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African Renaissance

Feminist Technoscience

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‘Networked feminism is a phenomenon that can be described as the online mobilization and coordination of feminists in response to perceived sexist, misogynistic, racist, and other discriminatory acts against minority groups. This phenomenon covers all possible definitions of what feminist movements may entail, as there have been multiple waves of feminist movements and there is no central authority to control what the term “feminism” claims to be. While one may hold a different opinion from another on the definition of “feminism”, all those who believe in these movements and ideologies share the same goal of dismantling the current patriarchal social structure, where men hold primary power and higher social privileges above all others. Networked feminism is not spearheaded by one singular women’s group. Rather, it is the manifestation of feminists’ ability to leverage the internet to make traditionally unrepresented voices and viewpoints heard. Networked feminism occurs when social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are used as a catalyst in the promotion of feminist equality and in response to sexism. Users of these social media websites promote the advancement of feminism using tools such as viral Facebook groups and hashtags. These tools are used to push gender equality and call attention to those promoting anything otherwise. Online feminist work is becoming a new engine of contemporary feminism. With the possibility of connecting and communicating all around the world through the Internet, no other form of activism in history has brought together and empowered so many people to take action on a singular issue.’

Tech is taking ‘the covers off’ social issues while feminism is now becoming the perpetual adoration of the female intelligentsia.  Technology has certainly opened our eyes to the plight of women and girls around the world. Consider the impact social media had on galvanizing international outrage after the horrific and deadly gang rape of a young Indian medical student, or the power of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, an advocate for the right of girls to an education, who was targeted and shot by a gunman, and who has since become an international heroine.

“Technology has definitely taken the covers off a lot of social issues when it comes to women,” said panelist Tara Hughes, senior director of technical product management at Turner Broadcasting, CNN’s parent company. “I think it’s provided a voice for the voiceless, so we wouldn’t know some of the things that were going on in countries like India or (in) the Middle East if it wasn’t for some of those social networks.”

Is feminism the new racism, the dishwater of imagination? Is prejudice still the new education between the haves (knowledgeable boys, guys and men) and the have nots (girls and women), the soft domestic animal shamed if she is not a goddess. Technology is not gender neutral. Domesticity is not gender neutral. Feminism is not gender neutral. Art is not gender neutral. Feminism must confront the danger zones, the assumptions of the lives of women. It is technology that is influencing the intelligentsia of women for the most part today. Daughters doing what they did in a disembodied space, a personal space that is filled with images where men hate women for their emotional maturity and intelligence.

What about the future of feminism, tech, generations of girls to come? Is it always going to be masculine, primed for a man’s brain, a man’s brain cells clicking away? What is fundamental is that women are becoming just as smart as men are if not smarter.

There are women against feminism but there are more women who are in praise of it, who worship and appreciate their physical bodies, their independence. In the end feminism, humanities, the digital divide, there is and will be enough potential for it to develop alongside each other.

‘Networked feminism’s impact is somewhat limited because not everyone has access to the internet. According to Samhita Mukhopadhyay, the executive editor of ‘Feministing’, a popular feminist blog, “we tend to forget the women who aren’t online – there is a digital divide – and I think that part of the feminist movement should be focused on reaching out to people face-to-face doing community work, doing international work. A lot of people are online but not everybody, not by a long shot.’

Slacktivism (sometimes slacktivism or slackervism) is a portmanteau of the word’s slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little physical or practical effect, other than to make the person doing it feel satisfied that they have contributed. Slacktivism can be defined as the act of showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low-cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research.

Many websites and news platforms have integrated social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter into their interface, allowing people to easily “like”, “share” or “tweet” about something interesting they saw on the Internet. People can now express concern about social or political issues with nothing more than the click of a mouse, raising the question, what is actually being accomplished by these “likes” when very little thought or effort is required?

Slacktivist activities include signing Internet petitions, joining a community organization without contributing to the organization’s efforts, copying and pasting of social network statuses or messages or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services. Research is beginning to explore the connection between the concept and modern activism/advocacy, as groups are increasingly using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS describes the term “slacktivist”, saying it “posits that people who support a cause by performing simple measures are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”.

