June 26, 2019  

Two new flags will be flying high at the Olympic Games in Rio.

For the first time, South Sudan and Kosovo have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Kosovo, which was a province of the former Yugoslavia, will have 8 athletes competing; and a good shot for a medal in women's judo: Majlinda Kelmendi is considered a favorite. She's ranked first in the world in her weight class.

(South Sudan's James Chiengjiek, Yiech Biel & coach Joe Domongole, © AFP) South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, will have three runners competing in the country's first Olympic Games.

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)



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



CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au)


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Entries in Roxy Marosa (5)


International Women's Day: A Modern Heroine From South Africa (PERSPECTIVE)

By Roxy Marosa

 Bron Villet lives in Cape Town, South Africa.  A natural anthropologist, where ever she is, whatever she tackles in life, Bron adds a profound sense of integrity and energy - another inspiration for women from the south of the continent.

Bron has an idiosyncratic ability to engage with people across diverse fronts, often in spite of the complexity of a situation.

With a keen instinct for reaping the best in people, Bron has achieved measurable success in her career accomplishments and has impacted people’s lives extensively.

As a practitioner coach, Bron spent time in Pollsmoor prison working with at-risk adolescent males – this humbling experience further served to inspire her to continue with her work to be hands on in making a difference to the future of South Africa.

“From a young girl, my life purpose has always been to make a profound difference to those I connect with in all walks of life” says Bron.

With a background in the corporate, NGO and community sectors, Bron was pivotal in successfully starting up a sports foundation in 2007 with the mission of serving disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape.

The foundation focused on inspiring primary school children to dream about their futures, by setting and achieving goals in spite of the adversities they faced in their young lives, as a result of apartheid and the fractured communities they live in. 

The opportunity to design and grow the foundation to reach 25,000 children within 2 years, wholly aligned with Bron’s energy and passion for empowering people to sculpt their own destiny and forge purposeful futures.

During her time spent working in these crime torn, drug infested communities, Bron’s desire to stand as an ambassador for women’s rights in Africa was sharpened. Bron Villet

With a desire to experience and gain understanding of how other cultures live, a journey across northern and southern Africa in 2010, afforded Bron the opportunity to interact with, and observe communities in both rural and urban Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Zambia, Zimbabwe,  Mozambique and Botswana.

"It was fascinating to engage with so many different cultures. Interestingly, some observations were disturbing, but it was these disturbing experiences which served to heighten my sense of purpose in standing as an advocate for women’s rights in Africa, especially considering recent uprisings in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and even more recently, Morocco.  It is not uncommon in Africa for women to be subjected to the cruelest forms of violence, sexual abuse and slavery especially during war and cultural uprisings.”

Having just returned from her travels in Africa, Bron is seeking out international platforms to work in African communities with a focus to reach, challenge and inspire women and children.  

-- 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.


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. 



By Roxy Marosa

(HN, August 25, 2010) David Von Kittelberger is proof that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself if you do what it takes and learn the lessons presented to you.

When I first met David, he came across as a down to earth man, whom in no time I started to relate to as if we were long-time friends. I quickly learned that he was someone who had interacted with celebrities that many young South Africans would only dream of.

In the past five months I have seen a creative side of him come out, which I didn’t even know existed.

My initial motivation to write about David was due to his humbleness, and particularly because of my passion for making a difference and inspiring people. With so much to write about, I decided to focus on how his career evolved - hoping that it would serve as an inspiration to so many who are stuck in a rut or in a daily grind.

To me David is a celebrity - but his humbleness is what sets him apart from the A-list crowd.

David says dressing women is his creative side. He is passionate about transforming women into who they really want to be, and boosting their confidence through fashion. His passion started with his love for art, although he could not paint and was not a gallery aficionado.

David first came into touch with his creative side as a child, being raised in a household with mainly women.

During a recent visit to Cape Town - where he has started to make a splash - he humbly related to me the story of how he was often asked by his aunts to look for a missing shoe or others items that mysteriously went astray. Lucky for him, he had a knack for always finding things.

Even to this day, David prides himself with finding missing stuff however small they may be. Most kids either refuse or become annoyed when asked to search for something that isn’t theirs. David says he just did what was asked of him. 

