“WE NEED TO TALK” : Of Rape and Rhinos

The Horn (to end Rhino Poaching in South Africa)
The Horn (to end Rhino Poaching in South Africa)

24 Monday, December, 2012.  Johannesburg South Africa.  As I slowly stretched awake for yet another day of work ( do we really have to go? my body complains, yes we do baby, I say. )  my hand automatically reaches for the remote; my thumb knows the drill and it goes searching for the news channels, on the Beeb/ BBC is The Queen in all her Motherly splendor  wishing her subjects well during the festive season. Ah!  now she  has  had a great year!  Celebrations kicked off in earlier in 2011 with the wedding  of Prince William and Kate  Middleton ( ala Prince Charles and Diana 30 years ago) .  This year 2012,  the Queen became only the second British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.  The Royal  Diamond Jubilees  celebrate milestones in a Monarch’s reign. The Queen isn’t the only British Monarch to celebrate a Jubilee, George III and Queen Victoria both celebrated Jubilees during their reigns.  Her Diamond Jubilee saw London stop with much fan fare , what with  various  members of the Royal Family crisscrossing across the commonwealth:

“The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 countries that “support” each other and work together towards  shared goals in democracy and development.   “the commonwealth” is home to two billion citizens of all faiths  and ethnicity  and includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. Over half of its citizens are 25 or under.  Member countries come from six regions: Please do Take Note : Africa (19); Asia (8); the Americas (3); the Caribbean (10); Europe (3); and the South Pacific (11).

Most recent members are: Rwanda – admitted at the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting; Cameroon; and Mozambique – the first country with no historical or administrative association to the Commonwealth to join.”

British Royals paid visits to each of these voluntary member states conferring the message of the queen (“Thank you for your Services, mineral resources, human capital, your souls).  She really does rule the world.  The Olympics went splendidly for the British Isles she said looking rather pale in a white/silver dress matching hair and make-up and black shoes. She was recording her annual Christmas message, in 3D this time, why not? The pope recently joined Twitter. Oh and she’s expecting a grandchild! Such great news for the Royal family.    This year though, with all this Jubilation going on she couldn’t help herself, attending a cabinet meeting at number 10 Downing street something which hasn’t happened in  over a century!  She’s coming out to play.  And so did some of  the Queens Colonies.  South African President Jacob Zuma was equally Jubilant this year so much to celebrate where shall we start; He got married again this year! One of his sons also tied a knot ;  how lovely! Oh and  his 70th Birthday was  A huge Bash! The ANC celebrated 100 years of its  existence — Jubilation all round, so many parties and so little time! God Must have really smiled on the Zuma family because this year they found more than 200million rands to upgrade their Nkandla  Residence with state of the art security lifts, bunkers, ever-green grass, and a private road to the  their homestead also known as the Presidents  Private Residence.  And then he slaughtered a few prized cows – The Prized Nguni Cow – the best in the world — to ask for more luck from his ancestors ahead of the ANC’s elective conference – and God Smiled at him again. He was re-elected President of the  African National Congress – by majority rule! God does give good gifts indeed.  Our president was having a lot of fun and I wished he could have at least spared a thought for the residents of Lenasia whose homes were razed to the ground two months ago… 80 homes bulldozed: He could have as a good gesture ask his family to at least give them a homes as gifts for Christmas? How about the widows and children of the Men killed in the Marikana Massacre by police for demanding better wages? They could have used a free education? Maybe homes etc as Christmas gifts?  Wine Farm-workers in the Western Cape? Could he have just increased their pay from 50 rand a day to like 200 hundred just for fun? Don’t they deserve a little gift from God?

A woman trying to stop her  house from being Demolished in Lenasia, South of Johannesburg
A woman trying to stop her house from being Demolished in Lenasia, South of Johannesburg

The queen for her part has a penchant for silly extravagance too … why record your message in  3D?  The death of the Australian nurse who shared information about Kate’s pregnancy has almost been forgotten  ” she was stupid” says many royal watchers /fans/ supporters and cynics who followed the story. The nurses’  death was first reported as a mystery then evidence emerged that she had hanged herself.  However tragic I wonder if she was mentioned in Queens Jubilant speech. Skynews – Kate and William break from tradition and celebrate Xmas at Kate’s family home. Ho! ho! ho!.   My thumb moves to Aljazeera there’s a debate about Rape in India! Still ?!!my mind wonders. “Protests over a recent gang rape quickly gained force over the weekend, tapping into longstanding fury against entrenched corruption and lopsided justice, and leading to clashes with the police. ” Reports NDTV.

