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Trevor Noah – Born a Crime

Trevor Noah on growing up in Soweto…

Trevor Noah on being mixed-race in apartheid South Africa: “I was just living this life of being a physical crime”

Noah sat down with “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert to promote his new book, “Born a Crime”

“Late Show” host Stephen Colbert interviewed Trevor Noah to talk about the “Daily Show” host’s forthcoming book, “Born a Crime.”

Asked about the title of the book, Noah said “the title came from my life.”

“I was born a crime. I was born to a black South African mother and a white Swiss father during apartheid in South Africa and them [having sex] was illegal,” he explained. “Apartheid only ended in 1990, so for the first six years of my life I was just living this life of being a physical crime.”

“Writing the book was fantastic because I had to go back through my life. I learned things about my life I didn’t actually even know,” he continued. “For instance, I always thought I was an indoor child. Turns out I wasn’t allowed to leave the house because if I was seen in … the area I lived in, the police would see me and go like, ‘Oh, that kid, he’s a crime, you can see that.’ And then they’d take me away and send me off to an orphanage because my mom wasn’t allowed to have me and my dad wasn’t allowed to have made me.”

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Giant Negros

 

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Women and Wine Production in South Africa

Having done several projects in and for South Africa, I had been tracking the development of black ownership in their quickly emerging wine industry. The business model typically involves an “apprenticeship” with one of the larger producers, with ownership distributed in part (typically 20-30%) to the workers or village which provided the labor, the entrepreneurs, and the established wine company, which could hold no more than about 20% for their assistance in development, cultivation, and distribution. With this model, there are a small but encouraging number of black wine producers now in South Africa. As of this writing, there are only 34 black owned producers in the US, and four from South Africa which are distributed to the US – Seven Sisters, M’Mudi, Highberry, and House of Mandela.

Wineries on the way up in South Africa include Stellekaya winery (stellekaya.com), and Koopmanskloof .

One for the nascent problems for black vintners in South Africa, is that the black population (80%), only about 5% drink wine (beer is by far the favorite beverage). Which mans that these new companies are heavily dependent on exports.

Vivian Kleynhans

The Black Women Leading South Africa’s Wine Revolution

It was at the very first Soweto Wine Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2005 when Vivian Kleynhans offered Selena Cuffe a glass of Seven Sisters wine—the strawberry-colored rosé named after Kleynhans’ sister Twena.

“She is a flirt,” says Kleynhans (née Brutus), the fourth sister and namesake of the sauvignon blanc. “That wine flirts with you—be careful.”

The rosé was so tempting, Cuffe gathered $75,000 in savings and credit cards after returning home to Cambridge, Mass. to import Seven Sisters in the United States. She hardly knew anything about wine.

“We ran out of product in the first six weeks,” says Cuffe, CEO of Heritage Link Brands, the company she founded with her husband a month after meeting Kleynhans, which is also the leading importer of black-produced wines from South Africa and the African diaspora.

With Cuffe’s help, Seven Sisters gained the interests of restaurants, liquor stores and specialty supermarkets across the United States. Vivian, the elegant sauvignon blanc, became the first South African wine ever served on American Airlines.

Then Walmart came knocking in 2013—that is Walmart’s now-retired executive vice president of global sourcing, Ed Kolodzieski, literally showed up at Kleynhans’ door in South Africa with an offer to distribute five of the seven wines, created to match the style and personality of each sister, in more than 650 stores.

The deal firmly planted Seven Sisters as the largest black-owned South African wine brand in America, and put the Brutus sisters, from the small fishing village of Paternoster, on the map in 42 states.

On December 15, Seven Sisters will open the doors of the first—and only—black-owned and woman-owned tasting room in more than 350 years of South African winemaking.

It is a dream come true for seven siblings, who grew up without electricity or a bathroom in a two-bedroom cottage shared between a family of 10.

But the road from wine to riches hasn’t always been sweet—for the Brutus sisters, or the long lineage of black farm workers who pruned vines before them.

South Africa is among the largest wine producers in the world, exporting more than 414 million liters in 2014. While black people make up 80 percent of its population, less than 2 percent of the $3 billion industry is black-owned—a statistic the African National Congress vowed to improve after the country’s first democratic election in 1994.

Socioeconomic disparities is something the Brutus sisters know too well. When their father lost his job during apartheid, the family was forced to split up and live with different relatives—most of the sisters dropped out of school. And they were left with nothing after their parents died.

“The only riches left for us was ourselves,” says Kleynhans, who celebrated her 51st birthday in October.

From a young age, Kleynhans was always the sister who solved everyone’s problems. It was her idea to reunite her siblings after twenty years to create a new legacy with fine wines, albeit an unlikely calling.

Because of its exclusivity, wine was hardly the beverage of choice for the majority of South Africans.

“With apartheid, blacks drank beer, as there were only beer halls in the townships, owned by the government,” says Marilyn Cooper, co-founder of Soweto Wine Festival. “There was no exposure to wine.”

