June 15, 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup: Will South Africa “Score”?

Posted in South Africa tagged , , , , , at 6:17 pm by randallbutisingh

The 2010 FIFA World Cup: Will South Africa “Score”?

by (Brian E. Konkol)

On May 15th 2004, South Africa was named as hosts for the 2010 FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, which is widely regarded as the greatest sports competition in the world. The opportunity to welcome thirty-two of the world’s greatest soccer teams (and their numerous adoring fans) was celebrated as proof that the African continent was making significant progress in its bid to contribute on the global economic stage.
The initial announcement brought incredible excitement for South African citizens, as the 2010 FIFA World Cup was considered a fantastic breakthrough in the ongoing developmental efforts of the nation, for it was widely communicated that “every South African” would benefit as a result of the month-long tournament.

In the past weeks, FIFA announced a $196 million surplus for 2009, as overall revenues soared over one billion dollars. “The market trusts South Africa”, said FIFA President Sepp Blatter, making reference to lucrative television and marketing deals, such as Coca-Cola, Emirates Airline, Hyundai, Sony, Adidas and Visa. In addition, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is projected to earn FIFA its largest revenues in history, with $3.1 billion in corporate sponsorship and broadcasting rights already secured for the next four years, and more generous funding likely to follow. In terms of FIFA revenues, South Africa is set to become the most “successful” World Cup host of all time.

With ongoing news of massive FIFA profits, the question lingers: What about South Africans?

As the June 11th opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup draws closer, South Africans have increasingly expressed their discontent at the massive disparity of benefits. For example, in July of 2009, South African trade unions led a nation-wide strike after learning that some of the 70,000 labourers assigned to building and renovating World Cup stadiums were earning about $1.50 an hour and others $5 a week (minimum wage in South Africa is supposed to be $200 a month). In addition, the United Kingdom newspaper News of the World reported how young Chinese workers in Shanghai earned 2.30 rand (approximately $0.30) a day to manufacture models of “Zakumi” – the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup (the product typically sells for $48). Also, reports surfaced that Adidas was manufacturing its “Jabulani” soccer balls (the official ball of the 2010 World Cup) in Asia as well, paying workers marginal wages, and leaving South African workers and industrial leaders completely out of the picture and unable to enjoy financial profit.

As multi-national airline industries increased flight costs to and from South Africa in the early months of 2010, and with expendable income of potential tourists reduced because of the global economic crisis, the amount of visitors expected in South Africa has declined steadily from 450,000 to 250,000. In addition, South African government projects on mass transportation have been met with heavy resistance, and port workers have also participated in various strikes across the country. All in all, hosting the FIFA World Cup is projected to cost South Africa far more than initially estimated, with stadium construction well over the 9.8 billion rand ($1.28 billion) budgeted, $1.5 billion spent on Johannesburg’s Gautrain light rail transport system, and $90 million for security, including new helicopters and body armour for police. The country has also upgraded seven of its airports, and built an eighth, the King Shaka International Airport in Durban, completely from scratch. These various developments have added significantly to South Africa’s public debt, in the hope that the long-term investment will eventually pay off.

The cheapest ticket for a 2010 FIFA World Cup match is 140 Rand ($19), whereas most will cost well over $100. While FIFA has offered free entry to a small percentage of construction workers and various local contest winners and schoolchildren, the fact remains that most South African citizens will be left outside the stadiums built by their own hands, while foreign tourists will have the best views of the greatest soccer players on the planet. The country has an unemployment rate of nearly 30% and the average monthly income is widely estimated at R2700 ($360). The country’s most loyal soccer supporters are among the poor, and as they rarely pay more than R15 ($2) to attend a local professional match, their attendance at 2010 FIFA World Cup venues is highly doubtful.

