The variation is “Mrs Aysen, you have a lovely daughter.”
Late night backtoback bedtime stories with Raisa (The One That Wont Go Away. I love her for it though because our backs vibrate when we lie in bed and laugh) resulted in the absolute conviction that this is possibly one of the nicest things a boy can say to a girl. Well if her surname is McBride. Or Aysen. Otherwise it might just be a little bit awkward. We could just be a bit silly though. I think we need to ask Nobi. (The Voice of Reason.) It is my birthday on Monday, which means that hopefully ALL of my friends will unite and play together because… Its picnic time!!! More importantly, it means that these two losers will hang out with me at the same time, which can be dangerous. But it can also be pretty and full of giggles. Unless I lug my hipflask along. Then it’ll just be plain ol’ dangerous. I cant wait. A weekend of indulgence. By that I mean cupcakes. And maybe balloons. More to follow.
I found out today that my thesis has been passed and I did pretttttty well too. I wish I could say that it was all blood, sweat and tears but I’m helluva lazy, I fell all over myself writing it a month before it was due. Wow I dont believe my luck, totally a case of God’s grace. And my dad’s coffee. And of course everybody’s support. Its great to know that my studying is over unless I wanna carry on, which I probably will do. I’m nerdy like that. For now it feels pretty darn good to be 22 with a Masters degree. Bragging done.
I’m a bit nervous about this Thailand Cambodia fighting. One of my best friends in Thailand right now. As if worrying about tsunamis wasnt enough.
I went on a DOPE trip to the Drakensberg on Monday. We got horribly lost and it was magical. Full story and beautiful pics to follow. The joys of photographer friends are limitless.
Talking about Limitless, I’m going to watch it tonight. I looove the movies. And it looks pretty good too.
I actually cant even concentrate. This thesis story is way too exciting. Plus, its my birthday in a coupla days, the celebrations are gonna be dangerous. Even if I’m celebrating by myself.
A coupla people have been asking me what’s cracking with “Limelyt” being on everybody’s lips or popping up all over the place, usually with a hashtag in front. You know this twitter generation. Or rather this wannabe twitter generation. Mosta the people I know who use hashtags dont even use twitter. #stopbeinglame. Ugh I felt lame just typing that. Anyways, basically, Damian Hare, more popularly known as DJ Damian H, after numerous residencies all around the Joburg club scene as well as a stint at the Soul Candi Institute of Music where he studied and worked, has decided to give turn tables a break and is trying his hand at something new. He has recently founded Limelyt.com, an Entertainment/Lifestyle website covering all areas of entertainmment, music, movies, events, concerts etc etc, and apart from sick DJing skills, has proven himself to be a very adept blogger stalker too. He tracked me down and forced me to blog for his website, threatening to pull off my toenails if I declined. Okay I joke. I’d probably try to pull of HIS toenails if he didnt let me on board after describing what its all about. Limelyt looks like a pretty neat new venture, the team are all rather cool and Damian is a lovely guy. Plus the prospect of being paid to party then write about it is actually just ridiculously too good to be true. So far, I’ve covered two events, the Vodacom Unlimited Music Festival and the Sama 17 Nominee Party. The website hasnt gone live yet, stay posted for more info or else just check out the Limelyt Facebook profile in the interim. While you wait though, below is the piece I wrote about the Sama party.
"For about a week before the Annual MTN South African Music Awards Nominees party held last Wednesday, Damian (Limelyt founder) and Taariq (Goku to most. The photographer with The Hair. Note the capitals. That hair needs RESPECT) were super excited and even managed to get me excited too. Traditionally, the party is supposed to be the most exclusive official party in the music industry, with all the top releasing artists of 2010 present to witness their names being announced, with the hope of being part of the continent’s largest musical award show. Now, the South African Music Awards have been held at the Sun City Superbowl, in the North West province, for the last 16 years. This year however, they decided to move it to Johannesburg. The actual event will be held from 20 to 21 May at “the premium glitzy venues” La Toscana and Beira Alta Restaurant in Montecasino. So naturally, these venues played host to the annual star-studded industry party that has traditionally kicked off the SAMA celebrations. I was a bit confused about the change of venue but the enthusiasm of my cohorts was infectious so I got all dressed up. Okay not dressed up UP, but I mean I put make-up and heels on like a real girl, so I was expecting a nice night yknow? Omg was I disappointed.