David’s mother and aunts would indirectly reward their young sleuth by empowering him to render an opinion on how they looked. David said, thanks to his advice, his family never left home looking tacky. They always dressed well.

Eventually, as word of his panache spread, David’s sage advice was sought by others and a growing number of people began to wear his style touch.

That quickly led to invitations for David to do personal shopping for friends and family. He did this during the time of his studies, which he completed successfully.

As David describes how his first career move was to join a bank, I can’t help but chuckle. Hmmmm....styling and banking. “I often got bored in the bank, because I always finished my tasks quickly, and ended up having nothing to do afterwards.”  After enough boredom, David announced to his mother that he would be moving from upstate New York to the Big Apple.David Von Kittelberger

Even though it was met by parental disapproval, David believed in his destiny, and he would say that to people. ‘I set myself and thoughts through my speaking and declared that I will work for a top female celebrity.” With no job or apartment, for David the abrupt move was an epiphany of sorts.

At this point it struck me how similar his story is to the experience of many people in South Africa - who, over the years -  moved from distant places to what is now Gauteng ("place of gold"), one of the nine provinces and the wealthiest, to seek employment or a platform to become an artist.

For David in New York City, he was quickly amazed at how things fell into place. He acquired an apartment which he could afford to pay from the little money he had saved. He also got to know of one of the top retail companies that happened to be seeking sales people. For David, it was an entree into high fashion designs.

He worked there for two years - all the while thinking of how to achieve his dream of being a stylist for a top female celebrity.

This is where history started to replay itself. Most of the customers were celebrities - and like his relatives many years ago, appreciated being dressed by him. 

His forte was dressing them to match their body types, and over time, he was able to fine tune his craft.

Being the humble person he is, and passionate about dressing women, David built deeper relationships with customers, who subsequently sent him referrals. Calls began to come in for off-site consultations and David’s Rolodex of A-list names began to grow incredibly fast.

Some celebrities who still came into the store would have his manager call him even when he was off duty - including people like Oprah Winfrey, Cher and a number of other stars. 

Then his career suddenly took a huge turn. Beyonce and Jay-Z popped into the store one day and David did not recognize them until Beyonce took off her sunglasses.

"She was so sweet,” he says. He gave his usual outstanding service, and in no time, Beyonce became a loyal client.

Requests from A-listers for David’s services multiplied and it led him to eventually start his own company, focusing on style and image. He even expanded to consulting men, as many female clients said they were unhappy with the way their partners dressed.

So demanding was the work that David decided to focus on one celebrity client - Beyonce. "It was at this point that I knew I had accomplished my goal without even realizing it."

He said moving from the retail business was refreshing. “Working for Beyonce I realized that I was prepared by the lessons I learned during this time. My time with Beyonce was really refreshing because I fulfilled my dream on my own.”

He proudly says that he got to interact with people he only read about – and that made his dream seem so far fetched.

David’s main lesson? When you realize that your destiny lies in your own hands, it’s exhilarating, refreshing.

David worked for Beyonce for four years, and is now venturing to his next dream: starting clothing and jewelry lines. 

Writing about David is a great opportunity to reflect back on my own life. Said David: "No one ever asks me how my career came about, so I am so pleased and moved to revisit my life through my story. This has also been an opportunity to affirm what I believe in – that my destiny is in my hands."

I also hope that David's story will inspire my fellow South Africans. You see, although a few people here are driven and are clear about what they want to accomplish in their lives, many South Africans - and perhaps people in general - end up in work that they got because it was just available.

If you speak to someone who is unemployed and asked them "what do you want to do?" The most likely reply you will get is – "anything." A number of people do jobs just to pay the bills, while the other few strive to express their passion through their work. Is it possible that our upbringing has something to do with it?

I remember as a young girl, I loved dancing, singing and modelling. I sang in the school choir, danced at school concerts and entered beauty competitions. I was passionate about it. My results in all these areas were excellent. But to do this I sometimes had to sneak out of home or pretend to go visit a friend because my parents were against me performing - saying that they were protecting me from chasing an impossible dream.

