Iziduko nezinqulo zamaXhosa jikelele (Xhosa clans)

20 Aug

“Ungumni?” Uyathanda ukubuza loonto xa umXhosa eqala ukukubona. Wena ke uphendula ngokuzithutha wenze kanje (wenjenje): NdinguQhudeni, uMvelase, uNgoza, uMpafana, uMakhonz’ egoduka, oMfazi uncancisa isana ngebele elinye, kuThukela umlambo ongawelwayo uwelwa ziinkonjane zodwa, zona zidlisela ngamaphiko, uKheswa kaNozulu, Umthembu owanfenguza kwaXhosa. Ndizalwa emaQwathini, amaBangula, ooDumba, ooMhotho, ooCakeni, phantsi koBhabha, ooPhembeshiya, ooSiximba kaSixolothi, Ngub’ ingaxuthwa ininkw’ abathandwayo, Yazi Lamathumb’ Ehagu Ngawakh’ Onke Na, Bamb’ intambo ezo kwedini ingathi lendawo iyehla? Igama lenkobe ke nguAbongile pha kulamzi kaWaganda. Elesifana ke nguQwalasela. Ikhaya liseCacadu, phez’ komlambo, kwisithili saseRhodana. Ndim lowo.

Iziduko zamaXhosa zibaluleke ukogqitha iifani. Ngokuyelele kwindlela ekwenziwa ngayo kwelamaSikoti, mXhosa ngamnye uye ngesiduko eso sakhe azi ukuba ngubani isinyanya noBawo mkhulu wakhe, nezinqulo zabo. KumaXhosa, ibonwa nje ngobu homba nokubanembeko ukubuza umntu isiduko sakhe. Naxa um-bonga, umkhahlela umntu, wenza njalo ngesiduko nezinyanya zakhe. Xa intombi ithe yenda, ifani yayo ingatsho ithathe fani leyo yakulomyeni, noxa isiduko singasokuze siguquke sona. Abantu abaneziduko ezifanayo babonwa nje ngabazalanayo, nokuba sebengazani. Nazo ezinye ke iziduko zamaXhosa. Ezibhalwe kekeleyo zezo zifumaneka nakumaZulu, nto leyo ebonakalisa ukuba besifudula singabantu abanye.

Izizwe ezaadibana phantsi kwamaXhosa:

1. AmaGcaleka (uninzi lwamaXhosa) abunjwa nguPhalo kaTshiwo ngo1775. AmaGcaleka ke kuthiwa aquka amaRharhabe.

2. AmaNdlambe (esi siXhosa sithethwa eburhulumenteni siphuma apha)

3. AmaNgqika namaRharhabe

4. AbaThembu **mna

5. AmaMpondo

6. AmaMpondomise

7. AmaMfengu (means “beggars”) baasikelwa umhlaba emaXhoseni baze bazithathela ubuXhosa ngenxa yendlala nokuthanda

8. AmaBhaca (means “exiles”) abantu ababhaca bebaleka uTshaka kaZulu). Ubafumana eMount Free, Mzimkhulu, neziphaluka.

9. AmaHlubi ke athandabuzwa nguwo wonke umntu ukuba awela ngaphi. Singabuza wona uqobo

Ezi ntlanga zingentla zaamanyana za zevuma kwaye zangqina ukuba ziyakukhonza ooTshawe, abantwana begazi lakwaXhosa, isizukulwana sikaPhalo noTshiwo. Kwezontlanga njalo kuphuma ezi ziduko zilandelayo. Undikwrece ukuba ndiyalahleka.

  • Bamba, Krila, Thangani
  • Bhala – amaMpondo
  • Bhanqo, Bobese
  • Bhayi, Khetsha, Msuthu
  • Bhele – AmaMfengu Thamsanqa Mbhele
    • Dongo,
    • Langa,
  • Bhejula, Diya, Ngungu, Mageza, Qhwesha
  • Cirha, Nojaholo, Ncibane, Mhlantla
  • Chithwayo – amaMpondo
  • Cwerha, Vambane, Mahlahlana – AmaMpondo
  • Deyi, Babalo
  • Debeza, Jebe,Nonyanya, Nongoqo, Mbeka Ntshiyini bathi uqumbile, Khonkcoshe Mbokodo engava mkwetsho. Iinkosi zamaMpondomse. Ubuniinzi bafumaneka kuTsolo, Qumbu naseMthatha.
  • Denza (Archibishop Mpilo Tutu)
  • Dlamini, Zizi, Jama kaSijadu,
    • Sibakhulu, Ndlovu zidle khaya ngokuswela umalusi, uNomagaga, Bakwisizwe samaMfengu) (Thabo Mbeki no Spihelo Guwa)
    • Fakathe, Nxi, Buya, Gwili, Mhlanga, Nomali, Xuba, Phandliwe, Nodaba
  • Dlomo, Madiba, Sopitsho, Ngqolomsila, Yem-yem, Vela bembhentsele – amaThembu (Rholihlahla Mandela) Mthikrakra, Ngangelizwe, Dalindyebo, Joyi, Jumba, Sabatha, Buyelekhaya
  • Dontsa – amaHlubi
  • Dosini
  • Duma, Nxuba
  • Gaba, Mngqosini, Mjobi, Thithiba, Cihoshe, Nozinga, Mntwan ‘omlambo, Thikoloshe, Ndoko, Mbokodw’emnyama kahili, Msuthu (Masixole Memani)
  • Gangatha – amaMpondo
  • Gatyeni. Mamali, Nkom’ ezibomvu

(kubekho amaNywabe akwangooGatyeni azithutha kanje: Mnywabe, Mamali, Ndondela, Nkom’ ezibomvu, Gatyeni. Ndixakiwe ke ukuba ihamba njani)

  • Gxarha, Jalamba – AmaMondomise
  • AmaGcina, Gadluma, Thyopho, NoKwindla, Xhamela
  • Ganu
  • mGebe – amaBomvana
  • Giqwa, Thotywayo, Wohla, Nkosana
  • Gqunu
  • Gqwashu (isizukulwana samaKhoi-khoi esandela kumaXhosa)
  • Gubevu (Maduna, amaHlubi)
  • Hegebe
  • Hlathi, Mfene, Jambasi, Lisa, Hlal’ endle, Tyibilika emaweni ngomva, isilwanyana esakhe sasibi ingathi sihleli noxa silele – (Phumlani Veliti)
  • Jali, Mpevu Shelwame, Nomaziphela ebuhlanti kuphela umgquba wodwa
  • Jili, Masengwa, Mkhont’ obomvu – AmaBhaca
  • Jola, Jolinkomo, Mphankomo, Thole lomthwakazi, Qengeba, , Phahla, Ngwanya, Ndleb’ endlovu, Mzi Welanga – AmaMondomise
  • Jwarha
  • Khiwa, Khonjwayo – amaPondo
  • Khumalo, Mntungwa, Mbulase, Mzilikazi kaMashobane, Oty’umntu emthuthuzela ngeendaba – amaMfengu
  • Khwetshube – amaMpondo
  • Maduna – Mfengu
  • Manci, Mbali, Wabane, Tshitshis’intaba, Mdludla ka Bekiso, Zinde Zinde Zinemiqala
  • Mahlangu
  • Mawawa, Mpinga, Mbolokoqoshe, Into yomntwana, Ingaphuma iimpondo ifanele isiko (okanye ingaphuma izinza ifanele abafana)
  • Mbanjwa
  • Mbatha, ooMthiya amaBhaca asuka kwaShandu
  • Mbotho
  • Mdlangathi – Mome mome sirhama somntwana, Juta
  • Mfene, Hlathi, Hlalendle, Tyibilik’ emaweni ngomva, isilwanyana esakhe sasibi, ingathi silele noxa sihleli.
  • Mhaga
  • Miya, Gcwanini, Sibewu, Salakulandelwa, Mja, Mancoba, Vezi, Mandeluhlwini, Sijekula, Makaluza, Malebomvu, Saliwa
  • Mjoli, Qubulashe, Wushe
  • Mpandla
  • Mpehle – amaMpodomise
  • Mpemvu – abaThembu
  • Mvulane
  • Ncuthu, Khwalo, Mlanjana
  • Ndlane
  • Ngcitshane
  • Ngxabane, Qengeba, Sibhabha nomhlehlo, Thole lomthwakazi – AmaMpondomise
  • Ngxongo, Ntsundu – amaMpondo
  • Ngwanya
  • Nkabane
  • Nkomo, Khumalo, Mtntungwa – amaMfengu (Anele Masiza)
  • Nkwali, Bhukula, Mkhwanase – AmaMfengu
  • Nqarhwane, Ziduli
  • Ntambo, Novege, Sisu Sincinane,  Butsolo Benyoka – AmaMfengu
  • Ntshilibe
  • Nxasana
  • Nxuba
  • Nyawuza, Faku, Thahla, Ndayeni, ohlamba ngobubende amanzi ekhona, Ziqele, Dakhile, Ngqungqushe – amaMpondo ruling line. Iinkosi ziquka uFaku, uBokleni, noNdamase (Butsha Veliti)
  • Nzothwa
  • Qadi
  • Qhinebe, OoGqu-gqu-gqu, oozithonga zithathu, Phazima, Mlunjwa, Phalela
  • Qoco, Zikhali, Jojo, Tiyeka, Butsolo beentonga (Bongile P. Mkhathazo)
  • Qoma, Siqo, Nyoyela
  • Qithi, OoNdinga, ooZondwa – abaThembu (Manelisi Hala)
  • AmaQwambi
  • AmaQwathi
    • AmaBangula, ooDumba, ooMhotho, ooCakeni, ooBhabha, Sximba ka Sxolothi, Bhaxane lwempontshane, Ngub’ Ingaxuthw’ Inikw’ Abathandwayo, Yazi Lamathumb’ Ehagu Ngawakh’ Onke Na, Bamb’ intambo ezo kwedini ingathi lendawo iyehla, (UNINA WAM)**
    • OoBhose,
    • OoDikela, ngooNoni, ooNtswayibani. Gwede Mantashe
    • AmaBhulangwe,
    • AmaKhebesi
    • OoSdindi
    • Mvala, Masango, Dabisa

