Citizen. Speak. Amplify.

An ode to Leila Khaled, a woman who shook the world

She is a woman cloaked in fable and intrigue but Leila Khaled, above all, embodies a history of resistance. And to the many, many young people who first encounter her in books, she represents the enduring hope for "home" as a sanctuary from oppression. But she is above all, a living being. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA reflects on what Leila Khaled means to him. Leila Khaled is watching, with catatonic calm, the way a tigress in a cage might watch an observer, a speaker on some stage in Laudium spill out the details of her life…

Updated: what you need to know about the crisis in Burundi

Burundi is in the midst of a political crisis and violence is spilling out onto the streets of its capital, Bujumbura. There are fears that a civil war could break out and lead to regional unrest. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA outlines five things you need to know about Burundi right now. *UPDATE: This article was updated following the controversial parliamentary elections in June. 1. The current crisis is only the last link in a chain of catastrophes Living in the shadow of a 12-year civil war spurred on by ethnic conflicts…

Discs over diapers: meet SA’s 2-year-old DJ

At an age where most kids are getting the hang of grammar and dropping their diapers, AJ Madumo Hlongwane is hanging headphones and dropping the bass in ways that David Guetta could only gurgle of at age two. According to the Guardian, “DJ Arch Jr”, as he is affectionately known, began his jockeying-journey at two-months old, tinkering with a DJ app on his father’s iPad. Two years later, the little prodigy from Alexandra has already begun a DJing course at college and been inundated with offers of gigs. A video featuring the…

“We help foreigners because these are our African brothers”

Residents of the Thembelihle informal settlement and members of the Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC) have come under intense police pressure, following accusations that they have been harbouring illegal immigrants. Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia spoke to NHLAKANIPHO LUKHELE, 26, the acting spokesperson of the TCC, about the police raids and xenophobic attacks.  The people of Thembelihle, to be honest, don’t harbour any discrimination or xenophobic sentiments towards foreigners. The truth is that some people – some criminals –…

The heroes of Mozambique’s hardwood forests

It’s a predicament as old as the industrial revolution: is the progress of an economy worth the toll on its environmental resources? For Mozambique, a country that finds itself trying to rebuild from the ruins of civil war, the question becomes even more urgent. A report from Al Jazeera’s environmental show Earthrise looks at the threat posed to the forest by loggers and laymen, who burn the trees for charcoal, and how this unsustainable logging is destroying a precious natural resource, putting livelihoods at risk, and…

SAPS raid on Methodist Church “unnecessary and futile” say rights groups

An unconfirmed number of foreign nationals are still being held at the Johannesburg Central Police Station following police raids on the Central Methodist Church and other locations across the city centre last Friday. On Tuesday Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), went to court to secure access to an estimated 400 immigrants arrested during the contentious Operation Fiela last week. The rights group also sought a comprehensive list of those arrested and an immediate halt to any deportation of the migrants for two weeks or until…

“If I was a white student, I wouldn’t have been charged” – Dlamini

Wits student leader Mcebo Dlamini has accused the university’s vice chancellor Adam Habib of lying about the reasons why Dlamini was removed from office. Speaking at a student protest on campus on Monday, Dlamini said: “If I was a white student, I wouldn’t have been charged... If apartheid doesn’t exist in South Africa, it exists in Wits. Wits undermines everything that is black.” Dlamini, who was removed from his position as president of the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) following disciplinary procedures…

Responses to Sparks’ Verwoerd comments: the good, the bad and the over-cautious

It’s not easy to upstage a newly elected leader simply due to a few misplaced words. But Allister Sparks did just that at the Democratic Alliance’s elective congress on the weekend when he labelled Hendrik Verwoed, the “architect of apartheid”, as “smart”. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA summarises the good, the bad, and the over-cautious responses to Sparks’ speech. So what did veteran journalist Allister Sparks actually say in his address to the DA congress? In his own words: “I’ve encountered some really smart politicians –…

Wits students on SRC president’s removal: “The decision was unfair and biased”

Earlier this week Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini was removed from his position, and his SRC membership terminated. This comes shortly after Dlamini’s controversial statements praising Hitler on Facebook – although Wits vice chancellor Adam Habib was clear this had no bearing on Dlamini’s dismissal. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA asked Wits students what they make of the situation.  Nadeem Mahomed, bachelor of accounting science, honours I think it was opportunistic. Legally, there’s nothing wrong with it, but we have to consider…

What to do if you’re a Zimbabwean who’s had their identity documents stolen

From driving licences to passport applications to reporting crime, the inefficiency of the South African civil service is certain to have plagued any citizen on at least one occasion. But what happens if you’re not South African? The resultant chaos can only be described as the stuff of legend. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA explains. No one likes being robbed – even if you don’t experience a traumatic attack, there is rage at the theft, worry at the financial consequences, and sheer helplessness in the face of all the…

Happy Star Wars Day: May the fourth be with you!

