Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The 2010 FIFA World Cup came and went like a thief in the night. It brought with it misery for the people and left in its wake a tsunami of debt, destitution and increased structural inequalities that have seen the country’s poor continue to be subjected to eating the crumbs that fall off from the master’s table, the master being the elite minority who benefited from the hosting of this extravagant and unnecessary event. In this essay, I seek to highlight how the World Cup left South Africa poorer than it was before. But more than that, I seek to highlight how the media and the South African government legitimised the hosting of this luxury sporting event in the midst of an economic recession and how the people of African continent in its entirety, became victims of this propaganda.
In an article titled “A PRELIMINARY EVALUATION OF THE IMPACT OF THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP” the author of South Africa’s World Cup: A Legacy for Whom?, the activist critically dissects the implications of the World Cup and how it has increased the structural and systematic class stratification of the country. He focuses on the economic impact of the Cup on the communities and the South African labour tank in its entirety. Nearly two years after this event, it is necessary that we all take a moment to reflect on the legacy that the World Cup left behind.
The indications that the 2010 FIFA World Cup would be a problem for South Africa were evident from the very beginning. In 2008, the world was plunged into one of the biggest crises of capitalism since the Wall Street crush of 1929. This financial crisis began in the United States of America in 2006 with the beginning of the subprime mortgage crisis. One other cause of this financial crisis, according to global investor and Economist, George Soros, is “a dependence on short-term funding markets and international trade imbalances” (2008). This financial crisis led to the inevitable collapse of the global economies and affected mainly developing countries, of which South Africa is one. According to a report published by COSATU in The Shopsteward in 2011, more than 200 000 jobs in both the formal and the informal sectors were lost in the country. According to Cottle (2010) the construction sector alone shed more than 111 000 jobs in this period leading up to and after the World Cup.
 The costs of the Cup were also a point that should have been critically assessed and understood. While the costs for managing the event were covered by broadcasting rights, corporate partners who fund FIFA and both local and global corporate supporters, the South African government had to foot the bulk of the costs using public funds. These included transport, telecommunications infrastructure, health services, safety and security and the protection and enforcement of rights of global partners as well as international and local sponsors (Cottle, 2010). This should have been a clear indication of the inevitable economic instability that the Cup would bring, for any critical mind would have come to the correct conclusion that a developing country recovering from a financial crisis would not have had the financial capacity to simultaneously cover the costs of the event and continue to address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality that is characteristic of all Third World countries, particularly those with a young democracy like South Africa.
All these were factors were ignored by the government. In fact, the South African government resumed a role of being the subordinate to FIFA, allowing the megacorporation to dictate the terms of engagement and chart a path on SA territory. This reality was experienced sharply by the working-class majority that found itself completely marginalised from the economic activities of the Cup. Informal traders were not allowed to sell anything at designated World Cup stadiums. A strict law was imposed that prevented any vendors from lining the streets within 5km radium of the venues. Another group of people that was hard-hit by FIFA’s working-class marginalisation was the hundreds of locals who had used their life-long investments to build or renovate their homes so that they could host international soccer fans, a move that was initially encouraged by the government as a tool to make the public believe that the Cup would serve to benefit all citizens of the country. These people lost hundreds of thousands of rands individually, money that they had laboured for very hard for very many years, most of them in an environment that was designed for their human retardation, as the workplace under the system of Capitalism often is. But beyond that, the ordinary people could not even afford to watch the tournament live, because of the ridiculous amounts for both the tickets and transportation. The people of South Africa, who had been convinced that the 2010 FIFA World Cup was a blessing of the gods, were subjected to watching from the side-lines, on television and radio. And as if this inhumanity itself was not adequate, our people were removed from their communities in Mbombela (Mpumalanga) and Khayelitsha (Cape Town), the former to make way for the construction of Mbombela Stadium and the latter to “clear” off the highway leading from the Cape Town International Airport into the city. In Mbombela, a primary school was razed to its very foundation and children were forced to go into schools already having infrastructural problems. (Smith, 2010)
The only people who benefitted from the 2010 FIFA World Cup are the capitalists of the world, those who already have millions and billions in their coffers.  Multinational corporations like Anglo American, Avis, Bavaria Motor Works (BMW), SABMiller and Adidas, were the big winners. Others include the likes of Thornton Grant, one of the world’s biggest accounting consultancy firms, which was commissioned to do extensive research on the feasibility of South Africa hosting the World Cup back in 2003. Its declaration that the tournament would “create significant direct and indirect economic benefits for the country” (2003) must have sat well with the mafia of Zurich (FIFA headquarters).
Two years after the vuvuzelas and Waka Waka have stopped reverberating in the minds of a nation once caught in a collective state of euphoria, “South Africans have returned to their “normal” lives”, as Cottle so aptly puts it. For those in Sandton, Constantia, Umhlanga Ridge, Beacon Valley or Sabie, that life is a life of vulgar opulence and crass materialism, where the worth of a human-being is measured by the amount in his bank accounts and the number of properties that he owns. For those in Alexander, Gugulethu, Lekazi, Kwa-Mashu, Mdantsane or Soweto, that life is one where making ends meet is a herculean task, where the source of the next meal is never known. The reality of the situation is that for this group of people, aluta continua. The struggle continues…

Cottle, E. 2010. A Preliminary Evaluation of the Impact of the 2010 FIFA World CupTM in South Africa.
Smith, D. 2010. Nelspruit’s brutal inequalities test World Cup legacy. The Guardian. London (UK). [Online]. Available:
Soros, G. 2008. “The worst market crisis in 60 years”. Financial Times. London (UK)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

