AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Renouncing the Rhino
Benjamin Fogel | December 12th, 2012

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I used to like Rhinos, I never loved them, but I thought they were pretty cool. I once even saw a couple in the wild with my parents in Kruger National Park. Sadly, like so many other things, rhinos have been ruined for me. I can’t like them anymore. I don’t dislike them personally, but I hate what they have come to represent. Don’t get me wrong — rhinos are blameless in this scenario. Rhinos can’t help that their horns are a valuable commodity with a high demand in parts of Asia and they live near lots of desperate people or that some rich Americans like to travel to the dark continent to kill things.

My beef with rhinos is more of a beef with white South Africa as a whole (yes I know I’m a white South African). What gets to me is the Sandton, Constantia or “insert fortress suburb of your choice” housewives in their oversized SUVs, who listen to Freshlyground (’cause they aren’t racist) and shop at Woolworths, when they venture out of their gated communities and who now place red plastic horns on the bonnet to show their solidarity with the rhinos. Dubbed the “Rhinose,” these horns are even made of recycled goods and fit right in with your Eco-friendly Golf estate and fair trade coffee.

Also to blame are the trance ‘hippies’ who claim to be progressive — some even call themselves anarchists — and who are into the whole new age pacifist scene, but yet regularly call for the deaths of rhino poachers. Or the same people who clog my Facebook wall with calls to save the rhinos and send me hundreds of different Avaaz petitions.

What all of these different social groupings have in common, besides being mostly white, is that while they have endless time for the rhino they have little or nothing to say about contemporary South Africa. Little or nothing, beyond the normal white persecution complex which endures in the form of calls for Woolworths’ boycott or calling Black Economic Empowerment (or the University of Cape Town) entrance requirement “reverse apartheid.”

When the state gunned down 34 miners at Marikana for asking for a living wage, they were silent. Hell, I saw plenty of people suggest that they had it coming because they were ‘unskilled’ and uneducated. I’ve seen far more of these plastic horns than say “Justice for Marikana” stickers on cars. No Facebook likes or Avaaz petitions, even.

When farm workers in the Western Cape went on strike for a minimum wage of R150 a day ($20) they were silent again. They are largely silent about inequality, poverty and institutional racism. In a country in which unemployment hovers around 40% overall, around half of the country lives below the poverty line and we can boast of being the second most unequal society in the world after Namibia.

It’s kind of hard to miss social realities in such an environment.

This is a country in which the game was and largely continues to be rigged in favor of white people, who still continue to deny they benefited and continue to benefit from Apartheid. How many white South Africans actually admit to having voted for the National Party (they ruled South Africa between 1948 and 1994)? This is a country where you have to be intentionally ignorant to deny the reality of racial inequality; one has to ignore the millions living in shacks or the sheer extent of desperation in a country where people are prepared to die for R150 a day.

Maybe I’m just anthropecentric, but where was this voice of the moneyed middle class when the state committed the worst act of mass violence since Apartheid? Also, where were they when video of community activist Andries Tatane was broadcast on the evening news, or when Western Cape Premier Helen Zille ordered local police to invade Hangberg? I know. I saw far more sorrow and anger over the Rhino issue.

At my Alma Mater, Rhodes University, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, there was not one public meeting in the aftermath of the massacre, but I can recall numerous campaigns to save the Rhino and at least one mural put up on a wall outside the library. Ironically, the same people — who when you can eventually get them to talk about politics endlessly bemoan the corruption and incompetence of our current government — reflexively sympathize with the state when it illegally breaks up protests or shoots poor black people. But at least they speak up for the voiceless rhinos and even buy the rhino friendly bags from Woolworths (yes these exist too).

For these reasons, I hate rhinos, they symbolize the sheer disjuncture between white South Africans of fortress suburbia and the struggles of a country still attempting to realize some measure of social justice for the vast majority. For me, it shows that for the majority of white South Africa, black life still means very little — if anything at all. Animals for them are more important than human life.

It seems like far more outrage was expressed over a T-shirt containing the words “I benefited from apartheid” than over the fact that people are earning R69 a day in the farms or that millions of black children go bed hungry in shacks every night. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but I’m not indulging in hyperbole when I say that I’m not being unfair to the majority.

I’m not renouncing the rhino because I want to claim the moral high ground or because the plastic rhino horns look like dildos or because I want to maintain a measure of dignity. I’m doing it because I refuse to be complicit in apolitical narcissism that still prevails amongst white South Africans. Rhino politics, if it’s not matched with the same focus on humans, belongs in the same dustbin of history — #Kony2012 replete with Jason Russell’s public masturbation included.

White South Africans probably won’t suddenly take to the streets in solidarity with striking black workers or decide to pay farm workers more than starvation wages, but I hope at least some of us can end the denial and start contributing to this country in a serious fashion. Or if not at least sign the Avaaz petition.

* Benjamin Fogel is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town, South Africa. He writes about politics and in his spare time listens to hip hop and rants. He can be contacted at benfogel@hotmail.com.

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Benjamin Fogel

Benjamin Fogel is the assistant editor of Amandla Magazine. Currently based in Cape Town, he is a journalist with a particular interest in labour and political journalism. You can follow him on Twitter: @BenjaminFogel.


98 thoughts on “Renouncing the Rhino

  1. Dear Benjamin
    I must say while you have a point about the way rhino’s dominate the headlines, shops and conversations in a country with a lot more serious problems to think about, I do most certainly object to your blatant stereotyping of “white South Africa as a whole”.

    I’m pretty sure I would be first in your sights based on the criteria you set out. I live in Parkhurst (a well-to-do area of Johannesburg) and drive a BMW (rather than an SUV – too expensive!) – don’t shop at Woolies so much now as frankly money is tight.

    I’m not denying that white South African’s benefitted from apartheid and continue to benefit from the lasting legacy of having a decent education and access to privileges denied our black counterparts. I’m also not denying that apartheid was an evil system and was quite rightly done away with. However I take issue with the constant attacks on “White South Africa”.

    All I have to do is look around me to see examples of what “White South Africa” is doing quietly, away from the spotlight to create a better life for all.

    My mom worked for series of NGO’s and churches creating, running and supporting initiatives aimed at assisting the poor (mostly black) people of South Africa to access education and create a better life for themselves and their children and still runs a charitable organization called Masenze Ikusasa (www.masenze.org) aimed at training ladies who run informal creches in Alex and other townships in basic childcare, basic first aid, basic business skills, child nutrition etc. She funds this initiative out of her own pocket along with financial assistance from family and friends – this despite the fact that my parents aren’t exactly wealthy by the standards of the average ANC politician.

    My mom-in-law worked for Desmond Tutu in the fight against apartheid and was at one time under house arrest. She continues to work for the church for various outreach and charitable initiatives.

