20th Mar2017

Gender and Sexuality Issues Under the Political Lens

by admin

Gender inequality and discrimination based on sexuality have always been issues that have brought with them pertinent discussions and debates. A lot of “important people” debate and deliver speeches about issues on social media platforms; however, the truth is we have never really seen any of these problems being practically addressed. We live in a country where equality and fairness are always encouraged; the representation of all people is something that is highly emphasised. However, this does not reflect the reality for most people. Please note that this article is based on my own personal views and opinions and I do stand to be corrected.

For years we have been about feminism this and feminism that. And I say “we” because I, myself have been a part of those who have considered themselves a feminist without really taking into account the conditions under which feminism exists in this country. After attending the Feminism Indibano organised by SASCO Wits (credit ought to be given to the speakers) I have come to believe that feminism is not only about our social stance; it is also about how our political institutions have a bigger role in reinforcing what the social institutions preach. The social hierarchy pyramid places us black women at the very bottom, with black men right above us. This means that black women have three privileged groups “oppressing” them. For years, non-feminist have not understood the fuss around being “equal” has been about; and have went on complaining about how black women want to be “equal” to men. The truth is that WE DON’T AND HAVE NEVER WANTED TO BE THE SAME AS, AND EQUAL TO, these other groups. Why be equal to a black man who is oppressed on the basis of his race? Why be equal to a white woman, when her gender disadvantages her? And why be equal to a white man who has the ultimate power over our lives and could oppress us at any given time? However, this is a story for another day.

The main issue at hand is, how are our political institutions addressing sexuality inequality and discrimination? As much as we have a women’s league in South Africa, what has its role been in ensuring that women are well represented in state government? Of all the premiers in the current cabinet only one is female. This brings forth the question about what the state is saying about its faith in women leadership and its stance on the patriarchs who constantly take feminist movements two steps back. The political field as a whole is held by men and is also driven by them. And as long as such issues are not reinforced in the one “field” that practically runs everything issues of such importance will never be adequately addressed.

Coming to the representation of sexuality in our country, well, this has been a dismal fail. This is despite there being a youth league that is supposed to be representing the young people as well as ensuring the problems the youth are encountering are addressed by the national government. We are facing a difficult time of being discriminated against on the grounds of our sexuality. We are facing high rates of unemployment. And as students, we are faced with the challenge of high university fees whilst we are making the call for free decolonised education. How is our youth league attempting to address such? We ought to have a division in the youth league which will be mainly run by people who know the struggles which come with being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (part of the LGBT community). We may all be young people; however, we do not all face the same daily challenges. It is for this reason that I believe that political institutions should be inclusive and regularly address issues related to those of genders/sexuality regardless of economic status. And as much as we would like to mostly focus on women, we cannot ignore the fact that there are “men” who identify as women and “women” who identify as men. Thus, we have to consider the discrimination that comes with that identification. Politics practically run this world, and if issues of such importance cannot be addressed using politics, then clearly equality will never exist.

Please do excuse the lack of academic language in this article, but I do hope it provokes thoughts and questions about what role the political arena is, and should, be playing in creating a gender/sexuality inclusive environment in the country.

Gender

20th Mar2017

So on the Issue of Accommodation Huh?

by admin

Wits EFF Protest

It is almost the end of block one and many students are still faced with the problem of not having accommodation. Many endure sleeping in libraries and toilets or travel long distances to get to lectures. The scarcity of accommodation both on and off campus has been a persistent struggle mostly due to university residences being unable to provide spaces for every single applicant and the ludicrous amount of money required to secure a place and meals as well.

I used to live at one of the South Point buildings and I swore I would never go back again due to reasons including high prices, bad customer service, various safety and security issues, maintenance, etc. Despite all of that I found myself back in the same building because on campus accommodation had limited capacity and slightly higher prices compared to off campus accommodation. One has gotten used to this yearly struggle, and the university has not done much to help with this issue. The national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS) also seems to distance itself whilst most of its recipients rely on off and on campus accommodation. Seemingly though, NSFAS continues to accredit certain buildings that charge high prices which they are failing to cover. This results in a huge shortfall that students must top up on from their own pockets. The student representative council (SRC) has made efforts to help alleviate some of the stress caused by this crisis but their efforts have been a drop in the ocean. Last year, we saw some activism and physical action directed at South Point accommodation and their ridiculously high fees with the hashtag #SouthPointFeesSoRidiculous. Moreover, a march to their office for a memorandum handover by the Wits EFF Student Command managed to draw attention to how private accommodation providers charge unfair and unregulated prices; in addition to how these providers have been exploiting poor students who have no alternatives and are forced to pay exorbitant amounts for accommodation of a lesser quality.

