Lifestyle

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17min1350

Palesa Makua is the founder of HER SKIN SPEAKS. Through HER SKIN SPEAKS, Makua has addressed body shamming in an exhibition titled All bodies are perfect. In this heartfelt piece, Makua details her ordeal of losing her son through stillbirth in 2017. She’s currently documenting women with similar stories of losing their children which will be premiered in August. Through her work, Makua has proven to be an epitome of “Mosadi o tshwara thipa ka bogaleng” a force to be reckoned with.

 

FINDING OUT I’M GONNA BE A MOMMA…

In April I found out that I was pregnant. Hahahaha, yup!! I am going to be a mother. Feeling sick and being agitated all the time and my boobs being excruciatingly painful; fighting with my lover over nothing, crying and then apologize to him; not once did it occur to me that these were possible signs of pregnancy.

I think I had long believed that maybe I am barren because I’ve had unprotected sex here and there and I have never even had a pregnancy scare, so when I asked a roommate to buy me a pregnancy test while in was chin deep in bed;I found that I’m actually pregnant and was instantly happy. Then the thought of telling my family crept in. I decided to keep it myself for a while because I had an Idea of how my family is going to react and I wanted to bask in the happiness that had just leaped into my hands, I didn’t want them to rain on my parade.

I sent a friend a text message telling her the news and her response was just pure heartfelt laughter, I reckon it was because I had been stalling to see her. I had always been scared of pregnant women; I had not seen her throughout her pregnancy. I later paid her a visit, I was really happy to see her and excited to meet her son.

Her mom was really not pleased that we “decided” to have children at 25 years old, only because she expected more from us and not because she was disappointed per se. She expressed how we need to do better now that we are parents, basically told me things I knew but wasn’t really shaken a lot and I realized that damn, shit is about to get real. What killed me most was after that, she gave me a hug and asked if I needed a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I was glad that happened because it prepared me for telling my family.

My lover was the easiest person to tell because well, it’s his seed growing inside of me. I told him the same day I found out, he was shocked as expected…him and I have not been dating for that long and now we’re expecting a baby. I think we were both worried about what our families would say regarding our dating track record. Eventually I got settled with the idea,but a bit worried as to where his train of thought was at. I mean the last thing I needed was for him to be unsure and nowhere in my plans do I raise a baby alone.

I love him and think I always confessed with my mouth that I want to have his children and that I’d make a good and cool mother, so now he gets to see me through all this and remind me when I feel I’m not doing my best. I’ve always known that he is a good person and I couldn’t have chosen a better partner to have see forever with (Yes, I made a conscious decision). I say forever because I honestly do not see myself with anyone else but him.

I told my mother that I am pregnant around May/June and she thought I was joking. She asked if I had been drinking alcohol while she was away and I told her no, she then asked why and I just told her that I’m with child. I expected her to kill me but nope, she was happy…absolutely happy. She had been really supportive throughout, I asked her to tell the rest of my family as I was still scared of breaking the news and when she did.

Surprisingly, everyone was happy and excited. I don’t really have a relationship with my dad, I told him via text that I was pregnant and he too has been really supportive and extremely kind. He drove me to my doctor appointments, picked  me up in the morning, wait for me outside the hospital then takes me to lunch and drives me back home. He has always been supportive in his own way despite how he left.

One of the most heartbreaking experiences is trying to find your place in womanhood. Women go through the most to find space, to hold space for other women. This constant stretching and shedding and accommodating is heavy but vital, it somehow builds your character among other things

HER SKIN SPEAKS has done some amazing work on the ground with women and has given me a platform to dance better with my demons. While most believe in therapy, I have always turned to using my pain to fuel my art. The best therapy for me has always been talking about my scars to strangers and friends, while most feel sorry for me I am slowly healing in ways they can never imagine.

LOSING MY SON…

August 30th 2017

I woke up and decided to do my laundry. By mid-afternoon I had these annoying cramps that came and went every second. They didn’t bother me much because I just thought it was my uterus stretching and making space for my baby (at least that’s what abadala said every time I asked why I had cramps in my abdominal area). I took naps throughout the day, but the cramps were persistent. Around 5pm I went to bed and as the night progressed, the pain got worse, my mom kept waking up to rub my belly and my waist and to check if I was fine and ask how and where exactly the pain is.

