GLOBALIST The Yale
Fall 2013 / Vol. 14, Issue 1
letter from the editor 03
GLOBALIST The Yale
An Undergraduate Magazine of International Affairs Fall 2013 / Vol. 14, Issue 1 The Yale Globalist is a member of Global21, a network of student-run international affairs magazines at premier universities around the world.
It is difficult to imagine that just a few months ago members of The Globalist were in South Africa and Botswana on our ninth annual reporting trip. In Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Gaborone, members of The Globalist were asking tough questions in meetings and interviews, and excitedly conferring over article ideas. During our trip, group discussions often circled back to a feeling that South Africa was a nation in flux, still in the midst of bringing to fruition policies designed in the
JOURNALISM ADVISORY BOARD Steven Brill, Yale Dept. of English Nayan Chanda, Director of Publications, MacMillan Center Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, Foreign Affairs Jef McAllister, Time Magazine Nathaniel Rich, The Paris Review Fred Strebeigh, Yale Dept. of English ACADEMIC ADVISORY BOARD Harvey Goldblatt, Professor of Medieval Slavic Literature, Master of Pierson College Donald Green, Director, Institution for Social and Policy Studies Charles Hill, Yale Diplomat-in-Residence Ian Shapiro, Director, MacMillan Center Ernesto Zedillo, Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization Send comments, questions, and letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org
wake of apartheid. A common idea we discussed was how South Africa is still trying to “bridge the gap” – the gap between citizens living in township homes of corrugated metal and citizens living behind walls and electric fences in Johannesburg’s suburbs; the gap between the seemingly ideal rules encoded in South Africa’s Constitution and the way such provisions are actually implemented. Many of the articles in this issue, grapple with the gaps South Africa is still trying to overcome. The continued presence of such disparities is not shocking. Apartheid ended in 1991 and the first fully democratic elections were held in 1994. Within this time period, nearly every member of The Globalist trip was born. Post-apartheid South Africa is only as old as we are. A few weeks after we left South Africa, Nelson Mandela fell gravely ill and media coverage speculated that he was near death. As I fretted over Mandela’s health along with millions of others around the world, I repeatedly reflected back on discussion we had with a member of the CNN team in Johannesburg. He explained that anytime Mandela fell ill, American audiences thought it would be the end of the world because the last image most Americans had of Mandela was him cheerfully waving following his election in 1994. South Africans, on the other hand, were more accustomed to Mandela’s mortality
Interested in subscribing? Log on to tyglobalist. org and click the Subscribe link in the upper right corner. Pictures from CreativeCommons used under Attribution Noncommercial license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. This magazine is published by students of Yale College. Yale University is not responsible for its contents.
as they had watched him slowly age and followed his life in retirement. As student journalists spending just a few weeks in South Africa, we were like the American TV-watches in some respects, seeing only snippets and snapshots of what is happening in South Africa today. While we could not engage fully with all of the long-standing and complex issues at play in modern South Africa, I hope that through our reporting and narratives we will be able to depict a small fraction of what is happening. We appreciate your continued readership and hope you will keep exploring current events, asking critical questions, and travelling with an open mind as our authors have done. If you are interested in learning more about our trip we encourage you to visit the “trips” section of our newly re-designed website (http://tyglobalist.org). Finally, we would like to thank the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies for their continued support of The Globalist, and extend a huge thank you to the sponsors of our trip and to all of the individuals and organization in South Africa and Botswana who welcomed us, responded to our
ON THE COVER: Design by Chareeni Kurukulasuriya for The Yale Globalist. Photos courtesy of Rachel Brown and Amelia Earnest
requests for interviews, and gave life to the stories you will read in our pages. Sincerely, Rachel Brown Editor-in-Chief, The Yale Globalist www.tyglobalist.org
Map of Contents
TABLE of CONTENTS
fall 2013 volume 14 issue 1
South Africa 14 | District 6: Reconstructing Home
16 | These Woodstock Walls
19 | Sustaining the Future
20 | Awaiting Asylum
22 | Awash with Amnesty
24 | The Most Dangerous Game
26 | The War on Domestic Violence
28 | Too Pale, Too Male
Competing visions for the future of one of Cape Town’s most controversial neighborhoods. By Charley Locke.
Interpreting “sustainable design” in the South African context. By Sophie Grais. Examining the mixed legacy of South Africa’s postapartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission By Zoe Rubin. Strong women battle domestic violence and empower others despite social challenges and legal injustices. By Dianne Lake.
Production & Design Editors Chareeni Kurukulasuirya, Christine Mi Chief Online Editor Emma Goldberg Associates Editors for Online Grace Brody, Danielle Ellison
Editor-in-Chief Rachel Brown Managing Editor John D’Amico, Aaron Gertler, Nitika Khaitan, Tara Rajan Associate Editors Angelica Calabrese, Charlie Goodyear, Eleanor Marshall, Zoe Rubin, Elizabeth Villareal
Executive Director Ashley Wu Publishers Jackson Busch, Aobo Guo Events Coordinator Adrianne Elliott, Jade Shao
Copy Editor Ariel Katz Editors-at-Large: Charley Locke, Deena Rahman, Kelly Schumann, Anisha Suterwala, Sera Tolgay, Jason Toups, Emily Ullman, Margaret Zhang
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glimpses Legalizes Gay Marriage 7 | &France Adoption issues plaguing France following The the passing of the Taubira Law. By Nasos Abuel.
10 | New Haven’s South American Sibling
Exploring the role “sister city” programs play in fostering development. By Eleanor Marshall.
Inspiration without integration in Cape Town’s thriving new creative hub. By Katy Osborn. The shifting policy towards asylum seekers in South Africa. By Rachel Brown.
How Botswana’s proposed hunting ban will affect the nation’s economy and culture. By Daniel Kemp. Sparks fly over race and admissions as South African universities seek solutions to educational inequality. By Emma Goldberg.
8 | Living on the Edge
How daily fears among the citizens of Sderot embody the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By Caroline Tan.
34 | Chinese Mauritians
Paradise Island’s next Dodo? By Tao Tao Holmes.
38 | The Two Sides of Turkey’s Summer Protests
Political upheaval in Istanbul simultaneously frightens and inspires. By Emma Banchoff.
photo essay 30 | Walls
By Amelia Earnest.
France Legalizes Gay Marriage & Adoption Now What?
By Nasos Abuel
By Fiona Lowenstein
s one walks along the Seine, Paris appears to be the same city Hemingway called home in the 1920s, or that James Baldwin did in the 1950s. Tourists swarm from landmark to landmark, or board the bateau-mouche ferries for a journey down the river, while Parisians take it easy for on another ordinary day in their marvellous home city. If one decides against a morning paper with one’s croissant, one will notice little evidence that this country has just experienced momentous social upheaval: the nationwide legalization of gay marriage, accompanied by the right to adoption. The French pride themselves on living in one of the world’s most tolerant societies. In a country where secularism is entrenched in public life, homosexuality is usually not a subject of controversy. “I have several gay friends who are perfectly happy. We hang out and it does not bother me,” explained Marie, a student at the Université Paris IV Paris-Sorbonne. Nonetheless, the landmark Taubira Law (named for Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, who spearheaded its adoption) passed on May 17, 2013, has provoked vociferous debate over how, or whether, the state ought to refashion the institution of marriage. Gay partnership is not a novel concept in France. The 1999 passage of the Civil Solidarity Pact (PACS) allowed for civil unions between couples of any sexual orientation. Since then, gays have lobbied for the same legal recognition that is granted to heterosexual married couples, as well as for the right to adopt. Since 1999, the center-right party Union
French LGBT protestors (Courtesy CreativeCommons). for a Popular Movement (UMP) dominated government and muffled voices advancing the cause of gay marriage. But while concerns over the future of the French economy dominated the 2012 presidential election, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande pledged to make gay marriage possible. Once he was elected president, Hollande kept his promise, as the marriage bill squeaked past the Senate and sailed through the National Assembly. The polls reveal that most French are partially on the side of the Taubira Law: as of February 2013, 66 percent supported gay marriage. On the other hand, the French are hesitant to countenance parental status for homosexual couples: 53 percent reject the notion of gay couples adopting children according to one poll. “Most people are fine with homosexuals living together, whether that is through the PACS or through marriage, but adoption is a different story,” Marie commented. “The majority is attached to the traditional view of family and cannot accept a child with two fathers or two mothers”. The law has provoked the ire of the UMP, whose leader, Jean-Francois Copé, claims that the law contravenes “the values that form our society and children’s rights.” The UMP is convinced that civil unions establish equality between gay and heterosexual couples and obviate the need for gay marriage. “The civil union was sufficient in providing social acceptance for homosexuals, while preserving the prerogatives of marriage. It allowed gays to render their love official in front of the law without producing a margin for hostility and
hate,” posited a member of the youth branch of the UMP who asked to remain anonymous. “Gays are human beings who must be respected. But the same also applies for the perennial values of family and marriage,” he said. On the issue of adoption, the UMP is equally hostile. Most UMPs fear that gay adoption would assault the traditional notion of parenthood composed of a mother and a father, and some warn against the psychological harms that may be inflicted upon children raised by parents of the same sex. Ultimately, one question remains to be answered: whether gay marriage will actually benefit the LGBT community. On January 13th, according to the BBC, some 340,000 to 800,000 people assembled to oppose the bill – double the number who convened six days later in support of it. “Those who are opposed to the principle behind it will never accept gay marriage. What’s more, they may be even more inflamed with the defiling of a dear institution, so that there may be an adverse effect on their general opinion on gays,” predicts Gille, a student at Université Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. As the debate over gay marriage continues to fester in the U.S., the French case demonstrates how social legislation can become reality when there is a determined ruling majority. But even if the politics of the law have been dealt with, its impact on the ground remains to be seen. Nasos Abuel ’16 is a sophomore in Pierson College. Contact him at nasos.abuelbasal@ yale.edu. www.tyglobalist.org
Living on the Edge
How daily fears among the citizens of Sderot embody the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict By Caroline Tan
The rack of shrapnel and rocket fragments from Hamas attacks kept in the Sderot police station (Caroline Tan/TYG).
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eet Sderot. Peppered with palm trees, cul-de-sacs and perfectly manicured front yards, Sderot, Israel, seems like another typical suburban neighborhood. There are rows of bushes lining its well-kept streets and a number of SUVs parked along the driveways of Sderot’s quintessentially suburban one-level homes. But something about the town is off: When I visited Sderot over winter break as part of the 15-member U.S. delegation attending an Israel immersion trip sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, I couldn’t help but notice an eerie silence. Despite the storm of rowdy college students who had just arrived in town, nothing in Sderot seemed to move. The town had essentially frozen into a quiet state of being. The quietness is unsettlingly — eerily beautiful. Perhaps it is an unavoidable result of the town’s geography. Located next to the Palestinian-owned Gaza Strip, Sderot is under the constant threat of rockets fired from Hamas, a Sunni-ruled political party that was deemed a terrorist organization by the United States in 2008. But though Sderot security forces closely guard the Gaza border, they can only do so much: Residents receive just 15 seconds of “Red Color” warning to find a bomb shelter when an incoming rocket approaches the city. And since these rockets can appear at any time, the city is littered these miniature fortresses, which have been built in every household, school, public park and government building. As we drive through Sderot, I can count the bomb shelters tucked away in every driveway, sitting as a representation of the quiet fear the city faces every day. Today, we are meeting Kobi Harush, Sderot’s security chief, to hear his take on Sderot’s unique security situation. We drive through the suburban neighborhood until we come across a
security compound. There’s a police car sitting outside and a glass case and metal rack filled with pieces of rockets and shrapnel. When we get out of the car, we meet Mr. Harush himself. He is a tough man with short hair and a sinewy build. He looks weary and speaks entirely in Hebrew, pausing once in a while to let our tour guide translate his thoughts to the English-speaking group. As Mr. Harush discusses Sderot’s security system and what it’s like to grow up in fear, he picks up a piece of shrapnel recovered from a recent rocket, inviting us to touch the weapon ourselves. It’s heavy and threatening. We each take turns lifting the pieces of rockets — some of which Mr. Harush says were fired from Hamas — and marvel at the immense yet cold danger that emanates from every piece. Each one sits silent, menacing, made even more terrifying by the rows of shrapnel stacked neatly on four levels that cover an entire wall of the security building. Sderot’s situation is emblematic of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian tensions that still exist today. Throughout my trip, I was reminded of these divisions by the bright red signs written in Hebrew, Arabic and English that reminded Israelis that certain roads “lead to [a] Palestinian village, the entrance for Israeli citizens is dangerous.” We could easily tell which cars were driven by Israelis and which by Palestinians: Israelis had yellow license plates, Palestinians, green and white. Ever since Israel was carved out of Palestine, the two sides have been forced to live side-by-side, albeit not quietly. For years, the question of whether Israel should even exist as a state remained uncertain, as Arab nations bitterly refused to recognize Israel, which had been created by Western powers to serve as a homeland for the Jewish people. After the Six Days War in 1967, though, it be-
came clear that Israel was here to stay, and now the question of peaceful coexistence has become the focal point of the conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian question is still a complicated one. Though both sides now nominally support the Two-State Solution, territorial disputes and security concerns continue to throw a shadow over the solution. Israel remains concerned that a newly-formed Palestinian state could fall into the hands of Hamas or other extremist groups, and Palestinians continue to suffer discrimination and human rights abuses at the hands of both governments, according to the 2013 World Report released February by Human Rights Watch,. Just last November, a few weeks before my scheduled departure, Hamas created a minor stir when it successfully launched a rocket into Tel Aviv airspace. Nobody was harmed, but the issue served as a stark reminder that ongoing tensions continue to play out in the Middle East. That, coupled with continued frustration over the Western involvement that carved out Israel in the first place, and you get a still-controversial territory that is still recovering from colonial influences. In many ways, Israel is a combination of opposing forces — on the one hand, its environment presents a pastoral and peaceful beauty marked by sheepherders, the Sea of Galilee, and miles of grassy plains. On the other, its history is marked by superpower influences, carved out of conflict and upheld by the ghosts of that relationship. Throughout all this, Sderot sits silently, a reminder of that conflict and its repercussions on the daily lives of Israeli and Palestinian citizens alike. Caroline Tan ‘14 is is a double economics and history major in Berkeley College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
A panoramic view of the Gaza strip. Gaza City is easily viewed from the hills of Sderot (Caroline Tan/TYG).
