Things fell apart: We would have been better off without Zille’s infatuation (colonialism)

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“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.” (Helen Zille, circa 2017)

 

I ordinarily do not have the energy, inclination or desire to engage with Helen Zille’s utterances. It is a futile exercise. She lacks the insight to understand the deleterious effects of her ideological leanings.

 

Even here I intend not to dwell on her comments (Zille elaborated her vitriol in this Daily Maverick piece) instead I make a critique of some of the responses to her comments.

 

I am rather disturbed by an array of commentators who are, on the surface chastising Helen whilst, implicitly accepting as immovable truth the core thesis of her tweet rant.

 

My reading of her core claim is that colonialism brought about industrial (roads, water infrastructure) and social order (judiciary) that are inherently better than what prevailed and that could not have been possibly developed by Africans in the absence of the arrival of the eternal visitors from the Netherlands and England.

 

I do not accept this assertion. I find it telling that so many people can accept it with virtually no evidence and little interrogation. In an imperfect analogy it is, for me, similar to person A raping person “B” and then telling her that he has given her the best debut sexual experience possible. “B” cannot now have a chance to have a sexual debut of her choice and thus there is no way of disproving the callous assertion but that is hardly proof of A’s statement.

 

There is absolutely no reason to assume that Africa would have under-developed (whatever that means) without the painful interaction with the hostage takers that were the colonizers.

 

It is regrettable that we have never bothered to study the psychopathic drive that made some men want to travel the entire breadth of the globe terrorizing others, voraciously acquiring senseless amounts of wealth whilst inducing intractable levels of trauma and suffering.

 

The intellectual pollution spread by colonial and apartheid masterminds and their apologists requires critical thinkers to debunk and demystify the fallacious remarks that are easily accepted as given truths. For this purpose I challenge you to read any or all of the following: Chinua Achebe (whose title I have altered), Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Decolonisation of the mind, Bantu Stephen Biko’s I write what I like, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the oppressed, Thabo Myuyelwa Mbeki’s speeches on the African Renaissance, Na’im Akbar’s papers in African Psychology, the seminal Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois…

 

Biko in particular left African folk with the arduous task of gifting the world with a more humane face. A commendable aspirational dictate that is made the more difficult by the world’s continued perception of Africa as not being a worthy student never mind a suitable teacher. What then can Africans do if the world is not a willing learner?

 

 

 

Aziwe #FeesMustFall

“Inkunzi isematholeni”. Lamazwi aqukethe okuningi uma ulandela okwenzeka eNingizimu Afrika namuhla.

Intsha idlala izidakamizwa kanye nezifo ezingalapheki. Ikati lilele eziko. Imisebenzi ayikho. Abantu abanawo amakhono okuzisebenza. Abanye baziphilisa ngamasenti akhishwa uhulumeni ngenhloso yokulekelela abazali bezingane. Ukuba umuntu onsundu kusayichilo njengoba kwakunjalo ngo-1994.

Amazwi eqhawe lomzabalazo u-Solomon Mahlangu, ebhekwe isigwebo sentambo, athi akanavalo ngesigwebo abekwe sona ngoba uyazi ukuthi igazi lakhe lizoba umanyolo ozokhulisa isihlahla sempumelelo. Iqhawe lentsha elabulawa ngamaphoyisa ngonyaka wa-1977, u-Bantu Steve Biko, uthi esikhathini sempumelelo wonke umuntu uyoba nendawo yakhe yokukhululeka, atanase, athokoziswe izithelo zalesihlahla umfoka Mahlangu akhuluma ngaso. Abafundi abasema nyuvesi kulonyaka bathi leyo mpumelelo abayazi! Ayikafiki! Basayizingela! Bazoyithola ngenkani!

 Ukhongolose unguhulumeni

Ukhongolose uwine ukhetho lokugcina ngomkhankaso obunobuciko, kepha isiqubulo ebesithi “We have a good story to tell” sesiphenduka ihlaya. Ukwenza abantu izilima ukuthi uthi uphethe mese utshele abafundi ukuthi uvumelana nesifiso sabo kepha ungenzi isiqiniseko sokuthi kwenzeke lokhu okucelwayo. Uhulumeni utshele abaphathi bezikhungo zemfundo ukuthi akwande inani labafundi. Izikhungo zikwenzile lokhu. Kodwa uhulumeni uyayinciphisa imali ayifaka emanyuvesi. Kuyacaca ke ukuthi inhloso ukuthi abafundi bangaqedi noma kwehle uhlobo noma ubuchule bemfundo. Imfundo yamabanga aphela kumatikuletsheni ifile. Uma isimo siqhubeka kuyacaca ukuthi iziqu zemfundo ephakeme zingagcina sezi yizeleze njenge sitifiketi sikamatikuletsheni.

