Someone, from overseas, asked me the other day what is the single biggest problem this country faces. Frankly, I wanted to start by explaining that I can write an entire 300 page book on the problems this country faces, and I can do so once a month without repeating myself for a year. The problems are so vast and self-created that I am quite happy not being able to give solutions because my solutions will be so dramatic it will probably start a civil war and worse. And it will not work because any solution needs support from the majority of people, and I am afraid, no one has such solutions. I dare say we will plunge merrily from one crisis to the other and it will never improve. It will get worse than what it is now.
The question made me think hard, how to reduce a book to one word and finally I said “arrogance” and I can demonstrate my point rather easily. A few weeks ago our Minister of Sport (or whatever, extremely unimportant in my view) attended the Floyd boxing match in Las Vegas. I followed the accusations that he went there on State (read taxpayer) money. Whether that is true or not I don’t know as it soon became a shouting match with him replying, very arrogantly, that a black man can afford to go the USA. That is not an answer, it is an evasion and playing the race card to the full extreme it can be played. Who cares what his race is? I don’t, and I suspect neither did the questioners, they just wanted to know, who paid for you? Simple, answer the damn question and you will not need to play a race card. In court, such an idiotic answer will be hammered.
Then just yesterday, our beleaguered head of the SABC, a television station I am sure enjoy massive following, not, and is State funded (read taxpayer) got himself a 30% pay hike on top of a very substantial salary. Now I heard many bad rumours on the state of the SABC and what I heard is alarming if not scandalous, once again, true or not I would not know. Whatever, I expected nothing better and once again, the reply, the defence? A black man can earn a good salary! Now what one earth is that answer? Oi, a black man can earn a good salary? Are you trying to tell me it is wrong for a black man to earn a good salary? Or that it is wrong to ask what you did to deserve such a dramatic hike? Or are you saying the questioner is racist for asking you and you don’t have the guts to say so straight knowing how ridiculous such an argument is.
For me, both replies come down to the race card and both replies are arrogance in essence. When you work for State or in a public position, funded by taxpayers, they have every right in law and moral obligations to ask you such questions. Giving a race card answer makes you look guilty and evasive and frankly, it is insulting and demeaning to everyone including you. But once again, sadly, we do not expect better. We are so used to the scenario and doubtless will keep on seeing it in the future. It comes down to arrogance, “don’t you dare ask me a question” or as our national police commissioner said in the text to the DA member we spoke about earlier in another blog “I am black and proud” and you know what, you should be proud of being black or white or pink. Cultural heritage is a great thing and I often write in my books about the Afrikaner and Zulu heritage. I actually have letters from both groups thanking me for that.
But tell me, where does “proud” ends and “arrogance” starts? They are vastly different concepts, one is positive and the other is negative. One is supported and entirely reasonable, the other is worthy of contempt. I wonder if these characters even realise there is a difference? In my view and many others the race card is long abused, we are in 2015 now, not 1990. Wake up and get ready to become a SOUTH AFRICAN first and a race later. No one cares what your skin colour is, only you do and it shows a remarkable inferior complex. I pity such people and so should you.
I did not blog for three weeks and now I have readers asking if I am alive which is kind of nice. To explain, I was busy with marketing my company and books and getting the books into paper, I will blog on that when it is done. In the meantime I followed a news story where the ability for readers to make comments below the news articles was taken away. This led to an immense outpour of anger and frustration and calls of censorship and a lot other ridiculous statements from them. It was insightful to say the least.
As an author I had my fair share of such comments about my books, mostly telling the world I cannot spell and am too stupid for words. In fact I write so badly I must be for real (whatever that means) and am a “kaffr boetie” and a lot more. On one memorable occasion I got emails from a fellow, a former police and army member. He admitted he never actually read my Mean Streets autobiography and yet he had a lot to say about it, all negative and it started with accusations in dodging national army service. A senseless point discussed in the book since the police killed 90% of terrorists. What did I dodge? The right to stand guard at Oshakati? I was as a Flying Squad member in more shootouts than any national serviceman and by the way, seven times on the border. Then that I started my legal career at a very well-known human rights law firm representing, at the time, Mr Mandela and the who’s who of the ruling party (yes I met them all). This apparently makes me a lesser Afrikaner and so it went on, from this fellow who ran to Australia, it is ironic and when I offered to give him the books for free, to read, he said he will “delete” them as they come in. Real kindergarten arguments. Paradoxically, 90% of my clients are Afrikaners unable to pay for my services, I try to help as I did with the three legal books and other articles on law and business I give away for free. Oh and then the books are anyway rubbish unable to sell, so they must be given away for free. As you can see, you cannot win against such trolls and ignoring them is better but so hard to do. After a while I stopped reading reviews and comments as it hurts, no matter how thick skinned you try to be, it hurts to read such crap.
