DA EFFing parliamentary decorum

My latest opinion on Eyewitness News: UnCorke’d 

This week on Generations…  Musi Maimane finds his inner Julius Malema and takes on shrewd Baleka Mbete as she continues to show her true allegiance to the majority party. The DA MPs, angered by Baleka’s continuous betrayal, chant “Mbete must go,” breaking all parliamentary decorum. Sparks fly when the ANC laughs at the EFF MPs, and once again the EFF has the last say in Parliament. It’s your show, it’s our show, it’s Generations

Sounds promising for the next episode of South Africa’s favourite soapie, doesn’t it? But this is NOT the return of the South African version of Days of our Lives. Sadly, this IS the latest episode in the constitutional crisis currently underway in Parliament, which on Thursday descended into mayhem.

Generations may be gone, but soapie fans can sit tight and flip to the parliamentary channel for their daily dose of drama. That is unless the majority party slips further into police state-like activities and cuts the video stream to hide the “anarchy in parliament”. After the stream was cut, Parliament underwent a Twitter revolution, with every politician present frantically tweeting to get the chaos out to the public domain.  The ANC came one step closer to fascist action when riot police were accused of assaulting opposition MPs in the late hours of the night.

Behind the circus action, chanting and at some points the droning hum of one MP who clearly was at a loss for words, is a clear message to the ANC that it can no longer ignore. At the very least, it can no longer say, “I am not recognising you!”, as Baleka Mbete so graciously said to all the opposition MPs in Parliament yesterday, if it wants to keep its throne.

Mbete made emotional claims at the Parliamentary briefing the day after the clash, stating that there was a trend of EFF MPs disobeying the rules of Parliament. Perhaps Mbete was confused by the chants coming from the opposition side of the house. However, the chants did not start with the EFF this time, but rather by DA MPs taking a stand against Mbete. DA MPs were ‘EFFing’ up her ruling. Only five minutes into Parliamentary proceedings and Mbete was once again being shouted down. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

“Recognise one of us!” shouted EFF MP Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala.

“I actually don’t want to recognise any of you,” said Mbete.

“Step down Mbete, you have lost control of the house,” said DA member John Steenhuisen.

“You wish,” said Mbete.

I don’t think I need to go any further into what happened; there’s already a plethora of gifs to explain proceedings. If anyone had any doubts as to where Mbete’s allegiances lie and how that affects the way she does her job, I think all doubts are now lost. I asked the same question months ago when similarchaos erupted in Parliament. When will Mbete realise that when she screams, “I am not recognising you” to one of the opposition MPs, she is shouting the same to their supporters, as well ANC voters? There is no doubt that the only people NOT concerned with Jacob Zuma’s corruption are ANC members who are working so hard to clean up the PR mess that is our president.

Let me break it down without the theatrics, which we seem to obsess over more than we hear the message. While Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli thinks he is making a valid point for Mbete’s cause in saying, “when people disregard the rules it is an attack on our Parliament”, his words should actually ring, “when Mbete disregards the opposition opinion it is an attack on our democracy”.

Those who thought that the EFF’s break in decorum in August would bring about change, can now eat their words. This is no longer a case of “Malema is at it again” because he was not in Parliament on Thursday. DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane stepped up to the plate, asking the same questions. He begged the majority party to stop its PR crusade to protect the man in the president’s chair, and actually address corruption and conflicts of interest within the ANC. Oh, and maybe our education and employment crisis somewhere along the way.

Mbete was right on one respect. There is a growing trend of breaking Parliamentary rules, but it was not the EFF who started it. It was our president, Jacob Zuma. We can have a conversation about how a lack of decorum in an institutional mechanism built to enhance democracy is disrespectful and unconstitutional. But first think of this: Zuma broke decorum when he was charged with 283 counts of corruption, charged with rape and found to have unduly benefitted from security upgrades at his Nkandla house and firepool. He did not garner respect, nor did he have respect for his voters and our Constitution.

Three days ago, Parliament’s Powers and Privileges Committee adopted its final report, bringing the pending suspension of 12 EFF MPs, including Malema, a step closer. Now what can the committee rule if the majority of opposition parliamentary leaders are guilty of the same charges? It sounds ridiculous that we could suspend the whole of the DA and the EFF. Then again, before yesterday it would have sounded ridiculous that riot police could be accused of assaulting MPs in Parliament for expressing their opinion on an explicit abuse of power and conflict of interest.

