THE arrest of a Paris Hilton over the weekend for alleged possession of dagga, has focused world attention on South Africa’s outdated and petty anti-marijuana laws. For starters, the crime is a misdemeanor, the result of the ruling parties inability to deal with calls to end drug prohibition and the legacy of apartheid. It is also a failure of successive ANC administrations to implement the cognitive rights and liberties guaranteed by our constitution.
Consumption of dagga, zol, boom, mary jane, weed was always a factor at Mass Democratic Movement rallies. The intoxicating fumes of cannabis infused meetings held by the United Democratic Front and End Conscription Campaign. It was the staple ice-breaker when alcohol was difficult to come by and informed the lives of so many struggle activists, from Trevor Manual to Walter Sisulu himself.
Veteran journalist Dennis Becket recently confessed to smoking the herb, while the province of Mpumalanga gave a presentation on the benefits which might be gained from creating an industry based upon cannabis and hemp production.
The policy of the present government has been hypocritical at best. While officially South Africa supports prohibition, there is a mixed message which goes out to its citizens. Foreigners like Jennifer Rovero who on Saturday admitted the dagga cigarette being smoked by Paris Hilton belonged to her, are treated with disdain. Rovera was slapped with a R1000 fine or 30 days in jail and faces deportation.
In 1994 the ANC was elected on a broad social platform that included reform of the country’s repressive drug legislation. Within the space of a few short years, issues such as legalisation and decriminalisation were swept away under pressure from the World Bank and the USA which attached drug prohibition requirements to financial loans and market guarantees..The public debate on ending prohibition, such as instituting harm reduction strategies and taxation ended with securocrats at the United Nations.
Yet South Africa stands alongside the Czech Republic, Mexico, Portugal and Spain as a place where the law tends to favour tolerance of small amounts of what is essentially a natural substance, a plant if you will. Surely now is the time to gain clarity on whether our nations policies are one of decriminalization or legalisation? Should dagga be decriminalised for medical purposes? What about the vast body of evidence which suggests the plant assists in the relief of pain and can even cure cancer?
A proposal to put the legalization of marijuana in California to a vote this November for instance is causing some growers of the plant in the state to worry about a sharp drop in the value of their crop if the measure succeeds..
If it is okay for Paris Hilton to toke on a joint, but not okay for Rovera to flash a cannabis cigarette around in Port Elizabeth, where is the justice system and our shared values? Surely Rovera was merely sampling the local brew and partaking in a South African tradition which is at least 20 000 years old. The Khoisan word for marijuana, “dagga” and our idiosyncratic use of the term, is not just another example of linguistic differences down South, but a word which reveals something special and innate about ourselves.
DURBAN, South Africa — AFP reports a South African church has reached a deal with a vuvuzela maker acknowledging that their prophet in 1910 invented the horn that has become the sound of the World Cup, a spokesman said Tuesday.
The Nazareth Baptist Church says its founder Isaiah Shembe invented the monotone instrument a century ago using antelope horns, which his followers used in prayers.
The church had threatened a lawsuit to assert their intellectual property rights over the vuvuzela, which is now mass-produced in plastic and has become the must-have accessory at World Cup matches.
“We are now considered as the official makers of the vuvuzela. We are going to work together,” said the church’s spokesman Enoch Mthembu.
In the 1980s, supporters of Durban’s AmaZulu football club began blowing horns made out of antelope horns or stalks of sugar cane in stadiums.
The tradition was adopted by the Kaizer Chiefs in Soweto, who popularised the instrument around Johannesburg.
Masincedane Sport Company decided to mass produce the horns in plastic in 2001.
The company said it would release details of the deal later this week.
The Nazareth Baptist Churchalso known as the Shembe after its founder, and which claims four million followers and mixes Christianity and Zulu traditions.
Shembe is revered as an African Messiah.
Mthembu said the church wanted to prevent copycat versions of vuvuzelas coming from China.
“Today, our main concern is to close down illegal manufacturers and the Chinese companies which produce very cheap items,” he said.
“It is important for us to be recognised as the inventor of the vuvuzela. It is a South African instrument and the production is out of control now.”
CONFLICTING statements from FIFA around the Bavaria Beer dress controversy could be a case of sour grapes or stail hops. It appears, the federation have sold the rights to advertise beer to Anheuser Busch who don’t want to see any competitors associated with the tournament. Bavaria Beer, a Netherlands based brewing company apparently paid some women to wear clothing manufactured by the company. They also gave away tickets and organised volunteers to “create a team wearing the Holland national colours but posing as Danish supporters”.
There doesn’t appear to be anything illegal in doing this, but FIFA maintain the group has contravened the South African Merchandise Marks Act which was recently amended to make room for commercial rights which may exceed the freedoms guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution.
It appears the “ambush marketing” tactic has more to do with the exposure gained by the arrests, than the actions in and of themselves. Since there is absolutely nothing distinguishing the women and their dresses from other similarly clad Dutch supporters — Orange is traditionally the colour associated with the Dutch Royal family. (See previous posting)
The group may have been “outed” in order to gain international exposure for the Bavaria brand. Bavaria Beer have ambushed the anti-ambush-marketers in the process.
