Cecilia's Blog

26 January 2015

4 Tips of Advice to Managers – From a Minion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cecilia @ 16:28
Tags: , , , , ,
I work in an industry (engineering) where senior managers are never really trained or coached to actually be senior managers. Most of them began their careers as technical minions (where I am in my career at the moment) and with time and experience they got promoted into managerial posts where they have to oversee and supervise a bunch of minions. However, I doubt that any of them, when they were young and still students at university, ever dreamed of managing their own little cohort of minions and running a mini-kingdom.

In principle I have no problem with promoting someone experienced into a senior position and expecting them to mentor and supervise a group of juniors. However, most of these managers come from technical backgrounds and have little to zero “people skills.” They are extremely knowledgable when it comes to technical matters and solving technical problems, but present them with a real-life, human, emotional problem, and often they will falter and their interventions end up making matters worse.

How to solve this?

1. Training
I’m a big fan of training and, although I haven’t done any research in this area, I’m sure that a bit of training in psychology can only be of benefit to managers. Maybe some organisations already do this (I wouldn’t know – I’m but a lowly minion and not due for a promotion any time soon) but before an employee is promoted or employed into a more senior, managerial position, he/she should be sent on a compulsory human resource management course. These courses should teach things like: conflict resolution techniques, psychology 101, how to provide career mentoring and guidance, and so on. Managers with technical backgrounds have absolutely no idea how to dissolve conflict within a team, and I’ve come across my fair share of seniors who sucked at giving me career advice and mentorship. (Ironically, the best mentoring I’ve received were from seniors who were not my managers or supervisors.)

2. Get to know the individuals
It’s very easy to generalise and stereotype the minions in a team. Don’t. Managers should always remember the time they first interviewed the minions, or when they first met the minions. Although people in a team may all be working together on a single project and have similar backgrounds, training, and experience, they are all still individuals with individual needs. One should never assume that a group of technical people working together have the same strengths, interests or career goals. Many managers with technical backgrounds (like engineering managers) struggle with this, and consequently I would recommend that managers simply take some time to observe and notice their team members. Notice what they wear, their body language, how they write e-mails, and how they engage with others in the team. Humans are terrible at masking their body language, so armed with Psychology 101 and by just paying a little bit more attention, one can quickly identify the team mates who are insecure and in need of more coaching or training, the ones who are bored and in need of more challenges or responsibility, and the ones who are happy, confident, and flourishing. If observation during normal working hours is not your thing or too difficult, trying having a group coffee hour once every two weeks and then try and notice the individuals and their individual traits. If you’re unsure about your minions’ career goals, talk to them about it. After all, that should be worked into their Key Performance Indicators somewhere, so it’s always a useful conversation to have anyway.

3. Don’t be a control freak
I’ve had many bosses who were too perfectionistic, too pedantic, and too set in their ways. As a more senior person you are naturally assumed to be more knowledgeable and experienced, but be warned: you are probably also older and more resistant to new ideas. Fair enough – txt spk in e-mails and professional documents is unacceptable, but realise that your younger underlings may have new tricks up their sleeves that you could learn from. Give them a chance to put their new methods to use, and if it backfires, be the bigger person and handle the failure graciously. But whatever you do – try not to restrict the growth of your minions. As a minion, there is nothing worse than feeling suffocated by a boss and feeling that the only way to do things is the boss’s way.

4. Always remember the bigger picture
The performance and success of senior managers are, usually, determined by the size of the profit margin or the number of tenders won or the number of projects successfully closed or a combination of these things. Metrics like “minion happiness” or “minion job satisfaction” may be evaluated, but they are never seriously considered when the performance of a manager is determined. I could be wrong – maybe these metrics are indeed taken seriously in some organisations – but in the engineering, technical field, I have a suspicion that these “soft” metrics are hardly ever taken seriously. After all, it is much easier to draw objective comparisons on the sizes of profit margins than it is to compare subjective ratings on job satisfaction. However, what I believe many managers forget, is that happy employees are productive employees, which in turn will (and, generally, do) realise bigger profit margins and more successes. Therefore the primary focus for a manager should not be the nitty gritty technical details of the work, but the more human, softer elements of team cohesion, happiness, and job satisfaction. Sure, work is work (else it would’ve been called “party” or “vacation”) but managers should try to remember the bigger picture and not exclusively focus on deliverables and deadlines and hours booked and profits made.