(Iinkosi zamaQwathi ziquka uNqeno, uStokwe, uDalasile, uFubu, uZwelakhe kwikomkhulu eNgcobo)

  • Qhudeni, Mvelase, Mpafana, uNgoza, Makhonz’ egoduka, omfaz’ omnyam’ uncancis’ isana ngebel’ elinye, phesheya kweThukela, umlamb’ ongawelwayo uwelwa ziinkonjane zodwa zona zidlisela ngokubhabha, uKheswa ka Nozulu) UYISE WAM, Napa Sidziya
  • Rhadebe,Mthikhulu, Bhungane, Ngelengele, Ndlebe zintle zombini, Mafuza fulele okwelifu lemvula, Mashwa badelinkomo ngempondo zayo, Matshisa, Langalibalele, Dzangwe, Nzipho zimnyama ngoqhwayana (Ringo Madlingozi, Ongezwa Mgijima)
  • Rhoyi
  • Sango, Khwakhwayi, Nzitha, Ngxongxo, Mahlamb’ ehlala, Mgabhisa – AmaBhaca (Lufundo)
  • Sithathu – Qoboyi, Ndebe (THANDILE SKOTI)
  • Sikhosana – amaBhaca
  • Skhoji (AmaXhosa afumaneka isikhakhu pha kooTsolo eTsitsa. Isizukulwana sikaWilliam Saunders waseSkotilani owenda nentombi yomXhosa)
  • Skhomo, Tshangisa, Mhlanyana, Rhudulu
  • Shiya
  • Sohobese
  • Sonani
  • Sukwini (isizukulawna samaKhoi-khoi)
  • Shweme, Gqagqane, Limakhwe, Zila, Mkhonto
  • Thole, Gqagqane, Buzini, Ndlangisa, Mzimshe, Lwandle
  • Tolo, Dlangamandla, Mchenge, Mabhanekazi, Mfingo, Zulu, Mabele-made, Vumba lempongo liyanuka. (Luyanda Kota, Uyanda Mdikane)
  • Tshabalala, Sobhuza, Mshengu, Mzwati, Mbanzeni, Zikode, Mkhabela, Idonga likaMavuso, Shasha
  • Tshangisa, Mngwevu, NoZulu, Skhoma)
  • Tshatshu, Tubane, Mahose, Gungubele
  • Tshawe, Ngconde, Khawuta, Phalo, Mdange, Tshiwo, (iinkosi zamaXhosa jikelele. Hintsa, Sarhili, Xolilizwe, etc.) (Zandile Sibini)
  • Tshezi, Mkhabela, Tenza, Jalamba, Njilo-Njilo, Mkhonto ‘bomvu, omqala ongange nyhugu. (iinkosi zamaBomvana akwa Jalamba-Gambushe (Siphelele Mngazi)
  • Tshonyane, Chungwa, Dikiza, Sawa, Simke, Hani, Gqunukhwebe (aphuma kubelungu abatyekezwa yinqanawe)
  • Xesibe – AmaMfengu
    • Matshaya, Mbathana, Makhandanyawana,
    • Nondzaba, Mnune, Tshomela ka Matsho
  • Yirha, Mzondi, Sambu, Ziyeka, Thambo lenyoka, Hlab’ elimzondayo
  • Zangwa, Khwalo, Ncuthu, Mlanjana, Nqene, Gcaleka, Sobohose
  • Zibula
  • Zima, Ceduma, Sopitsho, Bhomoyi, Vela bembhentsele
  • Zothso, Myelesi, Maphango, Khethela
  • Zwane, Mangethe, Zikode, Philela, CebeKhulu, intshontsho lika Ntsele

Kubalulekile ukugqininisa ukuba asingomXhosa wonke umntu othetha isiXhosa. AmaXhosa sisizukulwana sikaTshiwo noPhalo. Nangona abanye abantu bangamaXhosa ngokoyiswa ze babengaphantsi kwesizwe samaXhosa, ngokumfenguza (ukuhambe becela imfuyo nomhlaba) nangokubhaca (ukubaleka imfazwe nenkosi uTshaka ka Zulu.

Glowing House at Midnight

13 Sep

It is late Friday night, about an hour before midnight and I am on a shuttle from my evening shift at work in the waterfront. The shuttle is destined for Khayelitsha, where it will make door-to-door deliveries of all the employees.

Because of a debates and conversations, coupled with a virtually empty N2 going away from the city, we reach Khayelitsha rather quickly as per usual and start to deliver people as we normally do. Because I live on the southern most part of Khayelitsha, I resigned myself to the fact that I am always to second or third last person to get home out of about a dozen a long time ago. The shuttle normally starts in the northern sections of Bongweni, Khwezi, Thembani and Site-C, then Site-B, Khulani Park, Ekuphumleni, Graceland, Green Point, Litha park, and so forth before concluding with my area of Makhaza, Mandela Park, Kuyasa, Harare.

When we went past Green Point however, we saw something rather peculiar. A shack made of corrugated iron seemed to be glowing orange in the nearly-midnight dim light. It stood out like a saw thumb from others. It was as if something holly was taking place there. This was the kind of orange glow that one sees in television when a ball of fire is unleashed by a villain with supernatural powers or a when a metal is burned to such extremely high temperatures it melts and becomes liquid. The latter is nearer to the truth. We were all awe-struck by this smilingly miracle occurrence of biblical proportions. It only hit the six people left in the shuttle that this shack was burning and that the fire was still contained within it rather late after what seemed like an eternity. In reality, it could not have been more than 5 seconds. The driver of the shuttle noticed smote pushing through and slipping past the spaces were the corrugated iron grooves met that wooden rafters. As soon as we snapped out of this pseudo-holy experience, I exclaimed that we should do something, as there could be people inside there. A very quick but overwhelming consensus is reached immediately that we would attempt to do something.

