Cry the beloved country

VANESSA SMEETS

“Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all,” Aristotle.

It has taken months to find the energy or a story worth writing, but watching these students burn, destroy and steal has ravished my soul…

Don’t get me wrong, the “born-frees” of South Africa have the right to be angry. They are experiencing high-cost of living like no one before. A loaf of bread is R15, a two-litre bottle of milk is R30, rent on average is R5 000 for a one-bedroom flat near campus, a BA degree is about R20 000 with registration fees soaring at R5 000 – R15 000, depending on you being a citizen or not.

However, is burning the varsities a solution? No.
There will be no education there tomorrow.

Is looting shops nearby a solution? No.
No one will take your cause seriously anymore.

Is using violence, beating policemen with bricks, the answer? No.
They will not protect you at your most vulnerable.

There’s a dark cloud above the youth of today. It disguises itself as honour and pride. They believe it is better to fight, than just survive.

While last year’s “Fees Must Fall” seemed noble, with students gathering around campus in unity, this year’s cause is dampened with innocent blood and soiled ideals. As predicted, the fight last year was quickly “shut up,” only to rise again this year as an angrier, more vicious corpse. The people of South Africa were given, as usual, temporary solutions to a major issue – to satisfy that moment, to kill that immediate need. Meanwhile, the solution infected other areas – varsities are going bankrupt, lecturers are not being paid on time.

“They can afford it!” the students scream, their shields made of mattresses and ironing boards high in the air. Their anger is sadly aimed in the wrong direction – the government’s expenditure that needs to be reprimanded, not the educators…

Varsities have not been able to continue with exam season.
Students are failing, as they are too afraid to come to class or be threatened on campus.

South Africa’s “rainbow nation” has continued to fade, suffocated by smoke, empty promises and an uncertain dawn.

Can we raise our children in a country where the only answer seems to be destruction?You want his car? Shoot him.
You want her to feel your power? Rape her.
You want that baby? Kidnap it.
You want free education? Burn it all.

Cry for our beloved country.
Cry on this thirsty land that craves for manna in all her forms – rain, money or change.

Powerful photographs by Lee-Roy Jason Photography.

My Rainbow Nation

Inspired by some more crime to write this…

Her hands covered in blood,
The young without a voice,
The old without a weapon…
Her voice cries out:
“Where are you?
Police of our nation…
Government of our people…”
Abandoned.
Lost.
Afraid.
Raped.
Our nation is raped by those meant to protect her.
Cast aside.
Beaten.
Shaking from the blood that runs down her legs into the soil.
The soiled promises of a new democratic South Africa.
Listening.
Waiting.
They lure her in the dark.
To rob,
To kill.
She screams.
She fights.
She lives another day, begging on the streets:
“Do you see me?
No job,
No food,
Mother to a fatherless nation.”
Good night, sweet mother of all.

TBR: Fast & Furious

VANESSA SMEETS

Kyalami1

RULE 1: Have a reliable pit-crew. Punctuality and communication are key.

“I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself,” Ferdinand Porsche.

Racing cars is not just sport, it’s become integrated into South African culture ever since I can remember. My first experience of racing? Sitting around and waiting for my parents to get off medical duty at race circuits around South Africa. I was only 7 years old and had no idea that one day I would be one of those women screaming, sighing and laughing nervously in the pits. My parents often shared their worst-case-scenarios of quadriplegics, stabbed jugulars and cindered off body hair… It was normal at our family dinners.

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RULE 2: Have a reliable car. Drive it with passion!

“Everyone in life is looking for a certain rush. Racing is where I get mine,” John Troutmann.

Ironically, my boyfriend’s favourite hobby is building and racing cars. His team? Team Beer Racing (TBR). Don’t get the wrong idea… It’s so much more than just a bunch of guys drinking and talking cars, it’s a brotherhood.

You risk your life at the hands of others. While one is great at giving advice, another is great with his hands and another with the wiring. It’s intricate. It’s time-consuming. But, best of all, it’s self-made.

After weeks of late nights and hassling our neighbours with loud grinding noises as well as early morning revving, my boyfriend’s car was ready for the African Endurance Series at Kyalami, 9 May 2015. 22 years later, all those family dinners flashed back with my nerves.

