Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy Freedom Day

Today, April 27th is South African Freedom Day, in commeration of the first democratic elections in 1994.

I believe it's an important day, not just for South Africans but for everyone who loves freedom, so please join in celebrating with us.

In 1994 I served as an Independent Election Commission monitor, and got to experience the whole election first hand, up close and personal. It was a triumph of democracy and I am proud that I was a part of it.

For me the election lasted over a week, firstly with monitoring advance voting on an army base. I got to see all the undercover Intelligence agents going in to vote, but I didn't recognize anyone. Then, starting on the 27th I was based at a polling station in Athlone in Capetown over the 3 days of official voting, until the ballot boxes were sealed and sent to the counting station at the Good Hope Center. I was allowed in as a monitor to watch the counting process of the ballots and assisted resolving all kinds of issues.

It was an incredible experience to have been part of the founding moments of South African democracy, and in many ways I personally experienced a sense of Freedom unlike I had ever done before. It stands as a moment that is about Freedom for all South Africans and humanity as a whole. Freedom and democracy don't just happen, they require work to sustain them, and hard won Freedoms can be taken away if we are not careful. Thus it is important to cherish and remember what it took to gain our Freedom and what we need to do to keep it.

It was also incredibly hard work and I appreciate that it is now a public holiday in South Africa, it's just a pity I can't celebrate it here in France, but hopefully I can have a braai this weekend!

Viva Freedom! Viva South Africa!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mickey makes an unannounced trip to Disneyland

You just gotta love the way the Condi and Rummy make "unannounced" trips to Baghdad. Well the same goes for any major official, including Bush and Blair. Ever since those missiles damn near missed old Wolfowitz' hotel room, these guys have to sneak into town under cover of darkness and slip out the backdoor after the photo op.

What this tells us, is that if Team America was really getting anywhere in Iraq, there would be no need for all of this cloak and dagger stuff. In other words, these US Officials are admitting that the situation is out of hand by their very actions. But then none of that is really surprising.

Don't you just love Irony?

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Osama tapes and dead men talking

To this day the FBI's website list of most wanted terrorists states the following:
Wanted For: MURDER OF U.S. NATIONALS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES; CONSPIRACY TO MURDER U.S. NATIONALS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES; ATTACK ON A FEDERAL FACILITY RESULTING IN DEATH

Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world.
There is no mention of September 11th 2001. Not one jot. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Now what this means, is that if the US actually had evidence that Osama was responsible for 911, that if that evidence was publicly presented and that if a Federal Grand Jury had indicted Osama then the page would read differently.

The fact is that there has never been a single shred of evidence ever presented publicly that links Osama to 911. To this very day.

That says a lot. Shortly after 911 Osama released a statement saying that he was not involved. Subsequent to that, Condi Rice warned US media not to blindly publish Osama's statements as they may contain "coded signals". That smells more like Condi trying to control the flow of information than anything else.

Michael Riverio has posted an article that reasonably raises certain questions as to whether Osama is actually still alive. Every communication from Osama that has been released in the last few years has to be treated as suspect - there just isn't any evidence that it is really him.

Everyone likes to go on about how the world changed on 911, but no one likes to talk about what actually happened that day. There are far too many inconsistencies and holes in the official story and there has never been an open public hearing into the events of that day. The official commission studiously avoided all the real issues. No one has ever been convicted of aiding and abetting the so-called hijackers. The Mossaui trial is a misdirection and he was already sitting in jail on 911.

The real truth is that we don't know the real truth but 2 wars have been drummed up out of all of this fakery, while terrorism still continues. But who are the real architects of all of this?

OK Now.

Tags: , ,

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This Corrosion

Click on the image for the full effect. Use as needed
Tags: , , ,

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sometimes you just have to laugh

In a bold move, The McDonalds corp. in the UK is launching a media campaign about how-bad-McJobs-really-aren't. What a pisstake. Seriously, McDonald's is missing the boat here:
"McDonald's is aiming to tackle its "McJob" image as a poor employer head on with a bold nationwide poster campaign highlighting the fast food company's positive business practices." More...
Come on guys, let's get real here. The problem is not "positive business practices.", the problem is that you serve shite food at knockdown prices that makes people fat and is environmentally un-susatainable, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. A McJob means that you are accepting money for a meaningless job. A whore probably gets more job satisfaction. By working for McDo you already have a whole raft of shit to deal with - just simualte it:

www.mcvideogame.com/game.html.

