Archive for October, 2014


On Xenophobia …

On Xenophobia…

‘Xenophobia’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:

” noun:

intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries  “

The synonyms for xenophobia are:

chauvinism, racial intolerance, racism, dislike of foreigners, nationalism, prejudice.

     _____________

As a citizen of South Africa, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that our young country faces.

The iniquities of our tortured past, the legacy of Apartheid, socio-economic issues etc. are just a few of the many problems that South Africa is grappling with.

What is extremely disturbing for me is something that I have personally encountered, in conversations with friends, family, and fellow citizens from all walks of life.

That something is how rife ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment is within our various, and still divided communities.

I have heard the most atrocious, insensitive, hate-filled utterances regarding the ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’, and most chillingly ‘we will kill these foreigners’.

I am also aware that many intellectuals, think-tanks, NGO’s, and sociologists etc. have written and spoken volumes about how the failure of proper service delivery by the government and local municipalities, and the myriad other shortcomings that plague our country have played a part in the emergence of this abhorrent xenophobic sentiments that are being spouted almost as if one was talking about culling animals in the Kruger National Park.

We have already witnessed the scourge of xenophobia, and not long ago, when organised bands of people marked, attacked and killed ‘foreigners’ in a frenzy of blood-letting and looting.

This was in 2008.

And today, as the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela lies ill in a hospital bed in Pretoria, I hear similar disturbing and blood-curdling hate-speech directed against ‘the foreigners’.

What is going on?

Where and how have we, as a country, failed, or more worryingly, chose to ignore the signs of this cancer that has to be dealt with, and dealt with as a matter of national priority.

The synonyms for xenophobia include racism, racial intolerance, and prejudice.

The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere are xenophobes.

No one disputes that.

The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere talk in almost exactly the same terms when they spout their rhetoric, when they go on ‘Paki-bashing’ sprees in England, when they deface Synagogues and Mosques and Temples, or when they beat up and kill ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’.

What is particularly disturbing about the rise of xenophobia, especially in the South African context is the complicity of silence, and by extension, a shocking acceptance of these racist and murderously dangerous views, by ‘normal’ citizens.

We are Africans.

And above all, we are all human.

This may seem like an obvious and unnecessary fact to point out, but when certain friends, family members, and people one interacts with daily, spew such xenophobic drivel, it needs to be taken seriously.

Pogroms, xenophobic attacks, racism, intolerance, prejudice, casteism, religious bigotry, sexism, and homophobia, do not simply arise out of nothing.

There are societal, religious, traditional, cultural and other factors that do indeed create fertile ground for some of these noxious sentiments to germinate.

It is incumbent on us all, people, just people, to engage with people, however close they may be to us, and challenge and make our voices heard that we will not stand mutely by, as such hate-filled venom is chucked around nonchalantly.

We cannot be conspicuous by our silence and inaction when a large segment of our society, those who have chosen our country to be their home, often fleeing economic hardship, political and social violence, and numberless other factors that force, and this is important, people are forced into leaving their countries, often making hazardous and painful journeys in order to find safe-haven amongst fellow human-beings.

As South Africans, we know just how friendly countries welcomed us during the darkest days of Apartheid repression and tyranny.

Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and the other ‘front-line’ states paid dearly for offering South Africans fleeing Apartheid a place of refuge as well as a base of operations against the oppressive Apartheid system.

Apartheid agents and security forces attacked, fomented insurrections against the governments in the front-line states, and still South Africans of all races, creeds etc. found a welcome home in these comradely countries.

We should never forget this.

Ever.

Our government needs to be more vocal about its stance on xenophobia, and by doing so it will send a message that it will not stand by idly while people from other parts of the continent are constantly under the threat of being attacked.

That said, we as citizens have a voice, and it is morally incumbent on all of us to do our bit so that the scourge of xenophobia is excised from this land.

There is a simmering undercurrent of the possibility of attacks on foreigners as I type these words.

If this is not taken seriously and dealt with, sadly we may see scenes similar to those we witnessed in 2008.

Mayibuye-i-Afrika!

The Immigrant …

Seeking solace.
Seeking a home.

The immigrant finds,

rotten prejudice.
Fungal anger.

The immigrant,

alone, hoping for,

A solitary chance.

To belong.

The immigrant,
alone, always,

an outside entity.
Eternal outcast.

A viral threat.
A reeking odour.

The immigrant,

ever alone,
and alone knowing,
that no place exists,
but that lost home.

effortlessly soaring into abandoned flight,

yesterdays’ pain surrenders,,

drawn gently by,

departing moments’ caressing ebb and dreamy flow,

seeking only sanctuary,

to finally rest,

where wild grasses grow …

morning tugs at the monnlight,

another night slips and slides,

winding through hazy dreams,

to finally embrace the oncoming tides …

The Obscenity of the Wealth Gap in South Africa …

hardly surprising,
yet vulgar all the same,

feudal lords,
profiteers of colonial privilege,

amassing ever more,

while mothers give birth in cramped hospital corridors,

a mere stones throw away,

from mansions of polythene ostentation.

