All Articles Tagged "South Africa"
Talk about Mandela family values…
According to published reports, Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela, half-sisters and daughters of famed anti-apartheid leader and former South African president Nelson Mandela, are suing three former associates of their grandfather, for ownership of two investment holdings linked to the 94-year-old revered leader. In a dispute, which appears to be playing out in the press as much as it is in the courts right now, Tukwini Mandela, daughter of Makaziwe and granddaughter of Mandela, wrote an open letter to the Associated Press, accusing George Bizos, longtime Mandela associate and the accused in the case, of slandering the Mandela family name with comments he made that the Mandela children were only interested in gaining control of the companies so that they can have control of the money.
Of course, all of this was happening as the former president was in the hospital for a recurring lung infection. And according to the Canadian Globe and Mail, the latest public dispute over money has added fuel to an already growing chorus of disenchanted South Africans, who feel like members of the family are putting their own personal capitalistic interests over the Mandela name. Outside of the investment holdings, which is said to make money from the hand-printed artwork of Mandela, Makaziwe and daughter Tukwini are heading up the House of Mandela wine business, which produces vintage Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from various vineyards chosen by the Mandelas. Tukwini’s brother, Kweku, is a filmmaker, who has made films around the Mandela’s life and legacy. And then there is the reality TV show and the fashion clothing line – the latter of which was at the center of another well-publicized dispute, which resulted in ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and their two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, boycotting his 90th birthday over not being properly consulted about the clothing line. All the public bickering and money-chasing has inspired one South African newspaper cartoonist to feature the family members in a cartoon where they are playing “Squabble – the Mandela Family Game,” on Mandela’s dormant body.
I am less interested in whether or not the family is right in their case against Mandela’s former attorney, mainly because I don’t know enough to speak on it, and while the public feuding is a mess, it is certainly not exclusive. You can throw a $20 bill in the middle of a circle of my family members and see if a free-for-all doesn’t happen. So I don’t expect anything different from any other family, just because they have a legacy attached to their names. But I do want to discuss this underlying question about whether or not the Mandela family should be profiting off of his image. Without it being expressed as much, I think that this is what is at the center of what irks people most about stories like these involving notable figures. Just ask the descendents of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The King family currently operates his foundation, which also serves as the intellectual properties management of all things Dr. King-related, including providing licensing for the use of his speeches. Most recently, the King family drew scrutiny for its refusal to allow the organization which helped to get the memorial statue built in Washington D.C. to continue to use King’s name. This occurred after the organization, which was called the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation and is now called The Memorial Foundation, had already paid approximately $800,000 in licensing fees. In fact, the King family has a long history of profiting off of the slain civil rights leader’s name, including signing a multimedia publishing deal in 1997 with Time Warner reportedly worth $30 million to $50 million, and their selling of King paraphernalia in private auctions. Also, while the general public may have limited access to the “I Have a Dream,” corporations and media giants alike, those who can afford the King family’s licensing fee can reap the benefits of his legacy to sell things like cell phones.
Since King was a man of the people, folks assume that his image should forever be public domain. I mean, isn’t that what a man, who fought not just for racial equality, but against economic subjugation would have wanted? But it would behoove most to know that once upon a time – in December of 1963 to be exact – King sued Mister Maestro, Inc., a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Records to stop the unauthorized sale of one of his recorded speeches, claiming copyright infringement. So at least it would appear that the patriarch of the family was well aware that his image had to be protected.
And I think that protection, including having a say over who and how an image is used, is probably one of the greatest reasons why family members should retain control. Also, so much of these people’s lives are up for public consumption. And while King or Mandela devoted themselves to the greater good, it probably didn’t lend much in the way of financial security for their family. And despite whatever worldly problems that exist, being able to provide and tend to one’s own household comes first. Therefore, while I may cringe at how the names are used, who am I to tell the family members how they should benefit from their own legacy? I mean, if the family doesn’t get to profit, than who?
Friends, family and supporters of Nelson Mandela are surely breathing a sigh of relief.
The former South African president has been discharged from the hospital after a bout with pneumonia. He had been in a hospital in Pretoria since March 27th. The Telegraph posted a video of Mandela being returned to his Johannesburg home in an ambulance.
A spokesperson for the 94 year old Mandela said that he will now have home based high care after the doctors confirmed his condition had improved.