We got to Montecasino, and I was feeling positive. The boys were being extra gentlemanly, walking slowly for me nstuff (I’m sure all the girls can identify. The cobblestones at Montecasino are actually a safety hazard. I can’t even count the number of near-death experiences I’ve had while making the Walk of Shame from Vacca to the parking lot. It is actually impossible to make it home safely if you don’t have a boy within arm’s reach to save you. Just in case.) Anyways, we get there and WHAM! A badass queue of like a gazillion people. Recording industry people, a sprinkling of music stars, a whole lotta groupies, executives, media names. Everyone was queuing, irrespective of access passes and accreditation (which we had. Don’t worry, promise we weren’t gatecrashing.) Which meant I spent over an hour on those sneakily evil cobblestones. Understandably, I was pretty grumpy. But! I am an eternal optimist so I kept missioning with Damian (Goku at this point was taking photos of people that he thought were famous. Which means a whole lottttttta pics of all the babes posing in front of the yellow MTN screen.) The two venues, La Toscana (a bar/club with a stage) and Beira Alta Restaurant, are next to each other, with people either mingling in the club area or sitting down to a buffet meal at the restaurant. You can guess where we went first. And so ensued the highlight of the night. The food was really good, maybe it was because we were starving and were planning on getting something to eat the minute the event was done. Everyone knows surprise food is the best food.) So Damian and I plopped ourselves down at one of the tables facing the mini stage in the restaurant and went to TOWN on that buffet. But at this point we still thought that everyone was chilling and the event would start soon enough in the main club area. Three minutes later, Jen Su (from 5fm I think? I just know her for that irritating American drawl) pranced onto the stage looking like Robocop Asian Barbie. Seriously. She was wearing like a leather and PVC miniskirt with studs and thigh high boots, wow I don’t know, she was on some other futuristic tip. Anyways so she walks on the stage and welcomes everyone and goes “Ladiiies and Gentlemeeeeeen, we’re about to announce the nominees for the 2010 Sama awards” then disappears so we were like huh?! Next thing all the TV screens set up around the restaurant start displaying a list of names according to the categories, with a big booming voice reading them out from hidden speakers. And that was it. Yup, that was the highlight of the whole evening. Super duper pap. After that, Louise Carver performed with Zulu Boy (who I think is actually reeeeally talented. Especially when strumming his guitar) and there were a couple of other performances in the other area, like Jozi and Voodoo Chile but after that very very lame announcement we were just like “haaai this is rubbish.” There were a couple of stewards walking around handing out posters displaying the full list of nominees but the only people really interested in these seemed to be the Afrikaans musicians and their families, but maybe this is because they made up the majority of the crowd in the restaurant area. Naturally I got a poster too, just to see, and below is a list of the popular categories and who was nominated in them, but the night had taken a serious downturn and we left soon after. (Go here to see the whole list. It was actually waaaay too long for this lil blog.)
Apparently the events group handling the Samas, Red Flag design and marketing, is new to the event and is actually a teeny tiny company of like 6 people. This totally showed in the way the event was managed. It was poorly organized, the queuing chaos was a disaster, and just everything about the whole night felt slapdash, last minute and incredibly average. Not special at all. All in all, a very disappointing night. Let’s just hope they manage to up their game before the actual Sama awards roll around but all I’m saying is don’t hold your breath or anything.”
Smuggling Black-Market Everything Out of Spain on Mom’s Hump
BY BEATRIZ MESA PHOTOS BY JORDI PIZARRO
By six each morning, Malika and thousands of other lady smugglers known as porteadoras gather at the foot of an immense metal corral that connects Morocco and Spain. The Moroccan police, with varying degrees of tenderness, organize the crowd into lines before the women launch themselves over the border into Melilla, Spain, to collect their day’s salary muling contraband back into Morocco. The crossing is known as Barrio Chino, and waiting for them on the other side, in the center of a Spanish esplanade, are dozens of white vans filled with secondhand clothes, shoes, blankets and fabric, tires, boxes of chips, toilet paper, and an enormous of collection of other domestic wares both necessary and recreational.
