27 DEC 2015 EDITION 6
Oh hi! If you’re reading this, we hope you’re kicking back in a place you enjoy, with a smile on your face or at the very least, a sigh of relief, because you’ve made it through 2015! What a year. We’d try round it all up for you, but it doesn’t really make sense in real life, let alone on paper. Before you dive into our content, we’d just like to say thank you. Yes, you! This is our last edition of the year and one that marks our first year as a publication. It’s been a hell of a trip. Thank you to all our contributors who took the time to create and submit, you really made this mag hella cool and we hope you enjoyed creating with us as much as we did with you. Thank you to all our readers who took the time to sift through our editions this year and show their support. It really does mean a lot and we hope you’ll continue to support us in 2016 where we’ll still be aiming to platform and celebrate some of the best up and coming local artists and creatives in the country. But let’s get into it now, because this edition’s a big one! Edition 6 offers a retrospective look at the nationwide student led protests and demonstrations, a contemplative chat with a Durban born poet, some in depth book reviews, a host of short stories, captivating photo series, and some fantastic music. We hope you enjoy, and you’re ending the year in style. We’re probably going straight to sleep now. See you next year! Ja. team
WRITING BACK TO THE INDUSTRY - THE POETRY OF SIHLE NTULI WORDS BY DAVE MANN PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
Gentle Jacaranda flowers announce a quiet afternoon as they line the pavement outside the entrance to South African poet and writer, Sihle Ntuli’s Grahamstown flat. Inside, tucked away from the noise
grandmother’s house,” he says softly, hands resting gently on knees. He listens intently to our questions and collects his thoughts before answering.
of passing cars and Somerset Street commuters, sits a robust green couch, a small desk covered in pages with neat words, and a few copies of Ntuli’s first anthology, Stranger. Having read Ntuli before, we knew him on paper. Today, the Ja. Magazine team sits down with the poet to find out more about the person behind the prose.
“I was born in Durban in the KwaMashu township. Being born in the 90s in South Africa, you sort of experience the end of the apartheid era,” he begins. “I moved to the suburbs in ’97 and then I was in a place where I was very unsure. You have this passive aggressive sort of anger and violence behind closed doors. You don’t greet your neighbours or say hello, but you assume every one’s business. Then you’re back in the townships and you know everyone and everyone’s business because they tell you and they help you. I think the term ‘double consciousness’ sums it up pretty well.”
Ntuli is soft and considered in conversation. He sits on the green couch, leaning back always and seldom moving. Above him is a Madonna and Child type image that Ntuli says is present in most black children’s homes in South Africa. “Ja this image always reminds me of my
Drawing on much of his time growing
PROFILE up in KwaMashu, Ntuli’s poetry speaks back to a life in Durban, from its taxi ranks and close- knit communities, to its very streets. Ntuli’s poetry however is not geographically limited. He writes of memory and music, and of bad break ups and generational aspirations. Stranger, when read in its entirety, is as much a personal collection of words as it is a shared experience. When asked how he thinks the residents of KwaMashu would experience his anthology, Ntuli raises the sad reality of education levels in the township, and states that while not everyone would be able to access it and understand it in the same way, he just wants the anthology to inspire.
Certainly, Ntuli’s experiencing growing celebrity within the Eastern Cape where he’s currently finishing up his studies. His anthology currently circulates Grahamstown, Johannesburg, and wherever they ship off to from online purchases, with plans to sell in Nigeria soon. In a small Grahamstown pub, a stranger with a beer in hand approaches him to recall how Ntuli’s poem ‘Flame’ helped him pick himself up after a particularly difficult break up. In the Eastern Star gallery at his launch, Ntuli’s writing is read out and well received by the crowd, albeit a very white, and very sheltered audience.
“I’d like them to read it and see that they can be something like a writer or a musician, just to take themselves out of the space of KwaMashu, but still rep it. We have various celebs who come out of our community and forget about it. But hey, your township will always remember you, that community gave birth to you and they will always support you. I need to put KwaMashu on the map. That’s what I wanna do.”
“At the back of my mind, I knew this audience was like ‘Ay I like to see this black man act black’. But it’s also about perception and how you see it. Some people like this whole exotic thing, but whatever man, I like to look on the positive side. That crowd, for them, a poem like ‘Mob Justice’ exposes them to things they don’t know about from the comfort of their Mercedes Benz and people need to know about that.”
Ntuli shifts a little in his seat and considers what he’s said. The literary scene in South Africa is one that is rich in history and steeped in tradition, but it’s a kind of tradition that works for a select few. As a young, black writer, Ntuli forms part of a growing network of writers who are continually having to work within the confines of an industry that has, from its inception, been crafted exclusively for wealthy white men.
because the gatekeepers won’t allow them in. I guess my project is just trying to show that that can exist. Like we can go there,” says Ntuli leaning forward slightly. “We can write poetry about nightclubs, we can take it there. We can take it to this green couch where we’re sitting smoking bongs and talking. We can take it there. From there we can take it to some deeper levels. Lost love – a lot of people have experienced break ups recently, but in a contemporary way. Not so much ‘she loves me, she loves me not’, but in a more complex way. So ja
“The local literary industry is run by, not so much colonialists, but traditionalist white structures and white gatekeepers that don’t really allow other voices in. It would be very interesting to maybe stumble upon an Indian poet writing on Chatsworth, but you won’t really get that,
this is why I feel we’re existing in a very old school place in our literature.” And where do these complications begin? Where most writers discover their love for language—in the schooling system. Ntuli
PROFILE slides into the back of the couch as he brings back his high school days. A model C schooling may have been the result of a mother’s good intentions, but Ntuli recalls a then unknown constriction in his writing—a preference towards the old, classical poets and their styles which Ntuli would have to spend years unlearning before finding his own.
actually inspired some other students to write their own stuff. You don’t get a lot of poets in our era because of that I think, because of what goes on in that crucial development stage.” We sit for a while more and swap stories of our respective high school experiences. We talk about the recent student led protests and demonstrations and the need for good writing around them, but how even then, the focus remains on white writers penning misinformed and far removed think pieces or performing lofty spoken word. ‘Something needs to shift here’ we conclude, ‘but how?’ Ntuli sits uneasy for a while before a small smile forms and he concludes.
“Well before, in the 90s era, I was writing a lot. There was a lot of hip hop then and I enjoyed the way that they put their lines together. More so than wanting to be a Keats or be a Wordsworth, I wanted to just sort of express myself in contemporary ways that people in my time could understand and that was sort of the main motivator for being a writer. But of course when you’re in high school, you start to experiment with the Keats structure, the Wordsworth structure and it’s only now once I’ve grown up that I’ve started to develop my own voice,” he says. “Could they not have given us some Zulu poetry? We have to sort of co- exist with the English language all the time. As much as it was necessary to see how those guys wrote, I would have preferred it if they had a little bit more of African poetry and poets. Especially coming from a Model C school which was very traditional, you sort of stifle the African voice, which could’ve
“Tradition doesn’t like to move too far from the norm. I think that maybe we have to reapply our understanding of tradition and to create new traditions. I want to give you your Keats and your Wordsworth, but give it to you from the township,” he says. “The industry will only have you if you fit their idea of a black writer and many black writers are starting to write against that you know? I might have to start writing against them as well. I’ve always tried to navigate it, but it might just be time to flip the table.”