Southpoint Fees So Ridiculous

I write this article as I want to alert and inform most students who may be in a sticky situation when it comes to accommodation to not fall prey to people who may want to exploit their desperation. If they are still on the waiting list to get on university residences, they must continue to be proactive and probe the university and the SRC to come up with more effective solutions to the nationwide accommodation crisis.

13th Mar2017

To Grant or Not to Grant: Inside Sassa’s Grant Crisis

by admin

SASSA Card

 

17 million South Africans currently receive social grants from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Until early this year, Sassa was efficient in its provision of social grants to its beneficiaries. In order to decrease the risk of corruption, Sassa has (until now) enlisted the services of Cash Paymaster Systems (CPS) to pay out some R10 billion to the beneficiaries. It has emerged though, that Sassa’s contract with CPS has not been renewed. This means that, come 01 April, the social grants recipients will not receive their payments.

The Sassa crisis has led to the demonization of the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini. What has emerged is that the looming crisis is the result of Sassa’s reported R1 billion in irregular expenditure and financial payments. The Constitutional Court found that Sassa’s initial contract with CPA/Net1  was irregularly awarded, leading to the gross irregular expenditure during CPA/Net1’s tenure as the provider of social grants. The Constitutional Court, following its initial ruling, refuses to allow Sassa to extend its contract with CPA/Net1. Sassa needs The Constitutional Court to authorize its use of CPS as it has not found any viable alternative service providers. However, on the same day Sassa filed papers requesting for The Constitutional Court to authorize its use of CPS, Sassa drew up papers to for a notice to withdraw application.

Moreover, the South African cabinet has failed to address the social grants payment crisis. The Sassa crisis was not mentioned in the post-Cabinet statement, with Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe stating that there had not been enough time to address the matter. Sassa, itself has been plagued by internal difficulties with the current CEO, Thokozani Magwazani, being placed on “sick leave” for twelve days. His, and Bathabile Dlamini’s, notable absence from a meeting between Parliament’s committees on public accounts on 27 February resulted in Themba Godi (chairman on the committee) ending the meeting as there was no one who was able to answer questions about the grant crisis.

Seemingly, the looming crisis does not look to be averted anytime soon. Sassa has only started negotiations with CPS/Net1 on 28 February. Tensions between Dlamini and Godi were apparent at Sassa’s presentation to the social development portfolio committee on 22 February, with Dlamini dominating, leaving no room for Sassa officials to speak. The crisis will affect South Africa’s poorest, resulting in substantial socio-economic crisis. In 1994, the newly-elected South African government stated that its principle interest lay in protecting society’s vulnerable and marginalized. Additionally, the South African Constitution was primarily drafted to protect the rights of all South Africans, who include the poor. South Africa’s high levels of socio-economic inequalities have become more deeply entrenched in the socio-politico-economic order. Sassa was developed in order to address the developmental crisis experienced by South Africa’s poor. The crisis demonstrates that Sassa has failed in its responsibility to South Africa’s poor. The crisis seems to be a more tangible example of how post-apartheid South Africa’s dreams are increasingly not being realized.

13th Mar2017

A Day Trip to the Salty Little Town of Parternoster

by admin

Beach Days

Someone once said that travelling “leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller”. So here is my story of the day my two travel buddies and I took a road trip to the small fishing town of Parternoster in the Western Cape. A day filled with tear-inducing laughter, stunning views and good food.

