Thursday, May 31, 2018

What makes us African?

What does Africa Day mean to me? It means a lot of things but before I delve into the ‘why’, let me first take you through the importance of this day and why I continue to celebrate it.

Each year, on the 25th of May Africans from all walks of life, celebrate Africa Day. The root of this glorious day dates back to 1963, a year when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was instituted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. To many, the creation of OAU characterised a ‘Day of Africa’. Fifty years later, 25 May continues to gain international recognition as Africa Day, a day when, regardless of their geographic location or circumstances, Africans come together to celebrate the idea of African unity.

Africa Day brings to mind the words of Kwame Nkrumah where he says that "I am not an African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me". These words speak directly to who we are as a continent in that we're so diverse. Our diversity shows in our differing beliefs, races, religions, values, colour etc. However, at the root of the differences, at the root of our identity - is the fact that we're African.

It is rather difficult though to speak of this paramount day without making mention of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a very complex concept with many definitions to different people. For me personally, Ubuntu is rooted in the African ways of life. It is the respect and appreciation of all living things; humans, animals, and nature. It’s a traditional value system that puts at its core the community and co-existence. This translates to the known concept which says “a person is a person through others’, each of us exists to co-exist. This is practiced through humility, kindness, respect and selfless acts. It’s about extending love and respect not only to your friends and family but even to strangers. Ubuntu demands respect for human dignity regardless of any outward appearances.

Previous scholars have defined Ubuntu as an African embedded philosophical approach to human life. This philosophy is applicable to all people as human beings. It would then be misleading to speak of Ubuntu and then mistreat others based on race, creed, culture, gender or status. Ubuntu means appreciation of all humans, their values, culture and their entire being.

Ubuntu means humanness. Humanness includes values like brotherhood, sharing, treating and respecting other people as human beings. It is a way of life that contributes positively to sustaining the well-being of people, community, and the society.

For me, personally, every day is Africa Day. I strive and am proud of my African-ness, doing and living the African way. Being African is embedded in me, when celebrating Africa Day I revel in our uniqueness as a continent. Like any other home, we will fight, have squabbles but what is important is that we are who we are, we are warriors, and we are Africans. Africa Day is but a reminder of how far we’ve come and where we are headed.

In the words of Thabo Mbeki, I conclude with, “I am an African. I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains, and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.” 

Friday, February 17, 2017

My first ART experience at the CTAF17

I have a confession to make, I HAVE JUST FALLEN IN LOVE WITH ART.

These are words I never thought will one day come out of my mouth. In the past, I have received plenty of invitations from people to go see an ‘art exhibition’ or go to the ‘museum’ to check out on the latest exhibitions. I have always declined with the common excuse ‘I can’t make it, something came up’, until this invitation came through last month.

I have recently tapped into lifestyle writing, with a key focus in theatre and arts. The nice thing about being on the database is that you get to receive invites to the ‘not so cool’ events. Tell you what? That was my thinking before I set foot at the CTICC on a Thursday evening to what I anticipated to would-have-been the atrocious experience. The event started at 18:00 and went on until 21:00. In the first two hours, my friend and I_ who I had invited as my plus one_ were viewing, critiquing and laughing trying, by all means, to interpret the art without any success. Our comments included ‘aaah this is too bright’, ‘the colours just do not work well together’, ‘oh this looks like it was done by little-bored kids’ and ‘okay this is just too expensive and it’s no art’. Little did I know, that I would stumble upon a piece so beautiful it almost made me shed a tear.

It was exactly at 20:33 when I laid my eyes on Nicola Roos’s No Man's Land V. I stood there with my mouth open for about 10 minutes admiring this fascinating piece of art. A woman on my left, who witnessed this whole episode approached me and told me to close my mouth. I had no idea it was open, I was simply just taken by the amazing work of Nicola. The artist is a 22-year-old final year student at Michaelis School of Fine Arts, it took her two months to complete this amazing art (see pictures below) and it was done in between her studying and exam preparations.

