to the youth. It's a tremendous tool to have."

 (A short video introduction to Lesotho.)

In addition to the work Kick4Life does they also play an active part in several international networks including Football for Hope, a global streetfootballworld and FIFA movement.  

Funding for Kick4Life comes from a variety of sources, including UNICEF, the Vodafone Foundation, Sentebale and the English Premier League. 

Some high-profile supporters have endowed Kick4Life with valuable publicity: in 2008, England coach Fabio Capello attended a testing event in Lesotho which was widely covered by the media. Kick4Life employs 15 people full-time and is backed by a network of 300 volunteers nationwide.

"We've been amazed by the volunteer ethic here in Lesotho," Fleming said, adding that most young people are educated but can't find jobs.

As a result of its achievements, Kick4Life was selected to host a sports health and education center as part of the official World Cup Campaign, 20 Centers for 2010. 

The aim of the 20 Centers for 2010 campaign is to create twenty Football for Hope Centers in disadvantaged communities across Africa as a legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Each centre provides underprivileged communities with public health, education and football facilities.

The centre in Maseru, Lesotho will be located in the Police Training Grounds of Old Europa in Maseru and will help young people address social challenges such as HIV/AIDS awareness, education and testing; essential life skills; personal development and work training. The site of the new Kick4Life soccer pitch in Maseru. (PHOTO: MBociurkiw, HN, 2010)

At the moment, the field resembles an old soccer pitch but planned upgrades will transform the site into an incredible sports facility for children.

Kick4Life co-founder Peter Fleming says, “Being selected as a Centre Host as part of the official World Cup campaign is a fantastic development for Kick4Life that will provide a first-class- sports, health and education facility right in the heart of Maseru, Lesotho’s capital. It will enable us to deliver activities to thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in an aspirational setting, and become, we hope, a centre of excellence for the use of football as a tool for social development.”

Construction is due to begin in September 2010, with completion set for March 2011.

--- Reporting by HUMNEWS' Michael Bociurkiw, from Maseru, Lesotho.

Thursday
Jul082010

While Prosperous South Africa Cheers, Impoverished Lesotho – Next Door - Weeps

(HN, July 8, 2010) - Bole Makeka stands by her souvenir stand near Maseru’s newly-renovated stadium and waits - and waits and waits and waits. There are few customers in sight to purchase any of her t-shirts with World Cup team logos.

Asked how sales are going, Bole, who is hopelessly poor and uses an abandoned van to prop up her wares, shrugs her shoulders and displays empty hands.

One of the least-developed nations in the world, the land-locked kingdom of Lesotho is entirely surrounded by World Cup host country South Africa. In the run-up to the month-long, world's biggest sporting event, Bole and her countrymen had high hopes they would be beneficiaries of the millions of tourist and investment dollars flowing into Southern Africa. Bole Makeka, one of the thousands of people in Lesotho complaining of a lack of World Cup business. (HN, 2010)

Government officials here hoped that minor infrastructure upgrades - coupled with the country's natural beauty, proximity to the host nation and low costs - would lure soccer teams and tourists alike. There were also attempts to position Lesotho - which brands itself as the highest nation in the world - as an ideal place for athletes looking for high altitude training venues since no part of the nation exists below 1,500m.  

"There was a belief in Lesotho that thousands of visitors would come during the World Cup," said David Hall, an analyst who also manages a hilltop lodge in Morija, 45 km south of Maseru. “But we have only had a trickle.”

Lesotho's capital, Maseru, is just over an hour’s drive from Bloemfontein - one of the eight South African cities chosen to host World Cup matches.  One joke going around is that you can hear the vuvuzelas as far away as Maseru whenever a match is being played in Bloemfontein.

"Prior to the start of the World Cup we actually had very high hopes that Lesotho would benefit. But very unfortunately we have seen the opposite of that.  As people came from overseas we believed that is where the money would come from,” said Norman, a college professor in Maseru.  “But unfortunately we have not seen as many of them as we had expected."

