We felt the weight of war bearing down on us even though it was happening far from home. #Ukraine and #Russia stormed across our timelines like a set of #RussianMilitary barreling their way through a country that isn’t theirs to take. It’s a massive story and one that certainly takes the lead in South Africa’s news this week. Let’s #ScratchTheSurface with Acumen Media.
I have #SoManyQuestions. It is my job is to watch the news and social media. They call me a media specialist, but between you and me, I just read and watch the news. It’s not hard, well… ok it’s very hard especially when you don’t have data to work with. This is why I have #SoManyQuestions
At the start of the week #NATO members started to condemn #Putins actions… fair enough, I was with them there. After they made these announcements and started sanctioning Russia they began stirring up the narcissism in Putin, and that, no doubt, is not a pretty thing. The only other broadcast we saw of Putin after that was a 15 second video of him telling his heads of military to “arm the nukes”. You could feel the world gasp.
Buildings across the western world were lit in blue and yellow. Sporting events like the World Cup put restrictions on Russia. Um, guys, it’s WW3, and you’re still focusing on a World Cup. I think you should stay in your lane, and if you think for one minute that Putin is interested in playing games on a pitch then you’re sadly mistaken. There’s only one game and it’s called war. A fight for life, not for goals. There is a beautiful Arabic phrase that my father used a lot: Sitte Buzek uLo! Simply, it means “zip it” but the direct translation is “close your mouth now”! Shut up! Really shut up!
South Africa’s dialogue started to flipflop like a fish out of water. You see, #GogoNaledi seemed to have forgotten that we are part of BRICS, so literally we are on Russian turf. In fact, we owe them a great deal of money (remember the #NukeDeal). Is this making sense now Naledi? BRICS’s, the clue is in the title, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, this stuff is not difficult Naledi. SA’s narrative may have been all over the place, but it was on par with what can only be described as pathetic journalism from the likes of Sky, CNN and BBC. SA said we wanted peace, then we said #WeStandWithRussia, then #WeStandWithUkraine and finally we spoke with our UN vote… We abstained and hummed an Elton John song. In other words, we are going to keep quiet now boys and girls. Sitte Buzek uLo!
The week unfolded like a history book: over one million refugees left Ukraine and the majority have ended up in Poland. There were calls for Poland to become a neutral territory, but then anti-tank and ballistic missiles were trapsed through the country into Ukraine. Poland itself deployed fighter jets. Seems like it’s 1939 hey? We started in Poland then and here we are today. #SoManyQuestions.
My job is always to read the “other side”, even when the “other side” is the likes of #DuduzileZuma or #ANN7. I must, it’s my job and I’m an adult so I can take a bit of media manipulation. I can discern what is propaganda and what is likely to be the truth. I’ve been reading and watching media for a good twenty years. I know right? No one is playing Trivial Pursuit with me ever. Well, there’s that and because I have a clever machine that has all the answers. And so I began my hunt for the alternative narrative.
I started where anyone would, with RT (Russian TV). The bias was clear and even the news readers looked uncomfortable as they delivered their reports that were pretty grim. I had to find additional sources. My first challenge: that the Russian narrative is, well in Russian, so I started adding the words “with English subtitles” to my searches. The first and probably most important video was flighted two days before the invasion. It is the one where Putin explains exactly what he is about to do and why. I hadn’t seen this video, just the snippet when he said: “Whoever tries to hinder us, or threaten our country or our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to consequences that you have never faced in your history.” A bit like you I suppose. Watching the whole video is another story altogether. Putin went on to describe NATO and how since the 1940s there was a commitment not to move even one inch to the East.
He broke down in detail a list of the countries where NATO had destroyed lives and the Western World didn’t blink an eye. In fact Russia has been part of many of these wars without a number #WW3? Really? Let me name a few, you’ll recognize them but you’re unlikely to call them precursors to a World War. Iraq, where we were told there were weapons of mass destruction and in fact it was the oil they were after. Syria, Yemen, Libya and even Palestine crossed our headlines for years. We saw refugees begging for their lives and NATO didn’t help, in fact, they were the orchestrators. There are more brown countries, but I’m not going to list them as it is very clear that #BrownLivesDontMatter.
During the last section of his address; Putin sighed through his fury. He said: “We have no other choice, NATO and the Western World want Russia.” The Ukraine and others surround his borders you see and they want to, no they are begging to, join not only NATO but the European Union. He gave an analogy. It was like Russia setting up camp on the borders of Canada. He didn’t blame NATO, to be fair, he said these decision were coming firmly from the USA. We’ve heard that one before, right? #SoManyQuestions.
His speech was both brilliant and frightening. A bit like Malema and the other intelligent politicians we have seen over the years that don’t suit our ideals, but we can’t help but admire their eloquence and for the most part they have a case that is sometimes worthy of attention.
I tunneled through some documentaries to learn more. One in particular, Oliver Stone’s #InterviewsWithPutin, was an eye-opener. As always Stone is incredible but so is #Putin, and it was here that I learnt of his achievements. I was so ignorant that I didn’t’ even know that #Yeltsin was a raging alcoholic and that #Putin had inherited a country that was in major disarray. According to Stone’s documentary, Putin raised the income for each household by ten to a one hundred-fold. He took a defunct country and turned it back into a superpower. We may not like his mannerisms, but he has been an effective leader. Russia (at that point of the interview) did not owe the IMF a single cent. Surely everyone owes the IMF something. Not Russia. I was impressed by the achievements and his forthrightness. Putin also made it clear that he’s no angel. He didn’t hide it. Sometimes I wish our President would say that too, then we could move on and get working. Ok, hold up before I get lynched, I’m not asking for a Putin to rule SA; I’m just saying that it is difficult to look away as the articulate narrative unfolds.
