Schlagwort-Archive: Germans

Ubuntu in Germany Column

South African protests show a healthy democracy well worth investing in

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is a South African journalist and speaking in her column about the country of her birth. She had lived in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Germans have watched the South African recent public marches with interest and wondered, “What is going on? Is South Africa falling apart? Should I worry about investing there?” Being in the centre of the action, as a South African who recently returned from life in Germany, I can say that all the protest is a healthy sign of a thriving democracy growing in a barren global landscape.

EFFSmitStachowski

© Picture by Alexandra Smit-Stachowski: Recent protests in South Africa are healthy and show a thriving democracy. I took this picture balancing on a rubbish-bin while facing the EFF marchers, numbered at 40,000 who had just approached Sandton. The South African police kept a close watch.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

Goodbye Germany: Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski intends to trek back to South Africa

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

© Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski will leave Germany and to go back to South Africa, her birthplace. Her most important reason for this, is love.

© Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski will leave Germany and to go back to South Africa, her birthplace. Her most important reason for this, is love.

I recently flew to South Africa to have a short holiday with the man I had fallen in love with. After spending five days in Johannesburg, I decided that within the next year, I will move back to my mother country.

Leaving Germany – with its modern, efficient business-like manner and thriving economy for the multicultural, often haphazard and conflicted country at the bottom of the world map is not an easy decision but one I am making for several reasons – the primary one being love.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

Germans face the heat in socks and sandals. An comparative analysis to South African weather behaviour

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Heat wave! Germans seldom experience such sweltering summers as the one currently underway – hot winds from Africa blowing across the country and ice-cream sales at an all-time high. Yet how Germans deal with the heat and South Africans do, is quite different to each other.

© Heat Wave in Germany! Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski is analyzing how Germans and South Africans are dealing with the heat. (Source: flickr/ Bjørn Giesenbauer)

© Heat Wave in Germany! Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski is analyzing how Germans and South Africans are dealing with the heat. (Source: flickr/ Bjørn Giesenbauer)

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

Are Germans in South Africa ‚abgekapselt‘ [isloated]?

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

A recent interview on this website heard the view from a German journalist in Cape Town that the Germans in South Africa are ‘abgekapselt’ – isolated, living on their own island away from the rest of the community. As I grew up in a German family in South Africa, I can tell how it is from an insider’s point of view…

© Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her new article about Germans in South Africa. (Source: flickr/ eGuide Travel)

© Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her new article about Germans in South Africa. (Source: flickr/ eGuide Travel)

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

The Pistorius case has done a great deal of damage to the South African nation. A German press view

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Germans have given the Oscar Pistorius case top billing in newspapers, on websites and on TV – they, like South Africans take their sport idols very seriously and there’s a feeling of shocked dismay from the press here.

© Germans have given the Oscar Pistorius case top billing in media. The Pistorius case has done a great deal of damage to the South African nation. The tourism country has to restore respect, said Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski. (Quelle: flickr/ Global Sports Forum)

© Germans have given the Oscar Pistorius case top billing in media. The Pistorius case has done a great deal of damage to the South African nation. The tourism country has to restore respect, said Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski. (Quelle: flickr/ Global Sports Forum)

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Johannesburg-Bloggerin Laurice Taitz im Interview

