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 goes gaga over Gaga!

VANESSA SMEETS

Despite a staunch stand by South Africa’s Council of Churches labeling her “a satanist” and “bad influence on our youth” as well as a whiplash by SANEF (South Africa National Editors’ Forum) for her refusal to have any media at her Born This Way Ball, Lady Gaga performed for an incredible two hours at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday night.

Gaga_stadium inside

JOBURG MAGIC: The FNB Stadium slowly starts to fill up with Lady Gaga’s fans. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

However, the stadium stood quite empty in comparison to Linkin Park, a few weeks ago. Many fans arrived later, missing out on the opening acts by Lady Starlight (Gaga’s good friend) and the Darkness, best known for their hit “I believe in a thing called love.”

She made her grand entrance on a puppet horse, wearing outrageous headgear, which some rumoured was the reason for her lip-syncing for most of the performance. Another reason could be the incredible stamina and moves she had to display while performing, with some fans calling her the best performer since Michael Jackson.

Gaga_fans

LA VIE EN ROSE: Gaga fans were handed free pink wigs, after doing some wine tasting before the show. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

The stage was mostly taken up by a huge castle, filled with secret rooms and detail that Lady Gaga mastered with acrobatic ease, while being decorated in chains, sequin, lace, latex, etc. It was fascinating to watch her change into at least 30 different outfits in just a few minutes at a time. No wonder she needed six vans to transport her outfits and her rumoured 200-people entourage.

Big Concerts tweeted it was by far the most expensive concert they’ve ever held. By 6pm, “Lady Gaga” and “Gaga5” were trending on Twitter, with 5FM DJs like Rob Forbes and Poppy retweeting the best outfits and pics of the stadium.

The crowd gasped as a giant ball emerged from the castle, with legs on its sides. Yes, she emerged from a two-metre vagina, as the crowd sang in unison. She sang her most famous hits: “Born this Way,” “Pokerface,” “Just Dance,” “Paparazzi,” “Telephone,” amongst others. Some fans truly believed Beyoncé would make a surprise appearance for Telephone.

Jean Esterhuizen (@jeanesterhuizen on Twitter), a Lady Gaga and Beyoncé fan and celeb-connoisseur, claimed the show outlived all expectations:

“It was beyond epic. She’s such an inspiration. She even came back to do more after the final song, as if she didn’t want to leave. We laughed. We cried.”

She also appeared in what seemed to be that infamous egg from the music awards and also hung from a butcher’s rail as a piece of meat, for another song. She both fascinated and shocked the audience with her religious motifs: she often mentioned “black Jesus,” which happened to be one of her dancers, wearing a crown of thorns and tight top, which he later tore off. She appeared between two lumo crosses for another song and spoke to the crowd of coming to South Africa on a goat.

Some Christian fans were offended by this:

“She claims she arrived on a goat, the sign of the devil in Revelations. Christians know this is a mockery, as Jesus appeared on a donkey. She insisted we say her name many times, claiming we must rejoice her coming to South Africa and adore her forever. Very weird. Maybe those Christian protesters were right after all. We love her, but we don’t need to worship her.”

Gaga_monster pit

DEDICATION: Dylan Jack (centre) and his friends camped since early morning to be part of the Monster Pit. PIC: Courtesy Dylan Jack van Vuuren

Dylan Jack van Vuuren (@dylanjack on Twitter), who queued up since early morning to be part of the Monster Pit, disagrees:

“I really enjoy the religious motifs. As someone who was an Evangelical Christian, along with the rest of the family, letting go of those unrealistic and unfounded religious expectations for yourself is the first step to being and accepting who you are.”

Read more on his blog: Just Dylan Jack

Lady Gaga made the crowd laugh with her safari tale of that morning (which, according to her tweets, looks like it may have taken place at the Lion Park), claiming she cut a hole through her hat to fit her pony-tail and wore fishnet stockings:

“I feel bad for those animals… All day they get people staring at them, I wanted them to have something to look at!”

