#WITSFMF: The revolution continues

Wits Fees Must Fall members say they are still around and are still saying that the end goal for Fees Must Fall is free education. This week Wits management was able to extend a court interdict against some members of the movement.  

 

Members of the student movement Wits Fees Must Fall (FMF) have vowed to continue protesting for free education even after a court interdict barring them from protesting at Wits University has been extended to April 25.

“We are a radical political movement, the interdict that is there will not scare us,” said Wits FMF member, Phethani Madzivhandila, regarding the Wits University interim court order against some Wits FMF students.

The initial interdict was granted by the South Gauteng High Court on the January 15 and it was served after some Wits FMF students were forcefully removed by heavily armed security from Solomon House (formerly known as Senate House).

The interdict prevents Wits FMF students from “unlawfully occupying Senate House or any other offices, buildings, facilities or lecture halls; disrupting the normal activities of the University including registration, classes, lectures, tutorials” or “causing damage to property,” amongst other things.

The interdict was later extended to April 25 when members of Wits FMF will have the chance to challenge it in court.

“The interdict was extended because of some legal issues … 25 April that’s the day when there is going to be a court case between Wits and Fees Must Fall,” Madzivhandila said.

Madzivhandila also said that if need be they would continue to protest and occupying building regardless of the interdict because “students are getting excluded.”

Fees must fall protests began last year in October when students around the country protested a 10% increase in higher education fees for 2016. After no increase in fees was announced by the President Jacob Zuma, some students continued protesting demanding free education.

The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has since launched the #Access campaign as part of its humanitarian fund which rescues financially excluded individuals.

Madzivhandila criticised the SRC’s #Access campaign to raise R10 million for the “missing middle”, saying it would not do enough to help all struggling students. He added that the point of #feesmustfall protests was to change the whole higher education system, not accommodate it. He said “the only remedy” to stop yearly financial exclusions was “free education.”

Alongside raising money to sustain the movement, Wits FMF held a recruitment drive during O-week, engaging with students about decolonisation, free education and outsourcing.

Madzivhandila said the movement was still committed to attaining free, decolonised and de-commodified education.

“Fees Must Fall hasn’t fallen, we are still around” he said.

 

SLICE OF LIFE: The unpaid internship nightmare

Student_002

A couple of weeks ago while lazily going through my Twitter feed, I saw Marie Claire magazine trending. Curious, I checked what the furore was about. What was circulating was a screen grab showing an advert for a 6-month internship at the magazine’s online platform. The intern would be required to work eight hours a day, five days a week. All for a stipend of R30 per day.

From Nyanga East, where I grew up, a return trip to Gardens (where Marie Claire and a number of media and advertising companies are situated) using public transport can cost up to R50. And considering Cape Town’s spatial make-up, the further away from the city, the poorer the neighbourhoods, and the more expensive it becomes to get to the city centre.

“the structural, spatial and economic layout of South African society has remained largely unchanged since 1994”

Not so long ago, Marie Claire’s sister magazine, Cosmopolitan, was also under fire for advertising an unpaid internship where the intern was required to have a driver’s licence, own transport, and to  work fulltime plus overtime. The Marie Claire advert prompted a long conversation with a friend about the growing trend of unpaid and low paying worldwide. We came to the conclusion that given
the historical context of South Africa, one of dispossession and disenfranchisement for the black majority, such ‘opportunities’ are part of a larger system of exclusion; of privileging the privileged, and marginalising the marginalised.

THE UNPAID INTERNSHIP NIGHTMARE

The current South African reality is such that the structural, spatial and economic layout of South African society has remained largely unchanged since 1994. Meaning that the face of poverty is still black. So for the majority of black people in this country who don’t have access to personal vehicles, who live far from workplaces, the idea of being paid a stipend as little as R600 a month is a clear tool to exclude them.

My friend and I shared our experiences of  how hard it was to try and make a living within the media space. I shared my experiences of how, even though I had the option to extend it, I had to quit my first magazine internship because I couldn’t afford to not get any income for another three months. That being an unpaid intern meant lunch hours with no lunch and trips home dragging because of the unbearable hunger pains.

