SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION DRIVEN BY SOUTH AFRICA’S EMERGING, SERVANT LEADERS

 

SAWIP inspires, develops and supports annual teams of interns and its whole alumni body to bring about community development through social projects amongst the most disadvantaged and marginalised South Africans.

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African Leaders take responsibility

by Kgosietsile Tsintsing
Kgosietsile Tsintsing
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on Tuesday, 12 May 2015
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The recent xenophobic attacks that have plagued South Africa have been a tragic disregard of human life. The African continent has been divided over the past decades which is directly attributable to a lack of unity. This has hampered the continents economic progression.  The unfortunate events in South Africa will make the process of unity on the African continent that much harder. The responsibility of the recent xenophobic attacks solely cannot be placed on South Africa. The African leaders should take responsibility for the attacks.

 

Firstly the South African government have been the main contributors to the recent events. In the name of politics they were able to raise the hopes of citizen’s especially of those who live in the most impoverished areas in South Africa.  The over romanticising of public service delivery is a serious issue. South African citizens 21 years into democracy are still complaining about the level of public service delivery. Citizens are still waiting for adequate housing that has been promised to them.

 

The poor public health system is another aspect which fails the working class. It is common for individuals to queue for hours to see a nurse in undesirable conditions. Prospective patients are frequently turned backed due to a lack of facilities or mismanagement of medication supplies. Some hospitals have been reported to have back logs of medication for up to 2 months

 

The root cause for the unrest is employment. The government without fail have promised that they will create jobs with what would seem promising figures of levels of jobs that will be created. With youth unemployment currently in the region of 50% I fail to understand why creation of employment is grossly exaggerated. I understand votes need to be secured but what is currently needed in South Africa is honesty. Government should be honest and give the citizens the common courtesy to know what is realistically and feasibly achievable, after all they do deserve that much because it is the majority that has placed the current government in power.  Inflating the prospects of job creation has clearly not played out well.

 

In no way am I endorsing the xenophobic attacks but it is logical the individuals will be angry. The government has fuelled the fire with their promises that have been partially delivered.  These individuals were side-lined during the apartheid era and they are still side-lined 21 years in democracy.  Individuals are still angry from apartheid; there are deep wounds that still need to heal. Over promising does not contribute positively to this healing process.

 

The trend of a high influx of migrant workers has been occurring for years in South Africa. The leaders have lacked planning in order to deal with the high influx of migrants. With a system that was already overloaded coupled with promises that were partially delivered, this was a concoction for disaster.

 

Now let’s look at why there is a high influx of migrant workers in South Africa. South Africa has an economic climate that is enticing to migrants but this is not the sole cause of the high influx of migrants. These migrants are fleeing their homes in hope of a better life. The African leaders have failed their citizens who leave their home countries and should take equal responsibility

 

The Zimbabwean economy was brought to its knees. Life was made difficult for citizens in this country. Forceful seizures of most the white owned commercial farms led to a drastic decline of the economy which was dependent on its agricultural production. The lack of freedom the citizens had in electing a different leader did not make conditions easier. With such bullying tactic citizens were scared and rightfully fled their country of birth

 

Nigeria has had their issues as well. According to an article in Aljazeera in 2014, it stated that 60% of population lives in extreme poverty with youth unemployment roughly at 70% and daily violence due to Boko Haram.

 

Corruption has plagued Nigeria as well, the oil rich country in which the state is significantly involved in has been accused of mismanagement of funds. Ethnic and religious clashes are also common in parts of Nigeria. According to Lauren Ploch access to clean water is one of the country’s leading problems with approximately half of the population having no access to improved sources of water. Furthermore less than a fifth of households have piped water and 30% of the population lack adequate sanitation.

 

Somalia has been marred with issues within its states. The citizens have lacked trust of the state to mobilise the military against the Islamist militant group AL-Shabaab, in order to restore security in the nation and allow for the promotion and growth of economy. Somalia has a problem with its food supply, the country is dependent on food aid and commercial imports of food. Business in Somalia is another area of concern for its citizens. A lack of infrastructure development and lack of investments have caused much worry for the prospects of the countries viability into the future.

 

The recent xenophobic attacks have highlighted the work that still needs to be done on this continent. Leaders should be bold and address issues within their countries and not make life difficult for its citizens. The citizens have put them into power now they should fulfil their mandates. The citizens rightfully deserve the life that they have been promised.

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Middle-class it’s time to play your part

by Kgosietsile Tsintsing
Kgosietsile Tsintsing
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The SAWIP session that was facilitated by Dr. Thiven Reddy was based on the political history and the socio-political-economic context in South Africa. As the discussion unfolded it became apparent the important role the middle class has in tackling issues within South Africa.

 

According to the 6th BRICS Academic Forum by Mcebisi Ndletyana the middle-class in South Africa as of 2014 based on the 2011 consensus approximated the middle to be 17% of the population, which is roughly 8.5 million of the population in South Africa. Of this 8.5 million Africans made up 51%, whites 34%, coloured’s 9% and Indians 6%.

 

Let me just highlight the importance of the middle class. Firstly the middle class can accelerate the eradication of poverty. We are faced with high levels of inequality in South Africa. Growth in the middle will result in more individuals making invaluable contributions to the economy through tax contribution.

 

Secondly the middle-class can improve the governance within the country. The middle-class plays an intermediating role between the working class and upper class. The reason for this is that the middle-class is attentive to the foresight and promotion of policies that govern this country. Their keen interest is due to fact that their economic stability depends on the quality of government policy and execution. Furthermore in contrast to the upper class the middle-class is more dependent on public services provided by the government. Take a moment and think about people you may consider to be middle-class. Now consider this word “Load shedding” a word we know far too well by now. Do those individuals own generators to get them by? In South Africa majority of the middle class do not own generators. Another example is the introduction of e tolls, the middle class has taken a hard knock financially and it is evident in the uproar and disapproval of e-tolls. This clearly indicates that the middle-class is more susceptible to government policies as opposed to the upper class.

 

Thirdly the middle class can contribute to job creation. This is due to the belief that the middle class is educated. A criteria that is used to determine middle-class status is not only based on individuals income brackets but educational attainment as well. Generally the middle-class possess forward thinking behaviour that can improve conditions in society. With high value put on education they are able to create jobs with the knowledge they have obtained. The middle-class have the ability to secure credit in order to pursue business ventures. This has been evident in the number of start-ups of small to medium enterprises which will be the backbone of the economic growth that is currently stagnate.

 

Furthermore the middle-class of the country have the ability to bring more business ventures into the country. A strong middle class that is influential is able to create confidence in the abilities of the workforce within in South Africa, thus creating trust which can lead to more efficient transactions. When the middle is strong and influential it can significantly contribute to improved efficiency of government institutions, which is needed in South Africa where businesses are reluctant to investment back into the economy due to a distrust of government.

