Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Women's Month Should Empower the Poor - Not The Rich

Pearl Nicodemus

I bet most young women don’t know the reason behind the celebration of women’s day on 09 August each year. In case you didn’t know – it is because on the day in 1956 women of different races marched to the union buildings in Pretoria against the apartheid government's insistence that black women carry passes. They wanted pass laws to be abolished. That has led to the current democratically elected government deciding that the day and the entire month of August be dedicated to women.

As we are about to end this great month which celebrates women I have realised that the day is often taken for granted by many women. In my quest to find out whether you South African women today understand the meaning of women’s day I decided to ask a few who live in Soshanguve. I can’t say it was to my amazement, but my suspicions were proven right. The younger generation doesn’t care about the meaning of the day.

So if so many women are clueless about the month that should be celebrating them does this honourary month then serve its purpose or does the meaning get lost somewhere in the generation gap and whose responsibility is it to ensure that gender equality is achieved? Do we blame the government that has been repeatedly accused of being an elitist government, only serving the people who are already at the top of the food chain? Maybe that is too harsh but if that is not the case, is it then women’s responsibility?

These days we see prominent women congregate and invite even more prominent speakers to “empower” them or should I say further empower them while women who are grappling to survive at grass roots level carry on as normal. Yes there are events here and there, noises here and there but I believe it is not sufficient to impact the life of South African women in the true sense of the word.

In South Africa today it seems as though women abuse remains one of the most pressing issues we are dealing with. I remember listening to someone tell me about a story of women asking a man for reasons he doesn’t his girlfriend. The incident took place at a certain Escourt Ultra City in KwaZulu-Natal. When he brushed the question off then he was accused of being too soft.

I have also spoken to five young women who have been abused by their boyfriends defend the incidents. All five say there are valid reasons they have been kicked, punched, slapped and burnt with cigarettes. Hearing these stories makes me cringe. They don’t seem to mind but I somehow get angry when I hear them speak. Maybe it’s the Gauteng city girl in me that thinks all this as these women come from the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Maybe such behaviour is normal where they come from.

These women say the men in their lives show their love for them by beating them up. In my confusion I then spoke to a wise woman who told me that women who are defeated in their lives like these women are have nothing. Marriage is sometimes their only way out of poverty and they would do all in their power to keep those marriages and the men who provide their meals. She said to them getting married is a dream they spend their lives fantasising about, it is almost like a career therefore it becomes their only means of survival which means they would endure anything to keep it.

I believe that these defeated mentalities mean that these women would pass that attitude down to their children and the cycle of abuse will just continue.

It is often said that the people rely too much on the government, but it is perhaps their duty to ensure that enough education is passed down to such women so they can achieve true freedom and not pass it down to the next generation. Rather than empowering women who have made their money each year on women’s day, maybe we should empower those who really need the help.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recent Attacks Are Not Xenophobic But Ethnic

Sibusiso Ndlovu

Zimbabwe’s woes have been caused by the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, who has told the west to “go to hell”. He has however changed his stance on the matter and is now seeking understanding from the countries he once told to stay out of Zimbabwean matters. But that is not the issue I want to discuss here. By his doing his people have moved to other parts of the world, most notably South Africa where they are facing persecution and violent attacks from South Africans.
Mugabe might have caused his people to leave Zimbabwe which forced them to doing jobs in other parts of the world and that resulted them competing with locals for scarce jobs. But in South Africa the problem of xenophobia is bigger than that. We might call it xenophobia but it is actually not – the violence is tribalistic. Unfortunately this has led to a man getting burnt in South Africa.

I have a Zulu name and surname but I am Tsonga and have brothers who have faced some attacks because of the language they speak. They were being accused of being foreign for having a Zulu surname without the ability of speaking the language. To me this means that these Zulu speaking people were saying Tsonga speakers are also not South Africa. They were saying that they are from other parts of the continent which shows that they were not fighting the foreign element; they were fighting people who did not speak their language and are from different ethnic groups.

