Tony Blair owns up to Iraq War mistakes

Tony Blair has owned up and apologized for his mistakes regarding the Iraq War, and claims that the Iraq War has caused the rise of Islamic State.  He has, however, suggested that if the invasion of Iraq did not take place, then a Civil War would have broken out, like it did in Syria.

Advertisements

Racism: From Rhodes to Runways

The stubborn, on-going pain, known as racism, is still very much alive and kicking.  There is prejudice against dark skin in societies around the world; from Rhodes University to the fashion industry.

The #RhodesSoWhite social media campaign, which sparked at Rhodes University as an after effect of #RhodesMustFall, caused much controversy.  The campaign was illustrated on the social media site Twitter, illustrating the bad experiences of black students, as a result of a lack of understanding about culture and race by some white students and staff

The campaign depicted the power of united students; as they took park in the solidarity march for the students at the University of Cape Town, following the desire for the statue of Cecil Rhodes to be removed.  “As a foreigner, I don’t have a right to speak for the campaign, but I will say that there is a very noticeable and clear racial disparity at Rhodes, and I do feel sympathetic towards the students whom are affected”, exclaims Linguistics lecturer, Will Bennett.

The present racial disparity at Rhodes and other South African institutions is one which has been largely critiqued, and the #RhodesSoWhite campaign illustrates this.  “Students enrolled in a university should be judged on their academic achievements, not the colour of their skin”, human rights lawyer Kim Wild explains.  “There is so much more to achieve in the higher education system in regards to race.  These campaigns are just stepping stones”.

Burberry recently first signed their first Indian model, Neelam Gill.  To illustrate how proud they were, Burberry darkened the colour of her skin, in order to make her glow. This however has been disparaged by many; student Zakiya Chand, of Indian origin feels that “by doing that, it is a direct contradiction with regard to the concept of racial equality”. 

This seems to be a new trend within the fashion industry, as agencies are darkening models skin to get a different effect.  Critics are against this motion stating that they “totally disagree with them retouching skin colour; if they wanted a darker-skinned model then they should’ve hired one. On a personal level, it sends the message that their skin tone isn’t good or beautiful enough. There is so much that could’ve been done to make her face glow, but altering her pigment was unnecessary to say the least”, stresses journalism student, Tevin Tobias.

Racial discrimination has been on the Runway for many years now, and finally people are speaking against it; Naomi Campbell, Vivienne Westwood to name a few.  Recently, Sudanese model Nykhor Paul has caused an up rage on social media site Instagram about racial discrimination within the industry.

6160_image,lining3

Paul states that only one black model will get the job, causing tension between models.

19fp4khtp3x84jpg

This has been illustrated at New York Fashion Week, as well as on front covers of high end fashion magazines, including Vogue.

Although there seems to be improvements within the industry, it is clear that there are still racial problems which need to be resolved and fast.

Unconventional Forms of Political Expressions

– Jack Van der Merwe

Protests, rallies, sit-ins are traditional ways people have expressed their political opinions. Times are changing however as people are starting to do some very interesting things to get there political statements across.

Graffiti is often used world-wide, one of the most notable practitioners being Banksy (who was in Time’s list of 2010’s most influential people). If you attend Rhodes University you have probably seen the graffiti written on the University’s property. Most of these have some relations to Black Power or the #blacklivesmatter that has been trending on twitter for the past few months (Also the recent protest against fees increase that has taken place).

20151008_103927
The Jan Smuts sign being altered after the results of the first round of name change voting was released

The reason why this is seen as unconventional is because of the reaction that it has received. Many individuals have accused the people who have written on the walls to be vandals or that they should respect the universities property as it will cost money to remove the graffiti. One student named Aviva has said that “graffiti that happened on campus with the black power and all of that might be considered vandalism because its relevance ran out quickly”. Aviva went on to say that the graffiti could be seen as an “eyesore” if not dealt with. Some students (such as Clara) have thought that the money for cleaning the graffiti could be used to improve the university. There are also many people who disagree with this notion such as Thabo believe that “Since we are all entitled to freedom of speech, then we can let our views, opinions & concerns be heard in any way possible.” The Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes also decided to keep the graffiti showing that he accepts it as a form of protest.20151022_122100

It can be said that what is probably the most unorthodox method of political expression is also one of the most common ones; the rise of social media. As of the time of writing this article Facebook has surpassed 1.19 billion users. That is one-seventh of the world’s population that can see your political statements. It is not just social media but the rise of a more internet focused society has made it much easier for your political expressions to find an audience. Almost every political party has some social media appearance and that allows the average citizen a place to express their opinions. Even something as simple as writing a comment about your opinion of the government on Facebook is a form of political expression.

8540717756_396867dbab_z (1)

Many people view social media as a valid form of political expression such as Thabo who says “I find social media to be suitable enough to express ones political views. This can also work very well for those who cannot articulate themselves well enough in speaking.” In fact a large percentage of democrats believe that social media is incredibly useful for expressing a person’s political beliefs. It does have its faults however as Aviva puts it “what makes both of these platforms so hard is that it’s very hard to moderate so that users/artists don’t abuse them.” One prominent example of the use of social media for political expression is the Egyptian revolution. By using Facebook and Twitter the people of Egypt managed to gather a large amount of support to overthrow the Egyptian government.