AUGUST 31ST 2017

It’s 4am and her last resort was getting warm water and a towel to put on my lower belly. She asked to put my feet in that tub of warm water and I did, while we were talking I felt a sensation as though water was about to come out my vagina and when I pulled down my underwear, a huge clot of blood fell in the tub, at that very second I knew that there was something wrong with me. My mother called my brother who he drove like a mad man straight to Steve Biko Hospital where I got examined. The doctor told me the baby is fine but I am actually going into labor.

I couldn’t understand why now because I was only five months pregnant. They took me to the labor room and that’s when I gave birth to the tiniest person I have ever seen, my son who was the size of my palm.

The nurse took him and placed him on my chest and said “look, it’s a boy. Unfortunately as small as he is, he will not live long.”

Hella confused and not present I laid there and held my baby in my hands until he was taken away and then back. They placed him under a warmer no oxygen machine…nothing, he kept breathing on his own for a few minutes.

The nurse called in my mother to come see him before his little lungs couldn’t keep him alive any longer. They asked us if we wanted to take him home and have a burial for him or leave him at the hospital to be cremated, we called my grandmother and she said we must leave him because he is too small (I honestly didn’t understand what that meant but I did as instructed), I also consulted my lover’s family to see what they think and they too agreed to what uMma (Grandmother) said.

I called my lover to tell him the news and he rushed to the hospital, he got there and he looked as though he was still dreaming, that this was some sick joke, it was just so hard to look at his peaceful nature tackling this much tragedy. He spoke of many things, but the actual thing he was there for and I understood why, we don’t deal with loss the same way. I just worry that him not talking about it might kill him inside. I hope he doesn’t blame me and then resent me for this, I do take full responsibility for this as it was my body’s fault that couldn’t carry his son till full term.

OCTOBER 4TH 2017

Some mornings are heavier than others. I could have sworn I felt my baby kick; since I lost my son I have not been able to breathe, I am struggling to make peace with the month of August. I’ve sat up many nights and asked myself what the point is when women get pregnant but cannot see it through? Why are women given the opportunity to incubate a human being inside of them and feel the little person kick and move around but never take the baby home?

I have marks that validate that even for a few minutes, I was a mother. I don’t know where to get up from now. I do know that things don’t happen and then disappear. Once they happen, they still are there. And we can move on and forget them but they still exist elsewhere…we give what we have lost names so that they continue to live.

Zewande Bhengu says “The spirit of a miscarried child never leaves the womb” I have found so much comfort in these words and have been breathing easier each day.


Makgosto Nkosi05/06/2019
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7min3350

“If you are hungry you eat, if you are tired you sleep, if you want land you take it”.

Masello Motana, founder and leader of Matlama Anaha which means soldiers of the land, began her journey to reconcile with land some few years ago.

She founded the task team Matlama Anaha to address issues of housing through art and occupation of abandoned buildings. Her first attempt was unfortunately met with an arrest of the dubbed, “Noorwood trio” made up of Masello, Gugulethu Bodibe and Ntsikelelo Lokwe after being criminalised for occupying an abandoned house in the Southern suburb of Johannesburg in 2016. Motana at the time had declared the arrest only heightened her quest to reunite herself and others with land.

Two years after the arrest, Azibuye was staged at what Motana calls “prime land” in Observatory, Johannesburg. The project is regarded as an experiment in emancipatory use of expression through occupation.

The artistic performance of occupying spaces seeks to address the spatial injustices that Africans still face 163 years since the first legalized act that dispossessed Africans of land. These numerous “legal” instruments through staunch legislation played a pertinent role in legitimizing systematic land dispossession.

Azibuye is meant to address concerns of the artists’ livelihood, who do not make monthly incomes but survive on hand to mouth. This industry does not enable them to pay rent on a monthly basis, nor qualify for financing or be eligible for public housing since they do work.

“The homeless artist will through occupation of land, attempt to take art practise out of standardised commodified cycle of the gallery system. It intends to bring forth a challenge to private ownership patterns in the most unequal society in the world through a class based African analyses” emphasizes Motana on the collective’s mission.

The collective of artists aims to speak to the continuation of spatial injustices not only through occupation but also through dialogues, readings, historical re-enactments and other forms; by interrogating significant historical characters and events, and their consequence in the current narrative of land reform.

