Friday, 24 March 2017

Tough week to be a black woman in South Africa

It's been a rough week to be a black woman in South Africa. 

The country woke up on Human Rights Day to a viral clip of a white male threatening and shouting at a young black mother in front of a group of children and Spur restaurant staff and customers. This incident occurring in a public space proved that even public places do not necessarily mean safety for a woman, especially if she is black. 

What stroke me about the footage was the number of people who stood by and watched while this bully of a man used his physical strength to threaten a safety of a woman and young children. 

While we were still reeling from the shock of those who broke their necks to justify the man's actions, a story broke about a quantum taxi that has been doing rounds in the Soweto township and areas surrounding the Johannesburg CBD prowling on women who rely on public transport. I could easily be one of these women. Gathering from the stories how some of the women had been picked up and the manner which they came across this taxi with three men and one woman it's shocking to imagine just how close many black women are close to this violence.  

It might as well just been me on a normal day flagging down a taxi in Soweto or around the Johannesburg CBC. As the horrific stories from the women go, the taxi would stop when a female would be passenger mentions unaware that the other supposedly passengers are rapists and one woman in on the act. The female in the taxi would then suddenly get off at a nearby stop.  This is where the nightmare would being for unsuspecting victims. They would be raped and robbed by the men. 

One mother endured a 4 hour ordeal in front of her son. I realise I am blocking a lot of information from the descriptions I've heard over the radio during the course of Thursday. Incidents of rape and violence over black female bodies in South Africa leave me feeling helpless and numb. I realise with the latest incidents of rape on wheels that most of us exist around sexual violence and indeed very close to these types of dangers. The likelihood of being either one of these victims in both instances is striking. As someone who spends a lot of time between taxi ranks and walking in the CBD, like most working class women, it had always scared me how black men feel so entitled to a black woman's body. I will say it again, black men feel like they are entitled to black female's bodies. It has long passed epidemic proportions in South Africa. Being grabbed without your permission and the occasional groping is all too common in public place. 

One day was I was in a taxi from Midrand to Pretoria, I sat next to a man who was touching me. I spent half of the journey swatting him away until a guy sitting the other side asked me if I would like to change seats with him. It is rare to find a man willing to stand up for a woman he doesn't know. Usually its just a black woman on her own. Black men do not speak out against themselves. Even our own government has still not made a fight against rape a priority. This doesn't surprise me much because we have men in government who themselves are culprits and feel like they have rights to abuse women. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Fees Must Fall students are not spoiled brats

A wise person recently posted on their wall that you can tell a lot about someone based on what they make noise on and what they choose to keep quite about.

I have been learning a lot about South Africans based on what we condemn as unacceptable behaviour, what we shout moderately about and what we downright push under the carpet and ignore. As voices of displeasure keep getting louder against the FeesMustFall movement, a study I read earlier about salary disparities in South Africa keeps surging to my conscious. The findings of that particular research summarized by Business Tech become vivid every time I become aware of an analysis that supposedly sums up why the students who are calling for free education just don't get it. What bothers me the most is that those who "get it" appear to fit into the brackets of high and better-salaried citizens, giving further credence to the belief that poor people's cries are worthless. This is a principle that must be rejected.

Its been over 2 months since an earnings analysts at Analytico exposed the shocking differences in median pay between white and black professionals on the same rank. As I write this piece another study equally disheartening is pending and this time by Finscope South Africa which aims to show that spendings on education by South Africans. Already the company has indicated that on average black South Africans spend more on education that any other race in the country. Students are not so clueless as to be unaware of how these workplace wage politics affect their lives, threaten their education and change their paths in life. Those who are not on bursary schemes rely on the already stretched financial resources of their family members to fund and maintain their tertiary education. Your tertiary institution hopes and dreams be damned if you are one of those who came from households where not a single member is employed. 

Once accepted at university most students not eligible for bursaries will tell you the task maintaining your place at a university is more difficult until you complete your studies is a fight of a life. This is a personal testimony too. One that is still not yet complete with a 6-year gap between undergraduate and postgraduate.