As a fan of international soccer, I am excited for some of the best athletes in the world to arrive on African soil, and I am indeed planning to take advantage of the opportunity and attend a few matches. Nevertheless, while I am eager for the competition and ready to support the South African and USA teams, my conscious is troubled, for the question remains: What benefit will the 2010 FIFA World Cup have for South African citizens? Yes, one can find examples of a few development projects surrounding the tournament, but what about the “big picture”? What about the long-term? Will the quality of education in South Africa increase, or will less funding be allocated as South Africa pays off its bloated stadium construction debt? What will happen to the 70,000 workers who no longer have stadiums to build? Will South Africa see the boost in tourism that it seeks (and so desperately needs to pay off its debts)? What happens if it does not? What about the ongoing spread of HIV/AIDS? What about public health? What about land-distribution?

FIFA is expected to earn billions, yet South Africa is expecting to owe billions for years to come. Whereas foreign business leaders and a small number of well-connected South Africans will reap incredible rewards long after the closing ceremony in July, the debt repayment process will most certainly leave its most negative impact upon the poor and marginalized throughout the nation. And so, the most important questions leading up to the grand tournament is not who may win the golden trophy. But rather, I hope the millions of soccer fans around the world who will be following each match are led to consider the facts surrounding the event and boldly decide not to ignore such blatant exploitation. More specifically, my hope is that fans will consider not only what is taking place within World Cup stadiums, but also what is taking place around them.

Posted by ELCA – MUD

Source: http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com/

Comment by Randall Butisingh:

Hello readers:

This is an article from my friend Brian Konkol, who now lives in South Africa,  which I would like to share with you.  This Blog has many articles by Brian and his wife Kristen, which you could access using the search button.

Football is the most popular sport in the world as it is inexpensive to play … all you need is a football.  As a child we played a lot of cricket, but there was always football as an alternative, easy to set up and play, and requiring little space to play – the field and goalposts being whatever we decided was right for the space that was available.

Today, football has grown into a worldwide game played between nations, all aiming for bragging rights as the best football nation, or at least the chance of creeping up in the world standings.  Like any competition, football can be divisive as it pits one nation against the other.  However, it can also serve as a cohesive force of bringing nations together as building blocks for harmony and common purpose.  Let us hope that this World Cup in South Africa, helps in the positive process of awakening all mankind that we are all one with common destinies, so we must all work together, even though we compete, for the good of all mankind.

Randall Butisingh


September 12, 2008


Posted in Economics, Education, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, South Africa tagged , , , , , , at 10:55 am by randallbutisingh


SOUTH AFRICA –  “Globalization” –  September, 2008

A few weeks ago a friend approached me with a giant smile and asked, “So, what you think about Brett Favre not playing with the Packers anymore?  This whole thing must be driving you crazy!”  Of course, these words would not have been too strange if I were back in Wisconsin, but to be asked about the former Green Bay quarterback in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa?  With that one question, I was reminded of how the world is most certainly “shrinking”, and no matter where one lives around the globe, we are intimately connected in ways like never before.

There is much discussion about “globalization” in our world today, and as a result, there are numerous explanations and various understandings of the term.  There are some that emphasize the cultural exchange of globalization, some mention the Internet and mass communication technology; some observe international political developments, while others focus on global economics, multinational corporations, and foreign trade policies.  Whatever the case may be, at its most general level “globalization” suggests that current features of our world are increasingly connected, and there is a growing intensity of our connectedness.  In other words, what we do and what we say has an impact on people around the world more so today than at any other point in human history.

As Country Coordinators for the E.L.C.A.’s Young Adults in Global Mission Program, Kristen and I have been fortunate to visit numerous areas around South Africa.  What continues to amaze us during our travels is that, no matter where we go, there are constant reminders of globalization.  Whether in the urban centers of Cape Town or Johannesburg, or the rural country-sides of Mapumulo or Rorke’s Drift, we are likely to see someone wearing a professional basketball jersey or a major league baseball cap, perhaps watching the Oprah Winfrey Show, reading Sports Illustrated, or listening to Jay-Z or Beyonce.  I might walk into a store and see items from The Gap, Pepsi, or Nike, and amazingly, I have even noticed products originating from within miles of my hometown in Wisconsin (…who would have thought Wausau Paper and Kimberly Clark would make it this far!).

