I once had a boy even make a mixed CD for me, of only songs about Angel. (i can’t pretend that wasn’t cute though)
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So it’s that time of year, Capetonians have all taken up jogging again. Not to get their abs and butts ready for the Clifton catwalk, but to get out of the rain. Jogging from their cars to their offices to escape the winter misery of rain. Ah, for the next three months we are forced indoors and repeat the mantra that ‘We love Cape Town’ over and over again. (lest we forget, when looking out the window at the lack of blue sky and horizontal rain drops)
But, shiny happy people. I ask you to revel in the knowledge that something warm and luxurious has arrived from the islands.
Something that you can drink. Oh yes, I have your attention now.
Step away from your mundane desk in your mind, and allow me to paint you a scene. Picture, in your mind – if you will – an island. You are on that island. Picture the peacock colour of the water, shimmering, shifting tones of blue rolling infinitely out to meet a horizontal strip of blue sky. Throw some picturesque cumulonimbus clouds into that sky. Big fluffy, white, friendly ones. Look above you – there’s a palm tree (of course there is) it’s casting fronds of shade over your toned, tanned, sunbaked body. Look at your feet. They are digging into the softest, baby-powder like sand, with every wiggle the office and the stress of winter skies melts away, feel it between your toes. Listen to the gentle lap of the waves and the cooing of pigeons in the trees nearby. Lick the salty-air off your lips. Now, one more detail is needed to perfect any island fantasy. A cocktail. Picture a cocktail in your hand. What colour is that cocktail? My made up statistics say that 99% of beach cocktail drinks visualised in hypothetical situations are pink. Of course they are. Blue skies, Pink drinks. It’s logical. It makes sense. Just go with it. It’s rum. You like that. It tastes of vanilla and spices. You like that even more.
Peace, Freedom and Harmony.
Now, back to reality, you’re still at your desk. You’re still just reading this. But what if I were to tell you that the wonderful people of Mauritius have managed to bottle all of that for you. And they made it pink. It’d make me very happy if someone told me that. Which is what happened, because they did. And that’s what I’m saying to you – because it’s true. It’s called Pink Pigeon Rum. Made and bottled in Mauritius. And it’s about to do great things in South Africa. Winter just got a whole lot warmer
In slick stylish packaging, with the words Peace, Freedom & Harmony on a pink ring around the neck – what’s not to love? If “what the bleep do we know” taught me anything, it’s that writing positive words on liquid can change the liquid to beautiful, positive crystals. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about – click here) So, not only will it taste like the islands, but you will be ingesting the concepts of Peace Freedom and Harmony with every sip. Now that’s something ALL of South Africa can do with more of. Can we maybe spike Malema’s water jug? Perhaps then he’ll stop with his current top 10 singing faves and start humming John Lennon’s Harmonius hits…*wink*… Just Imagine.
I’m excited to get pink and fluffy…
*that’s what she said! High-pink&fluffy-flinging-flanging-five!*
This is the content of a short speech given on Friday night in Cape Town by Lewis Gordon Pugh OIG (a.k.a. the Human Polar Bear) about the proposed fracking for gas in the Karoo, by Shell. He received a sustained standing ovation ! – Friggen random high five moment of NOTE.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank for the opportunity to address you. My name is Lewis Pugh.
This evening, I want to take you back to the early 1990’s in this country. You may remember them well.
Nelson Mandela had been released. There was euphoria in the air. However, there was also widespread violence and deep fear. This country teetered on the brink of a civil war. But somehow, somehow, we averted it. It was a miracle!
And it happened because we had incredible leaders. Leaders who sought calm.. Leaders who had vision. So in spite of all the violence, they sat down and negotiated a New Constitution.
I will never forget holding the Constitution in my hands for the first time.
I was a young law student at the University of Cape Town. This was the cement that brought peace to our land. This was the document, which held our country together. The rights contained herein, made us one.
I remember thinking to myself – never again will the Rights of South Africans be trampled upon.
