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4 Awesome Facts about South Africa You Did Not Know

With the World Cup having come to an end, it is most likely that South Africans are now suffering from chronic depression as they now have to go back to their ordinary lives, and for many, go back to tertiary or school.

Though many reasons can be sighted for this change in mood such as a massive drop in viewable international soccer or no more spectacular goals to be seen – there is really one reason why fans from the hosting country of a World Cup always get sad when the tournament is over. Its because all the Brazilian tourists go back home.

Pictured here: Typical Brazilian tourist

So in the name of being a good samaritan – here are some facts you probably did not know about South Africa, and hopefully then you’ll have something else to think about than those Brazilian friends you made during the tournament.

1.  The greatest ever energy event on Earth happened in South Africa … 2 Billion years ago

Contrary to what the Bible will tell you, the Earth has actually been around for some time. And much of its lifetime included moments when little or no life existed and periods of major species extinctions that drove life to the very edge of existence.  And somewhere in-between all that mayhem, there were a few events that forced life to evolve in drastic measures to survive – and 2 billion years ago such an event occurred.

Now unless you are Chuck Norris, if you were alive back then, you would have had a seriously bad day because God decided it would be fun to throw a fastball right towards Earth…

And it landed smack in the middle of South Africa. In what later became the Free State province to be more exact.

And as a result we have an area in the Free State called the Vredefort crater – a scar in the Earth which even today is still visible from space.

The rock that struck this part of town is said to have been at least 10 km wide and travelling at speeds in the excess of 50 000 kilometers per SECOND. And its important to be clear that the impact crater that is still visible from space is only a fraction of the massive hole that was left – because that scar is estimated to have been at around 280 – 300 km in diameter – which ranks it right at number 1 of all the biggest impact craters ever found. The rest of the impact crater has been eroded by much of the geological processes that have happened in the past and that continue to happen, and because of that, it is most likely that there will come a time when the crater is not even visible from space.

And what would happen if one of these were to drop by in the near future? Before you get sucked in to believing all that crap about “collision avoidance systems” or simply nuking the thing out of the sky – there is just nothing that anyone anywhere can do about it. And given how they cant even contain a damm oil spill, what makes you think they can stop a life-ending rock that is moving at 147 times the speed of sound?

But before you think that this was one of God’s seriously unfunny jokes, please consider this: The monstrosity of energy that was kicked up by this event is said to be one of the catalysts that made multi-cellular life-form possible in the first place. This is because comets and asteroids tend to carry a lot of garbage with them – garbage such as water. And as we all know, water forms the basic building blocks for all life.

It is impossible to know what kind of life would have risen from Earth if such rocks had not plummeted from the heavens and significantly increased the Earths oxygen levels, but one thing is for sure, it would have been very different…

thank God for asteroids.

2. The cure for Yellow Fever was developed by a South African

Providing more evidence to the long standing argument that Africa is actually hell disguised as a continent – a few horrific diseases originate from this continent, and one of those is Yellow Fever.

Yellow fever virus (234 000 X magnification)

Yellow Fever is a virus that has continually rampaged on the people of mostly Central Africa and Eastern South America. It is transmitted by female mosquitoes as much as the same way they transmit the malaria virus. After being bitten with a yellow fever virus infected mosquito, the symptoms will usually show up in 3 – 6 days. Symptoms which will include:

1. high fever

2. chills and headaches

3. muscle aches and backache

4. vomitting

5. shock and bleeding

And as a show of how much the virus really wants to ruin your life, a number of cases have been documented where the patient shows brief signs of recovery – then the virus completely cuts down the kidneys and the liver. And as you can imagine the simultaneous failure of 3 organs leaves your body in a pretty bleak state to say the least. The failures of these organs (esp the liver) cause a condition known as Jaundice – a yellowish discoloration of the skin. This is not to be confused with the yellowish discoloration of the half human half mutant psycho killer, Tooms, we saw in Season 1 of the X-Files. He’s discoloration was not because he’s liver had failed – but it was because he needed livers from other people to eat so that he remain immortal. But mostly he was yellow becuase he really was a  psychotic lunatic – that did not take well to being disturbed while asleep…

moments after he was woken up.

Although the virus may have its origins here in Central Africa and is still found there, in all there have been 26 documented outbreaks where Yellow fever has cut down thousands in the space of a few months, with some of the worst outbreaks being:

1. 1762 British expedition against Cuba – where British soldiers started dropping like flies in the thousands. The disease eventually killed 10% of the Cuban population over the next 140 years.

2. Yellow fever epidemic of 1793where former U.S. president George Washington had to flee the city of Philadelphia because 10 000 people had died.

3. Haiti 1802where 40 000 French forces had subsequently died because of the infections in the ranks. But before you feel sorry for this lot; please remember that these troops were sent in the quell the sudden uprising of the Haitian people against the French slave rule.

And Yellow Fever’s winning streak continued in the never ending “How many humans can you kill Olympics” – that is until Max Theiler did something about it.

Born in January 30, 1899 in Pretoria, he went on to become a world leading virologist with endless studying and research which took him to Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town. Then he went to England, to study in what was then called St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School then in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Then he took up a researching position in Harvard University. And it was during these days of research that he eventually isolated the strains of the Yellow Fever virus to a point where he was able to release a vaccine dubbed 17-D. And with the help of the Rockefeller foundation which mass produced the vaccine, came an end to Yellow Fever outbreaks. And in 1951 Max recieved a Noble Peace Prize for his work on medicine.

Sidenote: It is probably worth mentioning that he was actually helped by another chap called Hugh Smith. But since this “assistant” is not South African, for the sake of this article, he’s existence will totally be ignored.

