Looking ahead: The death of the rainbow and the rise of fallism

It took a fed-up Chumani Maxwele throwing faeces at the John Cecil Rhodes statue in on the University of Cape Town’s Upper Campus to start what would become a nationwide conversation about transformation, colonial legacies in tertiary institutions and a demand for decolonisation. PONTSHO PILANE looks back at the year of student protest. The #RhodesMustFall movement had a lot of critics, with many people saying that the movement was misguided and did not deal with real issues that South African students face. However, for…

Dear black man, do better

Some men are quick to speak out against racism, but perpetuate sexism and rape culture at every turn. PONTSHO PILANE is sick of it. “Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of women’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt.” ― Thomas Sankara, Women's Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle This is a letter to black men –…

Homophobic violence is gender-based violence too

During the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, homophobic violence is rarely considered to be gendered. This erasure of lesbian women, gay men, trans people and people who identify as non-binary from discussions on gender-based violence shows that we still have a lot of work to do if we are to understand and tackle such violence, writes PONTSHO PILANE. The term "gender-based violence" paints a very specific picture in most people's minds – say a blue eye and a busted lip on a vulnerable woman. But…

Middle class outrage and Other People’s Weddings

Sunday's episode of Our Perfect Wedding showcased a relationship that began as statutory rape, showing not only how normalised rape culture is in South Africa, but also how middle-classness gets in the way of talking about real life issues. PONTSHO PILANE explains why. Just two minutes into Sunday’s episode of Our Perfect Wedding, I tweeted “Another statutory rape wedding,” because the groom, Fanie, was 28 years old when he first pursued a relationship with his now-wife, Bavelile - who was then just 14 years old.…

It’s almost 2016 and we’re still having to explain why blackface is wrong

After the incident last year when two University of Pretoria students wore blackface to a party, one could assume we would all be clear on the fact that blackface is racist and shouldn't be worn. Sadly, one Wits medical student still hadn't gotten the memo. PONTSHO PILANE explains. It seems to be the same script every time - a group of students decided to throw a party (this time it was themed Under the African Sky) and one of them thought dressing like a domestic worker while wearing blackface would be a good idea.…

Black students’ dissent on Afrikaans campuses is about more than just language policy

The student movements that emerged at Tuks, NWU-Pukke and Stellenbosch University (SU) in the days before #FeesMustFall protests, challenged the privileges of whiteness at campuses where Afrikaans is a medium of instruction. The tendency was to reduce students’ dissent to just a matter of language. But this would be an injustice, writes PONTSHO PILANE. A while ago, I interviewed an Afrikaans-speaking student from NWU-Pukke who felt that it was unfair for black students at the campus to demand transformation on the campus.…

Three moments from the #WitsShutDown that gave us the feels

On Wednesday, Wits University students protested against the 10.5% fee increment that is proposed for 2016. What started off as a protest with less than a hundred people, quickly turned into hundreds of students that brought the university to a standstill. Amidst the commotion, there were three memorable moments. 1. PYA and EFF standing together The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and EFF Wits are often on opposing teams when it comes to student leadership, but yesterday they put their party politics aside for a…

Series of portraits give a face to those affected by gender-based violence

South Africa still isn’t doing enough to end gender-based violence. Despite shocking statistics – the female homicide rate in 2009 was five times the global rate - there is still no national strategic plan to end gender-based violence. An alliance between 56 civil society organisations has called on the government to come up with ways to end gender-based violence. Although government committed to the idea back in 2012, there's been little in the way of implementation since. Last year, as part of the coalition’s plan to…

NWU-Pukke: “Pukke is the only Afrikaans campus left, where must we go?”

There’s been mixed reaction to the article about a black student's experiences at the North West University Potchefstroom campus with some former and current students echoing her sentiments and others disagreeing. Marie Venter*, a fourth year student at the campus approached The Daily Vox to tell the "positive side" of Pukke. She spoke to Pontsho Pilane. There has been a lot of negative press about the Pukke campus when it comes to issues of transformation. I have chosen to speak out, as a white Afrikaner student, to…

It’s not just Stellenbosch University that needs to “luister”

The frustration and dissent expressed by the Open Stellenbosch movement are shared by students at NWU-Pukke, but they don’t see change coming any time soon, writes PONTSHO PILANE. Last week was an eye-opener for many as they watched Luister, a collaborative documentary between the student solidarity movement Open Stellenbosch and media company Contraband Cape Town. The documentary describes experiences of racism at Stellenbosch University and highlights how the Afrikaans language is used to exclude and discriminate…

“Black students don’t matter at NWU-Pukke”