Several sources in Lesotho interviewed by HUMNEWS said that instead of benefitting from the World Cup frenzy, Lesotho has actually been badly sidelined, even economically damaged.

The biggest complaint is that tens of thousands of people have had their cross-border travel privileges revoked due to a last-minute South African ruling in June mandating tighter border screening.
 

What that means in practical terms is that Lesotho citizens heading to their wealthier neighbour are unable to use the temporary document that normally gives them nearly unfettered access to South Africa. Travellers with Lesotho passports can still cross, but most people here don't carry a passport and applying for one means a lengthy wait - not to mention a hefty price tag.A concealed camera shows people lining up to cross the Lesotho-South Africa border. (HN, 2010)

Norman, the professor, said he believes the tightened border restrictions means that fewer South Africans are coming into Lesotho and that means tourists too. 

With about half of the people here living below the poverty line and with one of every two adults unemployed, the temptation to head to South Africa for better paying jobs is high. After customs revenues from South Africa, remittances from Lesotho nationals working in South African mines and other businesses is an important contributor to the nations’ coffers.

One Johannesburg-based book writer told HUMNEWS that his housekeeper - a Lesotho national - is stuck in Maseru for the entire duration of the World Cup because she had the misfortune of visiting home just as the new rules were introduced.

And getting a passport on a moment's notice is almost impossible. There is said to be a backlog of 250,000 passport applications at the Lesotho issuing office, which is only capable of processing just 6,000 passports a day.

One local businessman said the South African government's decision to tighten border controls was made in response to pressure from FIFA - which reportedly feared undesirables and soccer hooligans flying directly into Lesotho and then crossing unscreened into nearby South Africa.

However when asked by HUMNEWS whether this was the case, South Africa’s Trade Minister, Rob Davies, said the host nation had actually made it easier for southern Africans to visit. He added that neighbouring countries also have a responsibility to take advantage of opportunities created by the World Cup on their own. 

Mope, a sales representative at one of the major mobile phone operators, said that Lesotho is also losing out from its own citizens - those who can travel - going to Bloemfontein to catch some of the World Cup fever.  "They should be spending money here at home but instead they are going to South Africa and opening their wallets there." she said.

One of the poorest countries in southern Africa, Lesotho can least afford to take a financial hit from the Games. The country of 1.8-million has one of the highest HIV infections rates in the world - almost one of every three adults carries the virus - and one of the lowest life expectancy rates. Moreover it suffers enormously from a brain drain problem.

Ironically, the games have long-since been promoted by FIFA and South African Government officials as "Africa's Games." The 2010 games mark the first time the competition has been held on African soil and the so-far successful hosting has sparked new talk of Africa making a bid for the Olympics. 

Indeed, South African officials can hardly contain their exuberance when asked about what the Games will do for their nation. South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said recently the World Cup will add 0.4 percent (R38bn) to GDP this year.

But asked whether he thought the Games were truly African, the book writer replied in one word: "bullshit” - adding that, even in the host nation, there are tens of thousands of people who will not benefit, perhaps even lose money.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson said many street sellers in South African host cities have been moved from their customary spots to make room for the Games - and to satisfy stringent FIFA marketing rules. 

So harsh was the treatment of street vendors that Robinson, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has publicly urged Brazil and other countries hosting major sporting events to take away lessons learned from the 2010 World Cup and ensure better treatment of vulnerable small businesspeople.

Most people in the service industry interviewed by HUMNEWS in Johannesburg and Cape Town said they could not attend any matches - due to long working hours, the difficulty in actually obtaining tickets and the high ticket prices.

--Reporting by HUMNEWS' Michael Bociurkiw in Maseru, Lesotho.

Tuesday
Jul062010

Could USA’s Loss on the World Cup Soccer Field Mirror What’s Happening in the Global Markets? (Commentary)

By Nick Popow, HUMNEWS student reporter-at-large

(HN, July 6, 2010) "History is written by the winners."