Just look at that, amazing right? 

The Front: Mind blowing... No Man's Land V 

The Back: Still blown away 

I had to take all angles, I couldn't believe it. 

Just look at that detailing. Proper stuff 

Something about her piece touched my heart, the fact that it’s made out of tyres and rubber, the detailing, the attire hit closer to home. In the art, I saw our African black and strong men. I assumed the piece was done by a man or at least if by a woman, a masculine one. The woman who shared in the admiration tapped me on a shoulder to show me who the artist was_ to my shock it was a beautiful and very humble Nicola. I got a chance to ask her about the reason behind her work. When she explained it all made sense, the love was doubled, I felt tingles and gooses all over my body.

No Man's Land V  as explained by Nicola; “is the migrant rather than the colonist, re-territorialising a vast mental no man’s land that stretches from Africa to the Far East instead of participating in a conquest to reclaim an extraneous (home)land. Laden with the weight of his costume of inner tyre tubes – possibly one of the last tangible vestiges of colonial cruelty as it was exemplified on the rubber plantations of Africa – Yasuke destabilises notions of authentic cultural origin and practice that, in the colonial mind, were fixed in place and time. In this turbulent socio-political climate, Yasuke becomes the border between the colonial past and the de-colonial future. His diasporic indigeneity restores a sense of common cause in a transitional time when the need of this country truly is most dire.” 

Here stands the woman whose work stole my heart, Nicola Roos.

When I accepted the invitation to the ART Fair I was simply going because it was FREE. I was like those who attend weddings and funerals for the food I had no idea that today at this very moment I’d be penning down my experience and the newly found love of ART.

Look out for the full interview with Nicola Roos in the coming weeks. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

“The Land of the haves and the have-nots”

Section 9 of the SA constitution says: “Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.” [1]

This is the book that is supposed to guide us, our Bible on democracy and way of life. Drafted in 1996, it was meant to guide our every decision, to maintain equality, our rights and freedom of every human being.  However, in our current state equality and/or freedom is measured in terms of the haves and the have-nots. This was witnessed in 2012 when the police, Lonmin and the government massacred the Marikana miners and managed to get away with it.

In 2012 we witnessed one of our first post-apartheid massacres when 34 miners were killed for asking for a salary increase. For months following that event we were made to believe that the police shot and killed the miners in self-defence. “Police had to employ force to protect themselves from the charging group” [2].

Rehad Desai then exposed the lies to us all when he filmed a documentary titled "Miners Shot Down", which details all the events that took place six days before the massacre. He shows us how the union failed to protect the victims. “Miners Shot Down scratches the surface to reveal there were many more factors that contributed to this deadly encounter.” [3]

In his documentary he used the security tapes, photojournalism, emails that were exchanged during the whole ordeal, photos and interviews with the victims, journalists, politicians, lawyers and also snippets of the court during the Farlam Commission of Inquiry. This documentary portrays how those with no and/ or less voice are victimised by those who hold most power.
 “The film…thoroughly exposes the mishandling of the striking miners by the South African Police Service. [This is done] through the extensive excruciating graphic massacre footage that Desai accessed from the Lonmin security and police archives,” (M&G) [4].  National Mineworkers Union (NUM), a union which exists to serve the grievances of the miners, failed to do their job when miners were brutally murdered in front of them. The South African Police Services claim their reason for opening fire is because the miners were out for blood, yet the movie clearly proves the fallacy of the SAPS statement.

 When the strike commenced on the 10th of August 2012, the security video shows us the miners (without weapons) going to the Lonmin building. Leaders were the ones who went and spoke to the employers but they would not heed their call. Desai’s sequence then moves to the workers, as they decide that they will occupy the mountain because they believe/d that the mountain is nobody’s property. This again is another clear example that indicates that the miners were in no way propagating violence.

