Tagged: BRICS

BRICS that don’t build.

Durban (my home base) is a city with a history of protest and revolutionary thinking. The man who founded the ANC (the majority party in our current self-styled government of liberation) was from here, and successive leaders of that original organization of unity have been based here. The Natal Indian Congress that coordinated and conducted effective passive resistance stay aways and go slows and such civil disobedience, was based here. Gandhi began to develop his legendary ideas of ‘satyagraha’ by acting together with the civil society movement of Durban. Our International Convention Centre has welcomed on many occasions variously foreign leaders, diplomats and captains of big business, and on as many occasions has had to build barriers against communities and social movement members who gather outside that cathedral of capital to let their voices be heard.

It’s on this old battleground for civil and human rights that a fresh fight is forming.

Brics from below

This fight will be one that unites many communities into a single entity, as we collectively acknowledge a clearly defined ‘enemy’, recognizable to us all in it’s various shifting forms, from government and capital collusion, to brutal policies of forced removal, to environmental destruction. Together with this oncoming wave of fresh marginalization of our civil society voices, and it’s building brutalization of the poor and disenfranchised, the way is most certainly being paved for the type of high-level corporate corruption we have grown so used to in our young democracy.

“Capital B to the R to the I – C – S / 5 letters suggest who writes the cheques / but never checks the Rights / so the peoples lives are economically blocked by some Capital lies…”

B R I C S stands for Brazil – Russia – India – China – South Africa. These five countries are defined in money talk as “emerging economies”, which basically means that up till now they haven’t been allowed to eat at the big table with the traditional leaders of the global economy. These “emerging economies” are seen to pack significant weight in import and export capital and what opportunities they offer others in terms of infrastructure development both at home and abroad. Now, with this growing power, they are more interested in working with each other (economically speaking) then with the ‘old guard’ (the USA, the UK, the EU) who have been scrambling to maintain any credibility/superiority through the last few years of managing a financial crisis that might have been avoided.

That’s what BRICS is: a group of new heavy-weight economies that want to start doing business with each other to create a collective fresh big swinging dick on the Global playground.

“Maite tells us not to criticize / coz they’re bringing us a BOOM like ‘industrialize’ / but we don’t want more construction, corruption and drama / eyes still wet from the tears of Marikana…”

Economists, politicians, government planners, and other such people whose careers are based solely on legitimizing this sort of international gamesmanship, will call up all kinds of verifiable figures and concrete facts together with clear government sanctioned policies of implementation that will lend massive credence to the notion that this is collective is going to “benefit” all of the countries involved.

Here’s where it get’s tricky, sticky and straight-up bull-shitty: isn’t a country largely defined, not by it’s global economic standing, but by the well-fare, the wellbeing, of it’s people? Can a country even be said to exist, if it’s natural resources (again, NOT it’s economic resources), it’s actual natural beauties and environs, no longer exist? Can there be any “benefit” in asking a people who’s lives, even in the last twenty years of “freedom”, are largely defined by continued hardship and a struggle to access even the most basic of human rights (shelter and dignity), to sacrifice on behalf of an unseen entity like ‘the economy’?

If the answer to the first question is yes, and to the second two is no, then how is it that the South African government, thought its parastatal TRANSNET, in an apparent attempt to punch above it’s economic weight and justify its standing in this arrogant acronym (BRICS), would sanction the expansion of the Port of Durban in an effort to make this city the “Gateway to Africa”, if that means the displacement (forced removal) of 6000 South African citizens, the destruction of a series of natural African eco-systems, an increase in the already rampant and chart topping pollution of the Durban South Basin, and the undermining of a local manufacturing market that employs thousands?

“It’s just another power BLOC / fokkol change / 99% playing in a 1% game…”

When the Occupy movement grabbed the worlds attention in 2011, when they moved to shut-down Wall Street in New York, when they camped outside St Pauls in London, inspiring multiple synonymous movements around the world to take up fresh arms, the common paradigm was of a world where 99% of the population worked and in many cases slaved for the benefit of the 1% few.

BRICS has set itself up as a clear case of the operation of the mechanics of maintaining this absurdly weighted percentage paradigm. While the biggest ‘players’ in this game, the leaders and ministers of these countries who are in control of ‘international cooperation’ (foreign policy) together with their private capital counterparts, continue to meet to discuss the easiest ways to ensure the quickest and most effortless profits, the people on the ground that will be directly affected by any moves made “on their behalf” are consistently excluded from this policy making process.

Unless of course they decide to find alternative routes to reminding those at the top that the foundations tend to crack, that the base starts to get shaky, when the people decide that movement is necessary.

Once again, Durban plays host to just such a social civil society movement: The South Durban Environmental Alliance . This movement, that is built from below by real “human bricks”, while operating in protest to the Port of Durban expansion, is in effect operating in protest of ANY type of traditional top-down political play that seeks to make pawns of a people while the Kings breathe easy.

This meeting took place today. Don’t worry if you missed it. It won’t be the last, not by a long shot.

BRICS from below Durban action

[Follow @BricsFromBelow to link with a growing movement of eThekwini communities mobilizing against this juggernaut]


New music: “BRICS from below”


[verse one]

Capital B to the R to the I C S / 5 letters suggest who writes the cheques / but never checks the rights / so the people’s lives are economically “bloc”ed by these Capital lies / Time to learn about these letters that we capitalize / Keep the people lowest level while they rapidly rise / Can’t control the police / the education ship sank / so how you think you’re gonna run a BRICS bank? / The people we all know where the capital lies / Daveyton / Ficksburg / where the blood still dries / Maite tells us not to criticize coz they’re bringing us a “boom” like industrialize / but we don’t want more construction / corruption and drama / eyes still wet from the tears of Marikana / ‘s just another power bloc / fokkol change / 99% playing in a 1% game


If they are guilty they must pay…If they are guilty…If they are guilty they must pay…they…must…pay!

