The African Child

I don’t know about you but I certainly find it rather interesting that International Day of the African Child, Youth Day and Father’s Day all fall on the same day this year in South Africa. It’s like the phases of a person, don’t you think? A child, a youth then an adult (father). Maybe I’m stretching things a little too far here but besides just having a ‘packed’ June 16 where commemoration of certain events are concerned, this year certainly has me considering a different narrative – today is one of a kind!

International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 since 1991, initiated by the Organisation of African Unity. The day honours the 1976 Soweto Uprising participants and goes further into drawing attention to the education provided to African children and the need to improve it and fulfil the right for every African child to have access to education. For those who have more, they are encouraged to share their abundance with an African child.

Photo Credit: Bill Wegener

Youth Day is a public holiday in South Africa, celebrated on June 16 as well, also honouring those who shed their blood in 1976 for an improved education system that catered for South African children, equally. Thousands of school children marched on the streets of Soweto, demanding that their rights be honoured and be taught in their own language. Hundreds of school children were shot and injured and over a hundred killed in the protests that continued in the following few weeks. South Africa honours the students who dared to stand up against the apartheid government and suffered for it.

The Soweto Uprisings, in which school children stood up against the Apartheid Regime

And then there’s Father’s Day! Fatherhood, the influence of fathers in society and paternal bonds are celebrated. Father’s Day is recognised worldwide; it honours male parenting, fathers and father figures on the difference that they make in the lives of their children.

Photo credit: @kaysha

Today is a little more special for me and I’m happy to dub it ‘The Day of the African Child’. Here is how it all comes together for me and how today had me thinking and creating a narrative that these ‘days’ sparked: with International Day of the African Child you have, of course, the child who has a dream about ‘this Africa’, a pure and untainted vision of a beautiful and happy Africa. The hope for a better future, “our ancestors’ wildest dreams.”  The child with a dream speaks of hope but also draws us to a tragedy and sad reality because even though they have the dream, most of the time they don’t have the tools to achieve that dream. Then we talk about the June 16 1976 Uprising in which the youth died. The youth, who was once a child, grew up to face threats to their dream. So we find ourselves with a youth who decided to take matters into their own hands because the adults failed them and so took to the streets and blood was shed. And then we have Father’s Day and of course, the youth has now grown into parents themselves. And throughout these phases, there is still the sense of hope and tragedy weaved into the story of each individual; in this phase we have fathers who are present and contributing in the best of ways in the lives of their children and protecting their dreams. There’s a fantastic story to tell there about how responsible and present fathers make all the difference in a world where many more children are without fathers and thereby embodying a fatherless nation without a dream nor a future to be hopeful for. The absence of fathers and/or father figures is still a real issue in South Africa and in this narrative, the child’s dream remains a dream.

So today what we have, essentially, is a child who has a dream, the youth that died for the dream and the father who has to deliver the dream.

Happy International Day of the African Child, Happy Youth Day and Happy Father’s Day! And just in case it’s your birthday too, happy birthday!

Photo credit: Gift Habeshaw

The Sudanese Revolution May Not Be Televised But It Will Be Documented & Shared On Social Media

Girl Boss has heard the call for action and stands in solidarity with the Sudanese people, in the transcendental spirit of Ubuntu; to take measures to not let their peaceful civilian led revolution be stolen by the countries military elite. This is our response to the call. #IAmTheSudanRevolution

This article is written and edited by Simi Gumede.

Disclaimer: The following article contains information that is upsetting.

What Exactly Is Going On In Sudan?

Picture By Dinamik

In December last year Sudanese People took to the streets to show their dissatisfaction with the Sudanese Government which was led by then despot Omar Al-Bashir. Al-Bashir seized control through a military coup d’état in 1989 and ruled brutally for 30 years until peaceful civilian protestors said no more as under his authoritarian rule Sudan suffered economic decline in which the cost of bread and fuel became unbearable.

Bashir is the leader of which the War in Dafur took place under. In which several hundreds of thousand people died, and eventually culminated in the succession of South Sudan, which is the worlds youngest country in 2011. He is wanted for war crimes, which are crimes against humanity.