Eine Frau über ihr Engagement für ein „schönes Johannesburg“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Johannesburg ist eine Stadt, die mit vielen negativen Begleiterscheinungen einer Metropole in Verbindung gebracht wird – Kriminalität, Rassismus, Verkehrschaos, Armutsviertel und Arbeitslosigkeit. Laurice Taitz hingegen bloggt nur Positives aus und zu Jo´burg. Sie liebt ihren Wohnort, den man aus verschiedenen Perspektiven her betrachten müsse. Arme und Reiche leben hier beinahe nebeneinander. Viele Gesellschaften sind in einer Gesellschaft integriert. Die einstige Goldgräberstadt hat sich zu einer riesigen Heimat von Millionen von Menschen unterschiedlichster Herkunft, Religion, Sozialschicht und Nationalität entwickelt. Die Innenstadt mit dem Constitution Hill, dem Verfassungsgerichtshof Südafrikas, bewertet die Bloggerin als schönsten Ort Johannesburgs. Ebenso faszinieren sie die seit hundert Jahren bestehende Public Library, die öffentlichen Kunstinstallationen, das künstlerisch-hippe Viertel Maboneng, die Shopping-Straßen unweit der Diagonal Street und das äthiopische Viertel im Osten der Stadt. „Die Stadt ist voller Gegensätze und Plätze, die es zu entdecken gilt“, sagt Laurice. Und dennoch bevorzugen Europäer eher Kapstadt aufzusuchen. Sie selber war bereits zweimal in Deutschland und auch in Berlin. Die deutsche Hauptstadt beneidet sie für ihre schöne Architektur. „Es ist ein Ort, welcher viele Lektionen für Südafrika bereithält“, hält sie abschließend fest.

© Johannesburg is offering a reams of public arts (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© Johannesburg is offering a reams of public arts (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© Laurice Taitz, Blogger from Johannesburg

© Laurice Taitz, Blogger from Johannesburg

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ – the German Gateway to South Africa – the in Johannesburg based blogger Laurice Taitz.

You started your blog „nothing to do in joburg besides…“, in which you present a cultural view on this megacity. What is Johannesburg standing for?

Answer: Johannesburg is a city on the move. It was founded on a gold rush and it remains true to that, a city that in parts flashes its wealth and that also hides a rich seam of gold. It can be a difficult place to get to know but for me it’s a vibrant urban African metropolis.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which is from your point of view the most beautiful place in Johannesburg and for which reason?

Answer: The inner city is the most beautiful place because every time I am there I see that the huge efforts to revive it are showing results. Some of my favourite sites include: Constitution Hill, where the values of one of the most progressive constitutions in the world are brought to life each day; Johannesburg’s newly-renovated Public Library, a 100-year-old architectural masterpiece; the city’s growing collection of public art; the up-and-coming hip urban district of Maboneng; the maze of shopping streets of old Johannesburg around Diagonal street; the Ethiopian district on the east side of the city; and Braamfontein’s lively streetlife.

Diagonal Street on Google Street View

The city is full of contrasts, and places to explore. And while you didn’t ask, the second most beautiful place is Johannesburg’s suburbs in spring when the jacaranda trees are in bloom and this tree-lined city is full of purple blossoms.

© The Public Library in Johannesburg (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© The Public Library in Johannesburg (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You demonstrate on your blog mostly lovely sights of Johannesburg. Why aren´t you writing on difficult topics like crime, poverty, xenophobia or corruption?

Answer: While I focus on what I love about the city and what it has to offer I never shy away from dealing with its less comfortable aspects, as these are part of the city’s challenges. As a former political reporter I am also acutely aware of giving readers the full story. I just don’t dwell on it because I see enormously positive changes taking place.

© Johannesburg is the home of different cultures (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© Johannesburg is the home of different cultures (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Today, South Africa has developed a huge blogging scene. How would you evaluate the importance of blogs for the public opinion making process in South Africa?

Answer: I think that particularly the Joburg blogs that have emerged are helping to shape a new perception of the city for locals and foreigners. So many voices, filled with pride, in exploring a city, discovering its secrets and creating a sense of belonging from diverse perspectives.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Johannesburg is a big cosmopolitan city with many cultures and nationalities. Do you think that in Joburg is one society or rather several societies living side by side?

Answer: It depends where you stand. You can choose a pocket of the city and never see what’s beyond that corner but I think Joburg is many societies in one. A place where rich and poor live side by side, not always easily, and where people from all over Africa and the world congregate. The mix is what makes this city exciting.

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2010sdafrika-editorial staff: The most Germans and Europeans are preferring to live in Cape Town as in Johannesburg. How far could you understand this decision and which pros is Joburg providing?

