26th Aug2013

The Sex Trade industry

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at the sex trade industry and trafficking.

tn1An increasing numbers of women in the country are constantly lured and forced into the dangerous world of drugs and prostitution. Each night when one drives down the streets of Johannesburg it is alarming to find the numbers of young females standing at various corners. We often disregard these individuals as loose, immoral women, and we never consider what exactly led them into this horrid life of prostitution.

I was recently reading a news story covered in the Drum magazine by Thato Mokubung in the early month of August 2012 discussed the tactics drug dealers, who are dominantly older men; use to lure young girls into the vicious cycle of violence and the sex trade industry. The story is very intriguing as it offers one a wider perspective of what occurs behind the closed doors of the brothels.

Sex syndicates lure young women who are desperately looking for employment and these women are usually from small towns around Gauteng and other provinces. Alarmingly large numbers of women are lured straight from their homes as they are promised lucrative jobs in the city. An example of this can be seen when a 27 year old woman from Carletonville who was told by a close friend that she would find work in Vereeniging and should therefore relocate. The moment she arrived in Vereeniging she was met by a strange man who offered her money and gave her a complete beauty makeover. That same evening the man drugged her and she woke up only to find herself in a dingy room. She soon realized she was trapped. The strange man turned out to be a drug lord and he demanded that she should return the money he spent on her and the only way was through being a sex worker.

There are many cases where young women are drugged and forced into the sex trade industry, just as one in the above example was lured into the industry. Drug and alcohol abuse are rife in the industry and some young women are constantly drugged until they become addicted and therefore cannot leave their situation due to their dependency on the drug.

In Mexico City, the so-called “hot bed for prostitution” a young lady was deceived by a man she trusted and who she was going to marry. He promised her a comfortable lifestyle. The man ended up keeping her prisoner in a hotel room and forced her to have sex with up to 40 men per day.

Ladies beware of these sex syndicates that are preying for new flesh. Tactics these men use to trap young girls into the sex industry are fake promises about job offers in big cities and showering one with gifts and money and claiming to expect nothing in return. Some of these men are so cunning that they even offer emotional stability through love and promises of marriage. It is sad to note that one can be easily tricked into this downward path by even their closest friends and the people in their lives they believed they can trust.

19th Aug2013

Sickening Escalating Levels of Violence in our Society

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at rape and gender based violence in South Africa.

no-more-rape-cultureWe are constantly bombarded with images of brutality and violence on a daily basis by the media. Sexual assault or gang rape stories do not seem to alarm us as we have become so desensitized from the severity of these issues. The media has played a major role in desensitizing audiences because of the vast reporting on these issues.

South Africa is well known globally for being one of the countries with the highest crime rates ranging from rape/sexual violence, counterfeiting, drug and human trafficking, car-jacking and theft . The list is endless and all these crimes mentioned above are atrocious. One crime that seems to bother my conscious is that of rape and sexual abuse which seems to be escalating by the minute in this country. A survey conducted in February 2013 found that in South Africa 144 women report rape every day, which makes it six cases, reported every hour. After the Medical Research Council (MRC) conducted research and found that only one in 25 women in Gauteng report rape, it was further established that up to 3 600 women could be raped every day in the country.

No to rapeOver the past months there have however been certain heinous rape crimes that have garnered larger public outcry. One such example was the gang rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in February 2013 brought about outrage and grief for the nation. The young girl from Bredasdorp was mutilated and disembowelled and left for dead in a dark alley on a deserted construction site. After naming one of her attackers to the medics before she died, the perpetrator was arrested immediately. One would have thought finally there would be justice for Anene Booysen, but sadly this was not the case as the state claimed that due to lack of evidence they could not keep the accused in custody. The perpetrator Jonathan Davids admitted to raping Booysen but did not admit to murdering her and he was later set free. This proves how swiftly the judicial system can disappoint the women in this country.  A young teenager is gang raped and manages to whisper the name of the culprit who violated her and the man walks due to lack of evidence? What is wrong with the system? Who can women turn to for help?  This incident led to an uproar from all gender based violence activists nationwide and globally.