Now every one of us – every man and every women – black, white, coloured, Indian, believer and non believer – has the right to vote. We all have the Right to Life. And our children have the right to a basic education. These rights are enshrined in our Constitution.
These rights were the dreams of Oliver Tambo. These rights were the dreams of Nelson Mandela. These rights were the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi, of Desmond Tutu and of Molly Blackburn. These rights were our dreams.
People fought and died so that we could enjoy these rights today.
Also enshrined in our Constitution, is the Right to a Healthy Environment and the Right to Water. Our Constitution states that we have the Right to have our environment protected for the benefit of our generation and for the benefit of future generations.
Fellow South Africans, let us not dishonour these rights. Let us not dishonour those men and women who fought and died for these rights. Let us not allow corporate greed to disrespect our Constitution and desecrate our environment.
Never, ever did I think that there would be a debate in this arid country about which was more important gas or water. We can survive without gas…. We cannot live without water.
If we damage our limited water supply and fracking will do just that we will have conflict again here in South Africa. Look around the world. Wherever you damage the environment you have conflict.
Fellow South Africans, we have had enough conflict in this land now is the time for peace.
A few months ago I gave a speech with former President of Costa Rica. Afterwards I asked him “Mr President, how do you balance the demands of development against the need to protect the environment?”
He looked at me and said : “It is not a balancing act. It is a simple business decision. If we cut down our forests in Costa Rica to satisfy a timber company, what will be left for our future?”
But he pointed out : “It is also a moral decision. It would be morally wrong to chop down our forests and leave nothing for my children and my grandchildren.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that is what is at stake here today: Our children’s future. And that of our children s children.
There may be gas beneath our ground in the Karoo. But are we prepared to destroy our environment for 5 to 10 years worth of fossil fuel and further damage our climate?
Yes, people will be employed but for a short while. And when the drilling is over, and Shell have packed their bags and disappeared, then what? Who will be there to clean up? And what jobs will our children be able to eke out?
Now Shell will tell you that their intentions are honourable. That fracking in the Karoo will not damage our environment. That they will not contaminate our precious water. That they will bring jobs to South Africa.
That gas is clean and green. And that they will help secure our energy supplies.
When I hear this I have one burning question. Why should we trust them? Africa is to Shell what the Gulf of Mexico is to BP.
Shell, you have a shocking record here in Africa. Just look at your operations in Nigeria. You have spilt more than 9 million barrels of crude oil into the Niger Delta. That’s twice the amount of oil that BP spilt into the Gulf of Mexico.
You were found guilty of bribing Nigerian officials and to make the case go away in America – you paid an admission of guilt fine of US$48 million.
And to top it all, you stand accused of being complicit in the execution of Nigeria’s leading environmental campaigner Ken Saro-Wira and 8 other activists.
If you were innocent, why did you pay US$15.5 million to the widows and children to settle the case out of Court?
Shell, the path you want us to take us down is not sustainable. I have visited the Arctic for 7 summers in a row. I have seen the tundra thawing.
I have seen the retreating glaciers. And I have seen the melting sea ice. And I have seen the impact of global warming from the Himalayas all the way down to the low-lying Maldive Islands. Wherever I go I see it.
Now is the time for change. We cannot drill our way out of the energy crisis. The era of fossil fuels is over. We must invest in renewable energy. And we must not delay!
Shell, we look to the north of our continent and we see how people got tired of political tyranny. We have watched as despots, who have ruled ruthlessly year after year, have been toppled in a matter of weeks.
We too are tired. Tired of corporate tyranny. Tired of your short term, unsustainable practices.
We watched as Dr Ian Player, a game ranger from Natal, and his friends, took on Rio Tinto (one of the biggest mining companies in the world) and won.
And we watched as young activists from across Europe, brought you down to your knees, when you tried to dump an enormous oil rig into the North Sea.
Shell, we do not want our Karoo to become another Niger Delta.