    I organised an NFSAS loan in order to put gardener’s daughter through Tech and paid for her accommodation, books and any other shortfall she had and then organised her a job with a friend when she graduated (she is now working at a major hotel group). For the past three years I have paid for my child-minder’s daughter to go to a “former Model C school” (coincidentally one of the top performing schools in Gauteng) so she can escape the horrors of the the ANC’s apartheid-style education system in Soweto where she lives. All this during a time when I have really battled in running my small business (which incidentally provides employment for around 80 people and runs an annual initiative aimed at identifying and mentoring young filmmakers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds).

    In my business I have invested in skills training for my staff, lent them money to buy cars, watched as they moved from a back-room at a relatives house into their own stand-alone house (with a bit of help from the company and the regular, above inflation increases). My staff have a profit share in my company so they benefit when the company does well. I have recently bought out my minority partner so I can create a trust for my employees children’s education.

    Many of my “white” (and non-white!) friends are similarly involved in various initiatives aimed at making a difference. So you will not see us joining a mass protest or even so much as bothering with an Avaaz or Facebook petition because we are too busy creating jobs and making a difference on our own. Frankly every moment I spend on useless petitions and mass protests that the government will surely ignore or shut down, is a moment I could be spending on doing something that will actually make a difference.

    Please don’t include me in your racist, prejudiced stereotype of “White South Africa”, it offends me. I see myself as a South African, finished and klaar.

    kind regards

    Kirsty Galliard

  2. Hard to take this seriously when there is no analysis of poachers themselves are being ruthlessly exploited by the international criminal syndicates all in the name of profit. Perhaps you should take some timeout and read Julian Rademeyer’s book, ‘Killing for Profit’ before baiting the race card?

  3. Hmmm … more unthinking, more me-isms/you-isms, and less critical interrogation. And to Kirsty Gilliard above, you can skip the inane complaint with regards to lumping you, of all people, in that trope. You weren’t mentioned. Move on. Unless you took the label of White seriously by posting it, of course (thereby confounding your entire post).

    Certainly, the worry that being political amounts to no more than wearing a moustache and donning a red erection is of concern. But this could have been derided in a single sentence. What goes unnoticed is the attachment of the demographic in question to the pastoral and its inhabitants, an attachment with a complex history in South Africa. Furthermore, the question of dignity ascribed to animals in a country showing little redemption for the dignity of human lives themselves, is ill-answered by the comparisons to Marikana and the Cape winelands.

  4. Excellent piece!
    I have had the same discomfort with the rhino obsession. It really struck me at RMB Starlight Classics this year, just a week after Marikana, when the plight of the Rhino had songs dedicated to it and the whole thing supported a rhino charity. Not one word about Marikana. Not one!
    But even during apartheid whites were obsessed with animals while ignoring massive black suffering. Thats how we got so many effective environmental organisations (WWF, etc) while they voted for the NP.
    I think there was an element of guilt transference going on – people want to be able to say – look, I’m not a bad person- I’m nice to animals!

  5. Aish Kirsty..exceptions to the rule. I also consider myself an exception to this rule…as a middle class ‘Indian’. ..but us exceptions don’t break this rule. You should waste your time trying to defend or condone or make excuses for people who are not like you…to feel better about yourself. You are a good person and you surround yourself with good people…finish and klaar…but the majority of White middle Class society has a twisted sense of Morality. Observe it…dont make excuses to ignore it…cos you are an exception.

  6. I do so hate mock cynicism in journalism, it stinks of in-crowd, in-joke.. For real cynicism in journalism is even worse. This Ben character’s writing? I always get the impression that he’s trying to impress his older brother.

  7. Fantastic Ben! This is one of your best pieces. I have to add that I think Grahamstown is the world capital of white people who think that the question of ethics is essentially of we treat animals and the environment!

  8. There’s always going to be a “better cause”, isn’t there? While you spend your time doing nothing in “solidarity with protesters in Egypt”, there are people right around the corner in poverty. This is always going to be the case. If you start making arguments like “x cause is less white middle-class and more important, in my trendy yet humble opinion”, it could be argued that, in the time it took to write this article you could have saved the whole wide world. People are allowed to choose what they care for, and just because they happen to not like it when people slaughter Rhinos doesn’t mean that they are not supporting other causes, perhaps more actively than some people who are bitching about people bitching about Rhinos being killed.

  9. Ha ha Kirsty there’s a proveb in Xhosa which says “kungaqhuma kubasiwe” meaning where there’s a smoke there is a fire burning, Kirsty let’s not run away from the fact that white capitalists r still protected by the ANC and DA on the expense of poor black ppl, yesterday I was in a big debate in De Doorns abt the farm workers, I was so traumatized how white ppl think of us as black ppl, it was also shocking when white farmers respond to the De Doorns situation and the government was there to protect white ppl. Kirsty Plz you knw this, when white ppl came here with Drommedaris, Reigel and Goeidehoep those vessels Neva carried any land now you ppl r staying in Parkhurst and black ppl r squised in Alexanda. I think mna white ppl do nt deserve any existence in SA, have you seen or hear any black South African own a business in England or stay in the most expensive suburbs of England, Neva bt white ppl just stole our land just like that, I say the time is coming and the bomb is ticking.

  10. “I was so traumatized how white ppl think of us as black ppl” next to ” I think mna white ppl do nt deserve any existence in SA,”

    I’m just leaving that there.

  11. Your sweeping generalization of ‘white South Africans’, and the degrading of our concern for the rhino by assuming that it means we don’t care about what goes on in the rest of the country, truly smacks of self-aggrandizement and a kind of pomposity. try to write to create a message, and not your own self-esteem.

  12. An incredibly simplistic piece that relies on the following clumsy assumptions:

    1) That white people’s only charitable concern is that of the Rhino and that sections of this diverse community do not lend themselves to a variety of causes. (Yes the ‘white’ populace is in fact itself diverse and its amateur to throw about such generalisations).

    2) That the Rhino is not a valuable component of the SA economy; and thus benefits a huge, albeit unquantifiable, number of people particularly in the provinces that rely on hunting and tourism.

    3) That there is only one good cause worth supporting (and this happens to fit with Ben Fogel’s rather elitist worldview).

  13. Well, this is just one big generalization that we’ve all heard before haven’t we?? Try writing something a bit more original Ben.

    I too went to Rhodes University and remember my professors advising against making sweeping statements. Maybe you skipped that lecture, possibly too busy sitting on your elitist pedestal.

    I would advise a but more real world experience before throwing around your opinions. You sound like a teenager who thinks he knows everything about anything. A degree in Journalism doesn’t make a journalist.

  14. Its about time that someone pointed out, as Fogel does, that there is a whole section of society in South Africa that is far more concerned about dead rhinos than dead people when the latter are poor and black.

  15. Really? Can you honestly say, with any authority, that “a whole section of society” doesn’t care about people? Since when are causes mutually exclusive? So, just because I care that Rhinos are being poached, it must mean that I want more poor black people to die? Can you hear yourself? KILL LESS RHINOS KILL MORE BABIES? That must be it then, right? Only way it can be.