The conflict in Dafur Sudan was sparked by allegations of Apartheid in which the muslim community oppressed and exploited the non-arab groups, therefore the marginalized took up arms against the government initiating a civil war. This led to the Arab government carrying out what is known as ‘ethnic cleansing’ to purge Sudan of non-muslims.

Although the country has now split, and north Sudan remains a muslim majority state, the people of north Sudan set aside their differences and banded together as one with the majority muslims and minority non-muslims to remove the Dictator and Genocidaire Omar Al-Bashir.

Sudanese Protest Art

The Sudanese Uprising is being spearheaded by women and The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) which is made up of professionals like doctors, teachers, lawyers and students. The symbol of the Sudan Revolution is the peace gesture. It is a symbol of resistance against the oppressive Sudanese regime and representative of how the people are propelled by the values of peace, freedom and hope for a prosperous and harmonious Sudan.

Members of the Association of Professors at Sudanese Universities, Colleges and Higher Institutes, protest in Khartoum.

The protestors through public demonstrations of unity managed to remove Omar Al-Bashir on the 11th of April 2019. How this was achieved is that the Sudanese military abandoned him and joined the civilian protestors calling for democratic rule. The military proceeded to release political detainees, political opposition leaders and lifted the curfew in Khartoum as a sign of good faith. The military formed the Transitional Military Council which through negotiations with The Sudanese Professionals Association and political opposition leaders, were to assume temporary control of the Government in order to facilitate democratic elections in 6 months time. When the negotiation talks were almost concluded, The Transitional Military Council extended their ‘temporary rule’. The people of Sudan who having almost attained their victory against an oppressive regime had their promised liberation snatched away from them by the legion of patriarchs that form the military elite.

Sudanese Protestor

This led to mass demonstrations across the country. In the capital city of Khartoum there was a two month long public sit in, in which the Rapid Support Forces Unit headed by General Mohamed Dagalo opened fire, on unarmed civilians on the 3rd of June 2019. Killing over 100 people. The numbers are estimated as the internet has been suspended by the Military Junta and journalists have had their offices raided and put under house arrest in efforts to stop communication and control the discourse; by hindering access to information. The aim of this senseless killing was to strike fear in the hearts of the people and to destabilize the civilian resistance by taking away their place of gathering. Currently, anyone who is seen using their phones by taking a picture or recording a video in public is shot by the Junta’s soldiers and agents.

Photo by Ashraf Shazly

“It is time for the people to stand strong and united in order to take their civil rights from the militants who want to hinder the rights of the people and the revolution that resulted in the death of many promising young people”

Sudanese Protestor in the video below
Youtube Video by TRTWorld
Photo by Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

The Sudanese population is remarkably young with 2/3 (63%) Sudanese being under the age of 25 , and 43% of population is under the age of 15, according to the CIA (2018).

The ‘Transitional’ Military Council

De facto Head of State Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan 

The self-proclaimed president and head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) is Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan, pictured above. He is seen as a figure head as he is not wanted for war crimes and is therefore a ‘softer face’ of the TMC. The real power in the military is his second in command, General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo who is also known as Hemedti, it was his forces who massacred civilians on the 3rd of June in Khartoum. He is wicked and is the commander who carried out the genocide in Dafur, with his unit which was known as the Janjaweed, which translates to “The Devils on Horseback”. They use systematic raping, among other horrendous and illegal military tactics. They rape women, children and, men in front of their children according to a Sudanese doctor and member of the Sudanese Professionals Association in the video below.

Video by #Africa provided by DSTV, eNCA on channel 403
General Mohammed ‘Hemedti’ Hamdan Dagalo

Who’s Funding The Military Council?