My second internship paid R2,000 per month, but because I had to take a bus and a train to get to and from work, all my money went to transport. And when I received another internship in Johannesburg my family had to get into debt because I had to relocate and find accommodation, while I was getting paid R1,000 more than the previous internship. I felt like crying every time I had to pay rent, because afterwards I knew that the coming weeks would be bleak.

One is aware that newsrooms are currently running on paper-thin budgets, but surely employers have a social responsibility not to perpetuate inequality in work spaces? Is getting ‘exposure’, ‘mentoring’ and ‘experience’ – as Marie Claire said when justifying the R30 stipend  – enough, when the ‘opportunity’ only benefits a privileged few?

University of KwaZulu Natal on fire

The University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) has been riddled with protests in recent years. The reasons for the protests vary from poor accommodation, low staff salary increases and increasing student fees, but the main reason behind most protest action has been uncertainty around the  National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which has been a concern on campuses around the country. The timeline below takes a look at the  protests that have occurred at UKZN’s different campuses over the past 15 years.

UKZN

2000:

When it was still called the University of Durban in the Westville campus, a 23 year old student, Michael Makhabane was shot dead during a chaotic strike at the University premises. Rubber bullets had been fired by police but Makhabane was shot with live ammunition from a shotgun. The students were protesting against the de-registration of more than 500 students who could not afford to pay their fees.

2006:

In 2006, workers at the university backed by a number of worker unions and students, protested low worker wages and “sub-inflationary wage increases of the general staff while senior management were given bonuses.”  The workers, were also protesting the increasing corporate nature of the university. The strike went on for two weeks, before workers and management reached an agreement.

2007:

Two student leaders were arrested during a strike in the UKZN Westville campus after a strike that focused on the lack of transport between the university campus and the Durban CBD and dilapidated and inadequate accommodation on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

2010:

During the year of the soccer world cup, grievances surrounding poor accommodation and transport services at the University continued. Thanduxolo Sabelo, the SRC president at the time said, “There were issues over accommodation at some campuses because they don’t have proper facilities. About 200 students also applied for financial aid, but they have not received it. There were also complaints over the high prices of cafeteria food.”

2012:

This year, the University closed it’s doors after students pelted rocks and burned tyres on the campus. As student complaints continued, the University hardened its hand in disciplining ‘dissident’ students.

2015:

The recent strikes at the University have become more violent. The funding and financial aid issue, which affects mostly poor black students, has been at the centre of the protests this year as well.

 

 

Black Twitter responds to #IAmStellenbosch with #IAmNotStellenbosch


The #IAmStellenbosch campaign, where students of different races at Stellenbosch University took pictures with messages meant to “breakdown perceived social barriers”, received harsh criticism from Black Twitter last Friday.

iamnotstellenbosch

HARSH REBUTTALS: Black students at the University of Stellenbosch responded harshly to the recent social media campaign #IAmStellenbosch.                                                                                                                  Photo:Twitter/@_Kwenama

On Wednesday, September 23 students who call themselves, I Am Stellenbosch posted pictures of students with messages about their identities on their Facebook page with the hashtag, #IAmStellenbosch.

Black Twitter soon took notice of the hashtag and pictures, and quickly challenged and changed the hashtag to #IAmNotStellenbosch.

While some of the messages in the original hashtag focused on celebrating the rainbow nation and different cultural identities in South Africa, Black Twitter problematised the images and ideas carried by the images, with one twitter user saying, “There are no “Born frees” in SA that term suggests that had no residual effect .”

