Guest Post by Mulaifa Sigubu
On November 4, I read an article about how mining giant Anglo American will gain a controlling interest in De Beers. The company will part with US$5.1 billion for 40 percent of the company’s shares, held by the Oppenheimer family.
The deal marks a historic transformation for the South African industrial family, which has had a leading role in both companies for almost ninety years. This business deal increases Anglo American’s stake in De Beers to 85%.
Having read the article, I could not stop thinking about ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. Malema, over the years, has been outspoken about South Africa’s mineral resources; stating that they should be nationalised.
However, nationalisation of mineral resources by definition is not a bad idea, as it is an accepted method for governments around the world to extract sufficient rent from the limited resources they have, said Martin Kingston, CEO of Rothschild South Africa, an investment bank. Kingston was speaking at the AngloGold Ashanti/Motjoli Resources’ Mining for Change seminar in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
One needs to comprehend that Malema capitalised heavily on the emotions of poor people. He recently led thousands of predominantly black unemployed youths to the Union Buildings on his so-called economic freedom march. Malema chose the most powerless and poorest people to manipulate in his quest to gain popularity. He would be clad in his fancy suits and patronise the people by raising hopeless yet justifiable grievances while he lived a lavish lifestyle.
Malema has now become the perfect example of the 2 Samuel 1:25 Bible verse – “How the mighty have fallen in battle!”. The question is: now that he has lost his political supremacy, can South Africa finally become sane?
For years the enthralment with Malema by the local media bordered and still borders on small-mindedness while we, the readers, are held incarcerated by it. Besides, I do not know what is so newsworthy about him, spitting on the poor in the name of economic freedom.
It appears that whoever came up with this English proverb, “an empty vessel makes the loudest noise” was precise. Malema, clearly, is that vessel, and to this day, I wonder what leadership qualities were bestowed unto him. I, for one, am glad that the ANC decided to fill that vessel. I just hope that it doesn’t become empty again.
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Okay, so I have actually speculated that Malema might have a list of different groups to annoy, equal opportunity offender that he appears to be. And I have wondered if he maybe ticks each one off as he goes along – Women? Check. Boere? Check. …Indians? Che- wait, hold on…
When I first read it, my reaction was to lay my head on my desk and ask myself if I had the energy to start foaming at the mouth about this. I mean, let’s face it; it seems the only time the Youth League president ever takes his foot out of his mouth is to put the other one in. It all seemed pretty clear-cut to me – Malema referred to Indian people as “makula”, Makula equals “C%^&*#s”, therefore, Malema done did it again. Same script, different cast.
Or is it?
I’m from Durban, see. And Durban, as you may know, is home to a substantial section of the South African Indian population. It is also part of the so-called “Kingdom of the Zulu”, although I have long suspected that it is the Kingdom of the Real Estate Agents, more like. But I digress.
I myself happen to be Zulu. (Do not judge. Do not offer 11 cows. Do not ask me why Zulu men are so angry all the time.)
I’ve lived in KwaZulu-Natal my whole life and, being of that generation that grew up in urban Durban post-1994, I have quite a highly developed sensitivity to the things you do and do not say to Indian people. Or Coloured people. Or even, when you spot the rare ones at the really popular shopping malls, White people.
One thing I have learnt in KZN is that you do not, not, not call Indian people “makula”.
Which is why, after a bit of Twitter-browsing and a bit of a think, I realized what an ethnocentric stance that is. As I said, I’m from KZN. Even some of the (non-Comrade) older people here, who grew up during apartheid when calling each other things like that was normal, sometimes look guilty and apologize if it slips out. Even when there are no Indian people present to hear them.
You may have noticed I said “some” and “sometimes”. That’s because some of the really old people here honestly believe that “ikula” is a proper, inoffensive term for “Indian”.
Like my paternal grandmother, for instance. She grew up in the rural areas, turns 100 next year, and has never been to school, ever. The only South African history she knows is the history she survived, and that history is not the same stuff our generation reads about from the books. I visited her recently and during our somewhat surreal conversation, she mentioned the word “amakula” quite unself-consciously as a matter of course through-out.
The first time she said, I went quiet with embarrassment. I was the only one. But as we groped our tortured, stilted way towards something vaguely resembling a coherent conversation, on a topic that remained the same for all of seven minutes, I realized that for her it had no derogatory or political connotations whatsoever.
For her it was just a word, like “Umlungu” for a white person, or “UmXhosa” for a Xhosa person. So I would have actually had to sit there loudly reciting the history of South Africa as I have been taught it, and explaining about the suspected origins of the word “makula”, and about why it is widely considered derogatory.
All this to a 99-year-old who has been using it for years without venom.
A question occurred to me, and not for the first time – does what we say matter more than what is in our hearts when we say it?
