Piercing through THE TRUTH

Thirteen . Fourteen

Sunday evening, Game 7, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. The Truth had been here seven years earlier as the Boston Big Three fell to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. That night Paul Pierce had 18 points and 10 rebounds in 46 minutes aged 32; this night, Pierce had 6 points and 3 rebounds in 21 minutes. The common denominator, a loss on the biggest stage in the NBA, Game 7. The question then, did The Truth win or lose in his NBA career?

We know Pierce for calling bank against the Hawks in 2015; we also know he won a ring back in 2008, but do we know if he finishes an “over or under” NBA player? The outspoken man indeed earned his nickname, as emphasized by him standing his ground all the way up to his final season, having a back and forth with…

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Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved

Don’t we all dream of someday being some brave knight in shining armor? Are we not taken with the possibilities of rescuing a damsel in distress? We are equipped with brilliant bravery to attend to the task of a woman in need of our help. But when heroism turns into danger and damsels are not distressed are we equipped to handle the potential consequences that come with our actions?  We call ourselves “humans” but yet we do not understand the responsibility of the terms and conditions that apply.

#RapeAtJunction #RememberKhwezi #Stanfordrapist #YesAllWomen #Bringbackourgirls #NoMeansNo #Rapeculture #Itisnotokay #Whatarewedoingaboutit

“With that much skin showing, she got what she deserved.”

Is this the kind of ‘people’ that society has produced? Is this who we are? We live in a constant struggle of a social class and people within authority dismissing the events of rape like spilt milk. We have become immune to the tortures of being a woman and often it is because we are not surrounded by, and subjected to their struggles.

The women who show no signs of distress could be the person who raised you; your mother, the one that fought with you over your toys; your sister, or the one that just comforts you when the time is needed; your grandmother. And suddenly just like that you think of the underlying waves of anger if a woman, that compassionately cared, was abused, faulted, invaded, torn apart, and raped.

Do you only take offence when it happens to someone that you care about? Or are you a bystander to the rapes of other women around the world? This is not a fight for one, it is a fight for all.

I find it quite ironic how those who are culprits of the crimes are leaders of today’s society. While those who are the victims are exiled, shunned and disowned. In many cultures they are seen as a shame and an embarrassment to their family name. But they are survivors, legends, story tellers, they are beautiful, courageous and complicated and they are as every bit human being as you and I.

We live in the mindset of failed political structures and systems that favor perpetrators, and often doing the crime makes you somewhat infamous without the IN. The world looks blindly into the eyes of victims, and instead of enabling them to heal, we tear them apart.

You and I live under misconceptions of patriarchy and feminism. We believe that if anything isn’t with us, it’s against us. That we cannot be united because of some people who throw around some words that make others uncomfortable.

Why should we, secretly, in the privacy of our minds discuss what’s wrong with society? The violence, the war, the terror.

We need to listen to the Mandelas, Bikos, and Malcom xs of our generation. We need to learn their struggle and fill their shoes, we need to bound back on a law that does nothing to compensate for the injustices that society brings with it.The choice is yours, fulfill your fantasies, find your faults, stand up, speak louder and be a revolutionist.

5 times your privilege becomes a problem

Written by                                                                                                             Amaarah Mayet & Naeemah Dudan

PRIVILEGE.

That’s 9 letters of the alphabet. 9 letters that when strung together cause complete bafflement among many people, especially among the products of the “Rainbow Nation. It is a word that plays a vital role in many of our social interactions and by its very nature, causes contention.

Privilege, by definition, is the societal structures that an individual is born into, and without realization or acknowledgement, they are able to acquire certain benefits due to their class status, race, age and even gender. Acknowledging one’s privilege is important in alleviating the oppressing structures that are placed on those who are not privileged.

Here are 5 times when your privilege becomes a problem:

  1. When you don’t understand and are not willing to engage with the basic concept of privilege.

Complete denial. (Often as a defense mechanism when the word privilege is brought up) People completely deny the existence of one of the most important societal structures today. Acknowledging that privilege exists is the stepping stone to tackling and dismantling the concept. Great. You’ve established that you’re privileged. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Nobel prize for that. The mere acknowledgment of the concept is simply a chance for you to pat yourself on the back for being so “aware” and “woke”. It makes you feel better and this isn’t about you.

  1. When you don’t acknowledge you have inherent privilege irrespective of whether you chose it or not.

We know that knee-jerk reaction to being called an entitled, privileged armchair critic might evoke some very harsh reactions out of you. The point is to come to terms with the cards that life has dealt you, and then work towards contributing meaningfully to society.   We cannot choose the circumstances we are born into but that doesn’t mean we are allowed to be apathetic to the situations around us.

