HRH THE PRINCESS SWAN DECREES HER TOP ELEVEN FACEBOOK YAWN-STATUSES

The Sleeping Royal (due to FB boredom)

Facebook, as we all know, was originally designed as an intranet for university students.  Soon, it exploded onto the World Wide Web.  With a carefully crafted profile uploaded since 2007, HRH The Princess Swan has seen it vacillating between progress and regress to its current surge where its use includes advocating action towards the redress of social injustices. Used as a pivotal logistical tool to awaken an entire region from its Winter of Discontent into a blossoming Arab Spring, it assisted in:

  1. toppling  three governments (Tunisa, Egypt and Libya),
  2. removing a President (if Saleh is true to his word and steps down in February),
  3. informing the world on the serious, Syrian “Situation”,
  4. bringing about some constitutional changes in at least in one Monarchy viz.  Morroco, and
  5. keeping us abreast of the daily intensity of the Teargas Bubble Bahrainis, to date, inhale on a daily basis.

Of course Facebook has many diverse uses and not all of us are social, political, cultural, artistic or human rights activists. (Unfortunately a lot are slacktivists..but….that’s for another blog.). Not all of us have the gift of the gab, although one should constantly guard against the Upper End, excreting garbage. It is utilised to stay in touch over distances, photo-share, business, flirting and of course, lots of err…cyber poking.  Its use subsumes that a ‘person’s page is a person’s page’, therefore one has the right to post status content as one desires, with some exception, given of course one lives in a country where one is not in danger of incarceration (or death) by authoritarian regimes, and where freedom of speech is respected (also with exceptions of course).

Thus, given that an entire region brought about, and is still bringing about major political and social changes, utilising Facebook as one of its logistical tools, and its diverse additional usages, HRH wonders………

……………………… Whats App with these statuses that just makes one want to Yawn, slip into a state of Hypnagogia and eventually succumb to a Ménage-a-Trois with Hypnos and Morpheus?

These are the top eleven statuses (in no particular order) she advocates as best to avoid, lest one slip into an eventual Coma (forgoing that err…Ménage).

  • Facebook User Checked In At…..

I mean really now doll.  Unless one has checked in at…

  1. the bedroom of Johny Depp and he’s lounging around naked, (with John Abraham (Bollywood) about to join the err….party), and ones is able to upload accompanying pics or better still the vids);
  2. Al Jazeera and one is about to go live on The Stream or 101 East;
  3. the Hague and one is about  to pronounce Messrs  Bush, Blair and Obama guilty of crimes against humanity for killing 160 000 odd Iraqis,  or murdering “America’s Most Wanted” (who are now instituting talks with its current leaders, when they said they would never dialogue with “terrorists”);
  4. a Bedouin tent in the Oasis of Gabr Oun in the Sahara full of err…hot, ‘thirsty’, ‘starving’ Arabian Knights, …………………..why would the proletariat be interested?. :s
Oasis

Gabr Oun---Where a Princess is "Bound to Bump" into some Arabian Knights

Muses HRH, “Yeah yeah yeah….I know this App, which I as The Princess Swan has had to disengage on advice from the Crown Purple’s Chief of Security lest a disgruntled Knight stalks my movements, is intended to aid ‘The User’ to connect with friends (or perhaps to remind an errant wife that she needs to check into bed with her husband), but why not just not just phone a friend if one feels like doing err…push-ups at Virgin Active.  I mean, that’s why friends come with benefits” ;-)

  • What Facebook User Has Had Or About To Have For Breakfast Lunch Or Supper. (Or What Wifey Or Hubby Has Been Cooking)

Doll, unless it’s

  1. sperm-whale eggs or something equally exotic;
  2. oversized carrots/cucumbers/bananas grown in ones garden that’s like really err…big, (with photo), which of course automatically ups ones green footprint;
  3. the real Moët et Chandon, that one err…swirls before one swallows, or
  4. one is making Gnocchi or Halwa Puri from scratch, without the assistance of the kitchen staff, …………………HRH aint interested.

Note:  Vegetarians/Vegans are excused. At least they’re educating the Proletariat as to an alternative to The Masses’ voracious, carnivorous diet, conscientising The Masses that The Masse don’t actually need to kill animals for food. (And HRH doth thinketh that killing animals for cultural and religious purposes is not cool either, but that too is for another blog…..)

  • A Prayer To A God/Allah/Buddha/Lord Krishna/Respective Honour Diety

I mean honestly. So ‘God’ has now migrated to Facebook? How demeaning to ones supposed revered diety. These statuses HRH refers to as the Pharisees of Facebook (Refer Matthew 6:1,2 & 5 as well as Luke 18:11)

And by the way….If one does a Sunday prayer status, or telling one that one had just attended Church/Temple/Mosque/Synagogue et al, remember the debauched one, one posted of ones drunken sexcapades during the week.  There’s the possibility that it could be used against one in a court of law as evidence of schizophrenia.

  • Wishing A Friend, Family Member, Husband, Wife, Lover Et Al “Happy Birthday/ Anniversary/Bon Voyage/Glad You Passed Matric/Et Al.

(Recalling that this is in reference to an actual status and not posted on the other User’s Wall)

I mean c’mon, one does not even know the person.  Have The Masses become so impersonal with personal relations that the sentiment can not be expressed in person, with a phone call or sms? One suspect guilty parties here have “family/relationship/intimacy issues”? ;-)

  • Those Equally Boring “I Love You”, Including Wall Posts.

Subscribing these to what one can only describe as insecurity and fear of abandonment issues, one often wonders who are these updaters are trying to cajole.  Wonder what would happen if one leaves a True Story comment with “Doll, I’ve saved the scroll (Royals are not sent smses) he hath delivereth to me, sent on the morning after the night before we three went out, asking me if he could come around to “drinketh from the cup” as he’ll be lonely while you’re off to your mother’s for the weekend”.

If one really loves and respects ones lover(s) …it should be said in person.  Of course one has public declarations, therefore the institution of marriage, civil union or shacking-up. Suffice to remember that displays of public affection invokes the decree of Access to Public Property and Engagement with that Property.

And, when it is no more, don’t forget to post the “I hate you” follow on ;-), although this of course could contradict Item 6 below, …..but do note the exception to that status.

  • Your Lover’s /Divorce/Break-Up Spat,

Unless of course one is lamenting the lost bedroom antics with photos, (or YouTube vids) of the size of his Hardy Boy pleasurable bits, it’s just so plain…..well…….bourgeois.  There is a saying one should always subscribe too viz. “One should not wash ones dirty laundry in public”.