  16. Whenever I see an SUV with a dildo (sorry, horn) on it, I always want to put a sticker on the back that says ‘I like rhinos, but screw the planet’. Seriously. You are knowingly contributing to the destruction of the habitat of all the world’s species, but you care about rhinos? And you don’t see any contradiction there?!

  17. The Marikana Massacre, because that’s what it was, was beyond description. When I read the news of the uprising and later the massacre, I broke out in a sweat, I was shaking with grief and fury. I wept, still weep over this…from bitter disappointment, from hopelessness, and helplessness! But the worst was yet to come. Expecting others of my generation, who had either lived in exile during the eighties, or who had voted in the referendum to take South Africa out of the dark ages, to be outraged…instead I met indifference and even open hostility towards the Miners. Almost to the last one, amongst friends and family ( with a few exceptions ) they wanted the uprising” quelled, squashed, stamped out…to just go away. Even as I write the tears stream. White South Africans ( I exclude here the few exceptions ) disgust me. I am one too and I am ashamed of myself, because in the face of their privilege and sense of entitlement…I was/am mute.

  18. Right on Jen. We should be deeply ashamed at just what issues animate us. What the defensive commentators here can’t deny is that the reaction to rhino poaching – radio ads, banks painting the sides of their buildings, a whole massive charity effort titled RAGE, imploring radio shows and TV documentaries, books, massive security around rhinos – is vastly more than has ever been done for the great number of fellow South Africans who are suffering in dreadful conditions right now. They should at least admit that it looks bad, even if they can’t admit that the general white SAfrican actually does care more about the rhinos than about poor people.

  19. Why? Ben doesn’t deny that. He’s making a point about liberal mostly white activism in relation to this issue. Not about the exploitation of the Rhino industry which is the case with many other industries as well.

    You think there are no criminal sydicates involved in the following?
    1) The DA elections
    2) Stealing land from poor blacks to build malls for shoprite and pick n pay.
    3) The mining companies and almost everything they’re connected to. Blood diamond is not just about Sierra Leone

    Sure that book and your point is relevant but it doesnt take anything away from Ben’s article which is about White South Africans not about the analysis of the poaching industry.

  20. The problem with your point is that the same people who have this Rhino cause are destroying the lives of an inumerable number of people by supporting the continued oppression of so many in our society.

    I’m sure Ben doesn’t like it when Rhinos die. What he’s saying is that limiting your activism to Rhinos being killed and to similar liberal causes actualy upholds the structure of oppression in our society.

  21. Ben is entitled to his opinion and can write as many opinion pieces as he cares to, but by conflating two very different issues he is obfuscating the debate. Miners getting shot at by police bully boys on behalf of the mine owners and government (1922) is an ongoing struggle in South Africa and has been since 1860 when some shiny pebbles were found in the Northern Cape.

    The wholesale slaughter of Rhinos is another matter entirely, and to cast it as the last refuge of bleeding heart liberals and tree huggers’ activism is barely even journalism. There is no supporting evidence or investigative journalism other than anecdotal perceptions and dubious associations.

    How dare Ben assume that people’s activism for one cause is at the expense of other causes? And to frame it on a racial basis is just cheap.

  22. @Jonathan,

    No it isn’t. This is an opinion piece. Its not an investigative piece. But besides that, it’s based on the fact, and it is a fact, that most white people are only involved in that kind of activism. It’s just the truth. You can see it every day all over the country. It doesn’t need a survey or an academic investigation. It’s just true. You also don’t need a survey to prove that in this country white people are on the whole richer than black people. You can see it. It’s just true.

    I say this also as a white South African who is pissed off because I know so few white South Africans who even gave a damn that Andries Tatane was murdered on television. And most of them tried to justify it.

    So it’s completely relevant. You’re just being so defensive that you can’t see your own prejudice

  23. @jsacks where do you get off calling me prejudiced? You risk exposing the extent of your own ignorance. On what authority can you judge one person’s activism over someone else’s?

    The are South Africans of all hues who both decry the massacre of rhinos and workers. I know that for a fact because I am one of them. But you have no right, and nor does Ben for that matter, to claim moral superiority (or inferiority in your case) over the forms of activism they choose to participate in.

    And finally, the arbitrary framing of this as a racial issue is puerile – how many black South Africans “give a damn that Andries Tatane was murdered on television” either? Are “most” black South Africans marching in protest against the police, mine bosses and the ruling party? I am afraid your vision of race in South Africa is entirely tainted and you aren’t seeing the bigger picture that we are all under attack from a state that has veered away from a constitutional democracy to authoritarian populism and is happy to murder striking miners should send shock through all of us.

    That some people, black and white, choose to express their activism in trying to defend the rhinos is not ignoble, it is just their choice. One could rather hope that through their activism they will also draw the links to the poverty that leads to the exploitation of the frontline poachers, and thus some of the broader questions in our society. Call it gateway activism.

    But I will say that i don’t find Ben’s opinions useful or constructive at all,

  24. Again, activism is not mutually exclusive. I can support Rhinos not being killed, and I can support a plethora of other causes. “Limiting your activism” – how can anyone say, with any screed of authority of certainty, that “most white South Africans” are supporting Rhinos and actively championing the suffering of all others? And your argument of “YOU CAN SEE IT” is feeble at best.

    At the centre of my annoyance with this article is the link that is being drawn – supporting Rhinos = supporting nothing else. That’s a really idiotic, one-dimensional view, and while I recognize this is an opinion piece, not an investigative piece, I maintain that the premise is a complete stretch.

    I am just incredulous as to how this support of Rhinos is “destroying the lives of an innumerable number of people by supporting the continued oppression of so many in our society”. Here you say that supporting Rhinos is supporting the oppression of other causes. How the hell do you connect this? It’s like you think that, every time someone gives R30 to a Rhino charity, a smug, self-assured Rhino walks, on its hind legs, into a home for underprivileged children and laughs in their faces while stealing their textbooks.

  25. The point really perhaps is that if all of us (probably middle class – largely white – in terms of percentage of demographic – please see the Institute for Race Relations information on wealth generation since 1994 to see how the white collective has become three times more wealthy while other groups have improved marginally) could make the connection between the reality that because the poor are abandoned there is space for exploitation which can lead to the unnecessary deaths of rhinos. What matters not is whether our individual actions are ‘nice’ (or is it patronizing) and that we may feel the need to claim them in public forums as opposed to just doing them…. what matters is that we hit a critical tipping point as a white community that demonstrates our humanity and then … surprise surprise – there will be no conversation about race – it will move to class and then we will have to listen to all this un-self aware and defensive whining again …

  26. Hi Benjamin. I agree with the sentiment of what you’re saying, but i feel your argument is smoothed over for the sake of simplicity and that makes me uncomfortable.

    I mean the basis of what you are saying is that marikana etc is more important than the rhino so why are the general white population so obsessed with the rhino?

