Friday, February 29, 2008

We have to find each other

I am on my way to Cape Town, to search for Hope. The leadership and senior staff of the Uniting Christian Student's Association, meet in Kleinmond to listen to one another, but also to dig deep into our spiritual resources on student's ministry in SA.

White and Coloured, Black will search for strategies to deal with reconciliation and healing. We all know the problems and despair, we however need positive people and ideas to find a future together. What is needed is safe spaces to open up and talk through the mess. We need to find ways to prevent the shocking occurances the last few weeks. We simply have to.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Freestate... Vrystaat !?

Sick !
That's all I could think of listening and reading to the story of the boys of Reitz manskoshuis. Can't some-one, a Kader Asmal figure, simply close down the Universiteit van Vrystaat. With a name like that you would have visions of liberation, progressive intellectual pursuit; afterall, its the only province with such a promising name.

There are rumors that this 'snuffmovie', was in fact edited and not real RealityTV. To be expected from Universiteit van Vrystaat, Reitz ! It however remain nauseating to say the least, and criminal to do this to the elderly black women, destroying their dignity and humanity in such a cruel manner. This has evidently brought the name of the University in disrepute and the guilty ones should be punished.

There is however a deeper concern, when we as a nation, but also beyond, deny the reality of racism and the violence that goes along with it. Dealing with violence amongst our young people, Me Pandor will take more than a pledge or more police on campus, or even young learners being upgraded to security guards. How can you make a youngster a security guard amongst her peers. This is unfair. What is needed is a deeper questioning of the violent culture that pervades our entertainment, our lifestyles and our social interaction. The fact that the key winners at the most recent Oscars portray the best violent bloody stories around, the outcry against Mr Nqakula's warning to crack down on toyguns from the opposition parties and the media, and of course, our top clown, swaying the belly singing, calling for his machinegun, thus swaying the ruling party intelligentsia, say something about us. So, don't act surprised when it happens amongst our children. This violent culture, so ingrained in the DNA of the postcolony (read Achille Mbembe)need to be own up to, exposed and exorcised consciously, tirelessly and without stop.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The lowdown on the conference

Very powerful contributions from the various speakers and key people in our Dept of Social Development. It seems, at least in South Africa, that youth development, as profession, is taken serious amongst policymakers. The National Youth Commission, is in the process of drafting a policy on youth development for 2008-2013 and in it, they state that they will, most certainly put in the fact that youth work need to be professionalised and more posts for youth workers need to be created in municipalities,provinces and nationally. These sentiments are echoed by the YDN (Youth development Network) and UYF, but the question remains on the viability.

It was interesting what Vernica Mathebula reported about our conceptualizations of 'youth' and therefore 'youthdevelopment'. In the 70s and 80s, especially aftre 1976, youth was conceptualised as the angry black activist. In white circles it was the troeppie in die army.... diensplig( conscription of young white males to defend South Africa from the totale aanslag, total (communist)onslaught on the borders and in the townships). Youth work was political activism and conscietization, on the one hand and also weerbaarheid and discipline on the other hand. This image shifted in the late 80s toward early 90s towards youth as the 'lost generation' in the early and middle 90s. Now the social workers, with loaded case studies took over, youth are suddenly at risk and need to be institutionalised.
RDP and the post JEP-CASE study of 'Growing up Tough', brought about the youth as an asset-based approach, where youth work became youth development and with the shift in economics towards neo-liberal gear (GEAR), youth development became, economic skills development. Every one want to become the next tycoon, from, the ANC youth league to the young Communists.

The question is where are we now ? There is a gap in the knowledge based economy, where connection is crucial. Are you connected, are you online or not and what does youth work means in the virtual space of MySpace, Facebook and Mxit. This still has to be explored, but its not as if its a postmodernism, indeed as some would say, this is a late modernism and another new phase in capitalism. This is the kind of context in which we need to carve out new ways of being a youth worker, even in postcolonial Africa

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

National Youth Work Policy conference, SA

I'm at the conference. As usual, our minister, Zola Skweyiya is not here yet. The youth workers are however here, in full force, energetic and ready for engagement. Its good to be part of this!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

National Conference on Youthdevelopment

I will be attending a national conference on Youthdevelopment, organised by the Dept of Social development, for the next few days. This mean, of course, that I will be posting my comments and reflections on youthdevelopment in the South African context, here at this site. The recent spate of seemingly racially motivated attacks by young people, again put forcefully on our table the challenges of youthdevelopment and social cohesion. Yet we as South Africans pride ourselves on the peaceful transition to a non-racial society, free of racism and injustice. Despite this, the questions however remain and what is government doing: pasting a plegde over these real issues.

Let me however remain hopefull and see what's the most recent thinking in this areas of youthdevelopment and the role and lace of youth workers, from a distinctly African perspective.

H from Zim

The adage, nothing good can come from Zim, has a new ring to it. If Mad Bob isn't running his once proud breadbasket of Africa to the ground, he export smack to SA. R749m worth of Heroin from Zimbabwe, was seized at the Limpoporiver border today in a truck. So now we know where its coming from. This is so sad, because so many proud Zimbabweans are working so hard for change, then this type of story hits you smack in the face. Let me however congratulate the Zim/SA Borderpatrol for this bust. Let's not succumb to defeatism...a new season is due, and I'm not high as I say this.