  1. Being Apathetic to social injustices.

Acknowledging your privilege is not enough. Privilege becomes a problem when the individual does nothing to help those who are underprivileged because they believe that the underprivileged person is unworthy, or undeserving. It furthermore becomes an issue when the individual attacks the underprivileged by claiming that they are not doing anything to help their own situation.

  1. When you do not engage constructively with that privilege in order to dismantle it.

Due to the very basic understanding of privilege, many privileged people feel attacked, and as a response they try to defend their privilege in a misguided attempt to exempt themselves from blame.

  1. When your privilege gives you a superiority complex.

When a privileged individual believes that they have worked hard to get where they are and as a result, it makes them feel superior to anyone who is below that margin line. This is problematic on two levels: inherent arrogance stemming from their privileged background and consequently leading to ignorance. While arrogance often comes with the individual having the upper hand within a situation ignorance is more the invisible blindfold that a person chooses to wear in order to ignore and pretend that many social ails do not exist.

 

“We have worked hard to be where we are…”

“I also have a right to freedom of speech…”

“It doesn’t affect me; why should I care…?”

If you identify with any of these phrases, then you as an individual have a privilege problem. So unless you are willing to admit, engage, dismantle and make an effort to contribute to the social injustices PLEASE SIT DOWN. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything. Allow the people who are most affected by the situation to be the dominant narrative in their own stories. Stop being an armchair critic that sits behind the safety of their computer screens criticizing the student movement, or any other movement that dominates the lower class structures. Do not be that person that supports a cause up until their level of convenience.

It is one thing to ask questions and try and understand privilege but it is completely unacceptable to legitimize your apathy.  Please, take a seat. The social world we live in doesn’t have time to entertain your ignorance. We have battles to fight, wars to conquer, revolutions to lead and lives to help and if you are not interested in joining us in the struggles we face, you have no right to condemn our actions.

Dear police brutality

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The last time I checked we were not criminals, rapists, murderers, we did not steal the very essence of whatever bullshit the media decides to feed the greater world. But yet today we had the presence of the whole of the South African Police services at our disposal. Apparently, they were warranted to protect the very virtue that is the human life, the human life of the student. Instead, they did the exact opposite. They threw us with stun grenades and shot at us with rubber bullets while they allowed private security to continuously throw stones at our very lifelike bodies. Are we not human? Are our lives not important enough to be protected?

It has been day 1 of the #feesmustfall movement and the chaos that has erupted within has been unequally distributed. While the media has, not surprisingly, framed the students as violent, disruptive hooligans, the people continue to believe the delusional dirt that the media uses to spur unnecessary arguments. But when will the people learn; they create chaos amongst themselves, spread false news and get worked up for news feeds that are framed, sensationalistic and biased.

I have no doubt that there are police forces that stand up, that go out and consult their morals before just “following orders” but for the majority that I saw today this is for you. We live our lives hoping that you will protect us but yet you are the ones we need protection from. We live in fear of rubber bullets, stun grenades, teargas and armed weapons and yet you are supposed to be protecting us. We don’t fear criminals, or thieves or murderers, we fear the police force that have become criminals to us. The ones that have stolen the breath of our protests and the scream of our hails for you to stop. You have stunted our words but we will not stand down, we will fight back, we will stand tall and we will not let you get in the way of our goals. Our fight for free and quality education will remain a long term goal and hopefully achievement. We will not be deterred or intimidated by the way that you laugh and joke with your colleagues while infusing and inciting violence in the next moment. You have shown your fire and we will show you ours.

Amandla!

UKZN: What is Happening?

Written by a student at UKZN                                                                                                                       Edited by Naeemah Dudan

University of Kwazulu-Natal students have been having issues with the Management since the second semester started. The SRC has tried engaging in talks with the Management but that has been futile.

About three weeks ago the SRC organized a peaceful protest. It was a success. No classes were interrupted and no property was vandalized. Management agreed that they would look into our requests and attend to all of them. This has not happened. New policies have been implemented for next year which means that hundreds of students will not be able to come back and complete their degrees next year.
UKZN is a historically black university and majority of the black students are on financial aid or NSFAS. The new policies only meant that over half of them would not qualify for the above mentioned aids and that they would be forced to drop out of school. We’ve been united to fight these policies while attending our classes. We protest when we’re free, and attend when the timetable says we must. No violence has been taking place.
 From the beginning of the semester, we’ve had private security on campus due to these ongoing discussions between the SRC and Management. Last week a number of cases were raised about the private security assaulting girls. We went to report this to the campus security (RMS- Risk Management Services) and  nothing was done! Girls feel unsafe walking on campus because of these men who have reduced us into sexual objects. Out of frustration from this issue, the male students decided to help us protest against these men. That same night, our biggest exam venue was set alight. The private security company has people surrounding all buildings on campus yet the WOB writing place still burnt down. As a student, I am genuinely convinced that the private security had something to do with that incident. We aren’t allowed close to any University property at night yet a building was burnt. I’m not pointing fingers, but Mi7 should be taken in for questioning.

