These fragments I have shored against my ruins

Jesus of Braamfontein

At Holy Trinity Catholic Church In Braamfontein, Johannesburg, there is a white crucifix which seems to stand like a silent sentinel over a troubled city. I often wonder what this Christ has witnessed through the years, like The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde, where the statue of a prince looked down upon a city full of violence and unhappiness, the juxtaposition of insane wealth and abject poverty. Does he pity us? Judge us? despair at our stupidity? Why is his head turned slightly away, and downwards? Is he turning from us, as if watching has become too painful?  Why is His head not turned upwards – to heaven? Longing for his agony to end, is he yet reluctant to abandon those in the street below?

These last few weeks the pale, naked, crucified prophet would have seen running battles with student protesters and police: rocks hurled and stun grenades thrown; rubber bullets and teargas fired. He would have witnessed vehicles set alight, windows smashed, buildings and books burned, and everywhere kindness and respect sacrificed on the altar of militant, often  racist, at times anti-semitic vitriol.

The crucifix is looking worn and vulnerable from years of exposure to the sun, wind and rain – the city’s extremes take their toll- although it is easy to imagine the erosion of Christ’s features is due to some inner weight of woe. This is the Crucified Savior of the world: fixed by nails to that cross in Braamfontein, is He weary from watching the street below? Is He exhausted from his long crucifixion, which every day and night demands he bear silent witness to the folly of men? He has seen the worst brutality of apartheid: other students and police and soldiers, other blood. Not a day has passed when He has not observed the perpetual scandal of poverty. He has seen untold numbers passing by: businessmen, imams, politicians, students, imams, professors, hawkers, beggars, drug dealers, prostitutes, priests, freedom fighters, soldiers, street-vendors, rubbish collectors, terrorists, thieves, police, the elderly, youths, children. It seems little different in this respect to another City, long ago, where Jesus was also raised up on a cross.


Will the harsh spotlight of history forever damn us?

Are we still welcome here?

“A crowd of belligerent Fallists enter a lecture hall and point at the white students – ‘We have no reason to co-exist peacefully with you, ever’. Another young white, left-wing student in a politics class tries to make a point in an interactive session and is told, ‘Shut up, you white bitch, your view is irrelevant.'”

S.B.Sidley’s article is a bleak reflection on the increasingly intolerant and violent tone evident in the current wave of student protests (and a toxicity in social media). Some quotes from the “GroundUp” website:

“Protesters announced that they would continue disrupting lectures, both in classrooms and online, until their demands are met.”

“The student groups paralysing our higher education system have shown no qualms about their methods: destroying buses, cars, libraries, administrative offices, and works of art, manufacturing petrol bombs, looting sections of Johannesburg, harassing ordinary staff with clubs and threatening the children’s creche at the University of Cape Town. At CPUT, they locked two guards into a burning building, fortunately failing to take their lives.” .From “UCT: the silence of things not being attempted” By Imraan Coovadia, Ground Up, 13 October 2016

“At least a hundred books were damaged in a fire at the university on Wednesday afternoon”.

“Wits student leader shot at close range”.


shifting, convoluted, eddying agendas: the demonic enters where angels are silent.

Between colonization and civilization


“I say that between colonization and civilization there is an infinite distance; that out of all the colonial expeditions that have been undertaken, out of all the colonial statutes that have been drawn up, out of all the memoranda that have been dispatched by all the ministries, there could not come a single human value.”

Aimé Césaire, quoted from aforementioned article at 


“… more than four in ten Britons view the British Empire as a good thing and colonialism as something to be proud of.” – The Independent (UK)†

There is “a collective amnesia about the levels of violence, exploitation and racism involved in many aspects of imperialism, not to mention the various atrocities and catastrophes that were perpetrated, caused or exacerbated by British colonial policies and actions”

– Dr Andrea Major, associate professor in British colonial history, University of Leeds.


“The violence of the British Empire has long been forgotten. We need to face up to this history and education is crucial if we are to do so.” – Dr Esme Cleall, lecturer in the history of the British Empire, University of Sheffield


“Today, there are still people who fondly believe that all of Africa’s problems are a legacy of colonialism — the fault of the wicked British. Those people also cling to the notion that this legacy can be expunged only by the payment of reparations in the name of “aid.” Fifty years on, we can surely think more clearly.

In virtually every case (Botswana is the sole exception), former British colonies in sub-Saharan Africa have fared worse under independence than they did under British rule. In virtually every case, as New York University’s William Easterly has pointed out, the expenditure of billions in Western aid has failed to raise their rate of economic growth.

In his forthcoming book, “The Bottom Billion,” Oxford economist Paul Collier brilliantly anatomizes the true causes of Africa’s post-colonial failure. He identifies four traps into which a depressingly large number of sub-Saharan countries have fallen since the 1950s. Some are trapped by their dependence on natural resources, such as diamonds or oil; some by being landlocked; some by recurrent civil war. But the fourth trap is the one that applies to Ghana: the trap of bad governance.

