Guest blog by Frederick Douglass
Crimes are being committed in your names!
Human beings – innocent women and children – are being killed by bombs and drones and guns purchased by your taxes. Is this the way to live?
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine it was you. How would you feel? Your governments visit excruciating pain on other human beings across the world.
From Iraq to Afghanistan, from Pakistan to Libya, from the Middle East to Latin America, from Africa to the Far East, they have perished and are perishing as I write this note and as you read it.
Their only crime is that they are weak, most of them are people of colour, and their countries have resources which your politicians and business people do not want to pay a fair price for. Is this the way to live?
Foul has become fair and vice versa.
The world will not be made a better place by guns and bombs that maim and kill from above the skies and far away military facilities. This will only breed hatred and suspicion and more hatred. Like a poisoned chalice, this will destroy the world – you and us together.
The world will be made a better place by humane policies and acts of solidarity that recognise the humanity of others. What is good for you is good for us too.
The children of Africa deserve three meals a day like your children. They deserve a just world in which they can exercise their own destiny without interference from your governments.
The children of Africa are human beings. They too possess the intelligence to know what is good for them and what is not.
They do not need condescending lectures from the West, lectures that remind them of wounds of yesteryear and which provoke new wounds.
Africa needs development, not bombs, not one more bomb.
Africa needs solidarity in its struggles for democracy, good governance and economic development efforts. No one is born imbued with the special gift to know what is best for another. None but Africans can resolve their problems.
It is time for you to demand a stop to all this rampant theft of other people’s resources by your governments who act in your names. It is time to demand an end to this inhumanity.
Demand a new and transformed United Nations!
Demand an end to militarism!
Demand an end to an unfair and unequal global economic order!
By: Mulaifa T. Sigubu
For years Africa has been a continent vastly exploited by Europeans. European countries participated in what was called the scramble for Africa which was basically a process of invasion, occupation, colonisation and annexation of African territory. With Africa being such a rich continent, why are millions of people still today?
In the meantime, the world is still mourning the death of former Apple Inc CEO, Steve Jobs. Jobs is hailed as being one of the leading men who literally transformed technology.
Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook were flooded with messages from millions of his supporters. Some even went to the extent of changing their profile picture and uploading Jobs pictures.
As sentimental as this might be, people seem not to care about the millions of people dying in Africa. They operate as if the knew jobs personally. As many as 750,000 people could die as Somalia’s drought worsens in the coming months, the UN has warned, declaring a famine in a new area. According to the UN, Some 12 million people across the region are in desperate need of food aid.
In total, 4 million people are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of death in the coming months in the absence of adequate response,” the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) says.
How is it possible that the world could stand still at one person’s demise? And yet continue as if nothing is wrong at the downfall of millions? Is it just me or this world is seriously messed up?
Dr. Mzimkhulu Nyeka, a South African born Psychologist based in the United Stated said “It is inexplicable that one death can cause the world to come to a standstill and a million deaths are regarded as a mere formality, or is it? On the day Steve Jobs died, there was this sudden empathy, pain and sorrow expressed all over the world.
Nothing against that, but on that very day thousands of poor children died of malnutrition, in wars, child abuse and domestic violence. I mean in villages that are enclaves of poverty, people behaved like they had lost a loved one. Many were driven by a desire to demonstrate that they too are computer savvy!
That’s what our world has come to! A few decades back we had no computers and the pulse of the planet never stopped beating! Now we behave like the men who seduce us into being slaves of technology are our gods! What has happened here?
We have fallen victims to the cult of personality. We hero-worship imagery, not substance. We look up to Hollywood for heroes! South Afrikans are proud to be known as followers of American culture! We look up to America for everything. We know what goes on in America and we could care less about the starving and dying children in the slums set aside for black people.
Could this be some form of self-hatred as a consequence of years of abuse, put downs and brutality visited upon us by the men who used to rule this land? Why is the life of an Afrikan so undervalued even by Afrikans? Who is crying for the millions of Afrikan children who never reach the age of five? Why is it that 175 children out of every 1 000 die before they reach the age of five in what is mysteriously called “Sub-Saharan Afrika” as if there are two Afrikas? Who is crying for the children of Afrika? If the tears that have been shed for Steve Jobs have dried up, maybe it’s time to create real jobs for ordinary people. Maybe it’s time to cry for the children of the continent despised even by its inhabitants…”
Based on Dr. Nyeka theory, could it be that Africans have turned a blind eye on what is happening in their own back yard? As humans, we simply cannot continue to ignore the plight of Africa. The wars, genocide, disease, and poverty barely skim the surface of its problems.