I'm just not enough of a con to win at the game.

I've been boycotting McDo since the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan - and to this day I'd rather starve to death than eat a Big Mac. I feel better for it too.

Fuck 'em is what is I say.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic

The Karl and Scott show have commenced a shuffling of the deck. While the limelight is still shining on fat Karl who is under scrunity for his involvement in the Palme affair, he is apparently slinking off into the shadows but will still be lurking on political issues. Short of being placed in solitary confinement, where he belongs, he'll still be stirring the pot.

As for Scotty boy, well constantly lying through your teeth to the world must be a stressful job indeed. He's not the first Bush mouthpiece to step down. So long and good riddance to bad rubbish.

Now all we need is for the lot of them to step down and ask for separate cells.

Tags: , ,

The Silence of the Lambs

7 Generals. OK, retired Generals. 7 retired Generals have their say about what a mess Rummy has made. He turns around and says - something to this effect - "we can't just go around changing the Secretary of Defence whenever someone is unhappy". Did I hear that right? What rock in the Kalahari did this doos climb out from under?

Nevermind David Icke, but Rummy is one scaly lizzard creature who is about to destroy the concept of civilian-military relations and oversight. What is evident in all of this, is that there is some serious dissent going within the rank and file if 7 ex Generals are speaking out. It would not be politic for serving Officers to be so candid, and in this case the retirees are serving as the proxy for those whose jobs are under Rummy's beady eye. He's already managed to create enough of those retirees himself.

Considering that the US Military has already been perverted into an armed militia to further George and his cronies pillage of the Middle-East, it is a tad late to be waking up to the fact the next jaunt into Iran might be difficult to justify legally, morally and constitutionally when you've already sown death and destruction in Iraq. This dissent in the ranks should have happened before Iraq, not now. Maybe some of those serving officers who are being ordered to plan the next phase are just coming to realise now that engaging with Iran is not going to be a "cakewalk". I hope they can't sleep at night. It's going to be a Long War.

It's highly unlikely that we will see a coup d'etat in the US, although stranger things have happened.

Even as the US resembles a tin-pot dictatorship more and more each day, the nature of the military as an instituion has changed. It has been "corporatised" much like the government itself. I reckon Rummy sees himself as CEO of US Military Inc and treats his job as though he was sitting on the board of some drug company. The all-volunteer military has become the public sector's largest employer and is run as a corporate structure. What can be out-sourced has been already, relying on sub-contractors and consultants (otherwise known as mercenaries). Long gone are any notions of defending the US or adherence to silly things like constitutions and ethics - that's just fluff that gets in the way of the business of fighting wars for fun and profit.

Are we to suffer in silence like the serving officers who are just "following orders" or can we do something about it?

We have take back our money systems, our governments and militaries. We have to reign them in and get rid of the "corporatist" ethic that places greed and profit over people. We have to "peoplise" our governments and our banks. Our armies have to be reformed and rebuilt to provide security and defence for us and our neighbours.

Organise, educate and participate!

OK Now.

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Avoiding Blogger Burnout

Yeesh. I managed to survive for nearly 3 days without my laptop, such is the nature of easter holidays these days. I've been buried under a couple of other projects lately and I haven't even had time for a proper beer for the last few weeks, so it was good to be offline for a couple of days and to just chillout a bit. But back in Bordeaux today and slaving away over a hot laptop again.

I've had a couple of ideas for some posts that I'd been hoping to put together by now, but unlike my usual rants, there is some research to be done. Nothing academic like, but I want to look at certain economic and political events from 1910 to 1930 or so and see if there are any links that can be drawn.

What's weird at the moment is how the CPE situation went from 100 to 0 in a couple of days and I have some thoughts about that too. So stay tuned - I'll post when I need break from the other projects. Like now ;)

OK Now.