Do not underestimate us. Goliath can be brought down. We are proud of what we have achieved in this young democracy and we are not about to let your company come in and destroy it.
So let this be a Call to Arms to everyone across South Africa, who is sitting in the shadow of Goliath: Stand up and demand these fundamental human rights promised to you by our Constitution. Use your voices – tweet, blog, petition, rally the weight of your neighbours and of people in power.
Let us speak out from every hilltop. Let us not go quietly into this bleak future.
Let me end off by saying this – You have lit a fire in our bellies, which no man or woman can extinguish. And if we need to, we will take this fight all the way from your petrol pumps to the very highest Court in this land. We will take this fight from the farms and towns of the Karoo to the streets of London and Amsterdam. And we will take this fight to every one of your shareholders. And I have no doubt, that in the end, good will triumph over evil.
Jonathan Jansen, I salute you. We need more South Africans like you.
My South Africa by Jonathan Jansen
My South Africa is the working-class man who called from the airport to return my wallet without a cent missing. It is the white woman who put all three of her domestic worker’s children through the same school that her own child attended. It is the politician in one of our rural provinces, Mpumalanga, who returned his salary to the government as a statement that standing with the poor had to be more than just a few words. It is the teacher who worked after school hours every day during the public sector strike to ensure her children did not miss out on learning.
My South Africa is the first-year university student in Bloemfontein who took all the gifts she received for her birthday and donated them – with the permission of the givers – to a home for children in an Aids village. It is the people hurt by racist acts who find it in their hearts to publicly forgive the perpetrators. It is the group of farmers in Paarl who started a top school for the children of farm workers to ensure they got the best education possible while their parents toiled in the vineyards. It is the farmer’s wife in Viljoenskroon who created an education and training centre for the wives of farm labourers so that they could gain the advanced skills required to operate accredited early-learning centers for their own and other children.
My South Africa is that little white boy at a decent school in the Eastern Cape who decided to teach the black boys in the community to play cricket, and to fit them all out with the togs required to play the gentelman’s game.
It is the two black street children in Durban, caught on camera, who put their spare change in the condensed milk tin of a white beggar. It is the Johannesburg pastor who opened up his church as a place of shelter for illegal immigrants. It is the Afrikaner woman from Boksburg who nailed the white guy who shot and killed one of South Africa’s greatest freedom fighters outside his home.
My South Africa is the man who went to prison for 27 years and came out embracing his captors, thereby releasing them from their impending misery.
It is the activist priest who dived into a crowd of angry people to rescue a woman from a sure necklacing. It is the former police chief who fell to his knees to wash the feet of Mamelodi women whose sons disappeared on his watch; it is the women who forgave him in his act of contrition. It is the Cape Town university psychologist who interviewed the ‘Prime Evil’ in Pretoria Centre and came away with emotional attachment, even empathy, for the human being who did such terrible things under apartheid.
My South Africa is the quiet, dignified, determined township mother from Langa who straightened her back during the years of oppression and decided that her struggle was to raise decent children, insist that they learn, and ensure that they not succumb to bitterness or defeat in the face of overwhelming odds.
It is the two young girls who walked 20kms to school everyday, even through their matric years, and passed well enough to be accepted into university studies. It is the student who takes on three jobs, during the evenings and on weekends, to find ways of paying for his university studies.
My South Africa is the teenager in a wheelchair who works in townships serving the poor. It is the pastor of a Kenilworth church whose parishioners were slaughtered, who visits the killers and asks them for forgiveness because he was a beneficiary of apartheid. It is the politician who resigns on conscientious grounds, giving up status and salary because of an objection in principle to a social policy of her political party. It is the young lawman who decides to dedicate his life to representing those who cannot afford to pay for legal services.
My South Africa is not the angry, corrupt, violent country those deeds fill the front pages of newspapers and the lead-in items on the seven-o’-clock news. It is the South Africa often unseen, yet powered by the remarkable lives of ordinary people. It is the citizens who keep the country together through millions of acts of daily kindness.