There is no easy solution for any of the problems raging in Africa, or the rest of the world. But I believe that many of us living in the relative comfort of our first-class, industrialized society are simply ignorant to much of the world. People need to be made aware of what is going on, and until they are nothing is going to be done and no aid is going to Africa. This it is the duty of mankind.
In a nutshell, the earlier part cautions that due to the subjectivity of the contextual framework popularised by the mainstream media in telling the Libyan story, its lessons could well elude Africa. My submission is that the truth demands that the narrative of ‘Gaddafi the dictator’ be informed by common events as the one of ‘Gaddafi the hero.’ Any omission or exaggeration thereof violates the truth and denies Africa an opportunity to learn.
I anticipated that pockets of reactionary school of thought would soon regurgitate the Libyan dictator/autocrat narrative in opposition to a large part of the first part, but I could not labour it any further. Maybe the key theme was meant for those with a keen sense of African institutional memory; those who do not locate history in a vacuum.
It should be borne in mind that in the same way that Africa produced a Nelson Mandela, the continent also gave birth to a Muammar Gaddafi. And these names belong to great men of their time who were groomed within the revolutionary morality of African liberation; and perhaps pushed to opposite extremes in their journey.
While Gaddafi will be remembered for his determination on the idea of a ‘United States of Africa’, he was not the first and probably not the last African leader to pursue that ideal. Centuries before his Gaddafi’s time, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona also envisioned one black nation under the rule of the Zulu tribe. His strategy and tactics was to also create one mighty army under his command. Some have submitted that this ideal was the spark which ignited the Mfecane wars in the 19th century.
Both these African soldiers are not with us today, but the vision of a united African state is unlikely to die in centuries to come. Therefore we should learn that a future conception of a united African state should never again be founded on the pursuit of military supremacy, but on one informed by the intellectual depth of a strong African identity.
It would not be far-fetched to suggest that the success of Western countries in extending their military power beyond their borders is underpinned by a strong national identity, and without this solid national identity such a mission could have easily been undermined, as has been the case in Libya.
But future African leaders should – like Gaddafi – never allow themselves to be paralysed by the fear of success and accordingly refrain from taking strategic risks in the interest of the people. No future African leader should ever live in fear of his own people, for if that moment arrives it would be time to revisit the covenant between the leadership and the people.
Perhaps like Gaddafi, future African leaders should constantly seek solutions to better the lives of the people and pursue these with the necessary vigor, bearing in mind that these must not be ideas that remain in anyone’s head; hidden from the masses. “Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures.” – (Cabral A; 1965)
ANC youth league president Julius Malema writes in the Sunday times: “[African] liberation movements have also tended to leave the masses behind [partially or totally] in confronting the challenges and the crises of the untransformed [continent].” Perhaps this rings true on the downfall of Gaddafi.
(here endeth the last lesson)
Yet I find myself distressed by the varying and conflicting reactions between my peers and colleagues, perhaps blocking me from being able appreciate the importance of the moment.
In a flash I’m reminded of the rapturous applause the ‘Brother Leader’ received during his attendance of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration event. As a teenager then I recognised – and perhaps unconsciously so – that this must be a great man.
What happened between then and now? Has the great man changed since or are his praise singers now chanting a different tune?
Last week Prof Sandile Ndlovu of Unisa drew his audience to an analogy of the three blind men and an elephant during his presentation on identity. But maybe the analogy itself – intriguing as it is – begs further dissection.
Is it perhaps the fault of the elephant that each of its body parts, taken individually, gives the impression that it could be a snake, a leaf or a tree trunk? Or perhaps the fault lies with the blindness of the three men, for it prevents them from being able to appreciate that individual body parts of the elephant are merely components of the whole – an elephant.
Having said that, I could also be failing to appreciate what Marxist philosophers over the years have defined as dialectics – the positive in the negative and so forth. In that the sum total of our reactions to Gaddafi’s death defines and projects exactly who we have become as the African people.
Deeper contradictions emerge particularly when one factors in the recurrent and extensive messages of African renewal and self-determination, and yet our broader responses as a people seems asymmetrical to these ambitions.
Once again we find ourselves returning to the proverbial question: “Where is Africa heading?” One would assume that the answer is captured in a historical reality we seek to alter. And yet the answer seems ever so elusive.
