From Quitting Her Job As A Radiographer To Going To The World Cup: Meet Banyana’s Kholosa Biyana

Written by Farai Diza

It takes a lot of guts to quit a well paying job. But when sporting talent is stuck on you like glue, an oasis of possibilities present themselves.

24 year old Kholosa Biyela is living proof of that. If you haven’t heard of her yet, then jot that name as you will be seeing more of her at the current Fifa Women’s World Cup.

So What’s Exciting About Her?

This football superstar quit her well paying and stable job to cast her nets on the soccer field. Bear in mind that the world’s most beautiful game isn’t as financially rewarding as the mens.

No that’s not absurd that’s passion and when you passionately do something, rewards follow you.

Today Biyana is in glamourous France with Banyana for their maiden World Cup, which kicked off on the 7th of June until July 7.

She is grateful of the opportunities that are unfurling in her career simply because she chose passion.

Kholosa Biyana

“In 2013 I obtained my radiography diploma from the Durban University of Technology (DUT). In the same year I got a job as a radiographist in my hometown [at Mjanyana hospital, Ngcobo, in the Eastern Cape]. But I only worked for three months.”

“I quit because I realised that the job would not allow me to fulfil my dream of playing for Banyana. I had done an in-service training, before getting a permanent contract. Three months was enough for me,” she narrated.

With 20 Banyana caps to her name, Biyana knows that she took a huge gamble that could have easily backfired.

“I am so happy to be at the World Cup… it’s the sweetest moment of my life after making a lot of sacrifices,’’ said the midfielder whose at the World Cup that eluded many big names such as Portia Modise.

The self-contained Biyana joined the UKZN team from her home club, Thunderbirds, nearly three years ago. She has enrolled for a sports science degree.

“I am doing my final year at UKZN. It’s easy [to juggle football and education] because I am playing for the university team. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone and my course is sports related. So I’m enjoying everything,” explained the Banyana workhorse.

She sees the World Cup as a perfect platform to impress overseas clubs in her quest to secure a lucrative contact abroad. The World Cup presents her with the perfect opportunity to showcase her talent and hopefully attract international clubs to sign her.

SA are in Group B alongside Germany, China and Spain.

We hope Biyela makes an impression and Banyana do us proud!

Kholosa Biyana

Caster Semenya Accused Of Not Being Woman Enough

By Khanyisile Msebenzi

President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sebastian Coe says, “the core value for the IAAF is the empowerment of girls and women”. In appreciation of the embracement of the recent Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) judgement Mr. Coe will need to revisit those values and redraft them so that they espouse that which the IAAF really stands for, and that being its willingness to embark on a sustained battle to keep some women out of athletics just because they look a certain way. 

One woman in particular has been cannon fodder for the IAAF’s resilience to define a woman way outside of even scientific guidelines, regardless that technically speaking there are no such guidelines, scientifically or otherwise. It may also seem that the IAAF is operating way outside of even humanity’s interests, because there has been an outcry on the witch hunt, which Caster Semenya is the person from which first blood is being drawn, this time around, because this is a scourge that goes way before Semenya’s time. Semenya is a world renowned athlete who has won two gold Olympic medals, and has record breaking success within women athletics, and it is very clear that she is a prime target to serve as an example to a greater group of women who are “like her” who might want to grace the sanitised space that IAAF serves as both caretaker and executioner.   

Of course, this injustice has seen many women silently dropping off of athletics and some others subjected to surgical violations. Were the details of these tests to go mainstream, they would abhor many, and infuriate the rest.   

At the age of 18, in 2009, the brute violation of Semenya’s life has seemed to be one of IAAF’s priorities. At one time Semenya had to be left in limbo for 11 months as IAAF played God on a woman’s life which rendered Athletics South Africa (ASA) confused to the point that its head was fired, only for the debacle to remain unresolved while the life of Semenya was held in painful suspense. 

Threatened by legal action the IAAF temporarily relented and Semenya was allowed temporary reprieve, only to be brought to its senses by India’s Dutee Chand, another athlete who stood accused of the “crime” of hyperandrogenism. The Court of Sports Arbitration ruled in favour of Chand in 2014, but IAAF will not stop until these women get thrown out of Athletics or they retire through being maimed by testosterone reduction means, or butchered through inhuman surgical procedures, which there are reports that the reduction of the clitoris can be part and parcel of. Who knows what else goes on behind those close doors, and to what extent these women get violated in the name of fairness.  