*(Written for ACTIVATE newspaper, a Rhodes University publication)
This past week of activity (and lack thereof) at Rhodes University begs for reflection. On the 30th of April, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) held a seminar at the Psychology major. The purpose of this seminar was to discuss the question on the nationalisation of mines. The seminar was a platform for all of us to engage this call made by the African National Congress Youth League. Those of us who participated in it gained a lot of insight from presentations made by ANCYL representatives and professors from the Politics and International Relations Department. After hours of debating and challenging problematic schools of thought, we stayed behind to tackle the issues more robustly and indeed, grew our understanding on the subject. Unfortunately, despite the attempts by the PIR Department and the PYA to mobilise the student population, few students attended.
 On the 4th of May, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and all students across institutions of higher learning embarked on nationwide protests calling for free education. These protests took place in all provinces across the country. In the Eastern Cape, the march was held at the University of Fort Hare in East London. These marches are an important and necessary step in the direction towards addressing inequalities that exist in South Africa. They must be understood in their proper context, devoid of opportunistic rhetoric that seeks to claim that SASCO and South African students in their entirety are simply holding the government hostage by playing into some undefined factional agenda. If indeed the youth of this country is holding the government at ransom (for it is not only SASCO protesting), it is not for the sake of appeasing any political faction, but for the preservation of our generation’s potential contribution to the betterment of our country and the progress of the entire African continent. This potential is being suffocated by the refusal of government to prioritise free education and its insistence to provide us with an inferior quality of education that we are receiving.
South Africa finds itself facing a crisis of great magnitude. Where in the apartheid era people were stratified on the basis of race and along tribal lines, the democratic dispensation sees people continue to be stratified on the basis of class position. This result in a situation where children of working-class backgrounds are perpetually thrust at the receiving end of the brutality of the system that seeks to marginalise them from economic activity by shutting the doors of education in their faces, or at best, systematically retarding their human progress. SASCO, and indeed the entire student population that took part in the protest and those that support the principle of free education, are aiming to annihilate this unjust reality and to obliterate the constructs that make it possible for the injustice to manifest.
I have had the opportunity of engaging a number of students here at Rhodes University about their thoughts on this call, in particular the residents of Hobson Hall, which includes Milner House, where I am a resident. I have also engaged a number of DASO members and leadership, a move I saw necessary since DASO is dominating the political scene on campus. For the purpose of this article, I have highlighted the main reason that was given to me as to why students do not support this campaign and thereafter, provide my understanding as a form of clarity where necessary.
SASCO is using students to fight its own battles. It can make the ANC give us free education if it is truly serious about doing so
The notion that SASCO is using students to fight its battles with the ANC is popular among student organisations of opposition political parties throughout the country. But more tragically, this fallacy has found root in the minds of ordinary non-partisan students too. Here at Rhodes University, this fallacy is vehicled through subtle propaganda spread by the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) which enjoys majority support. It would be criminal for us to sit back and allow DASO to plant toxic ideas in the minds of students. This notion that SASCO-organised protests are driven by opportunism is an attempt to demobilise students who deserve a space to voice their discontent with the structural injustices to which they are subjected and it must be challenged.
Contrary to popular belief, SASCO is not a student-wing of the African National Congress (ANC), but rather, a component of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM). The MDM was a loose alliance of anti-apartheid groups that formed in 1988 when the apartheid government placed restrictions on the United Democratic Front (UDF) and other activist organisations. The MDM, made up of UDF and ANC supporters, then emerged as an even wider, more amorphous front to resist apartheid. It also had strong links with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Simply put, SASCO’s link with the ANC lies in the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), the cornerstone of policy analysis in the tripartite alliance. The strategic aim of the NDR is to create a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. The role of SASCO, therefore, is to ensure that objectives of the NDR are met at tertiary level, by following these principles that guide it:
SASCO is committed to working towards a democratic system of education in a democratic South Africa.
  • Non-Racialism
SASCO is at the forefront of the struggle for a non-racial system of education in the context of addressing the racial inequalities that exist as per the vision of the NDR.
  • African Leadership
This gives expression to the NDR that identifies the African people as the main motive force that must lead the struggle for change and development.
  • Working Class Leadership
SASCO is committed to supporting and reflecting in its programme of action the progressive aspirations of the working class and other sections of the economically exploited people of South Africa.
These principles are an indication that SASCO’s role cannot be reduced to that of being a wing of the ANC. Its loyalty and commitment is to students from working-class backgrounds and thus, directly to the oppressed peoples of South Africa, whatever race they may be, but for historical reasons, “Africans in particular” as is articulated by the NDR. To fight for this realisation, it is vital that SASCO’s biasness is to students, and it is, as clearly explained in that:
“SASCO is a student political organisation that draws influence from organisations of the Mass Democratic Movement led by the African National Congress (ANC). SASCO applies Marxist-Leninist philosophy as tools of analysis. In the new democracy the role of SASCO is to complement and contradict the exercise of power and authority, whatever the source, especially where it affects students...” [Emphasis mine]
SASCO understands the location of the oppressed in society and understands too that at times, this location will be cemented by policies, actions or inactions of the ruling party. It further understands that “education is a site of struggle”, a theme it used for its National Congress held at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Mangaung last year. It is for these reasons that SASCO’s own location is at challenging “power and authority, whatever the source, especially where it affects students”. In order for this power and authority to be challenged, it is necessary that all those who are affected by its constructs are mobilised and organised. It is not a pre-requisite that only students who are SASCO members participate in these protests, because it is not only students with SASCO membership who are on the receiving end of the brutality of soaring tuition fees, appalling residences and the apathy of management towards the struggles of students from working-class backgrounds is concerned. These issues affect all students whose parents are not sitting on level ten salaries and in the South African context that is more than 50% of the population.
In fact, if SASCO is a student wing of the ANC as is projected, it must be explained to us why that same SASCO would hold an ANC that it serves hostage. Surely, this senseless logic itself should be an indication to students that there is no truth to the assertion that SASCO bows before the ANC. It is simply a ploy by DASO to make students apathetic to the plight of our fellow peers, because fighting for our rightful places in institutions of higher learning has NOTHING to do with political affiliation and everything to do with the fact that we are young people and we have a right to learn.
As a student at Rhodes University, the pain of being taught under severely difficult conditions as those witnessed in institutions such as Walter Sisulu University, is not one that I can directly identify with. And yet, as a Black child, I understand only too well the brutal reality that my peers are subjected to. It is a savage reality to which no-one must be condemned. There is something very wrong about a society where some people are feasting while a majority starves; a country where some students are able to study in conducive environment while many others are forced to live in residences that are not fit for human habitat and are taught under conditions that are created to accelerate their retardation process. This society must be condemned by all those who believe in justice and equality; all those whose claim to patriotism is legitimate, for it is only true patriots who tremble with indignation at the abuse and dehumanisation of fellow human-beings.

Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi**
1st year BSS (Earth Science and Geography)

**Malaika is not a member of SASCO. She writes in her capacity as an agent of anti-liberalism.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


