Tag Archive: Sindile Vabaza


White people of South Africa. The time is now!

watch

Yesterday i shared a status by my friend Sindile which is pretty much going viral which is excellent to see as it is such an important prophetic word especially for the white people across South Africa to really get. This is the summation extract from that post: Continue reading

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It has been a heart-breaking day…

depp

i’ve known Sindile for close to a year and a half now i think. Known as in i’ve never met him in real life [yet – hopefully remedy that in the next ten days!] but he has guest posted on my blog a number of times and he has this way of blogging within his Facebook status which inspires and challenge and calls to action and pauses and so much more on so many occasions.  Continue reading

Sindile

When i saw these online ponderings by my friend Sindile, i had to ask for permission to share this on the blog – as huge as the obstacles to true transformation in South Africa are [and Americaland actually – different context but similar scenario], and they ARE huge, i have no doubt that this point in itself is absolutely vital and probably the biggest piece of the whole puzzle:

I have come to realise even more that at the heart of this non-racial, non-sexist and post apartheid project some call ‘the rainbow nation’ is the need for all of us to build relationships with people who are different to us.

There are a number of reasons for this:

1.) It helps us have a more accurate perception of reality. If all we ever do is view things from our own perspective, we will privilege our own(group’s) perspective over everyone else’s, at times to the detriment of ourselves as well.

2.) It helps us see people rather than just labels and we are precisely dealing with flesh and blood people. It is frighteningly easy to dismiss other(group’s) people’s pain when you have no social or emotional connection to them. I have come across black people who dismiss out of hand the pain of people who have had family members killed on farms with glib and horrifying statements and I have come across white people who dismiss clear cases of very painful racism with stupid comments about BEE or AA…..

It is both dishonest and nonsensical for us as a nation to honour the ideals of fairness and merit and other things when we can’t even reach across to a neighbour and have basic and respectful human interactions.

3.) It helps to guard against prejudice. All of us at some point will experience racism of a breathtaking magnitude and develop biases based on this. What this does is that it makes us suspicious of other people and suspicion ultimately begets what it suspects. Diversifying our lives(so to speak) naturally stops us from immediatedly assuming the worst about a person based on a label.

It gives us an emotional basis from which we can talk and work out our many and varied issues in this country.

Yes we have to be robust about the need for justice, yes we need to be honest about our experiences, yes we need to talk about the pain that comes from living in a country that is still deeply scarred in it’s collective soul, yes we need to talk about frankly about racism and sexism and homophobia and all other asshole dispositions……. But unless we learn to humanise each other, to see each other as people, with hopes and dreams; with desires to get good jobs, to feed our families, to get married, to have children, to be safe and be able to live freely and love whomever we want……

We cannot do that if we do not take the time to get to know people who are different to us.

No system can compensate for a lack of humanity.

Sindile

*If I had a mic and all of SA was listening what would I say for 2015.

My hope, my dream for this beautiful nation is that people would step out of their comfort zones amd embrace other people.

I know this is not easy.

My dream is that young people would embrace older people, straight people would embrace gay and transgendered people, people of different racial hues would also embrace each other and share their stories…….

And we’d all simply learn to listen.

Not defend, not argue…. Just simply listen.

If we did that perhaps we’d see, truly see the richness and depth of this country…..

And it would enliven us and give us hope amidst the bigotry, the gender inequality, the rampant crime and the misdeeds of our government.

One of the most precious memories I have in life was when a friend of mine (who is an Afrikaans female) offered and then baked me some cupcakes.

It’s a small thing, but it meant the world to me.

That single gesture of simple humanity has saved me from making gross generalisations about Afrikaans people even in my angriest times.

I can tell many more stories, like how my friendship (and coffee at her place in Greenside) with Alexa Russell Matthews taught me a great deal about gender inequality and how friendships with people in the LGBT community helped me humanize that community.

I see faces.

I hear laughter.

I know the talents and pains and joys of people.

I don’t simply see the label.

In a very real sense I see beyond it and to the irreducible complexity that is just one human life.

My dream in 2015 is that South Africans would make a visceral and deeply human connection between the labels and the people who carry them and in so doing learn that when we deny one part of humanity, we ultimately deny ourselves, that, as Martin Luther King jr put it,’ injustice anywhere is a threat to freedom and justice everywhere’.

From the Jacaranda trees of surburban Gauteng, resplendent in majestic purple to the sugar cane fields of Kwazulu Natal, that give sweetness to our land to the unspoilt and scenic coastline of the Eastern Cape; more beautiful than just about any place your heart wishes to go to the beautiful tip of Africa…. Cape Town; with it’s sweeping, majestic and panoramic sea views and Table Mountain.

This is home for me and it is home for you.

My dream for 2015 is that the son’s and daughter’s of this beautiful country would step out and embrace each other; embrace the courage, the patience and ultimately the love it takes to learn to find the humanity in those who are different and embrace it and learn to love it.

