and how we made the best of those last days of summer

When we first proposed a fun day at Naledi High school, the reaction we got was an unequivocal – no.   We were then harassed by well-meaning advice trying to get our heads right because what we had just suggested was just unheard off.  How can one try to do what model C or “white” schools do?  For instance we could not expect such a thing to go off without some kind of violence or fighting and we certainly could not expect these kids who are really too use to playing the poverty card to make any kind of contribution to such an event.  We started big; fun fair rides, ferries wheel, candy floss and the works.  Certainly this would be a first for a school in this area of Soweto and no one thought it was possible – there is no way you can get these kids to pay for anything; no less something that would serve their education.  We were surprised on the 18th of May when a full year after the initial proposal was put forward we hosted the first Naledi –Thabo high sports day.

The two schools are part of our Teacher’s Pet programme which provides academic support and mentorship to the grades 10, 11 and 12 learners.  Admittedly our grand fair was toned down but this may have been a blessing in disguise because it allowed us to involve the kids (though not being that much older- I will refer to them as such) in putting this event together.  We went from being a one man army that would raise fund, get sponsors and organise the event alone to being a humble team player responding to the suggestions of the group, which included the kids we work with, parents and a few dedicated teacher.  For us to make this work we had to have as many people working and taking ownership of the event and so we put our blue print aside to be team players.  It is natural that we have this bullish approach as each weekend we get up early and work in a school that can sometime be challenging so we have over time developed the approach of beg, boss around or ignore to get things done and ensure our kids get the support they need.  We often write the rules as we go in meetings our goal of supporting our learners, whatever the cost.  We knew getting teachers to play in the sports, to help with organisation would be like pulling teeth and so our first approach was to get the fun day with or without their help.  As you can imagine this did not work because like it or not for our programme to work we need to be more than the tutors with the and we need to be a part of the school community working as a part in a greater vision to deliver a quality education to these children.  So with blue print aside we started asking the kids what they wanted – a day where we can enjoy our school and have fun with our teachers was their response.

On the 18th of May we hosted the Naledi- Thabo high sports day where teachers and learners joined each other in play.  We had soccer games, net ball, fair games for kids in the neighbouring schools and an abundance of food.  I could not believe the support and commitment the kids we worked with gave to us; it just hit me that all these kids were waiting for was the opportunity to do and be more than what they are usually asked to be.  We had a great turn out from the schools’ governing bodies teachers but really the real achievement of the day was the kids.  There were no fights, no thefts and the kids did just as they were asked.  They volunteered themselves the man the pop corn stand, to make the fire for the boerewors rolls and stood all day making sure the day ran without a hitch.  At the end of the day all the money was accounted for and the little kids picked up every piece of litter on the ground – in exchange for left over candy of course.

 

When you tell anyone who knows Soweto that we work in a school in Naledi; they always comment that the kids in that side of the township are the biggest thugs and trouble makers.  When we started the programme I must admit feeling intimidated by the 25 year old who would tell me stories about having been arrested each time they missed a tutorial – it can seem like a scary place and the kids there can be a challenge. A whole year later, I can say that I have seen little difference between these kids and any other kids – they can be immature, they are frustrating, they can be shy and have a low self-esteem.  Of all the things I have learnt in the year and some that we have bee running Teacher’s Pet, I have learned they these “ghetto” kids who have a rough exterior are just kids and they are waiting for opportunities to be better than they have been.  No one ever asks them to be better and so never rise to the occasion.  I arrived at noon for the fun day – they day was as supposed to get getting under way with the teachers helping us set us but I could see no teachers on the grounds and those I found were chilling in the parking lot getting their cars cleaned and they said they would join us once they were ready.  Having to go out to but packets of popcorn and salt may have been a saving grace because – I was livid – I wanted to scream my top off.  These teachers seemed not to care about the event or that the event at their school was received well and I wanted to put my hand in the air and ask them who they thought we were out here working for.  But I had to get popcorn and ice. I took the longest way possible but buy the time I came back the kids were let out of class and they put themselves to work.  By the end of the day I can say I was humbled and reminded that it was not for the educators that I wake every Saturday and go to tutor, it was for these kids.  I was amazed by how enthusiastic they were and they came in their numbers.  Everywhere I looked I saw kids – ordinary kids working, playing, supporting and it was great to frame these kids differently.  This was a victory for us, we got the kids to work, to participate and see themselves as part of a bigger picture.  The enthusiasm of these kids even got the teachers to participate and lend their support to their school and it was an amazing thing to be part of.

