Sunday, December 28, 2008

Latitudes of Platitudes

From protest to protest
from march to march
our brains in our mouths
our hearts in our pockets

we will give ,
till it doesn't hurt
and shout
till it doesn't rattle

and a slumber
will be lifted
at a time inopportune

and the people shall be sorted
and the scales will be tipped
and regret shall have no virtue

for the ones who spoke
but didn't do

Inverted Reality (more from the archives)

Inverted Reality

'Raise the alarms- Truth has been captured
It was taken across the boarder last night'
Alert the media-
Integrity was caught in crossfire
'Collateral damage' they said.

A freedom fighter by any other name
would smell as sweet
Colonisation dressed up in democracy
will be exposed

'Insurgents of reason are causing unrest'
'Let missiles of liberation silence them'
Defence is aggression
Aggression ... defence
War will bring peace-
It's a pre-emptive strategy

'Breaking news: Truth has
been assassinated,
dragged through the streets and spat on.
Its innards exposed
It's difficult to recognise.'

Morality is impotent
Aggression spreads its seed
Something is amiss-

a reality inverted

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Palestine Memories

In trying to enhance some solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Palestine, I dug up some archives, a piece from my trip in 2005.

With our hearts , with our souls, we will defend you Oh Aqsa... really ?

Today is the first day that we go to work in the villages. I realise that I've left my passport at home. Apparently the first rule of international travel is – always keep your passport and money on you(I'm a novice). I don't think that I've been this stressed out ... If they stop us at any of the checkpoints, I could have real problems.

As we pass the checkpoints .. my autonomic nervous system kicks (heart starts beating ,palms start sweating, mouth goes dry ...). Maybe on some small level I'm getting a glimpse into what the Palestinians feel like , having to move around with identity documents (like the'dompas' that we know) , being asked to produce it at the whim of some nineteen-year-old soldier. There are fundamental differences though –I have international immunity (for whatever that's worth) ,this isn't restricting my movement in my own country and I definitely don't have to do this everyday.

I'm thinking about a conversation with Ebrahim yesterday : " but freedom of movement is a basic human right, " he said in disbelief.

Disbelief ...

Hard to believe that all this is happening in our 'civilised world.'

Last night we watched a video showing how the wall surrounds certain towns almost completely.The only access in and out is through security gates manned by soldiers. Then too, you need a valid permit only issued for specific reasons.

According to the elders of the village that we are passing, the well that Prophet Yusuf AS was thrown into, is located here. So much history ... so beautiful ... so tense.

We pass Ar-Rabi military base .

there are military towers jutting out across the landscape . It's so out of place.
We're almost there.

We did some painting at a school in the Tulkarem district. Sometimes I think that we do some volunteer work just to make ourselves feel better. Doest it make a real difference? probably not ... but you sure do feel great afterwards.For the group though ,it was a real bonding experience.

We're on the way back and we're passing another checkpoint. The Palestinians tell us to sing and clap just to provoke the soldiers.It's a really small act of defiance, but why not...

These checkpoints are a humiliating reminder to the Palestinians that their land is being occupied. Also a reminder that I don't have my passport.

Rationality, history... everything... shows that oppression won't last forever. The question here is – how long will it be and what will it take for it to crumble?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tell it to the wind...

Talk to me of gardens with companions pure
Sing to me through colours unpaletted onto
a canvas of a scene as vivid as a post-rainfall picture
Laugh with me through melodies melting into
unadulterated contentment

Don't tell me in your half anaesthetised state
of the father that you cannot find,
I cannot resurrect your mother
Don't ask me for more drugs
to dry up your tears and
deaden your heart

Let's revel in the contradiction of the African sunshine
lets exploit the fruits of democracy now
hold my hand while we skip salutations
to our struggle heroes under the rainbow

Don't pick at my conscience
or tell me of your reality
for I will be sure to explode
under the pressure of inactivity
how bad can a child headed house-hold really be?
Your eighteen, jump on the bandwagon of BEE,
and leave me be
Don't call me a 'kind person' because
I pretended to listen

Don't tell it to me...
tell it to the wind

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's a cruel , cruel Summer ...

The topic of Refugees is an uncomfortable one. The recent Xenophobic attacks have left our nation with unexplored feelings of guilt. Any psychologist worth their salt will tell you that pent up emotions can't be too healthy.

