First Post-Trust ME

Trust as part of a world that only exists in stories and for some fortunate babies, for the adult world has lost it.

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As Far as babies are concerned, they can be viewed from different angles and various aspects. The variations of experimentations performed on such humble human beings can be infinite but the results which they share converge to a single point Happiness.

 

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Yes, to make sure that this happy doze is provided to them on a daily basis, many parents have now started to employ different Baby Games. The desire owing to the genetic reasons may differ from one baby to another, but they all seemed to be arguing for the attainment of quality entertainment. The crying habit of the babies is not at all difficult to apprehend. This can be easily acknowledged, when their crying appetites take into consideration. Not every time they are hurting voice are an indication of hunger, sleep or poo-poo, sometimes the baby cries at the top of his voice, demanding only an…

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Addressing Change in South Africa

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Effective Solutions in Urbanization & Metropolitanization

 

Let us ask the question, what opportunities are being created for the citizens of South Africa to be part of the economic growth in Sub Saharan Africa between now and 2030. In 1994 there was real change that has slowly stalled and now the hopes and dreams of many millions of citizens have turned into the shattered reality of the current situation. According to a recent McKinsey report urbanization is confused with improved quality of life and that at least 72% of Africans live in cities, live in slums.

There has been a growing global trend for rural inhabitants to move away and into urban areas for various reasons such as and not limited to better access to employment, health and education services and an improved standard of living. If we are to see this trend in Africa, then surely it would be prudent for urban planners and other government departments to provide real solutions for the urban populations. Infrastructure development and the allocation today of a percentage of GDP towards education and health services, water and sanitation would be a start.

Let’s take agriculture as a case in point: According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, there are 500 million smallholder farmers in the world. Smallholder farmers provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  And about two-thirds of the 1.2 billion people now surviving on US$1.25 a day or less live in rural areas that are largely dependent on small-scale agriculture. Can we improve the education of these farmers and lift their production rate without placing strain on the environment and the ecosystem and in doing so lift their standard of living through an increase in wages/income.

Now if our estimated global population growth trajectory is accurate the global population will be around nine billion by 2030 (estimated by others to be 2050) and Africa will double by 2050. There are benefits for government in taking a proactive stance in policy making and in planning for the tomorrow with effective solutions. In many cases, these farmers can double their productivity and output together with their income, through access to tools and technology available today within the private sector. More importantly, by improving smallholder farmer productivity and their access to markets by working with the private sector, incomes will be generated and will go a long way to solving poverty.

In a previous article I made mention of the South African National Development Plan and I would like to focus here again on this plan. If we look at independent data, the projected population by 2030 of South Africa will be 66,000,000. The current estimated population of South Africa is 52,900,000 and so there must be effective planning undertaken by the current and by successive governments if we are to see an improvement in the standard of living for the citizens of South Africa.

One example here to review is that of Gauteng, one of the nine provinces, that currently has a population of approximately 12,500,000 people and it is estimated that by 2050 that figure will rise to 23,100,000 people. This province has the highest density ranking and so I have highlighted it here as it will have the greatest demands in addressing the MDGs. Increasing the affordability and access to quality education is an effective solution to alleviating poverty and this must be a priority for government for this province.

Gauteng produces approximately 10% of the total GDP of Sub Saharan Africa and yet has 8.4% of residents aged 20 and over have received no schooling, 11.2% have had some primary, 5.5% have completed only primary school, 34.3% have had some high education, 28.0% have finished only high school, and 12.6% have an education higher than the high school level. Overall, 40.6% of residents have completed high school, 25.8% of the population aged 15–65 is unemployed.

From these figures one can see that the lack of education is evident and it is a belief, widely held by educational academics, that education is one way of alleviating poverty – median annual income of working adults aged 15–65 is R 23 539 ($3,483). Males have a median annual income of R 24 977 ($3,696) versus R 20 838 ($3,083) for females. I will use just one example below to highlight the point of the correlation between lack of education, poverty and the standard of living.

Alexandra, Gauteng, with a population of 166,000. However, some estimates place the number closer to 470,000 as the population has grown after the fall of apartheid and the rise of people seeking jobs as immigration from other parts of Africa is on the rise. Alexandra is located northeast of the Johannesburg city center situated on the Jukskei River and covers 8 square kilometers. Originally planned to be a vibrant community this area turned into low-income developments with 7,500 formal homes and roughly 20,000 shacks. The people and their plight is something we do not think of when simple things such as electricity and plumbing is common to us, but relatively uncommon to those who reside in the slums.

According to UN-Habitat, besides Johannesburg, Gauteng comprises Pretoria, Vereeniging, Benoni, Krugersdorp and their surrounding areas, with a total of 23 municipalities  and is the headquarters for most of South Africa’s large corporations, banks and other financial and business activities. It is estimated that by 2020, Gauteng will be an urban region of 20 million people. It would make sense that government and non-government leaders huddle and make plans for the future, to bring about real and effective social change through the improvement and access to quality education for the citizens of this province.

