To all those who wished me a joyous one…I thank Ya!!!!

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Through the Lens: On Media Freedom in South Africa

the world through a lens

Due to the festive period last year, I decided to write less about politics and to focus my energy on less mind-boggling, complex matter. So I’ve been on the easy-going route and maybe just a tad too relaxed. Yet again, it was quite easy to hit a slump after observing the outcome of the ANC National Elective Conference in Mangaung (let’s face it, politics are messy. Just ask Julius Malema).

So I’ve been laying around like a python full on its prey; rather dumbfounded and unsure which direction to take: Whether to lament at (or adopt a ‘let’s see approach) the sheer ignorance of fellow South Africans who put loyalty towards certain individuals well above common sense and their responsibility towards ensuring that future generations have solid foundations through ethical, responsible and visionary leadership. I remain undecided.

Quite simply, I was disappointed. I’ve stated before that we have a continuing knack for glorifying mediocrity. When mediocrity rears its ugly head then we take to the streets to burn down facilities that are vital to our livelihoods. Late trains? -Burn. Local businesses? –Burn and loot. Buses? Burn the motherf%ckrs down!

1apartheid

Now that we’ve got that out of the way; while I was in a colleague’s office earlier this week my eyes were fixated on a rather perverse and sadist piece of text-apparently the Rubicon speech of 1985- constituted by some of the vilest malice I’ve read about black people yet. Thankfully, after some research I found the legitimate speech by then state president P.W Botha. Though far more polished than the version I had read before, it was nonetheless “arrogant”- in the words of O.R Tambo.

It wasn’t so much the references to blacks as a violent, irresponsible group that stood out because within the context of that dispensation, such utterances were to be expected. It was the question that Botha posed to the media of the day:

“… [To the media in South Africa]:  How do they explain the fact that they are always present, with cameras et cetera, at places where violence takes place? Are there people from the revolutionary elements who inform them to be ready? Or are there perhaps representatives of the reactionary groups in the ranks of certain media?” Whose interest do you serve-those of South Africa or those of the Revolutionary elements?”

Fast forward to 2013, almost three decades later into democratic South Africa, governed by the very group that Botha warned would run the country into the ground. Voicing much contempt for the media in a 2010 interview, ANC spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu stated: “ If journalists have to be fired because they don’t contribute to the South Africa we want, let it be”- (G, Daniels, “Fight For Democracy: The ANC and The Media in South Africa”) Dear Mister Mthembu, please do elaborate what kind of South Africa you envision?

Unity in diversity...?

Unity in diversity…?

In his article titled, “Tensions rise between media, ANC-led government” on bizcommunity.com Issa Sikiti da Silva states that the ruling party wants the media “to stop their sensationalist behaviour and be more ‘patriotic’”.

Now rewind back to the Rubicon speech and await that déjà vu feeling. Listen to that all too familiar echoes of attacks on the media from two entirely different realms where those at the helm claim to uphold the ethos of democracy. Has South Africa really changed or is it simply the case of same script-different cast?

Yesterday the media was seen to be in cahoots with the so-called ‘barbaric’ elements of the day. Today, it is perceived to be in bed with liberals who have a sinister agenda against current leadership. It is hard to fathom that the very media that was paramount in highlighting black South Africans’ plight for a just and equal society to the rest of the world is being viewed with suspicion and every effort being made to effect censorship.

This then begs the question as to what the role of the media is. In addition to its informative, educational and entertainment value, media has the responsibility to “assist in the articulation and pursuit of the national interest; to monitor the performance of government with a view to preventing their deviation from clearly stated objectives and to help strengthen the economic, social and political fabric of the nation.” [Africa Leadership Forum: Excerpt from the Farm House Dialogue-1991]

While I concur with these, I am of the opinion that the latter requires collective effort from all corners of society and should, in practice, be a top-down approach. The fact that our elected leadership expects to look at the mirror to find a rosy reflection is astounding and using the media as a scapegoat even worse.

The word ‘patriotism’ now serves the purpose of emotional blackmail aimed at making the citizenry feel guilty about disclosing information that continues to harm and threaten the quality of our democracy. When will the governing clique realise that they are accountable to the people through transparency and disclosure? Perhaps the poignant question to ask would be, Dear ANC, have you taken a look in the mirror lately and really seen what you resemble? -The Rubicon speech maybe?

For Richer, For Younger

The private lives of Pippa Lee

Now, you will never see me wag a judgemental finger at most things. If anything I’m one of the most liberal and open-minded people out there. But that, of course, is just my opinion. Perhaps others will attest differently.