by Malaika Wa Azania on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 9:31pm ·
Dear Afrikan child
You are probably wondering who I am and why I am writing this letter to you. Chances are that we have never met before, at least not physically. But you and I are tied together by one fundamental thing: we are both young Afrikan women who find ourselves trapped in the labyrinthine existence of a society that is designed to keep us in mental chains. I am writing this letter to you because I have walked the path that you are walking and although I had my fair share of lost battles, I have been victorious in many and today, I am able to stand boldly and proclaim my rightful place on the wall of young Afrikan women who have weathered the storm.
My name is Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi, but most people know me as Malaika wa Azania. It is by no mistake that I chose to be called this and later on in this letter, I shall explain its etymology to you. I was born on the 19th of October 1991 to a working-class family headed by a single woman, my grandmother, Matshediso Mahlatsi. My mother was a young comrade, one of millions who had dedicated their lives to the fight for the liberation of Black people. My father too was one of these millions. They met a few years before I was born and by the time I was introduced to the world, they had parted ways, as young people do when they engage in activities too complex for their comprehension, activities that result in responsibilities beyond their understanding. Because of this, I was raised by my mother, a single-parent and my grandmother. But I shall tell you how I grew up.
My grandmother has been a domestic worker all her life. She had come to the City of Gold from a township called Parys in the Free State province, in the mid-1970s to make a living. Upon arrival here, she met the man who would later become my grandfather and her dreams of making enough money and returning to the Free State were put on hold. The birth of my mother obliterated any such dreams that remained and it was then that my grandmother decided to make Johannesburg her permanent place of residence. My grandfather left my grandmother when my mother was very young and from then on, it was her against the world. She made a living working in the homes of White families, making enough money to put food on the table for my mother and her older son, my uncle Lesley. But living conditions were tough at that time and Alexander was no place to raise a child during the apartheid era, when White policemen did not think nothing of firing bullets into the shacks of anyone suspected of being active in anti-apartheid politics. Strangely, my grandmother was never an activist, but her life was in danger nonetheless and after a few years in Alexander, she packed her few bags and headed to the township of Meadowlands in Soweto, where she would live for the next three decades of her life.
I was born at a time when my grandmother was still making a living labouring in White homes. By that time, we were living in a two-room shack in zone 8, a Tsonga-Venda dominated part of Meadowlands. My mother completed her matric a year after I was born and for the most part of my childhood, I was raised by my grandmother, who lived with us at the time. There were seven of us sharing the two-room shack. It was myself, my mother, three uncles, my grandmother and my aunt Tshepiso, who is only a year older than me. Upon completing her matric, my mother immediately found a job at a Non-Government Organisation, a sector she would work in for the rest of her life. So while the living conditions were rather difficult, they were never severe to a point where one went to bed on a hungry stomach. But there were many nights where one went to bed on a less than full stomach and to want more was to be selfish in a household where only two people worked but did not even make enough to afford renting a brick-built room as opposed to a shack.
I was once selected as a finalist for a scholarship to a prestigious school called the Afrikan Leadership Academy. A week prior to our orientation/selection, we were asked to bring an object from home that best describes us. People brought pictures of their pets, their jewellery; their favourite books…all sorts of objects that best describe them. Then one girl stood up with nothing in her hands. All of us were surprised, because we understood the instruction to mean a physical object. This girl stood before us and uttered these words:
“I do not have an object that best describes me. I looked for it but I found none that can truly capture who I really am. It dawned on me then, that the one thing that best describes me is my name…”
I found that to have been the most powerful presentation of that night. That girl captured in a few words what scholars and academics of Black Consciousness have been trying to capture in centuries.
The most important thing you have in this world is your name. You will have no other in any lifetime. This is the name that will be remembered long after you are dead. It is a legacy that you will leave this world with. And it is not just a sound, a proper noun. No. Your name is everything.
As a young Black woman, the worst crime you can ever commit is to divorce yourself from your identity. We live in a world where to be Black is to be an enemy. By virtue of being born Black, you are forced to pay a race tax, where you must always prove yourself worthy of the approval of the White world. You are not “proper” unless you speak in a particular way or dress in a particular way. You are not “proper” unless you are defined within the constructs of Whiteness. But I challenge you to define yourself outside that, to love and embrace your identity without fear of persecution from anyone. Learn and speak your home language. Speak it so well that it should shock anyone to hear you speaking any other, for it must be assumed that with the brilliance in which you speak it, you can only be a master at it alone. Do NOT fall into the trap of measuring your Afrikanness using a White ruler.
I implore you that when you are done reading this letter, you go to your parents and tell them that I said they must teach you your home language. Tell them why: that it is you. It is your identity and you shall have no other.
I began my primary education at Tshimologo Primary School, a junior primary not too far from my home. There, I began my life. But all those details are not too relevant, what is important is what I am about to tell you now about the importance of your own education.
I am currently a first year student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape Province. I am majoring in Earth Science and Economics. I will be the first to tell you that I hate school. I always have and I have no doubt that you will at some point, if you do not already hate it now. Look, it’s normal. It is even expected that you should, for no-one can claim to love something that is imposed with very little room given for the emergence of their own opinions and preferences. I matriculated in 2009 from a multi-racial school called Florida Park High School in Johannesburg, having spent all my years there in the academic Honours Roll. That achievement had nothing to do with my love for school. It was far from it. I performed well at school simply because I hated school even back then. But you see, I understood that in order for me to leave that place quickly, I had no other option but to pass so well that I would not be made to return there to repeat anything. If you have taken nothing thus far from what I have said, take this:
I was foolish enough to drop out of university twice when my hatred for it reached boiling point. For about two years of my life, I rebelled so much against school that even my own advice that had gotten me through matric was obliterated from memory. I will be honest with you, though, I have no regrets. The two years that I spent outside school were the most important of my life. Through working and volunteering in NGOs, I got to learn a lot about the world that we live in. I got to appreciate the struggles that people face on a daily basis and ultimately, my path as an activist was decided, my destiny shaped.
But I do not wish for you to follow my footsteps on this. I would like for you to finish your studies without any interruptions, because while the education system itself leaves a lot to be desired, we live in a world where knowledge and qualifications mean everything. As a young woman, a young BLACK woman, who is an indirect victim of apartheid and a direct beneficiary of the apartheid legacy, it is vital that you help South Afrika to re-write its narrative. Yet, I also want you to understand that while these qualifications, while tertiary education is important, it is well to remember that:
 The most important lessons you will learn in your life are going to be learned when you make the conscious decision to understand the conditions of people on the ground. You see, you and I were born in interesting times and while we may or may not have suffered the humiliation of poverty, we have a chance that our parents did not have: a chance to live in a society where there exist many agents that are established to ensure our future successes. Years ago, if your parents did not have money, you would not go to school. Today, many people are able to go to school through government funding, bursaries and student loans. We are a generation that has its playing fields more levelled. But this is no excuse to forget where our own parents come from, even where we come from. No matter how many degrees you may have after your studies, NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM AND NEVER LEAVE YOUR PEOPLE BEHIND. When you eat at lunch time and you see a student without food, when you buy clothes at varsity and a fellow student wears the same clothes every day, when your parents can afford to buy you a car and you see a child hiking somewhere and the environment is safe for you to help him/her, when you see any injustice being committed, whether or not it affects you directly…DO SOMETHING!
It is when you interact with people that you learn. It is when you understand their plight and assist where you can that you become qualified. Your qualifications may not be recognised on paper, but where it matters, in the world, they are obtained with distinction.
By now, you are either in a relationship or you are thinking about being in one. And you are either still a virgin or you are considering losing your virginity. Whichever category you fall under, I want you to listen anyway.
When I was a child, I used to fantasise about how I would lose my virginity. It was always in some exotic location with my Prince Charming, the man I would be with for the rest of my life. It all seemed so ideal back then. It was all perfect. But I grew up and with growing up come a lot of challenges, one of which is the challenge to remain true to yourself in a world that would prefer you to be an expression of its own expectations. I could lie to you and claim that I have never been a victim of this, that at some point in my life I was never an insecure little girl who wanted to fit in with the rest of her peers. But there would be no point, because when I set out to write this letter, I set out to tell you the truth and nothing but the truth. I have every intention of fulfilling that mission.
Growing up, I was a very chubby child. As if this was not bad enough in a world that had begun to synonymise beauty with a thin waistline, I was also very dark in complexion. This made matters worse, because I represented everything that society loathes: fatness and blackness. Added to this was the fact that when I was young, I was involved in an accident wherein I stepped onto very sharp rusted metal spikes. It took the hospital too long to assist me because I was not on medical aid. As a result, both my legs were infected and for months, I could barely walk. I was bandaged and bed-ridden. While the worst of it is over, I was left with a permanent scar: I cannot walk straight. Most people assume that I am “magwegwe” because I was born like that. Some even think this is cute. What few know is that while indeed I was born with “magwegwe” feet, I am unable to walk properly because of this accident.
So for very many years, I was insecure about myself. It was not made any easier by the fact that my aunt, who is a year older than me and whom I grew up with, was the complete opposite: light skinned, petite and with proper feet. I hated most things about my body and even the beautiful features meant very little to me. So this insecurity, coupled with peer pressure, made me do things that ordinarily, I would not have done. This included beginning to get involved in relationships at what I think is a very young age.
I was 16 when I had my first real relationship, or so I thought it real at the time. I was in grade ten and by that time, all my friends and peers were already having ex-boyfriends.  That relationship obviously did not last beyond a year, because it was founded on all the wrong reasons. I wanted to belong, I wanted to have someone too, and I wanted to be loved by someone in order to love myself. This kind of (il) logic resulted in me entering into the most destructive of relationships, with the kind of men I would run away from now should I cross paths with them. It also resulted in me losing my virginity at 18, an age so young, I shudder at the sound of it.
Six years later, I can assure you that this was a wrong approach to love. You do not go into a relationship to be completed, you go into it complete. The role of you and your partner is to complement each other, to build onto what is already there. But in your teens, you are not likely to understand what this means, so I want you to consider postponing any plans to date a man until first you have understood who you are. Be in a relationship with yourself first, know what you want, because it is only when you know what you want that you will know what you deserve. You will not stay in a relationship where you are abused, emotionally, physically or otherwise, if you know what you deserve. But the only way to know what you deserve is to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.
I must also mention to you that going into a relationship is not just a simple act of deciding to be with a particular man. It is more important than that. Going into a relationship is itself a step towards the direction that you want your future to take. You must NEVER date a man because he is cute, or because you feel lonely. Date a man that you see yourself waking up next to years from now. It shall be a man that makes you grow as a person, be it spiritually, emotionally, intellectually or otherwise. It shall be a man that you are able to be yourself around, without fear of persecution and judgement.
You see, your body, like your love, is like an apple. When you get into a relationship with a man and you sleep with him, it is like someone is biting an apple. The more of yourself you give away, the more that apple is being bitten. One day you will find a great man after having allowed all the wrong men to have a bite of your apple. This man will want to be your companion for the rest of your life. He will give you the kind of security and love that you deserve. But you shall have been an apple bitten by too many men, and that great man will be left with the inedible stork that is found after one eats an apple. He will find you when there is nothing left to enjoy, sexually, intellectually or otherwise. Think about this and you will realise that it is very important to take your time to find this man, to create this loving and secure relationship.
Family is the most important thing. Everything has an end to it. BoyfriEND, girlfriEND, bestfriEND and even friEND. But not family. Family is eternal and it is the only thing you are guaranteed to have when all is said and done. It is the only constant in your life.
I am one of those people who suffer from an inability to show deep love. My partner of 3 years once said to me: “Malaika, are you capable of loving?” We laughed about it, but he did not realise how deeply the question went. It is true that indeed, I cannot express my love in a way that can be considered normal. I have friends whom I love with every fibre of my being, but I have not seen them in more than six months. One of my closest and best friends, Phindile Kunene, I rarely talk to and we meet perhaps once every two months. But her place in my life is cemented. She is one of the most important people to me. With her, I am able to be myself. But more than that, she helps me grow as a person and as a thinker. She challenges me to see the world behind new eyes. But more often than not, I chastise myself for being aloof and fear that perhaps, these people I love do not realise that I do.
The point I want to make is that friendships, like family, are important, though not more so. You must surround yourself with friends who make you a better person, who are able to criticise you constructively and with whom you can grow. And never neglect to show them how much you love them. Don’t take it for granted that they know it.
One of the most important lessons you should learn in life, one of the most important vices, is gratitude. Gratitude means appreciation. It is very important.
Growing up, there were many things that I wanted which my mother could not afford to give me. They included cell phones, nicer clothes and all other things. When I was unable to have them, I would be very heartbroken. I would never show my mother that I was hurt, because I did not want her to feel like she was failing me as a parent. But deep inside, I would bleed.
However, now that I have grown up, I realise that while I did not have all that I wanted, my mother did a lot to give me what I needed. And yes, compared to other kids, I did not have much. But now I know that somewhere in the world, there is a child without a home. And while I got sad because I could not have a cell phone, some child did not even have a family or friends to talk to. While I got sad because I could not have Adidas sneakers, some child was walking 20km to school every day on a hungry stomach without food and with no shoes on. So it is important that you learn that your parents are not the monsters that you imagine them to be when they cannot give you certain things: they are giving you the best that they can. Never ever throw tantrums when you do not get what you want, because somewhere out there, someone wishes that they can have what you do.
I want you to know that the path you are walking is an important one. This country needs more women leaders. But leaders are not born, they are made. So remember that before you can be a leader of this world, you must first be able to lead yourself towards the direction of your ambitions and dreams. NEVER allow the world to tell you that you are on the wrong path when you walk on that one.
I have more to say, but time does not allow me the opportunity. However, dear Afrikan child, I will leave you my number, so that if you ever find yourself standing at a cross-road, not knowing which way to go, and you are too afraid to speak to your parents, you may call me. Think of me as your old sister who knows what it’s like to be walking this journey to womanhood. E-mail me on:
You are also allowed to sms or call me on 076 538 1557
 079 421 4315
I have attached one of my favourite poems by Maya Angelou. Enjoy.