It’s a hard one to answer, especially since there is no real way of proving what is in your heart to others. Except perhaps via the chest with a sharp knife. But even then I have doubts that you would find anything to hold up and say “this is my humanness, I didn’t mean to hurt you, see?” Okay, even if you could, you probably wouldn’t say it so much as gurgle liquidly with your last weak gasp.
One morning this week, as I listened to the radio while brushing my teeth, the presenter was speaking to a representative from some legal department about whether or not certain words are derogatory. The discussion was in Zulu, and what the man basically said was that it was a challenge for the legal system to actually figure out whether the general public use words such as these with the full understanding that they may upset others.
Here’s the thing – a lot of these words only become debated when someone says them on a public platform and somebody else takes offence. It’s untidy. Everybody in this country goes around with their own ideas of what is and is not offensive. For years in High school, I never quite knew whether the word “bruin ou” was an offensive term or not. I asked my Coloured peers what it meant. They said “brown person”. I saw nothing offensive about that. Years later, I gathered that for some reason, it is. At least, if I say it.
The only reason I even got a chance to learn that was because I lived with Coloured people, and after a while you start to notice those awkward silences and chilly looks.
What interests me, in this Malema instance, is that the five people who have filed a case against him did so in KZN. In KZN, perhaps because Zulu people and Indian people live in closer proximity than elsewhere in the country, there is a largely unspoken understanding, never officially discussed, that “indiya” is a more socially acceptable term than “ikula”. Mind you, not everyone agrees on this even here – but most of the younger, urban Black Zulus accept this. Looking at some of the Twitter and article comments from people who speak SePedi and SeSotho, I really did start to wonder if there really is no other word for “Indian” in their languages. I speak neither so I really can’t say.
But look at it this way, at least incidents like this force us to put into words the rules of the game without assuming that “everybody knows”.
As for whether Malema really said that with poison in his heart, well, only he knows for sure.
Guest Post by Hlengiwe Mahlaba
Although journalism is widely considered as a pathway to gaining information for the public, various criticisms have at times been leveled against journalists. One is the role of “public journalism” – the notion that journalists not only report the facts, but also help the public in finding possible solutions.
The other is the manner in which journalists have often come under fire conducting themselves by doing anything to get the “scoop”. However, the public seldom stops to think how they benefit from this information.
With all the running around tracking sources and gathering information that journalists do, is there still room for them to get personally involved in driving social change? Or does this place them in a compromising position, as they are “supposed” to stay objective when dealing with information?
Is reporting not a big enough job, coming as it does with the responsibilities of informing the public of matters in their interest and shaping opinion?
How hard is it separate your professionalism from your personal opinion? One can’t be objective at all times, yet it is expected of journalists to do so.
One may argue that journalists should get involved in the process for change, as they are also part of a community, living in a country. But a professional journalist should stay objective at all times, and getting involved in political matters may be seen as subjective.
Presenting the facts to the public is as good as the first step to change. Giving the public information that benefits them and making them aware of situations should be like pushing them into the direction for them to do something about it, for themselves. This allows the public to be motivated to do something for themselves and be active participants in the road to change.
Basically, everyone has a role to play, and journalists can’t play two roles at the same time. Journalism as a profession should be looked at in the same way as any other profession. It is not a light that can be automatically switched on and off. Journalists should always be aware of what is happening around them at all times of the day, even when their 9-5 responsibilities have been completed.
The question has been asked many times – how should journalists handle a situation, for example, if they happen to witness an accident nearby. Should they stop and help, or simply stop to take a picture? The sensible thing in a situation like that is to call the ambulance. However, taking a simple picture of the tragedy (to explain the situation) while waiting for help shouldn’t be a bad thing. The journalist can’t get involved – simply and obviously – because they are neither trained nor equipped to do so.
For journalists to be personally involved in social change is a contradiction in itself, because they will be gaining information objectively but finding solutions which they can only do subjectively. Where is the line then drawn? Is this what journalists studied to do? Help in finding possible solutions to our everyday problems is a job for government, and the role of the journalist should simply be to report the facts.
Journalists don’t choose what they witness on a daily basis, nor do they choose the information that they find. However, the drive and passion for what they do may not amount to how much they get paid, or the amount of effort they go through to keep the public in the know.
Making the public aware of what is happening is more than enough, simply because there are other things to be revealed each day. And being a hero in solving the problems is simply not part of the job description.
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?
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Kally Forrest tells a lengthy story of metal workers: “These soldiers of metal unions freely shared with me their experiences, struggles, sufferings, victories, jubilations, thoughts and analyses of the unions’ role in the period they participated in,” she says. “Their narratives and observations were astute and at times inspirational, even when it was painful for them to revisit such memories.”
For personal reasons I have always searched for knowledge and understanding on the significance of the 80s within the broader SA socio-political and economic struggle. Being born in that era, I hold that the events of that time have a fundamental expression in my everyday outlook on life and thus Kally Forrest’s “Metal that will not bend” was a welcome read.