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RULE 3: Have an amazing support system.

I will never forget that date, as it was etched into our daily lives: “The engine has to be rebuilt… 30 days left,” “Sh*t! The left back tyre is loose… 10 days to go.”

Ladies, I warn you – you must have the patience to share your man with his machine. He will devote most of his free time to it and then come to bed smelling like petrol. Well, it’s okay! Support him with your kindness and smiles. I tried learning some car jargon, but quickly got lost…

Gentlemen, be patient with us women who support you. We are as tired as you, waiting patiently in cold beds… But it’s okay, we love you for your ambition and dedication. True men stick to the their rims!

“A smooth race never made a skillful driver,” Anon.

Kyalami, I thank you for the most stressful, yet adrenaline-packed, two hours of my life
, watching the love of my life at high speed amongst 40 cars. I will never forget the look on his face as the engine was finally finished: surprise. As the car ran: relief and as he finished the race with his partner: ecstasy.

Endurance racing is not really about winning, it’s about finishing. It’s about showing the other guys you did a great job building your car, that the endurance of building such a sweet piece of machinery was worth it.

I thank you, my racer, for allowing me to be your pit-girl but, most importantly, for teaching me the importance of self-discipline and fraternity. I’m so proud of you.

Resolution 2014 (check!)

VANESSA SMEETS

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
– LM Montgomery

How many resolutions have you kept this year? A new year, a new beginning and yet, fourth month into the new year, it feels like we make resolutions only to break them.

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Pic: Internet

The problem may stem from the actual meaning. The Oxford Dictionary defines a “resolution” as: ‘(1) a firm decision to do or not to do something’ and ‘(2) the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.’

This can be hard to come by, as many people are not emotionally ready to stop smoking, stop drinking or make peace with that family member. The “Happy New Year” syndrome enables you to impulsively make that leap. But, as the gym classes pile up, one has to ask: how many of those new gym members will still be there by mid-year?

You have to be passionate about what you are changing. Not for him/ her/ them/ God, but for you. You may be have been conceived by your parents, enhanced with God’s talents, but ultimately you are the author of your own destiny.

For ten years, I had “get your driver’s licence” as a resolution… It started growing into an emotional fungus that prevented me from actually tackling it. Reading that resolution year after year made me feel more and more useless.

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Pic: Internet

In 2012, I did not put it on my list and, guess what, 5 months after a few lessons (lessons I had done twice before, but never attempted the test) it was mine. No more fears or mockery from people that did not know the real reason for that fungus: four friends who had tragically passed away in separate car accidents.

I made an emotional choice not to go on limping by their tragedies, but tackle it head on. I broke down mental barriers, which freed me emotionally, spiritually and, of course, physically. Now, the only regret is knowing what I could have experienced and seen year after year…

But, it’s okay. The timing was perfect. Not having a licence made me go on other crazy adventures: trekking around Australia with classmates, trying out the car-pool system in Germany (you sign up online and see how many people are interested in joining you; kind of like ‘couch surfing’ but with transport), taking endless bus-trips to forests, beaches, public pools and other sites I would not have found on my own. The fondest memories come from falling asleep on bus-trips, not understanding Danish and being taken to another city, as well as finding my way back after the wrong stop.

This year, I asked my friends if they had any 2014 resolutions. The answers were seemingly ambiguous:
“Who the f*ck makes those anymore?”
“Of course…I make one small one a week.”
“Stop smoking. It’s been there for 15 years. Maybe next year.”
“Gym…at least for a month, just to get rid of Christmas baggage.”
“Get married to that guy I met at New Year’s. It’s been three days, but I know he’s the ONE.”
“Like everyone else, become suddenly rich. Realistically, that’s a decade-long-resolution.”
“Do something I’ve never done before. You know, no FOMO, just YOLO.”

Where did resolutions originate?

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Pic: Internet

According to historian Bill Petro, they started in Babylon and continued in Ancient Rome, as the Romans worshipped their two-faced god Janus (hence the name ‘January’) who looks on the past with one head and on the future with the other.