Participants in the supposed “ambush” marketing campaign describe their arrest in a way which appears to give credence to this theory. It would appear that a sophisticated game of industrial espionage and police-work has resulted in the spectacle of Dutch Orange supporters being arrested for doing little more than wear Orange sporting apparel.
To look at this picture another way, imagine if a clothing manufacturer handed out beer in unmarked containers as part of a publicity stunt. The only thing linking the company to the product is the controversy. The thought police are going to have a hard time proving that the incident was part of an illegal marketing campaign, since it would appear the marketing was dependent upon the arrests being conducted and thus played up to the fears of the organisors.
FIFA has therefore been stung by its own stupidity in an elaborate cat and mouse game in which freedom — our freedom as a nation — is being sacrificed in the process.
FIFA president Joseph Blatter may have had this in mind when he described the women as “nothing more than advertising mules,” in the process reducing all women to a lower species in the animal kingdom. A mule is the offspring between a male donkey and a female horse, and Bavaria have risen to the occasion, calling on FIFA to ” stop intimidating Dutch dressed female supporters.”
While there doesn’t appear any legislation tackling the length or cut of women’s dresses in South Africa, and the only place where this kind of thing would raise a stir on the continent is Malawi, the new pro-FIFA legislation appears to outlaw certain types of branding with regard to clothing apparel in particular “ambush marketing”.
A nefarious term which doesn’t describe much — both marketing and branding are completely different activities. For instance, where does the market begin and end? Is our Freedom up for sale? As the old adage goes, “that government governs best which governs least” and “keep government outside the bedroom” — the question mark remains as to how far the law extends to the neither regions of the female anatomy? If the labels were on the inside, who can complain?
Only a moral prude with deviant thought patterns like the plutocrats in FIFA would stoop this low and the law may seriously run awry defining what is (and what isn’t) a dress in the process and fashion viz vi. sport as far as women are concerned.
So, no, Mr Blatter, this isn’t an ambush, its an invasion of privacy and denial of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution.
My advice to FIFA fans: cut out your labels. Wear no-name brands and pray to god you not caught with a no-name brand with the colour Orange.
FIFA continues to fund apartheid-era companies in South Africa. DSTV SUPERSPORT for example has rights to broadcast live coverage of the World Cup event in High Definition, but its holding company Sanlam/Naspers remains engaged in a lengthy labour dispute involving racism and discrimination in which gross failures in the coverage of issues affecting previously disadvantaged communities have come to light.
SuperSport channels “will provide spectators with full coverage of the World Cup event”. A DSTV official has stated: “there will be a 24-hour coverage and we will be bringing the games on High Definition (HD).” Yet millions without the luxury of HD languish in poverty caused as a result of FIFA partners.
Racism, whether in low or high definition is still racism, and apartheid however misconstrued via Satellite or Cable TV is still apartheid. FIFA should not allow its brand to be associated with a company which failed to make a submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
In the final report Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu questioned the sincerity of Afrikaner-dominated media houses such as Media24: “Is silence from that quarter to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of the apartheid government?”
In the commissions findings Naspers/Media24/MNET were condemned for their complicity in the apartheid system: ‘[Naspers] chose to provide direct support for apartheid and the activities of the security forces — many of which led directly to gross human rights violations.”
It is ironic that today’s media has failed to make these findings public and continues to hide the truth about the apartheid regime. Meanwhile FIFA continues to allow its brand to be used by the same companies associated with the worst aspects of the racist regime, and even apartheid itself.
Despite urging by activists such as myself, Media24 a print division associated with SuperSport still refuses to accept responsibility for injustices perpetrated by the corporation during the apartheid era and insists it has the right to maintain a form of race-based segregation in its newsrooms, the “multiracial, seperate but equal” race-fantasy concocted by the demogogue PW Botha.
Media24 in submissions before the South African Labour Court has now gone so far as to argue effectively that race has legal consequences and that racial categories as defined by the apartheid regime should continue to be enforced.
Jews and other ethnic minorities in the organisation, relegated to second-class status, are still required to register for the purposes of
race-based testing. I am one of them. Ironically I am technically still employed in the absence of a bone fide contract (there is also no valid letter of termination of employment in my possession) yet subject to character assassination and the absurd demands made by a racist legal system, still dominated by whites.
The Cape Bar has yet to offer substantive aid or any clarity despite there being an Informa Pauperis referral for legal aid from the High Court in an application against a company with its hand in the cookie jar of apartheid South Africa.
If one is poor in South Africa the legal system recognises this fact alone but does little to assist in restitution of the rights of the individual viz. vi. the Corporation.
In the same way Hitler’s final solution killed 6 million Jews in Germany, H. F. Verwoerd’s race solution destroyed the lives of millions of South Africans who were turned into nothing more than cheap labour to be abused by corporations such as Media24 and SUPERSPORT.
Poverty in South Africa has now become the next genocide.
I therefore call on the support of my readers to say: NO TO SUPERSPORT RACISM IN HIGH DEFINITION DEMAND FIFA INQUIRY INTO APARTHEID ATROCITIES NOW!!!