Ukhongolose kumele wazi ukuthi uma ungakugobeli lokhu okucelwa abafundi, ukuthi imali ingakhuphuki ngonyaka ozayo, bavumelana nokuthi isizwe esimnyama siqhubeke nokuhlupheka okungasoze kwaphela. Isiphelile manje iminyaka emihlanu abafundi ezikhungweni ezahlukene beteleka unyaka nonyaka ngalo loludaba lokubiza kwemfundo. Isikhathi sokubaziba sesiphelile.

Abafundi bakhombisa ubuholi

Abahlaziyi bezombusazwe sekunesikhathi manje bekhononda ngokungabi khona kwabaholi ongazishaya isifuba ngabo. Uma ucabanga abaholi esinabo uvele uphelelwe amandla, awucabange laba nje: umongameli u-Jacob Zuma, mam’ Angie Motshekga, Faith Muthambi, Gugile Nkwinti, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Dina Pule, Ellen Tshabalala, Thulas Nxesi, Nathi Mthethwa neduku lakhe, Tina Joemat Peterson. Ngingazithola ngihlaselwa iNyala ne White star uma ngibabiza ngempuphu. Kuthi khala uma ubuka ubungane nobuphukuphuku obuqhubeka ephalamende.

Isenzo sabafundi abasemanyuvesi ahlukahlukene sikhombise ubuhlakani nobuholi esingasabazi. Ngesikhathi esincane nje abafundi bakwazila ukudonsa amehlo eningi ngendlela ezokwenza ukuthi sibheke ukubiza kwemfundo ephakeme, sibheke ubandlululo olusaqhubeka kwezinye zalezikhungo, siphinde sibukisise isimo sabantu abaqashiwe kulezikhungo zemfundo abasebenza kanzima kepha behhola amakinati.

Akukho nokumsabisa uBlade Nzimande ngokuthi #BladeMustFall ngoba uyambona nje ukuthi kukhona okuthize okudlula entanyeni okukade kwaqeda ngaye, sekuzisalele igobonga nje.

Okuhle ngokuteleka kwabafundi

Abafundi bakhombise umunyano oluyisimanga. Uma ubuholi babafundi base UKZN-Edgewood bungeneme, obase Westville buyangenelela. Umakuqala i-Wits i-UCT iyalandela, kuthi kusenjalo ubone i-DUT, NMMU, WSU, Rhodes kanjalo… Lokhu kuyinkomba yokuhlangana nokuhlela esingasakwazi selokho kwabakhona i-ANC ya-Mbeki ne-ANC ya-Zuma zibhekene emahlweni. Belwa bodwa. Bengalwi nobubha kanye nezinselelo esibhekene nazo njengezwe. Laba bafundi basebenza ndawonye noma omunye echeme ne-EFF omunye ewukhongolose kanjalo kanjalo. Kuyancomeka lokhu, amagalelo abo mahle. Bakhombisa ubuhlakani ngokuya ephalamende, eLuthuli House kanye nase-Union Buildings ngoba amavoti ethu aphelela khona.

Abafundi bakhombisa isimilo nobuhlakani ngokuteleka okungenadlame. Kodwa ke nalapho udlame luba khona kumele kucace ukuthi uma isimo sesifike kwa ngqingetshe angeke abafundi batshelwe ukuthi basebenzise eziphi izindlela zokuveza ukunganeliseki. Lokhu akuhlukile ekutheni i-PAC kanye ne-ANC kwadingeka ukuthi baqeqesha amasosha (POQO, Umkhonto weSizwe) ngaphambi kokuthi kuxoxiswana nezidlamlilo zamabhunu ezaziphethe.

Abafundi bakhombisa ukuqonda ukuthi impi ayikho mayelana nezimali nje kuphela kodwa kusanenselelo yokulwa nobandlulo kanye nefa lengcindezelo yeminyaka. Okunye okungihlabe umxhwele ukubona abafundi abangaswele  benyathela eduze kwalabo abangazithola bevaleleka ngaphandle uma izimali ezivele zibiza itshe ziphinde zikhuphuka.

Uma sibona abafundi bekhuzana bodwa, becosha amaphepha emuva kokuteleka, begqugquzelana ngokuthi bateleke emini mese bafunde ebusuku  sibona ngokusobala ukuthi banenhloso.