That does not give much space to the present, does it? Which is exactly the crux of problematic resolutions, they don’t let you live: you just keep looking back and forth, self-critical and more aware of your apathy.

So, as we already reach the third of 2014 (as I was not able to keep my resolution “Blog more this year”) let’s say cheers to the best resolution yet: “No more resolutions!” Not annual ones at least… Hehe…

As Walt Whitman put it so beautifully:

“Afoot and lighthearted, I take to the open road: healthy, free, the world before me.”

 

EXTRA SOURCE:
http://billpetro.com/history-of-new-years-resolutions

Road tripping through South Africa

VANESSA SMEETS

The route

ADVENTURE: The route for an 11-day road trip (in June/ July) that changed my perspective on South Africa.

Have you lost faith in South Africa? Just take your car and drive… 
Drive to the lost and unseen parts…

You will be greeted by the most incredible sunrise, the yearning for random children to wave at you, the eager “Oom” or “Tannie” to feed you… 

South Africa, the way it was meant to be, a mosaic of mountains, bushveld, beach, winelands and beauty in her purest form. Here is about 4000 kilometres around this amazing country…

 

Win with Arcade Empire!

Name SA  bands

WHO’S WHO? Name the missing bands/ musicians performing this Saturday… Copyright on collage: Vanessa Smeets/ selected pics off Net.

So, you can’t make it to Mozambique’s SIZZLING HOT beach party STRAB (The Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience)? Don’t despair…

Arcade Empire (next to The Grove shopping mall, Pretoria) is organising their own beach party with some of South Africa’s hottest bands and musicians!

The line-up includes:
– Black Cat Bones
– Bittereinder
– Tombstone Pete
– Natalie Chapman
– Raoul and Black Friday
– Gerald Clark
– Stefan Dixon
– Luna Paige

Would you like to win double tickets to Arcade Empire’s exciting Road to STRAB “Voodoo Beach” Party this Saturday (18 May 2013)? It starts from 3pm sharp…

All you have to do is name the missing bands on this collage (the names are above, just reshuffle them logically). Email your answers to tshwane.people@gmail.com. The first person with the correct five answers will win the tickets! Your name and your plus one will be put on the list.
Please ensure you write 1. name of band, 2. name of band, etc.

See you there!  
Reply to event here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/163389610488490/

Arcade Empire: Hidden Menu

The new Arcade Empire, which opened next to The Grove shopping mall (Pretoria) nine months ago, has been attracting all types of young people with its variety in music. However, its variety in food seems to cater as well to everyone’s tastes, from pizza to steak to calamari, amongst others.
The best meal of the night? The cordon bleu wrapped in cheese!

On Tuesday, 26 March, a few bloggers and social media junkies were given an exclusive peek into their hidden treasures. Their chef, Doctor, has been limited by the two-page menu, but showed us what else he is capable of. Co-owner Rudolf Przybylski explains: “We wanted to spread the word that we are upping our menu and soon our service.”

On the menu last night (click on the pic for the caption)…

Paradise Lost: Zimbabwe

A little bit of paradise lost found again…


South Africa: War Rising

VANESSA SMEETS

As much as I try to focus on the good news of South Africa, we are currently a country at war, just a week after the History Channel did a special on us called Miracle Rising. It was a show that highlighted how South Africa miraculously defeated the odds. But the truth is, today we are at war with our fight against crime, women abuse and the media that seem to overspeculate and sensationalise. As indicated by today’s front-pages, spattered in innocent blood…

How ironic that our State of the Nation address coincided with several other incidents: Valentine’s Day, the shooting of model Reeva Steenkamp (now infamously remembered as the shot girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius) and the day that was meant to be dedicated to Anene Booysen, mutilated, raped and killed at only 17. A day of love turned into a day of hatred.

The media have been sharing private tweets between Oscar, Reeva and his family. Is this an invasion or privacy or public knowledge? Have social media destroyed privacy of self?

As for protection of privacy, did Zuma address enough the main issue of our country: our children who are at risk on a daily basis of being abused by a family member, a family friend or for use by strangers as muti (dismembering body parts for medicinal purposes)? No, he didn’t. Love for our country’s future, our children, did not feature enough this Valentine’s Day…

The child molester’s usual excuse: “I was molested myself.” Stop the curse then. Stop stealing from the one soul that can save you: the purity of a child.