It’s been three years since I began my Masters in Journalism and Media Studies, at the University currently known as Rhodes. I graduated this past April but came ‘home’ to Seattle last July to be around friends and family, specifically my two grandmothers, that I know have less life ahead of them than I would like. Seattle has never felt like home, but those two women exude incredible love and they make Seattle stay-able. In the year after completing my MA, I decided I needed a bit of a mental break. So I sweated my way through a series of three jobs, paying between 10-12 dollars an hour, doing practical, blue-collar work. Here is what I learned:
Being outside is exhilarating, and exhilaration is important. Children can melt your heart and throw cups at your face and give you the brightest smiles over cow conversation. Don’t settle, there is always something new to learn. I hadn’t known happiness, like greeting the crisp Cascade mountain air every morning, since I had the gift of being greeted daily by the salty Pacific. The wake-up ritual that requires total sensory engagement is the greatest form of caffeination because it brings with it a sense of connectedness and wonderment - comfortingly humbling. Every morning I woke up as a ski instructor I looked out into the snowy mountains above me and thought ‘I am incredibly small and so lucky’. Every night as I fell asleep I thought ‘I am incredibly tired’. There is an authenticity to that daily practice of sensory presence. A day’s work felt honest, worthy, and right. I ended up having the privilege of teaching two young brothers how to ski throughout the entire season. They lived with their parents/home-school teachers in the Cascades during the winter months, had spent the first few years of their lives in Rwanda and were planning to spend their next summer in Ecuador. They reminded me that all generalized assumptions are sometimes false – like mine regarding the ridiculousness
RANTS of home-schooling. They taught me about different cloud formations as we spent chair lift rides hoping for more snow. Then, on our last run of the season together, they asked me if I had post-it notes at home. They wanted to make sure I made myself a refrigerator note saying ‘don’t forget Cole and Jackson’ for next season. I smiled, as if I ever could. It was my first day behind the counter at my favourite local ice cream shop. I was hired on as a scooper and was intently observing Jack, my manager, perform the ins and outs as I practiced making waffle cones. One little boy ran ahead of his mom into the shop, but instead of stopping at the counter, made a bee-line for the water station. He immediately grabbed the stack of clean paper cups and began to throw them onto the floor with an invigoration matched only by his wailing. I watched Jack. Jack watched the Mother, who was deep in conversation with a friend and totally distracted. The child watched his destruction. Finally, as the cup stack quickly fell into chaos in our tiny shop, Jack instructed me to begin transferring the never used, yet soiled cups, into the compost. The child never ceased throwing and screaming as I stepped into my newest duty as scooper: taking empty cups to the head for $10 an hour. By September this year I had finally gotten a job somewhat in my field, school photography, like the yearbook-variety kind. 200 head shots a day, 250 tried and mostly true ways to encourage people to smile, including excitedly uttering the word hamburger. In any case, over the course of this season I will have likely been to over 100 schools and made around 40,000 photographs – 10% of which are inevitably that fake child smile that is better understood as a grimace, or laboured total tooth showing. It’s a frantic life of rapidly looking at nervous faces, certain they can’t photographically portray how they feel about themselves, or how they want the world to feel about them, but ultimately understanding the absurd importance of grilled meat. From these three professional pursuits I have learned that nothing is mindless. Mindlessness is in fact more insanity inducing than the practice of presence. I have also learned that you can work incredibly hard for not nearly enough money to sustain independence, to feel the United States famed freedom. There is a gritty world out there looking to conquer us and quiet us more often than feed us. Ultimately, I’ve learned that to live in this world is to search for beauty brilliant enough to sustain your fight.
BIANCA WOOD WORDS AND PHOTOS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
I spent a month on the road with Bianca Wood and her band as she began her brand launch tour. Following the music makers around the country provided much insight into the everyday realities of being an SA musician. We chatted a bit more with Bianca in order to shed some light on the type of musician she is. All photographs are from the 28 day adventure around South Africa, starting off in Bloemfontein to Pretoria, Johannesburg, sunny Durbs, Umzumbe, Plett, Wilderness and back home to Cape Town. View more photographs from the tour here and giver Biancaâ€™s music a listen.
WHO ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES? I am influenced by a large variety of musicians and all different genres of music – from old school blues, to some of the awesome EDM out there currently. And everything in between. If it’s good and love has been put into it, I appreciate it and take from it. IF YOU COULD BUILD A DREAM BAND WHO WOULD BE IN IT? It would be more like I feature for a song or two and let the legend keep at it, living in their craftsmanship.
Snarky Puppy team can come. Brandon Pink.
Levine. Karen Zoid. I can keep going … there are too many. WHERE
VENUE OR FESTIVAL TO PLAY? I would love to play at STRAB next year. MOST REWARDING MUSICAL EXPERIENCE SO FAR? Studio! I LOVE time in studio.
MUSIC WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO BESIDES MAKING
of music lovers joining us on our journeys. It
MUSIC? I am also an actress.
is an incredible time to be doing this thing.
ANY OTHER HIDDEN TALENTS? I love to
YOUR TOP 5 SOUTH AFRICA ARTISTS?
I love Alice Phoebe Lou’s new music that she is bringing out in 2016 – incredible, brave
WHAT’S ONE OF THE HARDER ASPECTS
and real stuff. I love Gangs of Ballet’s music
OF BEING AN ARTIST/MUSICIAN IN SA?
– I think it is original, and their influences
It’s difficult not to compare yourself to other
are obvious and incredibly incorporated in
artists. It’s debilitating for an artist to that
their creative choices. Black Coffee is doing
too much. Competition is good, but above
some sensational work at the moment – I
all is authenticity and love for what you do,
can’t stop moving and smiling and loving life
who you do it with and for, and staying true
when I listen to Black Coffee. Jesse Clegge
to the music that you WANT to make.
has such a real and special vibe – I could watch his shows forever. And finally, still
WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD WE ARE
quite new to me, but I can’t get enough –
LACKING IN THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE
Petite Noir – I am crazy about his music.
AND HOW CA N WE IMPROVE IT? Wow, that’s a tough question because
YOU RELEASED YOUR ALBUM ALREADY.
I see a lot more brilliance and inspiring
WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR 2016?
things happening on the scene than things
Well it is released in the sense that it is
that are lacking. I think we bringing out
available for hard copy purchase … I will
incredible work and we are a force to be
be releasing song by song on the album
reckoned with internationally.
as well as the year progresses. The team and I are also going back into recording in
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE AWESOME
between gigging and doing some interesting
PARTS OF BEING A MUSICIAN IN SOUTH
collaborations. Up first is an opening gig for
the Parlotones on the 2nd of January at the
Collaboration. None of us are alone in this.
Paul Cluver Amphitheatre.
We have each other and an entire country
The Ja. team never aims to anchor an edition with a particular theme or topic, but given the nature of this particular nationwide event, and the wealth of content that we’ve received from our contributors around the country, we saw it entirely necessary to dedicate a section of this edition to the recent #FeesMustFall student protests and demonstrations. It is important to note, that unlike many South African publications, we are not looking to bandwagon the protest action for our own publicity. We are proud to note that nearly all of our contributors, as well as our editorial team, were directly involved in the protests, with the rest being in full support from their respective locations. With the closing of the year bringing time for reflection, we aim to – through a weaving together of writing, visual art, photography, collage, and poetry from multiple creators – provide a retrospective look at the protests that shifted a nation’s consciousness. We urge you to take your time with these pieces, to sit down and soak up the heavily loaded words and visuals of our contributors, and as always, to engage with the content. There is still a long way to go, but for now, we reflect.
“THIS ISN’T A TIME FOR LAZINESS OR PASSIVENESS”- ABLEISM AND #FEESMUSTFALL WORDS BY SIAN FERGUSON PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
“We need to mobilize students,” she said. “We need to make a noise outside their rooms. Let’s get them out of their beds, they can’t lie around.” It was around 5am on Monday, 19 October. It was the beginning of what would be a week-long protest at the university currently known as Rhodes. Being a student from a poor background who relies on NSFAS and freelance writing to get through university, I supported the #FeesMustFall protests from the beginning. I joined other protestors at about 3am and merged with the crowd as we walked around the campus grounds. Now, we stood outside a residence while fellow protestors argued that we needed to get students out of their beds. The idea was to ‘mobilize’ students – that is, to get them out of their residences to join our protests. “We need to bang on the doors until they come out,” one protestor said. “This isn’t a time for laziness or passiveness.” I stood on the crisp, dew-covered grass outside the residence, shivering not from cold, but from anxiety as I realised some of the students in the residence could be me on a bad day— Panic attacks, incurable muscle aches, flashbacks of my sexual assaults, an overwhelming fear of the outside, fatigue, and urges to scrub my body meticulously, three times over. On a bad day, I’m barely able to leave my residence to attend lectures. On a bad day, I could never protest. As I walked back to my residence at 6am, I considered what I had witnessed. I’ve had my fair share of being labelled as ‘lazy’ due to my debilitating mental illnesses. I knew that many students were willing, but unable to participate in the protests because of illnesses like mine. I wondered to myself: Was this protest for poor students, like me? Or was it only for poor students who weren’t as sick as I am?
James Baldwin once said, “If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you do not see.” We often try to educate our loved ones when they say things that are oppressive. We want to tell our family members if their actions are harmful. The same should be true of the movements, protests and causes we believe in. The #FeesMustFall protestors and their supporters have used the concept of intersectionality to argue for their cause. Intersectionality encourages us to look beyond the binary of ‘privileged’ and ‘oppressed’ so that we can have more nuanced, truthful conversations. It tells us that there are a myriad of different oppressions, and that in order to achieve true equality, we need to tackle them all. Indeed, #FeesMustFall supporters made an effort to look at multiple forms of oppression. However, the invasive issue of ableism was ignored, and often perpetuated, by the protestors and our supporters. In a world that equates ability with worth, those with disabilities are marginalised and oppressed. We’re the people these protests should support. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of shaming around people who don’t participate in protests. Many protestors believed that whoever wasn’t protesting, was against the protests, but this was not necessarily true.
of protests which make them incredibly difficult for some to participate. To the healthy, being bumped by a stranger during a protest is a minor irritation. To a recovering victim of sexual trauma, it could trigger a series of flashbacks and panic attacks.