Answer: I think people from Europe are easily seduced by Cape Town’s incredible beauty and promise of a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Who isn’t? But saying that, Joburg has a perceptible pulse all year round, and that makes it an exciting place to be with its mix of people, cultures, commerce and arts.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which perception do you have from Germany and Germans?

Answer: I have visited Germany twice and each time been struck by a country that has rebuilt itself into a modern and dynamic society and that continues to deal with its past but is looking to its future. It is a place that has many lessons for South Africa. I also fell in love with Berlin’s incredible architecture and hope to visit again soon.

© A spirit mix of religion and arts in Jo´burg (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© A spirit mix of religion and arts in Jo´burg (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Laurice Taitz, blogger from Jo´burg, thank you very much for this urban interview!

2010sdafrika-Interview mit dem Architekten Luyanda Mpahlwa zur Johannesburger Städtekultur:

https://2010sdafrika.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/johannesburg-im-architektur-boom/

Blogger Akanyang Merementsi im Interview

Die südafrikanische Pressefreiheit findet keine Anwendung auf Blogger. Wer schützt die Netzaktivisten?

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Die Pressefreiheit muss in allen Staaten der Welt, auch in Demokratien, ständig verteidigt werden. In Südafrika steht die Presselandschaft besonders unter Druck. Mail & Guardian, das Flaggschiff des investigativen Journalismus, ist mehrfach durch den Staat und einer Reihe von Konzernen vor Gericht gezerrt worden – aktuell durch die Unternehmens- und Managementberatung Bososa. Die Aufdeckung der Quellen, der Whistleblower, ist in den meisten Fällen das Ziel von juristischen Auseinandersetzungen. Die Verfassung garantiere das Recht auf Quellenschutz, wenn ein hohes öffentliches Interesse bestehe, so der Blogger und selbsternannte „Media-Freak“ Akanyang Merementsi aus Rustenburg. Er bedauert jedoch, dass den Bloggern kein Rechtsstatus auf journalistische Privilegien zusteht – ähnlich in Deutschland. In den USA hingegen existieren bereits Organisationen wie Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), die den Bloggern umfassende Hilfe in Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Rechtsberatung- bzw. vertretung anbieten. Bezüglich der geplanten und vom ANC geplanten Presseregulierung, wonach im Rahmen des sog. Protection of Information Bill Journalisten bei der Veröffentlichung von geheimen Informationen mit bis zu 25 Jahren Haft bestraft werden können, führt Akanyang die Zunahme von Falschmeldungen an. Die südafrikanische Presse hat in den letzten drei Jahren nach Angaben des stellvertretenden Presse-Ombudsmann  für einen Anstieg der Beschwerden von 70 Prozent gesorgt. Falsche Informationen und unethische Meldungen dienen dementsprechend als Grundlage zur Presseregulierung.  Ferner bemängelt Akanyang die fortwährende Schwarz-Weiß-Einteilung der südafrikanischen Gesellschaft und vor allem die von Weißen betriebene Assoziation von Problemen wie Armut, Kriminalität, mangelnde Bildung und Korruption  mit der schwarzen Hautfarbe. Er hasst es, dass Schwarze per se  in „Verdacht“ gestellt werden.

© Akanyang Merementsi, media freak & blogger and worker in mining industry

© Akanyang Merementsi, media freak & blogger and worker in mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – a Rustenburg based blogger Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, according to your Akanyang Africa blog you are a “media freak”. Which aims are you following with your online media?

Answer: My blog addresses a range of topics and these include politics and media developments in South Africa (African and abroad). I am passionate about media and politics and this must have something to do with the fact that I almost became a journalist in my last year (2007) at North West University’s Mafikeng campus in the North West province.

At the time I developed a keen interest in media and politics which played a role in my becoming a writer for the university student newspaper, The Album. The stint, however, only lasted for a couple of months until sometime August that year when the university, strangely, decided to close down the newspaper due to lack of funds. In my first issue I had only written one feature involving a student whose residence room had caught fire and burned most of her belongings. I also contributed in the news snips section of the newspaper.