Just recently another heart-breaking tale was reported. On the 6th of August 2013 in Cape Town, a man was arrested for the rape of a 7-year-old boy and a 4-month-old baby girl. The baby girl was snatched from her parent’s room and she and the little boy were raped about 100m from their home. The rape of the baby girl was so brutal she has been taken to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital for reconstructive surgery and it has been reported that she will be in hospital for a very long time. The young boy was very brave and managed to carry the baby in his arms and go home to alert his parents about the whole incident.

It is so sad to note the decadence that exists in our society. Some of our fathers, uncles and brothers, are the very people we now live in fear of. One realizes the extent to which our society has become so psychotic that the age of the victim does not matter. How long are women and children going to live in fear? For the rest of their lives?

05th Aug2013

South African media lashes Vavi…this time!

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at media in Southern Africa.

tn1Compared to other African states, South African media surely does justice to its role as ‘watch-dog’ of society. The democratic nature of our country provides a platform for South African media to expose any shrewd and corrupt behavior that our political leaders may engage in. There is no sympathy or secrecy even for the President himself considering the ‘shower scandal‘ a few years back. Ministers are not excluded from the limelight and also experience their own share of embarrassment, whether negligent of their duties like Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga’s Limpopo textbook crisis, or extra-marital affairs with models such as Minister of Sports and Culture Fikile Mbalula.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has now had his own share of exposure and scrutiny by the media. When the news broke out that he was accused of rape by a 26 year old married woman, it was difficult for the public to believe since he has been one of the pillars of strength for working class citizens. Vavi denied the rape allegations laid against him, but agreed to having consensual sex with the woman accusing him of rape. It is alleged that the woman even tried to extort an amount of R2million from Vavi to keep the incident secret, to which Vavi did not agree to and instead opened a case against her for extortion. To me this shows the level of corruption that exists in our society. If the allegation is true it is sad because one does not draw the line at committing adultery but rather aims to benefit financially as well. Nonetheless, when this story was revealed it got me thinking. Is the powerful nature of the media a given in all contexts?

Just across the Limpopo River we find Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe where he claims to be a ruling ‘democrat’. The print media in our neighboring country is often coerced into publishing content that is in support of the ruling party. There is no freedom of speech and anyone who opposes the ruling government is likely to face some form of punishment. The Zimbabwean President does not take lightly to being criticized by the media. For example, in 2001 it was alleged that a private newspaper’s offices were bombed supposedly for being unpatriotic. New media technologies have thus provided spaces and platforms for communication for many Zimbabwean citizens without being scrutinized by the dictatorial government . Blogging and social media networks have enabled people to discuss political issues with the rest of the world while assuming anonymous identities.

Similarly, in Swaziland the monarch is also very cautious about the kind of media content that is offered to the public. The Swaziland television-broadcasting network is highly pro-government and autocratic .

The South African media is thus very effective in exposing dubious leaders as compared to other neighboring nations. Media democracy has enabled for supposedly fair and objective reporting of news regardless of who is discussed. However, another question that emerges from this conversation links to asking is it truly just if the media rarely discusses occurrences in the private sector and constantly attacks the public sector? Surely there must be corruption in the private sector as well…

29th Jul2013

‘Love and Luxury’ with heavy consequences

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at issues around Sugar daddies.

SugarIt is sad to note how many young women nowadays find themselves falling prey to the antics old men use to pounce on them. Many people are quick to judge these young women while claiming that these young women are promiscuous and ‘gold-diggers.’ What these judgmental people always seem to forget is that the blame does not lie entirely on the young women. Solely blaming young women is not necessary  and these old sinister men should have their own share of judging. In a scenario whereby a young schoolgirl does not have money for transport to and from school, forcing her to hitch hike everyday, doesn’t this render her vulnerable? Young girls from poor backgrounds tend to find themselves in these desperate situations where they find themselves hitching rides from older men just to get home from school.

Eventually some of these young women are lured into the world of promiscuity in search of greener pastures. Some of these young women are under the illusion that they have found true love, while others are tempted by the luxuries the older men flourish on them. This kind of love and luxury certainly comes with dire consequences and sadly, these girls realize this when it is too late.