Kind regards
Malaika Wa Azania

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing of my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.


by Malaika Wa Azania on Monday, April 23, 2012 at 10:10pm ·
Ngwana yo sa reetseng molao wa batsadi o tla reetsa wa manong” – Setswana proverb
It sounds almost sadistic, and some might argue that it is, for one to be feeling such overwhelming nostalgia for corporal punishment. But as I reside in the comfort of my residence at Rhodes University’s Milner House, I cannot help but walk down memory lane to a time when corporal punishment was as normal as teenage alcoholism has become in our country. I find myself missing the good old days when a child was the property of his/her community, when teachers were the most feared people, and when the fear of being confronted with a sjambok or duster forced many of us to put an effort into our school work. Today, corporal punishment has been outlawed. Some people sat in a roundtable somewhere and decided that act of rehabilitation is “abuse”, that children must not be scolded as that is a “violation of their rights”. How “progressive” our Constitution is, that it even allows for children to open cases against their parents for scolding them.
My first experience of corporal punishment at school happened in pre-school. I was a bubbly six year old at the time, suffering from a severe case of verbal diarrhoea. As the class captain of Grade 0 A in Tshimologo Junior Primary School in zone 9 Meadowlands (Soweto), I was guaranteed to be located anywhere where a discussion of some sort was taking place. On that particular morning, my teacher, “Mistress” as she was called, was late for class and it was my responsibility to ensure that everyone was completing some work or just keeping quiet. But I was not interested in silence, nor did I regard whatever work was given important. This must be the explanation for why, when I had to be seen to be maintaining order, I was the cause of the disorderly behaviour of my classmates. Anyway, we huddled in a corner, a group of about twenty tiny human-beings with grass covering their uniform (Even at that early hour, grade zero students were guaranteed to be found dirty. Every morning before assembly, we would be found playing netball, soccer or “diketo” at the school quad, with no care in the world about the state of our cleanliness). Piercing laughter could be heard from across the foyer (the grade zero class was located not too far from the main reception office foyer), but at the time, this was of course, unknown to us. We were just a bunch of 6 year olds having fun, teasing one another (With those stupid jokes that kids in the township like to tell, that always begin with “One day one day”?). The next thing, “Mistress” was standing at the door, her imposing figure looking very diabolical in the midst of such petite bodies. Anger was written all over her face. A sudden hush fell over the classroom as all of us scurried to our allocated desks (too late, of course), fereigning innocence. “Mistress” started yelling at us, telling us how disappointed she was in us for misbehaving in her absence. As the class captain, I was of course, the target of the vitriol that she was spewing. I was the bad learner who allowed others to fail. I was the monster that had placed a gun on the temples of more than twenty students and forced them to make noise. I was the culprit. Everyone else was an innocent victim of my evilness. For some reason that I could not immediately comprehend, “Mistress” chose to punish me alone. That’s right. Despite the fact that all of us had been equal contributors to the noise levels that had pierced her ears all the way from the office foyer, I was singled out for punishment. “Mistress” took a wooden rod, instructed me to stretch out my right hand (the one that I use, by the way) and gave me a spanking so hard that 14 years later, I can still feel its viciousness just from thinking about it.
This was to be followed by many other spankings, which intensified as the levels increased. In grade three, two new methods of punishment were introduced, and I found myself at the receiving end of their brutality. My principal had introduced a rule that said that any child who gets a wrong answer in a test or any other written work was to be giving lashes equal in number to the answers missed. That is to say: if you wrote a test out of 20, and got 15 of the answers right, the teacher had to give you 5 lashes for the answers that you got wrong. Leaving a question unanswered was no alternative, for you would still get a beating as an unanswered question was regarded as an incorrect answer. The second method of punishment was what we called “go koropa le go freyfa”. That method may sound better when I explain it, in contrast to the “sugar cane” method introduced by the principal, but it was actually the most vicious. Here, if a student got less than 50% for a test, he/she would be forced to stay on afterschool and clean the entire classroom. Not just sweep or polish it. I mean CLEAN it thoroughly. One would have to ensure that the windows were sparkling, the bins were emptied, the gum that was stuck beneath desks was removed, the stairs leading out into the foyer were polished, the teacher’s and student’s cabinets were organised neatly, the walls were wiped clean, the shelves were dusted and all else in-between. This task would take almost 4 hours, even with the help of one’s friends. The fact that after all this, one still had to walk for almost 20 minutes with a heavy backpack to get home, made all the more diabolical. It was a very difficult time.
The learners at Tshimologo Junior Primary School were the most diligent, committed and above all, respectful of learners I have ever known. Perhaps the fear of “go koropa le go freyfa” and the sugar cane put the fear of the ancestors in our hearts, to a point where contemplating intellectual idleness became taboo. I mean, it stands to reason that if you know that you are going to be confronted with punishment when you perform unsatisfactory, you will invest a lot of effort ensuring that you meet the set standard, high though it may be. Or just maybe, corporal punishment truly had favourable results on young children, if employed to rehabilitate rather than to condemn. Whatever the reasons may be, the students of my junior primary school almost always got straight distinctions. They respected authority and they knew that the only rule for prosperity in life, was to “Dira tiro ya gago, reetsa batsadi bag gago ka nako tsotlhe, tlhompha bagolo, gore malatsi a gago a botshelo a oketsege” (do your work diligently, listen to your parents at all times and respect your elders, so that your days on earth can be increased), as my “Mistress” would always tell us.
In 2002, when I was in grade five, I was sent to a multi-racial school in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg (Auckland Park/Melville). Naturally, I was terrified of the new, foreign environment. I was a township girl who could barely construct a coherent sentence in English, and here I was, being sent to a dominantly White school, where English was the language of instruction and Afrikaans, which I had never even heard before, was the second language. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a sight I had never before though possible: little grade five learners TELLING their teacher why they COULD NOT complete their work. Excuses ranged from “I had netball practice, ma’am” to “I arrived home late last night and was too tired to do my work after watching Generations”. At Melpark Primary School, these justifications were legitimised by teachers who let them slip unquestioned, and normalised by students who repeated them too often. I was always in awe of this world, for it was so different from my own. At Tshimologo Junior Primary School, not only would you dare not bring completed work to school, you would opt to sleep past mid-night, on a winter night, as you write your homework under the watchful gaze of candlelight. Whether your arm was broken or you had come down with a severe bout of influenza, your work was guaranteed to NOT suffer. NOTHING could make anyone not complete homework. It was just unthinkable.
Another abnormality that I encountered at my multi-racial school was a phenomena called “back-chatting”, where a student could actually engage in a verbal match with a teacher! Grade five students could look a teacher straight in the eye and say: “Ma’am, you are wrong!” or “I won’t do that!” How odd this seemed to me at first, that a twelve year old could TELL an educator that he/she is wrong, or that he/she (the student) would not do something that the teacher had asked them to do. In fact, it was even odd to me that a teacher had to ASK students to do things. At Tshimologo Junior Primary School, that would NEVER have happened. Teachers did not ask, they commanded. Students did not negotiate, they obeyed. I recall how I was forced to participate in the annual athletics competition that pitted students from all schools in the township of Meadowlands together. Despite the fact that I was a very fat child who could barely mount a stairwell without heaving like an exhausted car engine, I was commanded to compete with the Marion Joneses of Ndofaya (as my township is affectionately called). I had no choice. I ran in that competition every year, embarrassing myself every year (I always came out last, much to the laughter of other children) and obeying every year. The thought of even fereigning illness never at any point crossed my mind.
Interestingly, the students at Melpark Primary School were intellectually challenged (for lack of a better word). Marks like 50%, which in Tshimologo Junior Primary School were regarded as a hopeless fail, were a norm. Being unable to do basic arithmetic was regarded as a “weakness” rather than a result of insufficient effort. In Tshimologo, the teachers always told us that none of us was stupid (though this was forgotten when one was unfortunate enough to get 60% for a test. On this rare occasion, one would be lambasted and insulted by “Mistress”, and told that he/she would never become a successful person in life), and therefore, none of us had an excuse for obtaining less than the highest child in the class. In Melpark, all sorts of reasons why a child could get away with a dismal 50% in a spelling test were provided: “She is battling to understand the concepts”, “He is a slow learner”, “He is a left-brain, so languages and theory are not his strongest points” etc.
While I understand the reasons for the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, and to some small extent even agree with them, I cannot help but remember a time when corporal punishment served as a motivating factor for excellent academic performance. In a country where a student needs only 40% for three subjects and 30% for four to receive a matric exemption, one cannot help but wonder what it would have been like if excellence was forced rather than hoped for. I wonder if the knowledge that I would be confronted with a sugar cane if I failed my exams or got below 80% would have made me a better student in matric. I wonder if Mathematics and Physical Science would be so greatly failed if teachers were allowed to give students a lashing for failure to produce good work and to study beyond just what the textbook contains. Maybe even then, we’d still have a rebellious youth that refuses to study even when given the opportunity and resources to. Maybe even then, we would have a country that celebrates a 70.2% matric pass rate that boasts less than 24% admission to Bachelor’s Degree university entries. Maybe even then, we would have a country where students go on strike to have their marks increased just for the hell of it…I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that I was a more dedicated student between grade zero and grade four than I have ever been in my life. What I know for sure is that I was driven by fear in more ways than I can ever be driven by the prospects of simply being the best student in my class. And what I do know for sure, is that there is something rather odd about a country where children make rules that adults must follow…

