16th Oct2017

A Seat At the Table

by admin

Black White

Hi everyone,

Last weekend, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation at UCT revealed that she had been the victim of a recent smear campaign that sought to cast doubt on her qualifications. The fact that a womxn as distinguished as Professor Phakeng was a victim of such malevolence demonstrates the pervasiveness of racial micro-aggressions within our society. We often think of racism being as overt as the white supremacist rallies that have become commonplace in America but we need to also acknowledge the more subtle racism that is just as effective at isolating and dehumanizing the objects of its manifestation. In order to combat this problem, greater awareness is necessary. As we occupy the seats at the tables we have been systematically excluded from, we need to acknowledge these micro-aggressions and keep fighting to dismantle these systemic exclusions.

Until next week.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

16th Oct2017

Being Black and Not Belonging in Academia

by admin

Mamokgethi Phakeng

Last weekend, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) for Research and Internationalisation at the University of Cape Town (UCT), revealed  on Facebook that there was a malicious email campaign launched against her that sought to cast doubt on her qualifications. The emails were sent to a list of about 40 people that included a former Vice Chancellor, members of the university’s council, senior professors and alumni.

According to Phakeng, the email distribution list looked well established and there were emails that did not refer to her and her qualifications. One alumni made reference to a DVC on Twitter who “is self-absorbed and narcissistic and can only be compared to [Donald] Trump”. A second responded stated in their response that they do not believe that she is mathematically qualified at all.

Phakeng, who became the first black womxn to obtain a PhD in mathematics education in 2002, has received messages of support from students, UCT staff members and academics in the wake of these allegations. UCT Vice Chancellor, Max Price, released a statement in support of Phakeng. In his statement, he refers to the emails as being mischievous and that he is saddened by the “attack on [Phakeng’s] integrity, professionalism and academic standing”. Others on social media came out in support of Phakeng with the hashtag #HandsOffPhakeng trending on Twitter.

Phakeng has stated that she chose to reveal the incident on social media because of her large network on social media and also because she wanted to highlighted the prevalence of these kinds of attacks on black academics. Holding a powerful position in academia, Phakeng believes that she can use her stature to draw attention to the racism that a lot of black academics experience on a daily basis. The experience has taught Phakeng that South Africa’s higher education spaces are not as transformed as she once thought and that racism continues unfettered within academia.

What Phakeng has brought to our attention is that racism is rampant within South Africa’s major institutions. Black academics and professionals are often questioned on their qualifications and are placed under a level of scrutiny that their white colleagues do not experience. There are many instances of  micro-aggression that black professionals often experience and cannot talk about. Whenever, we hear the word “racism”, we often think of emboldened white supremacists holding rallies in Charlottesville under the banner of Unite the Right. However, the subtle racial micro-aggressions that manifest themselves within many workplaces, and other spaces, are just as harmful as the more “obvious” manifestations of racism. Despite the proclamations of many liberals, racism still exists and it doesn’t only rare its ugly head when the “rotten apples” use the k-word or when school teachers make pupils the object of racist remarks. The most important thing we can learn from what Phakeng experienced last week is that the racism we experience may not be as overt as a brick thrown at your window but its impact is just as malignant.

25th Sep2017

Speak Out

by admin

Hi everyone,

We trust that you have had a wonderful long weekend. Our team has put together a small edition for you to enjoy. Realeboga Petlele gives us a liberal Christians’ perspective on the End Days and the problem of charlatan pastors using the Church to enrich themselves. Veli Mnisi discusses the problematic nature of America’s current political scene. He also delves into the hypocritical reaction to Kathy Griffin’s photo that featured her holding Donald Trump’s severed head. Our two writers call for us to speak out against various injustices and we should all heed their call.

Hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Speak Out

25th Sep2017

Kathy Griffin

by admin

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The very mention of the messy nature of American politics has become an unbelievable cliché. One can only muster so many expletives to describe Donald Trump and his supporters. I believe the use of the term deplorables pertaining to the American right-wing might as well be trademarked by uBabes WePant Suit, Hillary Clinton. American politics are too tired to feature at any point of dinnertime conversation, and are too tiring to think about – at least until Donnie Trump puts his foot in his mouth again.

