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.

Goodbye, Hatfield Square!

VANESSA SMEETS

This week marks the first demolishing of Hatfield Square, a place which has become synonymous with the student lifestyle of partying, drinking and socialising in Pretoria over the last three decades.

Students, new and old, flocked this past weekend to say goodbye to Dropzone, Cherry Jam, Slug and Lettuce, News Café and Flair, or to relive their nostalgic student days.

Hatfield 1

HATS OFF TO HATFIELD: This past weekend marked the last weekend for Hatfield Square, which will be demolished to make room for more student housing. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

Redefine Properties, the current owners of Hatfield Square, are planning to “break” the Square, in order to replace it with more student housing and offices. It is rumoured that at least three new student residences will be set up in its place.

Bittereinder

BITTER END: Bittereinder, a popular bilingual band, performed at Aandklas Friday night. Aandklas is one of the few places on the Square that will stay. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

Where will students go party now? Arcade Empire and Presley’s on Lynnwood Road, Capital Craft at Greenlyn, Eastwoods in Arcadia, Menlyn Square, as well as the Pretoria CBD, which is restructuring itself with new shebeens and clubs. The CBD has been stigmatised since the late 1990s for being “dangerous, full of satanists and prostitutes.”

Of course many students are sad with the closing down of Hatfield Square, but those loyal to Aandklas, the only place on the Square that is rumoured to stay along with Springboks, are happy Aandklas survived. “Our best memories are here! This is where I met my fiancée, my best friend and even my current business partner, “ laughed one PhD student. “It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s also time to grow up… And Hatfield has lost its charm. No one really comes here anymore. It was at its peak during the World Cup.”

Cheers, Hatfield Square! Thank you for the memories!

Oppikoppi 2014: Odyssey

VANESSA SMEETS

“We are but dust and shadow,” The Odes of Horace

My third Oppikoppi and maybe ‘third time lucky’… I went for FREE! Thank you, Cinema Nouveau for choosing my random post on which movie best describes the Oppikoppi experience.
I chose “Searching for Sugarman” from the selection given, because we are all still searching for that experience/ that artist/ that time in our lives when we embark on an Odyssey, a massive adventure.

I separated myself from the city lights, embraced the dust and bushveld, was initiated by the full moon under warm winter nights and returned whole.

Many complained the line-up was not that impressive this year… But, for 20 years of Oppikoppi, one should know it’s not so much about the music, it’s about:
– discovering who you are in extreme conditions
– knowing what your best friend finally looks like without make-up
– making friends with strangers in long queues
– holding some celebrity’s drink while he/ she takes a selfie with a random
– catching the drumstick/ the CD/ the item of clothing full of hard-earned sweat
– sharing crazy “past Koppi” experiences
– making memories filled with dust, life and music

Here is a selection of my favourite dust, life and musical moments, accompanied by words from Homer himself. Long live this Odyssey!

Fading Rainbow

VANESSA SMEETS

Madiba_goodbye

FREEDOM: Is this goodbye? A democratic South Africa struggles to say goodbye to the man who freed her, as balloons, cards and posters fill up his hospital wall in Pretoria. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

In 1991, I came to a hateful, racist country that was on the verge of revival. Coming from Zimbabwe, I was shocked to see no black, Indian or coloured children in my class. “Where are they… the children of colour?” I asked my teacher one day. She looked at me confused. “Didn’t your parents tell you? We are separated here. We are different.”

Different? My black friends in Zimbabwe all spoke English. They taught me the beauty of an African sunset, those were the only colours that mattered.

I spoke fluent Shona. I could sing the national anthem, which has the exact same tune to the South African one, Nkosi Sikelel ‘iAfrika. The television spoke of a civil war rising between the ANC (African National Congress) and the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party).

Madiba_Bang Bang Club

BANG BANG SA: Greg Marinovich and other photojournalists documented South Africa’s gruesome civil war as the Bang Bang Club, now a major motion movie under the same name. PIC: Internet

My parents were glued every night to the screen: “Maybe it’s time we go back?” “But we just got here.” Chris Hani’s gruesome assassination in his driveway rocked the country the most. He was the Communist Party leader and yet, being so popular, there was hint he had a good chance at winning the next elections.

