Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blind Mans Bluff

Its Monday morning and I feel as though I've just done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson and it's a Split Decision followed by a splitting headache.
Saturday morning was meant to be spent in the pool, but a project deadline loomed large and capitalism always beats socialism, especially near month-end.
The big game was up in the afternoon and millions of soccer fans from around the world would be joining me in watching Manchester United take on Liverpool in the FA Cup. Thankfully they wouldn't all be joining me in my lounge. I just don't have enough chip and dip to go around.
Sunday morning breakfast with the boys and that's always a highlight of the week. Put a group of guys together around a table, each with a story to tell, and you're bound to have the script to The Hangover done and dusted right there.

One thing that definitely stood out for me during the course of the weekend was a debate I had with a Liverpool fan.
Now for those who know me, you will know that I'm a die-hard Manchester United fan, and my family will confirm that before I could say the words 'Mom' or 'Dad', I was singing 'Glory Glory Man United!' Liverpool had beaten us 2-1 on Saturday, and I was amongst the first to congratulate them on a game well played. I took exception to the booing of Patrice Evra by Liverpool fans, and I made mention of this.
For those who don't know, Patrice was the victim of racism by a Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez, last year. As you can read, he was found guilty by an independent FA commission of racism, and was fined and banned for 8 games.
The facts were simple. The judgement precise.

The reaction of Liverpool fans on Saturday was mind-boggling, especially from those who claim to have been exposed to racism in South Africa. The farcical claim that Suarez called Evra a 'Negro' as a term of endearment is ludicrous. The fact that Suarez uses this term loosely in his native Spain is no reason to accept its use anywhere else, least of all on the sporting field.
Saudi men expect their women not to drive. Can a Saudi man reasonably expect the same from a woman in South Africa or any other part of the world? Respect the laws of the country you're in, and don't hide under the veil of custom. To you my friend, I say 'Bullshit!'

Heres where it got interesting though. During the course of the debate on racism, suddenly I was accused of being a sore-loser. Ironically after I had congratulated Liverpool on a game well played!
Was this a feeble attempt to blur the issues? The point I was making was that I didn't agree with the crowd booing Evra, who was the VICTIM of racism. Read, VICTIM. The response I got was that racism doesn't choose just 1 person as victim. This fan would agree to my view if only the fans booed every black player from United.
Racism is only racism if it is collective? There is no singular racism?
And you claim to have grown up in South Africa and been a victim of racism? I call you a liar, my friend.
I would hazard a guess and say that your exposure to racism in its truest form has probably been no more than not being able to buy your Black 'Slipknot' T-Shirt because it was out of stock.

I'm passionate about a lot of things, and this comes through in my words and my actions I'm never dazzled by bullshit and feeble attempts at discourse and debate. If you can't raise your argument against me, dare I say you're treading some murky waters.
Part of the reasons why I'm so passionate about THIS topic is because I HAVE been kicked off the bus, I HAVE been escorted out of buildings and venues, I HAVE been sidelined during sporting events, and yes I HAVE been victimized and harassed by the police, all for being the wrong color.
So when you say that you saw no racism on the day, and barely 10 minutes later one of your fellow fans gets caught on camera pulling a racist stunt and consequently charged, facing a lifetime ban from the stadium, I have to ask myself whether the sentiments you share regarding the race issue are partly the reason why eradicating racism in sport seems to be failing.

I'll reiterate one last time for those who may miss the point totally, being blinded by unwavering support of their team : The issue I'm raising is one of race. Screaming sore-loser is evading the topic.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

iPad Give-Aways, Democracy & Other Fallacies

I've been deliberating and procrastinating and (insert another big word here ________ ) about this post for some time now, and finally I decided that instead of doing some long drawn-out rant about everything that's wrong with the world, this country, humanity,    us, I'd just throw my hat in the ballot box and start my own political party.

Yes folks, you read it here first.
I'll be starting The Kaloo Party within the next few weeks. Yes I know the name sounds like something from a Sri Lankan cookbook, but it's catchy, it's short and sweet while at the same time being loud and proud, but mostly I like it because it stands for truth, honesty, decency and everything ethical. Something that politics in this country and the world is in short supply of. The fact that it also includes my name is purely coincidental.

