Wednesday, September 28, 2011

War for Righteousness

by Njabulo Ngobese
Image by Zapiro

It’s been an ongoing battle between the South African media and government about the proposed legislation of the Protection of Information Bill which hasn’t reached its decisive ruling. Contradictory to its grassroots policy of protecting and fighting for human rights, the ANC has apparently lost the plot in its ongoing journey of rectifying the injustices of the past government. Previous policies are now coming into play as the media has been put on a chokehold to censor any information that might prove to be detrimental to the reputation of the state. At what cost though as the question has been posed to the government’s rulings on the matter. Could it be that we are now entering the realm of a system of social injustice that is designed to protect and preserve the criminal minded figures in blue collar corruption? The ones who hold the answers to those questions are currently waging war at each other with the audience being the recipients and barriers of the final verdict.

It’s no surprise at all, that the South African government found it convenient to suppress its first threat to its agendas, the media. Known for its influential power on the general public, it was only a matter of time before civilians exercised their democratic right of rebelling against a corrupt government that has earned a reputation for squandering state funds. The proposed legislation of the Protection of Information Bill was initiated on the false basis of protecting and serving the interest of South Africans. However, the rejection of the bill by members of the media and general public, made it evident that the state was acting in its own interest.

The biggest victims should the final decision swing in the government’s favour, will be those blinded by the lack of information of what the state does with money that is suppose to serve its people. The slogan that won the ruling party a position of power back in 1994 “A better life for all” has now become a myth. It’s every South African’s responsibility to reject the Protection of Information Bill in the name of civil justice.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Heritage Day

by Njabulo Ngobese

Excitement looms in the air as Heritage month reaches its pinnacle with the long awaited celebrations of tomorrow's holiday. Although September 24 was meant to be a commemoration of the late great King Shaka Zulu and his tribal following, Heritage Day has since been diversified to accommodate all cultures in different spheres of life across the country.

Durbanites can brace themselves for an array of activities taking place tomorrow across the city. The 14th Annual Is'cathamiya Competition will be gracing the Playhouse Theatre with a live musical showcase of home grown dance moves from the province's finest. Also Unit 11 an indie night club located on Stamford Hill will play host to the all black Johannesburg based rock band, Blk Jks. Celebrate Durban will present the Miss eThekwini Competition that will hold its reign at the Durban City Hall from 6:30pm till late with a showcase of twenty beauties who hold hopes of being crowned Miss eThekwini 2011.

With an exciting list of options to pick from, it seems like Durban is spoilt for choice on how they can engage in the celebrations of Heritage Day. AFH (Art for Humanity) wishes all South Africans a joyous holiday with the encouragement of unity, peace & love amongst all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Arranged Marriages

by Njabulo Ngobese

As the celebrations continue for heritage month, we look at the long standing history of arranged marriages in the Indian community.

The practice of arranged marriages is now something of the past in most Indian communities around South Africa. Nowadays, the choice one makes with whom they choose to spend the rest of their lives with depends on how much they love that person. The whole idealism behind arranged marriages in the first place is based on the conservative nature of the Indian culture. Parents found it appropriate to choose a life long partner for the children because there were certain rules and regulations they had to follow when initiating the process.

Status and class were the key elements of note when couples were in the process of being brought together. One could not marry outside of their class. The girl's family would look at the boy's status to see if he is worthy of marrying their daughter. . Unlike the Zulu culture with lobola, in the Indian community it is the girl that pays for the boy (Dowry), which in India is still practiced.

Although arranged marriages may seem ideal on a cultural level, socially they can backfire severely leaving room for promiscuity which can result to the contraction of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. The dissatisfaction of one of the parties in the relationship can easily compel them to seek gratification else where. Studies have shown that there is a higher chance of committing adultery if you are in a committed relationship with someone you don't love reason being there is very little loyalty built between the two people.

With the above as an added form to the AIDS epidemic, it is important for people to realise that as humans each individual has the right to make his/her own choices.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

South African Heritage

by Njabulo Ngobese

The westernisation of black society has over the years resulted in several cultural rituals being sidelined for practice. The use of traditional healing methods has been subjected to be demonic practice according to Christianity, a faith that has seized its dominance in black society since it's first arrival in Africa. Today's generation of black youths, stands as a reflection of what has been considered by elders as the lost generation. They destitute any knowledge of self.

The most hypocritical act according to a philosophy student I recently interviewed, lies in certain races embracing and celebrating heritage month without any knowledge of their cultural background. "Nowadays it's become a trend to follow the wave and scream 'heritage month' just because it's noted in our calender. If the day was not publicized as much, very few people would actually get into the spirit of celebrating the occasion" says Khondlo Mtshali who has strong views about today's black society lacking knowledge of their culture. One might argue though that Khondlo's argument is one sided and only points out to one specific race group. A coloured girl once brought something to my attention that I found to be quite interesting. She stated that the coloured race in South Africa has no historic origin that they can identify with. Being a "mixed breed" has made it extremely hard for them to find some form of grounding and cultural background.