Focusing on the evolution of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the book traces the historical moments that defined the workers’ rights struggle in SA, almost making a mockery of those who are today calling for the repeal of labour laws.
In penetrating the institutional memory of black labour, Forrest touches a raw nerve as she demonstrates how the corporate SA accumulated superprofits on the abuse of black labour and its collaboration with the apartheid government, which is a subject some deem a taboo in contemporary SA.
She exposes the similarities between the tactics that were applied by business to quash workers’ organisations and the strategies used by business today to avoid workers organizing in the workplace, providing key answers to the challenges facing SA today.
Writing for Business Day, Itumeleng Mahabane verifies the relevance of “Metal that will not bend” when he notes that “context is everything and yet, in SA, the context that arises from the legacy of our past is too often disregarded…Yet an obdurate refusal to consider how that past shapes the present makes us blind to the pitfalls that are otherwise avoidable.”
Forrest does not spare the rod either, as she criticizes the union for neglecting migrant workers – who were at one point instrumental in building union power. She argues that the negligence created a vacuum between migrant workers and the communities, resulting in a fertile ground for the civil war between Inkatha-led hostel dwellers and residents in the early 90s.
A significant expression of Numsa’s political philosophy is captured in its attempts to influence the ANC government policy post ’94, particularly with the initial conception and drafting of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which was nonetheless watered down by the ruling party in its adoption.
For those interested in the theory of unionism the final chapter provides different strands of thought that shaped labour movements globally. These include Robert Michels, Richard Lester, Colin Crouch, Charles and many more.
Zwelinzima Vavi of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) describes Forrest’s work as “a lesson from pioneers who forged the weapons of today.”
Kally Forrest is the former editor of the South African Labour Bulletin.
Win a copy of “Metal that will not bend” signed by Numsa president Cedric Gina. To enter, please answer the following question:
Who is the author of “Metal that will not bend”?
Email the answer to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Thursday 29 September 2011. NB: this book giveaway is a personal initiative of the writer and has no legal bearing on Avusa Media or any of its associated partners.
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
Perturbed, helpless and annoyed; a random sample of the sentiments of those with the faintest energy to respond to the banning of a liberation song reveals.
But I will not desecrate Steve Biko’s name by appending Judge Colin Lamont’s perplexing judgment to his legacy. I will neither whip out the heritage month card nor argue the meaning of “Ayesaba Amagwala”, lest one renders himself a perpetual defender of his self-determination rights.
So ridiculous is the verdict that even friends of the system have seized the moment to decorate their profiles by defending the struggle. Amazing.
Mathatha Tsedu asks why Judge President Phineas Mojapelo of the South Gauteng High Court elected Lamont J to preside over the case while there were other jurists with a capacity to comprehend the deeper meaning of struggle songs.
I would submit that Mojapelo JP expected this verdict, and therefore he had a point to prove. It’s more like when former president Thabo Mbeki appointed then deputy president Jacob Zuma to head moral regeneration in a society where the dominant cultural expression deems polygamy an immoral act.
My theory is that Lamont J is no different from the colonisers who landed on our shores three centuries ago. The judge must have been inspired by the spirit of his ancestors when he said: “Such people must pursue new ideals and find a new morality. They must develop new customs and rejoice in a developing society by giving up old practices which are hurtful to members who live in that society with them.”
Verwoerd must be smiling in his grave that the project to civilize the uneducated and immoral Africans is on full speed in democratic SA.
That the learned judge had to whip out newspaper clips to fabricate a “public uproar” exposes the ugly face of SA public discourse. The opinions of a relatively small clique with the means and resources to produce meaning in line with their narrow interests suddenly become empirical evidence for public sentiment.
This unmasks the institutional collaboration between those who, according to neo-Marxist Erik Olin Wright, wish to “insert their desires onto the public agenda and shape the rules in order to block the airing of other interests.” Someone better whisper into Lamont J’s ear and tell him that the revolution would not be led by newspapers.
The judge’s ruling also exposes the perversion of the SA constitution. In the words of one market fundamentalist whose name I don’t mind forgetting, “give me the country’s wealth, and I don’t care who makes the laws.”
It would be interesting to delve deeper into what makes the white minority a vulnerable group in SA. Are they vulnerable to the expensive organic food from Woolworths or are they vulnerable to storms that might swallow their cardboard shacks erected on sinking land in informal settlements?
The ANC has rejected Lamont J’s ruling but if the party seeks to understand why the liberation song has been banned, it needs to first disabuse itself from the pyrrhic victory of 1994.
Gugu Ndima says we are a society where “one extreme utilises state and academic institutions to protect and preserve their existence and supremacy,” while Nco Dube says “black people will not remain docile forever.” But Wright sees a window of opportunity and in paraphrase: “it is possible that right wing struggles cumulatively could have revolutionary consequences.”