The unrest and murders were documented by the Bang Bang Club in photojournalism that shocked the world. The ANC’s leader, Nelson Mandela (a Xhosa), was set free. For years, the country had labelled him “a terrorist.” Today, he is known as our most cherished “freedom fighter.” He was even condemned by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who later visited him as our leader.

I was only eight years old when Nelson Mandela took the oath in April 1994, next to FW De Klerk, to rebuild our country and her people. Yet, I remember it like yesterday. A man of peace stood before us. He was imprisoned for 27 years for treason. He was only allowed to send one letter every six months and get a visitor for only 30 minutes once a year.

Madiba_De Klerk

PEACE: The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1993 to Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk (who was his predecessor and deputy president) for “The peaceful termination of Apartheid.” PIC: Internet

It takes a lot to stand against your oppressors, learn their language and finally lead them. It takes a Godly man. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside De Klerk.

My dad took us to the Union Buildings the week after our first democratic elections. There was still confetti all over the lawns. Our new flag was flown proudly above the arches.
“Do you know what this man and flag mean for all of us?” Dad asked us.
“Not really…”
“It means we are all free. We are free to vote. We are free to take the same bus. We are free to go to the same schools.”

The rainbow flag fascinated me the most: the red for our blood-shed, the white for our peace, the yellow for our riches, the blue for our two oceans, the black for our tribes. The green “Y” shows two parts becoming one. Eleven languages were a result of our separation known as “homelands.” I even remember taking my domestic worker regularly to check her pass, a few years before. “I am different to you,” she showed me. “I have to be in bed at a certain time, I cannot go to certain places.” She had eyes, ears, a nose and curly hair like me and I also had to be in bed by a certain time, it was hard for a young child to understand.

Little by little, my father’s prophecy came true. Black, coloured, Indian children trickled one by one into my school. The children played with each other’s hair the most, it was fascinating to finally meet them. Nelson Mandela’s real first name is “Rolihlahla” meaning ‘pulling the branch of a tree’ and that’s exactly what he stood for. He took a poisoned tree of South Africa and gave her new branches: the branches of courage, forgiveness, patience and peace.

People were worried the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) trials would open old wounds. And, while they did, our new country (thanks to Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu) bled less in her quest for peace. Most perpetrators were given amnesty or asylum elsewhere.

Madiba_collage

SPORTS’ HERO: Nelson Mandela reunited South Africa using sport. PICS: Various sources GRAPHIC: Vanessa Smeets

Nelson Mandela saw the one thing that united us all: sport. While the black people of South Africa loved football (or soccer, as we call it), the whites preferred rugby. As documented by the Hollywood movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela stood at the Rugby World Cup in 1995, shaking hands with our Springboks. They sang the new national anthem proudly that day, after much practice, and took the cup home for us. That golden cup represented a golden era for South Africa that would forever be known as the “Madiba years.” Father of our nation aka Tata Madiba, for his clan name. He was our oldest elected president at 75. But, he’s not only “father of the nation,” he’s keeper of peace and guardian of our rainbow nation.

Today, I am struck with the realisation it’s time to let him go. Yet, like so many other South Africans, I am unable to free the man that set us free. South Africa stands uncertain: what will happen to the ANC? To our peace?

My only wish is that his last memory of us will be positive. Despite our xenophobia, crime and incessant complaining, that we can rise above and meet his ideals again: a country bound by love and forgiveness. You divide a nation by fear and hatred. Those who fear and hate, they flee. He gave us courage and taught us forgiveness. The problem with every rainbow, is that it slowly fades, but its beauty lives on. Mandela painted that rainbow for us.

In 2004, with his help, we were given the chance to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was the biggest challenge to ever face South Africa; our stadiums were small or worn down. But, somehow, his smiling face grabbing onto that trophy motivated us.

In 2006, I interviewed eight 8-year olds for a newspaper article about what they would give him for his 88th birthday. Their answers were beautiful: “eternal life,” “immortality,” “freedom” and “happiness.”

Madiba_wall

FREEDOM BABIES: Mandela has touched both our oldest and youngest citizens. Pretoria Montessori Pre-school’s art illuminates his hospital wall with messages of hope and love. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

Today, I am teaching four and five year olds what he means to us. These freedom babies have still a lot to learn about his legacy. Their messages on their art for his hospital wall reveal, however, that they finally comprehend what he stands for:
“He is the grandfather I always wish I had.”
“Our country will be so sad without him.”
“He was the best president we ever had.”
“Mandela means freedom for us all.”
“It’s thanks to him, I can go to school with everyone.”