 Lonmin decided that they will only listen to the miners if they communicate through NUM. However, one miner explains that: “When they went to the offices of NUM they were shot at, at the time they had not even started explaining the reason why they were there” (sic) [2]. Two people were shot and that’s when they decided that they will rather occupy the mountain while they wait to be attended to.

The company then started deploying security personnel and the police were involved as the matter needed to be dealt with immediately revealed the emails. The emails were between the likes of Cyril Ramaphosa, Nathi Mthetwa and Susan Shabangu - to name just a few.  “I spoke to Susan Shabangu…she agrees. She is going into Cabinet and will brief the President as well and get the minister of police Nathi Mthetwa to act in a more pointed away” (sic) [2]. These emails were followed by a deployment of more police who then murdered 34 mineworkers. This was done in a manner that brought tears to many South Africans.
The police (as the video shows) made sure that they were shooting to kill. One of the leaders “Mambush” was shot 14 times, as if once was not enough?
This event “was the biggest incident of police brutality since the advent of democracy and it revived memories of the brutality suffered under Apartheid security police,” [5]. A phone call changed the negotiations that were going smoothly - suddenly the SAPS were on a killing spree.  This shows me that the whole thing was orchestrated - the police would not listen to the miners, even when AMCU (a union which attempted to represent them) leader Joseph Mathunjwa tried speaking to the miners was told not to go anywhere near them.   Mathunjwa probed this act; “Why should I not go there, they are humans”, he asked, because he saw the ill-treatment they were enduring.

The miners who had pledged their lives into serving the company, at the first chance they tried raising their voices; they were kept quiet by being killed. This is the current society that we live in. Every day we see politicians and the bourgeoisie progressing through the blood and sweat of other people.

All they needed to do was just listen - but because they are above the law, above what the constitution outlines, they got away with murder. Even when the president appointed the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, the miners and their families were not made aware of this. These are the people the Commission was meant to serve but were sidelined.

Police brutality has become a norm. According to the law, a police officer can shoot in self-defence, but the ones in Marikana shot the miners to stop them from striking. The law is so unjust because as it stands now, the people who are facing charges are the same people who lost their colleagues, friends and almost lost their lives. What about the instigators? What happened to the general who was leading the police during the massacre? What about Barnard Mokoena?

The ‘haves’ continue living their lavish lives while the miners, and the victims' widowers are barely surviving.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
Miners Shot Down , 2014, Directed by Rehad Desai, South Africa

Friday, April 8, 2016

Zuma: Villain or Warrior? Part1

The day of deliverance has finally come, much to the anticipation of many ANC members; the constitution has surpassed all powers poised by any of them, i.e. the President and the National Assembly. On Thursday, around 11am, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng of the Constitutional Court made a ruling which will alter SA politics from this point on.

The Nkandla saga brought this country to a standstill especially during the SONA2015 when the proceedings would not go on because the opposition parties (EFF and DA) wanted to find out if the money would eventually be paid back by the president.

When the National Assembly decided to exonerate the President off all the findings made by the Public Protector, I personally lost hope in our democracy. I started questioning our political stability as a country; whether we matter as citizens, or whether ANC’s idea of democracy is thinly veiled dictatorship?  No one ever thought that this day would finally come, when the ConCourt would clarify this major Nkandla issue. Prior to the ruling, Chief Justice explained the powers and functions of the President, the Public Protector and also specified the role played by the National Assembly during the whole Nkandla debacle.  In conclusion, the ruling went against the President.

The ConCourt’s findings have put things into perspective, made us the South Africans, feel like we are part of the decision –making. Of course the money will not be paid in a matter of seconds or by next week but it soothes one’s soul to know that it will eventually get paid.

