25 July, 2014


Culture is the arts and manifestation of human achievement regarded collectively. It is the ideas, actions and social behavior of particular people or society. Thus, it drives with the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion cuisine, social habit etc. Limpopo is a wild life destination with lot of game and nature reserve including the Northern Kruger National Park. Apart from game viewing and birding, it is a home to remain of ancient culture as an integrating Venda culture.

According to a Sowetan story which was widely reported on by other media outlet, the Venda lobby group welcomed Hlaudi  Motsoeneng to Thohoyandou with the gift of a cow and calf before lining up girls from which the Chief Operating Officer of SABC could pick his wife of choice. The girls were around ten and they paraded for him to choose. He chose the one he liked. Sowetan featured a picture of Motsoeneng with his choice, 23 year-old Venessa Mutswari. Thus, Venessa denied that she was given to anybody as a present and it is not Venda culture, she clarified that she was just an usher nothing more or less.

In generally, to some other people these allegations could be true, depending on the average of understanding the Venda culture. Moreover it is not possible that or for woman to be offered as a gift. However in due to some of Venda customs, it may be believed to be possible by general people. For example, they still practice planned marriage. In specific ceremonies, the Vhavenda king gets to choose a wife, but in these situations the woman is usually from a royal family and the marriage has already been discussed and not everyone would be aware that they have discussed it, especially if one is not a Venda.

The media plays a major role in contrasting the whole South Africa even the world into a single village, for we tend to know what is happening through the media. However, in the case of Motsoeneng, the media have wrongly intervened on this matter. The journalist translated or interpreted what happened on that event inappropriate, and they went for painting without interviewing both victims. By so doing, they jeopardized Mutswari’s marriage because she is engaged.

South Africa is a multicultural country where all citizens exercises their culture freely, and not undermine others culture. In other words, it is key to know others culture. The media plays a major role in portraying various cultures. However, on the case of Motsoeneng and Mutswari, media’s intervenient ruined their lives. Furthermore, South African media intervene much on the failure and not success of culture.

Illegal initiation schools have turned the circumcision culture into "something criminal" By Sisonke Mlamla (@Sisonke_mlamla)

The Xhosa culture, well known for its traditional circumcision and initiation custom ‘’Ulwaluko’’, has been attributed with various successes to the Department of Health such as lowering the risk of Sexual Transmitted Disease, educating young males for manhood responsibilities and also justifies young men to partake in male activities such as tribal meetings.

Tragically due to vulnerability, some males are forced to undergo the ritual without the awareness of their families while some are led by the influence of peer pressure, drugs and alcohol abuse. It would be inappropriate to say these are aware of the consequences of partaking in the custom.
The custom itself has been dark-lined with casualties such as abuse of initiates in certain villages hence arousing questions such as, “Should the practice be discontinued”? Should it be taken over by the Department of Health? Recent reports by the Eastern Cape Health department (2014-07-08) revealed that since the beginning of the winter initiation season, the deaths of initiates has risen to 25.

Two weeks back in one village outside Mbizana, Madiba village, an initiation school was allegedly attacked by a group of other initiates from another tribe. Thirteen boys escaped uninjured, and the initiation school was burned down. What is happening to our African Cultures? Is it substituted by modernism?

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said ‘’the parents of the initiates were to blame for some of the problems experienced, because Parents allowed criminals masquerading as circumcision experts to circumcise their children. The parents also denied health workers access so they could examine the boys, now Illegal initiation schools have turned the circumcision culture into something criminal’’He also said "In one instance, a young boy died a day after his father refused him access to a health worker. That parent must be held accountable."(www.news24.com)The chairman of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Nkosi Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, is reported as saying "this is shocking, what are we not doing right?"

The circumcision crisis is seen by some as a battle between modern and traditional practices, or cultural versus health rights. This is not helpful. This is a matter of life and death and as such it places a duty on the Government to intervene and requires the Traditional Leadership to effect the necessary changes that will enable initiation practices to continue under safe conditions.

The not-so shameful age of women

Lynn Butler

Women protesting for their rights. Image: LIFE

Since our existence, man is symbolised to conquer and be superior to a woman. We (our society) are taught to believe that we live in a universe where the man is often seen sitting high on a pedestal. Eminent leaders namely presidency’s and spiritual leaders such as Jesus Christ and God are a few examples of how women culture had to always revolve around mankind. 