I can go one step further. A lack of respect for institutional mechanisms aimed at enhancing democracy is seen elsewhere. On the same day as Mbete’s ill-advised outburst, Advocate Ishmael Semenya, who represents the police service in the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, said mineworkers should be charged with treason for wanting to attack officers on the ground. It sounds crazy that we could charge mineworkers who were shot dead in a massacre by police, with murder and treason. And yet, we are watching it unfold in a commission painted with ANC corruption.

For anyone not aware of what is going on in Parliament right now: it is broken. Our democracy is broken. Sorry South Africa, 20 years of democracy has come and gone.

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A writers insanity as my sanctuarary

When you read a book from cover to cover, you come close to perfection. The words are edited past the point of no return, the characters are flawlessly created into reality, the story line untangles perfectly into something that leaves you wanting more. You never see anything that resembles half the insanity that lies behind that piece of work.

I came across a chapter in the weeks leading up to the bizarre reflection I had to write, which is the essence of the arguments that swirl around in my head. Annie Dillard wrote The Writing Life  in 1998 and took the title of the best description of what it is to be a writer. Even describing the insanity of pouring your soul into words on a screen (or paper if you are old school like that) is near impossible. And yet, she does it. Quite beautifully.

She describes what it is to write something you think will bring a story to life and then question it, hit the delete button too hard and begin again. The first chapter in her book, littered with long and short sentences of unusual metaphors, changes from the writer you are when you think you have “created life” and the writer you are when you realise that it is all bollocks.

The paragraphs of madness continue in the perpetuating cycle, illustrate the perpetuating cycle that continues in my head as I am writing. Dillard manages to aptly go through the conflicts that fight everyday: killing my darlings, grammar, mistakes, the quest for perfection, lifeless writing. Sounds like a recipe for disaster? That is where I live best. If you haven’t figured it out by now, my priorities are not particularly well thought out. The writing life has no priorities that would make an accountant or entrepreneur jump for joy.

The writing life is chaos and courage.  It is taking the free fall every time you finger to key (or put pen to paper if you are old school like that).

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A Reflection: UnCorke’d

I was asked to write a critical reflection of my time in the Writing and Editing course in my third and final year at Rhodes University. This is what I came up with, proof that when you leave my brain UnCorke’d, the most bizarre things appear.

 

The Art of Killing Darlings

Emily Corke

2014

A One Act Play

 

The lights open on two characters identical in appearance. They sit opposite each other on an empty stage in front of laptops, facing each other. Editor is smaller than her identical twin, with torn up clothes and there are bruises all up her arm. She sits in front of the laptop, panting. Writer sits proud and tall, furiously typing in a trance. A printer on the table next to both characters keeps shooting out pages and pages of words, covering every part of the page. Editor tries to catch them and fails each time. She eventually stops and begins crying.

 

Editor: I cannot. I will not. I am trying to help you.

Editor screams and throws the papers in the air, in the direction of Writer. Writer takes no notice of her. She continues and more pages are delivered from the printer.

Editor: Do you even notice me here? I stand here everyday, begging you to notice me. You never have the time; you batter me down under the pages with words so heavy they crush my bones to dust. Annie Dillard sat with me, she held me while I cried and I begged her to tell me how I could save this relationship. She said that when you write you lie out a line of words and that line of words has become a hammer. I bare the bruises from your hammer and there is no more room on my body for your abuse. Just STOP!

Writer: (She jumps at the shrill that comes from the Editor) If you break this flow, I will never forgive you. I cannot stop. That is not an option. Your cries are more deafening than a squealing pig, your speed in your work is more frustrating than watching a blind man walk through a crowd. You lag behind, you kill my flow and even worse you kill my words. You delete the work I shed my sanity for and I must start over. But with what, what sanity do I have left to give to my words? So no. You stop!

Editor: Your greatest strength has become your greatest weakness. Even Goethe said “do not hurry”.

Writer: Where is your ‘meticulousness’ now hey, silly wench? Goethe also said, “do not rest”. Your beloved Annie Dillard also churned through the madness that is being a writer. She also said that; “when I write, soon I find myself in deep uncharted territory”. Is it a dead end now or have I located the real subject? All I can do is hurry, from one deadline to the next and all you can do is slow me down.