If America could vote that dumb ass George W Bush in for 2 rounds of Party Karate, and then replace him with OhBummer (or as the Iraqi's, Afghani's and Iranians will soon call him, OhBomber), then surely I have a chance in this beautiful corrupt majestic racist country I call South Africa.
If every one of my followers on Twitter ( @kaloo5 ) votes for me just twice (Hey, the ANC pulled that trick off in Limpompo some time back!) then I think I'll have a shot at being your next Premier.
I could do that job. Honestly I could.
Cassel Mathale who's the Premier of Limpompo (that's not a spelling error) has done such a splendid job of ensuring his friends and family are financially secure for the next 100 years, even if he had to bankrupt the province in the process. A shining example of what happens when central government (aka ANC) nominates their pals for top positions which may or may not include jeopardising the health, education and living standards of millions of people.

As an Indian, I feel so screwed over by this government it almost makes me miss the glory days of that shit storm we called Apartheid. How bad must a government be for you to want to go back to the worst period in your countries history?
That would be like the Germans being so pissed off with Angela Merckel that they wish they had Hitler back!
That's when you know you've hit rock bottom as a nation.

Speaking of rock bottom, why are we allowing all these crazy murderers the possibility of parole?
Somewhere between 'We the people' and 'We the Government', there is a huge breakdown in communication.
'We the people' ask for the death penalty.
'We the Government' give you.... wait for it.... drum roll.... Parole For Murderers!! YAY!!
Serious. Breakdown. In. Communication.
Two scumbags (Theuns Kruger and Frans Du Toit) slit the throat and belly of Alison Botha, leaving her for dead, and our governments response is to consider giving them an option of parole?
A total thug named Donovan Moodley cold-bloodedly kills Leigh Mathews after demanding a ransom from her family, goes to court, lies, gets convicted, then apologizes for lying and says he wants a new trial. Our courts response : Let's entertain this moron. It's not like our courts and judicial system are over-burdened already.

The other thing I don't get is this whole tax issue.
Sure I know that we need to pay taxes. I'm Indian. I can find a way around paying almost anything, but even I know not to mess with taxes. But can someone please explain to me where all those billions are going to?
I'm not an economist or politician (yet) but I'm sure I read somewhere in some manifesto that government was meant to use our taxes to make our lives easier, build schools and hospitals and infrastructure, like bridges and roads.
Wait! Did I just say roads?!
Funny that. If they're meant to be building roads, why are they building toll-roads and forcing us to buy eTags and be screwed over every month to maintain those roads? What am I missing here?

It's like taking the KFC drive-thru, ordering a bucket of chicken wings at Window 1, paying at Window 2, getting to Window 3 and being told 'That will be R39-95 Sir'.....
But I just paid at the last window?

'Sorry Sir, this is a Toll-Drive-Thru. We really don't give a rats ass that you paid already. Will that be Cash or Card Sir?'

As I said earlier, I'm really not in the mood of ranting. So I won't.
What I will do is pray for all those wonderful people on Medical Parole.
People like Schabir Shaik and Jackie Selebi. My prayers must be powerful. It worked for Tony Yengeni.
I thought I knew what Medical Parole meant once upon a time. I always thought it was a term reserved for those who were on the brink of death, imminent death I may add. So close to death that the Grim Reaper was parking outside while these deathly ill folk were inside getting dressed and ready.
Turns out the Grim Reaper enjoys a game of golf or two before he takes your soul. Even lets you cruise around in a BMW X5 or go out and buy Sunday hats for your wife while you're waiting to die. How cool is that?
So I'll be praying for all these Medical Parole guys, and while I'm at it I'll be praying that if any of my friends or family ever get caught screwing the country over for millions, they get Medical Parole too.

Until then, I guess I'll just keep blogging and working on my political party.
Don't forget to vote for The Kaloo Party.
Truth. Ethics. Democracy. And free iPads to the first 500 members.