Perhaps this moment then calls upon all of us to at least be wary of terms that evoke strong emotions like terrorist, dictator and autocrat. Acknowledging the extent to which these terms were abused in the context of SA’s liberation struggle, we have an opportunity to once again appreciate that these definitions of character are not necessarily universal, self-evident or innocent.
It is precisely due to the casual and automatic popularity of these terms that we have failed to ask critical questions about those who claim to be humanitarians, defenders of democracy and protectors of civil rights. They exist among us even today, and camouflage their true intent with liberalist doctrines.
Our failure to respond accordingly and timely to these challenges implicates all of us in the status the continent finds itself in. Future generations will hold us in contempt if we remain ignorant of the historical obligations Africa has placed upon us.
While Muslim women such as Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali are making global headlines with their defiant battle against the French government for the basic right to don the burqa in France and some parts of Europe, those in countries with no such restrictions are taking their sartorial expression of faith to another level.
Bright scarves, embellished details and wedges are just a few key items many fashion-conscious South African Muslim women will be wearing this season as part of the global hijab style movement.
Hijab fashion lovers say the style is a fast-growing alternative for fashion-conscious Muslim women, who adapt mainstream fashion trends to Islamic wear without compromising their cultural values.
21-year-old Cape Town blogger Tasneem Jaffer explained the basic hijab requirements for women, adding that men also have their own requirements for hijab.
“The word hijab is commonly used to refer to the headscarf, although that is not the only meaning. The requirement of hijab is to cover your body in a way that does not reveal the shape of your body and that the clothes not be transparent. The body parts that are allowed to be revealed are the hands, face and feet,” she said.
Sameera Badsha, 24, who co-owns a Durban boutique with her sister, said wearing patterned and brightly coloured head-scarves is one of the simplest ways she discovered to individualise her look.
“I’ve always been one who loves fashion and when I began wearing the headscarf I still wanted to keep my personal style, so I adapted it in a more modest way. I started wearing more trousers as well as more blouses and also skirts and tops with 3/4 sleeves. I try to make it more fashionable with the mix and match trend by wearing stripes and maybe a brightly coloured scarf,” she said.
Jaffer, who said she first became aware of the movement when she started wearing a head-scarf in 2009, agreed.
“I think it would take me a full day to count how many headscarves are in my house. I have scarves lying around in shelves, drawers, hanging in cupboards and on rails. My best friend is a black headscarf which I wear often; it is one of my basic clothing items. When I’m in my house I seldom have a scarf on, but when I leave my house I’m rarely without a scarf. When I am at home around my immediate family and female friends, hijab is not deemed compulsory,” she said.
Although the abayaa – the traditional long, flowing and usually black dress worn by Muslim women – is the garment most associated with observing hijab, Jaffer said it is not the only option available to women.
“Adapting to hijab is much easier than one would imagine. To hijabify a mini dress I would add jeans and a cardigan or long sleeve top. The great thing about Hijab style is that we’re not wearing anything out of the ordinary. We are wearing clothing all females wear, just in a different way,” she said.
However, for those who more often prefer the abayaa, a whole range of fashion styles are also available, according to Johannesburg-based Silk boutique co-owner, Aneesa Omar. Omar said the women’s Islamic wear boutique was started as a family business seven and a half years ago when she, her mother and sisters realized that there was a gap in the South African Islamic fashion design market.
“We realised that ladies were becoming more religious yet wanted to remain trendy and fashionable. In the past, garments were basic and lacking detail so we added stylish cuts, exquisite embroidery and more detailing on the abayaa. Our designs change seasonally following international, catwalk trends, which we adapt to the modest garment,” she said.
Omar, who designs the boutique’s range alongside her mother, said the store uses Indian and Arabian imported fabric and haberdashery to produce locally made garments. This, she said, is to help customers keep up with international trends at local prices. She said customers can also design their own abayaa.
23-year-old Aishah Amin, a Malaysian architecture lecturer, is a 1355-fan strong style blogger on fashion blogging site lookbook.nu.
Amin, who was brought up in England and returned to work in Malaysia as an adult, said her mother had taught her to wear hijab at a very young age.
“Even though at the time I didn’t have any friends who wore the hijab, I still felt comfortable being in my hijab and staying true to my values. I started wearing the hijab permanently when I was about 11,” she said.
