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.

21st Aug2017

The Iceberg Album Review

by admin

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Amir Mohammed el Khalifa, better known by his stage name Oddisee, is a Sudanese- American rapper and producer from Washington DC. He is one third of Diamond District and is also a part of the Low Budget Crew.

After four years of following Oddisee, his latest offering The Iceberg, just went to the top shelf the very moment I got hold of the album. I am a big critic of music and always have a negative view on new albums but this time my mouth was shut for a minute.  Oddisee has always raps about social commentary and draws a lot of his material from everyday life events.

The 32 year old rapper, writes and produces his own music and collaborates with many other artists on his projects. Oddisee is and artist that detests the norms and mainstream culture around the use of sounds; thus, he takes on a different angle and takes risks by releasing unique sounds that no one has heard before. Even though he is a hip hop artist, his music draws from various genres that include jazz, electro and soul music.

Following the release of his six successful projects, The Iceberg is his seventh studio album which was released under Mello Music Group on February 24, 2017. The 12 track offering appears to expose the complexities of individuality and identity. The album is both timely and poetic.

The project is, all round, a well produced body of work and the third track on the album “Built by Pictures” contains a more personal insight into  the artist’s journey as he shares where he draws his inspiration, passion and creativity from.  In “You Grew Up”, Oddisee discusses about his childhood experience, having a white kid as his friend who later changed as he begins to regard black people as being inferior to white people. The other tracks also contain a very powerful message about the government and its power over human beings. However, despite all the deep observations Oddisee makes, the music is easy to dance to that you forget that the album is about the painful history of oppression. Ten years in the music game, Oddisee has done enough for the culture and has nothing to prove as he done it, and continues to do it, multiple times through his music.

 

07th Aug2017

Connections

by admin

Hi everyone,

This week, our talented writers have written great pieces for you to enjoy. Leah has written a piece about how our subjective experiences affect our ability to connect with others. Stephanie Schaffrath ponders whether social media is worth the loss of privacy that comes with it. Finally, Veli Mnisi writes about all of the great shows on offer that have come with the current Golden Age of Television.

Have a fantastic week and a Happy Womxn’s Day to all of the strong womxn in your lives.

Enjoy!

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Technologies and Connections

07th Aug2017

The Golden Age of Television

by admin

The early 2000s are touted to have ushered in a Golden Age of television. This is proven by how we’re fortunate enough to live in an era where series such as Game of Thrones (GOT) and How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) are two of many pop culture products we’ve looked forward to at some point in each of the past few years.

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One of the above series boasts impressive, and possibly first-of-its-kind production values, as well as career defining roles for many of its actors who emerged largely as unknowns. The other, follows an increasing trend of having powerful women of colour in the starring role, as well as an exploration of queer relationships and identity. The latter is by no means new, as we’ve witnessed with programmes such as Will & Grace, but HTGAWM provides a poignant view into queer issues, and issues faced by powerful women through the lens of a highly diverse cast. Naturally, a series may be subject to cancellation regardless of the diversity of its cast and nuanced storytelling, but on the basis of its ratings HTGAWM seems to be safe for a few more seasons.

Alongside the evolution of the types of television shows we’ve been viewing over the years, has come an evolution in the way we view those very programmes. Netflix has become an increasingly popular way for people to watch their favourite shows, providing streaming media and video-on-demand services. In 2013, Netflix expanded into film and television production, as well as online distribution. A series that boasts Game of Thrones’ exceptional production values and high budget, its own soundtrack, a young and predominantly black cast, as well as an exploration of how New York City at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco, queer issues and LGBT+ Ball Culture, is Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down. The Get Down is also a Netflix production, distributed by the streaming network.

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Moreover, The Get Down is quite unique in that it encompasses all the above, including its cancellation. The series was released in two parts, resulting in 11 episodes, and officially stopped airing on the 7th of April 2017. This has been seen as forming a troubling trend of the cancellation of shows with diverse casts. Another such programme, is Doubt, produced by Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland production company. Aside from decent ratings and a well thought out storyline, the series featured the character of Cameron Wirth, a transgender attorney played by transgender actress Laverne Cox. The series was also ground-breaking in that it showed what was possibly the most nuanced and informed portrayal of a romantic relationship between a transgender and a cisgender person. In addition, Cameron Wirth was shown to interact with friends who also happened to be transgender, and who have also had similar lived experiences.

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This article does not seek to prove that shows such as these have been cancelled because they have diverse casts doing the absolute most in stellar roles. It merely seeks to express concern; with all of these cancelations, who is going to tell our stories? This is particularly alarming when we consider that Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal (starring Kerry Washington) is nearing is final season and How to Get Away with Murder was only meant to last about 6 seasons, nearing its fourth. The fandoms notice and aren’t reluctant to express their derision. The Wachowski’s Sense8 was also recently cancelled, prompting numerous campaigns to bring it back. The show will now return as a two-hour special to give fans closure and allow them to grieve.

