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Mike Smuts
Managing Director of Africa Deluxe Tours, a South African-based inbound tour operator
Managing Director of Africa Deluxe Tours, a South African-based inbound tour operator

Mike's posts

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On top of Table Mountain (panorama) 

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Come to Bellville and C Y
A couple of million bucks parked in a disabled bay nogal. I wonder where the crutches or wheelchair goes? I very much suspect there's not much disability going on here...

Nice ride all the same. I will consider a swap...

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#Budget2016 full text of Min. Gordon's speech already available online on government's website... I approve of this approach. See attached.

Various publications already have their initial reports out. Impressive. I'll have to read it later though :-).

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#Budget 2016 summary by after the Minister has barely started speaking...

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An apology for Apartheid to black South Africans
Penned in Facebook, but copied to G+ as well because I want to be as open as possible about this

Allow me to ease into this before I get to the apology, I'm afraid that's my style - mostly too comprehensive / 'langdradig' / 'omslagtig'. I love giving context and then expanding on that ...before getting to the eventual point. But if you want to skip all that, scroll down to the ±4th-last paragraph starting with "I'd like to tell..."

Here goes.

I recently read the excellent "In die Blou Kamp" (In the Blue Camp) by Dana Snyman. If you want to get a glimpse of how many white Afrikaners think - and if you happen to understand Afrikaans... - do read the book. Snyman writes with honesty, compassion, often nostalgia, insight and simple observations, that are brutally insightful or open ended - depending on where he steers a reflection or report.

I mention Snyman's book because of one of the more personal events he describes therein. He describes how his late father in a moment of anger stated - I'm paraphrasing - "How many more times do they want us to say that we're sorry about Apartheid!?". From Dana's writings, though very respectful of his late father and full of love for him, it seems that his dad wasn't necessarily filled with regret about Apartheid - but of course that's not the full essence of who his dad was. I can only imagine that he was so many other (positive) things as well.

Yet Snyman's telling of the story is, for me as a white South African, extremely familiar. I've heard that refrain a million times - 'how many times do they want us to say we're sorry?'. Snyman tells of how he responded by asking his dad to whom exactly he has extended that apology before? - my reading being that it's a rhetorical question of which the implied answer is 'no one'.

However, for those of us who are indeed 'sorry about Apartheid' the above touches on a very real dilemma. I know of many of my white compatriots who believe that Apartheid was a crime against humanity (and of course as many who do not...). But how to convey this? Who do you walk up to and apologise to?

In a way I think many of us (whites), though not consciously defining this strategy, trust that our conduct and respect towards fellow black South Africans will implicitly communicate our distaste of - and regret for - Apartheid. A conviction that is deeply held.

I realised at some point that the above 'strategy' is a little like believing in what I'd call 'confession by osmosis'. That is, as you get to know me, my true beliefs, including my regret for Apartheid, will permeate into your (black) consciousness and you'll know where I stand on the matter. Yes, it's certainly true that words without action or affirming conduct is just an empty shell. But not uttering or verbalising an apology or acknowledgement is a little pointless as well.

But once again, who to direct an apology to? How? Where? When?

I know of very few instances where whites apologised for Apartheid. One such occasion was at my now retired dad's church. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was invited to deliver a Sunday church sermon at my dad's congregation sometime after 1994 ...a NG Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church). On thanking him after the sermon a fellow-pastor (dominee) of my dad's made an unplanned and unscripted confession and apology.

He stated his past support for Apartheid and his role as chaplain in the old South African Defence Force. Sadly I wasn't present and aren't privy to everything he said, but I understand that in the process he broke down in tears. Not surprisingly, if you know Desmond Tutu, he walked up to the pulpit and gave the pastor a passionate hug. The (very much Afrikaner establishment) congregation stood up and applauded loudly. That is they indicated that they identified with the pastor's apology. Do note that standing up and applauding in church is very unusual in the NG Kerk :-)

But once again, I don't know of many instances of white Afrikaners apologising for Apartheid. I myself once made an awkward, impromptu, apology to congregants in a Soweto church. It was of course imperfect and yet the response was warm and loving.

So at this point, let me turn to myself.

