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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Max M Ali MD
Date : 08-11-2004
Title : South Africa: Why Not?
Article: Dancing Tid-bits Issue #193, Thursday, August 5, 2004.

Today's Topic: South Africa: Why Not?

I have just returned from a study-vacation trip to South Africa and my mind is blank along with the jet lag. So as we sat for a drink last night, I shared this with Petra and she suggested why not write about the trip and I said, why not?

Why was I in SA: Study the medical aspects of SA life specially that the HIV in its epidemic form is rampant and the world community is focussed on how to cope with this plague of the modern times. We will not talk too much about medicine but I want to share some thoughts on the vacation side of the trip.

South Africa has produced some wonderful personalities. I would say Gandhi (Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi) is perhaps best known world figure who is an inspiration not only to Indians but also to Nelson Mandela who touts the "reconciliation and peaceful resistance" in his victory over Apartheid. As we were landing in Durban, I could not help recall my 10th grade text book story of how Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off from his 1st class compartment on to the railway platform on his way to Pretoria. He had just earned his law degree from England and was visiting SA to help settle a dispute as a barrister (lawyer) between two Indian businessmen. He pleaded and said "No, Sir, I am a member of the British Empire, you cannot do this" and that is when he was kicked off the train by a SA ticket inspector with remarks "you coloured Indian! get off this train or else...". He spent a cold night in his pin striped suit on the railway station and that was the start of his peaceful and non violent campaign against the British rule in India which finally lead to free India in 1947. Perhaps the same stance by Nelson Mandela leading to end of Apartheid rule of SA in 1994.

Let's talk dancing. You cannot learn to do Rumba Walks until you see a Giraffe strolling down in Kruger Park. With her long neck, body moving steadily forward, bent leg with straightening out of knee as weight is taken on to the stepping foot. This the most beautiful site and you cannot help recalling a Blackpool lecture where Gaynor Fairweather demonstrates this so beautifully. There must be something inherent in SA Dancers that they get this in their blood from these animals and the best modern example is Bryan Watson and Carmen the world champions of Latin (I hope I am quoting it right). They may represent another country but I believe they are from SA. Besides them, of course how one will not quote Bill Irvine and his heaven bound wife Bobby Irvine, the Lions of Ballroom in the Dancing Jungle.

So much for a lazy thursday afternoon, With Best Wishes, Max