  • Those RIP Ones.  Subdivided into the categories of:
  • Celebrity RIP:  Thus besides ‘God’, Michael Jackson/Cesario Evoria/Amy Whinehouse are now also sitting reading Facebook.  (Refer status 3). Entertain us with one of their memorable quotes instead, or even those silly jokes, but do keep it sensitive hey.  One does not ever want a repeat of the Freddie “Another One Bites the Dust” or the Amy “We don’t serve spirits in this bar” genre. Better still; Show ones condolences by donating just £2 to their charity, and post The Masses the link.  Now that would make a difference wouldn’t it?
  • Personal RIP.  Seems one has relationship/family/fear of intimacy issues cropping up again.  Why else not just pick up a phone.  Sure, if one has lost a loved one it is extremely hurtful and one needs to grieve.  Facebook has also become a modern means of informing friends and family that a loved one or a mutual friend has died. Thus this yawn status does not refer to a notification or notification of funeral arrangements.  It refers to those one liner “RIP Andrew Hougaart”.

Oh, by the way. When it’s HRH’s turn she has decreed to be honoured with a HRH POH (Parties on Harder) instead of a RIP?  Enunciates The Princess Swan, “Daaaahlinks, in the after-life I’m destined to become the Queen of the King of Darkness, wear Prada and promises of hot, steamy, sweaty eternal sessions with his princes, (instead of just being touched by an angel). Thus I aint gonna be sitting reading Facebook.  (I mean Jesus Gurlz !!, have you seen Azazel in Fallen!!!! )”

Azazel, HRH's Favourite Fallen Angel. Isn't he just....too die for?!

 

  • A Quote, That One Has Not Credited, Including Original Status-Phrases Of Friends.

Cmon, that’s just plain plagiarism!!

  • Those Sms Language Statuses.

Unless HRH’s  ToyBoy Knight is lounging next to her to decipher, (subject to their current err… ‘status’)….she skips and yawns (and probably snoozes in his lap).  A polyglot,  the language of love being her favourite, she sets her linguistic goals on being an Oxford English/ L’Académie Française / Real Academia Española Purist Princess.  (She exempts USA citizens as they were cursed with poor spelling ability when they refused to show allegiance to The Crown ).   Contrary to popular belief, computers do have language settings as well as auto spell- checking.  The Crown Purple, South Africa and Commonwealth countries’ official English is Oxford Standard.  Thus for example it’s colour, programme (unless it’s a computer program), doughnut (not donut), centre, etc.

One has often been accused of “elitism” just because the ignorant hear the word “Oxford” when presenting this argument but……….

Refer to South Africa’s literacy capabilities. Bad -, SMS – and American spelling are not accepted in schools, and contribute to, in the case of Mzanzi, an appalling literacy rate.   Additionally this rule goes for any language, not just English. In South Africa citizens have the right to express themselves in the language of choice, but that does not mean one can rape that language.

  • Déjà vue Statusses.

 Subdivided into three distinct sub-categories, they are as follows

  •  Those ‘FaceTweets’ viz, Facebook-Twitter linked accounts.  The etiquette rule is…Facebook is for ones status update, twice perhaps three times a day, (unless it’s the SWC or ones friend is kidnapped my Yemeni Tribal groups http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/15/world/meast/yemen-unrest/. Twitter is for those “per second expressions”.  Follow Helen Zille aka GodZille on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, so see a classic clear example of someone who understands and employs these rules.
  • Those Copy and Paste if you have the most loving mother/care about cancer/whatever. HRH cares about cancer….therefore akin to duties of a Royal, The Princess Swan volunteered at St Luke’s Hospice for many years.  How is a copied status going to cure or alleviate cancer? What happened to originality? Constructing ones own thoughts on matters? Scientific studies have shown the less one uses ones brain the earlier the onset of dementia.  One rests the case of the “Bestest Mother/Brother/Wife” in reference to Yawn Status 4.
  • Duplicate Group/Fan and Friend status.

Dude, unless…

  • the Sultan of Oman is investing in ones new product;
  •  one is mentioned in the book titled ‘150 Bollywood Moments in South Africa’  as well as the second edition titled ‘250 Bollywood Moments in South Africa’ with the likes of screen goddess and UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Shamila Tagore (whose son Seif Ali Khan leaves a Princess….breathless) ……why regurgitate the same? :s

HRH with Screen Goddess Shamila Tagore in 150 and 250 Bollywood Moments in South Africa

Appeals HRH: “One takes the trouble to join a friend’s group, business or fan page, which a number of other friends have not. Could one at least be treated with the dignity of friendship by once again the separation of business and pleasure?

  • Constant Advertising of Ones Business, Event or Moonlighting Stints.

Surely, one business/organisation/profession/moonlighting stint can not be the whole of a person?

Of course if….

  1. Prince Hamdan of Saudi Arabia is the err…Moonlighting Stint;
  2.  Preiti Zinta or HRH’s current front runner favourite, Nobel Peace Prize 2012 proposition,  imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja…is endorsing/attending/speaking at ones event/launch,………………. by all means go mas loco (and see that HRH is invited to at least relieve you of some Moonlighting duties).

HRH Prince Hamdan

As said, one should never mix business with pleasure; therefore Facebook has the option of Pages or Groups as well as paid advertising. This in turn gives the Friend the option of following ones business/organisation/company interest or not.  And as friends, even close ones, we’ll never be interested in everything the other one does. One sees this as “forcing the issue” …….although not being interested in Opera is unforgiveable ;-)

So, one now has mutual understanding as friends, what works for HRH and what doesn’t?

She inveigles The Proletariat to post comments or just critique the wisdom of a Royal. (She can just see The Bourgeoisies scouring for those spelling errors…hehe).   A comment previously levelled was “just hide those updates” But says HRH: “That to me is being disingenuous to a friend.” As for critique on this decree, HRH loves constructive contributions and/or criticism. Advises HRH, “Remember Daaahlinks. I give it, but can receive it much err….harder;-)

Note: Most examples of exceptions are in honour of the Species of the Male. But of course the converse to the honour of Species of the Fairer Sex also applies. Thus in the case of a male these statuses will eventually effect an embrace with the goddess Epona .  Exception examples would be   substituted for example, Pippa Middleton for Johnny Depp in “Facebook User Checked In on Bed of Pippa Middleton” …. or in the case of joining HRH to POH you’d be partying with Onoskelis  (but will also if wear Prada for all eternity).

HUMAN RIGHTS – A TREASURE TO TREASURE

A Treasure

I had just had my WeetBix with soya milk, fruit salad with yogurt, and as it was a public holiday, (which qualifies as a Sunday), a slice of cake, (OK….two), with some honey-sweetened [i]Rooibos Tea.   Armed with my reading matter, the BlackBerry (a few years ago it would have been the “Sunday Times”), I commenced my favourite breakfast complimentary pastime – consulting the Twitter timeline.  My heart started pounding; it may have missed a beat. The tweets I was reading seemed surreal, [ii]incroyable. I actually started to cry, yes, cry.  @angryarabiya, Zainab Al Khawaja, Human Rights Activist, fighter for democracy and daughter of Bahrain, had been arrested. South Africa had just woken up; ready to celebrate National [iii]Reconciliation Day, 16 December 2011.