Editor: But if I don’t slow you down, you shave away the bits and pieces of your reputation and spectacular reputation. You write and write, news report to news report without taking a break to actually read what you have written. And then the typos flow in, in tsunami waves.

Writer: I am the sea and nobody owns me. (Writer screams this as she slams shut the laptop lid.)

Editor: And whom are you attributing that to? If I wasn’t there you would send that off, without attributing that to Pippi Longstockings. Your reputation would slowly diminish into nothing. You are lost in this sea of yours. You argue with yourself over and over. You work yourself to a bone that you ground to dust long ago. Annie said that this was your problem. She asked me how many books do we read in which the writer lacked courage to tie off the umbilical chord? She asked me how many gifts do we open where the writer neglected to remove the price tag? You are this writer when you give me no chance to create life out of your writing. I give your words life, I correct their imperfections and breathe existence on their simplicities.

Writer: I am the artist here, not you! It takes courage to pour myself into the written word. Without it I am nothing and without me, you are nothing. So let me be, this deadline closes in three minutes.

Editor: Annie Dillard said the written word is weak, that many people prefer life to it because life keeps your blood pumping. You are mere writing without me, impure writing. That must get under that short temper and make your blood boil. You are an imperfect writer and you will never reach perfection no matter how much your printer churns out. Not in the way you think you will, not without me.

Writer throws her head into her hands and she is to be rocking back and forth. In the background there is a faint sound of ticking, the sound slowly grows as time goes on.

Editor: I should let you suffer in your pool of your own self-importance. After the neglect you give to me and our darlings. I should let your reputation be slowly beaten away like you repeatedly let your typos and mistakes beat me down.

Writer: You are the hypocrite worse than them all because no one suspects you and your bruises to ever be so spiteful. You have killed off MY darlings, one by one, removing them from a story that was otherwise superb. You have ripped them from the page. You let the blood run down your keyboard as you rip them from me. Why? Because you are jealous. Because you are not great, you are slow.

Editor: Have you ever given me the chance to be great? You have never given me the chance to grow!

Writer: How could I when you sit there with my darlings blood on your hands?

Editor: You will never see past your own self-importance to realise that I am doing this for your own good. When Annie Dillard heard about our distorted relationship, she said that there are several delusions that weaken the writer’s resolve to throw away work. If she has read the pages too many times like you do, they will perfectly answer your own familiar rhythms and you retain them. You have to trim the flab; you heard these words from a writer that you admire and learn from. She is your mentor and she said that I was right. She does not have these arguments with this part of herself.

Writer: That is because she does not ever have you sitting on her shoulder, constantly slowing her down. You may run off to Annie and complain about how down beaten you are but do you tell her what you do to my work? Annie said you are as guilty as I am! She said that you could save some of the sentences like bricks in a broken down house. It will be a miracle if you can save some of the paragraphs no matter how excellent they are. But you don’t. You don’t ask my permission to shave away a part of me.

The ticking is now so unbearably loud that the characters are screaming over the noise. The printers both begin to beep loudly.

Editor: I am a part of you and you regularly shave me away. Coherent writing is beauty without blemishes. It is the perfection you seek in yourself every day. I know you spend hours in front of the mirror looking for it and I know that it was your writing that saved your life. Let writing be the perfection you seek. But you can’t do this without me.

Writer appears to be shaking in the same way a person would during drug withdrawal. With each tick she jumps. Editor looks at her for a while before she starts crying.

Writer: I just do not have it in me to continue with this. I have so much talent. I have such a way with words, I have been told that before. And yet Gill Rennie asks for more of you. I write for perfection, I don’t want blood on my hands for killing my darlings. My chest closes each day before I even take my first breath under the pressure. The time ticks away faster than I can handle and all the while I feel my sanity ticking away with it. I am stretched in so many directions I forget which way is up. Annie Dillard once said to me that writer’s work from left to right and the discardable chapters are on the left. The latest version of a literary work begins somewhere in the middle. That is the writing life. I am stretched so far that I can never find the middle.

Editor: You are overworked and we both suffer for it. Gill gave you the reprieve. Start making use of your time in a way that you are writing for all your jobs at the same time. The whole idea was to save time so that I could have time to fix the mistakes you could not see! I read over your emails, your articles and your essays and they are littered with typos like a broken open garbage bag. Nick Stockton wrote an interesting article on typos that you did not get a chance to read but I did. He said, “they are saboteurs, undermining your intent, causing your resume to land in the “pass” pile, or providing sustenance for an army of pedantic critics”. The pass pile is your idea of hell. You only want to be noticed for being extraordinary. You credit your dreams with saving your life, don’t drown them in greed.