His spokesperson also thanked the hospital and team for taking care of Mandela while he was being treated.
This is the third time since December that Mandela has been in the hospital in Pretoria for health issues. His last visit included surgery and recovery from a lung infection.
As we know Mandela is beloved around the world so hopefully, he will continue to get better and fully recover from pneumonia. We’d love it if he didn’t return to Pretoria again – at least not for a hospital stay – but we know this must all be taken one day at a time.
Our prayers and well wishes go out to Nelson Mandela!
Speaking of diversity in the realm of black romantic comedies, Shadow & Act is reporting on Contract, a highly anticipated Ghanaian film starring Ghanaian actress Yvonne Okoro, South African actor Hlomla Dandala, and Nigerien actor Joseph Benjamins, which is scheduled to open in Nigerian cinema this Friday.
According to Shadow & Act, expect this to happen in the plot:
“Successful Businessman Peter Popolampo is the ultimate alpha male. He is 40 years old, rich, and a staunch bachelor. Despite his mother’s persistent attempt to find him a woman, Peter sticks to his rule of non-committal casual dates, freedom and controlling his life until a yearning to have a child arises. In his quest to find the woman who will take his money, have his child and disappear, Peter begins a roller coaster, contracted relationship with Abena Boateng, a crude but clever local girl who is anything but impressed with Peter’s affluence.”
Check out the trailer below:
Based on the trailer alone, the film looks very promising; definitely a visual and stylistic upgrade from films, which we normally associate with this region. Also, how cool is it that in addition to Nollywood, we now have Ghollywood to look forward to? Well almost. According to Shadow & Act while the film has already debuted in both native Accra, Ghana and London to “impressive audiences,”the prospects of seeing this film stateside are largely doubtful. So why are we talking about a film, you will most likely never get a chance to see? Glad you asked…
The plot. More specifically, when was the last time – if ever – you heard of a film centered around a black man, grappling with the urges from his biological clock (who knew men even had biological clocks?), on the intentional search to become a single parent? This is some ground-breaking black filmmaking right here; it’s a shame we have to go all the way back to the motherland just to see it. Nevertheless, a film, which takes an interesting angle on the successful single woman meme is worth noting and exploring.
In most films of similar plots, it is women, who are mostly choosing to go into parenthood alone. Of course, that plot has been reconfigured as of late to include the gay, white man or men; but traditionally speaking, single parenthood is mostly viewed through the lens of the fairer sex. Of course, there are some variations in this single mother movie troupe, most visible when race is injected into the character. For the single white mother, the setup usually goes like this: She usually hails from an upper middle class; is currently established professional; with oodles of disposable income but can’t seem to find that perfect partner to conceive with. Therefore she decides to head on down to the nearest fertility clinic for a little turkey baster potion or pays someone to be knocked up for her. The joke isn’t that the decision to get pregnant is always a choice and always her choice. The jokes, instead, revolve around the pregnancy itself – because as we all already know, morning sickness, dating (because they still are allowed to be seen as beautiful and datable) and finally labor is chocked full of slapstick and drollery. While the premise of these films still rely on sexist sentiments, our white single mom is still able to overcome her situation and in most of the times, our single woman heroine meets and marries a man, who ultimately provides her – and most importantly her child – legitimacy.
On the flip side of that, let’s take a similar plot setup but instead of a single white woman, let’s add a single successful black woman. Like her white counterpart, she is and established professional who mostly maintains an middle to upper middle class lifestyle. Also like her white counterpart, despite having education and oodles of income at her disposable, she too has a trouble finding a suitable suitor. But despite their matching profiles, unlike her white counterpart, our black single woman is not anticipating pregnancy. In most of the films revolving around single black woman parenthood, more than likely, her pregnancy is unplanned. The result of some late night bumping and grinding with some lame dude, who will either abandon her for the streets, prison or another woman (another man if you are Tyler Perry). We spend the next half of the film, pondering whether she should keep it [also known as the baby] or not; all the social implications this illegitimate spawn will have on society; and how she is destined to a life of poverty, bitterness and singlehood. Basically, the struggle. Nothing about this character is inspiring or aspirational. Instead the single black mother troupe is usually treated as a cautionary tale, meant to be fixed and empowered.
