15th May2017

Lions in the Streets of Africa

by admin

Some things just never get old. For example, the look you get when you travel abroad, proudly announcing that you are indeed from Africa; as in THE Africa. You know that dark and dusty place where you go on safari to observe wild animals and meet tall, thin, starving people? Yes, that’s where I live!

MAGALIESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 07:  Children play football in front of the setting sun on June 7, 2010 in Magaliesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

First the eyes get wider, then the chin pokes forward in amazement and finally you get the scan: top to bottom and back up again; just to make sure that you’re not some kind of fictional creature.

Once I even went so far as to elaborate on our local elephant transportation system (Ele Vaya) and my two pet lions that I keep in the bushveld south of my clay hut.

Lion

Despite my little jokes about western ignorance, given some recent occurrences, I have to wonder if the Western idea of deepest, darkest Africa is perhaps more accurate than we would like to believe. Apparently nowadays it is normal to have three pet lions in your backyard. Did I perhaps miss the memo?

And on top of that, we now have a new tourist attraction. Get your cameras ready folks; we have lions walking the streets. I have to wonder what Mother Africa has up her sleeve for next week’s headlines.

Lions in road

08th May2017

LGBTIAQ+

by admin

One Community One Love

Being ignorant can leave you confused once you wake up and realise what is going on around you. Ignorance can make you resist change and you end up being aggressive. What makes me say these words is because I feel that a lot of people in the heterosexual community are being ignorant about the LBTIAQ+ community. This leads to gay bashing, so called ‘corrective rape’ and all of the discriminative actions that is against the members of the homosexual community.

The words gay and lesbian have both been misused and misinterpreted. Whenever a ‘straight’ person tries to identify a homosexual person, the words come up and I sometimes wonder if the person using the words understands what they mean, what kind of power is linked to them, and how the wrong use of the words can lead to a lot of bad consequences. Looking at the title of this article one would ask ‘ him’ or ‘herself’ what each letter stand for and why there is an addition sign at the end but what is important is what each letter means . My aim is not to try and explain what a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersexual, Asexual, Queer and other sexual orientations and gender are but to give you an overview of what one can expect when encountering a member who identifies as such. My hope is that once I have given you this overview you will go out and do your own research because my overview is not enough for one to depend on.

A Lesbian is a woman who is sexually attracted to women. Please note that not all Lesbian people dress, walk or talk like boys. There are different people who identify as Lesbian but do not embody a masculine persona in public.  A Gay person is a man who is sexually attracted to other men. Not all Gay people are loud and flamboyant. Not all Gay people speak, dress or walk like girls. There are different people who identify as Gay but do not embody a girly appearance. A Bisexual person is someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women. People who identify as Bisexual are not greedy; they are just attracted to both sexes. They do not demonstrate any stereotypes whatsoever and are just like any ‘straight’ person in appearance. A Transgender person is a person whose gender identity, expression or behaviour is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. I know this sounds confusing but do not panic, that is how it is. Transgender people can wear anyway they decide to and date any gender they desire. In appearance they can look confusing but as I said do not panic just act normal, they are also HUMAN! The following I am just going to try and explain what they mean because there is much that goes along with them and I would not want to say things which might mislead some people. An Intersexual person is a person who is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit with the typical female or male definitions. An Asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction. A Queer person is a person who wishes to not categorise their sex, sexuality or gender.

I hope, after reading this article, some people develop a sense of understanding of the different people who live in our communities. I hope my words did not offend anyone or give a wrong notion of any group of members in the LGBTIAQ+ community. I was simply trying to explain to the ‘straight’ community and those that are ignorant about what is going on within their different communities. For more information I suggest that you should do your own research by looking up on the internet or approaching people of the community.

Remember, THIS IS SOUTH AFRICA!!!

