02nd Aug2016

X Marks the Spot

by admin

Municipal Elections South AfricaHi everyone,

Tomorrow marks the local elections. In this edition, Tessa Hellberg discusses the importance of autonomy and being an Autonomouse during the local elections. There seems to be a lot of apathy amongst many South Africans around the value of voting. Tomorrow, we implore you to vote as this is your way of making a difference to your council’s fortunes. Our democracy, like any other, is not perfect. However, voting is your tool to make a difference within your immediate community.

Remember, your voice counts.

Till next week,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2016

09th May2016

Individuality

by admin

Individuality UnlockedWe live in a world where our thoughts, actions and identities are governed by society. We claim to know and embody freedom but do we really? As one grows up, one begins to enquire more about themselves and the beliefs which have been embedded in them. One then begins to develop one’s own opinions and perceptions of the world. The search for oneself is a natural and necessary occurrence but is often restricted or is brought to detriment by society. Social pressure governs us and instils a fear of social outcast in our minds. This fear prevents us from expressing ourselves through the means of speech, clothing or behaviour. We are brought up by norms which are meant to be guidelines as to how we lead our lives. However these guidelines can be the very thing which harm us rather than empower us. These guidelines become shackles to our thoughts and beliefs and paralyse our true selves from flourishing. One may think that these shackles are unbreakable but it takes determination to break them. One needs to step out of the cocoon to feel the exhilaration of self-liberation. Holding oneself back due to societal expectations is a grave crime; it is self-bondage, which is a great injustice.

You may deprive yourself of great opportunities and immerse self-growth, the opportunity to soar beyond limits. Individuality is the one thing that many fear to express. Once one embraces their individuality, self-contentment, inner tranquillity and self-liberation naturally follow. People make choices according to what they think their parents, friends or neighbours would expect them to do. They present themselves to society according to the standard by which society determines the ideal man or woman. In the process, self-contentment, inner happiness and one’s identity are compromised and often sadly to a point where one’s individuality ceases to exist.

I came across a beautiful quote a month ago by Alejandro Jodorowsky which epitomised a thought that I have had for a while, a thought which has led to this piece of writing; it says “Birds born in a cage think that flying is an illness”.  Social conformity has become that cage where we encage our true selves from soaring. We cripple any ideas of deviance by portraying them as taboos and abnormalities. Anyone who dares to venture beyond societal norms is often portrayed as an outcast. Such is the unfortunate reality of our world- that which makes each person what they are is the very thing that is feared. Fortunately, there are a few courageous individuals such as the Pretoria Social Market Trio, three young creative, talented and bold individuals who express themselves through their sense of style- embodying the epitome of self-embracement. In our fairly conservative society, some may see their style as outrageous and ridiculous. For others, like myself, they serve as an inspiration for self –expression, and being oneself completely and wholly. Such individuals are a reality of a quote by Jennifer Lee which says that one should be fearless in the pursuit of what sets one’s soul on fire. Breakout of the cage and fly high among the stars. Be You. Do you. Without Any Fear . Embrace Your Individuality. Breathe Your Individuality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

25th Apr2016

Welcome

by admin

Illusion of Freedom

Welcome to our first edition of exPress imPress for 2016. In this edition we are discussing freedom and what it means for us. All of the pieces for this week’s edition are reflective and thus fall under imPress section of the blog. In two different pieces, Mamelodi Marakalala discusses the relativity of freedom and her vision of absolute freedom. Jabulile Mbatha discusses why our ideas of freedom are merely an illusion. Julia Roberts questions whether we are free enough to celebrate Freedom Day. This year, we are profiling up and coming photographers and featuring their works on the blog. This month, we have featured one of Nicholas Rawhani’s photographs.

We sincerely hope that you enjoy the first edition of exPress imPress for 2016.

Here’s to an exciting year ahead.

Sandiswa and the 2016 exPress imPress team.

25th Apr2016

Photographer of the Month: Nicholas Rawhani

by admin

Nicholas Rawhani

Untitled. Taken in East London, 2014.

Nicholas Rawhani is a photographer, videographer and third-year Electrical Engineering student at Wits. He uses his photography to illustrate his love for humanity- a love which comes from his beliefs as a committed Baha’i. To read an interview with him from 2014, please click here.

25th Apr2016

Nothing But Freedom

by admin

for the poem

Nothing but freedom on our lands;

We walk for days on end, no shackles on our hands.

Our breath touches oceans even when we don’t see them,

The flowers grow with so much colour in them.

The sky in our eyes is blue, clear,

 

There are no longer smells of tear gas,

Or smells of fear as you grab hold of your daughter

And run away from Angry Men with her.

 

Nothing but freedom on our lands;

We wear smiles on our faces as our feet kiss with the sands.

