Friday, February 23, 2007

island in the indian ocean

For the love of.

My dad’s pearls of manic eccentricity have manifested into weekly episodes.
With a genetic cocktail comprising his and my mother’s genes, quite frankly, I’m worried about my old age.

He wrote to the mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, as he does. He always CC’s me the emails, much like the weekly letters he sends to the Cape Argus, The Star and other editorial desks across the country.

Sometimes he’s complimentary: I just love the new motorbike lane you’ve added onto the top end of Bree Street, thanks a mil!
…and sometimes he’s not: I’ve had it with the municipal bin collectors. How many TIMES do I have to say it: do NOT drag my bin, as the wheels fall off. CARRY it to the trash truck when you empty it. ARE YOU DEAF?
He uses capital letters when he is upset.

This time I understand the gripe.

His primary complaint is about the street name changes across the country to suit more politically correct times. I get this, and my frustration is similarly compounded by the shelling out of millions of ronts-worth of taxpayer’s money to change a name that has undertones of the Old South Africa. I too get frustrated because this is essentially wiping out our history, however unsavoury. I too find it hard to understand why this money can’t go towards poverty eradication, something far more beneficial.
I am on his side. At least for the above reason.
Charming though, was the third paragraph, after he’d staked his complaint of the former:

I love Cape Town, and if Adderly Street changes its name, I’m out of here Helen. (May I call you Helen?)
I am considering a number of options in terms of PERMANENT immigration – and yes, this is a threat. [She’d better take this seriously. The country will quite clearly fall apart without Dad – Ed]

I will move to a place that sanctifies and holds it’s history dear – and that place is Île de Reunion, the island near Mauritius.
Not Australia, not Germany, and not England. The climate in Reunion is temperate and balmy all year round. [Did someone say balmy? – Ed]
Reunion, a province of France, which although thousands of miles from the Mother country, adopts the same, respectable practice of tradition: a country which boasts the most tourist arrivals in the world for this very reason: a respect of the past, tradition and constancy in this otherwise ever-changing world. [Coconuts and sugar cane? – Ed]
So perhaps, HELEN, you should start looking at the French as a good example of TRADITION.
I really hope you see this as the serious threat it is. Because I’ll take my mates along with me, and my daughter. [Hey, that’s me! – Ed].
This name-changing thing has gone too far.

Sincerely and angrily,
Monsieur Petits Pois Aux Pain-Grillé.

PS: My ex wife is French. Things ended badly some eight years ago, but I can’t disagree that the French have their heads screwed on properly. Do you think they’d change the name of the Eiffel Tower even though the architect was a Pole? No. I DON’T THINK SO.

I’m wondering whether this letter will make it into the government internal newsletter.

Well done Dad. That’ll show her.


boldly benny said...

I love it. My parents have lost their minds with retirement and I swear it'll happen to me. My dad is constantly phoning with gripes lately it's been the weather in Cape Town and how he is convinced he is living in hell.
His new hate - insurance companies because I am getting seriously cheated by my insurance company. He keeps referring to them as those bah-stards!
My parents are a never-ending supply of entertainment.

Peas on Toast said...

Boldly - wow, it seems we really were separated at birth dollface - you sure we don't share parents?
Even so - we're in for a bumpy ride when we hit their age eh? ;)

Champagne Heathen said...


God help you by the time he is in a retirement home with FAR too much time on his hands, and FAR to pissed off about the newer modern world. make it sound like he'll be like Grandad Simpson!

Peas on Toast said...

Champs - Grandpa Simpson may very well be less maintenance than my dad. It's crazy eh?
Bless his soul though - as much as my dad flies off the handle, I love him to pieces. :)

toadie said...

Pretty amusing correspondence, however, are you and your dad a) only trying to be funny, b)completely unconcerned about this country's murderous history?

I just don't get that you understand his gripe! What would the world say if present day Germany said of its own past (and I quote):

we shouldn't be "wiping out our history, however unsavoury"

we should maintain "a respect of the past, tradition and constancy"

we should be a country that "sanctifies and holds it’s history dear"?

Hitler avenue, Goebbels Boulevard, Mussolini Crescent. Mmm. Nice rings those.

