Mr President, open your eyes.

Dear Mr President,

I live in Johannesburg, without a doubt, a first class African city. Sadly that standard of living is not as high in other parts of the country. Sadder still, it far higher in other areas.

I write to you today imploring you to open your eyes. I am a concerned citizen. I am concerned that the debate around your house has turned into one of “who is guilty for the spending” as apposed to the moral question of whether it is ethical for a man who heads a country where the wealth gap or income inequality is of ever increasing concern. Where our GDP per capita is approximately $ 6000. If it is ethical for that man to live in an approximately $ 25 000 000 house. Bearing in mind that the top ten percent are heavily skewing that $ 6000 average upward, very many earn far less.

Mr President, surely you can see that it is the ethical argument you have already lost. This is your home, a home that was built with tax payers money, rife with spending irregularities. A home built with ill gotten gains. Do you sleep well there, does your conscience not keep you up at night?

You snap at the press for focusing undue attention on the matter, but clearly, they see the moral element that you have failed to observe, you are sleeping in a house that was built with money taken from the people that put your party in office, the house you live in, where you keep your family is a thief. It has taken what does not belong to it and it has taken it from South Africans.

Mr President I ask you to look at Eskom, at our power crisis, for when something negatively affects a stuttering economy to the tune of between 10 and 80 billion Rand per month, I believe that may be the very definition of a crisis. Your municipalities owe millions in payments, money that could have been spent on maintenance, planning or new power installations perhaps? You have delegated this enormous challenge to your second in command, in doing so you have lost the opportunity to show leadership and instill faith in the South African economy. What matter is more pressing than this, what matter more sharply defines your duty?

We have an irregular expenditure figure of R 2.4 billion. Is it then any wonder that you are having such a hard time collecting outstanding e-toll monies, when it is so clear that we have so little control over where or how effectively that money will be spent?

I am concerned Mr President when the head of a democracy starts making off the cuff remarks about: if he was a dictator things would be different. How many African countries have we seen slide back into the grasp of tyranny? Where people lose the fundamental right to determine their own future? These remarks do not help us Mr President, they do not help bring in investment, they do not stir feelings of warmth.

Mr President, let us speak of blame and the placement of it. When you are the leader you are responsible for both the successes and the failings of your team. You cannot just have the one you like and place the failings on others in your team. The key theme here is, responsibility. You decided on who sat in your government. You cannot claim their successes only, their failings are your failings. The blame or credit sits with you. This is an absolute.

It is now reported that you have decided to purchase three new jets at a time when every South African is preparing to tighten their belts again. This time due to new fuel levies as well as proposed increases in residential, electricity and water rates. Are you sure you need three more jets, is this wise? I implore you to open your eyes, I believe all of the yes men in your cabinet have sheltered you from the struggle of the ordinary person. The ordinary South African who is finding it harder and harder to survive in this country where you say we have so many good stories to tell. I’m afraid we haven’t seen too many of them recently.

Mr President it is time to stop relying on the stories of the past and look to writing stories of the future. In looking to the past we can identify our failures, but it means little if we repeat the same mistakes. There are deep tensions regarding our colonial history, what of our ever devaluing currency? There is massive concern at what critical piece of infrastructure will fail next. If it is the water system how many will die before we see leadership from the front, from the top?

These are challenges we need our president to face, to lead us and reassure us through.

Mr President open your eyes, your country needs you! We need you to be the man you told us you were. We need you to be open, honest and accountable. We need sensitivity and understanding, we need a plan for jobs that delivers jobs, we need economic growth and we need you to set targets that we can measure you against. We need a leader and not a politician.

Otherwise you set the scene for the next president who can hide behind Parliament and stall trials forever in court.  I understand that you are a busy man Mr President, that you will probably not read this, but others will. You know what they say Mr President, that an idea is the hardest thing to silence.

The sparks of concern have become embers at the tip of a fuse. I don’t know how long the fuse is, or where it may lead, and I don’t wish to find out. It is my deepest wish to prevent destruction and suffering in this beautiful country. Where do we go from here Mr President? We are all looking to you.


I’m Published!

Repeat photography as a tool for detecting and monitoring historical changes in South African coastal habitats

This is so exciting and I can’t thank my Professors and Co-authors enough! I would love for you to read the article and let me know what you think. I love this work because it takes science back to it’s origins, in observation.

These repeat images are truly worth a thousand words, and they (at at least to me) illustrate our inherent bias in accepting the environment as we found it, when we first arrived, without exploring further back. Historical ecology is a fascinating subject and I’d love to expand on this work in the future!

Keep your eyes and minds open!

Anyway enough waffle, see the link below:

Famous crime is serious crime

A really terrible story today about a horrible violent life ending crime, made all the more shocking for the media’s utter lack of respect or restraint for the grieving family and friends. Describing how his family and friends had swollen eyes and who was coming round to commiserate. Wild and unfounded speculation.

The real story is crime in SA, and how it only makes the news if you are famous. Only then is it a terrible loss, only then will politicians speak up. No one is helping. Why does this crime get a special task team? Why doesn’t every murder, every violent event, every ounce of corruption not “strike at the moral fiber” of South Africa?

South Africa is still deeply divided and we need to work on our social cohesion and mutual respect.

Clearly now though, we have to add a class structure to the walls that keep us apart, rich people and famous people get a lot more attention that the poor is SA.

I’m appalled. We all should be more appalled. Social media turned Senzo Meyiwa’s untimely passing into a circus, and he and his family didn’t deserve that. The same can be said for Reeva Steenkamp’s tragic passing.