Writer: I feel like I am drowning, soon to be sucked into the pass pile.

Writer eventually slumps off the chair. Editor slowly sits up straighter. The ticking stops and the printers jam. There is a deafening silence. After some time Editor breaks the silence.

 

Editor: This is your distorted relationship with words playing out and it is slowly desiccating your relationship with me. Give me some time. Give me some attention. Show me your faith in me and us. I am not killing our darlings; I am showing the right attention to the darlings who deserve it. I am giving the darlings who matter time and space to grow and not whoring out my abilities to every darling that spawns from that incredible mind of yours. Let me help you.

Writer: I hate how much I love you. I hate how much you are so right. I hate how much neglect you have had to put up with. I am drowning, please save me.

Silence. Writer looks up at Editor and they embrace.

 

Blackout.


The plight of the writer obsessed with greatness

An interview with Emily Corke

2018

Emily Corke, journalist and aspiring novelist, reflects on her infinite quest for perfection.

Emily Corke, journalist and aspiring novelist, reflects on her infinite quest for perfection.

 Written like the mumblings in the mind of insanity, The Art of Killing Darlings, is a script showing the insanity of a writer and her perpetual arguments with the little devil on her shoulder. Becoming a writer is like choosing to take a long walk off a short bridge. With my constant quest for greatness, the bridge was even shorter for me.

I wrote this script to illustrate the personal battle that had made its way into my professional psyche. It was a peak inside my brain as I made my way through WRITING and EDITING so early in my career.  Anthea Garmin, a mentor I greatly admired, at the time had tried to get through to me early enough to save me from the abusive relationship between two of my professional brains. I walked right into a distorted argument with myself, half way through my third year.

I am a person obsessed with perfection. It manifested in the worst ways and in the best ways. I was addicted to it and as with all addictions they run their course. Anthea had warned me, my biggest strength became my greatest weakness. As the short play suggests by the constant rattling of emotional abuse, the Writer in me had for so long neglected the Editor, and it showed through in my work. As Annie Dillard noted writing without life is only worthy for the “pass pile” and for the mistakes to slip through like they did, the pass pile was imminent for me.

My distorted relationship with perfection and the Editor in me manifested most in what I still class as my enemy in writing: word counts. Killing my darlings (as painful as slicing away a part of you with a blunt knife) was something the Writer could never forgive the Editor for doing, or let her do at all. In fact, there was little the Editor could do against the angst that is cutting away my darlings. I would save drafts of articles that were too long for any attention span, let alone the human race. Academically, I could make a case for long word counts but soon these was little I could say to justify them other than the fact that I was obsessed with words and greatness which I had so defined in my epics of essays. Learning to kill my darlings, was probably the toughest lesson I learnt in that year. At the time I read a piece by Forest Wickman, who said killing your darlings was where “you have to get rid of your most precious and especially self-indulgent passages for the greater good of your literary work”. I was a self-indulgent writer, which you can see come through in the script. Editor is harsh in saying Writer is wrapped up in her own self-importance but it was true. I learnt that lesson very quickly. The writer in me was abusive, dominant and overworked while the editor in me had not been given the space to shine.

That was of course my other problem, and at the time another mentor of mine, Gillian Rennie who I also greatly admired, reached out to try to help me. I was absolutely swamped. In true Emily Corke style I had bitten off more than I could handle and this meant I had no time to give to the real objectives that Gillian and another mentor, Rod Amner were trying to achieve. In all honesty, the feature writing and extra blogging work was lost with me as I was already the news editor for a local paper, The Oppidan Press. The extra work from the blogging course caused more stress than I needed and I felt that I had gained nothing. I gaged that there was little I could learn when I had been working in Grahamstown for so long, as a journalist for the Embizweni blog. That being said, it was during this time that Gillian was able to pick up the distorted relationship I was in. Like any abusive relationship, the abuser was brought down by her own circumstances and she took it out on the abused who was battered and beaten to the point of submission.