 I Think I have been learnt that for us to do the work we do at the school, we will have to learn to be a team player and allow myself to be led.  We had two trays of boiled eggs for an egg and spoon race.  Someone placed the trays on the table with cupcakes and other treats.  As soon as the tables were set up, the kids approached the tables and asked us how much the eggs were they were all sold before we knew it.  The game plan was to play with the eggs; egg and spoon is but a popular game at such events but I now had to except my part in the whole and follow.  The kids said they were hungry and to them these eggs were first and foremost food.  Whenever I want to ever determine things, I will have to remember the tray of eggs that went from part of the entertainment to food.

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Mic Check: strengthening democracy through dialogue

Mic check: we will not be move.

Join us at Love and Revolution (7th Street Melville) on Tuesday 8 November at 6pm for a round table on the occupations.  

 

Thousands of sane, hard working, law abiding, women, men, young, old, poor, middle class, educated, illiterate, activists, PTA type  people have disobeyed the law by sitting out outside institution of the economy with a many voices and many views reminding those who make laws that and financial decisions that what why do affects the rest of us in very real ways.

does it matter that they do not have one voice?

will this have any real impact?

is thsi important to you today?

whats is Malema doing in all this?

is this our fight?

Only when people talk can they start to give form to the world they long for.  join us as we imagine, debate and contest the nature f the change we want.

 

peace and love

i can afford a lap top

Have you been to game or dion lately? Lap tops for 2K, electronics I can afford (top of the range), things are actually cheaper. The unions trying to stop walmart deal forgot to mention that ordinary consumers (including the working class) would get goods for less. Our money can actually afford us what we want and need. Even as JZ tries to undo it (as though he was on the moon when we were all talking about this) let’s be honest mazmart was not paying great wages with benefits, they also casualised workers and got most of their second grade goods from china not south african manufacturers. The attempt to block the deal benefit capital chinese goods.

From this socialist I am grateful that we now have competition and not the over protected capitalism which protects those with money. (An issue to consider as julius and the mines)

Off the cuff, miyela

BABY MOMMA’S FIRST… BROKE ASS SCRUB!!

MIC CHECK THIS SUNDAY

 

I’m cushioned in the corner of the lift waiting to be delivered to the food court while my mp3 croons “Black Brotha, strong Brotha there is no one above ya” into my ears. It’s a fitting tribute. Leaning against the glass wall of the elevator, sneaking blistering looks in my direction is quite the fox. “Every time you come around something magnetic pulls me and I can’t get up, disoriented I can’t tell my up from down. All I know is that I want to lay you down”. The elevator reaches its destination and the doors begin to part open. There’s something different in the air. His look changes from tempting to territorial. He rolls up his sleeves and locks his elbows. His eyes zero in and I disappear from his space. Ladies first, so I step forward but, “It’s the eye of the tiger it’s the thrill of the fight’’ and suddenly we both know…it’s on! And I don’t quite know what happened but he’s out first, assuming his assumed position in the world.

I reflect on how Steve Biko advocated that the black man was on his own. But he didn’t mean man alone; he was talking to women too. We would hope. I must believe that he was speaking to the collective, assuming that because of the established social pecking order, those on top would take accountability for the collective, for more than just themselves. I imagine that colonial suffering was never an individual enterprise and inhumanity and degradation is as much the experience of black women and children, as it was and is of black men.

It’s an unspoken, simmering and often ungamely domestic tournament. It is his blueprint to how he should be treated and his place in the world. But I suppose it’s more importantly about women and their place in the world. While we sit, sweetly encouraging and holding the man up, raising his little brown baby, we can’t even get out of the elevator without getting one in the ribs. Forget chivalry, it’s ruff in Africa.