This glowing shack was in the back yard of a property, with a 4 roomed RDP house on the front. The driver drove around the corner and stopped in front of the main house. I was the first to get out and run to try to open the gate. Two seconds later, I decided that it was locked and that I would jump over. I did, while failing to notice that the fence I jumped over was a barbed wire. After stumbling and falling, I got up and ran to the glowing house. again, I had failed to notice that I was running straight into a washing line. It hit me on the chin and I fell. By that time, I could hear screams inside the shack. I could also hear that some of my colleagues including the driver had also jumped over the fence and were knocking on the RDP house (main house) and shout “vukani kuyathsa!”, literally “wake up, it’s burning”. Our female colleagues had not jumped over and were running up and down the street knocking on different houses and screaming “kuyatsha!”.

I got up dazed and voiceless from the close-line I had subjected myself to. I ran towards the glowing shack once again. This time I reached it. I grabbed the door handle to open and go in. I scotched my hand terribly and for a second or two, nothing was more important than to spit on my hand and stop the intensively burning sensation. As soon as I heard the screams again however, it went away and adrenalin had taken over once more. I tried to push the door with my shoulder. It would not even move. So I started giving it the kind of kick you would give someone standing exactly in from of you on the chest or tummy area. I tried this about 4 times with very little success. As if I was playing the previously, I kicked the dorr harder and harder. Until on what must have been a fifth of sixth kick, the door swung wide open. I was not prepared by what would happen next.

As soon as the door opened, flames of fire came rushing towards me and gave me a slight kiss on the moustache eyebrows and eyelashes. My immediate and…..reaction was to run away and I could not resist that natural inclination. I step back about 3 or 4 meters away. By this time the voices had stopped. I tried to get close again and find an opening to get into the shack, but the fire was just too strong and seemed to be roaring. In retrospect, I gather that the fire was contained inside the shack and as soon as I opened the door, I fuelled it with midnight oxygen. The fire was now raging and in a matter of a minute, consumer the corrugated iron and wood structure.

To my and my colleagues amazen and bitter disappointment, the street was still deserted as no one had woken up. So we stood there defeated, emotional and most of us bloody from the cuts of the barbed wire when we jumped over. Yes, for a couple of minutes, we stood there with our hands on our waist, chests weezing from the actions, work uniform torn and tears on our eyes and we had just witnessed a gruesome death of more than one person.

Quickly enough, while there was still no one else there, one of us shouted in isiXhosa “let us get the hell out of here, as these neighbours may woke up and think we did this!”. For a split second, that seemed to come from far away and lamost inaudible. Soon enough however and in unison, our minds clicked and considered that suggestion a very plausible one indeed. We all tried to curb our emotions and got into a the shuttle and drove away to continue delivering. We called the police, fire and rescue and the ambulance in from the shuttle about five minutes after we drove away.

The next morning I woke up to the news on the radio that four people had perished in a shack fire in Green Point, Khayelitsha. All those screams came rushing back and I excused myself from the breakfast table to retire and shed a tear in the privacy of my room. I was born and bred in Site-B, Khayelitsha so witnessing shack fires is noting new. I must have seen literally over a thousand shacks burn down in a period of about 15 years. This includes the great fires that have wiped PJS, BM and the western sections of Oliver Park near Q-block, in Site-B.I also witnessed the great Christmas day fire of 1995 that destroyed hundreds of shacks leaving only one standing. The owner of that shacks was later accused of witchcraft, as residents failed to understand how come her shack, which was amongst those that burnt and not in the edge, was not.  However, it was the first time that I was so near and so involved. The experience of not being there at the time and not being able to save anyone from imminent death stayed with me for weeks.

Now, about eight months down the line, I have seen over 50 more shacks burn down to the grown in Site-C, Site-B, TR, BM, Green Point, Town Two and eNkanini. None of them however, have affected me more than the one on that fateful day.

This story inspired by last week’s fire in Town Two where six family members perished after their home was gutted by fire. As much as I see progress with the provision of brick and cement houses, however small and of poor standard and workmanship, this should be a reminder to our government that the job to provide housing for the poor is far from over. It has just began. This painful story of so many family members succumbing to death in such tragic circumstances should go a long way to humble all of us, government, civil servants and normal folk that aluta continua. Millennium Development Goals are still a distant memory for many in our country.

Our Health System in 2010

10 Sep

This is about Anele Masiza, an oke I went to primary school with. We were in the same class from the then Sub A (Grade 1) in 1992 to Standard 5 (Grade 7) in 1998 at Soyisile Primary School in Site-B, Khayelitsha, Cape Town. We then went to separate high schools and saw each other much less. We have become good friends again from 2007 and have gotten quite close.

Anele is a 25-year-old old-fashioned, principled police officer who has graduated from photography and graphic design school. He lives three streets away from my home. He is a brilliant soccer player, watches too much cricket to not be deemed a fan and has a healthy nibble at rugby. I am a law student acting as an advocate for the poor and defenceless. I also have a passion for photography and drawing portraits. I have played cricket at a very high level and for Western Province under 15 and under 17. And because I was born and bred in Khayelitsha, I cannot claim to have escaped the township bug that gets everyone playing soccer. Therefore, I am comfortable at tapping to at least 100 and playing socially. I know more about rugby than an average supporter does. Therefore, one can clearly see the mutual history and interests that Anele and I share.

On Saturday the 4th of September 2010, Anele and some of his friends were playing cards at the neighbour’s house in Site-B, Khayelitsha. Around mid-night, Anele had had enough with the cards and got up to retire to his bed next door. The other people he played with also got up and they all went their separate ways for a late nap. As Anele was opening a gate at his house, he heard screams and a lot of noise from the street. He turned around to look. He saw Thobelani, one of the guys he was playing cards with, falling backwards while a stranger rushed to put his knee on Thobelani’s chest and stab him repeatedly on his upper body and chest while he was on his back after falling.

With adrenalin pumping, Anele turned around and picked up a brick and threw it at the stranger who was on top on his neighbour, stabbing him repeatedly. The brick hit the attacker on the buttocks. The attacker then got up and came for Anele. A scuffle broke out between the two. And when the attcker realised that Anele was stronger and that the friends he played cards with him were rushing back, he ran away while being pursued by the other chaps Anele was playing cards with, leaving Thobelani for dead. Anele and the other people quickly organised transport for the stabbed neighbour and he was taken to the Site-B Day Hospital. This was around 00:30 on Sunday morning.

Soon after when all had settled and everyone had retired, Anele realised he had also been stabbed on the left shoulder blade and was bleeding profusely beneath his concealing jacket. Anele decided to follow his neighbour to the Site-B Day Hospital, which is about 1.2 km from his house. After Anele had walked about 800 meters and was just outside the Khayelitsha Police Station, he felt weak. He sat down by the Telkom public phones to have a rest. A moment later, without the mental presence that he could go into the police station, which was barely 10 meters away and ask for help, he made one last bid for the hospital and almost got there. Twenty meters away and just across the road, he collapsed and could no longer fathom the necessary strength to get up and finish the long walk to professional assistance. He faintly recalls being spotted by the security guards who were guarding the hospital entrance and being carried by them into the hospital.

Now, please be reminded that there was a public service strike that began towards the end August and was on its third week, and the hospital had only a handful of health workers on duty. Anele lay in the benches of the hospital from around 1:30am to around 1:30pm with nurses and doctors waltzing up and down past him.

Towards the evening, Thobelani; the neighbour would had been repeatedly and savagely stabbed the night before spotted him. It turns out that Thobelani has not had much luck with the nurses himself and was put on a wheelchair by a another patient, who had noticed that out of Thobelani’s numerous chest and head wounds from the knife, his most serious one was in his lower back from the fall when he was being attacked. It was so severe that Thobelani and lost use of his legs. Now with dried blood all over his chest and head, it was evident that his wounds were neither deep nor life threatening, because had they been, surely he would have died as a result of lack of care from the hospital.