Having ascended to the self-coronated thrones of the star-studded, Twitterati, accordingly requires that one surrounds oneself in equally illustrious company.  It must be noted that surrounding oneself in illustrious company is an important exercise of a Princess; she must always have an eye on her potential subjects, especially those err…Arabian Knights. ;-).

Thus, amongst others, I  subsequently added, over the past few months, a good few prominent Twitteratis of the Arab Spring inclusive of Libya (whose Twitterati seemed to have “calmed down” or perhaps they’ve err……excised me due to my scathing tweetacks on the murder of Ghadafi vís-a-vís fighting for democracy, freedom and equality for ALL).

An activist in her own right, and news editor, I sometimes interact with @JustAmira in Bahrain, about her cats, me being a err….. Cougar by Experience, ;-), and equally a cat lover; @BloggerSeif in Lebanon at times has refreshing liberal tweets, sometimes even in French; @ChangeInLibya kept me more updated (and more accurate!) than what AlJazeera could with the battle for Tripoli, and the capture of Ghadafi;  @RevolutionSyria tells me what no one wants to hear, and @Saudiwoman inspires one to believe that one day there will be full gender equality, yes, even in Saudi Arabia.

The under-reporting of the Revolution in Bahrain, on most international news channels, let alone our own SABC or Etv, or newspapers, has over the past 9 months lead me to add additional Bahraini Twitterati to my timeline. However, I had not actually enlisted to follow @angryarabiya, Zainab Al Khawaja, as her tweets often reappeared in several Arab and Bahraini fellow followers’ retweets, ensuing that she always materialised within my actual timeline.

Thus a number of these active Twitteratis, including others from around the globe such as @onemillionfacts, with whom at times I dispute factual accuracy (like the tweet that India in its 10 000 history, had never invaded another country when India, as a country, has only been in existence since 1947); or @SaiRajesh with whom I interact on the cricket scores have, according to me, become [iv]Twiends.  I now understand why some tweets are just a ‘hello’, ‘good morning’ or ‘good night’. (I think mutual followers on Twitter are genuinely interested in each other’s lives, well-being, and interests as opposed to Facebook, where I think most of us just seek the elusive number of boasting 4000 or so err…..friends).

Thus, I found the arrest of a “Twiend” viz. @angryarabiya utterly shocking. This juxtaposed against a “Proudly South African Moment” celebrating the arrival of our 16th Reconciliation Day, declared as such since 1995, since the arrival of our Democracy in 1994. I had earlier, while languorously cutting that second sliced of cake, thought of how far we have come via the [v]TRC – although there’s admittedly still ‘a long way to go’ as a South African Twitterati @chantalgal, reminded us all.

Thinking that the reconciliation process is an undertaking that the Arab Spring would have to commit itself to, once the current battles towards the institution of democracy have been won, (less it plunges itself into a permanent Winter of discontent).

Throughout the Arab Spring, a  ‘season’ that has now lasted [vi]365 days + a bit, I’ve always read or heard, at times, of the arrest of some prominent freedom fighter, a prominent opposition leader or prominent personality.  Yet, news of these arrests, and the subsequent call for their respective release, seemed so far removed. I recall the Egyptian actor, whom his detractors even tried to “discredit” as gay.  (As if sexuality is not inclusive of human rights); the Syrian actress Fadwa Soliman although not arrested (yet?), also comes to mind. Digressing, it often makes we wish that personalities within the arts and entertainment industry in South Africa, could commit themselves to voicing a stand against the injustices that do not belong in our democracy, such as the [vii]Protection of Information Bill (POIB), in its current form. (Excluding [viii]Steve Hofmeyr, please?)

Never had I thought that a Twiend would suffer an arrest. I felt helpless, and angry. Nearly as helpless and angry when @ahmed tweeted about his assault, and trampling of his spectacles, while on a conference in, I think, in a Latin American country (I stand corrected).

When ur in chains, living with no dignity or rights, bowing to criminal dictators, the first step is to forget ur fear & realise that it’s ur right….to be angry.” Angryaribiya

I felt angry at those despots who deny their own citizens their rightful freedom.

I suppose of all the Arab Spring countries, Bahrain, has a special place in my heart. I had the pleasure of visiting this country, or more accurately, its capital city Manama, while in transit on both the departure and the return trip en route to and from Pakistan in 2006/07.  In total, almost 24 hours. [And one hour is all one need to see the entire island Kingdom. OK, perhaps one and a half. ;-)].

HRH The Princess Swan, at the time, was in awe of being hosted in a Monarchy.  If only she had known, she would have sought an immediate audience with the King, , espousing the tenants of the Imperial Jacaranda Palace, the only Absolute Monarchy in the world that affords full democracy towards its subjects. But of course in HRH’s de rigueur style she got side-tracked flirting with the Arabian Knights instead.  (She still vividly recalls the super hot Arabian Knight guarding the entrance to the Mall. Tall, dark and dangerously handsome.   A man of not too many words. Apparently it was forbidden for Knights while on guard duty to entertain Princesses?) – Kindly note: The rest of this paragraph is now protected by the POIB .

I particularly recall the return trip affording me an entire day of sightseeing in Manana. It’s refreshing sea breeze aroma reminiscent of the Mother City, Cape Town.  I was in awe of the amazing skyscrapers constructed, and a few still being constructed at the time, although I must say I do not remember Pearl Square :s.  I had landed late the evening before from Oman. I had planned to spend a week’s holiday in Muscat, and had thus booked flights via Oman to Lahore. Alas those bookings had gone awry, consequently the holiday did not materialise.  My outbound flight to South Africa from Bahrain, via Gulf Air, since discontinued to South Africa :S,  was only due to depart the following evening. The inbound trip five weeks earlier was primarily an overnight stay with a morning departure. It however, afforded me a “night out on the town in the hotel club” and a morning stroll to shake off the morning after the night before cobwebs.

