Monday, 25 March 2013

Stand against violence against women in South Africa, or remain sitting ducks?

The injustice against South African women is real, and ignored.
Brutal regimes and societies oppress women, but South Africa- a country that rests on a pedestal of freedom and equality- still hosts inhumanity against women. Inhumanity in the form of insecurity.
During the early 1900s, women started taking their resistance against oppression to the streets, organising mass movements against what will always be remembered as one of the most unjust, discriminative and harsh regimes- the Apartheid regime. The crucial role of women in the liberation of South Africa displayed the extent of the humiliation they were slapped with, the trials they faced, and the struggles they overcame. I speak of them as heroines; as women of every race in South Africa.
During the uprising against Apartheid, women would protest and sing songs of freedom, lift their skirts and stomp their feet on the soil that was stolen from them. Oppressed, they resisted further ill-treatment and unfairness. They held meetings, initiated pickets and were crucial in the fight for freedom, many of them losing their homes and families to the struggle. Black, White, Coloured, and Asian- they protested together. They protested against being branded as “kaffirs,” “kulies” and “bushies.” Togetherness is what made South Africa a rainbow nation- right from the time they took the struggle to the streets.
They stood at the front line with their children and risked their lives for the people. They were beaten with batons, shot with guns, chewed on by police dogs, and massacred. They encouraged their children to fight against the regime, and remained steadfast on their intention that they would die fighting for freedom. Dressed in traditional skirts, beaded jewellery, saris and Hijabs, with their fists raised to the skies as one nation, they showed no weakness. 
Their husbands served sentences in prison, some dying before they could see their loved ones again. These women faced detention and solitary confinement in women’s prisons for their part in the struggle, refusing to testify against freedom fighters. While imprisoned, they often learnt of their families being tortured to death. To the day, these heroines still ask for no sympathy- only solidarity.  Some of the women recognised by the freedom that South Africa hosts so proudly are: Helen Joseph, Ruth First, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Mamphela Ramphele, Mary Moodley, Florence Matomela, Dora Tamana and Frances Baard.
However, in today’s free South Africa, women cannot roam the streets in confidence and faith. The faith we have in our land is minimal. Uneducated societies still force their women into polygamy, using tradition as the backdrop to their acts. Allowing children to play outside is a risk many women will not take- children as young as toddlers are raped, murdered, abused or hacked for body parts that are used in traditional healing and medication. Their severed bodies are often found ravaged by animals or cannibals, burnt, dumped in rivers or tied up in suitcases. Girls do not leave their homes unless in groups or with escorts. Women are tormented in the streets, their private parts are touched and upon reporting it, they may be laughed at, sent out of the police station or even sexually harassed. Perpetrators do not need to be in groups to hurt or torment women- they are confident on their own. In that regard, it is not only men who are the perpetrators. Recently, women have been showing their faces as abusers and rapists too. They should be equal in status because is not “equality” what we rest on? Equality is fairness, even in abuse and violence.
Violence has been described as becoming a “norm” in South Africa. Is this the element of DNA that is becoming apparent in the very people who were dragged into the streets for peacefully protesting against violence? Is being violent what South Africans will be known for?
Nelson Mandela is often portrayed as a hero who led the liberation struggle against the brutal Apartheid regime, but he was not alone. He was not without women. The countless freedom fighters that fought for freedom during Apartheid are not remembered as they should be, and we don’t give them the justice they deserve. We should be doing our duty to them- paying tribute and continuing the legacies they have left us with.
If only the women of South Africa were angry and brave enough not to tolerate the injustices against them, they would live up to the heroines who gave their lives and loves for them.
I speak as a South African- a child of the free South Africa:
If we cannot be motivated by living for the future- for an even better South Africa, then we should at least be motivated by the past. We are weak, we take no action- we must act and retaliate because it is OUR duty to OUR people.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Life of Al Quds

Even if you are at war with a must not destroy its trees for the tree of the fields is man's life.

Deut. 20: 19-20

Dried of gold,
Her clothing, crumpled, torn.
Her body, drained, frail.
Dying, dying, but resisting,
Refusing to cry.

Ripped from her home,
The earth of Palestine,
Crushed by the bulldozer.

She cries out in pain,
White phosphorous spewed across her beauty,
Roasting her skin.
Her skin, bearing the sun of Al Quds for all these years,
Once sheltering and protective,
Now burns and peels away
As if it never belonged.

But quietly, she blows in the wind.
She blows in the easterly wind of Jerusalem,
Her pieces scattered,
Her roots intertwined beneath the boots of an Israeli soldier.

But will you write with my branches in the sand, she asks.
The sand.
Begging at the sand,
Will it ever open,
How does it bear the weight?
Will you drown the settlements, she asks;
The settlements that steal the rays of sunshine?
The sunshine.
Deathly rays,
Will they ever burst into flames?
Burn the bullets, she shouts.
Burn the bullets!
Light the hearts instead.

The hearts.
The sore, sore hearts.

But I would rather be burnt, ripped, destroyed.
I would rather be killed, than be taken.
I will not be theirs, she says.
I reside within the rich sand,
I embrace the beaming sunlight,
I mend the broken hearts.
I will not be theirs,
For I belong to Palestine.
I am the life of Al Quds,
I am the life of Palestine.

Crouched over after many years,
Her body struggling to sustain her,
The indents of suffering mapped across her skin,
Telling her story.

She whispers,
“The olive tree, I am the olive tree.”

Shake me, and my leaves will fall.
Break me, and my stem will tear.
Rip me, and my roots will die.
Burn me, and my ashes will blow.
Hurt me, 
Hurt me,
But wherever I lay to rest, 
My seeds will always live on.
Palestine will always live on.
Palestine will always be.

Remain, the Eclipse.

Like the moon,
Hiding beneath her light.
Shy behind her skin,
She hides behind her enigma,
Behind her beaming shine.

Living within herself,
Like an oyster,
Trying to form a pearl of own, blackened heart.
But the pearl is nothing but the disease of an oyster.

Her alone.
Her alone feels so good.
But she’ll have you –
She’ll have your terrifyingly strange beauty.
She’ll have you,
She’ll have you.

She is,
She is a loner,
Jealous of her,
Confused souls;
Jealousy of beauty in the absence of logic.
Mere wealth confused with happiness;
Quantity confused with abundance;
Information confused with knowledge.

Tame the moon,
Seek her beauty, seek her mind.
And if the moon can’t be tamed,
Tame the sunset.

But you cannot control the sunset.
You don’t want to control it.
It’s perfect, with its burnt shades of orange.

Her sunset,
Her entrance to the night,
The very sun of her existence,
The moon.
Holding onto the sun,
Like the owl’s talons clenching the heart.
She seeks it all,
Every sacred moment.
Everywhere -
In the illuminating flames;
And nowhere at all -
In the deepest darkness,
Her alone.

The moon,
She chases the sun,
Barely holding onto rays of sunshine.
And when they kiss,
The world stares in awe of their eclipse.
Their love,

You are my sun –
The eternal sunshine of my spotless mind,
Beautifully annihilating,
You are mine.
And at the awe of our eclipse,
Because a lifetime is not enough.

And when the concrete jungle of reality betrays you,
Seek solace in the wilderness of my mind.
Because more and more this earth is not a paradise,
Though I find pockets of heaven in the most unlikely places –
In the wealth of your mind,
In the sincerity of your silence.

Delving into my mirrored pool of thought,
Your burnt orange rays flicker brightly.
Burning my darkness,
Streaking my blackness,
Enveloping my heart.

At the awe of our eclipse,
Because a lifetime is not enough.