PS. I have a rather overzealous spam filter which killed 2 emails that were sent to me via Blogger - dunno if it was really spam or if it was important. If you did send me a mail and are wondering why I didn't reply, I've now reset my email to hotmail. Not the best solution, but it should be kinder than my personal spam filters.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Do you really want another war?


STOP GEORGE NOW!

Click on the image for the effect. Use as needed

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Clear Iran

I am no fan of nuclear power. I believe that it is unsafe and the costs outweigh the benefits; there are alternative power sources that are safer, cheaper and more dynamic than nuclear power sources. Ecologically speaking, nuclear power is not on the agenda. The question that everyone shies away from is how to get rid of the spent nuclear fuel and dumping barrels of the shit on the ocean floor is not a solution in my book.

I can't condone what Iran has announced today, that they have enriched uranium, because I am convinced that there are alternative energy sources that all states should be working towards to developing together. That said, Iran has done nothing illegal. Of course, the entire "Western World" is taking this as an affront and Team America is falling over-itself in exclaiming that Iran deserves to be bombed back to the stone-age because they have dared to experiment with nuclear power sources.

None of this is the issue. The issue is that the neo-con crazies of Team America have worked hard to line up Iran as their primary conquest and there is fuck-all Iran , or any of us can do about it. Today, it's obvious that Iran is not going to take this lying down and we are set on a collision course here. In that sense, I say more power to Iran; don't stand down when Israel, Pakistan and India haven't signed the NPT, but who do actually have nuke weapons.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, April 10, 2006

Something new this way comes

Today is a victory for the anti-CPE movement.

There has been a single issue campaign around the CPE and the major players can stand down now and save a degree of face.

However let's not crack open the champagne yet - the CNE still remains on the books, there is a regressive Immigration bill in the works and an extreme law focusing on digital copyrights (a.k.a. the Vivendi law) still lurking in the background. These are just part of the neo-liberal back-drop being driven by the current French government. While the people have rolled back the CPE today, there are still plenty of issues in play.

The major left union groups and political parties that formed the backbone of the anti-CPE movement, have contained the movement by limiting the debate to just the CPE - but there are two important points that have evolved; firstly, the anti-CPE movement has politicised a whole new generation of student activists and secondly the open public debate within France has brought into question the degree as to how modern neo-liberal capitalism is failing.

This isn't over yet - the news coverage I'm watching at the moment is saying that the National Student Co-ordination wants to continue until the Law on Equal Opportunity is withdrawn. The student movement has been invigorated and there will be a new leadership emerging from this experience; for them this just the beginning.

Today's events effectively provide a watershed for those who understand how global capitalism operates and those who only ever saw this as a single issue; a dodgy labour law. There is a fork in the road here.

For those like myself who are directly affected, those who are confronted by the choice between accepting work on the basis of a CNE or starving, it is a hollow victory. I do hope today means that the CNE will be quietly forgotten, but I can't be sure of that, so I will remain vigilant.

Spain and Germany are coming online with similar neo-liberal labour agendas, and this is why I think it is not over in a larger sense - because if the French can give inspiration to people in other countries (as they have done before), we might be seeing an (r)evolutionary tipping point.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Frenchgov.com admits CPE v 1.0 is "un-patchable"

Frenchgov.com has confirmed that it is going to release a fix for CPE v 1.0. After meeting with users and consumer groups last week, Frenchgov.com announced that a patched CPE v 1.0 won't be released, even as a Lite version. The fix for the "2 Year Crash Period" which has provoked numerous Denial of Service attacks and other hacks against the system, will effectively disable CPE v 1.0. with an entirely new version that is targeted at the youth market. Marketing managers have suggested that any new versions will have to be re-branded and released with an entirely new marketing strategy.

Users have hailed this as a victory for consumers, who have campaigned for months against the bug-ridden software. What remains to be seen though, is what happens to a similar package, CNE v 1.0. which is the small business version and is subject to the same "2 Year Crash Period" vulnerability. This package remains on the shelves although numerous "2 Year Crash Period" bugs have already been reported.

Frenchgov.com has been becoming increasingly unpopular with users of late and all eyes are now watching the scheduled System Update which is expected to be released next year. The System Update, otherwise known as "Presidential Elections 2007", could lead to a major change in management at Frenchgov.com.