As we meet new friends and enjoy numerous conversations, what we find increasingly amazing is how, with the dawning of the Internet and globalized television news networks, many people here in South Africa have significant knowledge of what is taking place in the United States (…some are more informed on American current events than most Americans are!).  Whether it’s the upcoming Presidential Elections, this week’s weather forecast, Hollywood gossip, and of course – all the drama surrounding a certain football team and its longtime quarterback, all one has to do is click on a computer, grab a newspaper, or tune-in to CNN or the BBC, and the information is readily available.  As a result, people in this country – and around the globe – hear more and more about what is taking place in the world, and as a result, we are affected more and more by what each other does or chooses not to do.

While it is amazing to learn of our various connections with people around the world, when one looks a bit closer, it becomes evident that the process of globalization is not beneficial for everyone, especially not for those in the developing world.  For example: international trade often has a way of exploiting developing nations and widening the gap between rich and poor; the Western-controlled media has been accused of damaging and/or destroying native cultures; United States television programs seem to provide false ideas of what North American life is truly like; foreign advertisers increase demand for expensive products that people do not need, cannot afford, but eventually learn to desire; and international sporting events often cause under-funded athletes in poor nations to see themselves as failures for not getting the “glamorous gold” like their wealthy competitors.  Yes indeed, people are becoming more and more connected around the world, but in this globalized world where the playing field is certainly not equal, we are forced to ask ourselves: What is the nature of the connections?  Who benefits most from those connections?  Who is hurt because of the connections?

Kristen and I believe a significant part – perhaps the most important part – of our Global Mission service in South Africa is communicating the “connections” shared between North Americans and Africans, and trying our best to play a part in strengthening the positive connections, as well as “transform” those connections that are harmful to our global companions.  As people of faith, we believe it is critically important to understand how our behaviors and decisions have a way of impacting people around the globe.  As the world is getting smaller, and as Jesus reminded us to care for our neighbors, we are forced to remember that our day to day actions do not only effect ourselves, but our various “neighbors” around the world.  The amount of gasoline we choose to pump into our vehicles, the types of foods we choose to purchase, the amount of clothes and electronics we choose buy, the volume of waste we choose to put into the environment – while all these choices might appear to be small and private matters, the reality is that they have profound public consequences for all our global neighbors.

As a way to explore our various connections, Kristen and I decided to launch a new program website which will allow people to learn more about those living and serving here among us in South Africa.  The site, http://elcamud.blogspot.com will be filled with writings from American volunteers serving alongside us through the Young Adults in Global Mission Program, but also, it will contain numerous contributions from local South Africans who contribute to the program as our co-workers and hosts.  One who visits the site will be exposed to current events, personal perspectives, people profiles, and a variety of other creative writing pieces.  The overall goal of this venture is that people in various parts of the globe will be reminded of their connections, and through increased awareness, will make renewed efforts to make better use of those connections for good.  We hope you will make time to explore the site and follow its development, and if possible, share it with as many people as possible.

And so, you may continue to find Kristen and my personal reflections on http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com, but we hope you will also take time to visit the new site on a regular basis (…we expect to have new postings each week).   For those interested, one can “sign up” to be notified when new entries are made, and if desired, you may feel free to make comments and enter into a “global conversation”.

Thank you for the ongoing support.  We look forward to being in touch.

With peace and love,


.Rev. Brian & Kristen Konkol
Project Coordinators, South Africa
Young Adults in Global Mission
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
P.O. Box 28694
Haymarket 3200. South Africa
Phone: (Country Code 027) 033-396-5494
Cell: (Country Code 027) 071-121-9692
E-Mail: bekonkol@yahoo.com
Web (personal): http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com
Web (project): http://elcamud.blogspot.com


From: randallbutisingh@hotmail.com
To: bekonkol@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: South Africa – September, 2008
Date: Fri, 12 September 2008


The more I get to know you, the more I am convinced that here is a young man who is not so much preaching the gospel, but is living it. Who with little is accomplishing great things;  things that will help to relieve the sufferings of the needy and help to make this world a better place.