Our mind speaks without oppressors,

The Angry Men no longer angry at us.

 

We hear each other silently,

There is white, there is black, there is no brutality,

And we could not be a more free society;

Free from the lights that came at us in darkness,

Free from the even darker places those little lights would take us.

 

Freedom is here, in all our whispers and all our cheers,

It is in all our houses because there is no fear.

We became one, the country says.

Our eyes do close when our heads lay.

 

25th Apr2016

The Idea of Freedom

by admin

for the written piece

I always hear people talk about relativity, the idea being that, that all aspects of our lives are relative. In my opinion, people use that idea to justify their not participating in a debate. For example people will often say things like, ‘Respect is relative. I do not need to respect you because this and that is not what respect is for me’. I find that logic to be unsound and disrespectful in a few cases, considering their own definition of respectful or disrespectful behaviours. Why don’t we just accept we are all human and live according to one book, challenging ourselves to step out of what is often called the comfort zone by respecting others? Ditto for all our other behaviours, given that we have a mind that questions, and a heart that disobeys and is, in most cases, not selfless. These are not bad qualities- in most cases these qualities are beneficial. Rather, these qualities create a world for us that is not ideal. If my idea of freedom is different from yours, then how are we free? Are we free for ourselves? How then, do you we come to define and understand the idea of the freedom of the nation?

 

Our elders will often tell us their thoughts around freedom being objective. Our childhoods have, and continue, to be shaped by their stories related to freedom- or rather a lack thereof. Their stories are the reason the people of my colour get to walk any street, day and night, without fear of being attacked and imprisoned for being there. We are able to access to the education we deserve, and it turns out that we are capable of putting that education to great use. Their  stories serve as the reason that we can all be a part of each other’s worlds.. For them, freedom is being able to live in South Africa as South Africans, and not by any other name. Freedom is not being chained by a system that could only care about catering for a particular segment of the population. Freedom enables them to choose their own system. For them, freedom is feeling physically safe. It is their freedom that has enabled us to have our freedom: a freedom that allows us to be ourselves and express it to the world without any penalties. It is a freedom that allows us to express our own thoughts and ideas. A freedom that enables us to choose what we want out of our lives, what our beliefs are. This is a freedom that we can have regardless of our age, our gender, our race, the challenges we’ve ever faced. Finally, this is a freedom that is both mine and yours- it is relative. Our ideas of freedom were born from their freedom. They fought, they died, so we can have it, and we celebrate it on April, 27.

25th Apr2016

I Remember I Asked

by admin

Freedom from PainI remember I asked, “What does heart break mean”?

She answered, “It is the tremendous and unexplainable pain experienced by an individual after the loss of a loved one.”

I agree with that explanation, yet, I started to wonder about how one could free oneself from such pain. In fact, how does one free oneself from any form of pain? Especially when it is unexplainable; it has no recognisable solutions or rather because you do not even know which direction or form it will come from or when you will experience it again. Given the conditions of pain I ask again to all who know what pain feels like, how does one free oneself from such pain? Rather, how does one free oneself from any form of pain?

My understanding on the notion of freedom is that one is not free; one never has been free and one never will be free. Ask any former slave they will tell you the same thing. Much often than before I am informed about the struggles of freedom, it is such things that speak to me as young black African female residing in South Africa because it furthers my above statement that freedom is not freedom if it has to be fought for.  Yet, we reside in a country with a constitution which promotes the ideology that all humans are born equal and therefore have the right to life.  Anyone who has experienced oppression or deprivation views freedom differently to someone who has never experienced deprivation or oppression. A caged bird seeks to fly; a slave of any kind seeks liberty; an individual in a labyrinth seeks a great escape, a falsely accused prisoner seeks freshly blown air outside colossal walls;  a blind man desires to see what he feels and hears; same for the deaf man wishes to hear what he can see and touch. In this way, freedom is what you strongly desire and associate as a necessity more especially that which you do not have.  This makes it safe to say freedom is not free.

25th Apr2016

Are We Really Free to be Celebrating the Day of Freedom?

by admin

Freedom- Julia Roberts

I define freedom as being free from all societal and religious expectations. This can be extended to include being free from hatred, anger, and any form of oppression. Perhaps the truth about freedom and being free is found in when one dies because when one is still alive, one is bound to the things one may not even know that one is bound to.

We all fight for freedom- we all fight for the chance to break free from what could possibly be the reason for our unhappiness. The question I want to ask is whether there actually exists freedom after the fight? Individuals temporarily oppress themselves through getting an education in order to free themselves from a life of poverty.  These individuals study hard with the hope of finding freedom once they get their dream jobs and are able to begin the process of building their own empires. What most people find, however, is that freedom does not follow after building their empires as they are still bound by various duties and expectations.