'T was on the good ship Venus

I'm sorry but I don't understand.

I don't understand how it is that Pirate George and his cronies can lie through their teeth to the American people, with a straight-face to the UN and carry on blowing smoke up everyone's arse, and getting away with it.

This last week we had I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby singing like a canary to a Federal Grand Jury about how Pirate George had authorised the leaks around the Palme affair. Was this a major news story? Nah.

The outing of Palme was more than just a vindictive attack against her husband, Joe Wilson, who exposed the lies around the Niger "Yellow-Cake" story that was used as proof in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. As Michael Riviero of WhatReallyHappened.com points out, the real scandal lies in the deceptions and manipulations that led to the 2003 conquest of Iraq:

"However, months before Joe Wilson's article appeared, the International Atomic Energy Agency had examined the documents which had surfaced in Italy purporting to document the sale of uranium to Iraq and determined that they were forgeries, and indeed, very clumsy ones.

This is the scandal behind the scandal. The outing of Valerie Plame was not done out of revenge, or as the Washington Post reports, part of a feud between Karl Rove and the CIA. Joe Wilson's article started to focus attention on the fact that the documents used to claim that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger were fakes!" More...
But where is the outrage?

Seemingly unphased by what should be a major scandal, Pirate George is content to sail into yet another war of conquest and plunder, this time in Iran. This week's most debated online article is going to be Seymour Hersh's "THE IRAN PLANS" in The New Yorker. It's a must read. It's also insane.
"A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.” More...
We are all aware that Pirate George thinks he has a god-complex, but the man is like the anti-Midas; everything he touches turns to shit. His legacy is already a trail of death and destruction and now he wants to add Iran to that? With Nukes? WTF?!?

New Orleans is still a mess but there is $75 million lying around to beam VOA into Iran to stir things up so that Pirate George can get to see if that Red Button really does work. The last two planks holding up the US economy is the war spending and an over-inflated housing bubble - all it takes is one prick and what was known as the USA could come crashing down around our ears.

There is no threat to the US from Iran. There is a far greater threat, not just to the US, but to everyone if Pirate George and his crew launch an assault on Iran, especially a nuclear one. And this is what I don't understand - how come we haven't been able to stop this from getting so far out of hand?

OK Now.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, April 06, 2006

CPE v 2.0 to be released soon?

Rumours were circulating today that Frenchgov.com might rush forward the release of a new version of CPE, their job creation package aimed at the youth market, before even properly releasing version 1.0. The embattled Paris based Frenchgov.com has been struggling to release CPE in the face of an enormous user backlash. Users had pointed out that the package hadn't been through diligent Alpha testing, even though the official Consumer Council cleared it for use on Thursday last week.

Frenchgov.com, known for its buggy software, insisted that the CPE v 1.0 package, which contained code that could crash on users without reason within the first 2 years of use, was a "feature". Once an installation of CPE crashes it is unusable and the user has to find another copy to get started again. Consumer groups and users have been up in arms over the package and demanded that Frenchgov.com not release the package. On Friday Jakes Chirac, CEO of Frenchgov.com, announced that certain parts of CPE v 1.0 would be rewritten, so that the inexplicable crash period would be reduced to 1 year and phone support should offer a reason for the crash.

Users have been responding with Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, with a small minority employing "brute force hacks" against Frenchgov.com security guards, for the last two months. On Tuesday user groups carried out a massive DoS attack saying that a CPE Lite version still suffered from the same basic flaws. Frenchgov.com has invited users and consumer groups to the corporate headquaters to discuss the issue and rumours have emerged about a new version that may be headed for production, although there are no details available at the moment.

France Demos : I am here

"I am here!" - You can't beat the French for existentialism.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

France Demos : Meanwhile back at the Ranch

Are the French just plain lazy? The boss of the budget airline Jet2.com seems to think so and while Philp Meeson's remarks might have come from the cheap seats, if you read enough Anglo-American reports and commentary about what is happening in France, it's all pretty much in the same vein. Baroness Thatcher must be grinning from ear to ear, but I promise I won't say anything about trying to catch a train on time in the UK. Or the US for that matter.