 

30th Apr2017

#TriggerWarning

by admin

As a South African woman,
I know my place
Last in opinion,
But first appetizer,
on the course that feeds men’s sordid desires
You were not designed to be my ally,
none of us were,
for we all know that the wheels that move our
‘great country’
drive the patriarchy
Fragile creatures,
we are taught early to restrain the parasites,
Clamorous men
We are taught early to restrain ourselves,
For our small, candid bodies grow into
playgrounds
for preying eyes and eager fingertips
The history of our country is one filled with
struggle
where our fathers and theirs
fought for the right to be within one’s skin
Today we fight a different war.
A war for the right to be within our bodies as
women.
A war to be something other than passive
receivers of aggressive sexual attention.
The war against rape –
A gutless coward,
hiding itself in the makeup of our country’s
shame
We allow young men to continuously make
punching bags of women;
watching the weight of their insides fall
greedily from inside of them
feeding the soils that grow your ignorance
This is no war fought using ammunition,
but fought using power
And half our soldiers will have to fight
for the right to keep their power in a single
lifetime
some before they even know they have
anything to fight for
The nail in the coffin is that us
the non-militants contribute to this endless
plague.
We sit in our comfortable glass houses
Throwing stones of judgement and blame

The words slut, whore, tramp, spewing in the
air like hand grenades in combat
We hide in our fortresses until judgement day
But what redemption do we seek to receive
When our general – the president of our
country is an acquitted rapist
The plague covers our land in its venomous
grip,
taking our soldiers in its many forms
Staining virginal rights, claiming to cleanse our
AIDS ridden men.
Gripping onto the innocence of our infants –
men, who are meant to protect them,
using them for sexual gratification
This country is a ticking time bomb,
Ticking to the day I feel safe walking on the
street
Ticking to the day I don’t feel the need to be as
inconspicuous as possible in front of a group
of men
Ticking to the day I am proud to be a woman,
comfortable in my skin
So as we turn down the lights,
And bolt up the doors
We know that we are waiting for this war
A war that no one can prepare us for…

30th Apr2017

Happiness is a Four Letter Word

by admin

Happiness is a Four Letter

Happiness really is a four letter word as it is defined by the love that defines the divinity of human kind. In this article I am particularly talking about a friend, not just any friend but a friend that enlightened my soul. I know at this stage of my life, friends shouldn’t be the main component of one’s life as, once you arrive at Wits, you merely build your portfolio, focus on who you are, and forget about friends as they take you nowhere in life- so they say.

I would love to dedicate this electronic letter to my beloved friend. It may not be smooth like rhyme of a poem but please bear with me as I tell my friend that:

“Friend, you are the most high friend and when I say ‘high’ I am not talking about the godly high like nah fam, I am talking about your craziness which is amazing like Vodacom next level. You are too funny for my soul and I enjoy being around you, out of all the things that I love about you, I love the fact that you are flexible and you are able to give your heart up for rejection and always have a positive mind and those are the people that I love to keep in my life because they not scared of anything therefor you are fearless beyond fear, I mean you have the guts to be different in a society where everyone tends to fit in. you know I love unique people, people who stands out of the crowd and have a different persona and that why my friend I love you and I am going to fight for you because I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. Every time I count my blessing I count you twice, I be like thank you fathergoud for something so obvious even though sometimes I know you’ll be on your moods for days but I understand because I also undergo a cycle that makes me be in a devastation of a situation too.  I don’t care whether you take me as your friend or not which is always annoying you to the point that you end up saying ‘Uyadika’ (isn’t it odd how people kill flies just because they annoying? If people killed people for being annoying I know I would have been dead by now) but I just want you to know that in my life you will always be my friend and I hope one day if you decide to come back, please do because the door will always be open just because you have been a good friend to me and everyone around you.”

 

For those of you who are wondering who is this friend, I will tell you who it is. It is quite obvious who I’m talking about as his name is Obvious Nomaele. He isn’t my boyfriend (lover) but I love his absurdness, his smile, his persona, his kindness and the time when we used to laugh together, I guess I fell in love with our friendship. I just want to say that I love you. My mum always said that I must fight for what I think is right, what I believe in and what I want. It helps in life not to lose people or things that have been important but couldn’t see because once that thing is gone you can never appreciate it again. In life it is not about how many friends you have, it about how many true friends are willing to stand by your side during difficult situations. That is why it is said that you must choose your friends wisely; not by status, or fame or their beauty (their beauty won’t make you more beautiful sweetie) but by love as it is said that happiness is a four letter word.