“Seven days of demonstrations peaked Sunday, as thousands of people joined women’s and students’ groups despite a hastily enacted ban on protesting in New Delhi. The crowds taunted the police and attacked the car of a member of Parliament. The police, in turn, fired tear gas and water cannons, beat protesters with bamboo sticks and arrested dozens.”

Lets compare India’s rape cases to other country’s around the world, says the anchor of the show.  South Africa leads the world with more than 200-thousand- cases of rape being recorded (2010 figures) ,  let’s not forget that a  quarter of the women raped every 17 seconds are  children.

Suddenly I found myself wondering why there is no one protesting on South Africa’s streets. I mean we have enough reason to go out in our numbers like they are in India.   There’s no one protesting on the streets of South Africa. No-one.  These are reported cases of people who actually  bothered to call the police’s bluff and report the violence. But with South Africa’s Justice system being the way it is  many of these don’t even make it to court, those that do hardly any of the perpetrators are caught, sent to trial or convicted.  Eish.  Are so overwhelmed by violence, traumatized de-sensitized by violence that  we marvel at mass protests over one  or two rape ( I at least did) or  worse  even this we don’t  take India’s example. I have to wonder – What’s happening to us?  Lisa Vetten, a senior Researcher from the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Center say people are just overwhelmed.

There’s is this red horn that I have been seeing on cars  recently it’s Huge. I have been wondering what is the horn about…  until it finally  clicked! It’s a campaign to save the Rhino Campaign.

“The Rhinose campaign is aimed at creating awareness and raising funds for three non-profit conservation organisations.  A Rhino has

been killed for its horn every 16 hours this year.

As a result of these worrisome statistics, The Rhinose Day campaign was launched. This is a campaign to raise funds and create awareness and widen the fight against rhino poaching and the false medicinal myths in general.

Rhinose Day is a joint initiative of three non-profit conservation organizations, the Rhino Action Group Effort (RAGE), the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Rhinose Foundation.”

We should have a joint  initiatives  to fight rape against women, powered with as much money, marketing, publicity, modern technology, education and  technical know how.  We should  have all cabinet ministers,  the presidency and anyone with a voice – shouting loudly – about this atrocity as they are about Rhinos.

Are we not just as worried that at least 227- thousand women are assaulted, raped, injured and killed each year? Scared, mind body and souls  in different stages of  Post Traumatic Stress Disorders ( PTSD),  many of which go untreated?

Today a  33-year-old woman in the Eastern Cape was arrested after she stabbed her boyfriend with a knife on the chest. Here’s how the story was reported:

“Eastern Cape police at Addo have arrested a 33-year-old woman in connection with the murder of her 39-year-old boyfriend. He was stabbed with a knife. Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Marianette Olivier says the couple had an argument in their house at Nomathamsanqa at Addo. Friends stopped the fight and the man left. Shortly afterwards, he returned and again began assaulting his girlfriend – this time with a pick-axe handle. Olivier says the woman then allegedly stabbed him with a knife in the chest. He died on the scene.”

So what are we doing to stop this?  A tiny search on Google on Rhino Killings brings up more than 2 million pages,  from Save the Rhino to the more glittering page of Stop Rhino Poaching Now!  from the pictures one would swear it was a Miss World contest with all the awards that those involved in the industry give each other.

So who cares about the women?  Why is there so much money , time and political will put in to end the atrociously lucrative business of Rhino Horn Poaching and nothing done to prevent rape  against women and children  in the country? Every 17 seconds a woman is raped? How will these girl children become loving caring mothers? What society are we creating?