I don't think the French are lazy at all, and work is taken is a serious issue here; of course you get the "gratte-papier" (paper-pusher) attitude, but where on earth don't you? At the demonstration yesterday in one of the speeches, the point was made that people were against the CPE / CNE because they were against a world of barbarianism and for a world that is socially just. And that is just it, this is something that doesn't just affect the French:

"What is being experienced by France is not the only and isolated case, it is the latest. We have seen similar situations in other countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in the recent past."

"The common thread is the balancing act between proponents of a labour market that should be totally flexible and allow both employers and employees to do as they like when they wish, on the one extreme, and those advocating more security, protection and laws governing every employer/employee activity in the workplace, on the other. Each of these extremes is not sustainable on its own, but the balancing act between them is also not easy. We know from our history [in South Africa] that sitting on the fence has never been a comfortable thing, but in 1996 we consciously decided that on this issue, we are going to sit on the fence. " More...

Membathisi Mdladlana might well be identifying the crux of the problem, but South Africa has seen a weakening of it's labour laws aleady. While South Africa has virtually zero social security it does have a comprehensive labour framework that provides a degree of protection to workers with the Labour Relations Act of 1995. In my experience, labour law in South Africa is fair and straightforward and gives more protection to the employee than that of the UK and US. France is the extreme in it's labour law, and everyone agrees that the "Code de Travaille" needs to be reworked. It's too complex to even be useful.

What is happening in France right now, is that people are talking about politics and economics again in a real way, about what kind of world they want to live in and what kind of world they want for their kids. They are not prepared to accept what their government is trying to dictate to them by decree and they are prepared to stand up for what they believe in and what they want. Everyone agrees France has to change and everyone has something to say about it. I think that's called democracy.

France Demos : Sarkozy avoids the flames



Sarko nearly got burnt today. With Villepin already in flames, Sarko was nearly added to the pyre, but the demonstrator snatched his placard back, before his hardwork was consumed by fire.

France Demos : The sky is the limit?



The numbers are in and today's demonstrations were larger than last week's. Le Monde's Infographic gives a good sense of the scale. Bordeaux was once again the 3rd largest nationwide.

The other numbers: Villepin's popularity is now at 28% and according to a BVA poll, 45% of the French now want Villepin to resign.

The question is what happens now? A meeting will take place between the government and student and union leaders tomorrow. The anti-cpe movement has the upper hand after today but they are aware that continued one day actions are going to run out of steam. They could call for a National Strike until the government backs down or come to some sort of agreement with the government.

While some of the union leadership may want to cut a deal while they have the upper hand, it may not go down well on the street. People in general are talking politics again and feeling strongly about issues, a lot of people don't want to capitulate now and would feel betrayed if the unions make a bargain (although that's what the unions are there for). I doubt we are going to see a general strike over the CPE / CNE issue though.

Remember how I explained before that this goes back to the No to EU vote and how the government hasn't addressed people's concerns, but rather embarked on a neo-liberal campaign to fix the unemployment rate before the next election. Well I don't see that people will buy a reduction in the unemployment rate as a campaign platform now. Or Villepin for President.

Dominiques' political career may well be over quite soon, after only ten months as Prime Minister and that leaves Sarko with a clear run for the UMP nomination for the Presidential race. Unless of course Chirac realises how politically lethal the job of PM is in France...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

France Demos : The big massive

BORDEAUX – Today’s demonstration in Bordeaux was bigger than last Tuesday’s. Much bigger.

It was a fine spring day and the demo again gathered at the Place Tourny, with the cortege
stretching along the Allees de Tourny back to the Grand Theatre. Before the start of the march the mood was festive and more militant in the aftermath of Chirac’s speech on Friday night.




The demo was once again led by the students, who have become more organized and dedicated, more colourful and louder. Many had arrived in costume and the sans-culotte theme is very trendy among the French youth this season.

Behind, came the Unions and political parties, the unemployed and the people who are in general sympathy with the students. One gets the impression that this is an issue that crosses political affiliations – there were parents with young children in the cortege and they are concerned about their children’s future.