Like his black woman counterpart, single parenthood is usually hoisted upon our typical black male character, however what appears to be different here, at least in terms of movie setup, is that Contract looks as if it might give our black male character the redemption of legitimacy, which is rarely offered to black women in film or even in television. Although I am also curious of this spin on the “no available” suitor idea. That too would make an interesting topic for discussion. Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure until I see the film. And that’s why I’m hoping that one of our West African readers might actually have the hookup. Wink.
Today, on what would have been her 81st birthday, Google honored South African civil rights activist, [Zenzile ] Miriam Makeba, also known as “Mama Africa.” The Johannesburg native spent 50 years fighting against apartheid in South Africa and exposing the west to South African music. She became the first African woman to win a Grammy for her work with fellow activist Harry Belafonte but was best known for her song “Pata Pata.”
Her outspokenness about apartheid was not well received at home. She lived abroad in London and the U.S. When she attempted to return home for her mother’s funeral in 1960, the South African government had terminated her passport, thereby forcing her into exile. Makeba is famously, quoted as saying this about being exiled:
“I always wanted to leave home,” she told author Hank Bordowitz. ”I never knew they were going to stop me from coming back. Maybe, if I knew, I never would have left. It is kind of painful to be away from everything that you’ve ever known. Nobody will know the pain of exile until you are in exile. No matter where you go, there are times when people show you kindness and love, and there are times when they make you know that you are with them but not of them. That’s when it hurts.”
Over the years Guinea, Belgium and Ghana issued Makeba international passports. Throughout her life, she held nine passports and was granted honorary citizenship in 10 countries.
The fact that she was booted out of her homeland didn’t stop her from fighting. She spoke out against apartheid in front of the United Nations in 1963. She also campaigned to get Nelson Mandela out of prison.
When he was released, Mandela convinced Makeba to come back to South Africa using her French passport.
When apartheid ended in 1991, Makeba still performed around the world. The day of her death, in 2008, she performed at a concert in Italy. After she performed her hit song “Pata Pata,” she suffered a heart attack and was taken to a clinic where doctors were unable to revive her.
If you’re unfamiliar with Makeba’s music listen to her song “Pata Pata” on the next page. It’s pretty awesome.
No Accident After All? Prosecutors Seeking To Charge Oscar Pistorius With Premeditated Murder In Death Of His Girlfriend
It was just yesterday that news broke of the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, the 30-year-old girlfriend of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. But today, Pistorius has already had to stand in front of the judge, and while he broke down after being charged with murder, he’s going to have more to be upset about with prosecutors currently working to charge him with premeditated murder.
In Pretoria Magistrates Court, Pistorius was seen balling as his charges were delivered, and his father, standing behind the defense table, sought to comfort him. According to CBS News, prosecutors want to make the case that Pistorius had planned to kill Steenkamp, going against rumors that the track star confused his girlfriend for an intruder. Steenkamp was shot four times in all according to the Business Insider, once in the head, once in the pelvis, once in the hand, and one more time in the chest. And according to police, they had been called to Pistorius’ house in the past for “domestic incidents,” and that neighbors allegedly heard things earlier before the shooting. All things that authorities say they are going to take into consideration in the investigation.
According to CBS News, the mother of an ex-girlfriend of Pistorius’ took to Facebook to let the world know that the track star is far from a figure to be sorry for right now. Trish Taylor wrote, “I’m so glad Sammy is safe and out of the clutches of that man.” But on the other hand, another ex-girlfriend, Jenna Edkins, says via Twitter that the athlete is being judged too harshly too soon:
“All I am saying is let him speak, let his side be heard without jumping to conclusions.”
“I have dated Oscar on and off for 5 YEARS, NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me or made me fear for my life.”
But while people that claim to know him are trashing and defending his name online, those that know him best, his family, are by his side. Pistorius and his family are against the charges, and released a statement earlier today thanking those who have shown support to him since yesterday’s shooting, and re-emphasized the importance of remembering Steenkamp during this time. “He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received — but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family — regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy.”
Pistorius will go back to court next Tuesday and Wednesday, and according to CNN, will be held at a police station in the meantime as bail has not been granted, and authorities oppose the idea of him being released at all.
According to the website This is Africa, South Africans rocking dreadlocks might want to lay low for a bit as it appears that they are the new targets of a underground human hair theft ring.
