Showing posts from October, 2011

hewers of wood, drawers of water

"We shall reject the whole system of Bantu Education whose aim is to reduce us, mentally and physically, into 'hewers of wood and drawers of water'."
Soweto Sudents Representative Council, 1976.

I moved into my current flat almost a year ago. Since I've moved in there's been a construction of yet another block of flats in Grahamstown-Rhini. It's been the constant background noise with trucks humming and bricks being laid forming the latest addition to the property boom in the small town.

Part of the construction site has been the builders, black and coloured men of various ages. I walk by them every single day. I walk by them when I go swimming in the morning and when I’m on my way back, when I go to campus and when I walk back and any other time I leave my flat during the day, they are there. As the building gets taller and forms shape they are now the first people I see when I open my curtains.

I don't know the names nor the faces of these men. If they …

The great divide: policy and practice in our classrooms

Between 1994 and 2007, 160 policy texts were written related to changes in the Department of Education (now known as Basic Education). This has been dubbed as “policy-mania” and one of the symptoms of the “education crises” in this country. This “policy-mania” is ironic given that many of these policies have proven to be ineffective and resulted in a mismatch between practice and policy. This chasm further exacerbates the inequalities we see in our education system where there are flourishing schools for people who can pay fees and poor performing schools for working class parents.

An example of a policy text is the Foundations for Learning , a clear response to the low literacy levels amongst learners in the Foundation Phase (FP). In spite of this policy (released in 2008), further assessments have shown that learners are still failing dismally and the results can be mapped out along socio-economic lines where provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape perform better than Limpopo…

body politics: my m-cup and my vagina

I first heard about the m-cup (menstrual/moon cups) last year over dinner conversation. I was enthralled by the idea of environmentally friendly and safer methods of menstrual health and I seriously started wondering about all the waste products such as tampons and pads...where do they all go? It also made me wonder about women’s menstrual health and how warped it is considering the adverts on tv (especially for women who cannot afford the expense of tampons and pads).

So I went and bought a moon cup soon after the conversation. I googled more information and read anything and everything. Like most women growing up in conservative families with a mother who taught me “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and all things about sexuality were makings of the devil, my vagina was mostly invisible. The biology lessons at school (with male teachers) showed me cross-sections of tubes and balls that made little sense to me except when I had to label the image during a test. Apart from the monthly…

body politics: my (african) tongue

“Speak if you can...what are you?” (Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 3)
These are Macbeth’s words when he first encounters the witches. These words have always interested me because Macbeth asks the witches to speak in order to know who they are. Macbeth assumes that they have the ability to speak and that they will speak a language he will understand and thus the mystery of who they are will unfold. Throughout the play, Macbeth’s interaction with the witches is through a meaning making process where he is desperate to understand their mysterious proclamations about his destiny. It is through speaking, language, communication, that Macbeth and the witches come to understand each other or not...hence the tragedy that befalls Macbeth?

When we speak, we inevitably convey meaning about who we are and what we believe, hence language and who we are—our identity (a portmanteau word)—cannot be separated. What is even more fascinating is that people will use the discourse we use, the jokes we…