Winston Churchill hit the nail on the head with that thought, which has long-since been embraced as an American ideal. It has gotten to the point where Americans have become obsessed with dominating whatever field they choose to play - whether it’s in business, academia, the media, military or athletics in general.

Curiously, soccer is an odd standout. While Americans have their homegrown sports such as football, baseball, and basketball, the rest of the world has soccer. South African wine exports have surged in recent years, putting the country almost on par with France. (HN. 2010)  

The question is why?

As the world watches the first World Cup ever to be held on African soil in South Africa, unprecedented numbers of Americans have flocked to TV screens to watch what is known in most other countries as football.

Who were they cheering for mostly?

Ironically, not for the star-studded Team USA – even with a lineup of players hailing from many top European clubs.

Instead the applause heard in American pubs, airports and community centers was reserved for the South American, European or Asian teams that define their individual ethnic origins.  Not only does this phenomena reflect the ethnic melting pot that is America but also because most European and South American teams are simply viewed as “better” or “better qualified” than the American team. It is no exaggeration to say that Americans hate being second best.

Bill Clinton was spot on when he said in Cape Town last week at the Fortune Global Summit that if the US were to host the next World Cup every visiting team would have a local home audience – given the sheer number of Diaspora communities here.

One could concede that, at least for a split second, as Landon Donovan of the U.S. team scored a dramatic last gasp winning goal against Algeria, the chance of the US to become a winner was within reach. That goal seemed to finally ignite widespread passion for the game State-side.  

But that hope was short-lived as in the very next game the U.S. was eliminated from further competition in a 2-1 loss to Ghana – the last remaining hope for the host continent, Africa - in overtime. Imagine, the U.S., a super power, being eliminated by a tiny developing country like Ghana.

But alas, soccer does not accord status to superpowers, not even the United States.

Could the ongoing realignment of power on the World Cup soccer pitch reflect what is going on in the global business marketplace? A marketplace where emerging economies like Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya are vying for attention with the likes of Singapore, Mexico and India. The World Cup is described as a huge shot in the arm for South Africa. (HN, 2010) 

Natalie Billon, a Wall Street veteran, put it this way: “The rise in the strength and popularity of soccer teams outside the U.S. mirrors a shift in the balance of economic power toward the emerging market economies. Investors are increasingly looking outside the US for growth.”

Recent GDP growth data backs this assertion. From 2000 to 2008, while G7 countries have contributed 19.8% of GDP growth, the BRIC countries have contributed an incredible 46.3%. To reflect this, investors are voting with their portfolios. Ten years ago, the allocation recommendation for exposure to emerging markets was less than 8%. Today the recommendation is 25%  to 30% plus.

Sadly, and to the detriment of US business, the mainstream American media is just beginning to take notice of this historic shift. If there was one clear message from the Cape Town summit that Clinton headlined it is that the enticing opportunities exist NOW in Africa and that US captains of industry could be missing the boat. As Clinton presciently said, the problem of the rich countries is rigidity.

Perhaps what we are witnessing – the decline of America’s pre-eminent position in everything - is something akin to the fall or decay of the British Empire more than 100 years ago. Heady stuff to ponder to be sure. This is a view shared by the quintessential international investor and market historian Jim Rogers, who some years ago identified the decline of the US and the developed markets and the rise of the emerging markets, led by China and the commodities boom. “I dont see anyway that America is going to become the great country in the 21st century again,” says Rogers.

---With research by HUMNEWS.

Wednesday
Jun302010

Tutu's Call for Investment, Aid Into Africa (REPORT) 

(HN, June 30, 2010) - Cape Town, South Africa - Archbishop Desmond Tutu's oratorical prowess is legendary. But when "Arch" spoke to a conference room this weekend, packed with some of the world's top executives; a normally skeptical crowd, this holy man's warmth and charisma brought the room to complete silence:  you could hear a pin drop.Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Cape Town summit

Tutu was invited to wrap up a three-summit hosted by the so-called media triumvirate of Fortune, Time and CNN. The theme that emerged was that Africa's time is now - especially with the continent hosting the World Cup for the very first time.