Did Zuma address our horrifying rape stats with more vigour? No, it’s a touchy subject for him, as most of us will recall… A woman is estimated to be raped every few seconds or minutes in South Africa (depending on reported or unreported cases) and baby rape is a shameful reality, a social myth built up by the idea that “having sex with virgins will cure you of HIV/AIDS.”

Anene Booysen

GONE TOO SOON: Raped, mutilated and killed by her injuries. South Africa dedicated a day to her, but it was overshadowed by violence’s newest victim, Reeva Steenkamp.

RIP Anene Booysen, you would have been celebrating your Matric Dance soon. Instead, you dance amongst angels. A few people wore duct-tape for an hour yesterday in memory of you, trying to speak for the voiceless. These men that ripped your intestines out and broke your bones may have stolen your dignity, but not your vision. Your hope, but not your legacy. Your innocence, but not your pledge.

There is only one way to envision a new South Africa, by seeing and hearing with the eyes and ears of our children. That is where true courage lies. Anene, you are the face that launched a thousand voices. Your death strangely coincides with Belgium’s decision to perhaps release their most infamous paedophile, Marc Dutroux. He mutilated, raped and videotaped six girls we know of. Two were buried alive. Two were still alive when police asked questions… Melissa and Julie were placed on milk cartons, posters and still we found them too late. Next week, he may be walking free. That’s the logic of today: “Create space in jails and chaos in society.” I guess one is safer in a hole after all…

Golden couple: Steenkamp and Pistorius

LOST LOVE: South Africa’s golden couple, Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius, ripped apart by murder and now by media speculations that it was not an accident. PIC: Internet

RIP Reeva Steenkamp, you were on your road to even bigger stardom. Tomorrow marks the day your reality show will normally go to air. Tropika’s director, Samantha Moon, is determined to show South Africa what a “bubbly, lovely, beautiful person” you were.

There is a terrible notion built into the minds of many South African men: submissive women feed your manhood. If she does not listen, beat her. If she carries on saying no, rape her. Reeva, accident or not, your death shows the paranoia even our seemingly strongest men go through.

Anene and Reeva, South Africa apologizes for not giving you enough attention. Those who did this to you got more media attention. Woman of the future, woman of the present and now women of the past, may your legacies live on, not as victims of violence, but as ambassadors of peace and change. That would be the true miracle rising for South Africa…

The end of freedom of speech? The cartoonist’s plight…

VANESSA SMEETS

In light of what has happened to one of South Africa’s most cherished cartoonists, Zapiro (who admitted the SABC tried to influence what he had to say and then canned the interview) it is time to hear the plight of our cartoonists, as the end of freedom of speech in South Africa becomes a daunting reality.

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FREE SPEECH: Some of South Africa’s best cartoonists, Jerm (second to left) and Zapiro (right), speak to students at Stellenbosch University in 2010. Zapiro’s interview with the SABC was recently canned, while Jerm was fired from The New Age for not agreeing to their terms… Is free speech history in South Africa? PIC: Vanessa Smeets

Here is a one-on-one with one of South Africa’s sharpest minds, JERM:

Jeremy Nell aka Jerm has built his reputation in the last few years as one of South Africa’s most successful cartoonists. Originally from Cape Town, his cartoons range from the hilarious “Biggish Five” about the Big Five as baby animals to his more serious political cartoons.

He was recently in the news after losing his job at The New Age newspaper for “not being aligned to their editorial vision and mission”. He recently published his first cartoons for Eye Witness News, keeping audiences entertained with his brilliant ideas and poking fun at our politicians.

How do you feel about The New Age’s excuse for terminating your contract?

I think that’s a nice way of saying that they don’t like my criticisms and lampooning. EWN approached me after they heard the news, and pioneered a new cartooning direction for South Africa. Never before has there been an online-only political cartoonist (being paid for original content). And it’s a very exciting space because of EWN’s overlap with Primedia’s radio stations. Furthermore, they’re an amazing bunch of people.