Yesterday, 05 September 2016, just after lunchtime we received the news about the 8% fee increment. We’d been fighting against the increase implemented by our University already and this only meant it would get worse. Students agreed to gather outside the library by the library lawns. We were chanting peacefully while waiting for other students to come and join when the police cars started driving onto campus. The crowd started moving towards the Durban Road exit to try and mobilize people from the Residence buildings around that area. Before the students got there, teargas was thrown at them and they were being shot at with rubber bullets. This became the scene for the next 3 hours. Gun shots and teargas after every 5 minutes. You could hear screaming students for the rest of the afternoon. The police threw teargas into the Res and surrounding areas. This was a way of making sure no one could leave Res and no one could enter Res; anyone caught in between was getting arrested. All this teargas started becoming a health hazard. There were several ambulances driving onto campus to fetch suffocating students. I personally spent the night in hospital with my friend who suffered from an asthma attack.

Today – 06 September 2016. We woke up to the news that a female student was raped yesterday by a police officer on campus. Lecturers came out in their gowns and formed a human barricade to protect us from the police. We changed and held up posters expressing our pain about this issue. The police came and lured us off campus. They led us to Durban Road. Hundreds of students sang as they walked down Durban Road. We were peaceful. No one had any weapon, just books because we thought we’d have classes today. As we walked down we saw the police had formed a line further down the road and waited for us. We were all under the assumption that they’re trying the protect us until we saw them loading their guns. Live ammunition was added to the mix. As we approached them with our hands in the air they threw teargas into the crowd. Not once, 5 times. Students scattered in all directions and the police started firing at us. Rubber bullets and real bullets while we were trying to recover from the teargas we’d just inhaled. Some students fell and some ran leaving their personal belongings behind. One girl fell and when she got up the police asked her to pick up every phone along the way. As she was doing this they were kicking her and slapping her. Once she was done the one police officer said to her “uzonya s’febe” (translated: you’re fucked, bitch) before he shot her with a rubber bullet. I later found myself helping this girl get medical treatment which is why I have details of her story.

These are only some of the brutalities we have been experiencing at UKZN but because we have been called “hooligans” so many times, no one cares. We do not vandalize property for the sake of it. We do not burn things because we enjoy seeing flames. Sometimes it’s the only way we get listened to. I am not in any way supporting the damage of property, but sometimes it is not our fault. WOB writing place burnt down with no students in sight, are we still to blame?

Injustice: a moral of standards now practiced by religious leaders

Hamzah*. 8 years old. Abused. In need of help.

Tucked away in a little house, in the township of Lawley, are 35 boys aged from about 6 to 12. They look undernourished. Their faces show fear. When a volunteer visited them last week they were told to hide their face from the camera and not speak to anyone. Today, while visiting I questioned one of the smaller boys. At first he was hesitant, he was scared and he avoided looking at us as if he (a little boy of 8) had something to be ashamed about.

He told us how if he or any of the other boys made a mistake, they were beaten. When we questioned him and some other boys about where their parents were, many stated that they were in Orange Farm, almost as if they were brainwashed or told that this was the answer to give to whoever asked. When asked if the boy went to school he replied no which sent my mind across dimensions with baffling questions of what they were actually doing there.

While the main leader of the institute was not present, the two other “caretakers” had conflicting stories about the boys. The one, when questioned said that the boys were orphans while the other stated that these boys had parents. While the institute receives funding to take care of these boys, it is evident by looking at the children, that they are not being taken care of. The stagnant air invaded our senses as the smell of filth and dirt enveloped us when we entered one of the rooms utilized for the boys to sleep in.

The boy of just 8 years old, a shaking little figure, said that the sheikh would beat the boys if they made a mistake. Silently, tears rolled down his eyes as he battled to go on about “what happened in the night…” an obvious implication that some other form of abuse was going on. We asked him if he wanted to go back to his mother, and understandably and unquestionably, he replied in the affirmative.