The responses by Black Twitter claimed that the I Am Stellenbosch messages were “tone deaf” and had no understanding of white privilege and institutional racism,

 

 


The Open Stellenbosch movement released a statement condemning #IAmStellenbosch. In the statement they say, “we can reasonably conclude that the university actively creates an enabling environment for the intellectual vacuity which results in such racist tropes as #whereisthelove and #IAmStellenbosch.” While the Twitter campaign was going on, students on the campus engaged in a peaceful protest, meant to showcase the negative side of black student’s experiences at the university,

 

That is, until campus security came:

 

Judgement: Wits EFF vs Wits University

Below is the full judgement handed down by Judge Motsamai Makume in the urgent interdict that was filed by Wits EFF against the University.  In the judgement, Judge Makume said “What makes this matter urgent is the fact that Third to Eighth Applicants are being excluded from all activities inclusive of their right to participate in education activities separate from their participation as members of the Second Applicant. This in my view is a serious violation of a right enshrined in the Bill of Rights namely the right to education.” 

EFF v Wits court order 26 August 2015[5]

“Pamberi ne Chimurenga” – Forward with the revolution

Decolonising Wits is a documentary that was filmed last year at Wits by independent filmmaker Aryan Kaganof. In the documentary he follows Wits EFF students as they navigate their way through student politics and questions of black alienation at the university. 

THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED: Decolonising Wits follows a group of students who raise a number of concerns regarding matters of racial transformation at Wits.                                          Photo: Aryan Kaganof/Kagablog

A year has passed since the filming of the documentary, Decolonising Wits by South African filmmaker Aryan Kaganof. It was filmed around the time of the SRC elections at Wits, and the hot debate at the time was the residence admissions policy.

One of the first scenes is of a passionate Wits Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) Chairperson Vuyani Pambo surrounded by a group of students, speaking in an almost preacher-like tone, “But it is not only about us, we are creating an epoch here!” This sets the tone for the film.

In the documentary, Kaganof follows a group of Wits (EFF) members as they navigate through the messy conundrum of student politics and questions of black alienation at historically white institutions. We see students from different political parties – EFF, Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Project W, fighting amongst each other, and then working together to “fight” management.

Next we see students discussing the prioritisation of white students at Wits. We see Wits EFF members sombrely singing the well-known struggle song – Senzeni Na? while one of the members says, “Comrades, we must never celebrate being at Wits, and think that you are a better Black. You must never celebrate assimilation comrades.”

Later Pambo says, “I’m saying for the mere fact that there is no consequence for messing around or playing with a black body, racism is perpetuated… I want to be able to speak my mind without having to reference or align myself to whiteness.”

A prominent theme in the documentary is the plight of black service workers at Wits. The students speak about the poor treatment of workers, highlighting the segregation of service worker toilets as a signal of Wits’ disinterest in creating a holistically fair environment.

“The explosion will not happen today. It is too soon”

Extracts from Frantz Fanon’s influential books The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks, are generously sprinkled throughout the documentary. The most quoted chapter though is, Concerning Violence, a chapter from The Wretched of the Earth which has caused much contention and debate around academic circles about what Fanon meant by “revolutionary violence.”

The lines “The explosion will not happen today. It is too soon… ” from the introduction of Black Skin, White Masks are repeated throughout the film, Kaganof seems to be alluding to the nascent anger  bubbling under in South Africa. An anger that is infused with militant and revolutionary rhetoric.

A short appearance by former EFF MP Andile Mngxitama brings home the message of black assimilation in white institutions.

Mngxitama speaks to a point also raised by Panashe Chigumadzi at the Ruth First Memorial Lecture last Monday. He says, “Over the years black people have come to understand that to be civil, to be acceptable, to make progress within the system you cannot raise the black question. We are policing ourselves very well.”

Decolonising Wits should not be viewed as a formulaic documentary with a beginning, middle and an end. It should rather be viewed as an important piece of history. A living archive.

The film cannot be explained, but should rather be experienced. It documents a moment when students of the radical tradition are at the forefront of racial discussions around the country. At the forefront of what others would call ‘transformation’.

Kaganof, a white male, moves as if wearing an invisible cloak between the majority black students. The same Black students that have centred their experiences of blackness at the core of their political discourse. It begs the question, who can document the black struggle?

