ED’S LET­TER

go! - - Contents - PIERRE STEYN PSteyn@Me­dia24.com

Ilike to think that the peo­ple who work at go! and the peo­ple who read the mag­a­zine see their glasses as half full. No, three-quar­ters full. We don’t al­ways think of life as a song, but we’d rather hum one un­der our breath than mum­ble about all the prob­lems in the world. Some­times I get asked about the go! phi­los­o­phy. Well, we’re unashamedly pro-South Africa and pro-Africa. Our coun­try and the broader con­ti­nent is packed with won­der­ful places and peo­ple. We’re not obliv­i­ous to the neg­a­tives, but we pur­posely choose to cel­e­brate the pos­i­tives. There was a time when I looked at ev­ery­thing through first-world spec­ta­cles, but I found it help­ful to take them off. I was stand­ing on a beach near In­has­soro in Mozam­bique, watch­ing lo­cal fish­er­men hoist a drag­net ashore. Hun­dreds of fish wrig­gled around on the beach. But there was more than just fish in the net: A boy snatched a sea­horse and played with it like a rub­ber toy, twist­ing its head and tail in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. Starfish lay to one side and small sand sharks were gasp­ing for breath. This scene, and the waste­ful­ness of hu­man be­ings it rep­re­sented, both­ered me greatly. That night around the camp­fire our con­ver­sa­tion be­came philo­soph­i­cal. Why is it that we re­gard one species as “cute” and worth sav­ing, and another as food? Do we have the right to in­ter­fere in another cul­ture’s way of do­ing things? The sub­sis­tence fish­er­men put their drag­nets out to sea ev­ery day for nine months of the year. “No won­der there’s noth­ing left in the ocean!” one of us ex­claimed. Our guide, who un­til then had been lis­ten­ing in si­lence, fi­nally spoke: “Do you know that a sin­gle com­mer­cial su­per trawler catches more fish and other sea crea­tures in one night than all the fish­er­men of In­has­soro catch in a year?” The neatly pack­aged fish we buy at our su­per­mar­ket is, of course, caught by those su­per trawlers. And it doesn’t bother us be­cause we don’t see it hap­pen­ing. Con­text and per­spec­tive are im­por­tant. That be­ing said, I do strug­gle with con­text and per­spec­tive when it comes to rhino poach­ing. The cru­elty of this greed-in­spired slaugh­ter is de­picted in a por­trait on page 22, by South African pho­to­jour­nal­ist Brent Stir­ton. It’s one of a se­ries of rhino-poach­ing pho­tos that won Brent the ti­tle of Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year. It’s a shock­ing pho­to­graph – a mur­der scene that stops you in your tracks. It’s not Africa at its best, but we de­cided it was im­por­tant enough to pub­lish. If you don’t see it, it doesn’t bother you. And that’s just un­for­giv­able.

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