 

Currently there is a lack of cohesion amongst the middle-class. Racial division has hindered the progression of middle class into strong and influential group. Individual upward mobility is another cause for the lack of cohesion. Individuals are on a quest for power instead of uniting and improving the conditions for society as a whole.

 

The middle class has the ability to tackle the plague of issues that are a worrying cause of crisis in South Africa. The future of South Africa lies in the quality and strength of the middle class.

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CULTURE CHAOS

by Nadia Gava
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I’m not black. Never have been. Never will be. But despite my Italian heritage, I am African. Always have been. Always will be. In my (Afrikaans/Italian) culture, we don’t have any big traditional ceremonies; we don’t really have any traditional dress (unless you count the Voortrekker kappie, which, I think, will be slightly less popular and/or accepted today) and we definitely don’t have any traditional dances (I refuse to recognise “sokkie” as a legitimate representation of who I am and where I come from).

When I see corny ads promoting South Africa to the world, I get goose bumps. This is my home, these are my people. Their culture is my culture. So when Maxwell Rani made it clear at last week’s session at the UCT School of Dance that he dislikes doing traditional African dancing, I was puzzled. Growing up, I’ve always been exposed to traditional African dancing and I’ve always found it to be extremely powerful and proud. I must admit, he went further and explained his position: Max is an extremely impressive man, he speaks with passion about his country and his culture and, above all, his art – dance. During his live he has travelled the world representing South Africa and African dance. He has experienced first-hand what The World thinks of us, how they perceive us, and he has found them to be lacking. Perhaps our tourism ads are to blame, but Max expressed his (understandable) annoyance at the fact that Europeans and Americans all have the same idea of South Africa: The Lion King. First of all, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t even South Africa. Secondly, I can’t remember that I’ve ever seen wild animals roaming the streets. Thirdly, even if I had grown up with lions perusing the isles at Pick ‘n Pay and hippos popping by for dinner, there is so much more to South Africa than game drives and half-clad black men and women dancing to the rhythm of their jembi drums.

How can it be that the general South African populace knows so much about what goes on around the world at any given time, but the world knows so little about us? ‘Oh, South Africa? That’s the country with apartheid and zebras, right?’ No, we’re the country whose people died fighting a racially discriminatory regime to reach a peaceful transition to democracy; we’re the country who has eleven official languages; we’re the country with beaches, mountains, deserts, highlands and rivers; we’re the country with 52-million people of multiple cultural and religious backgrounds and yes, we’re the country with load shedding.

Technically, I’m not a “born-free”, seeing as I was born in 1992, but I was raised free. My parents, bless them, have always instilled in me a deep respect and appreciation for the diversity of our country. So when I see Zulu’s dancing “indlamu” I get shivers: I am proud of my fellow South Africans’ culture and, I must admit, slightly jealous. They have ways in which to express exactly who they are and where they come from and with such strength, pride and beauty! It truly is astonishing to witness.

So, although I understand Max’s frustration with the world not allowing us to break from our mould, there are certain nooks and crannies of our mould that I like. Yes, the world needs to recognise that we are so much more than they’ve made us out to be; they need to grant us the opportunity to develop and come into our own – juggling so many languages, ethnicities and religions is a true challenge to unity and defining one national culture, yet in this challenge lies our answer: our culture is everyone’s cultures, it is diverse, it is the culture that embraces African dancing; welcomes the Hindu celebration of Diwali and the Muslim Ramadan and Eid festivals; it recognises the Cape coloureds’ Klopse parade and there’s even place for a little lang-arm and vastrap.

We’re not just a rainbow nation as a collective, each citizen is a rainbow in his/her own self: yes, I know this sounds a little “Strawberry Shortcake”, but what I mean is that each individual’s culture in South Africa is made up of small parts of his/her fellow citizens’ cultures. My skin is white, my taste buds are Indian, my rhythm is black and my vocabulary is coloured. I am African. I am South African.

 

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Blog 3: Moving Through a New World

by Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo is a lover of all things wonderful; delicious food, great music, fr
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on Monday, 11 May 2015
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In the hushed candle-lit room, shadows dance around the walls. Pictures of ballet dancers with perfect form decorate the space and although there is no music one can almost hear a soft mellow saxophone massaging its tune through the air. The conversation is one of Africanism, dance and expression. The type of discussion you would expect to hear in a smoky jazz lounge, musk filled and lit with red. The room would be full of young minds, clothed in earthy prints, woolen fabric textures. They would have glasses of dark red wine in one hand, the other hand left to gesture wildly in the air, adding emphasis and importance to shared. As the evening progresses laughs will deepen, inspiration will be stirred and passions will reignite and as these minds leave the jazz bar and the night seeps to a close, dreams will spill out into the street, grasping for a place to manifest.

Last week this was the scene of our discussion about art, dance and leadership. While the room was “light-less” I could feel my heart pulsing with that buttery saxophone tune. What could be more enticing than a relevant and informed discussion about music, dance and art and its importance in society? The conversation is, unfortunately, too precious to narrate now but hopefully my description of the setting will give you a glimpse into that night.

As I drove home afterwards, soothed by the delicate French notes of Stacy Kent in my warm car, I started to think about how music and dance has influenced my life. Whether it be my energetic and somewhat eclectic dancing in my car in the morning on the way to work, or the fluff-soft melodies I listen to in my room after a long day to soothe my soul, I have come to realize that music prepares me, invigorates me, calms me, charms me, embraces me, energizes me, shapes me and loves me. All without demanding anything but a movement – dance, in return.

How wonderful, that I could have an intellectual discussion about art, which not only taught me so much but also reminded me of that which I so often take for granted.

I must say “Thank you Maxwell Rani”, and to the neurological faculty which allows human beings to appreciate music and to create it, I feel it would be remiss for me to not say “I thank you too”.

 

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Blog 2: A Hobbit’s Surprise

by Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo
Anesu Mbizvo is a lover of all things wonderful; delicious food, great music, fr
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on Monday, 11 May 2015
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When asked to blog about my experiences on SAWIP, I jumped at the opportunity, rejoicing the opportunity to free my boisterous, untamed creative self. I was inspired and as soon as I had a free moment, I sprinted to the library, tearing through the calm crowd of medical students, to unleash my wrath on a computer and begin my work of art.

In hindsight, this lack of composure may have lead to a somewhat overzealous attempt to set a Hobbit/Lord of the Rings theme to all of my blogs this year. Unfortunately, now that reality has set in, I have come to accept that this may be a relatively difficult task to accomplish. However, I am known to be stubborn and my creativity is relentless, so I have decided to stand by my convictions and test my creative acumen by sticking to this theme in as many blogs as I can. For this reason consider this statement to be an explanation, a disclaimer and an apology for future blogs to come.

 

As you may recall from my previous entry, I titled my first blog “An Unexpected Journey”. This was done for two reasons:

First and foremost, this is the title of the first of The Hobbit movies. While I am by no means a passionate Lord of the Rings fan, as previously stated my creativity got the better of me thus leading to The Hobbit Blog Saga of 2015.