 

On black feminism and friendship

“Let’s face it. I am a marked woman, but not everybody knows my name… I describe a locus of confounded identities, a meeting ground of investments and privations in the national treasury of rhetorical wealth. My country needs me, and if I were not here, I would have to be invented.” – Hortense J. Spillers

zimasaI was 18-years-old when my mother passed away.  It was a Saturday morning and I was woken up by a call from my sister telling me to come home immediately. I’ll never forget my sister’s quivering voice. I’ll never forget the somber faces of the people gathered in our living room as I walked in. Life has been like an incomplete puzzle ever since that day – and I am not sure if it will ever be complete again.

My mother was the first feminist I knew – although the word never existed in her vocabulary. Her life story is one that is fraught with disappointment, heartache and struggle, like most black women of her generation. Her life was never her own.

Even so, she resisted stereotypes associated with motherhood, caring for her children in often unexpected ways, but always in the best way she knew how. She resisted stereotypes associated with womanhood and femininity. She was not ‘fragile’ nor was she ‘emotional’. In fact she was physically strong, and did most of the ‘handy’ work at home.

But besides all of that, the most admirable thing about her was that she was completely comfortable in her own skin. Her pitch black natural hair, the loose clothes, her loud laughter, and her tsotsi-taal which would be whipped out at the most unexpected moments! She was genuinely herself, and she taught me that accepting myself the way I was, was the only way to begin the path towards freedom.

Feminist Friendships Rule

As I continue trying to come to terms with her absence, my friendships with women have been at the centre of my healing. And I can honestly say that feminism (black feminism to be exact) and feminist politics have helped me in finding and building these friendships with women of different ages, sexualities and religions.

Through my feminist friendships, I have shared moments with women that have understood me (and my pain) even before I have spoken. The compassion, love, space and understanding I have received from women whom I have bonded with (in the workplace and in social spaces), has given me strength in times of weakness, assurance in times of doubt, and confidence in times of self-hatred.

Friendships I have had with women over the years have allowed me to reflect on my own ideas of blackness and womanhood. They have allowed me to see that feminism is about more than just one way of ‘being’. That it is essentially about justice. And that it is about fighting for, and attaining freedom.

Certain shared experiences that I have had with black women have created a solidarity that acknowledges and understands the social and historical contexts of black womanhood. I have been understood by black women. I have been heard by black women.

I am friends with fiercely intelligent women that have kept me intellectually engaged. I am friends with women who disrupt narrow-minded ideas of femininity. I am friends with women who fight, both politically and physically, to have their voices heard.

I have cried for and with these women in times of trauma. I have fought with them when we have disagreed. I have sung with them – emotionally at rallies and euphorically in clubs and beer halls!

We have supported each other and cried on each other’s shoulders when no one else was willing to carry our burdens with us.

So, to my mother – the first feminist I ever knew, and to my female friends who have taught me what feminism is and could be, I thank you.

EFF members crash ‘Snake Pastor’s’ tent

Members of the Gauteng region EFF trashed the tent of the End Times Ministries church in Shoshanguve, Pretoria. The Pastor has been feeding grass, hair, snakes, and rats to his congregants.

 The EFF in the Gauteng region dismantled and allegedly burnt down the church of a pastor who has been photographed and filmed feeding his congregation snakes and rats.

“Fighters must not back off from this honorable task aimed at ensuring that the mischievous impostor-pastor gets a taste of his own medicine, literally.” Mandisa Mashego, Acting Chairperson of the Gauteng EFF said in a statement last Friday.

ANN7 captured images and videos of people dressed up in EFF regalia, tearing down the church tent and burning it on the street.

Watch ANN7’s full news report here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRZo_YLMSUs#t=112

The pastor, Penuel Mnguni of the End Times Ministries has been on the news recently for performing “miracles”, like walking on top of people, riding his congregants like horses, and making them eat grass. The self proclaim prophet was arrested and later released on bail last month for animal cruelty, but the charges were withdrawn due to lack of evidence.

But despite all of the controversy, his church members still support him fully, with one man commenting below a sermon posted on the End Times Disciples Ministries page saying, “my advice to you is that,continue with the work of God,continue to glorify God the father,Jesus said,”if the world hates you,know that it hated me first”,God will protect you,but to those that touches you must remember this: “Do not touch my annointed”.”