Article In The 'Witness'

This is a copy of the article including my interview which appeared in the Witness newspaper, 19th January 2012. The Witness website can be found here
Muslim council moves to restore its reputation

19 Jan 2012
Fatima Asmal-Motala

THE Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) moved to do damage control yesterday, after a television programme sparked calls from some Muslims to boycott products certified by it.
Tuesday’s episode of eTV’s 3rd Degree revolved around the relabelling by a Cape-based company of non-halaal products, including pork, as fit for Muslim consumption.

In terms of Islamic law, the consumption of pork is forbidden and adherents to the faith may only eat other meat and poultry products if certain slaughtering procedures are adhered to.
In South Africa, these processes are meant to be overseen by a handful of Muslim bodies, including the MJC, which then issues the relevant companies with a “halaal” (permissible) certificate.

On Tuesday, eTV’s Debora Patta interviewed two former employees of Orion Cold Storage, who alleged that the company was guilty of deliberately relabelling imported products as “halaal”.
The employees secretly captured cell phone footage to support their claims that pork hearts were sold as sheep and veal, and animal feed relabelled as skim milk fit for human consumption.
When news of the scandal first surfaced in the Muslim community late last year, the MJC immediately withdrew its halaal certification of Orion.

When Patta visited the MJC’s premises to establish how Orion’s alleged misdemeanours had originally slipped past the organisation and what its audit procedures were, she was told that both the president and deputy president were ill and could not speak to her.
She claimed that repeated previous attempts to contact them had proven unsuccessful and that during her visit, the president was on the premises in his office.

Minutes after the programme was aired, calls for a boycott of MJC certified products and restaurants began to do their rounds on social networking sites and mobile phone chat applications like Blackberry Messenger. “I’m absolutely angry,” social media activist Fareed Kaloo told The Witness.
Through the years there have been accusations levelled against halaal certification bodies, that they were more business orientated as opposed to being there to serve the needs of the community.
“So when these types of issues come up we demand an immediate response from them. The MJC handled this incorrectly and their credibility has been tainted.
“I won’t consume any product bearing their name on it. It boils down to a matter of trust and that trust has been broken.”

Attempts by The Witness to reach the MJC for comment proved unsuccessful.
However, MJC president, Ihsaan Hendriks, later released a general statement to the media titled “Restoring the Integrity of Halaal” in which he said the organisation had legitimate reasons for not agreeing to Patta’s request for an interview.
“We fully understand the uncertainty created in our community due to the screening of last night’s 3rd Degree programme.
“Your concerns expressed via the radio and social networks are acknowledged and we hereby wish to inform our community that the 3rd Degree programme was extremely biased as it failed to portray the facts accurately.”
The MJC was in the process of compiling a detailed response comprising statements and video clips which would be released within the next few days, he said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MJC : An Auction Of Our Values & Trust

It was with a mixture of utter disbelief and a sense of relief that I viewed the 3rd Degree expose' on eTV regarding Orion Cold Storage and the MJC's granting of a Halaal Certificate to them, even though they were selling and re-labelling pork and kangaroo meat.

The issue is a complex one, but I shall attempt to break it down to you in bite-sized Halaal portions as best I can.

Orion Cold Storage is based in the Western Cape and headed by Patrick Gaertner. As a leading distributor of frozen meat and poultry to the province and continent at large, they have a significant Muslim client-base.
MJC is the Islamic authority that certifies or has certified Orion Cold Storage as being Halaal, until very recently.

Toward the end of last year, allegations were made of Orion re-labelling their boxes from 'Pork' to 'Veal', thus supplying their unsuspecting Muslim client base with pork products. Questions were asked as to why MJC, the certifying body, had not acted on this and where were their inspectors to prevent this. Why did it take footage from employees to blow the lid on this scandal? Why did the MJC only act decisively after having had a meeting with other Halaal certifying authorities, pleading with it to suspend dealings with Orion?

Before I continue, I must disclose my views on all these Halaal certifying bodies. You can read my post titled The Silence Of The Ham which was published last year prior to any of these allegations surfacing.