[to hear what Nkosi Gola would say to South Africa, click here]

[To read some other thoughts Sindile had on creating a new South Africa, click here]

babies

a guest post by my friend Sindile Mlingo Vabaza responding to a much made comment on this blog recently about people in poverty, although typically been aimed at black people, having too many babies as one of the main factors of their continued impoverishment:

There are a lot of people out there who are putting up ‘family planning’ as the solution to certain societal ills in the country.

I want to assert that this is a misdiagnosis of the problem.

Let’s look at the facts:

1. Birth rates in South Africa on the whole are falling and have been falling for a while now(largely due to more women gaining access to education and jobs).

2. The population growth in the country is actually down to what the clever people call, “population momentum”. Basically, SA has a large concentration of people who can bear children and who feel the biological urge to do so(ages 15 to 44)… Our growth rates should plateau sometime in the future and eventually decline.

3. The larger problem in society, the root cause of so many unwanted pregnancies and babies is patriarchy and gender inequality.

Let me explain.

When women are given access to proper and sound education and have control over their reproduction(health services, easy access to contraception etc), they are far more likely to hold off having children and in fact have fewer children.

This is a fact anywhere you go in the world.

It cuts across race, ethnicity, religion and political leanings.

4. That’s where the rub comes in. Women are disempowered in this country.

Women of colour especially(because of poverty).

Talking just about family planning misses the larger point altogether…..

Women want to have children. It is biologically wired into them.

The reason some women hold off on children and plan is because their social milieu allows them too; they have an education, career ambitions etc etc

What compelling reason do women in poverty have?

Facing abusive men, misogynistic attitudes, nurses in hospitals who judge them and slut shame them when they want contraception and a future that is incredibly bleak.

Friends, let us not miss the point here.

We must fight for gender equity; we as men must stand with women not only because it is right but it makes so much practical sense for society at large.

The key to poverty elimination can be summed up in one sentence……

THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN.

[For other posts related to South Africa, click here] 

southafrica

[a guest post by Sindile Mlingo Vabaza]

I will not pretend to have grasped the inherent difficulties in running a country but I think I can confidently assert that if we want not only a free and fair and just South Africa, but one that has clearly engaged it’s past and moved into a post-colonial and post apartheid state, we are going to have to be both honest and have intellectual integrity no matter what viewpoint we espouse.

This is important for a number of reasons.

1. South Africa is a secular and constitutional democracy and implied in that is the freedom for people to bring multiple perspectives to the table as to what will constitute a ‘thriving, just, economically sound, racially and socially cohesive country that is built on being non-racial and non-sexist’.

That is the baseline agreement.

How we get there is up for debate. Vigorous debate.

In entering these debates there must be some sort of binding social agreement which holds us to intellectual integrity(meaning we do our homework and we are able to properly convey our ideas in the marketplace of ideas) and also that we rightly justify the opinions we hold.

Although, a difficult balance we also need to be open to changing our ideas while remaining in a position of conviction of the ideas we already hold.

2. The powerful social influences of religion and culture/tradition can easily overpower reason and due diligence.

Religious people need to be careful when quoting verses from their holy books to justify their opinions. Firstly holy books were written within vastly different contexts to our own and at a time when scientific knowledge was quite non-existent and to apply glibly these verses is to do both religious and non-religious communities a massive disservice.

For example, the difference between the secular and religious view of sexuality can be summed up in that sexuality for secularists is a health issue(physical, psychological, emotional etc), whereas it is a fundamentally moral one for religious people.

The problem with making ‘societal’ sexuality a fundamentally moral one(as religious people are given to doing) is that people and indeed cultures and worldviews can differ vastly but people with those differences can be equally sexually healthy or unhealthy.

This is borne out by many studies including those done by the Barna research Group(a Christian one) which seems to show that young Christians in America are just as sexually active as their non-Christian counterparts, but less likely to use contraceptives(they don’t want to make it seem like they planned it) and more likely to engage in oral and anal sex(often without the requisite knowledge to do it safetly). Other studies seem to bear this out as well and in fact have discredited the whole ‘Abstinence only’ movement.

Now my point is this; I understand for example that waiting until marriage is important for a lot of religious people and an important tenet of faith(the mystery of marriage is that of Christ and his church in the case of Christianity), but a call for real honesty needs to be made to religious leaders and communities when addressing this issue (and many others of course).

The often not-always-well-thought ideas on which teaching in religious communities rests on, particularly pertaining to general sexual behaviour is at times troubling.

The idea that people who have sex before marriage are ‘damaged goods’ is a pervasive and in my view a nefarious one. While holding abstinence from sex until marriage as a key value to strive for, issuing judgement and condemnation when it is not maintained seems to strongly contradict the concepts of love and grace that are at the heart of Christianity.