Women are sometimes often known as the secondary sex and through the ages women have struggled to oppose this presumption. The long tradition has been for males to protect females. Evolutionist, Charles Darwin revealed that a major plank of evolution theory was the belief of intellectual and physical inferiority of women. The uprising towards women equality has been a slow and growing progress, here is a short summary of when women achieved remarkable benchmarks levelling with the opposite sex:
  • 1702 - The reign of Queen Anne.  The 1707 Act of Union made Anne the first ruler of Great Britain.
  • 1840 - Catherine Brewer becomes first woman to receive a bachelor’s degree, from Georgia Female College (now Wesleyan College).
  • 1848 - The world’s first women’s right convention held in New York, July 19-20.
  • 1849 - Amelia Jenks Bloomer publishes and edits ‘The Lily’ the first women’s rights newspaper.
  • 1850 - The first woman graduated under police guard.
  • 1855 - Lucy Stone became the first woman on record to keep her own name after marriage.
  • 1855 - The University of Iowa becomes the first state school to admit women.
  • 1872 - Susan B. Anthony is arrested for trying to vote.
  • 1877 - Helen Magill becomes the first woman to receive a Ph.D, a doctorate in Greek.
  • 1878 - The Susan B. Anthony Amendment granted the right for women to vote.
  • 1900 - Women competed for the first time in the Olympic Games. Hélène de Pourtalès, a sailor, was the first female Olympian champion.
  • 1903 - Marie Curie wins the Nobel Prize for her work on radioactivity and the discovery of radium.
  • 1917 - Jeanette Rankin of Montana becomes the first woman elected to US Congress.
  • 1918 - Women over the age of 30 given the vote in the UK.
  • 1920 - 19th Amendment gives women right to vote in the US.
  • 1932 - Amelia Earhart becomes first woman to fly solo across Atlantic.
  • 1938 - Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage without regard to gender.
  • 1955 - The first lesbian organization in U.S., Daughters of Bilitis, is founded.
  • 1963 - Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space when the Vostok 6 orbits the earth 38 times.
  • 1974 - The world's first woman President was Marma Estela 'Isabel' Martinez Cartas de Peron of Argentina, after her husband died Isabel served as president.
  • 1980 - The world's first elected woman President was Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland.
Former President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadottir.
Image: Cocnoticias
In the 21st century, a woman is now looked upon as an equal in some forms or another. Unlike in previous decades, women of today are more independent and self-efficient.  However, women of modern society are still struggling today for equal rights, recognition and independency. 
For the past century, the movement towards uplifting women’s rights have drastically changed the world. It will be interesting to see what the situation will be in the next century and hopefully it’s for the better.

18 July, 2014

Celebrating a lifetime Legacy : BY SANDISO NDLOVANA

Today marks the first time the country celebrates the birth of Tata Nelson Mandela without his presence. He may have passed on but his spirit shall forever remain in the lands of South Africa. He was not only a father to the Mandela family but a father to the whole nation. The man whom among others brought this country freedom, he shall be celebrated forever.

Now it all in the hands of the generation he fought for, and we are the generation indeed. Freedom brought lot of opportunities for the nation, especially youth. We are the youth that is free from oppressors, the youth that their voices can be had. When Tata chose peace over revenge; he dreamt of a generation that will walk free in its own lands. It seems we living a dream of a wise man.

The government in it capacity tries to improve our lives in many ways, education in particular. It is true that we are receiving a much better education then our parents did. Yes it not the best in the world but with a pure positive mind, it is a tool for a better life. If a man that the nation is celebrating today was able to obtain that much education during the apartheid era. Than freedom should be enough to strengthen our wings and so we shall fly higher. As a young person I feel in this special day let me weigh myself educational. As Mandela himself encouraged education in one of his famous quotes “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
In celebrating Mandela day I wish the youth to move from the circle of blaming and pointing figures at the present leaders for everything that goes wrong in this country. Yet we are the very same people voting for them. In my opinion we are those leaders in waiting. Let’s one learn from the great man’s work and fight for the future. The little opportunities we have can definitely take one to better life. In his words “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do”.

 The time is now for each of us to embrace Madiba’s legacy. As we go out today to do different things spending 67 minutes in community services celebrating his birth. Let it be known that we are not doing this for Madiba anymore but for ourselves. Tata made the nation see the significance of loving one another. The how that love is shared across the country really depends in one’s heart.
In loving memory of Tata Nelson Mandela, celebrations are all over the country. However I hope we are all filled with the same idea of celebrating this day accordingly

All you can do in Madiba month : By Bongani Mtshwene

It is that time again folks, the 18th of July is the late former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birthday; this date was declared Nelson Mandela International Day by the United Nations in November 2009. And in so doing, the UN has recognised Mandela’s values and his dedication to service of humanity and promotion of world peace.