The EFF National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi took to his Facebook page to explain the rationale behind the act,

Ndlozi Facebook

 

While others on twitter were not so impressed, like comedian Loyiso Gola:      

Sisa Sopazi Tribute and Fundraiser Concert: A Jazz Soul

Fellow musicians and friends of the late drummer and producer, Sisa Sopazi, gathered at The Orbit jazz club in Braamfontein last Saturday to pay tribute to the multi-talented musician.

“Only the greatest of musicians could get such a remarkable send-off,” a friend whispers to me as we watch Lindiwe Maxolo singing dexterously at The Orbit, last Saturday.

Many in the South African music scene knew him as Mr Funk Daddy. Sisa Sopazi, a 35 year old Eastern Cape born drummer, composer and producer passed away suddenly in June earlier this year, leaving fellow musicians, friends and family devastated, “He has left a void that will never be filled,” pianist Nduduzo Makhathini told The Herald newspaper.

The best way to celebrate the life of a fierce musician, is to assemble others like him to cast in stone his memory through music. The Sisa Sopazi tribute and fundraiser concert did just that. The day of the concert, 08 August, was meant to be the date Sopazi would perform new compositions from his upcoming second album, at The Orbit.

Trumpeter, Mandla Mlangeni delivered an emotional performance in memory of Sisa Sopazi at The Orbit. Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

Trumpeter, Mandla Mlangeni delivered an emotional performance in memory of Sisa Sopazi at The Orbit last Saturday.                                                                                                                                                         Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

Apart from his own compositions and musical work, Sopazi worked closely with many musicians, including Thandiswa Mazwai, featuring as the drummer and assistant producer of her second album Ibokwe. An experience Sopazi said was “always overwhelming because she’s a very talented singer & very creative.”

To honor the multi-talented and well recognized musician, songs from Sopazi’s debut album, Images and Figures – which was nominated for Best Jazz Album in the 2014 South Africa Music Awards (SAMA), were performed by the Lindiwe Maxolo Quintet and the H3 ensemble, along with specials guests whom were Sopazi’s friends and fellow musicians.

The musicians played Sopazi’s compositions like Ekomani, You Are and Nomthandazo, with compassion, depth and creativity – all qualities Sopazi was known to embody.

The young and talented Linda Sikhakhane blew his tenor saxophone like it was his last time, accompanied by his fellow band mates, Sthembiso Bhengu (who also played in Sopazi’s band, Sisa Sopazi Quartet) on the trumpet and Senzo Mzimela on trombone.

The animated drummer Sphiwe Shiburu and double bassist Thembinkosi Mavimbela gave the sound a warm jazz base, with the dapper Jacob Thomo on piano, delicately stroking his keys.

Double bassist, Thembinkosi Mavimbela playing tunes from Sisa Sopazi's debut album, Images and Figures at the Orbit. Photo: ZImasa Mpemnyama

Double bassist, Thembinkosi Mavimbela playing tunes from Sisa Sopazi’s debut album, Images and Figures at the Orbit.                                                                                                                                                           Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

Guest performers included pianist and vocalist Yonela Mnana whose bluesy voice was coarse yet sincere and emotionally charged, legendary double bassist Lex Futshane, vocalist Titi Luzipho and bassist Banda Banda amongst others.

The highlight of the night was the bursting drums of Ayanda Sikade, and the wailing trumpet of Mandla Mlangeni. They created an atmosphere which was not somber but commemorative. Watch their full performance below:

Mnana finished off his performance of You Are by saying, “You know Sisa, Sisa was Mr Funk hey. I think he would really appreciate this.” Which goes to show that the artists were not mourning the death of Sopazi, but instead were celebrating his life. Celebrating his enormous contribution to the South African music scene.

Proceeds from the concert will be given to Sopazi’s family.