Among African political and business leaders, there was a feeling of heady exuberance - that new infrastructure, growing stability and waves of visitors coming will kick-start a new investment wave.  South African President Jacob Zuma's confident opening remarks at the summit were symbolic of the more self-assured voice one hears more frequently in the corrdiors of power here.

But as Tutu correctly remarked, the continent can't do it alone - and needs the skills, resources and expertise of outsiders to deal with seemingly intractable problems.

"The World Cup has done an incredible thing for us. It told us that we can do this. Yet again we have shown the world, in South Africa just how much we are a rainbow nation. That we are there for one another. It's been an incredibly exhilarating time.

"But we look to you to work with us. This is a continent about to make a leap…and we know that you are very, very smart people. So we pray that you are going to help us eradicate poverty in this cradle of humankind. That you will help us with all the skills that you have. We hope that you will assist us to reduce the burden in Africa."

Tutu reminded an audience sitting in the opulence of the Cape Town Convention Centre, that in many parts of Africa many people are still living on just $2-a-day. "We won't have stability if we have such a skewed relationship."

He said that the world needs to come to terms with the idea that "we are all member of one family."

The rich countries, he said, spend billions of dollars on "instruments of death and destruction." If even a very minute fraction of defence budgets were to be diverted, it would be enough to ensure that all the children in the world don't go to bed hungry. "It's a revolution in our thinking that has got to happen."

Tutu's plea for aid was extremely timely. Recently, respected international non-governmental organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have begun ringing loud alarm bells - saying that donor nations are starting to reduce their funding for HIV AIDS prevention and treatment programmes.

Seth Berkley, the chief of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, told HUMNEWS that in 2008, for the first time, there was a 10 percent decline in global expenditures on HIV vaccine research and that 2009 figures could also be down.

Said Berkley: "Things that are long term are often the first to go at a time like this. And yet if we are ever going to have a chance to eliminate this disease we need better tools."

Many speakers at the summit complained that there exists an enormous knowledge gap in the West on Africa, and that major media should share the blame for this.

African telecommunication entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim told HUMNEWS that this is one of the continent's major headaches.

"This is our main weakness in Africa - that people don't know," said Ibrahim. "There is a total ignorance of what's happening here."

He said that an Indian company typically receives 15 times the market research coverage over an African company of the corresponding size.

"Nobody invests in an atmosphere of ignorance. How can you go to your investment or credit committee with a proposal when they don't know what you are talking about? It is tough."

 --- Reporting by HUMNEWS' Michael Bociurkiw in Cape Town, South Africa

Saturday
Jun262010

South African Cocktails and Appetizers

For celebrating your team, or, not...it's Saturday nite somewhere!

ENJOY!

South Africa is a country with a multiracial society of varied ethnic origins that has influenced greatly in their traditions and cocktails and appetizers on a Johannesburg winter afternoon or a summer Cape Town beachside can be enjoyed by everyone.   

BEVERAGES

What better way to unwind from a long, hot day of game-viewing and adventure than enjoying a refreshing cocktail and small traditional snacks?

Traditional beverages are homemade brewed, whether in rustic villages or modern cities. Whether you choose to eat on the wild side: crocodile, impala, ostrich, zebra or the mild side: chicken, lamb, beef and vegetables, the diverse dining traditions of South Africa offer food and drink for every palate.  

Also, herbal tea and coffee are often consumed during breakfast. Drinks served during a typical South African meal might also include Mechow, a fermented beer like drink made from cornmeal. Ginger beer is also commonly served in local diners and pubs. Fruit punches and cocktails are easily prepared on the spot, as well as fresh squeezed orange juice.