Lastly – a word of advice to my fellow minions:

If you’re unhappy in your workplace, do something about it. Life is much too short to be miserable for 8 hours a day for roughly 250 days a year. If you feel you lack training or exposure, speak to your manager about it. If you are struggling to work with a team mate, speak to your manager about it. If you are having a problem with your manager, explore alternatives within your organisation and consult your organisation’s HR for help. Yes, it will be awkward and uncomfortable to talk about these things and confront the issues head on, but in the end you will end up happier and feeling more fulfilled professionally while your manager will have a happier, more productive and more motivated minion. Just remember to always remain polite and professional, but be firm about your specific needs.

Cecilia is a minion engineer doing engineering. She’s only ever had engineers as bosses. She’s hoping this blog post isn’t a career-limiting move, because she really enjoys engineering and hopes to level-up one day to be a manager.


25 March 2014

My thoughts on the #nomakeupselfie phenomenon

Filed under: current affairs — Cecilia @ 20:05
Tags: , , ,

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I feel that this saying applies to the #nomakeupselfie trend that seems to have flooded social networks lately. The original idea behind the trend, I am led to believe, was good and honourable. It is always good to support a charitable cause, and what is more honourable than supporting cancer research? However, I am disappointed to see that the original idea has morphed into just another narcissistic trend and that the masses have all jumped onto this bandwagon without stopping to ask themselves what the real point of this whole exercise is.

It irks me that it took the vain act of a selfie to raise money. It is supposed to be a makeup-free selfie, but based on some of the photos I have seen it seems to me that mascara and eyeliner does not count as makeup. In some cases it looks like lipgloss also isn’t regarded as makeup, but maybe the girls just licked their lips to get that glossy sheen. (What do I know anyway.)

I’m digressing.

The point is — what about the many who annually contribute to charities quietly out of their own accord? Suddenly, unless you post a #nomakeupselfie and put it out there for all to see, proudly proclaiming that this is for “a good cause”, your donations or time volunteered to charities just doesn’t count and is nonchalantly ignored by society. (Not the charities. I am sure they are eternally grateful to those who have regular debit orders going off.)

Is that what we have become? Really?! Does it take something this shallow — SELFIES, for goodness’ sake! —  to raise money?

In the end, I suppose, if it raises funds and helps cash-strapped charities, then it’s all good. That is, after all, the ultimate objective. But I am just really disappointed in my fellow human being to discover that it takes something like a virus of #nomakeupselfies to raise funds.

That reminds me. Girls — you’re supposed to donate money to a charity when you post your #nomakeupselfie. Unless you’re a celebrity, it is highly unlikely that your random picture of yourself on the internet will raise money for anyone.

P.S. Of course I’m generalising. There are some girls out there who have put their faces sans any trace of makeup on social media and have attached their proofs of payment to a charity. Good on you! But you should still be contributing to charities anyway… and not make this a once-off thing that is coupled with a selfie.

25 April 2012

I’m engaged to be married. I’m not a bride-to-be. There’s a difference.

Filed under: personal — Cecilia @ 20:34
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I’ll never forget the moment I told my mother I am engaged. She braced herself, and quietly asked “What kind of wedding do you want?”
I almost burst into tears. “Please,” I begged, “I don’t want a big white wedding.”
My mother heaved a sigh of relief. “Don’t worry,” she hugged me. “I didn’t think you would. It doesn’t suit you. It’s not you.”

There you have it – it is not me.

Yes, I’m engaged to be married. Yes, I want to make my lifelong commitment and loyalty to one man public and official. But no, I am not a bride.

Here is why not:

(1) The Bride’s Day

It’s not unheard of to hear the wedding day referred to as “The Bride’s Day”. Sorry? What? You mean the groom is unimportant? You mean it’s not about him too? His opinion is irrelevant? What if he’s allergic to roses? What if he actually prefers turquoise to royal blue?

I hate the fact that most of the attention is on the bride on the wedding day. Why is it like that? Surely the focus of the day should be the couple and about the promises they are making to each other, not about the bride and what she is wearing? I also hate this assumption that the wedding day is something that all little girls have been dreaming about since their birth. “It is your one day to be a princess,” people say. What? What delusional planet do you people come from? No, I have never dreamt of my wedding day. I have never wanted to be a princess. An astronaut, yes. A dragon-slayer wearing body armor, yes. A princess? What on earth for?