But as for political interests, I hope my Aquarius star attributes of curiosity and inquisitiveness have nothing to do with it. But I suspect they do.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are criticising several cases of organisation that are in confrontation with press institutions. For example in the juridical case between the enterprise BOSASA against Mail & Guardian newspaper. Is the South Africa state sufficiently protecting bloggers and journalists?

Answer: On the Mail & Guardian vs. Bosasa saga I was merely concerned that there was such great silence from other media houses in the country that previously claimed to support press-freedom but had failed to come to the defence of M&G when it was being forced through the Court to reveal sources that had leaked certain information to it. And as far as I understand newspapers like M&G are protected by the Constitution from not revealing their sources if their revelations are “in the public interest”, which the Bosasa stories were, according to my understanding. Therefore it was sad that only one organisation was behind M&G in court while others like Democratic Alliance, Cosatu, etc. were silent.

So journalists enjoy more protection than bloggers (like myself or any other for that matter). This is because, so we are told, we are not and cannot claim to be journalists who enjoy some great protection from the Constitution.

I do not think bloggers can claim to be journalists and therefore claiming their rights, but I truly believe that we bloggers do not enjoy any protection at all to date.

Not even international organisations I have interacted with can easily help me fight any legal battle for me a South African blogger. Or if they were, it would be difficult as they would first have to find their peer in my country who would be willing to represent me. In June last year I asked Rebecca Jeschke, a media relations director at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – a US-based organisation that fights for what it called the Bloggers’ Rights – about her organisation and what it does. With offices only in San Francisco, Jeschke said the organisation’s “legal guide” whose “law [is] referenced” in the US “likely doesn’t apply to South Africa”.

Asked how EFF defended bloggers in other parts of the world – South Africa as an example, she said they worked on “an activism level”. “We can and do call attention to important international cases, and work on international policy issues. But we don’t do on-the-ground legal work for cases outside of the US”. Although they would not be personally helping bloggers if they faced lawsuits, Jeschke said, however, that EFF can be contacted for assistance and they “will try to help find appropriate legal assistance”. “But we can’t provide that assistance ourselves for cases outside of the US”, she said.

If you will remember a blogger had written a story for which s/he was fined over a million Pounds/Euros/dollars. This, the Court found later, was because, unlike journalists, she was not protected from not disclosing sources. What bloggers can only exercise but with caution is our right to freedom of opinion and expression which are enshrined in the South African Constitution. So this is an indication that bloggers do not have much protection as journalists do.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is your opinion with regard to the ANC’s planned Protection of Information Bill? Will the government be cutting press freedom?

Answer: I have not read the revised version of the proposed regulation, even the old one I had not finished reading. However, those that had read both versions and whose judgements I trust are of the opinion that the Protection of State Information Bill in its current form might be unconstitutional.

For example, at the time of doing writing veteran Human Rights lawyer George Bizos of the Legal Resources Centre reportedly had his submission to Parliament on the bill that: “as it stands, [it] runs contrary to and indeed threatens many of the fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Constitution”. This is the general view in the country and of course many of us are inclined to believe that for as long as the bill is not in line with the constitution as alleged – where the media and press rights and freedom and their constitutional obligations to report without fear and or favour are not recognised, where whistleblowers are protected and that any information can be leaked and or reported in the “public interest” – then we need to be worried and concerned as a nation because many secrets (often by political parties, corruptable businesspeople, government departments and private businesses) are very much likely to be covered up with the passing of these laws.

So by introducing a law such as this and the ruling party’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal – our media would be very much limited to reporting alleged/suspected corruption where leaked evidence thereof do exist. Therefore, to a great extent, these laws would be “cutting press freedom”.

Having said this, however, the media (especially on MAT proposal) is as much to blame for many of its unethical and irresponsible reporting, some of which are way out of line with the South African Press Codes.