The President seem to be under a lot of scrutiny lately, first it was the Gupta saga that had everyone saying how they have been offered posts by the Gupta family and now this ConCourt  has emphasised the fact that ‘he was wrong not to abide by Thuli Madonsela’s findings’ and side with the National Assembly. It is unfortunate that this will not only reflect bad on him as a President but the part will also be affected. Many stood by him when during the two above incidents and now they appear as fools in the eyes of the public. This in a sense shows lack of leadership by our government, how many see the wrong in him but they continuously stand by him.

The President has abused his powers to protect this country. When he took the oath of office  in 2009 he ‘agreed’ that he was going to serve according to what the constitution says which suggests that he must “respect and protect” the South African citizens.

Ever since he took office, it seems he has done more harm than good where the constitution is concerned. He once declared that it is ANC before the people, is it not supposed to be the other way around? The ruling made by the Chief Justice has proved that no one is above the law (constitution). Not even the President could manipulate what the law stipulates. 

It's refreshing to know that even those who hold the highest power can be put down, indeed the democracy does exist. I was starting to doubt its very existence; I thought we are derailing to a dictatorship kind of leadership. What a relief, what a day! SA Politics has been adjusted, there’s hope after all. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Technology Takes Over

Last night I ran out of data. For some time it actually felt like my whole life came to a standstill. It felt like it was over. But then cellphone banking saved the day. Thank goodness for such. Makes one wonder what we used to do before modern technology was introduced into our lives. Do we even remember basic survival skills?
Technology has taken over. It’s a damn shame.
There is both good and bad in this takeover. I, however, am more concerned about the bad. Modern technology can either help people in need or become what people need. In the wake of modern technology, one can’t help but fear that we are losing who we are. Yes, that might sound extreme but it is true. Most people have not realised how their lives revolve (almost) completely around technology. From the moment one wakes up, to the last moment before you surrender yourself to sleep. Gone are the days when the first thing you do in the morning is brush your teeth. Nowadays we check our cellphones for notifications, even before your feet hit the ground when getting out of bed.
Throughout the entire day we constantly refer to our cellphones, computers and other various electronic/technologic appliances. Depending almost entirely on technology to do everything for us even the smallest and most basic things such as talking to each other. For example, break-ups are done via calls or text nowadays because they don’t want to be exposed to that uncomfortable situation. Truth is, it is impersonal and disrespectful. We also have those that would say things they would never say to someone’s face on the internet. Like subtweeting and posting updates on Facebook. This is called cyber-bullying and it is not right. It is also an astonishing display of cowardice.
Some feel technology has led up to a number of positive developments. It has improved at an amazing rate even. The negative impact outweighs the good, unfortunately. Technology may not be a disease that kills but it might just be more harmful than helpful. Researchers have brought it to our attention that certain areas/parts of the brain do not develop as well as they should, due to the over-use of technological appliances.
I would like to think that I am noble just for admitting that modern technology has taken me hostage. Lord knows I cannot go a day without my cellphone or laptop. Technology should be more of a backbone and not a brain, this means it should help support us and not think for us. The essence of life has been completely drained by technology.
It is sad and unsettling how dependent we are on technology. Granted, Technology has somewhat improved our lives and made things easier and faster, but we have been sucked in by these developments and taken it a tad bit too far.
Let us go back to basics. Let us learn to appreciate the small things. Be confident in your own abilities and rely less on technology. Now, I am not writing off technology in its entirety. Technology has changed the way we work, live and communicate. I just want us to live beyond the LCD screens.
Talk to each other. Stay active. Live.
By: Anonymous

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Cannot Get Past The Homophobic Culture