At that point of submission, her growth as an editor was stunted and the perfection of the writer was impossible. As a writer, my greatest strength was to turn out article after article, academic essay after academic essay. But soon I lost sight of what really mattered, as Annie Dillard put it, bringing mere writing to life. Writing is just words and with typos and grammar mistakes, words are lifeless. Editing brings writing to life. As Gillian always used to say to me, cut away the flab, trim the meaningless information. Working at the rate I was working at, I looked past all the typos and mistakes, the pass-pile crept up and perfection was far from achievable. I had to take steps to give room for the Editor in me to grow. The Art of Killing Darlings shows that progression at the point of near melt down because at the time I realised the value of my editing, the workload had overloaded my sanity to the brink of extinction. The ticking and the printers in the script are the visual representation of the sounds and images that were forever going off in my head. There was never enough time. Never enough words.

Eventually something had to give, and that was my inability to say no and the fear of failure. That conscious decision changed my identity as a writer. I was too proud to accept any help or criticism. Through that year, working with my mentors, on different blogs and publications and working in a workload no one should ever handle; I evolved as a writer into something more sincere. I learnt the soft act of killing my darlings.

My Makana woes: the relationship I never chose

I have been following the Makana Municipality’s stuff ups all year. Luckily for me, the constant stories of inadequate service delivery, mistakes and mishaps put me on the maps as a student journalist. Unluckily for Makana, they had to deal with me camping out in the city hall to interrogate any poor soul who stopped near me.

The longest standing relationship I have had this year has been with Makana (sad I know), but all the longevity did was make it blossom into a love/hate relationship with little potential of ever lasting. It began with an investigation in three tiers of the crisis that calls itself a municipality. In short, the electrical substations were near explosion and needed a desperate face lift, financial management was not a thing for the municipality, and union troubles were putting a dampener on the water success. Pun absolutely intended. While my investigation was widely spoken about by people who actually cared, the dialogue fell on deaf ears in City Hall.

I did follow a success story here and there, such as the eradication of the Bucket system in parts of Joza. Although I am not sure handing over a toilet to an old man who has not had sanitation since before the end of the apartheid can ever be called a success story. More like condescending embarrassment and an absolute telltale sign of how little the municipality and national government actually care or listen to the people suffering the most. I watched the Minister for Human Settlements, Connie September, insult and patronise a man old enough to be her father over and over. The cherry on top was when she asked him to “flush his new toilet” and a Makana councillor used the toilet before the gentlemen without asking. Problematic dot com.

Story after story for Grocotts Mail and The Oppidan PressIt was the same old sad song coming out of different mouths. I continued to follow the water crisis, the electrical substation’s life-threatening circumstances and, later in the year, the sewage blockages around Makana. The answer to every problem in Makana was the following: ageing infrastructure, no money. In reality though, the answer should have been: no expertise, corruption and mismanagement. In every case institutions like Rhodes University, Fort England and Amatola Water were picking up the jobs that Makana was washing its hands of. Rhodes got its own water truck, Fort England have built their own sewage facilities and Amatola water have managed to fix more than just the water crisis in Makana. It has gotten to the point where I can realistically ask the question: What does Makana actually do in this town?

During the second half of the year, word got out that I had established a name for myself in City Hall, one that sent rolling eyes and shaking head to everyone I came into contact with. TV students hopped onto my story over a month ago and together we produced a Carte Blanche worthy mini-documentary. The mini-documentary is my breakup letter to Makana; the last bitter hurrah that details the rest of the work I’ve done with the municipality this year before I give back its jackets and mix tapes and move on.

Shattering misconceptions

I have often brushed over my anorexia in posts and in conversation. Not on purpose of course –  I have just never felt the need to tell my story to the plethora people on the internet. I never wanted it to be the thing that everyone rolls their eyes about because it was spoken about so often it became as monotonous as an annoying clock.

However, I think it is time for me to tell my story. In full. Not for my own process but because I have seen how my story became an inspiration for someone else; a reason for them to feel that they are not alone in the world. I was in awe that something so terrible in my life could be used for something so good.

This is the story of my eating disorder and I: UnCorke’d.

My mind is my body’s worst enemy. It is a weapon of mass destruction, ticking away in my head. If I had a tenner for every misconception that flitted in and festered, I would be richer than Neil Diamond. Like maggots, the misconceptions multiplied into thoughts and soon after their images were all I saw in the mirror.

I can’t give my mind all the credit; I didn’t create all the misconceptions in my own mind, even if they were all allowed to incubate there. My mind only mimicked what it was being fed at just about every turn. So many things crept in and twisted in my head, but one of the things I remember so vividly is seeing an underwear model. She was sensual and beautiful and I could think of nothing I wanted more in the world than her body. So started the worst train of thought I have ever bought the ticket for: the aspiration for perfection.

On 10 October 2012 I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. There is no easy way to explain the feeling of your own head telling you that you are not good enough, that you are disgusting, that you are too fat, that you may not eat. I went into hospital for 18 days in December 2012. In six months I had lost 29 kgs. I have been in remission since.

My life was designed by loss. First it was the weight, then my strength, my faith in some people I held close to me, then slowly but surely the demons began to nibble away at my personality. I watched my life crumble away as fast as my body did. I lost my hair. My nails stopped growing. I lost my period. My bones stuck out of my body like they were unwanted intruders, I became as frail, dead and dull as an old building.

Misconceptions are the hardest scars to heal. They forced my body apart from my mind. It is called body disconnection, the feeling of being absolutely cut off from your body. No experience was good enough in my body, not even sex, because my mind wanted to be as far from this body as possible. I am not sure you can even explain it. Imagine wanting to be so far out of a room you would give anything to leave it. Now imagine that was your own body and you can start to understand  body disconnection. You can leave an uncomfortable room. You can’t evacuate your own body. Excruciating, isn’t it? Looking in the mirror, I could never see a body that was perfect, only the festering images of what my mind had made me believe I looked like: the image of imperfection. It is shattering. And exhausting.

It has been two years.

I am quite proud to say that my annoying need to overachieve at everything has been my biggest weakness and my greatest strength. I would never do something halfway, and this was no different: I got an eating disorder as bad as they go. But I sure as hell got a recovery as good as they go. I have not relapsed or regressed. I have just grown in confidence and in strength. I haven’t done that on my own: the support I have had from just about every corner of my life has been my lifeline. My family have picked me out of my worst nightmares and patched me back together again even when I did not let them. My friends have fought with me in my corner with so much strength they could collectively save the world. I am not sure I could ever find the words to describe the impact they have made.

People tell me every day how far I have come in two years. They see me eat and think it is all over. There is little truth in an assumption so bold. Here’s the catch no one told me about when I first thought an eating disorder is a good idea: it never leaves you. It just becomes less overwhelming. I still have the scars to face every day. I say remission because I never really heal. Then again I am only human and people often forget that when I have a bad day. The truth is I face my worst fear every time I sit down to eat. We have yet to find a cure for that one.

I did manage to find half a cure. Something to treat the symptom, at least. I took part in and organised this year’s “My Body, My Choice” campaign. This is the second year I have participated in the campaign and it has been the most liberating experience in my recovery. The shoot was a place I could take claim of MY body and embrace it for what it is: my own.  At the exhibition of the campaign, we celebrated our bodies as liberated, as whole, beautiful and, above all, our own. We invited a celebration of the body as a site of courage, beauty, strength, autonomy, love and resistance.

Without intending to, I became the face of the campaign. Picture: Adrian Frost.

Without intending to, I became the face of the campaign. Picture: Adrian Frost.

These photos were all about shattering those haunting misconceptions. I realised the aspiration for perfection is impossible. The aspiration for the belief in my own beauty is far more valuable. These pictures were part of that journey of being beautiful, sensual. I became my own idea of that  model, shattering my expectations of the perfect body. I am my own perfect body, healthy and functioning.

These pictures were about shattering the misconceptions others had about my body. I don’t need to recount the horror bully stories – they are predictable and each bully had the originality of a plank. Regardless, the always fruitful comments fit so nicely into my misconceptions.  I took my body back from these leaches in this series.

Shattering misconceptions.  Picture: Adrian Frost

Shattering misconceptions. Picture: Adrian Frost

The campaign was about helping others realise they could do the same for themselves. Remission is a tough place to be in in your eating disorder: the misconceptions are still there and they multiply everyday, but you eat because you have to. Starvation is not a place you can happily escape to anymore. Knowing what I know about how I nearly ruined my life, I have made it my (re)mission to shatter the misconceptions breaking other beauties apart. Some of these beauties are close to my heart.

Imagine the model of your dreams; she is the image of perfection. Now imagine a time when you are that model. Even better, you are the role model. That is what I have grown to be. And these are the pictures to show it.

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Antjie Krog called it first: a media bandwagon brigade

It is a little known fact that one of the greatest South African poets was also one of the greatest South African journalists during a commission that stole the world’s gaze. Antjie Krog’s novel, Country of my Skull, has been on my mind over the last few months thanks (or no thanks) to the media sensation of the court room.

We were hit by the first wave during the Oscar Pistorius bail hearing and finally his trial. Now we have Oscar Pistorius: the Saga Continues due to his sentencing. We were just swallowing the last bombardment when the Shrien Dewani trial began. Third to a dimmer spotlight (no kidding) was the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. The latest news headlines are so obsessed with a the courtroom,  Jacob Zuma is probably dancing in Nkandla that there is something to take the media spotlight off him for a moment.

Krog’s book, set in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – which heard some of the most terrifying testimonies the world has seen – tells a similar, sad story. While it was criticised for achieving little in the road of justice, the TRC was the post-apartheid baby’s first step. The step was to create a platform for the victims and the perpetrators to speak openly about the injustices of the apartheid regime. That being said, Krog describes not only the harrowing stories from the torture and racism of apartheid but also the stories of the journalists covering the trial. The TRC became the story and trial of the decade across the globe. Krog tells the story of sitting in the hearings with journalists all over the world, drinking with them after each hearing and going through the same secondary trauma as the next journalist.

Reading Country of my Skull, while poetically beautiful and tear-droppingly graphic, only made me think of our current obsession with the trial phenomenon. Oscar shot Reeva, Shrien organised Anni’s death, OJ shot his wife. The trials grabbed the headlines across the world and Oscar’s and OJ’s sentences were “shockingly light”. We have yet to see how Shrien gets off, of course.

Another point of contention for me was watching the bandwagon brigade roll in. In Country of Skull, we watched the testimonies of people who suffered more than a human can, that was it. The bandwagons were not waiting outside the courtroom door all the time. Possibly because there was no innocence and guilt, just grieving and reconciliation.

Today, the gender activists took up arms against the men accused. The immediate response was one of sympathy for Steenkamp and Pistorius, who claimed that he mistook her for an intruder. The tone of the country soon changed after he was accused of premeditated murder and painted as a violent and careless man. Just like that, the entire country thought they were Judge Thokozile Masipa on the case, ready to condemn him guilty before it was proven.

Reeva, and now Shrien, soon lost their status as people to become symbols for a movement, whether it was for anti-gun laws or gender activism. The South African legal system is built upon the premise of innocent until proven guilty and yet it strikes me that the death of two can mark another person as guilty of gender-based murder without all the facts in hand.

Excuse me for making the observation, but who died and made you the judge with no facts or qualifications?

ANC’s liability overshadows its success story

I am probably going to regret saying this as soon as I have said it, but Stephen Grootes is one of South Africa’s top political columnists/commentators at the moment. If he were to find out that I was writing this, I would never hear the end of it. He would laugh and call me intern until he turned blue in the face. So let’s hope he does not make a daily effort to Google his name.

Grootes is a radio personality that everybody knows. His quick questions have brought uncomfortable stories to life and made those in power uncomfortable as they sit in their throne.  Working with him is an experience usually made up of a combination of real valuable teaching and bitter jokes which usually leaves him the only one in the newsroom laughing.  Apart from his uncanny ability to laugh at his own jokes, his political commentary is scintillating.

His latest column is no different. And it is made even more appropriate because the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, had an interview with John Robbie on the Breakfast Show on Talk Radio 702 . Makhura struggled his way through Robbie’s question on the relationship between the Gauteng ANC and the national ANC. The reason for his discomfort was because the question was actually this: how are you managing the ANC trying their best to clean up the PR mess that is our president and those who actually believe in a rhetoric of anti-corruption? The answer: not very well.

The Gauteng ANC, who actually appear to be making steps to achieve something more than Nkandla PR speeches and throwing the EFF out of every building possible, could be the savior of ANC land. Grootes takes readers through the choppy waters of the ANC pressures, pointing out that while the ANC may not be in electoral trouble just yet, the time will come faster than Zuma’s comfortable throne might anticipate. Even Google search struggles to navigate Zuma’s corruption when the first drop down key words are “Zuma corruption” and “Zuma Nkandla”.

While the ANC manifesto promised the world, as every politician tends to do at election time, it did not include the bit where the ANC had to, at all costs, clean up the man wearing the presidents hat. Housing, poverty and education are euphemisms for “protect Zuma’s reputation” in the ANC manifesto.