New Haven’s South American Sibling
Exploring the role “sister city” programs play in fostering development
Some of the students from Goyena play with kites made from recycled paper after an activity with the youth ecological brigade (Eleanor Marshall/TYG.)
By Eleanor Marshall
ust past the university, heading south out of León, Nicaragua, the road ends. A couple feet over, a dirt path cut through the thick, dry brush starts up and runs straight through to Nueva Vida, a village of just over 350 residents that is situated in Goyena, a settlement of five independent rural communities. The pick-up I’m in is the only car in sight, kicking up dust next to kids riding their bikes and wives peeking from under their kitchens’ tin roofs at midday. We stop at a large shelter in the center of town, and the painted sign reads “NEW HAVEN” in bold painted letters. Some have never made the trip as far as León, the city for which the León province is named, though it is just 12 kilometers away by truck. But they know New Haven. The teenagers waiting by the shelter and, later, the primary students in the schoolyard ask shyly, “Did you come from New Haven?” It is fall 2013, issue 1
eerie to hear the familiar name in the long vowels of Nicaraguan Spanish, and stranger still to think of how much from New Haven has come to this remote village – a school and reinforcement for teachers, nutritional programs for infants, domestic violence counseling for women – though New Haven residents are largely unaware of its existence. The New Haven/León Sister City Project (NHLSCP) began in 1984, one of many international partnerships – from Gettysburg to Hamburg - that sprung up in Nicaragua. The aim was to express solidarity with the leftwing Sandinista revolutionary government in its struggle against the contras, conservative rebel groups that received significant funding and military support from the Reagan administration. There is a mural in the center of León that depicts the nation’s storied history going back to the era of the Spanish conquistadors, using swords, guns, and broken
fences. The Sandinistas enter the picture in the 1930s, when Augusto César Sandino led the first insurgency against the U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua. In 1979, Sandinista forces would overthrow the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan dictator, Anastosio Somoza Debaile. These revolutionaries ultimately succeeded in fending off the contras, and are in power today under President Daniel Ortega. But Nicaragua’s battle wounds are still healing. Sister cities from around the world continue to provide support to a nation that remains the poorest in Central America. Sister city programs differ from other international non-profits in their emphasis on creating long-term relationships. These partnerships attempt an alternative style of engagement to the “third-world-victim” and “first-world-savior” dynamic that service work often falls into abroad. Many emphasize cultural exchange programs between cit-
ies and financial support for on-the-ground development. According to NHLSCP Director Chris Schweitzer, New Haven’s program is one of the only sister city projects that does not import foreign staff members, hiring exclusively Nicaraguans to identify community needs and implement projects. NHLSCP has partnered with Nueva Vida for the entirety of the village’s short existence. In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch, the second worst Atlantic storm on record, wreaked havoc on Parcela, one of the villages of Goyena. Maria Eugenia Muñoz, now the President of Nueva Vida’s Board of Directors, a position akin to mayor, remembers rushing to the town’s highest point, holding her 40-day-old baby in her arms, and watching as the possessions floated from her collapsing home. “In that moment, I saw all that we had lost, and saw the power of organizing to keep moving forward,” she recalled.
Muñoz, the mother of nine children, had never thought of working outside her home. But after the hurricane struck, she felt that it was the only way forward. She spearheaded efforts to procure land, food and housing – building Nueva Vida from a barren six acre plot granted by local land cooperative Aristida Sanchez. Now, children from all of the villages of Goyena attend a school built by NHLSCP, which also runs a pre-school and an afterschool program that provides extra academic help. NHLSCP recently secured funding for Nueva Vida’s first library, as donated books trickle in from New Haven. Meanwhile, the organization facilitates the ecological brigade, a youth group of about ten teens that focuses on sustainability projects, teaching the community to recycle and compost to reduce the amount of trash that gets burned in open fires. Program director Erendira Vanegas runs English language classes every week. Last year, she started a program called No Violencia to teach women about domestic violence and provide support for its victims. According to Vanegas, women who denied suffering domestic violence – saying things like “my husband beats me, but no more than normal” — have started to recognize their rights. Nubia Luz Quiroz is one of those women. She was married at 19 and endured beatings from her husband for seven years until he left her for another woman in a neighboring community. She thought that her experience was normal before Vanegas began her workshops. “Women don’t realize what they are suffering,” she said. Now Quieroz helps Vanegas lead No Violencia; she explained that, “today, I can defend myself and I can defend women in this community.” Each of these programs is directed and maintained by the permanent staff, and fueled by a steady stream of interns and volunteers. NHSCLP facilitates service trips by two or three group delegations each year, like the Yale Reach Out Trip that visited León last March. It also provides the office with individual interns, like me, who run their own research or aid projects with support from the staff. In the month I spent there, I rode the pick-up with the three staffers and a crew of volunteer teachers out to Nueva Vida every afternoon. It was there that I taught English to Emerson, who brought me sour aguacuate fruits from his trees and practiced new vocabulary for the animals he keeps. Teaching recycling through art projects with the brigade, I worked almost daily with Yaranesi, a gregarious 21-year-old who was the first in her family to attend college in León.
After exploring the rivers and fields of her hometown through the ecological brigade, Yaranesi became interested in studying biology. Now, she wants to use her university degree to teach science at the same school she attended in Nueva Vida and eventually take on leadership of the brigade. The majority of the youth in this group are in their late teens, and will get married in a few years. The men often begin to work in the sugar cane fields and the women often start to have children. But Yaranesi wants to stay – she likes living in the countryside among her parents and grandparents, working the land that bears her food. For her, opportunities are expanding right in Nueva Vida. In some ways, it is people like Yaranesi that benefit most from NHLSCP’s programs. To her, the small New Haven office and few annual fundraisers have provided her with tutors that supported her through her first year at the University of León. But in other ways it is the people like me, who get to meet her, who are the beneficiaries. Focused on illustrating the effects of U.S. interventions in Nicaragua and the historical roots of the nation’s poverty, Schweitzer encourages volunteers not to travel to León with too many ideas, but to arrive ready to meet people like Yaranesi, and to listen. Working as an intern out of the office on Whitney Avenue for a year before I set foot in León, I spent much of my time attaching multicolored butterflies made from recycled milk jugs and old magazines to cars, bikes and street corners around New Haven. This display for the NHLSCP Walk Bike Transit campaign focused on reducing car emissions that contribute to climate change’s disproportionate impacts on rural communities like Nueva Vida. Once, our office received a package of brightly painted butterflies cut from plastic bottles, signed by the distant “brigada” – a group that wasn’t quite real to me until I met them at the end of the dirt road. My year with NHLSCP brought me closer to both sister cities – New Haven and León. It is through this organization that I met not only Yaranesi, but other Yale students and New Haven community activists. Maybe it is these small connections and this steady progress against the backdrop of large and powerful divides – challenges like climate change and cultural barriers and global inequality - that can ultimately, imperfectly, make two cities sisters. Eleanor Marshall ’16 is in Saybrook College. She can be reached at eleanor.marshall@yale. edu. www.tyglobalist.org
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south africa 13
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14 south africa
District 6: Reconstructing Home Competing visions for the future of one of Cape Town’s most controversial neighborhoods
was standing right there when they demolished my home,” explained Noor Ebrahim. The day in 1975 when he was evicted from his home at 247 Caledon Street, all he could do was watch. Alongside his diverse fellow residents of District Six – as Ebrahim described it, “one big happy family of Muslims, Christians, Indians, Hindus, Portuguese, Chinese, Africans” – he could only stand by as the apartheid era government demolished his vibrant neighborhood. Redesignated on February 11th 1966 as a Whites Only Area under the Group Areas Act, one of apartheid’s most effective, long-lasting acts of enforced segregation, District Six was demolished. Over sixty thousand of its residents were evicted. Many of the elements that distinguished District Six as a center of Cape Town culture, including Carnival jazz celebrations, Klopsa music, and Christmas bands, were lost. After the apartheid era government decided to designate the centrally located land as a whites-only neighborhood, all businesses, homes, and organizations owned by non-whites were no longer legally permitted. Using logic similar to separate but equal, colored and black residents were relocated to newly created townships organized by race. With little prior notice, neighbors, friends, and even families were separated. As Ebrahim described in the stories of several of his friends, a legally colored husband would routinely be assigned a different township from his legally black wife and children. To visit another township and see his family grow up, he would have to get a permit, allowing him to see them for two hours once every three months. Chrischrene Julius, an archivist at the Dis-
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trict Six Museum, describes the demolition process as a Holocaust. Individuals would come home from work to find their neighbors gone and local businesses demolished. As she described, the apartheid era city planning not only broke apart neighbors and fractured families, but also broke down the connection between an individual and the city itself. To Julius, the loss of identity – “the trauma of it, of people losing the communities, the strong networks of District Six, the physical space of generations who had been living in one place and one building over many years” – has clear effects in Cape Town to this day. Cape Town’s District Six was one of many communities demolished across South Africa. But through the continued efforts of volunteers and former residents, Ebrahim’s old neighborhood now stands as a “symbol of forced removals” and a testament to this dark era of South African history. It provides a canvas for envisioning the future organization of South African cities and neighborhoods. Throughout the 1980s, activists prevented redevelopment of the neighborhood as a Whites Only Area through the Hands Off District 6 Campaign, proof of the loyalty and power of the neighborhood’s community. But since the official end of apartheid in 1994, District Six has remained largely in rubble, caught between current residents, the Cape Town bureaucracy, and activists, who, as Julius argues, insist “there’s no way over our dead bodies that you’re going to redevelop this space without ex-residents.” Many of the current residents identify their neighborhood as The Fringe, home to a burgeoning community of artists and young professionals. In 2014, Cape Town will be
By Charley Locke recognized as a World Design Capital, and young creatives are seizing the opportunity to redevelop the old District: it’s cheap, centrally located, and unusually, predominantly abandoned, precluding many of the tricky questions that gentrification usually entails. Roch Schollij works at Charly’s Bakery, which she describes as one of the neighborhood’s first creative businesses. She sees The Fringe as part of a recent “mini revolution in urban regeneration” in Cape Town, creating a young community that is “energetic, a little rough around the edges and mostly just quite wonderful.” Schollij acknowledges the powerful history of District Six, and sees The Fringe as building upon the old neighborhood. To Schollij, new businesses and young people reawaken a neighborhood that long lay dormant. She recognizes the vibrant culture of the old neighborhood, centered in “the art and music it produced, in how people lived and how they really enjoyed their lives,” and hopes that through initiatives like The Fringe, the new generation can bring back the energy that made District Six a center of Cape Town culture. But loyalists to the old District Six, argue that it shouldn’t serve as a building block for a new generation of creatives. Rather, as Julius explains, its “salted earth.” To her and others who work at the museum, the city regeneration process has attempted to paint over the injustices of the forced removals, brushing away the wishes of previous residents, many of whom, like Ebrahim, still strongly identify with their old neighborhood. To Julius, the only way to “unsalt the earth” – for District Six to exist beyond a ghost town or memorial plaques – is for ex-residents to move back in. According to Julius, the regeneration pro-
cess has entirely focused on economics. As she explains, “there’s a very big emphasis on factually finding out what the histories were, and putting that up, and then you’ve done your job in terms of nurturing this historical memory.” To advocates of the old District Six, this brief acknowledgement is hollow of sincerity: redevelopment requires “due recognition of the traumas that it is built on.” As Julius reasons, “people aren’t willing to deal with that complexity, because then you have to find out the ugly bits about yourself, and see the racism within communities, between communities, and how the Group Areas Act has fundamentally broken down our relationships with each other.” Describing Beinkenstadt, a once locally prominent Jewish bookstore now repurposed into the cheery Charly’s Bakery, Julius explains that by “painting jumping cupcakes on this historical landmark,” the new owners are whitewashing the narratives of loss. “Changing the material fabric of District Six, you do change mindsets,” explains Julius. “This is why gentrification is such a difficult thing to actually fight, because how people erase history, erase memories and spaces, happens through painting buildings, happens through changing a street curb.” Schollij doesn’t agree. Her family, who started and owns Charly’s, feels a deep affinity for the old bookstore. She finds it “quite symbolic that at the end of one Jewish family business, another, very different one, found its home in the same place.” Schollij reminisces about Beinkenstadt, and explains that while “we’ve gone wild with our paint designs,” they made sure to “maintain the integrity of the building.” For her, the physical history “adds an old-world charm to the Bakery.” She sees their changes as a way to respect and honor the area’s past
by “continuing the tradition of bringing life to the area.” For Schollij, painting cupcakes isn’t whitewashing. It’s honoring the history by making the area relevant and accessible for modern Capetonians. For Julius, reimagining the city this way simplifies its past, and avoids acknowledging that its foundations largely rest on the injustices of apartheid. Restructuring a post-apartheid Cape Town will require more than paint. While Schollij recognizes the valuable role of District Six and its displaced residents in the city’s history, she hopes to “honour them and what they lost through building something beautiful.” Julius argues that in these enthusiastic attempts to transform the area, young creatives brush over the complex aspects, in the meantime “actually dehumanizing somebody, you’re saying, ‘your story isn’t valuable.’” Julius argues that in current day South Africa, “trying very fragilely to negotiate what democracy means, you can’t be reckless with those kinds of things, because in the end that’s what shapes a society.” Capetonians agree that engaging with the dark history of the neighborhood entails “working with a spirit of place” to revitalize the area. To Schollij, that means focusing on the revitalization. The tragic demolition of District Six left a “scar on the hearts and minds of Capetonians,” but the longer the plots are empty and abandoned, “the deeper the cut gets.” For young Capetonians, the abandoned buildings and empty plots of land act as a weak reminder of the “distant memory” of District Six’s character. She feels that the best way to honor its previous vibrancy is to inject it with the young energy of a new creative generation. To Julius and her coworkers at the District Six Museum, that “spirit of place” means prioritizing previous residents over revitalizing the physical area. While the museum has
several programs to introduce young people to District Six, the focus is on reconstructing, rather than generating a new neighborhood. Julius emphasizes the importance of restitution to Capetonians who want to move back to their previous neighborhood, a process that has been moving slowly and bureaucratically. Thousands of ex-residents have registered to move back. Only 64 families have moved so far. After 35 years away, Noor Ebrahim still hopes to move back. As Schollij argues, there’s no use in fighting against losing the old character of District Six now: that was largely lost due to the efforts of the apartheid regime. And Ebrahim knows the neighborhood in which he grew up and raised his children will never again exist. But although he “cannot expect the same” neighborhood as when he forcibly left Caledon Street, Ebrahim still feels that “District Six and its people shaped me, showed me who I was and how I should be if I wanted to get on in life.” District Six was where he turned for guidance, for culture, for community. Now, the area houses a vibrant culture for a new generation. By relying on the area as a center of their own culture and community, young Capetonians hope to move beyond memory and memorials, and actively honor the power of District Six’s community in their own lives. Thousands of other previous residents of the neighborhood can testify to that lasting power. Noor Ebrahim certainly can: for the first 26 years of his life, District Six was his home. And now, 40 years after he was forcibly removed, it still is. Charley Locke ’14 is a humanities major in Calhoun College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Left to Right: (1 & 2) Pre-apartheid District Six as depicted on historical postcards from the District Six Museum. (3) Former District Six resident poses with street signs from his old neighborhood. (4) Charly’s Bakery at the forefront of an effort to revitalize District Six. (Charley Locke/TYG) www.tyglobalist.org
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Street art in the Woodstock neighborhood (Charley Locke/TYG).