Homophobia: A strong and unreasonable dislike of homosexual people, especially towards homosexual men.
In the spirit of “uniting as one people”, I felt it important to put this piece together. Not because I am a bored activist trying to get noticed but because it is something that affects us all. Homophobia is widespread and it is sickening. Time and time again, homosexuality has been frowned upon. Granted, it is not something that one can easily accept, but the homophobic behaviour is not the better option at all. I am not about to carry on, on how homosexuals are people too, no one should have to explain that.
The number of physical assaults, robberies, acts of vandalism and threats against homosexuals are shocking. All because of one’s sexuality? I, personally, have lost a dear friend due to a homophobic attack by a group of hateful heterosexual men. They are still roaming the streets as if they have done the world a favour. It breaks my heart to think of some of the terrible things that are done to homosexuals, all in the name of hate. Name-calling. Gay bashing. Correctional rape. Prejudice. How can humans be so heartless? Discrimination against homosexuals is deplorable. So distasteful. Immoral.
Homophobia is an unnecessary act of hate that hurts people. There is a lack of fairness. Homosexuals are never really safe. Police officers are there to protect us but there are incidents of abuse by them. There are multiple reports of police officers who ridicule homosexuals who attempt to report an incident of abuse, both male and female. The same people, who have sworn to not discriminate, to protect and serve. Countless reports of assaults reported to the police completely ignored. Most homosexuals do not even bother to report abuse due to the behaviour of some officials. There have been plenty of cases about homophobic officials but nothing has been done still.
Many refer to homosexuality as "a complex issue". Some try to appear as though they are not homophobic. You find heterosexuals who go on about how they have nothing against homosexuals, just as long as they keep away from them. You also find heterosexuals who have that one gay friend they use a token, to show the world that they are not homophobic. Same way racists claim not to be racist.
I’m not a racist, I have a black friend
I’m not homophobic because I have a gay friend
Whether you like homosexuals or not it's up to you. Your feelings are exactly that…yours. To constantly abuse someone because of their sexuality, though, is unacceptable.
Stop the homophobic attacks.
          Say #NoToHomophobia

By: Anonymous

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ebola: Time Ticking Bomb

 "Rapid epidemic transmission has been with us a long time, but my guess is that it’s accelerating, with the number of people on the move and intensity of air travel, global trade and the numbers of displaced people we have globally,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, an economist and the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The Ebola-Virus Disease has existed since 1976 but its recent outbreak in West Africa, has had the entire nation in consternation. From 1976 to 2013, fewer than 1,000 people per year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. The Ebola Virus Disease is at the moment Africa’ leading fatal virus, killing thousands of people without any hope of treatment or cure. It now threatens the lives of over 20 million people in metro areas and possibly the whole of Africa if no cure or containment of the virus is found.

The spread of this epidemic has alerted nations to take special precautions of preventing the contraction of this deadly virus.

An infection of EVD requires direct contact with the blood, secretions and organs of an infected person. Such contractions are similar to that of HIV/AIDS. Even though the contractions may be similar, it is not comparable because Ebola has no means of treatment.

According to the World Health Organisation, EVD outbreaks occurs primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests transmitting to people from wild animals, thereafter spreading to the human population through human-human transmission. It originates from a fruit bat of the Pteropodidae family being the natural host.

“The incubation period after contracting this virus is 2-21 days and the early symptoms include fever, malaise, myalgia, diarhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain as usual, followed by progressive multi-system disease with bleeding as a cardinal feature in the majority of patients,” reported DR. T Makhuba.

The EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90% and could take up days, weeks or months to reach the extent of it severity-killing one instantaneously. Scientists are still figuring out exactly how this happens, and they have several promising leads. One is that the virus is making proteins that act as decoys, interfering with the body's ability to fight back.

People travelling to Africa are at higher rate of contracting the deadly disease. Even though people are being tested on planes to ensure that no one is infected, there is no guarantee of contamination. There has been experimental drugs that have been used in no vain. The seriousness of this deadly virus is appalling. It has claimed more than a thousand lives. There is no telling if there ever will be a cure for this virus.

Internal bleeding is one of the major symptoms of Ebola
In South Africa, the health minister has reassured the nation that the health ministry is keeping a close eye on all those coming into the country, especially from the West Africa region and whether they are at risk of having Ebola.  So far two patients thought to have Ebola symptoms have been tested in Johannesburg and they both turned out to be negative

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