First the 'I had virtually no part in Apartheid' bit, there is another side of the coin coming... I was born in 1970, at the time HF Verwoerd had been dead for 4 years. I was 6-years old when the 1976 school uprisings took place and only learned about it after 1994. Until the late late 80's I had no idea of the existence of Nelson Mandela. I learned from school and the state media that the ANC was 'a terrorist organisation'. Every time a 'terrorist attack' took place it was plastered across the front pages of newspapers. We learned about the Rooi Gevaar (Red Danger) from non-descript white adult males in suits who came to school and showed us diagrams of Soviet Submarines sailing up and down our coastline. Our neighbouring countries were 'communist' and non-Christian. (For Afrikaners) my family was very enlightened. We were taught as kids to be respectful to our domestic worker with whom we actually formed a bond of love and respect. I was a mere twenty years old when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Etc, etc.

However, as a kid who grew up during Apartheid, I attended an all-white school where the government spent multiples more money on my education. When I was about seven years old I saw two policemen unceremoniously load our (black) gardener into the back of a police van and my father explained that his 'dompas' / pass book had expired. I saw separate entrances for whites and blacks just about everywhere ...and used the 'Whites Only' entrance. While I was taught by my parents to discourage this, it was commonplace for black people to address me from my earliest years as 'baas' (master) purely for me being white and if they did not a white bystander was sure to scold them for it. As a 16 year old teenager in 1986 I was very much aware of the wave of 'unrest' in the townships and the state of emergency declared by then President PW Botha. I naively accepted his accusations that black kids were paid by foreign journalists to riot. I meekly accepted my conscript call up for two years service in the Apartheid Army (though I was extremely fortunate to miss deployment into a 'black' township by the skin of my teeth). I was aware that our domestic worker, whom we loved and respected, had kids back in Bushbuckridge whom she only got to see when she went on leave. I did not question this reality.

The long and the short of it is that by the obscene 'luck of the draw' I was born with a white skin in Apartheid South Africa. I did not deserve this any more than someone born on the same day with a black skin, in the dilapidated 'non-white' section of a hospital or clinic elsewhere in South Africa. In my formative toddler and teenage years I benefited while others suffered, not on merit but purely because I was white. While I was blind to the brutality of Apartheid I was aware that black South Africans were getting the short end of the stick (to put it mildly). I could have been more aware of the injustice of it all and could have resisted Apartheid much more forcefully at an earlier age.

While South Africa's situation is indeed complex and the current government deserving of much criticism, the fact is that due to Colonialism and Apartheid perpetrated by my earliest ancestors in the Cape, as well as my very recent ancestors, non-white (black, coloured, indian, etc.) South Africans are burdened with a legacy of poverty, disenfranchisement and life challenges that I cannot begin to imagine. The racism my fellow South Africans experienced in the past and still encounter today is an inhumane travesty.

I'd like to tell my fellow black South Africans that I acknowledge and regret the inhumane, degrading and destructive oppression and dispossession that you have been subjected to by white people in South Africa over centuries. I realise that the legacy of that injustice didn't magically disappear in 1994 and that white people, by enlarge, still enjoy the advantaged position thereof while the vast majority of black people still have to struggle every day with the legacy of Apartheid and Colonialism. I realise that whilst I may 'know' this intellectually I completely lack in real understanding of having to live this legacy, today, in real life.

I also acknowledge that many white South Africans are much more concerned with maintaining our position of privilege than addressing the pressing needs of poor black South Africans.

As a white South African, in my personal capacity, I apologise.

I realise that apologising for Colonialism and Apartheid is not a singular event, but needs to be repeated and lived by contributing to serving the interests of all South Africans.

* I expect derision from some of you, but if any of you wish to share this you're welcome to do so...


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Android 6.0.1 on Nexus 5 (2013)
After ignoring the update notification for a couple of days I allowed my phone to download and install the Android 6.0.1 update an hour ago. Mainly bug fixes. All smooth at present.

Cool new feature though is going direct to the camera app with a double tap of the power button. I will definitely be using that.

I also discovered an easter egg game which is probably old news. Use the screen shots as clue if you want to go and look for it :-).

#android #androidmarshmallow #android6.0.1

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Making fun of a rather depressing situation :-). Meme to the rescue.

#ZumaMustFall #NeneFired 

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Psst, +Africa Deluxe Tours (Afrilux) is also on Facebook...
Look, at Afrilux we're Google people. We use Google Apps for Work, Google+, Nexus phones & tablets, etc. Eh, we Google big time. Seriously.

However, if you claim that you don't use Facebook ...but secretly do, we've got you covered. Until you find your way back here to Google+ that is... "Like" us, don't like us (but rather do please) - it's up to you :-).

Twitter? Uh yes -> @Africa_Touring ( ...because internet.


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