The government seems to be protecting the perpetrators of the crimes as well. Often They often say that this is normal crime and these are just common criminals and are not attacking anybody because of the part of Africa they come from. It would not make it okay even if they were just common criminals. If they don’t tackle this issue it might spill out of control because as mentioned above, the so called common criminals are no longer just attacking foreigners – they have made this an issue of ethnicity is South Africa.

Ethnic violence saw 800 000 people killed in just under 100 days in Rwanda in 1994. The animosities between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda started over half a decade before 1994. The issue was never dealt with and led to the violence that we saw which was largely ignored by the world at the time.

Zimbabwe has had ethnicity issues as well between the Shona and the Ndebele. Some even say that there was a slaughter of the Ndebele people in certain regions in the 1980s.

Kenya is another part of Africa which sees people taking sides on ethnicity and they sometimes vote for leaders who come from similar ethnic backgrounds as them.

I believe that this is an issue that needs to be properly dealt with in South Africa before it spirals out of control again. We don't need another man burnt alive. Our leaders should stop saying attacks on people is just normal crime. There is nothing normal about attacking somebody else for any reason. It is even worse when we know that they are being attacked for the language they speak, the way they look and where they come from.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trying To Understand The Other Race

Jane Ndlovu

Many in the world think we have dealt with a lot of apartheid wounds. I don’t think so though. Our way of dealing with them is to promote certain people’s cultures over others. I think Afrikaans people are often ignored in South Africa.

I remember sitting at home during the opening ceremony of the FIFA world cup and watching what was supposed to be African culture. Even that is a debate all on its own. I realised that there was one culture that was evidently missing. That is the culture of a boer in South Africa.

Could ignoring the culture of an Afrikaans man be South Africa’s method of dealing with the wounds of the past? Maybe some feel that if they are ignored than we might forget about apartheid all together. But for South Africa to have proper reconciliation then it would be wise to celebrate all those who live in it and their cultures.

I think ignoring certain cultures is forcing us to have a lack of understanding about each other’s cultures and as a result hinders the reconciliation process.

By not talking about each other’s cultures we end up pretending that we have forgiven each other. But if we really had then we would not raise tempers each time there is a conflict between two people of different races. Sometimes you even find outsiders picking sides and often they would support the person of the race they belong to.

With this lack of understanding you sometimes hear people even issuing out threats to each other. At times these come from uninformed opinions on ‘the other’ race.

Even criminals would say they break into white people’s houses because they didn’t work for their money. White people might not trust black people and think each one walking towards their car is a criminal about to hijack them. All these views come from uninformed opinions about each other.

I believe that if the Afrikaans culture was given the same recognition in South Africa then black people would understand them a bit more. White people should also try to understand black cultures rather than viewing black men as inferior to them.

With that we might end up finding proper reconciliation in South Africa.

Let's Not Ignore The Culture of A Modern Black Man

Jane Ndlovu

The promotion of different cultures is an important part of society that should be happening constantly. South Africa certainly is an interesting place with eleven official languages and a few extras spoken but not officially recognised. Being inside a minibus taxi in Johannesburg for example is an interesting experience. The driver is likely to be Zulu but the passengers would speak various languages like xiTshonga, seSotho, seTswana, isiXhosa and many others. The funny thing is that all these people would be speaking their home languages but they would all understand each other.

South Africans also come from various backgrounds which would have different and colourful cultures too. But sadly not all of these get enough recognition.

It is just my observation that the culture of a modern black South African is ignored and it’s just the white man who is often portrayed as progressive.

Black people are in the majority in South Africa and are found all over the place including the boardroom. Those boardrooms are part of their culture in modern day society but this evolution of Africans is seldom shown. When one watches the media depicting black culture it is evident that it is forever stuck in the primitive ways of the past.

I don’t understand why South African black culture is only shown by reflecting women covered in beads with clay pots of water from a river on top of their heads or black men in the Tshenga (cow hide underwear) herding livestock.