For Anele to get help, Thobelani then wheeled himself around the hospital, screaming and swearing at all the health workers he came across. Securities were called to shut him up. He was not phased and unrelenting. Around 3pm, health workers finally gave in went to attend to Anele, who was still lying on the bench 15 hours after he arrived at the hospital. They saw that he had lost of a lot of blood and has developed complications, one of which was difficulty breathing while swung in and out of consciousness. Now they started rushing, stitched him up and bandaged on the spot and sent him to collect his medication in order for him to go home. On his way to get medicine dispensing unit, he collapsed once again, this time on the hospital corridors.

It was a new shift. Anele was picked up and examined by a new doctor who put him on a wheelchair and sent him for an x-ray to check the damage on the shoulder. The x-ray came back to the doctor, who rejected it was bad quality and sent Anele again for another one and from a different angle of the shoulder. It was discovered that the wound was so deep and caused so much trauma that it caused Anele to bleed into his thoracic cavity, affecting his lungs and other vital organs. The doctor immediately arranged for Anele to be transferred to G.F. Jooste Hospital in Manenberg/Nyanga, where we would again join Thobelani. That reunion was very brief as Anele was transferred again, this time to Lentegeur Hospital in Mitchell’s Plain where the wound was re-examined and the blood drained from his thoracic cavity. Anele spend two more days at the Lentegeur Hospital, where he finally got the attention deserved. At Lentegeur, he was drained all the blood in this thoracic cavity through a pipe that went through his ribs. The wound in his left shoulder also received due attention. Anele spend two days at the Lentegeur Hospital and was deemed strong on Tuesday afternoon and was then discharged. He is now recovering well at home. Thobelani was also discharged on Tuesday from G.F. Jooste and came home to recover well. But he currently needs a walking stick to walk about, which should be retired in a fortnight or so.

As you can see, these two young men did not survive due to the intervention of the Site-B Day Hospital staff. If they would have died without quick medical intervention, then they surely would have died. Thank goodness Thobelani used his arms to great effect to protect himself against the worst of the stabbings from the attacker. Even though he was still severely injured, these were mostly superficial words with none over 5mm over the essential parts. The deepest was over 4cm deep at the back, scraping this lower spine.

We cannot blame the situation on the now “suspended” strike. Things have always been like this at Site-B Day Hospital. As far back as when I was just months old I attended Site-B Day Hospital as an asthmatic baby. My asthma grew with me to primary school, then high school and now to adulthood. I remember when I was around eight or nine; I would discover that I could not breathe in the middle of the night. My mother would rush me to the Site-B Day Hospital around three or four in the morning where I would wait to get attention for no less than 6 hours at the bare minimum. I went to that so called hospital over a hundred times for my asthma, over two dozen times to submit or check up on people, two times for a toothache and once for an HIV test, so there is nothing I do not know about how people are treated there. Even though a strike might be used as a defence for what happened to Anele and Thobelani, things have always been like that at Site-B Day Hospital.

How can a health facility be so bad? Am the only one who cares about this? If not, then what is the government doing about it. I can honestly say that I was born, grew and still live in Khayelitsha, one of the most violent places in the globe. By virtue of that, I know many people (literarily hundreds) who have attended that hospital. Not one, not even one of those people will tell you that they got better from being attended to by the staff, but that they just got better from waiting around for help. By the time the help arrived, they could have dies and have been cold for hours or gone home as they felt so much better. Anyone who was so sick or so injured that he or she would have died without the swift help of the staff did. The only reason people go there for help is that they do not want to be accused of not having attempted to do something. Moreover, the hospital system does not allow people who live in a certain area to attend to a health facility elsewhere. Not to say those facilities are much better. But their nothing like Site-B Day Hospital.

Zama, my son was born there around 10pm on 31 December 2008. I only got there 3 hours after the birth as I heard late. However, what his mother, my girlfriend at the time told me made me want to grab one of them by the throat and bash them against the wall and then kick them to a pulp. Thandile told me that she was left unattended on the bed and was only attended to an hour after the baby’s head has breached her body while the rest of the body was still inside her. And when the nurses arrived from watching the fire-cracker displays for the imminent new celebrations, they virtually ignored her for a longer time until the baby popped voluntarily. They only came to cut the umbilical chord. At the time, I was just thankful that the baby was born healthy and with no complications. I swear I would have done something terrible that countdown night if anything had gone wrong. I would have been in jail for a very long time now.

This is life in our country if you are poor. This hospital needs nothing less than a thorough perusal from the Department of Health. Please send to this to anyone you can bring it to the attention of the minister concerned. We should be ashamed as a country.

Metrorail staff epitomise the South Africa we live in right now

10 Sep

On Saturday 4 September 2010, I purchased two tickets at the tickets outlet nearer the Old Marine Drive of Cape Town station (not the Strand Street side).

When I got to the till at 17:14 to purchase those tickets, I produced R15 and told the lady at the counter behind the glass that I wanted “one to Khayelitsha, one to Chris Hani”. I have used that exact phrase, barring the destination on numerous times on stations all over Cape Town, from Khayelitsha to Du Toit, Simonstown to Bellvile with no problem in my over 15 years of taking a train.

Instead of the lady giving me the tickets as I had requested, she asked me what I meant by “one to Khayelitsha and one to Chris Hani” with an offensive tone. I replied that I wanted one ticket ending in Khayelitsha and another ending in Chris Hani. She then told me that is what she wanted to hear and warned that I should be less ambiguous next time, as those tickets could be returns, weeklies or monthlies. I then asked her what was so ambiguous about that, as I had given her R15 for two tickets. Not only were other tickets out of range, why would I need a return ticket after 5 on a Saturday evening? Moreover,  I had expressly said TWO tickets? I then told her that it was “clear” that I wanted two singles. One to Khayelitsha and one to Chris Hani.

This lady then hounded me from the other side of the glass and asked: “Do you know what the word ‘clear’ means? Because you seem not to be able to even spell it.” She said in isiXhosa to emphatically imply that I was stupid, illiterate, uncivilised and that I did not have a good command of the English language, and of course that she did unlike me. I then kept quiet and looked down in disappointment, shame and embarrassment, for her not me. Thinking that I had been defeated, she finally gave me the tickets. I asked her if I had change. She pondered for a few seconds as if she has her hands full and the “no”, she muttered. I then walked away almost laughing at the situation. In fact, I would laugh if it was not so serious. I gave her R15. A single to Khayelitsha costs R6.50 and a single to Chris Hani costs R7.50.

So I was due R1. Of course this is not about the R1, it is about her being deceitful, among other things. The above story shows 4 bad qualities in an interaction that lasted all but 40 seconds: poor customer service, low IQ, deceitfulness and utter rudeness. I have no idea how long this lady has been working at the ticket office or for Metrorail, but she came across as being new and naive. I say she had low IQ because she failed to understand a very simple command of “one to Khayelitsha, one to Chris Hani”. Utter rudeness is that way she addressed me. South Africa is a rainbow nation where different people may say or do things without intending to offend the other. However, in a situation where someone implies that you are stupid, illiterate and uncivilised, it is hard to find what else the person implying wanted to say than the obvious. Deceitful because she failed to give ne my R1 change. You caanot but wonder how the hell she got her job? Isn’t one supposed to right an entry test for basic arithmetic and customer service? I fail to understand how employees, especially those in the face of companies can be so inept at assisting the general public.

As a social commentator and a social experiment conductor who voluntarily tackles civil problems, I call this inferiority complex where people of all races, including blacks see blacks as less than anyone else. Yes the above happens to every racial group, but it is more severe and more widespread the darker one’s skin and shallower the pocket.

Of course, these are perceptions, as I am neither poor nor uneducated. However, being a poor, uneducated black man was the readily available perception and preconceived idea of blacks like me and her in her mind. And the fact that I was buying train tickets from her instead of taking a car drove the point home. We need to erode pattern of thinking.

