People don’t sleep because of the violence and crime

People don’t sleep because of the violence and crime. Early in the morning from 5am to 7:30 the screaming starts as people are robbed on their way to work and school. But the police resources continue to follow the apartheid patterns and, with the chance to change that unequal picture, the South African Police Service, or SAPS, is often making the same decisions as they did 25 years ago. So now we campaign for #PoliceResources.

Now they are suggesting building an extremely expensive police station in Muizenberg. People in Vrygrond, Seawinds, Capricorn can’t get to Muizenberg, but no matter. Communities in Delft, Nyanga, Mitchell’s Plain, Harare, Khayelitsha and many more are still not fixed. So, we need actions that join these dots and connect the different communities.

We held a meeting and here are some ideas from the room:

“We are gatvol” We are fed up and done with it.

Why 100 000 000 rand for one building???

We must watch how that money will be spent.

We must organize, not just the people suffering the worst crime and the least protection, but the white and re middle class too.

Interdict the SAPS, stop the building.

Occupy SAPS until we get a real commitment

#PoliceResources

 

(Image Credit: Facebook / Social Justice Coalition)

The Mymensingh and Khayelitsha “stampedes” were planned massacres of women

In this 2011 file photo, women mourn over their relative who died in a stampede triggered by a fire scare at a garment factory in Dhaka.

In the past two weeks, “stampedes” took the lives of at least 33 people, 31 women and two children, in South Africa and Bangladesh. Yet again, the death toll among adults was exclusively, 100% women, and yet again the world will look on the pile of women’s corpses in shock and amazement, as we did in September 2009, when women were killed in stampedes in Indonesia, India, Pakistan and South Africa; or in January 2012 when women were killed in stampedes in Pakistan and South Africa. Each time, despite the gender of the dead and of the event, the fact of this being an assault on women is erased.

Today, in the northern Bangladeshi city, Mymensingh, hundreds of “poor and emaciated” women gathered outside a garment factory owner’s home to pick up free clothing. Someone fell, others fell, and then the rush ensued. Thus far, 25 bodies have been recovered, 23 women, two children. Fifty women have been sent to hospital. A scan of the world’s headlines on this event shows one headline that acknowledges this salient gender feature: “Bangladesh stampede leaves 22 women and child dead”. The rest either cite a number – “Stampede at Bangladesh clothes handout kills 23” – or refer to the clothes giveaway – “23 Zakat cloth seekers killed in Mymensingh stampede” – or mention people – “25 People Killed in Bangladesh Stampede”. Only one, that I’ve found, acknowledges the women. Why? What is so terrifying about saying 23, or however many, women were killed?

In Khayelitsha, in South Africa, two weeks ago, a gunshot at Osi’s Tavern provoked a rush from the tavern. It was 3 in the morning, and the tavern was crowded. It had only one exit, one staircase. The staircase collapsed. Six women were killed on the spot. Two women were killed on their to hospital. The women’s ages ranged from 15 and 23.

In some ways, two seemingly different events end up with the same morbid mathematics of gender: women were killed.

There was no stampede in Mymensingh today, and there was no stampede in Khayelitsha last month. There was a massacre of women. Say it. Women were killed. Now the State steps in, once the women’s corpses have piled up sufficiently, and claims to act, but it will never acknowledge the simple truth. There was no accident. There was indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of women, a massacre, and it was always part of the plan.

 

(Photo Credit: Reuters / http://indiatoday.intoday.in)

THE CRY OF THE GANGSTER PARENT

THE CRY OF THE GANGSTER PARENT

Ooh I wish this day was never gonna come
Ooh how I wish that I will never hear these words
Ooh how I wish that I will never see this scene
Ooh how I wish that I will never have to say I told you so.

All the words of Wisdom from me never said a thing
Tragic deaths of your friends and the likes never woke you up
Several police arrests of you never deterred you
Miserable life style you lived never brought you back
Six gun shots in your leg never stopped you.

Ooh how I wish I would never said these words
Ooh how I wish I would never had to see this scene
Ooh how I wish I would never have to hear these words
Ooh how I wish I would never have to say that I told you so!

Even though I knew that it was supposed to be
Even though I knew that the sun rises from the darkest nights
I have hoped that there is a way out even in the densest forest
I was optimistic that one day you will come to your sense of reasoning
Religious teachings told me that the prodigal son will come home begging for crumbs

But with you it was never gonna be.
The night with you was never gonna dawn
The forest with you was full of beasts
The sense of reasoning with you was n’t gonna be
The prodigal son in you was lost forever

Ooh how I wish I was never gonna say these words
Where is the power of wisdom to stop this madness?
Where is the power of prayers to stop this cry?
Where is the power of humanity to push this inhumanity back?
Where is the power of community to bring back our being?
Let this be done before it dawns forever!

(Please find and share the poem I wrote after my nephew was shot down yesterday afternoon from his gangster activities.  Conditions of gangsterism are created by our society and it is this society that have to deal with it.  What can we do to preserve the precious life for all?)