Once the lid had been blown and Orion were caught with their pants down, it was the absolute duty of the MJC as the certifying body to immediately disclose to the public what had transpired, and undertake a massive campaign of informing everybody concerned as to what they intended to do. As late as 28 November 2011, MJC were standing by Orion and had issued a statement on their website stating clearly that Orion's chicken imports had not been compromised. Their statement as can be read here is a pathetic attempt at appeasing the Muslim public.
I use a very simple logic when it comes to such matters. Just as a drop of blood taints an entire bucket of clean water, so too the importation and re-labelling of pork products as veal cannot by any stretch of the imagination leave the chicken imports from the same company untainted!
It's really that simple MJC.

When Debora Patta from eTV's 3rd Degree attempted to interview the leadership of MJC, she was met with evasiveness and blatant lies. Being told that neither the President of MJC (Ighsaan Hendricks) nor his deputy (Sheikh Sedick) were available due to illness, only to find out later that Ighsaan Hendricks was in fact on the premises conducting an unrelated meeting smacked of deceit. They were fully aware that they would face a barrage of tough questions, and chose instead to hide from the truth.

Making a statement after the event in a futile attempt to save face and whatever dignity he had left, Ighsaan Hendricks as President then issued this statement on the company website. Reading this, one cannot wonder just how far back in the dark ages these 'Men of faith' and 'Bastions of religion'  really are stuck? I cannot help but wonder how much of the antagonistic attitude was due to Debora Patta being first non-Muslim, and second, a woman? I have no doubt that the leadership at MJC found it beneath them to be questioned and grilled by a non-Muslim woman.
When we as a religion remove these shackles which bind us and prevent us from moving forward, then and only then will we be able to call ourselves a democratic religion of lifestyle. If Islam is a lifestyle more than it is a religion, as we are so often told, then we need to have a really good re-assessment of our lifestyles.

This PR nightmare could so easily have been prevented had the MJC simply answered the questions, tough as they were. Confront your accuser, appease your constituency, make right all that is wrong, and you will find favour amongst the Muslim public.
Treat them as beneath you, not worthy of answers to the tough questions, and you have effectively isolated yourself and lost all credibility in the process.

With the vast array of Halaal authorities we as Muslims are subjected to, it should come as no surprise that our level of trust in any one or all of them is at an all-time low. For many years we have been in this conundrum of being unsure as to which certifying body to trust, choosing instead to pin our hopes on one or the other and applying some common sense.

I take the approach that I shall support the Muslim owned business, and put my faith and trust in him that he is supplying me with a Halaal product. The store owner in turn places his trust and faith in his supplier. The supplier in turn places his faith and trust in the importer or packager. They ultimately place their faith and trust in the abbatoirs. I call this the chain-of-trust from the bottom upward.
What the MJC have effectively done in one massive swoop is to completely pull the rug out from beneath our feet, and place an enormous level of distrust on the top rung.
How then can we as Muslims even begin to place our trust in the store owner at the bottom?

Thank you MJC for tainting with absolute certainty what was once a bucket of sceptically clean water.

Further links to articles can be found here

Lastly, I urge all media publications with a Muslim base to please report on these matters objectively and honestly. There are many that have failed to report on Debora Patta or 3rd Degrees valid questions, choosing instead to only inform the public of MJC's stance.
Trying to portray the MJC as the victim is an injustice and furthermore an insult to the Muslim public. It is the Muslim consumer who is the victim of deceit.

In this vain, I am calling for a ban on any and all MJC certified products, companies, restaurants and other FMCG items.
Stop the flow of money to MJC and you stop the greed and rot.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Miss India SA : The Failure That Is...

I'm not a big fan of beauty pageants, but flipping through the channels on DSTV earlier this evening I came across Miss India South Africa on channel 115, an abomination so bad, I was simply mesmerized by it's cringe worthiness. It was like watching an accident happen right before my very eyes. You know you shouldn't look, but there's a certain morbid fascination, and before long you lower your hands from your eyes and stop gritting your teeth long enough to laugh until the tears flow.