These Woodstock Walls
Inspiration without integration in Cape Town’s thriving new creative hub By Katy Osborn
hen American artist Andrew Breitenberg first moved his studio to the six-floor, 14,000 square meter Woodstock Industrial Centre in 2009, the space had what fellow artist and Woodstock native Kent Lingeveldt described as a “sweatshop vibe.” “There were windows broken everywhere — birdshit knee level,” the building’s then-owner, Elad Kirschenbaum, told me. “No property developer wanted to come see the property, no alarm companies wanted to come put locks on the space.” For Breitenberg, this was all part of the appeal. “It was just this raw space [with] beautiful textures on every wall.” Karen Dudley, native Capetonian and owner of Woodstock’s popular eatery The Kitchen, told a similar story, having converted her deli from an old fish shop in the middle of what she claims was “drug dealer and prostitute central.” “The guy who owned this building had been stabbed here and no one wanted to touch it,” she recalled. “I came to look at this building — this really smelly old fish shop, and I thought, ‘Perfect!’” As Breitenberg aptly put it: “The artists go first. They’re like blackbirds.” Drive east until Cape Town’s city center gives way to warehouses and these blackbirds’ nests will begin to sporadically appear. Freshly painted, pristine shops and galleries punctuate old industrial spaces
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and deteriorating Victorian cottages. Street art springs unexpectedly from walls. This is Woodstock, at least in its current moment. It’s a tale that we’ve heard before — from Brooklyn to Williamsburg to New York’s meatpacking district— with creatives, as South Africans like to call them, almost always paving the way for other young urban professionals. But in Woodstock in particular the process of creative “renewal” is particularly convoluted. While Woodstock’s creativity rides the youthful momentum of South Africa’s mere 19 years of democracy, it struggles to deliver on this new era’s promises of integration.
oodstock has long been a site of economic struggle and home to Cape Town’s laboring class, dating back to 17th century immigrant farmlands and fisherman’s houses that gave way to a major industrial center in the 20th century. Where Woodstock has traditionally lacked economic prosperity, however, it has gained recognition for its resilience against South Africa’s history of racial separation. Lower Woodstock, largely by virtue of its low-income population, became the only suburb of Cape Town during apartheid to remain integrated in the face of its “White” classification under the Group Areas Act. Karen Dudley proudly told me of Walmer Road, where she now lives: “When Group Areas came along
they came down my street and said, ‘This side of the street is white, and this side of the street is black.’ The families living there for all these years said, ‘No […] we’ll just swap houses.” In spite of such historic victories, the uncertainty of life under the Group Areas Act made it difficult for Woodstock residents to maintain property ownership, and the area took a dramatic plunge in the 80s and 90s as the drug trade ushered in unprecedented levels of crime and prostitution. By 2005, Woodstock was, in Kirschenbaum’s words, nothing short of a Wild West. “You couldn’t be doing what you’re doing today, walking down [Albert Road],” JP, owner of antique furniture store Collectible Café and 40 year-resident of Woodstock told me. “Somebody would come along and grab your bag, then run and jump over a wall. No one would see anything.” Thus was born the Woodstock Improvement District (WID), established in response to a need for safe transport for employees of businesses in Woodstock from the train station to work. Funded on levies collected from city tax payers, WID began to make basic but instrumental changes to the suburb; cleaning parks, fixing traffic lights, paintings roads and hiring security vehicles, to name a few. In 2006, the conversion of an abandoned factory called Old Biscuit Mill into an upscale retail space featuring the renowned organic
food market Neighbourgoods furthered the effort. Around the same time, Elad Kirshenbaum spurred Woodstock’s creative movement in the form of Woodstock Industrial Centre, subsidizing a residency program run by street artist Ricky Lee Gordon to bring street artists from all over the world to Woodstock and color its walls with their art. Today, Upper Woodstock is the epicenter of Cape Town’s — if not all of South Africa’s — design industry. Some Capetonians call Woodstock’s metamorphosis creative renewal, some call it gentrification, some even call it “upliftment” — regardless of what one chooses to call this process, it’s occurring at an astonishing rate. Real estate prices have more than doubled since 2004, and new developments are popping up with increasing frequency. “Everyone wants to be in Woodstock right now,” Lingeveldt, the Woodstock native who designs and builds custom long boards, told me. “Prices are becoming exorbitant. There are waitlists. To get space as a creative right now is impossible.”
Street art in the Woodstock neighborhood (Zoe Rubin/TYG).
oodstock forms a crucial part of a wider Capetonian creative success story that recently helped the city win the bid to host World Design Capital 2014, a yearlong program of design-centered events geared toward inner city development. One of the project’s four key themes is “Bridging the Divide”: as the city’s winning bid reads, “In 1994, we inherited a city designed for separation. Since then, we’ve been designing a city for integration.” This core of integration permeates creative spaces throughout Woodstock. Take, for example, Side Street Studios, Elad Kirschenbaum’s newest project since the property developers that own Old Biscuit Mill bought up his Woodstock Industrial Centre three years ago. It’s an unconventional setup for studio space — a bike mechanic sits across the way from an artist next to a carpenter across from a laser cutter next to a kitchen below a Capoeira studio above an herb and vegetable garden, and so forth. For Kirshenbaum, this smorgasbord of tenants and their careful placement alongside one another is part of a bigger picture of collaboration, inclusion and innovation — in his words, a “family.” When I visited with a friend, he invited us for tea and chocolate cake in the “big idea corner” in Zimbabwean conceptual artist Nix Davies’ studio, Let There Be Light, an “innovative shelter” where the Side Street family gathers weekly to share ideas. We talked mind-reading EEG-operated beer taps with a 23-year-old inventor from ThingKing. Studiotonic, a second story studio that
overlooks Albert Road, houses Lisette Forsyth’s upcoming exhibition “An Honest Day’s Work.” The project includes photographs of Woodstock’s workers on its streets. These images are painted on and constructed using recycled materials such as a 1956 wage page, an old door, a flour bag. It seeks to bring pieces of the street into the studio whilst conveying the style, grace, and will of Woodstock’s natives. The conscious and unconscious sum of Forsythe’s exhibition, however, is a story of Woodstock’s patterns of integration and separation. The streets belong to a distinctly racialized labor and struggle — black or colored men who carry dishwashers on their heads and cart loads of lumber; young boys who ask for food as visitors pass. The interiors, meanwhile, are mystical playgrounds belonging predominantly to white creatives and their privilege. While the rawness of Woodstock’s abandoned and deteriorating spaces serve both as inspiration and palette to creatives, to longtime residents they represent a history and a socioeconomic reality. Even the most carefully considered creativity fails to be fully inclusive to the surrounding community — at 50-65 rand ($5-$7 ), Dudley’s delicious “Love Sandwiches” are still cost-prohibitive to many Woodstock natives, and Side Street Studio’s doors are manned by a security guard, a gatekeeper to the “family” within. Woodstock Exchange and Old Biscuit Mill,
what Dudley jokingly called “hipster central,” more notably lack this fusion and consideration. A large decal on the street window of restaurant Superette, for example, one of Woodstock Exchange’s anchor tenants, reads, “Lunch Stat: If you eat regularly at your desk, your keyboard will have collected 400 calories worth of food particles. Bon Appetite!” Outside lies a largely undeveloped stretch of dilapidated warehouses, where visibly emaciated young men are often found hustling passersby for food. Nick Ferguson of Indigo Proper-
While the rawness of Woodstock’s abandoned and deteriorating spaces serve both as inspiration and palette to creatives, to longtime residents they represent a history and a socioeconomic reality.
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Elad Kirschenbaum, owner of SideStreet studios in Woodstock (Charley Locke/TYG). ties, the property developer of Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock Exchange, summarizes the move bluntly. “We’re not building [places like Woodstock Exchange] to pander to people on the street who can’t afford it,” he said. “We’re not there to try to do something nice. It’s not about having sayings that incorporate street kids and hobos who can’t afford to buy bread.” As part of a creative movement that frequently credits itself with Woodstock’s “upliftment,” Ferguson’s statement seems out of place. To many, the problem is one of representation. Hassan Khan, CEO of Cape Town’s Haven night shelters and vice-chair of the Cape Town Partnership, is optimistic about Cape Town WDC 2014. Still, he said “I don’t think there are sufficient black people — in South Africa black people are people who are not white — participating at that level of creating a new environment. What we have in the creative industry here are liberals — nice people — but designing for someone else […] is not likely to connect to the beneficiaries nearly as fully as it could.” “I look at some of the key players of WDC 2014, their creative team is [almost] all white,” he continued. “And they are a minority in the city of Cape Town. That’s daft. It means we are perpetuating the problems of the past. It means poor people are again becoming the victims of the success of their neighbors.” Kent Lingeveldt echoed Khan’s sentiments. “The thing that bums me out is a lot of the street art around here is done by these main international artists. There’s a lot of local talent in Woodstock, but they’re not given the opfall 2013, issue 1
portunities. […] My vibe is that for someone new and local coming in, if you don’t have the right connections, if you’re not the right skin color, or if you’re not their token person of color, then you’re not going to make it.” While Lingeveldt admitted that he loves “being able to be in a space and a suburb where creativity is thriving,” the lack of local inclusion leaves him with doubts about authenticity. “A lot of this isn’t real creativity. It’s just hipsters looking at blogs. Like all these European and American delis? It’s copying and pasting.”