They have access to the former government’s reserves however the TMC recently received $3 Billion Dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Hemedti has also met with the Crowned Princes of Saudi Arabia, The UAE and the Military Dictator and President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who hijacked the people’s democratic moment in Egypt. This movement is known as the Arab Spring which was too propelled by social media activism. It is believed that the Sudanese Militia received this funding from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates due to Sudans geo-political significance of having control of a section of land that leads to the Red Sea which is an essential oil trade route. No, not the aromatherapy oils, Petroleum oil. #Jokes #WeWillNotBeDisheartened #LoveAndJoyReignSupreme #IAmTheSudanRevolution

Hemedti’s unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) control the borders of Sudan, and implement what is known as the ‘Khartoum Process’ which is funded by the European Union. Officially this funding is to ensure the safety of refugees in transit to Europe but in truth, the RSF find and deport migrants from Eritrea and Ethiopia back to the dire environments they are escaping from. This a violation of human rights and the RSF have been said to abuse refugees according to International Human Rights Groups.

The People Remain Steadfast

Sudanese Protestor
Sudanese Protestors: Photo by Agence France-Presse [AFP]
Credit: AFP
Credit: Getty Images
Credit:AFP

The Woman In White

Alaa Salah, The Nubian Queen

The face of the Sudanese Uprising is 22 year old student activist Alaa Salah, she has been lovingly dubbed, “Kandaka” which means Nubian Queen, which is a reference to the powerful African Nubian Queens of old Sudan. She is also referred to as the “Woman in White” and “Lady Liberty”. After, images and videos of her sing traditional and protest songs on a white car at a peaceful public gathering went viral on social media. #TheFutureIsFemale #GirlsLead

The Protestors Demands

  • Civilian Rule
  • End The Militias
  • Women’s Rights

Change Has Began

The world is changing for the better. The oppressive regimes of the past and their new masks are starting to crack. The toxic masculine leaders may have access to funds and guns, but the true revolution is an ideological one. People have begun thinking independently and progressively. The shutting down of the media and the internet in Sudan is not going stop the hope the people have in their hearts for a better future. These men think they can ‘Grab us by the pussy’ but the pussy claps backs with chants of freedom; in the name of human dignity. The feminine will continue to rise and lead us to a brighter future that is in coherence with love and therefore self-empowerment. We call on loving men to join us in creating this future, as together we are stronger.

A Healthy Dose Of Political Satire

#LaughtherIsTheBestMedicine

Girl Boss Discusses South African Elections 2019 with Wits University Students

Girl Boss contributors Simi and Londiwe sat down with Wits University post graduate students Tumelo, Bakang and Angeline to discuss the South African 2019 elections, political parties and whether their intentions are for the social and economic progression of girls, women and the people of South Africa.

Simi Gumede is a Bachelor of Social Science Graduate from Rhodes University, her Majors were Politics and International Relations, and Psychology.

Londiwe Sibanda is an Education Graduate from The University of Witwaterstrand and is currently completing her Honors Degree in Science Education at the same institution.

Tumelo Ratlhogo has a Bachelors Degree in Education and is currently studying towards her Honours in IT at The University of Witwaterstrand.

Bakang Mputle is currently studying his Masters degree in Geography and Development Studies at The University of Witwaterstrand.

Angeline Duma has her Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Witwaterstrand and is currently completing her Honors degree which is a BSC in Science Education at the same institution.

The Politics of Power: A South African Elections 2019 Thought Piece

On the 8th of May 2019, South African citizens will be heading to the polls to cast their vote for who they think should sit on the Iron Throne of the Republic. In truth, we’re not voting for who personally sits on the seat of the South African Government. The President of South Africa is the leader of the majority party in parliament, they are determined by internal elections within a given South African political party. What we are voting for is which party will be majority in the legislature (parliament). In other words, we are voting for the number of party seats to be allocated to each political party within parliament, both nationally and provincially. The legislature of a democratic republic drafts and passes laws for a given nation. Parliamentarians are therefore the representatives of the people in a democracy.

For example, land redistribution has been a core liberation tenant for post-colonial regimes, particularly in Africa. Land appropriation without compensation is an issue that many South Africans are interested in and an issue the ruling party, The African National Congress has promised to champion on behalf of the people in parliament. Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of land appropriation without compensation, the party that you vote for, in the upcoming elections, will be the party whose views are in alignment with your views on land. That is how you as an individual express your view on how the country should be governed. The party with the majority seats in parliament will be the ruling party, this is the practice of a proportional representation democratic system.