    You question why most of the white population is so apolitical. Well, up until 1994 they were influenced to only think in one way, and after 1994 they have been shot down for expressing any opinion that is not far left of centre or broadly self loathing. I say that recognizing myself in your comments, being a white south african, and presupposing that any opinion that another white south african has on a political issue is derived from a place of ignorance and self-importance. But in truth, nowhere in the world can i think of a section of a society that makes all their political decisions on the greater society rather than their family and close community.

    So if you’ve read this far, the more important issue is that the rhino question is so clean cut. I can not think of any real reason to justify the killing of wild animals, even if i did believe in the powers of the horn. Even if my desire to have rhinos alive is frivolous, I would still be justified in campaigning for their survival. On the other hand, Marikana is not as clear cut as you make out. For sure, no one deserved to be killed, but can we expect a police force that is under-resourced to act perfectly in such an unprecedented situation? By continuing with the strike, were the strikers not condoning the murder of their opponents that had happened just previously to the awful incident? This is a complicated issue, which is why there is an inquiry going on right now. I wish this never happened, but i do feel that people arguing that the strikers were complete victims are completely discounting their ability to make moral judgements one degree from themselves, which is almost to treat them as animals (but as i said this is a very unclear scenario, so my opinion could easily be disputed).

    I agree that Most fo the political opinions of the white south african community often makes me uncomfortable, but I kinda see this column as another means of pushing them away from ordinary discourse rather than bringing them closer which would probably be more useful.

  27. What a load of bull Paul. There was no incident in the past few years that is as clear-cut as the Marikana Massacre. They were on the hill striking. Police came to disperse them. They instead massacred them in cold blod. Even if miners were carrying traditional weapons (which the strikers argue were in self-defence) and 1 or 2 had a gun, they were clearly attacked by police when they had the right to gather there.

    Police then massacred them in clold blood. This is clear-cut. 34 strikers died on that day. No police officers were killed, shot or even injured in any way on that day.

    Trying to justify the massacre based on what happened on previous days (which yes is not as clear-cut as what happened on the 16th), is like saying there was a fight between a rhino and my family and both got killed. So now lets go kill all the rhino’s cousins.

    WTF

  28. ya i also thought why not make a big hohaaa about threatened birds bees butteflies-did i mention bees. why because rhinos are obvious creatures big and unusual, but it shows our human dumbness indeed, when the jungles are being decimated mass society is so blind that all it can see is the rhino-best to beam me up now scotty…well ok in fairness there are some groups who are trying to conserve nature but mass society is opiated on addictive consumer culture and well most people are dazed and confused about the realities of power and whats really going on-so the poor beasts can only but put a rhino horn on their cars. I blame consumer culture-the opiating factor of society that keeps us all away from holistic health, awareness and sustainable living.

  29. Apartheid was awful. I was here when it was taking place. Sadly, Ben is still a young student, and has little inkling of what it was really like, and the effect it had on the entire country.

    Benjamin Fogel is a founder member of an activist group called Students for Social Justice, which claims to be “committed to non-racialism”, yet here he is, sowing racial division!

    As a white boy amongst a sea of black students in Grahamstown, Ben needs to fit in. He does this by distancing himself from privileges afforded his family – no doubt from Sea Point, Sandton or similar. In a nutshell, he has a bad case of white guilt, and this has nothing to do with rhinos.

  30. okay, so what do u do?

    other than write extensive blog posts about how special you are, of course.

  31. As a (white), non-South African I don’t feel qualified to comment on the political sentiments Ben expresses. But as a fellow-journalist, who has been visiting South Africa for many years, and has spent much of this year researching the rhino poaching issue, interviewing many of the key people involved in rhino conservation, I think it’s worth pointing out one thing.

    Wealthy white South Africans don’t have a monopoly on caring about the rhino. There are very many black South Africans (and indeed Africans in other range states) who are deeply committed to rhino conservation, and doing sterling work to try to turn round the situation. This includes not only the people on the front line, risking their own lives on anti-poaching patrols every day, but also managers and conservationists.

    If the rhino is to be saved, the solutions will be more about tackling important political issues such as community engagement, upliftment and empowerment than simply putting more guns on the ground and turning reserves into the wildlife equivalent of those fortress suburbs.

    The motives and values of some of the people expressing support for the rhino may or may not be questionable, but perhaps there are more constructive ways to view the challenges posed by rhino conservation in particular and wildlife/human conflict generally.

  32. What this fool has not realised is that they only care because it is the white rhino. Put pictures of the black rhino being slaughtered on the posters and, huh, different story.

    I demand equality for black rhinos!

  33. Hi Benjamin, Congratulations, you have described why I am starting to feel anti-rhino. At the first ET trial day in Ventersdorp myself and two black colleagues pasted our Kombi with slogans, “Stuff the Rhino, Save the Farmer”, the posters attracted much attention and Bkeki Gumbi was interviewed by a few journalists. We were calling for the saving of the farmers, both black & white. We were also protesting in the midst of angry black youth and our very aggressive AWM family and members.
    The link “Stuff the Rhino” ensured that we never got any coverage, it crosses this media hype about saving the Rhino, saving the white farmer from the senseless murders and the black farmers from economic ruin is not as important as saving the rhino.

  34. Thanks Ben… Yes Rhino’s are important and shouldn’t have to be extinct before anyone cares, however can we bother ourselves to care a bit for the starving kids and poor and try do something substantial as South Africans as a whole – regardless of colour.

  35. If the poster bothered to do any research he’d have noticed that the amount of time, effort and funds being poured into alleviating the plight of the less fortunate that he mentions dwarfs that going towards Rhino conservation efforts. Just because Rhino conservation is currently in the spotlight doesn’t mean it’s the only cause being supported, or even the largest one.

    Also, Marikane and the Wine strikes are isolated incidents, whereas Rhino conservation is a cause. Unless the author feels that fundrasing and campaigning is somehow going to undo what happened at Marikane, it’s an oranges and apples comparison. Nothing is going to undo Marikane, and it’s something that will hopefully never happen in my lifetime again. Whereas support for Rhino conservation may, futile as it seems, means there will still be Rhino around when my grandkids arrive one day in the distant future.

    As for the strikes – call me callous, but the minimum wage was set by the largely black ANC government, voted into power by the largely black population. They have constitutional rights to strike, and there are peacefull avenues to resolve those kinds of disputes. Those rights don’t include the right to use violent or destructive means to make a point, Neither do they include the right to always get what you’re demanding.

    For the record, I fully support the activism against Rhino poaching. At the same time I’ve probably put a hell of a lot more time, effort and funds into upliftment programs than the author. Guilty conscience? He’ll have to go look somewhere else.

  36. Rob, you are exactly the type of person the author is talking about.

    Firstly, your post shows you care more for Rhinos than for people.