The second, and perhaps more important reason for this title, is because my entry into the SAWIP program was, in fact, unexpected. While applying for this incredible opportunity I really had very little belief in myself and my ability to be selected as a member of the SAWIP team. In fact, on multiple occasions I remember telling my peers and family about the program and saying something like “Actually I don’t think I’ll get in. I’m applying because I think the application process itself will be a great learning experience”.

Now, although self-doubt can be fairly dangerous and harmful to one’s psyche, in this situation I feel that it lead to me fully enjoying every moment of my application to SAWIP. At every point during this process I was able to enjoy each moment for what it was, and my “self-doubt” allowed me to delve fully into each activity without feeling any self manufactured pressure and heavy expectation to succeed. In every moment I felt blessed and fortunate to be there.

As the application process went on, I became increasingly proud of myself but I still remained surprised at what I had managed to achieve. In fact, when I did hear that I had made it onto the team it took a day or two for me to actually believe it!

In hindsight and going through the SAWIP program, I have begun to wonder why I had so much self-doubt. Perhaps it was a way to protect myself from the possibility of failure, or, perhaps it was simply because I had never done anything like SAWIP before.

Whatever the reason may have been, I am glad to say that from the start SAWIP has felt like both a blessing and tremendous achievement for me. I have enjoyed every second and every moment has been and continues to be a wonderful, engaging and enriching surprise.

 

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CRISIS OR NO CRISIS? That is the question.

by Wayde Groep
Wayde Groep
Wayde Groep is currently a BSc Human Life Sciences student at Stellenbosch Unive
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on Monday, 11 May 2015
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The current state of affairs may often  lead us to making the conclusion that South Africa is a broken society. This is an idea that is rooted in what we understand being broken means or moreover the misguided notion of a previous wholeness. South Africa’s history is complex and it is filled with elements both good and bad. The political and social landscape we know South Africa as today, is as a consequence of many influencing factors - colonialism, slavery, and apartheid. Simon Freemantle (https://m.research.standardbank.com/Analysts?view=1695-a97508864f7a52e8fadef72e8dc57ff9-1) one of our session facilitators is a young South African that shared his experience and knowledge, ensuring that we reflect critically on how we understand, explore and dissect the realities of regional and continental challenges in the 21st century.


With an opening question asking the team whether we are in a crisis or not as a nation, I felt as if I was quickly put into somewhat of a hotseat. I almost immediately began to contemplate what "crisis" means not only to me as a young South African with the opportunity to study at one of the country’s top institutions but more over what this means to many others who are still subject to socio-economic strife, adverse poverty and who do not necessarily experience the privileges I am able to.  I was reminded that at any point in crisis the trajectory of where are headed can either move upward or downward and it is all fundamentally dependent on the actions taken in the now.

Highlighting a number of issues ranging from the economy, trade unions, politics and crime this blog is my own exposition of where we are as a nation and where we should be moving towards.


Light at the end of the tunnel?

Loadshedding has become more and more prevalent and an occurrence so often that one may as well consider it as part of the normality of our everyday lives. This is not too far-fetched. According to Mr. Freemantle, as it stands the trajectory of economic growth will see a plateau of 2% over the course of the next 3 years.  It is a highly problematic situation as a country like SA normally experiences growth of around 5%. But what this fundamentally means is that we do need to make a conscious effort to rethink how we will address this through sustainable initiatives that benefit the whole South African population.


A road less travelled

It has become more and more apparent that what we require now more than ever is to find real ethical leadership in the midst of absence when decisions need to be made. The type of leaders who are able to ride or fall with the decision they have made.


The ANC is faced with many challenges. The idea of a female at its highest position is becoming a topic of importance and more importantly the perceived lack of young emerging leadership to appeal to the youth is also becoming more and more of a priority. Things have definitely changed since Polokwane and the organization understands this. The ongoing debates around the role of the president in key appointments and our constitution being a document that comes to life is important. Access to proper healthcare, sanitation and social support services are at the epicentre of hopelessness, anger and hurt largely contributing to ongoing service delivery protests and more alarming the surge in xenophobic violence.


But all is not such a dreary affair. I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, for some this is seen much clearer and brighter. In essence what this means is that we are tasked with ensuring that the rights of all citizens are always promoted and protected.


I now throw the ball into your court. Is South Africa in crisis?

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Hostage to our health care system

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
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Hostage to our health care system

Cyan Brown

A young medical student’s perspective on what our state health care looks like

As a fourth year medical student I could in actual fact do very little to help you clinically if you collapsed in front of me right now. I could in all likelihood tell you about the theory behind whatever is wrong with you, but could not do much practically other than basic emergency care.

So what have we spent the last four years of our degree doing? Other than a lot of theory, I think much of our time has been spent on trying to understand the complexities of our health care system and finding coping tools to face what is coming our way.

Our recent sessions on public health and a team visit to Steve Biko academic hospital has really made me take a hard look at the situation where by South Africa finds itself a hostage to our health care system. As a medical student with this hospital being my campus and this environment being my reality I have perhaps forgotten how shocking some of our reality is from an outsider’s point of view. Our day consisted of a bit of theory and some practical exposure.

Our first session was with Professor Anton Stoltz, head of infectious diseases at Steve Biko and University of Pretoria. He specializes in the control of all infectious diseases but particularly HIV/TB. He gave us valuable insight into the history of the disease, the governmental strategies of dealing with the disease and where we are headed.

He shared that HIV has been around since the 1900 century in Africa, but only really came to the forefront in the 1980s. Society did not understand the disease and so little was done to effectively tackle the transmission. Under Thabo Mbeki’s government, the health advisor made a recommendation that HIV did not exist and so should not receive any further attention. In these five years the disease spread exponentially due to the president and health minister refusing to acknowledge its existence and the need for serious intervention. When anti- retro virals (ARVs) were finally made available to the public, it was administered as a single drug, which resulted in the virus mutating and developing resistance. As a result the highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) campaign was launched, which used three drugs instead of one to combat resistance. However, resistance was still increasing and drugs were only available to those people with CD4 immune counts below 350, meaning that only the very sick were eligible for treatment.

What this resulted in was a huge amount of people that were not virally suppressed being able to live longer towards the end of their disease process. This means a larger population that is capable of infecting others and not enjoying optimal quality of life until their immune system was depleted enough to qualify for ARVs. We now see that we still have problems with our treatment, due to non-compliance, lack of food to take accompanying medication, and lack of availability of drugs. Once huge advancement in this field has however been the provision of the full dose combination (FDC), which resulted in only one tablet needing to be taken for all three drugs to be ingested.

However, the social epidemiology of this disease is still a hugely problematic issue. Many myths and lack of education regarding the subject have allowed for the uncontrolled perpetuation of this disease. South Africa now faces critical challenges to keep its health care system afloat amidst the financial burden of treatment of the world’s most HIV infected population.