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It is most disappointing to witness the death of shows such as American Crime, The Real O’Neals and even Devious Maids – with a talented leading cast of indomitable Latina women. But we can thank the heavens for Black-ish, its spinoff Grown-ish, Fresh Off the Boat and Issa Rae’s Insecure. These shows carry the torch by representing people of colour, complex women and, in some capacity, the queer community as well. We can also be thankful for how amazing South African television is right now. Harvest on etv, starring Vatiswa Ndara and Masasa Mbangeni is a personal favourite right now, displaying impeccable writing, acting and cinematography. There is hope yet. If there was ever any evidence that this is indeed the Golden Age of television, this would be it. As South Africans, we’ve also begun telling our own stories, and we’re doing it impressively.

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07th Aug2017

Truth, Dare and Command

by admin

Is social media truly worth breeching our personal privacy?

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This month I have decided to play a little round of truth, dare or command. This week we shall begin with truth because I doubt that anyone can truly claim to be innocent when one is asked whether one has Facebook stalked their ex for months after a break-up? Raise your hand if you are guilty, because I most certainly am.

In today’s world, there really is no need to call up a friend anymore; all the information we need is just one click away. If you go through a break-up, the greatest fear is not losing the actual person, but rather the embarrassment of changing your relationship status to the dreaded “Single” option. And heaven forbid you spot their Tinder profile whilst casually checking out social media’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. All in all, I think it is safe to say that social media can be rather detrimental to our social lives- how ironic.

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Not to say that technological developments are all bad. In fact there are plenty of amazing benefits such as keeping in touch with old friends and family members who are living abroad. Plus, we have eliminated the anxiety of waiting for those dreaded high school reunions in order to see just how much everyone else has changed. And now we can even find and befriend people on Facebook, whose names we probably don’t even remember. Thanks to technological advances, Facebook can track exactly where we have been throughout the day, people we are likely to meet, and make friend suggestions. Now that’s what I call service!

But then where do we draw the line? What should or shouldn’t we post on social media? What is deemed private and what is suitable for public knowledge? Last week I went to see a newly released film called “The Circle”, starring Emma Watson, that left me with a sense of wonder combined with fear. Every day I find myself in awe of the technological developments that have been made over the past few decades. But as the famous author C. S. Lewis once said “You have to let go at some point in order to move forward”. So then, what are we having to let go of; our right to personal privacy perhaps? The question we should be asking ourselves is whether the benefits of technology are truly worthy of that kind of sacrifice?

Sociall networking

31st Jul2017

We’re Back

by admin

We're Back

Hi everyone,

Welcome back to second semester of the academic year. In our first edition back, our talented team has put together a light-hearted and poignant edition for you to enjoy. First, Sandiswa Sondzaba profiles the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist, Robin Givhan, who has successfully used fashion as the lens through which she may provide social commentary. Sekhumbuzo Obvious Nomaele welcomes us back to the second semester by directing our trends that have dominated on social media in the past few weeks. Finally, we end off on a poignant note with Sandiswa Tshabalala’s poem which was inspired the recent incidences of gender based violence that have dominated the Johannesburg public imagination.

Hope you enjoy this edition.

Until next time,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

31st Jul2017

ISSA PATIII

by admin

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The June holidays came as a blessing after weeks of submissions, exam preparations and, finally, writing the long-awaited exams that one has had cold sleepless nights for. Waking up for the last exam, one obviously has to think about nothing but finishing the exam. Afterwards, one has to concern oneself with how to celebrate finishing one’s exams and, after the celebrations, how one is going to make good use of the month that is given to freshen  up in preparation for tackling the workload that comes with the second semester. Not forgetting that one will miss the Varsity vibes, the Wi-Fi, the buddies that chill with you on the library lawns during break but most especially the weekday Kara Nicha’s specials.

It is very funny how when you are in Varsity you always have money; that’s if you know how save or use money wisely but when you get home you are super. You cannot even buy airtime over R30 and even if you buy that 200MB bundle it will be gone in “ like 2.1 seconds” just like how Bonang Matheba changes her moods.  Thanks to our “ loyal” service providers they don’t just want our money , they sometimes put themselves in our shoes . If you are on Vodacom you will understand what I am on about, yes that Facebook free mode that lets you login to Facebook free of charge but you cannot view any pictures which are posted.

Speaking of Facebook- this reminds me of the hilarious yet creative trends that cooked up a storm of laughs. Starting with the naughty trend; if you have been up and about, you will remember the inseparable  peach emoji which looks like butt  and the eggplant emoji  used to represent male genitalia. A combo that has taken up way before winter introduced itself. These emojis have been trusted to save time and make the message clear as the spirit of lust takes over. I’m sure that they will still be making waves on our interwebs years to come. Now onto the creative side of things; plastics and packaging of various products, including condoms, have turned the fashion industry upside down. People have replaced clothes with these seemingly useless props and turned them into a fashion statement. Plastic has been used to create crop tops, head wraps, skirts, earrings and various other accessories. I guess this is a good way of making use of what has been known as rubbish which pollutes the earth. Pollution is one of the major problems facing our country. With this trend, we are able to see recycling as being both creative and eco-friendly. I hope that fashion designers recognise the new trend because I would like to wear an outfit designed from plastic and, thus, become part of this great initiative.