Malaika wa Azania
A product of OBE, NSC and all other anti-education curriculums


by Malaika Wa Azania on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 6:49pm ·
The daughter of Sobukwe condemns with utmost contempt, the irresponsible and reckless behaviour of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) in one of its posters advertising an upcoming car wash event. The poster by the YCL spits in the face of women emancipation struggles and reverses the gains that the National Democratic Revolution, the cornerstone of policy analysis in the Tripartite Alliance, has made thus far in addressing the gender question post-apartheid. The poster is not only degrading of women, it is the very expression of a patriarchal heteronormative matrix, where women are reduced to being servers of a masculine audience that is not visibilised.
The poster that I refer to is plastered all over Facebook and I assume, in print form. It reads: “YCL Presents: Red Car Wash”. On the top left side of the poster, a woman in a skimpy red bikini is shown slightly bent over, revealing her well-oiled buttocks, splashing water on a red automobile. The opposite side of the poster displays two women locked in a very sexual position, bending over a red car, splashing water all over it, with their hair vixen loose.  At the bottom left of the poster, details of the event are provided (The car wash is to take place on the 21st of April 2012 at the Sports Centre Parking. The province where this event is to take place is not indicated). But more troubling, is the image of Argentine-born revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara at the bottom of the poster just beneath the event details, in his famous image taken a few years before his assassination. This glib inclusion of one of the most courageous and globally respected liberation heroes on a poster that displays the objectification and dismemberment of women begs not only for the harshest condemnation from all of us, but it also pleads for a critical analysis on the YCL’s understanding of what “Che” stood for, fought for and ultimately, died for.
In an article found in volume 5 of UMSEBENZI ONLINE, dated 18 October 2006, the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Dr Blade Nzimande, correctly defines the aims of the National Democratic Revolution when he says: “The SACP has always understood and accepted that the very immediate objectives of the NDR - the liberation of Blacks in general and Africans in particular, and the building of a non-racial and non-sexist society - were important objectives in themselves”. I quote this position of the SACP (and indeed the alliance in its entirety) to illustrate how the YCL, a Marxist-Leninist youth wing of the SACP, in designing such a questionable poster, is betraying the very objectives that inform its existence. It is my understanding, vividly expressed in all its induction papers that the YCL stands for:

Non Racism


Equality (EMPHASIS)

The socialisation of the ownership and control of the means of production
The third point mentioned, that of equality, umbrellas equality not only in terms of society’s ownership of the country’s means of production, but also, the relationship between all fractions of the population, meaning men and women. It is an indication that the YCL stands for (or at least ought to) the annihilation of constructs that seek to draw a distinction between human-beings on the basis of gender, of race and of class position. It is a promise to seek a divine balance in a society that has been crippled by centuries of colonialist ideology, which has played a significant role in the normalisation and reinforcement of particular ideas about not just race and class, but gender and sexuality.
The decision of the YCL to use this poster to popularise an event operates from a heteropatriarchal foundation which reproduces human-made binaries of gender and even sexuality. Heteropatriarchy suggests an institutionalised system of male domination over women within a heteronormative society. The danger with this system is how it not only reproduces, but also legitimises the subjugation of women to a point where it is naturalised within cultural, social and economic spaces. It is precisely because of this that the poster that I am speaking of can be found on the Facebook profiles of female comrades, who see nothing wrong with the way women are objectified. To them, the only thing that is of importance is the event that the poster is advertising and the fact that it is hosted by their beloved organisation. Little attention is paid to the glaring distastefulness of the poster and the illustrations that are intended to emphasise the representation of women as hypersexual beings. For some reason that I fail to comprehend, women comrades of the YCL do not seem to realise that this representation of women as hypersexual is neither neutral nor innocent. This poster by the YCL deliberately positions women as performers for a male audience as a spectator. This heterofeminine exhibitionism is an indication of a very painful and disappointing reality: that the YCL, which prides itself on being the youth wing of the vanguard party of the working-class, the party that is tasked with leading the people of Azania on a road to Socialism, has fallen into the trap of women objectification and dismemberment as cemented by the media, religion and the ruling class ideology. It provides an insight, albeit a disturbing one, of how the dynamics of a patriarchal heteronormative society that finds itself engulfed by the constructs of gender, have found a home in an organisation that is tasked with obliterating these very constructs.
Young women who see posters such as the one designed by the YCL cannot help but view those women as a yardstick by which beauty and societal acceptance is measured. For this reason, the YCL must be made to understand that the sexualised portrayal of women has significantly negative outcomes, which affect all women in our society. Studies have shown how women’s objectification has the potential to result in depression, self-surveillance, body shame and disorderly eating tendencies in preadolescent females and those older.
In a country like Azania, where statistics indicate that a woman is raped every 26 minutes, we must never cease to condemn any attempt that contributes to the fostering of an environment in which the selling of women’s bodies, even for what could be defined as revolutionary causes, is seen as acceptable. We must never cease to fight for the annihilation of a system that legitimises the objectification of women, in favour of one where women are human, nothing less. In the words of former president of Burkina Faso, an Afrikanist Marxist and a true humanist, Thomas Isidore Sankara:
“Inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. Thus, the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them.”

