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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My Father My Monster Book Review by McIntosh Polela

“I thought that writing my story was going to help me put the past behind me. But it made it all very fresh. It’s almost as if it happened just the previous day. But at the same time, I found that writing my story gave me some release. It heals me having to talk about it so often to so many people since the book came out.” McIntosh Polela

My Father, My Monster is a story of survival, growth and education. It tells a tale of McIntosh Polela’s upbringing, what he went through during his childhood, how he acquired his education which further shaped how he got to where he is today.
McIntosh Polela has one hell of a tale to tell. His journey through life begins in what he remembers as a five year-old’s peaceful existence in a township near Durban, until he and his younger sister are unceremoniously uprooted, chipped off to live with their unknown relatives for a more Hobbesian existence way upcountry.
Life as Polela knows it comes to an abrupt end when he and his sister are handed off to their unknown relatives in a place called Pensivia, in KZN. His life goes from being pampered with gifts, love and comfort to being the object of scorn in a rural area. The adults – and, most specifically, his parents, despite his increasingly urgent, ardent prayers - never reappear to set things right again. They can’t, of course, because his father has killed his mother.
Staying in rural areas he is subjected to not only a different environment but different way of living. His relatives were impoverished, to eat breakfast he first had to milk the cows and get milk. No one was there to guide him and his sister, he had to fend for them both. Their clothes were given to charity and they were left with only rags to wear. He got through high school by working as the school’s carpenter to pay for his fees.
But at crucial moments along Polela’s journey, like a real-life Oliver Twist, Polela gets unexpected help from people he meets along the way – black and white - who take Polela under their respective wings at devastating moments in his life. This is presumably because they see the possibilities of the finished sculpture lurking within Polela’s as yet unshaped clay. At one point, a white couple running a trading store in the rural KwaZulu Natal hinterland offers help to Polela and his sister with a form of adoption. In another moment, a nun warms to him (and he to her) when he helps her find her way and she compliments his English. In this she restores his confidence in his ability to become more than just one more aimless township youth.
While he was at Durban University of Technology (DUT), as things looked at their bleakest for him, individuals reached out with financial help. There were also crucial bureaucratic interventions as he found his way through an education at the Durban Technikon and the London School of Economics. Opportunities arose in the world of commercial television news. When he was exposed to the world of news and commerce he changed his name to McIntosh Polela, in fear that his father who he has come to fear might come and look for him.
Learning the things his mother endured and that of the siblings he never knew existed, he finds comfort from his step mother and the truth about his father, his monster. Having gone through life the way he did, it becomes easy for him to get through life challenges along his way. 
Most recently, Polela has moved on to become spokesman for the Hawks special investigative unit of the police in South Africa. Except for the fact that there really is a McIntosh Polela, given the many turns where so much might have gone wrong but didn't, one might even be willing to believe the whole thing was made up for the sake of narrative sizzle.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"Reality vs Ideal"

We must at all times be able to distinguish between what is real and that which may regard as ideal.

    The Reality: Photo cred, Google Images 

Ideally, all women want their men, who are in their 30s, to be having a house, a nice car and all kinds of things. I don't think there's any woman who doesn't want to be with a financially stable man, and I'm including even those of us who don't aspire to be financed by men. We want our men to be financially stable because we are not ignorant to the fact that financial difficulties have the serious potential to emasculate men. Men who aren't very financially secure tend to have self-esteem issues because they're raised in a heteropatriarchal society that has taught them that it is the duty of a man to be the financial provider in the house.

But realistically speaking, most Black men in their 30s are still starting out, trying to build their lives. It is not because they're lazy, but because of the structural challenges that come with being Black. You'll find that because of the frustrations of entering into institutions of higher learning, many young Blacks start school in their early 20s. So you find that a man completed his degree at 25 and couldn't find a job immediately, largely because as statistics have proven, a Black graduate is less likely to find a job than a White graduate. This explains why we have more than half a million unemployed graduates in our country, an overwhelming majority of them being Black. So this young man stays unemployed and then only a year later, at 27, gets an internship. If he's lucky, he starts working at 28. Immediately, he must start repaying his NSFAS loan. He then has to stretch his meagre salary to ensure that he takes his siblings to school, fixes his parents' home, try to provide for his woman and also do things for himself.