When will we care enough to have  – “Red Horns”- as a campaign against the  consistent and insistent rape of women , children and the elderly?  I think it’s apt.   Let’s all wear red horns on our heads in protest as against the rape of women and rhinos, why not?  Let’s all pull our resources together –   build safe homes for women and children who have been violated and brutalized, give them  a place to recover and feel safe and empowered. It is really that impossible?  Have door to door campaigns, to speak to men in schools, offices, street corners, cabinet offices, bedrooms…

Or is just too much to ask ? How much has changed since 1960 -1994?

I wonder.

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ON-AIR!

Radio Rocks my boat still. But I have been hard-pressed to find a program I can listen to here at home – a program I can be in tune with,  an artistic creative  radio show that can draw me in so high on air  I start to dream big… this Talk Talk Talk has turned the air-waves  into a  black board with chalk screeching and scraping down your ear over and over all over …..  talking heads, music being the only peaceful break we get from loud screaming, shouting, voices laughing, talk,talk,talk,talking heads about nothing on a stale formats. Maybe it is a South African thing, what’s on air in your country?

What made me fall in-love-so deeply with radio was its captivating quality,  in the form of  radio Dramas and Plays, which left room to be a little creative about what I was hearing, I engaged in a creative-give-and take relationship with my radio.   And the  any beautiful voices that presented dry(news) information or difficult subjects as if it were the most delicious dish on earth, sultry and beautiful, oh, the hair’s on my back stands up at the thought.

A good  radio voice does not seem to be part of the requirements of being on air. if you can talk its cool, which is also cool but…

I have fallen in-love with radio voices, even though the people behind the voice were well not exactly my type. But there is some-thing in the voice that can just speak to you, touch, pierce deep into you (if the messaging, content is right)  in places only you are aware of  or never thought anyone could reach,  people who can sing well understand the power of voice – which can at once captivate, and transfix people, regardless of their race, colour and or creed. Music is Powerful still.

So you would think that those given that platform (radio-platform) today, would know what to do with it  and be aware of the power they have in their hands, on a daily basis, and treat their work with the serious consideration it deserves. But very few people seem to think about radio beyond the sound of their egos. I’m still working on mine. I think the radio platform is still an underused even – abused canvass… people are not using it creatively  enough in the same way they are on print and television, everything today is about the image…. the face

There is something about it that so captures my imagination in a way that Social Media still doesn’t for me today. Sometimes I wonder why with all this technology we have at our disposal, we still  have tired and boring radio  formats, like how many talk-call-in-shows about Politics do we need? Anyway to be fair, I have tuned out of what’s on air  because it hasn’t captured my imagination least of all “entertain me” we’re all sounding like each other, doing the same thing everyday, someone has got to try a pie in the sky method to make radio  the theater of the mind it once was.

I used to enjoy the World Radio Network, (WRN) I would listen to it around midnight while sleep paid visits to more deserving people, it felt like i was travelling around the world listening in to what makes other societies tick, what problems they are facing and how they are dealing with them. It almost always felt like eave’s dropping in private nocturnal conversation people were having around the world, but as an invited guest. For an hour or so I could step out of my bedroom and spend time with this woman living in a monastery in Holland talk about the flours that were booming there and how she ended up living there alone…

The US-based National Public Radio (NPR)  – has good examples of what makes for a  good news and current affairs radio show, just the right balance in terms of pace, delivery, content and intensity. The hosts have nice warm pleasant voices that really want to make you listen, as if to say, come in you are  invited.

In Africa? BBC Africa is what Africans listen to if they want to know what’s going on in other parts of the continent. I still haven’t found one that speaks to me. With all my varying tastes, languages and my short attentions span there’s not a calm voice I have found on-air.  Radio is still the most basic way to communicate on the continent, now people listen to radio on their phones every-where they go, imagine how that could revolutionize the dissemination of information… educate, inform, entertain.

This America Life : Is FUN and FACTUAL, and is indeed the theater of the mind. This I used to spend hours and hours listening to online, because you can and it sounds like its recorded live – and really its a good example of what we can do with radio, while driving, or waiting for something to happen.

Radio is not only about the personality, it’s not only about the  voice, it’s not only about content, it’s not only about the presentation, but if you can get all these ingredients together in a nice mix then I you have a captive Audience. But if you ask me  the Voice is still remains the most important ingredient of all.

So I think I might just have to do something about it…..Image

Stay tuned….