This assumption was harmful because it assumed everyone could participate if they wanted to do so. In reality, there are a great number of reasons why people would not be able to protest. Many students suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, agoraphobia, limited mobility, hypersensitivity, post-traumatic stress disorder – all of which could prevent them from protesting. I spoke to a friend of mine who has PTSD as a result of being abused as a child. “The loud noises and generally high levels of tension on campus made it very difficult for me to leave my room” He pointed out that the mobilisation process could be really triggering for many people. “The banging on doors, raised voices and such can be a very difficult thing to experience or, in fact, reexperience.” Indeed, crowded areas, the presence of police, loud noises and heated discussions and arguments are all common characteristics
None of the protestors – myself included – made an effort to find sign-language interpreters, or to ensure routes of marches were accessible to people with limited mobility. Those barricades were easy to hop over if you’re able-bodied – but if you’re in a wheelchair, not so much. The use of disabilities as pejoratives was another trend that surrounded the protests. Some referred to management as ‘bipolar’ or ‘crazy’. Students said that others were ‘blind’ to their privilege. Even the term ‘retarded’ – which is increasingly being recognised as a slur – was occasionally thrown around. Using disabilities to connote negative characteristics implies that disabilities are negative things. It suggests that being disabled is just as repugnant as being wilfully ignorant and oppressive. At the university currently known as Rhodes, many protestors said that food services should continue to operate as best as what they could – and they did. Few protestors challenged the fact that the week-long university shut-down included the closure of the Counselling Centre and the Student Health Centre.
The premise here was clear: Medical and psychological services aren’t as necessary as eating. Indeed, those services aren’t as necessary when you’re healthy. But for those who aren’t, living without medical and psychological support is incredibly difficult. While students who have medical aid and access to money could seek private care in town, poor students – the ones the protests sought to help – were left without support. Capitalism is inherently ableist because it equates someone’s worth to their productivity. People with disabilities struggle to be as productive as those without, but are no less deserving of support. Because of this, it makes sense that #FeesMustFall – a movement challenging the ills of a capitalist society – should make every effort to include disabled people. “If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you do not see.” No protest or movement is perfect, but we certainly have to make every effort to make #FeesMustFall as inclusive as possible. This includes making ourselves conscious of the privileges we have because of our bodies and health. Acknowledging that privilege may be uncomfortable – but without doing so, we risk reproducing the bigotry of our oppressors. We need to do better.
FEES STAYED THE SAME â€“ THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE AND THE NECESSITY OF CRITIQUE WORDS BY HIMAL RAMJI PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
Let me begin by stating that I am an unerring supporter of the #FeesMustFall (FMF) and #RhodesMustFall (RMF) movements. That being said, I refuse to pay lip-service to the movements or their organisers. I wish to analyse a situation and a movement which, without such critique, may suffer certain delusions of grandeur and success. This is not to deny the successes of the movements. Critique, here, is support, not opposition. I remember a conversation I had with one of my close friends at the beginning of the UCT FMF protests. He is a white post-graduate. He had been intimidated when trying to get onto campus to check on the research he has been conducting for the last few years. His tone was saturated with fear. A day or two later, another friend, also a white post-graduate was offered sunblock by a member of the PAC. This brought much amusement in a situation which was far
viewpoints, attitudes and experiences which exist within the movement; we are far from a homogenous group. There are those who would intimidate, and there are those who would support â€“ two different methods of indoctrination, of coercion, perhaps.
from amusing (primarily due to the stun grenades and teargas).
initial march on parliament there were those who picked up rocks, but there were also those who were removing rocks and discarding them into bins as the police rushed at us. I remember
ON STRATEGY These strategies illuminate the aims and goals of individuals and groups within the movement. During the
The purpose of this seemingly random introduction is to show the multiplicity of
seeing masses of white students marching alongside masses of black students. I remember white students protecting black students, in a strangely distorted exhibition of the contemporary value of white skin. Not much seems to have changed in the past two decades in this respect. Nevertheless, we were united, if only for that short time, against the profoundly (neo)colonial space that is the South African university. But this unity, so short-lived, seems to have been snuffed out most emphatically. I struggle to find a singular body upon which to lay blame. It is easy to attach blame to white people and the privileged classes. It is easier still to hurl abuse at Max Price, a man who, when addressing us, seemed determined to merely dig himself into a deeper hole.
ON MOMENTUM We must then look inward, at ourselves, at the ranks of our movement and ask ourselves why “Fees Must Fall” became “Fees Will Stay the Same”? Why did we stop? Why did we allow our movement to lose momentum? Responses are multiple: we had to write exams, we lost numbers as privileged students misread the hashtag, it became less fashionable to protest as Nehawu joined us, it became dangerous as we realised – as UWC, Fort Hare, CPUT students realised – that the only direction our momentum could go was towards greater radicalisation due to an increasingly repressive governmental response (treason, they said). And, unfortunately, when we lost privileged and white members, we lost protection; Frantz Fanon must be turning in his grave. But was the tapering of the movement worth it – was our compromise in the interests of South African students? What I observe now is a mass of celebrations from the organisers of the movement. I refer to them as organisers rather than leaders because, particularly at UCT, they have done little to earn any leadership status. They attempted to prevent Price from addressing a crowd of a few thousand despite mass calls for
the VC to speak. They hurled personalised abuse, rather than maintaining a strong theoretical fulcrum in their arguments. They compromised a rape case by posting the name and face of the accused on Facebook. They refer to meetings as “compulsory”, a word which reminds me of my ex-model C high school and of the apartheid government’s military service requirements. Let it be mentioned, too, that often, these “compulsory meetings” were only advertised between 30 minutes and an hour before the meeting. This must necessarily be attended to if this movement is to become a long-term sociopolitical force. ON EDUCATION AND THEORY Let me not lose the momentum of this critique of our movement – for how can we become more powerful if we are not critical of ourselves? I would like to point, first, at the lack of involvement from staff, particularly from my own department – the School of Education. I understand that many have vested (research) interests. But it puzzles me that those who educate educators, showed little or no interest in a cause which fundamentally affects those who we teach. Why would a teacher, or a teacher of a teacher, not want every single learner they teach to have the opportunity to go to university should that be their choice? And I saw more economics and law lecturers than education lecturers in our ranks – and I applaud these people for taking a stand against their employer; their guidance, guts and determination have proven invaluable throughout. Furthermore, I saw very few of my own classmates; instead I more often heard complaints that the
movement was infringing on their right to education or, more commonly, infringing on their impending vacation to Europe. As an (important) aside, it must be mentioned that in the UCT PGCE history methods class there is only one brown body, which makes me question 1) why black students have little or no interest in teaching history and 2) why UCT has not created avenues to educate black history teachers. But it is this very fact – the lack of involvement from staff (many, not all) – that affected the theoretical trajectory, the decisions, and the (lack of) direction for our momentum. We had little political and philosophical guidance or advice. As a postgraduate who studied politics, perhaps I am also guilty in this respect. The dissolution of FMF at UCT into a series of misplaced and mistimed celebrations is perhaps due, at the most fundamental level, to a lack of theorisation, a lack of planned, solid, unified political theory behind our actions and words. Case-in-point is the fact that FMF became a 0% increase, as if this was our initial demand. Let us recall that, for our diplomacy, we were shot at with rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas. We were manhandled by police, and many of our movement were dragged off to holding cells all over the Western Cape. Yet we said to our oppressor, “Yes, sir, we will accept your terms”, just as we did throughout the 1990s. And then we
popped corks and reposed to be lulled by the master’s grand narrative once again. History, it seems, was never read.
EDUCATION AND EQUALITY: ON #FEESMUSTFALL AND THE MISSING LINK WORDS BY TARRYN DE KOCK PHOTOGRAPH BY IMRAAN CHRISTIAN
The #NationalShutdown of several tertiary institutions recently cast fresh light on the ongoing struggles of students dealing with the rising cost of a university education. While the government has guaranteed a 0% increase in fees for the 2016 academic year, this does little to resolve the crisis of financing that students face, particularly black students from the most economically vulnerable sectors of society. It also does not resolve the issue of the high cost of student loans and the inadequate delivery of NSFAS loans to students across the tertiary sector. At a recent lecture in Bloemfontein, international scholar Prof. Carlos Alberto Torres explained that the more pragmatic case for free tertiary education relates to the housing bubble that caused the recession of 2007. He argued that students around the world are finding themselves increasingly unable to pay back student loans that they are then forced to default on, creating a debt bubble that could well result in another global recession. Free public education, Torres pointed out, is an investment in a future society rather than a privilege reserved only for the wealthy.