Cooper has seen consumption increase since the inception of Soweto Wine Festival, but says only 5 percent of the black population drinks wine.

Not only that, the relationship between black people and wine in South Africa has been complicated since Dutch settlers planted the first vineyard on indigenous peoples’ land in 1655.

Afrikaners, descendants of the Dutch, have controlled the wine industry for generations, while the descendants of slaves, who were trafficked from African countries, developed the farms, much like African Americans developed plantations in the American south.

Under the apartheid-era “dop system,” farm workers were paid in cheap wine, which exacerbated alcoholism, and kept them dependent on white farmers. Thecolored population, a mixed-race group that includes the Brutus sisters, still suffers from the social damages of alcoholism to this day, which includes one of the highest levels of fetal alcohol syndrome in the world….Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2015 in Women

 

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Mandela’s Legacy

If you have been close to any News source today then you know that ailing former leader of South Africa Nelson Mandela has passed away.

A lot of people will be talking about his life and struggles, and apt comparisons to Ghandi and MLK – but one of the key things that probably won’t be discussed much is his accomplishments in modernizing and opening SOuth Africa’s economy to the formerly oppressed. That may well be his greatest accomplishment – to mold a country back together after a century or more of dysfunction …

During Apartheid the South African economy was held up by the twin mineral riches of gold and diamonds. Unfortunately those mines are pretty much played out. Besides trying to create a system wherein black Africans shared in the economy with their white counterparts the country needed to restructure the basis for i’s economy in terms of producing new goods to trade. Doing so meant breaking up the Apartheid Plantation system wherein whites owned 95% of the arable land in the country, slicing off a portion (not all) of these holdings into community corporations which could develop businesses. This launched the South African wine business into world competitiveness. It also allowed the country to develop regional trade relationships for manufactured goods and agricultural products. The result was that the income level of both white and black South African rose significantly.

The country still has a long way to go. One of the principal problems is a massive influx of immigrants from other parts of Africa who want to share in South African’s success. The formerly black Township of Soweto swelled from 3 million to nearly 20 million  people today in the last 15 years. The result of this is a 25% unemployment rate, despite a relatively healthy economy.

Rest in Peace President Mandela, and look proudly what your country has accomplished, your Long Walk is ended.

Remembering Nelson Mandela’s Unsung Economic Legacy

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, was the most important leader in South Africa’s history and one of the global giants of his time. What people often overlook, however, is the role Mandela played in building up Africa’s largest economy. Nearly as consequential as Mandela’s moral example was his skill in managing the transition from apartheid without widespread violence, repression, or economic collapse.

Mandela believed strongly in the link between economic and political progress. Soon after his release from prison, Mandela argued that there must be “a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed.” At the core of white minority rule had been the “homelands”: a system that kept almost half of South Africa’s population confined to semi-independent or supposedly sovereign states without the freedom to move or look for jobs in the rest of the country. The collapse of apartheid meant the end of those restrictions. The myriad legal restraints that prevented blacks and “coloreds” from gaining promotions—or access to jobs at all—were removed as well. From a state made up of 11 “countries” and three legally distinct racial groups—all with markedly different rights to move, work, and invest—South Africa became one economy. Think of it as opening borders to mass migration under the worst possible circumstances.

The dismantling of the homeland system, however, was by no means a certainty in the early days of Mandela’s presidency. The supposedly “sovereign” homeland of Bophuthatswana, home to 2.5 million, and semi-autonomous Kwazulu both threatened civil war over the dismantling of the homelands.  Relations between the African National Congress and the Zulu Inkatha Freedom party have remained tense—and sporadically violent—since the end of apartheid. But national unity and economic stability were both preserved largely through negotiation and compromise.

South Africa’s gross domestic product growth rate, meanwhile, picked up considerably under Mandela. Economic growth rose from less than 1.5 percent from 1980 to 1994 to slightly under 3 percent from 1995 to 2003. Despite the sudden influx of internal migrants with the legal right to compete equally for jobs, average personal incomes for white South Africans increased by 62 percent from 1993 to 2008, according to University of Cape Town economist Murray Leibbrandt. Average incomes for Africans themselves increased even faster—by 93 percent over that period.

As educational opportunities expanded, secondary enrollment rates increased from 50 percent to 70 percent from 1994 to 2005. The government also rolled out a range of infrastructure services: The proportion of the country that cooked using electricity from the mains climbed from 45 percent in 1993 to 73 percent by 2011, for example.

South Africa has become an increasingly important source of economic opportunity for its neighbors. South African investment accounts for around 70 percent of intra-regional investment flows. Imports from the Southern Africa Development Community—the regional trade block which South Africa joined upon its independence—climbed from $16.3 billion in 1993 to $68.7 billion in 2006. The number of migrants in South Africa—nearly all from other countries in the region—increased from 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent of the population between 1990 and 2010. There are now approximately 3.3 million SADC nationals living in South Africa; remittances from those migrants back to their home countries amount to close on $1 billion a year, according to South Africa’s FinMark Trust. The trust reports a 2005 survey of Zimbabwean remittance recipients in which more than half of respondents “agreed that they would have grown sick with hunger” in the absence of remittance payments.

