Stories of the week: What divides and unites us

It’s been a strange and dramatic news week in SA, with the murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche dominating the news. There were also some Far Side moments, chief among them these two videos – of ANC Youth League leader descending into a Mugabe-style rant in a press conference when BBC journalist Jonah Fisher called Malema on castigating MDC leaders for working in Sandton instead of Zim. The plucky hack pointed out that Malema himself is a comfy resident of that Afro-Tuscan suburb. He got thrown out of the press conference for his troubles:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcmqX6klUJY&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

We also saw a hilarious scene on live TV at e.tv with the AWB’s Andre Visagie got into a little fracas with the presenter. I don’t know which is funnier – the AWB man’s smirking bodyguard, Visagie or the presenter yelling: “You don’t touch me on my studio”:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmMj72bQuDI&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

On a more serious note, there was much hand wringing over the state of the country’s race relations post Terre’Blanche’s death in the context of Malema’s inflammatory behaviour of the past month. I think political analyst Peter Vale produced the most thoughtful piece I came across. Click here to read at the Daily Dispatch and here’s an excerpt:

…whatever politicians say to the contrary, nation-building is complicated. Simple dogma once championed by Terre’B lanche and, more recently, advocated by Julius Malema says nothing about the rich (but truly brutal) underbelly of South Africa’s past. Due to this, their words are emptied of any understanding, let alone explanation, of the human experience in the North West Province…

Click here to read the full piece.

Then there is an absolutely fascinating story, out today, of  Wits paleontologist Professor Lee Berger and his nine-year-old son, Matthew, discovering the fossil of a new hominid species, Australopithecus sediba, at a newly discovered cave site in the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng. The prof and his son set off on the investigation of the cave after noodling around with  the navigation facility and high-resolution satellite imagery in Google Earth.

Most SA’s websites have the story but, once again I’m going to refer you to the Daily Dispatch — my local newspaper in East London which unfailingly shows its finely-honed nose for news. The Dispatch ran a much more comprehensive version of the story compared with the big websites. The latter  missed out on the fascinating Google Earth angle.  This is a BIG scientific story — hugely significant in paleontology, which is the study of our human origin — and serendipitosly reminds us of mankind’s common African roots at a time when the country (post-Terre’Blanche’s murder) is more preoccupied with what what divides rather than unites us. Click here to read the Dispatch story.

The last story of the week is not a story but a lively, interesting new website in South Africa well worth checking out if you’re even vaguely interested in media – new and old – and all things tech.

New-media guru Matthew Buckland launched Memeburn, SA’s answer to Mashable and TechCrunch, last week and it’s cooking. It’s very nicely designed with loads of interesting, informative  stories — none too long but with a pleasingly jaunty voice. There are wide range of writers and it’s kudos to Matthew for being able to twist so many writers’ arms (myself included) to contribute for free while he works on getting the revenue model up and running. We’re all doing it because Matthew is a very savvy entrepreneur and a  lekker oke to boot.  Click here to check Memebun  out.

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