As the gates are set to open, Malika, who is 44 and has been working this border for a decade, points to the sky with her finger like a pro athlete and mutters a prayer to Allah: “Ach adu an la ilaha ila lah wa ach adu anna mohammadan rasulo allah” (“I testify that there is no other god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger”). For Muslims it’s a traditional deathbed incantation—and it’s a totally reasonable thing to do given the coming test. It is possible she’ll be stomped to death by women frantic for contraband TP and cheap alcohol—like Safia Azizi, who in late November 2008 died of a punctured lung after being trampled in an ensuing stampede.
At 6:30 AM, the gates of what the Moroccans call “the Cage” are finally opened. It is estimated that 8,000 Moroccans, a great majority of them women, pass through here carrying all kinds of stuff on their backs each day.
I stop to talk to a policeman, and as the women begin to flood across the border even he is aghast.
“Look at that,” he says. “Do you think that belongs in this century? Thousands of women carrying bales I couldn’t even lift? You try and lift one.”
Once they’ve made their way to the Melilla side of the Barrio Chino, groups of female mules quickly organize themselves and begin loading up. I see a wrinkled woman with a grimy scarf wrapped tightly around her neck to soak up the sweat. She bends herself at the waist and another 110-pound bale is plopped on her back. I can hear her spine cracking and her teeth chattering, and I seem to be the only one impressed by this. There are other things on people’s minds, obviously: bags of sunflower seeds, spare car parts, bottles of booze, boxes of shoes, all sorts of clothes.
Another woman bends until her head is practically on the floor, and 175 pounds or so of merchandise are placed on top of her back. Another woman, Yamila Agao, is waiting impatiently for her boss to arrive from the warehouse with a cargo of shoes.
“He’s late! That means I’m only going to have time to make one crossing,” she says. Yamila tells me that at 32 she is a divorcée, the product of an arranged marriage with a cousin she never learned to love.
Yamila invites me to go with her to her house, which she shares with a few other porteadoras in the suburban neighborhood of Darb Annamus, close to the border they work. The area is surrounded on all sides by a landfill, and the stench makes breathing difficult. Theirs is a sickly shack without windows—between them they pay 50 euros for rent each month. They walk me through a litany of horrible biographies (mean men, dead men, and so on) and explain that contraband keeps them afloat.
They also explain the logistics of the operation: Workers on the Spanish side prepare bales of goods, runners drive them to Barrio Chino at the border, distributors separate them, marcadores number them so they can be counted upon receipt, and finally the porteadoras haul the bales back to Morocco. The wholesalers and warehouse owners, like every Mob-based enterprise in every country, stuff bags with money to pay everyone so that in the end nothing stops the flow of cash from returning to them. A police source confirmed recently that the industry generates some 500 million euros every year.
At the Cage the following morning, I ask a pair of policemen what they think about the situation.
“Look,” one officer says, “the Spanish government doesn’t get rid of this Mafia because it’s not in their interest.”
“To avoid hurting the feelings of Morocco, and also because there’s a lot of money in this business,” another agent adds. “But this is outrageous! It’s like the Middle Ages. Sorry, I have to go… I’ll leave you to it.” He heads off to try and restore order in a queue where a careless elbow or a push has set the women fighting.
“If we weren’t here, they’d kill themselves,” the first officer says.
Another agent who wouldn’t give his name for fear of reprisal tells me how the local government in Melilla has legalized this so-called atypical trade in the Barrio Chino. Authorities have actually erected a signpost featuring a female silhouette (complete with a shapely commuter gal rather than a hunched porteadora!), carrying a bag that is about one-third the size of what the women here carry. The message is clear: Right this way, poor and hapless smugglers.
What the sign fails to mention are the bribes. Dozens of customs officials line the way back to Morocco, and women are permitted to pass only after offering up a contribution to each.
“Each porteadora pays five dirhams [60 cents] to every agent who asks to see their documents,” explains Abdelmounaim Chaouki, president of the State Department of Civil Society in northern Morocco. “If they refuse to pay, they’re denied entry or sent to the back of the queue.”
Nineteen-year-old Yousre Salló is the son of a customs official and has no delusions about the extent of corruption in an industry Moroccan civil servants are falling over themselves to get into. Here on the border their salary doubles. Yousre himself works as a runner but receives special treatment.
“I won’t touch a bag for less than ten euros,” he tells me. His less fortunate coworkers are understandably jealous.