There are millions of feminists out there today. Hundreds of mental sketches, mental sketches about the role that technology plays in the lives of ordinary women, exceptional women, extraordinary women, brilliant women, mothers and daughters all in certain support of political activism whether they vote or not. Governments may not have found solutions of philosophical consequence, writers’ movements in Nigeria are moving towards the memoir, there might not be inspired peace in the four corners of the globe but girls have options. Girls go on pilgrimages into the guidebook, the ebony and ivory, the psychoanalysis, the psychological framework, the history of the wilderness of Europe and America. Girls have the otherworldly guidance to the kitchen table wisdom of their mothers and grandmothers on their side and that is their guide to the unveiled male brain.

When it comes to the affections of intellectualism, there is a hidden telepathy in creativity, the scarcity of a female mind being suppressed by successful, powerful men, intelligent men who minded the materialist in likeminded women who were their equals, in the synchronicity of the vanity of that savage impulse. For the man subjugates the woman’s movement, thinks his essays are far more superior, that it signals ‘humanity’. Technology is never going to bypass even the African feminist. There will always be advancements in technology, in footprint of climate change. Someday technology may even surpass humanity. The intersection and perspective, the knowledge and networking of technological advancements made in social media will affect feminism in the long run as well but not in the way that you think it will. In the eighties it was debate, in the nineties it was a perspective that no one wanted to own up to although there were feministic parameters, in the new millennia it was another wave of feminism, modern feminists who were more technological savvy than their counterparts in previous decades were.

There is what I call ‘evolutionary displacement’, a creative outlet for the modern feminist and the African feminist which goes to say that there are integral theories that are a ‘kindergarten’ work in progress of paradigms of indigenous knowledge systems. Intelligence in women is no longer an illusion, no longer abandoned memory work. The intellectual woman is no longer an argument, no longer Darwin’s argument. Her sensations are no longer trivial. Spiritual poverty no longer has an inner voice for the female intellectual. Now that all women are awakened to the fine art of the accumulation of the pessimism of social media, sexual violence is being taken to a new kind of virtual level kind of phase/playing game. There is no kind of Jane Austen society that exists today in the universe. Even less a Dorothy Parker society to a lesser extent. But the feminist is more comfortable in her skin. The Goth is more comfortable in her skin amongst.

It is necessary to look at the violence, the waves in the shallows of this hallucinatory reality, modern society demands that women become more technologically-savvy alongside their male counterparts, Do intelligent women take themselves a seriously as men take themselves? The African feminist’s life is an unexamined life. The onset of the nature of life is symbolism, the consolation prize instrumental in demonstrating the female property is the sensibility of intuition. What is feminism and what in the world does technology have to do with it? Feminism is an abandonment of the vibrations that alters the relations of the biochemistry of childhood into adolescence. Both, by establishing specificity, flatters intelligence, are learning curves, emotional and independent of each other. Both are liberating. Women are gifted since ancient times, since fighting for contraception, the vote, and the encouragement of the suffragette movement. Women are oracles, and at the end of the day a woman’s work is never done.

Self-awareness comes with pain (what does technology have to with that. It is where the introvert and the extrovert, the inhibited intellectual and the exhibitionist meets) but it also comes with futuristic technological advancements to be made. Here is a self-portrait of a machine or robot who we think has no sense of intuition but has a ‘narrative’ or ‘text’ running through it of his own volition that although it cannot think for itself it has science, it is coded, and it has an energy, a personal velocity. It is the creative hand in hand with the advancements in technology who will imagine our future, alongside feminists, female intellectuals and women who are as smart as men, who fought their way to think the way their fathers did or who are smarter than the men they know of, work with or socially interact with or engage with or relate to. It has always been men who has inspired the female intellectual since she was a child and not a woman. Not the mother figure in her life.

