The reason folk are saddened by death is because they are directly affected by the upshot of someone’s demise. But others are what I call fundamental sympathisers, so much that they’re able to put themselves in the shoes of the deceased or loved ones of the late. Regardless of how much they knew the dead person.
They’ll be those whose stomachs flipped and were overcome by a dark heaviness at the news of BOSASA boss Gavin Watson dying in a car accident this week. While others couldn’t give a rat’s ass about his passing because of the alleged corruption he was involved in while alive. And then there’s the rest of us who think Mr. Watson isn’t dead, but somewhere on an island sipping Piña Coladas after staging his timely passing.
The fact is, death affects us in different ways and people have their varied methods of grieving. Take for instance how some people would choose to only speak about the good side of a person at the funeral, despite how despicable that person probably was.
But it’s also not a good look bashing a someone who can’t defend themselves, despite overwhelming evidence that they were a vile human being who deserve to rot in hell. It’s better to rather not say anything about the deceased, in public at least. Like former President Thabo Mbeki’s unfavourable comments about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the wake of her passing, to which Madikizela-Mandela clearly couldn’t defend.
Forcing yourself into other people’s shoes, especially at the passing of a celebrity or a popular individual only because it’s the latest craze to hashtag RIP XYZ and replace your DP with a photo of the dead person is simply faking the funk. We saw it a few months ago after Nipsey Hussle’s murder, where timelines were littered with condolence messages from individuals whose knowledge of Nipsey is cringe-worthier than a Hlaudi Motsoeneng interview. Posing as a genuine sympathiser defeats the point of it all.
Lacking the societal emotional response seems to make one look like a bad person. It would obviously be wicked to rejoice at someone’s death, but the passing of a person you didn’t particularly get along with often leaves you questioning whether you’re an evil person or not.
A fella I went to Primary and High School with died in a horrific car crash a few years ago. He was the rambunctious, conceited typa dude. I didn’t like the guy. But learning of his accident had me interrogating myself. I thought ‘gee, what an awful way to go…but it is what it is.’ I didn’t have much remorse really, mainly because his death doesn’t erase the douchebag he was and for the mere fact that his passing has no impact on me. But I can’t imagine the pain it left on his loved ones, and sadly am not allowing myself to step in their shoes.
The psychological reaction that occurs in response to perceived attack or threat to our survival is ‘the fight or flight’ response. But when death occurs in our lives, there are a myriad emotional responses and ways of grieving, it seems.
“The future for me is already a thing of the past-you were my first love and you will be my last,” said Bob Dylan. These words were echoed by the French government as they honoured Dr. Esther Mahlangu with the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award during the Bastille Day celebrations.
The French were the first to show love for Mahlangu’s beautiful works back in 1986, long before her own beloved South Africa saw her as a national treasure. A group of French art lovers were in Dr. Mahlangu’s neighbourhood Kwa Ndebele over 30 years ago, viewing a slew of Ndebele artworks but it was Mahlangu’s work that caught their eye- so much so, that they came back for her to exhibit in France.
“I feel very happy, I thank the French a lot. They found me in Middleburg, at a gallery in Botshabelo and asked that I go to France to show my work. This after they had taken photos of the different works in Kwa Ndebele, not mine but everybody’s there…when they got to France my work was selected as the best among the photographed works,” she said speaking to news channel eNCA.
“Young artists shouldn’t let go of their heritage. I started long time ago and I keep teaching the young ones, some of them have been overseas already because of the artworks,” said the 83 year-old Dr. Sitting adjacent to Dr Mahlangu was Ndebele legendary musician Dr. Nothembi Mkhwebane. “We are very proud of our Ndebele culture, and to be able to even do the kind of work we do at our age. We are very proud of uGogo Esther as the French honour her- we currently have two doctors in the Ndebele culture who’ve been honoured, may this encourage the youngsters too,” the singer said.
The award, Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters, was given to the Dr Mahlangu artist last Friday at the Bastille Day celebrations at the Residence of France in Pretoria, by French Ambassador to Mzansi Christophe Farnaud.
“This award is all the more deserved for the efforts you have made during your life to share with the world your heritage,” said the outgoing French ambassador Farnaud.
NEVER have we seen, at least in recent history, South African females channelling the spirit of the women in 1956 as they did yesterday with the Shutdown marches that took place throughout the country.