The next subject was tuberculosis (TB), where the Professor highlighted that although this is a rather overlooked disease; it is in fact TB and not HIV that stands to cripple our health care system. Whilst it takes on average R250 to treat a normal TB patient per month, South Africa is currently facing the problem of multi drug resistant TB (MDR TB) and Extreme drug resistant TB (XMDR TB) which costs anywhere between R30 000 and R40 000 to treat, with a low success rate. Our country has had to adopt the direct observational treatment system (DOTS) where by community health workers are assigned to monitor compliance and progress of TB suffers at home. TB is spread by droplets and can go any where in the body, meaning that there is a far higher population at risk for the disease than HIV.

When HIV and TB are combined together in one patient, mortality risk is very high. Professor Stoltz shared on the fact that often doctors will have to exclude these patients from receiving adequate care due to the resource constraints and prioritization of care and money towards those that have a better chance of survival in critical situations.

Another reality that was touched on was South Africa’s unpreparedness to face infectious disease challenges. If Ebola had to have hit SA, Professor Stoltz gave the insight that he felt we would be quite unprepared to comprehensively handle the disease burden. Our antibiotic resistance rates have also substantially increased over the last while, and so although we are constantly having to fight new diseases, we are quickly running out of medication capable of treating these diseases and in 20 years time will face a situation of uncontrolled, untreatable disease.

As head of infectious disease, Prof. Stoltz had just recently done a hand hygiene campaign as well as a study of the quality of air-conditioning units in the hospital. Based on the findings, he concluded that the hospital was unfit for use due to severe infectious contamination levels however with no other choice, the hospital keeps its doors open to serve.

We then moved into a general tour of Steve Biko and Tshwane district hospital, looking at all different areas including casualty, labor ward, administration areas and behind the scenes hospital areas. The team was shocked at the level of service. Basic infrastructure was damaged, medical waste was improperly disposed of, conditions were unsanitary and the hospitals were not well organized in most wards. It is a difficult concept to internalize that these are the conditions at some of our best state hospitals, and that the conditions at some of our poorer hospitals have even worse conditions.

After the session the team was visibly shaken. A lulling silence permeated the air and an uncomfortable sense surrounded the team. Unsure of what to make of it, I just let it be. For after all, how on earth are we going to change a system if we do not understand the realities of just how terrible conditions are. Getting to share my world with the team was both incredibly exciting but also a good reality check on just how shocking it is to a person unexposed to the system. I hope many more leaders have many more uncomfortable silences after witnessing how so many of the most vulnerable South Africans are taken hostage in a system unable to adequately care for them. After these few days I am even more motivated to help create change in this system, and not just on a patient level but on a level that really affords majority of South Africans good quality health care.

 

Sa (Whoop Whoop ) team member 2015

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The X-Factor

by Nadia Gava
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Ignorance is bliss, but denial ain’t just a river in Egypt… what I lack in personal experience in attending rehabilitation facilities, I make up for in my over-indulgence in cheap American films, which has taught me through the struggles of various tortured characters that the first step to overcoming your problem is to admit that you have a problem. South Africans can no longer ignore the X-Factor. And no, I’m not referring to anything Ryan Seacrest or Simon Cowell is involved with (yet another example of cheap, yet popular American entertainment). I’m referring to XENOPHOBIA. Xenophobia is commonly understood as the dislike or prejudice against people from other countries.

In 2008 when the first xenophobic attacks took place, our government (strategically?) refrained from using the word “xenophobia” and rather opted for sneakily selected synonyms such as “displaced violence” or “acts of brutality” or “rampant criminality”. Finally, this time around, we have formal acknowledgement by government officials that we are, indeed, faced with a crisis of xenophobia. Acknowledgement is not enough, our government needs to take formal action if it wants to ensure that xenophobic attacks will not rear its ugly head again. Xenophobia will never leave us unless we have a proper political plan of action – sporadic eruptions will continue to haunt communities. We need to listen to the cries of those who have no jobs, no adequate housing and no hope. We need to respond appropriately to those who are at risk for drugs and prostitution in order to escape a desperate situation. These acts of violence and thuggery are committed and condoned by people who perceive foreigners to be the cause of their poverty. Desperate locals see foreigners as the thieves of jobs and services and the criminals who side-step the law.

Note how I say “we” need to listen and “we” need to respond: during the anti-Apartheid struggle, grassroots organisation and civil movements were the backbone of the liberation movement and I am of the opinion that this will be the most effective way of organising people to fight xenophobia. I’ve always been proud of our strong civil society, but lately I’ve questioned its interests: how do we manage to organise thousands of students, civilians, academics etcetera to fight for the removal of a statue, but we don’t apply the same vigour in removing corrupt officials from their positions or in demanding justice for the 34 massacred victims of the Marikana shooting? Is a march against xenophobia in Johannesburg enough?

Here, I suggest we look to one of our neighbours, Zambia, for some inspiration: President Kenneth Kuanda’s government realised that xenophobia is a phenomenon that needs to be pre-empted from childhood. They introduced a compulsory subject called “Civics” in all schools, both private and public.  The content of the subject focuses on the history of the region and its people. This is an excellent way to train young minds that intolerance should not be tolerated. Perhaps the introduction of such a subject in South African schools should be considered, where it will also teach learners the valuable role other African countries played in our own struggle for freedom, as well as our current development.

Moral arguments aside, there are massive economic and political implications to these xenophobic attacks:

1.)    South Africa exports approximately R3 billion worth of goods to Africa every year. In other words, we need Africa much more than it needs us. If we are setting Africans on fire and looting their shops, what are we trying to say and/or achieve?

2.)    The continued expansion of South African companies into the rest of the continent becomes undermined, and so does the South African foreign policy on the rest of the continent.

3.)    Both South Africa and Nigeria’s position in terms of possibly being included in an expansion of the UN Security Council Permanent Members will be severely weakened

4.)    Our trade and other relations with countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are also hampered by the attacks, in the same way it hampers African relations

ALL South Africans need to step up and take responsibility in the fight against xenophobia and intolerance in general: why does a study recently conducted in a township in Gauteng show that 36% of the respondents wanted “all foreigners” to be evicted? We need to change perceptions and contribute to creating a culture of tolerance.

We need to turn the X-factor into a Y-question: each of us need to question why xenophobic attacks take place and why we need to act to put a stop to this.

 

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A piece of peace

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
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A piece of peace

Cyan Brown

 

There we are. All 19 of us new SAWIPers, jovially celebrating our recent selection to the program in Franshoek, Cape Town.

 

As expected, the sessions included a lot of information on expectations of the months to come, what Washington would be like and getting to know one another as a team. All very much necessary and urgent topics. However, then we moved onto the session with Jeremy Chennells on conflict resolution and I thought to myself how strange it was that this session was included so early on in the program. Although we did not get too much time to cover the content of the workbook we were given, my eyes were suddenly opened to the fact there was actual theory behind how we should argue!