Prior to embarking on our journey from our holiday accommodation in Langebaan (45km away), we thought it would be a good idea to put in a load of washing, whilst forgetting to redirect the water drain pipe into the bath. This particular washing machine has a tendency to make a sound similar to one I imagine the Loch Ness Monster makes upon waking from its slumber. We were therefore more than eager to get out of the house and on our way. Happily we made our way to Parternoster, only to realise our mistake 20km down the road. Returning home, we sprinted to the bathroom like mad chickens. Luckily the floor was bone dry and after securely placing the drain pipe in its allocated spot, we embarked on our journey once more.

Parternoster is known to be one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast of South Africa. This salty little town is in the vicinity of Vredenburg, just 145km North of Cape Town. It makes for an ideal day trip. In my opinion, Parternoster is defined by just two words: windy and picturesque. Upon arriving, we parked our car on the side of the road and walked up and down the main road which is crammed with quaint little shops and restaurants sporting a sea view. In the streets we saw plenty of young men selling crayfish, some no bigger than the average hand and others absolutely enormous! Locals did, however, warn us to abstain from these illegal crayfish vendors, or else we would attain a hefty fine.

My favourite shop was most definitely Die Winkel op Paternoster. Besides the beautiful leather bags, authentic Veldskoene and homemade preserves; what captured my heart was a little packet of deliciously sweet, syrupy koeksisters. Between the three of us, we polished off the entire packet of golden deliciousness right outside the entrance to the shop. In fact, they were so scrumptious that we even walked right back inside to buy some more—for later of course. After browsing at all of the little shops we returned to the car and made our way to the Seekombuis just inside the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, a mere 7km away. From the parking lot this little restaurant doesn’t look like anything to write home about. But just wait until you walk through the little entrance that has probably seen better days. Seekombuis is exactly that: a kitchen right on the beach. If it was any closer it would be in the sea. Captured by the view, we eagerly made our way to die kerk (as they call it), which is an old fishing boat overlooking the bay and by far the best table on offer. Perhaps it was compliments to the view, but that afternoon I ate the best fish and chips I have tasted in my life!

After lunch we continued to sit on the beach with our toes in the sand and a glass of ice cold wine in hand, as we admired the heavenly blue water before us. I even spotted a school of dolphins cheerfully playing in the distance. After much excitement, we hastily retrieved a pair of binoculars from the car to get a better look. And so the scrutiny began… First my incredible spot was demoted to submerged rocks, and then—to my disgrace—seaweed! To this day I am still convinced that they were indeed dolphins. But then again I guess even if they weren’t, for those precious few moments, those submerged rocks created so much joy in my life, that if anyone ever asks, I will not hesitate to tell them that they were without a doubt, most definitely dolphins.

In the end, the Three Musketeers started on our journey home. We left Parternoster with fiercely knotted hair, sandy feet, full tummies and warm hearts. On our way out we passed a windmill that had clearly worked very hard some few years ago and read “Dead as a doorknob” in Afrikaans. I guess that is quite an accurate description of how we all felt after our memorable adventure In Parternoster. Without a doubt, a bucket list destination!

Contact Details for Places Mentioned Above:

  • Die Winkel op Paternoster, Cnr of St. Augustine Road and R45 (Vredenburg Road), Western Cape, 022 752 2105
  • Seekombuis, Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Tietiesbaai, Paternoster 7380, 072 258 9041

Paternoster

13th Mar2017

Why Every Young Kid in South Africa Needs to Listen to Okmalumkoolkat’s ‘Mlazi Milano’

by admin

Okmalumkoolkat

Okmalumkoolkat is one of South Africa’s talented artists who is not only a rapper but is also a dancer, fashion influencer and all round creative genius. One look at his Braam-kid-ville aesthetic will give you a sense of what I mean. There is a futuristic element about him and that is present within his sound that has influenced a lot of South African hip-hop artists. Mlazi Milano is a 17-track album featuring the likes of award winning Ricky rick and member of Boyz N Bucks; Mashayabuqe Ka Mamba; Mr. Digital Maskandi; the highly acclaimed the Brother Moves On; as well as young and upcoming musos like Shomadjozi, Reba Red and Amadando . The reason why every young kid needs to listen to this album is because it is pro-South African, it both celebrates and aims to promote our multilingual, diverse and culturally rich nature in a manner that speaks to the youth. The album addresses issues like isintu- the African way of doing things like praising the gods or serving a higher being- which lies beyond the confines of the western conceptualization of religion. In this album Okmalumkoolkat addresses the trend of South African youth looking down upon their cultures, religion and traditions. He smoothly does this by rapping mainly in Isizulu as well as collaborating with Mashayabuqe who has successfully merged maskandi music with trap music and Shomadjozi who raps fluently in Xitsonga. This demonstrates that one does not need to be a pure imitator of mainstream American hip-hop culture. It is obvious that hip hop is at its most successful period in the country. Because it is part of the mainstream, most artists have become monotonous producing music of a lesser quality with everyone adhering to the winning formula. It’s time South African hip hop becomes more inclusive and celebratory of South Africa’s diverse cultures. In our social media-driven age, it is refreshing to see artists who are genuinely making music for a certain cause and act as an inspiration to the youth. One needs to listen to this album to get a sense of what I am talking about.