The occupation of suburban private property per the collective’s reputation is to address the issues of many South Africans who work in the cities like Johannesburg, and yet are veered into the edges of the city into townships like Alexandra and Soweto. The few who live the city and pay rent Motana concludes that they participate in their own oppression.

Motana’s choice of the “prime land” is to dismiss the continuous occupation of inferior land by skwatta camp dwellers which is in areas that always underdeveloped and overcrowded. To understand such peculiarities that the indigenous people of South Africa find themselves in one must go back into the past, into the history of land dispossession and how Settlers accumulated the land and the wealth. However, one will also have to go into the current condition of the law and leadership to have a clearer understanding.

Land control system constructed by the Apartheid regime. Photo by Siphiwe Mhlambi

The 14 different land control system constructed by the Apartheid regime as noted on the walls of the occupied property by the collective, have not been countered by new laws to ensure a proper land reform that close the spatial inequalities long assembled by the apartheid regime.

While the occupation in Observatory by Motana maybe be considered a small act, it is essential in challenging racial land ownership patterns which continue to favour whites a quarter century after the end of apartheid.

Azibuye is a necessary and pertinent movement which not only serves to speak truth to white power, by addressing issues of dispossession within the city but also a force that edges the ruling party to address and heal the spatial wounds inflicted by the apartheid regime.

As Motana says “Asilikhaleli. Siyalithatha”


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11min5667

PEOPLE who know me are aware that I am from a family of healers. Honestly, I don’t know much about ubuNGOMA but I know my way around. I took it upon myself to sit down with my SaNGOMA friends and strangers to ask questions that keep me up at night.

Knowing the sensitivity that comes with this subject, I was constantly praying that my questions are friendly. Also, as much as I have healers at home it’s not easy to just approach them, and they simply dance to your rhythm- hence I had to rely on friends regarding this matter. It really wasn’t an easy path that I chose to embark on but ke, had it been too easy then anyone would do it.

My uncle and aunt (His wife) are healers-I know right, how can a man who is a saNGOMA get married and then later in their marriage, the wife lands herself a calling too and had to heed it. Umalume has always been a strict, level headed and grounded person hence it’s very hard for me to approach him with some of the things I stumble upon as far as ubuNGOMA is concerned.

My aunt on the other hand is the coolest saNGOMA. She loves sharing her experiences and songs mostly-which is my favourite part about intwaso.  When I can, I ambush her and ask a shit load of questions and try to remember every word.

THE COOLEST SANGOMA: UmkaMalume. Photo by Palesa-Entle Pulse Makua

In May 2012 I visited a place in Venda called Tshikwarani where my aunt was initiated, I was welcomed by these warmhearted old ladies who were fascinated by this city girl, so interested in learning so much about ubuNGOMA and for the first week I had to learn how to speak and understand TshiVenda. The reason I went there was to get images of what goes on Ephehlweni, but unfortunately I documented sacred rituals that cannot be shared on social media platforms, and to me that was bummer because it meant I had to start from scratch in terms of getting new footage.

I believe everything starts in a dream whereby a person would get visions showing specific things relating to what they need to do, or signs that show that their ancestors require attention. People who have ancestral spirits suffer almost from more or less the same symptoms; like blackouts, fainting during school and going into a trance. In their visions they would see images of people instructing them to perform certain rituals until they visit a traditional healer who would normally advise them to stop wasting resources and should undergo an intwaso (Initiation).

Many would wonder if Izangoma are capable of everything-are they Jack of all trades? There are many things they do but in the same breath, they know what they specialise in. For instance, one healer would specialise in Cleansing, Healing and Initiation.

Gogo Mahlalehlomile invited us to her home to share and educate us more about ubungoma, according to her she says some healers take their initiates to the river for 3 months to fulfill their specific spiritual calling. “I have two types of Amadlozi (spirits) -Ndawu and Nguni. Each fulfills a specific purpose: The Ndawu is for sniffing out evil spirits (Ukufemba) and the Nguni is a diagnosis (Ukuhlola/Ukuhlahluba) using bones. My very first patient was bewitched. She dreamt eating human hair, and during the consultation process I managed to get the poison out and she was healed.” Gogo Mahlalehlomile says.

