Politics

The Real Story Behind #menaretrash, South Africa's Response to Domestic Violence

This hashtag has become the rallying cry for those who want to stop an epidemic of violence and against South African women by their male partners.

#menaretrash is not about singling out individuals says Rufaro Samanga in this op-ed. Instead, it’s a challenge to South Africans to speak out against the epidemic of women murdered at the hands of their male partners


South Africa—A few weeks ago, South African social media followers pulled the alarm about the gradual disappearance of young women and girls. As weeks have gone by, timelines have been flooded with post upon post of young women and girls who have gone missing almost every day. The insidious reason behind many of these disappearances has proven quite frightful indeed as we're learning that the culprits under our very own noses.

One of the young women who had gone missing and that I personally remember retweeting in an attempt to help find her, was found burnt beyond recognition and buried in a shallow grave in a deserted veld. As police began their investigation it surfaced that 22-year-old Karabo Mokoena was murdered by her boyfriend, who had even gone as far as helping her family look for her, knowing full well that they would never find her alive.

The death of this young woman hit close to home because it is a reality to which many South African women have become accustomed in one form or the other. South Africa has the highest number of women who are murdered at the hands of their partners in the world. In fact, of the women who die every eight hours, half of them are killed by their partners.

Rape and rape culture are rife with women being assaulted on university campuses, at their workplaces, in public transport—you name it. And not to mention the particularly hateful targeting and murdering of women who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Yet, and this is where I struggle to maintain my calm, when the movement #menaretrash rightfully came into full force once again, the focus immediately shifted to 'but not all men'.

#Menaretrash began when a few women on social media last year, took it upon themselves to start calling out the problematic behavior of men especially with regards to the emotional and physical abuse they'd often experienced in their own relationships. The hashtag did not catch on initially and died down after a while. This year however, and with the highly publicised murder of Karabo, the hashtag has gained considerable ground and transcended into a palpable movement shedding light on the abuse, femicide and rape that is rampant in South Africa and often goes unreported.

Very much like #blacklivesmatter, another hashtag that became a movement with a massive following and had tremendous impact in the US, #menaretrash is attempting to have a similar impact and reach. Although it is still resisted by many, it has also been publically endorsed by prominent South African personalities such as Hlomla Dandala, Maps Maponyane, Thandiswa Mazwai and Boity Thulo.

That said, asserting that #menaretrash is not about singling out individual males and smearing them with the same brush. The #menaretrash movement is also not about avenging soured relationships or born from the scorn of so-called bitter women. That is important to note.

Firstly, #menaretrash attempts to do away with the respectability politics that seeks to police the way in which we as women decide to voice out our anger and frustration towards an oppressive patriarchal structure. One needs to understand first and foremost that as women, and particularly as feminists, ours is not to deliver our message prettily garnished in a way that is perceived to be more 'palatable' by men. In short, we are not duty-bound to mollycoddle the men who are a part of the very same patriarchal structure against which we are tirelessly fighting.

Secondly, there is a shock value to the statement that is necessary in that it makes men immediately uncomfortable and it is precisely this discomfort that is necessary if we are going to begin to have any earnest conversations about the desperate plight of women in South Africa.

Frantically pointing out that you have a 'great father' or that you're in a happy relationship with a 'good guy'—true or not—serves to obscure real patterns of toxic masculinity, abuse and femicide which the #menaretrash movement is attempting to expose. It undermines the main conversation and swings the spotlight onto the oppressors and not the oppressed.

But even after many women, myself included, have gone to extreme pains to deconstruct this statement for men (and some women), we have still been met with backlash. More evidence of the trashiness of men is inherent in how many of them have gone on to ask what part Karabo played in instigating her own murder. Fam, if I hadn't seen these posts with my own eyes, and from men I know personally, I wouldn't have believed it myself.

In addition to that, men have gone from trivialising the movement as a group of women desperately trying to remain ‘relevant’, shaming women who support the movement wholeheartedly but are in relationships (as if the two are mutually exclusive) to even going as far as claiming that ‘we all have a little killer in us’ as justification for Karabo’s murder.

As if that weren't enough, at Karabo's funeral, our Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, lamented how such a beautiful young woman, a yellowbone (a term for a light-skinned black woman) at that, could be murdered as if to say that her murder would have been more understandable had she been ugly. If nothing else, that should awaken everyone to the sobering reality of women in this country.

My biggest disappointment however, has been the women who have rushed with bandaids and soothing words to the bruised male egos, their allegiance to the patriarchy worn proudly. Some of them even shared in the victim-blaming citing that they did not attract trash in their personal lives and that the rest of us should in essence, stop being so bitter. Some even went as far as claiming that Karabo was murdered because she wouldn't leave her abusive boyfriend because of his money.