Apartheid haunts domestic work

In Los Angeles County, there is one bus route, the 305, that directly links the low- and no-income residents of the southern suburbs to the wealthy homeowners of the West Side. Millions rely on the 305. Millions of employers, millions of workers. The 305 only exists because of decades-long struggles by people of color, in the streets, in the courts, in the corridors of power, in the living rooms and kitchens of neighbors and family. And after all that struggle, there’s one line. And that line is about to be closed.

It’s called an efficiency. Close the one line that actually serves low-income workers of color, and replace it with `a hub’. How’s that worked for the airline industry? Not so well, but that makes little to no difference. After all, what’s a few more unpaid, and costly, hours in transit in the daily lives of workers of color? It is estimated that the hub system will double the length of commutes and triple the price. Los Angeles doesn’t allow for free transfers from one line to another. It’s called efficiency.

Who are these workers? Janitors, nannies, maids. Women of color, women of color, women of color. Women of color with names. Guadalupe Lopez. Ana Hernandez. Marina Tejada. Silvia Conjura.

Every day hordes of `colored’ and Black women board the buses, and travel for hours, to tend to the needs, desires, idiosyncrasies, and mess of wealthy, more-often-than-not White individuals, families, households, neighborhoods, communities. Every day, women workers of color pay more and get less. Every day their debt increases. Every day their own families, households, neighborhoods, communities suffer the irretrievable lose of time. Every day.

And every day, the State figures out a new way, through efficiencies, of seizing yet another dollar, yet another hour, from the pocket, purses, bodies, and days and nights of these women of color. If this sounds familiar, it should. It was the logic of `public’ transport under the apartheid regimes in South Africa.

For coloured and African women workers, the State made transportation impossible and necessary, unaffordable … and required. It was a clear weapon in the war of some against the many. To this day, the country still struggles with the apartheid geography of impossible and unaffordable transport. As one writer noted yesterday, commenting on the death of his own nanny, Florence Mbuli, “You can now easily replace the word `Bantustan’ with `township’ or `informal settlement’”.

Yes, we can.

Across South Africa, women workers organize daily on the trains that take them to work. They organize domestic affairs, they organize political interventions, as women workers, as women of color. In Los Angeles County, the same is true. Women workers, every day on the bus, are organizing, organizing information, organizing domestic affairs, organizing political interventions.

Florence Mbuli lived to see the apartheid regime end. She lived to see her children grow up into “very successful people”. But the trains remain, the buses remain, the collective taxis remain, because the distances between home and work, the distances created by an apartheid logic of efficiency, remain. In fact, in many places, most notably the Cape Town metropolitan area, the distances have grown greater since 1994.

Today, Florence Mbuli rides with Guadalupe Lopez, Ana Hernandez, Marina Tejada and Silvia Conjura. Together they measure the time, the cost, the distances. Together they organize. The State can claim to reconcile individuals, even communities, but it can’t reconcile space. It can’t reconcile distances. From Watts to Westwood, from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain to Claremont and Rondebosch, and beyond, apartheid haunts domestic work.

 

(Photo Credit: Monica Almeida / The New York Times)

Not just another murder, Brenda Namigadde

On February 4, 2006, almost five years ago, Zoliswa Nkonyana, “a young Khayelitsha lesbian”, was chased by a group of 20 or so young men. When they caught up with her, they clubbed, kicked and beat her to death. They tortured her to death for being lesbian, for being openly lesbian, for being a woman, for being.

It took two weeks for the news of her brutal murder to finally reach the media. The police didn’t make much of the death or its circumstances. The press in Khayelitsha, five years ago as today, is marked largely by its absence. It was `just another murder.’

Five years later, the case is still open, the trial is not yet finalized. Memorials will take place, no doubt, protests and commemorations.

Yesterday, January 26, 2011, gay rights activist David Kisule Kato was brutally murdered in Mukono, Kampala, Uganda. Kato was the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda. Along with Julian Pepe Onziema and Kasha Jacqueline, Kato had recently won a case against Rolling Stone, restraining it from publishing photos and names of gay men and lesbian women. The High Court ruled that the tabloid violated the rights to privacy and safety. This time the news of the murder spread quickly. The Kampala police claimed, almost immediately, that they’re on the case.

In both instances, and so many others, the assault is on the right to public being, the right to access as gay men and lesbian women, to public spaces, to common and shared experiences, to mutual recognition.

Brenda Namigadde is a woman from Uganda. She fled Uganda in 2003 after her house was destroyed and her life was threatened … because her life partner was a woman. Namigadde fled to the United Kingdom, where she sought asylum. She was turned down, because of insufficient proof of `being lesbian’. Now Namigadde sits in Yarl’s Wood, and awaits, in terror, to be deported to Uganda.

One way to honor the memory of Zoliswa Nkonyana, of David Kato, of all the other gay men and lesbian women who have been brutalized, tortured, murdered, for the sin of being gay in public, for the sin of sharing their love in the common and shared spaces, is to make sure that Brenda Namigadde and other gay and lesbian asylum seekers are not transported back to the House of Death. If not, then Zoliswa Nkonyana, David Kato, and all the others, they’re just another murder.