asked many Capetonians about the future of Woodstock — skinny-jean-clad shoppers in Neighbourgoods, shop owners along Albert Road, local artists. They all said something similar: it will be a shopper’s paradise, a “bumping” suburb, a much sought-after, upper class neighborhood. The benefits of renewal thus far are already abundantly apparent, if not in the business brought to Woodstock, then in the suburb’s drastic reduction in crime. “If kids are for the first time playing in the streets without guns, we’ve made their lives better,” Kirshenbaum pointed out. But the costs are seldom talked about. As Khan aptly noted, “The cost of [gentrification] will not be seen, because we will have displaced the poor further from the city.” As rental costs increasingly price Woodstock’s poor out of their homes, many are being pushed into neighboring suburbs, including Salt River, whose lack of an improvement district has also made it a recipient of much of Woodstock’s former crime. This socioeco-
nomic displacement is eerily reminiscent of Cape Town’s history under apartheid’s Group Areas Act, which evicted more than half a million black and colored South Africans from their homes and businesses between 1950 and 1984, pushing many out of Cape Town altogether and into its neighboring townships. Chrischene Julius, who considers such displacement on a daily basis as Collections Manager for Cape Town’s District Six Museum, points out the injustice of crediting creatives with upliftment. “Landlords start kicking [residents] out, turning a property into a slum by not looking after it, and then all of the sudden you must be grateful that young creatives are putting the spotlight on Woodstock and regenerating it. And you just feel very angry, because all of a sudden people and families who have lived there don’t matter.” For those Woodstock residents that remain, displacement may cause the tightknit character of the community to fade rapidly. “Black South Africans in particular don’t coexist well in [private, distant] circumstances. We like our neighbors to greet us,” Khan told me. “And if our neighbor’s child is in the road when he should be at school, we twist his ear — because that’s our child.” When I asked Kirschenbaum about his Woodstock neighbors, he opted for a respectfully distant approach that seemed to confirm Khan’s concerns. “I get out of bed in the morning, say good morning to the lady [neighbor], ask her son why he’s not in school and walk down the street,” he tells me. “I’m a lot more comfortable to just be and let others be and see where we cross over.” This seems to be precisely the dilemma embodied in Woodstock — “nice liberals” designing for someone else, creativity that astounds but fails to include, artists who beautify and simultaneously drive up rent, neighbors who greet but remain at a distance. There fails to be a clear right and wrong when it comes to Woodstock’s residents and their approach to its spaces. For a suburb with the strong legacy of having resisted the Group Areas Act à la Walmer Road, however, there does seem to be a clear right in maintaining the same sense of community that once defied the dividing lines of apartheid as South Africa navigates its youth as a free and integrated democracy. After all, creativity seems to be Woodstock’s newest child — and it takes a village. Katy Osborn ’15 is an anthropology major in Branford College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Sustaining the Future
By Sophie Grais
Interpreting “sustainable design” in the South African context.
garage door — when closed, the canvas of intricate graffiti — opens into the light, airy studio of Cameron Barnes, an independent furniture designer based in Cape Town’s upand-coming Woodstock neighborhood. The usual suspects line the walls: power tools, test pieces, woods of various hues and tones. Here, though, something stands out: Barnes selects only local alien species of timber for his work — nothing indigenous, nothing imported. His reasoning is part of his core business principle: sustainable construction. The term “sustainability,” especially in the United States, can bring immediate connotations and a laundry list of buzzwords: solar panels, LEED certification, organic food. Often dismissed as implausible, expensive, impractical, it seems in some ways a surprising trend in South Africa. Nevertheless, the country’s movement toward sustainability in energy, architecture, and other areas has recently gained considerable momentum. In 2007, South Africa joined the World Green Building Council, an organization of 92 member countries that advocates for sustainable architecture in corporate building. In 2014, Cape Town will be the World Design Capital (WDC), home to a year’s worth of events related to architecture and design. The theme “Today For Tomorrow: Sustainable Solutions for People and Planet” will be the backdrop for many of the WDC events and projects. Not only planet, but also people — indeed, a more holistic view of sustainability would acknowledge its vast social implications. Green building could bring significant changes to both the physical and socioeconomic South African landscape. Despite the common American perception, sustainability need not imply fancy materials or high-cost measures, Barnes explained in his studio on a quiet afternoon. He highlighted
Solar panels cover a market near the Victoria and Albert Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa (Sophie Grais/TYG). the different lenses through which sustainability can be seen: most notably, its social dimensions and its relationship to issues of socioeconomic inequality. “It’s easy to understand, in some sense, why all the high-tech stuff gets more coverage. It’s a lot flashier, it’s a lot more different… The face that sustainability should take, in broader terms, is always choosing what’s site-appropriate, or what’s appropriate for that immediate area,” he said. These considerations would include availability and abundance of the materials in question — local materials that meet these criteria are often much cheaper to use than expensive, fancy imports. But sustainability also carries great social influence: in areas of high unemployment, the selection of labor-intensive construction materials could provide more people with work and the opportunity to learn valuable skills. “Rather than just giving someone a house, you could be teaching them how to build a house or providing a material palette that works in that immediate area,” Barnes continued. With South Africa’s immense need for affordable housing, these social dimensions of sustainability prove especially valuable. In 1994, its fledgling post-apartheid democracy established the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) to address the great disparities in wealth and services across the country, including the availability of affordable housing. A 2009 report published by the South African government stated that at the time, 12.8 percent of South Africans lived in RDP homes or other housing subsidized by the state. Any discussion of implementing sustainable architecture on a national scale, then, must acknowledge what psychologist and Harvard professor of engineering sciences Beth Altringer calls “the equality question.” Altringer received her Master’s degree in architecture at the University of Cape Town and worked on a
housing upgrading project in a South African township with ARG Design, a South African company. “The South African government had promised everyone a house. We [had] that budget, which is tiny, and the goal [was] moving people to safer, cleaner, more dignified housing.” She emphasized the need to consider the site-specific needs of residents and the larger social questions inherent in sustainable construction. “Before people were using the term human-centered design, that’s basically what we were doing, going into the community and really understanding what their needs were instead of making the assumption of what their needs might be,” she said. Projects like Altringer’s generally happen independent of the South African government; for the most part, the RDP and other government programs have their own familiar methods of building. Barnes explained that these habits would be hard to change, that “they have the ways of building in place, they’re rolling things out, and so the motivation to change at this point isn’t great enough.” The complicated politics of South Africa’s young democracy leaves much for consideration, including possible hope for the future. “There’s still a lot to figure out and a lot of it comes down to financing and politics. There is a lot more wealth in South Africa and if that wealth can be allocated at least in part to making steady progress on this, then that I think is the degree to which that will change,” Altringer said. The movement toward sustainability, then, is just one lens through which to see the potential for progress in South Africa: greater equality and distribution of wealth and resources, the changes still to come. Sophie Grais ’14 is an English major in Silliman College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.tyglobalist.org
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south africa 21 left nearly 60 dead and hundreds wounded. Since hostility is largely directed towards black Africans from outside the country, some refer to the phenomenon as “Afrophobia.” Unsurprisingly, violence against foreigners has predominately occurred in poor areas where fears of economic competition are greatest.
shifting policies towards asylum Awaiting Asylum The seekers in South Africa By Rachel Brown
emmed in between a thin metal fence and the thick walls of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Customs House office, a long line of expectant refugees and asylum seekers snakes along the edge of a busy Cape Town highway. In some spots, entire families huddle in line, wrapped in dark sweaters which insulate them from the late fall chill. The children have likely been pulled from school, and the parents have likely taken off work. Many in line have been waiting all day, or all day for many days, to renew their asylum seekers permits. A few weeks later, in an effort at crowd control, guards douse a similar line in the same spot with water from a fire hose. Most of those in line have not been recognized as refugees by the South African government, but rather have been given asylum seekers permits and await interviews that will determine their refugee status. And that wait can be long. Meanwhile, asylum seekers permits, which allow them to legally live, work, and study in South Africa, must be renewed every few months in a process that can require days in line and often a little bribery. Conditions for waiting refugees and asylum seekers have improved somewhat since Adonis Musati, a Zimbabwean, died of starvation after reportedly sleeping in a cardboard box while waiting outside the DHA refugee office for a month. However, many challenges remain fall 2013, issue 1
The line of refugees and asylum seekers waiting outside the Department of Home Affairs Office at the Customs House on the Foreshore in Cape Town (Rachel Brown/TYG). and these challenges are mounting. South Africa’s immigration laws provide limited paths to accommodate economic migrants, which increases pressure on the asylum system. As Kathryn Hoeflich, the director of the Cape Town Refugee Centre, an organization that assists refugees and asylum seekers, explained, “the asylum process is fairly well broken.” The process is breaking down further after the closing of Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) in the cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth. RROs are administered by the DHA and are the sites where refugees and asylum seekers receive and renew their documents. The closure of the Cape Town RRO meant that no new permits could be issued in Cape Town, however existing asylum seekers’ permits can be renewed at the DHA Customs House office. In recent years South African cities have received an influx of refugees, putting pressure on urban RROs. In 2009, South Africa received approximately 220,000 applications for asylum – comparable to the number of applications received in all of Europe – making it the top destination in the world for asylum seekers. A large number of those seeking asylum were fleeing turmoil in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, and especially Zimbabwe. South Africa, with a higher standard of living than surrounding nations, has become a
destination of choice for both asylum seekers, those fleeing persecution in their homelands, and economic migrants, those searching for better financial opportunities or jobs. Such a large influx of immigrants – both economically and politically motivated – has led to competition for employment and resources with existing residents, and this has contributed to xenophobia within South Africa. Among some struggling South Africans there is a perception that migrants are taking jobs, homes, and social services away from native-born residents.
he continued hostility immigrants face stands in stark contrast to the ample accommodations made for refugees and asylum seekers under South African law. “On the face of it, the situation looks very good in terms of protection and access to asylum,” explained Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, head of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Program at the organization Lawyers for Human Rights. In 1996, following the end of apartheid and the country’s first fully democratic elections, South Africa ratified the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, and in 2000, South Africa’s Refugees Act was implemented. These documents were signed by the new government’s leaders, some of whom had once fled political persecution in South Africa and become refugees and exiles themselves. For example, former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki spent 28 years in exile. Today, asylum seekers are granted freedom of movement and are able to work while waiting for a verdict on whether they will receive refugee status. Moreover, unlike in many African nations, they are not required to live in camps. But great policies on paper do not always translate into practice. As Hoeflich points out, “the Refugee Act is a lovely piece of policy and the constitution is amazing, but South Africa struggles with the imple-
mentation.” Charles Mutabazi, the Director of the Agency for Refugee Education, Skill Training and Advocacy (ARESTA) in Cape Town, seconded this analysis. Mutabazi, like many asylum seekers, fled to South Africa from the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. The challenge, he explained, is “to bridge the gap between the policy and the policy implementation.” Unfortunately, rather than implementing its policies, the government may be opting to change them.
pon arrival in South Africa, asylum seekers have 14 days to present themselves at an RRO to file for a permit. In mid-2011, there were RROs in six South African cities (Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Musina). That year, the RROs in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg were closed, and in July 2012, the Cape Town office, the only RRO in the Western Cape, was also closed. The government claims that the Cape Town office was closed because the lease on the building expired and that neighboring businesses considered the center to be a public nuisance. A new RRO has opened in Pretoria and absorbed some of the cases from Johannesburg, but the three closures are being challenged in court by organizations including Lawyers for Human Rights and the Scalabrini Centre, an organization that assists migrants in Cape Town. Many opponents of the RRO shutdowns, including the Scalabrini Centre’s Corey Johnson, believe that the closures are part of a broader strategy that is designed to move the processing of incoming refugees – and thus the refugees themselves – towards the border and away from major cities.
ressed in a flowing rose pink headscarf and dress, and accentuating her speech with arcs of henna-stained fingertips, a Somali refugee and the head of a Somali women’s association in Cape Town, explained the needs of her group. These included physical objects such as desks and computers, as well as less tangible wishes, such as greater understanding between involved groups . Unfortunately, with Somali immigrants among those most harmed by xenophobic attacks, achieving understanding has not been easy. Manifestations of xenophobia range from small slights, such as whispers of “makwerekwere,” a babble-language term for foreigners often used when passengers from Zimbabwe or the Congo sit down on a minibus, to fullscale attacks such as those in May 2008 that
The Department of Home Affairs Marabastad Refugee Reception Office in Pretoria (Rachel Brown/TYG).
To replace the urban offices, the government proposes to open a new reception office in Lebombo, near the border with Mozambique. In 2012, Mkuseli Apleni, the Director General of the DHA, argued that such an office would actually be more convenient for asylum seekers since it would allow them to file applications upon first entering South Africa, and save them from having to “travel across the country to lodge their claims at a refugee Reception Centre within the stipulated 14 days.” However, this rationale fails to take account of the fact that permits need to be renewed on a regular basis. As Marilize Ackermann, an advocacy officer at the Scalabrini Centre explained, “the whole point of having the offices all over is so that people can have their claims administered wherever they are living, wherever their children are in school.” If asylum seekers are forced to travel to the border every few months to renew their permits, not only will their professional and family lives be disrupted, but some may find it so difficult that they simply let their permits expire. Others may decide that they have no choice but to relocate to border areas. According to a 2012 report by the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants, to prevent a humanitarian crisis with asylum seekers on the border, the government may need to provide food, shelter, and health care in informal refugee camps. During the court case over the closure of the Cape Town RRO, government documents emerged that identified border crossings where temporary refugee camps could potentially be situated. In media statements, the DHA maintains that there is no plan to move towards a refugee camp system. But any policy changes that do make it more difficult for asylum seekers to live and work in urban areas may discourage migrants from heading to South Africa. As Ackermann put it, “if it’s not attractive then people won’t come here.” South African courts have, thus far, ordered the DHA to reopen the RROs in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The DHA has appealed the Cape Town case, and for now both RROs remain closed. According to RamjathanKeogh, “They [the DHA] still seem to be very determined to close those offices and move asylum processing to the border.” The asylum seekers and refugees, who have already moved far, may find themselves following the RROs and be on the move yet again. Rachel Brown ’15 is an Ethics, Politics, and Economics major in Saybrook College. Contact her at email@example.com.
Empty seats of the Justices in the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Johannesburg. The court was built on the site of a former prison. (Zoe Rubin/TYG).
