Sunday, 15 September 2013

Lucky 5s (and Romania)

As a guy who likes patterns, I can tell you that this is my 65th post, I've just broken the 5 000 view barrier with this blog and today's the 15th of September. I also have five fingers on each hand, and five toes on each foot ... and yes, that's pushing it lol.

I feel like I should make this post count with some weighty observation, but let's face it - today's a Sunday evening, like most of the world I'm not really looking forward to Monday morning, and about the best highlight I have is the imminent launch of Grand Theft Auto V (yay, another 5!) on Tuesday. I've had my special edition on pre-order since last year already - it's the only game franchise I care about anymore, ironically because it does such a great job of mimicking real life.

I do want to say one thing about Romania, however. About the same time that the whole world was marvelling about the kid in Bucharest being bitten to death by stray dogs, the news story broke in South Africa that our country has one of the highest child murder rates in the world (this coming after the discovery of a kid found hanging in a tree).

The sad thing is that it's that sort of revelation which South Africans just accept with brief outrage, and then everybody moves on to hoot at that guy who cut them off in traffic, or to worry about their bank statements, or discuss the latest corruption scandal amongst the politicians.

South Africa is a country with too many challenges, too many causes. If you're in a position to help somebody, you're spoilt for choice: do you want to donate money for education, to help prevent domestic abuse, to feed the beggars, to save the rhino from poaching, to upgrade your community library?

What concerns you more in the current news in South Africa? The strikers in the automotive sector, destabilizing the sector and threatening the closure of the assembly plants? The miners who want salaries higher than University graduates? The truck that ran the traffic light and ended up killing 23 people? The State millions spent on the president's private house/compound? The private plane that landed at a military airfield? The rising petrol price? The new tolling of highways about to start? *shrugs* Do you pick any one thing and walk around waving a sign, protesting it, or do you just paint a bigger placard to fit in all of them?

From the outside, I have no idea how much outrage there is on the ground about the dog thing in Romania. If I was in Romania, I'd probably be pretty embarrassed that of all the possible news stories that could make international headlines, it had to be one that made the country seem just like the rest of the world thinks it is. It's a facepalm moment right up there like when South Africa made the headlines last year, when the South African police opened fire on striking miners, killing many.

Seriously though, if you're in Romania and the dogs are a serious issue of discussion, I'd count myself as pretty fortunate. All of South Africa would love to have problems like that - that's something which can be solved, whereas all of South Africa's problems are too interwoven for our incompetent Government to ever get close to a solution. Here you don't fix anything: you rather spend the time explaining why you cannot fix it.

Not that there is necessarily any single solution - it's like this massive Gordian knot which will take generations of sweat and toil, and for reasons explained elsewhere on this blog it's just not my issue to solve. If you're white, your 'role' is to take responsibility for South Africa's past, not play a starring role in its future (or that's what you're always told anyway).

Oh dear, there we go with more bitterness. If I sound angry with my country, it's because I am. I was its staunchest defender, and like everybody else just had to face the hard truth. The 'hard truth' on the meta level is so bleak that it's best to just ignore it: face inwards, and look at your work this week, your plans for the evenings, and playing that new game. That is manageable. Two and a half months and I'll be taking off for Bucharest ... that's my silver lining here :) Dogs? Bring em on - I love dogs.


  1. I think that if a kid would been killed by stray dogs in another European country, it wouldn't have made international headlines. Is interesting for me the way media works, feeding on prejudices.

    Stray dogs are a problem in Romania (not everywhere, in main Transylvanian cities you won't find one), but not as big as may appear.

    And after that event, the gouverment emmited a law that was approved, which will lead to the euthanasiation of all stray dogs that are not adopted in 14 days from their capture, and this is a real problem, I think, because not all stray dogs are agressive and even for those agressive, there are other solutions than killing them. For what I've seen (yellow labels on ears), a large hare of stray dogs in Bucharest are already neutered and the process would have continued if not the new law.

    For me, a bigger problem are the shepherd dogs that between spring and September impede you from going everywhere on mountains.

    1. Yeah Andrei, when it comes to the global media there are a lot of problems with priorities - the 'news' isn't about what's actually factual but rather what is most entertaining. The challenge is for Romania to break out of the 'entertaining' realm, to rather be regarded as a serious international contender. As long as Romanian tourism keeps on marketing itself as the home of Dracula, that's never going to happen.

  2. It may seem strange, but I think it would be efficient a law to forbid any use of Dracula's image or name in touristic activities.