In South Africa, this dual crisis of higher and basic education has thrown up two major challenges in the course of recent protest action: one cross-institutional, one sectorspanning. The cross-institutional issue is the fact that coverage of the protests has been largely dominated by narratives from elite universities, with historically poor and black institutions facing criminalisation and a consistent focus on violence and damage to property while rich elite universities are reported with greater nuance and attention to the detail of their demands. This ignores the reality
FEESMUSTFALL that poorer universities have been waging these struggles for much longer. It also does not grasp that students at poorer universities will, and did, pay a higher price for their involvement in the national shutdown and subsequent protests, one they cannot afford. The way students from black universities have been represented, could likely lead to distrust of the quality of their degrees, despite the legitimacy of their complaints. With prominent academics such as Jonathan Jansen publically denouncing the actions of students at black universities, the idea that these protests were criminal has been cemented in public imagination. The second issue is one related to the national education industry. The focus on elite universities overstates their relative contribution (in terms of graduates) to the South African teacher market, which is foundational to the output of potentially capable tertiary students (and teachers) in the future. It is no secret that South Africa faces a shortage of teachers; in the years 2007 and 2008 only 11 658 teachers graduated from the countryâ€™s public universities. Unisa accounted for 17% of this number. Historically black universities, technikons and newly merged comprehensive universities made up 62%. These statistics have changed since the establishment of
new universities, but the proportion of teacher graduation at black universities compared to other institutions remains roughly the same. The recent protests have shown how starkly under-resourced and under-supported these institutions are compared to elite universities, and that this reality has gone largely ignored by the South African public despite it being a problem that students have faced for years. The relationship between basic and higher education is circular, and the quality of teacher training affects the next generation of young people and potential university students. It would be unfair to say that historically black universities offer lower quality education, especially as this narrative is what often convinces students that the only worthwhile tertiary qualification can be gained from UCT or Rhodes. But what is true is that students â€“ future teachers â€“ are being educated in volatile environments that
are often hostile and unsympathetic to their personal and academic needs, turning the process of education into an unnecessarily challenging time and limiting the amount of adequate preparation for their future careers. If we are concerned at all about quality higher education, it would be more than helpful to engage with teachers â€“ future and current â€“ on the circumstances in South African schools, particularly the high dropout rate and the circumstances that cause so many to leave. The education
Something that this debate has highlighted for me is that the need for free education cannot be limited to only higher education. In crude terms, a good public education system is an investment in the economy, as it has the potential to increase the number of citizens with what are considered scarce skills, create diversification in industries and essential services, and increase the number of tax payers making contribution to state reserves. On a deeper level, education in an unequal
crisis starts there, at the point where 540 000 Grade 10s did not make it to write the Grade 12 exit examination in 2014, and where the retention rate of learners in 2014 was 49.2% of the original cohort. Free tertiary education cannot solve our problems if it still produces a tiny group of elites while the majority of young people have fallen out of the system too soon to benefit from it.
society should primarily be considered a form of justice, just like adequate healthcare. It should not be considered a welfare arrangement for the neediest of citizens, but as an investment in the public good, fostering young people who are politically aware, interested in social justice, and have a deep commitment to the creation of a nurturing and inclusive society.
PHOTOGRAPH BY SITHA KENTANE When thinking about the essence of the Fees Must Fall movement, I started to think about its purpose and what we hope to achieve from it, as the fight is far from over. We, as university students know about the financial struggles of our peers, and hope that with this movement, the government will provide free tertiary education to our own children. This is why I chose to photograph a child.
LIBERATION, LABIAS AND AROUSING REVOLUTIONARIES WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANI EUGENIE O’NEILL
2015: A year for revolution. Sure. A year where for the most part, I found myself saying “nevermind” or “fuck it” to those resolutions I had made in hopes of this being my year. Apart from 2015 being what it was, it has also been a year in which women, especially women of colour, found ourselves confronting our very visceral oppressions—one of them being the misrepresentation of our sexuality. And as we stared long and hard into that abyss we found the abyss awkwardly gawking back at us asking, “What’s good?”
Still being in the emotional wake of the
of consuming viennas is equally
recent, national #FeesMustFall protests,
as reproachable as female sexual
during which we saw women once again
in the foreground of revolution, I think back to a question a female friend had
I mean, is it our quarter-to-soft-porn,
coyly blurted out in passing,
out-dated narrative regarding female sexuality that continues to vilify
“Is the revolution making you horny?”
our sexual autonomy? Is it that we time and time again, valorise men
In light of my regretfully tentative response,
as the ‘protectors of our virtuously
I couldn’t help but ask myself what it is
vulnerable sexuality’, and holders
about South Africa and our aversion to
of the keys to our proverbial chastity
women and sexuality that makes me want
belts, or bras… or something of the
to stuff a 24-pack of Enterprise viennas
sort, naturally involving our southern
down my throat. (Not because I’d be
regions? Because I mean that’s
enticed by the nature of their shape, but
the only reason as to why we, the
because I am vegetarian, and the thought
“phallus-lacking” members of society
FEESMUSTFALL are worth any recognition after all, right? What I want to interrogate with this series is the political synecdoche of the female body and the sexual autonomy of young South African women. I want to play with the idea of disrupting private bodily space with colloquial spaces and objects we see and encounter every day – deconstructing the parts of a whole, and how women see parts of their bodies – disrupting the impositions of normative beauty, femininity and sexuality that young women like myself feel the need to fulfil the ‘hyper-hetero-patriarchal’ expectations of. Despite how far we’ve come in recent years in terms of women’s liberation, the intersections of female sexuality and identity in South Africa remains for the most part, a mirage of repressive contradictions and self-surveillance which makes it harder to navigate the complexity of our sexual autonomy as women, especially women of colour, in culturally traditionalist societies like South Africa. Sexuality is such an integral part of what informs our identity and supports our liberation as LGBTQ and even cishetero women. As much as we’ve conscientised our minds and continue to re-affirm our rightful place in the forefront of the revolution against the white-western-capitalistheteronormative-patriarchy (phew, breathe), women still find ourselves policing our bodies, our bush, our smells, our own sexual-ness; apologizing for the fact that we drink Black Label, or for admitting to enjoying a good lunch-hour masturbate. Things that I should not have to apologize for as a woman – least of all my sexual vitality. After all, don’t revolutionaries get horny too?
something that's both empowering to do and receive, there is something very liberating about giving the sole power over your orgasm to your partner.
the power that comes with giving your partner oral sex.
do choose to swallow, it's kind of part of the excitement for me.â€?
equally me was why her
Saartjie Baartman and it wholly unsettling - I did not know until I realised that I grew up to be 'pop culture' generation offspring.â€?
PHOTOGRAPH BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
LET ME BE THE TELLER OF MY STORY WORDS BY MMAMALEMA MOLEPO
Our stories are ours to own, with a heartbeat to skip and a smile to feign in the toughest of times, may we brandish our souls and be naked behind the tongue, the pen and the paper. Ours is but a noble cause which seeks our eternal determination and it shall bear us fruit that we will enjoy at the end of the day when we take a breather and put pen to paper. The lion shrieks in delight because for the first time, his story will be told and the world shall be made to listen, not to the boastful lies of the hunter but to the dreaded truths that find themselves emerging as a roar. Qina mfundi qina, le lizwe ngelethu, sizofunda ngenkani. Our tongues have been claimed to be
resaya. Batho pele!
theirs, a witchcraft never seen before,
Xa lifikile ixesha, lifikile. It is said
swept this country and continent and
that Victor Hugo once uttered these
we are only looking to cleanse it with
beautiful words: “All the forces in
knowledge. Listen to the melodious
the world are not so powerful as
sound of the birds when they offer their
an idea whose time has come.” We
voices to soothe the souls of young
are learning and unlearning each
black people marching along and
day, allowing ourselves to grow and
wading through the rivers of Babylon,
start understanding ourselves. As
which, mind you, flood with white
Robert Sobukwe so rightly said in
tears. The soil is fertile, we have every
his speech at the University of Fort
reason to plant our seed of knowledge
Hare as the outgoing president of
and build our way to eternal freedom
the Student Representative Council:
and liberation. Ka Sepedi bare, se
“We are witnesses today of cold and
sesafelego siyahlola, jwale, retlo
calculated brutality and bestiality,
fedisha ntwa ya mabu aborena. Sa
the desperate attempts of a dying
rona ke go ya pele ka buka, morago ga
generation to stay in power”. Our
stories are distorted time and time again
to make us the perpetrators of violence
#AfrophobiaMustFall, and slowly but
whilst our cries are ignored, our voices
surely, and with patience as we rebuild
shovelled under a rubble of lies, and our
a broken nation.
pain pacified by the constant narrative of “we understand but please save your pain
Many claim to not understand our
for later”. Our time has come and we will
claim but the truth of the matter is that
own the narrative because we are tired of
we are not looking to be understood
people telling our stories for us, we have
because our plight is bare to the naked
the ability to do so and we will tell it in
eye. Clarity cannot be expected from
whatever language we deem right and how
us when we ask one simple question:
we rate it is best told.