I will also say that the security guards were chatting her up like schools boys over a school girl rather than marshalling the queue as part of their job description. I know this might seem a little harsh from my side until I explain what I mean. These two security guards were on the glass chatting to the lady while customers were buying tickets. In addition, she seemed to be enjoying the attention she was getting from the two people as she was chatting back and speaking over customers who were already at the counter.

This is not the first complaint I had with Metrorail. On the 3rd of July 2010, the day Argentina played Germany here in Cape Town during the World Cup I was assaulted and ridiculed by about 10 Metrorail staff. I reported the matter on Monday 5th July 2010 and only implicated the two who were heavily involved out of the 10. Initially they management seemed quite eager to act, but I have not heard anything since. They are ignoring me. I am sure that if someone in power pushed them for an answer, they would find a way to blame it on me. It is always like that with incompetent people. I recall the last time I was there they all complained that they were busy and too much on their plate, as if to imply that dealing with disgruntled customers is not part of their work. This flies in the face of the current facelift sparked by the World Cup. The attitude of the staff, from Mr Ndzuzo, whom I have met more than once failed dismally to deal with my issue and the rest of his staff has failed to impress in their jobs.

I would dearly love to live in a country where all people are treated equally. I cannot even blame white people this time; it is just a colonised mind of a black person who suffers from inferiority complex. I understand that we are yet to reach the proverbial promise land. Nevertheless, we need to think more of ourselves before others can. Dr Phil McGraw often quotes: “You teach people how to treat you”. We need to internalise that as South Africans in general, and blacks in particular.

Fist wilding officials of South Africa Law enforcement and security officers of all races ganging up on black men, especially youth

10 Sep

I was on a train that left Chris Hani station and arrived at the Cape Town station at about 12:30. In that train, there were police officers who moved from carriage to carriage patrolling and just maintaining visibility hoping that would deter would-be criminals. It was a weekend at the end of the month so was at an opportune time as a lot of people fall victim to crime as they normally have money and/or bank cards with them. That was highly appreciated by the public.

However, I was shocked when 4 or 5 coloured boys were randomly searched and beaten up by the police without any apparent reason. If they found something suspicious or illegal on them, they should have arrested them. However, what those police did was slap the boy across the face a few times.

When the train reached Netreg station, a very tall Zimbabwean man came into the carriage and went to stand by the door next to one of the police officers. The police officer just turned around and punched the man in the face. Initially the man was in such shock that he just stood there staring at the police officer. The other police watched from a distance while laughing. The police officer then slapped the man again. When the man asked why he was being hit, it was as if he called the other police over to assist his aggressor. These police stood by while the man was being slapped and punched as if to help out if he offered any resistance.

As train users, we welcome that police patrol the trains to act as deterrent against criminal acts. However, this kind of brutality is not only senseless, but it further brings down the dignity of the police. I was born and bred in Khayelitsha where residents have very bad memories as far as what the apartheid police did. I am only 24 and was 8 years old when apartheid ended in 1994. But I have vivid memories of police doing some horrible things to people way before and way after 1994. I have had bad experiences with the police personally, where I was in the position of this Zimbabwean man who was randomly beaten up. One example out of many; in December 2003, police knocked at my house at 2am looking for someone. My parents were asked if I was “Shoes”, the person they were looking for. Naturally, they answered to the negative as because I am not “Shoes” and we subsequently learnt the police had missed the house they were looking for by three streets. In that morning, the police took me outside, shone a torch into my face and asked someone in one of their vehicles (I gathered it was an ”informer” or an “impimpi” as they call them here) if I was “him”. I saw a silhouette inside the car shaking his/her head as if to say “no, it is not him”. That frustrated the police who started to beat me up. One chubby coloured police officer seemed to enjoy beating me up more than other, for no reason I might add. I had been quiet and cooperative and they were mistaken as they had been to the wrong house. Yet they still beat me up as if to strike fear to anyone they came across.

After they left, I tried to go back to sleep without success. So I watched television and fell asleep a couple of hours later. Around 10am, I was woken up by a lot of pain in my jaw and left ribs. It was from the police beatings earlier that morning. I was urged by the members of the community, who knew that I was one of the very few good teenage boys left in the neighbourhood. I got to the police station and asked to lay a charge. As soon the officer on the front desk heard that it was from a police beating, she tore the statement and referred me to another office to talk to a police in higher office. There I found that some of the police who were at my house were in that office having coffee. However, I decided that I would be brave and tell the story. As soon as I started telling it, they laughed at me and told me to go away before they arrested me for wasting their time and lying about the police.

Unfortunately, I had four incidents like that in my life involving the police. And I am the lucky one, as in my family everyone born after 1980 in the time where blacks are generally deemed less affected by the brutalities of the apartheid police have been treated brutally by the new police. Even though we saw murders, and horrible beatings, we are all to young to have been personally brutalised by the apartheid government. We became teenagers in the mid-1990’s when things were supposed to change. Yet we have the very same experiences that the previous generations have, being brutalised by the police. And having lived many years in the suburbs, I can safely speculate that police of all races generally treat white people better than they do blacks. The treatment generally slides with the colour of your skin. And that is police of all races, including black. I will not get into details as I want to keep this as short as possible. But if you are white, you have a greater chance that people of all races, even blacks will be courteous to you than if you are black. That is the ghost of the past and I have seen it repeatedly in the police among sectors of the work force and public in general. My nephew was born in 1992. He has had 2 cell phones confiscated or robbed by the police, has been beaten up for no reason. This shows you that the so called “born frees” do not think any better of police than those who were adults during apartheid. At a risk of sounding like a savage, some police are murdered out of retaliation. They perpetrate so many crime of extortion and brutality with the comfort that everyone is too illiterate, uninformed to say something. I want to change that. So if I die or disappear, you know why.

It is possible that you think that I have not thought this through and that race and paranoia are my default as with most South Africans when I fail to find logic in a matter. One of my contributions to my country is conducting social experiments. And I can tell you that even sounding white (having a white accent) on the phone or in person triggers a different response than if you sound black or even coloured. Generally (there are always exceptions), people are more professional and more courteous when you are or sound white or seem to have a lot of money or highly educated. While the inverse is true when you are black. And being a black or coloured teen from the township screams out “criminal”, “gangster”, “general delinquent”, “nuisance” or “menace to society”. This is true across the spectrum in SA. Even at a supermarket (Checkers, Spar, Shoprite, Pick n Pay etc), addressing the black and coloured women at the tills with a white accent (similar to that of, say Gareth Cliff, Tony Leon) triggers a different response than when you address them in a that of, say Jacob Zuma, Bheki Cele, or just in broken English or isiXhosa my mother tongue.

Coming back to the police issue, these guys just have itchy hands, act with no fear of impunity because they know that in Khayelitsha you get away with whatever you do. Cop or skolly alike, senseless violence is the order of the day. And we wonder why we live in such a violent country. If you are black, police just stop you under a racially motivated suspicion (even blacks on blacks or coloureds to coloureds) , just give you a good beating and the drive away. They feel invincible. They know that as a black or coloured person, you have no real remedies to that situation. You will get up, dust yourself off and walk home with a ball of anger. But you will never make them pay.

This is not unique I must add. All people in power seem to feel invincible around black man. They can flex their muscle and lash out at them as they did under apartheid. I have an outstanding case with Metrorail where one of their security personnel assaulted me on Saturday 3rd July 2010 after the Germany v Argentina World Cup quarterfinal game played at the Green Point stadium. I reported the matter on the 5th and gave a detailed description of the man who did that. Initially they seemed quite keen to deal with the matter, buy they later capitulated and ignored me. I suspect that when they will come out and say something, they will somehow find a way for say it is my fault that they have not done something. This is a classic case justice delayed for the poor in SA against rude, incompetent and violent officials. I will make sure that as many people around the world know about this.

We need a paradigm shift in the way we as society of all races view each other. Apartheid may have ended on paper, but in the minds of our people it is alive ad well. Moreover, the unfortunate thing is that the people pass it on to their children. Let us free ourselves in all ways.