So I was not the least surprised to see the news website, one of the biggest in South Africa, deciding to cut this privilege and close the comment sections. Remarkably, a place like the BBC also does that, no comments allowed. You read the news and that is it and except in exceptional circumstances you cannot sprout your views and I have to say, I agree with that. You may then ask, why read the comments if they are such crap in the first place and they are, 99.9% of the comments are from boring and sad people venting their anger at life. Well, with my books I read them to learn, to improve as an author, I know I am not perfect. But I learned nothing, I just got upset and then wisely concentrated on the hundreds of nice emails I got from readers across the world (yes, I saved them). I read the news comments to get a feel for the public’s feelings on the subject but alas, it was the usual crap of “bring the death penalty back” or “it is Apartheid’s fault” or “let us hate the police, the army, the navy, the government” and so it went on. Nothing constructive and with trials, legal matters, the absolute ignorance of the commentator was simply amazing, and then funny and then worrisome in the extreme.
I also wonder, if not “hiding” behind a false name, would they be so willing to sprout such hatred and foolishness? I say “hiding” because it is extremely simply to trace such people down. As such I traced someone down torpedoing my books from the side, another liberal idiot (all families have such clowns) that did not actually read the books either, it is just personal and the nasty comments made me feel good. It is always nice to bother a liberal enough to stoop to such levels and as they say, “take it from who it comes.”
I am not writing this blog to gain your sympathy for my abuse, nah, that is expected in writing. You will never keep everyone happy and some just have to criticize everything, probably a short man syndrome and I mean length where it matters, yes, figure it out, it is not height, it is size. I warned so many times that freedom of speech is limited by law. What you publish on the internet may become your worst nightmare. Hate speech is not allowed and with reason, it helps nothing, gives no solution and it is a crime. Be careful what you publish, I say again, that name you hide behind, means nothing, you can be traced easily and yes the intelligence agencies do so, all the time.
You cannot blame the websites to say “enough” and to cut the moaners off. Why are you reading a news website, I wonder. To get the news, hopefully accurate and hopefully neutral so you can make up your own mind, the rest is nonsense. What do you care what I have to say unless you pay me to advise you? This is not censorship, is an utterly predictable course of action when abuse becomes the norm and one I agree with. And I can take it further. Does it not say in the Bible that if your brother did you in, see him in private first, and then with two others and lastly with the entire church? Yes, you may say to me now these people are not Christians, why would they bother in following the Word of God? That my friends, is my point since every one of these moaners confesses to be “Christians” and yet they are peculiar, none of their writings shows any goodwill, love or even a desire to be different from the world. Yep, I said enough. Figure it out. I cannot but I am sure God can and will, one day. It is written.
Back in 1917, during the First World War, Wilfred Owen wrote a poem called “Dulce et Decorum Est” and I quote it and other poems in my first Mean Streets Book. Why? Because I wanted to show how dangerous patriotism is and it is interesting to me when I read about South Africans “flooding” back to the old country from abroad. In many books and this blog I said to everyone asking my opinion “Don't come back, what you remember from this place is not what you going to find! You will be disappointed and frankly, not that welcome either” and some then get upset with my reply.