" who is The Other?"

" why are our levels of tolerance so low?"

" are WE in any way responsible for the refugees?"

While we know that the situation in South Africa is not simply about foreigners, it seems as though we have just wished away discussion around the topic once 'Xenophobia' migrated from the headlines.

The reason that we need to have 'this discussion' is because issues around migration and refugees are sure to gain more importance but less exposure. Reasons for this include nations tightening their boundaries (under the guise of national security), civil-wars, strained resources and climate change.

The first three reasons have been explored to a large extent, but I wish to focus on the last cause for the emerging class of refugees.

The definition for "Environmental Refugees" has not yet been crystallised, but there is a call for a universal definition which would entitle this recognised group to receive aid that is allocated and allowed for refugees. One definition, developed by El-Hinnawi in 1985, sees environmental refugees as: "those people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural and/or triggered by people) that jeopardized their existence and/or seriously affected the quality of their life [sic]. By ‘environmental disruption’ in this definition is meant any physical, chemical, and/or biological changes in the ecosystem (or resource base) that render it, temporarily or permanently unsuitable to support human life.” (El-Hinnawi quoted from UNU-EHS 2008). Analysis around classification of refugees would show that the classes are interlinked .

The factors driving environmental migration include 'poverty, failing Eco systems, vulnerability to natural hazards and gradual climate-driven environmental change'. (1) Climate change impacts on the environment in the following ways: warming and drying reduces agricultural potential by destroying clean water and fertile soil, it leads to extreme weather events (eg. floods) causing mass migration. Finally, rising sea levels permanently destroys coastal regions, again causing mass migration.

Questions then arise ," do we really need to intervene? will the environment not just regulate itself? can we take responsibility for natural phenomenon?"

An honest analysis would reveal that 'We' (the energy guzzlers of the modern world) , are a direct cause for many of these dramatic events. Conisbee and Simms (2), in the handbook 'environmental refugees - a case for recognition' state: more than any war or political upheaval, global warming stands to displace millions of people. And global warming is being driven by the fossil fuel-intensive lifestyles that the West enjoys."

It becomes a situation (in many cases) of the world's poorest communities paying for the mistakes of the wealthiest nations. This seems to be a recurring theme ... the economic crisis reflects this philosophy as well.

At the moment we find ourselves at the point of trying to define the problem , some circles are still trying to decide weather the problem of 'environmental refugees' actually exists.

Interventions at this point will be far from pro-active, but ignoring the importance of this , in my opinion , is negligent. We have seen (in South Africa) how refugees can bear the brunt of frustrations when it comes to strained resources. The situation globally is sure to worsen , are we prepared?

The experts have cited solutions that include advocacy around these issues. This is an area that is accessible to us. Blog it , read about it , talk to your book club about it. On a small scale, let us be more conscious about our carbon footprint, on a larger scale, let us put pressure on industrialised nations to pay carbon tax - big time .

An interesting and interrelated subject is that of food and water security - watch this space.

on a more Muslim note : Ponder over the attitude of the ansaar towards the muhajireen. They were accepting and truly made the effort to share their resources ...

(1) Morton et. al : Human Seurity Policy Challenges

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Will we ever trust them again?

The bold face of capitalism has been irrevocably distorted.

Banks and Multinational Corporations have gained status as shrines of the modernised world. Their continued existence seemed undeniable and their foundations appeared unshakable, while they loomed over our economy with an arrogance that inspired submission.

The global Credit Crisis has altered this perception. The technicalities that lie behind this wreck are intricate but the motivating factor that underlies it is simplistic.

We have come to realise that the promise of great financial rewards allowed brokers, investors and rating agencies to overlook risk under obviously risky circumstances. Perhaps greed can anaesthetise caution.

The cliche of "building a house of cards" must have originated in anticipation of the crisis that we are in the midst of. A greater tragedy than the tenants of capitalism "collapsing like dominoes" (yet another apt cliche) , is the repercussion of this 'crunch'.

While the real consequences of the situation still needs to play itself out, it is obvious that the least fortunate are to become even less fortunate. The American tax payers will be footing the bill of the proposed bailout. Due to the legacy of Globalisation, the trickle-down effects are already being felt.