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Awash With Amnesty
Examining the mixed legacy of South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission By Zoe Rubin
hildren’s collages paper the walls of the Amy Biehl Foundation’s conference room. Cut-up construction paper and thick swabs of paint depict scenes of families standing hand-in-hand in front of their homes in Cape Town’s townships, where small shacks of corrugated tin or feeble wood cover miles of barren land in a vast dusky sea. The Amy Biehl Foundation, which runs afterschool sports and arts outreach programs for youth in these townships, was created by those who know intimately the devastating effects of youth and promise cut short. In South Africa’s fraught political landscape, the unlikely partnership underlying the Foundation has become a model for how tremendous acts of amnesty can individually shape post-apartheid reconciliation. But it remains to be seen whether South Africans society can live with the high price of forgiving its past. Ntobeko Peni, the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Director of Programming, grew up in Langa, perhaps the poorest of Cape Town’s townships, at the close of the apartheid era. At the age of twelve, Peni would collect glass bottles for the neighborhood’s teenagers, knowing that they would be turned into Molotov cocktails and hurled against the South African riot police. At the age of the fifteen, he remembers, “you wanted to be the one to throw them.” And three years later, on August 25, 1993, Peni was elected chairperson during a heated meeting of the newly reformed Langa High School Unit of the Pan African Students Organization (PASO), an affiliate of the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) liberation movement. Peni and about 90 companions left the meeting inflamed by a series of speeches calling for students to kill all white “settlers” and assist PAC militants in making the country un-
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governable, thus invalidating South Africa’s forthcoming African National Congress ANCbacked democratic presidential elections. Chanting the slogan, “One Settler, One Bullet,” they saw a young white woman fleeing from a smaller mob of other students. They joined her assailants, picking up stones and hurling them at her — getting closer and closer with each throw. When she fell, they swarmed around her, attacking first with punches and a brick, and then with knives. Peni and his companions thought that they had killed a white South African – a “settler.” But the woman who died that evening was an American, a Fulbright Scholar newly graduated from Stanford University who had come to South Africa to assist women’s rights groups and voter education efforts. Her name was Amy Biehl. That Peni, as well as one of his companions that night, Mzikhona Nofemela, can now work for the very foundation that honors Amy Biehl’s memory speaks to the immense promise of South Africa’s transition to democracy and, in particular, the audacity of its critical restorative judicial body — the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC granted Peni, Nofemela, and hundreds of other apartheid-era political actors amnesty for their crimes and a second chance at life in the “New South Africa.” Still, a decade after the TRC’s conclusion in 2003, South Africans now widely view the reconciliation process as incomplete and stagnant. The government agencies charged with executing the TRC’s recommendations are mired in bureaucratic gridlock. Given South Africa’s recent history of embracing amnesty and forgiveness over traditional forms of justice, today’s rampant levels of government corruption and impunity may be more than coincidental. Established by President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu immediately
following the end of apartheid in 1995, the TRC sought to uncover the complete story of the political abuses and gross human rights violations that had been committed by the South African apartheid government and resistance movements alike. In contrast to the punitive nature of the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials, the TRC’s stated objective was “to promote national unity and reconciliation in a spirit of understanding which transcends the conflicts and divisions of the past.” In exchange for honest and complete accounts of their past crimes, perpetrators of political violence committed during the apartheid era could apply for full amnesty. Ultimately, 849 of the initial 7,112 applicants were granted amnesty. Victims and their family members testified before the commissioners to the horrors that they or their loved ones had experienced and so entered their stories into the historical record. Committed on an individual and societal scale to the legal concept of the “right to know,” the TRC sought to uncover the fates of individuals who had disappeared, undergone torture, or been killed and the broader narratives of why such atrocities occurred. South Africa was certainly not the first young democracy to hold such a truth and reconciliation process. Yet the TRC’s broad mandate and international prominence far exceeded that of preceding commissions in Latin American nations like Argentina and Chile. Victims’ rights organizations, such as the Khulumani Support Group, collectively sued the nascent government to ensure that representative hearings could be nationally broadcast on television and radio networks. Following the international scope of the anti-apartheid movement, the unprecedented survey of human rights violations and astounding reconciliation process captivated a global audience.
south africa 23 Many victims and their advocates initially rejected the TRC’s premise that South Africa’s deep historical wounds would begin to heal through a public truth-seeking process, one that would occur at the expense of a traditional legal tribunal. Dr. Vinodh Jaichand, then the National Director of Lawyers For Human Rights and now a Professor of Human Rights at the University of Witwatersrand, was one such skeptic. “I didn’t think that the TRC as organized by South Africa would deliver anything substantial,” he admitted. Yet as former ANC guerillas or members of the Vlaakpaas, South Africa’s infamous paramilitary hit squad, revealed in horrific detail the murders that they had committed and the locations of their victims, Jaichand’s doubts subsided: “No court of law could even come close to getting that amount of evidence.” Amnesty applicants’ testimony often allowed families who had suffered for years from loved ones’ disappearances to at last hear accounts of their family members’ final hours and to receive their remains. Peni himself did not initially support the TRC’s mandate of amnesty and reconciliation. His political party, the PAC, had not participated in the apartheid-ending negotiations that gave rise to the restorative justice body, and so viewed the settlement as illegitimate and vilifying. But his stance was challenged by the decision of the Biehl family to support his amnesty application. “They said it wasn’t about them as Americans, but for South Africans to forgive each other,” Peni remembers. “I felt I didn’t deserve their handshake.” A few years later, an anthropologist put Peni and Nofemela in contact with the Biehls and they began to work for the Foundation. Yet now, ten years after the end of the amnesty hearings, not all TRC beneficiaries and amnesty recipients have contributed to Peni’s “New South Africa.” Peni recalls how some of his fellow former militants, who had received amnesty under the TRC, fell into crime. Armed only with those skills they had learned during their time with PASO, they lacked any formal higher education. Their talents lay in breaking and entering, in designing explosives and driving getaway cars. “There was no demilitarization of people who were involved in militancy,” Peni emphasized. “I had to say ‘this stops here.’” Unable to find sufficient work in the post-conflict society, many former militants attempted armed robberies and often returned to prison again: “People coming from my background — taught to maim and injure — are trapped in that life.” Further, most victims of apartheid-era po-
litical crimes do not feel that they have been adequately compensated for their suffering. In its final 2003 report, the Commission explicitly recommended that the South African government not award victims with one-off reparation payments but instead adopt a “needs-based” policy tailored to victims’ varying situations. As of May 2013, however, the South African government has almost finished issuing one-off payments of R30,000 (equivalent to about $2,947) to the near 17,000 individuals designated as victims by the TRC. The Khulumani Support Group, a victims’ advocacy organization that calls for far greater reparations and redress, considers both figures to be disturbingly low. Dr. Marjorie Jobson, the organization’s national director, estimated that more than 64,000 South Africans could have qualified as victims under the TRC yet could not, or chose not, to engage in the process. With a soft, melodic voice, Jobson drew out the last syllables of her carefully chosen sentences. The TRC, she sighed, was “symbolic and representative, rather than inclusive.” On the surrounding walls of the Khulumani Support Group’s Johannesburg offices, vibrant posters spotlighted the organization’s advocacy and community healing efforts. One display called for “corporate accountability,” detailing Khulumani’s ongoing US-based lawsuit against 23 multinational companies and banks, including IBM, Ford, and General Motors, that Khulumani has accused of financially backing the apartheid regime on the brink of bankruptcy. Victims rights groups have long pressed the South African government to prosecute those individuals and organizations refused amnesty under the TRC who number as many as 350. Another poster’s glossy boldface type read: “being a family of a disappeared person is a kind of daily torture.” A one-off individual grant of R 30,000 cannot compensate for an amputee’s inability to hold a full-time job, or the potential for lifelong financial stability robbed from the mother of a disappeared son. Jaichand asserted that “victims have always suffered from the unfinished business of the TRC. They weren’t asking for freedom of expression, but for education, houses, nursery schools.” Even if testifying about their ordeals could have helped apartheid victims come to terms with their pasts, what they truly needed to move on was access to tangible government support, such as education, healthcare, and mental health services in particular. Despite the TRC Report’s unequivocal call for the South African government to “render services for all
ongoing needs of victims that resulted from the violations suffered,” Jobson contended that the Ministry of Justice’s TRC Unit has “no vision for solving the problems of education, or healthcare, or housing.” Time and again, she notes, it has repeatedly spurned all efforts by civil society groups to work together. On a daily basis, the TRC Unit coordinates physical searches for designated TRC-list victims eligible for reparations and conducts exhumations and reburials of missing persons. In 1995, the now R1.1 billion President’s Fund was first established to provide reparations and aid to apartheid victims. South Africa’s Mail & Guardian reported that in 2011 the Fund paid R330,648 to cover reparations and reburials, while the same year earning a staggering near R62-million in interest alone. Lufuno Mmbadi, acting chief of the TRC Unit, asserted that the vast remainder of the 18-year-old Fund would eventually be used for community rehabilitation initiatives. Yet ten years after it began drafting the regulations that would govern such work, the TRC Unit still remains bogged down in a bureaucratic impasse, coordinating with relevant ministries such as the Departments of Basic Education, Higher Education, and Health. Mmbadi adamantly emphasized that such regulations must adhere to the needs of individual communities and require methodical care, insisting that “timeframes have been set but you find yourself pushing the goalposts.” The TRC process helped to piece together a clearer understanding of realities of the apartheid era, but it also created an unprecedented lack of accountability in both the government and daily life. Today, the same streak of impunity still permeates South African society, from the notorious violence of the state police force to the perilous working conditions of the mining industry. For some, like the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Ntobeko Peni, the past two decades have been a time of rapid change and opportunity. Thousands of others, however, still languish, waiting for their government to live up to its word. The ultimate evaluation of the TRC model may not be felt in this young democracy for many years. For now, however, Jobson’s words give voice to a common sentiment. “People said that if you were going to have reconciliation, you needed amnesty and reparations,” she recalled, “but we’ve got a lot of amnesty and very little else.” Zoe Rubin ’16 is in Timothy Dwight College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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The Most Dangerous Game
How Botswana’s proposed hunting ban will affect the nation’s economy and culture
By Daniel Kemp
Owner Donatella Faggioli determines the exchange value of a bartered bottle of wine (courtesy Whitney Richelle/http://blog.studentsville.it).
fall 2013, issue 1
Clockwise from top left: Gazelles, a giraffe, and rhinoceroses in the Mokolodi Nature Reserve in southern Botswana (Katy Osborn/TYG).
len Geeves sat calmly at a picnic table near the entrance to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, located just south of Gaborone, Botswana, unfazed by the heat. “Less than two years ago we could have sold them all alive to private landowners within Botswana,” Geeves said. “Now no one will buy them.” Geeves, the conservation manager of the 30 square kilometer park, was explaining the mass killing of impala that will take place the next week in the reserve. Due to overstocking, certain game are typically captured and sold to help populate Botswana’s seemingly endless public lands. This year, however, at least 100 impala will be killed on the spot. When President Ian Khama announced a nationwide hunting ban in November 2012, Geeves knew it would cause problems for Mokolodi. The ban, passed in response to surveys by environmental NGOs that pointed to sharp decreases in wildlife, led to a plummeting demand for impala in the following months. The ensuing overstock forced the nature reserve to begin a culling process in late May. The ban, which does not include hunting on the country’s small number of private game ranches, will go into effect on January 1, 2014. The decision has already caused significant controversy in the country for its potentially negative impact on the local economy. Tourism accounts for 12% of Botswana’s GDP, with much of that revenue coming from hunting. Weeklong hunting safaris cost an average of $10,000, more than three times the cost of a similar photo safari. A ten-day leopardhunting safari can contribute up to $40,000 to the local economy. While the Botswana government hopes that photo-tourism will be able to fill the economic void that may be caused by the ban, many are less optimistic. “Hunters spend in excess of $100,000 per trip. Photographers will not spend that kind of money,” Melville Saayman, professor and tourism researcher at South Africa’s NorthWest University said. “The government wants to attract big spenders. This is in complete contrast with what they want to achieve.” But while the Botswana government hopes to retain high numbers of wealthy tourists, they are also looking to expand the middle class tourism market – a necessary step toward diversifying the industry. “We’re helping the communities set up campsites for tourists,” said Dovas Sualys, Regional Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone. “There is a big trade in game drives and camping.” Hunting has been essential to the country’s rural population, but Sau-
south africa 25 lys hopes government programs will help them adjust to life after the ban. The government’s Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) program is dedicated to training formerly hunting-dependent communities to put their wildlife resources to different uses, such as attracting photo-tourists. Considering Botswana’s large size and highly rural population, the CBNRM program is taking on a very ambitious project that, if successful, would increase Botswana’s appeal to middle class tourists, while benefiting rural communities. Government programs like CBNRM are a good step in easing the transition to huntingfree tourism, but doubts remain regarding the government’s preparedness, especially regarding poaching. There is a real danger that local economic slumps could lead to poaching by indigenous populations for food and illicit trade. Both Geeves and Saayman expect poaching to increase in the coming years. “Kenya implemented similar legislation a few years ago and poaching began to increase,” Saayman said. “I think the ban will be lifted in a few years. The pressure on the government will be too big and they’ll have to act.” Despite all of the controversy, President Khama’s commitment toward conservation remains intact. He recently banned foreigners from fishing outside of licensed fishing lodges. His personal involvement with Wilderness Safaris, a luxury safari organization that promotes wildlife conservation, has also received attention in the local press. His decision to use Botswana’s military to fight poachers further establishes him as a president who will work aggressively for conservation. In his speech announcing the hunting ban, Khama said that trophy hunting was “no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna as a national treasure, which should be treated as such.” The hunting ban will help position Botswana as a promoter of eco-friendly tourism, but the full costs of doing so are not yet clear. Even with more than a year to prepare for its implementation, the ban will likely come as a cultural and economic shock to the country. With little word from the government on how they will deal with many of the ban’s potentially negative effects, controversy will continue to grow. Hunting in Botswana will likely be reinstated in the years to come. Daniel Kemp ’15 is a Film Studies major in Morse College. Contact him at daniel.kemp@ yale.edu.