I hope you can now appreciate how enjoyable it was for me to learn David's story of passion and resilience.

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. 



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


A Plea From South Africa: Now is Not the Time to Retreat From the Global HIV Response (PERSPECTIVE)

By Roxy Marosa

(HN, July 21, 2010) -- In the run-up to the World Cup, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the medical humanitarian organization, sounded a loud and worrisome alarm bell: major donors are starting to roll-back funding of HIV prevention and treatment programs that millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have come to depend on. 

Each time I interact with people both infected and affected by HIV, there is still a huge lack of knowledge around HIV and Aids. It goes without saying that so much more remains to be done, and what has been done is not enough.

A case in point: I recently learned that there are still people who have no idea what HIV or those who have the wrong idea of what HIV is. I am particularly referring to the remote rural areas of South Africa.

I ran a session in April this year with a group of faith denominations, where one of the priests said he discovered an area that’s challenging to reach by means of the usual transportation. Addressing the subject of HIV, he was almost in tears as he spoke about the people in this little village who had never heard of HIV - yet there were so many deaths and it is through learning about the deaths that he discovered the place. There is little civilization in the area and people live with just the basics. The priest asked himself, having taken so many years of HIV and Aids education to reach people in civilized societies, how long will it take for people in this isolated community to understand and practice safe sex? 

It has been drummed into people’s minds that the way to be safe with HIV and Aids is through prevention, testing and treatment. This method has taken years to reach people and it is taking years for people to get used to it and practice it.

We still have so many challenges to overcome, such as: 

  1. Basic education for people who have not been exposed to HIV and Aids education
  2. Reaching people who have never seen a female condom, let alone use it.
  3. Helping women who stay in abusive relationships because they are reliant on their partners for day to day survival
  4. Changing the mindsets of women who see sex as an obligation to their husbands
  5. Dealing with men’s attitude towards safe sex - sex with a condom
  6. Providing access to people not able to reach clinics for testing
  7. Outreach to the street dwellers who get raped from time to time and are so used to it and no longer see it as rape

The people who are best able to address these challenges are the not-for-profit organisations. Without crucial funding, they are not able to execute their work. And a draw back on funding would throw tens of thousands of people out of work who have been endowed with skills to help millions of others.

What I think of a lot these days is, what will be the impact of of a withdrawal of funding on ordinary people. If you ask most people ‘How do you manage HIV and AIDS’?, the most common response is ‘by taking AIDS tablets.’ 

Some people - especially low-income earners - refuse to test because they are afraid of the outcome and say that the knowledge that they are positive will lead them to die sooner. Can we blame them for being afraid after seeing so many deaths due to this pandemic? To them the reality is that HIV and Aids leads to death.

Recently in South Africa - which has the highest case load of HIV Aids patients in the world - the government declared a 15 month war on AIDS;15 million people are to be tested by July 2011. Most of the tests are free and those who need treatment will receive it for free. The unemployed are to get the benefits government has made available. It has taken years to get us to this point, and to get the sceptical people to be open to testing, and have the hope and belief of life with HIV and AIDS. Now this possibility is threatened. 

It took many years for people in Africa to utter the words HIV and AIDS. And it is still taking tremendous work for people to relate to their neighbours living with the virus freely without prejudice or judgement. 

The way I see it is if major donors want to roll back funding for testing and treatment, they should propose a different approach to remedying the whole situation. People have to understand why they are vulnerable to this virus. They have to be educated in order to change their attitudes towards activities that will lead them to becoming infected with the virus and responsible for the choices they make.

The fact that we still have new cases of the virus should be sufficient proof that education about HIV and Aids is insufficient - and needs to be scaled up.

It has taken us years to get to the point where people are able to distinguish the difference between HIV and AIDS. People are only now warming up to the idea of getting tested, and are summoning the courage to deal with fear of the test outcome. 

Let us not turn our backs on the millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere who have embraced prevention and treatment.

As donor nations meet in Vienna this week at the XVIII International AIDS Conference, the message should be loud and clear: now is not the time for major donors to retreat from their commitments to the global HIV response that has saved the lives of millions.

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.