To be fair perhaps you don't know/care enough about SA history to connect a road name to the ideology of certain historic figures and realise that honouring certain folk in our infrastructure honours a reprehensible apartheid history.

Inhershoes said...

Hey Peas, You clearly inherited your dad's writings skills. Very witty and entertaining!

Billy said...

Brilliant; you go Pops.

Love the new name:

"Monsieur Petits Pois Aux Pain-Grillé."

Peas on Toast said...

Ah my friend toadie - I COMPLETELY disagree.
a) THis is very serious. Nobody is trying to be funny here.

Don't assume that I am justifying our dark history, I am not. However, do you not think that the R1m it takes to change three road names could not be made to better use? Do you think those dying and starving in Khayelitsha give a FUCK about a road name? When actually a suitable, more long-term historical adjustment could be made from putting that money towards poverty eradication/education/AIDS - factors as a result of Apartheid??

And changing a road name like 'Harrow Road' for insatnce is not exactly 'Goebbels' Avenue is it?

'To be fair perhaps you don't know/care enough about SA history.'
Au contraire. I am a History Major.

Inhershoes - thanks doll. ;)

Peas on Toast said...

Billy - thanks babe.
My father's letter was published in today in one of the Cape daily newspapers. And the Reunion part remained unchanged. :)

Crusoe said...

Toatie, while I agree that certain names should be changed, I believe that SA's murderous past has less priority than SA's murderous present.

Put name changes on the list of things to do, but how can it be more important than spending the money on crime prevention, followed by poverty eradication and other pressing problems.

The longer our crime rate remains at it's current level, the more murderous our history becomes!

Peas on Toast said...

Crusoe - nicely said.

Zu said...

Hi Ms Peas. I have started reading your blog and am addicted! And I love the letter, couldn't have said it better myself!

About the name changing story, I agree. Firstly (and toadie, this is for you), the name changes are ANC-specific. Last time I checked, there were lots of other parties involved in the Freedom fight.

Also, changing JHB International's name was effective how?? I think the more neutral names we have for airports and street names, the better. Historical names should be left for musuems and union buildings etc. And yes, I can think of better ways of spending that money, some children I know could use some food and education.

Jam said...

That is just absolutely outrageously and fantastically hilarious. I love the tone, love the sentiment. Very amusing.
And I agree - while I understand the need to name change (hell, I have days when Jam just seems a little, well, silly), I really wish the money would be spent on housing for people who live in the places where names are being changed.

Peas on Toast said...

Hi Zu!
Thanks sweetheart, praise much appreciated!

Yip I think if we had to get down to the nitty gritty of it all - and say there was a specific budget dedicated to names with 'Verwoerd' or 'Botha' in them, then sure. But wasting money on chaging JHB International to OR Tambo and Harrow to Joe Slovo - it makes me mad and I agree. That money could be made to better use in situations that beg urgency.

Peas on Toast said...

Jam - he's good hey? He gets their attention, I can say that much. :)
And name changes are all very well - but to change 'Jam', say, (although I like it, I really do!), isn't going to extort taxpayers money in the millions to do so.

There are just much more pressing issues at hand in this volatile country of ours.

Champagne Heathen said...

While I think the name changing issue can reach ridiculous extremes, you have to be careful to argue that the money should be wiser spent. Your grip is then with our finance department, not with the guys issuing the name changes. The budget speech yesterday demonstrated this – that our tax money is being allocated accordingly to various gov. departments & sectors. Each dept. is obligated to then spend their cash. The dept (which I forget) that is in charge of name changing is obligated to spend their money under their specific terms. Substantial amounts of cash ARE being allocated to Health and to the Police Forces. These departments are then internally screwing up with the cash. These departments have no say in name changes, unless it is to change a hospital’s name, I guess.

IMO, the changing of Jo’burg Airport to Oli Tambo was plain ridiculous, IF the reason for changing names is to erase the connections to a negative period of SA’s history. In other instances, where Verwoed’s name has (happily) been eradicated from infrastructure, it does visibly demonstrate to people that the government is making change in many many way, not just through not-so-easily noticeable education improvement and economic growth.