Isixazululo

Abezindaba babethi lapho uma bebuza izinsika zomzabalazo esibala kuzo u-Rolihlahla Mandela kanye no-Bantu Biko ukuthi abantu abamnyama banganikwa kanjani ivoti noma umhlaba ekubeni bengafundile? Lezihlabani ziphendule ngelithi:

Awudingi ukuthi ufunde ukuze ukwazi ukuzikhethela noma ube nomhlaba wokuziphilisa. Lendlela yokuphendula yayingenhlosi yokwenza kube sobala ukuthi akungadidaniswa izinto. Imfundo ibaluleke ngendlela eyisimanga kepha kwakungasona isizathu esiqavile sokuthi abantu abansundu ababambiswe iwa kuze kuyovalwa leso. Ngendlela ethi mayifane ke nginombono wokuthi ubuholi abudlule ekucasheni ngokuthi imali ayikho yokufeza izifiso zabafundi. Ubuholi abuhole bayeke ukuhona. Umsebenzi wabo ukuxazulula indaba yokuthi imali izoqhamukaphi. Kungcono ukuthi abafundi batelekele imali yokufunda kunoku khangezela imali yeqolo. Uma sikwazi ukukhipha izinkulungwane zezigidi silungiselela indebe yomhlaba, sisafuna nokusingatha ama-Commonwealth games akungadlalwa ngathi kuthiwe imali ayikho. Kumele wonke umfundi ophasa kahle akwazi ukuthi afunde imfundo ephakeme!

Viva #FeesMustFall Viva!

#ProtestAndPass

#0%

#AwunyiPerhaps

South Africa’s education system: Complicating the basics

I have written about this topic before, unfortunately things seem to be going from bad to worse. For the purposes of this article we will only look at the Department of Basic Education’s prerogative, which is Grades R to 12. In a nutshell I argue that Angie’s department is getting the basics wrong and far too little education transpires.

Matric matrix:

South Africans have an unhealthy obsession with matric, Grade 12. Each year we see a gleaming Angie Motshekga proudly bellowing praises for a job well done as the matric pass rate is announced. In January 2015 she was feigning a subdued state to be congruent with the, rather negligible, decline in the pass rate. It decreased from 78.2% in 2013 to 75.8% in 2014. She was, however, quick to point out that the pass rate was still above the 75% her department had set out to achieve by the year 2014.  Some commentators have ominously pointed out that the ‘true’ pass rate is actually 41.7%, with 688 660, out of an initial 1 252 071, learners who started Grade 1 in 2003 having sat for the matric exams. The remaining students either dropped out or were ‘held back’ along the way.

Quality of the matric certificate:

Speak to any first year university lecturer, or read the unrelenting warnings of Prof. Jansen, and you will learn that the standard of basic education is dwindling, as if to imitate St Jacob Zuma’s get-down manoeuvres at Khulubuse’s wedding turn-up. We cannot call the current education system a system! A report card with the following marks constitutes progress in the cataract clouded eyes of the department: Life Skills (LO) 40%, Maths Literacy 40%, IsiZulu 40%, English 44%, Natural Sciences 30%, Business Studies 30%, and Accounting 30%.

There is nothing systematic about offering subjects that are not recognised by your own country’s universities, Maths Literacy and Life Skills are not considered by, serious, institutions of higher learning. The Mail and Guardian revealed that a mammoth 327 schools did not offer pure maths to matriculants in 2014. Teachers at these schools say learners opt to apply for Nursing, and other careers that do not list pure Maths as a prerequisite. Now you know why you encounter nurses who are so devoid of patience you would object to them being tasked with offering nurse care to a mannequin.  Angie has announced an inquiry into the pass marks that are so low a learner can be promoted without knowing 70% of the relevant knowledge in some subjects. I can tell you now that the committee will find that the pass rates need to be revised, quite frankly it really isn’t rocket science. Would you trust an accountant, doctor, architect, nurse, or prosecutor who only knows 30% of his/her work?

Socio-economic context:

The minister of education plays the role of overseer and custodian of policy. Policy is important both in its theoretical and practical form. There are instances when theory fails to translate into practice and the minister is called upon to intervene. The Limpopo textbook debacle of 2012 comes to mind. Similarly there is a gulf between policy that outlaws corporal punishment and what happens in schools where many teachers still buy into the outdated  notion of “spare the rod spoil the child’’, or rather have no idea how to effectively use other forms of punishment in classes where the learner: teacher ratio may be up to 60:1. The ministry continuously fails to take proactive action in this matter.