Wine

South Africa is a country very well known for the production of good quality white and red wines. Especially in the southern parts of the country, in the Cape region, where climactic conditions simulate those of the old wine countries, is a great environment for the vineyards to produce the best grape crop. Over 300 years ago, Dutch settlers in the Western Cape of South Africa started cultivating grapes for wine and brandy production. They subsequently started making wines and brandies that were then blended with local fruit and herbs.  Among the staples of the South African wines, there are the Muscadel, Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

South African Beer

Beer in South Africa has become serious business in South Africa. Dutch and British immigrants in South Africa brought the knowledge to produce alcohol but local indigenous people such as the Sotho and Zulu had already produced brewing forms of sorghum and maize beers.

South African Breweries - "SAB" produces many of the brands on the South African market but every aspect of beer is available nowadays and South Africa has many breweries and pubs where their beers can be tasted.

Some of the most popular beers are:

Castle - Lager

Castle Milk - Stout

Bavaria 8.6 - South Africa Lager

Kulu Draught - South Africa Lager  

Savannah Dry - South Africa (Flavoured)

Windhoek Lager - South Africa Lager  

Hansa Pilsner - South Africa

Black Label - South Africa

Castle Lager - South Africa

Lion Lager - South Africa

Mitchells Foresters Lager - South Africa

Van Der HUM Liquer 

Another specific South African drink, consumed in bars and restaurants, is the Van Der Hum, tangerine based liquor - a citrus blend of brandy, Cape tangerines, herbs, spices, seeds and barks; made from five year old potstill brandy, and wine distillate, is named Van der Hum after its original creator.  It is sweetened with cane sugar syrup, and has a deep golden amber hue.

Cocktails

“The Joburg Cocktail “

Cocktail Variety:         Aromatic

Cocktail Strength:      Medium

Cocktail Size:             Short

Glass type:                 Lowball glass

Garnish:                     Orange Twist

Method:                      Stir and Strain

Ingredients

30 ml Rum

15 ml Dubonnet

3 dashes Orange Bitters

Ice Cubes

Instructions
Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a lowball glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange twist. Serve.

 “The Malawi Shandy”

The Malawi Shandy is South Africa’s unique spin on the Shandy.  

(A Shandy is an extremely popular drink consumed across the globe. Its ingredients vary from country to country and ingredients can include ginger beer, ginger ale, lemonade, and soft drinks. and is an exceptionally refreshing drink comprised of equal parts of lemonade and ginger ale and a few drops of Angostura bitters.)

Another popular type of Shandy consumed in Namibia and South Africa is the `Rock Shandy’.

This drink contains equal parts of soda water and lemonade with some dashes of Angostura bitters. The Angostura bitters are comprised of water, alcohol, gentian root, and vegetable flavoring extracts.

You’ll love sipping on these crisp cocktails to quench your thirst! 

APPETIZERS

Some of the most delicious South African appetizers include pates, such as the snoek pate or the biltong pate. Thin sliced button mushrooms, mixed with chopped onions, finely grated biltong, cream cheese and fresh watercress make for a great appetizers.

Other traditional snacks served in restaurants may be the Peri-Peri chicken livers prepared in dry white wine with cayenne pepper; pink crepes filled with cream cheese, Mozambique shrimp, or baked mushrooms with basil and sometimes nut stuffing.   Avocado salad or spinach soup can be served as appetizers and are sometimes accompanied by special South African bread, baked half-way, cut and baked all the way to make it crispy inside as well.

The Yellow melon muscatel (the South African name for muscatel) is a traditional South African appetizer, and is usually served on salad plates.  

“Biltong Pate”

Biltong (pron. bill-tong) is a 400 year old traditional South African beef snack, cured as a beef jerky, both in taste and preparation.

 Ingredients

200g /7 oz Button Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small Onion, chopped
50g / 2oz Butter
100g / 4oz  Biltong , finely grated
250g / 9oz Cream Cheese
250g / 9oz  Whipping Cream, lightly whipped
To serve garnish with Fresh Watercress & wafer thin slices of Biltong
Instructions

Melt the butter in a frying pan; add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until soft.
Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Once cold, place the onion mixture in a food processor together with the rest of the ingredients and blend well.