“He moves the same amount as us but earns twice what we do,” complains Zacarías Biniya, a 20-year-old from Meknés in northern Morocco. With dim prospects for the future, Zacarías and almost all of his friends see smuggling as the only option. Well, apart from crossing illegally.
“I had a neighbor who took a raft to Spain, and we never heard from him again,” he tells me with his head bowed.
After a moment of silence, Zacarías snaps out of it and lifts up his calloused hands. He tells me about his experiences since he started working here three years ago.
“I’ve been humiliated and beaten by both the Spanish and Moroccan police,” he says. “They treat us like shit, most of all the Spanish policemen born in Morocco. When I speak to them in Berber, they insult me in Spanish. They really don’t want anything to do with us.” He thinks quietly for a second. “If the government closed down the contraband, they’d be forced to find other work for us.”
It’s midday when the border closes and the smuggling stops. As often happens, some of the porteadoras, still panting and out of breath, are stuck on the Spanish side of the Barrio Chino looking across, their bales having arrived too late for them to make the final trip back into Morocco.
During the 2010 run up to the murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre’blanche, Julius Malema was under huge pressure. He owed SARS millions, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) was getting into trouble for tapping into phones and fiddling with journalists bank accounts and everyone was just generally freaking out. Then Malema started singing an old song, or rather, a collection of old songs, called “Awudubele ibhunu” which has now become known as the “Kill the boer” songs, although whether they even say that or not is still being debated. Anyways, everyone went nuts, black people singing it or shaking their heads, white people getting nervous or shaking their fists. Afriforum, uh like an Afrikaans organisation thingy, went to the North Gauteng high court and the ruling was that Malema was no longer allowed to sing the song until the Equality Court ruled on the matter. But at that point, he was in Zimbabwe, so he didn’t pay the ruling much attention cost thats just how he rolls. Just hours later, Terre’blanche was dead. A victim of a farm murder. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Who really will ever know? Anyways, so yesterday, the wheels of justice began to turn as Malema finally is being forced to face the music. And it looks to me like this is gonna be the biggest case since President Zuma’s rape/fraud/a gazillion other charges went on the stand. It’s about race, it’s about Malema, it’s about the ANC. I think it’s gonna be nuts. Maybe not as nuts as when E.T. was murdered and white versus black looked a lil scary, but its gonna be nuts nonetheless.
What’s been going down?
AfriForum’s advocate, Martin Brassey SC made his opening statement about their reasons for bringing the case. In his view the “central element of the case is this. It’s whether the chanting of racist words by a prominent leader on a public platform can be justified on the basis that they (the words) after a facet of the struggle against apartheid”. Yes this English is actually just kak but I would imagine it’s gonna be for the rest of the trial. Also, he said that they don’t wanna prove a link between Malema and the farm murders but that his singing of these songs “created a climate of hostility”, especially because sung in front of “young and impressionable people”. Side thought: Is there an age limit to joining the ANCYL?! He also said that they don’t want a “don’t want a total ban on these songs” but that “this song was sung by an influential political (leader) in a high position within the ruling party who has…the tendencies of, and I chose my words carefully, but it is the only word I can choose, who has the tendencies of a demagogue and who repeatedly expresses as a representative of the ruling party, race-based resentment against white people”. Makes sense to me, but I’m still sorta on the fence here. I love Juju. I think his whole act is just that. I mean duh, look at the political leverage the guy has, he isn’t half as stupid as he acts. Juju has said stuff in the past like “I dispel as unfortunate the notion that when these songs are sung, they will in some way inspire others to hurt, harm or hate whites or ‘boers’. I believe that this notion can only be founded upon a belief that the majority of black people are so gullible to the extent that they would simply mistake a liberation song for a call to war against their fellow citizens.” And this I also agree with. BUT as a public figure, uh some sense is needed. Because there ARE people who will kill their fellow citizens, and it has nothing to do with being black, but rather has to do with lacking sense. Like Malema did when he sang the song in the first place. Anyways.
