David Bullard wonders if the Taliban are really the Reformers they claim to be now
TO EAT LUNCH
On a warm winter day with a clear blue sky, I often hear fish eagles calling over my house. I rush outside with a pair of binoculars and scan the sky and the fish eagles reveal themselves to be two distant spots gliding gracefully over the thermals. Weather permitting, this happens two or three times a week and apparently we have three breeding pairs living quite close to us. Last week we had three flying over the house and for once it was not just dots in the sky but was flying low enough to be photographed.
When we moved into our house eight years ago, we decided to get rid of all the grass and formal flower beds and plant fynbos and mostly native plants in addition to olive trees and bushes. lavender in the front. I mistakenly thought that it would save me from having to mow the lawn in the summer and remove the clippings and be more water efficient as well. This was long before the threat of a zero day in Cape Town.
From a water perspective, it might be, but cutting the fynbos produces a lot more bags of yard waste than mowing the lawn ever would. Our torch aloe was originally a single plant and now it takes up a lot of space despite a few regular cuts.
But it deserves its sustenance because it attracts souimangas all year round and especially when the orange flowers are in bloom. Recently there were two Malachite Souimangas sipping the nectar from the flowers as I quietly sat outside with my morning coffee.
While we don’t have the variety of garden birds we had in Johannesburg, we do have a Slender-tailed Whydah that comes to court in the spring and a robin that sits every night just before sunset. and who chirps happily.
Plus the usual pinch of mice, white-eyed birds, sparrows, red bishops, weavers and Cape canaries. As the sun sets, squads of Egyptian geese fly over their nocturnal nesting grounds in formation and at the dam we have a decent collection of waterfowl including gray herons, stingers and hamerkops.
I also recently discovered dwarf chameleons in the garden and one night when I came out with a torch I counted four on the stems of the restio. Add to that bundle some gekkos, mice, the strange Cape Cobra, and the occasional sighting of a parrot-billed turtle (probably an escaped pet) and, judging by the number of bees, I have a reasonable belief that we are running an environmentally friendly garden.
So what about the nature hike you ask? Well, to be perfectly honest, I was so depressed about the state of the world last week that I had to try to balance my sadness with a personal blessings account and sit in the garden and watch the eagles. fishermen helped me a lot.
The news from Kabul and the most appalling images of people trying to leave Afghanistan was particularly distressing. On news footage, there was an obviously European woman sitting cross-legged on the ground with thousands of others outside the airport and holding up her European passport.
Obviously, she is legitimately claiming to be on a flight out of Afghanistan, but the queue was not moving and the US and UK servicemen who had been drafted to deal with the evacuation were obviously doing their best to face total chaos but appeared to be fighting a losing battle.
Other TV footage showed desperate families with young children awaiting news on whether they would be allowed to leave the country. Many were translators who had worked for the US and British military over the years and were now prime targets for the Taliban.
A veteran warzone television reporter, visibly moved by what he witnessed, said he hoped the children were too young to understand what was going on.
Sadly, I rather doubt that this could be true and the memories of sitting outside in the heat for days with limited access to the toilet, no food or water, let alone hope of escaping will give these children are nightmares for life. What we saw on our TV screens last week is a vision of hell on earth.
While those who had already been to Kabul airport had no choice but to sit down and hope for good news, others were still trying to get to the airport as the Taliban “security” hit them with canes, pieces of pipe or rifle butts.
Those who have decided the trip is far too risky are apparently hiding in basements as Taliban “security” searches house-to-house for evidence of Western decay. Things like the books, records, diplomas and payslips of the imperialist enemy seem to particularly upset them.
Meanwhile, some of the experts say the Taliban are now media savvy and claim the Afghans have absolutely nothing to fear. Soon life will return to normal and the only difference will be a new flag and a country under new management. Women will be invited to participate in public life (subject to Sharia, of course) and girls will be able to attend school up to university level. Whether this includes the university, no one has made it clear.
Unsurprisingly, most people are extremely skeptical of these claims and just one look at the humorless faces of the group of bearded Neanderthals gathered around the presidential office last week should dispel any notion that things would get better this time around. -this.
Any Taliban claiming to put FUN back into “fundamentalism” is highly suspect, mainly because the weapon with which the Taliban fighters are armed knows no other life than violence. Are they really going to sit idly by while western educated Afghans land all the good jobs?
According to the press, the Taliban army numbered about 75,000 men and all these fighters will want to be rewarded for having served the caliphate. I guess the majority don’t have a lot of skills outside of terrorism and beheading infidels, so their place in a prosperous new Afghanistan will likely be limited to making sure women don’t go out without a man to accompany them. and throw gays out of tall buildings.
The future of many countries (including ours) is difficult to predict as circumstances may change. For example, one fine day we might have a flawless administration without deploying executives, but right now that doesn’t suit the ANC.
However, the future of Afghanistan based on what we see today is very easy to predict. It will be a launching pad for international terrorism, human rights will be violated, cruelty will be the order of the day and all kinds of shady deals will be made with other nations hostile to the West.
Far from putting FUN back into fundamentalism, it will be more a question of putting MENTAL back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and sit in the garden. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___
The official pro-vaccine message was noticeably beefed up last week, with News24 and Primedia dedicating a huge amount of space and time to the topic. On Cape Talk, three consecutive shows did not talk about anything else and the new official label of what was once called an “anti-vaxxer” is now a “science denier”.
Those familiar with history will recall that Galileo was a denier of science when he told the powerful Catholic Church that the sun does not revolve around planet earth, but it is the other way around. Fortunately, there was no social media at the time, but the culture of cancellation had already emerged and Galileo was placed under house arrest to prevent him from spreading his poisonous heresy.
News24’s task was to track unvaccinated people who had recently died from COVID, with bonus points being offered to any reporter who could find someone who needed to be vaccinated within days of their death. Not that it would have helped them much.
As you might expect, there has been a lot of talk of 18-34 year olds getting together in large groups for the COVID vaccine… .. something they would be prohibited from doing under different circumstances like a religious gathering.
Obviously, it stands to reason that there would be massive adoption of the vaccine by the 18-34 age cohort. The poor fellows were deprived of each other’s company for a year and a half, they had to take classes at school and university on Zoom, they couldn’t travel anywhere and they couldn’t was able to party and play the beast with two backs. If I was 18, I would also lead the line with the promise of a return to normal… whatever that might mean.