Apparently when the show was first screened, there was such a huge uproar from the Indian community that some felt compelled to write to the producers. You can read one viewers honest and almost pleading letter here .

I could write an entire thesis about the negatives of the production, but I feel some of these choice quotes from the contestants and sponsors themselves will be an indication of just how low the standards were.

Dr R Singh, a sponsor : "The beauty pageant is great for our youth.... It helps these young ladies find better husbands."
Seriously Doc? So it's like a Russian Brides deal for Indians then?

Losing Contestant : " God is the only judge. I'll move on with my life. God made us all of sand and soil."
Interviewer : "Ja, what can you do hey..."
Lady, if God was judging this pageant, he'd have struck you all down by lightning!

Contestant : "It's always been my dream to enter this competition."
How sad must your life be that you aspire to enter a Miss India SA competition?

Then of course there were the Special Awards, which included 'Miss Bright Eyes', 'Miss Healthy Hair' and 'Miss Big Teeth' or happy smile. Forgive me for not remembering because by this point I wasn't really concentrating anymore.

One of the definite highlights for me was the huge "All You Can Eat Buffet for R89" poster that covered the centre of the stage. I kid you not. Some of these contestants were definitely Plus Size, and to make them stand in front of that sign was just downright degrading.

Apparently the producers had the opportunity to respond, and true to form, they blamed everyone but themselves. You can read their response here .

This is the problem I have with some of our Indian folk. This is not a generalization, merely an observation. Given the opportunity, some would rather skimp on an opportunity to provide an otherwise world-class production. My personal opinion is that it's all about saving a buck. Instead of spending a little extra and hiring professionals, they choose instead to get their cousins and nieces and nephews who would do it for no more than a plate of biryani and their name in the credits.
Professionalism goes out the window, and it starts looking like a shotgun wedding which had to be planned and put together within a week before the pregnant bride started showing a belly.

The entire production looks like it was shot on a Nokia 3210. The sound was so bad, I half suspect they only used the camera-phones mic. The lighting made everyone look orange. It was like watching a beauty pageant where everybody was related to Deborah Patta.

Just when I thought the show was thankfully over and along with it the sheer embarrassment of it all, along come the credits with such gems as "A Speacial Thanks To...." , "Soundtrak available on..." and "Exective Producer..." .
That pretty much sums up the complete lack of attention to detail.

As Indians, we need to start upping our game and aspire to be better, to do better, and to project ourselves in a more professional light. This 'I just fell off the Truro with a bottle of Cane and no tumbler ekse" routine is stale. It's washed out and it's over. Our sons and daughters are doing an amazing job out in the workplace and the media. It's time that those who claim to represent our cultural diversity on television and radio start realizing this, and raise the bar.

Miss India South Africa definitely doesn't represent me nor anybody else I associate with.
At least not in it's current form.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tweet Others The Way You Would Like To Be Tweeted

The other night I was having a chat on Twitter, or Twat, with a friend I had only ever met on the social network. Somewhere during the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she disliked Twitter, and had even blogged about it here.
I agreed with her on a few points, but being the social whore that I am, I soon realized that in truth I quite like Twitter. Well I use that word 'like' rather loosely. The fact is, I love Twitter.

I love the fact that I finally have an outlet for all my ramblings, and there are plenty of them. (Ramblings, that is)
I love that I can meet new people just by having read something funny they said, or by them having thought one of my tweets was worthy of a literary scholarship. (Yes I get that often.)
Over the last 2 years I've become completely addicted to having my tweets retweeted by famous people I admire and even read out aloud on the radio. I don't care much for celebrities because I simply don't believe they can truly connect with and respond to a following of 1 million people asking them stupid random questions like 'What colour are your undies today?' But some of the locals with huge followings have surprised me and shown themselves to be completely in touch with their fans. @DJFreshSA@Anele and @F1Sasha are fine examples.

On the flip side however, it's also exposed me to people who I initially thought would be admirable but turned out to be complete tossers. There's a local comedian who, while admittedly funny, has shown himself to be an absolute cocktart. Yes, that's my word for tonite. Cocktart. I recall when he was going through a rather tough personal period, and relied very heavily on his fans. How quickly he has forgotten the very people who made him who he is today. I won't mention his name, only because I don't want my blog to help further his fame or infamy in any way.