Alice, from the movie "Alice in Wonderland", dressed up in armor and ready to slay the Jabberwocky.

I hate it. The day that is all about me is my birthday. That’s my day. My wedding day is not that. In fact, it is not even my wedding day. It is our wedding day. It is about us and the intimate, serious promises we make to each other. It’s got nothing to do with me or my hair or my dress or my shoes. It’s about us.

(2) The Guests

It appears to be standard practice to invite absolutely everyone you’ve ever met in your life to your wedding. Auntie Mary who is the second cousin to your uncle’s ex-wife’s brother? Oh, but Auntie Mary bought your Girl Scout cookies when you were ten. So yes, Auntie Mary must definitely be invited. Jonno, the crazy alcoholic friend of your brother’s girlfriend’s best friend when they studied together? Yes, Jonno should be invited because you are Facebook friends and he will feel left out if Jessica gets an invitation but he doesn’t. Also, you can’t invite Bob but not invite Jonno. So yes, Jonno must be invited.


Has the world gone mad?

Why is there this crazy expectation that people who are not close to you at all, who never call you on your birthday or even know where you live, should be invited to your wedding? Again, a wedding is a actually a serious occasion. Two people are making some pretty serious vows to each other. Is it really necessary to invite every Tom, Dick and Harry to witness such a private moment between two people? Why?!

I don’t get it. So forget it. My parents and his parents will be at our wedding. That’s it. It’s got nothing to do with the rest of you anyway. So bugger off. No, you are not invited!

(3) The Venue

Not too long ago I came across the term “wedding village”. I threw up a little inside my mouth. A “wedding village”? Oh yes, you know, one of those “one-stop-shop” places where you have everything on one premises: the rooms where the bride and groom get dressed on the day, the chapel, the reception area (complete with a dance hall), some scenery that makes for your nice, clichéd wedding photos and, of course, the honeymoon suite that the happy couple retire to at the end of the evening.

Your typical, clichéd wedding photo. Yuck!

Now, the concept of a “wedding village” is actually not a bad one. It’s convenient to have everything together because it minimizes the chances of forgetting a little flower girl or a groomsman’s socks somewhere and it also means that your guests (assuming you’ve buckled under peer pressure and invited all 500 people you have ever met in your life) only get lost once trying to find this village instead of getting lost on the way to the church and then getting lost again making their way to the reception venue.

What I do have a problem with, though, is the commercialisation of it all. There are now wedding villages everywhere… and they all look the same. They are all clichéd, tacky and kitsch. They all have the same sentimental and nostalgic-looking chapels. They all have rolling lawns, tree-lined avenues and water features. Their reception halls all have the same, bland food. And all of them, every single one of them, charges you an arm and a leg and another bond on your house. I’ve heard of people having to put down a R40,000 deposit just to book one of these places, and that the final bill is expected to amount to about R120,000 once everyone has been fed and the bouquet and garter have been tossed.

Another typical, cheesy wedding pic. You people all do the same stuff! Have you no originality?!

Are you people nuts?! R120,000? Do you have any idea what an awesome holiday you could go on for that amount of money? Instead it is being wasted on trying to impress the guests. Guests, remember, who have such distant connections to you that you need to trace through your life history to remember where they fit into the picture.

Forget it. I’ve got other things I would rather waste money on. Things like a lovely ski holiday for just me and my man. Or a deposit on our first home. Not a ridiculous wedding village with a wedding package.

(4) The Wedding Industry

Only Greenpeace with their mantra that nuclear power is a bad idea can make my blood boil at a higher temperature than the term “wedding industry”. I hate the fact that the term “wedding industry” even exists! I can’t believe that something sacred between two people can be turned into a money-making business. It is disgusting! And yet, everywhere women (yes, mostly brides-to-be) fall for it. They get trapped spending thousands on wedding invitations (you do realize that those wedding invitations will get thrown away once the wedding is over, right?). They fret about colour palettes and matching almost anything with everything (from the bridesmaids dresses to the serviettes to the groom’s socks to the tablecloths to the curtains must all be same tinge of lavender). And, oh yes, the invitations should already have that lavender in them! The flowers – the bride’s bouquet, the bridesmaids flowers in their hair, the flowers in the chapel and the flowers on the tables – must all match and have a common theme. The photographer must have a fat portfolio, awards and certificates coming out of every orifice and a ridiculous hourly rate. The videographer must at least have been nominated for an Oscar. The musicians must all be professionals with at least 20 albums each. The people preparing the food must all be cordon bleu gourmet chefs and the hair and make-up people must all be beauty consultants to celebrities.