While touring the rest of this small piece of land, we found at the back, a luxurious couch, alongside a state of the art kitchen which one of the caretakers said that the boys were not allowed in that area. My questions became endless; why were these boys here? Where is all the funding that they receive going to? How, in the name of Islam can you rectify intentions of abuse, oppression or other forms of harassment? And lastly why do our religious leaders not practice what they preach?

In every Friday lecture we hear “do not abuse your wives, do not sin, respect your parents, be true in your business dealings, do not involve yourself in corruption and the list goes on and on and on…” Often, what we don’t hear is the fact that these very same religious leaders are committing the very sins that they preach to us about staying away from. They emit themselves as pious and that they can do no wrong but yet they are oppressing and abusing their wives, they involve themselves in corruption, and they build institutions that have been led on fraud, abuse and immorality.

In so far as numerous amounts of things go, a number of Muslims in and around our communities are the exact people that we complain about, such being those who extort people and have them believe they are donating to a worthy cause while the received funding is pocketed and used unlawfully. Such acts are beyond despicable and should not go unnoticed. In so far as the religious leaders and committees are concerned, they refuse to even bother checking up on the manners of which the funding is distributed and spent, the well-being of MUSLIM children, accompanied by the fact that there are people in which the religious leaders unknowingly share a platform with such a sick kind of people that will preach their religion and only encourage good, while reprimanding wrongdoers for their bad actions, yet they commit some of the most horrific and terrifying injustices and wrongs known to man- dishonesty in the face of acclaimed aid.

As much as it is taught for every person to pray for the people doing wrong to fix their actions, such people deserve to encounter the harshest and most gruesome downfalls ever seen. And it is upon each and every one of us to speak out and aid the people who are genuinely in need of assistance, and take the initiative in seeing exactly how our aid is distributed, and witness the results at the same time.

*Name has been changed

 

How to intern 101

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I spent my one week of precious holiday being an intern for the Times Media Group in Rosebank. During the time I spent there and roaming the streets for news stories I learnt several important things about interning and here is the basic 101 on how to be an intern.

  • Carry water
  • Eat on the go
  • Drink coffee/Red Bull/ whatever keeps you awake
  • Wear comfortable clothing but be presentable (no matter how comfortable, pajamas are not appropriate)
  • Know your way around the city
  • Be prepared for ANYTHING
  • Learn on the go
  • Network and speak to as many people as you can (communication is key when being an intern)
  • Ask questions
  • Learn your way around the building (9 times out of 10 the people you are interning for will not give you a tour)
  • Involve yourself by blogging, tweeting or just writing about your experience
  • The office can be boring sometimes, find ways to keep yourself occupied
  • Tough it out, gaining experience is important
  • Do not be afraid of criticism, use it to better your work ethic
  • Be confident
  • Ask for help rather than being arrogant
  • Be patient
  • Do not limit yourself to one skill or department
  • Be adventurous, don’t be afraid to try new things

 

For most part of my week I spent exploring the stories of the Joburg city. I was fortunate enough to spend time with several ministers and mayors while they facilitated various media statements.

Day one: Surprisingly, I was not nervous. I stepped into the building that illuminated boring from the outside but turned into a work of art from the inside. Immediately I was drawn into a car, travelling to Pretoria and thrown into a sea of journalists waiting to catch the story first. We spent the day at Pretoria High school for Girls where the story broke about the racism that the African girls were facing because of their natural hair. (Read my previous blog post for more on the story)

Day two: By now I had grown into this wave of enthusiasm. I suspected that today would be just like the last and I made up riveting images of what story I would be able to report on next. Unfortunately, I learnt that the news room is not always buzzing with protests, murders, or court cases. I spent the day at the radio broadcasting department and as much as I enjoyed the creativity I had decided that it not a skill that I wanted to acquire.

Day 3: I had no expectations. When you expect nothing somehow things simply fall into place. I spent the day scripting, and learning how to edit for the multimedia team. Later that day I visited an organic farm that made juices for you while you waited with whatever bizarre combination you came up with. I had kale, ginger, oranges and pineapple. Now I am not a person who likes trying new (or strange) things but as a journalist this is quite important for when you write a story. Turned out that I absolutely loved the juice.

Day 4: I learnt all about how press briefings work (and how ridiculous the cost of parking in town is). I spent the day at a press briefing with the MEC of health where she spoke about the worry that many psychiatric patients were lost and claimed that these patients were not displaced. I also learnt that it is important to know the backstory of an article especially if news has been published about it before.