The Zulu reed dance in South Africa is a prominent feature in the cultural calendar. The Xhosa initiation ceremony where many young boys die in the bush as they are being ‘turned’ into men is another important part of South Africa. I am not saying we should do away with these, maybe the latter needs to be done with more control so there are no deaths. I am just saying black people are more than just that.

There are those who have their cultures in the rural areas but there are many others who have different cultures in the city. City folk might have traditional ceremonies, but some might not. All that I am saying here is that most of us wear modern day clothes, we buy meat in the butchery and seldom slaughter animals and we have taps with running water and never go to the river to fetch it. Maybe it’s those aspects of modern day South Africa that we need to promote rather than the primitive ways of just a few cultures. If we do that maybe foreigners will even stop thinking all of us are running around with machetes and have lions in our backyards.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Irresponsible Journalists Might Cost SANEF Media Freedom War

Sibusiso Khasa

US former army General Douglas MacArthur once said “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it”.
This statement seems clear enough and I’m sure many South African journalists would agree with me as well.
With media freedom under threat in South Africa as the government is busy debating bills and laws that will enable journalists to be jailed or fined, one would expect journalists to report with more care. This is not the case however.

On Monday 02 August 2010 a story with a headline “Jail journalist - Nzimande” was published by The Times newspaper. The journalist whose name was on the byline was Nkululeko Ncana. That led to the newspaper to publishing an apology the following day. This was because the South African Communist Party (SACP) said Nzimande never used the word “jail”.

Issuing such an apology compromised the newspaper’s credibility and gave those who are fighting for the media tribunal another point to add on their argument. It seems to have been incorrigible for journalists to quote people out of context. The headline on Ncana’s is probably not the last time such a practise will be seen. This is because some journalists have allowed commercial value to erode their ethics.

As a budding journalist I hope the allegations of charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice laid against Sunday Times’ political reporter Mzilikazi Wa-Afrika are not true. If they are then weapons in the arsenal of South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) will be reduced. They will surely struggle to fight for media freedom now.

“Political reporters shy away from reporting and analysing the political landscape as they see it”, said Sunday Independent editor Makhudu Sefara when he was still with City press. I think Sefara was correct since many of them muzzled themselves due to fear. This fear probably leads them to misinterpret things.

SANEF’s troops need to be more responsible and careful if they want to win this media freedom war against the government.

Celebrating Women

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not Everyone Deserves Job Interview Torture

Kabelo Chabalala

I know of a couple people who graduated from good universities in South Africa but struggle to get employment. Many of these people received good grades at university but crumble in job interviews. I think this is not because they can’t do the work they received the qualifications for but it is because of the process used to assess them during the interviewing process. So I have an appeal to all employers.

I would like to ask them to consider adopting the use of a questionnaire when assessing potential candidates for jobs. In May 2010 Statistics South Africa revealed that the number of the unemployed has risen. This is attributed to the global financial crisis. The number of those employed has fallen by 171 000 to 12.8 million. But many of these are in the informal sector, the people I am pleading for here are in the formal sector. They have obtained their diplomas and degrees from top universities like ours.

So since they can’t verbalise their experience and tell potential employers about their skills I suggest a questionnaire.

This is because shy and soft spoken people can never change who they are. No matter how hard one tries, getting these people to speak would be a miracle. I believe vacant jobs should not be necessarily occupied through the formal route of passing an interview.

Let’s ask a few rhetorical questions – you may answer them if you want. Do we actually need a scientist to be outspoken? Should a computer programmer have verbal capabilities? As I said these are just rhetorical questions.

A questionnaire is one of the ways of salvaging poor fellow citizens who fail interviews. “The most important leg of a three legged stool is the one that is missing”. A questionnaire might be that vital leg that is missing. We can prescribe different pre-job assessments for various vacant jobs and make sure that we assess people in a more relevant way.