Sadly there are so many tragic stories in my beloved homeland.

But then again if you are not already famous you are not important. News is no longer about reporting on a story it is about creating a story and stretching it out for advertising revenue. I’m saddened and sickened by the entire event.

Life is cheap in SA, and it is for sale in the tabloids.

SA Elections: Lessons some have not yet learnt.

I’m deeply saddened by my fellow largely white South Africans who are publicly calling those people that did not vote the same way as them stupid or moronic. I find it deeply disturbing that one individual dares to criticize the democratic right of another to cast their vote in favor of whom so ever they deem worthy of their vote.

It smacks of a belief that they know better, that they are better.

That they and their fellow voters are more worthy by some as yet undefined value. These are likely the same people that have never taken the time to consider another persons point of view. That having emerged out a horrible system that truly believed that one man was better than another based on skin colour and an accident of birth. It appears that they, for I will not associate myself with their intolerance, are ready to dive in to the discrimination pool yet again.

This time however, the metric might be education or economic standing.

I imagine that the thought process is a little like this: “Those silly poor (or other demeaning term) people, we should rule them so they don’t hurt themselves. I don’t want them near me…It is in our mutual best interest that we develop separately”. See where I’m going with this?

I cannot emphasis my horror enough. We who should know better, who should have learnt 19.9 years ago that it is not about us and them it is just us! We, all South Africans need to pull together not against each other to steer us to a better future.

You know what, I can’t tell you what that future looks like. I can tell you my vision and if you like it please feel free to participate in making it a reality, let me listen to what you want to achieve.

If you disagree, let us talk about it. Let us discuss our differences of opinion, let us acknowledge that our priorities may not be the same. Let us compromise in how best to divide our efforts, so that we can both meet as much of our goal as possible without impacting on each other vision.

My dear fellow South African’s we have learnt all we can from hate and fear and distrust. We are better than our bickering.

Let us build this as yet mythical rainbow nation together instead of wasting our energies throwing insults and growing distrut in our hearts.

Can you not see that when we all walk together hand in hand if we ever reach the Utopian “finishing line” we do so at the same time.

There need be no losers.


Lets sacrifice everything for the ailing economy instead of building a new and better way of living

Lets sacrifice everything for the ailing economy instead of building a new and better way of living

That seems to be the message being delivered here. I just don’t think big business gets that we cannot breathe polluted air with no health implications. We cannot live in a world that is 5 degrees hotter. Money will not spend us out of this challenge alone. In this article Australia says to us why should South Africa be a pioneer in climate change.

Surely developing a better cleaner world is a good enough reason?

Surely the current status quo has been shown to be of ever decreasing value? We continue to allow massive industries to place more strain on the environment, the environment that is trying to support all of us. The technical term, according to Gernot Wagner and his book: Will the Planet Notice?, is externalizing an internality. This is where a cost is shared by everyone, but not everyone receives the benefit for bearing the load. It is what heavy emitters are asking us to do so that they can pursue record profits.  

You have to ask yourself though, is it fair, fair that you have to pick up extra slack so that they can live in ever more wealth? Carbon tax is asking them to pay their fair share, it’s asking everyone to contribute to the solution. It’s asking you to be cognizant of your carbon foot print and move away from carbon intensive behavior. 

Why shouldn’t South Africa take the lead? We managed the first heart transplant for pity sake! What about when we showed the world the meaning of the word tolerance? Were those our only high points? Can we sit back and relax, do we not challenge ourselves anymore? 

Challenges should be met because they are hard, because rising up to them brings out the best in us. Polishes and purifies us.

I do not want to sit back and repeal efforts at making a better world for everyone because, in the short term, it is easy and better for an economy that is based on the betterment of the few and not the many. I am so tired of wasted opportunity, of inaction and pleading ignorance. What happened to the spirit Ubuntu? What happened to all of us reaching the end hand in hand, having carried our fair share and contributed to the solution? Has capitalism slain it? 

I’m so tired of not being able to hold my head up high. 

We are going to run out of usable water, we are going to run out of usable farm land, we are going to run out of usable biodiversity, we are running out of time.

White peoples lies, seems like the ANC is doing most of the lying these days

White peoples lies, seems like the ANC is doing most of the lying these days

Really, grant money is stolen if you vote for the opposition? What do you call it when tax money is used to build a palace? #Nkandlastyle

It can’t get too much more surreal can it? Twilight zone South Africa.

SA bewildered and confused under JZ’s “leadership”

So let me get this straight. SA is for gay rights but will support other contries when they unilaterally remove the most fundamental human right? The right to love the soul you fall in love with, regardless of gender. Just another example of the “President for life” club in Africa stepping up their game to lead ethically and without fear. #sarcasm

Another lovely example being the: “It doesn’t matter if you committed war crimes to get into power, once president you are untouchable” bullshit. It’s no wonder these rulers (because they are not leaders) believe themselves above the law when they keep taking lessons from each other in shitty governance.

Africa has the potential to be truly great, I believe that to my core. I’ve seen the genius and ingenuity of its people making strides despite their current administration. It has to start with accountability and transparency.

Mr President I beg you to step aside and take your corrupt comrades with you. I know there are smart and worthy people in the ANC, people you have steam rolled and sidelined because they spoke truth to your madness. You have proven that power corrupts, you are its poster boy. Please look into your heart, face this runaway gravy train. Think about your legacy, we are all of us mortal we do not endure forever, history will judge you. Future generations will shake their collective heads when they are taught about our young democracy and your stewardship.

I beg you, please, let sanity prevail!

Inspiring random acts of… well, randomness, since 1986