Thus, having just returned from Lahore, Pakistan, where one, in the cities, and some major towns, can easily get away without a scarf covering ones head, and dress in the most vibrant of colours that even the most colourful Spring would be alarmed at, including “Western clothes”, I had intentionally packed bootlegged black trousers, a matching black sleeveless mini flared dressed, and a black billowing-metres of a  chiffon scarf; to be drapped á la Benazir Bhutto – but with extra added length á la a Bollywood trailer.  This was my “to fit-in-look”; an improvisation of the traditional black Abaya, with a hint of sex appeal through chiffon draped flesh.  Yes, I too thought at the time that I was pushing it a bit.  However, much to my surprise, I discovered that I could have just as well have worn the mini-dress on its own, (OK, that’s now really pushing it, even now) as the “Western Girls” were flaunting it in their jeans and tops. (I often wonder why the resident “Westerners’ do not at least assist the Bahrain revolution by vocalising their disdain for such oppression and citizen abuse.  I mean now really, how can one, brought up in a democratic country, silently sit and watch undemocratic processes in the making without voicing ones scorn :s?  Doctors being  arrested and incarcerated for treating wounded protesters!? And the “Westerners” stay mum? Or is their support for the Revolution also under reported?).

Returning to the Fashion Parade, I was even more surprised at the Bahraini girls flaunting it even more in what I call “The Half Abaya”. A sort of coat it seems ,styled to appear from behind as if it is a full Abaya, but seen from the front, it ‘exposes’ glittery jeans, kitsch tops and over the top jewellery.  I felt “naked”, but at least I could now drape the black billowing chiffon scarf á la pashmina, off the shoulder style.

Image

If Bags Could Talk ;-)

Having just learned the art of bargaining while in Pakistan, strolling through the souks was an experience. I picked up a few bargains. My star buy however, came not from the souks but, the Mall. One of my most treasured possessions to date.  Ridiculously priced.  Fortunately marked down.  Luckily I had arrived during sale season.  Strange…. my treasure buys in France were also during the Solde. Seems sales have some funny way of following me? But, let me not digress…again. The Bag, a treasured piece of accessory that seems to match with most of my saris, Punjabi suits and even my favourite magenta, princess, velvet ball gown dress. It, (the bag) often to this day, still receives gasps of “where did you buy it” as well as compliments. [And if that bag could talk ;-)..........]

That bag, to me, symbolises angryarabiya.  A human rights treasure; the bag a treasure.   A favourite Twitterati from Bahrain; the bag a favourite from Bahrain (besides the memory of that Arabian Knight with not too many words). I’d be mortified if that bag ever gets damaged.  I am mortified at the indignation and assault this Human Rights Activist had to and have to suffer at the hands of her oppressors. (Not even allowed soap to wash her bloodied face and clothes. Not even allowed her spectacles I believe). I’d be mortified if that bag is ever lost. I shudder at being mortified if the world should loose more angryarabiyas.

I’m not really one to add my voice to the global calls on governments to free Human Rights Activists.  I often feel that so many are doing it already. However, this to me was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt I could no longer be silent. I had to add my voice to the global call to “Free Zainab Al Khawaja” and all other Human Rights Activists!  All she wants is Freedom, Democracy, Equality and Justice for the citizens of Bahrain. The time of despots, dictators, monarchs et al (except HRH The Princess Swan of course) denying Liberté, Egalité et ‘Fraternité’ to all humankind, had reached its sell by date on the 14 July 1789……Did the others not get the memo?

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed

Martin Luther King Jr.

Zainab Al Khawaja since her arrest, is being held in detention for 7 days………(and counting………)

Post Script: Zainab Al Khawaja was freed on Tuesday  20 December 2011.  


[i] Rooibos tea is cultivated in South Africa and loosely translates as Red bush Tea. It is caffeine free, and a healthy alternative.

[ii] French for unbelievable

[iii] National Reconciliation Day commemorates two definite historical moments of South Africa. The Battle of Blood River in 1838, and the founding of Umkhomto WeSizwe (the armed wing of the ANC, 1961). Opposite political agendas now commemorated on the same day thus lending itself to…… reconciliation.

[iv] There are numerous others too from around the globe and in South Africa too.

[v] Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

[vi] Mohamad Bouazizi of Tunisia set himself alight on the 16 December sparking the Arab Revolt

[vii] The Protection of Information Bill (POIB), is currently hotly being disputed by organisations such as Cosatu and the Nelson Mandela Foundationas an attack on South Africa’s democracy and freedom of speech by the ruling ANC. Cosatu, the Human Rights Commission and South African History Archive are amongst those who have threatened a Constitutional Court challenge.

[viii] A South African primarily Afrikaans singer who over-indulges in politics. His most worldwide famous feat was tossing his ticket into the Jukskei River in protest at perceived support by U2 for banned hate speech RSA struggle song loosely translated as “Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer”..

WET OR DRY : JUST BLAME IT ON THE NAMIB MOUNTAINS

Dried Expectations

I have often dismissed those Stephan Segal type movie scenes when car/truck/bike-chase-plane-with-occupant–scrambling-on- board-to-Stop-The-Pilot, as pure smoking mirrors.  But, there I was, (with a colleague of mine who can attest), on board the courtesy taxi-bus at the crack of dawn, on the runaway chasing after what seemed like a phantom SA-Express plane. The driver seemed incapably of finding our ride. Eventually he found a real “live” one, which he raced, and true to the movies…..the bus won.  Surreal.  Having now traversed the runaways from international  back to domestic, keeping in mind that [i]O R Tambo International is now as big as Dubai’s, we finally stopped to disembark from the bus and board a plane called…….The Congo Express. I prayed that I would not land up somewhere in the middle of the equatorial forest, surrounded by [ii]“Pygmies”.

Why it’s called the SA or Congo Express is beyond my overactive brain. Its name belies its speed….. Especially if one is additionally delayed by fourty five minutes due to a plane not being fuelled.  Perhaps we were meant to push the plane to its destination?  Finally gassed, as the “Americans” would say, and with control tower, according to Mr Pilot, now having allotted us with a new departure slot, we conversely sashayed the runaways like the taxi-bus. However I swear we continued to the [iii]R21, met up with the N1, forked with the N14 to eventually depart from [iv]Lanseria. But, as I am normally in Eyes Wide Shut mode during the entire take-off and landing process, to prevent my psychosomatic predilection for alleged travel sickness, I would not be able to raise my right hand to truthfully recount what felt like an outer body experience to Speed 3.  Or perhaps I just felt Terminal due to the delayed claustrophobic hole-up.

Seated at the emergency exit the flight attendant obliging explained, in fast-forward Greek, the steps and processes to adhere to as anointed door attendant, in the event that we should land in the sea or on a mountain top.  Perhaps I would have understood if she had spoken in Japanese, as I still don’t know, and don’t think I’ll ever do; and, if ever faced “In case of an Emergency”, I think I’ll just ……..Break-the-Glass. We had finally taken off on the Congo Express. I still envisioned myself being captured on disembarkation, suspended above a big three legged, cauldron pot, hoping that Tarzan would eventually come to my rescue.   By now we were a full one hour behind schedule, with SA-Express.