THE STORYTELLER: Palesa-Entle Pulse Makua

Note that there shall be no Sangoma without the spirit, these two are inseparable. Idlozi communicates to your family, and to you as well through the healer. When you have idlozi, you realise the need to dress appropriately to appease the spirit. You should eat the food that assists with spiritual growth (ukudlakwama Dlozi). There is a responsibility to respect human life and frequently perform rituals to appease the spirit. As the spirit grows in you, it brings economic development to you.

The purpose of being a traditional healer is to help others – not only for profit gain. However, because healers too need to earn a living, their patients pay.

If there is a client that needs help but can’t afford, they can still get helped-they would have to reach an agreement or barter services.

We asked about charlatans in the profession, Gogo Mahlalehlomile says “I feel terrible. Ancestors should penalize them because of these immortal acts, people lose lives. Let’s practice our art and science with honesty and integrity. Patients have to analyse the person behind the promise, and have the right to establish the healer’s credentials before undergoing any healing process.”

According to our research, most traditional healers don’t really have suppliers for their herbs, but they go and harvest with their initiates. Hence izaNgoma emphasize that amathwasa must respect nature and take care of it.

WHAT IS EPHEHLWENI?

Ephehlweni is an initiation school located in a sacred place where aspiring traditional health practitioners are initiated. The school caters for initiates with different spiritual needs, such as Ndawe, Nguni and others.

WHAT DETERMINES A GOBELA?

To qualify as a Gobela, you must be initiated either in Nguni, Ndawe or both areas of spirituality. A Gobela must have the ability to do proper diagnosis and administer proper treatment. After initiation, you need to recruit at least two initiates to thwasa under you.

LIKE ANY OTHER SCHOOL, EPHEHLWENI HAS RULES AND ETHICS AS WELL, THEY ARE AS FOLLOWS:

*Initiates are expected to wake up in the early hours of the morning before any other person wakes up.

*Initiates should conform to a set dress code

*No alcohol

*No sex or sexual favours are allowed.

*Initiates should not be charged monies for beers (for rituals) or blankets, nor are they required to give luxury gifts to the Gobela and his or her family, unless it is a choice they made by iThwasa.

HOW MANY SPIRITS ARE THERE?

In isiZulu, there are seven spirits. There are things that happen to your body and certain dreams that will let you know what kind of spirit you have, ISIBONELO: uMndawe, uMnguni, uMdinki, Amakilimane, uMlozi, Isithunywa or Amabutho. Amabutho are the spirits of soldiers who were cast away, commonly known as the warriors.

What informs the spirit of what you have is private, I can assure you. However, nothing happens unless an ancestor comes to you says ‘I want you to do this and that.’  Uma usuyinyanga, usukhulile.


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7min13971

LAST YEAR’S OPPIKOPPI was a crime scene. And like any other misconduct, the black man is the suspect, but this time it’s him and his music that are to blame for ruining the vibes at long-running festival OppiKoppi. Or at least indirectly.

“Stop trying to cater for everyone. Keep [it] at a targeted audience. Don’t fix what isn’t broken…Oppi was and should stay a Rock festival,” said Marina van der Walt on Facebook.

Despondency came over hippies across South Africa last week when it was announced that this year’s installment of the OppiKoppi music festival has been postponed due to the ridiculous high rate of crime in 2018. The festival has fallen victim to a syndicate of pickpockets that have rampaged South African music events over the last two to three years. From Hip Hop festival Back To The City to the annual youth month celebrations at Basha Uhuru where I was personally a victim of pickpocketing- it’s become a headache for most South African event organisers.

Founded in 1994, OppiKoppi started out as an Afrikaans indie/folk Rock festival attended by a few hundreds of Caucasians from different parts of the country, in a small bar. The line-up would be dominated by alternative Afrikaans Rock artists who were in line with the Voëlvry Movement, which was an Afrikaans movement that sang anti-apartheid songs in that language in the late 80s and early 90s. The kinda boere that would chuck away Die Beeld for Vrye Weekblad.

OppiKoppi has substantially grown over the years attracting alternative African artists, who together came with a bigger and a more diverse audience. The site of Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela and Zim Ngqawana sharing the stage with the likes of Karen Zoid and David Kramer did not make long-standing patrons uncomfortable. It’s the introduction of mainstream African acts such as Afro-Pop trio Malaika, HHP and AKA that left a bitter taste on most people.