Say No to Sugar DaddiesThe sugar-daddy culture that exists in our society is a sickening and reckless business. These men are destroying young women’s futures and vulnerable girls are falling in the pit of fire idly. A recent study done by the Social Development Department in Gauteng has proven that sugar daddies are major contributors to teenage pregnancy. The rate of unwanted pregnancies is climaxing by the minute and these ‘mobile banks’ aka sugar daddies are to blame in many cases. While it is known that we live in a democratic country that gives women the privilege to have an abortion by choice many find this a difficult path to go down. Not only are these young women hesitant to undergo the abortion procedure, some are unaware of the choices they have to freely access contraception and family planning advice in government clinics.

Another issue that this culture links to is that of HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is still highly prevalent within our society, but its shocking how some young women are willing to have unprotected sexual intercourse all for the sake of getting luxuries. The right to sexual freedom is very good, but it should not mean our young ladies should be reckless with their health and well-being.

Arguing that the girl from the poor background is the only possible victim is very problematic. Nowadays we find that even some girls from well-off middle class families are seen with sugar daddies. Many of these young women seek these rich older men to spoil them with items that they would never get from home. Trying to keep up with the latest trends and having the best life is what entices many of these young women to pursue this material wealth from older men without hesitation.

If one were to focus on their education, they could avoid being lured into the snares of sugar daddies. Education builds a sense of self-respect, dignity and empowerment and this is surely the better option. Wouldn’t you argue the same?

20th May2013

‘Beauty and the breast’

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 Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at issues of breast cancer in relation to recent news around Angelina Jolie.

"Life is more precious than boobs"

“Life is more precious than boobs”

News that the famous and gorgeous Angelina Jolie had recently undergone a double mastectomy sent shock waves throughout many media platforms. Angelina Jolie, one of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses, took a special and rare breast cancer test that can tell one their probability of getting breast cancer in the future. After having her breasts checked it was found that she carries a gene that makes her more likely to suffer from breast and ovarian cancer. This links to her genetics as her mother died at the age of 56 after fighting cancer for a long time.The results from the test Angelina Jolie undertook stated that she had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer in later stages in her life. From hearing this shocking news, the Hollywood bombshell decided she would undergo a mastectomy,  which is the process of removing both breasts. Angelina Jolie stated that it would be better to get her breasts removed than for her six children to lose their mother.

The particular breast check test Jolie took is supposedly very costly, and cost a whopping sum of $4000 which is over R30000 After Jolie underwent the mastectomy she had breast implant surgery, which would have also proven to be quite costly. For Hollywood stars such as Jolie, the cost of such procedures is not a problem, but for an ordinary woman surviving on a budget, it is an unattainable goal.

Breast cancer is the most invasive cancer in women all over the world. Breast cancer is a kind of cancer that develops from breast cells. The breast is made up of billions of microscopic cells, which multiply and new cells are made to replace the ones that die. In the case of breast cancer these cells grow uncontrollably and there ends up being more cells than there should be. Young women are advised to check their breasts for symptoms such as a lump in the breast. If one feels a lump they should immediately have it checked to determine whether it is cancerous or not. Other signs include skin dimpling, a rash around the nipple area, a clear or bloody fluid leaking out of the nipple and changes in the colour and the texture of the breast.

Professor Elna McIntosh, a South African sexologist and activist on the Cancer Association of South Africa stated on an eNCA report that she has been fighting cancer for years and it is not necessary for all women to undergo a mastectomy because one can still survive after fighting breast cancer. In a country such as ours one should note that not everyone can afford to have a mastectomy done and let alone a special test that can predict whether one can have breast cancer in future. Most of these options undertaken by Angelina Jolie cannot be compared to those a lower to middle class South African woman will take. It is however important to be aware of the realities at hand. Learning about the disease, signs, symptoms, treatment and the rest is important for us all.