17th Oct2016

Goodbye for Now

by admin

goodbye

Hi everybody,

We have approached the end of this year’s edition of exPress imPress. It has been a great year sharing our team’s thoughts and ideas with you- our readers. Mamelodi Marakalala has written a piece on how women ought to follow their own paths and not succumb to societal expectations. The last few weeks have been tough, with the militarization of many South African universities in response to the #FeesMustFall2016 movement. Khwezi passed away, having not received the justice she deserved. As South Africans, we are in the midst of one of the most challenging periods in our country’s history. Our finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, is facing fraud charges and there is increasing proof of state resources being misused. This is enough to make us despondent. In some ways, it would be easier to leave South Africa before our country goes up in flames. However, this is our home. We are facing significant challenges but we cannot give up. Our country has so much potential and we, as South Africans, have the power to change the course of our country’s future.

 

Until next year,

Sandiswa and the 2016 exPress imPress team

19th Sep2016

Amandla Ngawethu?

by admin

wits-shutdown

Today, Minister of Higher Education, Blade Ndzimande announced next year’s fee hikes for tertiary education. Minister Ndzimande announced that universities would determine the fee hikes themselves- however, the fee hikes may not exceed 8%. Various South African universities, most notably Wits have protested in response the Minister’s announcement.

It seems as though we are on the precipice of another #FeesMustFall movement. But various questions still remain. Our talented writer, Thabisile Miya, addresses these questions by looking at the legacy of last year’s student protests. Considering the changes in South Africa’s political landscape, will we bear witness to a #FeesMustFallReloaded? If so, will these protests result in meaningful transformation in South Africa’s tertiary education sector? These are the questions, that hopefully, will get some clarity in the coming weeks.

Until the next edition,

Sandiswa and the 2016 exPress imPress Team

23rd May2016

Goodbye for Now

by admin

 

Goodbye for NowHi everyone,

This week’s edition is our last one for the semester. Since everyone is in exam mode, we just decided to have a small edition including work from our talented team of writers. What is happiness? This is the question Precious Mohale ponders over as she reflects on how a homeless man taught her a lot about what happiness entails. Noluthando Javu writes on the end of a friendship. This is something we can all empathise with. Noluthando’s poem perfectly captures the ambiguous emotions that accompany the end of such a close relationship. We also have an interview with Greg Alexander, a Philosophy honours student who uses Instagram as the means for sharing his photography with his followers. He discusses the importance of Insta-meets, his love for cityscapes, and the story behind his favourite photograph is also included in this week’s edition of the blog.

Hope that everyone has a great exam period and an amazing study break filled with plenty of rest.

Until next semester,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress Team of 2016

23rd May2016

Photographer of the Month: Greg Alexander

by admin

DSC_1402

The story behind this photograph is discussed in our interview with Greg which is included in this week’s edition of exPress imPress.

23rd May2016

One Insta-Shot Away from Greatness: Greg Alexander

by admin

Greg AlexanderGreg Alexander is a 21 year old Philosophy honours student who, in his spare time, takes amazing photos which are then shared with his fellow Instagrammers. He has amassed a sizeable following on Instagram, with people wanting to see the photos he is captured. In this interview, he and I discuss, among other topics, his passion for photography and the value of Insta-meets.

Sandiswa Sondzaba (SS):

When did you start your photography? What brought about your interest in it?

