The Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) opened with a bang last-night with a local film titled Ayanda .
Ayanda is a beautiful South African story, overwhelmed by the diversity of the cast and story line that is well put together. Fresh, new look of the typical South African story, that frequents our big screen, No blood, no explicit imagery or scenes. A true African story. The movie circles around the life of Ayanda, a young ambitious girl who is born of a Nigerian father and South African mother. It is a story of dreams and the diversity we have in South Africa. Set in the heart of Yoeville, Johannesburg, where people from different African countries meet, illustrates determination, love and sacrifice.
Ayanda is directed by Sara Blecher and produced by Real Eyes in association with Leading Lady Productions.
Fun Valley sounds more like Disney land to me, so when I went to Johannesburg, when I was told I will be sleeping at Fun Valley, I was like OMG, I am going to Disney Land and I wont have a moments peace. I was wrong, yes I admit. Fun Valley is much more that cottages or just any place you go for accommodation and you are out. it is FUN VALLEY. I arrived at night, way past bedtime and there were just a few people chilling outside their cottages and quenching the thirst.
The next morning, I was up by four and left the place around 6am, so I did not get to see the place but when I came back, boy oh boy! the place was packed, there was a wedding, some people were enjoying the picnic area, some swimming and YES some taking the ever so famous selfies, it was like a different place all together.
It was just a party, big fun party.
I loved the place, pity I had gone there for work so, I was not able to engage with the facilities as much as I wanted to but, the next time I go on a personal trip to Jozi, I am spending my weekend at Fun Valley.
the place is beautiful, the furniture is carved in strong wood, it has a old but modern feel.
I have been travelling a lot lately and I have slept and eaten in different places, five to zero star. My experiences though are not in any way influenced by the star that particular place holds, I love the homely feel of a place. A few weeks ago I went to Johannesburg, I must say Genderlinks cottages provided the best service known to men.
The cottages are nestled in beautiful garden setting with a beautiful view and sounds of birds humming. it stands above the hustle and bustle of the city, this place is peaceful and offers tranquility. The complex offers the perfect venue for functions, business conferences, and personal and group retreats.
I enjoyed the unlimited WiFi, even though I was in conference all day, I could catch up with my reading and research at night. The rooms have names of African countries, I was staying in Zimababwe this place is really like home and I would recommend it anyone.
30 Gill Street, Johannesburg, 2187
011 487 2829
By Rod Morgan
A recent article in the media asks the question: ’What does activism in South Africa look like?’ and follows up with a challenge to all our citizens,
‘Democratic South Africa has been born out of activism: citizens standing up against a government they found unjust, from small acts of dissent, to a life of exile or imprisonment and sometimes death, but what does activism mean in election year 2014?
‘It is determined mainly by the class interests of the activists and can be divided roughly according to the niches they represent: poor communities taking on what they see as an uncaring state; progressive-leaning Civil Rights Organizations (CSO’s) forcing the state, often through the courts, to provide what the Constitution promises; activists who organize around special interests e.g. the environment or women’s rights; and middle class activists who focus their efforts on issues such as crime and violence or language, culture and animal rights.
One of the major challenges is the dominance of the ruling party. In formal dealings with all levels of government, submissions are invited, but this engagement is just going through the motions and fails to seriously take people’s concerns on board. Herein lays the great divide: party politics is about power and activism is about principles. Both are necessary but, unfortunately, party politics have overwhelmed the conversation on almost every issue.
‘The most vivid memory of activism in apartheid South Africa was protest, most notably promoted by the United Democratic Front’s un-governability campaign of the 1980s. The problem is that post-apartheid theme persists, to the point where activism is considered synonymous with service delivery protests and forcing the state to fulfill its function.’
Following the first democratic elections in 1994, the political demands of broader society were seen to have been met and consequently social society activism went into decline. The wisdom of hindsight tells us that this was a mistake as successive governments have found it impossible to meet the expectations of the electorate, more particularly those on the margins. They, in turn, act out their frustrations in violent protest.
The problem here is that there is no deep level of community organization, political education and navigation of the democratic system that is needed to achieve a positive outcome.