The demo proceeded up to Place Gambetta and along Cours d’Albret to the Place de la Victoire – but this time it didn’t stop there as the Place de la Victoire isn’t big enough to cope with the sheer number of people who turned out today. The Victoire was really just the half-way point as the demo made its way along the Quais to the Esplanade des Quinconces, which is one of the biggest public squares in Europe. The crowd was always well controlled and the police kept a low profile, the atmosphere was one in which people were united against a law that they see as wrong and a government that has been ruling by decree. There overall ambiance was an air of jubilance rather antagonism.







The square was the end point of the demo and many people gathered in a festive mood; groups of students playing djmebe drums to Unionists once again setting fire to an effigy of Villepin. His popularity is at an all time low and today’s turn out was larger than last week. The call in the street today was for him to resign.






More of my photos at libcom.org

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Truth Will Set You Free: Fewer People=Greater PROFIT$$$

The Truth Will Set You Free: Fewer People=Greater PROFIT$$$

This sounds like one of those infamous sucking sounds, jobs disappearing into thin air. Again. Only another 8,800 jobs. On top of the 30,000 already slashed by Patricia Russo at Lucent. Hell's teeth, she must be fuming at the French government's CPE crisis, because those 8,800 people are only 10% of the new combined workforce and one imagines that given half the chance she'd strip Alcatel - Lucent down to a shell company if it would increase the shareprice. Her salary last year was only a measly USD 4.75 million.
When they let go of the miners, I remained silent; I was not a miner.
When they let go of the textile workers, I remained silent; I was not a textile worker.
When they let go of the auto workers, I remained silent; I was not an auto worker.
When they let go the IT workers, I did not speak out; I was not a IT worker.
When they let go of me, there was no one left to speak out.
(With apologies to Martin Niemöller)

Crass asked "Do they owe us a living?" On Friday afternoon I walked past 3 people begging on the street within 10 meters of each other and the song popped into my head. In the window of an employment agency, 70% of the offers were for Telemarketing.

Can I be a productive human being by selling frozen dinners to people over the phone so that they can have something to stick in the microwave when they get back from their Telemarketing job? Is that what we are supposed to believe working for a living is all about these days? Or perhaps begging is more honest? And when I am laid off because the call center is moved to India? What happens then?

Lucent is one of the very same companies that is profiting from what the French refer to as "précarité" or precariousness - the lack of job security. From Lucent's Managed Contact Center Services for Enterprises website:
"Managed Contact Center is a carrier-based solution for completing calls and monitoring and managing contact center activity without costly equipment on an enterprise's premises."
"The Lucent ClientCare® Contact Center enables enterprises to achieve true virtualization with global location independence, agent portability with no restrictions imposed by network topology with the ability to centrally administer all locations."
I think we are well aware that the nature of work has changed fundamentally thanks in no small part to technology, Reagan and Thatcher. The question is, are we going to accept it?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Blogossary

Ag nooit my bru (Yes my friend). It has come to my attention that I tend to opgemix (mix-up) a bunch of different lanuages on this here blog. And I'm sick of typing out the translation for CPE over and over again. So I'm gonna one time it china (just do it once mate) with a non-exhaustive glossary post. If you spot (see) something missing or feel something should be added, comment it and I'll update this post. You can checkout this post often 'cos I'll stick it up in right at the top of the links. OK Now so you found this post already, there are some more resources at the bottom of the page.

KEY:
AF for Afrikaans
EN for English. Mainly for South African slang
FR for French
TT for Totsi Taal, Words from South Africa's 12th language
XH for Xhosa
ZU for Zulu


Amandla! Ngawethu! (XH/ZU)
The word "Amandla", meaning "power", was a popular rallying cry in the days of resistance against Apartheid, used by ANC and UDF supporters. The leader of a demonstration would call out "Amandla!" and the crowd would respond with "Ngawethu!", meaning "It is ours!", completing a South African version of a rallying cry: All Power! To the People!. These two words are still associated with struggles against oppression.

ANC (EN)
African National Congress. The current ruling party in South Africa who carried the mainstay of the struggle against Apartheid.

ANPE (FR)
Agence National Pour l'Emploi. National Employment Agency. French government run job shop.