It’s the biggest full moon of the year. In a way, she consoles us: “Don’t worry, South Africa. Rest assured, his light will shine on.”

EXTRA SOURCE:

 

A Racing Miracle

VANESSA SMEETS

Peter Whyte (21) was flung against a tree from his motorbike at 160km/ hour last December at the Bulawayo 3-Hour Endurance Race in Zimbabwe, breaking his 9th vertebra. The 9th vertebra is one of the lowest positioned of the thoracic 12 (T12). Breaking it could have resulted in paralysis of the lower limbs, loss of control over the bladder and bowels.

Peter White_seated ball

DETERMINED: Peter Whyte’s recuperation programme was a lot of hard work. In only 6 months, he is walking and talking again. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

He was in a deep coma for six weeks, leaving doctors convinced he would be brain dead. Today, he is walking and talking just like any other person his age. What makes him different? His extreme will and determination to survive and now recover completely.

Peter remembers nothing from that day, except driving to Bulawayo. His body is dotted in scars: a tracheotomy, an hour-long lung puncture to drain all the blood that had leaked into his right lung. His uncle saved his life through CPR and chest compressions.

Peter White_puncture far

BREATH OF LIFE: Peter shows off the puncture marks, where doctors had to drain his lung from blood. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

Although he walks a bit like a robot, his mobility is improving daily and his speech is at 100%. A true miracle, he explains:

“I am alive to share my story, that’s for sure.”

Much to his parents’ disbelief, he is determined to get on a motorbike again. But his physiotherapist, Didier Smeets, at the Sports Injuries Clinic in Harare disagrees: “One must realise your reflexes have to be 100% to participate in races like that. Next time, he may not be so lucky.”

Peter White_walk

HARD WORK: Peter and his physiotherapist, Didier Smeets, practised regularly for four months. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

Didier helps him with stretches and exercises once a week, building up the muscles that were as strong as jelly only a few months ago. Didier has been working as a physiotherapist for over 30 years and cherishes this as one of his most special cases: “You get people who come here because they are forced by family or friends. Peter came here out of sheer will.

The recipe to success is: a good operation, good aftercare and a great support system. Much can be done daily. There is no limit to one’s will to get further.

Each case for me is a new challenge, where both the patient and I have to work on their flexibility, stability and places of attention.”

Peter’s eyes sparkle as I ask him why he keeps getting back on after every accident (in his last accident, he broke his shoulder): “There’s something incredible in driving a bike: the freedom, the glide, even the graze against your leg. Once I can, I will! This has only made me appreciate life even more.”

Peter White_foot

FOOTWORK: Peter shows his weekly progress, getting his feet at equal length again. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

Another racer walks in the surgery and gives his support:

“Peter is a hero to us all. His will to survive is incredible. His will to recuperate even stronger. For those who don’t believe in miracles, just talk to Peter about his story.” 

Peter is currently back at work and has stopped his physiotherapy for now.

Watch the video here: 

Great Gatsby event at Brooklyn Mall

VANESSA SMEETS

The cover of the first edition of The Great Ga...

The first edition of The Great Gatsby (1925). PIC: Wikipedia

“People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other…”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Students, lawyers, doctors, journalists, mothers and grandmothers dressed up for an exquisite evening, decorated in frills, pearls, feather boas, long cigarettes and white gloves for The Great Gatsby Girfriends’ Getaway at Brooklyn Mall, on Wednesday 22 May, 2013.

The prizes were much more extravagant than last time, with the biggest prizes coming from sponsors like DisChem, House of Superior Clothing, Lenthéric and “The diet everyone is talking about.” Prizes went to best-dressed, second best-dressed, a lucky seat number, three lucky-draw numbers from DisChem, three lucky-draw numbers from “The diet everyone is talking about” and one Ralo Cosmetics hamper to the woman who could answer the question: Which other Baz Luhrmann movie did Leonardo DiCaprio star in? The answer being, Romeo and Juliet.