Noodle-mania: 4 ways to prepare instant noodles

No student can say they have never had noodles before. Below is a list of 4 ways you can freshen up your noodle game. 

noodles (3 of 3)

CHICKEN ALA NOODLE: A quick and easy way to move from ‘instant noodles’ to a ‘meal’. Photo: Sibongile Machika

Noodles are the staple food for most students. Even though they might not be the healthiest option out there, they are quick, easy to make, cheap, and are the go-to food for students during exams. We used a cheap, 3-minute-noodle, found at a local Braamfontein supermarket for all the recipes as they are one of the most affordable brands on the market.

Crack-A-Snack: Dry noodles

Ingredients:

1 packet Instant noodles

Method:

It’s really simple. If you can’t do it, you probably shouldn’t be at a university. Break noodles into small pieces and add noodle ‘spice’ if you wish. Eat. Done.

Chicken ala Noodle

Ingredients:

1 Chicken breast

¼  each chopped green, red and yellow pepper

¼ chopped onion

1 packet Instant noodles

Oil

Method:

If you are as lazy as most students then this recipe is for you. You can have it with chicken on Monday, replace the chicken with sausage on Tuesday, and have it with chicken livers on Wednesday. See?

Fry onions and peppers until soft (don’t burn them – it defeats the purpose). Add chicken strips, salt, black pepper and chicken spice.

On the side, make your instant noodles. Serve stir fry on top noodles.

Russian noodles

Ingredients:

1 canned tomatoes

1 Russian (can replace with two viennas)

¼  each chopped green, red and yellow pepper

Black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 packet Instant noodles

Method:

No, this recipe is not only meant for people from Russia, and no, there is no vodka involved.

Fry onions and peppers until soft. Add sliced Russians until soft. Add canned tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar and simmer. Add tomato Russian mix to the prepared noodles. Mix well and serve.

Tuna-mayo noodles

Ingredients:

1 can tuna

¼ each chopped green, red and yellow pepper

Salt and pepper

Mayonnaise

1 packet instant noodles

Method:

This recipe is probably as easy as the cracking noodles in the first recipe but really tasty. Just chop this, chop that, and you are done – not rocket science.

Drain tuna (use tuna in water rather than tuna in oil – it’s healthier at least before you add the mayonaise). Add mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and peppers to the tuna. Add the tuna mix to prepared noodles and mix well.

The Muffinz say This Is Afrika (T.I.A)

The Muffinz new album, Do What You Love was released almost two months ago and is a mix of jazz, soul, reggae and hip hop. The messages in the album assert a pan-African identity.

NewMuffunz

DOING WHAT THEY LOVE: (Left to Right) Sifiso Buthelezi, Mthabisi Sibanda, Gregory Mabusela and Simphiwe Kulla of The Muffinz performing songs from their sophomore album, Do What You Love, at the Bannister.                                                                                                                                                                                         Photo: Sibongile Machika

What does a transatlantic sound, sound like?

Is the idea of music that connects the “kings and queens tried on trees in New Orleans?” and “Children of the diaspora” possible?

Whose responsibility is it to make the connections between the blood of young black men spilled in the street and the social responsibility that every human should carry?

The Muffinz are a five piece band based in Johannesburg, who started their music career in 2011, but have been singing for years prior to that.

In their sophomore album, Do What You Love, it seems the band has made a concerted effort to make their sound more rooted in Africa. One can easily imagine hearing Alle Sokou in a market in East Africa, or #Standing! Trippin’ But Not Falling and #Beautiful, Don’t Believe The Fools Who Think You Ain’t in West Africa, or Sobaleka on a traditional South African radio station.

“His voice in the chorus is piercing. He sings from the marrow”

The album was released almost two months ago, but received scant mention from mainstream media.

The band, who consists of, Sifiso “Atomza” Buthelezi, Simphiwe “Simz” Kulla, Karabo “Skabz” Moeketsi, Mthabisi “Mthae” Sibanda  and Gregory “Keke” Mabusela, crafted their sound while studying at the University of Johannesburg, one jam session at a time.

No histrionics, just music

The band is made up of four guitarists and a drummer and all the members contribute to the vocals. They all bring different elements to the music and have literally mastered harmonies. There are no histrionics, just guitars, drums, and voices.