The juicy bits:
As its first witness AfriForum called its youth leader Ernst Roets. He was the person who first took Malema on publicly over this and basically, he described his meeting with Malema intended to cooperate on the whole kill the boer songs-farm murders saga, with the intent of calling off the case. He spoke about how Malema and his cronies kept saying “Apartheid isn’t over” and that black people are poor while white people are rich. Blah blah. These things are true. But they shouldn’t be invoked at every single political event. And by the way, some top-level political analysis were there too. I just have a simple degree in politics, and I even now better. Duh this guy was gonna run his mouth. Or maybe that was the point? Roets reported that they threatened stuff like “we beat apartheid, we’ll beat you”. Oh dear. Things obviously got heated and Roets told them that his organisation, Afriforum, wanted to march to Luthuli House over the songs to which Malema responsed “If you march to my office, we’ll do to you what we did to the IFP in 1994”.
During the run-up to the 1994 elections, after Chris Hani was assassinated, Shell House, now renamed Luthuli House (aka ANC headquarters, where the president hangs out) was marched on by 50 000 people. They were Inkatha Freedom Party supporters and they were angry. 19 people died. Shot in their backs. It was another Sharpeville. But perpetrated by the ANC instead of white supremacists. So I stop chuckling at Juju’s charming silliness when he says shit like that. It’s a chilling threat and a sombre reminder of what people in this country were forced to endure because of stupidity. And this is what started yesterday’s hate speech trial off. This violence was what almost led us to a civil war, where black people were turning on each other because one was Zulu and one spoke this way or that way or these men were after those women. And the memory of this abyss is what Julius Malema himself has brought to this case. A case already fraught with racial conflict. I feel sick to my stomach man and I was only like 6 at the time it happened, I just know for sure I don’t want that kind of poisonous hate to happen again.
If the judge, I actually don’t know who it is though, these things are difficult to keep track of, finds Roets’ testimony as correct, then Malema is in trouble. Not just with the whole world but with our current demigods, the ANC. Threatening people with that kind of violence that saw 19 people from another party killed at the hands of ANC officials is too much, surely they wont protect him if proven guilty? Jeez I hope not. Even if he is treated like a naughty child mosta the time. Naughty children don’t shoot their enemies with AK-47s. In the back. And if he rebounds from this, then I am really scared. Even as a fence-sitter generally either in love with the ANC or infuriated by them. I think the trial is gonna be like two weeks or so, and I think its gonna be long and tedious but fascinating too. This kinda thing determines whether we’re really democratic and whether our rights are really important.
So when I started this blog, I was sooooooo dead against the idea of another cheesy fashion blog, just reblogging pictures of celeb style or worse still, taking pictures of people and posting them just because they’re cool. Thats just boring man. But. I like clothes. Its one more thing to play with and I like to play. So I really would be shooting myself in the foot if I didnt make an effort to play. A little while ago I had a post on Laila Baderoon’s label OO ILU. She either has no friends or I’m just that good at sucking up because she invited me to see her show at SA Fashion Week on Sunday. It was sorta like having a playdate and being bored by your lame friend throughout mosta the day until her mischievous little sister with leaves in her hair from climbing trees rocks up and says “Hey lets paint our nails with my mom’s nail polish and then go eat bugs.” That’s OO ILU for me. Definitely my favourite of all the designers only because its fun and wearable and pretty, but not toooo girly. There were a couple of other things I really liked (see pics below) but I am definitely a fan of this ish. Lets keep toes crossed that it takes off. In the meantime, there is always the danger that new designers get lazy and just flop because they dont keep the momentum going. So I decided I’m gonna bother her on end until she makes me stuff too. Its good practice I think. I’m thinking green maxi dress first and foremost. I tried to steal it as she was leaving, but she caught me. Damnit. If you like and wanna see more, mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I really really love Sylvia Plath. I’ve never been beeeeg on poetry, I prefer books, there are whole universes held within them but I appreciate poetry nonetheless. Its like a snapshot of a fleeting something. It doesnt even matter what that something is. Its so beautiful capturing something that could disappear at any moment. And Sylvia Plath’s poems. Wow. Most of the notions feelings images are not even there that’s how fleeting they are. But maybe thats just to me. Most poetry analysis is so phoney anyways. Her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar is one of my absolute favourites, its one of those books that inform my thinking. There’s so much controversy about her life, death, writing, so this post isnt EVEN gonna go there. Its merely a declaration of profound appreciation. Below is one of my favourite poems ever ever, written while pregnant and dedicated to her unborn child. “A clean slate, with your own face on.” That’s what we all are, well when we start anyways. It makes me wanna cry and be a good mom.