“Where can we be black?” But we are tired of asking and we are claiming the
We have started accepting ourselves,
space, we have cried to the spirit of
and that is scaring many people whose
Biko, Mahlangu, Sobukwe, Lembede,
joy is built upon our pain. We are
Hani, Tambo, Madikizela – Mandela,
fighting the turfs they dared to ignore
Maxeke, Sankara for far too long, now
and we are doing so with vigour. Lwazi
we are marching forth and they are
Pakade, a member of Open Stellenbosch
leading us. Many will discredit us, but
keeps saying “We are the Fallists” and
our entire existence is discredited
indeed the world as we know it has to
so their harsh words fall like blank
come to end. #RhodesMustFall opened
daggers in the gall of a raging bull.
an undressed wound, one that black
Simply, we are tired of being tired and
students across the world have been
so we will energise ourselves with song
crying over for many years, but have
and dance, for the spirits visit us only
gone unheard. This ventilated anger
when we call them out.
of students comes from having to hide their true feelings in the hope of being
We have been so undermined by
accepted and acknowledged, and now
science and its repetitive state of
they are letting it out. #PatriarchyMustFall
complete anguish and we are refusing
to allow it to drive us into yet another
tragedy. The constant exhumation and
disturbance of peaceful slumber of
the ancestors of this land by scientists is causing a huge rift, unsettling sleeping spirits, giving them the task of avenging what is theirs. Black people are stripped of their dignity from birth, being born into a violent world where your only sin is being black. Young black children are using longdrop toilets which claim lives, they school in shipping containers, mud-huts and broken, cold buildings, some even under trees and we expect those children to fight their way out. Our mothers are raped on farms, in suburban neighbourhoods, in offices, at universities, in shops by their bosses just so they can bring something home, it breaks them so much that they cannot even talk to us and they work hard trying to provide so that we never have to go through what they are going through. Our fathers are kicked in the teeth, disrespected and treated like clowns, be it in boardrooms, gardens etc. We demand nothing but the best because we deserve the best. We demand our dignity and we will take it and if we are disturbing you, apologies but we are only trying to make the world better. The land and all its wealth, libraries and all their books, the hospitals and the medicines theyâ€™ll subscribe to our people, belong to those who will come after the great battle has been won. Izwe lethu
MELANOIR SERIES: A TRIBUTE TO BLACK EXCELLENCE BY MIA ARDERNE
My Melanoir Series aims to give expression to cases of Melanin on Fleek in modern South Africa. This series is a tribute to black excellence, focusing on melanin (and only melanin) because of the over-saturation of whiteness in the art world. The series is inspired by the term “flesh colour”, as introduced to us at school-level when colouring-in with crayons, as the pale peach tone. In being called “flesh colour”, this pale peach hue becomes synonymous with the colour of human beings in drawing and shading, in artistic expression from a young age. The Melanoir Series seeks to challenge this problematic terming of “flesh colour” and reintroduce the colour of human beings in a more accurate, black-imbued light to begin to rectify this nuanced, systemic and indoctrinated enactment of racism, peculiar to artistic expression. As these artworks are inspired by a particular cause, I would like to articulate my personal driving force in the arts, which is that: The paintbrush can also be used as a shank.
TITLE: ALTERNATIVE TITLE: SIZE: MEDIUM:
MELANOIR 1 CARINE THE ACQUIESCENT 70CM X 90CM OIL ON CANVAS
TITLE: MELANOIR 2 ALTERNATIVE TITLE: CATHERINE THE VULNERABLE; CATHERINE THE STAGED SIZE: 76CM X 61CM MEDIUM: OIL ON CANVAS TITLE: MELANOIR 3 ALTERNATIVE TITLE: ACTIVIST FROM #FEESMUSTFALL SIZE: 76CM X 61CM MEDIUM: OIL ON CANVAS
THE FOCUS BY ANDY MKOSI
These images were made at various tattoo parlour stations around Cape Town. The reason I choose to photograph tattoo artists is to depict the level of concentration they go into when inking someone, it’s as though they lose themselves in that. Nothing else matters when these people start inking. I found that really beautiful. It felt like the detailed processes of surgery. Whenever I went in to these parlours I felt like I was inside a hospital room, at least that is what the room suggested – beds, lights, heavy concentration and other cool kak. I’m hoping to continue building up portraits of these artists through further visits.
THE NATURE OF BE
SO, DO YOU WANT TO LET THE JA. READERS
where it was going down (Bling Free) and most
KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
importantly, how to get away with it. Apart from
Hey what’sup everyone my name is Kevin,
that I used to skateboard from an early age,
Kev7 for all those that know me. I’m a
which meant I got around a lot in the streets
street artist currently based in Durban.
and hung out in unusual places. I’ve always
I’m studying English, music and media
been immersed in the culture whether I was
communications at UKZN Howard College.
conscious or unconscious of it.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO
WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY PAINTING?
LETTERS? CHARACTERS? HOW WOULD YOU
I got introduced to graffiti by a friend of
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
mine in high school 2005, he wrote Step1
I started out painting letters as a youngin. That
at the time. He showed me the ins and outs
was always a great joy for me, seeing crispy,
of the art – where to get markers, paint,
neat and colourful letters that were freshly
EING AN ARTIST 2 WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
This is the second landscape and artist profile from the ongoing series ‘Nature of Being an Artist’. In this volume I chatted to a very old acquaintance from the glorious gutters of Glenmore in Durban. Having known the guy from primary school to meeting him now, as a too cool street graff artist, it’s great to see Kev7 literally making Durban a brighter place with his spray can.
- STREET ARTIST
painted. It gave me a rush of some sort.
I’m fortunate and grateful to have a great
Characters and objects are what I moved onto
network of people I call friends in the artistic
next, to add flavour, more dynamics and to
industry, this allows us to share jobs and
get out of the box of just being stuck painting
create opportunities together. I advertise
the same thing.
my work and live it every day. The Universe does the rest.
DO YOU PREFER PAINTING COMMISSIONED WORK OR STRAIGHT OUT BOMBING?
DO YOU FOLLOW ANY LOCAL ARTISTS
I have a fair passion for both, as I love seeing
THAT MIGHT INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?
my work add value to people’s lives, but on
OneTwo cru, Create, and Lord Phek were
the flip side you can’t please everyone.
amongst my favourite back in the day. I learned and studied them closely. Each of
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO GET GIGS WHICH
them had a particular quality that stood out
PAY? SEEING AS STREET ART AND GRAFFITI
for me, whether it was about style, getting
SEEM TO BE RATHER SPECIALISED.
your name up, or the spots they used to
paint. They taught me a lot.
PHOTOGRAPHY WHAT MAKES THE DURBAN STREET ART SCENE DIFFICULT? IN RELATION TO THE
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PURPOSE AND
REST OF SA, IS IT HARDER OR UNIQUE TO
POWER OF STREET ART AND GRAFFITI
ITS OWN SITUATION?
WRITING IS? ESPECIALLY IN SA WHERE THE
Durban is very unique and right now the city
SOCIO-ECONOMIC DIVIDE SOMETIMES
is in a time and space of rebirth. Everything
TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER ART.
right now is there for the taking, literally!
Art is very much alive in South Africa. I think the purpose of art in general is to live out
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR MUSIC AND
ones full expression of themselves through
YOUR ART? DO THE TWO INFORM ONE
these artistic vessels.
power in street art, as corporates are now
I’ve been studying music over the past
after the art, along with government and
three years now, and I must say it’s just as
everyone else which means that it can be
demanding as graffiti. I’m still trying to find
one of the largest, most captivating forms
a balance between the two and integrate
of communication. South Africa has a big
them to create something magical and
artistic heritage and background which is
never seen before. I often find similarities in
usually overshadowed by race, politics and
the two whilst working, like learning to stay
There is huge
awake and put in the over-time. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO WITH YOUR DURBAN HAS AN INSULAR NETWORK,
ART AND LIFE?
HOW DOES THAT AFFECT BEING ABLE TO
Really, my goal is simple – I want to travel
‘PAINT THE TOWN RED’?
with my art, create marvellous masterpieces
The town is small, and with that people are
and work in prosperous environments that
bound to talk, even when there’s very little
encourage productivity and pleasure so
to talk about. Also, there aren’t many people
that I can provide more service to families
doing the art form as there were a few years
and friends all over the world, touching and
before. So everyone has their head down
enriching the lives of people.
(working) in their own little corner. Egos are in every human achievement, you just got to know to keep yourself humble, and fuck the bullshit.
FLIGHT LIVES BY ISABEL RAWLINS ART BY YORAYA NYDOO
in a Friday haze I overtake a car we’re side by side. Me and a white bakkie cruising in our rides. To the crest of a hill I’m nearly passing him, when out from the side comes a full grown buck. She flies across the road moments from the bakkie and me. There was nothing we could have done but let our eyes stare wide. Before we could blink she’d made it. My car pulls forward and I overtake. I look to my left and from the bakkie’s dark glass a man is smiling at me as if to ask, did you see what we just shared? A pause in death’s mouth. The power of an animal, fuelled by survival yet life rolls on nonetheless.