To serve - garnish with watercress and wafer-thin slices of Biltong.
Serve with crackers or thin slices of fresh baguette bread.

Serves 4-6 

 “Akara”

Ingredients

2 c. Black-Eyed Peas

1 med. red onion

1/2 tsp. red pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. salt

peanut oil (Preferred) or other vegetable oil for frying

Soak peas overnight or use canned.

Drain and pound with masher till crushed.

Grind puree in blender, adding water as needed to a smooth consistency (like pancake batter).

Grind very fine onion and peppers; add to Beans in blender.

Heat oil to 350-375 in deep fryer.

Drop mixture by teaspoonful into hot oil and fry until deep brown. Drain on paper towel.

Many Africans sprinkle the fried beans with additional red pepper.

Eat them warm. Use as warm snacks or as a bread substitute.

*Original reporting with previously printed information from Recipes Wiki

Saturday
Jun262010

Zuma Draws Line in Sand: Africa Not at G20 With "Cap in Hand"

(HN, June 26, 2010) – CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Striking an almost heady tone, South African President Jacob Zuma said today that Africa intends to assert an aggressive stance at the G20 Summit and no longer make demands with "cap in hand."

Addressing the opening of a global business forum in the South African city of Cape Town via satellite, Zuma said: "Our voices will be heard on a number of issues...We seek equal partnership for meaningful growth and development in forums such as the G20 and G8.”

He said this included pressing for reforms of the international financial system and for the opening of markets.

Zuma said top on the agenda at the G20 - which takes place today and tomorrow in Ontario, Canada - will be measures needed to sustain recovery and the required reforms. "We will underline the urgency of considering the voice of the developing world in the creation and implementation of new financial standards and rules," Zuma said, adding that the African continent represents a market of almost one-billion, of which 20 million are in South Africa.

He added: "We are not here in Canada - cap in hand - to ask for some of these things."

The South African president's assertive voice is emblematic of the "New Africa" - a growing cadre of democratically elected leaders from the continent not satisfied to keep silent and let the developed world make most of the decisions that impact on them.

Zuma reminded his audience that sub-Saharan Africa is now the third fastest growing region in the world - after China and India. Fuelling the growth is demand for more consumer goods, sound economic policies and "improved political conditions."

Zuma wasted no time touting the positive qualities of the country he leads - citing world class infrastructure, improved tourism and sporting assets and solving bottlenecks. He said the international media's coverage during the ongoing World Cup has been incredibly positive.

In boasting about the benefits the World Cup will bring to South Africa, he made no mention of his neighbours - some of which, such as Lesotho - complain about being sidelined by the world's largest sporting event.

--- Reporting by HUMNEWS’ Michael Bociurkiw, at the Fortune/TIME/CNN Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa

Saturday
Jun262010

Even Amid Global Slowdown, Southern African Growth Prospects Good

(HN, June 26, 2010) – CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Southern Africa's growth prospects appear good even amid the global economic slowdown.

However with about a quarter of adults of working age out of work in South Africa, the nation's trade minister Rob Davies said more needs to be done.

South African Trade Minister Rob Davies at Fortune Global Forum

"It’s not where it needs to be...it’s not just the percentages of growth, we need to produce more labour absorption," he said, adding that structural changes also need to happen. Without being specific, he said the structural changes include enhancing "employment drivers."

Davies said recently forged trade agreements with various trading blocks and bilateral agreements are bringing mutually positive results.

In response to a question from HUMNEWS on whether neighbouring countries have benefitted from the hosting of the World Cup as much as they had hoped, Davies said host nation South Africa has "done as much as it could" to make the games a positive catalyst for its neighbours. This included easing border controls. He said it was up to nearby countries to create opportunities to benefit from the games.

 (Some of South Africa's neighbours like Lesotho complain that the reverse has happened: tighter border controls imposed for the Games has actually hurt them.)