 

Perhaps out of a place of ignorance, I always assumed that conflict resolution was just something that happened naturally. Basic skills like the ability to listen and construct an argument were important, but I always assumed majority of the success of resolving conflict relied solely on maturity of the parties concerned.

 

Brian Currin taught our next session on this topic. We were given more time to understand the theory and then were given a contentious issue to debate. After the session, we were given practical feedback on our performance and how we dealt wit conflict. I have always assumed this was something I could naturally but realized right then this is a skill that is largely learnt behavior.

 

Brian made the comment that he thought conflict resolution should be taught in schools, and after having thought about it for a while I couldn’t agree more. These past few weeks have really highlighted the importance of learning coping tools for solving conflict. Our society seems to view conflict as something that represents failure and the inability to work together, yet the past few weeks on the program have shown me that if you put enough strong leaders together there will inevitably be conflict. The art of progressing though, lies not in pretending the conflict does not exist, or by treating the conflict as a negative thing, but rather by seeing it as a mere call for the need to communicate with those around you.

 

I see so often leaders depict conflict to be a failure. I see even more often our public leaders deal with conflict in an emotional, blaming way rather than a constructive one and on an everyday basis I see people basing happiness on the absence of conflict rather than the ability to deal with it.

 

As a group of 19 young leaders there is bound to be conflict. When that conflict arises, I am keen to use the opportunity to learn to deal with it head on. If more of our children, leaders and everyday people learnt some basic techniques on how to approach, listen, interpret, respond and solve conflict in a constructive way perhaps we wouldn’t be facing the current onslaught of xenophobia, deadlocks in peach agreements all over the world.

 

Sa (Whoop Whoop) team member 2015

 

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Leading Ladies

by Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown
Cyan Brown- University of Pretoria Cyan is a fourth year medical student with a
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Leading ladies

By Cyan Brown

During training weekend in Franshoek, Cape Town, we were asked as a group to share our South African story. Although I am surrounded by a diverse group of people in my everyday life, I’ve never had the opportunity to sit down and share heritage, culture and personal stories about where we find our identity as young South Africans.

My heart softened with each tale, and a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of each path taken was fostered with each individual who courageously laid their history bare for many strangers to hear. The differences between our stories were vast and striking. Sitting in a room where people shared in their story, their identity and their struggle was both liberating and emotional. Throughout the session, there were many common threads in unrelated stories. A common thread of humanity, a mutual desire to use our history to shape a better tomorrow in South Africa and most of all- strong women who raised us into becoming the people we are.

With this week celebrating Mother’s day, I thought it appropriate to highlight just how significant strong mothers have been in the process of developing us into leaders. That night we heard stories of mothers who had been called witches in the name of asserting her moral beliefs, mothers who had done everything possible to ensure her children broke the poverty cycle and got a good education, mothers who tenderly nurtured yet decisively reared their children to become someone in society and mothers who had an unwavering belief in the abilities of their children.

In Africa they say it takes a village to raise a child, I say it takes a strong mother to raise a leader. My own mother has always supported me and has had so much influence in what I am doing with my life today. Without a strong female leader like herself I’m not sure I would be where I am- for society to a large extent doesn’t model positive female leadership.

There is a beautiful Swahilian proverb that reads: nilikuonyesha nyota na uliangalia kidole to. The English translation of this means: I pointed to the stars, yet all you saw was the tip of my finger. For many years this has been the case with female leadership in our country, an abundance of potential that is not always recognized by society, and only the tip of our fingers was seen instead of the stars but at this point in time I am absolutely thrilled that we are celebrating the recognition of that potential.

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When I was a young my mom always used to tell me I should stop bossing the other children around on the playground. In hindsight she was entirely right and I was a most terrible toddler, yet I still had a mother that supported and nurtured me and made me believe anything is possible. She used my bossy streak to teach me the power of serving instead of bossing and through that leading instead of merely commanding. That’s what South Africa needs. We need our women to empower one another and to realize that this issue affects everyone.

Where are we as a society with female leadership? Whilst one might assume South Africa is incredibly progressive on this issue, due to the fact that we are ranked 8th in the world in terms of number of women in parliament having 42.3 % representation, I questions whether these statistics reflect actual transformation or simply filling of a quota. In the long run this may do more to hinder true female leadership development due to the position being awarded based on gender rather than ability? If we look to our private sector, we see that only 3.4 % of all CEOs are female in this country according to the Businesswoman’s association of South Africa- clearly indicating that we have some serious work to do in high-level leadership roles for women.

South Africa is a key player on the African continent, and we see that this issue is currently becoming more topical. This year African leaders meeting for the 24th African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia, had the theme "Year of women's empowerment and development towards Africa's Agenda 2063". Reflecting that female empowerment is no longer an opinion, it’s an urgent requirement. African Union Chairperson ,Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said regarding this issue: "This is part of Africa rising. Africa will not rise as long as its daughters are bleeding and Africa will never be prosperous or at peace with itself if the whole generation is losing opportunities.” This shows we can’t treat this issue in isolation any longer, we are part of a growing movement Africa and to take up the cause is essential at this point in history.

So today isn’t just a day to celebrate the motherly roles that our moms play but also to recognize their role in the person and leaders we have become. Leadership isn’t only demonstrated in a job but also in how you conduct your everyday life and raise your children, and I’m almost entirely sure the 19 of us SAWIPers wouldn’t be fortunate enough to have gotten this opportunity had it not been for the strong women in our lives. So let’s take this day to celebrate not only our mothers but also what it means to be a female leader for Charles Malik wasn’t wrong when he said that the fastest way to change society was to mobilize women of the world!

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The cracks on the wall are beginning to show

by Jabulile Mpanza
Jabulile Mpanza
Jabulile is currently studying towards a master’s degree in Economic Development
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To my despair I awoke one morning to the cheap paint I had used to cover a crack in my bedroom wall beginning to come undone. It had been less than two weeks since I painted over the zig-zag crack with peach paint that could pass as the yellow that is the wall if one does not take much notice of it. It was good enough to hold till my home visit was over, I had told myself, knowing that my mother would not have the strength to deal with me over the phone. The crack was beginning to resurface, speedily too I might add and my cheap paint was clearly low quality, so I had to re-asses my options. 1) Come clean and face the wrath, 2) re-paint and cross my fingers that it will not look too bad such that it will go unnoticeable till I am gone or simply 3) keep my mouth shut and pretend I do not know a thing.

I find that this incident is a reminder and illustration to me of the state of our nation. The cracks in the wall have begun to show and speedily so. The “apartheid compromises” of CODESA, the Sunset Clauses and the like have come back onto the table as questions of whether real transformation has taken place over the last 21 years opened. ‘The people’ have demanded to go beyond the surface of democracy where it is just about the ability to vote, freedom to go wherever, whenever or the right to dignity. ‘The people’ are no longer just satisfied with the knowledge that they have access to numerous opportunities, can attend any school of choice or be heard by all authorities despite their race, but rather want the ability and empowerment to do so. It is no longer about what you say is possible, but what is really tangible and reachable for me. Transformation can no longer be an issue we discuss, theorise and formulate frameworks around, but it needs to be acted upon, to be done.