Despite various verbal commitments given to general transformation by most institutions, most of them still struggle to shed off their elite cultures that always find students from poor and working class at a disadvantage. 

Observers who are far attached from the students to hear for themselves what their issues are have been quick to label the anti-fees protesters as entitled brats who don't know what they are fighting for. Others have gone as far as to suggest that if fees are dropped the condition has to be a mandatory 75% pass mark. My condition would be to make sure students coming it our institutions all got the same quality education and access to educational tools.

All the anti-FeesMustFall noise left me conclude that as much as we are quick to acknowledge that South Africa is a very unequal country, we are not willing to make sacrifices that would try to even the playgrounds in the workplace and at tertiary institutions. Hard as it is,there is potential for this kind of work to start at universities. And Blade Nzimande's offer is not it because apart from it being 22 years too later, the government has not taken students in their confidence and laying out the plans of how we are going to work our way towards free education. If there is a lesson to be learned from the FeesMustFall is that things will not get better with next generations of students if fees continue to increase while nothing changes. Corporate SA must not ignore the Finscope South Africa's study when it is released in early November.

The FeesMustFall movement is showing us that the pressure that used to be carried by parents solely is now spilling onto students causing great frustrations of any prospects of breaking out of the cycle of financial struggles.  Parents and specifically black women carry the most burden as the study by Analytico has proven that they earn the lowest. Education should not have to be a privilege reserved for those who can afford it. Right now it is. And this is not working for students.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Tell me, does he love me?

He was visiting at my village and we fell in-love immediately,

He loves me

Three days later he told me had to go back to the city where he belongs,

He loves me not

After a month I received a note asking me to move to the city closer to him,

He loves me

At the bus stop there is no one waiting for me,

He loves me not

A driver in a black car asks if I am the girl from Limpopo,

He loves me

I am hungry and there is no food to eat,

He loves me not

He tells me he made reservations at a place down the road and hope i am hungry,

He loves me

My family start to worry about me, he loves me not

He asks his uncles to meet with my family back in the village,

He loves me

He says he has to work all the time,

He loves me not

He sent flowers to my work and my colleagues are gushing praises over our love,

He loves me

I have been wrapping his dinner and leaving it in the food warmer,

He loves me not

He comes in late and kisses me in my sleep,

He loves me

I have been noticing the absent stares for a while,

He loves me not

Then he always remembers our anniversaries,

He loves me

He didn't come home last night, he loves me not

He ushers me to a surprise vacation says he's been planning it for weeks,

He loves me

He leaves the room to take his calls,

He loves me not

He takes my hand to dance when our favorite song randomly comes on the radio,

He loves me

He leaves mid conversations when we disagree,

He loves me not

He texts I love you on my phone when we are apart,

He loves me

He gives mono syllables responses lately,

He loves me not

I ran out petals before he could tell me what they mean.

Empty as the stall in my hand, he loves me not.

Discovering the unknown that always existed.

Discovery is one of man's greatest gifts in finding out history swept off by time. Natural wonders are not phenomenon that magically on surfaces after many years in hiding. One the African continent however it would appear that wonders never ceases to end. What, with the ‘newer’ discoveries being made so often. Armed with good resources and the latest technologies explorers can remotely uncover mysteries tucked away in the most remote corners of the continent from the comfort of their labs. While I understand the need to label such on the mark intuition calls as discoveries, I prefer to think of them as First World hobbies.

 Undoubtful of its potential, Mount Mabu is one of the recent treasures that an explorer using latest google technology stumbled upon in 2005. The biodiversity gem has since been documented in history by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew). Standing at a height of 1,700 metres the mountain was discovered by a scientist in search of biological riches and made incredibly good use of Google Earth imagery to find the pristine rainforest on top of little-known Mabu in northern Mozambique. A by-the-way fact mentioned in other sources admit that Mount Mabu was already known by locals, perhaps without cognisance of its full potential.

 Upon its discovery it is said a big ‘X’ on their map and journeyed out to Africa in 2008, where they were happily rewarded with the discovery of three new species of butterflies, a previously undiscovered species of snakes, seven threatened bird species and a rare orchid. How about previously unknown species. It could be that such discoveries by scientists is ancient knowledge that always existed among locals near Mount Mabu.