However, one of the most noteworthy things I noticed during the year was the way Kathy Griffin was treated for the way in which she chose to share her sentiments on he-who-shall-not-be-named (because even the mention of the current US President’s name is enough to leave a sour taste in your mouth).

Kathy Griffin is an American comedian, famed for her frankness, and getting slapped across the face by the late Joan Rivers at her Comedy Central Roast. Earlier this year, Kathy Griffin took to social media, and posted a photo of herself holding the American President’s blood-soaked severed head. This can be interpreted in a number of ways, but I think the explanation most people are comfortable with is that this was her unique way of protesting against the joke-without-a-punchline US President’s electoral victories and subsequent blunders. It might have been bold and edgy; it might have been distasteful. It did, however, gain tons of attention, and a lot of it was negative. What is even more noteworthy is that there was a degree of consensus between the right and the left about how poor a display this was on the part of Kathy Griffin.

Kathy Griffin’s actions were so divisive that for some time, she saw herself losing comedy gigs because of all the attention she had been attracting. Many Conservatives might have disapproved because they are Conservatives, and to some degree it might have been because any opposition to Donald Trump warrants relentless attack. However, Kathy Griffin also saw disapproval on the left because she seemingly chose to deviate from Lady Michelle Obama’s decree that if they go low, we go high. I’m not sure if Kathy Griffin has ever been known to go high.

Donald Trump has basically been doing to the American people what Kathy Griffin wanted to symbolise through her holding Donald Trump’s bloody face. As if completely forgetting what this man has shown himself to be capable of, the public were quick to crucify Kathy Griffin. Interestingly enough, comedians such as Jimmy Fallon and programmes such as Saturday Night Live seemed to forget about what kind of man Trump is for long enough to each have him feature on their 45 minute to an hour long shows. Thereafter, they took to insulting him in almost every episode. In fact, Saturday Night Live has featured him in almost every cold open, portrayed by actor Alec Baldwin, with plans to continue this new tradition in the coming season.

I think it is important to ask ourselves how long we are willing to make noise about how we are disgusted by certain people and their politics before forgiving and forgetting because, at that particular moment, forgetting is the more convenient thing to do. This is similar to how certain members of the South African constituency will tout the Rainbow Nation mythology, and denounce the use of the ‘race card’, before giving in and using the k-word.

04th Sep2017

Bring Back Our NSFAS

by admin

Bring Back Our NSFAS

Hi everyone,

We have a short edition consisting one incisive article by Realeboga Petlele that hits at the cause of the recent NSFAS fiasco involving Sibongile Mani and R 14 million of NSFAS funds. This article highlights the deep-seated systemic problems that continuously perpetuate themselves in South Africa’s higher education funding crisis. The fact that one student received R 14 million from NSFAS could have been a humorous incident. However, the fact that it took 5 months for the relevant authorities to pick up on this mistake demonstrates the deep rot within the system itself. We are faced with a funding crisis in higher education that affects not only students who are recipients of NSFAS funds but also academics, and contract workers. More needs to be done to curb this crisis because, as it stands, there are going to be dire consequences in coming years.

Bring back our NSFAS!

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

04th Sep2017

Sibongile Money

by admin

This article critically responds to the NSFAS saga that involved Sibongile Mani who accidentally had R 14 million deposited into her account. That amounts to $1 million. If we put ourselves into her shoes, it is possible to claim that we could have made a rational decision and actually send back the money. But really, would we have done that?

Listening to Wasanga Mehana on 702- he mentioned that he would have gone to several exotic and secluded places jumping from one place to another to make it difficult for government to trace him, and finally would have taken the money to Switzerland to hide it there. Although his idea sounds far fetched, he could have been successful and gotten away with it. The money was deposited 5 months ago and the matter was only brought up recently only because Mani shared slips of her expenditure and bank balance on social media.