Dutee Chand

Hyperandrogenism is a “condition” in which the body produces levels of hormones that are more “typical” of men. The accusation that Semenya and many other women around the world stand accused of by the IAAF is that of not being woman enough. This would explicitly say that the IAAF has established a scientific guideline to ascertain this, when mainstream science itself has not made such a bold claim. 

The Judgement passed down by the Court of Sport Arbitration is that women athletes shouldn’t have testosterone levels that go beyond 5 nanomoles per litre. One nanomole is one billionth of a mole. If there are athletes that go beyond this stipulation then testosterone reducing hormones should be administered. In appreciation of all that which makes an elite athlete, the IAAF has chosen testosterone as the predominant determiner. If it wasn’t such a serious matter it would be hilarious. 

In 2014 when ruling in favour of Dutee Chand, this very same court did not have any scientific backing, and in the recent ruling they were still in the same predicament yet somehow they want to tell the world that they have new proof that testosterone is the culprit in the excellence of women athletes. Even mainstream science is reluctant to make this unfounded claim. The IAAF would like us to believe that levels of testosterone are the sole determiner in athletic excellence. That women like Semenya don’t win races by a huge margin does not even nudge the IAAF’s senses to think that maybe training might have some input in the excellence of women athletes. 

Photo by Erik van Leeuwen

“I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being”, said Semenya at one time, clearly feeling the grotesque violation of her womanhood. It is one thing to think they performed “tests” and completely a different thing to imagine how those tests were done. Did she have to strip down to the nude? How did they collect the samples? Did they have to insert anything, anywhere? Was it painful? Could the public be made privy on the gory details on how these tests are conducted? How does the IAAF justify this blatant abuse of power?

It is easy to say the IAAF sits with a hard task of establishing fairness in athletics but another mental fuckery altogether to go over the gruesome details of what these tests may entail. How far has the “invasive scrutiny” of the most “intimate and private” of Semenya’s being, traumatised this hard-working lady who repeats now and again that she just wants to run because that is what she does best. How many unaccounted for victims of this inhumane practice have been left with shattered lives and broken dreams? Nobody will know because IAAF has a lengthy history of pressuring women that “look like” Semenya to silently drop athletics. 

Photo by Olivier Morin

Moving from the reality that Semenya has in recent times been one of the major recipients of this abuse, it is not hard to see that what the IAAF is doing is an assault on women. It does not matter if it is only a given number of women that are directly violated but within the Collective Consciousness this is an assault on the feminine principle which women predominantly embody. This “castigation of the few to terrify the many” has been the cornerstone of the patriarchal divisive construct, so even if it comes clad in the name of “fairness” it doesn’t require genius to see it for what it is. 

Patriarchy is a very sneaky usurper of reason and logic especially when it comes with the trick of protecting the other while it tramples on another. Many a time it has come out with raving accolades from the very people it is tricking into controlling. The IAAF cannot define what a woman is, period. To then think that it is seeking to define a woman on baseless hormonal justifications is hormonal and should be condemned for the violation that it is. 

A great number of athletes become legends because of their uniqueness, biologically and otherwise. Usain Bolt would need to have his legs shaven off of a few inches if the IAAF’s concern was on fairness. How about swimmers who have a wider arm span? Wouldn’t we need to clip off some of their girth were we to adhere to the profanity that the IAAF is espousing on these women it has targeted for political correctness in order to sacrifice them to the same old patriarchal gods? Wouldn’t we need to take the measuring tape and a few prodding tools to the great swimmer Michael Phelps because clearly, he has a biological advantage? How about basketball players that are so tall they seem to be at the same height with the basket? 

The question arising again and again, is it fairness that the IAAF is after? It doesn’t need much research and scrutiny that fairness is the last thing on the IAAF’s mind. What is being perpetrated on Caster Semenya and others that “look like her” is an assault on women and the sooner we identify this marauding bull that is IAAF for what it is, the better. The world has been held at ransom for many years for something that shouldn’t even be a consideration, yet the IAAF keep wasting resources in pursuit of an abuse it seeks to institute as a norm. It is not normal to abuse a woman however widespread such abuse can be. The violation of women has never been fair, neither is it presently and never will it be, and the sooner we stop it as a Human collective the quicker we can evolve into a humane existence. 