Furtive Peeks

The advantage of soaring the African skies on a smaller plane is that one does fly lower.  Peering from my window seat, once the seat belt signs had been switched off, reclining and spreading my legs to further enjoy the ride, which I had expected to be rough but surprisingly found it quite gentle, I was dumbfounded by the endless miles and miles and miles of nothingness.  Dry river beds, dry sparse fauna, dry agricultural circular fields (I mean WHAT do they farm).  Suddenly a [v]Manyi question came to mind. Why on heaven’s earth, in 2011, has no one “invented”, or if they have, implemented, the construction of habitable, irrigated green cities (like in the movies) within these environs, to ease overcrowding in others? I arrested my thoughts for fear of being accused of incitement, and proverbially landing in that three legged, boiling cauldron.

As the captain announced our descent, I furtively peeked through the window. (Remember I descend with eyes closed). I breathed a sigh of relief. There was neither a rain-forest afoot nor a poison-pipe blowing pigmy in sight, which meant that we probably would be landing somewhere in Namibia. I braved a few more peeks like a MS publisher document, scouring through my window, subsequently craning my neck to the opposite one, to see any sign of a Welcoming Windhoek.  There was none. Not even a concrete block in site.  Why construct an airport 40 kilometres from a capital city when there is nothing, nothing, nothing in between, save a few [vi]windpompe, (and a mid-way permanent police road block) once again escapes my intelligent brain. The mountainous terrain is to blame, explain the locals.

Quizzically, there is a domestic airport smack bang in the middle of the city. In fact very close to the hotel I was staying, The Safari Club.  Rather disturbing as I was convinced Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Landen were constantly doing follow up twin tower type practice runs, with the hotel as its target. I seriously considered starting a Facebook group as an advocacy agent, requesting NATO to also declare this area a [vii]NFZ.  Smugly accessing internet via my daily two hours of free Wi-Fi, I suddenly questioned myself as to whether the Congo Express had actually landed in the desert of the Namib or Sahra’ al Libiyah.  Facebook AND Twitter was blocked. Even at the business centre.  I was just about to strip the Caprivi,  when a very ingenious Spanish speaking Norwegian hotel guest, sauntered in. Together we decoded the sites to gain access, collectively recalling the social media unblock circumvention tweets of @BloggerSeif @ChangeinLibya @ArabvoiceSpeak and @JustAnEgytian. Shukraan!

Having met our host briefly, I took advantage of the gain of one hour, berating current daylight saving, which if not implemented would have translated into an additional hour, thus two. Namibia subscribes to GMT.  Refreshed after much needed sleep and stressed induced airport drama, and having also enjoyed a lovely lunch, with my hosts, I decided to prowl the city environs, on recommendation by the hotel staff by visiting the Mall, courtesy of the hotel mini-bus service.  It was then that it dawned on me how small Windhoek really is, with only two malls and about three good restaurants. The latter, on good authority from the locals, and of course the question of “A Club?”…. is scoffed at.  My friends, who had been here before or often travel between the two, had not been wrong.  It also dawned on me how revolutionary the former South West Africa, under administration by the then Apartheid South African government, had turned out to be.  Or perhaps I was just being subjective as I felt a bag/land/taxi grab coming while cruising Robert Mugabe Avenue, conversely a sense of freedom on entering Nelson Mandela Avenue. Propaganda. Sometimes it does weird things to the brain.

If I had been clubbed stone cold in South Africa, and revived in Windhoek, especially the Mall, I would have been none the wiser that I was in a different country.  To a degree, it resembled Cape Town.  An equal array of whites, blacks and coloureds or what they call the “[viii]Basters”.  The Mall is also the only place one finds life as there is none on the streets. Rather an attractive lot I found the latter to be with most “Basters” of the male persuasion oozing that North African-Berber/Mediterranean look.  I haven’t swung my hair so often in such a long time.  Additional similarities are that there is no need for money exchange as one can trade in ZAR, as is the case in [ix]Zim;  all the South African shops are present; and one has access to all of South Africa’s free to air state television channels as well as the independent Etv, with a DSTV decoder of course. Conversely we don’t have access to Nambia’s free to air channel on the same decoder system.

Furthermore most people speak [x]Afrikaans in the capital. In fact it resonated of Pretoria where initially I instinctively expected Blacks to engage in English as a mutual communicative lingua franca, but to my amazement found that Afrikaans is the preferred common language, although of course not the mother-tongue. I could see some method in the madness of the Brother Leader’s opinion. Perhaps as a start Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland should all amalgamate and become the United States of South Africa of course, strictly under the auspices of South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.  I suppose Mugage would retort if “Pigs could Fly” especially if it meant that “those lower than pigs could marry”. ;-)

The Culprit Mountains

As dusk fell, it dawned on me how cold Windhoek and surrounds are.  Well in winter. Once again it was blamed on the mountains.  I am still of the opinion that it is  intensely colder than the [xi]Highveld, and felt vindicated, when on my return, I blissfully survived, quite comfortably dressed in my favourite woollen-ribbed-stocking-woolly-mini-suede-booted winter fashionista attire, safely back in the arms of the [xii]Jacaranda City.  A nigh impossibility in [xiii]Bibberhoek. Parallel to daylight saving, I think they should change the name of the capital according to the seasons.  I had originally planned to adjoin my official visit to some tourist activity inclusive of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.  However, the fact that everything was frozen stiff (in Bibberhoek), and that I would not enjoy this particular display of rigidity; the fact that Swakopmund would wet me with a cold Benguela stream, and I would not be quivering in subsequent delight; the fact that Walvis Bay would blow me with a possible icy wind, and make me squeal in fright, saw me back in South Africa five days earlier than scheduled.  My host graciously accommodated the change of flight request. Interestingly Walvis Bay, South Africa’s former “Hong Kong” remained an administered South African region until 1 March 1994, albeit that Namibia gained independence in 1990.   However, all is not lost. I’m hoping to return later during the year, as an accompaniment to a Pretoria based photographer friend, discussed prior to my departure, when Namibia can envelop me in its heated loins.

About to Relish a Gemsbok (and some Caprivi Fish)

Did I enjoy my stay?  Yes! The Gemsbok was delicious. Equally yes, as I had been invited as facilitator to a presentation, on secondment, representing one of my organisations of which I’m a board member, to an interesting sexuality conference. Having attended myriads of conferences, from arts to socio-politics, and presenting papers this was the first time I had been invited to specifically present and not attend a conference in its entirety.  Myself and co-presenter only received compliments.  Additionally yes, with reference to the bitter-sweet reason contained in the last paragraphs to this blog.

Did I enjoy my stay? No! What, with Facebook blocked (in the hotel). Vocally no! What with local SIM cards not compatible to my BlackBerry (although the one of an acquaintance just met worked when inserted). Vociferously NO! As whatever was frozen stiff could not even be thawed even if one continuously blew it with hot breath.