She went on expensive shopping sprees, bought expensive phones and threw parties for her friends. In a period of five months, she spent close to R900 000. At that time she didn’t even spend the money on things that could be considered as assets, like a car or a house. She comes from a relatively disadvantaged background, and the way in which she spent her money reinforces the quote that says, “Rich people will remain rich because they act broke and poor people will remain poor because they act rich.” Now she is in a situation of real poverty. Despite the fact that the funds have been taken away from her account and that she is given 20 years to pay the money back, she now faces charges of fraud, theft and misappropriation of funds which could result in 15 years of imprisonment.

When looking at this story, one cannot look at the girl in isolation. One needs to account for the entire system. Knowing the nature of South Africans, or rather humans in general, no person would make a mistake with their money- ever. This incident could be a blessing in disguise as it could raise public awareness around the fact that this kind of activity does take place in the education funding programmes. NSFAS loans are meant to aid disadvantaged students which would increase their chances of graduating, getting a degree and contributing to the growth of South Africa’s economy. The fact that huge amount of money was deposited five months ago and there were no investigations conducted indicates that there are systemic problems around the regulation of student funds. If they had conducted a search it would have brought attention to potential corruption around the distribution of NSFAS funds- but instead they kept quiet. An assumption we could make is that the persons in charge of distributing funds made a mistake in the account number, hence the money was deposited in Sibongile’s account and not the person is was intended for.

The transactions that Mani made were frequent and the fact that they couldn’t pick it up reveals the inefficiencies in the scheme. Students have been rejected by NSFAS, some cannot go to school because either they owe too much, or they cannot afford university entrance. NSFAS has been asked to explain why many students have been rejected without any reason given and they haven’t been able to provide sound reasons. One could argue that the system is really failing SA citizens; the government is not representing us anymore but rather representing their own stomachs. What is the point then of having a democracy? This is why students end up protesting, and it is not a pleasant experience, but government leaves the student body no choice but to protest in order to get them to listen to their demands.

If we are to adhere to the principle of  rational decision making, she should have gracefully returned the money and even posted on social media that she had accidentally received the money. If she had contacted the bank, InteliMali and made them aware of the error, she would have received positive attention. NSFAS would have probably have made the decision to pay her tuition without expecting her to pay-back the money after completion of her degree.  But we know that you cannot separate humans and their money or rather as the stereotype goes, “you cannot come between Xhosa women and their money.” Unfortunately it was not her money so she must PAY BACK THE MONEY.

Sibongile Mani

15th May2017

What a Time to be Alive

by admin

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Racism is still alive and well doing what it does best. It is most certainly not a thing of the past (unlike what we were taught in many history classes) as it is the very thing that caused the death of Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu. The little black boy was allegedly killed by two white farmers Pieter Doorewoord and Phillip Schutte in Coligny in the North West. The reason behind his death is apparently because these two farmers had caught the boy “stealing” a sunflower, the very creation of God, on their farm. I argue that this is mere racism because this reason cannot be justified for his death matter-of-factly.  There can be no justification for the killing of a black child by white men especially in post-colonial, post-apartheid, constitutionally democratic South Africa. It is astonishing that in this day and age such brutality can be performed in broad daylight.

It is shocking that men who are supposedly sane can inflict such grotesque acts in the name of hate.  It is absolutely scary that black people should still live in fear of possible racial attacks. I would not be surprised if the accused denied the relation of racism against this charge. I would understand that, as brave as they were when killing this boy, they may be afraid of igniting the wrath of anti-racists if ever they admitted their act to have been solely based on racism. It is still hard for me to imagine what this little boy could have possibly done in order for them to have not merely verbally disciplined him, reported him to the police if he had broken the law, taken him to his parents to reprimand him themselves or even simply told him that what he did was wrong and shouldn’t be repeated in the future. The society at large should move towards a united South Africa that belongs to all. We need to steadfastly isolate racist elements within our communities and not infringe the rights our constitution has intrinsically granted us.