This brings us more or less up to date. What is clear is that CSOs are again needed to play their traditional role of holding government and big business to account. Democracy can only be strong when social society is vigilant and engaged.
Democracy is based on the principle of citizens having rights and privileges but also equal and opposite duties and obligations. Every citizen has a duty to be vigilant and engaged as his/her contribution to fulfilling the second part of this equation.
So how do citizens get involved?
Well, there is an enormous list of organizations to choose from, tailor made to meet every type of interest or concern:
- Africa Centre for Biosafety: campaigns against the genetic engineering, privatization, industrialization, and corporate control of Africa’s food systems.
- Afesis-corplan: campaigns to achieve good governance, land access and local government development, working with ward committees and municipal officials.
- Amnesty International: campaigns for internationally recognized human rights.
- Centre for Environmental Rights: provides legal and related support to environmental CSOs and communities.
- Children’s Rights Centre: campaigns to defend, advance and realize all the constitutional and human rights of children.
- Civicus: assist CSO’s to create engaged and informed citizens and build the values and principles needed for collective actions.
- Cooperative and Policy Alternatives Centre: campaigns to advance grass roots development through the establishment of cooperatives in poor communities.
- Corruption Watch: campaigns to raise awareness of corruption and mobilize public action.
These are the first few CSOs appearing on a very long list of organizations committed to maintaining the checks-and-balances in a functioning democratic society. Others, in greater detail, will be the subject for another day.
By: Rod Morgan
The key to an orderly society is to have structures in place that deal with people’s general needs and can respond quickly in times of crisis.
In the period before the Industrial Revolution, agriculture was the main activity and the majority of the world’s population lived on the land.
Life in the cities was never good but did benefit from the fact that urban populations were relatively small. Hence the overcrowding and squalor that came later during the celebrated “free trade period” of the 1840s through to the 1930s was not present. In Britain, the world’s most powerful nation of the time, the Industrial Revolution opened up a great gulf between business owners and the ever swelling ranks of industrial workers. By the 1890s as much as a third of the population of London was living below the level of bare subsistence. State sponsored social services were absolutely minimal.
To the extent that they were present at all, social services were provided by the Church and philanthropic/ charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army who stepping in to assist in the worst situations. They did good work but there were big gaps in the social security network and life for the poor was very tough.
The terrible experiences of the first half of the 20th century: two world wars and the Great Depression of 1929-1933 overwhelmed anything these volunteer-based organizations could provide. On the positive side, these events were the catalyst for the substantial changes in the quality of life of ordinary citizens that subsequently took place.
Enter the Welfare State. When push came to pull, the state had to step in to provide the very wide range of social services that were being demanded. They are common-place today…covering everything from education, health, unemployment through to child care and disability grants.
Fuelled by a progressive Bill of Rights that is enshrined in the Constitutions of most first world and developing countries, this list of benefits has become longer and longer and longer. Interestingly, as the burden falling on the state has increased, so space has been created for the return of the religious groups and volunteer civil society organizations to play their traditional role alongside the state.
Of course, the above historical pattern has not been confined to Europe. Here in South Africa, missionary organizations and charities provided material support to rural populations in education, health and other social services. The number of schools they built ran into four figures and their many hospitals performed to the highest standard.
After something of a decline during the second half of the 20th century, civil society organizations are back in very large numbers with NGOs/NPOs (non-governmental organizations/ not-for-profit organizations) providing specific services over the full spectrum of needs and challenges.
Unfortunately, civil society organizations are not always welcomed because governments often see them as unelected (often international) bodies muscling in on their turf. SAs initial blocking of foreign HIV-Aids assistance that came with strings attached represents a good example here. Transparency and a clear agenda on the part of the NGO/ NPO is the name of the game. This would apply in particular whenever there is sensitivity on the issue of the state’s capacity to effectively raise standards or eliminate poverty, or there is a suspicion that the initiative being taken is designed to benefit foreign economic interests.
For the most part, civil society organizations exist to hold both big business and government to account by ensuring their every action complies with the law. Perhaps it is this enormous responsibility that has given birth to the myriad civil society organizations that are in existence in South Africa today, estimated to be in the region of 25000.
But that will be the subject for a future discussion.