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Many audience members were left stunned by Luhrmann’s melodramatic ending, some found pleasure in the effervescent soundtrack, while other older members were irritated by its stern contrast to the époque.

Set in the early 1920s, Wall Street is booming, liquour is cheap and gangsters are abound. The movie blends modern music to the Charleston era, beautifully incorporating the novel’s quotes as words on screen, haunting the audience members hours after the show.

GG Poster

Baz Luhrmann’s latest blockbuster has left audiences around the world stunned by its beauty, yet disgusting reality of greed and fortune. PIC: Internet

The Great Gatsby explores Nick Carraway’s recollection of visiting his cousin, Daisy, on the east coast of the USA. His neighbour happens to be the mysterious Jay Gatsby, millionaire extraordinaire, known for his wild parties. But who is it all for? Nick starts to weave everything together, leaving him haunted by his loss of innocence, relationships and more, thrown into a world of decadence, greed and the elusive American Dream. Can the past ever be repeated, when one feels “within yet without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life”?

Natasha Secchi (21), Financial Management student, said: “Ladies night at Ster-Kinekor is filled with excitement from the very first second. Everyone looks forward to the interesting lucky packets and the raffle for the lucky draw. I enjoyed The Great Gatsby from the great graphics to the realistic acting, as a whole.”

Bianca O’Neill (27), lecturer and actress, said: “It was a wonderful cinematic experience, depicting the greed and deceit of the human race. Evil is always decorated with sparkle and glitter a.k.a. Gatsbilliosis.”

The night was an overall success, with a full house at Brooklyn Mall and a few random men (who had booked without knowing), who enjoyed the razzle and dazzle of the beautiful women surrounding them.

 

There is HOPE! Incitement South Africa…

VANESSA SMEETS

Incitement_logo

ARE YOU IN? Incitement SA will launch March 9. Are you ready? Courtesy: Incitement Fan-page

Once riddled with negative connotations, the word “incite” now means to provoke and spur on in a positive way. Incitement South Africa was founded February 9 this year, by Tamara and Francisca Al-Halaseh. It comes at a time in South Africa when our mind-set is rife with negativity, speculations and heartache. Originally founded in Malaysia in 2011 by Daniel de Gruijter and Zikry Kholil, as a way for employees to talk about their ideas, the movement has now become a global instrument of positive change. From Malaysia, it spread to the USA, Canada, UAE and Jordan and has now reached South Africa.

Incitement is a global movement of local communities. The site reads:
“It is born out the idea that people have something worth saying. We encourage everyone… who has something to share to get up and get it out there.”

What is it?

Incitement South Africa encourages individuals to create positive thinking, by networking with people from various backgrounds. This will be done by sharing life-affirming values and stories that have inspired and motivated them. The Incitement South Africa Facebook fan-page publishes affirmations of self-growth and self-belief on a daily basis. No judgement. No prejudice.

Incitement_cover

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Are you ready to change or be the change? Pic from the FB fan-page.

How will they do it?

By hosting informal and easy-going events, starting with Gauteng and moving nationally.

Incitement_Tzu

POSITIVITY: What makes a good life? Find out with Incitement. PIC: internet

When is the first event?

The event planned for 30th of March in Pretoria (at Blue Valley Mall) will gather everyone from entrepreneurs, personal growth enthusiasts, thinkers to marketers and students. They will enjoy a series of powerful presentations and participate in unique team-building exercises. These will be designed to help them grow on a personal and professional level. Think of it as a melting pot of incredible and original ideas that stir up weary souls and awaken tired minds. Watch out for the venue on the Facebook page.
Reply to the event: Incitement SA Launch.

The presentations given will be documented with guests’ permission on video and posted to their YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter channels, in hope of making positive affirmations a reality. It will help employers deal with down-trodden staff, parents with unruly children and students with depression.

Co-founder Francisca Al-Halaseh says:

“It is a platform for people to speak up and share their outrageous visions for the future, life changing experiences from the past and ideas for the present.”

But, it’s not all ‘serious talk.’ It’s also a place to have fun in front of a crowd and spread positive vibes.