I do not know what your material resources are, but that is secondary. It is not as my bishop told me: ‘You cannot run a church without money’, as if the church is the material fabric. Our Lord had no such church.  He taught on the mountainside, from fishing boats, in open spaces or under the shade of a tree near a well. But, our priests, in order to build and preserve the material fabric  have to organize entertainments like dances, tea parties and raffles.  Money is no substitute for enthusiasm, commitment, dedication, the ability to inspire a people and the capacity for making sacrifices.  Also the knowledge that you are doing God’s will.

Even before the proliferation of technology, it was evident that the civilized world could not exist in isolation, that, in order to survive, we need the input of others, far and near.  With technology, it now becomes clear to us that, as one writer puts it, ‘we are living as it were in ONE HOUSE’, that friendship and cooperation is more than ever needed to prevent conflict and to provide harmony and peace.

Within two months, Americans will have their presidential election.  There is division as usual, and as you rightly said:some people outside are more informed about current events in America than the Americans themselves.  Americans are the most uninformed and u not knowledgeable of their country than most people anywhere; misguided by the media which is owned by big corporations; so when it comes to make wise decisions, they cannot.  The country is now in a crisis which will grow deeper if the wrong choice is made in the selection of a leader who has not the drive and energy, the wisdom and the quality to inspire.

My prayers are with you in your spiritual adventure.  Know that He is beside you all the time and though things may seem tough for a time, he will allow that to test you so that you will increase in goodness.

With Peace and Love,


August 12, 2008


Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion, South Africa tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:55 pm by randallbutisingh


South Africa – “A Lesson in Perspective” – July 2008

I do not enjoy cold weather. Even though I was born and raised in Wisconsin, endured countless frigid days on the “frozen tundra”, and experienced great amounts of snow and ice, I simply do not like cold weather. I do not like it at all. When someone asks why I dislike the cold even though I spent so many years within it, I simply respond, “…it’s like being a professional boxer. Even though you get punched in the face for many years, you never really learn to enjoy it.”

After several years of tropical conditions in Guyana, I am now faced with a drop in temperatures for the first time since the winter of 2004 (…in South Africa, the coldest months are June and July). While it will not get anywhere near as cold as a Wisconsin winter (thank God for that!), it will certainly be much cooler than what I have grown accustomed to over the past years. And so, while our initial months here in South Africa were quite warm, lately the sun is not quite as hot, the nights are longer, and our first South African winter is now upon us. Waking in the morning seems a bit more difficult, staying underneath the warm bed covers feels increasingly appealing, and finding motivation to take our morning jog is getting to be quite a challenge.

A few weeks ago I received a perfect example of how much I despise cold weather. It was a Saturday night, and because I would be waking early for worship the next morning, I tried my best to get to sleep early. However, even though I lay in bed at an early hour, regardless of my repeated efforts, I simply could not fall asleep. It was too cold! Like the majority of homes here in South Africa, ours does not have central heating or a fireplace, so we are forced to use numerous blankets, fleece pants, sweatshirts, and a few space heaters. And so, after a few hours of lying awake in bed, I eventually left the room, sat by the television under my multitude of layers, and I thought about how miserable I was in the cold. “Woe is me”, I thought! “Woe is me!” As you can imagine, when it was finally time to leave the house for worship on Sunday morning, I was not exactly “alive with the Spirit”. It was a cold and raining start to the day. I had barely slept. The short jog and warm shower did not seem to help. I felt dead.

And then, within a few short minutes, it happened. Although I had spent most of the night in my personal “pity party”, during our ride to worship I was given a healthy dose of reality, and a much needed drink of perspective.