Although South Africa is relatively insulated from the crisis, we will definitely be feeling the 'pinch'. Being an emerging market, South Africa is sure to bear some brunt of the mistakes made on Wall-Street.

The most difficult aspect for me to accept is the fact that international aid organisations will be compromised. Laura MacInnis (Reuters) reports : "Washington in particular would be under severe pressure to pare its international aid spending after agreeing a $700 billion financial rescue package, said Steve Radelet, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development."

Organisations confirming concern about the negative impact that the crisis will have on aid, include Oxfam and the WHO.

With faith in the capitalist system at an all time low, alternate financial systems have come under the spotlight. Tanya Cariina Hsu (a political researcher and analyst), in a paper entitled, "Death of the American Empire" mentions that eight years ago, Saudi Islamic banker Dr. Nayef bin Fawaaz ibn Sha'alan gave a series of economic lectures in Gulf states ."Islamic banking", he said, "always protects the individuals' wealth while putting a cap on selfishness and greed. It has the best of capitalism - filtering out its negatives - and the best of socialism - filtering out its negatives too ... The essential difference between the Islamic economic system and the capitalist system is that in Islam wealth belongs to God - the individual being only its manager. It is a means, not a goal. In capitalism, it is the reverse: money belongs to the individual, and is a goal in and of itself. In America especially, money is worshipped like God.".

She goes on to say : "the crash of the entire global economic system is a result of America's fiscal arrogance based upon one set of rules for itself and another for the rest of the world. Its increased creative financing deluded its people into a false sense of security, and now looks like the failure of capitalism altogether."

Perhaps economists understanding the solutions offered by Islamic Finance should 'capitalise' on this opportunity to fill a void.

The real face of the financial crisis will be revealing itself gradually in the months and years ahead ...
during this time I pray for compassion and patience - for all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dealers in Death

Dealers in death
dabbling in darkness

we are the gatekeepers of the porthole to the next world

Our clients : Dead Before Arrival

bones cling-wrapped in skin

ravaged by a retrovirus

distorting DNA


we will callously stamp their passport

for the next leg of the journey

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

my sisters - my mirror

some women cut women down to less-than-size
whispering words wicked and worldly
sneaky and suspicious
dragging down

my sisters, they share and comfort and advise
and soften and heal and protect and
cushion the blows
and lift and

my sisters sharpen their brains
and polish their souls
comb their words
reflect in their

I look with pride in the power
they yield, their voices
crisp and confident

scholars and scientists
writers and mothers
wives and activists
in awe I stand

I salute your power
so poignant and poised
I'm humbled at your humility
so undeservedly unassuming

we stand as a unit
a fortress, a shield
a mirror
reflecting against
each other

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

shall i tell you ?

Shall I tell you of poverty so close that it stains my clothing,
yet so far away that I can wash it off the next day?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

an epic tale

Hands go up in despair,
If they don't, why should I care?
Legal wranglings from here to there
An underlying tone of arrogance found.

One question : is our democracy sound?
Malema's foot six feet in his mouth,
don't dismiss him , the lad's got clout.

Zuma up on his throne unscathed,
His henchmen shouting, "hooray we're saved"
'Counter Revolutionaries' marched and fed
to the lions , or gallows,
"off with your head".

The schoolyard bullies
pushing around
Judging the Judiciary,
the media they've found.

Still on the sidelines,
the people they wait
"Promises, promises, give us a date,"
We'll give you a chance but don't disappoint,
or another King we will anoint.

With patience we'll see this drama play out,
We'll support and pray and sometimes doubt.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

After every Revolution ... comes a new order

A mix of Hollywood-style adrenalin output, spectacular South African performances and unashamed jibes at social consciousness

I need to rule out the negatives before getting to the meaty parts , just so that It appears as though I'm being objective. After sifting out some contrived script, an overdose of 'skop-skiet-en-donder' and a feel-good ending, Jeruslama left me thoroughly entertained and very uneasy.

Someone alien to the South African context, might find that the script was trying to pull the strings of sentimentality, but to me the issues felt Real.

Jerusalema - the promised land.
The movie gives an honest reflection on the undelivered and unspoken promises of the post-apartheid era. It highlights the sense disillusion felt by the poor and the options left to them.