Year after year, South Africa and the world celebrate Nelson Mandela month and 67 minutes for Mandela. These initiatives are dedicated to honouring uTata’s life and deeds through individual power to make a change in the world around us.

The ideology behind this is to build a global movement for positive change, raising awareness and promoting Mandela’s values – fighting injustice and practicing reconciliation.

But what can one do to commemorate the ideas of this visionary on this day?
A good place to start is at the fast growing Mandela Day Marathon. The marathon is run from Pietermaritzburg to Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. The number of participants has grown exponentially since its inception in 2012, from 1500 to 5500 in 2013. A good way to get fit, meet new people and celebrate Madiba’s legacy.

If you’re not much of a sportsperson you could simply donate blood. The South African National Blood Service has urged South Africans to donate blood on Mandela Day as part of their “Time to Serve” campaign. Spokesperson Vanessa Raju says the best way to live the Mandela legacy is to help save a life, and I guess it should be fairly rewarding to take time out of your life to save another.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also empowered many South Africans to go out to local townships in a work effort to help those in need. One can help at orphanages, old age homes or simply by cleaning up the environment amongst other things.

Another initiative that has been making waves is Caring4Girls, where one can donate sanitary towels to underprivileged girls. One can help raise funds for these girls by donations which can be done online at www.imbumbafoundation.org/donate/
If you find yourself done with all these activities and you feel like taking a break, you could go watch Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. This epic biopic will be screened for free throughout July. This will mark the Mandela Month celebrations and will also serve as a treat for all South Africans.
 www.mandeladay.com is fantastic website that offers information about volunteer opportunities for taking action and inspiring change, one may visit this site to get access to dates, venues and times to do better for South Africa.

These are only a handful of things that can be done to celebrate this awesome leader’s memory and legacy. All these acts of humility also need to be promoted outside of Madiba Month and 67 Minutes for Madiba. As South Africans we need to have Madiba’s ideals of peace, reconciliation and equality run through from the smallest of children to the elderly of citizens in this country.

I feel many companies use this month to make profits in the name of “campaigning for Madiba” and many people become desensitised from doing good because of this. The time for apathy is long gone, the time for racism is phasing out of the present and into history, it’s time we completely closed that chapter and move onto more of a utopian one.

Let us pay it forward by advocating for this visionary’s ideals and celebrate his memory by doing good for others.

Like the great Madiba said: “It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all”

Happy Nelson Mandela Month!

12 July, 2014

For the love of art

Mailula Refilwe

Art and Craft  at the streets.

I‘ve always wondered why people give up fascinating careers to become artist, performers, musicians and the likes.  For once it never appeared to me that, following your heart can be so great and exciting. But to my surprise, that all changed when I became part of the national arts festival.
This is not because I was part of the media, or that I was a part of the future journalism programme.  It’s simply because of the love of art. For the good work others do.  For the passion reflected in the artists’ work.
I couldn’t resist but take more and more pictures of the magnificent work that was being portrayed at the stalls and streets.

As  for the shows, I can't lie, others where as if  they never  bothered to rehears. They were just making unnecessary movements on stage. Nonetheless,  from all the shows that I’ve watched, the one that really stood out and took my full concentration is the theatre play called Protest. It got me wishing that I was part of the cast. The roar I made when they engaged us (the audience) into the play was phenomenal.
From these eleven days of amazing shows I can proudly say   kea leboga (thank you) national arts festival, for rejuvenating my soul.


Lira made my festival great

Thembani Onceya

It has been unusual performances happening on the streets, halls are all used for stage performances and there are young kids who are trying to make money by being statues all over the town.
IRhini/Grahamstown is always packed with artists who came from all over South Africa to sell their work, expose their products and to also network with each other.
Lira signing autograph at the Settlers Monument

This is the 40th anniversary of National Art Festival and I am the participant of the Future Journalism Programme. So I had an opportunity to attend few productions and to write reviews for Cue newspaper. The first show I attended was ‘Prince Senie- the curse of Logoza’ which was an expression of music, dance and monologues. The show got me excited to watch more. Then I went to watch ‘Kwa Nongqongqo’ which is the story of two prisoners who dream about life outside the prison bars.  Both of these productions were my reviews and were published in Cue newspaper.

This was not enough; I thought the festival in town does not mean people have no festival in the township. Then I went to Fingo Festival, where I saw the local talent and the majority were Grahamstown performers. The festival was happening at Raglan Road in Kwa Jackie market square. There were young kids, youth and adults having entertainment from many different artists.
It wouldn’t be what it meant to me until; I went to Lira’s show at Guy Buttler Theatre hall in Settlers Monument. I am speechless about her performance. I don’t have words to say.