Malaika wa Azania
Azanian Society of the Black, Bored and Broke (ASB3)


by Malaika Wa Azania on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 12:56pm ·
As the hopes of the biggest opposition team in the country, Kaizer Chiefs, of clinging the 2012 Premier Soccer League title slip further into oblivion, and the ruling team, Orlando Pirates, cements its position at the top of the league table with less than seven league matches remaining, it becomes necessary that all of us who love the beautiful game take a moment to reflect on how the Democratic Alliance of soccer can find itself being outsmarted by teams as relatively uninteresting as Moroka Swallows, Supersport United and even Mamelodi Sundowns. Historically, the DA has been able to maintain a distant lead to the PAC (Moroka Swallows), which, despite its abundance of consistent and disciplined players somehow fails to make a significant impact in the soccer scene. And so, how a team once so powerful can be reduced to a laughing stock that Chiefs has become is a development that begs for critical analysis. This analysis is important especially for us supporters of the ruling team (Orlando Pirates), because as we now enjoy the lead and brilliance that once defined Chiefs, we also run the risk of being dethroned at the zenith of our supporter’s euphoria.
The crisis that engulfs Kaizer Chiefs today must be understood in the context of the team’s location in the current phase of the National Diski Revolution (NDR). For the last decade, Kaizer Chiefs has enjoyed hegemony afforded to those who own the means of production. Only 7 years ago, Chiefs had in its possession a great labour tank that included the likes of Collins Mbesuma, who during the championship race of the 2004/2005 soccer season, under the leadership of Romanian coach Ted Dmitri, scored a record-breaking 39 goals in all competitions. This is the same team that only 10 years ago, in the 2001/2002 season, won four major trophies in a space of only four months. These included the Vodacom Challenge, BP Top Eight, Coca Cola Cup and the CAF Cup Winners Cup, known as the “Mandela Cup”. In April 2002, Chiefs was also chosen as the CAF Club of the Year after an impressive performance in the Super Cup tournament, where they played Egyptian giants, Al-Ahly. In the 2003/2004 season, the team was given the Fair Play Award at the Peace Cup in South Korea and at the end of that season, went on to become champions of the PSL for the very first time. This same team beat Manchester United in the 2006 Vodacom Challenge to win the trophy, a feat that the team has accomplished a total of four times. All these achievements by Kaizer Chiefs were by no means an accident of nature or a stroke of luck, nor were they an intervention of fate. They were a reflection of a team that had immersed itself in diski discipline, a team with a hunger for success and an even bigger appetite for defeating the construct that had seen the emergence of working-class teams from the gutters of incompetency and complacency.
However, as with every era in history where the working-class is systematically marginalised and repressed by a dominant destructive force, at its highest point of development and greatness, Chiefs began to undergo a performance recession. Since 2007, under the leadership of Ernst Middendorp, the team has been going on a downward spiral. It cannot be a coincidence that Chiefs underwent this recession at a time when the world itself was undergoing a serious economic recession. Surely, there must be a link between the two, as there is always a link between all chromatin networks of a capitalist, anti-majoritarian nucleus. The collapse of all things anti-majoritarian is starkly contrasted by the simultaneous re-emergence of pro-majoritarian presence. In the 2010/2011 season, the voices of the proletariat became pronounced, and a force to be reckoned with, when the ruling team, Orlando Pirates, became the first team in the history of the PSL to win all three major trophies in a single season. Pirates won the MTN 8, the Nedbank Cup and went on to finish at the top of the PSL log, making them the current defending champions (and inevitable prospective winners) of the title. As the only South Afrikan team to have ever won the CAF Champions League (in 1995), Pirates’ victories, like Chiefs’ defeats, have been linked with the broader victories of the working-class majority. Pirates won the CAF Champions League at the dawn of a democratic break-through, won the treble at a time when our country was coming out of the disastrous Polokwane Conference, almost as if to illuminate a darkened path. And now, with the ugly head of factionalism rearing its ugly head on the road to Mangaung, Pirates is proving itself to be a disciplined force of the left by remaining united (that is to say, not firing coaches) and coherent in its usual character of putting the majority first.
Let us now discuss the eight days in April where Vladimir Vermezovic (“VV”), like son of the soil Julius Malema, found himself thrown out in the cold by a team he had served diligently for 3 seasons, a team that now wants to appropriate all blame to him when in fact, it is the players themselves who are bringing the team into disrepute. On the 13th of April, the country awoke to the shocking news that Kaizer Chiefs had fired “VV” with only seven matches remaining to the tournament. This unprecedented move proved to be a serious calamity. Only a day after the coach was fired, the team was beaten 1-0 by Ea Lla Koto in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals. Since then, the team has lost 1-0 to Maritzburg United at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane (on the 17th), the same score it lost to Black Leopards on the 4th at FNB Stadium, seven days before “VV” was given a chisa mpama.
But was “VV” the problem to begin with, or is he, like Julius Malema, a scapegoat of a bigger underlying issue that is being kept within the family?  Does the removal of “VV” mean a new chapter for the team, or will those who led the “ngoku” chorus find themselves engulfed by a state of nostalgia when the reality of their team’s premature decision begins to sink in? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we can only wonder with a sense of déjà vu. After all, “VV” was fired with only 7 matches to go before the season is wrapped up. Former president of the Republic, Thabo Mbeki, was also shown a red card with only 7 months left of his presidency. This decision plunged the country into somewhat of a crisis from which it has not gotten out, and gave birth to seeds of destruction which continue to manifest exponentially. And just as the ANC is now held hostage by a lack of visionary planning, Chiefs’ only working plan seems to be its funeral plan….
Malaika wa Azania
Supporter of the National Team, leaders of the NDR

Analysing the movie "TITANIC" from an Afrikanist perspective by Malaika wa Azania

by Malaika Wa Azania on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 2:20am ·


On the 12th of April 2012, SABC 1 aired a documentary narrating the history of one of the greatest revolutionaries of our time, Chris Hani. Hani is a former uMkhonto weSizwe combatant, former General Secretary of the vanguard party of the working-class, the South Afrikan Communist Party (SACP) and one of the best gems produced by the struggle for Azanian liberation. Interestingly, etv chose to air an old cinema classic, TITANIC, written and directed by Oscar-award winner, James Cameron. Some members of our society opted to watch the Hani documentary and some chose to immerse themselves in Cameron’s masterpiece. While these two stories may seem to have colossal differences in constructs, i want to argue that infact, watching TITANIC is an indirect and perhaps, unconscious way of paying tribute to Hani’s legacy, provided that it is watched not merely as a story about unconditional love, but a story that captures the day-to-day struggles of the working-class across the world; struggles that are created and perpetuated by those who have control and ownership of the means of production.

On the surface, TITANIC is a story about two young people from different class backgrounds who fall in love against all odds, and ultimately make the greatest sacrifice of all for that love: life itself. It is a tale of love that can move mountains, love that defies logic in a quest to find expression and acceptance in an environment that is hostile to poor people. Cameron brilliantly narrates the true story of TITANIC, a ship that sank in the Atlantic Ocean about a century ago, in a fictional manner. This ship was heading from Europe to the United States of AmeriKKKa carrying approximately 2000 passengers who were lured by the prospect of realising and living the AmeriKKKan Dream, at a time when industrialisation was at its zenith. Starring some of the best Hollywood cast that includes Kate Winslet (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD), Leonardo DiCaprio (CATCH ME IF YOU CAN) and Donald Sutherland (THE ITALIAN JOB) to name but a few, TITANIC boasts more than 10 Oscar awards and has been consistently voted as one of the best movies of the 20th century, an accolade well-deserved. It is indeed a poignant love story, one that has brought tears to the millions of viewers that have watched it since its premiere in the 1990s. But this is not all that there is to TITANIC. Infact, from an Afrikanist perspective, this is only a tiny fraction of what TITANIC really is about. I write this note to challenge you to return the retina to your eyes and see TITANIC not as a romantic movie, but as a movie that can serve as a tool for the decolonisation of the Afrikan mind. To do this, i will juxtapose the scenes from TITANIC with the Afrikan reality, with the hope that in the end, you will appreciate the importance of understanding the nature of both the national and the class struggle that engulfs the world.