The mother figure is a miserable failure to the girl child who wants expression (to express herself), the girl child that wants to be part of a collective but to also be seen as an interloper in modern society. The girl child is fascinated with her older contemporaries. She is always re-enacting scenes from the introduction to her father’s acute sense and sensibility, his culture, his pride, his prejudice becomes part of her psyche, whatever arrogance or anticipatory narcissisms, neuroses that her father portrays it will become part of the girl child’s psychological framework. She writes to liberate herself. She thinks to liberate herself and the miserable failure of a mother does not write, does not think. This is strategic on the part of the girl child. To distance herself from her ‘miserable mother’ who is most probably tired (with a household to run, a husband and children underfoot), sad (because she has no energy, no time for herself), lonely (because she has simply no one to talk to about the things on her plate, she is having to think about the performance about it all when it comes down to it), and depressive (too many things on her mind).

The values of a man have been ingrained in her since childhood, that all book-knowledge is powerful. That was the case with me. What can women share with each other? Education, stories about childbirth, fertility and motherhood. I am not in any way saying that is the case with all women who decide to write as a lifelong career, go into academia, become a feminist (a feminist is ‘being’, it is a kind of humanity, you do not become a feminist, in the end to me it is a small triumph). Aesthetics on the other hand is a panorama, a cordoned off view of explorations, perspectives, small little triumphs, A feminist is a little-known landscape to the mother. There is a crossroads when it comes to the world of tech and the world of the feminist. If you are a feminist you are not only making a statement that this is your identity. You are either a feminist or an egoist or both. You have a lack of an ego, it is also a lecture, my hairstyle, my clothes, my dress, my attitude, the films that I watch and who I choose to love you are saying you are feministic and that it is not a phase. How can technology save women, save feminism, save the girl children? Education can save women, save feminism and save the girl child?

The girl child who grows up to become a writer or a feminist or an intellectual projects what her father projected, what the men around her as a child projected whether they were alcoholics or mentally ill or had beautiful, artistic hands and kind eyes even though perhaps she felt abandoned or neglected by an absent father, even though she had a mother who showed her a world of life. I write the way I write because my mother was the one who abandoned and neglected me. She was the miserable failure who was tired, sad, lonely and depressive. Harsh words but then not every one’s life is a Disney fairy tale. The girl child embroiders fantasia, but when it comes to tech another world opens itself up unto her of biblical proportions and she becomes a Moses, Jonah, a Noah, an Elijah, and a Daniel. Science and education can do that to you. Literature and existential phenomenology can do that to you. Make a radical out of you. Decorative imagery can make tech look pretty. Dealing with tech and feminism is easy, retouching critiques. It is not for the boys anymore.

Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.

African Renaissance

The YCCC and How It Changed the Future of South Africa

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This was the pre-apartheid education that we received when we were still at school. I was 13, 14 years of age at the time of the promulgation of the Group Areas Act in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, which then led to the forced removals and people literally being ‘dumped’ in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth. Dr Neville Alexander came to Port Elizabeth on two occasions. The YCCC-organisation (Yu Chi Chan Club) was primarily based on guerrilla warfare as is expounded by the leader of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Se Tung. It elucidates in his long walk to freedom, as well as his account in the new democracy as is expounded by his books and writings. These ideologies played a key role in formulating policy in the fight of guerrilla warfare against the Nationalist Party government. It is imperative to mention that the textbook for the organisation was Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara which was slavishly followed by discussions in the organisation. Other books included Partisan Warfare by Lenin, as well as Das Kapital by Karl Marx.

This took a lot of preparation and in-depth discussion groups took place based on these classic writers. It was imperative that these books were simplified and applied to the unique situation in South Africa. Dr Alexander and Ali Fataar, the then banned member of the executive of the NUM (New Unity Movement) came to Port Elizabeth to do exploratory work in creating fertile political groundwork for establishing the NEUM (Non-European Unity Movement) groupings. They visited areas like Korsten, Schauderville at night where they held underground discussion groups on the non-collaboration and the ‘Ten-Point Programme’ which at that early stage were very important and relevant documents. These were lengthy discussion groups which took place throughout the night. However, it crystallised into a solid branch of the NEUM (Non-European Unity Movement), Korsten branch. Further exploratory work was conducted in the area before these two stalwarts could return to Cape Town.