The people and perhaps rightly so , are anger because the promises that the paint – the opportunities, the access, the freedom -could close the cracks of past injustices, hurt, anger and turmoil were not true, but have instead crumbled, reopening the wounds hidden behind the wall.  Moreover, for some they see the pillars holding up the wall to no longer be strong enough to hold up the struggling structure.


I see this as one of the true tests of leadership, not only for the governing and ruling elite, but for those in the communities dealing with this anger. Of my three options, we have two and three that we can no longer access. It is no longer ok to be mediocre and do the minimum just to get by. We have out-used our easy life-lines and it’s time for those gutsy, strong and determined enough to take up the reigns.

South Africa who will rise?

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Power In A Script

by Leroy Nyarhi
Leroy Nyarhi
Young African man. Raised by women. Brother to many. Student of the honest and i
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Last year I attended a play called “Champion” by Khayalethu Anthony. The one-man performance took the audience through a journey of a young man’s life from birth in the Khayelitsha to incarceration. On his way to that undesirable destination, he experiences fatherlessness, violence (including domestic), poverty and unemployment. He took Rondebosch to the streets of Khayelitsha in an hour. The statistically complex realities of our society were beautifully arranged in a flawless performance by an actor. One man. One show. Countless lessons.

And this is the power of the arts. Having played an integral role in giving the liberation struggle a voice through exiled musicians and spontaneous song & dance at home, the arts have continued to be a significant element of South Africa society. They reflect the realities we encounter on daily basis. The Sawip team was reminded of this by Professor Maxwell Rani from the UCT School of Dance, who demystified the world of African Dance and the arts in general.

Being a well-travelled man, he enlightened us about the challenges facing these artists we admire. The same ones whose creativity bridges gaps between communities and allows protest to take different forms. They struggle to make ends meet, struggle to convince their families that their careers are meaningful and must deal with the narrow, sometimes ignorant perspectives of Africa art.

In spite of this, music, dance and theatre remain influential. The recent Rhodes Must Fall movement had a strong components of art in different forms play a role. This took the protest into the streets and UCT’s library through dance and silent performances, attracting lots of attention to the movement in the process.

Ernie Koela during a pop-up performance in protest by the Rhodes Must Fall movement, against institutional racism reflected at UCT through contentious symbols and statues

Sadly, information remains expensive, even when it is transmitted through the arts. Top productions tend to be performed in large theatres where entry comes at a hefty price. The end result being that only the middle class citizens who can foot a 3 figure ticket are exposed to the wealth of learning available to the audience. The solution would be more pop-up theatre performances in the townships, where a lot of dancers and actors come from.

The arts are already an alternative source of learning. For many, to whom literature is either inaccessible or uninteresting, watching a piece becomes their equivalent to reading a book. And so the time to stigmatise dancers, actors, singers and artist of other forms must pass. There is power in the script.

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Finding Integrity

by William Clayton
William Clayton
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“When you can’t find any integrity in a situation, find it in yourself” – Unknown

 

I was recently in a situation in which I was blamed for a situation which was out of my control. I felt utterly betrayed by the people that were in the situation with me and I was hell-bent on setting everyone straight and vindicating myself. However after coming across this quote I realised that if I were to go into the situation guns blazing, I would inevitably do more harm than good, so in that moment I decided to rather find the integrity in myself rather than to go looking for it in the situation… and ultimately the situation sorted itself out much better than what I ever would have if I played the blame game.

 

Sometimes in life we want instant gratification and we like to be liked so much that it dictates our responses to situations to such a degree that it does more harm than good. Often the best thing you can do is take a step back, take responsibility and find the integrity in yourself which is lacking in the situation.

 

Recently the SAWIP team had a Political Risk Analyst address us about the current state of South Africa and throughout the presentation I found myself thinking that our greatest loss as a nation is a loss of integrity. I have many challenges and some wonderful opportunities however what we don’t have is bipartisan leadership who are willing to take responsibility for their actions, regardless of the merits and act with integrity. This situation is not unique to South Africa though we have become a community which regards self-preservation over integrity and its eroding the world throughout.

 

After reading several articles reflecting on the Victory Day celebrations of World War II, I came across a quote which has stuck with me. They asked an elderly couple why they had been able to stay together for sixty five years and the wife replied: “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.” This idea has stuck with me and I challenge myself and my fellow SAWIPers with this, let’s find the integrity within ourselves to fix what is broken regardless of self-preservation or the need for instant gratification. We need courageous individuals who can find the integrity within themselves even when there is none in a situation to fix our nation, so I challenge you to find it rather than to throw it away!

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Hindsight is a Beautiful Thing

by William Clayton
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A few months ago, at the start of this SAWIP journey the team was asked to write a “Letter to your September-Self”. Essentially we were asked to write down what we would like to get out of this programme and what our fears and expectations were for the months ahead.

 

As a born and bred Englishman, something my grandmother always used to say stuck with me “the English only show affection to dogs and horses”. Staring at a blank piece of paper and writing down how I expect to “feel” in six months’ time wasn’t exactly my forte! However it reminded me about a similar task, when I entered High School each Grade 8 student was asked to write down what our hopes and dreams were for the next few years and where we were in our life’s t present. As you might imagine I wasn’t exactly over the moon about the idea but being a newbie to the school I obliged with all the will a freshman could muster. The time capsule was opened after my final exam of in Grade 12 and I remember reading it and laughing because in my stubbornness I realised a few things and I hope that the letter that I eventually did write to my September Self will have a similar effect.

 

I learned that expectations set you up for both failure and success. I remember reading in my time capsule and in it was all the things which I wanted to achieve, the positions I wanted to hold, the girl I hoped to ask on a date (my favourite car at the time) and the kind of person I hoped to be. In hindsight I can laugh at many of those things and how trivial they seem to me now, however at the time they were important and many of them remained important to me for the duration of my high school career.

 

I was proud of my successes and mortified by my failures at the time but the activity did teach me an essential lesson about expectations. The lesson I learned is that expectations will never truly be lived up to and, that’s okay. I had achieved some of the things I wanted to, I asked the girl out, albeit it took me a few years to muster up the courage to do so! I didn’t get everything I wanted but looking back I was perfectly okay with that.

 

Following that letter to myself I realised that we all have hopes and dreams however we should try and stay away from looking at expectations as a destination but rather just a list of proposed ideas otherwise there will always be an opportunity that you might be disappointed.

 

By allowing yourself to think of what you want as a set of goals rather than an expectation, you have the opportunity to learn from them, to grow from them and ultimately to be okay with whatever the outcome may be. I have learned that writing down what you hope something might be rather than what you expect something to be can be a powerful tool and hope to continue to learn from this throughout this SAWIP journey.