3. The Apartheid government actually fought Hitler

I always find it interesting that when the stories of Apartheid are told, they are always told form a very one sided point of view. Yes a lot of bad things happened, yes a lot of horrors were committed against people of color in South Africa, and yes some of these people who were the lead men behind these evil campaigns have only gotten a slap in the hand thanks to Archbishop Tutu’s bullshit Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

But as everybody knows, there are two sides to every story. And the one side you will never hear anybody tell you is how much most of the “foot soldiers” who worked for the evil emperor actually saw themselves as freedom fighters. Why? Because of Apartheid government propaganda. Its important to understand that just like in World War 2, Adolf Hitler was able to do possibly all the evils that are possible by rallying the entire nation behind him with the use of manipulation and propaganda. He is the one who convinced the German people that they are surrounded by threats from all sides, and the threat must be eliminated – sounds a lot like apartheid South African policy doesn’t it?

The problem is that when a major piece of the puzzle that is our history is never told (because of the now ruling government’s policies) – people end up with a very narrow minded view of the period’s events and the good or heroism which may have happened ends up falling away to the pages of history. Heroes like soldiers from the South African 1st division who were in the second world war.

While the Nazis were doing unspeakable acts of pure evil in Europa, which included invasions and takeovers of whole countries in a matter of weeks, the Italians, who had aligned themselves with Hitler and the Japanese Empire, were causing all kinds of shit here in Africa.

And guess who was providing close air support to the British regiments in Ethiopia by bombing the hell out of the Italians … it was the South African Air Force. And guess who fought side by side with the British, American and soldiers for the Arab League of Nations in Egypt against the legendary German unit, the Afrika Corps … it was the South African 1st division. The South African 1st division fought with the allies under the banner of the Eighth Army of England, and when the allies had finally crushed the axis armies, Winston Churchill, who was then prime minister of England, said this to the soldiers who had survived:

You are allowed to dwell upon these things, with that satisfaction which men, in all modesty, feel when a great work has finally been done….the achievement of the Eighth Army will gleam and glow in the annals of history.”

He also wroteBefore Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.Giving testament as to the importance of that victory. And if you were to take a walk to the northern Egyptian town El Alamein,  you will find a monument that recognizes the bravery of the South African men who died in the African campaign.

But perhaps the greatest role played by South Africa during the second world war was for the liberation of Mauritius. Mauritius at the time had fallen under control of the Vichy French – who were just French who had aligned with Hitler even though Hitler was slaughtering the French homeland. Because the allies had been able to break the codes used by the axis powers in their communication – they soon got word of a plot instigated by German high command to help the Japanese to set up a base in Mauritius which would have been used as a launching pad to incinerate Durban (my home town) – much like Pearl Harbor.

And for obvious reasons this could not be allowed – and hence the possibly one of the biggest armada south of the equator was assembled in Durban harbor which was to sail for Mauritius. An armada of 57 ships which included 2 battleships, 2 cruisers, 9 destroyers, 6 corvettes and 6 minesweepers.

And in case you may be wondering how the allies got wind of this plan – please note that a women by the name Percey Mayer was a spy for the South African and British governments in Mauritius and it is her who was in constant communication with bases in Durban. After the war, she later married and settled in Durban’s Kloof suburb.

All this should be telling you one thing – that there are more heroes in South Africa than the ones who were on Robben Island.

4. The large black population that inhabit South Africa, actually dont belong there

South Africa is a very interesting country indeed. Much of South African history revolves around the events that followed after Jan van Riebeecks‘s Cape landing in April 6, 1652. The events that have manifested from that time are often the subject of some kind of rallying point for which political parties seem to relish. A good example of this can be found by viewing the home page of the Pan Africanist Congress website. The first thing that catches your attention is the slogan that says “Izwe Lethu” – which is Zulu for “This is our land“. Oh really? Are you sure about that Mr ..?

whoever this guy is.

The “this is our land” motto of coarse comes from the largely believed myth that black people of South Africa are the original inhabitants of this country. Well the truth could not be further from the truth – because the fact is that the ancestory of all the Zulus, the ancestory all the Xhosas, the ancestory of every person in South Africa who classifies themselves as a black or a colored person – their place in South Africa is just as foreign as that of Jan van Riebeeck. The only difference is one arrived later than the other.

Have you ever bothered to notice how most black people of South Africa and all the way up to Central Africa all look roughly the same? Thats because all these people owe their existence to a single group of people that lived in Central Africa. And 3000 B.C. began a slow trickle south from central Africa. And from these people that went down to inhabit the lower states of Africa, among these were the people that would later form the Nguni and Sotho tribes of South Africa. The sames tribes that are the mother tribes for all black South Africans. This migration southward is known in the science community as the Bantu expansion or migration.

Oh wait …. that leaves a question in mind. So who exactly does South Africa really belong to? Who was really here first?

Him

Thats right, the real original inhabitants of South Africa are the Khoisan people. Other names which have been proposed (without much success) is for them to be called the Capoid race – which emphasizes that they are a totally different branch of humans than all the rest that live in Africa.

Oh and guess what happened when the Nguni and Sotho people rolled into South  Africa with all their superior forms of warfare? Well, since the Khoisan people are now a very endangered species – I think we all know what happened. They were driven out of their lands to be pushed to the very edge of their existence – and that is why they are now found in the most rugged and the most inhospitable places that a person can live in – the deserts of the Nothern Cape and the Namibian Kalahari. Why? Because the Ngunis and Sothos probably did not want to live there … because its just too damm dry.

And in probably the most amazing example of “what goes around, comes around” in our country’s history – it may just turn out that when all those evils were happening during Apartheid, there was some Khoisan elder out there who was thinking “Justice after-all does still exist in this world“.

Amazing country isn’t it?

Sizwe

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