This piece was contributed by a 'new' writer who is still searching for a perfect pseudo to conceal their genius.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Service Delivery Protests in South Africa

Researchers from Africa Check recently went on a search for facts on service delivery protests in South Africa following requests from their followers . There has been wide spread reports that the country experiences no less than 30 protests per day. In their search for facts and accurate information, Africa Check found that there is a limit to the country's service delivery protests information gathering. Most reports that claimed 30 such protests daily relied on the police database of  "crowd-related incidents". As the organisation found the police's method cannot be used as a credible way of recording service delivery protests. In their research it was found that at the most there is one service delivery protest every second day.

The organisation spoke to experts on agreed that there is gaps in information gathering of service delivery protests.

Gaps information?

Despite what experts say there seem to have been an increased coverage of civil unrest. According to information from Municipal IQ protests actions have increased in the first four months of 2016 as the country prepares for the 03 Augusts local elections.

Here is a look at some of the service delivery protests as they were covered between January 2015 to June 2016:

Municipal IQ researcher Karen Heese told Africa Check that last year the organisation recorded a total of 164 protests. When NGO released figures its latest figures this year, already 70 incidents of such protests have been recorded.

According to the data from Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces had proved to have a high prevalence of civil unrest. Limpopo Province which has seen widespread protests especially in the Malamulele Municipality is among the provinces that have recorded lower rates of service delivery protests.

Protests according to provinces:

Monday, 29 February 2016

My Father by Thando Khoza

If my father was a house, it would be a house with broken windows, cracked floors and leaking ceiling
If my father was a car, it would be a vintage Mercedes with rusty door handles and engine that refuses to warm up
If my father was a tree, he would be a hollow oak, diseased with heart rot. Decaying from the inside
If my father was a cup of a coffee, it would be cold and bitter
If my father was a country, he would have two dozens and a half neglected provinces that have turned rebellious
if my father was a continent, it would be Africa, countries ravaged by war and famine, broken down by disease and clinging to a fading bright spots
If my father was a human being, he would be a selfish old man.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Reckless feminist and her friend take on Durban

A wiseman once declared that not all those who wonder are lost. I was reminded of this recently when I told friends and family that I was thinking of going to Durban for a visit.

Shirley dreaming of what lies ahead

Hello Moses Mabidha Stadium

One lazy Sunday I picked up a travel brochure on special offers to destinations across South Africa. When my eyes fell on KwaZulu Natal a strong desire to feel the fresh Indian Ocean breeze brush against my skin swelled within me.  I had to wander off and experience the promise of fresh oceanic air and feel the sand between my toes. I expressed my desires to a friend in Durban who immediately undertook to helping me experience my heaven on earth.

Shirley loved the sand

Feeling the sand between my toes

The fresh oceanic breeze brush against my skin

Sun rise in Durban on our first morning

Everyone was worried on my behalf. Did I know what I was doing? Who will I be traveling with? And did I know anyone in Durban? What if I got stranded? All of these  things  didn't bother me. I had been down this road many times in my life. I have since come to accept that a mother will  always worry each time one of their child bid the goodbye.

 I am a wanderer who is not lost, just like JRR Tolkein said in the Fellowship of the Ring.I reach my destination and I find my way back home after every travel.

To make the trip to Ethekwini even more memorable I convinced Shirley my less travelled fun loving colleague to come with me. They say two is company. Together we decided to make this  a fun outing with maximum impact. At one point a male  colleague worried by the thought of two fully grown up women traveling together bestowed the titled of an impulsive reckless feminist upon me, in what mark the first time I took an insult as a compliment.

Girls just want to have fun

Letting friends know how she is doing

When we arrived in Durban, the genuine delight in my friend's eyes when she saw the ocean live for the first time warmed my heart. Here we relaxed and busking under the sun by the coastal town of Umhlanga to rid ourselves of the tensions we packed all year long at work. I appreciated my travel companion's fresh excitement over the little things that most well traveled people usually take for granted.

I kissed a fish and I liked it!