In the case of our young democracy, there has been the scourge of state capture. It almost seems as if corruption has been institutionalized within our government of which, the African National Congress is the ruling political party. There is the rampant misuse and therefore abuse of state funds. The hard earned cash citizens collectively contribute as tax intended to ensure law, order and the development of our country is being misappropriated. Which is not exactly blatant stealing but rather dishonesty around public spending. For example, the government sets aside x amount of funds to carry out a certain project that is entrusted to be within the best interests of the populace. The government then awards a tender to a service provider, who will charge y amount to carry out said project. The collusion happens by government awarding tenders to service providers who will pay kickbacks to set members of government.

The collusion also happens through service providers charging exorbitant prices. For the example in the book, Gangster State, investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh mentions a government tender that was assigned to a cleaning company that would charge R200 for a 1kg box of OMO in 1996. R1 now is worth less than what R1 was worth then due to inflation. This means that, that R200 is now R700 for a 1kg box of OMO washing powder, according to the inflation calculator on inflationtool.com. Now, imagine the scale of looting when it comes to larger projects like the construction or maintenance of the railway network of South Africa, the overcharging for things like nuts and bolts. Or, the procuring of medicine for state hospitals. Myburgh goes on to cite that in the province of the Free State, under the 9 year tenure of Former Premier and current Secretary General of the ANC Ace Magashule, that “in some financial years, as much as 80 (2015/16) and even 90 per cent (2011/12) of the departments expenditure was classified as irregular by the Auditor General”. The AG also found that “irregular expenditure totalling a jaw-dropping R7 billion” was misappropriated within those years. This is in just one South African province. And that is separate from the corruption in state owned enterprises like Eskom. So we are talking about major money that is missing, maybe a even a million, million.

“Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lord Acton

The hard truth is that most governments in the world are corrupt, even the church is corrupt. Due to the imperfections of human beings, often where there is power, there is corruption. However, I know that if I was in charge I would never steal or embezzle. But, people change. Hence we see the former champions of the people and leaders of South Africa’s liberation movement, becoming drunk with the spirit greed. When it was their clear conscience desire for political and economic justice that motivated them to dedicate their lives to freedom.

Where to from here?

There has definitely been a loss of faith in the ANC. One way we can amend this is by yes, voting for other political parties that will enact the social change we desire. As currently the only branch of government that has been seemingly immune to state capture is the judiciary, which functions independently. This is simply the court system and the guardians of our great constitution.

Critically speaking, we can amend this, tinker with that, to ensure accountability and good governance. But again we come up against the flaws of man. And when I say man, I mean the patriarchy. I acknowledge there are numerous corrupt female politicians… As someone who has cultivated a deep sense of reverence as to how God the Almighty is the most humble leader. The holder of the truest power: Love, the holiest of all intelligence, is the most unassuming authority. I consider myself a wordsmith and I am trying to find the words to describe this feeling and I’m finding it difficult to find the appropriate words. So I am just going to attempt to describe it in imagery. The feeling of realizing that everything is connected, that the same energy, that flows in the stems of the tall yellow grass of the savannah is in the wind that blows across it. It is the same energy that is in the sky, in the leaves of trees and in the ants that trod on them. The feeling of witnessing and being present with the perfection of divine consciousness. It’s profound. Yet the word profound fails to encapsulate this feeling as it is not exactly an intense mind blowing realization, it’s the gentlest of presences. Maybe it is the sheer power of God that is indescribable. But the concept of silence comes close as silence, speaks louder than words.

Photo by Liesl Leonard

As a lover of love, I know Love is the answer to how we as a people can ensure the safekeeping of our political and economic freedom. We need to cultivate and focus on love. We need to choose love over everything else. As individuals, as communities and as a county. So when you vote tomorrow do it with love for the future of South Africa.

Photo by Wynand Uys

The Colours Within A Colour

Let’s talk about the cringing topic of colourism, also known as shadeism. It is slowly becoming a phenomenon that is hard to ignore. What actually triggered my thoughts regarding this issue, is a recent episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, where one cast member is so adamant on transforming her skin tone from a dark shade to a lighter one because she feels rejected by the American audience. She feels that the audience, in particular, does not regard as her beautiful enough because she does not match the existing beauty standards of the music industry, being light skinned amongst other things.