16th Apr2017

To Be or Not to Be: A Focus on Labels

by admin

Labels are not only a form of categorization; they also, in some cases, form part of one’s identity. But what if people don’t conform to the labels given to them, what if they adopt new ways of identification, or even, imagine a situation where individuals do not want to be labelled at all?

I was recently eavesdropping on a conversation between three of my colleagues in class recently. The interesting part about it was that it focused on sexual orientation. In one instance, one of the girls exclaimed, “I don’t want to be labelled, I am just a girl attracted to other girls”. This argument, reminded me of the one made by Raven Symone in her interview with Oprah two years ago, when she did not want to be labelled either as gay, or African American. In response, her friend argued that she was also attracted to other girls, and that there was a name for it. She then further explained that people who choose not to conform to labels were in denial, and as expected, this led to a debate amongst the trio.

My question is why does everything need a label? Personally, I never really understood the concept of gender non-conforming, because as much as it is a refusal of being classified as either male or female, it is still a label. Another problem is the concept of “coming out of the closet”, which to me is very similar to that of “skeletons in the closet”. That alone, carries connotations that being homosexual needs confirmation from the heterosexual community to be legitimate. I am not trying to dismiss the fact that for some individuals, especially in the African community, homosexuality is still misunderstood. However, I do ask that aren’t we, as society, through constantly asking others to explain themselves, preventing each other from living our fullest lives?

The point is no one has a choice in how others label them. The sad part is that all these derogatory names are given to the vulnerable members of society namely women, the disabled, the queer, the impoverished and people of color. This further perpetuates the stereotype that anything other than white, male, middle class, able bodied and heterosexual, is not considered normal. Let us imagine how financially successful we would all be, if we were not so invested in how other people live their lives.

Don't Label Me

10th Apr2017

The Presence of Gender Neutral Bathrooms

by admin

Gender Neutral

I was at a conference in a building I wasn’t familiar with. I was desperate for the bathroom, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to endure going down six floors to find a ladies’ bathroom; this was when I decided to use a gender neutral bathroom. I found myself being highly uncomfortable during the experience; I kept worrying about whether a man would walk in on my using the bathroom. Additionally, the fact that there is no sense of privacy didn’t put me at ease during this was one bathroom visit I wished lasted for a second literally a second.  I still don’t understand the source of my fears; could it be from the number of times women are molested in restrooms or was it just my own insecurities manifesting?  At home, we have one bathroom and isn’t that gender neutral since everyone uses it? So the structural enforcement of how the different genders ought to interact has pretty much been dictated to us in spaces such as schools, universities, the workplace etc. Which brings me to question the reasons for the presence of gender neutral bathrooms; are they there simply because a company wants to appear more inclusive to the broader public or do they genuinely respect the growing needs of groups like transgender people, non-binary and gender fluid people?  I’d like to pose the question of how comfortable people are with using gender neutral bathrooms?

10th Apr2017

Particularly for the Ladies

by admin

Dice

My piece is for the ladies but not just any lady. Specifically, I am speaking to those who are experiencing a devastating situation. Life has a lot of challenges and the older you get, the harder life becomes. You would often wonder as to why Peter Pan did not want to grow up but you then realize that only the toughest survive. Over the first quarter holidays, I came across a young beautiful lady; she had stress to the point that you could just see it when you looked into her eyes. Though I was in a rush, I couldn’t afford to leave another woman in that devastation of a situation. I went up to her while she was crying. The first thing she told me that she finds it very hard in to find someone to talk to. Drawing inspiration from Bill Withers, I told her “You can lean on me when you’re not strong because as woman we need to support each other through thick and thin as umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” She told me that she was pregnant and she didn’t know what to do. What was worse was that the father of the baby was denying fathering the baby. I asked her what was the first thing that came to her mind; she said she doesn’t know what to do anymore, she didn’t know whether to keep it or to terminate the pregnancy. I didn’t want to be part of the decision making but I told her to do what she thinks it best for her life and be brave enough to face the gaze and exclude what people are going to say to you as they will always judge you on whether the decision you took is good or bad. What seems like the right thing to do could also be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life and when you have to make a hard decision just flip a coin…why?… because when that coin is in the air, you suddenly know what it is that you’re hoping for.