Expressing one’s political views is always something that can be difficult. As anyone can see there is no ‘right’ way to express a person’s political views. That is why as a political citizen you should express your views in a way you see fit.

2015: The era of transformation

This year there has been a significant rise in #protests and strikes regarding race and this in turn, emphasizes the tension among different racial groups not just in South Africa, but around the globe. Though the conflict on race has been ongoing for as long as humanity has existed. In the past during the 18th Century there was controversy as to where people of darker skin color came from and it was as absurd to an extent that it was depicted off a bible story as it was known as the Hamitic hypothesis and that became a scapegoat for slavery in the past. At a later stage, there came Hitler’s “ideal German” in which he saw as the most superior race and murdered thousands of Jews and in the most recent example, the apartheid era in South Africa.

Journ pic
Stellenbosch students express their feelings on racism

It is human nature to forgive and forget, but the issue of racism has been an ongoing one until now. In the past 3 years there have been protests emerging and echoes for transformation by citizens who have decided to take stands towards actions that were discriminating towards others as well as acknowledge past indifference. 2015 alone marked the year that numerous cases of protests have arose and the question that could be asked is: Does 2015 mark the year for transformation?

We first look at UCT where there is the #RhodesMustFall campaign in which students were protesting that the statue of Cecil John Rhodes be removed as it symbolizes oppression and it became a worldwide topic after the news of the UCT students throwing faeces at the statue circulated the world and all eyes were on the University for something to be done, the statue was then removed. A movement that went international in an instant was the #BlackLivesMatter campaign that was initiated after police in the United States were often discriminating and arresting African/American citizens due to suspicion and “disobeying” the officers’ orders whereas it often was not
the case. The campaign has so much impact that the BSM in Rhodes University were placing graffiti on the School walls.

journ pic 2
The world-wide awareness on the #BlackLivesMatter movement

All the events that were taking place caused a ripple effect across the world and unfortunately in some cases it happened that there conflict erupted. One of these unfortunate events happened at Stellenbosch University where Students were protesting then a student got assaulted by a lecturer during the protest and it became serious to an extent where lawyers were involved. A similar occurrence happened in Wits University where a fourth-year law student was assaulted by a fellow student and called by racial degrading names. In response to these events a video called #Luister was made by students of Stellenbosch University to expose South Africa’s ongoing racism problem in an attempt that it may open the eyes of the citizens of the country.

All of these events were a clear realization that show the transition from the past to the present and that marked the year 2015 the dawn of the era of transformation not just in South Africa, but across the globe.

2015 – A historical year for academic institutions.

2015 Has been an interesting year for several academic institutions in South Africa. It is in this year that a great amount of racial incidents in numerous well known South African Universities have been publicly announced.

It all started with the world’s 124th university that is also ranked as South Africa’s top university, the University of Cape Town. Around March 2015 students, especially black students, at the UCT demanded that the Cecil John Rhodes statue that occupied the university premises be removed. According to the students the statue was a symbolic representation of the colonial past and everything connected to that. What made the presence of the statue more unacceptable for a great amount of the students was the fact that they still had to endure racial discrimination.

Rhodes Must Fall

Louise Ferreira, a journalist for the Mail & Guardian also a past student of UCT wrote, “I am no longer comfortable with my alma mater honouring someone who was a colonialist and an imperialist, and proud to be one”. Ferreira says that when she still attended the university and regarded herself as a white liberal, she believed that the statue had to be preserved as a part of the academic institute’s history. After a month of protest, the request of many students and other supporters, like Ferreira, was answered. The 8th of April 2015 the statue was removed.

It was also around this time that Rhodes University, after being approached by the Student Representative Council of UCT for support, the Black Student Movement of Rhodes University decided to show solidarity with UCT students. Students at Rhodes University felt that the name of the institute had to change because, like the students at UCT, the name symbolised past practises of colonialism enforced by John Cecil Rhodes many Africans had to undergo.

Phumlani Umajozi, an alumni student of both Rhodes University and UCT wrote in an article for News24, “there were times I felt discriminated against by my fellow white mates. I did, at least once, felt a victim of racism. There were individuals who were racist – ‘individual racism’. Due to my introverted character, I didn’t have the guts to stand up and publicly denounce these people’s mean acts.”

Despite the fact that there have been several occurrences of racial activities in academic institutions, the greatest event that has taken place thus far has to be the very recent #FeesMustFall campaign. During the week of the 19th of October 2015 several university students joined the movement by shutting down their academic activities and partaking in protests until their distinct management and the government agrees to a 0% increase to university fees.

FeesMustFall

In several universities across South Africa students of different ethnic backgrounds and financial situations unified against a cause that affected them all. Many voluntarily endured brutal performance by the SAPS and were even willing to risk their lives for the cause they were protesting against. In 2015 a historical event similar to the one of 1976 occurred. After months of racial tension, university student forgot about their racial battles and stood united. Their behaviour achieved global support and a 0% increase for all academic institutions has been confirmed. Aesop, an ancient Greek storyteller said, “In union there is strength”. This past week the student has certainly proved this.