As Kristen and I drove to Imbali Lutheran Church, we passed the thousands of tin shacks that line the rural township streets surrounding Pietermaritzburg. We could not help but notice the crowd of people who, dressed in their “Sunday’s best”, walked to their respective congregations in the rain and cold. While Kristen and I were protected from the elements in our vehicle, the greater majority of others were not. As we had spent our Saturday night in a well constructed home that shielded most of winter’s burdens, those whom we saw marching their congregations had not been so fortunate. To say the least, I was reminded of how blessed I am, I was convicted in my lack of appreciation, and most of all, I was disturbed and angered by how unjust it is that so many have to live in such terrible conditions. And of course, that Sunday morning I quietly wondered to myself, would I, and ordained Lutheran pastor, be so committed to walk to church in the cold and rain? Would I go and give thanks to God if I were spending each night in a cold and wet tin shack? Yes indeed, a challenging dose of perspective is what I needed that Sunday morning. A challenging does of perspective is exactly what I received. And amazingly, all this happened before we arrived for worship.

Once we arrived in the sanctuary and found places to sit, my Sunday morning “lesson in perspective” not only continued, but it intensified. Although the weather was cold and raining, and even though most people had to walk significant distances through terrible weather on little sleep and not enough food, the worship service at Imbali was as Spirit-filled as ever. It was amazing! Cold, wet, tired, and hungry South African Lutheran Christians of all ages filled the worship space to capacity. As is the case every Sunday, they were singing like angels, dancing like birds, and smiling as if each and every one of them had all the blessings one could ever hope for. Kristen and I were totally humbled by the experience, we were reminded of what it means to give thanks to God, and shown an example of faith in the life to come, but also hope for something better in the life to be lived here and now. I have attended many worship services in my young life, but I cannot think of one that was more inspiring. I have little clue as to what the preacher said that morning (…my Zulu language training has a long way to go!), but God certainly spoke through the amazing and resilient faithfulness of the people in the pews.

Through the people of Imbali, I was reminded that while there are many here in South Africa who are financially impoverished and lack many of the daily necessities and opportunities I often take for granted (…and I believe there is much that we – from a powerful nation – can do to reduce global poverty and bring increased balance to the power structures in our world), there are many here in South Africa who are spiritually wealthy, and I believe there is much that we – from what many would label a “spiritually impoverished” nation – can do to learn. By stepping outside of our comfort zones and walking alongside those whom live in situations much different from what we have always known, not only do we allow ourselves to be exposed to the needs and desires of others, and not only are we urged to assist in any way we can, but we are also reminded of the many needs and desires which we hold inside our own hearts and minds, and we are reminded of the need to receive assistance from others.

As Kristen and I continue to reflect upon the Global Mission of the E.L.C.A., our role in South Africa, and the meaning of what it is to “accompany” our various new friends in this place, we remember that we all are impoverished in some way, and it is through the transformation of relationships around the world that God “balances the scale” and lifts us all out of our various forms of poverty. Whether it is financial poverty, spiritual, physical, or mental, Jesus calls us to help set the poor free. However, while sometimes “the poor” are those around us, at other times “the poor” are what we see in the mirror. Thankfully, as God’s love is shown through accompaniment, we may acknowledge the poverty around us and within us, seek to defeat it, and ultimately, be set free.

Thank you for the ongoing love and support. With peace and love,

Brian Konkolbekonkol@yahoo.com

Reply from: Randall Butisingh <randallbutisingh@hotmail.com>

Brian, as I read your newsletter, it reminded me of the sufferings our Lord underwent when he came to dwell among men. His forty-day fasting in the wilderness when “stones were His pillow and earth His bed”, in the cold desert night. When He hungered, but did not complain or yield to temptation. Fortunately you have a home where you can take shelter, appropriate clothing and food to satisfy your hunger. He once said; “foxes have holes, the birds have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.” For us lesser man suffering burnishes the character and we increase in endurance and fortitude. It is amazing how you can learn from the very ones you have come to help of Faith, Hope, Joy and genuine Fellowship. I, myself, am humbled when I learn from the actions of those some are prone to despise.

I am aware that you and Kristen are genuinely filled with the desire to improve the lot of those our less fortunate brothers. I know you both are equipped to perform your task and that you will grow in strength of body, mind and spirit, and that the Lord will guide you and bless your work. You have put your hand on the plough, there is no turning back. My prayers go with you.