Keke – the drummer, sings like he is speaking to the gods. His voice has a warm texture. In the song Ngwana Te, which features the legendary Zimbabwean musician, Oliver Mtukudzi, Keke’s voice literally gives one goosebumps.  He transitions through intricate high and low notes with ease. Keke’s voice comes out shining on this album – blending well with the African theme of the songs.

On the other hand, Atomza’s voice is delicate. Careful. Precious. It takes heavy subjects and soothes them out. Sobaleka speaks of running away from hunger, running towards the sun. In the song, they highlight their disappointment with “our leaders” who “promised us a better life” but are failing to deliver. It’s a call for freedom. In the song, Atomza’s voice comes from a place of pain. Unlike in Do What You Love, where his voice is light, here, it is heavy and serious. His voice in the chorus is piercing. He sings from the marrow.

The album has a jazzy, afro-soul sound, with hints of reggae and hip-hop, and the band moves between these sounds with ease.

Crafting a pan-African sound

A wave of pan-Africanism and black consciousness has hit campuses around the country. Young people are being more assertive about their identity. Their blackness. Though this wave is still at its infancy – still needing to be nurtured and groomed, it functions as a beacon of hope for those who wish to see a more Afro-centric South Africa.

South Africa’s current social situation – high rates of unemployment and crime resulting from structural economic and racial inequalities, is one that cannot and should not be ignored by artists. And in a musical environment where glossy appearances sometimes subsumes real art and talent, the Muffinz have chosen to take the harder, rockier route. This for me, is what separates artists from entertainers. The Muffinz will withstand the test of time, not only because they are talented, but because they respect the art of making music.

Do What You Love is a must-buy album.

CALS breaking down law walls

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies is working with the South African Human Rights Commission using film and media, to make the public aware of their rights.

IMG_4606

FILMING THE LAW: Lisa Chamberlain is the deputy director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies.                           Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

THE CENTRE for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) has embarked on an interdisciplinary film project with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), to produce a documentary called Breaking the Steel Wall.

The film project aims to use film and media as a tool for advocacy and allows for film projects to also be used as evidence in court. “Last year CALS decided to start thinking about how to incorporate alternative forms of storytelling and media into the work that we do,” said Lisa Chamberlain, the deputy director of CALS. The documentary, which is available in English and isiZulu versions, tracks the journey of communities in the Vaal, trying to access information from ArcelorMittal South Africa, the largest steel producer in the African continent, which the community feels is a big contributor to pollution in the area. In the documentary, the Steel Valley and Louisrus communities explain how the runoff from the factory water has negatively
affected the health of the community members and their animals.

“Access to information is being used by both the state and the private sector to thwart community agency,”

Apart from bringing awareness about the problems of pollution in the Vaal, the documentary also aims to educate the public about the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), the basis of which is found in Section 32 of the Constitution and allows “for the constitutional right of access to information”. Chamberlain said: “In South Africa, information is not a privilege, it’s a right.”

Chamberlain said that PAIA is a tool that helps communities to access information that might be useful for their broader struggles. “We have also produced short documentaries that we have submitted into the Marikana commission of inquiry,” Chamberlain said. “We are trying to shake it up and be a bit more creative about the work that we do. “PAIA is an enabling piece
of legislation, it is a necessary precondition to the realisation of other rights in our Bill of Rights,” she said. “Access to information is being used by both the state and the private sector to thwart community agency,” said Chamberlain.

Doing the documentary in both English and isiZulu was a conscious effort to ensure the material would be accessible to the larger population for whom the documentary is most relevant. “Our plan is to make it available in more languages than the two… It wouldn’t make sense to perpetuate the same exclusionary problems that we are trying to address.”

CALS is planning to have screenings of the documentary in the community in which it was filmed. “In the long term what we want to do is turn some of the chapters in the documentary into a format that can be shared using cellphone technology, so that it can be transferred easily without using the Internet,” she said.

The English and isiZulu versions of the documentary are available on the CALS Wits YouTube channel.