Watch Caster Semenya’s Iconic Nike Ad below

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

6 Things We Loved About Beyoncé on Netflix

Written By Khanyisile Msebenzi

It’s not like we hadn’t watched Beyoncé’s performance at Coachella online last year already, seeing it again was like walking into feminist heaven!

Going into the film I thought it was a mostly behind the scenes film, but it actually was mostly the concert, this was the only disappointment I had with the film. In this world of celebrity over exposure, no one can blame us for wanting to know more about Beyoncé’s daily life and thinking. But it did give enough insight to satiate curiosities for a week or so. But, I can definitely say, this film made me fall more in love with Beyonce. I didn’t think it was possible, and so I promote myself as head of the Beyhive in my circle of friends.

Pretty Hurts Beyonce GIF by Vevo - Find & Share on GIPHY

1 I loved how Beyonce unreservedly shared about the difficulties she experienced during her pregnancy. Maternal health, especially black woman maternal health has come into the spotlight lately in the USA because a much higher percentage of black women die of complications during pregnancy compared to other races. In Africa the statistics are even worse with many countries having healthcare systems that aren’t equipped to properly diagnose or treat pregnancy complications like preeclampsia fast enough. There are more conditions that lead to either the death of a baby or the mother. Beyonce had to have an emergency c-section to save her life and that of her twins.

2 Beyonce works hard for her body! She was clearly unfit and had gained almost twice her weight during pregnancy. She shows us how she struggles to get fit and strong again and also shares how scared she was she would never be the same. She went on a strict diet, eliminated all carbohydrates and had a hectic work out regime. One of my favourite parts is when she fits into one of the costumes she used to wear before pregnancy and she calls Jay Z to share the news and he is really excited for her and reacts with the enthusiasm we expect from our girlfriends who understand the stress of trying to lose weight and fit into old clothes. Guys, learn from Jay Z! If it matters to us and it stresses us, even if you think it is trivial, act as though you are just as invested as we are, lol!

Jay Z The Grammys GIF by Recording Academy / GRAMMYs - Find & Share on GIPHY

3 The first film Beyonce did was to give us a peak into her life as she had taken time off to raise Blue Ivy and to get some much deserved rest. This film had a clear message, her Coachella performance was a message, it was a celebration of black culture and black history, owning it without being ashamed. She says she couldn’t believe she was the first black woman to headline such a big and international concert, and practically shamed the organizers that it took them so long when black culture influences America and the world so much. Her being inspired by what goes on at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) made me wish we had the same culture here. But instead, in South Africa black colleges and universities are seen as offering inferior quality of education and overall experience. Perhaps our black elite can start contributing to these and build institutions of excellence that take pride in being black instead of having all of us clamoring to get into the Wits, Stellenboschs and UCTs. HBCUs in the USA are mainly funded by its black alumni.

Homecoming Poster

4 Beyonce used her Coachella performance to celebrate every woman. She had women of all shapes and sizes on that stage and she did it purposefully too. One of the women interviewed in the film is a sister from Nigeria who is now American and she was still in disbelief that she was chosen to participate in the show for Beyonce. Beyonce set out to tell us ladies that we are beautiful as we are, as unique as we are no matter how thick, or thin, or tall. No matter our skin tone or the texture of our hair, she didn’t seek to find ‘clones’ of herself, we all could see ourselves on that stage. And importantly celebrate all black peoples not just African Americans.

https://media.giphy.com/media/xWZwFqGEAmOWLYKSCT/giphy.gif

5 My biggest learning was this -> Beyonce was involved in every part of planning her Coachella performance. She was involved in the choosing of everything from the design of the stage, materials used to make costumes, choreography and the placement of the smallest thing! That’s a big job! Whilst still working on her own fitness, performance, breastfeeding and caring for her babies at the same damn time! Not only that, she was also ensuring that the performance looks good live on stage as well as in video. There was a time when most of the team thought they had nailed the performance but she wasn’t happy with how it translates on video. She chose every single dancer and every single artist and performer. That is a Girl Boss, she didn’t outsource a single part of this, she took full control. Often in our lives or at school or at work we leave something important to us in the hands of somebody else and when they drop the ball we blame them. We are quick to blame others. There is nothing that we should ever feel we don’t have control over, not even the financing of our university fees, we can always find a way.