Poverty- the reality of it.
Poverty translated down to characters and situations is uncomfortable and disturbing. It's not a sentimental script ... this is too real. I found myself cringing with embarrassment for not being more active in efforts to readjust the status-quo.

Crime - critics could claim that the movie glorifies crime. But who said that art was supposed to be a moral compass? Maybe sometimes it needs to be a reflection of reality . It just depends on which side of the fence you are sitting. True, the grass is greener in the suburbs.

Putting South Africa on the map -
The strength of the cast and cinematic beauty that the Johannesburg sky-line offers, makes the quality of this production world class.

It's worth a watch - if only to engage with my comments :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Unite, Proclaim and Reclaim

Sitting in on a Jummah talk last week , I reflected on how apparently disjointed the talk seemed. It was coherent within itself, as an isolated lecture. However as a message to the congregation , it would not take us forward together. It did not build on what we had learned the week before , neither was it going to shape our collective actions for the week to come.

The congregation ...

we were not that cohesive either. A sprinkling of ladies, with geographical or emotional allegiances to the masjid (i cannot account for who was on the other side of the modesty barrier).
We were not bound by a common goal or moving as a community towards a definite direction.

Although faces were familiar and greetings were exchanged, we were strangers to each other by way of ideals.

A reflection of the 'ummah' in a broad and local sense bleeds the word
F-R-A-G-M-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N. We are dysfunctional because we are (dys)functioning independently whereas the only way for us to Be, is whole.

I might never have the depth of knowledge of the sciences as my sister who is studying Tafseer and Fiqh. I will never be able to understand economic intricacies as well as my brother working with Finance. But they might never be exposed to the desperation of the human condition that I see on a daily basis. One speciality can never outweigh the other and independently they are inward looking. Together , however, they spell Strength. Shared resources, knowledge and experiences under the canopy of Islam makes us Powerful.

Let us find our way back to each other. Let us be close enough to be able to hear each others faint cries for support.

Maybe the Jummah can become an unmissable event , instead of the shadow of itself that it currently is. A place where the collective pulse of the congregation can be palpated. Its rate and rhythm assessed and an appropriate response offered to the people by the Imam.
Thus propelling us into the week as a collective force , flanked on either side by out brothers and sisters in faith.

The time for excuses and playing the 'blame game' is long past. Let's not blame our impotence on others. Structures need to be reclaimed and fundamental institutions revisited. Ah, the masjid, that institution that has become a myth and legend in conversation circles. The place where the community descends on , plays together , prays together. Let's make it a place where the recitation of Allah's words are coupled with vibrant calls to action.

Let us set a deadline for when each masjid congregation, each a vital organ of a well functioning body, can descend on the Eid-gah in a magnificent display of our Ummah's strength.

Eid Mubarak

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Friday Night Poverty

The stench-of-vomit kind of poverty
Fill up on liquor as poor as the drinker
"hot stuff": cheap as street-walker home brew

Friday's right for Phuza night
racist employers are drowned down
"drive your own damn bakkie, Mr Patel"
"please drive yourself straight to hell"

Another round for the wife who left with
my neighbour

That desperate-kind-of-poverty
not the Sunday-Church-kind-of-poor
more like the poverty of Friday night
Just as long as the price is right
twenty rand extra for no protection
nothing to lose when you're so far
at the bottom.
ARV's are free
Let the grant money work,
she's a mother of three

I drink and curse and stab and smoke
You want to judge my morality?
uMama was looking after you
when she was supposed to be breastfeeding me.

I came home , washed my uniform for school
the next day
uBaba worked for your dad
for a donkey's pay.
now he's bent and broken
with no pension fund
and you throw him out,
like a used lappie.

So judge me Doctor while you stand there,
wondering what scum the ambulance dragged in.
uGogo was washing your medschool lab coat
while I was pacifying the little ones.

So let me have my Friday Night.
You think I can't smell the poverty?
I catch a whiff too.
Maybe a gust of change
will flow through , and
I could be just like you,
leaving this place
on Sanitised Saturday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Mbeki recalled by ANC

Thursday, September 18, 2008

close encouters, of a spiritual kind - perception versus reality

The reality that we build around us is a result of perceptions. Perceptions are a result of stimuli, so would it be fair to conclude that a person's reality is formed by their stimuli ?