LOC Staff Spoilt 2010 World Cup For Volunteers

30 Aug

I was a volunteer at the Green Point stadium and had to quit because I have enough self worth. Volunteers there (at least in Media, my area) were being talked down upon, insulted (Mark Meyer, a staff member used the word “fuck” on a number of us), not properly managed and just put in a situation where they ran around like headless chicken. Mark Meyer and Virginia Gabriels were so condescending, so rude and treated volunteers like crap that about 30% of volunteers quit quietly by staying away. Some though, like yours truly left with a bang. As a leader, I felt that it was morally incumbent on me to voice my concerns and those of others the best way I know, through writing. Needless to say, Virginia and her team were not leaping with joy with the idea of a volunteer questioning staff members’ modus operandi.

It got worse. At times, there was no food the whole day. One day for an example, is 9th June 2009, two days before the start of the World Cup. Apparently, the reason was that someone forgot to sign something or signed in the wrong place or something queer and stupid like that. In the meantime, we had to work. Moreover, I recall vividly the smell of food being cooked for the LOC staff at the stadium. See, the LOC staff messed up and the volunteers could not eat for the day, but they themselves had food. On a couple of nights, namely after the France v Uruguay and the Paraguay v Italy games, over 200 volunteers were stranded outside the stadium until around 4am with no transport to take them home (pictures provided below). It was worse for the Italy v Paraguay game because it was not only bitterly cold and people got sick afterwards (me too) as with the France v Uruguay game, it was also raining, as we know best in Cape Town. On the first night, I remember that we were told to vacate a certain office we used as shelter from the elements in the middle of the night as it had laptops that needed to be kept safe. To hell with people who were donating their time and effort out of the love out their country to host the best world cup. Computers were more important and the people were bulldozed out into the freezing cold night by a certain Mr Ferreira (another LOC staff member) to wait there for over 3 hours for the horribly unfit vehicles to stutter around town delivering fellow volunteers and come back to fetch them.

Those who did go home did so in un-roadworthy vehicles that were provided by an African businessman (non-South African even though we have much better minibus taxis and needed to create job opportunities for ourselves first and after the taxi strikes that crippled the economy regarding the World Cup) who claimed that the LOC owed him R15 000 and thus he could no longer transport people with the hope that he will be paid later. The transport that man provided was poor. The vehicles stopped dead at the robots. Volunteers had to come out and to push the car for it to start. Some of the cars only started on third gear. In the Final Draw of December 2009, the shuttle service was one of our highlights as volunteers. It was not perfect as we had to wait a couple of hours at times, but the vehicles were fit for kings and we all got home with relative ease. What happened during the World Cup however, was nothing more that a money saving strategy. My description of the poor state of the fleet will not do it justice. You just had to be there. Some of the people were transported to UCT to spend the night and go home in the morning. What a waste of time and money when those people live here in the city and it would be much cheaper to take them home. That is also an irony because they hired poor quality vehicles and non-South African taxi owners (which is why the xenophobia thing fails to go away) to save money. Now they were spending it on housing people at UCT, people who lived less than 15km away, some less than 5km away.

I decided that I had to do the right thing, no matter what the consequence. I wanted to speak out and be part of the solution, as opposed to mumbling my words and watch things deteriorate. I had always complained about the world and how it lacks good, ethical, honest people. This was my opportunity to be one and start doing something, rather than complain. I thought about the worst-case scenario of being expelled as a volunteer and not get the certificate and keep the uniform as a souvenir as I had hoped and decided that I was okay with it.

I became a voice for all volunteers after these happened. I informed the media and was called for interviews by many radio stations, contrary to what my contract advised. I felt that if the LOC personnel could break their verbal contracts to us volunteers and be so mean, so disorganised and so rude, I could also break mine. I was not fazed by their threats however. All of this gross maltreatment occurred while they repeatedly threatened us that we should provide the best service to media, tourists and fans. “What irony!” volunteers cried.

I was also a volunteer and freelance writer at the Final Draw held on 4th December 2009 at the CTICC, which was followed by a massive celebration at Long Street in the City Centre. There were also problems there. However, no one complained because those were teething problems. The LOC staff was getting to know each other so there was an air of understanding from volunteers. If I had to give them a mark out of ten for the Final Draw, I would give them a six. I felt that they tried very hard and succeeded on many important things. Some of their triumphs (as far as volunteer management is concerned) is that there was ALWAYS something to eat and drink for volunteers. Transport was world class and acceptably efficient, our managers Quinton Dicken, Erick de la Faunte and Jen-Peter Hecht were wonderful people. It really was a joy to work there. It was not perfect, nothing is. However, one felt that an effort was put in to make sure that volunteers had a good environment while carrying out their duties.

In the world cup however, where all volunteers who were at Final Draw expected a higher standard, things were just poor. Quinton, Erick and Jens-Peter had been moved to different areas and we were left with Mark and Chantelle, his assistant. Boy, were they out of depth! So incompetent, so rude, so pompous and with a chip on the shoulder to match. I went around with a shocked face as I could believe what was going on there. I shook my head and sighed every five minutes.

When I asked questions about the horrible treatment that was dished to volunteers, even fellow volunteers distanced themselves from me in order to get into the good books of Mark and Chantel, not to mention Virginia and even Onke Mjo who failed to act upon realising this. These same volunteers would gossip about how bad the situation is there. I have many emails from them, which I could forward to you after I have removed their names from them. I later became immune to their complaints as I felt that they were using me as a mule to take their complaints to the authorities they feared so. The word “chaos” does not even begin to paint the picture of the organisation (or lack there of) at the Stadium Media Centre (SMC). So much so that blogs of the rampant chaos in Virginia’s office are in over a dozen blogs and Twitts started by international volunteers in Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Brazil to name a few.

Things were so bad that volunteers got three or four conflicting messages about their roster in a matter of hours. You would leave home knowing that you are going to the stadium to volunteer in a certain shift. You would get there to realise that it is actually your off day in the “new roster”. By lunchtime, you would have been told that your name is not on the roster and that you should fill in a new one. By the end of the day your original schedule would say you are off the next day, the new one says you are on duty and the person doing schedules telling you that you do appear on list and that you should fill in yet another one! I know it is hard to believe, but it could not be truer.

While all this was going on, I decided to take initiative and start a Facebook group and a bulk email facility where volunteers would communicate amongst themselves, as Mark and Chantelle were failing dismally with everything. With these two facilities, I had planned that volunteers would share all the information (shifts, roster, general news, transport arrangements, etc) that they were not getting from management. I even told Chantelle that I could help disperse information using them. Unfortunately, because the people at the top (Mark and Virginia) did not like it as it made them look stupid, the facilities quickly turned to places where volunteers could vent their anger and dissatisfaction of how they were being treated by the people on top. Droves left quietly and never volunteered again (went AWOL and some only came back once a while to check if things had gotten better) while a few decided that they will make themselves heard before they left for good.

On the day of the Paraguay v Italy game, I arrived to volunteer and found that my name was not on the list (as per usual now because there was so much disorganisation there) of volunteers for that day. Mark failed to take responsibility as per normal again and referred me to the volunteer centre. I got there and found that Mark had removed me from Media, an area I knew so well and where I was one of the most experienced volunteers because we did the same job at the Final Draw, to Transport, something I had no idea of deliberately and without anyone’s knowledge, even Sakhiwo, the person who deals with shifts. Sakhiwo was one of the good guys and was very upset with Mark.