6 Beyonce brought on her sister Solange and her sisters from Destiny’s Child, she didn’t have to. Nobody expected her to and nobody would have crucified her or judged her if she hadn’t brought them on. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams wouldn’t have blamed her if she didn’t include them in her show. Destiny’s Child has been ‘over’ for years, and yet she still brings them onto key and big shows, she did the same with her big Super Bowl Show. She walks the talk, that we can all shine, she doesn’t try to shine alone. As women this is very important, as we fight for equality we need to do so together and pull each other up. You don’t lose anything by helping another woman.

Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was as impactful on the world’s consciousness as her Super Bowl performance. Which also had a strong message about black pride, black unity and a call to action around Black Lives Matter.

Beyonce is an artist using her celebrity to influence the world for the better and she’s doing this proudly as a black woman.

Watch the Official Homecoming Trailer Here

Game of Thrones S08E01 Girl Boss Review

The event we have all been waiting for is upon us, winter has come. And, girl, it didn’t disappoint. From the title sequence, it was as EPIC as epic fantasy demands! The 3D animation map of the Game of Thrones world was magnificent, it didn’t just show you the 3D unfolding’s and mechanical constructions of the different castle’s, it also showed you inside the buildings. It was spellbinding! And, when the iron throne rose from the floor and unfolded, our viewing party all cheered in joy and excitement. From the beginning we knew, nothing was same.

I don’t know where to start…It starts with shots of The Unsullied marching in snow, to Winterfell. I can still hear the sound of the mechanical marching reverberating in my ears. And then, yooooohhhh, the power couple of the century, Queen Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow (who we found out in the previous season is actually, the rightful King, Aegon Targaryen) entering Winterfell, side by side on horseback, accompanied by the greatest army ‘modern’ Westeros has ever seen. The camera work of the opening scene is breath taking. Again, we all roared in enchantment. Expect Sizwe, who was watching his very first Game of Thrones Episode… If this was not dramatic enough, we then see shots of two glorious full-grown dragons flying over ice capped mountains, the Queens mighty army and Winterfell. The reactions to this military supremacy was electrifying. For us watching at home and for the hardy Northerners of Winterfell.

The Lady of Winterfell, Sansa Stark- Played by Sophie Turner
The proud Mother of Dragons, Queen Daenerys Targaryen- Played by Emilia Clarke

My mind was blown many times throughout the episode. Entire storylines came full circle and people that we have been following for years, met for the very first time or were reunited after years of being separated. The most mind-boggling scene for me has got to be the final scene, of Jamie arriving to Winterfell after riding on horseback from Kings Landing. The way they conjure up the suspense, as you see the figure of a rider, hooded and dressed in all back. They off mount the horse, take their gloves off and lastly the helmet. Revealing the face of the greying Jamie Lannister, the pompous prick we’ve grown to love, looking up into the light. Then he looks over his shoulder sensing someone watching him. The look of recognition in Jamie’s eyes, of Brandon Stark (the Three Eyed Raved) the boy he attempted to murder when he was a lesser man back in the last scene of S01E01. Jamie was #SHOOK and we at home were undeniably discombobulated.

In our post-episode discussion, it was revealed to me what the White Walkers represent. Climate Change and Weapons of Mass Destruction. It was not the first time I had been enlightened but somehow it previously didn’t absorb into my mentality. The feeling of coming to terms with the allegory of Game of Thrones was positively terrifying.

Here we are on Earth, “The Pale Blue Dot”

Seen from about 6 billion kilometers Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space. Photograph taken from Voyager 1 in 1990.

“We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there — on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturing’s, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light . . .

To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Carl Sagan, speech at Cornell University, October 13, 1994

The Earth is on the brink of an ecological catastrophe. Due to humanities negative impact on our environment. A lifestyle that we have created and perpetuate in our day to day lives will only serve to destroy our species. But, the planet will prevail. Mother Earth’s capacity to incubate life is miraculous. Hence, it is us that will suffer and perish if we do not act now to reduce our carbon emissions, plastic pollution, deforestation and all the other capitalistic monstrosities. We are the people of Westeros who choose to take sides and subscribe to the ideologies of powerful people that believe in the delusion of their own grandeur. Who alienate entire communities due to petty border and territorial disputes. In the end it does not matter. The decision isn’t between this side and that side. It’s between the beauty of life or the end. Are we going to choose life or face extinction? Whether you’re a Make America Great Again Trump supporter or a Black Lives Matter Activist in the end we are human beings and we need to put our differences aside and face the end of our world together as one. Because, darling, the final season of global warming has come.

The Night King