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Power

by Safa Naraghi
Safa Naraghi
Safa Naraghi is currently completing his final year of a BSc in Mechanical Engin
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on Sunday, 10 May 2015
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“The shooting pain radiated through my jaw and worked its way into my ear canal. A broken root in one of my molars found me flipping through a magazine in the reception room of my dentist. The cover page of one of magazines on the coffee table caught the corner of my eye and as I swapped the magazine I was reading with the other, the one boldly claiming the caption of “Powerful Women of the World” I began the quest to create the qualities of power. The writer had compiled a glamorous list including politicians, athletes, movie stars, aid workers, CEOs, and kept on going, covering an “A” list of powerful women, with accomplishments covering financial success, stardom and humanitarian efforts. No doubt a well deserved nod to myriads of accomplishments.

 

I decided to create my own list of powerful women and to expand it to the most powerful people (in my humble opinion). After much thought, discussions, research and deliberation I came up with my dynamic list of those who met the criteria based on the questions below:

 

Who is the most influential person we know?

 

Who constantly motivates, encourages and guides us to better ourselves?

 

Who is selfless in giving their all for the greater good?

 

Who dedicates every moment of their lives to the service of others?

 

Here is my list of the most “Powerful Person” that meets my criteria. Only one made the list.

 

Mothers”

 

- Mehran Akhtarkhavari

 

The above is a short piece that my uncle wrote. He sent me a link to the blog a few days ago. It really hit home when I read it. Power is defined so rigidly by society and these notions of what power is are often ingrained in youth growing up. The last few questions in the piece above highlight the basics of power and influence that we often forget. These, in my opinion should be the cornerstones of the definition of the words.

 

Take a moment and appreciate that powerful person in you life. Happy Mothers Day…

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South Africa, Politics and the Economy

by Mpho Gobuamang
Mpho Gobuamang
Mpho is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at th
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Simon Freemantle, as a Political Economist, has duties that involve combining his expertise in economics and politics in order to break down and communicate Africa’s external relations with the world and its internal structural growth dynamics. A knowledgeable man that many have spoken greatly about, he had facilitated a session with the Western Cape team and they were truly impressed.

Our team was rather keen for the session with Mr. Freemantle; we were all excited and had quite a high expectation of the evening. It is safe to say that our expectations were returned with not a smidgen of disappointment. Simon opened the session with a wonderful comprehensive overview of South Africa’s standpoint in terms of politics and its relation to our economy and what the future may have in store for us. He believes South Africa might just be in a crisis, by definition, “a crisis is a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; a turning point.”

Simon explained that South Africa is in a crisis because of the rollercoaster ride that politics has given to our economy, particularly during the presidency of Jacob Zuma. The president has faced a number of corruption-related charges such as fraud, money laundering and unduly benefitting from state funds; he has however been found innocent in many of these allegations, including getting an acquittal after a lengthy rape court trial. Though Zuma was elected in for a second term, statistics show that the African National Congress (ANC) party is gradually losing support, this warns the party to be rather strategic in the selection of Jacob Zuma’s successor.

Simon brought our attention to the involvement of the opposition parties too, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF); he predicted that Mmusi Maimane will become the next leader of the DA (by-the-way, he was right). Simon believes that Mmusi may be able to scoop up some support for the DA from some of South Africa’s black population, but will he make any changes within the party? What change will Mmusi bring as a leader?

Well last year (2014) Mmusi was the face of the Gauteng campaign for the DA, it had cost the party about R100 million, more than the national campaign of the EFF, the DA grew considerably, to 30% in the province and the EFF received 10% of the vote. The ANC suffered a big slide in support in Gauteng. Simon believes that a coalition between the ANC and EFF is imminent since the ANC needs the EFF’s support and Julius Malema really just wants to get back the power he had when he was still with the ANC.

These interactions between political parties have significant influence in the wealth of the country, foreign investors adore certainty, and the politics of our country offer no delicacy such as certainty. We see an example of an uncertain outcome in the unsettled trade union COSATU, wherein NUMSA may permanently part ways with it. Simon believes that it is the government’s duty, in the business spectra, to create a suitable environment for business to take place efficiently without bureaucratic hiccups that scare away foreign investments.

All the above make up a sequence of events that are leading to a stage where the trend of all future events, especially for worse, determine a scary South Africa, a South Africa in a crisis. Simon believes it will be a country where the unskilled are jobless, where frustrations turn to resentment, hate and even violence. With South Africa’s economic growth currently rising parallel to the population growth, the future may see our economy fall. Simon asked “40% of the tax payer’s money goes to civil servants’ wages and 20% to 30% goes to social welfare and economic affairs; who will build our bridges, create better infrastructure and invest more in education?”

These are questions every South African should ask themselves, especially before one casts a vote. Your wellbeing, in every sense of this word, will be affected by who you chose to represent you; will they put your interests as top priority, will they be able to drive a thriving economy and is your choice based on emotion or logic? In a nutshell, how will the choices I make today affect my tomorrow?

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Lerato la Mme

by Lehlohonolo Moche
Lehlohonolo Moche
Lehlohonolo is a third year Industrial and Systems Engineering student at the Un
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on Saturday, 09 May 2015
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My Life is Not My Own

by Lutho Vika
Lutho Vika
Lutho is currently completing a master’s degree specializing in Economic Develop
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The SAWIP team had an insightful session with Nigel Bailey on Balanced Leadership. In the session, each team member had to create a Coat of Arms with a Personal Motto. This was an interesting yet challenging exercise as one had to deeply reflect on the key values that are foundational to who they are and what they believe in.

After much reflection, I chose the person motto: “Blessed to be a Blessing”. I think this phrase truly embodies my life. I am originally from the Transkei but grew up in East London. From growing up in the Eastern Cape, I have seen what poverty and inequality look like. I believe I have been blessed in that my parents have been able to provide for my needs. They have sacrificed a great deal for me to be where I am today in terms of education and the opportunities that are available to me as a result.  I am truly grateful for this and I recognize that my learning and opportunities like SAWIP are not purely about myself– it is an ongoing part of being someone who contributes to the world in positive, productive ways.

Reconciling my values and what I am learning from SAWIP, I have found that my personal motto ties in closely with the servant leadership philosophy of SAWIP. From the SAWIP programme, I am continually learning the importance becoming a leader who is committed to service. I am challenged to become a leader who serves with humility and integrity, inspiring future generations to do the same. This goes against the increasingly prevalent leadership culture that is self-serving, where there is a constant battle for positions, titles and patronage.  The escalation of this leadership culture, I believe, has been to the detriment of growth and development in South Africa. As such, the time for change is NOW!

I am dedicated to making South Africa a better place in my sphere of influence. To come to this decision, I have had to believe that South Africa can be better. I have had to look past all the socio-economic challenges that are publicized and sensationalized to see a better picture. To be honest, at times I have felt despondent. I have felt the problems we face as a country are too big and I don’t know what to do or where to start. For some time, these feeling left me paralysed. Over time, however, I realised that to move forward I needed to keep my mind fixed on a certain set of issues I want to deal with and have a set of values that I will live by, always.