    Secondly, you fail to understand that Marikana (you mispelled it twice) and the farmworkers strikes are absolutely not isolated incidents. Exploitation is ripe throughout South Africa and this includes but is not limited to all the mines and almost all the farms in SA. Exploitation happens every day not just when people are striking. Exploitation is a horrible form of violence – something that you’d only understand once you yourself work for 69 Rand per day.

    Finally, who runs the government has nothing to do with Ben’s argument. Though he was very clear that he blames both the DA and the ANC. His though argument is about how the majority of white activists are racist and classist because they place more value on rhinos than black people and basically anyone who is poor. White activists like you will support rhino activism, will get involved in Chappies or complain about BEE, but don’t give a damn when workers get massacred (and even worse, you try to justify it by calling them violent when we all know that Lonmin with NUM are the ones who started the violence against the strikers).

  37. Sadly this article hasn’t considered the true economics of this situation at all. Economics probably don’t bother a BA graduate, but let me explain; Saving the rhino (and indeed all our natural habitats) will benefit SA tourism and therefore indirectly create more jobs so fewer people need to starve. The Rhino is a front line symbol that brings the concept of SA as a wilderness sanctuary under threat to the world’s attention and garners media column inches which in turn help save all animals, and attract tourists to the country. Saving the Rhino can therefore be seen to be a crucial advancement in our culture and a chance to generate much needed foreign income for SA. Signing a Facebook petition or putting a red nose on the front of your car is still stupid.

  38. I really enjoyed reading this piece it is quite informative. I have always been fascinated by the socio-economic politics of South Africa and its seemingly colossal racial tension. I have only visited SA once (I am Kenyan) and I got the impression of a highly tense society and a lack of ease interacting across races. Having said that, I am all about conservation and appreciate all efforts being done towards sensitizing others-be it bumper stickers e.g. “only elephants wear ivory” or rhinoses as is the case here. However, I agree with the write that this selective activism has racial underpinnings (I am not sure if its conscious or unconscious) but ignoring one ill at the expense of another does not solve matters.

    Also, I see parallels in this type of activism with what international conservation organizations are doing in other countries in Africa (although I am grateful for some of their efforts to save the elephant for instance) but that aside, there is a tendency to be blind about local communities and their needs (e.g. protecting livestock, crops e.t.c.) when dealing with wildlife animals. In fact, in some instances conservation efforts are carried out without local stakeholders (e.g. local farm owners e.t.c). It is this blinding driven by “oh the rhino is so beautiful” “oh the elephant is so majestic” and what have you that creates this compartmentalizing of issues. So how does this fit in with this article it is the same type of blinding I think that these suburban women with their SUVs or BMWs are experiencing. I think this article is great in that is starting the conversation for not only South Africans but other Africans too.

  39. There’s a couple of points that should be mentioned:

    – whites see rhinos (despite being large wild animals) as harmless. They do not see blacks as harmless. Who can say they’re wrong? It’s really obvious why they express more support for rhinos, and it’s mindboggling that the author has failed to realise this. Is he stoopid, or what?

    – for all the noises they make in support of rhinos, the average white does not actually contribute much to their survival. It’s mostly American, and particularly Asian hunters who do so, through legal hunting, as well as other tourism revenue, with a relatively minor amount coming through taxation. On the other hand, whites contribute billions towards social grants. Over 25% of the people in this country (and they’re almost all black) have no other income than what comes to them through taxes – a hugely disproportionate amount of which, directly and indirectly, is generated by whites. So the absolute, fundamental reality is that whites do more to help poor, starving blacks than they do to save rhinos.

    Really, this is a stupid article in every way. Just a long, foolish, ignorant whinge by a privileged white, actually. With, I suspect, some sort of counter-reaction to his parents’ attitudes.

  40. Thank god someone is calling this idiotic political fashion for what it is, “Single Action Bias” – middle-class whites performing a meaningless tasks (because buying a plastic puppy-dog penis and strapping it onto your car is not actually DOING anything) in order to assuage the nagging feeling that they should take responsibility for the shameful legacy of their parents’ and grandparents’ actions.

  41. That’s not a economic argument, it’s a moronic argument. If you had even a cursory understanding of contemporary macroeconomics you’d know that using tourism to improve a nation’s balance of trade has been comprehensively proven to fail. It’s not a sustainable policy setting because it is too susceptible to foreign currency fluctuations. Oh, and I learned this during my BA within which I studied economics.

  42. We live in a world where money and greed talks. Humans are so set upon killing the planet they have no regards for animals, the enviroment or even for each other. I have driven behind cars where people throw plastic bags of rubbish out the window. This is a lack of basic respect for each other. People kill for R100 and a cell phone. There is no respect for the world around us. Save the rhino, save the tiger, save the whales – whatever you want – these animals are all killed by humans who make a choice to do so. These animals do not have a chance to fight back.

    There are hundreds of charities that go into townships to give blankets, Christmas presents,food, medical assistance, families that put their domestic’s kids through school (and you say the whites don’t care) and of course each and every South African realises the racial inequality in this country.But unfortunately the poverty in the country is really a problem and the government doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about fixing it either. Instead the president gets his “Nkandla” while his voters still go hungry. Seems the president doesn’t care about black lives either – what an example for the country.

    How can you say that white South Africans don’t care about black life in this country – do you not think our hearts break when we have to read about children being raped in order to cure AIDS? Or are you just specifically talking about black people that protest against poor service delivery?
    So go print yourself a t-shirt thay says “Save the farmworker” – since the government isn’t doing anything about it.

  43. Hi Rooikop, I have not challenged many of the white comments on this article. As a white who spends most days in the Townships and Rural areas, I do not feel the impact of what you claim our brothers and sisters are doing.
    What we all miss is the attitude and words that back much of what we perceive is good. We all claim we care, but we say it in words that show little respect. Yes, we put our domestics children through school, but we ignore our responsibilities.
    I have started the Economic Freedom Charter, aimed at bringing the two very different economies together, and I have great white animosity towards I what I say. I have a few whites who support this initiative, and believe it or not, not one of them would feel any discomfort with Benjamin’s article.
    I have given daily for eight years, and I am still embarrassed at how little we have impacted on the need to rehabilitate the damage done historically.
    In one of my publications I describe the behaviour triangle that exists in our society, will not discuss the white aspect, but the black culture divides behaviour according to 1; Godliness, 2; Ubuntu, 3: Animal. All our unbuntu donations you claim we do, only last for as long as the transaction takes place, what we say, and our attitude, could put us back in the animal box immediately.
    Enough for now.

  44. l have never read a better article about this Rhino issue so far.clap clap this article is spot on

  45. Loved the article – thank you! Not sure white liberal DA people will hear the story, but they might. Just one thing that bothered me: it’s the either or of animal and human rights. Human rights dont suffer from the advancement of animal rights, if anything they are enhanced by them. We’re not separate from our environment. Anthropocentric approaches have left us with human victims of climate change. A hell of a lot of people. Not to mention the alienation from food sources and confinement within grey concrete streets filled with rich people spewing toxins into your breath as you walk on the street on another endless day looking for someone to exploit you through your labour so that maybe you can buy food that’s sold by the rich.