“Move Bitch, get out the way. Get out the way Bitch. Get out the Way.” (Please) The roadside often sets the scene for another leg of the domestic tournament: Stop inching me out the lane. Once he’s noticed my car cruising alongside his, I promptly find myself uncomfortably close to the curb, exactly where he thinks I should be. Flashing his lights to put me in my place, he’s inching me out of my lane, in a bid to overtake me. Until I’m left choking in his dust. Yet another angry black woman in the way, and he needs to go to work.

It is interesting to note that amongst African Americans, between 1959 and 2002, the number of married women declined from 62 percent to 31. But I’m not an angry, figure pointing, marriage seeking shrews. I consider the ethos of feminism to still continue to have relevance. Independence, self-determination, sexual liberation, pro life and pro choice are anthems that retain value. I recognize that since the very start of the migrant labour system, black women have carried their communities in the absence of their men. I’ve always been willing to go fifty-fifty, ma baby. And pay your way. And Tyrone’s too. (But seriously, that nigga’s gotta go!)

Bullying makes you nasty. Bullying makes you ugly. Bullying makes you greedy, and that is a fact. From the sandpit days, I’ve always known that dominance isolates cruelly and cripplingly. It’s about picking fight’s you can win. There’s nothing admirable about walking around saying that you’ve been hard done by history and the world if when it’s time to fight, the only one that you’re willing to fight is your female counterpart. Part of the blueprint for the coup must be a sense of self worth, but this cannot mean respect for the self to the exclusion of others, it must mean being part of the collective, and part of humanity.

MIC CHECK THIS SUNDAY

MIC CHECK: TALK. SHOUT. THINK

Join our next MIC CHECK. You have the opportunity to talk to other young South Africans and see what they think about what matters to you.

This month we are talking about the complicated and often hostile relationship between black men and women.

COMMON DEFINITIONS

BLACK WOMAN: hip swaying baby momma. Prone to sassyness and lip smaking

BLACK MAN: Commitment wary, often criminal love-them-and-leave-them type of man. Involved with one or more baby mommas

who are we as black men and women?

Is this true?

what is the real relationship between black men and women?

how can we relate differently to each other as black people?

a note of thanks

the Mic check session was a great success thanks to you and Miyela would like to make a word of thanks to all who came and bravely shared their personal stories.  i got a note from someone who wanted to know if our session on the state of fatherhood would amount to hours of male bashing.  so sitting in the restaurant waiting for our guests to arrive i was truly nervous that brothers would not coming out of the fear of having yet another session of women talking about how terrible men are.  my nerves became worse with the thought that i must be mad to call brothers to an honest conversation about fatherhood when i knew that this is one topic no one wants to speak about.  however as our audience, mostly of young men grew i felt we had a good place to start; not just as miyela but as a country.

 

to have a group of young men, many of them father and more still who had first hand experience coming out to talk into their private spaces about their relationship with fatherhood was refreshing.  i admire your honesty and bravery of being about to stick your necks out and try to think with other young people about the root cause of the moment we find ourselves.

 

so why does South Africa have 9 million children who have fathers who have chosen not to parent?  the legacy of apartheid and the systematic break down of the African family by migrant labour, youth unemployment, pride, a lack of relationship between parents and many other causes were toyed with over out three hour convesation.  some i but others i must say despite my greatest attempts at understanding still fly in the face of reason.  is the something in men, biological or psychological that makes them more able to walk away from crying babies and start-up a new life?  if there something in the way men and women relate that would have men believe women do not have pride the way a man does and can be left to fend alone for families that are neglected by a man whose pride can not have him see his children hungry?  i don’t know and i think i don’t really want to understand.  what is missing in this conversation about the natures of men and women and their relationships are the real and harmful scares lest on children.  our babies are suffering for whatever misunderstanding there may be and we continue to seek reasons to hide behind instead of being ‘a man’ and facing up to your responsibility.  the responsibilities of fatherhood go beyond financial needs and i think men need to be re-socialized to see themselves as emotionally connected in their families.  in a world where more and more women are working and taking care of their families men can no longer cling to old male identities of being the provider, to do so will render them superfluous and out of tough with their own needs and those of their families.

