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Ladysmith - Natal



Folks,
I am in Ladysmith - a rural town in Natal, and the start of the band
Ladysmith Black Mambazo .. I am camping in a superb campground
in town, very cheap, with mostly poor white trash as my neighbours.
Some are out of prison, all are afrikaners, I buy dinner, they cook ..
There is always the acknowledgement that whites and blacks will have
to work together to find a solution, because they need each other.
My first experience of being robbed - not serious - I was playing pool
in a local bar, and when leaving noticed that my gloves were missing from
my
helmet. The black barman told me that some white folks that had just left
had
taken them - I ran out, stopped them, and the driver (whom I had been
talking to
in the bar) was very suprised. However, between him and the barman they
got
my gloves off one of his passengers ...
Ladysmith is white for two downtown streets, and then turns completely
black
for the next few streets. I am typing this from the local Internet service
provider,
who runs linux (administered from Jo'burg) as a black box, actually a
caseless
box in the closet with a fan pointing at it. They get service through
Global One,
an international player in telecom, I think the BT/MCI thing or AT&T ??
I visited an indian disco in another part of town with some visiting
indians,
who had been asked to leave the bar because it was now a 'private club' -
the new way to keep undesirables out the bar. I had not been told to leave
-
but I did, with them. Ho Hum. I also visited the MOTH club, a club for
RSA ex-servicemen (Member of the worshipful Order of Tin Hats) which
was full of crusty old folks. I was signed in as a guest, as I was wearing
a collar and socks this time (in the PM, while waiting for my bike
radiator
to be repaired ($40.00) I was told the dress code).
The british barman took me aside and told me that, yes, many of the
Afrikaners
were living in the past. However, many black people, and indians, also saw
this
as payback time. After all, he said, the white man came here and treated
the
blacks as oxen .. but white people are lazy now. They are used to the
blacks
doing the work. I visited Manpower, the government emplyment office, to
ask
the exact rules regarding 'affirmative action'. It turns out that there is
nothing
regarding affirmative action currently written into law. However, there has
been
a green paper, a policy document that has yet to be written into law, that
suggests interviews with companies regarding employment policies, and
also suggests spot fines for 'infractions'. On closer questioning as to
what
an infraction might be, it seems that if you were colorblind during
interviews,
and truly hired according to qualifications, you would be in the clear.
However, many companies are hiring black people (after all, that is what
we
are talking about) in positions like personnel, training, etc. to show an
effort.
Lots of battlefields around here, from both the Boer war and the Zulu
wars.
I am heading to the eastern Drakensburgs for the scenery and hiking, down
then to Pietermaritzberg, through the Transkei, but in two weeks there is
a Southern Africa telcom conference outside Jo'burg called TEL.COM '97,
that looks as though I should be there. So, schedule, as ever, is
changeable.
Cheers,      Andy!
PS. It seems my report on music at the Rustlers festival got lost. Bummer.