Monday, December 31, 2007

The David Kramer and Taliep Pietersensongbook

What an experience of celebration. laughter, tears and nostalgia ! Running in the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, this production brilliantly, showcase the genius of the Kramer-Pietersen partnership. The chronicles of the slave communities in the Cape and their important contribution to the rich cultural, religious and language heritage in SA and beyond, as told, sang and danced in their musicals like 'Districk Six', 'Cat and the Kings', 'Ghoema' is pure magic. To be amongst an audience, no, to be part of this celebration amongst South-Africans with all the shades of creed or colour, from virtually all corners of the land and various classes and generations is an amazing experience. This can be enjoyed with the whole family (unlike the Joe Barber series), allthough parents or extended family should (can?) give personal background to some of the scenes. Maybe the Langa-scene (Lagunya), with the Afro's was of the few (if not only?) false notes. It felt a bit superficial, through the eyes of a Gautenger, who are enthralled by YFm and MetroFm's dance crazes, mixed from the North. (no offense Cape Town !).This is a pity,maybe an opportunity lost...to indeed emphasise the fluidity of the cultural scene in our history. The highlight, for many, most probably was, 'Dancing on my own', with black and white images of Taliep Pietersen smiling at us is the background. Overall, it was an excellent tribute to a great son of the soil, a son of Africa...a gift to the world..humble, yet great in his rootedness, Taliep Pietersen..

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace on earth

May the earth community be blessed with the gift of Peace/Shalom/Salaam. May we as humanity recieve this gift as co-pilgrims on a journey, following humble signs of hope. Reggie

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hoop uit Bridgeton, Oudshoorn

Oppad Kaaptoe luister mens mos al jou CD's lam...dan slaan jy oor na waar Radio 'opvang'. So tussen Colesburg en Hanover tel RSG plek-plek op en vertel Vaders Mosterd van 'n afrikaanse Rooms Katolieke gemeenskap, wat ingrypende werk doen te midde van 'gangsterism', HIV en armoede. Opgewonde beskryf hy hulself as 'seker die enigste Afrikaanse klooster in die wereld', wat katolieke materiaal vertaal in Afrikaans, in Bridgetown, Oudshoorn. Dis egter hier, in die ou bruin lokasie, waar 'n rommelhoop omskep word in 'n gemeenskap van hoop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Zuma-hoop vir versoening en nuwe verhoudinge

Te midde van 'n ANC wat uitmekaar skeur, wonder mens onwillekeurig of Zuma die een sal wees wat versoening en nuwe verhoudings sal kan teweeg bring, in ons land. Sommige is van mening dat hyself die oorsaak is vir die verdeeltheid binne die ANC, ander voer egter aan dat die verdeeltheid dieper loop, op ideologiese gronde. Die kwessie rondom versoening en die rol van identiteite binne 'n oorkoepelende ( of integrerende) Suid Afrikaanse nasionale identiteit is 'crucial' aangesien dit die toetsteen is vir mense se waardigheid. JZ het nou al moeite gemaak on vir Steve Hofmeyer, die sanger en verskeie Afrikaner groepe te ontmoet. Vermoedelik is hulle instemming in sy agenda, vir hom belangrik in die skep van kohesie en versoening. Hyself is nie skaam om etnisiteit op sy bors te dra nie en meer as Thabo Mbeki, word hy gesien as toegangklik vir die gewone mense, 'n eienskap wat baie sien as die rede vir sy populariteit. Die uitdaging vir die versoening mag egter nie bloot gesien word in die persoonlikheid of charisma van een persoon nie, eerder in die beleid en die openbare debat rondom identiteit. Etnisiteit en kultuur is maar van die aspekte wat in ag geneem moet word in die debat rondom versoening. Dit gaan ook oor ekononomise bemagtiging en regstelling. Oor hierdie aspekte sal gepraat moet word ten einde die deur wyer oop te maak vir Suid Afrikaners, vanwaaruit uiteenlopende groepe tuiskom in hierdie land. As die Zuma-era hierdie gesprek aan die gang kan kry dan is daar hoop vir veroening en nuwe verhoudinge.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Deshun Deysel on life and leadership


Deshun Deysel, one of SA's best female mountaineers, from Uitenhaag (check out her profile also on Beyondidentity, in the Eastern Cape, later in Ennerdale, writes this on her webpage, Deshun Deysel, on how to stick to your goals:
"I believe that climbing Everest is like reaching a series of mini summits. Every time you reach a personal milestone, you've mentally and emotionally reached the top of another mountain"
She can be booked for talks and presentations at her webpage and check out the stunning photos of her endeavours (like the one here). Phenomenal !