In Him who died for the sins of mankind,


August 9, 2008


Posted in Guyana, Philosophy, Religion, Thoughts tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:55 am by randallbutisingh



Brian and Kristen Konkol, a young couple, are missionaries who recently began working in South Africa. I have known Brian for a number of years and Kirsten, whom he married for over a year. I am proud of the work they did in Guyana before moving to South Africa in November 2007. They truly lived the gospel and are good writers. We have had several discussions on spiritual matters and I have been reading his regular newsletters which I found informative and inspirational. Here are two pieces from our discussions that I would like to share with you: I trust Brian will approve of them.

Randall Butisingh


From: Randall Butisingh:

To: Brian Konkol


There’s no doubt that the task you and Kristen have assumed is an onerous one.  It has to be so, as it is “the Greatest Task you have been assigned to” and it will need only people like you, dedicated and committed, to make it succeed.  … People who are willing to sacrifice their lives to build, as you said, “a better society,”… which will bring the Kingdom of God on earth. You may, at times, be tempted to think: “Why did I have to give up the ease and comfort I could have had, and endure all this? That is natural.  Our Lord had His temptations.  But what are the material things and pleasures of the flesh?  They are transient and cannot satisfy. But what you will acquire in your desire to serve cannot be taken from you. I mean the virtues like love and compassion, faith and hope, patience and endurance.  These virtues will sustain you.  The fruit of your efforts will not be the perishable things of the flesh, but the everlasting gifts of the Spirit. You will not need a comfortable living, as you will experience the Joy and Peace of a Life worth living and which is all that matters.

Kindest regards,



From: Brian Konkol

To: Randall Butisingh


Your supportive words always mean a great deal.  Thank you.

When it comes to the “material” side of life, I’ve been hearing a great deal as of late from friends and family about the current economic conditions across the United States.  With rising gas prices, rising food costs, the dipping housing market, and other contributing factors, people who were quite “comfortable” just a few years ago are now feeling the “financial crunch” that was once reserved only for the lower class.  Working middle-class people now have to cut expenses and start choosing between needs and wants.

When I hear of the struggles people in the United States are now enduring, I usually have two main thoughts.  First, I feel compassion for them, for I know that it is indeed a struggle, but secondly, I think about all the people around the world who have it much worse, and I feel as if people in the US aren’t as thankful as they should be.  It is certainly a mixture of emotions, and I often do not know how to handle it.  I do not wish to minimize people’s struggles here in the US, because they are difficult struggles indeed.  Yet, when you compare them to the struggles of those in Africa and other corners of the world, it is difficult to match them up.  There are many different kinds of struggles in our world, and I find it difficult to “compare” them when the contexts are so different.

Thankfully, the God of the middle class American is also the God of the struggling African.  And through the Spirit, God is able to walk alongside us all, and in the midst of our diversity, encouraging us to walk alongside each other.

Again, it’s good to hear from you.  I look forward to hearing more soon!

With peace,



May 4, 2008


Posted in History, Politics, Thoughts tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:13 am by randallbutisingh



–Another peep into history. – By: Randall Butisingh

Letter sent to the Guiana Graphic around 1960 when Apartheid was in its highest degradation of Black South Africans while a neutral world passively observes.


The monstrous policy of Apartheid in South Africa which aims at dividing humanity is a blot on civilization and an insult, not only to the coloured race, but to every seeker of truth in this age.

If the conscience of the world is not awakened to this outrage on humanity, and if this state of affairs is allowed to continue with no pressure being to brought to bear on it by world opinion and the custodians of democracy, then our avowed democratic institutions will be made to suffer.

It behooves us at this time to remember the prophecy of Haile Selassie when he witnessed the attitude of the Western Powers in the unprovoked invasion of Abyssinia by the Italians led by their fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. That prophecy was fulfilled in the Second World War. Dante said “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” This applies to individuals as well as to groups.