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A church poster raises awareness about the prevalance of domestic abuse and rape in South Africa.(Dianne Lake/TYG).
The War on Domestic Violence
Strong women battle domestic violence and empower others despite By Dianne Lake social challenges and legal injustices.
he individual woman has to be resilient in order to survive.”- Nuraan Osman, Ihata Women’s Shelter.
In the center of the room, sitting at the end of a semi-circular table facing a large podium, the South African Police Service (SAPS) awaited their impending roast. Next to the SAPS sat the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service, a task force created to oversee the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), prepared with a carefully detailed outline of the police service’s failings. Parliamentary members eager to pepper the South African Police Service with questions about their continuous blunders finished off the semi-circle, and members of various NGOs working for women’s rights filled the rest of the room’s seats. The committee chair, seated behind the podium, set a no-nonsense tone from the meeting’s start by scolding the SAPS representatives for not having their commander present. fall 2013, issue 1
On that morning, the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee of Police was receiving a pivotal report on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act from the Civilian Secretariat. It was both a powerful call to action and a demand for accountability – evidence of a desperate hope and need for concrete progress and improvement. In 2011, the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service was mandated to monitor the compliance of the Domestic Violence Act by the SAPS and to make recommendations for changes and disciplinary actions on cases of non-compliance. This was their first report tabled before parliament. The DVA was created to provide an accessible legal tool to stop domestic abuse. South Africa has the highest reported rate of domestic violence in the world, with approximately 60,000 South African women and children suffering domestic violence per month in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. According
to Nuraan Osman, the director of the Ihata Women’s Shelter in Cape Town, “a woman is violated every 30 seconds in South Africa.” Sexual violence creates immense barriers for girls seeking education, work, and the basic right to healthy daily lives without constant fear of being sexually assaulted. The domestic violence crisis in South Africa attracted international attention earlier this year following the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend, South African track star and double amputee Oscar Pistorius. Despite growing awareness of the issue, more action is needed to reduce the high incidence of domestic violence throughout South Africa. Though the DVA is well written, a wide range of challenges has affected its implementation. In a young democracy such as South Africa, the blame for poor implementation of a law dealing with gender roles lies not only with the South African Police Service but also with a society deeply root-
south africa 27 ed in a history of violence and patriarchy. Intimate partners and male relatives perpetrate most acts of domestic violence. In cases in which women have the courage to seek help from authorities, many fall into the same patriarchal trap. Police officers often do not take domestic violence seriously and male religious leaders sometimes tell victims that rape within a marriage is not a crime, and consult with the perpetrators instead. According to Osman, “women have not been taught that no religion condones abuse. Often times women seek assistance from the clergy and are told that you should take the abuse of your husband because he is your provider.” According to Osman, women are dangerously manipulated into believing that society and religion condones abuse, and the clergy are further perpetuating the idea that a husband has complete power over his wife. “Religious leaders should acknowledge the need for shelters, because even though they are faced with daily cases of domestic violence, they are not sufficiently schooled in the dynamics of gender based violence.” A similar lack of knowledge and awareness impedes the work of the South African Police Service in the implementation of the DVA, as many members of SAPS have been insufficiently trained in the content and implementation of the Act. At one point during the presentation to Parliament, Dianne Kohler Barnard, a member of Parliament been repaired. As I stood by the bridge— one of North Korea’s few links to the outside world—I saw a truck heading toward the other side. The sun had already sunk; the truck became smaller and smaller until, fi-
“It’s infuriating to hear that there are victims who have to go and serve the protection orders themselves. Why don’t you just give them a gun and shoot them? Because in many instances it’s a death sentence.” ~ Kohler Barnard, member of Parliament.
and the shadow minister of police, gasped in fury and disgust when it was revealed that in some cases women were sent by the police to serve their protection orders themselves. “It’s infuriating to hear that there are victims who have to go and serve the protection orders themselves,” Kohler Barnard said during a break in the presentation. “Why don’t you just give them a gun and shoot them? Because in many instances it’s a death sentence.” According to Kohler Barnard, the problem lies where the power is: “Nobody has the right to instruct SAPS to do this stuff, so nothing happens. We’ve already passed the bill. It’s law. What more can we do? It’s just not taken seriously.” In an environment where domestic violence is not always taken seriously and in which women constantly experience abuse, exposure to HIV, and an unresponsive justice system, it is remarkable when women stand up for their rights. Though the government and civil society are not fulfilling their responsibilities to protect women and women’s rights, women across the country are organizing shelters for survivors of domestic violence and stepping in to support those whose rights have been violated. The Ihata Shelter is one such group. Inside the gates of the shelter, which is run by Nuraan Osman, colorful pieces of repurposed material decorate a blooming garden and giggles and playful screams emanating from the day care echo in the background. Other shelters around Cape Town, including the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, and St. Anne’s Home, provide similar atmospheres of growth and empowerment. The women’s shelters in South Africa are making an active effort to conquer their victims’ troubles through empowerment. Most shelters provide residential care, medical support, childcare, and legal and economic empowerment services, all without any cost to the victims. However, there is a general consensus between the women directing the shelters that women’s rights are not being championed in South Africa; that the government is not adequately supportive of shelters’ work and police are not properly trained to help victims of domestic violence. There are only sixtyfour women’s shelters in all of South Africa, and all of these are independently run. The government run shelters, known as Khuselekas, are extremely ineffective and only three Khuselekas exist throughout the country. Even the organizations that do exist have been forced to shrink due to financial constraints, and less money is available
for women’s work. Most women’s shelters in South Africa are barely funded by the government, if at all. With lack of resources and independent economic stability, poor women face the biggest challenge and are subject to a repeat cycle of domestic violence that adversely affects their children. Despite the constant setbacks, the dedication of shelter staff to their work continues because they are motivated by the premise of giving back regardless of the costs. The six women leading the Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement shared their motivations for continuing in this line of work: “It’s a fulfillment that’s worth more than money, when you see a woman being empowered,” said Joy Lange of St Anne’s Home. For Jenny Arendorf, the director of A Place of Hope women’s shelter, motivation comes from helping women find their self-worth: “For somebody to realize ‘I’m not that piece of rubbish somebody else told me I was all these years. I have worth. I have potential.’ THAT is a feeling that no one else can give you.” All these women felt fulfilled by seeing other women empowered, and work hard to actively change their society into one that will be better for their own children. As the presentation concluded in Parliament, the committee chair ordered the South African Police Service to return to the next review with a detailed progress report of the issues addressed. Attendees departed the presentation with a hope that the next review of the implementation of the DVA would not simply be a repeat of the last. Arendorf knows that the goal is clear: “I want this society in which I live in to be better. I’m an African child, and I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to be here, but the present violence is what I’m working to eradicate so that they can live in a better society.” The South African government has made great strides in creating laws that give more opportunities to women but those laws face the same challenge as the Domestic Violence Act: implementation. “Equality is quantified in the law, but not applied in reality,” said Ilse Ahrends, the psychologist and empowerment manager of the Saartjie Baartman Women Centre. The right things are said but not done. The shadow of apartheid and conservatism continues to pose a threat to women throughout the country. Dianne Lake ’16 is in Ezra Stiles College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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south africa 29
Too Pale, Too Male:
Sparks Fly Over Race and Admissions By Emma Goldberg
The University of Cape Town is one of South Africa’s top universities and is remarkably open about its affirmative action policies. (Emma Goldberg/TYG).
ophie Lalla tosses her backpack and skateboard down onto the library steps. She sits down and gazes out over the University of Cape Town (UCT)’s central campus, a scenic expanse punctuated by lush rugby fields and ivycovered classrooms. Students are gathered in small clusters, some giggling and many hard at work—after all, they’re enrolled in what many call the top university in Africa. “You know, I could never have gotten into this place if I were white,” Lalla says. Her friend Gordon chuckles, rolling his eyes. “No really,” Lalla insists. “In high school my marks were good but they weren’t perfect. I’m at one of the best schools in the world, but I got in because I applied as someone non-white. That’s the truth.” Lalla isn’t the only student heavily attuned to the University’s affirmative action program. UCT’s administration is remarkably open about their race-based admissions policy. To be admitted, white students must have the equivalent of straight A’s, while black and colored (mixed race) students are accepted with much lower grade point averages. White students applying for a bachelor of medicine, for instance, must have a minimum Admission fall 2013, issue 1
Point Score of 540 out of 600, colored students must have a minimum of a 500, and black students may be admitted with a 480. The policy isn’t hush-hush—in the University’s prospectus, admission cutoffs are listed by race. “Historically, UCT was a largely white, elitist institution,” said Director of Admissions Carl Herman. “The current admissions policy is geared toward transforming the profile of the student body. If we didn’t have an affirmative action policy, our student population would be white and Indian.” South Africa’s troubled education system has problems far outside the scope of UCT admissions policy. In 2013, only 21 percent of high school graduates in South Africa earned grades good enough to meet the standards for any of the nation’s colleges, and University of Cape Town professors say that even students who attended affluent high schools struggle to perform academically at the post-secondary level. Furthermore, the educational segregation enforced during apartheid lingers in elementary and high schools, so the academic opportunities accessible to students are defined heavily by race. In 1953, the South African government implemented the Bantu Education Act, impos-
ing racial segregation on educational institutions. The government was able to enforce educational segregation easily because of the country’s geographic divisions; major cities like Cape Town were kept predominantly white, and black communities were forced to live in underdeveloped townships. Township schools were neglected, and the Minister of Native Affairs who designed the Bantu system declared his goal of ensuring that black students did not receive a proper education. Today, predominantly black high schools remain under-resourced and poorly staffed, according to Sam Musker, a Johannesburg high school student who leads an education equality nonprofit called the Johannesburg Junior Council. Musker said that 93 percent of black public schools don’t have libraries and 90 percent don’t have computer centers. White students, on the other hand, primarily attend highend public schools called “Model C schools,” which have ample textbooks and technology. Model C schools are found in predominantly white neighborhoods, and often get more government funding because their students achieve higher scores on standardized tests. “My school in Johannesburg did not have enough resources,” said Lucas Man, who at-
tended a predominantly black school before transferring to the prestigious African Leadership Academy, where he is currently in his first year of high school. “Teachers didn’t attend class regularly. There were broken windows and leaking pipes, so the infrastructure didn’t motivate students to work hard.” The University of Cape Town’s administration maintains that a race-based admissions policy is the only way to heal the wounds created by decades of racial segregation. But today’s students, many of whom were born as the apartheid was ending, are deeply divided over the merits of affirmative action. Both black and white students criticize the policy, pointing to the racial tensions it creates, particularly in high schools. Jay Benson, a white third-year university student, said that at his high school students competed heavily to gain admission to University of Cape Town. They often discussed the school’s affirmative action program, complaining that it was unjust and a form of “reverse racism.” “White students would get mad and say they didn’t have a fair chance to get into university, and black students disliked affirmative action because they felt like they were getting free passes, like getting into UCT was an empty success,” Benson said. Meanwhile, student Gordon Hening said he and his friends have coined the phrase “too pale, too male,” joking about the unjust disadvantages white males face in university admissions and even job applications, given that South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment program has implemented affirmative action in the workplace. Racial tensions run even deeper at the University of Stellenbosch, a school several miles outside of Cape Town. At Stellenbosch, resistance to the college’s affirmative action program remains strong and widespread, but regardless the student body demographics have shifted radically in recent years. In 1990, the year the dismantling of apartheid began, black students constituted only 5.4 percent of Stellenbosch’s student body. Today, this group represents 33 percent of Stellenbosch students, and the Vice-Chancellor of the University has committed to raising the number to 50 percent by 2018. The University is working to make its student body more reflective of the country’s overall demographics, given that more than 79 percent of South Africa’s population is black. “We want to break down the perception that only white Afrikaans students go to Stellenbosch,” said Celeste Nel, the Deputy
Director of Stellenbosch’s Center for Prospective Students. “We’ve seen other institutions diversify their student body, and we started a little late, but Stellenbosch has never been more ready for transformation.” White students at Stellenbosch have voiced strong opposition to the university’s race-based admissions policy. Gerhard Keuck, a white student at the university, called the affirmative-action program unfair, and said that since he and his peers played no role in constructing the apartheid, they should not have to suffer the consequences of overly competitive admissions processes. Student Luvuyo Mjoto said many of his classmates worry that as Stellenbosch grows more diverse, the campus culture will change and the Afrikaans language—spoken primarily by white students—will die out. “If you want us to be totally honest,” said white Stellenbosch student Russel Packard, “we don’t like this affirmative action policy.” He gestured toward a large group of his friends. “None of us think it’s fair.” But the policy faces opposition from all sides—while students like Packard and Keuck bemoan its injustice, others claim that affirmative action does not go far enough in compensating for the evils of apartheid. Critics maintain that affirmative action doesn’t actually help the underprivileged black citizens who suffered most under apartheid. At the University of Cape Town, according to Benson, most black students benefiting from affirmative action come from wealthy families and elite communities. “Race is not a fair way to determine who’s been educationally disadvantaged by apartheid,” said David Benatar, a philosophy professor at the University of Cape Town and an outspoken critic of the school’s race-based admissions policy. Some recommend redesigning affirmative action programs by crafting policies that favor students based on socioeconomic background rather than race. Others, such as Musker, say that any type of affirmative action program is problematic. Musker’s chief argument: by focusing entirely on diverse university admissions, the government has avoided fundamentally reforming the education system and building high schools with better resources and staff. He recognizes that at present affirmative action is the most effective method for diversifying college campuses, but he hopes that the government will begin tackling the source of educational inequities to ensure that the country can progress to a point where
affirmative action is no longer necessary.“ Under the status quo the country is too reliant on affirmative action and the government has avoided dealing with the root causes of inequality,” Musker said. “We need to be moving toward a society where affirmative action is no longer necessary so that we can have diversity and justice. We want to end the perception that black students are in university only because of government quotas.” Advocating for a more sustainable solution to educational inequality, organizations like the Johannesburg Junior Council and Equal Education have decided to take South Africa’s Department of Basic Education to court. These non-profits are pressing Minister of Education Angie Motshekga to revise and implement a document called the Minimum Norms and Standards Act, which would dictate the basic level of infrastructure that schools need in order to function properly—including toilers, running water, libraries, electricity and perimeter security. Judge Dukada of the Bhisho High Court will hear Equal Education’s case against Minister Motshekga in the coming months, and the outcome of the case will determine the fate of the Minimum Norms and Standards bill. As the country awaits the court’s decision, the national education system is increasingly becoming a platform for larger debates about the pervasive nature of racism in post-apartheid South Africa. University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch students say affirmative action has become a frequent topic of conversation, forcing students to reevaluate their own attitudes on inequality. And even as the country struggles to address the tensions bubbling on college campuses, South Africans recognize that the battle over affirmative action is only the first step in the country’s long process of post-apartheid unification. Anima McBrown, a black University of Cape Town student, said current controversy over affirmative action is indicative of much larger challenges the country has to tackle regarding race and prejudice. “Because South Africa has this label of being a rainbow nation, people try to pretend there is harmony and unity,” McBrown said. “But in reality, race is a big boogeyman that looms over everything. And in the end, you can make the student body diverse, but you can’t force people to believe in diversity and tolerance unless they really commit to it.” Emma Goldberg ’16 is in Saybrook College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.tyglobalist.org
photo essay 31
By Amelia Earnest
he words spill across the front door in permanent marker.