Hold on… Tell the readers more about your background…

My whole life has been in Cape Town. I went to Rondebosch Boys Primary School. Then, when I went to Fairmont High School, it was the greatest moment of my life. Not because of the school, but because there were girls. Loads of them. They were everywhere. I was in Heaven.

What are your passions?

I obviously hate drawing cartoons. But I love playing my ukulele; playing a ukulele is the most fun anyone will have for a grand! I enjoy going away to little towns and dorpies and places that are quiet, that make delicious food, and that are welcoming to ukuleles.

Tell us more about your work…

Well, I draw a syndicated comic strip called “The Biggish Five”, but my other work doesn’t really have names. For example, political cartooning and caption cartooning tends to be nameless. And illustrations that I do for magazines are much the same. I suppose it all falls under “Jerm”.

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BIG DREAMS: Jerm’s Biggish Five take the Big Five (leopard, rhino, lion, buffalo and elephant) to create light-hearted yet educational pieces. Courtesy: Jerm

Which publications do you work for?

My work has appeared in a few publications ranging from The Witness, The Star, Pretoria News, Dispatch, Sunday Times, The Times, The New Age, Daily Maverick, EWN, Beeld, Rapport, and more, to magazines such as FHM, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, The Media, Dekat, and others.

What inspired your love for cartooning? And, from what age?

From as far back as I can remember. I was inspired by TV cartoons, mostly; Daffy Duck and Pink Panther and all those fantastic “Golden Age” cartoons that we all love.

What continues to drive the passion?

I suppose seeing the finished product. I get an idea and I like seeing how it comes out. Oh, and being paid to do that is a wonderful incentive.

What is your cure to writer’s block?

I have no cure and it happens a lot! If you know the cure, then please contact me.

Which is your personal favourite?

I have no personal favourite. In fact, I feel embarrassed by a lot of my earlier work (style, usually) and tend to push my boundaries in an attempt to improve and satisfy my expectations.

Which are you least proud of?

I am proud of pretty much every cartoon that I’ve done. But, as I said, I’m not necessarily satisfied with the quality of drawing. And, of course, there are a bunch of bloopers too.

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ZUMA CHRISTMAS: South Africa’s cartoonists are some of the most privileged in Africa, allowed to poke fun at even our president. However, that may change soon as our government tightens its grip on media freedom… PIC: Jerm

How would you define “political cartooning”?

Making comments about current affairs and pop culture and the world around us, without attempting to provide solutions.

Jerm also makes short movies depicting South Africa’s current situation. This one gives a wonderful overview of Nkandla, President Zuma’s bustling castle…


Have you ever gotten into trouble for your work (sued/ harassed/ warned)?

No, I’ve not reached Zapiro’s level, in that regard. I mean, yes, I’ve had a lot of cartoons pulled, and I’ve had a number of irate readers, and the NSPCA once lodged a complaint against me, but nothing too serious. Unfortunately.

Have you ever been rejected by an editor for being too controversial?

Yes. Plenty. I was even fired, not too long ago.

Which other cartoonists (South African or international) are your favourites?

In no order of preference, my list would include cartoonists and non-cartoonists: Zapiro, Rico, Peter Sellers, Bill Cosby, Quentin Blake, and a bunch more.

What is your greatest achievement thus far?

This interview. LOL.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully following Roald Dahl’s footsteps and working from a little Wendy House in my back garden. (Close enough to home, but far away enough from noise.) And, perhaps being able to play a few more songs on my ukulele.

What is your advice to other aspiring cartoonists?

Being a cartoonist is not easy. It took me years just to be able to buy a more comfortable chair, for example. You have to believe in yourself and when you feel like giving up, have a shot of vodka or go for a walk. And rejection is a daily occurrence. Make sure that your skin grows thick very quickly. If you can get through the challenges, then you find that the rewards are great. Like drinking shots of vodka.

Jerm_madiba

RANDELA: Jerm captures the heart of our new notes… No one can replace our first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela. PIC: Jerm

You can follow Jerm on Twitter: @mynameisjerm
Like his Facebook fan-page: https://www.facebook.com/mynameisjerm
See more of his work on: http://africartoons.com/cartoonist/jerm and www.jerm.co.za