Occurrences in communities threaten schooling in a manner reminiscent of the dark days of the 1970s. Primary school learners in Manenberg, Cape Town, are accompanied by their parents to school due to the high prevalence of gang violence in the area. Learners were left without a school in Limpopo after the School Governing Body at Luthuli Combined School decided they are changing the school to a primary school to be named Luthuli Primary School in January 2015. This decision, taken without the consent of Angie’s department, taken because a high school promised by the department has not yet been built, is criminal but somewhat unsurprising in a country where learners are barred from attending school during service delivery protests.

In some parts of the country, such as in Kuruman, Northern Cape, where service delivery protests included the community barring their children from attending school for most part of the second half of the year 2014, learners have been informed they will have to repeat the year. The Mail and Guardian reported that nearly 17 000 children in 54 schools were affected. Schools have a bizarre situation where last year’s Grade 1 learners are still in Grade 1 and the schools have to welcome new Grade 1 l earners.

Poverty remains a factor that determines the access to and quality of education a learner receives. It is the poor, most likely black, learner who is at risk of falling to death in a pit latrine at school, or learns under a tree or most recently had to write supplementary exams after missing an exam due to a taxi strike. Matriculants, from Johannesburg, whose sin was not having access to alternate transport on an exam day, that happened to see taxi drivers on strike over e-tolls, cannot register for university in February 2015 but must rather wait to write supplementary exams. Their dreams deferred for a year, at an expense that far outweighs the amount it would have cost the concerned schools to organise buses, or even for those parents with cars to offer to give lifts…

Some positives:

On the 22nd of December 2014 the Mercury newspaper reported that plans were in place to scrap the idiotic policy that says learners cannot fail more than one Grade in a phase. To illustrate, if ‘Steve’ fails Grade 10 he has a free pass in Grade 11 as Grade 10-12 constitute a singular phase. This moronic idea was pushed into promulgation in 2012 amid criticism, needless to say criticism washes off the backs of the current ANC-led government like water of a duck’s back.

Angie must be credited with ensuring we know just how appallingly the system is performing, by insisting on the Annual National Assessments (ANA). Furthermore she has displayed some resistance when the teacher unions have started to act like they run the department. Angie must insist on making compulsory the assessments of proficiency of teachers and promotion of skill development where these are lacking, particularly if the CAPS policy is to have any chance of being better than previous curricula policies.

What to expect in 2015:

The ANA will again reflect that the learners in the assessed grades cannot count or write at a level that is adequate for their level. Miraculously these same learners will make it to matric and pass. Socioeconomic ills will continue to castrate the academic potential of the poorest learners.

The crucial aspects of the system that require change will remain untouched. The quality of teaching will remain below par in majority of schools. The high level of unemployment has denigrated the profession of teaching, much like nursing, into a ‘safe’ career option. Thus average learners, with no passion for teaching are studying education purely for employment purposes. Simply put if Mbali was average or below average in Maths as a learner, chances are minimal that she will suddenly become an excellent Maths teacher.

The department will continue to drag its feet in its duty to ensure access to equal education. It will still be up to civil organisations, like Section 27, to ensure that Angie’s department honours its promise to eradicate mud schools. In 2011 the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) was launched and promised to upgrade 140 schools by 2014. An answer to a parliamentary question, by the Democratic Alliance, revealed that only 17 had been upgraded in the earmarked three year period. This is a 12% completion rate, a fail, even in Angie’s own, partly Hlaudi with a chance of meatballs, reasoning.

Conclusion:

Attacking the triple threat of poverty, inequality and unemployment necessitates an impeccable basic education system and the current status quo falls short of this requirement. At the present moment there appears to be a lack of political will, communities are acting in ways that sabotage their children, the quality of teaching leaves much to be desired and learners feel entitled to matric certificates and entrance to higher education.

In 1977 Oliver Reginald Tambo, addressing the first congress of the MPLA in Luanda, outlined the ANC’s vision and stated

… We fight for a South Africa in which the people shall be guaranteed the right to work, in which it will be the duty of the state to ensure that the doors of learning and of culture are open to the working people…

I suspect he would be depressed by the fact that the custodians of the state tasked with opening the doors of learning do not deem public education good enough for their children, and instead the majority of young people complete basic, and tertiary, education without skills and account for 70% of those who are unemployed. The school system is a microcosm of a nation that is going off course…

zapiro dept of ed textbooks

An open letter to everyone: All protocol observed.

Sale! Sale! Sale!

I hate sales. Not sales as a profession, if you can call it that, but sales the illusory facade of selling goods at supposedly reduced prices. If you suddenly gift me R60 free MTN-to-MTN airtime it tells me you have been relentlessly bankrupting me when you can make a handsome profit at half the cost. Similarly if you suddenly sell 2 litre Coke at R12 instead of R18 it means it probably costs you R5 to produce it and you are an acidic extortionist.