On Friday evening, just  hours after I had stumbled upon the self-proclaimed “#1 Sugar Daddy Dating Site”- seekingarrangement.com, Generations decided to flight a rather disturbing scene showing Queen laying cosily on her ageing lover’s chest. Never mind that he coughs a hundred times a day; can’t run past the front gate and forgets her son’s name often. Having witnessed that, I gave a throaty chuckle because frankly, I was embarrassed. LOL!

I’m just saying, it appears inter-generational relationships are quite tricky when people compel themselves to put up with things that they would rather not just so they could enjoy the finer things in life. Then again, that is just my opinion. Perhaps they do it because it’s fulfilling somehow. Who knows?

Seekingarrangement.com doesn’t quite think so. In fact the site boasts being featured in the New York Times, CNN and Dr. Phil- amongst others. On entry, the site makes it clear that escourts need not bother trying to register. They simply aren’t welcome: Poor sods, such irony. Not sure what the difference is though, hey.

While the website operates a dating service for “consenting adults to meet each other”, I really don’t understand if there is an element of maturity in two people being in a relationship calling each other “daddy” and “baby”. It’s just a tad creepy for my liking.

Secondly, the site asks the user to stipulate the amount that she requires from the sugar daddy. Whether this in itself is not tantamount to prostitution is the million rand question. Is it really possible to redeem oneself after literally selling ‘IT’?

Naturally a lot of people will argue that these things are taking place ANYWAY. So, why should some of us get their knickers in a knot worrying about such? I don’t see the problem with dating an older person but I do think there is everything wrong with doing it for financial gain. If anything, what could be a good and solid inter-generational relationship for some can be nothing but grotesque money making-sexually gratifying illusions for others.

Having failed to get through the first round of registration, I failed therefore to get the actual stats of “arrangement seekers” in South Africa. On the ground though, it is a different story. The reality is that South Africa has pathetic HIV/AIDS statistics, one of the contributing factors being the prevalence of inter-generational sex.* (Source: MARIE STOPES INTERNATIONAL)

The fact of the matter is that power relations underpin inter-generational relationships-a bargain of sorts- and we don’t need a rocket scientist to tell us which side the scale tips. Yes, it happens- a lot of the time. Unfortunately, this is one thing I’m going to wag my finger at as Inter-generational (read: transactional) sex is not something we should appear to condone. Not in a country that continues to degenerate and lose its moral core. No. Take it elsewhere, please!

Here’s to Starting Over

When I first came across the quote, “Everyday is an opportunity to start over”, I just knew it would be the one to live by. I liked it especially because a large part of my existence has been spent morphing into different shades of myself. No, not the fifty shades of grey. Nah. Maybe the many shades of happiness, darkness, fear, burn out and melancholy-even melodrama.

Hence some days I’d wake up and really wonder, “Who the heck am I?” On other days I’d just smile and think, “Damn, you’re the (wo)man!” I think though that the most important thing that the quote reminds me is that change is constant; you can either roll with the punches or stay down, there is always a choice.

So I headed to work on the first Monday of 2013, albeit feeling a bit heavy from the holidays-both mentally and physically- only to draw inspiration from an unlikely source. He drives around in a rather beat down taxi-the one I usually avoid getting into. Green- Awful colour that! On this morning he was hastily cleaning the inside of his katjeeban when I approached and asked him not to close the door so I could get in.

After exchanging pleasantries, he said something that pleasantly surprised me. He said that if he couldn’t manage the queue at the station then he would not be able to register for his course. I enquired about what he would be enrolling for: “IT”, he said:  ‘Said he had saved up enough money to go to school. Grin.

Well now, do you still think all taxi drivers are empty-headed-crap spewing-arses (excuse the pun)? As for me, I was pretty impressed by this revelation. I was smiling from ear to ear as if he would ever share his cash with me one day. Though clichéd, it really dawned on me that no goal is impossible. Coincidentally, a newspaper report at the weekend revealed that most of our country’s youth would rather stay home than take up menial jobs-more so that some are even “pricing themselves out” of jobs that they are most likely to get.

But this one threw himself into a job filled with the most crippling of stereotypes in order to achieve something bigger, and for that he deserves a Bells …oops, a round of applause. Many have defeated the odds and succeeded. They remind me that there is no such thing as failure- only false starts. Besides the man who might become an IT guru one day, here are some of the people whose stories continue to inspire me. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Lebo Gunguluza- "Ultimate Breakthrough Entrepreneur"

Lebo Gunguluza- “Ultimate Breakthrough Entrepreneur”

 

George Sombonos- Chicken Licken

George Sombonos- Chicken Licken

 

Nkhensani Nkosi- Stoned Cherrie

Nkhensani Nkosi- Stoned Cherrie

 

Sir Richard Branson- Business Magnate: Virgin Group

Sir Richard Branson- Business Magnate: Virgin Group

For me, 2013 is a “GET UP AND GO” year and it’s already off to a interesting start.