DJ Focus bringing African innovation to MIT

Nov 20, 12 DJ Focus bringing African innovation to MIT

Posted by in Culture, Featured

Kelvin Doe is just another amazing young African man beating the odds. Kelvin is a self-taught innovator from Sierra Leone, finding exciting new ways to use what little resources he has at his disposal to develop solutions to local problems. Is innovation just the new discourse of capital in the Global North? Or is it possible for Africans to participate in the innovation hype in an empowering manner? Let us know what you...

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Intentions vs Reality: South African Edition

Jul 25, 12 Intentions vs Reality: South African Edition

Posted by in Culture, Featured

Most South Africans grow up without an innate sense of malice. The genuine, intentional urge to do harm to things and people is not normally there. At least, not in my experience with virtually anyone I have interacted with. So why then do so many of us end up doing so much wrong? We grow up learning not to litter, because it will destroy the environment, not to pollute, nor to be selfish, nor unkind nor violent nor disruptive, and yet that’s precisely what we end up doing when we grow up. At some point we reach the stage of remembering not to litter, but forgetting about the lives we harm through our professional actions. As kids we grow up in SA with the wildest dreams of becoming pilots and doctors, marine biologists and actors, the most incredible careers we can imagine, and nary a thought that this might be slightly impossible. Somewhere along the line, perhaps high school, perhaps university, perhaps from the parents, we feel this implicit (or otherwise!) pressure to become something purposeful. Someone who will earn a salary, pay taxes, and generally be a responsible human being. Somewhere along the line caring about what we do begins to matter less than simply doing anything, as long as it checks the financial boxes. In South Africa having any career is a major privilege. When virtually half the country is jobless having any career or job is a blessing, we are told, regardless of the profession. And yet, what kind of moral conscioussness are we breeding as a nationality if this is the mentality? Is anything permissable, as long as you are providing for you and yours? Does that justify the work you do irrespecive of the collateral damage it might create? I think some caution is worthwhile here, even when unemployment is rife and the country is on the border of a catastrophic societal rupture. I’m sure most kids who are lucky enough to go to university, and even luckier to study law, don’t start intending to...

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The Commisar’s Art Critique: Zuma’s Spear

May 18, 12 The Commisar’s Art Critique: Zuma’s Spear

Posted by in Culture, Featured, Politics

By now anyone in South Africa without their head in the ground will have read about the controversial Brett Murray painting hanging limply (yes, I made that joke) in the Goodman Gallery in Joburg: We can all understand why the ANC would be angry about the piece. I mean, the proportions are clearly WAY out, and I’m sure painting the Presidential member is always going to be a stiff issue amongst the ruling party.. Regardless, we’re all missing the fundamental problem with Murray’s work here. Place on the berets now… … The majority of the painting is a crude copy of Lenin’s infamous poster during the 1917 Revolution (the first image) Now. If we ignore the main thrust of Murray’s painting and focus on the other bits of the painting, there is a comparison, whether intentional or nay, to Lenin. I don’t think anyone with a smidgen of political science rattling around in their heads would liken Zuma to Lenin. One was the grandfather of Soviet Communist ideology as we know it, united a people and a party, and was an architect for society numbering in the hundreds of millions, if not billions if we include China, and the other had a rape trial, married lots of women, divided his party and split the people along political battle lines. The comparison implied by Murray is quite simply horrid. Although I suppose there is an argument to be made that both were responsible for removing otherwise-indifferent heads of state by forceful politicking, but somehow I suspect during all the cock-and-balls painting Murray was not paying attention to that. Forget taking it down because its audacity offends the ANC. Take it down because its ignorance offends...

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White is not a Precious Metal

May 11, 12 White is not a Precious Metal

Posted by in Culture, Featured

After much umming and ahhing, a friend and I finally got to wander around a penthouse at Ponte City on the outskirts of Hillbrow today, and boy, were we surprised! Melrose Arch, it is not – and no one ever pretended it is; however, Abuja extension (to use the pejorative) it isn’t either. Now granted we would probably need to pop in on a Friday or Saturday night to get a more accurate reflection of the building and its surrounds, but first impressions were lasting… and not all for the good. The lone encounter we had with a Ponte City letting agent was obviously a pleasant one, but almost every other pale South African had a look of shock and horror on their faces when the name Ponte was spoken about. Smash & grabs were mentioned, references to the three, four, no… five story rubbish dump in the centre of the building were made, and more often than not, that most precious of minerals was emphasised – that of our white skins. This topic not only comes up when entering these outskirts of Hillbrow, but in almost area or topic of conversation where white people are not in the majority – which is pretty much most places in South Africa, if you haven’t noticed! Of course there are “safe havens” for the paler of the species, they tend to be the access-controlled suburbs and cluster bombs we stay in, as well as the bomb shelter-like buildings that we frequent so often known as malls; of course we feel safe here because we’re usually in the majority. Given the rambling by twitterati as of late, mostly by younger generations who were not exposed directly to a pernicious apartheid-based education, one would certainly be curious as to the roots of this blatant racism. I would be at a loss to speak about it from a black point of view, for obvious reasons, but looking at it from my white side of the spectrum – that constant...

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African men aren’t all violent, angry warlords?

Apr 26, 12 African men aren’t all violent, angry warlords?

Posted by in Culture, Featured

Only a tad ironic that they thought it necessary to use subtitles but hey, anyone with the guts to contradict Shirtless Matthew Mcconaughey deserves a little re-post love.       Nice work to Mama Hope on this video:  ...

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Sexism in the Courts

Jan 18, 12 Sexism in the Courts

Posted by in Culture, Featured, News & Media, Politics

On Monday in a magistrate’s Court in Cape Town, Magistrate Chumani Giyos, sexually harassed a group of 12 women facing charges under the Immigration Act, saying to them during a hearing, “You are really beautiful, hey!” and concluding the hearing with “I have never seen so many beautiful women at one time, I hope to see you all again”, sending ripples of giggles throughout the courtroom. Times Live (sourcing the article from SAPA) seemed to find the matter as laughable as a number of those present in the courtroom when it published a report on the incident under the title “Strippers a hit in Cape court.” No doubt, many readers will find the clip amusing, picturing the antithesis of the sobriety of a courtroom in this line up of attractive women on a display to the ogling judge. Of course this kind of behaviour is painfully unprofessional and if readers were to laugh, no doubt it would be in part in that dry ironic way South Africans typically find humour in the exasperating. We love to laugh at government officials and unelected leaders saying menacing things and bumbling through policies. When we lose the words to express our frustration, we find solace in caricatures of the public sphere in our favourite cartoons. It’s much easier to laugh off resignation in the company of impressionists and comedians than to face the gauntlet of change. Because underlying Giyos’ glib display of unchecked chauvinism is a broader social acceptance of the way he treats these women in his court: as objects for men’s sexual gratification and as unequal in the very places they should be guaranteed respect. From a position of power, Giyos made clear that the persons before him were not human beings to him, equal in dignity to citizens and to men, but a mass of objects, disposable at his delight. If popular media is any barometer of social reactions, this kind of discrimination will not be protested, punished and condemned as it should be,...

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