I refused to go to Transport and told them that I knew what was happening and that it was wrong. Virginia, the big boss of all volunteers in Cape Town protected Mark’s decision and gave me an ultimatum that I either went to Transport or quit as I was “destructive” at Media. Given that choice, I quit as a volunteer. I handed in some of my uniform as she requested and left quietly. Prior my resignation, threatening to recall uniform was one of the ways she threaten volunteers who felt like quitting. She knew that volunteers wanted the uniform as a souvenir and so she was using that as a currency to get ahead. So I wanted to show her that I neither care about the uniform, the access bib nor the certificate. So when she told me to take off the bib and the jacket (to try to get me to reverse my decision) as she knew I wanted to keep my bib and uniform as a souvenir, I even took off the LOC T-shirt just to show her that I did not care about the clothes as much as I did about being respected and treated fairly. The next day, the gossiping volunteers again called me to inform me that Mark had was talking a lot of nonsense about me including telling them that I had been moved to Transport for “safety” reasons and upon my arrival there, I was fired the same day because “the transport people were fed up with my attitude”. Needless to say that I put Mark to task and promised (I do not make threats) to sue him for defamation of character if he did not refrain from talking such nonsense about me. Even though I continue to right emails to volunteers about my experiences there, Mark could not reciprocate because I was telling the truth. He was an incompetent big mouth who always saw himself as an innocent victim and I will have no problems proving that in court.

Subsequent my resignation, at least 10 other volunteers sent me emails saying that they had also quit in solidarity with me, infinitely worse treatment from Mark and Virginia, or that they could no longer stomach the chaos and the sense of not being appreciated as a volunteer. They reiterated that they did not hope to be treated like royalty. But as people. And that the Volunteer Office failed to do that.

A good number of them also quoted the saying I had coined “I came here to volunteer for my country and not to be treated like royalty. While serving however, I do expect due respect and to be afforded treatment that human beings are worthy of and nothing less.” also “Volunteers may be working for FREE, but they are not DOM”. Those became anthems in the fight for just treatment and respect from the LOC staff, namely Mark Meyer and Virginia Gabriels.

Considering what I have wrote above, it should tell you that it comes as no surprise that volunteers have not been paid their stipends yet. The amount of disorganisation, disrespect of volunteers, arrogance and plain stupidity by the LOC staff was evident for anyone to see. In addition, because of the disorganisation that included volunteers not being able to sign and/or out, there will be complaints with the amounts that will be paid out as stipends. I recall that for the France v Uruguay game, which followed the Bafana v Mexico, I spent an hour pacing up and down the stadium corridors looking for the register to sign my name on. The registration room had closed early even thought there was a shift meant to start at 8pm. The Indian woman with a North America accent who paced up and down with me finally gave up and could not sign in. I was lucky to finally sign in with the help of Sakhiwo Rhulashe. But still, I could sign out. Those kinds of days will not be paid as the contract stipulates that volunteers need to sign in and out for them to be reimbursed for a particular day. It does not make provisions for LOC staff hiding or misplacing the register or going home early and leaving the later shift not signed in and out. For the Final Draw in December 2009, I got about half the money I expected for the days I worked. Moreover, I got it 23 days after the tournament (29 December 2009).

On the day of the Argentina v Germany game, I recall bumping into a one of my friends I had met while we were volunteers at the Final Draw. He chose to not be part of the world cup he had enough with the poor treatment then. Some people have all the insight because as I told him that I had quit as I could no longer handle the treatment there, he was not surprised at all. he said he saw it coming and that was why he chose not to be part of the World Cup. For a second there I felt like an idiot because I had also seen it coming. But I had too much faith in thinking that things would get better. All they did is get worse.

In the SMC, Mark employed a tyrannical, capricious attitude and was so demeaning, belittling and verbally abusive towards volunteers. The harsh language and profanity was rarely followed by any meaningful instruction. And I will also go on record by saying Onke did not miss this toxic behaviour from someone who is supposed to be a leader. She was aware of it and I guess she just wanted it to go away as opposed to fix it.

In addition, I would like to go on record to say that I blame neither FIFA nor the LOC as a whole for these issues. I put the blame solely on Onke Mjo and her subordinates, which here in Cape Town are people like Virginia Gabriels and Mark Meyer.

Last week I got an sms saying that the LOC acknowledges that I have not been paid yet and that I am scheduled for e-payment on the week starting on the 23rd of August. Today is Friday the 27th and I am not holding my breath with regard to payment. Again, I will say that if the unlikely happens and I get paid, the money will not be what I expect from the days I worked.

Township v Suburban Schools = Unequal Education

27 Aug

Khayelitsha is unofficially the third largest township in South Africa. It is estimated that over a million people live here. One can easily see it from the N2 highway between the Swartklip Road that goes over the N2 just south of the R300 to the Baden Powell Drive from the city centre to Somerset West. It is hard to believe that this massive dumping site for the apartheid government did not exist 25 years ago. Its size is not the only feature that stands out. Khayelitsha has had a major upgrade the last 15 years in that a lot of school were built.

The schools are a picture of the good work our government has done the past 15 years. They stare impressively in the face of shacks and makeshift dumping sights. The stench overwhelming and the crime more than a nuisance, the schools stand and remind us how strong we can all be in the face of adversity. It looks like South Africa is going forward at great pace and will in no time produce black graduates in their hundreds of thousands. This is so good to see that and it puts a lump in my throat to see how far we have come.

However, when you decide to be brave and take one of the three off-ramps that enter Khayelitsha (Mew Way, Spine Road or Baden Powell Drive), you see a different side of this massive township. You see that although hunger is prevalent, not everyone is hungry. You also see that although there is a high unemployment rate and dire poverty, Khayelitsha has a huge buying power. But more importantly, on close inspection, you see that the beautiful, steady schools that were and continue to be built by the government are very much just buildings were the youth go for six hours a day and come back to continue with their lives. I personally do not get a feeling that the learners learn as much as they should, if at all.

For starters, on average the high schools I have had the opportunity (I dare not say pleasure) to visit and/or observe have about 40% late-coming rate. And that 40% is locked outside school grounds for anything from 30 minutes to a whole school day. The time they are locked outside will depend on the mood of the principal on that day. Sometimes when he or she (principal) is in a good mood, the gate will not be locked or will be opened every couple of minutes for however long it may take to allow a constant stream of late-comers inside the school grounds. I witnessed this with my own eyes on numerous occasions in all Khayelitsha schools I have visited. I concede that while I attended a township school I was also one of hundreds (virtually half the school) who were late and missed at least one lesson (the principal woke up on the wrong side of the bad) every morning. However, I have since changed mainly because of discipline instilled in me after I left that school.

It does not end there. Go inside the school and see the evident disregard of all forms of school etiquette from the dress code and overall appearance, to clear disrespect by the learners and teachers alike. The skirts are short and there is make-up for girls and all forms of jewellery, knives and drugs and odd caps for boys. You ignore that, move on to the reception, and wait there for 30 minutes because everyone (teachers and other school staff) is having his or her two-cent’s worth in a quasi-political spat. Finally, the receptionist gets back and is rude and uncooperative for reasons only known to her. You state that you just want to have a quick tour of the school. You later discover through a sharp ear and corroboration that the receptionist wanted to give sufficient time to cover up the fact that during contact time, the teachers were having a heated debate in the staffroom about who should take the position of principal (even though they have a principal who has no plans to resign). This is so because the current principal is not a member of the same trade union as the teachers and that renders him unfit to lead them in their humble opinions.

Moreover, even though I arrived a good 40 minutes before the first break in this particular school, you could have sworn that it was after school hours. There were two soccer games in full swing with about a hundred fans each on the sidelines. And because the school has three storeys, there were plenty of fans looking on from the comfort of their classes or balconies, basking in the late morning sun and enjoying a good game of diski (township slang for soccer). I also watched over a dozen games of “spin”, “mtshayna” (gambling) drafts and playing cards. That was the perfect opportunity to chat about schoolwork. However, I had to be very careful because I did not want to chase these learners away after I mentioned the dreaded word, HOMEWORK.

I was ultimately able to manoeuvre my way through their defences and ask the grade 9’s the big question, which is: Do you do your homework or study more than one hour a day at home? The answer was largely to the negative and they looked very puzzled as to why I asked that. Before counting the numbers, I had to reassure them that no names, including that of the school would be divulged. Therefore, I will keep my word. I found that in my very first group, only one of eight boys and three out of eleven girls answered on the affirmative. I was not shocked by the results, more by their honesty. I say that because I am one of a handful of people who have had the opportunity to study at both township and suburban schools. Therefore, I was aware of the huge difference first hand as opposed to other people who guess and speculate. However, I was also not prepared for the honesty and openness to discuss freely once I had gained their trust.

