02nd Oct2017

Claim Your Place

by admin

Hi everyone,

This week’s edition of the blog focuses on how we must all claim our place in the world- no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Molebogeng Mokoka starts off by encouraging all of us to remain true to ourselves and to resist the urge to compare our life paths with other. Sandiswa Sondzaba discusses Redi Tlhabi’s latest book: Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo which reclaims the late Fezekile’s dignity and name.

We hope that you are encouraged to claim your place in the world.

Have a wonderful week.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Claim Your Place

02nd Oct2017

Call Her By Her Name

by admin

Khwezi

Redi Tlhabi begins her new book with the poignant statement, “I wanted her to know that I was writing, unapologetically, as a feminist who believed her”. The “her” in question is the late Fezekile Kuzwayo who is the subject of Tlhabi latest offering Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.

Who is Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo? Up until her recent passing, Fezekile was publically known by the moniker Khwezi. This was the name that she had to adopt during one of the most shameful incidences in recent memory: the Jacob Zuma rape trial. Vilified, she had to adopt an alias and veil her face as she entered and exited the Johannesburg High Court. We did not know all that much about who she was other than the fact that  1) she was HIV-positive, 2) she was a self-identified queer womxn, and 3)  Jacob Zuma thought that she wanted to have sex with him on the basis of her wearing only a kanga in his presence. Fezekile’s treatment as Khwezi led one to sometimes wonder as to whether her detractors forgot that she was a human being who was being subjected to people’s sneers, victim-shaming and threats. Following the trial, she left South Africa for her own safety. Her mother’s house was burnt down shortly after the trial concluded. Jacob Zuma was acquitted of rape and yet his daughter, Duduzile Zuma, felt compelled to do interviews that vindicated her father by vilifying Khwezi. Soon enough, the trial became a distant memory for most South Africans. Jacob Zuma became President of South Africa and increasingly came to regard the state coffers as his personal bank account. In the midst of all of the calls for #ZumaMustFall and #PayBacktheMoney, we conveniently forgot that our President is a man who was convicted (although acquitted) of rape. Our President is a man who admitted, on Court stands, to taking a shower to decrease his chances of contracting HIV after having unprotected sex with the daughter of his late comrade. By all intents and purposes, if the judgement had been different, we would be reckoning with the strong possibility of our President being a corrective rapist.

Fezekile Kuzwayo did intend on using Redi’s book as a means for re-entering public life. She was going to attend all of the book launches and show her face to the world. After 12 years of being branded as “Khwezi, Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser”, she was finally going to get the opportunity to reclaim her name and her dignity. There is no doubt that the rape trial did derail her for a few years following the 8 May 2006- show me anyone who would not have been derailed by that experience. However, the fact that she wanted to use literature as a means of re-branding displays strength of character that very few people can attest to having. Tlhabi writes that, for the rest of her life, Kuzwayo feared being followed or watched. She worried about her name becoming public knowledge- the fact that she took the steps to overcome that fear speaks volumes about her constant willingness to speak truth to power. In Tlhabi’s book, Kuzwayo gets a fitting public re-emergence that restores her dignity, her voice, and her name. Lala ngoxolo sis’ Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.

02nd Oct2017

Are We There Yet?

by admin

As most students would attest to, varsity is not easy. I am not only referring to the ever-increasing demands of academia but also to the very ‘privilege’ of being accepted into these institutions. A few months in, perhaps even extending to a few years, one learns to adjust to life on campus. It somehow brings a sense of “making it”, having an ace up one’s sleeve upon graduation. What this article aims to do is not to discuss the current crisis of unemployed graduates in this country, but rather to unpack the social standards of individual success.

While the ordinary of us maintain a schedule of coming to campus, attending classes and returning to our respective residences at the end of the day, others are going above and beyond, exploring every opportunity presented to them. From leadership positions to employment opportunities, these students are seemingly killing two birds with one stone: getting an education while gaining experience at the same time. But who makes the rules, and why are those that choose to take things one step at a time judged so harshly? Social constructions of a normality, require us to matriculate at 18, graduate by 21, work by 25, and be ready for settling down by at least 28.

You Don't Have to Go Fast

What these standards fail to consider are aspects of freedom of choice, and individuality. It is again, these exact standards that come up with concepts of ‘late-achievers’ to describe those whose success came later than the known social expectations. Shouldn’t we rather celebrate achievements nonetheless, irrespective of when they came? Personally, it always concerns me when people try to do too much too soon. On the contrary, there’s nothing wrong with having a hunger for success, or a drive to see things through, only if the reasons behind it are based on satisfying the individual and not the masses.

Social degrees of comparison put unnecessary pressure on people, and are likely to yield burnt out adults who suffer from childhood amnesia, not because they skipped that stage, but because they were so focused on the future that they failed to acknowledge the present.

Being born poor is not a choice, but dying poor is.

Even with the above argument, individuals should not use different paces of development as an excuse for sitting down, and waiting for miracles to fall from above. Drawing from the wise saying ‘the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg’, it is conclusive to argue that nothing is more encouraging than seeing people deny the acceptance of a ‘permanent victim’ status. While the aim may be success for all of us, how we get there will not be the same for all of us. Life should not be a race to get to the finish line, because doing so deprives us of meaningful moments that would otherwise contribute to our happiness. And finally, varsity should be as much about hard-work as it is about following your passion.

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