So when we say by 30, a man must be driving a nice car and having a house, what exactly are we saying, in light of the fact that our Black men are drowning in the economic bondage that is suffocating our country?

              Ideal: Photo cred, Google images 

Black men have it hard in this country. We have a racist system that subjects them to the worst forms of exploitation. As if that is not bad enough, we as their women also want to assist that system to kill the little dignity they have left, by making unrealistic demands on them, wanting them to buy houses on top of mountains and so on.

People speak confidently when they say: "He is a man, he must provide. African men are supposed to be providers". We forget that this was easier centuries ago when the Black man had land and resources and could look after his woman while she raises children. But this is colonised, Africa. We must stop pretending that colonialism didn't happen because it did. And more than 350 years later, we are still feeling the effects. In this Africa, the Black man has no land and no economy in his hands. He has been stripped naked by imperial devastation, his manhood trampled on like it is trash. I'm not saying our men must be lazy and do nothing. I'm not saying our men must be complacent. I'm saying we have a duty as Black women to make life more bearable for them because most of them are trying very very hard to retain their dispossessed humanness. It's not easy. They are swimming against the tide, but they are trying so hard. Let's not help this racist system's attempts to reduce the Black man to nothing. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fanie Fourie’s Lobola

Main Characters: Eduan Van Jaarsveldt, Zethu Dlomo, Jerry Mofokeng, Marga Van Rooy, Chris Chameleon and Lilian Dube

A very well written play by Lance Samuels, Kweku Mandela and Jannie Eser which clearly encapsulates the cultural differences in intercultural marriage. The movie is set in two different places; Pretoria and Brazzaville. Dinky Magubane (Zethu Dlomo) is a university graduate, she stays in Brazzaville with her father and works at a casino. Apart from her daily job, Dinky aspires to be a business woman. Fanie Fourie (Eduan Van Jaarsveldt) is a lonely “panel artist” who stays in his parent's garage. He has no job, all he has are his cars. These two; Fanie and Dinky are two different people yet their personality and the love makes them inseparable. The storyline of “Fanie Fourie’s Lobola” tells a story of their undying love which was built on a dare and ended in marriage.
After having tried to bake a cake for her aunt, Dinky Magubane decides to go and buy one. In the cake shop, she meets Fanie who is also in the store with friends and his brother, they have come to the cake shop to fetch his Brother’s (Sarie Fourie) wedding cake. After being dared by his friends that he wouldn’t find a suitable date for the wedding, Fanie asks Dinky to save him from embarrassment by giving him her phone number. However, Dinky decides they do each other favours “I’ll go as your date to your brother’s wedding if you promise to come and have lunch with me and my dad in Brazzaville”. After having submitted to each other’s dare. The two fall in love.

The love that which developed between Fanie and Dinky is not supported by either of the families and also the community is not to terms with their communion. Both the white and the black community sees their love as a taboo. Dinky’s father is in favour of the prince, who woos his daughter, Dinky by showering her with all sorts of gifts. Mandla and Dinky dated when they were back in high school but because Mandla is a womaniser, Dinky felt she deserved better. Her Aunt, father and the community at large prefer the prince (Mandla) for obvious reasons; one being that he is rich and which means he will be able to pay the desired lobola, Dinky wouldn't have to suffer and the fact that Mandla is aware of the customs and traditions of the Zulu culture.

Dinky being the well-educated and stubborn girl that she is sees nothing wrong in being with Fanie. She makes it known to her father that her choice lies with Fanie, despite all the traditions and the fact that Fanie is poor. Mandla gives a blank cheque to Dinky’s father to write the amount that he would require for lobola, but Dinky rejects him, telling her father she’s not in love with Mandla. After the rejection, Mandla turns bitter, he does everything to try and win Dinky over. However, Dinky is not charmed by any of the gifts Mandla is showering her with. She loves the simple Fanie whose love is plain and simple love with no hindrances.