“Police say not many cases have been officially reported – there was one case in Durban last year, and another in Johannesburg last month (in which a Zimbabwean partying with a friend in a club went missing and was later found passed out and shorn of 10 years’s worth of locks. The thief/thieves didn’t touch his mobile phone, wallet and money; listen to The Times‘ reporter Poppy Louw‘s interview with The World, below), but one stylist told a reporter that he gets up to 10 customers a day asking for such extensions, and a police spokesperson said the crime goes underreported because many victims are too embarrassed to report the theft of their hair. Sounds plausible; after all, how on earth do you explain having your hair stolen? And poor cops, how do they manage to keep a straight face while taking victims’ statements?”
I know I couldn’t keep a straight face reading the article. But as noted in the article there have only been a couple of reported cases so the literal wig-snatching has not yet reached epidemic portions. Also, before anyone thinks of going on about those “crazy Africans,” the article also notes that the dreadlocks theft is part of a international trend, with reports of high-stakes human hair extension thefts occurring in cities across America.
What’s most compelling about this story for me is the idea that there is actually a market for human hair. Especially dreadlocks. Like what happened to just growing your own?
And this is not the first time I heard about this fake dreadlocks trend. Erykah Badu shocked the world (or maybe just me) when we realized that the signature dreads she used to rocked upon her arrival on the scene, were actually fake. And not too long ago, I witnessed with my own eyes a guy in the next salon chair over from me, getting blonde dreadlocks extensions weaved into his hair. I tried not to stare and gawk but I couldn’t help it. First, I couldn’t get over how realistic they looked. And secondly, I wondered if the ghost of Marcus Garvey past would be visiting this dude in his sleep…
I mean nothing wrong with that…you know, screw it. Yes, dammit! There is something wrong with fake dreadlocks. I’m sorry I don’t take hard stances when it comes to hair politics. I tried to stay #TeamSwitzerland in the whole #TeamNatural versus #TeamPressNCurl fight. So I think I am entitled to one hair prejudice. And this whole fake dreadlocks trend is where I have to draw a line down the glue track. Fake dreadlocks just seem flat out self-defeatist. Unlike some of the weave styles, which require certain textures of hair to achieve, your own hair is the required texture for dreadlocks. Sure the argument could be made that dreadlocks are just a hairstyle and like any other hairstyle, is not a definition of a person. However I feel this particular hairstyle does has more of political and spiritual significance than the average hairstyle. And even as they have grown more fashionable, dreadlocks are still generally regarded in that same historical connotation. So those, who choose the hairstyle usually embody this historical significance and in some cases philosophies in one way or the other. I mean, why else would you risk being socially and economically ostracized for a hairstyle?
Maybe I’m just being a hair snob on this issue. If so, I can live with that. But the idea of a person rocking a press and curl on Monday and by Friday, they look like Damian Marley, just sounds like something a hipster poser would do. Anyway what are your thoughts on the fake natural trend?
South African Track Star Oscar Pistorius, AKA, “Blade Runner,” Charged With Murder Of His Girlfriend On Valentine’s Day
If you were watching the Olympics this past summer as intently as we were, I’m sure you know the story (or at least had heard of it) of Oscar Pistorius, 26, the South African sprint runner who had to have both his legs amputated from the knee down as a child after being born with fibular hemimelia. As he got older though, he didn’t let it hold him back from being involved in wide variety of athletics, including rugby, wrestling, tennis and of course, running. He was fitted with running blades in college and never looked back, making it to both the Paralympics and the Olympics, even when people tried to say he had an unfair advantage of some sort–which he allegedly didn’t.
Pistorius has always had a very inspiring story, but now that story has taken a very sad turn. Today, South African police will charge Pistorius with murder, a decision that comes after his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was found shot dead early Thursday morning in his home. There is speculation, according to the Los Angeles Times that because of unrest that was going on around the area that the sprinter was living in, Pistorius was on alert for anyone trying to break into his home and had multiple weapons in it to protect himself. Sadly, the woman was said to be trying to get into his home to surprise him for Valentine’s Day, and he had her confused for an intruder and shot her multiple times in the arm and head with a 9-mm pistol. She died at the scene. However, police say they are investigating and aren’t confirming that this bit of information about a possible Valentine’s Day surprise gone wrong was true or false, and they’re also looking into past domestic incidents that were reported at Pistorius’ home.