As we celebrate Freedom Day this week, we should seriously consider whether we are free from the racism which has played an integral part in our country’s history. If we were really free as South Africans perhaps we wouldn’t be having sleepless nights on social ills that continue to plague our black communities. Seeing our sisters falling pregnant at sixteen and our brothers snatching hand bags on corners to get money to buy drugs shows us that we have not attained true freedom. We would not be fighting our president if this was a democratic country where everyone has been liberated. Instead, we would have a leader who fights tooth and nail to remedy social ills.  There would be little to no corruption taking place behind the golden curtains of the offices of men in white collared shirts and women in stilettos. Although I do not know what happens after our current existence, I believe that true freedom is found only when one dies. By closing their eyes forever, one is able to rest from all the human suffering one is currently surrounded by.

 

27th Apr2012

Freedom and blacks: A continued struggle to BE

by admin

A few weeks ago, a student from Wits University came to visit the Steve Biko Foundation (SBF) and learn about the work and programmes of the Foundation. Before I could go into my exposition of the life of Steve Biko and how this influenced the founding of SBF, she interrupted with a very distressed voice and said, “Why are blacks so lazy these days? Where has the spirit of Biko and others gone really? I mean we are so useless and full of complaints, crime and HIV. What are we doing with our freedom?”

I looked at this young girl again and saw a black child whose harrowing cry for help came down to this powerful, yet constantly eluded question: “What has freedom meant for the black society in South Africa?”

Many times has this question been raised and as many times it has been apathetically written off merely as blacks laying a guilt-trip on whites for their own laziness. If given half a thought, this question might pass as a ‘favourite’ tweet and get you a few followers on Facebook but it hardly sinks into the consciousness of that audience. The ostensible truth that  blacks are being denied the right to a free life and human dignity by a system that is disguised as their own, is hardly given a second thought – yet it responds to this very question.

Instead, blacks are presented as ‘the problem’ in society and ‘guilty’, simply for being black. The point that blacks are lazy is part of the superficial justification of how much of a problem we are and always will be. This argument comes from those who divert and ignore the contemporary relevance of Black Consciousness and Biko. They will very quickly point out that South Africa is led by a black government and continue to point to corruption, greed, crime, all equated to evidence of failure. Such diversion covers the pertinent discussion of how, 18 years into democracy, the potency of probing into the everyday life of a black community has been avoided. Blacks remain agonized by injustice and oppression, regardless of how much of a ‘democracy’ they are conferred with.

A 17 year old girl was recently gang-raped by 7 boys between the ages of 14 and 20 and suddenly South Africa was totally flabbergasted by this ‘inhuman’ and ‘pathological’ action on the part of the rapists. “How on earth could they?”. The key fact to be contemplated is that we all know that this isn’t an isolated case of evil in black communities. It is yet another aspect of ‘life’ for many blacks in this country. In a country where 30% of men admit to having committed rape, why should we be shocked? If an estimated 48% of the population lives on less than R14 a day in this country why should we be surprised that these boys could give a girl R2 to keep quiet about the rape? My argument is simple. We are busy covering up the symptoms and refusing to deal with the real issue.

Factually, the life of a black person is still worthless, and blacks are still carrying around their own guilt for their circumstances today, almost two decades after their ‘freedom’. Blacks continue to carry with them the historical burden of denigration and subservience, so much that they now again – as in the days of Biko – believe it to be true about themselves. This shocking facade of truth has been sealed with the myth that democracy restored freedom and justice. A facade which constantly serves as a tool to dumb down forces pursuing concrete and genuine change. I defy anyone to tell me honestly that by placing these rapists in jail, residents of Soweto will feel safer the very next hour. We continue to fill our prisons to overflow while ignoring the activation of an economic, social, security, political and legal system designed to make possible the betterment of the lives of blacks.

Based on this perverted idea of freedom, ‘free’ blacks fill stadiums attending commemoration festivals of Freedom Day and add a digit to their count of years of liberty. To thinkers, this word ‘freedom’ has become a recitation for the political arena that harbours the unpleasant truth about the daily lives of this very majority. Being born black still means that your future is determined by external power and this counters Biko’s construct of freedom:“[…] the ability to define oneself, with one’s possibilities held back not by the power of other people […]”. Through a multiplicity of economic, political, legal and social means, the historical system of oppression continues to subjugate and control blacks and in so doing denies their freedom to be.