Oh, and remember brides, if you don’t get a french manicure, then you have failed in your role as a bride!

Sorry….. what? Can’t you people see what absolute madness this is? How can any rational, thinking person, fall for this? HOW??

I don’t get it. I really, honestly, don’t get it. Our wedding invitations will be sent by e-mail, and neither of us could be bothered about colour schemes. It’s enough to know that I will wear a white dress and he will wear a black suit. Oh, and guess what – I am actually showing my husband-to-be what I will be wearing! For goodness sake, the man lives with me and I regularly ask him “How do I look?” so why can’t he give some inputs into my dress? None of this superstitious “the groom may not see you before your wedding day” rubbish for us!

So to conclude – you are all welcome to your formulaic, clichéd weddings with the 500 strangers and white peace doves. I’m not interested. I haven’t heard of a single bride who wasn’t stressed about her Big Day and, you know what? I have enough stress in my daily life that I really do not need extra stress worrying about nonsense like whether the specially imported snow drops will have wilted by the time the ceremony starts. We’re having a plain, simple registry office wedding followed by a special meal with our parents. I will look pretty and he will look handsome. We’ll exchange rings and make a couple of tear-jerking promises to each other in front of our parents. And we’ll eat and drink and enjoy our wedding night somewhere special and intimate away from home.

But then that’s it. A day or two later we’ll have a casual get together (probably at Gilroys) with our close friends.

But that’s it.

No colour schemes.

No tossing of bouquets.

No fretting about bridesmaids dresses and Auntie Mary that got an invitation but not Auntie Georgie.


But okay… maybe I’ll give in and get a french manicure.

17 August 2011

Testing the Gautrain

Filed under: out and about — Cecilia @ 23:15
Tags: ,

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Gautrain (as is clearly evident in the picture). Actually, I love all trains, and it is really cool to have one that zips around at 160km/h in my neighbourhood. I’ve moaned that it is silly that the last one stops running at 20h30 and I’ve moaned that the airport link should open earlier than 05h30. I’ve moaned about the lack of buses over weekends. So I’ve moaned my moans, but overall I still think it is worth it because something like the Gautrain was needed to connect the economic hubs of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

However, I have an inherent need to test things and measure their performance. From various sources (colleagues, friends, the Twitterverse and the Facebookers) I’ve gathered that the Gautrain between Johannesburg and Pretoria works incredibly well if you’re a regular commuter. If you stay in the one city and have to travel daily to the other city, the Gautrain is a winner. In addition, if you’re tired of frequenting the malls in your area over a weekend, then the malls in another city are now an easy and stress-free Gautrain ride away.

But what if you’re in my scenario?

It is a Wednesday morning. My office is in Rosebank, right next to the Rosebank Gautrain station. I have an 11h00 meeting in Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria. I know there is a Gautrain bus stop right outside the building where my meeting will be held. Do I drive? Or do I take the Gautrain?

Today I put the Gautrain to the test.

Unfortunately the data I recorded on my trip from Rosebank to Lynnwood Manor got lost, but I managed to log some data on my return trip.

00:00 – Arrive at bus stop. (I didn’t count the ten steps it took me to walk to the bus stop.)

01:48 – Gautrain bus arrives. (Talk about good timing!)

17:41 – Gautrain bus arrives at Hatfield station.

15:44 – Time spent as follows: walking from the bus through the station turnstile, walking down the stairs to the platform, and spending a good 14 minutes waiting for the next train to arrive at the platform.

04:01 – Time spent sitting on the stationary train before it finally left Hatfield station.

37:19 – Time spent onboard the Gautrain from Hatfield station to Rosebank station. I stopped the timer the minute the train stopped in Rosebank. Time spent exiting the station was not logged.

01:48 + 17:41 + 15:44 + 04:01 + 37:19 = 1hr 16min 36sec

If I had to drive from the Lynnwood Manor office back to my office in Rosebank, I would have spent roughly 50 minutes on the road.


Some comments on the timing:

(1) The drive of 50 minutes assumes no traffic jams (accidents, slow trucks, faulty traffic lights, etc.), no roadworks slowing things down, and no other unforseen eventualities (like a puncture, for example).