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pop queens Tansey and Jody indication of a shift in pop culture ?


Two young women, Tansey Coetzee and Jody Williams from the Coloured community, had the nation talking- if not the whole nation, then at least the Coloured community. This time it wasn't because TIK or Gangsterism or teenage pregancy or even a lack of ambition, so endemic of current media and popular stereotypes. It is also impossible to (again) put it on page 7. Basking in the glory of these 2 successful and evidently ambitious young women, we however also need to ask some questions. How serious should we take competitions like Idols and the Miss SA pageant ? For some of us, the answer is obvious: these simply represent the (marketing and therefore financial) interests of the shareholders of the companies driving it. To some extend, these 'beauty pageants' serve to entrench and now crudely commodify the sexist stereotypes of women. (Its also reflected in some expressions of the pop music genre, HIP HOP, so popular in our communities-which needs to be explored). Others would argue that these serve as a barometer of popular culture and need to be read, in context of its growing salience in shaping values and mores of our changing society (more then JZ or the prez). Maybe these arguments is taking the role of these shows too far and the problem lies in merely thinking in terms of extremes. The key lies in keeping the tension, a creative tension in celebrating the greatness and tenacity of our young people, in this case strong, young women, whilst reminding ourselves that (even) popular culture are many times influenced by predatory economic interests and therefore corruptible. In the same breath, we should salute them, but also refrain from loading on them the impossible duty of bearing the collective responsibility of saving a nation of mere talkers. We all share the responsibility of informing popular culture, towards a culture of achievers, like Tansey and Jody. You go girls !

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Afrikaans en die heil van Bruinmense

'n Baie insiggewende debat word gevoer in die Afrikaanse dagblaaie oor die vraag of daar 'n verband bestaan tussen bruin Afrikaansprekendes se armoede en die huidige stryd om Afrikaans se publieke plek. Richard van der Ross, eertydse rektor van UWK laat ook homself uit in sy bydrae in die Beeldforum (4 Des 2007). Uiteraard kom die debat al 'n lang pad en veral in Litnet en Die Vrye Afrikaan woed hierdie gesprek al 'n geruime tyd oor die vraag waarom dit lyk asof bruin Afrikaansprekendes nie so vurig stry vir die taal nie. Bekroonde skrywer, Abraham Phillips, neem egter die strydbyl op vir Afrikaans in sy artikel, Die tragedie van Afrikaans en arm mense (Die Burger 20 Nov 2007). In 'n neutedop kla hy bruin intellektuele aan dat hulle nie in woord en daad opstaan teen wat hy noem die 'dooddruk en uitfasering van Afrikaans nie'. Met spesifieke verwysing na US (Stellenbosch Universiteit) en die SABC( die nasionale uitsaaier) is dit sy mening dat die uitfasering 'behoort dieselfde reaksie ontlok as eie vergrype van Robert Mugabe'(!). Dit lyk asof Phillips van mening is dat, indien SA se bruin en wit intellektuele' daarteen veg en die stryd moontlik wen (en sodoende Afrikaans red), bruin en swart Afrikaanssprekendes, veral op die platteland en die Kaapse Vlakte, opgang sal maak. Andersom, indien daar nie gehoor gegee word nie, sal 'n katrastrofe volg.

Van der Ross stem saam dat die bruin intellektuele stil is... hulle monde is nog vol van eet... aan die vrug van hul struggle, ook aan kultuur het hulle in elk geval geen erg nie. Die geskiedenis het ons in elk geval geleer, so voer hy aan, dat die opinies van die armes nie tel nie en mag aan die kant van die owerhede en rykes lê. Hy argumenteer verder: "Al word en bly die US Afrikaans, en al word die SAUK (...) meer Afrikaans, sal dit bitter min doen aan die armoede onder die bruin mense. Die heil van die bruin mense sal, indien wel, geleidelik kom namate ons kinders opgeneem word in die ekonomiese vooruitgang van die land as geheel". T.o.v. Afrikaans skryf hy egter: "Dit sal aangaan, hetsy op die Kaapse Vlakte, hetsy aan die US."