As an interviewer conducting an interview or giving someone a questionnaire to fill, both ways don’t give us a 100% guarantee of whether one is getting the full truth or not. Eventually it is the practical part of it that decides. It is when they start getting their hands dirty that we can confidently say they can do the work assigned to them.

Let us come up with new pre-job assessments and use different evaluations to suit specific candidates. For singers, actors and performers continue auditioning them; journalist, television and radio presenters interview them before you grant them their jobs. At the end of the day, employers have to customise all pre-job assessments to suit specific personalities or job descriptions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Forgettable World Cup Experience

Thabiso Sihlali

I knew that the world cup was coming to South Africa for six years. I was in primary school when it was announced but didn’t feel any hype around it at the time.

Time passed and so did the years and the six years building up to 2010 seemed very normal to me. It did not feel like South Africa was to host a significant event on international importance.

Tickets went on sale and I too received some, but I still didn’t think I was about to be part of an experience that would change some people’s lives.

All that led to the night of an all important game that I would remember for the rest of my life.

It was a cold night in the Loftus Versfeld stadium where temperatures dropped below freezing point. The stadium was packed and everyone was still high on Bafana’s draw against Mexico. Everyone thought this would be in the bag. But it wasn’t to be as the host nation lost three goals to nil to Uruguay.

An hour before kickoff vuvuzelas were blowing so hard you wouldn’t hear yourself sneeze in that cold. I had so much hope that the atmosphere would last. But as the whistle to start the game was blown the stadium went dead quiet.

Then Diego Forlan of Uruguay drew the first blood with a shot out of nowhere. It felt like I was watching a golf Tournament where the crowd waiting in anticipation for Tiger Wood to make his final shot to win the US Masters. Then I thought Bafana would score and the mood would change back to the vuvuzelas that we heard before kickoff.

This dull mood lasted unfortunately. It lasted the whole game until I stood up and left the stadium as I was cold and had realised that no miracle was going to happen here. The ‘Once In Lifetime’ or ‘Part Of History’ moment ended before it even started for me.

I can surely admit it was one night to forget in terms of historical moments in my life
Nothing excited me that much about the day. That sums up my world cup experience.

Bafana Needs New Strategy

Jane Ndlovu

Now that the cheers and laughter of people are over after a magnificent world cup tournament, what does the future hold for our national team?

All eyes were on them since the country was selected to host the tournament back in 2004. Some say Bafana Bafana played well, but I believe they ridiculed all South Africans by making history of being the first host team to be knocked out before reaching the second stage of the tournament.

I am bewildered by the incessant trend and manner in which our national football team plays the game. South African footballers lack experience and cannot stand the pressure of the world cup. There are always new players experiencing the world cup for the first time in each and every world cup tournament.

I profusely shift the blame to the South African Football Association (SAFA) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for the ordeal that this country is currently facing. It is beyond peculiar to me that the two football organisations are too laid-back about the matter. Their sluggishness is really is taking its toll on football as a career in this country. SAFA, in conjunction with PSL need to join forces and hunt for talented footballers.

There is also a lack of development in poor and rural communities are often ignored. This is because such areas are often far from major cities. Some good players might even be ignored as a result of a lack of contacts as nepotism is a major problem in South Africa.

Pitso Mosimane has been appointed national coach. I guess congratulations are in order.

Appointing a local coach might not be the answer though. Foreign coaches are not the only ones who ‘fail’ Bafana Bafana. Our national team needs to be moulded and sharpened to stand against any tempest. At least 60% of players who participated in the Fifa World Cup in the Bafana Bafana squad need to be accompanied by the other 40% of players who were ‘hunted’ for the next world cup.

This country will be void of complaints and grief if we have a lot of alternatives and strikers in the ‘storeroom’. Instead of sitting back and getting big fat cheques, SAFA and PSL members need to get out of their comfort zones and start working seriously. Unless something is done and new measures are implemented on Bafana Bafana we South Africans will forever be wailing. We have had enough of being let down and brokenhearted by the national soccer team. Ahg!