This does not call into question the wisdom of Christian teaching but it does call into question how it is TAUGHT and APPLIED and in WHAT CONTEXT.

In South Africa in particular, this lack of real thought by religious people combined with cultural/traditional mores and a fundamentally more conservative outlook mean that when young women who are sexually active want to seek contraceptives(especially in rural and poor township areas) they are often shamed(from a moral point of view) and because of that many do not always seek preventative health measures which further compounds our HIV and STI woes and also in a lot of cases simply helps the CONFIRMATION BIAS of religious leaders and communities.

Also because we live in a deeply patriarchal and misogynistic society the shame and guilt(again very moral terms) is shifted to women mostly and having personally noted this, I as a man, am shocked at how deeply the lived experience of women, especially young women in this country is marked by pervasive feelings of guilt and shame and how popular ‘slut shaming’ is amongst both men and women.

Is it any wonder women are so reluctant to report incidences of sexual violence and what about all the young women in universities and colleges around the country, women who are this nation’s next leaders, who have to live in shame and pain because they are afraid their sexual histories and habits will be open to public scrutiny if they come forward about being coerced or drugged(then raped).

There is a price to pay for a lack of intellectual integrity and due diligence in everything but more insidiously the price is higher in this regard.

The dream that undergirds the New South Africa is one of both Non-racialism and Non-sexism. We absolutely hammer non-racialism home but hardly seem to be concerned about the non-sexism part.

We need to be.

In my own honest opinion I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with religious teaching on sexuality because there are young people who want to remain virgins(and not all of them are religious) and faith can often give them the tools to navigate the world and preserve their convictions.

The sexual health of young people especially young women cannot become an ideological war between those who are conservatively minded and those who are liberally minded.

Young people deserve better than that and quite frankly they need mature, live and healthy examples of the Christian sexual ethic(that to me seems to be the best tool to persuade others of the religious sexual ethic).

[For some thoughts Sindile has on First Steps towards a genuine New South Africa, click here]

[For some challenging thoughts by Sindile on Employment Equity, click here] 

Sindile

I think it is important that I give an examples of how ‘baseline’ thinking can help us navigate difficult waters.

1.) The issue of employment equity is a difficult one. My take on it is that from my experience both young white and black people fundamentally want to feel like they are being treated fairly and of course that is a most reasonable thing, but I do want to latch on to the idea of fairness.

If we are to truly work towards fairness we have to agree in principle on certain things.

We all have to agree in principle that it is not a desirable thing when talented young white people are snubbed for jobs in order to fill quotas.

However white people must also recognise and admit that when black people come into the workplace they are assumed INCOMPETENT until proven otherwise, while white people are assumed COMPETENT until proven otherwise. This sort of thing contributes to the larger feeling of racial inequality which pervades society.

In order to illustrate this I will use examples of people I know.

I have a white friend who was snubbed for a job because of AA. He is bright and applied his economics training while he was at varsity to helping solve problems in poor communities.

He was hurt that he was overlooked for a job.

I didn’t feel okay about this,

But also I remember going to an engineers braai at Wits with some friends and catching up and hearing stories of black graduates who talked of their difficulties in the workplace.

A lot of these guys and girls came from poor backgrounds(their schools were the kind you payed R100 a year to go to), who had faced obstacles many white people cannot even fathom and yet when they got to the workplace they found themselves faced with even more systematic challenges(something I think would make anyone bitter) and exclusion that FELT distinctly racial.

Now my point is this; There are grievances on both sides of this and a solution is not going to be easy or painless but if we are to move forward and move towards creating non-racial workspaces we must all admit that the workplace is engineered in the sense that white people have an easier path to success(because of the generational privileges accorded to them by Apartheid) and that some very undeserving black people have at times being given jobs(AA and BEE are attempts to disrupt the ‘white’ hegemony created in the workplace by Apartheid policies)….

It seems to me that a lot of young white and black people could unburden themselves if they was an agreement that what we ALL WANT are workspaces where the brightest and the most hardworking and those who network the best can get ahead(social and emotional intelligence).

I think it also needs to be said that a lot of white people are grossly entitled and this evidences by the fact that when they don’t get hired they immediatedly assume it’s because of AA or BEE. This is shockingly arrogant because it assumes that a person of colour can never be more suitable for a job than them. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is a racist assumption.

So, in short, I personally think that until white people become serious(as those who have an advantage in the workplace) and agree to the baseline requirements I mentioned, we will not move forward on this issue anytime soon.

We can only have a discussion point once all sides recognise that our system is fundamentally set up in a way that encourages dichotomy and antagonism and that we have to imagine a better way forward otherwise we find ourselves in a future of mutually assured misery

[For more thoughts on First Steps towards a New South Africa by Sindile, click here]

[For a whole host of other Race vibes, click here]

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