YOUR SISTER IS GOING TO EUROPE BY VUYELWA MALULEKE Your sister is going to Europe your grandmother wants to know if they speak English there she means will they hear you ask for help? When she says ‘English’, she is a third language, her ‘they’- takes its breath and no sooner, it is an airplane broken in half, mid flight who will guide it now? a‘d-e-y’ reports in its place ‘do dey speak English der?’ you hurt her when you mutter back you pour Europe into her ears she is proud that it is you causing her pain her face says: come see my daughter speak come see how she makes me deaf come and see how black girls can disappear we will need a translator to say goodbye But she is going to Europe; it must be a grand place because I don’t know anyone there
here my dear flower with the wind and drifting.
and soak under velvet sky let the purple rain.
just behind your breast plate in front of your heart there is glow matching textures of neo-soul
and after that, we didnâ€™t talk
state of mind runs down gentle stream calm waters and your sound of gold. open spaces space to breathe time leaving by the second In between blinking centre the count down to spliff spaceship the lift off to grey scale inhale the colours of the lift inhale your blues exhale out mellow rest your back onto green suede couch
cell phone silence noise of expectation hotline stares blankly devoid of bling. voice as the dawn entering the lobe flowing sweet light soothed throat to that bitter residue and now the after taste. that night i dialled 8-3-1 i love you turned from last words to lost words you dropped your phone but not the call did not even bother to pick it up the sounds you made for him i heard the whole thing.
THE SKIN ABOUT
MY BONES BY LEAH SOLOMON
PHOTOGRAPH BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER
The skin about my bones I do not see as it is. Rather, distorted and misshapen, like a reflection in a House of Mirrors. “Set your body next to yourself,” my mother said. “Nurture her and comfort her because her tears are as scalding as yours. Treat her with care and love because she is yours.” She is mine, my skin about my bones
IN DEPTH REVIEW: PUMLA DINEO GQOLA’S ‘RAPE: A SOUTH AFRICAN NIGHTMARE’ BY YOULENDREE APPASAMY ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMY SLATEM
Imagine a #16daysofactivismagainstapartheid, or #16daysofactivismagainstslavery. It sounds bizarre and it trivialises these extreme forms of oppression, violence and domination. Likewise, #16daysagainstviolenceonwomenandchildren is not enough to end the cycles of gender based, sexual violence in this country. It relegates the struggle to 16 days, acts as a smokescreen for guilty consciences’ to hide themselves in gender empowerment rhetoric and, well, the perpetrators? It obscures them into a monolithic figure, or to monsters in dark alleyways. Radio shows, think pieces, and government official’s speeches dealing with #16days talk about these issues in isolation to the everyday experiences of South Africans who live in fear of rape, of violations against them, and effectively delink them to other exploitative systems of domination in South Africa. Rape: A South African Nightmare by Dr Pumla Dineo Gqola seeks to redress the lacklustre, lazy, and often downright insensitive and misinformed way that rape and sexual violence is spoken of in South Africa. 16 days is every day.
BOOKS There are many incidences of sexual aggression perpetrated by violent masculinities and “phallic women” that I have witnessed and been on the receiving end of in my young life. They span nearly every place imaginable – the countryside, the suburbs, the beach, the streets, the clubs, the classroom, the lecture hall, the pool, the bar, the bedroom, the campus, the chatroom, and the comment thread. They were all perpetrated by different people; strangers, friends, peers, lecturers, teachers, and family. These experiences are not unique to my life, it is all too commonplace. To be a young Black woman is to fight relentlessly, the opponents changing as quickly as the environments do. This is not only my story, but is the story of those who have been forced to adhere to the logic of patriarchy and whose existence ruptures it. If there was any one text I would suggest in the bag of a warrior, it would be Rape: A South African Nightmare. As the title screams in upper case red lettering, the book deals with rape in South Africa. However, to say the book sticks to that content alone is disingenuous. Gqola, who
is a majestic and incisive writer and whose prose is as delicate as it is incendiary, covers a variety of topics ranging from the period of formal slavery to post apart-
heid, apartheid South Africa. Like a hot knife
too ignorant. In fact, if you look at the
through butter, she dismisses smokescreen
title of the book and put it down think-
arguments and gets to the prickly core of
ing that rape is an issue for women and
gender based violence in South Africa. The
Black women at that, then this book is
book documents histories and a chauvinistic
even more for you. Gqola’s dual approach of looking at the violent masculinities that perpetrate sexual violence and the cult of femininity that accepts and allows for further violations highlights issues in a new matrix. The cult of femininity which positions women, female presenting, and gender non-conforming bodies on the frontlines of violence if they overstep certain boundaries and ‘norms’ is particularly interesting. The cult consists of people, mainly women, who make and re-make rules for
and terrified mode of being that we do not
a strict gender hierarchy. The cult normal-
want to see for ourselves. We would rather
ises rape culture and continues to dic-
cloak our fear in apathy, or find a scapegoat,
tate the paramaters of safety, freedom,
or ignore the problems altogether. Gqola
and expression for women. SAPS safety
urges us to collectively and bravely look at
guidelines for women at night come to
the sores, wounds and defence mechanisms
mind. “Do not stop at a red robot if you
that have accumulated over the centuries,
are driving late at night by yourself.” “Do
to rupture the mentalities that perpetuate
not walk home late at night” “Avoid being
and allow endemic gender based violence
drunk and around strangers” Essentially
to continue so that we live in a society that
– follow our guidelines, don’t be a bad girl
matches up with the ideals of the Constitu-
and you will be safe. Hence, anyone who
tion – our manifesto for freedom.
is violated is seen as outside the bounds – “She deserved it” is still acceptable on
Who is this book for? Everyone who wants
the palate for many South Africans. Gqo-
to live in an equitable society, free from vio-
la names and sheds light on how rape
lent masculinities and the cult of femininity.
threats function in a society where fear is
No one is too young or too old, too wise or
the commodity produced by this factory –
BOOKS female fear especially. Her analysis itself is a disruption to the cogs of the machine as its power lies in its invisibility. Manhood and masculinity is not violent – it is multilayered and complex. Violent masculinities are a specific performance, a psyche that prioritises a patriarchal manhood. As Gqola notes, “it is effectively manhood on metaphoric steroids”. Kenny Kunene is one of the examples (from the many that Gqola could have chosen in South Africa) which demonstrate how a violent masculinity is often intertwined with ideas of power and money in contemporary South Africa. His comments about gang-rape on twitter, his openness in stating he has had sex with women younger than 16, all allude to society’s unwillingness to confront rapists and hold them accountable. The cult of femininity needs to be shattered, just as much as violent masculinities need to be. Extreme policing of people’s bodies, which is a common thread between the two, is something that is shared with apartheid and slavery. Gqola’s delving into history, in the first two chapters, shows how much the gender based violence, the sexual aggression and sexual violence of today looks very much like the same systems of domination during these times in South Africa’s history. Roman Dutch Law, which never once tried a Black or white man for raping Black women during the period of slavery and co-
lonialism sounds familiar to the modern legal system which re-violates and inculcates fear and self-doubt in victim-survivors who choose to take their perpetrators to court. Black women were rendered unrapable due to their position in these systems of domination in the past. Unrapable meaning that if sexual violence is acted upon them, it is not violence enacted on another human being – as black people were seen to be sub-human fetishes. Sex workers follow the same grammar of patriarchy and racism. And yet today, Black women are the most vulnerable to rape in this country and their stories are often met with claims stemming from a racist, sexist psyche which claims Black women are unrapable. Child rape and molestation are also addressed by Gqola. This is another area that the legal sphere comes under fire. There is a “forked tongue” when it comes to child rape, Gqola notes. When instances of child rape are made visible, taken to court and reported on, the reliability of a child’s testimony, the injuries sustained, the motivations and slithery manoeuvres by child molesters and rapists all turn against the child victim-survivor. The credibility of a child victim-survivor is definitely high – the outrage of a child rape such as Baby Tshepang, for example. However, courts in South Africa often minimise the sentences of child rapists, and society’s shock and disavowal of
BOOKS the child rapist (who is often not a hulking monster but a trusted figure) is not matched by the punishment (not to mention, potential rehabilitation measures). The hypocrisy of bystanders and the injustices in this realm are hidden, to a large extent. Children are an auxiliary to the vulnerability of the feminine. Child victim-survivors pay the price of society’s silence on childhood sexuality, bodily autonomy and sexual violence and they end up on the interstice of the forked tongue. The book is easy to read and difficult to swallow. Gqola holds up the mirror and we must see for ourselves what the image shows. It shows the mother who will turn a blind eye when her child is being molested, it shows the generational violence and trauma from jackrolling, it shows a broken legal system, it shows unsupported victim-survivors, it shows weak state attempts at gender empowerment and importantly, it shows the brave people fighting to interrupt and dismantle systemic and systematic gender based violence in South Africa.