She made the crowd cry towards the end with her powerful a capella performance, singing her “Princess Di” which she claims was inspired by her dark past of being bullied and abused:

“Some people write a diary, I write a song and keep all the pain there. Healing comes from being honest to who you are.”

She then grabbed a few fans from the Monster Pit and whisked them on stage. One fan shouted, with tears in his eyes:

“That’s what I love about her. She remains true to us. She sees us as equal to her. Yet, she’s not human or mortal… She’s a goddess!”

Gaga_boys

ALL OUT: Lady Gaga has become a huge inspiration to the LGBTI community, fighting for equality for all. PIC: Vanessa Smeets

Lady Gaga has become an inspiration to the LGBTI community, fighting for gay rights in the army and equality for all. In South Africa, her fans seemed to be a collection of all genders, sexual identity, races and religions. You saw children as young as five standing next to drag-queens and happily married couples. Lady Gaga even remarked upon this phenomenon:

“That’s what I love about you, South Africa. We somehow speak the same language. You are all here, whatever your history or background. That means the world to me. I can’t speak South African, but I can if you want me to.”

Her “Don’t give a f*ck speech” was by far the highlight of the evening:

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re gay, bi, straight… You are born this way. Don’t give a f*ck about what people think or say about you… It doesn’t matter if your parents don’t have a seat for you at their dining table, because they can’t accept you for who you are, you will always have a seat at my table. Look around! You will have a seat at these little monsters’ tables too. What makes me so proud is watching you all grow… Some of you used to copy my style and fashion, now I watch you grow into who you are. You are finally born this way! Now, don’t give a f*ck anymore! Have an amazing evening… Go get drunk and vomit on your friends!”

Photo-story: Rhino Poaching

VANESSA SMEETS

rhino_poaching stop

18 October 2012 marked a sad day in South African history: we eclipsed our 2011 record for rhino poaching, with 455 rhinos massacred this year so far. Ironically, it also marks the day that Vietnam snubbed an anti-poaching agreement with South Africa. (Read more: Vietnam snubs SA)

rhino industry

ASIAN PERSUASION: Vietnam is believed to have outgrown its Chinese neighbour in demand for rhino horn. South Africa has since banned Vietnamese hunters from entering the country. PIC: Internet

South Africa is home to 70% of the world’s rhino population (and 90% of Africa’s population), turning it into a slaughterhouse for poachers from around the world. Very poor eyesight makes rhinos easy targets.

rhino map

BLOODBATH: 333 rhinos were butchered in 2010, 454 in 2011, and over 450 and counting in 2012. PIC: Internet

Our National Parks have been turned into butchering grounds. Our museums are being robbed. Our zoos have been targeted next… All in search of the precious horn, which sells for as much as cocaine.

Rhino-horn-cup


DOOMED CHALICE: Rhino horn cups are seen as both an art and honour in China. Dubbed as “immortal paradise,” drinking from this chalice is falsely believed to grant you long-life and insatiable libido. PIC: Internet

What drives this horrific industry? Money and sex. Each kilogram is estimated at $50 000, promising men worldwide hours of endless passion. Rhinos are not the only animals used to solve such contemporary issues: lion teeth and shark fins have been on the black-market for centuries, with shark fins being ripped off live sharks, which are thrown back into the ocean to drown or be eaten by their counterparts.

Myths associated with rhino horn:

  • It cures cancer.
  • It rids you of HIV/ Aids
  • It frightens away demons.
  • It helps with impotency and libido

The use of veterinary drugs in rhino poaching has proven that high-skilled vets are also involved. In just seven minutes, the animal will be immobilized and the horn will be axed off (often while still alive) with an axe or chainsaw.