Miskien is Leopold Scholtz (Die Burger 29 Nov 2007) ten minste in hierdie opsig reg as hy in antwoord op van der Ross aanvoer, vanuit sy boekkennis, "In die algemeen is dit dikwels so dat 'n sosiaal-ekonomiese stryd agter 'n taalstryd tuisgaan". In sy aanhaling van grepe uit die geskiedenis van die Afrikaners se taalstryd, die Vlaamse stryd, de Tjegge asook, in sy woorde, die van die "inheemse Indiane", in Latyns Amerika, bied hy gronde aan vir sy punt dat die koloniste meermale taal gebruik het om inheemse groepe uit te buit en dat daar dus wel 'n verband bestaan tussen armoede en taaldiskriminasie. Wat hy egter gerieflik weglaat, is die stuk geskiedenis van hoe Afrikaans self ontwikkel het as 'n taal van die verdrukker. Inderdaad, daar is 'n verband. Wat ons egter verder moet byvoeg is dat die heil nie noodwendig lê in die taal, Afrikaans soos ons dit vandag ken, as sodanig nie. Die ontwikkeling van Afrikaans geskied binne 'n bepaalde sosiale konteks, en een stroom het begin waar bruin slawe in die smeltkroes van Oosterse, Afrika en Europese kulture 'n nuwe verdrukte-kultuur ontwikkel het (teenoor die koloniale kultuur)- 'n kultuuurskat wat egter die laaste paar eeue voordurend gevorm is deur die konteks, in verskeie skakeringe. Die proses sal voortgaan hier in Afrika; net soos die voorgaande fermentering van Afrikaanse kultuur sal voortgaan in Engeland, Kanada en Perth, in Australië (en daar ander name kry). Die elites en maghebbers sal ook voortgaan om hierdie lewendige gisting te wil beheer (naam te gee) en inspan om hul ideologieë te verkoop, of om politieke mag te mobiliseer en te behou. Die sleutel lê egter in die erkenning van hierdie selfbewuste hibriede identiteit waar Afrikaans onmiskenbaar 'n integrale deel is van die 'mix', maar waar ons heil opgesluit lê in die diepere waardes en hartsstories.. die breër kultuurskat wat voortleef en ons betrokkenheid en geleidelike opgang in die ekonomie, wetenskap en tegnologie dryf.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Race-Ryland Fischer

Former editor of the Cape Times, Ryland Fisher's, recent publication simply named "Race" is indeed "a timely and highly readable book" (backcover). Being a journalist his style of writing does not only cater for the academic audience, but in itself opens up the possibility for a broad based dialogue on matters that have gone underground. In his Foreword, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, concludes, "Ultimately, this book is but a starting point for a much-needed discusion on race. Read it and let's start talking" (2007:xi). How does Fisher do this ? He starts this book by the provocative Introduction qouting the well known disclaimer: " I am not a racist, but ....". Whilst nobody else dare owning up to being a racist, he however confess in these opening sentences ".....I believe I am a racist... Moreover, I believe that most people in South Africa are racists.". Well, its always risky to speak on behalf of "most people in South Africa", but Fisher seemingly aim to substantiate this claim in the way he treats these conversation(s). In this book he presents a glimps into these conversations with a mixture of various (prominent and not so prominent) South Africans, amongst them young people, young professional South Africans as well as our current Minister of Education Me Naledi Pandor. This methodology, I think, adds to the value of this book, as we simply hear a cross-section of South Africans talking about their experiences and opinions about various themes relating to race. These conversational themes he shares in 13 chapters focusing on "Race in the not-so-new SA", "Who are we?", "What is racism?", "The after-effects of apartheid", "Is racism a South African problem?", "Xenophobia", "Can racism ever be eliminated?", "Language and race", "Racism in the media", "Criticising government: Is this racism", "Is there still need for exclusively black ( or white) organisations?", "How do we explain apartheid to our youth?" and "The future". Fisher engage on these conversations from a particular perspective and every chapter includes a general introduction to the theme as well as in some, the setting, and later (not as conclusions!) his own (subjective) thoughts linking it to the next theme. The particular perspective is his own journey, as a coloured South African with the social constructedness of race. He writes about this jounrey, so poignent, "Recently, however, I have noticed that people who used to acccept me as black now refer to me as coloured, and by that action, exclude me and others who may or may not look like me from the majority of South Africans again.(2007:5)This is a key thread to make sense of the various voices. The book however does not claim to cover all the voices, but also it does not give neat recipe-type answers to the problem of identity formation in a postcolonial context. Maybe this was not his intention at the beginning. This book however does take the dialogue on these complext matters from under the table to try to bravely square up to it. I think it shows brilliantly the complexity of this dialogue, but also the continued relevancy and salience of race, currently.