REVIEW: PIGGY BOY’S BLUES BY DAVE MANN
Nakhane Touré’s writing reads like good prose— intelligently fractured, whimsical, and delicately incisive. Set in the small, rural Eastern Cape Town of Alice, Piggy Boy’s Blues tells the story of a young man, Davide M, who leaves the frantic city of Johannesburg to live with his uncle for some peace of mind. Like all great narratives, it is centred on a tragedy—one that is far reaching, harrowing, and ubiquitous in its nature, setting up a brilliant hook on which Touré hangs a variety of smaller stories. Touré’s artistic debut was of course, through his music, and this aspect of his life is clear in the novel. His writing is lyrical and riveting, flowing beautifully in short, sharp lines that weave together a greater story. His characters are intimate, even the less significant ones. Considering he wrote what would become the first draft of Piggy Boy’s Blues over a number of years, it becomes easier to see how he crafted
such detailed, relatable characters that manage to, in very brief encounters with the reader, speak to broader narratives and personal chapters. Perhaps most importantly, there is trauma in the novel, and it is trauma that is dealt with respectfully and responsibly. It is not there for shock, it is there for sincerity and for interrogation. To many, the trauma that Davide M experiences is all too common, but the way in which the protagonist speaks to this trauma, the way in which he works through the resultant PTSD, and the hints at resolution Touré offers the reader, are uncommon in much South African literature, but decidedly welcome. Touré’s novel blends truth, fiction, musicality and realism to posit an image of what has been, what is, and what can be. It is a short piece of literature that you will tear through and then mourn having finished, but if you’re looking for similar writing from young, black writers, you’d be wise to keep an eye on BlackBird Books.
IN- DEPTH REVIEW: UNTITLED BY LUMUMBA MTHEMBU
Untitled is a brave novel that leaves us as South African citizens in no doubt as to the unforgivable manner in which we are failing our women and children. It accuses both sexes of failing to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. The pillars of our underprivileged communities are supported by citizens who look the other way when they prey on society. Thus they come to wield the kind of dictatorial power which allows them to abuse the vulnerable with total impunity. No one is there to speak for the victimised except for the authorâ€™s protagonist. Moele empowers Mokgethi with a voice that challenges the social order which allows aberrations such as rape to go unpunished A minority can, and sometimes do make it to institutions in the colonistâ€™s sector, where they imbibe an education informed by Western epistemologies, where they learn of European colonial, imperial and political history, and where they learn very little of themselves except that they are inferior. Not all academic institutions fail to take cognisance of these issues. Transformation is a priority that many are attempting to address.
of an education for the colonised continues to be an unhomed sense of self, which unfortunately, is necessary for upward social mobility in a world configured by the coloniser.
I would not be able to discuss such subject matter if it were not so. Perhaps the process requires patience. While we wait, the price
sense of self which emanates from the tradition or culture to which one is born. This core sense of who and what one is, is handed down to the
Thus far, my definition of selfhood has been culturally informed as opposed to a postmodern conceptualisation of the term. This is because I have tried to illustrate the violence done to the inherited
individual before he or she can define it for themselves. It is obviously pliable and changes with time, experience and knowledge, but the point I am making is one must start somewhere. For the colonised, this beginning point is the ordinary violence from which any sense of self must first recover. The coloniser has left a mark on the township communities which wallow in the poverty and moral bankruptcy that are the legacies of apartheid. In Untitled, the complicity of the community in the victimisation of its women and children reflects not only the dehumanising effects of colonial discourse, but also the patriarchal bias of some indigenous African cultures. Identity politics in such cultures are often chauvinistic, endowing males with the right to ownership of property, spouses and children. Women are simply not vested with personhood. They are seen as property which can be bought and sold, and due to the sense of ownership that comes with this objectification, the owners then feel they are entitled to do as they please with their property. The communities of the colonised’s sector do not question
the evil of its abusive men and instead heap blame on the powerless victims of this abuse. Township women are oppressed at every level: inside the home, in the community, by culture and by the law, because the whole of society is run by men. As Third Literature, Moele’s novel asks searing questions directed at the men who lead this country. Where is this ‘better life for all’? What is a ‘Rainbow Nation’ if the majority in it are poor? Why are township schools veritable crime scenes? Why are township amenities neglected and run-down? Untitled answers these questions with a damning indictment of the post-apartheid government: it is because South Africa as a democracy has failed, and worse still, our leaders
BOOKS have failed us. They have failed the youth of this country by neglecting them, and the poor by not delivering as promised. Instead, we have seen a bourgeoisie rise to the top with the mentality that ‘it’s our turn to eat’. In the process, the police as part of the state apparatus, have been deployed against the masses. They keep them in check while the pilfering of state resources continues undisturbed
Through Mokgethi’s resilience, Moele attempts to show that it is possible to rebuild the self after one has been shattered by experience. The new self may not resemble the old, but that may be for the best, for all South Africans need to think themselves anew, if not for their own sake, then for the women and children of this country. As I have mentioned before, this argument is moving towards a sense of identity that
at the top. The greatest tragedy, the worst betrayal of the democracy that was promised in 1994, is that the Constitution that was billed as the best in the world, and which enshrined the rights of every South African, is in danger of becoming a dead piece of paper. To this day, it has not reached those whom it was meant to protect. The Constitution is not living. In this milieu, young South Africans attempt to create fashion identities for themselves, but this is almost impossible when one is black and female. This double oppression weighs women down with the full weight of patriarchy, inscribing their bodies with meanings that are permanently cast through violence.
is unfettered by social prescriptions, but this cannot happen in a vacuum. The variables accounting for the troubled black collective consciousness must first be acknowledged before individuals can begin to free themselves from their constraints. I am in no way suggesting that identity is static; I am merely saying that not everyone is as free to perform a sense of self as those who occupy privileged positions. There are many chains which continue to bind the colonised: from a lack of education to cramped living spaces which privilege male violence. Untitled opens up a discussion of black identity. Nervously, it points to an unknown, selfwilled direction which the colonised may tentatively follow.
WORDS AND ILLUSTRATION BY MICHELLE AVENANT
At first she just seemed wistful about it: setting the table for a proper sit-down dinner (of leftovers) on boxing day and finding excuses not to take the decorations down until the sky was grey on a daily basis and the leaves were turning brown on the trees outside our school.
tucked them away in the loft, so the house looked almost normal. Mom nodded, almost imperceptibly, then carried on smiling and didn’t say a word. For a year or two after that, she would pretend it was Christmas again on New Year. People outside, in the shops and on TV were festive enough about it, so it was easy to make believe. She would sit us all around the table for roast gammon at 8pm on December 31st and we would loll about cheerfully nibbling mince pies and sipping eggnog until midnight. She would rattle off throughout the evening about how she loved Christmas food so much she just had to make it twice, so it was all jolly enough, really, until after the countdown when she drunkenly screamed “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” and the room got uncomfortably quiet no matter how hard we were trying to fill it with happy noise.
It only really got awkward one year, when hailstones started showering down around the porcelain shirtless Santa (complete with beer boep and Bermuda shorts) we had on our front lawn. That afternoon, our garden had looked like a real Northern Hemisphere Christmas Wonderland, apart from the shirtless Santa. When Dad came home from work that evening he forced a quick smile and told me to ask Mom nicely if she’d take me out to try the new waffles at Mugg ‘n Bean. I had gotten such great results for my June exams, after all. Mom was feeling tired, but when I reminded her about my June results she blushed in that guilty way and wouldn’t stop congratulating me until the waiter came and told her they were closing. When we came home, Dad had taken down all the decorations and carefully
Mom was clever, you see. When New Year’s Eve started looming in on her world after its second Christmas, she could just flip right over into regular time and it would be the
7th of January. She made a clean enough getaway this way. This last year though, Mom just refused to let it pass. I come home from school almost every day now, to find her laboring over a fresh batch of mince pies. Dad takes a huge Tupperware of them down to the homeless shelter in town at the end of each week. And every dinner is a Christmas dinner, whether it’s roast chicken or butternut soup. There are red and green candles on the table and more often than not, the old carols CD is playing as well. If they didn’t stop selling crackers in January, I’m pretty sure we’d have those too. An Easter egg found its way into my lunchbox sometime in April, but I suspect this was one of those little secrets Dad and I have now, so I made sure I threw the wrapper away at school, and offered to wash the dishes for him that evening.
feelings behind tight smiles and chatter and about what a lovely girl she was, although when Uncle Ronnie had a bit too much gluhwein and rattled off about how Andy was going to become the next Sigmund Freud, we nearly cried with suppressed laughter imagining Andy mouthing along behind him, wagging a bony finger at us. I suppose nothing could ruin your New Year like a phone call from a stranger at five in the morning. Dad still cries sometimes when he gets the car account statements in the mail, but I manage to hide them away from him most months. He pays by debit order in any case.