    Going back to apartheid style othering doesnt help anyone: it’s not support rhinos or mine workers – people should be wearing (not driving) “save the rhino” as well as “bury my heart at Marikana”

  46. Oh my white brethren, so quick to put up your high protective walls. The “White Elephant”, exploitive wages, you do not discuss. If these wages were improved you do know this would do more good than the handouts that are given annually. There’s nothing wrong but only good from these handouts, don’t misunderstand me. If more money flowed into these locations and informal settlements (blacks areas), more money would be spent within these areas. With more money available more goods and services could be purchased and this would lead to more employment being created. BUT that would mean less profits for the industry holders (whites) and we wouldn’t want that, would we. As for you being a large contributor to our taxes, “those are the fruits of the apartheid demon”.

  47. I want to see people acting up about the miners!!! it’s some serious shit that is marking our times as very volatile and unsafe. Living under these conditions is just not acceptable. The Mrikana incident is political, by accepting it we are accepting murder, the kind of thing that happens in dictatorships. Surely it is a sign of what is to come – powers making their moves for big political changes that ensure some kind of a police state. This is WAY more complicated than rhino poaching, and it’s going to take a whole lot more than privileged white people to understand and do something about it. Comparing the two is just silly. It’s an awakening of the revolutionary spirit that needs to happen here, across the board. We should speak to those who are still alive who were apart of the struggle of the old days and see how they we can bring them into todays world. How did people take a stand? Thats a more relevant question and would make a brilliant article. All this whiteness whiteness whiteness talk is such a trend that it is almost a formula that actually shrouds more important issues and angles on things. Im not saying it’s not important to tackle the privileged, I think it is. But, it would be so relieving to see journalists using their skills to write articles that are not so racy as they are enlightening.

  48. I agree with you Ashley , what a fucking idiot , how does this twat get to
    publish the shit he talks !?? What a wanker

  49. it’s unfortunate that you have taken something as sincere as trying to save the rhino, and turned it into political rubbish – you should go work for our corrupt government – you would do well there! – you managed to even turn the rhino being endangered into a racial issue!!!

  50. Ben you poor thing. All that guilt, and delusion, and frustration, it can’t be healthy! Do us all a favor though, don’t try to drag us into your little confined and terribly convenient version of life. You certainly don’t speak for me (in fact you don’t speak for anybody that I know). We’re all busy grappling with life’s challenges in a positive and constructive way. Perhaps you should take some time off and reboot?

  51. So wanting to save rhinos makes you an ignorant white…..ok.
    Besides the stupidity of your arguments your writing skills suck
    Eg: “My beef” – are you 12?

  52. rantrantrantrantrantrantrant attention whore needs moar attention, by the way:

    “Somewhere out there is a tree, tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. I think you owe it an apology”
    -House

  53. Unfortunate choice of words……you hate the Rhino’s…….Rhino’s are unable to speak for themselves so yes as human beings… if we care enough about the future of our world and species in it, then action and words must take place. Of course the majority of people won’t fit – activists -who risk all for ‘the cause’ but are at least showing their intent. Human lives will forever be fraught with inequality and hardship, but to allow the carnage of innocent animals …and not just the Rhino, is a complete travesty. Human beings will take a little longer to become extinct so let’s save the current endangered species and if we get it right apply it to the the next……..

  54. What an ignoramus… If you can ever remotely compare those issues, you are seriously deluded. The difference between the two is that someone got off their tush and stated the Rhinose Foundation and forwarded the agenda. (Remember the Red Nose Foundation? we all bought Red Noses back in the day…. Same concept). If someone was to develop a product that can passively support other causes (such as Marikana victims, Rape survivors, AIDS orphans), I am convinced that said SUV’s will carry those symbols too. I proudly display my Rhinose on my little Yaris.

  55. It saddens me that the plight to save the rhino are so eloquently linked to race. Our pres Zuma claimed that loving and caring for pets are what WHITE PEOPLE do… is this why you suggest that caring for the Rhino’s are what WHITE PEOPLE? Haibo!!! STOP with blogs and articles about them and us and concentrate on the WE. WE ARE SOUTH AFRICANS AND FOREIGNERS COME TO OUR COUNTRY TO KILL THE RHINO’S AND THEY EXPLOIT OUR PEOPLE.

  56. I’m a bit over this kind of ridiculous logic or should I say illogic. Another white South African who has a chip on his shoulder. I don’t think we have a scarcity of those. I think perhaps we should get on with the business of living and not screw up the place we are living in completely. If you think the rhino is the issue you actually haven’t got a clue, when nature on this planet goes, so do we. So go and get educated on the subject and try again.

  57. Rhinos cannot speak for themselves and need someone to speak for them. They are true victims in this. You complain that we more concerned with the rhinos then what happened to the strikers? They have an inquiste happening, teams and teams of lawyers and police and everyone else trying to find out what happened. People went on strike, that was their choice! The rhinos did not choose for ignorant cultures to belive their horns have some magical property. I am actually embarrassed that I went to the same university as you.

  58. I agree with you Rosaline. I was also embarrassed to find out this moron and I shared the same University.

  59. Rhinos cant vote so they cant choose their lot in life, that’s why white people want to help them. I personally dont live in a fortress and dont put a red nose on my 4×4. I love all animals and volunteer at rescue centres. I dont vote for the ANC or the DA, and will only help institutions that dont discriminate against me. I employ one person in my garden at a very fair daily rate and this only because it is a big stand, most of the time I mow my own lawn and I get strange looks from blacks, why, dont they think I can mow my own lawn as a woman. I had one domestic in my home but due to her attitude let her go, so she shot herself in the foot. I will not easily employ another due to the policies of the ANC, rather do it myself, less hassle. I also use much less washing powder now. When the blacks can see that the world doesn’t owe them and they get beyond being stupid by voting in the same party over and over, who by the way are the ones really stealing from their own people. If all those bankrupt municipalities put the money gleaned from the working and paying citizens, blacks and whites, back into their communities instead of their back pockets, then there would be better services for all. Why doesnt the ANC get all those mis-oppropriated funds back, where I come from its called STEALING!! When we as white south africans begin to feel like we are equal citizens in this country that we were born in, and contributed to in a major way, then maybe things might change.

  60. Must be tough carrying about such bitterness? Guess the “white apathy” prevails when it comes to farm murders and innocent families who are murdered or maimed on a daily basis in our country through crimes that go largely unreported because writers are too busy dipping brushes in tar and causing strife and division. Its an unfair world! But PLEASE don’t confuse politics with basic consequences of human consumption and greed that impact on our environment. If anything you should be saying, “Hey, if people, when presented with a tangible practical way to get involved actually do get involved (e.g buying Rhinoses), then what can I, Benjamin, come up with to solicit their support for xyz issues that I, Benjamin, am so passionate about?” And Benjamin perhaps blame your white lecturers at Rhodes Uni and apartheid and economics for this but anthropecentric is actually spelt anthropOcentric :-). I look forward to hearing about the positive call to action you come up with to assist in solving our beautiful country’s imbalances.