13th May2013

The Gupta scandal

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at the recent Gupta wedding scandal that took place in South Africa.

tn1The arrival of the Guptas for their extravagant wedding at Sun City surely caused a lot of controversy. Their arrival at the Waterkloof air base and their entry into the country without going through customs caused much alarm and eventually led to the questioning of the relationship between the Gupta family and President Zuma. As we all know birds of the same feather flock together, so I am very certain the elite will always seek to serve the interests of the elite. The Guptas are without a doubt elite individuals. They are known as the bosses of many empires including the computer company Sahara.

Entering any nation without going through the appropriate customs and immigration processes could have led to dire consequences for the national security of our country. I do not bear any grudges towards the prestigious Gupta family, but the law needs to be respected if it will concern the safety of the citizens of South Africa. Entry of individuals into the country without proper searches and procedures followed could have led to many threats to the country. That is why the necessary processes are in place when entering any country. Skipping these processes is one element of the problem, another is that fact that their private jet landed at the Waterkloof air base. The Waterkloof air base is a military air force base and if anyone has the power to overthrow this air base they might as well have the power to cause national turmoil and havoc. Wealth and power is a wonderful asset to have as long as it will not endanger innocent citizens.

According to news reports, the Gupta family had no say where the plane would land and this was an agreement between the Indian High Commission and the South African government. In essence the newly wed couple had no idea about the magnitude of their actions by landing at the air force base. When the young couple had had their wedding they left the country and South African government officials found themselves in hot water. Some officials even lost their jobs after the event and what good comes out of that in a country with extremely high unemployment rates?

Whether one agrees with the Gupta’s response to the situation or not, one thing is for sure. Better national security strategies need to be implemented in our country so as to avoid such situations from repeating themselves.

These issues have fired up South African media outlets that have been very critical about the security breach and the Gupta family in general. Many of the views expressed on this issue in the South African public sphere as been in line with the general consensus of being annoyed with the power elite have. However, quite a few individuals have used the opportunity to unmask their racist and xenophobic opinions. Many were caught saying categorically and/or insinuating that Gupta family and their guests are Indians (Indian nationals) and need to go back where they came from. Furthermore questions were even asked as to why the couple (who chose to have a destination wedding) didn’t marry in their own country. It is surprising how a single incident has led to xenophobic connotations within media debate. Thinking back to the brutal xenophobic attacks that occurred in 2008 one would think that this harsh mentality has diminished. The xenophobic attacks of 2008 were against our fellow brothers and sisters and it was mainly a situation of black on black violence, so what more should we expect in this case.

It is understandable to be angry at the abuse of power seen in this story, but surely this does not justify xenophobia and racism as in the case of the Guptas. We need to be able to separate issues.  Its high time people saw facts for the way they are and stop blaming issues on things like different ethnicities.

29th Apr2013

The Culture of Violence in South Africa

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at a recent experience in South Africa that got her thinking about the violent gender culture of South Africa.

violence free homesGender based violence seems to be a recurring theme in our country today. Women, children and even grandmothers are not safe not only in public spaces, but even in their own homes. The media constantly reports about rapes and murders and startlingly the majority of victims are women in our society. We are a so-called democratic country where every individual has the right to freedom, but in reality this is not so for my female counterparts.

The transition from the Apartheid era has surely been a difficult one. Our past is that of violence and pain, yet this has not diminished in the ‘new’ South Africa. Black on black violence has increased and this is saddening to note since icons such as Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Oliver Tambo fought for peace to reign in this country. The levels of violence in this nation are so despicable that I’m certain our freedom fighters are more than shocked.

The culture of violence that existed in the Apartheid era seems to have transcended into post-Apartheid South Africa.

Women are not only abused physically, but also face verbal abuse on a day-to-day basis. I personally had an encounter with some random young man on Jorissen Street right outside our Wits campus. I was hurriedly on my way to class one morning absent-mindedly and then all of a sudden I heard an insult and ‘You don’t deserve it’. I turned around to see who on earth was trying to bother me and this guy tells me he said I was beautiful but I did not respond. I was shocked and hurt at the same time to learn that just because I had not responded to his comment I had been verbally slapped in the face by an insult so early in the morning. I also thought to myself that even if I had heard him, it was clearly my right to choose to ignore him because we are not obliged to talk to strangers.