(2) Although the total Gautrain trip took 1hr 16min, about half of that was time spent on the actual train. I consider that to be time gained because, during those 37 minutes, I could open my laptop and carry on working. (Strictly speaking I gained more than 37min because it took the train 4min before it departed from Hatfield.) When you are driving you cannot work and drive!

(3) My timing with respect to catching a bus was lucky. I have heard of people waiting up to 30 minutes before a bus arrives.

(4) No traffic jams or rush hour affected the bus journey (so perhaps I was also lucky).


Some comments on costs:

At the moment there are no tolls on the N1 connecting Johannesburg and Pretoria. According to Google Maps I would have travelled about 37km on the N1 highway, and if we assume a worst-case scenario of 40c per km (the current rumour as to how much the toll fees will be) I would have paid about R15.00. However, the rumours indicate that the price of 40c per km is what will be charged during peak hours and for those who travel outside peak hours (like I did this morning) the cost charged per km will be less.

I keep a detailed log book of my car’s fuel consumption and over the last 36,184km that I have travelled, my car averaged 6.3 litres per 100km. According to Google Maps the distance that I would have had to drive today from Rosebank to Lynnwood Manor would be 52.5km which would, on average, have burnt 3.3 litres of petrol. Currently 93 Unleaded is priced at R9.91 per litre; hence it would have cost me about R33.00.

I have no idea how to quantify wear and tear on my car, so I’m going to hazard a guess and say R1.00. My car is still fairly new (it has just hit the 60,000km mark) and it is still within its service plan, so I’m assuming that the wear and tear costs are minimal.

Total cost if I had travelled by car (assuming there had been tolls):

R15.00 + R33.00 + R1.00 = R49.00

In reality, though, it would’ve been less since there are currently no toll fees being charged. The R49.00 is a worst-case scenario.

My Gautrain trip today cost me: R46+R6 = R52. (See the Gautrain’s fare guide for details.)


So let’s look at the two options:

(1) Toll fees (worst-case scenario)

(2) No toll fees (current scenario)


Option 1:

R49.00 and 0 minutes free time


R52.00 and 37 minutes of free time (to catch up on work or whatever)

I prefer gaining time and for me the R3.00 difference is negligible. So in this scenario the Gautrain is clearly the better option.


Option 2:

R34.00 and 0 minutes of free time


R52.00 and 37 minutes of free time

For an extra R18.00 I gain 37 minutes, or, roughly, for every minute of free time I want, I have to pay 50c.

Now the question is: is one minute of free time worth 50c? If you wanted an hour just to yourself to do whatever you wanted, would you pay R30.00?


Would you?


To be honest, I’m not sure I would.

13 April 2010

RIP Adam Reyneke

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cecilia @ 20:47
Tags: , ,
When I got home this evening, I noticed my mother was out and that I would be home alone for a while. I unlocked the door, walked inside, switched on the lights, and immediately noticed the church leaflet lying on the always empty counter. On the cover was the face of a smiling young man clad in cycling gear. And – before I could help myself – I burst into tears.
Dear Adam AKA “Snotneus”
I never knew you. I never met you. To be honest, I don’t think my parents really ever spoke about you. Until you tragically passed away. Since then, they speak about you. Often. Fondly. And with watery eyes. And from what I’ve heard I’m sure you would’ve made me laugh the way you seemed to have made others laugh. It is clear that you have left behind a huge hole – not only in your family, friends and cycling peers, but even in complete outsiders like me.
Rest in peace.
Dear Reyneke family,
Our thoughts are with you. And will be for a very long time. I doubt that this wound will ever heal, but I sincerely hope that the pain becomes bearable after a while.
Sincerest condolences,
The daughter of Johan and Elizabeth van der Merwe, the tandem riders.



Adam Reyneke tragically passed away while training on 6 April 2010. A car hit him. He was only 17.

Motorists and other road users – please do watch out for cyclists.

9 April 2010

‘n Oop brief aan my regse, Afrikaner “maatjies” (en ander briewe ook)

Filed under: current affairs — Cecilia @ 12:32
Tags: , , , ,

Beste Koos*

Toe jou e-pos met die titel, “Land grabs RSA!” in my inbox beland het, het ek eers gedink dat dit ‘n grappie is wat nou net hier aangekom het. Aangesien dinge deesdae maar rof gaan by die werk en ek maar min grappies per e-pos kry, het ek toe moeite gedoen om te dubbel-kliek op dié enetjie. Ek het ‘n oulike, effens sarkastiese storietjie verwag. Amper iets in die lyn van Hayibo se “artikels”. (Terloops – my gunsteling een op die Hayibo webwerf is tans hierdie een…)

Toe nou nie. In plaas van oulike humor, moes ek toe sinnetjies lees soos “We need to unite in prayer and stand up against the evil forces of darkness that has built a house of lies and inequity and will not refrain from murder, theft, rape and whatever the Lord has condemned. The more absurd, the more acceptable!”

Dit was klaar erg genoeg, maar jou e-pos gaan toe aan: “What is happening right now in South Africa is a fulfilment of prophecies of the last century – even to the date and time of 2010!!!! (Black racist regime, 3 farm murders each week, ET’s brutal murder by a so-called youth, land grabs, finally this year we will see a full-scale extermination attempt of all non-black people in Southern Africa).”

Teen die tyd het my koffie my begin naar maak. Maar ek lees toe verder:

“Pray that the ANC’s racist regime will come to a fall and be replaced with a man of God as leader of our country. Pray that we will get help from God and also from civilised nations. Pray that God’s will be done!”

Toe haal jy die volgende versies uit die Bybel uit aan:

Matthew 6:13 – “And let us not be put to the test, but keep us safe from the Evil One.”

2 Thessalonians 3:1 – “For the rest, my brothers, let there be prayer for us that the word of the Lord may go forward with increasing glory, even as it goes with you;”

2 Chronicles 20:15 – “And he said, Give ear, O Judah, and you people of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat: the Lord says to you, Have no fear and do not be troubled on account of this great army; for the fight is not yours but God’s.”

en hierdie ene was in geel ge-highlight, so ek neem aan dit was die belangrikste gedeelte:

2 Thessalonians 3:2 – “And that we may be made free from foolish and evil men; for not all have faith.”

Nadat jy jou brief met “God bless” afgesluit het, het jy toe ‘n berig uit The Zimbabwe Mail in geplak; ‘n berig wat ek reeds die naweek op die internet gelees het en reeds witwarm met my internetmaatjies bespreek het.

Nou goed.

Ek was woedend. Ek kon aan die warmte in my gesig voel dat ek rooi gegloei het soos ‘n kooltjie op ‘n braai. Gelukkig, net op daardie oomblik, bel my baas toe en sê “Meeting. Now. In my office,” so toe verlaat ek my liewe MacBook en gaan vergader in my baas se kantoor in die gang af. Dis eers nou, meer as 8 ure later, terwyl ek op die trein sit en cappuccino drink terwyl my e-pos aflaai (te danke aan die gratis wi-fi wat ek op my treintjie kry), dat ek kalm genoeg is om jou ontstellende briefie mooi te beantwoord.

Aangesien ek nie ‘n Christen is nie, en ook nie in ‘n Christen familie grootgeword het nie, moes ek ‘n klomp goed Google. Dankie tog vir Google! Google weet alles, is orals, en beantwoord altyd al my vrae! (Wag bietjie, beteken dit dan dat Google ‘n geloof is?) Nêrens in die Bybel kon ek enige verwysing kry na die “prophecy” wat voorspel dat Eugene Terreblanche in 2010 vermoor gaan word nie. Ek moes toe vir Google vra om eerder Nostradamus se voorspellings na te slaan, maar selfs dié soektog het vir my ‘n “Error, not found” boodskappie gegee. Ek het ook niks gekry toe ek die woorde “black racist regime + prophecy + 2010” vir Google gegee het nie. Die woorde “full-scale extermination + non-blacks + 2010” het my ‘n verwysing gegee na ‘n PDF met die titel “Odors and Air Pollutants 2010”, maar ek dink nie dis wat jy bedoel het nie.

So na watter “prophecy” verwys jy? Want dit lyk nie vir my of enige sulke voorspellings in die Bybel, of selfs in Nostradamus se skrywes voorkom nie. Ek het selfs ‘n kans gevat en vir Google gevra om te kyk wat het Siener van Rensburg oor die saak te sê, maar daar het ek ook nie eintlik antwoorde gekry nie. Ek sien hy het wel iets gesê soos “The era from 1994 until the death of Nelson Mandela will be the era in which the Afrikaners lose their power in parliament, get persecuted, murdered and alienated from their roots.” Maar net daarna het Siener gesê “… but also very big trouble will be upon the Earth, and as a result many European refugees will flee to South Africa.” Nou wat nou? Nou is ek eers deurmekaar!