I had some unknown desire to remain at the Times, forever. I desired to be a journalist more now than ever and it made me realize just how far I was willing to go and how hard I am willing to work to make that happen. The next time I walk through those doors I want it to be because I have earned every title of working there. I had a taste of what it was like but now I want to devour it whole. It is strange how 4 days, 1 plain looking building, hundreds of skills and an exhilarating experience can make you feel more alive than all the other days you’ve lived.

Internship day 1: #StopracismatPretoriaGirlshigh #UnapologeticallyUs

Today I began my first day as an intern at the Times Media Group in Rosebank and this is the story we covered.

On Friday last week, a group of black girls from Pretoria Girls high school wore black with headscarves as part of a united front against the racism that the girls’ have had to endure. They were peaceful and they in no way demonstrated violently. Yet the following day, police forces and private security were called onto the school property and were given strict instructions that they were to break up any group of four or more black students. The girls were manhandled and threatened with suspension if they did not abide. The private security carried around heavy armed machinery which further enticed the girls into fear.

#StopracismatPretoriaGirlshigh began trending over the weekend and it came to the attention of the MEC of education for Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, who conducted the meetings held today. The girls who spoke out against the racist acts were emotional as they retold their stories of victimization, racist remarks from not only teachers but the other white girls, they told stories of how they were barred from speaking in their vernacular as the teachers would call their languages “funny sounds”. Their hair has been pulled, prodded, manhandled, they have been made to feel dirty, untidy and disgusting as many of the girls raised these issues they broke down due to the extreme trauma of their victimization.

For years, nothing has been done. The mentality that surrounds the other girls in the school came off as racist as soon as I entered the building. A white girl who was passing by commented in a rather aggressive tone “it’s just about their flipping hair…” another teacher encouraged the girls to go to class because she felt that “it was much safer there” implying that the protesting black girls, who are just school students, were not safe.

It’s funny how 22 years after the end of the apartheid system we are facing radical issues of racism and apartheid. We live in a societal structure where people who are racist and voice their views are not reprimanded for their illogical, ignorant minds. The girls related how they would report racist remarks and yet be told that they should “grow up” and “stop being sissies” because “this is high school”.

These are just a few of the surfacing issues that have plagued our schools since colonization. White supremacy inserts their marks on schools and code of conducts like they own Africa, but Africa is the land of the people and South Africa belongs to the rainbow nation. Why is it so difficult to let us be us without being apologetic for how we look, how our hair needs to be “straightened”, and how we speak.

#Notapologeticforwhoweare

The dysfunctional Indian mother’s mindset

Being born into an Indian family is almost a tradition that enables itself to exhaust the minds of mothers and mothers-in-law and their high set expectations they have for their own sons burdening their daughters-in-law. A list of prerequisites in order to marry their sons has already been set in place by the women. The issue that lies within these voiced thoughts are often not unfamiliar to many. It’s a methodology of having to learn to cook and clean the household, which inexplicably, is set up to unrealistic standards of devious mothers-in-law who see the world in their boys.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that mothers have a soft spot for their sons while fathers will always need the comfort and compassion of their daughters. But why is it that Indian mothers, in particular, raise their sons on a throne like a king who shall, by her will, do no household chores, or all hell shall break loose.

Growing up in an Indian household myself, learning how to cook or refusing to learn ignites a fire in my mother. It is often the same argument, day after day, and somewhere along the lines of “What will your mother-in-law say?… Do you think your husband will help you with chores, you’ve got to be kidding!…No one wants someone who can’t cook and clean…” But in questioning my actions, she in turn only made me loathe the action more. There is this switch of direct gender change when an Indian mother sees her son, or if anything forbids, you direct the ever-growing number of chores you have to the precious little baby boy who will never really grow up.

For goodness sakes, we are living in the 21st century where woman have been granted their independence and their jobs don’t consist of slaving away like Cinderella, day after day. Why isn’t the streamlined set of firing questions issued at boys or rather yet, men? Are they blinded by their own misconceptions and the ideals of when they got married? Or better yet, do they believe that men are here to be pleased and waited on hand and foot?

I for one, believe in the concept of equality. Rather than demanding your way through things or forcing actions, perhaps it is time we learnt to share and take responsibility as grown adults. Perhaps it is time that we grow out of old concepts and you do your job and I’ll do mine, split, fair and equal. And to all Indian mothers, we know you’re scared your son will starve, so instead of putting him on a pedestal and feeding his expectations and belly too, give him a few lessons on how to prepare a meal or few, for maybe one day, if he ever gains some appreciation for his ‘beloved’ wife, he could treat her to a hot and fresh home cooked meal upon her return home.

Inspiration credits to my two best friends.

~Apoetbyheart