Based on this man’s behaviour I feel that this behaviour stems from something deeper. Surely this kind of rude behaviour is rooted in one’s upbringing and background. We have all heard the saying -‘Charity begins at home’ and clearly some of our young men out there do not have good manners taught to them wherever they grew up. If we respect everyone like we would our own loved ones this problem may change.

Small petty issues such as this could lead to violent behaviour in a different scenario.

It is high time our men stood up and respected our women and children as expected. The presence of good male figures in the lives of young boys could lead to a better generation of respectful young men. I strongly believe that if our young men are brought up in secure and respectful homes this could eventually influence their behaviour in the future.

Violence should never be an option and people should resort to better ways of controlling their anger. Inflicting pain on others, especially the females in our society, should never be an answer. All women deserve to be honoured and respected rather than mistreated by their male counter parts.

22nd Apr2013

The media’s role in weight loss insecurities

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at issues that emerge around weight loss in the media.

fast-weight-lossThe media plays a large role in instilling different insecurities in young women within our society. Young women are increasingly becoming conscious about their bodies and one could argue that the media is to blame for these insecurities. The media is constantly bombarding women with images about foreign Westernized ideologies about what is considered to be the ‘perfect’ body.

All of these western trends and ideologies tend to leave women feeling inadequate and feeling the need to change their appearance so as to look like the photoshopped, made up woman seen in the media they consume. Looking for example at black women, black women’s bodies are usually associated with a curvaceous figure but because of the extensive media coverage about weight loss routines, it is natural for some curvy women to feel the pressure to change the way they look.

The Basketball wives

The Basketball wives

Television reality shows such as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Basketball Wives depict how wealthy American women live their lives and always make sure they take care of their bodies through extreme workouts and healthy diets. I am certain that these kinds of programs have a role to play in the way young South African women of today view their bodies. These programs lead to serious misconceptions because one has to realize that the women in these shows live in completely different contexts from the ordinary South African female. Many women end up aspiring to look like these wealthy slim women and some will go to drastic measures to do so. These wealthy females can afford to hire personal trainers whereas a young varsity girl from Wits doesn’t have the access to such.

It’s the beginning of the year and gym season has surely begun. Everyone has different resolutions and goals they intend to achieve and the most popular of these goals in their list is to lose weight. Weight loss is a positive goal if one wants to have a healthy body and increase their life expectancy but this goal should not be driven by pressures in the media and its popular Westernized cultures. One should note that the genes that some women have differ to others. Some women tend to have lean and slim bodies whereas some women tend to have more voluptuous curvy physiques.

However, chasing weight loss purely for aesthetic purposes is problematic. Drastic measures that some women fall prey includes starving themselves and eventually falling into disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a disorder that is characterized by an unrealistic fear of weight gain, self-starvation and conspicuous distortion of body image. People who suffer from this disorder refrain from eating and even though their bodies become seriously undernourished they still feel overweight. These individuals tend to have a negative self-image and they intensely fear becoming fat. Bulimia nervosa sufferers engage in an unhealthy behavior of binge eating and trying to compensate for this by purging. These psychiatric disorders are unhealthy and sadly can be fatal.

It is thus very sad to note how many young people get so desperate to get the ‘perfect body’ and how this eventually leads them to a disillusionment that drives them down these dangerous paths. We are all unique and created for a special purpose in this life and just because one has a curvy body does not render them any less beautiful.



15th Apr2013

Nkandla and issues of service delivery

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Thabisile Ndhlovu looks at renovation plans in Nkandla and how that money can be put to better use.

nkandlaWhen the news that one of the President’s houses had begun renovations, which in total is estimated to cost a whopping sum of R200 million, more than a few eyebrows were raised. One would obviously wonder how such a large sum of the country’s budget can be spent on improving the President’s home when there are more pressing issues in the country to address.

The issue of service delivery is a very controversial problem for South Africa as a whole. Many people lack basic needs such as shelter and adequate toilets. We find the majority of citizens in South Africa living in squatter camps and we still call ourselves a democratic nation when resources are not shared fairly by those in power.