Banlieue (FR)
Suburb. This can include suburbs both affluent and under-privileged. Recently the word has often become short-hand for the Parisian suburbs, particularly of the Seine-Saint-Denis district (department 93) which are very under-privileged areas, with large immigrant populations and high unemployment. These were suburbs where November 2005 uprisings were strong.

Boere (AF) Noun pl.
Police. Cop. Pig. Babylon System. Originally from the word "Boer" meaning "Farmer". In more english terms, this latter half of an egg and bacon breakfast, is commonly reviled by one and all. Specifically this term has been used for the SAPS (South African Police Services) who really made their name under apartheid (as the SAP), but cops around the world are all of the same ilk, and are thus Boere. Fuckers one and all.

Bos Befok (AF)
Bos Befok, or Bossies, is the Afrikaans phrase for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It translates literally as Bush Befucked, and comes from soldiers experiences in South Africa's Wars from the 1970's to 1990's, originally derived from fighting in the bush but also referring to the urban conflicts during the 1980's. If you would like to know more about Bos Befok and PTSD, check out the SA Veterans Association website.

Braai (AF)
Barbeque. BBQ. Cooking meat, chicken, fish or vegetables over an open fire. A traditional South African pastime and usually a social event. South Africans will braai for breakfast, lunch, dinner, rugby games or just for the sake of it. Only wimps use gas or electric braais. Purist braaiers will not use fire lighters either as that can negatively influence flavours. As a side note, although braais are popular in France, the tendency is singe meat in open flame. This is not actually good braai practice, where one should cook over hot coals not in the flames.

CGT (FR)
Confédération Générale du Travail (General Confederation of Labour) - France’s largest trade union confederation. Was strongly influenced by the French Communist Party, importantly during the events of 1968, despite its anarcho-syndicalist origins in 1895 but it cut ties with them in the 1990s.

China (EN)
Mate. Buddy. SA English slang but orignally from Cockney rhyming slang of "China Plate".

Chookie (EN)
Prison. Jail. The Slammer. Originally from the Afrikaans "Tjoekie".

CNE (FR)
Contrat Nouvelle Embauche. Contract for a New Hire.

CNT (FR)
Confédération National du Travail. National Confederation of Labour. Also known as CNT-F or CNT-Vignoles. French anarcho-syndicalist union grouping.

Con (FR)
Translates literally as Cunt, but is also used to refer to stupidity and thickness. See Doos.

COSATU (EN)
Congress of South African Trade Unions. Biggest Trade Union grouping in SA.

CPE (FR)
Contrat Premiere Embauche. First Employment Contract. This is the law which the 2006 student rebellion opposed. It allowed employers to sack under-26s in their first two years of employment without having to give any reason.

CNE (FR)
Contrat Nouvelle Embauche. Contract for a New Hire. A similar employment contract to the CPE which applies to small companies of less than 20 employees.

CRS (FR)
Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité. French riot boere. Not as hectic as as SA riot boere because they don't carry live ammunition, but intimidating in their blue RoboCop suits. They live in barracks and are isolated from society, they have a bad reputation for brutality, in particular in the banlieues, where ordinary police do not venture at night.

Departement (FR)
France is divided into 100 departements or districts, all of which are given a two digit number (there are two 20’s - 2A and 2B). The system dates back to 1790, and according to Wikipedia “they were designed to deliberately break up France’s historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Most départements are named after the area’s principal river(s) or other physical features.”

Doos (AF)
Literally means Box. Or Cunt. Take your pick. A muli-purpose word which also denotes stupidity and thickness, much like the French words Con or Connard. Calling someone a stupid doos is laying it on thick. Use it.

Durbs (EN)
Durban. eThekwini.

FA (FR)
Fédération Anarchiste. French Anarchist Federation.

Flic (FR)
Police. French Style. See Boere above.

Fliek (AF)
Film, movie, motion-picture.

Joburg (EN)
Johannesburg. Joeys. Jozi. Egoli. Igoli. The world's biggest over-grown mining camp. Ever.

Heita (TT)
Hello. Howzit. Salut. Heita Daar would be Hello There.

Hou bek jou naai (AF)
Shut up you fucker. Afrikaans insult. Famously appeared on a poster when George Bush visited Cape Town in 2003.


Kak (AF)
Shit (EN). Merde (FR). The stuff that gets trapped on your shoe.