For more information, visit:
http://theincitement.com/

If you would like to sponsor or get involved with the March 9 event, check out the South African Facebook fan-page:

https://www.facebook.com/IncitementSouthAfrica

Fallen Heroes: Sport as Religion

VANESSA SMEETS

Oscar Pistorius

SA ON HIS BACK: Oscar Pistorius was for the last decade South Africa’s most inspirational sportsman. Today, he awaits his fate in prison. Mark, a disabled fan, gives his thoughts… PIC: Internet

Mark (22) was born with a rare muscular condition that causes his muscles to deteriorate over time. Today, he has no real control over his arms and legs. However, he is still able to use his mouth to write and speak:

“They said I’d be dead by age 20, but I’m still here. I know what it’s like to be bullied for being different. Even after everything, the person who got me this far is Oscar Pistorius. Bullies used to call him ‘lucky packet’ at Pretoria Boys’ High School, because they claimed he got his legs in a lucky packet. It was hard… On Twitter, he spoke of Spud being his favourite book. Being a boarder was never easy.”

Oscar as a child

SMILING HOPE: Oscar’s legs were amputated under the knee, at 11 months old. He was born without his fibula. PIC: Internet

Mark has Oscar’s pictures all over his bedroom walls. These are not photographs. He painted them using his mouth:

“Oscar taught me so much about living with disability. I push on. I strive to make the most out of life.”

When news hit that Oscar had been accused of murder, Mark refused to believe it:
“The media feed us so much… It’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction. If innocent, he’ll live with the guilt of killing his beloved for the rest of his life. That, itself, is prison. If it was purposeful, he would be disappointing millions of fans. The guy is a strong Christian, as proven by his Bible quotes and the Corinthians tattoo on his back.”

Oscar tattoo

RELIGIOUS: Oscar has never been afraid to speak openly about his faith. A large back tattoo quotes the book of Corinthians. PIC: Internet

The tattoo reads, from 1 Corinthians 9 v 26-27:

“26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

One thing is for certain: this whole saga has demasked the hypocrites from the faithful. Those once loyal to Oscar are breaking down, not sure what to believe any more. Jokes are being passed on as a way to deal with the shock. South Africa, much like the rest of the world, has created sport into a type of religion. Sport stars are on the cover of magazines, billboards, TV adverts and have thousands of fans on Facebook. Their autobiographies line up bookshops’ window-sills. Little children wait for them to visit their schools.

Mark explains this phenomenon quite well:

“For many South Africans, we escape in our sport. Some see it as a refuge, others as a place of worship. Much like a church, mosque or synagogue. However, our fatal flaw is not realising we are fatally flawed. We idolise these guys too much. I’m guilty of that. Just look at my room.”

Mark continues after drinking two glasses of water: “I’ve heard from close friends, Oscar used to get angry when younger guys at school looked at his legs, even if they weren’t doing it on purpose. I get stared at every day. It gets to you. All you want, is to be seen as human.”
Those words haunt me: “He wanted to be seen as human.”
Mark has tears in his eyes: “I’ve heard the craziest things lately, people calling him a cyborg with a gun attached to his hands. These are the same people who yesterday saw this sport’s star as their invincible hero.”

The same can be said for all our other ‘decrowned sporting gods:’
Hansie Cronjé was worshipped as the best cricket captain we had ever seen. He was convicted of match fixing a few years later. Joost van der Westhuizen was our blue-eyed golden boy on the rugby field. His sex and drugs video became a horrible thing to digest. Herschelle Gibbs was our incredible cricket batsman. He was soon labelled a wife-beater with a short temper. The list goes on.

Oscar Pistorius once said: “I have a strong sense that I have to educate people about disability.” The truth is, he is educating us now more than ever about our disability to think for ourselves. “He is a cold-hearted killer” one day and “He’s a sufferer of unfortunate circumstances” the next.

Mark hands me a colourful painting of Oscar at the London Olympics: “Maybe this whole saga has taught me one thing… Even the strongest people live in fear. Fear of losing a race. Fear of death-threats. Fear of being robbed. Fear of losing the one you love.”

Marks hands over the smallest sketch now. It’s a picture of Oscar holding one of his first trophies:
“No matter how much money you have, it does not buy you peace of mind. I just hope we see our own disabilities throughout this gruesome chapter. We all judge. We all speculate. We all, in that way, fall from grace. A trophy for some is a burden of pressure for others.”

Slide-show of the Oscar Pistorius case:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/oscar-pistorius-shooting-live-murder-1708978

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…