A noble initiative organised by ordinary women, that charged females in South Africa to shut down the country by staying away from work to march against women abuse that the country has disgustingly and embarrassingly gotten use to.
“…Only to have one of the female march marshals to say ‘Leave her, let’s go comrade’ and for the life of me I couldn’t fathom what she said….”
Whether you were in Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit or even Maseru in Lesotho- all women were invited to join this historic and important occasion. The marches were delivering 24 demands to the government, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Thousands of women were part of the procession in Pretoria, which Palesa Makua was part of. It had women gather at the old Putco depot, where they walked to the Union Buildings to leave their demands at the President’s office. Makua caught up with the march in town. “The atmosphere was so intense…heavy…somewhat triggering. Not merely the physical presence but also the virtual world made sure that we knew we were not the only one,” says Makua.
“I also imagined how the older generation eyabo Mama Lilian Ngoyi and her likes felt when they marched. Even though it was for a different cause but still, the fact that women stood together side by side was absolutely moving and heartfelt.”
There was adequate police presence that helped regulate traffic. But at the arrival to the Union Buildings, a scuffle broke out between police and women protesters. Protesters refused to hand over a memorandum to Minister Naledi Pandor on behalf of the government and demanded President Cyril Ramaphosa personally receive their demands.
Makua, who is also the founder of the Her Skin Speaks exhibitions, was disheartened by the inhumane act or lack of sympathy, by some of the women marching. En route to the Union Buildings, the marching females came across a woman from Venda who was robbed. “She was promised a job interview, only for it to be a scam. She had nothing but her qualifications with her.”
The traumatised lady was crying hysterically as Makua and her friend walked past her, then approached to find out what happened. “Only to have one of the female march marshals to say ‘Leave her, let’s go comrades’ and for the life of me I couldn’t fathom what she said. I mean, we are claiming to march for women who are victims and here is one, a practical example and we’re told ‘move along comrades’ I was so livid and sad. My friend gave her money to get home and we caught up with the march.” Makua says.
“To me, that showed just how much middle class these marches have become. Ignoring the primary women who are actual victims. Even the language we use to communicate our cries, does not accommodate women and children in the townships who had no idea what actually happened today.” Among those in attendance in Pretoria, was the mother of Thembisele Yende who was murdered at Eskom in 2017.
There were schisms days prior to the march between #Totalshutdown organisers and the ANC Women’s League Young desk. The Total Shut Down march organisers made it a prerequisite for women to be draped in black with a touch of red, to which if not heeded, you wouldn’t be able to be part of the march. The ANC women’s league young desk had apparently also planned a march for August first. The ruling party then proposed the idea to march together with the momentum-gaining Total shutdown, but instead they would wear ANC doeks with all black attire. That didn’t go well with the Shutdown group, as they are an apolitical movement that had strict rules against party regalia. Also, the Total Shutdown made it clear that no men should be part of this march, which the ANCWL also disagreed with.
The ANCWL march took place in Joburg, where ladies and some gents met at Constitutional Hill and marched to the Luthuli House in the CBD and also where a moment of silence was observed.
It’s rather disappointingly childish that one, who endorses the same policies you do, is barred from marching together with you merely because they are wearing different colours. Imagine Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters, arguing about team colours on a march to the Premier Soccer League offices about how the league isn’t commemorating victims of the Ellis Park massacre.
A woman, who said she was ANC’s provincial secretary of the Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal, was marching together with the Total Shutdown women in Durban. Speaking to the eNCA’s Dasen Thathiah, she said “Yesterday we spoke to them telling them, that this is a united march against gender based violence. [They] said no political regalia is allowed, but we told them that people are from different wards and different branches, some came with their regalia on.”
The sisters of Zolile Khumalo, the Mangosuthu University Of Technology student who was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend a few months ago, were also present in Durban to support the purposeful march.
Makua says another friend of hers, who was in Joburg was prevented from getting on one of the buses that picked people up from their various stations, to the meeting point. “…Just because she wasn’t dressed in black…what the hell is that?”
Except those little big things, Makua believes the march served its purpose. “I actually hope it did. Although we were marching, there were cases of some of the women we marched with, one car got broken into and another stolen. This to me, means even when we are trying to communicate with the male figure, they are still not interested.”