What also needs to be asked with the name changing issue, is what is the time line constituting our “murderous past”. Is it the dates where Apartheid is recognised to exist between (1948 – 1994), or does it go back as far as when Jan pulled his ship up on these here shores. And everything inbetween. Paul Kruger was a bastard to some people, but he also made incredible & humbling decisions in terms of our wildlife – which side of his personality do we push to the front should we debate the name of the Kruger Park?? The same can be questioned about Jan Smuts, an Englishman that did as much good for SA as bad, if not more so.

Kruger was a boer, who fought against the English, who mistreated the Zulu people, who enslaved smaller basotho tribes. In a Rainbow country, whose history rules the name changing???

Anonymous said...

You know peas, I was having a ultra shite morning until I read that post. Your dad is a riot!

I agree with you about grassroots people not giving a toss which road is named what. Funny how the government can spend so much time and money on the insignificant details and ignore the glaring fuck-ups in this country.

Houses. Jobs. HIV. Crime. Screw the name of the airport.


Peas on Toast said...

Champs - valid points there, definitely. Just how far back can we change the past? I also feel that changing a road name isn't going make amends for what happened during apartheid. And I'm certain those who suffered during that time aren't going to believe that either.

As for money allocation, perhaps not enough has been given to certain finance departments. Crime prevention is certainly a distinguishing issue here, and even though they have a certain budget to conform by - perhaps a shift in finances could be recognised.

The colonial rule in Africa alone destroyed many countries and made many people suffer, South Africa included. So one wonders whether we'd need to erase the past until 1652 to appease everyone...

Peas on Toast said...

Anon - I'm glad he brightened your day dollface. :)
And I agree: the glaringly obvious demands urgent attention. Priorities in the big picture, for certain.

Hot Pink Flush said...

I wish I had something substantial and intelligent to add to the debate. I don't. all I will say is hysterical post Peas, and excellent points raised, people. I particularly agree with Champs.

Somali said...

Mornin Peas,

Interesting post. I admire your Dad. I just wish there are more people like him.

My second wish would be...

Forget about the PAST!!! It is over and done with! Little kids that need food and education don’t give a damn about an airport name! They only want to eat and one day spell the word airport.

Lastly I got this e-mail this morning.

Lives lost in SA due to Crime: April 2004 – March 2005
18 793

Lives lost in USA Iraq War:
20 734

Stop thinking about the past and concentrate on OUR future!!

Peas on Toast said...

Hot pink - No problem babe, I had noidea it would turn completely political myself. ;)

Peas on Toast said...

Somali - excellent comment!
Those statistics are frightening. I think that's something EVERYONE can agree on here: looking forward and not constantly at the past means active involvement with the problems at hand.

Champagne Heathen said...

Somali, I beg to differ. The kids in this country who are lacking daily meals have every RIGHT and every DESIRE to know about our past and our heroes. And they definitely do want to know. Ever stood in a township asking kids who they want to grow up to be...they do not answer "a person with food", they answer that they want to be Mbeki.

So we MUST ensure our history, in all its many facets, is celebrated or remains in our minds as a warning. And one way that our government has decided that this can happen is through name changing of infrastructure. Hell, I wouldn't really care about who Beyers Naude was did I not have to drive on that damn road so often for a year.

We MUST concentrate on our past, to ensure we don't fck up our future. And with education, we are able to expand our minds so that we can do both.

Revolving Credit said...

Peas, I know your dad has had a fun time juggling the dates with the multiple women he is courting or who may be courting him, but I think he may just have upped his game - Did he just come on to the mayor???

Insane Insomniac said...

Benny - Living in Cape Town as opposed to just vacationing there IS hell.

As for changing the names...It is losing our history, but worse than that...every time a name change goes through, you have to fork out R100+ for a new mapstudio book just to get around!

Are they goign to change the Union buildinggs to the Republic buildings? Will the Kirstenbosch gardens be renamed to the Madiba gardens? Will they rename Hillbrow to Basothoville? Just by the way, if we have to go back in history pre Van Riebeeck, we'll end up having the most unpronounceable names that involve a lot of clicking...after all, Bushmen were the original inhabitants of Southern africa. Even the (dare I type it?) black tribes immigrated from northern africa. Think they'll take it that far?