The demand for transformation and decolonisation has taken centre stage across many universities in South Africa. MASEGO LEGODI*, a second-year student at the North West University, Potchefstroom campus (NWU-Pukke), says transformation is far from arriving at her university. She told Pontsho Pilane about the subtle racism she experiences daily at the university. I have been at Pukke for almost two years now and I feel more out of place as the days pass. There are so many things that contribute to my alienation. Black…

The Rainbow Nation is a lie, and other lessons from the 2015 Ruth First lecture

On Monday evening, hundreds gathered at Wits University's Great Hall to hear Ruth First fellows Panashe Chigumadzi and Sisonke Msimang speak on race relations in South Africa. PONTSHO PILANE sums up the five biggest take-home points from the lecture. 1. Black women are here to stay – and to slay! The rise of black women to claim their space in the media landscape, and ultimately in South Africa, is not only evident in their visible presence within at the lecture but also in the fact that both Ruth First fellows are…

Are interracial relationships possible for South Africans?

Ruth First fellows Panashe Chigumadzi and writer/activist Sisonke Msimang tell PONTSHO PILANE how “coconuts” help maintain institutional injustices and why interracial relationships are still problematic in South Africa. For many of us, race may be a difficult topic to address but Ruth First fellows Panashe Chigumadzi and Sisonke Msimang are together in the belief that we can’t move forward as a society unless we discuss race and address the inequalities that still exist in our society. The pair will be speaking at…

Stockholm Pride Week: “People should show support for the LGBTQ community all the time”

Sweden is widely known for its progressive political stance regarding the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer) community, with the highlight being decriminalising homosexual relationships in 1944. PONTSHO PILANE attended Stockholm Pride Week, which hosts the largest pride march in Europe and asked participants and onlookers why they support the march. Annika Norgard, 42, clerk My 15-year old daughter recently came out as lesbian and she will be taking part in the march. As a mother, I am here to support…

More Women’s Month madness from “sassy” Supa Quick

Women’s Month is the marketing gift that just keeps on giving. It is only seven days into August and we have already been bombarded with the endless gimmicks and PR stunts that trivialise the real and damaging issues women face every day. The latest pathetic PR stunt comes from tyre fitment store Supa Quick. http://www.facebook.com/supaquick/posts/861146963961818:0 This month Supa Quick is running a “sassy Women’s Day competition” where any woman stands a chance to win a night out for her and her three besties. On…

“My father was a sheepherder, I was a truck driver. But my kids got a better future.”

With high rates of unemployment and huge inequality, many South Africans are unable to pay for their children’s university fees. KOTAMILE DLAKAVU (72) worked as a truck driver for 36 years and managed to put all six of his children through university. He spoke to Pontsho Pilane about his family’s struggle. I grew up very poor. My father was a sheepherder and he could not afford to give us much. I only went up to Standard One in school but I realised that not having an education would limit me, so when I was 18 I saved up…

Shoes, doeks and all things pink – it must be time for Women’s Month

As August approaches, South Africa prepares itself to celebrate and commemorate Women’s Month, a month in which socioeconomic issues affecting women should be highlighted and prioritised. But already the trivial PR stunts are making their way into the public domain. South Africans have been subjected a long line of ill-conceived Women’s Month campaigns in recent years. PONTSHO PILANE outlines five of the most irksome. #InHerShoes On Monday, Marie Claire South Africa revealed that it would commemorate Women’s Month…

Tone deaf women’s department trolls women

The Department of Women doesn’t have a stellar reputation to begin with. And on Thursday it went some way towards cementing that reputation for failing the people it’s meant to serve by wading into the debate Marie Claire’s controversial “In Her Shoes” campaign with a tone-deaf tweet. The August campaign features 18 male celebrities wearing high heels, ostensibly to feel what it is like to be a woman and to stand up against gender-based violence. One of the celebrities profiled in the spread is 5FM DJ Euphonik, who was…

Berea evictions are one of many, but we forget

Most of us find comfort during the bitter Johannesburg winter from knowing that we have a warm place to return to every night. However, this is not a privilege for everyone, as residents in Berea, who were evicted from their homes last week, know only too well. PONTSHO PILANE went to Abel Road, where the evictions took place, to witness the aftermath. Abel Road is abuzz with people going about their business, walking to and from work while children play on the sidewalks. At first glance, it looks and feels like a normal…

From rural KZN to PhD: there’s more to Musa Manzi than being a “first black”

In many circles, MUSA MANZI (29) is known as the first black South African to obtain a PhD in Geophysics, but there is more to the man than just his impressive academic record. Manzi moonlights as a motivational speaker and is actively engaged in his community. He told Pontsho Pilane about his journey. I grew up in KwaZulu Natal, in a small village called Ndwedwe, the youngest of three children. My father died when I was only two years old, leaving my mother as a single parent. My mother was not educated and so the little…