Toe, omdat ek glad nie die Bybel ken nie, vra ek bietjie vir Google om te verduidelik wat God te sê het oor verkragting, moord en diefstal. Sjoe. Dit het my ‘n rukkie gevat om deur alles te lees. Klink my God is nogal bloeddorstig by tye. Hy moedig verkragtig aan (Judges 21:10-24; Numbers 31:7-18; Deuteronomy 20:10-14) of hy straf die arme vrou wat verkrag is nog verder (Deuteronomy 22:28-29; Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Ek sien hy sê mens is geregtig om meer terug te steel as wat van jou gesteel is (Exodus 22:1-8) en, as ek daardie “’n oog vir ‘n oog” -ding reg verstaan, dan beteken dit mens mag terugmoor indien iemand lede van jou familie en/of vriendekring vermoor het. So wat nou? Jy het in jou briefie geskryf, “The more absurd, the more acceptable!” Inderdaad, ja!

So nee wat. Ek het nog nooit geloof of voorspellings of voodoo of toordoktery verstaan nie, so ek gaan dit eerder los vir die slim mense wat dit wel verstaan. Maar wat ek tog verstaan, is die verbasende invloed wat slegte joernalistiek op die gemiddelde ou het. Mens hoef net te luister na die hoeveelheid mense wat gereeld Carte Blanche aanhaal, om te besef dat die gemiddelde ou nie met ‘n skeptiese of vraende houding na enige joernalistiek kyk nie (onthou jy die belaglike goed wat hulle destyds kwytgeraak het oor die PBMR? En die mense het dit geglo!). Die artikel wat jy aangehaal het is ongelukkig ‘n voorbeeld van Mugabe en die Zanu-PF se media propaganda. Ek en ‘n handjievol van my internetmaatjies het dit onmiddelik vermoed toe die artikel op die internet gepubliseer is. Kort daarna was hierdie artikel, wat dit bevestig, gepubliseer. Ek sien dat selfs ou Max du Preez in hierdie berig impliseer dat mens dit ook maar met ‘n knippie sout moet lees en versigtig moet wees vir knee-jerk reaksies.

En dit is juis wat my so erg onstel het van jou e-pos. Ek het meer insig van iemand soos jy verwag. Natuurlik het Suid-Afrika probleme. Natuurlik is Julius Malema besig om droog te maak en ongelukkig kon ET se moord nie op ‘n slegter tyd gebeur het nie. Maar die situasie is glad nie so erg soos wat jy dit laat klink nie. Gautrainkonstruksie gaan nog aan en dit gaan baie goed met hulle (vra my, of gaan kyk gerus na my foto’s op Facebook van toe ek die Gautrain ouens ontmoet het en op die Gautrain gery het). Ontwikkeling in die land gaan voort, en daar is aanhoudend buitelandse beleggers wat wil kom besigheid doen hier (vra my – ek het juis vanoggend ‘n vergadering met Duitsers gehad). En het jy al foto’s gesien van die sokkerstadiums wat ons ou landjie gebou het? Dink jy dit sou in ‘n land soos die Congo kon gebeur het? Irak? Noord-Korea?

So asseblief, moenie so ‘n bohaai opskop sonder om dinge in perspektief te plaas nie. So ‘n negatiewe uitbarsting wat aan ‘n hele klomp mense gestuur word (wat nie hier in ons ou landjie sit om dit eerstehands te ervaar nie) skep geheel en al die verkeerde indruk. En glo dit of nie, dit is sulke uitbarstings wat ons SKA bod tot moer en gone beduiwel. Dit gee vir die Australiërs ammunisie om teen ons arme Suid-Afrikaners te gebruik, en ongelukkig het die buitelanders nie altyd die insig wat ons het om te besef dat die situasie nie eers die helfte so erg is soos wat dit klink nie.