I went back onto the mainstream with a healthy dose of skepticism. Just how I like it. News broke across the world that sanctions and the closure of SWIFT transactions had pushed the Ruble to drop by 40%. I was horrified, why on earth would you take this incredibly performing country and slash its value in half over four days? #SoManyQuestions. Only later in the week did I find a media treasure, and I’m not sharing it, because it might be shut down if it’s too popular. Putin had not only legitimized but had also encouraged his entire nation to move to Bitcoin. #SoManyQuestions
I spoke to friends and colleagues, and they too had #SoManyQuestions where others just said Putin is a madman and that the world would be a better place without him. Things like this are not that simple though are they? Then it happened; the incident that made me furious. The Western world banned RT and all other Russian broadcasters. It was still broadcasting in this BRICS country but yesterday the feed stopped. Why? Why on earth would we bow to censorship in the year 2022? Most will say propaganda, but hang on, we lived with ANN7 for years and we laughed at them but also used them to understand what #Zuma was going to do next. Twitter started putting disclaimers on Russian biased media and my timelines on Zuck’s platforms pushed a Pro-Ukraine narrative so hard that I started questioning it. For example: #Zelensky has now become the darling of war. I started seeing posts that said that he is the sexiest man in the world and all women have a crush on him… is this a TV show? – didn’t you start by calling this #WW3. People are dying and you’ve got a crush? They called it the #ZelenskyEffect and my nausea level grew. He was too beautifully “placed”, and I use that word carefully, mind you. The shots you see of him in military uniform are years old and when he turned up in a T Shirt to address the world my first thought was, only Madiba gets to break those protocols. I let it slide; I was on Ukraine’s side. I had been told in no uncertain terms that the good guys were Ukrainians, a country I knew nothing about except from history books. Putin called the Ukraine regime Nazis, but #Zelensky is Jewish -#SoManyQuestions. In a French TV interview, a Ukrainian woman was calling someone all the names under the sun; she said the man was a charlatan and would sell out to whoever bids the highest, and when the anchor tried to clarify if she was talking about #Putin: no she was referring to her own President. #SoManyQuestions
I switched to good old CNN, who through a tyrant like Trump, we learnt are heavily biased. They were interviewing #HilaryClinton and the question was this: “Has Putin lost his marbles?” I kid you not, this was the question they asked Clinton. Her response was that she’s not sure about his state of mind. Sorry chaps, but did you watch his announcement? You can call him a dictator, a warmonger even, but one thing you cannot question is his state of mind. That brain is as sharp as a pin. Put Biden and Putin in a room and Biden probably wouldn’t be able to point out #Ukraine on the map. That’s not even an exaggeration. At the State of the Union address he sent his strength, good wishes and, wait for it, USA’s backing to IRAN in his speech. #KamelaHarris literally jumped up from her seat to correct him and then the crowd stood up and gave him a standing ovation while their little Ukrainian flags waved above their heads. Now I’m beginning to understand why they banned RT from USA. But still #SoManyQuestions.
Now a story that eased my tension and will definitely cheer you up. This was headline news guys: The South African Post Office can’t deliver to Ukraine and Russia. Are you laughing? Thought you might. They can’t even deliver to their own depots for heaven’s sake, let alone a PO Box in Johannesburg. Stick to yellow ribbons around old oak trees.
My goodness I’ve written a great deal about Russia and Ukraine, perhaps we should see what questions remain here in SA. Good news – #Ramaphosa fired #KhayaSithole, the Minister of Police that left us to hang ourselves during the insurrection. I bet #BhekiCele is happy about that. Finally, some positive movement. The State Capture Report Part III was released. Uncle #Gwede under fire this time, but no mention of the President’s involvement. #Bosasa was the focus and #Agrizzi asked for reprieve. Who can blame him, he’s the only one that got nailed by the #ZondoCommission #SoManyQuestions.
#DavidMabuza asked to be placed permanently at #LutuliHouse and the President said no. Something wicked this way comes. Disgraced #ZweliMkhize put his hat in the ring for the presidential race #SoManyQuestions.
The HSRC revealed Acumen Media’s stats (without permission) on the insurrection and the social media insurgents, I don’t care, because at least they’re not chasing computers anymore. A phone call would have been nice though. #BusiMkhwebane is almost in an orange overall, fingers crossed hey. #AlbertFritz the sexual predator resigned and heads to court.
#PaulKennedy the pedophile died before he could get into court with his chommie. #SoManyQuestions. We haven’t had a racism story in a while so the school story got the press it deserved; they are not alone, though, will we ever deal with #SystemicRacism?
It will cost you more for a tank of fuel than it will to drill for minerals in Ukraine. Hike after hike is crippling our working class as we struggle with transport and food costs are soaring. The #CapeFires are back, and it was Juju’s birthday so they passed a blanket censorship act across SA for media content providers. Ya, if you missed that one, you were meant to.#NoToANYCensorship. #soManyQuestions
The first SA creative agency set up office in Metaverse’s #Ubuntuland. I wonder if they wear their pajamas in meetings in the Metaverse? I hate to drop the final bomb on you, but it’s been that kind of week. #Kimye, Kanye and Kim are finally done. It’s all good as #Ye found himself a copy paste version of Kimmy. #SoManyQuestions
I’ll leave you with these pearls of wisdom; don’t believe all you read; there are three sides to every story and we will never know the truth. It is Friday so be like me, and leave the matrix for the weekend. Go and see something beautiful. While we still have a world to enjoy.
I’m Tonya Khoury and you’ve just scratched the surface with Acumen Media.