Speaking of cocktarts, I happened to read a few retweets from friends of mine about someone claiming to be a world-renowned author amongst other things.
I replied to something she said out of interest, and within a few minutes we had an interesting debate going.
She felt that anyone in Africa who was not of dark skin and 'nappy hair' as she termed it, did not deserve the title of being called 'African.' I completely disagreed, and voiced my reasoning and opinion.
Evidently @KolaBoof as she calls herself, turned out to be rather inarticulate in expressing a defence of her rather controversial opinions, and resorted to profanity; which I don't usually mind. Except when said profanity is used to hide a clear obtuseness and a totally fucked up view of the world, then you can expect me to become rather vocal.
Needless to say, when challenged she ran for the hills and blocked me from any further engagement in conversation.

So it was with interest that I Googled her to find out more about this clearly troubled soul, and boy was I surprised.
She claims to have been a spy.
She claims to have been Osama Bin Laden's mistress in Morocco.
She claims to be a famous author.
She claims to have been invited by none other than Jacob Zuma for a weekend of wild and crazy monkey sex.
Ok that last one is slightly more believable, even by Jacob Zuma's low standards.
You can read the article right here and make up your own mind.

This brings me to the very reason I enjoy being on Twitter.
Where else would I come across Osama Bin Laden's delusional mistress, or JZ's potential squeeze?
I can't think of any other platform that would have afforded me that opportunity, unless of course I was spending the weekend at a mental asylum.

Finally, and I may have mentioned this before, my original tweet 'You're so vain, you probably think this tweet is about you' went viral almost 2 years back and I always grin when I see it still doing the rounds. Sometimes, you say the darnedest thing and suddenly you have a hundred people thinking 'Wow, this guys a genius.'

To those people, I'd like to say "Who am I to argue with you?"

This post is dedicated to @lotusflower__ who was the inspiration behind tonights ramblings :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Explore. Dream. Discover

I did a post sometime last year on awakenings, but it focused mainly on religion. For those who haven't read it, you can check it out here.

This year has hardly begun and already I find myself going through an entirely different type of awakening. I'm not sure if spiritual is the right word, but it certainly has aspects of spirituality. Maybe it's got to do with all this Mayan calendar and the world supposedly ending in December 2012 business (which is highly unlikely since my mobile contract only expires in June 2013).
Also, a part of me thinks that if the Mayans really were that advanced, they'd still be around running the show on Planet Earth. Maybe Obama is a Mayan. That would sort of explain things. He does have some of those Mayan traits about him.

I usually steer clear of New Years resolutions. The sheer volume of those that have whizzed by laughing at me come end of Feb each year, has taught me better. I think my personal record of keeping a resolution came sometime back in 1996, and lasted all of 6 hours.
No more ice-cream. Seriously. What was I thinking?!

This year, I simply set myself two goals.
1) Work on getting my body back into the shape I once recognized when standing naked in front of my mirror.
2) Read more, thus opening the mind to greater opportunity and possibilities.
* Huh? Say what? Run #2 by me again, slowly *

Well it's simple really.

Over the year's I have come to realize that the more I've kept myself occupied by reading, the more I found myself surrounded by positivity and opportunity. Why this is and how that correlation works, I have no idea. Except to say that it does.

It's like I'm opening my mind to accept and be more accepting. Suddenly my gut-instinct is awakened and my senses are on high alert. My body is abuzz with millions of receptacles just waiting, sniffing the air, searching and scanning for anything and everything to feed this positive energy.... and it's a positive energy that demands my attention. I know I need to act on it. My body and mind are screaming at me, imploring me to channel all this positivity and energy into something, anything....

The immediate plan is to surround myself with like-minded people; those who have a definite and clearly defined purpose and set of goals that I can relate to. That would mean getting rid of some of the clutter that's attached itself to me like barnacles on a rusty ship.
This ship is set to sail the high sea's this year.
No space for barnacles.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain