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The Salon

There's a Civil War in my House

Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Ntebaleng Morake

(University of Cape Town, Public Policy and Administration, International Relations and Gender Studies Student)

Anxiety rests on the chipped wooden chair comfortably, looking slightly effortless even though it is wrapped in blood. Wounded, limping like a stray dog as it lays down all its brutal truths. Its confronting sight is so so draining; haunting. There's a civil war in my house!

A gathering of masses curbed like sardines, each with a neglected story to tell. A riot for space, purposefully manifesting the flawed, stretch marked side of the truth; that no one really wants to see. I hear guns! I hear guns and a severely bruised Black woman crying and the echo of her vacant Black spirit screaming for recognition; her Black folded face wondering if it will ever end. Wondering if the man she calls her lover is indeed a lover of her bones, because every weekend he comes back home reeking of alcohol and feasts on her bones until she can't walk anymore. And when she's lying helplessly on the floor begging for him to stop after he had kicked her, and kicked her; that is only time she ever sees my father smile at her.

There's a civil war in my house, and when my father gets consumed by this system and his anger, we all feel it; see it. He takes out his penis at the dinner table and pees inside the pots carrying the meals, that we so worked hard to cook. He throws around bottles of alcohol to our faces and then accuses us of wasting his money because he was not done drinking the alcohol that he so voluntarily decided to throw in our faces. He swears! He swears the devil and his homies* out of hell; and this little house we call our home becomes the hell. It becomes a cold hell clustered by my father's complaints, his bitterness, his dead dreams; and that song he so passionately sings with his fist in the air, every time he's done beating my mother up:

‘'freedom is coming tomorrow.
Freedom is coming tomorrow.
Freedom is coming tomorrow.''

I do not know this man! This man who I demonize. This man who quotes Holy Scriptures as a basis of criminalizing my mother's body. This man who has turned our home into entertainment for the whole township to gaze at, and have something to talk about at the taxi rank. This man who sings about freedom after committing such an atrocity. I do not know this man; because my father never used to be like this. He never used to throw his weight around as a means of making a statement about how powerful he is. Nor did my father associate abuse and violence with power.

I hate him for what he does to my mother; for what he does to us. And more often than not; I am tempted to look him in the eye and say ‘Father; father you are not a man, father you are a boy'. And every Sunday morning when he is lying on the bed, consumed by all the liquor he had the previous night; I find a spot somewhere in the house to kneel and bargain with God. I bargain with God and ask God to save my mother from this beast I call my father. I ask God that my mother's story makes the prime time news so that they can take my father away and save us from all this sorrow; but I immediately cancel that request because I do not want my mother's pain to be exploited for white capitalist gain. And before I stand up and seal this deal with God, I ask God to mend my father, to create in him a clean heart, to speak to him so that he can get up and find help.

I want my father to account for what he's being doing to my mother, because it is wrong and cruel and violent; not to mention abusive. And I would also like to know where my father leant this wrong, cruel, violent and abusive behaviour. Who taught my father these problematic power dynamics? There's a civil war in my house and all of us need saving!

Decolonize masculinity. We cannot be anonymous anymore!

Why Decolonizing UCT is Imperative

Ntebaleng Morake

(University of Cape Town, Public Policy and Administration, International Relations and Gender Studies Student)

There's a cluster of raging emotions, slowly penetrating the layers of my shunned upon Brown skin. These raging emotions derive from yearning to be heard, to be seen and to exist freely in the land of my ancestors. And after numerously shouting, throwing feces, occupying administration buildings; hoping to be heard, my Black voices still fails to penetrate and pierce through the walls of white supremacy and white arrogance on this campus; built on blood, and dead bodies and the tears of a people whose pigmentation resembles mine. These raging emotions, with origins from not being seen and being a descant of a people who were stripped from their humanity to being slaves, savages, barbarians and unseen ‘othered' and hyper eroticized beings; who are only relevant when the white master shits on his underwear and requires someone to clean after his mess.

I can feel these raging emotions thrusting uncontrollably with utmost resilience; leaving behind stains of relentless grief that reek of nothing but frustration and boiling anger that attempts to voice itself out, but never got given the chance to say salutations; because white supremacy silences it. It silences this rage by reminding us of the Black condition. By reminding us that we call two roomed shacks, who know no romance of electricity and running water in the dusty streets of Tembisa our homes. By reminding us that our high school education occurred in containers that accommodated an army of Black pupils who had no luxury of placing their childlike finger tips on computer keyboards.

By reminding us that the men we call our fathers are boys of the system, who spend long hours of the day gardening and sweeping the white man's yard for R20, and when they get home with a scalp direly kissed by the sun; these men-boys desire to break things out of frustration. But since they cannot afford to break and replace chairs, they break our mother's bones and break us in the process.

UCT and its white arrogance reminds us that we came to this institution with very little knowledge of this language that came with ships, and fists, and violence and moreover forced upon our people. It reminds us that our people live on their knees begging whiteness for their existence, and their survival in a white supremacist capitalist misogynist system; thus, according to UCT we ought to be grateful for being here because, you know; UCT was never built for us. Nonsense!

We are tired. We are angered and we cannot continue to live and learn in a space that denies us of our existence. We cannot continue to be treated as merely anonymous Black faces without a history, because we have a history. And that history did not begin when white colonialist men robbed us off our dignity. It did not begin when they cornered us with their guns and stole our land. It did not begin with slavery and colonialism, nor did it begin with apartheid. We had a history and our own narratives long before that, and by UCT conveniently omitting that in the academic curriculum and symbolic representation of this institution; UCT is omitting us and working into gradually erasing us. Us, people of colour. Us, Black women who carry a multitude of mountains and storms on our exhausted backs. Us, Black students who desire to be taught by Black female professors. Us, Black students who yearn for UCT to stop acting like Black women are flowers in revolutions and start teaching us about Mama Lillian Ngoyi, Mama Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela- Mandela, Mama Charlotte Maxeke, just to name a few. Us, nappy headed Black women with graceful knots in our rich hair, who are suffocated by the shackles of this university that celebrate white supremacy and male entitlement, though celebrating the likes of imperialists and misogynists' such as Cecil John Rhodes, Jan Smuts, Leander Jameson, Barnard Beattie. Us, women who stand in solidarity with sexually assaulted survivors on this campus who have to silently maneuver around UCT with an unbearable shame because they have no alternatives but to share their spaces with their rapists; sit in and be expected to adequately learn when they are in their tutorials; and when they're in a good mood; those rapists will patronizingly smile at them and tell them how they look good today knowing very well how the Discrimination and Harassment office at UCT has failed women at UCT. Us, the brown skinned melanin ones who are scarred by how unAfrican ‘Africa's number one university' is; and thus have labored intensely to try find bits of ourselves on the symbolism on this campus, but were accompanied by everything that counted that we are here, even after trying to bury us, we are here. We are enraged!

We are enraged because this single story of history that positions whiteness as triumphs that UCT so chooses to articulate is gigantically undermining to Black pain. It bluntly states that here, on this campus built with the sweat of our people; our pain and lives do not matter; for UCT treats us and the pain carelessly printed on our folded Black foreheads as a negation of whiteness. We are enraged that on this campus we have no space to breathe because if it is not white colonialists celebrated, it is misogyny or exclusivity. We are enraged and we demand that our campus be decolonized, because this too is our space.

We refuse to be silenced. We cannot be anonymous anymore.