My FJP winter experience


Upon my arrival in Grahamstown I had mixed emotions, a part of me was excited and looking forward to the programme yet the other part was sceptical due to the cold weather in the town.  I didn’t know what to expect and before I knew it, the programme itself warmed me up and the organisers didn’t disappoint in keeping the fire burning.
After having a good rest on Monday 7th, I woke up looking forward to watch the first show which I was assigned to the following day, titled Abadala First.  Wow, I have to admit that for someone who is not into stage drama like me, this particular show was a definite start to trigger my enthusiasm because it helped me to look forward to watch other shows.

The content of the play was original and profound yet easy to relate to as it contained a strong human interest angle.   I enjoyed the fact that it was not only entertaining but it was also educative and informative.  It expanded my mind into a lot of issues that we leave in the mist of in society, most of them which we do not pay attention to or rather afraid to talk about.

A chilled musical performance on the street
Furthermore it was a humbling experience to observe the beauty of art in the National Arts Festival, I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve seen a lot of interesting and talented people who are also passionate about the work of their hands.  I also enjoyed the diversity of cultures which was expressed in different ways, and I couldn’t have asked for more, it was total bliss.


All art forms in Grahamstown

noxolo nhlangothi
Right from the first day of my arrival Grahamstown did look different, from the hectic traffic of cars, people and the busy night life I knew the National arts festival was going to be interesting. It is definitely different from most that I have seen. This united almost everyone from musicians, actors, comedians, dancers and different business owners who all came together and contributed.
The first show I saw “speak sign love” only had one line in it, I only had to keep focus and follow the plot and review, for a play that had limited dialogue it was good. The fact that I had a working partner that has had a bit of experience helped me learn a lot faster than I normally would alone. And then there was a comedy show by Dalin oliver which for me was really well prepared, the guy is very funny even talks to his audience like they are all his best friends after the show.

one of the free shows at NAF
Free shows were also there even when you just walk up or further down the street. Then there was my biggest challenge which I think is the highlight of my training process, putting together radio news report and going around for stories was a bit challenging since I was not used to walking up to people and just ask for their stories. Reading news for the first time was the scariest feeling but I gained a lot of new knowledge, all my trainers were patient and great.

Mesmerized by the national arts festival

Nompumelelo Kubheka

I will go back home with a suitcase full of memories; an autographed poster of an idol, once-in-a-life- time opportunity learning experience and absolutely amazing new friends.
The first thing I notice when arriving at Grahamstown is a stack of colourful posters everywhere. The National arts festival must be pretty exciting I presume. Indeed my expectations were met.
Hanging a media tag on my neck and a camera bag on my shoulder made me feel like one of the best media gurus. Interviewing people, taking pictures and videos made me realise that my dreams are coming to a reality.
RhodesMusic Radio(RMR) taught me the difference between writing a newspaper story and writing  a radio script.
Attending a Lira concert was a cherry on top. It gave me an opportunity to meet her personally, tell her how much I adore her and having her sign my ticket.
I have a handmade bangle written my name on it and a bouquet of roses made out of wire for my mom. Both these accessories were made by talented artists at the festival.
The four day experience painted a clear image of a life of a journalist for me. Grahamstown is indeed a place to be between the end of June and the beginning of July.

National Art Festival 2014 Experience

Sandiso Ndlovana

I have always had about the national art festival that happens in Grahamstown yearly. People around the world have talked about it through all kinds of communication channels.

2014 is the year I had the experience for the first time in my life. All fun and excitement were overwhelming. Having to see different people around the world has really been great. I had to attend theatrical production shows, which is something I enjoyed.
Then there was RMR, the radio station. It was the first time again in my life to really learn how radio production works. Thanks to the RMR team for being lenient with me. They really did their best to accommodate me and taking me through the radio experience.
Artworks at the street market

Wow the Macbeth Afrikaans version is my highlight of the festival. I wish writers could do that more, especially with the Shakespeare’s plays because most of their original versions are quite complicated in my opinion.

Lastly I was blessed with the Lira show. She one of the most selling artist in Mzansi and she is loved by many people even internationally. I must say the Art Festival has been great to me and a special thanks to the Future Journalism Program team for giving me such an opportunity in my life.

A life-changing experience

Lynn Butler

I attended my first National Arts Festival this year, thanks to Highway Africa and Future Journalist Programme (FJP). My expectations were high, as I knew that this was the second biggest arts festival in the world.