And still,

the struggles continue,

bread,
water,
jobs,
shelter,
health,

dignity,

for all compatriots,

of our work-in-progress rainbow nation …

1.

time hisses,
the threat perennial,

needling sounds
stowed away,
tucked-in,

silent …

2.

time hisses,
the threat perennial.

Time bides its time,

stowed away,
tucked-in,

silently knowing,

all that we shall all come to know,

in time …

The Anonymity of the Shade …

beyond words,

mere paltry scribbled verse,

rolls across empty streets,

while today crawls to a fade,

as night descends,

offering comfort,

the solace of anonymous shade …

broken rays of sunlight pierce through the casket of night,

murmurs of gentle persuasion echo within a tormented soul,

the respite from nights’ smothering,

sneaks between the gathering smog,

urging the faltering spirits of this tormented soul to rise up from the clingy bog,

and in rising,

liberating this soul from the desolation of being a phony, fickle cog …

Hamba Kahle*, Senzo Meyiwa!
( 1987 – 2014 )

My Captain is gone.

Shot dead,
in cold blood,

another senseless killing,

another son of the soil snatched away from us,

leaving us empty,
cold,
desolate.

My Captain is gone.

shot and killed,

my Captain is gone,

leaving a void,

that can never be filled!

Hamba Kahle, my Captain!

Hamba Kahle, Senzo Meyiwa!

May your soul rest in eternal peace …

* – ‘Hamba Kahle’ – lit. – Travel Well, an isiXhosa expression, used especially to bid farewell to a person who has passed away.

From News24:

Cape Town – Senzo Meyiwa, who was tragically shot dead on Sunday evening, began his football career as a striker for hometown club London Cosmos in Umlazi, Durban in the 1990s.

He soon converted to the goalkeeper position and went on to represent KwaZulu-Natal in the Transnet Under-14 and Coca-Cola Under-17 Inter-Provincial tournaments in 2000 as a 13-year-old. His performances caught the eye of Orlando Pirates scouts, who brought him to the club’s development programme.

After making impressive progress through the youth levels, Meyiwa made his official debut for Orlando Pirates in a 2-1 win over AmaZulu on November 8, 2006.

He was an important part of the Pirates squad that won a famous ‘Double Treble’ in 2010/11 and 2011/12, claiming two MTN8 titles, two Absa Premiership titles, the Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup.

In 2013 Meyiwa’s career took a dramatic upswing, as he reclaimed the number one position at Orlando Pirates and was the team’s best player on their epic run to the final of the CAF Champions League, with his heroic performance in the away leg of the second round tie against DR Congo’s TP Mazembe particularly memorable.

He also made his Bafana Bafana debut, coming on as a substitute for Wayne Sandilands at half-time of a 2-0 friendly win over Lesotho in Maseru on June 2, 2013.

In 2014 the goalkeeper continued his rise to prominence, helping Orlando Pirates win the 2014 Nedbank Cup before taking advantage of the injury-enforced absence of close friend and goalkeeping rival Itumeleng Khune to be Bafana Bafana’s first choice goalkeeper for their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches in September and October.

Meyiwa was not only the first choice goalkeeper, but also handed the captain’s armband by new coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba. Inspired by the honour, the Pirates goalkeeper kept four successive clean sheets as South Africa claimed top spot on the standings after four matches and put themselves within touching distance of qualification for the 2015 AFCON.

Meyiwa’s last professional appearance was on Saturday, October 25 at Orlando Stadium as he helped the Buccaneers to a 4-1 victory over Ajax Cape Town in a Telkom Knockout quarter-final.

He was aged 27 years and 32 days upon his death on October 26 in Vosloorus.

Senzo Meyiwa factfile:

Born: September 24, 1987

Place of birth: Umlazi, Durban

Position: Goalkeeper

Former clubs: Orlando Pirates juniors and Yebo Yes United (Pirates reserve team)

Orlando Pirates debut: November 8, 2006, Orlando Pirates 2-1 AmaZulu

Orlando Pirates starts: 157

International honours: Former South Africa U-17, U-20 & U-23 international; 7 Bafana Bafana caps (6 starts, 1 sub)

Bafana Bafana debut: June 2, 2013, Lesotho 0 South Africa 2

Honours: 2010 & 2011 MTN8 winner; 2011 & 2012 Absa Premiership winner; 2011 & 2014 Nedbank Cup winner; 2013 CAF Champions League runner-up

raindrops …

raindrops,
like celestial nectar,

drench my winter coat.