Peas on Toast said...

Revvie - lol! I know Dad always enjoyed strong women in power suits, but Helen Zille may just be out of his league. :)
Wouldn't put it past him though.

("PPS: Can I take you out for dinner sometime? I think you're hotttttt.")


Peas on Toast said...

Insane - very very true. Mapbooks are only up-to-date for 6 months here!
In an effort to appease everybody in South Africa, they'd have to change almost everything. And to remian politically neutral, all these names would have to be watered-down and completely historically unrelated - Townville, and Mountain City.
An impossible feat. How far will they go I wonder?

toadie said...

Ah Champers, always the lone voice of sanity when i find myself surrounded by robots.

I will also not profess to dictate to uncle trevor how he spends his budget. Sure fighting crime, alleviating poverty, curing aids and ensuring that peas has enough battery power for the bushwhacker are far more important than a trivial name change OR perhaps this is a case of Giuliani's broken-windows theory finding perfect application.

All i'm saying is think about it - I would much rather traverse Nelson Mandela Drive and live in Tshwane personally, its sounds more impressive when trying to score foreign chicks with big boobs...

As for where to draw the line in terms of which aspects of our history we should be ashamed of and which we should champion, well ... i'm going to go back to hitting on foreign chicks with big boobs

Somali said...

Hi again,

I agree with you, Champagne. I did not say leave out education. I said rather use the money for food AND education. I doubt if young kids want to be Mbeki. They rather want to be 50Cent, Nelly or some famous soccer player.

I know the past is a "touchy" subject. Yes - teach them about the past, they have the right to know. Heroes, the War, apartheid etc.

The money could be used for sooo many other useful things.

Open any Newspaper and what do you find?? Crime / lack of proper housing / robbery / cash in transit robbery / rape / hunger / War / Lack of School books, teachers and the buildings itself / Crime in Schools. The list goes on.

Like I said, it has been 13 years. We will never forget the past, but by not letting go we are destroying out future.

Peas on Toast said...

Toadie - I hear there are foreign chicks with big boobs a-plenty on the Ile de Reunion...:)

Somali - I tend to agree with you. Our history does shape our future, but changing names contorts our history. The best thing for everyone now is to accept what happened, learn from it and move on.
Well said to both you and Champers.

Champagne Heathen said...

Toadie - you always awe me into how you can eventually bring big boobs into any blog comment/debate!

Somali - I have personal experiences of primary school kids in Orange Farm talking to me about how they plan on one day reaching Mbeki's position. During random casual conversations, not because I was seeking out certain answers.

Also, I think my second comment on this blog, and 1st one about name changing and all, goes back to the second part of your comment. ...There is currently money in the necessary gov. departments to better meet the citizens' needs of rising crime & health problems & poor education. This money is being mis-spent.

If you are upset about crime, demand more accountability within gov. departments, rather than that more money being thrown at the problem.

At the moment, with our complex government system being as it is, there is no question of fighting crime VERSUS changing names that still haunt people.

I would never deny the need to fight the distressingly rising crime levels. I am saying crime/ education/ health are not part of the name changing argument. They are seperate issues as they fall into seperate departments of your government structure. If you do not like this, then ask for the government structures to change.

I am attempting to explain that your argument is misguided when you say it is EITHER money for crime OR money for something else.

Currently our finance minister & his department have decided there is money for both.

Healing a nation is complex, and all the complexities of such varying natures and playing on such different parts of the citizens' lives should be addressed at once.

Peas on Toast said...

But back to the point!

I feel we've skirted something here. And with the reasonings behind poverty/AIDS/independent financed budgets...the tangent was originally about name changes.

And I stand strong. I don't believe it's contributing greatly to the larger picture. It it were R10/road - maybe. But it's not. Bottom line.

Third World Ant said...