When the news that the President planned on upgrading his Nkandla homestead, the DA, a major oppositional party in South Africa, took immediate action in trying to avert these actions. The DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko suggested that it would be better if the President spent this money to assist poor neighboring communities. The City Press reported that the President would only contribute R10million of his own money out of the mentioned R200 million total cost and this led to a huge outcry from the DA party and South African citizens.

Taxpayers’ money has allegedly been used to help in the Nkandla developments and this is more than alarming. One is thereby forced to ask what this means for some of us who are yet to venture into the working world? Does this mean we should openly welcome the exploitation of our hard earned money by the government?

Lindiwe Mazibuko has made a few suggestions with regards to what the President could consider spending money on other than his own property. The suggested list includes building 3 692 RDP houses worth R55 000 because of the lack of housing for many individuals who live in high-density areas such as townships. She also suggested paying 846 schoolteachers a monthly salary of R20 000 and hiring 2000 trucks for a week to deliver textbooks in Limpopo. Due to the recent scandal about the late delivery of books for schools in Limpopo there definitely needs to be a way to prevent this problem in future. Many students were forced to attend school without textbooks for most of last year and this affected their education negatively. The education system in South Africa is rated amongst the poorest in the world and the Limpopo textbook situation hardly assisted in that area. According to the South African Constitution all individuals have the right to a fair education and the rights of these students in Limpopo were not achieved.

Beyond high school, most students cannot afford to go to tertiary institutions because of the high cost of tuition fees. For those students who do not manage to get bursaries the government could possibly increase the number of people who can be placed on the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Adequate financial aid can enable many more deserving students to achieve their dreams and emancipate their families.

It is high time the government started putting its citizens first. If we are truly a democratic nation then government expenditure should shift from massive spending on political figures and move towards the poor in society, who desperately need the assistance to improve their lives.

25th Mar2013

Graduation season has begun

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Thabisile Ndhlovu discusses graduation and the responsibilities that come with it.

graduation1What does it mean to be a graduate? Is it merely receiving a certificate at the end of a tiresome three or four years, or does it mean a free ticket into the corporate world? Considering the high unemployment rate in South Africa, we can surely argue that in the real world graduating does not guarantee one a job immediately. Instead one should be prepared to search extensively and patiently for the job they desire. Many graduates find themselves searching for jobs they did not study for simply because the profession they studied for does not have any vacancies. When one hears such stories one tends to wonder silently, ‘Are all my years of toiling and sweating for my degree just in vain?’

As my graduation ceremony approaches I prepare enthusiastically for the extravagant occasion. Being the only daughter in my family and the first to attain a degree at Wits University I’m sure one can imagine the excitement that my family is experiencing. Of course I’m also very caught up in the drama and buzz but I believe it is wise for one to sit back and consider what the future holds.

From the short time I have spent job hunting I can surely state that the most important quality that companies seek from potential employees is work experience. Employers always prefer an individual who has experience in their specific industry and the experience can range from one to five years for a junior level job. This can be a very daunting prerequisite for those individuals who have literally studied all their lives.

Ways in which students can build themselves some work experience could be through utilizing their holiday time by looking for part time employment. Some part time jobs can pay meager wages but there is no amount of money that can compensate for that work experience. Jobs that involve some consumer interaction such as promoter/brand ambassador can prove to future employers how well you can interact with individuals and market the client’s product. Another way one could get valuable work experience is through volunteering their time and services to a non-profit organisation or a charity. Even though you will not get paid, at least you would have had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. By volunteering your services for free to a potential employer you can come across as a diligent and hard working character. Due to the high demand for jobs it is key to prove oneself as the crème of the crop at all times.

Many companies also offer internship programs and apprenticeships every year to graduates. These programs are of great value because one gets trained by the company and gets a chance to prove themselves and if they are suitable candidates they will be employed at the end of the internship period.

A ‘CHANCE’ is what every individual seeks in the work place in order to prove themselves, but then what happens if you do not get this chance? Does this mean one should sit at home and feel sorry for son’s self? No, I beg to differ because I strongly believe that the good things in life never come easy.

In order to live like a king you better work like a slave! If the employment option seems unobtainable, better yet go and start your own company and enjoy the fruits of your own labor.

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