“Somehow the Voëlvry Movement that started all of this has been forgotten in the static. OppiKoppi is a living creature born through the wail of the electric guitar man. You can’t change the nature of the beast. You want AKA? You want Cassper? You want all that Hip Hop?  Then a new festival must be born that shakes to that rhythm. Why do you want to force the spirit of Rock ‘n Roll to be untrue to itself?” asked Ni-Lou Breytenbach on Facebook, responding to Oppi’s statement of postponement.

Speaking to Tha Bravado, Theresho Selesho who is the CEO of Matchbox Live which organises OppiKoppi, doesn’t think the festival’s growth has also been its Achilles heel. “The Festival has always been about freedom and fostered a safe environment where people can be free to connect, discover new acts, genres and have a great time out in the bushveld, which is a precious experience. We strongly condemn racism, sexism or any other form of discrimination at OppiKoppi. We are very happy with the strides that the festival has made over the years where a diverse audience can all enjoy OppiKoppi.”

But this amalgamation of cultures hasn’t been enjoyed by everyone though. “OppiKoppi has sold out for 20 years running before they took over. Still, the response is ‘genre diversity is something we have always welcomed’ their historical cult-like following is based on a Rock festival, not genre diversity,” said Peet van Wyk.

Over 80 cell phones were reported stolen last year, with items in people’s tents and cars taken, it’s by grace that no sexual assault was reported at the festival. “The crime incidences and stats nearly doubled in the previous year,” Selesho says. “This has in turn taken a lot of freedoms away from our fans and the safety of our audience and their belongings is our main priority.”

Selesho and his team have promised a return of Oppi next year, giving them sufficient time to find ways of guaranteeing people’s safety at the festival. Whether that’ll mean no Hip Hop or even House act, it shall be seen on the 25th chapter of OppiKoppi next year.


Clement Gama04/04/2019
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6min1411

Change is the only constant in life, but then again why change it if it ain’t broke? Each year around this time, radio listeners are forced to adapt to new voices on their airwaves because of the alterations that occur on radio.

In what seemed like an April fool’s day prank on Monday morning, people weren’t hearing the voice of radio jock Justice ‘Just-Ice’ Ramohlola on his show Planet Haaibo, but were welcomed to the month of April by former 5FM presenter Nonala Tose on her brand new show.  Last night Just-Ice came on at 19:30 until 22:00, following Robert Marawa’s sports show.

Radio 2000 confirmed through their social media accounts that the renowned DJ will be on the night-time slot, a clear demotion from the coveted breakfast slot he and his team enjoyed. In a tweet, one Tiisetso Maloma said “Listening to the amazing Just Ice Ramohlola on Radio 2000, on the evening slot. This man is a champ. But management of the station is a joke.”

Listeners are puzzled by the station’s management, for removing a breakfast team that was liked by throngs of listeners from all over South Africa. “Puleng Thulo, station manager should just listen to the people, that’s wise leadership. Just-Ice is needed in the morning, qha!” said Davison Mohlomi Mudzingwa on Facebook.

While Dion Gabi put it poignantly in a Facebook post saying “This guy makes your troubles disappear in the morning bathong.”

The station has been hyping incumbent breakfast show host Nonala on social media, through images, videos and messages in a bid to encourage listeners to tune in, but some of the station’s audience don’t give a rat’s ass. “You guys got it wrong this time. Not taking anything away from the sister, but she’s more of a weekend presenter. 90% music 10% talk,” said Baks on Twitter, replying to a post by the station about Nonala.

Nonala at her new job. Photo by Radio 2000

Responding to Baks, Similo Silwana said “I am in agreement with you. In the end, it’s Nonala that some listeners will criticize instead of management. I listened to Ice last night and wasn’t sure if he was standing in for Bambo (Johnson) or it’s his new slot. Maybe it will crush ego of decision makers to bring back Ice? He’s missed.”

The people have spoken have made their voices heard, will the station leaders heed their calls for change?

It’s things such as these that highlight the paucity of leadership in our country, it’s not just in politics but also in sport, entertainment and media in general. It’s similar to last month when President Cyril Ramaphosa took the train, and saw how commuters struggle on a daily and him coming out saying “heads will roll” because of what he witnessed. My immediate response to that was “What the fuck, sir?” Are you telling me you didn’t have a clue of what was happening on the ground all this time? Most leaders in this country are out of touch and seem beyond reproach.

It’s interesting to see what will happen at Radio 2000 in the coming days and weeks, because it’s clear that people just want Ice in the morning.



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