The Hard Questions that Bangui Leaves South Africa

Apr 13, 13 The Hard Questions that Bangui Leaves South Africa

Posted by in Featured, Politics

Richard Stupart reflects on the lessons that the CAR imbroglio has for South Africa’s military and society in the future.

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Rape persists because we fail as citizens

Feb 08, 13 Rape persists because we fail as citizens

Posted by in Featured, Politics

Rape in South Africa is unacceptably high. Abominably so. Not that there would ever be a level of rape that could be considered acceptable – ours is just so fantastically brutal as to occupy an entirely different and altogether elevated strata of the savage things that we are capable of doing to one another. But this is not a polemic on how terrible rape is. Such writing makes regular appearances in our national and local media with scarcely a reaction – the media equivalent of screaming into a jet engine. What this is, is a question of why years and years of detailed reporting of the rape of women, men, children and the elderly in South Africa fails over and over again to provoke any kind of real and sustained outrage.  Why, as a nation, are we so utterly impotent in the face of such an epidemic of violence? Like any complicated question, there are dozens, probably hundreds of threads that heavily influence the way we do or don’t respond to particular issues as a nation. Patriarchy is most definitely one. We consistently undervalue and oppress women. So too is the ongoing dehumanisation of each other that was one of the lasting gifts of apartheid. We find it so hard to empathise, because we have grown up in the shell of a society specifically engineered not to. Reclusive, elite fortresses like Dainfern, the prevalence of township tourism and infantile op-eds explaining blacks to whites and whites to blacks only make the point more sharply. It would be years before many white folks would dare to visit a township. Most haven’t yet reached the point of asking why they continue to exist. These problems are crippling. But not the one that I’m most keen to discuss here. For lack of space, more than lack of interest, because I am fairly sure whole books could be – and probably have been – written on patriarchy and broken humanity in South Africa. In the latter case, Wretched of...

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Why Marikana is our Sharpeville

Aug 23, 12 Why Marikana is our Sharpeville

Posted by in Featured, Politics

When the xenophobic riots of May 2008 rocked South Africa, Thabo Mbeki took flak for dragging his feet on deploying the army into the townships to resolve widespread violence that the police seemed unable to contain. Not because the army would have been ineffective in quashing the violence, but because he was unwilling to publicly recreate the symbol of soldiers in the townships, recognising the power that the juxtaposition of soldiers and shacks would have in the public imagination. Regardless of the facts of how the 2008 situation differed from the massive insurrections of the 1980s, Mbeki recognised the danger in the symbolism. That there is a power in being perceived to recreate particular moments from the previous regime’s damned past. Fast forward to the Marikana massacre of 2012, and comparisons in some quarters of the media between it and the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, where outnumbered police killed 69 people when an angry, stone-throwing crowd charged their lines. Critics have been quick to point out that Sharpeville – in the detail of the event – is nothing like Marikana. The Sharpeville protestors were directly challenging the abomination that was the apartheid state. The army went so far to harrass the crowd with aircraft. And in all these observations, they are absolutely right. Sharpeville was much, much uglier, and situated in a context that the average (theoretically) rights-enjoying South African would struggle to imagine nowadays. But as much as Sharpeville-as-detail is unlike Marikana, Sharpeville as a political symbol is a different matter. The political symbol that Sharpeville was, and the work that it did – domestically and internationally – is in a very real way being replayed in Marikana. The state is at war with the poor majority, and until now we have been able to ignore it. Both marked moments in the life of the nation where the portion of the country that was able to ignore or downplay their government’s war on the majority were forced to confront a rupture in their...

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The Night Before Lonmin’s Explanation

Aug 16, 12 The Night Before Lonmin’s Explanation

Posted by in Featured, Politics

If Lonmin hadn’t happened today, it would have happened next month. Or a year from now.

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Voluntary & direct

Aug 28, 11 Voluntary & direct

Posted by in Politics

Generally, I hate the white privilege debate in South Africa. Not because I feel it is unwarranted – god knows it exists, is immense, and increasingly needs addressing. I hate the debate because, for the most part, I wholly distrust the motivations of behind many of the most strident voices arguing in the arena.

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