It’s important to contain your issues and problems to yourself and tell only the people that truly know you because not everyone is going to sympathise or cry with you instead they will your problem against you. YES you made a mistake and YES it wasn’t your plan to fall pregnant or to become a mother. I don’t think anyone who is in this kind of devastation of a situation deserves to be judged. Instead, they need all the support they can get, especially from their own mothers. This is because no matter how much wrong a child does parents will always be there even if it is a problem that’s beyond their control because blood is always thicker than water.

Ladies what’s important in life is to always love yourself and smile as you face your greatest challenge.  Always know that God is always there watching over you and He will never give you a problem that you cannot handle. Life happens but you just need to pick yourself up and move on because this is life. Never live with regrets as everything happens for a reason; just know that God loves you and He alone knows what your future holds.

27th Mar2017

Strong Black Woman

by admin

Strong Black Woman

She’s a dark, Nubian queen.

Her Strength a spine made of diamonds.

She is a hurricane of a woman.

A woman who doesn’t care about the hushed

whispers the world envelops her with.

She is a bulletproof spirit made of a living,

breathing black womanhood.

Her body, mind and soul contort and buckle

like the capricious African landscape

under the beating sun.

She carries the weight of the world’s scorn and

derision home

only then does the cracking,

calloused veneer dissipate

like drained leaves

as winter winds push them away to reveal the

bare willowy frame they decorated so

distressingly.

No longer is she strong,

no longer is she the hurricane

that knocked the wind storm

so effortlessly out of her.

The world’s narrative of ‘strong black woman’

has left her mourning in silence,

her silent moans echoing back to her in the

uncomfortable quiet.

Slowly stripped of her humanity and her pain,

her vulnerability

A power so practiced it only serves to struggle

against the scorn.

This ‘strength’ is the only power she has left in

her to strike back; to dance to the unchained

rhythm of the ‘strong black woman’ narrative.

Predisposition is to always stifle her sadness,

to hide even her happiness lest she be

labelled ‘loud ghetto bitch’.

She is filled with magic

– the stuff of faery tales –

ethereal and elusive like the slow, howling

winds before the storm.

The moments of deep anxiety

and depression where the darkness within

herself eclipses all else are frequent reminders

of her humanity before everything else.

Her strength will one day be just words in her

narrative not the cover and content,

too often used to silence her true evocation

when the world looks upon her pages

for the nourishment of their thoughts.

Never downplay her power,

for she is,

from the vivacity in her veins

to the tears on her tongue,

a ‘strong black woman’.

And in the earth of her threshold,

is engraved the image of a Nubian goddess,

so pity the fool that crosses

her unconquerable spirit.

27th Mar2017

What Makes a Man?

by admin

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This is a question which has made room for much debate. In my Sociology class, one girl proclaimed that what men are made from the lies they tell. While we all chuckled at that view (which, for the most part, remains true), the question remained unanswered. I would argue that traditional society’s view of what being a man is all about is focused solely on masculinity- which is a dish best served toxic.

 

Toxic masculinity is indelibly tied to masculinity in general, as by definition being masculine means that you have qualities traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. And isn’t that every mother’s dream, that their sons will grow up to be strong and… aggressive? The most extreme example of this kind of hope for a child would be Caius Martius from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and his mother’s excessive excitement at his violent exploits, but since this is real world, and this kind of fanciful scenario is out of reach, it is quite alarming that lots of Caius Martiuses exist in modern society. Aggression; lack of emotion; and domination have become the standard for masculinity. This is what is meant by toxic masculinity.

 

A crucial factor in understanding how this is manifested is through understanding that masculinity (toxic or otherwise) is not innate. This is what makes it most dangerous. We have all heard the saying “No child is born racist,” and the same goes with this concept. Masculinity is entrenched in society through familial teachings and the way households are structured around performing chores and interacting with members of the opposite sex from childhood. This is why girls have to stay in the house and learn how to manage a household with respect to cleaning and cooking whilst boys do outside chores, if any. It also begins with vast differences between the girls’ and boys’ aisles in the toy stores. The boys’ aisles have automotive toys that make use of a child’s motor skills, whereas a girl’s toy usually involves the kitchen, and learning how to take care of a baby and how to maintain one’s beauty. This communicates to young boys and girls what their place in society will be, and what should be important to them.