“God bless this house and those that are inside the house. Please do not vandalise my house. I’m begging you.” The message pleads with would-be intruders — choose another shack, victimize a different family. Tariro’s home is four sheet metal walls, two windows, and a tin roof. Her shack is one in a row of thousands. Each leans against the next, a tottering maze fall 2013, issue 1
of card houses stretching to the horizon. Tariro lives in Khayelitsha, a township whose scramble for modernity shows up wherever you look: a woman walks down a dirt road balancing a knock-off handbag on her head; a tap gushes clean water alongside flooded chemical toilets; a satellite dish perches on a shelter constructed from shipping crates, as others wait for the wires and freshly-hewn electrical poles to reach their neighborhood. Less than twenty miles away, smoggy twilight is fading into darkness as I arrive at
Rondebosch. My eyes dart left, then right, searching for shadows in the honeyed glow of the streetlights. Finding myself alone, I dig a ring of jangling keys from my backpack. I pass through one electric fence, forty meters of barbed wire perimeter, and two scanning-activated entrances. A final two doors — both barred and bolted — and I’m in. For all its barriers, Rondebosch is not a nuclear development site. Nor is it a maximum-security prison. Rondebosch is a middle class suburb of Cape Town.
Translated from Afrikaans, apartheid is “the state of being apart.” From 1948 to 1994, this “apartness” established literal and figurative separations between four racial groups: natives, whites, Coloureds (mixed of Malay or Indian descent), and Asians. The apartheid-era government evicted non-whites from the prosperous districts of Cape Town, sending 3.5 million people into the newly founded, all-black Bantustan territories of the Eastern Cape. Some of the displaced, however, remained in the Western Cape. They were relocated to previously unsettled and barren tracts of land outside of the city, to townships like Khayelitsha. Non-physical divisions also pervaded society. Buses, benches, and cinemas were separated by race, assuring that even where physical walls did not pervade, the division of public spaces prevented the mixing of the races. The desperation and lack of opportunity inherent in township life turned many people to crime. Pass laws controlling the movement of blacks, however, confined the increasing violence to within the township walls, concealing it from the outside world.
Clockwise from top left: (1) Tariro’s front door in Khaylitsha, enscribed with her plea for the safety of her home; (2) A front door protected by a wrought iron gate Rondebosch; (3) A coil of barbed wire snakes around a Rondebosch apartment building; (4) A security gate in Kalk Bay, a popular seaside tourist destination.
photo essay 33
32 photo essay Shifting Walls More than two decades since the collapse of apartheid, the legacy of its division continues to shape Cape Town. The ashes of apartheid birthed a thriving middle class of non-whites. Some members of the new black middle class have flocked to formerly white suburbia. Others remain in the townships, building tidy pastel homes that sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the chaotic slums of the apartheid era. With the slow demise of racial segregation in Cape Town, economic divisions separating the races also began to lessen. Families in modern, middle or upper class neighborhoods — whether white, black, Coloured, or Asian — began adopting additional security measures, barricading themselves (and their newfound wealth) away from the crime lurking in the outside world. In a UN evaluation of 60 countries, South Africa was ranked second for assault and murder per capita and first for rape per capita. As a result, the middle and upper classes hole up in gated communities and cloak themselves behind guard dogs, electric fences, and 24-hour private security patrols. Because police are widely considered too unreliable or too slow to be effective, affluent communities hire private security forces. The use of personal security has become so popular, in fact, that private security guards currently outnumber official policemen in South Africa nearly two to one. There are, however, few private security patrols in Khayelitsha. Residents complain that criminals are rarely apprehended, gang activity hinders convictions, and that a weak street police presence has left victims of assault or rape screaming to deaf ears. Class distinctions, once a matter as clear as black and white, have blurred. It is no longer obvious whom the literal and figurative walls of South Africa are safeguarding, or against whom. The middle and upper classes wear the badge of privilege in subtler ways — in weekly visits from domestic workers, in the trimmed hedges of a tidy suburban lawn, in the gates, guards, and deadbolts protecting the “haves” from the dangerous desperation of the “have-nots.”
Clockwise from top left: (1) Private security forces monitor a protest in Cape Town; (2) The key ring required to access Amelia’s office in Rondebosch; (3) A woman scans her fingerprint to unlock the gated parking lot; (4) Gangs hold a violent grip on Khayitsha’s youth. Here, graffitied threats mark a wall.; (5) A boy walks to school in Khayelitsha, wearing his backpack it on his front to protect it from theft; (6) A spikey iron fence and beware of dog sign deters trespassers. fall 2013, issue 1
Walls Upon Walls With this project, I hoped to capture some of the measures taken by South Africans to guard against those living outside of their walls. Communities are shaped largely by the presence or absence of walls — locked walls that permit women to use the bathroom without fear of rape, walls that keep murderers off the streets and walls that make it so I need a janitor’s key ring just to enter my flat. Darkness falls on Rondebosch as I walk home. Once inside my fortress, I turn out the light and drowse, barricaded in brick, floodlights, and barbed wire. Two blocks down the street, neat rows of sedans gleam in the moonlight. A patrolman paces in front of the parking lot’s fingerprint scanning-activated gate. A German Shepherd barks in the distance. In Khayelitsha, Tariro tucks her children into bed, protected by tin walls, the lock on her hollow wooden door, and the sincerity of the appeal she scrawled across it. Amelia Earnest ’14 is a Global Affairs major in Pierson College. She can be reached at amelia. email@example.com.
Chinese Mauritians: Paradise Island’s Next Dodo?
aval Chan She Ping is a square-spectacled 50-or-so man with a round, flat face, a light blue polo with Burberry trim, and the long, leery pinkie nail characteristic of many Chinese men. I glance at the 17 questions he has drafted for me. Number 11: “It is a fact that the Chinese community, here in Mauritius, is regressing at a high pace. Over the past decade, its population has decreased from over 35,000 to about 15,000. How, as a foreigner, do you feel about it?” Hm. I don’t know. I glance at the other questions as Laval tells me how all of the next generation of Chinese Mauritians is abroad, where they think the grass is greener — but how they’re really deceiving themselves. We’re sitting in the conference room of the Nam Shun Fooy Koon Chinese Heritage Society, and there’s a photographer with his lens fixed on my face. “Next time you will hear about the dodo and the Chinese community in Mauritius —because we too are going to fade away,” says Ping. “They will have to prepare a place in the museum next to the dodo, for us.” He laughs and says he’s joking. I’m not too sure he is.
By Tao Tao Holmes
Chamarel waterfall plunges deep within the island’s prehistoric landscape. (Tao Tao Holmes/TYG).
early every child in America has heard of the dodo bird. It’s hard to forget an animal described at the time as “a mistake made by God.” But how many Americans can tell you where the dodo lived, or, more famously, died? The answer: Mauritius, 1,200 miles off the southwestern coast of Africa — a dot in the ocean that is 30 miles long, 29 miles wide and holds a population of about 1.3 million, roughly that of Manhattan. Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968, and is now trumpeted as an African democratic, economic, and multicultural success story. The island is named after a Dutchman, the people all speak French and a French Creole, and the school and government systems are British. As for the population itself, Indians (Indo-Mauritians) are the overwhelming majority at 68 percent, blacks (Afro-Mauritians, locally known as Creoles) follow at 27 percent, and the Chinese and white communities clock in at around two and one percent, respectively. Even as the Sino-Mauritians join the Pink Pigeon and Bouton Skink on the island’s list of endangered species, their influence on the Mauritian economy and culture can be felt everywhere. Chinese food is part of the national diet and Chinese companies and stores pepper the island. Sino-Mauritians hold positions in the Supreme Court, in various government ministries, in banks,
and on executive boards. The capital’s Chinatown is home to over 10 cultural and clanbased societies (such as the Nam Shun Fooy Koon), three Chinese newspapers, three pagodas, and a Saturday Mandarin school. The Chinese population in Mauritius is strikingly different from those of other Chinese in Africa: its size is shrinking as more and more leave, while on the rest of the African continent, the Chinese are arriving in droves. Sino-Mauritians are well integrated into the cultural fabric of the island, one that prides itself on “unity in diversity” in a “rainbow nation.” Meanwhile, Chinese elsewhere in Africa are said to keep to themselves. I left for Mauritius to learn the story behind a different sort of “China in Africa” — and to capture the voices of a few specimens before they, like the beloved “feathered tortoise,” go extinct.
auritius has a breathtaking, prehistoric beauty; Mark Twain once wrote, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” Mauritius was first named Ilha do Cisne, then Mauritius, then Ile de France, then again Mauritius. The Portuguese never settled the island, so you can blame the Dutch (or their rats and dogs) for the fate of the dodo. But the Dutch, after two stints plagued by endless troubles, left of their own accord, and the French and then British swooped in from there. Attractive thanks to her convenient position on the Indies trade route, Mauritius became a rest and refueling stop for ships the world over. Sugar cane became one of the island’s defining features by the 19th century and explains the ethnic hodgepodge that characterizes the island today. Under the British, almost half a million indentured servants were brought to work on the plantations after the abolition of slavery. They were mostly Indian, but they also came from Mozambique, Madagascar, China, and off captured ships. Most of the Chinese who sailed to Mauritius were voluntary migrants, to the extent that they were driven from their homeland not by white colonialists but by local economic or political hardship. Few of these first migrants, or those who came during the Japanese invasion of China, intended to stay. But for one reason or another — poverty and famine in their native counties, or later, the rise of Communism in China, — many ended up on the island for good, little more than refugees and with only the clothes on their back. They quickly set up chains of retail shops, securing all the best spots in the capital of Port Louis by 1843. In
1860, when emigration from China was legalized, the number of Chinese arrivals in Mauritius spiked — at 379 that year — and continued to rise: between 1895 and 1900, over 7,000 Chinese came into the country, mostly men. By 1860, the Chinese dominated the retail market and became “the most popular personality of the village,” writes Huguette Ly-Tio-Fane-Dineo in her French doctoral thesis, Chinese Diaspora in the Western Indian Ocean, published in 1985. Since the incomes of indentured laborers depended on the harvest and planting cycles, the Chinese shopkeepers introduced a system based on mutual trust that allowed laborers to purchase on credit. Governor Pope Hennessy, who took charge from 1883 to 1889, even stated, “The community that contributes the most to the revenue of the country, proportionally to their numbers, is the Chinese community.” The Chinese gradually left the exhausting work of retail trade and spread to other professions. In 1901, over 80 percent of the population was traders; by the 1980s, the percentage had dropped below 20. The younger generations of Chinese-Mauritians worked their way up into banking, education, business, and politics, while their parents and grandparents continued to look after a shrinking number of retail shops. These days, Chinatown is growing rundown, and most of its shopkeepers are well beyond retirement age. With new malls and supermarkets been repaired. As I stood by the bridge— one of North Korea’s few links to the outside world—I saw a truck heading toward the other side. The sun had already sunk; the truck became smaller and smaller until, fi-
“Mauritius belongs to all. There is no indigenous population, except the birds and animals. But even the birds and animals — the horse, the dog, the rat — they were brought in too. Even they are migrants.” ~ Donald Ah Chuen
offering the same wares, more and more of the shops are closing down or being sold. Even if they weren’t, there are no children around to take over the business — they are all leaving.