So weereens, asseblief. Ons ou SKA kantoortjie probeer om vir Australië te wen, en sulke uitbarstings werk net teen ons (wat nou nog van Malema se belaglike uitbarstings?). As jy dink die SKA moet liewers Australië toe gaan, goed. Gaan dan voort met sulke ekstreme e-pos boodskappies. Haal my dan net asseblief van die verspreidingslysie af. Aan die ander kant, as jy dink iets soos die SKA moet wel Suid-Afrika toe kom, dink asseblief twee keer voor jy sulke boodskappies uitstuur.

Groete uit Johannesburg,


SKA ingenieur en Suid-Afrikaanse “Desktop Activist”.


Beste Ma,

Ek’s jammer. Ek weet jy het my geleer “Antwoord ‘n dwaas nie na sy sotheid nie,” maar soms sukkel ek nog so bietjie met daai enetjie. Sorrie.

Moerse dankie vir die tuisgebakte piesangbrood. Ek is mal oor die rosyntjies daarin! Stuur nog!!




Geagte Dr. Baas,

Kan ek ekstra verlof kry? Volgens Siener van Rensburg gaan die SKA Suid-Afrika toe kom. Kyk, hier staan dit: “…the borders of South Africa will extend beyond Zimbabwe and Namibia.” Sien jy? Ons gaan dit kry. En hy het niks gesien oor Australië nie. Dus dink ek dat ek maar bietjie ekstra verlof kan kry, of hoe?







*nie sy regte naam nie.

24 March 2010

SpeakZA – South African Bloggers for a Free Press

Filed under: current affairs — Cecilia @ 13:17
Tags: , , ,

It is never a good day when ordinary citizens, like you are me,  are threatened or harassed. It is an especially bad day when those citizens are journalists, and when they are being harassed for doing what they get paid to do – report to their readers on what is happening in our world. And when threats of removing those journalists’ rights to report on what they’ve discovered (or uncovered) are made, then “just another really bad day” becomes a day that cannot be simply dismissed with a “How many days till it’s Friday?” shrug. Instead it becomes a day when everyone must take a step back and realise the implications of these threats. So here is my attempt to rationalise the latest developments in the South African media, and to try and understand the implications:

Sub-Proof One:

[1.1] – Mathematicians use numbers. Musicians use notes. Journalists use words.

[1.2] – Good mathematicians use numbers within defined parameters. Creative mathematicians manipulate numbers and push boundaries that have never been pushed before. True mathematical brilliance is reached when there are no boundaries, no limits, no confines, no restrictions. The beauty, the elegance, the uncovered secrets of the mathematical world can be reached when there is total freedom to roam around as one pleases in the mathematical world.

[1.3] – If [1.2] is true of mathematicians who use numbers, then, by implication from [1.1], the same must be true of journalists who use words in the journalistic world: secrets (beautiful or otherwise) can only be uncovered if there is total freedom.

-end of Sub-Proof One-

Sub-Proof Two:

[2.1] – South Africa’s Constitution grants everyone the Right to Freedom of Speech (yes, with capital letters).

[2.2] – The ANC is currently South Africa’s ruling/governing party.

[2.3] – The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) is directly affiliated with the ANC.

[2.4] – If the ANCYL threatens to undermine everyone’s Right to Freedom of Speech, then, by [2.3], [2.2] and [2.1], the ANCYL is directly contravening South Africa’s Constitution.

-end of Sub-Proof Two-

Final Proof:

[F.1] –  From [1.3], journalists need freedom in order to do brilliant work.

[F.2] – From [2.4], South Africa’s Right to Freedom of Speech is under threat by the ANCYL.

[F.3] – If journalists’ Right to Freedom of Speech is compromised by threats from the ANCYL, then journalists will no longer be able to do the brilliant work we have come to expect from them.

Corollary to [F.3] – If journalists’ Right to Freedom of Speech is compromised, then the whole of South Africa’s Right to Freedom of Speech is compromised.


The ‘Corollary to [F.3]’ shows that the implications are serious. And, as a South African citizen, I am strongly against any threats of this kind. So, like others before me, I encourage South Africans to take a stand and protest against this potential violation of our Constitutional Rights. Go blog about it. Go tweet about it (hashtag #SpeakZA). Go put it on Facebook. Go e-mail it. Just don’t keep quiet.



This is where it all started:

Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on Constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa. We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.

The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.

We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but a insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the Youth League President.

We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other Constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.

Bloggers who support this online protest:


And yours truly.

Be sure to check out the Facebook Group SpeakZA for more up to date info. And, of course, #SpeakZA on Twitter.

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