June 14, 2007

Redemption Song

I don't like having shit said about me that isn't true. I don't like having been cast with the current broad brush of being some sort of complainer in a world that is all good and positive. I've been here for something like six years with every emotion and type of post you can think of, from really really happy to really really not.

For a while, the nonesense about me and anyone I decide to link to who might be writing something intersting, even if critical, will likely continue. I will trudge on nonetheless, full well knowing that any time I question any thing, that brush stroke is waiting. Whatever. My friends and readers did not contribute to buying me a new laptop (so close--this week or next!!!) so that I would shut up.

That disclaimer having been penned, I give you this, which I find interesting. Period.

In Yesterday's News...

BUSINESS NEWS Call for action against 'dop system'Wed, 13 Jun 2007

A pressure group has threatened to bring a class action against government and the
wine industry over the issue of alcohol abuse among farmworkers.

The Black Association of the Wine and Spirits Industry (Bawsi) called on Wednesday for the establishment of an industry fund to change people's attitude to drinking, and to set up an institution to treat alcoholics.

It said the government and the industry were responsible for creating thousands of alcoholics through the notorious "dop system".

Bawsi President Nosey Pieterse said failure to set up the fund would leave the body with no option but to lodge the class action.


From April 12, 2007:

South Africa's wine country fights alcoholism scourge: Healthcare workers struggle to change binge-drinking culture in a region that has the world's highest recorded levels of fetal alcohol syndrome.

The habit of binge drinking is now ingrained in South African culture at all social levels, researchers say. In the Northern Cape town of De Aar, the rate of FAS babies is 122 per 1,000 live births, according to recent research by the Medical Research Council in Cape Town. By contrast, FAS levels in the US are between 0.1 per 1,000 and 0.67 per 1,000.


We have experienced the upside of wine – seeing the world, going to great restaurants – but we have to publicly acknowledge that there is a downside to our product," says Fran├žois Naude, managing director of Beyerskloof Vineyards in Stellenbosch.

"Underaged children have killed themselves driving after drinking Beyerskloof Pinotage. Husbands have beaten their wives after drinking Beyerskloof Pinotage. And women have hurt their unborn children by drinking Beyerskloof Pinotage," says Mr. Naude. "We felt some social responsibility in regard to our industry to do something about this. We don't need to sweep this under the rug."


Beyerskloof Vineyards, the premier winery using indigenous pinotage grapes, is the first vineyard in South Africa to put labels on their bottles – a common practice elsewhere – warning pregnant women of the dangers of drinking. The founder, Beyers Truter, has also established a foundation, the Fetal Alcoholism and Interrelated Treatment Help Fund (FAITH) to raise funds for research, for information campaigns, and for smaller charities that help communities affected by FAS.

In light of recent conversation and curiosity, I looked up stormhoek and FAITH to see if they contribute to this charity and how much. I didn't find anything. Maybe they have their own charity? Maybe bloggers could donate some of their drinking money to help? Maybe Silicon Valley could set upt its own fund? Maybe someone can enlighten me on what this HIGHLY blogger supported company is doing to help in the aftermath--and what many say is still the current practice on small farms--of the dop system.

On the site itself I saw a post about fair trade and its challenges, but I didn't see anything about what is being done specifically around the practice and legacy of the dop system and the incredible problem of alcoholism in South Africa.

OH and: That does not mean nothing is being done by the wine companies. I am not insinuating that nothing is being done. It means that I'm asking. In my own way. What is being done? I don't have to ask with a pretty please. I don't need your permission to ask. And I don't have to be polite. That is not a rule here. Go read Tim if you want rules.

Comments open. Oh, and South African bloggerspondent Golby, what do you know?


[[update: another article on the south african wine country dop situation here.

"The child will typically have an IQ of 75, stunted growth, facial deformities and be prone to hyperactivity. The simplest schoolwork may be beyond the child." ... AND REGARDING DOP: "It paternalised the relationship between the farmer and his labour because they became dependent on him for booze." Even today, Prof Viljoen estimates the dop system occurs on between three and five per cent of Cape vineyards.]]

[[update 2: In chat, someone popped in to say they think the numbers of the telegraph article are high--and wondered how accurate the fetal alcohol syndrome stats are--especially from a teacher. Is there solid data on the fetal alcohol syndrome rates in South Africa? How is the tie in of the legacy of the dop system measured? I'm only asking questions. Answers are appreciated.]]