In other comments, Davies said the clothing industry is an important sector in South Africa and in neighbouring countries. However more value would be created if the sector "upscaled" itself through, for example, the introduction of new technology. He also wants to see a clampdown on illegal imports of clothing.

The minister made the remarks at an opening media briefing of the Fortune Global Forum, which starts today in Cape Town.

--- Reporting by HUMNEWS’ Michael Bociurkiw, at the Fortune/TIME/CNN Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa

Friday
Jun252010

“SAME AND DIFFERENT: Returning to South Africa” (COMMENTARY) 

By Sienna Reynaga

Sixteen years separates South Africa from Apartheid, yet color remains a dominant dividing point of a country that has branded itself on progressive diversity.  Being here during the world's celebration - The World Cup - has showcased the country, as host, in its struggle to introduce its newly defined "integrated" culture to the world.

Growing up as a Mexican, Indian, Black in California has provided me an interesting perspective on race, culture and identity.  I cook Mexican, I am fascinated by Indian and I appear black.  At age 13 I counted the pictures in my Mexican/Indian grandmother's house convinced that she loved me less because I was too dark ... in normal teenage struggles with my mother I was convinced I had a "black" mother somewhere out there that would get it ... identity has been my life’s curiosity.

So with that perspective I came to South Africa.  The white South Africans notoriously have not followed football, as we call it here, and have separated themselves from sport that is glorified by people from the slums.  At the same time, the black South Africans understand they are shut out.  With a 6.7% internet usage rate, they were not able to access tickets to watch their heroes play in action.  It is a bizarre dynamic.

Struggling for years with the term "African American" I look at people with European heritage deny the continent and it is tragic.  They are African!  Watching the Brazil v. Cote d'Ivoire game, White South Africans actively cheered against the African team.  Why?  It is an endless cycle of denial and lack of pride in the continent.

The service here, predominately by Black South Africans is atrocious and they don't seem to help themselves from the outside view.  They seem to be in this mode of ineptitude.  The White managers almost encourage it and with their low expectations, keep their Black employees down below.  I struggle because I constantly am considering issues of “same and different” - and wonder who is helping or hindering who.

The places I like are filled with people that look different than me.  The people that look like me are not doing what I like.  Are our differences genetic or otherwise?  The glory of the World Cup is not touching the people in the township, the average South African worker (80% of the population) and instead is creating a party atmosphere for the 20% who are seeking to be acknowledged on the worldwide globetrotter scene.

Has South Africa really opened up since Apartheid?  Not yet.  The five years since my last visit here is a noticeable change in tone.  The hope that I saw in 2005 is now replaced by the lethargy found in American urban centers.  Crime seems easier than an education, doing the least possible to get by seems like the best way - it is sad.  The World Cup has meant a longer shift for most - not a new opportunity.  Weeks from now the South Africans will be left with the same issues of corruption and division they had a month ago.  So what is the benefit?

Will we all come back to visit this beautiful land?  Do we all just sit back and watch the whites and blacks continue to settle in to their expected roles?  There is no clear answer a week in to the trip and the reality is you have a nation that is suffering behind a facade that is the World Cup.  We can't leave when the games leave - we must use this country as the springboard to saving a continent that is seemingly left behind in the global shift towards the world being flat.

Beyond the games and hoots of the vuvuzelas this is predominant on my mind.  From the first World Cup on African soil, I write.

---Sienna Reynaga is the Founder of the SOLHO GROUP, a marketing  firm specializing in next generation companies.

*THE PERSPECTIVES OF HUMNEWS CONTRIBUTORS ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT REPRESENT IN PART OR IN WHOLE, THE VIEWS OF ITS EDITORS. 

Thursday
Jun242010

Number of Orphans in Lesotho Continues to Grow

(HN, June 24, 2010) -- MASERU, Lesotho -- The number of orphans in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho continues to surge, with the latest data indicating as many as 270,000 - up from 180,000.