Was I nostalgic when I left?  Unequivocally yes. But perhaps for typical Nurswan reasons?  The morning after the night before, at breakfast, I spotted a horde of track suit clad guys smarting my host country’s national colours, or so it seemed.  Acting with professional decorum, I substituted the call to raging hormones by salaciously prodding my two fried eggs and a sausage instead, swallowing my muesli with yogurt. It was then that I spotted two natural blond Adonisis amongst Namibia’s Chippendales.  Furtive eyes and furtive reciprocal smiles grew to grins and hellos by the penultimate morning.  I had made up my mind, being the strong-willed feminist that I am, that I was going to formally introduce myself at least as a courtesy, on the last morning of my departure especially to Preferred Smiling Adonis.

After all, as I had brought my departure date forward it was going to be the….last dance? As they traipsed in again on my last morning, Preferred Smiling Adonis was nowhere to be seen or found.  I ordered more eggs and sausage, swallowing the yogurt quicker this time; I could only but think of cramming in at least half an hour of social media as an alternative to substitute carnal cravings. Engrossed in the goings on of Blogger Seif in Lebanon, viola, in strolls Consolation Adonis, who had incidentally also found a Facebook backdoor route, and happily acquiesced to my request to add him as friend on my return to South Africa, which he has subsequently accepted.

We smirked at our cyberspace prowess and thus starting chatting.  Having grown up and now honed in furtive Murder She Wrote interrogation skills, I quickly discovered as to why Preferred Smiling Adonis was not at breakfast that morning.

“Oh, my brother”, says Consolation Adonis.

“Your brother?”  , I quizzically asked.

“Yes my brother”, he replies.  “He went for his police clearance certificate”.

“Police clearance certificate”, I enquire with a surreptitiously raised eyebrow questioning myself as to why I always choose the bad boy.

“Well”, answers Consolation Adonis nonchalantly, “we’re due to play abroad soon and I personally play in Germany”.

You play in Germany?” I asked now rather excitedly, like a sixteen year old teen who had just met Justin Bieber. (Or a woman of a certain age who had just met Johnny Depp).

The only German sports organisation which immediately came to mind was the Bundesliga.

“Oh, so you play soccer?” I nervously asked, hoping to be correct in my assumption.

“Yes”, replies Consolation Adonis, “my brother and I (Preferred Smiling Adonis) both play for the national Namibian Soccer Squad”.

I felt the mountain closing in on me as I metaphorically conjured up the Powerplay [xiv]advertisement and could right there and then….. kick myself……

END



[i] O R Tambo – South Africa’s principal international airport situated just outside Johannesburg in the City of Ekureleni

[ii] I’ve used this term not as pejorative, but all encompassing. Mbenga, Mbuti and Twa are amongst the names they are referred to congruent to their ethnicity all over the world.

[iii] R21, – the main arterial now a four-lane highway, linking Pretoria to O R Tambo. N1 – arterial highway linking SA’s North to South and passes through the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg normally a parking lot during peak hours.  N14 – an arterial highway that links Pretoria to South Africa’s west.

[iv] Lanseria – a smaller domestic airport to the west of Pretoria and North of Johannesburg

[v] Manyi – SA Government Parliamentarian spokesperson who controversially supports coerced relocation of Coloured people from the Western Province, and Indian people from Kwazulu-NatalProvince in order to fullfill Affirmative Action employment policies throughout the other provinces.

[vi] Afrikaans for wind pump

[vii] NFZ – No Fly Zone

[viii] Although this and the preceding sentence could be construed as racial terms they are de facto ones used within the South African political landscape.  The Basters refer to themselves as such so no derogatory insinuations intended.

[ix] Zim – colloquial term for Zimbabwe

[x] Afrikaans – an indigenous South African official language, derived primarily from Dutch, intelligible additionally to Flemish

[xi] The Highveld – A high plateau region of inland South Africa constituted of all of Gauteng (Pretoria and Joburg) as well as circularly, the adjoining provinces .

[xii] Jacaranda City – colloquial term of endearment name of Pretoria due to the blossoming Jacaranda trees. Aka – the Purple City

[xiii] Bibber – Afrikaans for shiver (hoek – Afrikaans for corner)

Rocking Rwanda

RwandaRocks

Rocking Rwanda

I was slightly bemused; disembarking at Kigali International Airport. Passengers had to waddle their way through a plethora of planes, on a circular parking bay about the size of the main tennis court of Wimbledon (or so it seemed to me). Ensueingly impressed on hearing later, during my stay, that a new airport, to handle bigger planes, more air traffic and an anticipated influx of tourists about to rock Rwanda, was in the making.

I had not had too pleasant a flight, often suffering of uncomfortable, oesophagus pressure accompanied by waves of peristaltic, upwardly mobile movements, when flying (possibly psychosomatic travel sickness for additional drama). I felt rather apologetically, embarrassed towards a handsome mature-aged gentleman I had continuously been disturbing, in his aisle seat, one seat away from my window one, that I eventually took off and plonked myself right at the back of the plane, needing to get up, every so now and then to relieve the pressure. It turned out, as we both soon discovered at the baggage carousel after disembarkation, that we were part of the same visiting media delegation.  My bemusement barometre was rising.

Welcome to our country” a tall well dressed, young gentleman quipped, in my ear. “You’re one of the participants to the delegation we were expecting, I’ve been told.  I was just informed by customs that you had arrived”. I was gobsmacked.  A custom official had informed our welcoming delegation of my (our) arrival?  The gentleman, surprisingly, turned out to be a member of parliament, who accompanied us for the entire duration of our stay.  I was in mild shock, at this magnanimity of a nation I was about to explore.  “You’d better remove your plastic wrap from your suitcase Simone”, our chief host and founder, of [1]AFRIDO, advised me, in his always as cool-as-a-cucumber-calming voice. “We do not allow plastic in our country. It is actually banned”. My shock barometre was now almost equal to my bemusement barometre. “Sam is waiting for you just at the exit” he continued further.

And yes, there she was. Samantha, a former adult student at the Alliance Française de [2]Mitchell’s Plain. I had built up a firm, friendship over the years and she was instrumental in advising me on the initial media invitation to Rwanda. I felt at home. Even more snugly so, when I saw our hunky driver. My front passenger seat next to him was “booked” for the entire stay.  Luckily it turned out that there was only one other female participant to our delegation (and no same-sex interest guy, as far as we knew) so the competition was fair.

Exiting the airport terminal was such a juxtaposition to my previous African country trip to Lagos, Nigeria.  As opposed to exceptionally humid hot air, Kigali felt like an air-conditioned office (well, with a median temperature). Treated to a late night supper and rounds of mutual introductions, we retired to our hotel in the plush suburb of Nyarutarama, where most diplomatic missions are based. I was assimilated back to [3]Pretoria. However, what was to be a recurring theme during our stay, followed. The theme of Horror.  Yes, to my horror I discovered that my and only my suitcase was missing. I saw myself walking naked for the next ten days.

