23rd Oct2017

Goodbye

by admin

Hi everyone,

This is our last edition for the year and our team has put together an amazing final edition for you to enjoy. Stephanie Schaffrath advises us on how to develop, and capitalise on, our personal brands. Sandiswa Sondzaba explores how Lupita Nyong’o’s recent revelations of being sexually harassed by the once-invincible film producer Harvey Weinstein, highlights the deep-seated rot of toxic masculinity. Zinhle Maeko shares her recent misadventures with an ex-partner who was less financially comfortable than her. Finally, Sandiswa Tshabalala personally reflects on how the #IBelieveYou and #MeToo hashtags on social media have forced her to validate her own experiences of being sexually harassed.

Thank you for being an amazing audience. Our team has grown in leaps and bounds this year and we are so grateful that you have been a part of our journey.

Until next year,

Sandiswa the exPress imPress team of 2017

Goodbye for Now

23rd Oct2017

Lupita Nyong’o, Harvey Weinstein and the Perils of Toxic Masculinity

by admin

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 13:  Actress and presenter Lupita Nyong'o, wearing Max Mara, speaks onstage at Women In Film 2017 Crystal + Lucy Awards presented By Max Mara and BMW at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images )

A few days ago, Lupita Nyong’o joined the chorus of womxn sharing their experiences of being sexually harassed/violated by the once-invincible Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. Her recollections have deeply affected me as you get a since of how her interactions with Weinstein troubled her but how she tried to negotiate her experience of being sexually harassed whilst also making sure not to destroy her once-fledgeling career. The fact that Nyong’o kept quiet about her experience for so long because she believed that she was the only one who was being sexually harassed by Weinstein, speaks to the power of rape culture as it silences its victims whilst emboldening its perpetrators.

Weinstein has denied Nyong’o’s claims, saying that he has a different recollection of his interactions with her. Considering that approximately 40 other white womxn have come forward about their experiences of being sexually harassed/assaulted by Weinstein, the fact that he is disputing the claims of the only black womxn who has accused him of sexual violence/assault has a pungent stench of racism to it. Although I will not get into it in full detail, reminds us of how black womxn have and continue to suffer at the hands of white men- particularly white men in positions of power. Weinstein’s response to Nyongo’s claims remind us that black womxn continue to be fetishized and brutalized. Black womxn’s features are desired whilst black womxn themselves are continuously disrespected. But I digress here.

Following the initial press coverage of Weinstein’s continuous pattern of sexually predatory behavior towards actresses, Weinstein released a statement claiming that his predatory behavior is the result of his growing up during 60s and 70s. Furthermore, his publicist claimed that he is an old dinosaur learning new ways. Obviously, these attempts at justifying his actions are highly problematic as he seems to not recognize that being a sexual predator is wrong irrespective of when an individual perpetrates acts of sexual harassment/violence. His (and his team’s) attempts at justifying his behavior brings to mind Tyler Ford’s critique of how men’s predatory behavior is often blamed on male hormones. Ford, who is a transgender agender activist, discusses his experiences of being both the subject and the object of the male gaze. The expression “boys will be boys” exempts men from taking responsibility for their actions. We often excuse men’s misdeeds by blaming their misdeeds on nature or the wily actions of their (often female) victims. We need to understand that Weinstein is an extreme example of the toxicity of male privilege. In order to truly address this problem, we need to problematize the patriarchal systems that create men such as Weinstein and the other men who casually sexually harass womxn as womxn occupy the spaces that “were not made for them”. As womxn, we need to understand that our experiences of being sexually harassed/assaulted are not our responsibility. Our society needs to do more to address this permanent plague of toxic masculinity for all of our sakes.

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.

12th Oct2017

Life Happens

by admin

Hi everyone,

Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to publish an edition for this week.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Until next time,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Life Happens

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.

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

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

28th Aug2017

Make A Difference

by admin

Make A Difference

Hi everyone,

In this week’s edition of the blog, our writers have given two reflective pieces that implore us to make a difference to the world- in whatever small way we can. Realeboga Petlele reflects on how a day spent working with the Sithlengiwe Foundation in Braamfontein made her more compassionate towards Braamfontein’s (and more broadly, South Africa’s) homeless population. She ends off by calling on all of us to do whatever we can to assist homeless people. Tsholanang Rapoo discusses the difficult process of acknowledging one’s privilege and the importance of using one’s privilege to improve the lives of others. These pieces call on all of us to recognize that, individually, we are all responsible for effecting positive changes in the world.

Hope that this edition inspires you.

Until next week,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

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