Likewise, the other provinces could review and adopt the same or a similar model of providing this and other services, but for this article it is education which is the focus. In 2015, the urban slum population in Africa is likely to reach 332 million. There are other societal benefits for addressing population growth and the rural migration to urban areas and improving the standard of living through education, such as a stabilizing and or the reduction in the crime rate. South African homicide rates remain exceptionally high – higher than any other country that submits crime statistics to Interpol. A SAPS performance report reveals that over 21,400 cases of murder, nearly 540,000 cases of rape and over 116,700 cases of serious robbery were recorded in 2000/2001.

Increasing youth crime has serious implications, particularly in Africa where over two thirds of many cities’ populations are between the ages of 12 and 25. Most of these young people live in informal settlements without basic facilities, services and security. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. Tackling these challenges will not be an easy task, and it will require good governance and transparency to bring about the required change. Corruption is pervasive in Africa and a previous article reviewed the KPMG report into South African fraud and corruption which is now systemic in government.

Equitable quality learning is one way to bring about this change. Skills are the key way in which education reduces poverty. Education makes it more likely for men and women not just to be employed, but to hold jobs that are more secure and provide good working conditions and decent pay. In so doing, education can not only help lift households out of poverty, but also guard against them falling – or falling back – into poverty. Low quality education reinforces this problem, as parents are less willing to bear those costs if they cannot see the benefits of education.

Demographic change has a profound impact on the direction of public policy and the development of a country. As the population increases nationally and or provincially, policymakers will be compelled to meet the service needs of a larger population in areas like healthcare, education, employment or basic infrastructure needs. The importance of aligning policy planning to cover all possibilities and contingencies cannot be overemphasized in the current context in South Africa.

Understanding the dynamics of population change and by government adopting and implementing policy that is proactive in its approach to the challenge of Urbanization & Metropolitanization, South Africa will move towards a better tomorrow for all of its citizens.

“Children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and education is a very important weapon to prepare children for their future roles as leaders of the community”. Nelson Mandela

 

 

Human History Horribilis

THE REVENGE OF GEOGRAPHY

WHAT THE MAP TELLS US ABOUT COMING CONFLICTS AND THE BATTLE AGAINST FATE

 

To quote Robert D. Kaplan “In order to understand today’s current events—religious conflict, war, and political instability—one need look no further than a map.”  Cartography is an interesting and most fascinating subject, especially if one wants to study history and can we understand more about our present world by studying maps. There are many different and diverse subjects that are related to maps such as, and not limited to the following: Toponymy, Hydronymy, Demonym, Ethnonym (polito-ethnonym and topo-ethnonym), Diaspora, Exonym, Endonym, Onomastics, Critical Cartography, Geoinformatics, Historical and Thematic Maps.

Here are several maps worth considering when looking at the current geopolitical tension and conflict in the Middle East.

UN_Palestine_Partition_Versions_1947

Mandate_for_Palestine_(legal_instrument).svg

640px-MPK1-426_Sykes_Picot_Agreement_Map_signed_8_May_1916

If one looks at the maps (ancient and modern) and this post will only briefly look at 2oth Century maps, one can obtain a clearer understanding of where we are at today regarding some of the conflict in the Middle East. The Chester Concession approved by the congress of the newly founded Republic of Turkey on April 10, 1923, allowed United States development of oil and railways. It was an award of the significant importance and marked the introduction of U.S. capital for the first time on a large scale into the Near East. The same type of agreement (Baghdad Railway) was a major cause of the anxiety which led the Ottoman Empire to World War IGermany had obtained concessions from Ottoman Empire which allowed German companies to construct railways. (Wikipedia)

OttomanEmpireIn1683

The Ottoman Empire at its greatest extent, in 1683

Some view the Twentieth Century as ‘One Hundred Years of War’ and the first quarter of that century was riddled with conflict that saw changes and a shift in the balance of power. One poses the question here are there any parallels here between the first quarter of last century and the Twenty First Century. Whatever the answer to the question may just be found in our history and if history can teach us anything, may it be the wisdom to not make the same mistakes again this century.

The last Caliphate was The Ottoman Caliphate which ended with the abolition when the National Assembly that had been newly created and declared Turkey as a republic 1923 circa. After almost seven hundred years the empire ceased to exist and with this new government a sweeping set of changes occurred under Atatürk and one such reform was that the National Assembly abolished the Caliphate on March 3, 1924. The caliphate was the core leader concept of Sunni Islam, by the consensus of the Muslim majority in the early centuries.

There have been calls by groups such as the Mujahideen, al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, Jemaah Islamiyah and now the newest call by what was ISIS and now has been altered in name to Islamic State, for a new Caliphate. To understand better this current situation in the Middle East, one has to have a better understanding of the differences between the current Shia-led Iraqi Government  ( eighteen provinces in Iraq) and the religious groups within the country and the sectarian violence between Iraq’s religious groups.