They see my comments as “negative and not supportive” if not downright “unpatriotic” to put it mildly. I have to wonder, why did you leave in the first place and I am not talking about job related work or a gap year, I talk of full blown emigration to start a new life in a new country. In many ways this is the same as thinking you can remarry the woman you divorced and it will work this time. Trust me, it won't. I saw this time and time again and can even explain to you why. You think of the good times and you get nostalgic (and lonely) and you forget what irritated you enough to walk away or to find consolation in another woman's arms leading to the divorce. Rest assured, I will see you again in my office as we file for divorce yet again and for the very same reasons. People don't change and an old dog is not going to learn new tricks, shenanigan perhaps but not tricks. Inherently you are made (gemaak en laat staan in Afrikaans) at 30 years of age and even earlier.
I will never advise anyone to return for the very same reasons, you have not changed. But this country has changed and for the better or worse the historians will decide in a 100 years from now. For me, as a white man, aged 48, it is just for the worse and I am not afraid of saying so (it is called freedom of speech). For another man, it may be paradise and it all depends where you are in life and what you experienced. I have clients who came back...they were part of the failed (miserably and utterly so) “Come home” movement the Department of Foreign Affairs had running (read wasting money) for a few years. Most of the doctors and engineers and business people laughed them off. Those who came back most probably had to come back and yet some were very sincere when they said they wanted to make a difference and hence they came back. Yeah, call me cynical, but after a year or two they quietly leave again and this time they are wiser. Once affirmative action, load shedding, nepotism, corruption, inflation, interest rates and what have you got to them, they run away, again and this time for good.
Now I worked offshore, or overseas, I know that feeling of not having your own culture, language and traditions around you. It works on you and some just could not hack it, they cracked up and we had to fly them (disgracefully so in my eyes) back and replace them. I read of people getting angry when reminded they are not home, i.e. to walk into an Expat's house in Australia and be told “We are Aussies now, stop telling me about South Africa, I don't care mate!” In fact, I believe that is the right attitude. I am sure that many of you reading here remember what we called English speaking South Africans in the old days? Yeah it started with “sout...” and you can smile about it since they were dangling between two places. But let us be honest and say the name was not meant as a compliment and that any “Rooinek” suffered in the Security Forces under Afrikaans instructors. Hence we should stay true to our heritage here and not try to be one or the other, you made your bed, now live with it. But is it wrong when you see someone from far away commenting on local news? I see it often as I read the comments for amusement and inspiration (you find great wit and dry humour now and then, in between the absolutely retarded comments better left unprinted) and often see the “uitlanders” (Afrikaans, foreigners) being told to “shut up and comment about their new country. They have nothing to contribute when sitting overseas.” Is this right or wrong? I get the reply, it makes sense, but it bothers me. The man may be sincerely worried or concerned and should be heard.
I am seriously amused to read of a “brain gain” with the returning Expats (and I do not believe a word from Statistics SA, I want to see who returned before deciding) as a country is compared by its doctors and engineers (lawyers are what is left over after the brightest went to the medical & engineering schools, not very bright including me who does not claim to be a lawyer anymore, praise the Lord). Where are our doctors and engineers and skilled artisans? Not in South Africa they ain't. The reunions are held in Melbourne, London, and New York. Why is that? Simply because most left and they did not come back so where, I ask, is the so called “brain gain?” coming back? It is a joke and let me explain why, in practical terms.
I read that the South African Police Service, the “great” institution which replaced the effective and feared South African Police Force (in which I served honourably enough for six years) is looking for white recruits. They are so desperate that such announcements are made in Afrikaner Churches. That too is amusing, I am sure those who volunteer will be resigned to stay at one rank for fifteen years plus because they are white and no other reason. So most just laugh and walk away, they would rather join the British Army or French Foreign Legion and be treated fairly (and run the risk of being arrested for “mercenary” activities) than to be bothered with the “great” institution. Well, if they ask my opinion and many do, this is what I tell them, leave! The training you will get in the new police or army is laughed at internationally, it counts for nothing and is seen as a joke, rightly or wrongly. If you wish to do things properly, go to a proper country and get properly trained in qualifications which means something in a job market where you compete with such lads.
To get back to poetry, I like poetry by the way and will one day write a poetry book, I leave you with this wisdom in history (which always repeat). Read Wilfred Owen:
“My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.”
What did the poet say? He quoted from Horac who said (I hope sarcastically) that it is is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country. Read my lips, it is a crap notion when your country is not worth dying for. Rather live.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.