Weekly Column: Cairo, Kenny Kunene & other stories

By Samuel Chamboko – I know this may sound mean, but I’m glad some the foreign news mongers trying to cover the Egyptian uprising are getting a good old spanking at the hands of locals. This week, I realized that much as I am a news junkie, I hated the way CNN and BBC covered the whole story. Clearly sides had already been taken and now they were pushing their own agenda, i.e to get Mubarak out of power. While it’s all good and well that the Egyptians are fighting for democratic reforms, it’s a fight for the Egyptians to fight. If the foreign media want to cover, they should stand on the sidelines and take pictures and record interviews for their agencies. At the moment one gets the feeling that all these foreign news agencies have an agenda. They want Mubarak out like yesterday. The question is, is that the practical solution to the whole thing? Will Mubarak’s immediate departure solve the problems affecting and afflicting ordinary Egyptians? Only Egyptians should be allowed to answer and no one else should answer or speak on their behalf.

On another social networking site, when the Chinese President made a state visit to the US, I made a comment about how he politely told the Yanks off when President Obama made references to China’s human rights record. The Chinese responded by saying the US should not interfere in their internal affairs. I thought the US statement about human rights abuses was quite rich, especially coming from a country that ran Guantanamo Bay and has been involved in some heinous crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Vietnam and other parts of the world. Who are they to lecture to everyone else about how they should run their own countries. They claim to have the model democracy, but it is an open secret that election results were tempered with during George W. Bush’s first term in office (remember Palm Beach County in 2000) and then they have the nerve to try and lecture to everyone else about running free and fair elections. Now with this Egyptian issue, I heard President Obama was on the phone with Mubarak asking him to leave office. I’m sure half of America does not know where Egypt is and neither do they care, therefore it maybe best for Mr. Obama to try to work at resuscitating the American economy and ‘getting Americans back to work’ rather than that to meddle with issues in other sovereign states.

So the biggest story in my neck of the woods has been of a ‘self made man’ who decided to celebrate the opening of his new nightclub by having the mother of parties. People flew in from far and wide to attend the opening of club ZAR in Cape Town. The owner of ZAR, Kenny Kunene, has become ‘infamous’ in South Africa for eating sushi off the bodies of scantily dressed models. He threw a similar party late last year in Johannesburg. The holy-than-thou amongst us have come out to protest that in a country with such abject poverty it is insensitive to be flaunting such opulence. On the other hand ‘male feminists’ have also been decrying the use of female models for the sushi eating. I think it’s just sour grapes. Honestly I don’t understand what the hullabaloo is about. Firstly this guy is using his own hard earned cash and last time I checked the constitution protects his civil liberty to do so, it is not public funds. He is fairly remunerating the semi-naked models off whose bodies the sushi is eaten, so it is ludicrous to say that females are being exploited or paraded as sexual works. These models are professionals, they feed families and pay taxes through this sort of work. At least they are earning an honest living and at the same time not infringing on other people’s rights.  Lastly Kenny is not the first person to throw an over the top party. Until recently, possibly before he became a victim of the global economic crisis, hotelier and property mogul Sol Kerzner, used to have these exclusive do’s all over the world and no one had a problem with it. Anyone who has worked in huge corporates will know that some companies even sponsor jaunts at strip clubs for their executives and clients, but no one complains, because it is within their rights to use their money as they please, so what is so special about Kenny Kunene.  I have to say there is a section of South Africans who do want to see brothers ( read black man/woman) making their money and flaunting it. They associate every rich brother with ‘tenderprenuership’ (amassing wealth from landing lucrative government tenders). To them a black person should be scrounging and living off the crumbs falling off the ‘master’s ‘ table.  Apartheid is alive and well in many hearts and minds.

On a lighter note, I was in East Africa recently and had the displeasure of having a meal with an acquaintance. It turned out to be a disaster because my friend was attending to all 3 of his mobile devices during the meal and we could hardly have a decent conversation without being interrupted by his burning desire to respond to one of the mobile devices. Have we ever stopped to think how uncultured some of these ‘cool’ devices have made us? In many cultures, including African culture, sharing a meal is almost a ritual and should be treated with the utmost respect. Due to the fact that we have become so busy with being busy, we have seemingly forgotten this. During the many interruptions I thought to myself, I’m sure this guy must wake up in the middle of the night to check activity on his mobile devices and to respond accordingly. I think we have completely lost our sense of decency and common courtesy.  Maybe I should suggest that non-fast food eateries should ban use of mobile phones in their establishments, just for the sake of getting our table manners back.