TITANIC begins with a group of archaeologists, marine biologists and other scientists searching the Atlantic Ocean years after the sinking of the TITANIC. This group of people, of course, is searching not for historical artefacts that can contribute to the puzzle about this tragic accident, but for a rare diamond that one of the passengers aboard the ship was wearing at a time it sank. The price of this diamond is estimated at hundreds of millions of US dollars. The reason for this is better explained through the study of Economics. Economics informs us that the scarcity of natural resources such as minerals is the reason they are expensive. This indicates to us that in a society where even nature itself can be privatised and commodified, these resources will only ever be available to the rich, who have a great supply of money that can be spent to satisfy their unlimited wants. In Azania, these are the people who have, for centuries, created their wealth through the dispossession of natives and whose children are today the beneficiaries of that legacy.

 The next scene introduces us to Jack, a young Irish working-class man, who, along with his friend, wins tickets to board the TITANIC in a very lucky-handed game of poker at a joint of working-class toilers. This of course, is a fictitious expression of the real world, where upward mobility for the working-class is more often than not, a result of the intervention of chance. Every day in the townships of Azania, old men and women are subjected to playing what we call “MoChina” or “Fafi”, a game where the player must guess a number that will be drawn out of a container by (usually) Chinese game-fixers. If a number is guessed correctly by someone who bet, the Chinese game-fixers will pay out the money, depending on how much was put on the bet. The last time i played this game with my grandmother, we bet a number with 50cents and won approximately R14, 50. That was nearly 10 years ago, so i assume the prices are slightly different today. For the younger working-class population, intervention of chance comes through games like “MaDice” or “Morabaraba”. In the township of my birth, Soweto, women mostly play cards, “Dikarata”, a chance game like the poker that won Jack and his friend tickets to board the “unsinkable” ship.

The third scene introduces us to Rose, a young woman from the upper-class, who has boarded the TITANIC with her mother and her fiancé, a multi-millionaire named Carl, whom history would remember as a man scorned. Rose is a typical rich spoilt-brat that enjoys the benefits of her wealth, but is simultaneously held bondage by its constructs. In a world where money talks and all else walks, the 17 year old woman finds herself frustrated and trapped in a relationship that she does not want to be part of. This relationship, of course, is arranged by her mother, whose husband died and left little behind. Not wanting to find herself subjected to a life of toiling, she uses the only collateral that she has: her own daughter, Rose, who must bear the misery of being Carl’s wife so that she benefits materially. This reality is seen every day in our society, where young women are forced to sell their bodies for survival, and the more “sophisticated” ones resort to being pantypreneurs (women who sleep with rich BEE beneficiaries who provide them with a ticket to a life of luxury). Rose, feeling like she is in a defeated state, resolves to commit suicide. But as fate would have it, Jack sees her as she is about to hurl herself over the back of the ship into the freezing waters of the Pacific Ocean, and immediately rushes to save her from herself. This too, is an expression of reality. The working-class is permanently rescuing the rich from itself. For example, Black mothers, with no professional skills and academic qualifications, are reduced to being domestic workers in homes of the rich, maintaining those houses and babysitting the children of the rich who would otherwise have no-one to nurture their growth.

The forth scene captures the contrasts between the rich world and the poor world, showing us the vivid culture of crass materialism that is a norm in bourgeois society, and equally, the nervous conditions that are a definition of working-class reality. We see, for example, how the rich spend ridiculous amounts of money on art, as Rose does for her paintings. Sadly, as is the case with famous Dutch painter, Hieronymus Bosch, most of the people who labour to produce this art die paupers. (This is because of the evil that is called labour brokers, whom all of us have a responsibility to help COSATU to banish in occupied Azania). We also see how the rich are located at the top bunkers, where they are afforded tranquillity and ethereal views of the majestic ocean and starry skies. They sit there sipping on bottles of Dom Perignon and imported coffee, Earl Grey tea and juices made from organic fruits. Their beds are covered in silk linen, their rooms scented with ylang ylang and lavender fresheners as they walk on their Persian rugs. Donned in mink coats and tailor-made tuxedos, they dine at the finest of restaurants surrounded by the sounds of Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfang Mozart, luxuriating in the calmness of “Cosi fan tute” and “Torna di tito a lato”...

But at the bottom bunkers, where the third class citizens of the world are located, the conditions are far from habitable. There is a moria of rats and the beds are so close together those passengers can barely turn around without waking each other up with their jerking motions. Sadly, the people who make it possible for the rich to enjoy this luxury are beneath the ship toiling around the clock to keep the ship afloat. These working-class men cut coal with their bare hands and feed the boat with tons of it so that it can move smoothly. The same is true for the world. The working-class toils endlessly to produce goods and services that only benefits the rich. A vivid illustration is Nike. This brand has made a billionaire of its owner, but until recently, Nike used child labour in Kathmandu, Nepal, to make its products. Poor children of Asian peasants were subjected to working under extreme conditions to make shoes and soccer balls for a company whose net worth at the time, was over $100 000 000. These expensive Nike products would often be worn by children of the same rich company owners, with no care as to how they were manufactured.

In the fifth scene, we are shown how the TITANIC sank, taking with it more than 1000 people, most of them women and children. In the movie, when it becomes clear that the ship will sink, the brutality of stratification rears its ugly head. The rich, termed the “first class”, are the first to be allocated life-boats so that they can be taken to safety, while the “third class” that was located in the bunkers below are forced to wait for an absolution that will never come. We see women in rags, clutching their wailing babies to their chests, with frightened looks on their faces and haunted eyes that ask, “Where shall we go with our young ones?” Shockingly, most of these life-boats leave the sinking TITANIC with only 20 “first class” people, when, according to the engineers who built the ship, they have the capacity to carry over 70 people. The reason given as to why these life-boats leave so empty, is that, “We do not want the third class to sink them”, clearly indicating that poor people, by virtue of being onboard these boats, are bound to create another catastrophe. This particular scene hits me very hard, for it reminds me of a period that is very close to my heart, the 1994 Rwanda Genocide that saw the brutal slaying of more than 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people in the north of Afrika, by Interahamwe militia. The role of the United Nations was identical to that of the guards onboard the TITANIC, who separated people on the basis of their class and social standing. The UN sent its peacekeepers into Rwanda to remove foreign (European and AmeriKKKan) nationals and have them flown back to their own countries. When all foreigners were out of Rwanda, the UN removed its peace envoy from the country, despite the growing number of attacks on Tutsis by the militia and rebel groups. Just as in Afrika our people were left to die as the whole world watched, the “third class” passengers onboard the TITANIC were left to die in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, with the distant world oblivious to their blood-curling screams and haunting cries.

As the ship sinks, we see how even in times of crisis, the working-class is at all times playing the role of slaves to the rich. But more than this, we see how in a capitalist society, the stratification of humanbeings continues even in death, with the rich dying in their comfortable beds as Rose eventually does, and the poor dying in the process of saving the rich, as Jack does. Pointedly, Rose, who is an old woman when she recounts the story, confesses that “I have never told anyone this story before”. A man rescued her life, gave her a chance to live, but she never acknowledges is existence. This is true of the rich, whose wealth is created and maintained by the working-class, yet who never even acknowledge the working-class when they reap the rewards of that creation. Look at how the Trans-Atlantic slave trade created the wealth for the developed world, yet none thank Afrika for her toiling in cotton fields and sugar fields. Instead, she is perpetually raped condomless by these countries, impregnated with debt that she cannot pay.