To bring this entry to a close, I will say this: There is one thing I know for sure, I was not put on this earth merely to exist. One of my biggest is leaving this world the same way I found it, having not touched the lives of other people in a meaningful way. Of course, sometimes I am sacred! It takes courage to take up the challenge of fighting for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves. You have to be bold to be the voice of the voiceless. But as soon as I start to doubt myself, I think “If not you then who? If not now then when?” Although simple, these few words propel me to put my fears aside and use the heart for people that God has given me and talents that He has blessed me with to bring about a positive change in society… because my life is not just my own.

 

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Making it Real

by Lutho Vika
Lutho Vika
Lutho is currently completing a master’s degree specializing in Economic Develop
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on Friday, 08 May 2015
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The youth are the future custodians of democratic South Africa. Whilst benefitting from the rights enshrined in the country’s progressive constitution, the youth also have a responsibility to ensure they become active citizens and participate in making South Africa a greater place for all who live in it. I think part and parcel of achieving this is making the constitution, which forms the basis of our democracy, a real and accessible thing to the people of South Africa. In this blog entry I base this view point on an issue that I am passionate about: women and their right to equal access and opportunities.

South Africa has a highly regarded constitution. There often exists, however, a gap between the provisions made in constitution and the lived experiences of the citizens of the country. The customary law of succession in South Africa presents as a good case for analysis. In Bhe v The Magistrate, Khayelitsha; Shibi v Sithole; South African Human Rights Commission v President of the Republic of South Africa (hereafter the Bhe case) the Constitutional Court struck down the rule of male primogeniture, which allows only the oldest male descendant or relative to succeed the estate of a Black person, as being unconstitutional and invalid. The Constitutional Court also invalidated section 23(7) of the Black Administration Act, which unfairly discriminates against women and others with respect to the administration and distribution of the estate of deceased blacks. As an interim measure, the Constitutional Court ruled that the customary law of succession would be governed by the provisions in the Instate Succession Act 87 of 1987.

These developments in the law have been celebrated as a major victory for African women in terms of advancing their human rights. I do not seek to take away from this victory as it is truly a milestone. With that said however, it must be acknowledged that the Bhe judgment is largely inaccessible to many of those subject to it. This is because the law often does not reach the women who need it either because they live in rural areas or because they are not legally literate, or in most cases both. Women who live in remote areas are often not informed of their rights or even changes in the law that serve to benefit them. This is primarily because they do not have direct access to the relevant information or sometimes even the means to access that information. In the cases where the women are, however, able to access the information it is often not relayed in a manner that is understandable to them. Language barriers play a role in making rights inaccessible. Women become excluded from what they are entitled to because of factors that should not be of significance.

Studies have found that in some rural areas reveal that there is still no evidence of a change in the status quo. The significance of what has been achieved by the legislative process is reduced if women are barred from claiming what they are entitled to because, firstly, they are unaware of their rights and secondly, because of complexities in the structure of the law as well as language and educational barriers. The end result is that the Bhe judgment and other such judgments largely represent theoretical victories for women. Thus, the changes brought about by the Bhe judgment may mean little or nothing to the lived experiences of women in terms of actually inheriting property.

 

A lesson can be gained from this in that there is a space for young people to make the democracy protected by our constitution a real thing. Something accessible to everyone. This does not only apply to women rights as I have discussed in this blog. As such, I challenge young people to use their aspirations to change lives and to take up the call to valuably contribute to the development of South Africa whether it be in the field of law, education, economics or business. Lets educate and empower ourselves with the knowledge and skills necessary to find workable solutions to current socio-economic challenges facing our country. Let us change lives and make the constitution and all its provisions mean something to the people of South Africa.

 

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Walk the Talk

by Abongile Mjokozeli
Abongile Mjokozeli
Open minded. Open Hearted, Lover of Things, Occasional realist and full time dre
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on Thursday, 07 May 2015
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Recent discussions with my SAWIP fellows have sparked a few debates (at least in my head) about the role of the youth in national development.  Recent events, like those i mentioned in my last entry, have left me in a quest to redefine my contribution in our country's development. I am grateful that SAWIP is that stepping stone for me and would like to extend the invitation to all of you.

The South African youth constitutes a dominant share of the national demography, and thus the best hope for a better future for the country.  Unfortunately, socio-economic state institutions and cultural realities inhibit meaningful and substantial youth participation in most of the important national conversations, such as post-apartheid reconstruction and economic reform.  In addition, the popular opinion of youth involvement is misrepresented by the militant youth organizations (we all know who I am referring to) that serve narrow political interests or the apathetic group that has left us to be defined as a lost generation; hence, the most definitive challenge of the South African youth is to redefine its contribution to the country and to alter the perception of its misrepresented identity. Additionally, conventional wisdom has it that youth lack wisdom; even if this popular adage is conceded for the sake of argument, the youth possess ingenuity, knowledge, and ability to drive national development.

 

This redefinition of youth identity can pave a path toward mutual respect and cooperation between youth and other national demographic groups (35 and older) as well as the international community. SA youth needs to redefine itself by assuming a position at the forefront of critical inquiry into dogmatic social, economic, and political values.

 

The translation of critical inquiry to meaningful action results in positive change. To be honest, we have had too many conversations with no meaningful action and frankly I am sick of talking and ready to act. An understanding of socioeconomic challenges and political marginalisation often creates a powerful urge to alter the social reality, and frequently, those who act on this urge aim to achieve political power, and subsequently, use the government to correct the perceived errors.

 

This might come as a surprise to many but political power is not invariably a solution in many instances (of course depending on an individuals intentions) : if political power is attractive because governments can impose conditions on society, it is also true that those who seek political power are often people with self-serving and narrow intentions who are likely to abuse power (Friedman 1962). The antidote is the creation of a robust youth society that values the inalienable rights of the citizenry.The young generation has to be knowledgeable about global discussions of threats to liberty and economic crises as well as be aware of the repertoire of solutions that have been proposed (National Youth Policy and The National Development Plan).

 

The fact remains that we are a part of an increasingly-connected world, and that the socioeconomic aspects of globalization shape us as much as we collectively mould them. Thus, the geographic reality of our country not only makes us vulnerable to volatile alterations in the climate, but also provides us a platform to champion entrepreneurial and national commitments to alternate energy-systems and progressive governance.

 

The current young generation of South Africa faces a moment in history that other generations and places have also had to face in the past; the challenges we face now are also opportunities for a better future and a more prosperous nation.  Concentrated efforts on the part of youth will allow us to attain these opportunities through the critical analyses of our dogmatic values, the acquired culture of entrepreneurship, and the orientation towards regional issues and international affairs. The obvious question remains, “If not now, when?” There is no better time than the present!

 

 

 

 


 

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