i stagger,
wounded,
half-blind,

though no longer filled with dread,

for i walk on,

unsure,
oh yes, most certainly so,

yet filled with murmuring promises,

as i welcome the myriad paths that lie ahead …

A New Dawn …

shackled,
the noose tightening,

stealing promises,
of tomorrows yet to be born,

yet still,

hope takes root,

offering solace,
a glimpse,

of a less harsh tomorrow,

as the moon resigns itself,

to the embrace of the coming dawn …

Eternally Optimistic …

morning breaks in,
shattering the mute night,

infusing the silence,

with the joyous mishmash of all that that little thing called hope brings,

that no matter how bleak the weeks may seem,

and how desolate the minutes may feel,

every night of emptiness must end,

as with each new dawn,

the sun does its renewing warmth,

to us all, extend …

sweeping the remnants of bygone yesterdays,

under the carpet,

festering,
stewing,
mutating,

time scampers,
whispering lullabies,

teasing slumber,
surrendering to the night,

embracing the cocoon of the dark,

shedding the detritus of the now,

soothing and gentle as the softly departing light …

The Naked Face of Racism …

I met some folks the other day,

and they spewed bile and hate,

to put it bluntly,

they had nothing but shit to say,

talkin’ about ‘Kaffirs’* with self-righteous hate,

vomiting forth on the imminent doom of the South African state,

Oh but I did try some old fashioned reason,

only to be barked down,

it must have been my socks, cos’ my socks you see,

they don’t fit in with the haute-couture of this springs’ season,

and so these pleasant, well-fed, well-clothed business folk kept on blabbering,

about how stupid and corrupt all ‘blacks’ are,

and all this and more said in tones sickly-sweet,

as they guzzled their Blue Label whisky neat,

still I tried to reason,

though in truth I do confess,

I was tempted to terminate the fascist shindig,

and say,

fuck you, you racist pig,

but alas I tried and tried in vain,

but I was left cold, empty, shaking with anger, and filled with a deep pain,

that after all we have been through as a still-healing nation,

we barely haven’t even left the train station,

and I thought of my heroes,

Walter Sisulu,
Oliver Tambo,
Nelson Mandela,
Bram Fischer,
Govan Mbeki,
Ahmed Kathrada,
Chris Hani,
Moses Kotane,
Chief Albert Luthuli,
Lillian Ngoyi,
Helen Joseph,
J.B Marks,

a few amongst so many, many more,

giants of our collective struggle for equality and freedom and justice for all,

just like Dr. King who dreamed a dream while standing proud, dignified, and tall.

And so I left at long last,

stunned, broken, and aghast,

at the raw face of naked racism that I came to see,

in truth I was shaken to my very core,

but,

but,

but let the racist fascists know this,

and they better know this well,

that we shall always be many, many more,

and we shall consign them to the trashcan of history where they belong,

because their hate and their racism,

can never, ever,

and will never, ever,

silence our unfinished song,

a song nourished by the blood of those who died for the internationalist ideal,

and that,

that is something even those hate-filled businessmen can never, ever steal!

*’Kaffir’ – a racially derogatory term used to refer to black Africans in Apartheid South Africa

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

A Meditation on Racism …

“…All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep fuckin’ everybody ’til they’re all the same color…” – Warren Beatty in the motion picture “Bulworth”

war …

war …

long after the guns fall silent,

when all the debris is swept away,

and blood-stained streets get hosed down,

will we once more say,

‘never again’ …

again,

&

again

&

again …

panning through marshes of  twisted roots,

scrounging for a handful of promised truths,

thawing wounds aching afresh,

discarded emotions gnawing into now catatonic flesh …

we walk on, ever on,

fleeing the tumult of yesterdays sorrow,

we walk on, ever on,

thirsting for a glimpse of that liberating tomorrow,

to finally rid the heaving heart of the weight of the past,

content no more with brief, tenuous ceasefires,

but hungering instead for a peace that shall last …

matters …

matters …

anaesthetised tongues,

wag,
numbed into complicit silence,

while all that matters,

slinks away,

mattering not,

not today …

For Men Everywhere …

Stop! Listen! Think! Act!

Stop!

Stop the abuse!

Of grand-daughters,
colleagues,
daughters,
girlfriends,
partners,
mothers,
sisters,
nieces,
wives,

all women.

Listen!

Listen to the voices!

Of grand-daughters,
colleagues,
daughters,
girlfriends,
partners,
mothers,
sisters,
nieces,
wives,

all women.

Think!

Think of how you treat,

grand-daughters,
colleagues,
daughters,
girlfriends,
partners,
mothers,
sisters,
nieces,
wives,

all women.

Act!

Act now to change yourself!

Stop! Listen! Think! Act!

The violence,
the abuse,
the rape,

stops when you stop,

the violence,
the abuse,
the rape.

Stop! Listen! Think! Act!

The violence,
the abuse,
the rape,

is perpetrated by,

grand-fathers,
colleagues,
boyfriends,
husbands,
nephews,
brothers,
partners,
fathers,
uncles,

men,

all men.

Stop! Listen! Think! Act!

The violence,
the abuse,
the rape,

stops when us men stop,

The violence,
the abuse,
the rape,

today, now.

Stop! Listen! Think! Act!

faultlines …

faultlines …

cleaving through me,

embers flicker,

remnants of half baked verse,

smothered by tomorrows yet to dawn …

scribbled on fragile faultlines,

quills dipped in tears,

clinging onto hope,

tenuous,
fragile,

weaving wishes into tomorrows,

yet to be born …

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