a luta continua

for the “treasonous”, the belville 6 – by ameera conrad


Outside Parliament, 21 October, 2015. Photo: Imraan Christian

He stood in front of us
held his palms up
be calm comrades
sit down comrades
do not do anything to antagonise them
They knew his face, though we could not see him between the arms of a chokehold.

He sat on the floor among us
legs crossed under him
Senzeni na?
Senzeni na?
They stunned us, clicked tazers.
pulled him out and away.
Another chokehold.

He fell to the floor
when the first grenade cracked
through the crowd.
Pulled up and bashed against shields
holding his burned face
dragged across the gravel.
Senzeni na?

He sat on the steps
consoling comrades
away from the crowd
They ripped him to his feet
he showed his empty palms
into the back of a van.
No fists.
Empty palms.

He held his hands over his head.
He held his empty hands over his head.
He held his open palms over his head.
He held his head.

luister (2015)

Published on Aug 20, 2015

Luister is a documentary about the lives of students of colour who attend Stellenbosch University, a South African institution of higher learning. In a series of interviews, students recount instances of racial prejudice that they continue to experience in the town of Stellenbosch, and the enormous challenges that they face due to the use of Afrikaans as a language of teaching at the university. Luister is a film about Afrikaans as a language and a culture. It is a film about the continuing racism that exists within a divided society. It is a film about a group of students whose stories have been ignored. Luister is the Afrikaans word for Listen.

uct panel discussion – decolonising the university

Charting a path forward for anti-sexist and anti-racist scholarship and activism. This discussion was hosted by the Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Chair, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and the University of Cape Town’s SRC and moderated by Prof Xolela Mangcu on Thursday 23 April 2015.

“The fact that we are able to have this conversation in South Africa as though it is new, as though these issues have never been thought of before, is precisely because of our inability to engage, and to read…In a staggering display of willful ignorance, we continue to have conversations that have been had, that have been taken in remarkable directions, as though we have just discovered them.” – Pumla Gqola (at 0:26:00)

brave new leaders

Why is it that people we entrust running our countries to – and therefore, in effect, collectively, the world – don’t need to have a degree? A doctor needs to study for seven gruelling years before he or she is allowed to examine and treat your body, but politicians can somehow take a country to glory or ruin based on being elected on sheer charisma.

Would you let someone operate on you because they have a great smile? No? Strange that we let people run a country who, in South Africa for instance, never even attended high school.

Why not establish a special college , call it Polit School, where those who excel at school – the top academics, head boys and girls, etc – go to, and are groomed for, in order to learn how to run a country? Or, if someone who has already left school wants to run a municipality, province or country, that person could apply to study at this institution.

The most important quality must be integrity; the college must be based on a code similar to that of the knights of the middle ages. The strong are there to protect the weak, chivalry and honour top the list. Any blemish of character relating to dishonesty, cruelty or self-enhancement at the expense of others would disqualify candidates immediately. Thorough background checks are mandatory.

The rigorous selection system and exams run by the college board would ensure these professionals adhere to and adopt a code of ethics every bit as strict as those who study to enter the legal or medical field.

One of the most important subjects at this college would have to be history, since learning from past mistakes is something politicians appear to have little aptitude for. Hopefully this prize team of carefully selected individuals could take the human race past its present, circular set of stumbling blocks, and we can stop banging our heads against the same walls so repetitively.

Come election time, citizens would only be allowed to select Polit School candidates to run their country, cabinet, parliament etc from this pool of highly ethical, trained professionals. Of course, once they qualify, they have to enter the field at the lowest rung – in communities and villages and townships – before making their way to the top.

And they would be subject to screening at every step. And those who do the screening and selections – same goes for the candidates – are simply not allowed to be connected to big business in any way whatsoever. The connection between corporates and politicians has to be severed. It’s a serious business running a country. Let’s turn it into a science.

Leadership is also somewhat of an art. Some of us are just not cut out for it, no matter how hard we would work at Polit School. One would rather rule with love than fear. You have huge responsibilities placed on your shoulders, and you chose them; you as leader have been entrusted with taking care of millions of people, not only in your own country, but those bordering it. Today the human race is a global phenomenon ,so whatsoever actions you chose to implement at home will have ripples abroad.

We are no longer isolated entities and our very survival is at stake because – shame to admit it really, as we do regards ourselves as intelligent creatures – we still don’t know how to get on with each other. So the election of the world’s leadership is critical right now.

We need to do away with greedy leaders who comprise the 1% and start sharing resources because there are enough actually, if shared and managed wisely. Leaders need to lead by example. Their behaviour must be impeccable. If there is any slander against them it must be investigated and cleared immediately. People cannot doubt their leaders, just as small children cannot doubt their parents.

What has changed is leaders can’t bullshit the masses as easily as they used to. In the bad old days you could start a border incident with a few well-placed gold coins, a ship gets sunk or a village torched and bingo, you have your excuse to invade the neighbours because “they started it” and we were “acting in defence”.

After that came control of the media – Goebbels realised its power, so did the apartheid regime, and the mainstream media is massively controlled by the US police state even today. But cracks like Wikileaks are appearing and the forces of opposition – Anonymous etc – grow stronger by the day. We can’t be fooled as easily as we once could.

Our leaders need to unite us all to address the real challenges of the day – the destruction of the environment, water scarcity, food shortages, housing, education, meaningful employment and relation to each other – rather than bullshit like wars and squabbling over resources and territories we all need to now share, or we will perish in large swathes.

If there are disagreements, the one thing the ancient tribes resorted to that I kind of dig is at times a champion from each tribe would be put forward to solve the unsolvable disagreement. Sometimes it was the chief himself … maybe there were even herselfs who fought for the tribe’s honour. Imagine today’s leaders doing something like that? We need brave leaders who can walk the talk, not cower behind their police or armies. They have to be at the frontline.

The old order changeth and the new one emerges. A system of leadership which was based on monarchy which became the lapdog of corporates and was always based on lies and fear and plunder is falling. The only world superpower since WWII is becoming replaced by a number of growing, other superpowers. The monetary system as we know it is in danger of complete global collapse. Its a 2012 scenario and its already started.

What replaces it is the question. If the centre collapses, is it filled by complete chaos, anarchy in its worst form? Things are polarising fast, and those with the most possessions have the most to lose. So, whose side are you on, becomes the question … and who will step forward with the guts to lead a new world, with a new style of leadership, is the big question.