Today I visited for the first time the almost-world-famous library Oodi. Reason for my visit was a book launch. I was curious to hear how a Finnish author ended up writing about South African black middle class living in security estates and belonging to what she called start-up churches.

So here I am, making a short visit to my South African past. There is very little to write about what happens in Finland. As nothing really happens. The biggest choices to be made are “yoga or stretching” and “chicken or fish”. Days follow the same easy routine: morning coffee – work – yoga or stretching (again, can’t run) – supper – sleep – repeat.


The other day when I once again was feeling down because of “all the shit that happens in this world and we just let it happen and I’m not just talking about the first world problems such as climate change” I started missing South Africa. Not hiking, not people, not wine, not not walking in half a meter snow but South Africa.

Because in South Africa I sort of knew, or at least I sort of thought I knew, who the bad guys were. If only there would be a different government. Yes, China’s colonising investments were suspicious and that Putin guy with all the nuclear most certainly wasn’t a goodie, but in general everything came back if only not ANC, which at that time was dressed up as not Zuma. What happened in other countries was, well, just too far. Cause of all-things-wrong was simple: whites blamed the ANC, blacks blamed whites (and apartheid and occasionally certain divisions of the ANC), all the others just minded their own business. And then everybody had a nice braai and a good laugh.

Whereas here in Finland I feel shitty about all the really complicated shit happening around the world. What’s wrong with us choosing idiots as leaders? Why is it cool to be greedy? Why are we such hypocrites with human rights, women’s rights and democracy – ready to sacrifice all of them for economic growth or individual gain without a blink of an eye.

And I’m no less shitty. I (too often) meet people who are so greedy and full of themselves and only capable of talking of money and cars and boats and you name it, yet I just smile and laugh and chat with them. Because that’s the way business works. Nor am I ready to give up my money or lifestyle or anything even though I think even the idea how the rich just get richer and the poor just stay poor is utterly and completely wrong.

So all the shit that happens around the world makes my head ache. Literally. Not once did I have a headache, other than a hangover whenever someone from Finland was visiting, in South Africa. Here a headache belongs to my days more often than not. As complicated as the shit in South Africa was, it was in a way understandable. Things happened for a reason. Not always for a good reason, but for an understandable reason. Whereas here one has to worry about AI and Facebook and Google and all the bad guys stealing our thoughts, and having Putins and Trumps and Erdogans, and the next World Cup happening in stadiums built by slaves, and elections becoming battlegrounds for PR agencies and algorithms where getting elected has long ago replaced authentic bold visions.


Life in Finland most definitely is easy and privileged. It seems by now all three of us have nicely settled back.

Talky loves maths and history and science in school. He even has accepted that he has to learn Finnish as mother tongue. In a way he has become a bit boring. But in this case, all things considered, boring is good. I guess we Finns like it boring. Boring is safe. It’s predictable and stable.

I’m happy – as a matter of fact very happy – with my work, although I do find the being busy part quite funny. Always busy, always running from A to B, always not getting my todos done faster than new ones keep coming in. Yet being busy seems to be good for a habitual overanalyser.

Sporty works and does sports. And gets to visit Cape Town more often than me. Sometimes I think he misses Cape Town more than me. Of the two of us I’ve always excelled at letting go.

Photo: Axios. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook, and later wrote an article related to it.


6 thoughts on “COMPLEX AND SIMPLEX

  1. This struck a chord! Although unfortunately my head aches most days here in Khartoum… As in CT the problems here are more obvious and straightforward in a way, but I can’t seem to focus on just what is going on locally – not even right now when recent developments have brought all sorts of things even more to the fore. Instead in addition to mulling over what is happening here I also carry around a lot of guilt and worries about the world as a whole and my very privileged position in it.

    1. That guilt is probably something certain type of people (sensitive overthinkers?) will carry the rest of their lives after living in less privileged parts of this planet. I do remember feeling rather shitty in Cape Town, too, especially after that big fire. But I guess there I somehow outsourced my role in the guilt game, using my local/outsider ambivalence as I pleased. The factors there I blamed for most shit was poor education and growing up in isolation. Neither is available here in the privileged world. Hang in there! Your blog is a healthy reminder to me of what’s many things important.

  2. Kiitos – anteeksi että käytän suomea – hyvä ja kiintoisa teksti jälleen kerran. Kiitos kirjavinkistä! Tuo tekisi mieli lukea. Käyn Etelä-Afrikassa niin usein, että se kaikessa omituisuudessaan kiinnostaa tavattomasti. Tuntuu, että en ymmärrä sitä läheskään tarpeeksi, enkä tietysti voikaan ymmärtää, mutta tekisi mieli tietää lisää, ymmärtää paremmin. Mitä pidit kirjasta?

    1. Tiedätkö jännä juttu, että mun on jollain tavalla helpompi ymmärtää Etelä-Afrikkaa täältä kaukaa, kuin sielä paikan päällä. Mikä ei tietenkään tarkoita, että maata täysin tai edes hyvin ymmärrän, päinvastoin. Kirjaa voin suositella, vaikkakin kirjoittajan ja hänen silmälasinsa jollain tavalla tuntevana haluaisin kuulla myös “toisen puolen tarinaa”. Itselle uusi näkökulma oli kirkkojen rooli mm. bisneksessä. Että voiko ainakin osa maan epäloogisuudesta ja epärationaalisuudesta (omasta vinkkelistä katsottuna) johtua siitä, että porukka elää odotellen merkkejä “korkeammalta taholta”?

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