  61. What on earth do the Rhinos have to do with politics? You’re just like government dragging politics into all the countries’ problems instead of jumping in and fixing them. You, and all the people like you are the reason why there’s no progress in this country. Yes, I’m also white, but the way you’re behaving leaves me ashamed to have you associated with my skin colour. You should be ashamed for not wanting to conserve the rhino. If we don’t even preserve these wonderful creatures for ourselves our future generations won’t be able to appreciate them.

  62. So, Benjamin Fogel, what exactly have you done to improve the status of those farm workers living on R69 a day or other workers living on R 150 a day or the kids who go to bed hungry????? It is still a reasonably free country where we do not yet have the state telling us what to think, so we are free to choose our causes. Some of us have chosen the plight of the rhino. Rhinos may be hunted by the odd rich American BUT they are POACHED by rich syndicates MOSTLY from the east. Now rich Americans pay for the hunts, pay for the trophies, pay for the export permits – and I am totally against hunting – but at least they pay their way . Poachers and syndicates pay nothing!!! They are thieves and merciless butchers! Totally uncaring about how they treat a rhino when taking a horn. Many of the rhino are simply disabled and their horns hacked out of their faces as they lie breathing and bleeding and calling in agony on the ground.
    Don’t sing your righteous song about white South Africans, you sanctimonious jackass until you have walked the walk and walked in the shoes of some of the people who are helping save the rhino!!

  63. Ah another wanna be a black man, my brother from another mother. It saddens me that a well deserved holiday, for your folks has turned into a life time of misery for you. What were they thinking? Why pray tell would anyone take someone to see the wild life in a place for wild life?

    The thing that saddens me is not so much the fact that your family was in a position to offer such a wonderful holiday to you but the fact that everyone thinks this is a colour thing. What they fail to see is this is your cry for help, your inner child has been yearning for years to come out and grow at its own pace. The colour issue is not about people, its about you having to relive those wonderful holidays and viewing the white Rhino in their majestic surroundings. It was at this time that you were subjected to some unfortunate incident that forced you to become a man before your time.(perhaps if I may suggest, it was at this time the issue of the horn hit home.) You should delve deep and maybe you will recall all those Afrikaans girls in their frockies with their low cut cleavage and damn yes they too were white.

    Just like the stuff you wrote, I too can write crap. Allow me to apologise. This is not in my nature. The truth is I found your writing to be the ranting and ravings of a sycophant, Someone who has an absolute need to feel heard and accepted. While I agree there are some issues that need to be addressed regarding race relations, I disagree that you can draw a conclusion in your mind that the white people are more concerned about the plight of the Rhino. Would you please indulge me perhaps even enlighten me, over the last 19 years that the new powers that be have reigned supreme, when you have witnessed and accident on TV or in the news papers what colour for the most part are the paramedics.When you have heard an appeal on the radio about some school in a remote rural area that has been neglected to the stage of disrepair, who is it that organizes a truck load of building materials and paint and labour and sacrifices their time with their families and zoots of to carry out the necessary repairs that the governments money never seems to reach. Now you and I know that I can give you examples until the cow jumps over the moon but frankly don’t care too, you see I don’t want to make it seem like the whites are martyrs when I know we have our faults.

    You on the other hand should try to make contact with a poacher and ask them, the last time you slaughtered a Rhino did the Rhino ask if they were being killed because they were a white Rhino?

    Enough nonsense, I’m busy cooking a great curry and can’t spare the time to write anymore crap to you. Yes its the Indian in me. Sorry I’m multiracial.

  64. The laws of the universe is not to be taken lightly, any man made or other negativity has a cause and effect and will ultimately destroy itself from within. As we have been witness to in the last couple of decades Apartheid, Communism, and so it will be with regimes that don’t have a well balanced policy for all and especially nature. They will destroy them selves, we just have to be patient , believe in a holistic universe of positivity

  65. When I was at Varsity, I knew a couple of people like you. I call them try-hards. If you actually put any work into your studies, then you will be familiar with Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, which explains quite accurately why only the people in the upper income bracket choose to consider what is happening to the rhino. Go back to school and gain a bit more wisdom before you start spouting inaccurate “home truths”. The simple fact that you included your taste in music underlines the basis of your argument. Wake up.

  66. Good Article, There is nothing worse than slacker activism or people so deluded that they thinking clicking like or doing anything online makes any real difference, these are the same morons, who click titles like 1 like = 50 prayers as if Facebook is magically got bunch of bendictan monks in their closet somewhere.

    Or idiots whom go, now I am helping raise awareness by sitting on my fat ass and clicking share, um no you are are not we are all aware. So really you are doing nothing but paying lip service to something.

    People need to give their time and money and do something (And I mean directly not via third party money making NGO’s who use most of it to buy fancy bmw’s), I fully agree with the author I am sick of Facebook platitude from a generation of douche lords whom think sharing on Facebook is actually enough to change the world, “Its ok I clicked like I single handedly cured cancer”, no you did not you did not do a darn thing you waste of space.

    Let’s be clear – YOU clicking share on save the rhino, is not you giving them a voice, its you doing nothing, but telling yourself you made a difference you self indulgent twatwaffle.

    By spamming some stupid poster with made up figures by some hipppie with a cognitive bias you have not changed the world, you have simply removed doubt from those around you that you are not the sharpest tool in the shed.

    If you want to show you care, go out and spend lots of your time and money doing something, preferably in silence.

    Until then you are officially a slacker activist and have reached levels of douchey reserved for hipsters, 98%ers and other lower life forms.

  67. Who made this guy judge and jury?

    I don’t understand how he feels he has the right to dictate or decided how people spend their time and hard earn money on efforts that he doesn’t feel are important enough.

    I am one of those people support the Rhinose! Why? Because I want too. I get so tired of being told that I have to support the poor and poverty stricken. I do support them! Everyday with my taxes, with my spare change, with my old clothes. With food when asked. EVERYDAY there is something. Now because I decide to support something that is close to my heart this guy says that our attention is wrongly placed. That’s my choice!

    How dare you decided what we should support and how we should support it. Freedom of speech works both ways. You have the right to say and do and you wish and so do I!

    Support the Rhinose! Cause they sure as hell give me a lot more pleasure than anything else in this country.

  68. The people you are referring to are:
    Employers
    and
    taxpayers.
    Yet by your argument, they have been condemned by where they shop and what causes they choose to adopt.
    Our taxes are going nowhere to fix the huge problems in this country and I bet that the lowest spend is on conservation. So if the (shock horror how could there be such people in the world)chose to spend R30 on a rhinose, of course it labels them as hopelessly racist and non-caring.

    You need a brain and logic transplant.