Clothes of Genocide Victims: Murambi Genocide Centre

Retrospectively it gives me a feeling of how thousands of Rwandans must have felt in 1994, (sans the fear of course) fleeing the ensuing genocide with just the clothes on their back.

But then after deliberations by our hosts of “what could have gone wrong” it also gave me my first one on one trip with that hunky driver, to get to know him “up close and personal”, nogal on the first night. What a gentleman and a gentle man he turned out to be.   Although, after ten days of curvaceously hugging mountain tops at cliff hanging, break neck, driving speeds, albeit on the “wrong” side of the road, we all left with the consensus that he should actually have been Rwanda’s Formula 1 racing driver.  Michael Schumacher eat your heart out. He’d out manoeuvre you on any given day (and night) in the Land of a Thousand Hills, (which seemed more like millions to me).

Returning to the airport, to search for the missing suitcase, proved fruitless. My South African conclusion was that it was as “Gone with the [4]SuidOoster Wind”. Rwandans theorised otherwise.  “Someone probably just took it by mistake and we’re sure we’d trace and find it by tomorrow. I advise you to get a good night sleep.” Says Mr Cool as a Cucumber while I try to remain as cool as a cucumber. “Sure” I thought, “You have no idea of the ensuing drama tomorrow if your patriotic theorising was surely going to be proven wrong”Mais viola, just as we returned to the hotel after the fruitless airport search, I received a call from the calming voice. “A group of Rwandan refugees, who had arrived at the same time and had mingled with all of us at the exit, had been traced just as our initial assumptions had suggested. They had taken your suitcase by mistake.  You should have it safely at your hotel by early morning” I subsequently learnt that Mr Cool as A Cucumber had called Mr Member of Parliament who called a Mr Senator of parliament, whom I subsequently met, who had traced the refugees to their accommodation. My gobsmacked barometre was now off the reading but…….I was clothed.

I can’t remember whether I awoke to pelting rain the morning after the night before our arrival. Although Rwanda also has four seasons viz. summer, summer, summer and summer, it does have a dry season.  We had arrived in the wet season, but the not too wet season, (?) where it does rain a bit everyday (though not throughout so one sees lots of sun) as opposed to the dry season when it apparently rains every second day.(?) Thank goodness though it remains summer.  Always nice and warm.  But, a major surprise was in store for us on our first morning.  (And it wasn’t the breakfast.  Jamie Oliver has, unfortunately, not yet been invented in Rwanda, besides the African tea, with ginger, and the avocado juice).  It had been eluded that we would be visiting Parliament, which incidentally still bears the scars of mortar attacks hurled, during the Genocide of 1994.

I was pleasantly impressed when it actually turned out to be the opening of the East African Community by H E the President of Burundi who is its current Chair. My premature disappointment at the absence of President Paul Kagame was soon rewarded when we had the honour to attend the official 17th Commemoration, of the Genocide, held annually on the 7th April, two days later at the National Stadium seated just a few metres behind His Excellency and the other VIP guests. I loved that the country was practically clothed in purple for this mourning period as it’s my favourite colour and the city colour of Pretoria, named  after the Jacaranda trees which blooms annually in October. Of course I lamented the fact that I did not get to parade “dancing on a bar counter” in my specially packed, purple, velvet, mini, tasselled dress, as all clubs, bars (public) and even the casino was closed firm shut as a sign of respect. None of us were prepared for this event (at the stadium). No outsider is.

The day before we had visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. A “sanitised” version of the horror behind glass encased displays.   The stadium gave us a salt-in-the-wound version. Broken hearts howled, sobbed, and wailed throughout as survivors relived the horror. Cowboys may not cry, but real men do, and I was dying inside. Moreover, nothing in this world can prepare one for the absolute vivid encapsulation of the atrocities as such, as a visit, in the subsequent days, to the Murambi Genocide Memorial Site or what I call Rwanda’s  “Auschwitz”.  Much has been written and said on and about the Genocide.  The horror of a woman raped 15 times then killing her via the stake method (inserting a stake from her vagina until it protrudes from her neck).  The horror of entrapping thousands of men, women, children and babies, then misleading them into the belief of a safe sanctuary, then subsequently, in the still of the morning night at three am, machetteying, clubbing, shooting and stoning them to death. It seems incredulous.  To this day this grim slaughter house, a technical school under construction then, has been left unfinished, metaphorically, to me, as a skeleton representing the vapours of death.  I suppose it says it all, Or does it………

Lime Preserved Bodies

Lime Preserved Bodies

But, Rwanda is not all doom and gloom. Rwanda is, definitely, an African Phoenix rising.  I am impressed by all the development.  The prosperity of the country was exceptionally stark at the border cities of Gisenyi, Rwanda and Goma , [5]DRC. Long long ago, it was one city, before colonialists split the spoils of war, drawing artificial African country borders splitting families and communities apart.  Goma of course devasted on the 17 January 2001 by the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo.  Residents initially flocking to Gisenyi, blissfully spared ,although just separated by about 200 metres of no man’s land.  (Think it’s now high time in the age of emancipation to rephrase that to no person’s land).

Rising double storey houses on the one side, tin shacks on the other, Rwanda shares its borders with several countries including Burundi and Uganda.  We had travelled to the North-West during our first weekend, on additional excursions including visiting a militia, refugee repatriation centre, stopping off for a late lunch, in Musanze, Ruhengeri, at the foothills of the mountains of “Gorrilas in the Mist”, and visiting current [6]RDP housing programmes, by which time I was, I think, sufficiently adept at practicing my new found skills in Kinyarwanda, the mother tongue lingua franca. “Mwaramutsi Umukobga” I greeted a gorgeous little girl with striking hazel eyes. Mwaramutsi mzungu” she replied with a broad smile. I nearly cracked myself thinking that [7]Verwoerd must have been turning in his grave, thrice, on hearing her addressing me as a “white” person.

And thus it came to pass that we over-nighted at Gisenyi  

Gisenyi, oh Gisenyi.

I will write an Ode to Gisenyi.

Of its lake and lush green valley

Oh Gisenyi, my Gisenyi

Idyllic Gisenyi

If this is not Africa’s Shangri-La, or at least the number one pretender to the crown, then I don’t know.  To encapsulate its description.  If I don’t find a husband soon to spend my honeymoon in this magical city on the shores of Lake Kivu, (I mean I could always divorce him afterwards) I’m going to club a ToyBoy, force him in my suitcase and lug him all the way from South Africa to a romantic beach side escapade for the most romantic time of our lives.  I am still in utter disbelief that I actually soared one of the Great Lakes, albeit a minor one, on a boat, spent a few hours on one of its islands, albeit an island reserved for the rehabilitation of young male delinquents aged 18-35. I still do, perhaps subjectively, think that the powers that be should source an inland venue and hand the island’s development over to [8]Sol Kerzner.  Nudge nudge wink wink . Just too idyllic for words. I affectionately call it Rwanda’s “Exile Island”- see me “Survivor”-ing the latrines.