Building blocks and blocs that don’t build

Bricks that build and BRICS that never will

Building blocks and blocs that don’t build

Bricks that build and BRICS that never will

[second verse]

They wanna caste new bricks while bricks are being cast / flown from the fists of the lowest class / They wanna fly the flag / should be flown at half mast / remembering the people that have passed / The freedom can’t last can’t breath we gasp in suffocation / choke in the smoke from the self-immolation / You can bet in Tibet the people wonder how / the Dalai Lama we reject but welcome Hu Jintao / Democratic means I’m freely disputing / the faith that we put in Putin / Freedom of Speech what? / I don’t buy it / I’ve got two words for you Vladimir: Pussy Riot / We don’t need anymore / that’s enough right there to shoot a flare in the air for the people everywhere to prepare / for a fresh attack / Whip crack on the bare back / See the boss building up the share stack / with blue chips to fit whips with blue lights to cruise with / sitting in position / top deck of the cruise ship / Who built the ICC ?/ Who gets to use it? / That’s a big ass ego / let me bruise it: BRAZIL – RUSSIA – INDIA – CHINA / Africa’s open like bullet holes in miners / but hold up! Something you should know: / You dropping BRICS from above?/ We’re throwing BRICS from below…


If they are guilty they must pay…If they are guilty…If they are guilty they must pay…they…must…pay!

Building blocks and blocs that don’t build

Bricks that build and BRICS that never will

Building blocks and blocs that don’t build

Bricks that build and BRICS that never will


It goes 1 2 3 / kick a rhyme to keep the people free / they’re bringing BRICS but they’re not building / makes you wonder where the money go / where oh?

It goes 1 2 3 / peace freedom equality / that’s the justice policy / When we building from below we grow

BRICS that don’t build


BRICS is coming to town this week, Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th, the ICC in Durban once again playing host to some of the heavyweights of our little planet and its septic politics.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and of course South Africa. (Wait, shouldn’t that spell BRICSA? Aaaah, but that wouldn’t be a clever little acronym that speaks of building, of development, of construction. Funny time to be speaking about construction in SA given the latest news about just how polluted and corrupt that industry is in its current mechanics).

But, whatever, they are coming, we are welcoming them, we are sitting down with them to decide on some mutual agreements around “partnership for development, integration and industrialization”. This is the theme being touted by the South African hosts, the department of International Relations and Co-operation, headed by her “Maite”ness, she of COP17 infamy.

Apparently, according to the minister and her crew, it would be unpatriotic to criticize SAs inclusion in the BRICS bloc. I take that kind of thing personally, so I decided to figure out my response and put it into some lyrics.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m trying to decide just how worthy this whole thing is of my attention and ire. I have been reading and researching and trying to get to grips with the whole concept of BRICS so I can understand why there is such a solid and concentrated resistance to its existence and our participation therein as the only African country to be involved at any serious level i.e. we got to have our name in the acronym.

Lets start there: BRICS. Bricks should be used to build right? To build what exactly? Infrastructure (the means of extracting wealth & resources), development (producing the right logistical components to facilitate resource extraction) and growth (monetary profit garnered from increased resource extraction, as in GDP). These are primarily economic concerns it would appear, with no mention of social infrastructure (schools, clinics, houses) or development (education) or growth (trust in our civil services and political leadership). These are issues that seem to be concerned solely with our expansion as an economic power, not as a leader in human rights advocacy or democratic advancement.

Once again the red carpets are being rolled out, the blue lights are being dusted off, the sushi is being selected, all for the sake of increasing our capital carrying capabilities and concerns.

BRICS is described as a new Power Bloc. What power exactly? Political muscle against the failing age old Western dominated corporate and political paradigms of our times; economic and capital muscle to make sure that we get to carve a larger section of the pie that governments bake in the big buisness ovens; the power to decide who gets to play in the African sandbox and who has to stand in the naughty corner; the power to control the living standards and self-determination of the people who melt into the concrete mix that builds these “blocs”. Basically, the power to determine who stays in power and how that power is powered.

Needless to say, this doesn’t really include or make space for the “powerless”, the large percentage of people who will ultimately have to serve the ends of that smallest percentage, that ridiculous figure that represents the wealthiest elite few, that 1 percent figure that we are walling off the ICC for, that we shut down streets for, that we protect and pamper while they sweat over the details of their dominance.

I’m ranting here. Plenty of people have broken it down with a lot more clarity and control. Check these links

[ BRICS and the New World Order: a beginners guide



or better yet, get on board with the BRICS from below program that is currently running at the Durban Diakonia Center (http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/default.asp?2,68,3,2853) the alternative anti-BRICS conference that has created a space for real democratic resistance to this situation as it stands.

It’s best I stick to what I know and say it with poetry, or in this case, poetry’s rough little cousin, Rap music.  I will be launching a track into the digital download space tomorrow that speaks about my understanding of BRICS.

Something like “Whachuknow about building blocks and BLOCS that don’t build? Whachuknow about bricks that build and BRICS that never will?”

They’re dropping BRICS from above, we’re throwing bricks from below.