 

(Mosaic of Zoliswa Nkonyana by Ziyanda Majozi. Thanks to inkanyiso.org)

Blacken our name

Gugulethu

Blacken our name

Blacken our name
with your doom and gloom
whether you be a visitor
from abroad or a local
from a village fenced-in

Blacken our name
darken our doorstep
with tales of murder
and mayhem too

Blacken our name
call us the black sheep
of the developing world
out in darkest Africa

Blacken our name
legendary publicist
(you are said to be)
amid the infamous

Blacken our name
spin-doctoring away
in your own image
for your clientele

Blacken our name
it is business as usual
for those who put up
with daily abuses
tourists or no tourists

Blacken our name
all our Gugulethus
all our Hanover Parks
all our Manenbergs
and our Khayelitshas too

Your business is as usual
as is the convenient truth
of our living out here

“Accused hired sultan of spin” we are told, in the aftermath of accusations that husband-honeymooner Shrien Dewani paid for his wife to be murdered (Argus, Wed, Dec 8 2010).

 

(Photo Credit: Carin Smuts Studio)

FIFA and the maids

 


The 2010 FIFA World Cup is drawing to an end. On the pitch, it has been filled with thrilling moments and surprising turns. Off the pitch … not so much.

Ever since South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the government has been feeding promises and creating expectations about how good this is for the country, for the economy and for the workers and the poor.

This World Cup will make more money than any in the history of the event. A total of $3.3bn has been raised by FIFA from television and sponsors, dwarfing the amount made in Germany.

It has also been one of the most expensive World Cups ever. FIFA has spent $1.1bn.  South Africa has paid out $5bn getting the Rainbow Nation ready for its biggest moment since the 1995 Rugby World Cup, building stadiums, roads and public transport links.

The Cape Town seaside stadium, with 37,000sq m of glass roofing to protect spectators from the elements, is the most expensive building. It rises amid mounting claims that South Africa – where half the population still survives on an average of £130 a month – has mortgaged itself to host a football spectacular that will bring little benefit to its people.

As reported in the documentary, Fahrenheit 2010, the £68 million Mbombela Stadium has been built on the site of a school serving a poor community in Nelspruit, near the Kruger Park. It seats 46,000 and will be used for four matches, while local residents live in dwellings without water or electricity.

The stadiums are magnificent, the atmosphere and anticipation is heard through the sounds of the vuvuzela. But Dennis Brutus, late sports-justice activist, predicted that the World Cup would result in a shocking waste of resources. He said, “When you build enormous stadia, you are shifting those resources from building schools and hospitals and then you have these huge structures standing empty. They become white elephants.”

Former president Thabo Mbeki also predicted. He claimed the 2010 World Cup would be the moment when the African continent “turned the tide on centuries of poverty and conflict“. Such ambitions were never likely to be fulfilled by a sports event, no matter how big and how lucrative. But the claim was grand, almost as grand as the bill paid for the event.

In the end, will South Africa have spent billions of dollars on a 30-day advert that quickly fades as the sporting world moves on? If so, South Africa will have missed a great opportunity, a defining opportunity, to think through and act on celebration.

Thabo Mbeki’s words could have provided that opportunity. The conflicts that mark South Africa today — include poverty, xenophobia, racism, sexism, environmental degradation, violence, health and well being — are not exclusively South African or African conflicts. While the world press and much of the South African press has suddenly discovered the poors of South Africa, from Blikkiesdorp to Khayelitsha to Barracks and beyond, who has discovered the particularly South African celebration?

What is there to celebrate? Since the transition from the apartheid regime, South Africa has celebrated and been celebrated for democracy, freedom, rule of law. These are fragile and important structures, which have been avoided in the current State discussion and even more in those of FIFA.

In 1994, for example, South Africans celebrated democracy, meeting by meeting, engagement by engagement.

When the Reconstruction and Development Programme was presented, in 1994, it emerged from RDP councils that had tried to include everyone. While the RDP itself has had mixed results, the process of a national critical conversation was important. It involved domestic workers and their bosses as equal participants, if not always partners.

The 1994 Women’s Charter for Effective Equality, organized by the Women’s National Coalition, emerged from a creative research and inquiry campaign that, from 1992 to 1994, attempted to include all women, where they were, not where they were meant or imagined to be. It too involved domestic workers and their bosses, and their inputs were of equal and interrelated value and weight.

And today? Other than a few very transitory jobs, what has the World Cup done for domestic workers in South Africa? Has it promoted their rights? Has it engaged or consulted them? Has it told them that, irrespective of legal status, they are full and free citizens who are covered and cherished by the Law? No.

If anything, the private lives and domestic spaces in which real democracy either begins or founders, have gone untouched and uncelebrated. Not only by FIFA but also by the media and by advocates for social justice.

There has been no engagement in any kind of consultative democratic and democratizing process. And so the poor and disenfranchised simmer with resentment and a yearning for democracy.

What is there to celebrate? The games have been exciting, but games are always exciting. South Africa could have offered a precious space to witness transformation in process. South Africa once gave transformation a new importance. It was a gift the Rainbow Nation offered the world. This World Cup was an opportunity to live it at home. An opportunity squandered.

 

(Photo Credit: Reuters / Paul Hanna / Daily Maverick)