Forthcoming Matric results!

I saw a very cool Matric jacket, in the streets of Harding, with the Whatsapp-esque by-line ‘Last seen .12.2014’. For obvious reasons matriculants from that school dare not fail. After years of deliberations, pontificating, discussions, negotiations and persuasion the powers that be have reached a rather innocuous decision. Grade 12 results will still grace national newspapers, on the 6th of January 2015, but the learners ID numbers will replace the usual display of learner names. No more rolling on the floor while marvelling at the fact that Cijimpi Ngobe obtained As in IsiZulu and History or Doctor Mkhize passed with a symbol that only allows for further study at an FET college. Should we now bribe Home Affairs officials for the ID numbers of our ‘cousins’? Knowing Home Affairs’ unremitting incompetence we will not be surprised if learners from the same school discover they share ID numbers. I recently heard that learners who pass with a symbol H are teased for having merely passed with ‘’amapali eRugby”. President Number 01 must do something about this, wait, what am I saying?  #NVM

!ke e: /xarra //ke

I admire and applaud people who speak their home languages when interviewed. My favourite interviewees in this regard are Mulomowandawu Mathoho, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa (badly needs the good press) Zuma, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima and Queen Elizabeth.

Food must take a chill pill

I take issue with the food we are sold these days. Milk no longer turns into maas, it lives a long life. Unimaginably some companies have the audacity to sell some substance they call honey. Said substance has an expiry date. Then there is food that comes with instructions. Refrigerate after opening: Makes one want to tell that yoghurt carton to, firstly, stop being rude and say please and, secondly, inform it that you do not have a fridge. Why are you selling me a pack of 64 viennas that dictates “consume within 7 days”. Must I consume 9.143 viennas a day for a week? For some reason this reminds me of the EFF MP who used the word fuggery in parliament. Yazi mina angazi! What are the fighters of the much touted ‘Government-in- waiting’ reading? Karma Sutra: The Hip Hop remake by Snoop Dogg, or Snoop Lion, or whatever creature he is debasing these days?

Welfare state is ill begotten

If one is ‘lucky’ from one month of age to their 18th birthday they will receive a grant purely for existing. A NSFAS loan will support them through the first degree (even if this is completed in a stint as long as Debora Patta’s on 3rd degree). But that’s not enough now we are hearing rumours of cash for hymen intactness. Who is going to be doing the checking? I work at a hospital and I do not think we have the capacity to be checking thousands of young maidens on a monthly basis. If we don’t check fraudsters will be Fornicating Under Consent of King Z#MA and fraudulently accepting the hymen payments. No! Nkandla’s Amphitheatre cannot be converted to a theatre for such checkups. Mama K will get confused by the #Pap_Smear #TuckShop_Pap. Give birth and receive a grant or remain a virgin and get a monetary incentive. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

To the reader

To you reading this hogwash, apparently South Africans do not read. Authors sell 10 000 copies and throw celebratory parties. Here you are, reading. I am so proud of you! I recommend the following books. 1. Mzilikazi wa Afrika’s Nothing Left to Steal. 2. K Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents. 3. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Last word

If you read the biblical story of Abraham and stop just before he hears the pietistic voice that tells him to not kill his son you realise that we are dealing with a disturbed man. Before you get angry at me just put yourself in Isaac’s shoes for a minute. Your dad tells you God told him to kill you as a sacrifice, and he agrees. A cool dad is the chap who throws a bash for the chap who returned from self imposed exile, after claiming his inheritance before his father had kicked the bucket. I guess what I am trying to say is you must commemmorate #WorldAidsDay and expand your spirit of humaneness and non abuse beyond the #16DaysOfActivism.

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It is always crucial for angels to be punctual!

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A worthwhile cause. Di Te Ament!

We all know someone

Thoughts on suicide by Sydney…

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE

RIP. You fought long and hard and we gained from your fight. RIP. You fought long and hard and we gained from your fight.

This is one of those pieces of writing I have kept away from you because of this incredible pull away from ‘exposing’ myself in public. But I have come to learn that when the writing bug has truly hit youyou, it will create a time and space for you to share even your most intimate thoughts. In the right context. I published this piece online on Medium in June, I got about six readers and was secretly pleased. It wasn’t time.

With the tragic passing of Robin Williams this week I could not help but pull the piece from obscurity onto your world, with the hope that you will read and without judging contribute to the discussion on depression and suicide. I have close family and very dear friends whose lives have been altered permanently by suicide and…

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