She calls the black race hypocrites because we are the first to make crude remarks about darker shaded people, yet we are also the first to rebuke and judge the same people when they resort to lightening their tone. Colourism focuses on the ‘black’ race on a wider spectrum looking at all the shades between black and brown. I say ‘black’ because for whatever reason (perhaps the term black is understood to be derogatory and degrading, given to us people of colour by colonialists and former slave owners) some choose to identify as brown. Actually thinking about it, we must be the only race that has further divided itself in terms of color, especially in modern times.

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi

Indians are also known to carry a different attitude to different skin tones; this is simply a matter of an existing caste system. It is believed that the lighter you are the wealthier your family and family name, the darker you are the poorer you are. The lowest caste members use to work in the fields, and performed hard labour in the scorching sun, that is opposite for the higher caste members. Region also plays a role, the north and south region.

Looking at African history, South Africa for example, we are divided into 11 ethnic groups. This division came upon during the colonial era in the form of what is known as indirect rule. This was a strategy employed by the minority, white Europeans, so that they could exercise power and ruler-ship over the majority Africans. This segregation meant that we were divided by the means of land and ethnicity. This is still very much apparent today, as we have the Xhosas who occupy the Eastern Cape, former Transkei area and the Zulu who occupy Kwa-Zulu Natal, former Zulu Land. However, these two groups belong, together with emaSwati and amaNdebele, to the same traditional group (I refuse to use the term ‘tribe’, because the term does not exist in any of our ethnical languages), the Nguni, but this division had to take place, because that was the only way the white man could manage his authority, in the form of divide and conquer. So, our division as a race has always been socially inclined, it is psychologically instilled in us.

Photo by Ogo

We can all admit to the fact that oppression still exists in today’s society across Africa and even in countries outside of Africa where black people reside. Every day forms of oppression include opportunities and equality, and for those reasons I do not blame those who believe that if they identify as something lighter they would be subject to the same opportunities and experience similar equality as their white counter parts. So much so, that we have then ventured to divide ourselves further within a race. I don’t think that most black people are aware that this is a form of oppression that stems from colonization. This kind is rather subtle and it is psychological, almost like religion. 

I think what puzzles me the most is the fact that I’ve never witnessed a whitening experience from a dark shade to a lighter brown shade, it almost always seems to be on the extreme side; looking like a white character. I presume this is where the negative speech about skin bleaching stems from. Does it mean that you completely dislike the brown skin, because you do not even try to measure to a lighter shade of black or brown, but instead you aim for a shade outside of the spectrum?

There is the whole melanin movement whereby black people conscientise towards celebrating darker shades of brown. But before that the light skinned woman was seen as more beautiful and accepted by society and within the black community. The light skinned girl therefore grows up with an unsolicited type of confidence that the darker skinned woman did not experience because society did not recognize her beauty as equal to that of a lighter skinned woman. This begins at a preparatory stage, unconsciously, perhaps from the white children that black children in mixed schools associated with. 

Photo by Jairo David Arboleda

But it disseminates into our adulthood, as what we adopt in our early ages grows and sticks with us, especially if society also supports it. So, here we are today with emojis that have different shades of black, and we have stop and compare which shade actually resembles my true shade, and no one ever chooses that last dark shade, because it’s ‘too dark’, but is it not as black as the others are? Are the lighter shades also not black? How does it even impact how others see you? 

Actually why is changing your skin tone even a consideration? My point is that it is silently ingrained in our psyche that our colour may be the root cause of the problem, as it was in history. But I am firm believer of changing or altering whatever it is you may not like about yourself, by all means, especially if you can afford it. I am not one to judge you.

However, I perceive small-scale social things like this as things that are subtle and subliminal but are also highly effective forms of oppression; they are ways in which black people continue to exercise the influence of colonization on our own race. We have to praise and applaud the whole recognizing melanin movement, because we need to abandon what we have been taught about color and honor each and every shade of black, this will ultimately result in a unified race that is undisputedly more powerful.

Photo by Nemo Hanse