Dearth of Black cricketers and Stormin' Norman's woes

I hear that is not all well with the national flowers in Bangladesh. Apparently we are struggling on the field and it seems as it the void left by Polly will be difficult to fill.((But are we looking at the right places ?) The cynic in me is nagging: just wait now, soon the commentators will pounce on Norman Arendse, and the incompetent (read: black) administrators as the actual reason behind our woes. However, as far as this cricket-lover in concerned ( and may I say, the majority of South Africans?) we should hand Arendse a trophy. Finally, there is some-one who, in the face of adversity, are brave enough to stand up against up for what is right.

So, what it right ? It's right that the Proteas, traveling the world, should come from all the communities in South Africa, not just from the white community. It's right that players of colour should be afforded that same opportunities to break into senior ranks, and game time to get form again as their white counterparts. It's right that there should transformation in cricket, so that the injustices of the past is set right. It's right that people from the old SACOS background should be allowed to speak their minds and value the legacy of sporting heroes, also from behind the 'sinkplaat' fields. It's right that the coach works for (is employed by)the Board, not the other way around, Micky.

We've always knew that children from the 'lokasie', from the townships do have the sporting talent to match the best of the rest of the world. We also knew that they were never afforded the opportunities to develop this talent, the resources were not made available and therefore we still have a situation where there is not yet a flood of black and coloured cricketers breaking the senior ranks. So, in this I agree with Jacob Rooy (Rapport, 17 Feb 2008), that the resources need to be prioritized to the Coloured and Black communities, that our teachers and local coaches be empowered, but, may I add Rooy, also that transformation policies be put in place and adhered to. So, Arendse should be applauded for upholding the policy, based on the ideals that people in South Africa struggled and died for, not lambasted for being emotional and having petty catfights. This is a game, but in a sense it also also embodies the values and loyalties we live by. Sorry, I am not fooled by the notion that all white sport people have loyalty to this country anymore. This is related to what this country these days, stands for, not what it use to stand for. This put a bit of perspective on the resurrection of apartheid sporting heroes fighting on the side of right-wing relics, like the VryheidsFront and Afriforum. Soon SA's national team will play against India, coached by Gary Kirsten, next it will be Allan Donald (like in the recent T20 competition, and of course, let's not forget Nick Mallet and watch this space, Jake White. The time when we are sure of peoples loyalties, in the midst of adversity or standing up for the voiceless, behind the sinkplate, even at the danger of being unpopular (the name of Brian Van Rooyen suddenly flash in front of me), its then when we can stand by our team, win or loose.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Thriller...25 years on

Back in the (not so dark anymore)days, we used to wear Michael Jackson outfits, the once Afro-ed hair is now styled with 'wet-look' gel and the glove on the one hand. With jerking actions, moonwalking and so forth, we tried to emulate possibly the most popular pop artist of our generation. Little did we know or care that the album, Thriller, with hits like 'Billy Jean', 'Beat it' and, of course, the single 'Thriller' would become the best selling album of all times. Back the Stellenbosch, (and elseweher, I suppose) in our case the 'Vlei' to be exact, early 80s, every dance crew had their Michael Jackson look-a-likes, dance-a-likes. No was I said, in our case, the 'Vlei' undoubtedly it was a guy called 'Shaun' ( I cannot remember his surname, but the group was Crazier, I think)

In an article on the impact of Thriller, Times Online suggest that this was possibly the most influential album ever. Our very own Sunday Times, yesterday affirms it, at least for the 80s. This album announced not only the break with the disco of the 70s, in terms of musical genre and multi-media production, but also with the hegemony of The Beatles and Elvis Presley, whose albums maybe didn't sell that much, but certainly had a powerful influence on pop culture. Thriller, produced by the legendary Quincy Jones's impact is still felt up to today. The Times article states,
What matters is that Thriller redrew the map of pop. The most effective fusion of white and black popular music since Elvis Presley, Thriller took elements of pop, rock, soul and R&B, and melded them together to create something new. Twenty-five years later, you can still hear the Thriller sound all over the charts, sometimes blatantly, as in the faithful recreations of Justin Timberlake, but, less overtly, in almost all of the chart-dominating music that looks for the middle course between pop and R&B: from Gwen Stefani’s whoops on The Sweet Escape to Rihanna’s rock guitars on Shut Up and Drive.

It is tragic then that Jackson's personal struggles in terms of identity and sexuality have overshadowed his genius and the immense role that he could have played in the community he came from. He simply ( like so many others) spiraled out of control. Since the days of Jackson 5, the Jackson family represents the best that the black community has to offer the world, yet, the confluence of fame, money and the power of the entertainment industry, in forging warped images of success, remains up to today part of a cruel thriller that these people have to live through. Yes, they are no victims of circumstance beyond their control and decisions, but the force of this perfect storm, need to be taken into account in appreciating their contribution to our culture. All in all, I however maintain: Thriller remains on my 'best albums of all times' list.