Most of the learners I interviewed have one meal a day. And that is normally their mother’s lunch at work or leftovers from their mother’s employers (the mothers are normally domestic workers who have no high school education, if any education). That seemed to be a consistent story throughout the schools in Khayelitsha. Some learners just could not help but weep while painting a story of how sometimes they depend on neighbours for food for weeks on end. And a good number of them explained that they live in one-roomed shacks with parents and sibling and have no space to study. Even those who lived in four-roomed brick houses had the same problem because they lived with extended family in addition to their parents and siblings. They said that the TV, radio, sound system and conversations were always loud and prevented them from concentrating. The other major problem was that of a culture of education. The learners raised the point that their parents and other family members were not educated or did not get far with in school. Therefore, they do not understand when they have to study. The parents just see studying as an excuse to not do house chores or to escape being sent somewhere, at times to ask for food. When studying, the learners are accused of being lazy by other family members and then punished by having the already scarce food withheld from them. I have learnt that this form of punishment (having food withheld) is a very widely practiced form of punishment in Khayelitsha households. You need not be an education expert to see that as a huge challenge to anyone, especially a high school learner. The teachers also got some of the blame. They were accused of being “teachers on paper but not in classrooms” (translated from isiXhosa).

The learners practically lambasted the teachers for not doing their job. Such is the nature of the stories about teachers that I am worried that what I heard there would not be believed and my credibility questioned. They were not only horrible teachers in so far as not being able to assist the learners with their work; they also went on for weeks without looking at learner’s books. Therefore, the learners did not do the work for two major reasons. The first is that they do not understand the work. Secondly, teachers would not check the work for weeks on end. I can vouch for them in this one. I recall when I was a learner in Khayelitsha that I got 0% for Mathematics because I never understood what a gradient was. Let alone, a tangent, sine, cosine, cotangent etc. So how exactly was I supposed to work them out if I did not know what they were? The teachers ridiculed me in front of the class when I asked what a tangent was and how they could explain me in day-to-day language. Only to find out that no one laughed because they too wanted to know what it was. I later discovered that the teacher also did not know, and yet was happy to just give me 0% for all my work and then waltz to the staff room for a rest, leaving trails of cries for more explanation from us learners. I can relate totally. However, I would not let that interfere with the work. After all, I wanted to stop the guesswork and put numbers on paper. Learners also feel that the teachers do not care because most if not all their children do not attend township schools, but those in the suburbs. Therefore, they did not worry that their careless actions would negatively affect their children’s future.

I also found that the Grade 9’s are by far the naughtiest group in the schools I have visited. All teachers, caretaking team, school governing body and RCL (Representative Council of Learners) had something to say about the Grade 9’s. One Grade 9 boy told me that it is so because they were “prisoners” in primary school, did not know how things worked in Grade 8 and were now putting their freedom to good use. That made me remember that I felt exactly the same way about school when I was in Grade 9.

In contrast to what I have written about mostly Khayelitsha schools, I have also visited Plumstead High School, my other former high school and other nearby schools. If you were new in South Africa and were blindfolded while being transported from a township school to that in the suburbs, you would swear that you were in a different country or at least 500km from Khayelitsha. Other than the clear difference and standards of living, these schools have structure, impeccable discipline, and unrivalled results. Currently those results are virtually impossible in Khayelitsha other than in Luhlaza High School, which is the best school I visited. Almost everything here is in tiptop shape. When I asked the question: Do you do your homework or study more than one hour a day at home? An overwhelming number of learners answered YES and together with their teachers who were very helpful and courteous explained that the results reflect this way because the learner’s parents are involved in their education. Parents ask if there is any homework and will phone the school to double-check should they have any doubts. Parents also create the atmosphere for studying in providing their children the correct nutrition, study aids, tutoring and adequate physical and psychological space and quiet time. However, there are those who concentrate too much on sports and other extramural activities to the detriment of their schoolwork. Again, the learners who live in the townships and go to school in the suburbs are the worst performing. The teachers were quick to point out the commuting hours and lack of participation by parents as they main causes. But these learners are still better off there compared to what they would endure in township school. There is no comparison in fact. I can vouch for this too.

When I asked them (suburban teachers) about the language issue, they brushed it under the carpet saying that it was not a problem. But I can tell you that it is. The learners I have asked explained that English was their biggest problem. But their parents told them that a good command in English would almost guarantee them a good job upon completion of school. As a result, these schools have had near perfect pass rates for decades. That is because education is tantamount to culture, the way of life. In the Khayelitsha side, education in the modern sense of the word is still a foreign concept both in the language of instruction and in the methodology and the incongruent environment between expectations at home and at school. The high school learners themselves are often the most educated people in the house and will not be told by anyone when, what, if even how to study. That is if those people care. A complete contrast to what happens it the suburbs.

I suggest that learners be taught in their mother tongue. Although I have a reasonably good command in English, isiXhosa is still my mother tongue and I understand and comprehend better when addressed in it. I (and the teacher) would have understood what a gradient is and thus would have gotten better results in Mathematics. The problem is that parents themselves will not want that because they were brainwashed into elevating certain languages at the expense of their own. Apartheid maybe dead and buried on paper, but it is alive and well in the older generation’s mind in that they are more than happy for their children to be taught in a foreign language, using the excuse that they will not get jobs if they study in their mother tongue. Unfortunately, they are not aware of the clear results that show that human beings learn better in their mother tongue.

The older generation even go further and poison their children’s minds by planting racist seeds in their minds. During the 2009 national elections, I was told by a six year old white girl that I should not vote for the ANC because they are all corrupt and spend money meant for the poor. I was also made aware of something I already knew that corporal punishment was still widely practiced in the townships, even though it was abolished in 1996 when the Constitution came into power. Parents and teachers alike believe that hitting the children to submission is a good way to educate and instil discipline. Parents even encourage unwilling teachers to hit their children so that they respect them. And this is in a world where the very same township parents and teachers condemn the high crime rate and violence perpetrated by the youths of high school and university going age. They wonder why the youth is so violent, bitter, aggressive and hostile towards them as parents and teachers. They seem to not get the connection that inflicting physical, emotional or psychological pain on someone let alone a teenager with a tendency to blush, and in a group situation, including the opposite sex where the embarrassment is amplified is counter-productive and is not an enabling environment for proper learning. There needs to be a partnership between the learners, parents, school and the department in order to table these issues, find a way forward, and hopefully have a paradigm shift in the way parents of township learners think. Parents seem not to get that they are role models of the children and that these learners do as the parents do and not as they say. The thought process is the root of the problem in most instances.

When I attended a township school, I “enjoyed” many “free periods”. That is a period when a teacher is absent from class and the learners have the whole lesson to do as they please. We used that time to play soccer, smoke, fight and do nasty things with girls in the toilets. You find that the teacher is sitting the staffroom having a break or just skipping class. In the suburbs, the teachers get paid the same but almost never miss class. If they do (which is highly unlikely) there are contingency plans in place to make sure that there is a substitute teacher in place, or learners go to other classes where lessons take place. And these teachers do not strike. The less said about the public service strike that affects townships schools, the better. This further exacerbates the fact that township learners start at the disadvantage compared to suburban learners in more ways that language and socio-economically. The teachers are more eager to strike and less eager to teach.

We have a long way to go. But identifying the problems is a good start. Let us all pull together from hereon in and make Khayelitsha the beacon of hope for all other townships to emulate. At a risk of sounding very bias, I can safely say that IkamvaYouth is the driving force behind this awakening. Education is life. So let us work to guarantee a clear air for our children to breathe and thrive. It is a pity that to this day, that is a distant dream in South Africa.

Hello world!

20 Aug

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