It is heartening; however, that the Church in South Africa is taking a courageous stand in this matter, and it is hoped that the Church in the entire world will give its moral support. Loyalty to country is a good thing, but loyalty to heaven is far worthier. Humanity is of far more importance than Race. The former which is indivisible embraces all races; the latter is the result of geographical influences and can be divided by artificial barriers and also of prejudice.

At this critical period of world history, such a situation should exercise the minds of all Truth seekers. It is especially a challenge to Christians, whose duty it is, at any place, at any time, to defend fearlessly the rights of the individual and the dignity of the Human Race. In so doing they will be helping in securing Harmony and Peace.


In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia (then Abyssinia). Haile Selassie, its emperor was forced into exile in 1936. He appealed to the League of Nations for help, but received none. During World War II, the British helped to reinstate him. He ruled until 1974, when he was deposed by the army and imprisoned in his palace because of famine, unemployment and political unrest.

Mussolini, on the other hand, against advice, joined Hitler and declared war in 1940. After his defeat, he tried to escape but was pursued by Italian communists and executed with his mistress Cllaretta Petacci. Their bodies were hung downward in the Piazza Loretto in Milan. The mass of Italians greeted his death with no regret.

May 1, 2008


Posted in Economics, Education, Environment, Poetry, Religion, Thoughts tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:32 am by randallbutisingh

Thought for today:


This is my letter to Brian and Kristen Konkol, recently appointed as missionaries in South Africa. They are dedicated and committed individuals, who were missionaries in Guyana before moving to South Africa a few months ago. They are now settling in and have asked my advice on: “How to reduce Poverty in Africa”. Here is my reply dated April 21, 2008. Your comments and advice on this most important subject are welcome. Feel free to contact Brian and Kristen Konkol with your help and ideas at:



To: Brian and Kristen Konkol:

Before I attempt to give my opinion on “how to reduce Poverty in Africa”, I will attempt to define Poverty. In my opinion Poverty is a relative term. How? An individual may have very little, and it takes very little to sustain life. He may live in a one room shack with one or no shirt on his back, but he works honestly for the little that he has; he is always cheerful and will gladly share the little he has and his shack with a needy stranger. He is the personification of contentment; his conscience is clear, his sleep at night is sound and unbroken and he lives without fear. Would you call such an individual poor?

On the other hand a person may be laden with this world’s goods, like an overburdened camel, much more above his needs; But he is the personification of greed; he cannot have enough; he is discontented; always wants more and more, never shares what he has with the needy for concern that it will diminish him. This makes him grouchy, irritable, and cheerless. His sleep at nights is unsound and broken because of fear that someone may come and rob him of what he has. Would you call such an individual rich?

Now, how about reducing Poverty in Africa! Africa is a continent, beautiful and potentially rich, but it has been exploited by foreigners and recently, after independence by its own leaders. There were very few leaders, among them being Nelson Mandela, who did not succumb to the plague of corruption. Billions of the country’s wealth and foreign aid have been stashed away in foreign banks by corrupt politicians while those whom they have been supposed to serve go hungry.

This brings us to the question of education. If the populace is not adequately educated in order to understand the issues and the ability to confront injustice wherever it rears its ugly head, exploitation and corruption will continue to have a field day. Recently two benevolent Americans have been working in this field. They are Oprah Winfrey who is spending millions to educate over a hundred girls in South Africa to become leaders in the future and Bill Clinton who is spending millions to improve Agriculture in one of the countries in Africa.

It should also be noted that Poverty is an attitude in some of the countries. The men leave all the hard work to the women. When they do not hunt or fish, they gather in groups and idle away their time while the women work in the fields. Recently a group of women banded together in a community, and refused to slave for their idle husbands.

We need people who can educate, motivate and inspire these people, raising them from their present level, especially the women to one of respectability. Here is where you and Kirsten can fit in and I know that with the meager physical resources you have but the abundance of will, dedication and commitment, you will make things happen.

Africa does not need to be spoon fed. But while they are given the tools to progress, effort should be made meanwhile to eliminate hunger and disease. You cannot preach to a hungry man about God; you have to fill his belly first.

Remitting of debts will be of little help if attitudes do not change.

Love, joy and peace,