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Electric South Africa

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We may stumble, but always there is that eternal voice, forever whispering within our ear, that thing which causes the eternal quest, that thing which forever sings and sings" Ernest Holmes


My friend Matthew is playing the game "Where in the world is Edwaldo." Thanks to his research I am equipped with all kinds of statistics about South Africa I had forgotten or didn't know.


The full name of the Country is "The Republic of South Africa.". Sometimes, and I'm not kidding, when someone in America asks me where I'm from and I use the short form "South Africa" they respond, "What country in South Africa.". I guess I shouldn't be indignant, after all I didn't know where or what Patagonia is, or where to find Tierra Del Fuego or what the capital is of any of the new exSoviet states is.

For the record, Pretoria is the capital (unless its name has changed since I last looked on a map), and Cape Town is the legislative center and Bloemfontein the judicial center

The country is a little less than two times the size of Texas and home to 43,421,021 people. Since the fall of Apartheid, the new Constitution is built with the diversity of the population in mind and therefor 11 (eleven) official languages are recognized including Afrikaans (a form of Dutch brought to Africa by the Dutch East Indies Trading Company. Stripped of exceptions and pesky things like verb conjugations, it is fairly easy to learn, and up until recently, the language of the ruling elite), English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa (the colorful language of clicks and Nelson Madela's mother tongue), and Zulu.

Altough a good 68% of the population is Christian (and a mighty variety of denominations and hybrid Sects there are to choose from), there remains a strong following of the ancient animism beliefs and practices -- very strong -- about 28%, with the remaining folk identifing as Muslim, Hindu or other.

South Africa is the world's largest producer of platinum, gold, and chromium. It exports the gold ad other metals along with diamonds and machinery and equipment made in South Africa.

And here is the rough spot. The country is growing and demands on resources are out pacing the availability of water and electriity: it is a national crisis situation. Added to the problems facing the rest of world like pollution of rivers from agricultural runoff and urban discharge; air pollution resulting in acid rain; soil erosion; desertification -- all of which might sound out there and distant enough to not trouble the person on the street -- the electrical grid of South Africa is in serious trouble and is one of the first, real, tangible, this-is-affecting-me, side effects of careless use of resources.

Just twice the size of Texas. Imagine the same thing in America where we are going in the same direction if I understand correctly.

We can get an idea of what is awaiting by observing rolling power shedding, which means that areas of the city have power shut of without warning for hours and hours at a time while the system attempts to catch up with demand. Not even hospitals are exempt and just yesterday the news reported the happy outcome that a patient on the operating table survived the outtage when finally 30 minutes later the hospital back up generator kicked in.

Why did it take so long. Well, it's not intended for hours long use two or three times a day!

However, South Africa is a resourceful place in its people. I trust that this power inconvenience is just the kick in the pants the people need to come up with something. Surely these people who are the authors of one of the most progressive, inclusive constitutions in the world will take an enviromentally sound stand and model it for the world?

Thanks Matthew for "Where in the World is Edwaldo".

Did I mention, the Santa Rosans are flying over the ocean right now, landing in about 7 hours.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

1 comment:

  1. This blog is educational, inspirational, and fun. Many thanks! Love and blessings to all.

    ReplyDelete

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