  69. I AGREE! Completely random question… how do you get your Rhinose on your Yaris? I wanted one too but couldn’t seem to find a simple way to put it on as the grill doesn’t allow for cable ties or the like….

  70. Now why on earth would you write this here? All you are doing is giving the author a reason to continue thinking that race has some kind of foot in this debate! Why on earth do people behind computers suddenly think it’s okay to publicly post racist nonsense? No one cares who you vote for. And Black (coloured, asian, etc) people want to help the Rhino’s too! It’s about EDUCATED people wanting to support a cause like this because they under stand the merits behind it. It is not about colour!

    Saying things like “When the blacks can see that the world doesn’t owe them and they get beyond being stupid by voting in the same party over and over, who by the way are the ones really stealing from their own people” is despicable and so much worse than what this author is trying to say!!

    What is wrong with you??

    (And just FYI, I completely disagree with this article and I have said my two cents about the Rhino poaching issues in his other article – http://africasacountry.com/2013/01/22/renouncing-the-rhino-part-2-the-rhino-conservation-complex/)

  71. Nothing is wrong with me, I was ranting aswell, since some people can point fingers at me figuratively speaking and make this issue about race, I am also entitled to comment. I totally dont have anything against black people in general, I vote for a totally multi racial party which has a black leader so dont imply that I am racist. My annoyance is at stupid decisions made by people, in this case they are black. I also believe that some whites make stupid decisions in politics too, but that is another long story. Anyway, perhaps we are all stupid by thinking we can make any difference to this whole issue of saving rhinos. I support the rhinos big time but there is no political will to really fix the poaching issue, why, because some people high up in government are involved. They just give it lip service.

  72. Brother Ben, you have spoken the truth and I salute you my brother.salute

  73. Ben, your article is exactly what this country needs. Furthermore, more young people need to speak up, like you are doing. What Ben is doing is not racist, he is being factual and on point. We need to stop being so sensitive to the race issue and realise that if we want to move forward as a country we must try and see people’s views for what it is, think about what they are saying and not take everything so personally.

    Young South Africans, like Ben, must start to bring up issues like these and must start to take back their country. I for one am tired of all the old people making decisions for us. I am tired of the old black and white men who make the policies in this country. I am tired of the media, run in essence by old white men. This is OUR country and Ben, you voice your views boy, there are millions of South African youth who are thinking like you. What we need is for you to continue to speak your mind, speak the truth, so you can encourage more of us young people to stop sitting on our butts and actually start writing! speaking! acting!

    The old beliefs (which continue to fuel racism) must be done away with, and the only way it can be done is if you, Ben, continue to speak the way you do.

    And finally, as a journalist, I commend you for using you brain and writing what many newspapers today would never in their wildest dreams publish.

  74. The same can be said about conservation efforts all over Africa – the result is wildlife being seen as a preserve of the privileged for the benefit of the privileged, in spite of all the “sustainable development” models being touted.But this is not just the fault of the old colonial elites, largely white; the new elites are also to blame and they are largely black. They just jump on the donor/western interests bandwagon for their own ends, with little interest in the stark, harsh reality of the urban dispossesed and rural disadvantaged who have most to gain from proper wildlife management as well as better schools, wages, helathcare. The new elites have nothing to gain from social development as it will cost them more taxes, more time and energy, more in wages in their businesses – or so they think as they have not thought of the advanatges of a healthy, educated, motivated and socially-secure labour force. And when non-blacks to start to take a stand, they are hammered down as colonial throw backs who have no idea about the realities for real Africans so they retreat to the laager. The issues are complex. But I wholeheartedly agree that red rhino horns and red AIDS ribbons are largely meaningless.

  75. So edgy! Wow. You feel pretty awesome being such a rebel. “What? You are giving money to fight cancer and not marching side by side with 24/7 with the unwashed oppressed? What are you? Hitler?!?!”. In you attempt to make yourself the rebel you actually sound like every other rebel trying to outflank the extreme. Do your country, the striking miners, and even the rhinos a big favor and grow up.

  76. Do humans have more right to exist on this planet than rhinos? I wonder. Why do you live in Cape Town? Cities are massive monuments to our ability to wipe out anything that is dangerous or uncomfortable in “Nature”. The hypocrisy is not that some folks are more concerned about rhinos than their fellow humans, but that we are all guilty of damaging our environment (and the habitat of the rhino, mosquito etc) irreparably, simply because we live in cities.

    And who will speak for the mosquitoes?

  77. Rhino’s are threatened. They are an entire ‘body of knowledge’ that stands on the brink of extinction and are in peril of disappearing from this planet forever. The fact that Rhino deaths tie in with the rise of Chinese wealth and wealth display make the whole thing emblematic of the brutality that results from rampant capitalism and consumption. At the moment species of turtles are appearing in Chinese markets briefly before becoming extinct. New Chinese wealth display is endangering Sharks and is decimating the ocean populations everywhere. The SUV housewives you refer to may only be aware of the cute and cuddly aspect of Rhino deaths without understanding the global economics let alone be aware of South Africa’s trade deals with China, but you as a journalist, should be.

  78. Wow. Way to not focus on the greater theme of the article. This is a fantastic piece of writing.

    I’d argue that his criticism could be applied to the gated community middle class rather than the white middle class in particular, but it’s a small criticism at best.

    The writer makes no claim to being a rebel. You’re the fool making a personal attack rather than attacking the substance of his article.

    Perhaps a look in the mirror at the individual incapable of making a critical self reflection is in order?

    PS. Using a ‘quotation’ that doesn’t exist in the the text is a pretty cheap trick.

  79. I agree with the point about overly-hyped, accessible middle-class issues missing the mark. I agree that rhinos should be protected, along with the western leopard toad and all the other endangered wildlife. I do think however that there are some slightly bigger issues. Like child rape, government corruption and the abysmal education system. The assumptions and generalisations made in your article are problematic though.

    Yes, Marikana is up there as a big issue, but the real bad guys in that story were not the well-intentioned middle class white people of Constantia (who the author seems determined to demonise) but rather the ANC-led national government who CONTROL the national police force and collude with the mining bosses.

    Also, do some proper research into what actually happened at Hangberg. The metro police were ambushed by hundreds of petrol-bomb and brick throwing community members, many of them gangsters, who were protecting the perlemoen and drug-smuggling industry, not their Khoi heritage (as the narrative goes). Helen Zille was not even the mayor at the time and had absolutely no say over what the Metro Police were involved in. The only thing the metro police were supposed to do on that day was to remove shacks that were built illegally in a firebreak, with the consent of the then mayor, Dan Plato. It was actually the SAPS policemen, firing rubber bullets from armoured vehicles in defence that caused the only serious injury to the rioters. SAPS are controlled by NATIONAL government.

    I know it’s cooler to attack the DA than the ANC and you are worried about losing your street cred, but that doesn’t give you the right to make racist generalisations, even if it is done in a self-flagellating tirade of white-guilt verbosity.

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