DM168

LETTER FROM THE DM168 EDITOR

In SA’s pre-election madness and mayhem, we need to stop and smell the cosmos

In SA’s pre-election madness and mayhem, we need to stop and smell the cosmos
The religious celebration for Good Friday in the Cathedral of San Pietro. (Photo: Michele Lapini / Getty Images) | Cosmos flowers. (Photo: Unsplash) | People in the Matareya district gather to eat Iftar during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: EPA-EFE / KHALED ELFIQI)

Lately, I have come to appreciate the common thread of religion - not just Christianity, but also Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism - as being less about fire and brimstone, and more about a true understanding of our interconnectedness with one another, nature, the Earth and this ever-expanding universe.

Dear DM168 reader,

It’s the Easter weekend, our first proper break with our families, and a crazy period of mayhem, madness and political myopia being used by opportunists ahead of South Africa’s May 29 election to hoodwink the gullible and ill-informed to vote them on to the gravy train.

On one of our DM WhatsApp groups, someone shared a link to a snippet of Lester Kiewit’s interview with Julius Malema, where he asked the EFF leader if he knew the price of a loaf of bread – a staple of every struggling South African family. The response was so telling of how removed the red-overall-wearing commissar in chief is from the people he claims to represent. Malema said he was not in a position where he needs to buy bread, so he did not know. He then showed how little he knows about decisions made in the very Parliament where he has made many a good noise as an honourable and sometimes dishonourable member by saying government must ensure that there is no VAT on bread and staple foods. Er … Honourable Malema, in 2019 Tito Mboweni added white bread, sanitary pads and flour to the list of zero-rated foods that comprise several staples of South Africans’ diet, including brown bread, rice, mealiemeal, eggs, milk and vegetables.

To be fair, Malema is not the only out-of-touch politician. I will never forget how removed from the reality of the squalid state of Prasa’s rail network President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared to be during his 2019 election campaign when he was stuck on a Metrorail train for three hours. Ramaphosa’s attempt to electioneer through the experience fell flat when he said, “We saw for ourselves how the train service is really bad for the people of our country.” He was deputy president when his government and ANC colleagues who mismanaged and looted Prasa and Transnet all knew very well that our world-class railway network had been robbed blind and was in a state of ruin.

But enough of the political elite and their hogwash build-up to 29 May.

Easter reminds me of my youth in KZN, when the very first chill of autumn brought a scatter of pink and white cosmos all over the undulating grasslands of the Midlands. We’d make cosmos crowns and thread them in our hair, and have mud fights in the Tugela River. Easter for me is about getting my hands immersed in the delicious southern African autumnal earth.

Easter falls in the European spring, a season of rebirth that Christians adopted from pagan festivals to commemorate the crucifixion, death and Jesus rising from the dead. The emergence of the green seedlings after the long, dark, cold winter fits in with the resurrection of Christ as symbols of hope and renewal, as does the shedding of the old leaves and popping up of the cosmos in our African autumn.

I’m not Catholic, but I attended St Augustine’s Primary School in Durban, where everywhere we looked, the eyes of Jesus and his mother Mary kept our naughty inclinations in check. If the gentle gaze didn’t work, the fear factor of apocalyptic posters of hell and damnation did. Well, they certainly did with seven-year-old me.

Lately, I have come to appreciate the common thread of not just Christianity but other religions – such as Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism – as being less about fire and brimstone, and more about a true understanding of our interconnectedness with one another, nature, the Earth and this ever-expanding universe.

This period of fasting, almsgiving and reflection that precedes Easter and Eid, and is practised by most religions, may seem archaic and uncool to those who seek affirmation through external egotistical and materialistic displays of their worth. But, boy, we certainly need much more reflection, humility and appreciation of the cosmos in this season of pre-election madness.

In this week’s lead story in DM168, Business Maverick associate editor Neesa Moodley asks what’s next in the Steinhoff case after Markus Jooste’s suicide. For example, who will have to pay the R475-million fine that the Financial Sector Conduct Authority levied on Jooste and can the financial watchdog go after his assets?

Share your thoughts with me at [email protected]

Yours in defence of truth,

Heather

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    One cannot help but identify with the way the the commandments were hammered into our heads, during those days school started with Sunday school now we jump them to preschool, they learn pocket money before they know Jesus.
    As for Markus Jooste highlights of what may follow is still to be shared by legal minds.

  • ST ST says:

    Thank you Heather! If only we stopped seeing our differences as nothing but the flavours of the spice of life as represented by all variations in nature. If only we accepted this truth, our lives would be much more peaceful!

    May I concur with you on this one very authentic truth about us, it is…

    “more about a true understanding of our interconnectedness with one another, nature, the Earth and this ever-expanding universe.”

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