As a young student (16 years of age) we had the opportunity of meeting with people of the calibre of Dr Alexander at a very early stage in our political careers. This took place while we attended the CPSU (Cape Peninsula Students Union) group at our residence in Lloyd Street, Cape Town. This group grew rapidly as more and more progressive students became interested in the finer progressive political ideologies of the CPSU. We met regularly every fortnight and the discussions took place until the early hours of the morning. The topics included Bantu Education, Coloured Education, Bush University, Students Representative Council issues and the like. We also organised regular meetings on camping trips on Table Mountain where extensive politicisation took place on advanced political ideologies such as capitalism, imperialism and world ideologies of the day. We became acutely aware that our home got the attention of the security police. However, this did not deter us from becoming acutely aware of the intrusion of capitalism and imperialism and the like. It was at a very young age that I became involved in student politics which has its origin in political activity.

The forced removals, the Group Areas Act, the political upheaval caused havoc amongst particularly the young who were influenced by teachers who belonged to the Anti-CAD (Anti-Coloured Affairs Department) and the TLSA (Teachers League of South Africa). The city was ablaze with political activity which in a short space of time demonstrated deep into the youth. This needless to say was influenced by political youth in the Western Cape. What was affecting the students in the Western Cape was, alas, also affecting the students in the Cape, particularly Gqeberha. At times, the situation became extremely volatile and out of control. Organisations like the NUM (National Unity Movement), Anti-CAD (Anti-Coloured Affairs Department), TLSA (Teachers League of South Africa) reigned supreme. It was also apparent that the ratepayer’s organisations which were formed to fight against the rapid erosion of management committees.

Many public meetings were held with F.A. Landman and Dennis Brutus (vice-chairman), who were at pains to point out the disadvantages of the Group Areas Act. Many groups were formed which included the ANC, the PAC, the Unity Movement and allied groups were mobilised. It became apparent that the Group Areas Act was not going to go through a very easy passage. The organisations were not unified in their actions and this gave the opposition deep inroads into progressive thinkers. As a student group at the University College of the Western Cape we were invited to SOYA (Society of Young Africa) meetings in the Mowbray Minor Hall on a Sunday afternoon. For the first time we witnessed serious altercations among the members of the NEUM (Non-European Unity Movement), and this included Dr Neville Alexander and Dr Kenny Abrahams.

The topic of discussion was on Angola and the chairlady of the meeting Miss Wilcox clearly did not understand her mandate. Dr Neville Alexander and Dr Kenny Abrahams tackled her on the political aspects of FRELIMO Liberation Front of Mozambique). It appeared that two factions had now developed in the meeting. It was really a fisticuffs kind of thing. It appeared as if Dr Alexander and Dr Abrahams were at loggerheads with the present discussion leaders of the main group. The matter came to a head when the chairperson asked Dr Alexander and Dr Abrahams to leave the meeting. However, before that could take place Dr Abrahams announced to the meeting that all those who believed in democracy would leave the meeting. I was one of the Western Cape students who felt urged to leave the meeting with Alexander and Abrahams, which we did and met again at No. 2 Swiss Road in Lansdowne for a follow-up meeting. Officially, at this meeting there was information about the YCCC (Yu Chi Chan Club). Dr Alexander and Dr Abrahams felt no animosity which the meeting gave them as they left.

Dr Alexander was described as a dark horse by my father. As with all leaders, the maverick visionaries and profound thinkers, brilliant intellectuals, and having the primitive wonders of both wisdom and intelligence, for these men ahead of their time their faith was shared only by their comrades in the struggle. These stalwarts have taught me that it is the tendency of every man, woman and child of every race, of every faith to embrace every other man, woman and child of every race, and of every other faith. Indeed, it is rare. Indeed, it is exceptional when it happens. Language is a bridge. The language is not of love, but of respect. It is the flesh and blood of mother tongue language that divides us. It is respect that conquers self-pity, arrogance and narcissism. There is no one identity. Yet there is one moral code. Multiculturalism has changed the order of history, moral ambiguity, cast a spell on the doctrines and phenomena of religion. In humanity, in this human world, these leaders have taught us purpose on earth, the awareness of self, lack of ego and the finding of our identity in existential relativism, pedagogical and counterfeit phenomenology. Multiply achievement and you get the candy shop of the poetic horrors of over-abundance, the romantic weariness of decay and the complex strength of popularity.

