Could Angus be the biggest con-artist in SA?

A few days ago I witnessed (via the interwebs) what was possibly the largest gathering of people ever in South Africa. Although exact numbers haven’t been released yet, the claim is that close to one-million people got together on a farm outside of Bloemfontein. To pray. And to listen to Uncle Angus, as he is fondly called by his followers.

Uncle Angus has interested me for some time already. My childhood, growing up in a religious cult, has made me very sensitive, to the point of being allergic, to con-artists of the religious type. These con-artists (short for confidence artists) are, in my opinion, more dangerous than other types. Why? Because with other types the penny drops for most of their victims at some point. But not so with this religious type. Their specific brand of conniving targets a much deeper sense of yearning that many people seem to have. It is a sense of fear and uncertainty, and, sometimes, hopelessness. And because these feelings don’t go away so easily, it creates a perfect target for conniving confidence artists.

They sell hope. They present their product, their solution, their hope, in an easy-to-understand package. The benefit of their product is purely psychological, eliminating the need for a money-back guarantee. The promises in their marketing campaign only kick in once you are dead. They entice you to keep using their product until the day you die because, lo-and-behold, great riches are waiting beyond the grave. I can’t think of a more perfect business model. Clients for life, literally. (more…)

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Losing to gain

The reputation of Wits Explorers has taken a fair amount of abuse over the years because of deaths on two of its expeditions. In all honestly, it must be said that considering the nature of the expeditions they attempted, and the time at which they were attempted, the explorers did very well indeed. It must also be said that we, paddlers collective, are sometimes just plain lucky that things don’t turn out worse on some of the trips that we undertake.


“I dedicate this to Duncan and Kirsty who taught me more about rivers than did anyone else in my career.” – HduP

LEAVING Senator House on Wits Campus, I bumped into a Wits Explorers poster advertising a Kunene River expedition during my summer holidays. I immediately decided that I was going. Rather arrogantly, without any thought that the expedition might not want me. (more…)

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