24th Apr2017

Freedom in All of its Colours

by admin

Black Culture in the UK

Hi everyone,

This week our talented team have written articles that, coincidentally, address all of the complexities within contemporary black culture. Sandiswa Sondzaba shares her excitement over the fashion industry’s recent embracing of past and contemporary black subcultures. Kendrick Lamar has proven to be one of this generation’s most talented artists. Azola Jokweni discusses why he believes that Kendrick Lamar is the greatest rapper of his generation. Molebogeng Mokoka explains why our condemnation of Khanyi Mbau over her decision to lighten her skin complexion is highly problematic. Finally, Jabulile Mbatha critiques King Mswati III’s desire to ban divorce in Swaziland. Our talented writers have illustrated the complex issues that currently come with black culture- in all of its various forms. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading these thought-provoking articles.

Have a wonderful week of freedom,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

24th Apr2017

Banning Divorce

by admin

MSWATI

“In our culture, once you marry someone, there’s no turning back”, King Mswati III was quoted by the Times of Swaziland, as he seemed to be endorsing banning divorce in his country. As the King of Swaziland and a proud man of his culture, he seeks only to preserve his cultural beliefs and norm. One of these beliefs is evidently that it is not advisable to marry then later divorce. As a husband and a father himself; he understands the importance of unity within a family. Thus, he would wish that all other families could stay together as cases of divorce have shown to have the most dreadful effects on families, particularly children.

With his suggestion of banning divorce he has turned a blind eye on the reasons people divorce in the first place. This is completely unfair in the case that he eventually implements this law. Divorce statistics in South Africa show that the rates are 0, 5 divorces per 1000 estimated population; and there has been a constant decline on the number of marriages occurring annually.

There are several reasons why people get divorce. To mention a few, the most common reason is that of infidelity; in my opinion, once a partner has decided to allow himself or herself to cheat the latter could be in a position to want out and with good reason. Abuse- psychological, physical, mental or emotional is another reason for many divorces. Substance abuse can cause financial strain, emotional detachment and sometimes violence which is reason enough for anyone to want out of a marriage if they feel they have reached a point of no return with the person they used to know and love. Not only that, but being in a position of inferiority and helplessness can affect people psychologically and emotionally and they would want to help themselves by seeking a divorce.

With that being said, it would be highly considerate for King Mswati III to further explore the reasons as to why people divorce before implementing this law. Not doing so would be of no help if people are stuck in positions where they feel endangered or unloved and are held down by this law (given all the human rights we have) just for the sake of preservation of culture. Although I am personally in favour of preserving the family, I can only support fighting for saving a marriage provided that it is not oppressive or unfair for either party in the marriage.

24th Apr2017

Can You Blame Her?

by admin

Over the years, social conceptions of beauty have changed dramatically. From the stick-thin models of the early 1990s to the curvaceous, hourglass figures of the modern day generation, the pressure to conform remains the same. How does engaging in extreme dieting to achieve the body of your dreams differ from getting plastic surgery to achieve flawless perfection?

Recently, social media has been abuzz over Khanyi Mbau’s skin transformation. The actress, presenter and socialite started taking tablets to change her skin from dark, to complete yellow bone. Mbau, who was very open about the process, received tons of backlash from the public, with some people accusing her of denying her blackness. But isn’t race more than skin complexion? With society’s preference for light over dark skin, can we really blame her?

Khanyi Mbau

While others threw shade at the personality, others expressed concern over the long term effects of the pills she was taking. Again, why are we so concerned about someone who has the financial means to take care of herself? Should we rather not be focusing our attention on 19 year olds getting lip fillers than on an independent adult woman with a child? What I stand to do is not to justify Mbau’s actions, but to rather show that, in my opinion, we have been a bit too hard on her. While we proudly defend wearing weaves with notions of I am not my hair, can’t we also say, for a change, that, “I am not my complexion”?

India Arie Quote

Conformity is something that we all do, but at different levels. What if Khanyi’s skin transformation was an act of self fulfilment rather than a manifestation of a racial identity crisis? As I noted my previous article, let us all imagine how financially successful we would be if we were to focus on our own issues. Who knows, maybe that could be the first step towards working our way out of #JustStatus.

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