“Here in Malaysia, I can say that almost 70% of the Muslim women wear hijab. And from my observation, hijab style has been quite fast to grow on the women here. Maybe it’s because although a lot of them wear hijab, they don’t really filter it to suit the Islamic principles and follow fashion trends blindly. I see a lot of women wearing headscarves that expose the neck, chest and so on. From my opinion, some trends and style really don’t suit the Muslim dress code,” said Amin.
One of Amin’s hijab looks is an exquisitely put together “colour-blocking” ensemble. Her take on the current global fashion trend – which focuses on using at least 3 different bold colours in an outfit – includes a flowing, floor-length coral dress teamed with a lavender blazer, light coral head-scarf and a turquoise clutch. Even her traditional all-black abayaa outfit is given an individual twist with a black long-sleeve kimono wrap dress with a pink waist-band detail over black pants and a matching pink clutch.
Amin said hijab style began to gain ground in Malaysia with the collaboration of Muslim designer Hana Tajima- Simpson and Muslim Malaysian singer Yunalis Zarai, who goes by the stage name Yuna. Like Badsha and Jaffer, Amin describes herself as an ordinary girl who loves fashion but refuses to compromise her values.
“I think it’s quite obvious that hijab style was on the rise after the Yuna-Tajima collaboration. Hana Tajima was the “it” girl in hijab fashion and Yuna is the only well-known singer in Malaysia that wears hijab. Both of then had already had a huge a group of fans, so when they met and started to collaborate on projects, I can say that their fan base grew even bigger. I’ve met both of them a few times privately and it’s a bit funny because I admire both of them, yet they say they love my style!”
Amin advised those just starting out with hijab style to experiment first with their scarves.
“For beginners I think you should have maybe a few colours of the plain headscarf. I rarely wear printed headscarves because I think plain ones are easier to mix and match with, plus they are more modest,” she said.
“I’m quite chubby, so I love clothes that give me a good silhouette. So a must-have item would be a blazer. You can dress it up, or even dress it down according to what look your going for. Second must-have is a maxi skirt. Skirts are so comfy and very in fashion right now,” said Amin.
This article was re-published with the permission of the Sunday Times Extra edition, in which it first appeared.
I’m disappointed. Very disappointed.
“Why?” you ask.
Because in this country that produced someone like former president Nelson Mandela, homophobes exist. And they are not ashamed of it.
“Corrective rape” and threatening behaviour towards gay people have always been distant concepts to me – it seemed that they only happen in impoverished townships.
But on Monday evening, on my way home in one of the “wealthy” northern suburbs of Johannesburg, some guy accosted me and accused me of being lesbian.
This man didn’t know me from Adam. I had never seen him before. He has never seen me either – with or without a girlfriend (or boyfriend for that matter).
He just guessed I was lesbian on the basis of my hair style and the clothes I was wearing. Just because I eschew weaves, over-bright colours and high heels, he thought I was lesbian.
And threatened me for it.
It makes me wonder how many women were murdered, not for actually being lesbians, but LOOKING like lesbians (if there’s such a thing as a specific look).
Eudy Simelane – gang-raped, beaten and stabbed 25 times in Kwa Thema on the East Rand.
Zoliswa Nkonyana – beaten, stabbed, clubbed and kicked to death a few metres from her home in Khayelitsha, outside Cape Town.
Noxolo Nogwaza – raped and murdered in Kwa Thema.
And all the other unnamed lesbians that haven’t been written about, but we know they are there.
Another question I’d like to have an answer to: who gave the murderers the right to “correct” someone? Why are the authorities so casual about this? Why is it seen as just another rape/murder, instead of what it really is – a hate crime?
Even our learned judges are uncomfortable with the word “lesbian” – Ratha Mokgoathleng, the judge who presided over the Simelane trial, reportedly asked the prosecutor if there was another word he could use instead of “that one”.
This country has got serious problems. How do we even begin dealing with them?
Find Moyagabo on Twitter
By: Busisiwe Deyi
Guest blog written by Miss Deyi. She is temporarily living in Kampala Uganda as part of the exchange programme between the University of Makerere and the University of Pretoria (Human Rights Centre).She is currently completing her LLM in Human Rights and Democratization.
When I visit a place I like to visit the grungy, shacky, ugly side of that place. I am addicted to difference, I can’t stand the “normal”. Normal makes my thoughts curl up in anger, literally I can feel my mind ready to revolt at every opportunity when my space to express my difference comes under threat. So you can imagine when I realized I live next to a bustling market area called Wandegeya. Here ladies you can find the best shoes, at the lowest prices (OK, low is an under exaggeration, I mean dirt cheap).
