Positions of Power toward the Poor

Us who have “…are doomed to think that everything comes from us…”

There I was, in full swing, past Debonairs in Rondebosch, attending to heaps of administrative tasks on Tuesday morning. From certifying documents at the Police station, forced laughter towards the police officers flirtatiousness. Humph, such impositions are the ways of living in a body, a woman’s – body, thus of being in South Africa. I certainly can’t remember the last time I asked for an affidavit or a document to be certified without mildly rolling my eyes beneath that small-mesh talk.

Moving on, I have been living in Cape Town, Southern suburbs for 8 years. Nothing about the landscape is strange to me, the tarred roads, the numerous fast food restaurants lined on either side of the road, the Somalian elderly man who sells cigarets and sweets opposite clicks; I know the faces of the homeless men and women on the street far too well. So well that If I spotted one of them in town or Kenilworth, I’d easily say, “Oh ya, lo bhuti, ngowase Rondebosch neh (he is the guy from Rondebosch right)?!”

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© Johnny Miller/Millefoto

I’m getting things done today, cutting straight past beggars on the street.

Continue reading “Positions of Power toward the Poor”

The cousin you never call (Pt1)

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Growing up, Siki’s mother (Zolelwa) lived with makhulu (Her mother’s sister). Makhulus lineage was the blessed one, not Zolelwas’ mothers’ line. From makhulus’ waist emerged the brightest minds. Teachers, nurses, school principles, community leaders and clerks. Her children were of the few who managed to complete form 5 and later on move out of the village, not to toil underground in the mines of eGoli. They moved further – attended night schools – could recite stanzas from Sonnet 116 –  became teachers in small towns – married young – bore and or raised children immediately. All in sequence.

Though Zolelwa (Siki’s mother) was in the same age range as makhulus’ first set of grandchildren they were always destined to have a different future to hers. Though they splintered from one trunk, born of the same seed, awakened by the same rhythmic beat that drummed when their clan names were loudly proclaimed, tangled in blood, knotted in the connectedness of their last names… even so, it was clear that she and they would branch out differently. Continue reading “The cousin you never call (Pt1)”

Model C Schools: Corridors of violence & Assemblies of Assimilation.

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Protest: Pretoria Girls High School

“I wonder if they knew..I wonder if oMama bethu knew that the schools they took us to were violent. Phofu, if they knew [just how violent our schools were] I wonder if they would have taken us out. I doubt. The thing is, uyabona Sihle, my mother is a strong woman,” Phuti said seated at the end of the table. She raised her glass of beyerskloof red wine, gulped and placed it back on the table and continued speaking.

“She is soo strong.” She shook her head.

“What do you mean?” I inquired, leaning closer to hear, curious to gain insight.

“All I ever wanted was to be more like her. My mom is a fixer. Her friend’s friends call her to fix things. She sorts things out. Like no-one messes with my mother. Her only fault is.. (she shrugged her shoulders) her only fault is, that she was and perhaps still is firmly convinced that the only way I could become anything that matters in this life is if I was taught in white schools by white teachers. She saw white schools as a crucial pathway for “cultivating the necessary aspirant dispositions that will allow my entry into formal middle class, employment, and lifestyles.”

So morning after morning, we marched out of our neighborhoods, shunning black and colored schools adjacent to our homes. Refusing to be trapped by geography. Morning after morning, we were transported past railways and bridges, tearing down soft zoning’s and apartheid spatial engineering to find and seek and find. Fueled by the promise of a ‘better life for all.’

Morning by morning, we escaped our anti-aspirant communities and recalcitrant neighbors. Disjuncture. Trudging through, traversing space. Displacement. Continuously in motion to find remote classrooms in the city, indoctrinated by the belief that the material offered in non-whites schools was anti-aspirant.

Daily, the strong chords that tied us to our neighborhoods, our cousins, our blackness, our villages, and our heritage thinned. Continue reading “Model C Schools: Corridors of violence & Assemblies of Assimilation.”

The construction of memory

 

Continue reading “The construction of memory”