When Dinky was giving up on love because of the cultural differences and the hatred among the two families, Fanie decides that the only way to save their love is to succumb to the Zulu culture and pay lobola. With the lobola negotiations, there are many problems resulting from both families and the intermediary Mandla who wants to make sure everything goes wrong. The two love birds are then separated by troubles patterning lobola negotiations. But, love is a very strong type of drug, where there is love, there is a way. The two find their way back to each other’s arms through Dinky’s business in which she sells the cars made by Fanie. Their parents finally come to terms with Dinky’s and Fanie’s unconditional love thus allowing them to get married.  Despite their conflict, trials and tribulations Dinky and Fanie underwent, in the end, they managed to bring the two families together and also to gain their acceptance.

Monday, June 9, 2014

'Springs Monster' - was the media fair?

Journalists' main goal is to ensure the right of citizens to truthful and important information, which allows them to form an adequate impression about social processes, their essence and importance, about the situation in the modern world. The journalist bears responsibility before the society in general, before the law and before the professional association. The social responsibility of the journalist requires that he acts in accordance with his personal ethical standards. However, there comes a time when the journalistic ethics are questioned, it can be a story published, a comment made or a simple status on social networks. Ethics can be defined as moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity.
Recently a story broke about the tragedy which happened in Springs where it was alleged that a 35year old held his family hostage for years. Though the neighbours knew, no one was able to come forward and report what was happening in the house, until an 11-year-old boy ran away. The media covered a story in different angles, some speculated the mother did not want to tell the world of what was happening because she feared that without her husband they will be destitute. Social media also broke the story giving their views on what ‘might’ have occurred in the house. The name that was thus given to the ‘alleged’ man was “Monster” and his home referred to as the “house of horror”.
By so doing, the media violated the rights of the accused, they painted him as a ‘monster’ and referred to his house as ‘a house of horror’ whilst having no idea or concrete evidence about the living conditions of his home. The South African law state that the accused is not guilty until proven guilty. What the nation did was to judge a 35-year-old before he was even sent to court. They drew their own conclusions on the matter thus tempering with the case. For example, the case of Oscar Pistorius; when the story of Reeva Steenkamp being shot broke, everyone had their own assumptions the media houses even had sketches of what might have happened before Oscar was even tried. That caused confusion, not only to the citizens but the judge was also said to have been biased and misled by what he had seen or heard from the news.
City Press published a story on the 3rd of June, titled “Neighbours of ‘Springs monster’ too scared to ‘interfere”. The story lacks evidence, it shows that there was not enough time to gather all the evidence. The only person whom the City Press relied on for information was a tenant who rented a back room of the accused. The information which they got from their source couldn't be verified by anyone. The wife didn't say anything, the police also had no comment and so neither nor did the social workers. In this case, then there is no telling whether the information brought forward was accurate enough. The neighbours didn't want to interfere, so the title suggests, they might have had an idea of what was going on in the house but since they did not even comment that makes one really doubt the credibility of the only source the City Press could find.
A 35-year-old was scrutinised, given names and might have lost any sort of respect he had. The accused was defamed. In media law defamation refers to “any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person. [It] may be a criminal or civil charge. It encompasses both written statements, known as libel, and spoken statements, called slander.” If not found guilty I believe that the accused has every right to sue the media, the media labelled him as a monster (someone who is a large, ugly, and frightening imaginary creature). Should he be not found guilty he still has to go back and right all the wrongs made by the media?
Everything was blown out of proportion by the social media. Citizen journalists had all the pictures and facts that they published before the “alleged” had even appeared in court. Some of the tweets read “#springsmonster. A 36-year-old man arrested for keeping a wife, 5 children locked in Springs upmarket house for years torturing and raping them”, “The Beeld newspaper must be congratulated for breaking that story in this monster in Springs who's been molesting his kids.” There is no way that one can be sure about what has happened in the house of horror because the people who experienced the living conditions first hand, were not able to comment. Whatever that is said by Dixon may and may not be true. Sometimes what you see is not what you get.