The Shia majority in Iraq have some groups that support the Assad regime in Syria, which many Sunni factions stand against and now there has been an galvanizing effect between the two countries with this newest stand by the Islamic State aka ISIS. The map below shows the June military situation with who controls what geographically.

Green-Syrian Opposition  Pink light-Syrian Government Pink dark - Iraqi Government Grey - ISIS Yellow dark - Syrian Kurds Yellow light - Iraqi Kurds

Green-Syrian Opposition
Pink light-Syrian Government
Pink dark – Iraqi Government
Grey – ISIS
Yellow dark – Syrian Kurds
Yellow light – Iraqi Kurds

 

The Hadith, or the translation and or reporting of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad is most controversial and includes Sharia Law. Sunni and Shia hadith collections differ because scholars from the two traditions differ as to the reliability of the narrators and transmitters. Narrators who took the side of Abu Bakr and Umar rather than Ali, in the disputes over leadership that followed the death of Muhammad, are seen as unreliable by the Shia; narrations sourced to Ali and the family of Muhammad, and to their supporters, are preferred. Sunni scholars put trust in narrators, such as Aisha, whom Shia reject. Differences in hadith collections have contributed to differences in worship practices and shari’a law and have hardened the dividing line between the two traditions. (Wikipedia)

So what we have is a most highly complex religion that has become polarised. Shia and Sunni beg to differ on religion. Now one can see where some of the conflict begins as one side claims that their belief is more in line with the Muslim faith. Okay so how did we get to where we are today in the Middle East where brother fights brother and state fights state. The Hadith – Muhammad al Bukhari (810-870 AD) travelled for eighteen years through various Islamic lands and then returned home to Bukhara where he wrote a consequential text (Sahih al-Bukhari) the central collection of Hadith, or “narratives” taken from the life and words of Muhammad.

Other Hadith have been written, but al-Bukhari’s is considered by Sunnis to be second in authority only to the Qur’an (Koran) and gives a guideline covering thousands of activities from birth to death. In the Qur’an (Koran)  the following is of concern regarding tensions in the Middle East because of the relationship between the Jewish State of Israel and the Muslim world. The Qur’an (Koran) is a 114-chapter recitation that Muslims believe God spoke through the Prophet.

In Chapter Five  of the  Qur’an (Koran) (Surah 5 – Al-Ma idah) Section Eight: Relations of Muslims with Their Enemies 51- O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors:* they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily God guides not a people unjust. The * note here states the following footnote: That is, look not to them for help and comfort. They are more likely to combine against you than to help you. And this happened more than once in the lifetime of the Prophet, and in after-ages again and again. He who associates with them and shares their counsels must be counted as of them. The trimmer loses whichever way the wheel of fortune turns.

There is much angst and multi-generational hatred and mistrust that still lingers between various sectarian groups. Between Sunni & Shia there is a complex battle which we are witnessing today in the Middle East. Now, if we are to also add to this the complexity of adding the state of Israel into the situation, it becomes even more complex. Without a doctorate in theology one is left a tad perplexed by the complexities of the various religious groups in the Middle East…Judaism, Alawite, Sunni, Shia for example. So what happened in the middle of last century at the end of the second World War, and did the action have a reaction creating the messy situation today?

At the end of WWII the Middle East was divided into specific sovereign territories. At the end of the Second World War, the region’s states finally obtained independence. But the creation of the State of Israel and the failure of attempts to create Arab unity left the Middle East deeply divided.

The borders were drawn without regard for the wishes of the people living there, or along ethnic, geographic, or religious boundaries – they were truly arbitrary. It is important to note that even today, political borders in the Middle East do not indicate different groups of people. The differences between Iraqis, Syrians, Jordanians, etc. were entirely created by the European colonizers as a method of dividing the Arabs against each other.

http://www.globalissues.org/article/119/the-middle-east-conflict-a-brief-background

The trajectory that was set for the last century had roots back to the conflict that was left over from the previous century…and so it goes without saying that the trajectory that we have set for ourselves as a species, was done so in the latter half of last century. As the United States of America is about to celebrate on the 4th of July, maybe every American can make a change by giving some serious thought to making their government responsible and changing foreign policy.

In the 21st century, U.S. influence remains strong but, in relative terms, is declining in terms of economic output compared to rising nations such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the newly consolidated European Union. Substantial problems remain, such as climate changenuclear proliferation, and the specter of nuclear terrorism. Foreign policy analysts Hachigian and Sutphen in their book The Next American Century suggest all six powers have similar vested interests in stability and terrorism prevention and trade; if they can find common ground, then the next decades may be marked by peaceful growth and prosperity. (Wikipedia)

If anything is certain regarding the future of the Middle East it is that human history will record more unnecessary conflict and war that is a mixture of economics, politics and religion that the writer terms “Horribilis”.