Greg Alexander (GA):

I started mainly on my phone at the beginning of 2014. Towards the end of 2014, I got my first camera. Since then, I’ve been enjoying photography and developing as a photographer.

SS:

You’re currently doing your Honours in Philosophy. How do your studies help to inspire you, in terms of the craft?

GA:

I think that there is an element of creativity in Philosophy. Obviously, photography has a creative side to it. They link well together, in terms of creativity. But, I enjoy photography as a hobby and as a way to explore and meet new people. Photography has a lot of elements to it that I really enjoy though.

SS:

You tend to participate in quite a few Insta-meets. What do you find, is the value in participating in those Insta-meets?

GA:

Initially, the value of it was to explore parts of Jo’burg. I never really had the opportunity to wander around the city. The Insta-meets gave me the opportunity to explore the parts of the city I wanted to see. Through that, I went to parts of the city I never would have thought of going to. I also got to meet people I would not have normally crossed paths with.

SS:

You have quite a large Instagram following. How do you keep your followers interested?

GA:

The main thing to do is to not even think of doing it so that you can get followers. You should just do it because you enjoy it. You must just keep it up and keep trying to be creative and trying out new things. Mainly, do it for yourself. If you do it for yourself, then you get maximum enjoyment from what you do and usually followers come along from that.

SS:

Do you see this as being a career? Or is it more of a hobby?

GA:

It’s more of a hobby now. Possibly afterwards, it could become something I could earn money from and potentially pursue as a career path. For now, it’s just a hobby and it is just a nice way to express my creativity.

SS:

What are your favourite sorts of subjects?

GA:

I’d say cityscapes. And street photography; capturing people in the moment, capturing them as they go about their daily lives. What I like about cities, when compared to landscape photography, is that there is symmetry. There are straight lines.  Those are nice ways to line up shots. I also like capturing people in their busy day-to-day lives.

SS:

You’ve worked quite a bit in inner-city Johannesburg, through the Insta-meets. How did you negotiate your privilege when capturing people, as they go about their day-to-day lives?

GA:

What I find is that, this is a good question, you feel uncomfortable capturing people because you feel like you’re being disrespectful and that you’re intruding on their lives. The big thing is to actually get permission before capturing people. You shouldn’t just walk around and randomly take photos of people. You should always try to talk to them and find out their stories. Give people the opportunity to portray their own lives as they’d want them to be portrayed. The big thing is that, people loved to be photographed. That makes things a lot easier. As soon as they see you with a camera, they want you to take a photo of them.

SS:

Besides Johannesburg, which other cityscape would you love to capture?

GA:

I would love to capture cities in America. New York, Boston, Chicago. I follow many well-followed Instagrammers from those cities. The photos they create are incredible. I’d love to have the opportunity to produce the same thing.

SS:

You went to Berlin, I mean Munich, recently. How did being there inspire you, in terms of your photography?

GA:

It gave me a very different take on photography. What I enjoyed about being there was that I did a lot of night photography. We don’t really get to do that here because, obviously, it is not as safe to walk around at night. I had the same attitude. I went out to capture people in their environment. Obviously, you’re always going to have shots of people you haven’t spoken to. You won’t be able to speak to everyone and get their permission before taking shots of them. I did manage to speak to one or two people I captured. They were friendly enough but obviously, it was not easy because of the language barriers. But people were interested in knowing what I was doing and whether I was a tourist or not. It was a nice to take different kinds of photos. I mean, obviously, everyone working with cityscapes takes different photos when capturing different cityscapes. So it was different, and quite a nice contrast, doing that photography.

SS:

Can you think of any photo of yours you love and why do you love that photo?

GA:

One of my favourite photos I have ever taken was last year in Newton. I was at an Insta-meet there. This was when the Insta-meets were very small and had very few participants. I was wandering down the one street on Mary Fitzgerald Square and I wasn’t feeling very inspired; thus, I hadn’t taken many photos that day. I was just walking with my camera and these two taxi drivers drove past and asked me to take a photo of them. I thought that was a very nice gesture. I managed to take, what I consider, to be a great photo of them. It was something unexpected and it was a nice gesture from them to want to take a photo of them. It just became one of my favourite photos.

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