Some tragic mistakes were made by President Mandela and his successors. The HIV/AIDS crisis and the government’s late and sporadic response to it shaved years off life expectancy. In 1993 4 percent of pregnant women in the country were HIV-positive. That climbed to 28 percent 10 years later, before finally leveling out. Today, a little more than one in 10 of the population is HIV-positive. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high—around 25 percent—and the gap between rich and poor is still wide. In 1993, the average white had an income more than nine times the average African. By 2008 that had dropped—but only to a little less than an eightfold income gap according to analysis by Leibbrandt.

Progress against poverty was even slower than these figures might suggest. That’s because inequality within the African population grew rapidly for the first decade of independence—a trend arrested only by the rapid expansion of social safety net programs in the last few years. (About 30 percent of South Africans benefited from social grants in 2010—up from 13 percent in 2002). Poverty in South Africa remains almost uniquely an African phenomenon. All but six percent of whites have piped water in their homes, for example, while two-thirds of Africans lacked access to it.

It’s worth considering the alternatives. At independence, South Africans looked north to Zimbabwe as a reasonably successful model of how things could work out after a difficult transition to majority rule. They’re extremely lucky that South Africa, under Mandela’s guidance, took a different path. Starting in the 1990s, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe ordered land “reforms” that took property from white farmers and awarded it to his cronies and henchmen, slashing output as a result. By the turn of the century, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate was heading over 100 percent; by 2006 it would top 1,000 percent. Zimbabwe’s economy remains in a state of punch-drunk torpor.

Some may be disappointed that Mandela failed to create an African lion to challenge the East Asian tigers in terms of growth and poverty reduction. But the nonviolent absorption of a considerable majority of the population into an economy from which they had previously been excluded, all while incomes and access to services improved and civil rights were respected, was an incredible accomplishment—one that owes much to Mandela’s leadership. Let’s hope his successors preserve that legacy.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Africa

 

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Just When You Thought Some American Athletes Were Crazy… The Rugby Axe Murderer

Seems we can’t go though a sports season without one or more professional athletes behaving badly (Big Ben and the Masseuse sexual harassment) , or suffering some entirely self-inflicted wound (Burress shooting himself accidentally)…

But just to show that stupidity and craziness are not the sole prerogative of American athletes…

We have the odd case of the South African Rugby Axe Murderer.

One too Many Head Butts... or Steroids?

Rugby Star Charged With Axe Murders

A retired South African rugby star who allegedly went on a killing spree with an axe in one hand and a Bible in the other has been charged with three murders. Joseph Ntshongwana claimed to be taking revenge on a gang that raped his daughter and infected her with HIV, according to a victim who narrowly escaped with his life. Authorities, however, say they’ve established that there was no rape and the former Blue Bulls player doesn’t even have a daughter, the Australian reports. His lawyers argue that he is mentally unfit to stand trial.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Nawwwwww!

 

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Nelson Mandela Released From Hospital

 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in News

 

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Caster Semenya Wins First Race in Return

Caster is back to her winning ways…

Caster Semenya Wins in Return to Track

Caster Semenya won the 800m at a minor meet tonight in Finland, her first competition since the IAAF cleared the South African teen to compete as a woman. Looking happy and relaxed, she comfortably dealt with a larger-than-usual crowd and massive media contingent, the Guardian reports. “I felt more and more comfortable as I started to do my thing,” she said after running a relatively poky 2:04.22—nearly 10 seconds slower than the time that won the world championship a year ago.

“I’m happy to get back to my normal thing,” said Semenya, who missed nearly a year of competition while undergoing gender tests. “I’m not going to say I feel bitter about what happened, because I forgot about that thing a long time ago. It was just good to come back. It’s a new beginning.”

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2010 in News

 

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Caster Semenya – The “Caster Disaster” Continues

Have a feeling we haven’t heard the end of this one. I think maybe the other countries have had a talk with South Africa, and likely oppose Caster competing regardless of the IAAF ruling.  If Caster competes again for South Africa, I would bet it will be in Europe or the US first.

Semenya Not Picked for South Africa Team

Though the IAAF cleared her for competition last Tuesday, Caster Semenya’s year-long absence from racing still isn’t over: The women’s 800m world champion has been left out of South Africa’s team for the African Championships on July 28 in Kenya, after the country’s athletic group determined she wasn’t in good enough shape for it after her long break from racing. The 19-year-old will now work towards the Commonwealth Games in India in October.

Semenya has not raced competitively since gender tests were ordered following her 800m world title win in Berlin last August, BBC reports.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2010 in News

 

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