Klaar (AF)
Clear (EN), Claire (FR). The best way to say this word is really in the expression "finis 'n klaar?", which would translate as "finished and clear?". But that's not really enough to explain such a beautiful word; you also have to appreciate another word; "klaarblijklik" which would translate from the original Dutch, roughly, into "clearly (EN)" or "clairement (FR)". Using this word at the appropriate moment, in whatever language, can be used to enormous effect. Don't forget it. It's one of my favourite words ever!

Mlungu (XH)
Whitey. White person. Derogatory, but go for it in my book. See "Doos" and "Con".

PAC (EN)
Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Sometimes rival to the ANC, and more profoundly driven by a Black Consciousness ethic.

Parktown Prawn (EN)
A ghastly member of the King Cricket family.

PCF (FR)
Parti Communiste Francaise. French communist party. Slighty more left than the PS.

Poephol (AF)
Arsehole. Pretty much the same meaning everywhere.

PS (FR)
Parti Socialist. French Socialist Party. About as exciting as a cold wet grey blanket.

Sharp (TT)
Cool. A Popular, trendy word among South Aficans, who also say "Sharpshoot" as a way of affirming something cool that's been said.

Slaapstad (AF)
Cape Town. Kaapstad. Isixeko Sasekapa. iKapa. Visdorp. Tavern of the Seas.

Totsi (TT)
Gangster. A fact of life in South Africa. We are all Totsis 'cos SA is one big gangster culure ever since Cecil John Rhodes made it big selling ice cubes to thirsty miners way back in the 1870's. Totsi Taal (Dutch for language) refers to the language we all speak.

Toyi-Toyi (TT)
Southern African dance that became famous for its use in political protests in the apartheid-era South Africa. Toyi-toyi could begin as stomping of feet and spontaneous chanting during protests that could include political slogans or songs, improvised and previously made. Some sources claim that South Africans learned it from Zimbabweans. Unarmed protesters used it as a way to intimidate armed soldier and riot police of the white government. It became in integral part of any political protest and ANC meeting. After Apartheid ended, people have used toyi-toyi to protest their grievances against the current government policies. Something I still need to teach the French.

see also: Wikipedia, Wavescape, SA Expats, The Alternative Dictionaries, Argot - French Slang, Cool slang, African Voices, Themba and Bizza, Afrikaans Insults

Tags:

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Blogging the Situation in France - Part IV

The Journal of students on strike in Bordeaux is another French language blog that gives good insight into what's happening locally.

This is a digital revolution - last night there were plenty of people with mobile phones, digital cammeras and camcorders capturing the events as they happened. This website has an audio recording of the response to Chirac's speech and I hoping to find more images from the demo online.

France Demos : Chirac speaks and the people respond

Chirac had his say and the people had their riposte: "Chirac démission!"

After watching Chirac's speech on TV tonight and the following coverage, I knew that Jakes was going to go down like a lead ballon, so I headed up to the Place de la Victoire to check out what was happening.

Waiting for a bus at the station, I saw a group of CRS getting ready to deploy, so I knew that things were happening and that the riot boere were going to be working overtime tonight.

I got to the Place about 45 minutes after the speech and there was already a big crowd gathered, not just students but everyone. The reaction on the Place to Chirac's speech was that it was not what people wanted to hear.

A sponateous march through the city happened next. Led by the students but everyone was there. The youngest person I saw there w about 4 years old, the oldest over 70 and more than one person in a wheelchair. For an impromtu demonstration it was impressive. "Un manif de niut?" (a night demo?) as someone next to me said.

The biggest impression that I have though, was the rally cry: "Chirac démission!" (Chirac resign!) - of all the slogans and chants that was the strongest.

The march wove its way through the city in an uncoordinated way, and one had the sense that it was led by an impromtu student leadership, but the march made its point and was supported by people waving from windows. We made our way to the Mairie where we were confronted by the CRS. A thin blue line that had to rush in reinforcements.The march continued afterwards, but eventually I found myself back at the Place de la Victoire where there were still small groups of people gathered.

This is not Paris and you are not going to see it on TV but the anger on the streets of Bordeaux was palpable tonight.