 

Now, this does not necessarily mean that if you enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls and now you know a thing or two about beautification or if you enjoy cooking now, you’ve been manipulated into doing so by society or by your upbringing. The problem lies in how you’ve been taught to do these things. The same goes for how boys are taught masculinity. Young men have often been told to “act like a man”. This instruction often means that men have to be unemotional, angry, better than others, and never weak. This is one of the ways in which masculinity is dangerous– not only to women but to men themselves. Everyone is born with emotion, but a person who actively suppresses their own must be living a highly regulated and uncomfortable life and that is no life at all.

 

More than this, toxic masculinity  becomes an endless cycle of teachings because, even though that view argues that men are inherently not good or nurturing parents, a man must mould his son into the best possible version of manhood possible. Men may grow up thinking that they are unsuited to being nurturing parents, and that they have certain roles with regards to being a father, i.e. being a breadwinner. This further entrenches household inequality and influences how boys in a house are raised in relation to girls. This problem comes full circle as the ways in which a man views his masculinity give us great insight into how he views women. If a man thinks that understanding women, enjoying fruity colorful drinks, crying, or being emotionally supported by another man or caring about his appearance emasculates him, then it is apparent that he views women (and other effeminate people) as being weak, frivolous, and overly emotional.

27th Mar2017

A World Without Labels

by admin

When you go to the grocery store, everything seems to have its place. The apples belong in the fruit and vegetable aisle; the flour in the baking aisle; and the window cleaning products in the housekeeping aisle. You will even find multiple brands of the same product neatly placed next to each other in order to allow for a fair comparison of brands. Furthermore, some customers even go to the effort of comparing the packaging of two identical products to determine which one is the better option. I trust that I am not alone in recalling an occasion where I walked into a store to buy a measly little packet of sugar, only to discover, in the previous week, the store underwent a serious makeover. This resulted in me trekking up and down every aisle in search of that packet of sugar. Of course it would be on the very bottom shelf of the seventh aisle, just as you turn the corner where all of the Easter eggs have been displayed. How silly of me for not thinking of that in the first place! The point of arranging a store in such a painfully rigid manner is to make the customer’s shopping experience a pleasant one—now that’s what I call good service!

Grocery store 1

Problems arise, however, when we try to replicate this kind of organisation and structure in the real world. I do not blame people for trying to label others and categorise them accordingly as this makes life a lot more comprehensible. The world is a very big place that is home to many different people. It can be very confusing at times, however, the real world is not a macrocosm of the grocery store. The real world is a mess; a beautifully chaotic mess!

 

Following the recent Israeli Apartheid Week that took place on WITS campus at the beginning of March 2017, the question of religion has been highlighted. According to The Daily Vox the aim of Israeli Apartheid week is to bring attention to the apartheid-like crimes committed by the state of Israel against Palestinians. Every year this annual campaign creates some tension between students who sympathise with Zionist and Palestinian groups. As a Christian, I found myself subconsciously picking up the pace as I walked past the collection of people handing out fliers and voicing their opinions to anyone who would listen. Although I feel that this campaign makes a valid point, I also feel like one should promote the rights of humankind as a whole, rather than just one particular group of people.

 

I believe that religion is a very personal decision, possibly even the most personal decision a person ever makes. Initially the whole idea of religion was to create a sense of community. People would turn to a higher power in times of need and desperation. The point is to not feel alone in the world. Why then do we continue to discriminate against people of a different race, gender or religion? Everyone is different. Even if we had to compare two identical bottles of Tomato Sauce we are bound to find some differences between the two.

Labels

Often we place too much emphasis on labels such as race, sexual orientation, and religion. Throughout history religion has been a game of power but at the end of the day, we are all human and our religion is our personal choice. We need to stop reducing people to labels. When I look around I just see many different human beings going about their daily duties. What do you see?

Skeltons

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