xtinction is the end product of a simple population equation: Number dying > Number being born. But when it comes to an adaptable niche population, like the SinoMauritians, one must append a second equation: Number leaving > Number staying. The fact that the population has collapsed in half over the last decade, as Ping and many others stressed to me, is due to both decreased population growth and increased emigration, plus almost no new immigration from China. First off, Chinese parents are choosing to have fewer children. While the families of Ping’s parents’ generation generally had eight to 10 offspring, Ping and his coevals have between one and three. Secondly, his children and their generation are nearly all going abroad. The basic reasons are threefold: One: the island’s small size and limited economy offer little to no opportunity for students interested in pursuing study of more advanced academic and professional fields. Two: in a political system and economy dominated by the Indo-Mauritian community, Indo-Mauritians are often favored for coveted positions, limiting the window for career advancement for members of other ethnic groups. Three: the inhabitants of any remote and bite-size principality are prey to island syndrome: The world is elsewhere. Indo-Mauritians, Afro-Mauritians, and Euro-Mauritians alike are drawn to more advantageous opportunities (or simply new scenery) abroad. Melanie Lai Wai is just one of many in this
younger generation of Sino-Mauritians to go abroad. She says that when you get a scholarship to go abroad, it’s published in the national papers and you become a kind of temporary celebrity. Back home for the summer after her first year at Vassar College, where she intends to study math, Wai takes me to her favorite bubble tea shop. When I ask her whether she’ll return to Mauritius after she graduates, she slowly shakes her head.
ith binoculars and magnifying glass in hand, I head into Port Louis, a small yet bustling harbor city named after France’s Louis XV, to observe the local endangered habitat. During a visit in 1836 to Mauritius on the Beagle, Charles Darwin remarked how “the various races of men walking in the streets afford the most interesting spectacle.” Darwin’s words could be repeated verbatim today. On the streets of Mauritius you can see women in black burqas, Muslim worshipers in thobes, ladies in sparkly pink saris, youngsters in checkered Catholic school uniforms, Chinese tourists in Hello Kitty T-shirts, professionals of all skin tones in sleek business attire, and then folks like me, looking bland in a crewneck and jeans. It has that special feel of New York City — that you’re in a microcosm of the world — but here, most people are brown, not white, and here, many people still wear their culture on their sleeve, rather than beneath their business suits or hipster exteriors. A few streets beyond the crowded Bazar Central, or central market in Kreol, you’ll spot the white towers and bright turquoise trim of Jummah Mosque. Walk a few meters beyond the mosque and you’ll find yourself under the red and gold arched gateway to CHINA TOWN. Chinese food stores sell Gin-
Boats unwind off the shore of Baie de Tombeau, on the western coast of the island. (Tao Tao Holmes/TYG). fall 2013, issue 1
seng Royal Jelly and buckets of bamboo shoots; medicine shops hand out herbal pain relief remedies to locals of all creed and color; restaurants dish out “mine frite” (fried noodles) and dim sum; and trinket shops display sitting Buddhas and those charms you hang on rearview mirrors. Chinese shops in the area, and across Port Louis, also sell hardware, clothing, glassware, snacks, and wholesale items, their signs easy to spot with the Chinese characters above English or French lettering. If you flip through the Chinese phonebook of Mauritius (or the regular phonebook — the whole country fits in just one), you’ll find over four pages of Li’s, over three pages of Chan’s, 12 Smiths, and zero Holmeses. “Li” and “Chan” are clan names, signifying families that come from the same progenitor, village, or even province. Thanks to this clan-centric system, Chinese arrivals just off the boats (to the surprise of the Brits) were immediately taken in by their fellow clan members, given food and shelter, and guided into the retail business. The clan-based community centers both provided a free roof for the most recent arrivals, and for the traders coming into the city from other parts of the island as they restocked their goods. These community centers still exist today, but they function now as gathering places for big celebrations, Chinese language classes, and games of ping-pong. Bigger societies like Nam Shoon Foy Koon offer daily activities such as Taichi and line dancing, frequented by the retired folk of the community. If you ask one of the retirees about her relationship with the Chinese culture, she’ll likely tell you about the many Chinese festivals, the worshiping of ancestors, the pagoda and its Chinese deities, and the importance of Chinese customs and values. It is largely thanks to Robert Townsend Farquhar, the first British governor of Mauritius, that these customs and values have endured with such strength in the island community. Several decades before Farquhar’s arrival, in 1783, the French brought over 3,000 Chinese to then Isle de France to work as agricultural laborers. The French held them under strict local laws that prevented the practice of their native customs, and the disgruntled Chinese immediately demanded repatriation, a request the French government was forced by law to respect. Farquhar in contrast, leading what must be one of the most peaceful colonial transitions in history, encouraged the different
[Left] Downtown Port Louis is an ethnic hodgepodge filled with Indo-Mauritians, Creoles, Sino-Mauritians, and a few white islanders, passing in and out of Chinese shops, big banks, and Burger King. [Right] Stores and wholesalers like Ng Cheng Hin & Co have passed from generation to generation, founded as early as the mid-19th century. But how many of them will last? (Tao Tao Holmes/TYG). races living on the island to preserve the language, habits, and cultures of their mother countries. He prescribed a government treatment “best calculated to secure their attachment” and more specifically, encourage the Chinese “spirit of enterprise,” as he wrote at the time. He emphasized the Chinese migrants’ equal right to purchase land and practice their religion and selected a Chinese “Captain” to further recruit Chinese to Mauritius and to serve as intermediary between them and the British. Farquhar even exempted the Chinese immigrants from local taxes and granted them a piece of land for burial purposes. The Chinese-Mauritian community still has a core of people who look after the preservation of their mother culture. Most of the septuagenarians remember their parents’ insistence on adhering to their roots while also adopting local ways. When Chinese-Mauritians visit China, they now often find that their tiny island community has maintained many of the Chinese traditions more closely than their mainland comrades. here’s one more thing I want to do before I leave the island: track down a member of the most well known family in the history of the Sino-Mauritian community. There’s little doubt every single Mauritian knows of them, because one of their faces is on the country’s most widely used bill: the 25-Rupee note. This face belongs to the late Sir Moi Lin Jean Ah Chuen, whose father arrived in 1887 from Guangdong, China. In 1931, Ah Chuen set up his own retail shop, the ABC Store, on a main street in Port Louis, which soon grew into an island-wide wholesale business. He spoke fluent Hakka, Cantonese, Mandarin,
English, and French, began the Chinese Daily News in Mauritius, founded the Chinese Contingent Home Guard that participated in the defense of the island in WWII, took part in constitutional conferences in London, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980. After hunting through every corner of Port Louis, I finally find Donald Ah Chuen, one of Sir Moi Lin Jean’s 11 children, at the Tertiary Education Commission, where he serves as president. He has also taken over as director of what is now the ABC Group, one of the island’s largest conglomerates, handling business in auto, food, banking, financial services, and shipping and logistics. Like the rest of the older Chinese community here, Donald is small, slender, bespectacled, and four or five inches shorter than I am. In Mauritius, the Chinese — socially, culturally, politically — have rightfully earned their place, Ah Chuen says, and they are well esteemed by the Mauritian community. He told me that his company would prefer to hire Chinese workers. But there are not enough around. I ask him what he thinks is going to happen to the Chinese population. He says that in the future, two things can happen — an influx of Chinese businesspeople and entrepreneurs, and/or an increase in marriages with Chinese mainlanders. Ah Chuen is optimistic about Mauritius’ potential as a China-Africa platform, allowing Chinese companies to team up with ones in Mauritius to access exclusive African markets. Such enterprises would, ostensibly, bring a new wave of migrants to headquarter businesses on the island. As for marriages, Ah Chuen is referring to the Sino-Mauritians who stay on the island and find Chinese wives abroad to come join them
— “because Chinese men seek Chinese wife.” Ah Chuen forgot possibility number three: Sino-Mauritians go extinct. But I decide it’s better not to share that out loud. He, like the other Sino-Mauritians I meet, is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage and values, which include honesty, discretion, and respect for elders. I ask him whether he feels more Mauritian, or more Chinese. “We are all Mauritians first, then Chinese. You have your culture, but you are Mauritian,” he says firmly. “Mauritius belongs to all. There is no indigenous population, except the birds and animals. But even the birds and animals — the horse, the dog, the rat — they were brought in too.” His eyes crinkle in a smile. “Even they are migrants.”
onald Ah Chuen reminds me that we are all, ultimately, some form of migrant. Except maybe for the dodo. And I realize that Sino-Mauritians, after all, are not dodos. While the fat island fowl (RIP) is infamous for its stupidity, flightlessness, and large rump, the Chinese Mauritians, and Chinese across the world, are known for their work ethic, adaptability, and mobility. Like any competent bird, they will migrate elsewhere. They won’t go extinct; they will simply change form. They will become Chinese-MauritianCanadians and Chinese-Mauritian-Australians. And what remnants of their past presence will they leave behind in Mauritius? The archways of Chinatown and some great dim sum, if nothing else. Tao Tao Holmes ’14 is a Global Affairs major in Branford College. Contact her at taotao. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.tyglobalist.org
The Two Sides of Turkey’s Summer Protests Political upheaval in Istanbul simultaneously frightens and inspires By Emma Banchoff
n my first Friday night in Istanbul, shouting and chanting drew me outside my apartment and into the street. At 1:30 am, masses of young men and women waved Turkish flags, and I listened as their anti-government slogans and honking cars disturbed the night stillness. A young woman came up to me as I stood on the curb of the street and, recognizing me as a foreigner, explained why the protestors’ cause was important, how Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was allegedly going against the will of the people to impose a more strictly Islamic political and social agenda. “He thinks he can take my rights away,” she said, out of breath and angry. “He is like a dictator.” I didn’t catch her name before she rolled up her pants and rejoined the crowd in the street. About half an hour later, a lone police car drove up to the barricade the protestors had built. Before it was able to come to a halt, it was overcome by men who shatfall 2013, issue 1
tered the windshield and windows, pursuing the car as it tried to escape the crowd. In my time there, I experienced two sides of the Turkish protests. There were the sensational scenes like the destruction of a police car, violent and angry, extensively covered by the international media. But then there was the sense of hope and spirit that had permeated the streets of Istanbul in the two months, a feeling of community, of solidarity and political purpose, of life with a constant undercurrent of resistance that could only be felt and experienced in person. What started as a small sit-in to protect a popular city park from being converted into a shopping mall quickly became a collective fight for freedom of expression and assembly. Taksim Square and the adjoining Gezi Park, the epicenter of the protest movement, had been the site of cultural gatherings one day and rioting the next, giving the movement a sense of unpredict-
ability and heightened level of intrigue. “You have to visit Gezi Park. It is the best place to experience Turkey’s culture,” my supervisor at work, Levent Yücel, told me two weeks into my stay. I took his advice. What I encountered at Gezi and Taksim was intoxicating — abandoned construction sites had been overtaken. The glass of the bulldozers was shattered and their bodies were painted in bright colors. Banners and flags were everywhere, on buildings and near kiosks, representing different political movements and groups. The park had been transformed into a surreal utopian town. Strings of lights hung above hundreds of tents. People lined up for free food; others nursed the injured at a medical tent. A makeshift library had been built on stacked cinderblocks, a man planted flowers in the rubble, and another cut people’s hair for a cheap price. Messages of support were
strung on clotheslines across the greenery. On stages in the park, people sang and held political rallies. Men and women danced to traditional music, floating lanterns filled the evening sky, and street vendors sold beer, flags, scarves, roasted chestnuts, and fresh fruit. The park and square were packed with every kind of person: mothers with young children, elderly women in headscarves, foreigners like me and businessmen still in their suits. Peace quickly became chaos a few days later when, while leaving a café not far from Taksim, I felt an immediate burning in my lungs, nose, and eyes. Realizing it was tear gas, I ran towards my apartment. coughing and covering my face for the entire stumble back., My skin did not stop burning until an hour after I got home. I was lucky that afternoon. Many of my friends were caught much closer to the square, and were forced to enter restaurants for shelter. One of my friends was locked
out of a restaurant and had to run from riot policemen marching down the street. A gas canister flew by his leg as he ran. Safely in our apartment, the other Yale students on the trip and I watched the news, dumbfounded by the images of flames in the park we had spent so much time in a few days earlier. Taksim and Gezi had been forcefully cleared of people, inciting a night of violent clashes in Istanbul’s streets. Late that night, police again broke up demonstrations outside our building, where protestors had set up barricades. Thick gas filled the street and lingered well after it was devoid of people. We watched from our tightly-sealed windows until even the masked police were gone. As my coworker Caterina La Rosa, a young Italian woman, put it, the use of gas had turned from a defensive technique to a “show-off of power.” The protests had become a constant backdrop for our lives there. Every night at nine PM,
pedestrians clapped and shouted and shopkeepers blew horns and banged pots in order to show their solidarity with the “Occupy Gezi” movement. I often walked down a busy shopping street and passed fifty riot policemen leaning on their shields with their helmets off and smoking, laughing, and talking together. Ten minutes later, they had already formed a new barricade against the approaching protesters. Emma Banchoff ‘16 is an Anthropology major in Branford College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Above Left to Right: (1) Turkish riot police gather near Taksim Square. (2) A group of protestors marches on the main street to Taksim. (Emma Banchoff/TYG)