So the question arises, what is the purpose of celebrating heritage day if today's generation being the future leaders of this country have very little or no knowledge at all of their grassroots? Perhaps the month should be used to it's fullest capacity to educate and cultivate the youth of their origins.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tribute to Biko

by Njabulo Ngobese

Heritage months pays homage and respect to a fallen soldier who fought for the liberation of our country during the apartheid regime, Steven Bantu Biko.

"Black is beautiful", the famous slogan the late anti-apartheid activist Stephen Bantu Biko was known for still bears relevance in today's times where the loss of cultural identity remains a threat in the current generation of black youths.

Born in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape, South Africa in 1946, Steve Biko showed early signs of political activism through his expulsion from Lovedale High School. Although still in his youth, Biko was already motivated to challenge a system of social injustice he felt had a negative connotation on black society. NUSAS (National Union of South African Students) was a multiracial politically moderate organisation that Steve Biko first joined while in Medical School. Firm on his beliefs to give people of colour a voice of their own, Biko went on to form SASO (South African Student Organisation) which eventually revolved to become BCM (Black Conscience Movement). Steve Biko was elected as the organisation's first president.

It wasn't long before Steve Biko's name became the centre of attention in the South African government books. Posing a threat to a system he was adamant on destroying, Biko was ruled out as a terrorist by the government. Numerous efforts were made to shut down his political activities as countless arrests & detentions by the police became a norm for Biko. His calling as an anti-apartheid activist however came to a tragic end. On September 12 1977, Stephen Bantu Biko was killed while in the custody of police after being interrogated, starved and brutally beaten. An autopsy conducted after his death confirmed that he died of brain lesions. His funeral was attended by thousands and thousands of masses who bided farewell to a soldier who fought for a now liberated South Africa.

We salute you Stephen Bantu Biko.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hip Hop Geba (The Purpose)

by Njabulo Ngobese

According to ancient history, the sound of poetry, the drum and rhythm, earned its origions in the continent of Africa. With the enslavement of African civilians to serve under their respectful masters as slaves, the spirit of music & poetry transcended to foreign lands where it found a new language that would have universal appeal and break barriers to reach a broader audience.

iGeba, is a Zulu term for isiZulu the language. It represents a culture that has seized its dominance in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Existing in the borders of Inanda, is a rich history of fallen kings who were known as 'Izimbongi' which translates to 'poets' in English. Their visions and dreams were usually interprited through their poetry and song. That particular chapter in history is now represented by a new breed of artists who have carried that torch left behind by their predecessors. 'Hip Hop Geba' is the evolution of Zulu poetry layered over 'break-beats' influenced by a variety of genres from jazz to soul music. Pioneering the movement for future generations to follow is Merel, a born & breded native of Inanda, who has been pushing an agenda of note that has encouraged lovers of art and music to take note of the distinguished genre, 'Hip Hop Geba'.

The release of his 2008 self titled debut underground EP sparked a lot of talk around the 23 year old music phenomenon. Reaching an audience that ranged from the youth to adults, Merel's style of song writing displayed a great sense of maturity. It encouraged the youth to value, appreciate and celebrate black heritage with efforts to preserve the Zulu language from extinction. According to a video interview where Merel was asked to break down the meaning behind 'Hip Hop Geba', he simply stated that "the genre represents fallen kings & poets who spoke for their people. Shaka is a highly commercialised concept of someone that was regarded as the greatest king in the Zulu nation. But history does not speak of greater kings who fought the same fight Shaka did. Those are the kings I speak for and represent in my music".

With concerns looming over the loss of cultural identity amongst the current generation of black youths, 'Hip Hop Geba' seems like an ideal medium for encouraging youngsters to revisit their history and learn about their heritage.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A School Of Historic Wealth

by Njabulo Ngobese

A location that houses some of Durban's richest heritage, Inanda is a township located on the outskirts of the city's metropolis. The home of late revolutionary figures such as Mahatma Gandhi & John Langalibalele Dube, Durban is well recognised for its diversified cultural blend that has played a vital role in shaping South Africa's rich history.

Inanda Seminary, an all girls school with a 141 years of academic excellence, is a living testament of Inanda's rich historic background. Having produced some of South Africa's well respected figures both in the cooperate and political spheres, Inanda Seminary has prided itself at living up to its motto of ''Shine wherever you are''. With an impressive 100% pass rate in 2010, Inanda Seminary remains firm on maintaining its academic excellence that was established when the school was first launched in 1869 by American Missionaries. Mary Kelly Edwards, an American Missionary, was the school's first appointed principal. Her impressive leadership skills helped set a high standard of academic achievements that have put the school in the noted eye of global icons such as Nelson Mandela and South Africa's current president Jacob Zuma. Mr Mandela was responsible for assisting in finding Inanda Seminary sponsorship from Sappi to keep the school going after it was on the verge of closing down due to the lack of funds. Madiba's historic visit to the school took place on August 13th 1999.

Since then, Inanda Seminary has carried its traditional standards of high excellence both academically and morally. With funding from sponsors, the school has been able to run a bursary program that is aimed at disadvantaged pupils. The bursary covers both boarding & tuition costs. With Heritage month now in full effect, AFH gives praise to Inanda Seminary for their long standing monumental contribution to the history pages of Durban & South Africa.