For example, I blogged on May 7 last year, asking: “Is Sunday Times living up to this Code of Conduct?” In another blog entry published at the same time, I asked: “Has Sunday Times breached the Press Codes on its ‘Dis-Grace’ story?” Below is just a few of my articles published on my blog in which I criticise the press/media:

  • M&G newspaper fighting solo Court battle to protects its sources
  • Is Rupert Murdoch doing a Bosasa on M&G?
  • Why our media should sleep on its ‘self-regulation’ bed now more than ever
  • Does the media report or assume news?
  • Is there ’copy and past’ in SA newsrooms?
  • What editors need to do to avoid a repeat of The Star and Daily Sun (newspapers) on Malema
  • Is Avusa Media consistent with columnists?
  • Did Avusa and Sunday Times “raise controversy without thought for the consequences” with Roberts’ column?
  • When should “sources” be used?
  • Interview with SA Press Council and Press Ombudsman
  • Did Sunday Times act “ethically” in publishing “Against The Rules Too” report?
  • Public Protector vindicates me on Sunday Times’ “unethical and unlawful” publication of Against The Rules Too
  • M&G playing political games with anonymous sources?
  • Was Mbeki wrong about Press Freedom in 1996?
  • Sunday World and Sunday Times “slave for formula”?
  • Has Mail & Guardian confused you on the Maharaj saga?
  • Was Sowetan’s Mathale “dare” Zuma claim misleading?

In February this year South African Press Council released figures in which it noted the increase of complaints against newspapers. Deputy Press ombudsman said at the time that there was a 70% increase over the last three years in the number of complaints about incorrect or unethical newspaper reports. He said the complainants grew from 150 in 2009 to 213 in 2010 and 255 in 2011.

While criticising the media on 13 March, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe said his office experienced “problems… with the way ([newspapers] ignored correspondences” from his office, naming The Times newspaper as one of the culprits. This, however, is not to say the press should be suppressed as it now is tempted to with these laws although the government has denied this.

© Screenshot to the blog "Akanyang Africa" by Akanyang Merementsi

© Screenshot to the blog „Akanyang Africa“ by Akanyang Merementsi

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: South Africa is still challenged with many socio-political problems like crime, corruption and poverty. Is the government by President Jacob Zuma doing enough for the South African people or which policies should be changed?

Answer: I would like to believe that the government is doing its best – though not enough – to fight poverty and corruption the country. On 11 March 2012, I was called an “idiot” by someone on Twitter when I put it to him that we – especially white people in the country – have a tendency of saying crime, education and corruption is a “Black problem” or the “ANC problem”. Which are not. So for as long we have people who still 18-years into our democracy see crime, education and crime as a “black person’s problem” then we have a long way to go in overcoming these challenges.

I would also like to believe that we have good policies in fighting these but sometimes lack of community involvement (for whatever reasons) is probably one of the reasons why there is little success in sorting out our education, crime and poverty and corruption challenges.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some voices are denouncing the continuous fragmentation of the South African society in blacks and whites. Would you confirm this perception?

Answer: I have realised that we have accepted and see ourselves on racial terms: black and white people. To achieve the rainbow nation envisioned by former President Nelson Mandela will take probably longer than it took apartheid to rule South Africa. Seeing ourselves as just one human race will be hard-work and not an easy road, I must add.

One of the issues that often come up is that of white people failing to accept some of the awful things their forefathers had done to ours. And it is sad that some of these things still happen to this very day. To address this, I would suggested that we have some sort of a Race Debate because surely Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission did little job in helping both blacks and whites accept one another and our differences. But at the same time – as mentioned in my blog post published on 25 March 2012 and titled “My ‘Black Man Code’ or is it a ‘Trayvon Martin’ moment? – I think white people “… tend to treat us blacks with suspicion” and I hate it.

Associate Press Writer Jesse Washington coined The Black Man Code and he told his son to “Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people [white in particular] might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes”. So to a “black male… [to] go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are” – as Washington told his son to do – it will be difficult because this always gives us blacks The Black Man Code. Worse, it sometimes makes us experience that “Trayvon-Martin moment”.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which impressions do you have from Germany and Germans?

Answer: Unfortunately I cannot form any opinion of Germany and or its people because I have not had any interaction with them.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Akanyang Merementsi – media freak & blogger – thank you very much for this interesting interview!