Arriving in Grahamstown, you could feel the festive and exciting atmosphere. People, from all over the world and South Africa, arrived to see one and array of artistry performed. The streets were flooded with young and old from different cultural backgrounds. The diverse culture in art came from their performances on the stage, whether it is: dancing, singing, acting, painting, welding, wood making or any art element imaginable. 
A shot of uNontombi's Musical Play

My experience has been mind-blowing, I’ve learnt so much culture wise and journalistic wise. I’ve learnt the pressure of making deadlines, whilst creating quality work. I have looked at different cultural and art entities with a new perspective. The shows were exceptional, especially Cole Porter and his friends, uNontombi's Musical Play and Mzansi Sunshine. Also walking through the small business stalls and seeing unique and various items sold, it was hard to walk through there and not buy anything.

At the end of the festival, I’ve realised that I have a stronger passion for the arts and I would really like to do entertainment journalism. This experience has been life changing as I’ve seen and experienced things that I’ve never experienced before. I would definitely come back next year and the years to come.

My first time experience of the National Arts Festival

Jackson Malatji

Being it my first time at the National ArtsFestival, my experience has been outstandingly overwhelming and I’ve learnt to embrace art more than I did before and being there as a journalist covering stories for RMR and Cue newspaper helped me to also express my artistic skill through writing and compiling news packages for radio!

Thembeyi Cultural Group drinking Red-bull after their perfomance
I enjoyed every show I’ve seen  more especially ‘She Bellows’ which is a well written and directed, the play is  for both men and females, where vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming men for the way they treat and perceive women as their "dolls". Another first time experience was seeing Lira’s live in concert show, well I knew some of her songs but was never really a fan but after last night’s show I’m definitely a fan and going to start going to her shows. To see so many young black people embracing art like the Thembeyi Cultural Group I ran onto, a young Xhosa cultural music group wearing cultural clothes and the girls were topless made me to appreciate ad respect other cultures.
I wish the festival was happening twice a year because it’s not every day that you get to see actors, musicians, painters, designers, dancers and performers all in one place showcasing their talents to a mass audience.
 Some shows were boring but there’s always a room for improvement. Oh before I forget, the food was so good but expensive (sigh).

To conclude I believe the festival brings people from all sorts of lives, different sexes, religion and races together, that’s the beauty of art!

My Experience On The Natinal Arts festival

Thokozani Shongwe

Mingling with different tribes in Grahamstown
also really shows me that South Africans are enjoying the freedom which was left by the resilient Nelson Mandela. I have gain experience from Lira performance that South African must practice their freedom. I have experience that people must not always rebel for the government about shortage of job opportunities while have sit down with their hands I have taken these from one artist at the Church Square.
Xhosa dancers in their cultural attire 
The show for Nomakhisimsi gave experience that people must be faithfully in their relationship, must say no to illiterate generation and not being ignorant of what is going on around you. I loved the advice which was given by the Director of Highway Africa Mr Chris that in life one must be curious, listen and also be skeptical.
Body connectivity works in life I saw this on the Cargo: Precious show. Also that Captivity is something that one is born with the only that can be taught are the skills not the talent. Acclimatizing at the situation is the resolution to go on with life then forget about bad memories. Human traffic still exists.
What really impressed is that people are proud of their culture; I have seen these because nations were dressing their attire without any fear of favor. It would be unfair to leave the activities given by FJP I gained much experience radio production, reviewing shows and many more. I’m now sharpened as a Future Journalist.


Arts Fest - A humbling experience

Simvuyele Mageza
We arrived in icy Grahamstown on the morning of the 7th of July for the 40th Annual Arts Festival, the second biggest of its kind in Africa. It’s been only a week, yet the fun that has been had tells a different story.
 There is a certain level of pride that comes with being here. Not only as part of the media, but also as a South African. There was so much to see, do and learn that you couldn’t help but smile at how far our country has come.
South African "bottle art", handmade by sand and coloured beads
My partner and I saw our first show, Ezekiel Dlamini – The Musical, on the morning of the 9th of July. It was thrilling beyond compare and surpassed all expectations. Thereafter we saw Divalicious on the same evening. Although I am not much of a fan of the music genre there, the performances were beautiful and I commend them on a job well done.
The next morning we saw Heavy; a stand-up comedy show hosted by Kagiso Mokgadi. I learnt something vital that day: if you don’t want to be attacked by the comedian, never sit near the front.
Even though we were working on assignments throughout the week, we had much time to go browsing the markets and trying the local cuisine. We learnt a lot of skills that we are now able to take back with us. We are better and stronger, not only as journalists but also as South Africans.