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African Renaissance

Truth and the third wave of the pandemic: To be vaccinated or not to be vaccinated

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Photo: Atharva Tulsi/Unsplash

I have endured the worst possible case scenario. Being locked up in a mental institution for six months while in my late teens, early twenties. Even though I was of sound body, mind and soul. I am 42 years old now and I haven’t come all the way back from that experience. Everyone wrote me off when I returned home to Port Elizabeth as Gqeberha was known in those days but worse was to follow. Inhumane treatment from those closest to me, rejection from society. I was taught that I had a mental disability and would never be able to work again, hold down a steady job or earn a monthly income. I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to now live on the fringes of society since I would be unable to make a positive contribution to society. For twenty years this continued. I had to all intents and purposes not only given up on myself, my personal success, development of my potential and fulfillment and engagement in a relationship that would lead ultimately to my future happiness. The goal of marriage and having a child, bringing children into the world and raising a family was not only put into the distant past, I thought that it would always be non-existent for me.

I would spend my time listening to sad music, love songs on the radio and wonder why it was not me caught up in the scenario of having a relationship with the opposite sex. I sank even further into the pit of the hell in f despair and hardship. I virtually had lost control over my life, received a disability grant which I did not spend on anything which I personally needed. Family considered me to be the proverbial black sheep of the family. When I got angry at the way I was treated I was certified. My rights were taken away from me. I was verbally, mentally and emotionally abused. I did everything in my power to be loved and accepted by both my maternal and paternal family which is why I believe so strongly today in dismantling the stigma that surrounds issues concerning mental illness and depression mania, euphoria and elation (however mild or all-consuming it might be). At this late stage of my life I have become an advocate for mental wellness. To stop the fight and curb the alienation and isolation of sufferers of mental illness. I want people from all walks of life to realise that people with mental illnesses can enrich our lives and can make a positive contribution to society.

I myself have always sought solace in writing. I have found it to be an instrument for change and therapeutic as well.

I have firsthand knowledge and experience of being called anything from schizophrenic to being diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder and because of the heavy psychotropic medication I have taken over the years I have had a host of illnesses presenting themselves. Chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, an underactive thyroid, chronic kidney disease, gout and heart disease. These diseases manifested themselves early on in my life before the onset of middle age when they would be more prevalent in someone who would be prone to these sorts of illnesses because of not living a healthy lifestyle.

I take each day as it comes now and live in the moment. I have my good days. I have my bad days. I have a mean temper and constantly have to watch what I eat, watch what I say and how I react to people who treat me as him I am a second class citizen because of everything I have been through in my life. Truth be told I always knew I was different. The depression started in childhood for me. I was always an overachiever. I would come home in the afternoons after school but no one ever helped me with my homework, told me either that they were proud of me or believed in me or loved me for that matter.

Everyday I am a work in progress. It is tough dealing with moodswing but that is the currency I deal in and the territory that borders my sense of self-control.

I have been called many names. None of them pretty or lovely. I have had zero support from my immediate family and my estranged family has complete written me off and washed their hands off of me thinking there is nothing they can do for me. This has been very hurtful and even has made made me feel quite suicidal over the years and in my hour if need, my hours of silence, pain and collective trauma I turned to God, prayer and meditation in my hour of need. At the time of the outbreak of the pandemic I got corona and was admitted to the psych ward at Provincial Hospital here in Gqeberha. I had no medical aid and was once again at the mercy of the system but I survived hell and that harrowing experience again to live to tell the tale of how to overcome the impossible, to live and to learn, to remain humble and kind even in the face of adversity and cruelty.

Loneliness, abject poverty, homelessness can either kill you or make you realise that you are powerful beyond measure and I have realised that I am powerful beyond measure.