The food is gorgeous, there’s this savoury flat bread (almost pancake-like) called Chapati, I AM ADDICTED TO THAT THING!!!! I literally eat chapati day and night, for every meal of the day. Uganda has an eccentricity and life that that resonates with my inner crazy person.
So every day I walk down to Wandegeya and buy myself some Chapati and chicken from Chicken Tonight (and a catchy slogan to match… I feel like Chicken Tonight), and the Chapati place is called Obama’s ( I know LEGENDARY!!!!). And then it hit me….it hit me why I love these sites of difference, Wandegeya represents the hypocrisy of Ugandans (big generalization).
Like any African country, its very Christian (with a tinge of Islam) but when you look beyond the artificial veneer you find your prostitutes, homos, beggars, easy wumyn, even easier men…the would-be scabs of a society that shuns its truths. I don’t always like these truths though. Like the truth of infants (yes I mean infants, barely 5 years old) begging on the street.
The sight made my heart sink, my heartbeat was suddenly too-loud, beads of sweat appeared on my temples and my upper lip… should I give this child money, should I not? I had made it a cardinal rule never to give beggars money.
I gave to the charities that help them, but what charity would I give to in Uganda, what toll-free line do I call, what tin can at the cash counter do I slot my change into, what number do I SMS???
Uganda has a population of about 30+ million on the space of about half of South Africa, wumyn here are baby machines, not because they want to be but because they have little option in the matter. Wumyn can give birth up to 13 kids, all because the husband wants sons, or the mere fact that there are no freely available state sponsored contraceptives (and I include condoms). Yes Uganda has a very low HIV infection rate, but my do they make up for it in birth rates, children feel like common possessions rather then precious gifts. Everything in Uganda feels like it is conspiring against wumyn.
Imagine living in a place where you had no control over your reproductive system, where your sexuality was basically policed if you are a wumyn. A lot of South Africans feel that South Africa is too liberal. But imagine for a while being a site for birth, you couldn’t enjoy sex fully because at the back of your mind your always thinking about NOT getting pregnant.
This is my point…..
I love my sexuality, I love expressing it, I love being unashamed about who I love and how I love them. The most important vehicle has been the freedom I enjoy with my body, the options that I have with it. I cannot imagine being in a space that for me made my body a maternal prison. Where my sexuality was censored and designated a role that was not of my choosing. it is not until you move beyond South Africa, that you realize that South African wumyn are the luckiest in Africa.
Opinions expressed on the blog are those of Busisiwe Deyi and do not a reflect the views of University of Pretoria nor University of Makerere
To read more about Miss Deyi’s experience in Uganda, you can find her on Facebook
We remember Steve Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness Movement and author of the book, I write what I like. He was brutally killed while in police custody on the 12 September 1977 .
Here is a rare television interview he did sharing his vision of South Africa.
If you are in search of a high quality of living Melbourne is the place to be, well at least according to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Survey.
The survey assessed 140 cities worldwide according to the “challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle.”
The cities that were at the top of the list are perceived to be in the “very top tier of livability, where few problems are encountered … presenting few, if any, challenges to residents’ lifestyles.”
I was rather disappointed that no African cities made it into the top ten. And at the bottom of the list were seven African cities, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Douala (Cameroon), Tripoli (Libya), Algiers (Algeria), Lagos (Nigeria), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and Harare (Zimbabwe).
I’ve lived in five African cities throughout my life, but only spanning three countries. There is no disputing that there are problems in terms of infrastructure and service delivery.
But in the same vein I have also been to Europe, the United State and Asia and nothing compares to living in an African city.
There’s a certain buzz in African cities, the people, the crowded streets and taxi’s that whiz by you without a care, much to your irritation in the moment.
The flea markets, where you can find anything from a brand new watch to morning slippers.
Fresh produce in abundance at a fraction of what it will cost you in the store. Mind you it’s not mass produced, and before “organic” became a selling point for marketers that is what we were raised on.
The list could literally go on and on…
I do wish every household on our continent had access to electricity, water, and decent sanitation. That we had access to effective transportation systems, decreased crime rates, political stability and less pollution.
That perhaps is not the reality of the African state, and it may not be ideal. But I wouldn’t trade my reality, because as far as I’m concerned our cities are still environments fit to live in and we can only work towards making them better.