To illustrate the folly of giving aid to chronically misruled countries, Collier cites a recent survey that tracked money released by Chad’s Ministry of Finance to fund rural health clinics. Just 1% reached its intended destination. The rest was raked off by one corrupt official after another.”

NIALL FERGUSON, LA Times, March 2007

Emissaries of the Department of Blue Lights

Official dignity tends to increase in inverse ratio
to the importance of the country in which the office is held.


The Emissaries of the Department of Blue Lights

by Stanley ‘Mzunguzungu’ Culpepper, Esq.

Make way:
We are The Emissaries of the Department of Blue Lights.

We are important, very important precisely, unreservedly and especially without question because we are very important. 

[Chorus of Sushi Girls]

We got it made
We got it made
Blue light Brigade

You can tell we are important because we have many blue lights on our cavalcade of fast-moving and conspicuously expensive luxury German cars which, incidentally, are shiny & black – because we are very important people.

Make way:

We have serious and important looking very-dark-glass windows. This has nothing to do with highwaymen with three-corner hats hiding behind handkerchiefs or cowboy bankrobbers hiding their faces behind scarves or convicted felons wearing bags on their heads or hijackers wearing balaclavas or clown masks absolutely not. We, the aforementioned very important people (V.I.P’s) are hidden behind very-dark-glass for important reasons we may not divulge. We are not like the Queen of England or JFK in his stupid opentop, leaders that smile and wave like the Pope or like Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey. NO INDEED! We are too important for such indecent exposure so to speak.

Behold our cavalcade which, please note (for your safety as much as our own), is thick with thick-necked security agents with dark glasses and guns. And lots of guns mind you, handguns, shotguns and other sorts of guns – for we are very important and guns are an important thing if you’re very important. And after all, before all, a public servant must be protected by thick-necked security agents: brutal-looking men in dark suits with dark glasses and guns and bald shiny heads and the proverbial snor. Protected whoknowswhy and fromwhoknowswhom but possibly perhaps and undoubtedly from the agents (thick-necked agents, brutal-looking men with dark glasses and guns and bald shiny heads and snors, agents of some undefined but quite definitely nefarious power and/or powers seeking the demise of the aforementioned travelling emissaries).

A Brief Sardonic Digression

What is the “security cluster” by the way? Is that the one, in the Cadbury Milk Tray box, that no one likes, the one everyone avoids, the one with nuts all stuck together in a kind of sticky toffee? The one that could choke and kill you if perchance it went down the wrong way?

End of Brief Sardonic Digression

You won’t guess which department we represent. It’s our little secret or big secret depending on your point of view and we’ll keep you guessing and it’s hard to tell isn’t it when all the lights are blue and all the cars are black.

You’ll never guess if it’s Number One or Two or Three of some other number for there are many numbers;  the windows are as dark as a bureaurat’s -or securocrat’s (as the case may be) – professionally tailored suit. (I shan’t say as dark as his or her heart, for only God and the Devil know how dark is the darkness of a man’s heart, and who knows if a blue light may pierce that darkness, andbesideswhich it is not for a man to judge another man’s heart though he may be permitted to judge a man’s cavalcade. Certainly a citizen or taxpayer or dare I say a consumer or even a simple road-user must never judge the heart of the aforementioned bureaucrats and/or securocrats, or so the aforementioned bureaucrats and/or securocrats would have us believe.

Perhaps – or perhaps not- the hidden and ensconced Emissary of The Department of Blue lights is in fact a Minister of The Department of Security or Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or Cooperative Governance or Water and Sanitation? The Department of Public Service and Administration? Planning Monitoring and Evaluation? Public Enterprises? or the sanitized public or public forestry and cooperative fisheries or fish monitoring or mongering or the Department of Blue Lights …


Section A Point 1(i) The Public must move aside as we pass by.

Section A Point 1(ii) The Public may gaze respectfully but may not stare with disgust, derision, contempt etc. It is important to remember we are important servants of the Public doing important things, dashing about in cars thick with thick-necked security agents with dark glasses and guns.

Section A Point 1(iii) we the Emissaries of The Department of Blue Lights … are on our way from somewhere important to somewhere important and The Public is to respect the importance of the important things we have to do.

Section A Point 1(iv) Failure to move over may have unintended and/or intended consequences for The Public depending on the degree of compliance with respect to and/or disrespect to Section A Points i-iii above.

We got it made


We got it made

Blue light Brigade

Orwell’s ‘1984’ convinced me, rightly or wrongly, that Marxism was only a quantum leap away from tyranny. By contrast, Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ suggested that the totalitarian systems of the future might be subservient and ingratiating.

 J. G. Ballard

English novelist, short story writer, and essayist

Cosy lies

Sanity is a cosy lie

Susan Sontag

The Enlightenment view of mankind is a complete myth. It leads us into thinking we’re sane and rational creatures most of the time, and we’re not.

JG Ballard

As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.


Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.


A dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

George Orwell

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

– George Orwell

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

– George Orwell


Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.

George Orwell