The figures were derived from the 2006 census and this newest number was recently released. However some sources put the number of orphans as high as 400,000.A woman in Maseru selling World Cup t-shirts (HN, 2010)

Most of the orphans come from families devastated by HIV AIDS. Lesotho has the third highest HIV AIDS rate in the world - with almost 30 percent of the adult population affected - according to the charitable organization Sentebale. It estimates that every day, 100 children in Lesotho are devastated by the death of a parent. With so few orphanages in the country only about one percent have access to institutionalized care.

In order that orphans and vulnerable children receive proper services several months ago, the country's Department of Social Welfare started a project to register all children that fall into this category. And in order to improve the well-being of vulnerable children, the government recently launched a "Child Grants" programme that provides a regular and unconditional quarterly payment of about $38 to orphans and other vulnerable children.

According to UNICEF: "The nexus of significant levels of poverty, chronic food insecurity and a high prevalence of HIV has dealt a serious blow to child survival, development and protection in Lesotho."

So ravaged is Lesotho by HIV AIDS and poverty that earlier this month several hundred people marched through the capital, Maseru, pleading for the landlocked country to be annexed by its wealthier neighbour, South Africa. Indeed, one South African immigration officer today, referred to Lesotho as the "tenth province."  She said thousands of people cross the border every day for work, though numbers are said to have dropped due to tighter movement restrictions imposed for the ongoing World Cup matches in South Africa.

--- Reporting by HUMNEWS’ Michael Bociurkiw.

Tuesday
Jun222010

Amid humiliating African Losses, South African team told to "storm the Bastille"

(HN, June 22, 2010) -- Today all eyes on the continent will be on the South African team at the World Cup to reverse a string of humiliating losses chalked up by African teams Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire.Johannesburg fan Tamara Sutila shows her support for "Bafana Bafana"

In a few hours Bafana Bafana (the boys, the boys) meet France in a do or die soccer encounter in the South African city of Bloemfontein. The South Africans need several goals in order to stand a chance at progressing into the second round.

One local newspaper today instructed South African players to "storm the Bastille" in their meet-up with France. The South African team tied with Mexico in the opening match of the World Cup, but lost to Uruguay a few days later.

Should South Africa be defeated today, it would signify the first time a host nation fails to make it to round two.

The hopes for an African win is palpable in the country's airports, shopping malls and streets. After all, this is the first World Cup to be played on African soil and the poor performance thus far by the continent's teams has thrown fans into a collective depression.

This morning at Johannesburg International Airport dejected fans from Cameroon were headed home, unable to afford a longer stay in South Africa.

Asked what he thought about the poor performance of the Cameroonian and other African teams, one departing fan said: "I think it has to be back to the drawing board for our teams. They havent been communicating well internally."

Ghana, and to a lesser extent Algeria and Nigeria, are among the other African teams that still stand a chance at progressing to the second round.

South African political and sports leaders are reminding their countrymen that no matter what the outcome of today's match, the host country must continue to play the perfect host to the world.

"Over the past few weeks South Africa has undergone an extraordinary revival of its national spirt," said Archbishop Emeritus Demond Tutu. Observers here say the Cup has been extremely helpful in boosting the spirits of South Africans - many of them concerned about poverty, crime, unemployment, and factionalism within the African National Congress.

Of the more than 400,000 foreign tourists who have come for the World Cup, there are only about 50,000 African fans who bought tickets. The difficulty and cost of acquiring tickets, and the expense of flights and accommodation have been factors in keeping African fans at home.

In hosting the World Cup, some South African opinion leaders are hoping that it will bring a change in the mindset of the political, business and sports elite. Said columnist John Carlin: "South Africa...is at a crossroads. Either the spirit imposes itself of those who have contrived to get the country ready for the World Cup, whose hard and honest toil is ensuring that so far everything is going well or, after the World Cup has come and gone, the spirit of the Bafana 'black elite' reigns in the land. At which point we might as well forget all notion forever of this country re-establishing itself - as it did during the Mandela glory years - as a light and example to Africa, let alone the world."

-- Reporting by HUMNEWS staff in Johannesburg, SA.