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African Renaissance

Thoughts From the Frontline

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Photo: Keenan Constance/Unsplash

“Hip/Hop, Trap. I would describe my music as different, unique, compared to what I hear in the music industry in South Africa. It is a different sound of genre based on hip hop. In my downtime I listen to artists like Mexikodro, Playboi Carti, Diego Money, Pyrex Whippa, Lil Gotit and Sahbabii. In my life my family has been and still is a major influence, I just want to see them happy and stress free. I want to be successful so that they can spend the rest of lives living comfortably. I chose music because I believe that it is something I’m good at. I wouldn’t call myself a musical genius, or say that I’m talented musically because I’m not but, I have taken the time to learn everything that I know today, I started as a rapper, but now I am a producer as well, a very good one if I should say, I mix and master vocals, well I try to. It is still something I am learning on a daily basis and I believe that one day if not soon, I will understand that aspect of music. The guys who I record with are so gifted at what they do, we really inspire each other to take it to the next level. I would be lying if I said that I inspire myself, well maybe I do, I don’t know, however what I do know is that we can go to the next level together because nowadays you rarely see a duo or a group of rappers in the South African music industry, there are 4 of us in our group including others who aren’t full time as yet, I think that makes the odds better for us to take it to the next level as opposed to being a solo” SUPREME ZEE, CEO OF Holidae Don’t Stop!

“What inspires me to take it to the next level is basically my daughter, Family and my everyday experiences growing up and living in Westbury losing friends and family to gang violence had a huge effect on me since a young age I’ve been through hell and back if I may describe in short and I’ve realized, to make it out you really need to dig deep. This is also one of the main reasons why I started writing music. I love Music, it is my passion that is mainly why I chose to make music, ever since a young age I’ve just been through the worst writing music and articulating every word I write is therapeutic. Manifesting and having faith in God has carried me through. Major influences in my life remains God, my baby girl, my family and obviously my Team Holidae Dont Stop! We always encourage one another to do our best we definitely do bring out the best in each other and I’d say the beats that supreme Zee creates brings out the best in me personally and it’s also one of the major influences in my music career it’s only elevated since the moment we started. In my down time I listen to All types of music mostly Gospel & HDS. I would describe my music as being one in a million very versatile, real and unusually different from the usual and it has an unorthodox flow and style to it so you can literally expect only the best” TheGR8ACE, CEO and co-founder of Holidae Dont Stop!

My inspiration comes from knowing that I have a God given talent and my friends (HDS) and family that motivates me day to day to do better. I chose music because as a hobby it is something I love doing which started out in high school where I had friends that used to rap over beats and I’d just stand within the circle and listen to their rhymes and it became to amuse me when I found out that there are people in my community creating their own music, whereas in 2019, I linked with the crew Holidae Dont Stop! and it has been a wonderful journey ever since! Learning and growing at the same time. My mother has played a role as one of my biggest inspirations including friends (HDS) have been a major Influence in my life, for they always pushed me to be a better me. Not giving up on me and providing not bad advice but love and positivity. I’ve been in difficult situation in the past and I am just trying to make a better standard of living for my family, my friends as well as my community (Westbury). In my down time I listen to various genres like Rock, Rnb, Hip/Hop, Rap, Emo Rap. I would describe our music as Western Plug for it derives from Hip-hop with an offbeat including 808s and guitar and piano samples that Supreme Zee (Producer) recreates and when hearing the beat, I can automatically put my heart on it.” Bando -recording Artist at Holidae Dont Stop!

 To conclude this, we are all from Johannesburg South Africa as one of our members spread across as far as Cape Town, temporarily. Our member who are not full time are – Leiph Camp (Splaash66) Stock broker, Razaak Benjamin (Glock) Salesman and Marion Reyners (Marion The Great) Facilitator. “Our music is Bold, Iconic and timeless” TheGr8ce. Our crew is based in Jozi (Johannesburg) although we do not have a manager as yet. Our follow up record will sound similar to the “Western Plug tape” that we have recently released, followed by 3 singles. Plug is a genre that derives itself from Hip-Hop and our next single will drop in 2 weeks. The link to our music is on all platforms and the Love and support would be much appreciated. We literally wont stop! –

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