I'm not going to give my opinion on the name-changing matter here, there's enough controversy. One thing I've always noted with this type of argument is that generally people who don't want names changed are white, while those that do (and certainly, there's a bunch that don't care - Peas, I agree about your comment re: people in Khayelitsha) are black. Is this more a racial issue than one truly concerned about how the money should be spent?

Can someone tell me how money is actually being spent on name changing? (Because, if it's not that significant, would reallocating this money to some other casue actually make any difference to that cause's success or failure? Will it actually reduce AIDS fatalities or decrease crime, for instance?)

fuzzy logic said...

Hey Peas!
I've been reading your blog for a while now, and would have to agree on its addictive properties - one of the first things I check in the morning at work :-) (Champs, yours too honey!)

Your dad is classic! The scary thing is that I could see myself heading in that direction when I'm ancient and decrepit (or possibly next year).

We need to acknowledge our past, not ignore it, and wiping it out completely is a bit of an ostrich head-in-the-ground attitude. Lets move on, and kick those in the health & crime departments' butts to spend the money on the people, rather than huge bonuses for themselves. I think I received the same forward as Somali - that's just scary.
But if there are more people in SA like those commenting on this blog, I think the country's in good hands ;-)

Third World Ant said...

(sorry - last paragraph of my comment, I meant "how much money" is being spent)

Peas on Toast said...

Ant - I'm not sure of exact figures at this point, but in the millions - perhaps someone in the know could help us out here? I'd imagine that if that money were somehow relocated into other budgets, it would make a difference.

Fuzzy logic - thanks sweetcheeks! Yours and Somali's comments are certainly correct - moving on as a country makes us progressive and adaptable. And with a nation as diverse as ours, it would be the most sensible thing, wouldn't it?

Somali said...

Yip... its me again.

Champagne - see this it one of the biggest problems we have today. We argue instead of standing together. I KNOW there is money for both. But I just don’t see the need to spend so much money on a name change. There are bigger issues in our country.
I am not trying to argue with you – and I agree with most of what you say.

I am actively trying to reduce crime, and not just complaining about it. The work I do I see and relate to people and families dealing with crime related issues.
They don’t give a damn about the name change because they have just lost a loved one / a loved one has been kidnapped or what ever the case might be.

I listed to every word yesterday. But where in the budget was a R800 000.00 “holiday” planned?? And it also comes down to one person making the biggest decisions.

So… lets stop arguing about what we already know. And I apologies if I came across as being against your believes. But that is the nice thing about living in a democratic country – We can all say our say!

Keep well,

PS: Sorry Peas - didnt mean to start something!

Peas on Toast said...

No problems at all Somali - this is what blogging is about, and that's why I love it. Everyone gets their turn to express an opinion.
I didn't realise you worked in a crime-prevention industry - it must be extremely hectic, and hopefully rewarding every now and then. Big up to you for being part of the bigger picture. Champers works in AIDS education, so both of you are experts in your own right, which makes what you say even more credible.

Champagne Heathen said...

Somali - what are you on about? No need to apologise for debating. That's what we need more of. In arguing our points we are better able to strengthen our fight against even greater forces. Like our current unaccountable arrogant government.

Those who want to stand together need to have covered all bases on what we plan to stand for, otherwise we fall flat right at the beginning. And also, it leads us laterally to more creative solutions and opportunities.

Debate is healthy. So feel free to argue back at what I say here even ...:)

If you had called me an erratic bitch with lack of logic & bad breath (although, Jam has FINALLY told me I smell lovely!) then I would have taken offence. Until then, my beliefs need to be tested, so as to ensure I am not holding on the obsolete or unhealthy or just plain wrong principles.

And not to fear, you didn't start anything - I think boob-obsessed delightful Toadie did!

Urk said...

picture the scene - tony yengeni avenue passing the SPCA and Pollsmoor, or the department of defence being situated on the intersection of shabir shaik rylaan and the jacob zuma freeway

Anonymous said...

I love the first name basis!

kyknoord said...

Urk has a point. Seeing as how we're all part of the hip, happening present, I'm going to petition for names like Boulevarde Petits Pois Aux Pain-Grillé and Kyknoord Drive (West)

Peas on Toast said...

Urk - don't joke - I fear that's coming sooner than we think. ;)

Anon - bless!