The conversations between blacks are different because they innately – and incorrectly – believe they are ‘the problem’. On the other hand, the privilege of being white, as stated by Melissa Harris-Perry, “involves the luxury of being able to decide how, in what ways, and under what conditions, you will allow yourself to be uncomfortable”. This advantage for whites extends to the conversations that they have with each other as they don’t have to talk about their daily strive to simply BE in the way that blacks do. This privilege and supremacy manifests itself in many ways and continues to do so unreservedly.  As I sat there looking at this young, confused and furious face I asked myself: “Do whites ever sit down and talk about how to BE?”. Well, being black in this anti-black society means you have to! Yet blacks are ‘free’. What a mockery of freedom this is!

The life of a black person has become a constant struggle against every attempt by the system to pierce the paradox of a people steeped in a sense of place, yet ever on the move. Blacks will go on national strikes, use media platforms, sing liberation songs and much else but still remain stuck in a place of servitude. And yes, South Africa celebrates Freedom Day on the 27th of April.  While South Africans sing and dance on this day, I will be chanting the words of an American reformer Frederick Douglass when he said;

The relation between the white and coloured (black) people of this country is the great, paramount, imperative, and all commanding question for this age and nation to solve. It is not light that is needed, but fire, it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the nation must be aroused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

References

Biko. S. (2007). No fears expressed. Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust.

Harris-Perry, M. (2012). Treyvon Martin: What it’s like to be a problem. The Nation, 28 March 2012.

Heywood, M. (2012). Getting out of the plenty trap. Jay Naidoo – I Am Because We Are blog, 9 March 2012.

More, M.P. (2004). Biko: Africana existentialist philosopher. Durban: University of KwaZulu Natal.

 

Serialong Kolisang is a MA student in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and Communications Officer at the Steve Biko Foundation.

27th Oct2011

Buyable freedom

by admin

As I’m sure is the case in other localities, back home in KZN when stories involving local public figures make national headlines, they are sure to flood our front pages for as long as can be. The big stories in July, when I was last there, were suspended Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) health director and convicted drug trafficker Sheryl Cwele and businesswoman and convicted fraudster Shawn Mpisane (also dubbed ‘Durban queen of bling’). And so for weeks on end, each and every daily and weekly newspaper (in the south coast at least) featured some kind of follow-up story on the two. Every newest detail, however little, was recorded. Even where there wasn’t anything new, that was reported too. By the end of the vacation I was ready to dub some of the publications the ‘Sheryl Cwele Official Journal’.

Nevertheless this constant influx of follow-ups on un-jail-able criminals (as it soon became apparent to me at least) probed a more critical look at our criminal justice system. Perhaps there is more to the LegalWise advertisement where a scenario of two complainants (erm what’s the legal term for it again?) who were involved in a car accident is presented and the question who would win the court case is asked. The answer follows shortly: “The one with the better lawyer”. I don’t know much about criminal law but if media representations of life situations are anything to go by, I suppose the LegalWise advertisement joined in and summarised the justice for dummies handbook: justice depends on the thickness of your bank balance.

Why else is Dewani still on the streets while Tongo’s R15,000 that Dewani offered him to murder his wife could not save him from a sentence? (I was supposed to put in an ‘allegedly there somewhere, wasn’t I?).

For those of you who don’t live in KZN, Sheryl Cwele is our former Health Director at the Hibiscus Coast Municipality (unlike others who have reported on her story I will not add that she is [or was: can’t keep up anymore] married to State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele: useless info). Anyway, she was convicted and sentenced for drug dealing. After the judgement, she was suspended from her municipal job with full pay. Then she was suspended without pay and when she threatened ’legal action’ (note the irony) her salary was reinstated. Then it was taken away again until the municipality finally gathered enough balls to fire her. Nevertheless she is now “out on bail appealing her sentence”. I believe that is the legal phrase for it. I prefer she is enjoying the freedom that her money can still afford. Her co-accused Frank Nabolisa unfortunately does not own such means so he’s in jail.

Mizz Queen of Bling on the other hand paid R50,000 for her freedom. Only a small portion of the R4.2 million in total that she has cheated off the taxman. Again, her poor bookkeeper who was allegedly told by Mpisane that his job was to “save her money and not give it away to SARS” is in jail. In case you don’t trust the credibility of my justice for dummies handbook above, note the following quote:

By possessing the property of buying everything, by possessing the property of appropriating all objects, money is thus the object of eminent possession. The universality of its property is the omnipotence of its being. It is therefore regarded as an omnipotent being. Money is the procurer between man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me. For me it is the other person.

These are the words of the great Karl Marx. Slap in the masked face of “money can’t buy you everything”, is it not? OK, maybe that’s a little unfair. Perhaps some of the best things in life really are free. Take writing (and reading bleh) this article for instance, it’s (almost) freeJ. However, many things, including freedom itself, as my piece aims to demonstrate, come at a very high price tag. Let me seal my offering with one last quote.

Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good; therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

Matshidiso Omega Moagi

 

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