According to the USA Today, Pistorius will appear in court on Friday, and he’s of course said to be broken up about the whole thing. According to his father, Henke Pistorius, who spoke with SABC radio news, says “If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar. He’s sad at the moment.”
Former South African president Nelson Mandela is still in the hospital as he recovers from surgery to remove gall stones, ABC News reports.
Mandela was flown to an unnamed hospital in the city of Pretoria on December 8th with no details as to why he was going. The government made an announcement that he was just going to to the hospital for medical testing, giving no indication as to why he needed to be flown to a hospital for said tests. However, they said Saturday that the doctors found gall stones that needed to be removed.
The doctors also said Mandiba, as Mandela is affectionately known, also has a lung infection that needs to be treated. However, they feel tat doing the surgery first would be better and safer.
The 94 year old Mandela has been hospitalized a couple of times over the last year – in January 2011 for a lung infection and earlier this year for abdominal pains – but this is the longest he’s ever been in the hospital.
Although he’s no longer president, there is no question that Mandela is still South Africa’s most revered person. To that end, the media always wants to be updated with full details about his health and whereabouts. These recent health issues have caused a serious rift between the government and the media because the government initially said that Mandela was at a military hospital but then said he was at an undisclosed private hospital. Further, they stated they will not release the name of the hospital in order to respect the privacy of the family.
The Office of the Presidency released a statement saying the surgery was successful and that Mandela is recovering.
Think we will ever get money with Obama’s face imprinted on it? Well, South Africa just put former president Nelson Mandela on its money. The country just released the new currency on the 22nd anniversary of his release from prison after serving 27 years for his opposition to white-minority rule.
The banknotes bear the image of the anti-apartheid leader, who is now 94 years old and rarely appears in public. In 1994, he became South Africa’s first black president, affectionately called by his clan name “Madiba,”and remains a symbol of freedom, human rights and democracy. Also on the notes are South Africa’s “big five” wild animals — rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said, “Madiba does represent something special not just in South Africa but in the world. He is really an extraordinary man and this is a way in which we pay tribute to him.” The idea had first been introduced earlier this year, with the image above presented at that time.
Mandela’s name and image have been used for many things since he left office in 1999, making him a bonafide brand. But not every product has been to his liking. Soon after the launch of 466/64 Apparel (466/64 was Mandela’s Robben Island prisoner ID number) last summer, the Nelson Mandela Foundation in North America issued a statement that Mandela had nothing to do with the clothing brand. The label claimed to be a Nelson Mandela-approved line. In later clarifications, the label said it was “inspired” by Mandela.
In 1994, South Africa held its first elections effectively bringing an end to apartheid and putting Nelson Mandela in power. It may have been the end of the struggle for Mandela and his fellow South African freedom fighters, but it was the beginning of a new battle.
South Africa has the largest economy in Africa, and the 28th largest in the world. And the World Bank has ranked it as an upper-middle income economy. Still, about a quarter of the population is unemployed and lives on less than US $1.25 a day, according to the United Nations Development Program.
Unemployment continues to be extremely rampant across the country. The most affected are black South Africans — 80 percent of South Africans are of black African ancestry. Although many blacks have risen to middle or upper classes, the unemployment rate of blacks has increased sharply between 1994 and 2003.
Now comes just-released data that finds South African whites earn six times more than blacks. Results from the 2011 census show that nearly two decades after the end of apartheid disparities between rich and poor are growing.
“The average annual income for black households was 60,613 rand ($7,500) in 2011, according to the census, while white households earned an average of 365,134 rand ($45,600) per year,” reports Yahoo News. “The census figures on services said nearly 1.3 million households did not have access to piped water, and the majority of those households are black.”
Many people in the prosperous country still do not have proper housing. The South African Census 2011 found that there remains more than 1.2 million “informal” dwellings, including squatter camps. This does not include 712,956 shacks. And, while some 8.2 million households have flushing toilets, 748,597 households have no toilets at all.
South African President Jacob Zuma was even disheartened by the report. “These figures tell us at the bottom of the rung is the black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment, and inequality, despite the progress that we have made since 1994,” he said in a statement. “Much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor.”