As an unapologetic feminist I will continue to assert that men are trash. The men who say and do nothing when their friends manhandle, abuse, rape and even murder their female partners. The men who are so quick to loudly deny their trashiness and yet are silent about the trashy behaviour of other men. The men who do not consider the atrocities committed against us as crimes unless we as women are an extension of them in some way: a sister, an aunt, niece or daughter—they too are trash. And to all those who feel so hard done by this assertion, you need to check yourself.

Men are trash. And you will deal, beloved.

Rufaro Samanga is an intellectual, aspiring literary great, feminist and most importantly, a fiercely passionate African.

Music

Listen to Samthing Soweto’s Album ‘Isiphithiphithi’

Samthing Soweto's highly anticipated album is finally here.

One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Isiphithiphithi by Samthing Soweto is finally here.

The South African artist's project consists of 12 songs and features Makhafula Vilakazi, Shasha, Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa and Mlindo The Vocalist.

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Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African Telenovela 'The River' has Been Nominated for an International Emmy

This is the popular telenovela's first International Emmy nomination.

One of South Africa's beloved telenovelas, The River, has received its first ever International Emmy nomination in the category of "Best Telenovela", according to IOL. The River will go up against other telenovelas from Columbia, Argentina as well as Portugal. The 47th installment of the International Emmy Awards will take place on November 25th of this year and will be held at the Hilton in New York.

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Culture
Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their county had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years, under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive the musical Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs

The 'Stolen Moments" project began in 2010 in an effort to champion Namibia's unsung musical innovators. For the collection, Moongo and Assistant Curator, Siegrun Salmanian—along with a group of international scholars, artists, photographers and filmmakers—curated a large-scale photo exhibit that also features a 120-minute video projection, focusing on the dance styles of the era, along with listening stations, a sound installation that features "100-hours of interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses," and displays of record covers and memorabilia from the period between 1950-1980.

The musicians highlighted, produced work that spanned a number of genres—a marker of the country's vast and eclectic underground scene. Artists like the saxophonist Leyden Naftali who led a band inspired by the sounds of ragtime, and the psychedelic rock and funk of the Ugly Creatures are explored through the exhibition, which also centers bands and artists such as The Dead Wood, The Rocking Kwela Boys, Children of Pluto and more.

"There are many reasons why you've never heard this music before," Moongo continues. "It was censored, suppressed, prohibited and made almost impossible to listen to. Its creators are either long gone or have given up on music making, by reasons of adversity, death and despair. And yet this beautiful music exists with a liveliness, as if it had never stopped playing. It is still in the minds of the few who can remember, with the ones who played it, and on those rare recordings that have survived in archives and record collections scattered around the globe. Allow me to share these stolen moments with you."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs


Photo (c) John Liebenberg

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"Stolen Moments" is now showing at the Brunei Gallery in London and runs through Sept 21.

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Foul Language and Depictions of Rape Spur a Book Recall Campaign in Kenya

Kenya's Top Book seller pulls a South African book for youth due to foul language.

A main book supplier in Kenya, Text Book Centre, has announced that they would not stock a book due to its "vulgar and foul language." The book, Blood Ties, was written by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli. The banning comes just after a video went viral in Kenya of a school child having a verbal outburst peppered with strong language. As reported by BBC, the removal was sparked by parents showing outrage after excerpts from the book were shared on twitter. These excerpts contained use of the f-word as well as a description of a rape scene.

As per their statement, the Text Book Centre claims they believe in "upholding high moral standards and raising generations of responsible citizens who are not only educated but ethical." The Kenyan publisher, StoryMoja, has defended the book in a statement of their own. They argue that the book is part of a new series showcasing books that deal with "contemporary societal issues" and that this particular book is a fictional story that grapples with the negative repercussions of peer pressure. "In actual fact, the book guides readers on the steps to take should they find themselves in a similar situation and underscores the sensitivity with which victims of sexual abuse should be treated." The statement also highlights the fact that the publishers had listed Blood Ties for readers in high school or above.


The discrepancy is that some schools have recommended the book as a reader – meaning for younger children aged 12 or 13 – though it has not been approved by the Kenyan Institute of Curricular Development (KICD), the entity in charge of managing texts used in schools. In a tweet, the KICD claimed that the book was not approved and that some teachers may be recommending texts without ensuring they were endorsed by the KICD. The dispute is sparking debate as to what should be taught in Kenyan schools.

As of late this morning, StoryMoja is in the process of recalling all copies of the book from stores and schools across Kenya. In a tweet they claim that it is because they have determined the language used in the book is the issue and not the subject matter.

Censorship is always a contested topic, just last month we reported on Nigerian authorities censoring a music video for "threatening security." Also, Kenya's censorship tactics have been in the global eye since a refusal to screen the film Rafiki for its homosexual heroines despite being lauded at international film festivals.

Here are some reactions from Kenyans on Twitter:





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