Michael Francis

Web 2.0: A brave new world?

I admit I have a love affair with the internet. There are naysayers who see the demise of “real” communities and lament the loss of “authenticity”. Some of the criticism reminds me of the sci-fi novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. To borrow some text from Neil Postman who compares Orwell and Huxley in…

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The race debate is a dead end

I’m an anthropologist and I study humans and in particular am fascinated by how they see themselves and create often strange and even contradictory things called “identity”. Most of us, and I would argue all of us, actually have multiple identities. And the answer is yes; this does create a rather schizophrenic species of great…

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Media panic worse than any pig flu

While any death should be seen as a tragedy I am finding the media panic surrounding the swine flu to be maddening. Right now the swine flu appears to have a kill rate that is less than the normal flu. The threat of it mutating into a mass-killing strain is the same threat of the…

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The Huntley story and re-racialisation of SA

South Africa continues to be one of the most polarised nations on earth with race still being one of the most contentious issues. Brandon Huntley’s story merely points this out once again. The ruling party and indeed many people in the country still use apartheid-era categorisations. Instead of fighting for a non-racial South Africa far…

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Do you also have a dodgy cop story?

I recently visited Botswana where I was driving a friend’s 4×4 for our annual trans-Kalahari trip. On the return through the Lobatse border post I was asked for a bribe, albeit indirectly. I have done this trip about five times now with some deviation and in reverse direction. The route runs from Durban to Kimberley…

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Guns do kill people

One often hears the quote “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” being used in support of the pro-gun lobby. This quote is partially true (people kill people) but very misleading as it displaces the very real role of technology in the killing. Guns do kill people and are designed to do so. Look at…

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Election day in Zululand: Some musings on ethnicity, tribalism

I spent election day driving around KwaZulu-Natal visiting polling stations both in Durban and Zululand. I started early and headed north to Ulundi and then onwards to Nongoma before making my way back to Durban stopping at various polling stations along the way. Election day was rather slow and sleepy despite the media hype about…

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Crime and punishment in the new South Africa: Loaded minds

Loaded Minds is a concept expressed by a band, Spirit of the West, about the increasing violent responses and calls for violence that has ingrained violence as a viable response. It is the same thinking that claims that it is acceptable that the cost of peace is war. The crime and especially the violence that…

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A Canadian’s view on xenophobia

I’m writing as a Canadian who has made South Africa my home on and off for the past 8 years. I’ve been made to feel welcome by most, but there have been some xenophobic remarks directed at me. They usually come from middle-class South Africans who don’t wish to hear any critique of their country…

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There is no housing crisis in South Africa

I was watching the debates on the upcoming election in the Western Cape recently. A large piece of the debate referred to what was deemed a “housing crisis”. I hear similar things being said around Durban and indeed all over South Africa. I make the claim there is no housing crisis in South Africa. The…

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