Kykie - Now you're talking. I'm listening. I'm all ears. Perhaps I should drop a line to Helen? :)

Revolving Credit said...

OK, here's the deal as far as I'm concerned.

Let's rename some stuff so that we can commemorate peeps.However, put all the names that you want to use in a hat. Get lots of names.

Then work out what you want renamed. Roads, building, parks, dams, speed bumps, whatever.

Then select a name from the hat.

The trick is that nationally, you may use the same name only once. So people will choose a lot more carefully.

I don't neccessarily agree with the fact that we have Hertzog Boulevard, Hertzog Ave, Hertzog Drive, Hertzog House, Hertzog Dam, Hertzog's Poepholfontein...whatever.

Give everybody a fair shake, but changing all the Hertzogs to Chris Hani does really do much.

It's like a matter of, this week my dick is bigger than yours. Some idiot down the line will change it again, because it is over bearing.

I say make a little space for everyone...failing that, name all roads and places after Kama Sutra Positions or Porno Movies.

Imagine yourself, racing home down Deepthroat Drive....hahaha

Peas on Toast said...

This is just getting better and better. Who knew a comments roll could exude the political and the creative in one?

Rev, I'm also over Hertzog Poepholfontein. And Hertzog speed bump memorial.
Everyone deserves a chance. And if your name and chance happens to be Poen Pube Esquire, then I rate Hendrik Verwoerd Drive in Randburg gets that one.

Classic comment. ;)

Betenoir said...

you know, I hope that Helen (may I call her Helen?)reads these letters from your dad and enjoys them...imagine how many semi-literate, half-cocked diatribes are sent to her office every day. Your dad sounds like a charming version of my Gran. If she was mailing Our Helen, she's probably include a note about my menstrual cycle.

Lollipop said...

If your dad is going...TAKE ME WITH YOU! Thinking I should start sending emails to God...cut out the middle men.

Peas on Toast said...

Betenoir - classic, your gran sounds like a card! Hopefully old Hels will read it - just for the entertainment value alone. ;)

Lollipop - drat, I wrote to God about three weeks ago and come to think of it he never replied!

Richard said...

Well instead of just bitching about the state of name changes, why don't you people just mail them and ask? Like me :). Here's what the SAGNC (South African Geographical Names Council) wrote back (verbatim, apart from the person who responded):

Hi Richard

Thank you for your letter dated 22 February 2007. To answer your question, the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC), is the body which was appointed by the Minister of Arts and Culture to standardize geographical names in the country and advise him in this regard. The SAGNC got this mandate from the country’s Constitution, the South African Geographical Names Council Act and the United Nations Resolutions on geographical names. The United Nations resolutions on geographical names clearly called for the establishment of geographical names Councils/Bodies in each country to deal with the matter of geographical names. As other bodies were established in other countries, the SAGNC was also established in South Africa, why? amongst other reasons to:

1. redress past imbalances by facilitating the transformation process on all geographical names that need transformation, (we have a lot of these, some are also very derogatory and offensive, one example is Kaffirskraal.)

2. correct all the names in the country that are spelt incorrectly,

3. give attention to all the duplicated names (as they bring confusion for transportation, mapping, postage and tourism purposes),

4. and standardize the proposed new applications so that there won’t be any problematic names in future.

The above mentioned reasons should help you to understand why names should be standardized. Names are not just changed but they are standardized for the above mentioned reasons, amongst others as mentioned. The requests for the standardization of the geographical names come directly from various publics and not from the Council itself. Any member/s of the public is allowed to apply for a geographical name. A lot of consultation and research must be conducted before the name is submitted to the Council and proof of these must be submitted to the Council at its meetings. After further discussions and deliberation, the Council’s duty is to standardize these names and recommend them to the Minister, for approval. The Minister may ether reject or approve a name/s recommended by the Council. If you need more information on this topic you can visit our website which is or In it you can download the SAGNC’s handbook and Act which will give you more information on the topic. On the same website you will find other related documents.


GoDsGiMp said...

Oh man my head hurts.. cyber tequila headache

Lenka said...

This is great info to know.