Ask me about the National Patii songs and I will be able to create a playlist that will last for quite a few days. Starting with Nigerian songs which have made a name for themselves in our local clubs. I’m talking about Davido’s If and the recent Fall which have taken the youth’s playlist by storm. Not forgetting Pana by Tekno, you cannot argue that these African jams have not made an impact on the charts. And the recent kasi songs that will get you of that chair and even remind you of home like Memeza  Gqom by Benny Maverick which when translated to English means “shout” can be called a song of activisim yet hearing that one word “hayi” will get your touching your body like you have been stung by bees . Then we have Ko Mkokotlong by Biblos ft. Fiesta Black which will leave you hitting your back as if you have unbearable pain. However, you cannot publically respond to what the song asks you “Oe batla kae/Ko Mkokotlong” (“Where do you Want it?/ On my back?” ) . As to what the song refers to- it really does not matter ;-). Whether these songs will still be flaming in summer only time will tell.

Become active on social media and you will never get bored of or miss out on any important updates like news, parties, performances and even exhibitions. With a wide range of funny pages such as Wits Crush and Wits Confessions you can never go wrong . As the first week of the second semester passes, I just hope we will all make it out alive because the struggle is real.

 

31st Jul2017

Fashion’s Great Robin

by admin

Whenever you think of superstar journalists, we often think of the ones who cover current affair and international politics. Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, and others of their ilk are often who we think of whenever we think of great journalists who continuously break ground with their controversial insights into all that is happening in our information-heavy age. But what about fashion journalists? Why would I ask such an insidious question? These are the (mostly) womxn who write about shoes, clothes, fashion shows, and everything else about fashion. In an age where there is increasing geopolitical insecurity and further evidence that we are on the brink of experiencing (man-made) environmental calamities that we are not ready for, it seems incredibly vacuous to write an article praising the craft of fashion journalism.

One womxn has changed that perception for me. Robin Givhan. Born in 11 September 1964 in Detroit, Michigan, Ms. Givhan is a celebrated fashion journalism who is currently the fashion editor for The Washington Post. She is the first fashion journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2006. A self-admitted non-fashion insider, she uses fashion as the lens through which she critiques the political game, race, gender, and societal power relations. As an outsider, Robin Givhan has been able to direct some pointed and poignant criticism at the lack of diversity within the fashion industry. Having 10 models of colour out of 200 models may not seem like a big deal but Ms. Givhan does point out that because the fashion industry does determine ideal versions of masculinity and femininity, a lack of representation leaves out a large portion of the world’s population.

Writing for The Washington Post means that her fashion critiques have a pronounced political bent in them. During Barack Obama’s two-term stint as the President of the United States, Givhan did spend a considerable amount of time analyzing former First Lady, Michelle Obama’s fashion choices. In 2009, she criticized Michelle Obama for wearing shorts during a family vacation. Her critical stance has not been permanent as she has spoken about how Michelle Obama, as FLOTUS, was good for fashion as she was “adventurous in her choices and willing to embrace Hollywood glamour” and used fashion in order to tell a complex story about her role in history as the first African-American FLOTUS. In addition to her articles, Robin Givhan has written the book The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History, a volume that chronicles how the famous Battle of Versailles fashion show made America a global fashion superpower and yet, did nothing for the industry’s dismal record in fostering greater diversity.

Robin Givhan’s great journalism lies in her not being afraid of using fashion as the means through which she may speak truth to power. Earlier this year, Givhan wrote an article explaining why she was in favour of certain fashion designers’ decision to refuse to dress the current FLOTUS, Melania Trump. Robin Givhan is the best ambassador for her particular brand of journalism as she explains that her duty is to make her readers less skeptical about fashion. Thus, what she hopes to achieve is to get her readers to understand how fashion is about more than clothing; fashion is a great reflection of how people regard themselves vis-à-vis others in our increasingly globalized world.

Robin Givhan Interview Magazine

08th May2017

It’s All About Communication

by admin

Hi everyone,

This week our talented team have put together a small edition for all of you to enjoy. Obvious Nomaele gives us an introduction to the LGBTIAQ+ community because, as we all know, information is power. Naledi Khumalo gives a brief lesson on the various models of communication covered in the Media Studies syllabus. Finally, Sandiswa Sondzaba reviews this year’s Met Gala.

We hope that you enjoy this penultimate edition for the semester.

Have a great week,

Sandiswa and the 2017 exPress imPress team

All About Communication

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