I suppose it used to be a wonderful season – at least it was that year. Andy had just passed matric and gotten his letter from UCT, and Mom and Dad were so proud they bought him a car, and didn’t even make a fuss when he said he was going to spend Christmas with Sarah’s family in Knysna. Over the gammon, they hid their hurt
16 RAD MUSICIANS
It’s that time of year again, when every
the map. Read our Q&A with him in edition 5
publication shares lists of musicians they
if you want to find out more. He doesn’t say
thought were rad and most of the time, they
much, but that’s kind of his style.
end up including names that will just reel in the Facebook likers. We have some of those
people on our Soundcloud too, but it’s because
What do we say about a musician as great as
we really do dig them! To show our appreciation
Maramza? If you haven’t heard of him, he’s
for the hard working music makers punting
the man behind SA’s fast growing Kwaaiwave
their tunes on social media and at gigs around
genre, which combines kwaito, gqom, and
the country, the editorial Ja. team decided to
afrohouse in melodic, infectious drum beat
celebrate the following by playing their music,
centred sounds. Also, if you haven’t heard of
having a few drinks, and writing this piece (all
him then what are you even doing?
at the same time). Thanks for making our ears ‘gasm (eeuw – but yes – more please!)
JUMPING BACK SLASH JBS is actually from somewhere in London
town, but he’s been in SA for eight years
You know the name. Siya Ngcobo is a
and is doing great things for the local scene
phenomenal musician, and after seeing him
so we love him like one of our own. He
perform live and through working with him at Cue
recently released his ‘Horses’ EP and it’s not
over the National Arts Festival this year (eish,
something you wanna miss.
that acquaintance bias), we’re convinced that he’s also one of the most genuine and intelligent
people to have a chat with. Go hunt down his
Yannick Meyer’s voice combined with
Marimba, sax and other unique instruments creates a sound that reminds one of a drug
free MGMT and Monsters and Men vibe. They
We discovered Buli’s ambient electronica earlier
make music that you’ll listen to on repeat and
this year and haven’t stopped playing it since.
we only wish they had more to share. Their
He’s one of the hardest working producers out
sound is great and even your dad will like
there and is doing great work to put Pretoria on
CARD ON SPOKES
This Grahamstown born group is currently
Card on Spokes is great enough on his own, but
blessing South Africa on their national tour.
his recent collaborations with Bonj Mpanza are
With an often impromptu set list and music
out of this world. He’s a highly technical producer
that makes audiences quite literally jump up
which is probably due to his background in
and sing along, Words are without a doubt
professional jazz. Didn’t know that? Now you do!
one of the coolest groups around.
So go listen to his glitchy electronica as well as his double bass.
B00n In a time when audiences access most of
their favourite musicians online, B00n’s a bit
2015 was a good one for Andy we believe.
of a social media ghost which is infuriating,
Dropping the EP iPressure, releasing music videos
but when he does upload something, it’s
and going for jogs are all examples of the sweat
always good. His music is sparse and eerie,
that’s gone into pushing for music. We interviewed
but entirely catchy. Like those wind up music
Andy about these struggles in our last edition,
boxes that old white people have in their
learn more there.
houses, except 100 times better. Just go find him on Soundcloud and see for yourself.
AUDIOJERK He was our profile person for Edition 3. No it’s not
just that though! His mixes are fantastic and pretty
Currently making waves in NYC, (shame on
much always play at some point when we’re up
you – come and be great here! Kidding,
late putting this mag together. His Twitter’s also
that’s great, keep reppin’ SA) Push Push has
kak funny. Go follow. Also, go read our piece with
been on the low for a while after producing
him in Edition 3.
a killer collab with Okmalumkoolkat earlier this year. We’re not the biggest fans of her
appropriation when it comes to fashion
We’ve been following this guy since the days
and style (someone had to say it) but that
of T.H.O.T.S and it is great to see the years of
authentically local voice, witty lyrics, and great constant work gain him more main stream beats make her a favourite guilty pleasure.
MUSIC ILLUSTRATIONS BY WERNER GOSS-ROSS
BLACK MATH They make loud rock ‘n roll that’ll make you sweat. That’s probably because they’re from Durban, but you know what we’re getting at – their music is great. Durban also never gets enough attention so put on your plakkies and go mosh. DAMASCVS Damascvs is also a bit of an online ghost, but we think he’s mates with B00n so that makes sense. He’s a rapper and producer who makes great music to bump your head to. He also spells his name with a ‘V’ that shouldn’t be there. Hectic. DOPE SAINT JUDE We liked Jude so much we made her the cover of Edition 5. An overnight internet sensation, Saint Jude combines the musical with the political in an easily accessible way. She’s a busy artist so there’s always something new to look forward to. Check her out ASAP! LEEU AND LAZARUSMAN Ja we know you’re actually two different musicians, but we saw you guys at Little Dragon and damn were you not one of the coolest acts? – completely on par with the other musicians. It’s a shame the crowd were kak hipster, but we see you.
CREATORS & CONTRIBUTORS AMY SLATEM Chronic doodler and stationery collector. Amy is an illustrator and designer based in Port Elizabeth. After finishing her BJourn and fine art major at Rhodes in 2013 she moved to Joburg to work as a graphic designer. Back in the Bay with the ocean as a friend.
SIHLE NTULI Born in 1990 in Kwa Mashu and currently in Grahamstown. Ntuli has an MA in classical civilisation and his first book Stranger was published this year. Read more about him in our artist profile for this edition.
ANDY MKOSI Cape Town based rapper and photographer. Music and art are the passion and Mkosi is involved in multiple projects such as Jam that Session. In the past Andy has worked for Bush Radio and Live Mag SA. You can catch Andy on a day jog in the streets of Langa.
ISABEL RAWLINS Completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Rhodes in 2012. Since then has built stone houses on an island in Croatia, planted saffron bulbs in Italy, served beers in Britain and currently teaches English literature at the University of Zululand.
CARLY HOSFORD-ISRAEL Carly lives in Seattle, Washington. Currently documenting life through her Pentax K1000 film camera and iPhone whilst teaching people to ski. Carly spent time teaching kids photography in Grahamstown in 2014.
SIAN FERGUSON Freelance writer, cat mom, and feminist studying at UCKA Rhodes. Writes about social justice, from sex work to mental illness and rape culture. Her work has been featured on websites like Everyday Feminism, Matador Network, and Women24.
DANI EUGENIE Oâ€™NEILL 22. Young black female artist, photographer and illustrator, living and working in South Africa. Parttime marauder of small towns; full-time maker, explorer and liker of things. Black is the only black. Currently pursuing a degree in photojournalism and digital media UCKA Rhodes.
NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER Currently a freelance photographer and journalist. Niamh studied at Rhodes University graduating with her Bjourn, her second major being Anthropology. To make a living doing portrait and documentary photography is the dream.
HIMAL RAMJI Originally from Durban and educated in an eclectic blend of home, Grahamstown and Cape Town. Student of politricks, history and philosophy; teacher of high school English and History; avid supporter of the People of South Africa. When lighter notes are favoured: a self-described anti-expert in construction, deconstruction and destruction.
TARRYN DE KOCK Honours in Politics at Rhodes and is currently doing her MEd in language and inequality at the Centre for International Teacher Education at CPUT. She also writes for the Daily Vox. In her free time Tarryn is a coffee fiend, RKCB groupie and Michael Symon acolyte.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY WERNER GOSS-ROSS
MMAMALEMA MOLEPO “Would it be okay for me to just use my name?”
YORAYA NYDOO From Durban to the Cape. Yoraya aka YOYO makes ice cream for bratz by day and ill poems and doodles at night. Interested in people and the unanswered questions of the universe.
MICHELLE AVENANT Michelle is a tech journalist living in Joburg and educated at the University currently known as Rhodes. She is most proud of her text design for the Gender Action Project (RU) and feminist columns for ITWeb. She desperately misses academics and wishes she could spend all her time on Photoshop,
WERNER GOSS-ROSS Van is a multidisciplinary artist and badass designer with the dopest moustache in Cape Town. The Mtunzini breed brah is now making things happen in the mother city.
MIA ARDERNE Mia is an artist from Cape Town, Her medium is oil on canvas. Her work has been exhibited in “Hear Me Roar”, an ActITFem Exhibition of Feminist Activism in Cape Town’s District Six Homecoming Centre in November, 2013. Her qualifications include an Honours Degree in Philosophy and a Masters Degree in English from UCT. LUMUMBA MTHEMBU Lumumba is in his final year of English Masters and a Mandela Rhodes Scholar for 2015. The Soweto born wordsmith received an honorary mention for his short story I Fix SA in SAWC 2011 Short Story Competition. He’s into SA fiction, making mixes and all things BasedGod related. SITHA KENTANE Johannesburg based photographer/ filmmaker. Her work explores and confronts concepts surrounding stereotypes and aims to influence the way the public view art and storytelling. Recurring themes in her work are also centred around South African youth culture and explores how the new age kids have fun.
DAVE MANN Freelance arts writer. Lover of local music. That’s all you’ll get out of him unless he writes an article.
YOULENDREE APPASAMY Overly Emojional. Failed academic. Devotee of Matangi.
LEAH SOLOMON Leah grew up in Pietermaritzburg, KZN and still stings to admit it. A writer and constant festival goer, she enjoys writing about the people who keep the arts in South Africa pumping. Durban is her favourite place in the world and that’s probably where you’ll find her in the years to come.