A maimed rhino will continue to breathe via a cavity in its nasal passage, between his eyes. The hunting industry is also rumoured in being involved in rhino poaching, working together with poaching syndicates in giving them access to guns, permits, aircrafts and vehicles.

rhino killed

LAST BREATH: The rhino dies from an overdose of tranquilizers, bleeds to death or dies from infection later on. PIC: Internet

Rhinos are extremely precious creatures, in that they have a long gestation period of 16 months and cannot really leave their mothers until the age of three. She will therefore only breed every three-four years, roaming around with her calf; making them easy targets for hunters.

rhino foetus

INNOCENT BLOOD: This rhino foetus was discovered only days before being due, with its mother slaughtered by poachers in Limpopo, in February 2012. Its four-year old sibling was discovered wandering nearby in complete distress. PIC: Internet

There were originally five rhino species worldwide. South Africa’s rhinos are in demand, as it is home to the black rhino (quite rare) and the white rhino (known for its long horn).

rhino javan

BRINK OF EXTINCTION: The Javan rhino, one of three Asian species, is now rumoured to be extinct in Vietnam after the last one was found dead in October 2011, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The Indian and Sumatran rhinos make up the other Asian species. PIC: Internet

Poachers are now targeting already dehorned rhinos, as a substantial amount is still left below the skin.

Rhino-Comparison

WHITE VS BLACK: White rhinos weigh as much as 2.7 metric tons (5,952 pounds) while black rhinos weigh up to 1.35 tons. PIC: internet

In April, Prince William was reportedly devastated, after a black rhino was killed in the same wildlife conservancy where he proposed to Kate Middleton.

rhino prince william

WASTE OF PRECIOUS LIFE: Prince William called those involved in poaching “ignorant, selfish and utterly wrong.” PIC: internet

South Africa has tried to combat poaching in various ways, but to little avail. An average of one to three rhinos are still killed daily, ensuring their extinction by 2015. Here are some of the ways the war on poaching has been implemented:
http://blog.sustainable.co.za/2011/01/combat-rhino-poaching/

rhino protests

FIGHTING FOR THE VOICELESS: Protests against rhino poaching took place outside Chinese embassies in South Africa in 2010. PIC: Internet

You can do your bit by visiting www.eishrhinos.co.za and purchasing a T-shirt to raise awareness and help support anti-poaching units. These units are constantly bullied, harassed, bribed or threatened for trying to save the rhino. Eishrhinos main theme of “Save the horn of Africa, save the rhino” is extremely popular.
You can also follow @helpingrhinos on Twitter, to keep up to date with the latest anti-poaching news.

VIDEOS:

Two rhinos were found mutilated last year. They miraculously survived. See how Thandi and Themba fought for survival at Kariega Game Reserve:

The Price is a feature-length documentary, examining what drives poachers to mutilate and kill. View the 5-minute trailer: The Price

The Rhino Wars, a documentary written, directed and produced by Melinda MacInnes, examines how rhino poaching has spiralled out of control, affecting all five species:

http://vimeo.com/28371577?action=share&post_id=1268873167_460875873954934#_=_

SOURCES:

Poaching facts:
http://www.africa-wildlife-detective.com/rhino-poaching.html
http://www.rangerdiaries.com/news/news-article.html&articleID=42

Prince William: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-william/9340923/Duke-of-Cambridge-rhino-poachers-make-me-angry.html
Petitions: http://www.turnitaround.co.za/petition/39/stop-rhino-poaching

Rhino foetus: http://www.sa-people.com/2012/02/22/rhino-slaughter-in-south-africa-photographs/

Vietnam snubs agreement: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-10-18-vietnam-snubs-sa-on-key-rhino-poaching-agreement

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Please check out my video and promote it on Twitter with #sparworldtrip. I can win a trip around the world, reporting for Spar!
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Blogger Generation

VANESSA SMEETS

This is my first class blog, presented to my Erasmus Mundus classmates from the Journalism, Media and Globalisation programme 2011-2013. I discuss the workshop from this evening, which focused on Blogging&Tweeting: how to blog, the history of blogs, the blog definition, etc…

I also include a list of which people blog in the class, as well as addresses to fascinating blogs. The reader is also given instructions on how to blog efficiently and effectively using WordPress.

Blogger Generation.