Operation Navigation Latrines

The visit to Gisenyi  complemented my voyeurism into Rwandan culture.  Backtrack to our second night, when we dined with the Mayor of Kigali. (All politicians should be like him. Warm and down to earth).  To my amazement, it was at a Dubai-ish architecture style hotel with a rooftop restaurant.   Though an irritating ambience with piped music through the speakers and blaring music from the pool deck down below. To my further amazement they served “Indian” food, but on scrutinising the menu, knew that any restaurant that serves Lahori fish must be Pakistani.  I suppose I should not have been surprised at this observation as I think that it’s been confirmed that [9]Pakis now even live at the South Pole!  I “summoned” the most delectable dish on the menu……….the executive chef. All the way from Lahore.  A city I had visited in 2007 with my then Pakistani partner. I was enthralled, well we both were, hook, line and sinker.  (What was that hunky Rwandan driver’s name again?). But I suppose this is [10]gupshup with which to engage my Sex and The [11]Mother City, and Sex and the [12]Capital City Girls? However, here’s the thing. It’s very practical when one’s has a packed day programme and the dish can run away with the spoon metaphorically to the tune of Smokey’s:  “I’ll meet you at midnight, under the moonlight”.   Yes, Rwanda surely has some amazing cultural delights to savour, even imported ones.

Fast forwarding to a visit to the South-West in Nyabisindu, (?) we were treated to a visit roaming the hallowed replica huts of the King’s Palace.  Of course HRH [13]The Princess Swan was in her element, as she lazed on the King’s bed and tried, its seems, pole dancing at the entrance to the Royal Hut?  Interestingly the current monarch, King Kigeli V lives in Washington DC. He of course became the ruling monarch when King Mutara III died of “mysterious circumstances” in 1959. He (Kigeli) reigned until 1961.  Still unmarried, as according to custom he is not allowed to marry when living outside his country.  Probably time for His Majesty to return and find a wife to produce heirs?  Incidentally, Queen  Rosalie  Gicanda, wife of King Mutara III was murdered during the 1994 genocide. Apparently she was about 80 years old. Former Intelligence Chief Idelphonse Nizeyimana was arrested in Kampala, Uganda, on October 6, 2009, suspected of ordering the killing of Queen Gicanda.

The King's Pole Dancer

Several genocidiares are still at large and I can only but reiterate the call by the Deputy Prosecutor-General of the National Public Prosecuting Authority of Rwanda, whom we had the pleasure to meet, that countries, especially in Africa, who knowingly harbour them should either have them tried in a court of law or extradite them to Rwanda for justice.  I think everyone should do themselves a favour and “extradite” themselves to Rwanda to see how justice is served. Notwithstanding the horrific acts perpetrated, this is a nation that can surely give the “West” and self proclaimed bastions of democracy such as “The Land of the Stars and Stripes” , who orders “shoot to kill” instead of “capture to afford a fair democratic trail”, a lesson in ensuring human dignity to all, forgiveness and eventual reconciliation . I (and all on the trip I think) still marvel at how a woman whose husband and children were viciously murdered, can actually live side by side, knowingly, with the perpetrator.

Will I ever return to Rwanda?  Even when bitten by a mosquito, convinced that I would be returned in a casket to South Africa having succumbed to Malaria? You can bet your bottom and last Rwandan Franc, [14]ZAR and Euro that I would. Especially if I spend one hour at a public hospital for a malaria test as opposed to seven hours in my country of birth for a follow up one.  Fortunately negative, and on researching I now see that Rwanda is on course to possibly be malaria free by 2012[15]. Yes, I’ll surely return several times. I’ve been hooked, lined and sinkered in more ways than one. First of course for that “honeymoon”, hopefully subsequently to get lost with the gorillas in the mist and most certainly to explore some cultural collaborations and who knows perhaps business ventures.

What a marvellous country. What a shining example for Africa. What a beacon of hope to the world.  Sure, it still has its problems and proclivities. Some of us were quite disturbed at the strong military presence on almost every street corner. We questioned the incarceration of a journalist for seventeen years who spoke “ill” of the genocide.  But, what an amazing trip. We met such an array of lovely people and I’d like to commend them all, from hotel staff to hunky drivers, from secretaries to cabinet ministers and even the err……immigrants.  Cementing a growing relationship with new-found media colleagues from Southern Africa was the overall objective of this trip. I would say this relationship is now cast in stone, (or Facebook).

Our final day saw an audience granted to us by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. What a regal lady. Practiced my best erudite French on her a bit.  On record as advocating that on application, and following the correct legal procedures, she could perhaps facilitate requested Rwandan citizenship.  [16]Yvonne Chaka Chaka has so; I may just take her up on her……… intimation……..?


[1] A media and communications company formed to engage and facilitate African born journalists to report on African matters from an African continental perspective
[2] A township outside of Cape Town constructed in the 70s during the Apartheid years to house the “coloured” population, according to the then government’s racial segregation policies.
[3] Capital of South Africa and the second most complement of diplomatic missions after Washington DC
[4] The SuidOoster (South Easter) is Cape Town’s infamous Cape Doctor reaching recorded speeds of up to 160 km/h  http://www.capetownmagazine.com/weather-cape-town/Cape-Towns-Cape-Doctor/160_22_17572
[5] Democratic Republic of Congo
[6] Reconstruction and Development – A South African term associated with rebuilding the country after Apartheid
[7] Verwoerd – considered the architect of Apartheid
[8] Sol Kerzner is a South African resort property developer who boasts developments in South Africa, Mauritius, Bahamas and Dubai (Atlantis Hotel) amongst others
[9] Note, this is meant affectionately due to my array of Pakistani friends both in “Pakkieland”, South Africa and other parts of the world
[10] Gupshup – Urdu(official language of Pakistan) for gossip.
[11] Cape Town
[12] Pretoria (South Africa’s Capital – Administrative)
[13] A title bestowed on me by South African admirers with reference to my relocation to Pretoria aka the Metro of Tshwane, first as the Pretty Swan emanating from the first four letters of Pret(oria) and Swan emanating from (T)s(h)wan(e) which evolved into The Princess Swan. NurSwan being a hybrid of Urdu/Hindi for Princess /Queen and English
[14] South African Rand
[15] WorldMalariaDay.org
[16] Yvonne Chaka Chaka is a South African born singer well known in Africa and the world, affectionately called the Princess of Africa.

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