If you haven’t already been inundated with Star Wars jokes: happy Star Wars Day, may the fourth be with you! We’re taking the opportunity to gush about the latest Star Wars trailer, which granted was released a couple of weeks ago, but is still fresh in our minds. Star Wars: is the most anticipated movie in history, and it’s no longer light-years away. The trailer for the latest film in the series (Star Wars:Episode VII - The Force Awakens if you must know the full title) has united fans in a way that even a unanimous hatred…

The short hop from Zuma’s fire pool to Magashule’s pool house

South Africans haven’t yet gotten over President Jacob Zuma’s personal fire pool and now it’s emerged that R8-million in public funds has been used to renovate the official residence of the Free State premier Ace Magashule. According to the Mail & Guardian, the hefty price tag included largely aesthetic renovations like landscaping, a new fence and a new pool house – complete with entertainment facilities, a committee room, a dining room, lounge, kitchen and a bathroom. Or as us plebs refer to it – a whole other house.…

Nigeria: These aren’t the girls you’re looking for

The Nigerian Armed Forces has rescued 200 girls and 93 women from insurgent group Boko Haram in Nigeria’s Sambisa Forest. But these aren’t the girls the army was looking for. The Nigerian army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman confirmed on Twitter that the women and girls rescued on Tuesday were “not the Chibok girls”. FLASH: Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls & 93 women from #Sambisa Forest. We cannot confirm if the #ChibokGirls are in this group /1 — DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) April 28, 2015 The rescue of the…

Nzimande latest South African to be denied Israeli visa over pro-Palestinian stance

There was a diplomatic kerfuffle when higher education minister Blade Nzimande was denied a visa by the Israeli government on Thursday. But given Nzimande’s vocal criticism of the state of Israel this comes as no surprise. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA looks at other instances where Israel has denied entry to its South African critics. 1. Blade Nzimande Higher education minister Blade Nzimande has been denied a visa to travel to Palestine by the Israeli government. The purpose of the minister’s visit was to promote research…

Metrobus in the spotlight again after horror crash on Jan Smuts

Questions about the safety record of Johannesburg’s Metrobus service have been raised again following a a head-on collision between two buses on Jan Smuts Avenue in Saxonwold early on Friday morning. Video footage from the scene shows a single-deck bus partially embedded in a double-decker bus on the opposite side of the road. Eyewitnesses described the scene as “horrifying”. “When I got here there were screams, people crying all over. Some paramedics are still trying to administer help to other people in the bus. Others are…

Xenophobia: “Whatever you do, we’re going to finish them!”

Last Thursday VUYO XEGWANA, 24, a postgrad law student at Wits University, witnessed a xenophobic attack outside her apartment in Maboneng. Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia spoke to her about the experience. I had heard that the xenophobic attacks were happening, and I had seen on the news some footage of the attacks, but I didn’t really believe or know the magnitude of it until it was on my doorstep. I live on Fox Street, on the border of Maboneng and Jeppestown. If you are on this side of the street, you are in Maboneng, the…

Third force? What third force? – state security minister

David Mahlobo, the minister of state security, has dismissed claims that an alleged “third force” was behind the violence against foreign nationals  “We have never issued a statement saying that there is a third force involved,” he said. “We have been consistent in saying that there are instigators and we are following up.” Mahlobo as speaking to Power FM’s Tim Modise on Wednesday morning to clarify the government’s position on the “third force”. This came after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini told people attending an imbizo…

International students on their reactions to xenophobia: “I don’t feel safe using public transport”

Xenophobic attacks have erupted throughout South Africa over the last few weeks. On Thursday, 16 April, a thousands-strong peace march was held in Durban calling for an end to the attacks, yet even that was marred by violence and disruptions. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA spoke to African international students at Wits University to find out their perspectives, and if they are affected. Moel Moyo, electrical engineering honours, 23, Zimbabwe The attacks and basis for the xenophobia is inhumane. Even though the perpetrators of…

[UPDATED]: Who’s saying what about xenophobia, from the Zulu king to the eThekwini mayor

The recent wave of xenophobic attacks to hit KZN, which began in Isipingo, have spread throughout Durban and surrounds, and have now reached the CBD. So far, more than 2,000 foreign nationals have been displaced and five have been killed. The official response has been salutary (compared with the reaction to the January xenophobic attacks in Soweto); however, a subtle undercurrent of victim-blaming still persists. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA takes a look at the responses by national and local officials. 1. KwaZulu-Natal premier…