The SABC 1 aired a documentary of Hani, but it was etv that infact, captured the very essence of what Hani’s life was dedicated to. Hani was dedicated to fighting what we saw on TITANIC tonight. He was fighting for an end to the oppression of those without ownership to means of production; for their dignity and for their right to life abundant. Today, as we face universities that continue to make it a Herculean task for children of working-class parents to receive an education, as we face former liberation movements that are determined to keep this country in chains by reversing the gains of the liberation struggle (minimal though they may be), may we not only remember the legacy that Hani left for us, may we also remember the road to Socialism will be paved by those who seek a world where a humanbeing is judged not by the amount of his bank balance, but by the height of his integrity. And with this in mind, may we remember to never forget the poignant Zambian proverb that says: “When you run alone, you run fast. When you run together, you run far”.



Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi

Minister of Land Affairs 2033


by Malaika Wa Azania on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 5:29am ·


At the risk of seeming like a lunatic, I want to challenge young people to view the ANC situation outside the cemented axis of interpretation that has been created by the media as well as the leadership and membership of both the ANC and the ANCYL. There is an axis of interpretation that insists that Malema is reaping that which he is responsible for sowing. This axis argues that for a while, Malema has been wrecking havoc within the Alliance, projecting “reckless” behaviour that seeks to undermine the ANC leadership and obliterate a culture of revolutionary discipline that is allegedly cemented in the oldest liberation movement in the Afrikan continent. The opposite axis argues differently; that Malema is the fall guy in a savage game of politicking, where dog-eats-dog is a constant. It is alleged that Malema is paying the price for raising legitimate questions by those who benefit from having these questions out of public discourse, namely, the leadership of the ANC. Each axis has its own corroboration of its interpretation. However, for those of us who are not privy to internal matters of the ANC and its Youth League, and equally reject the often sensationalist interpretations of the media, the responsibility of dissecting the ANC crisis is left to our individual consciousness, which is birthed by an understanding of the society that we are located within, the same society that Malema himself is located within. And so, this article seeks to answer questions not from the angle of politicking, but from a sociological perspective that views Malema as a person located within our society, but with a political home within that society. To understand the nucleus of this article, it is important that i bring to your attention a less known story of Victoria Climbie, an 8 year old Ivorian girl who died in England in the February of 2000.

Victoria Climbie was born into a poor family at a village in Cote d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast, in 1992. When she was 7 years old, a distant relative of hers, Marie Therese Kouao, approached her parents with a proposition that very few working-class parents can turn down. Kouao was living in England at the time. She proposed that she be allowed to take Victoria with her to England, so that she could receive a good education which, in the poverty-stricken village of her birth, Victoria would never have received. Excited at the prospect of having their oldest daughter being educated in a developed country, Victoria’s parents gave their consent, with the understanding that she would return home at some point and plough back to her community. But upon arriving in Europe, Victoria's life took a turn so savage that to date, it is humanly impossible to comprehend. Victoria was brutalised by her aunt, beaten and starved. She barely attended school, because more often than not, she was covered in painful bruises and scars all over her little body. In February 2000, no longer able to fight for her life, the little girl died in the Intensive Care Unit of St Mary’s Hospital in London. Her body carried 128 injuries. She had spent her final weeks lying in a bath, freezing and bound head and foot inside a bin bag.

The tragic thing about Victoria’s death is that it could have been easily prevented. Prior to her death, and at the height of the abuse, Victoria was seen to by TWELVE agencies, which included childcare services, doctors and social workers. All of them could have halted the abuse, but they failed to intervene. At one point, she was taken to Middlesex Hospital by a concerned adult, who was worried about the bruises that were covering the child’s fragile body. But the doctors there refused to assess Victoria, diagnosing scabies as the cause of the bruises, despite cigarette burns and other glaring human-inflicted injuries protruding from every part of her flesh. In another incident, a social worker who was tasked with visiting Victoria’s home to assess the living conditions of the child opted to not fulfil that duty, for fear of “catching scabies” (Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report). Because of this neglect and failure to act when there was sufficient time to do so, Victoria Climbie died and the Afrikan continent was robbed of a potential contributor to its think-tank.

The story of Malema, though not identical in context, is disturbingly similar to the story of Victoria Climbie. Like Victoria, Malema could have been saved by many people at many points in is political journey, but the chances were deliberately missed. The result of this is that a person who had immense potential to help Azania re-write its narrative has been dealt a political death, making it virtually impossible to communicate with a wider audience that not only listened, but NEEDED to listen, to most of what he had to say.

The charges that were brought against Malema by the ANC NDC as well as the accusations that are hurled by ANC leadership, membership and the general population, have a common denominator: they all attribute ill-discipline to Malema’s political burial. Some, who obviously are suffering from extreme amnesia, even go as far as to claim that Malema alone is the cause of the state of decay in the ANC. He is accused of being the cancer that has infected and paralysed the Mass Democratic Movement. The most insane of people even claim that the decrease in the number of votes that the ANC received at the previous elections is a result of Malema’s radical pronouncements over the past few years. These preposterous assertions are, of course, an attempt to use Malema as a scapegoat for a problem that is of our collective creation and one that could and should have been addressed at its infancy.

In 2008, that year when the country was thrown into a dark abyss, Julius Malema emerged as a hero of a faction that was hell-bent on utilising any means necessary to remove what it deemed a problem in the ANC. In fact, at one particular event attended by ANC and YL leaders and members, Julius Malema had this to say: “The problem in this country is Thabo Mbeki and his people”. By this, Malema meant that the then president of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Mbeki, and his administration, was the cause of the problems that the country was facing, socio-economical and otherwise. Malema, as a leader of the ANCYL, led a vicious campaign to unseat a constitutionally elected president, using very uncomradedly methods that ought to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of authentic patriots. Interestingly, at this point, the zenith of his vulgarism, Malema was not seen to be ill-disciplined or reckless. He was defined as a militant young person who spoke truth to power. We all clapped hands when he spoke, whether or not he was vividly insulting elders. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said: “When you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. This statement is most apt in capturing the response of our society to Malema’s behaviour. We either justified his actions as being those of “a radical young person” or we simply dismissed him with a shrug, never analysing the implications of our apathetic reaction to his uncouth behaviour.

Today, Malema is walking in the valley of the shadow of is political death. He is facing an expulsion from his political home, an organisation that he has dedicated years of his life to, an organisation that he poignantly calls “my home”. And like a lamb to the slaughter, he knows that the end is nigh. Many people are sitting comfortably in their corners with smirks on their faces, saying, “He is ill-disciplined and he must go!!” Few are using this opportunity to reflect upon THEIR role in Malema’s demise, which they do not realise has implications beyond the settling of political vendettas. The implications will be felt especially by the Black majority, to which Malema appealed.

It cannot be debated that under him, the ANCYL re-introduced the one issue that this country has perfected the art of ostracising from political discourse: the race question. At a time when the collective soporification of our people was threatening to render them in a permanent state of defeatism, the ANCYL, under Malema, came out with guns blazing, guns pointed at the enemy: the system that survives on the subjugation of Black people, the system that has not only institutionalised, but has also constitutionalised Afrophobia. The rapture that was created by the ANCYL under Malema was necessary, because it forced all of us to re-introspect our location within an Azania that cunningly buries truths in favour of one-way reconciliatory approaches to solving urgent matters. That rapture is the reason for the slow build-up of confidence that is evident in a people who had almost forgotten that they have a place in this anti-Black world.

Indeed, Malema is not innocent in all this. But NONE of us is. We must, as a people, synthesise the causes and ramifications of this occurring disaster. It is our responsibility to put an end to convenient politicking, which is rapidly manifesting in the Afrikan continent. As a people, whether as activists or as the general populace, we must begin to condemn ill-discipline in its elementary stages, whether or not it benefits our objectives. Because ill=discipline FOR us soon becomes ill-discipline AGAINST us, the result of our failure to address it in its infancy is that at some point, it is going to threaten revolutionary gains.

Student organisations, as factories where future leaders are manufactures, must lead the revolution of the annihilation of ill-discipline. It begins with fighting against SRC corruption and misappropriation of resources. It begins with ceasing the culture of electing leaders on the basis of popularity as opposed to electing them on the basis of capacity to deliver. But more than that, it begins with all of us standing united in the struggle for Socialism, which is a quest for the cleansing of a society that we want our own children to grow up in. We cannot continue to let problems manifest and only at the height of their development, want to react to them.  In Sesotho we say: THUPA E KOJOA E SALE METSI.

Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi
Minister of Land Affairs 2033