 

look i’m taking an unfair position in reflecting on out conversation alone in this forum but i do know we have ways to go in really answering to 9 million fatherless children.  we must answer to them sooner or later.  thank you to the brothers and sisters who took the time to be with us and share those personal feelings we reserve to the home.  it is only in being open with each other that we can know what hurts, what heals and the needs of the other.  thank you all again  and see you in June as we dive again into the strain between black men and black women.

 

peace; Miyela

MIC CHECK

STRENGTHEN DEMOCRACY THROUGH DIALOGUE

Miyela believes that talking, debating and writing are the first steps in demanding the kind of democracies and world we want to be part of. With this in mind we ask that you come to our mic check sessions. At the sessions you can argue, debate and consider what you care about with others who are concerned and with commentators in the field of social thinking and political action.

Our next session is on 28th of May

At Shikisha, a restaurant in Newtown close to the Bassline

We start at 12:30 and end at 15:00
The topic: “9 million South African children have no fathers” is the black father a myth? Is African fatherhood in crisis?
Join people thinking and demanding more of their world.

MIC CHECK: THE PEOPLE THEY FIGHT; THE PEOPLE THEY GET NOTHING

the is no freedom is you do not used the freedoms you have:  we have the freedom of expression?  let say what we want.  lets say what needs to be said and honk everytime an emperior lives his home without cloths.
friends join my hooting party and see just how much freedom of expression we have
The people fight; throw stones, get shot, burn and feed the revolution
yet time and time again People give up their power to ruling elites.
Can the middle east help us reflect on the revolutions in Africa which are fought by the power of the people and taken over by leaders who can not reflect the need and vision of their people.
Join us in conversation with Lucien Van Der Walt (sociology lectures at wits and author of black flame)
date: 12 March 2011
time: 12 -3pm
place: Roots gallery and restaurant (opposite Morris Isacson high school in Soweto)
contact: 0825880190

 

 

MIC CHECK: THE DOORS THAT LOCK THEN I GET CLOSE

MIYELA PRESENTS:

the politics of coping, transgression, love, passion, anger, music and taking the next step to create a new and better version of our world.

THE RUMBLE OF LOCKED CAR DOOR: REFLECTIONS ON THE BLACK MAN

PLEASE JOIN US IN CONVERSATION AND HEALTHY DEBATE
WE REFLECT ON THE STATE ON THE BLACK MAN AND THE THUNDERING SOUND OF LOCKING CAR DOORS THAT COME WHEN THEY COME CLOSE.
WE HOLD OUR BAGS CLOSER WHEN WE SEE A BROTHER APPROACH…
HOW THE BLACK MAN IS SEEN AND SEES HIMSELF

Where:                     ROOTS RESTAURANT ANS GALLERY (crn Dimakatsho and Mphuti str.
Central Western Jabavu. Soweto)
Date:                           12 February 2011
Time:                         12 am- 3pm
Contact: Ntsako – 082 588 0190

 

whatever gets you through the night

WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT

THE POLITICS OF TAKING ONE STEP AT A TIME

MIYELA PRESENTS SEMINARS ON THE POLITICS OF COPING, TRANSGRESSION, LOVE, PASSION AND THE MANY WAYS PEOPLE HAVE FOUND TO HAVE THE NEXT STEP AND CREATE NEW VERSIONS OF THEMSELVES

  • 02.Oct The birth of hip hop culture as a response to urban slum and social marginalization.

  • 09. Oct Poetry and the human condition

  • 16 Oct Lifting through songs; music of the oppressed from slave spirituals, jazz and ngoma busuku (with Sibongile Khumalo)

  • 23 Oct How we have to forget to move on, memory and trauma (with Professor Bheki Peterson: professor of African literature at the University of the Witwatersrand and writer of Zulu love letter


Where: Meadowlands Library (Soweto).  near police station

Time; 10 am- 1 pm

Contact: Ntsako – 082 588 0190

PLEASE COME THROUGH AND JOIN IN A CONVERSATION YOU WOULD NOT OTHERWISE HAVE WITH PEOPLE YOU WOULD NOT USUALLY BE WITH. THE AREA HAS SECURE PARKING. MIYELA JOURNALS ON SALE