What is the real reality and what are our stimuli?

Ramadaan brings with it a twofold benefit towards gaining a clearer perception of the true reality. We attempt to shut out the negative stimuli , or for the less pious amongst us, to merely tone it down. Then there is the superimposed benefit of increased Quraan recitation.

The Quran is the framework for a true reality. While our soul shifts away from the reality of an afterlife and the finality of a day of Reckoning during the year, intensified Quraan reading during Ramadaan, brings a shift in perception.

The ephemeral nature of this world is once again highlighted . The realisation of which washes away with it the the drive to hanker after money, financial security and status. Perspective is gained. A scholar mentioned that the Quraan puts events into place, beginning at Creation and ending in the heavens after reckoning. This puts aside the materialistic inclination of instant gratification and the subtle desire for immortality. The timeline is defined and our role in it is spelled out. The Quranic framework shifts aspirations and brings the soul closer towards a meeting with its true nature.

There is a very normal decline after Ramadaan , however it is a challenge to ensure that efforts and perceptions do not fall below the previous Ramadaan's baseline.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Democracy : africa - style ?

Optimism is the mood of the day.Well, yesterday anyway.There have been momentous shifts in attitude in my Motherland.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai must surely not be used to the articulate Mr Mugabe addressing him in such fair terms.President Mbeki must be unfamiliar with the sound of applause directed at him.

Forgive my Afro-over-optimism,but I see this as the inertia that is needed to steamroll positive change in Zimbabwe.

The timing of this agreement could not be more opportune for President Mbeki,who I believe has been made a scapegoat for many of South Africa's teething problems.Could his apparent success in this mediator role, help him with regaining some local and international credibility,or are his days as 'Africa's Son' numbered?

I hope that we are seeing the beginning of African solutions,by Africans,for Africans. Perhaps the concept of 'Peer Review' is not that idealistic.

The Afro-pessimist deep inside me,wonders about just how cosmetic this agreement is.Will it translate into a better life for Zimbabweans? Can an economy that is knocking at the pearly gates of heaven be resuscitated? Perhaps,as Nelson Mandela mentioned in the South African context,now the people will have the freedom to be free.It might take a while for true freedom (economic and social) to be realised.

Will Zimbabwe face the same challenge that the South African economy faced when its markets opened up and were swallowed by a free market capitalist wave in the ocean of globalisation? The vultures are ready to take flight.Then again,let's not bite the clawed hand that feeds us (be it capitalist or otherwise), and let's embrace the employment opportunities through DFI that are en route to Harare.

Maybe I should tell the Zimbabwean refugee that i spoke to last week,that God didn't forget about Zimbabwe.

This is Africa-hear her Roar.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Zapiro - Touche

The Zapiro Cartoon Saga

My heart was heavy with mourning for our infant democracy. It's always sad when a child is ill , even worst when afflicted with signs of a chronic illness. The tragedy comes from seeing that his potential will not be realised. Those aspirations that every parent has for it's newborn, will be dashed.

When I hear the teacher's unions making threats that bring to question the integrity of the judiciary, promising not to oversee student examinations if their political agendas are not realised, my pulse quickens and I feel a hollowness somewhere deep down.

I understand that our people are frustrated, they want to see change fiilter down. But can the desire to reap the fruits of economic progress blind us from enshrining the tenants of democracy -

An independant judiciary ...

The right to freedom of speech ?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

to sleep ... during a paediatrics call

i sit awake , no choice of mine
the moans of labour not far behind
the seductive promise of sleep so deluding
i see newborns , but I'm not brooding

I'll give a leg... ok maybe a toe,
for a warm water bottle, a blanket to throw,
over my cold self, my husband nearby.
on second thought.. I'll give a thigh.

I wait to be called,
rushed into action.
perhaps an emergency ...
faecal impaction?

I'm tried...
it's late
I write such nonsense
I've got to go
(can't even find anything to rhyme with nonsense )


A fitting day to start blogging - a birthday. new beginnings and all that. My birthday resolution
(i made it just now) - search for sanity (myself, my country , the world ...)

Blogging - it's interesting and exposing , a bit uncomfortable , a bit 'out there'.

The boundaries are blurred... a diary ? a blog ? a bliary ?