Wednesday, February 11, 2015
2015 STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS - "WE WANT JOBS, JOBS, JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR OWN BUSINESSES"
The South African State President, Jacob Zuma, will deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the official opening of the National Parliament for 2015 in Cape Town on Thursday, February 12, evening. He will deliver his address against the background of widespread controversy over his leadership and the Government's apparent failure to tackle a number of challenges facing ordinary South Africans. These include the high rate of unemployment, the ever growing and widening divide between the rich and the poor, the falling standards of education and health services for most South Africans, the pervasive corruption that has gripped politicians and public officials, the run-away crime rate and the daily power outages.
I spoke to South Africans to find out their views and compiled this article:
SOUTH AFRICANS ARE DISILLUSIONED AND DISAPPOINTED
By Subry Govender
President Jacob Zuma and his ruling ANC Government have taken extra-ordinary measures to ensure that his state of the nation address is broadcast widely on television and radio services to reach the masses throughout the length and breadth of the country.
They obviously want to tell the masses that after being in power for the past 21 years they have achieved a great deal and they have their social, economic, educational and health interests at heart.
BUT the disappointment and disillusionment among many South Africans about the social and economic challenges facing the country is so intense that they only want Zuma to rectify the situation rather than provide excuses.
A group of Masters students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal highlighted the frustrations of most young people when they told me on Monday (Feb 9)that Zuma and his ruling ANC must create the opportunities for them to find jobs. They don't want to continue to live as disadvantaged citizens.
"GIVE US INFORMATION FOR JOBS AND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES"
Ms Thembi Vandou, 27, who is studying for her Masters in Law degree, said most young people were deeply frustrated at their difficulties in trying to find jobs.
"President Zuma," she said, "just please provide a way for us to know how to access the information in which we are to be getting the employment or having the means to actually sustain ourselves and ways to go about it".
Her friend, Ms Zanele Ndlovu, 28, is studying for her Masters in Tourism.
"I am saying that sometimes young people are prevented from entering work places because of corruption," she said.
"I mean it's not a secret, certain departments we know you need to know a certain somebody in order for you to get in. And for us as young women it becomes extra difficult because some people even request sexual favours. For me those are the two issues I would like to see the Government really tackle and not just say something on paper but in practise that's not what they are doing."
Mr Dumisani Mtethwa, 28, who has finished his Masters in Media Studies and now writing his doctorate, is also frustrated.
"For me I think the Government is actually failing," he said.
"They haven't been doing enough because if you look at the situation they promised to create more job opportunities. Instead of creating job opportunities we have lost so many job opportunities, people have been retrenched from their jobs, for me I think they have not been doing enough."
"YOUNG PEOPLE FED UP"
A 25-year-old public relations consultant, who does consultancy work for the Government in the rural areas of the country, confirms that young people want Zuma to respond to their concerns in his state of the nation address.
"There are young people," she said, "who are actually very fed up who have lost hope in the Government being able to assist us".
"So I want to see the face being regained amongst young people and for them to receive assistance in terms of economic growth and economic development through job creation and as well as support in business growth."
ORDINARY TAX-PAYING SOUTH AFRICANS
Ordinary tax-paying South Africans, for their part, say they are pretty fed up not only with the deterioration of health and education services for the public at large, but also the violent crime and corruption that is overwhelming the country. Now they are also worried about the electricity power outages they are experiencing on a daily basis. Zuma should not say what they have achieved over the past 21 years but what they are doing to overcome the challenges in health, education, corruption and the provision of power.
Mr Vic Ecclesey, a building contractor, told me that Zuma needed to be more in touch with the people.
"It's easy to say you will build schools you will do this, you will improve that but who follows up on what's been done? From last year's speech who knows what's been done?"
ZUMA AND GOVERNMENT "INEPT"
Mr Mike Deborah, a pensioner, said South Africa today faced many social and economical challenges because of what he termed "the ineptness of Zuma and the Government".
"The power outages, the water shortages, education problems, transport problems, the ANC Government and the President do not seem to be getting to grips with these problems at all," he said.
"Normally when the state of the nation address is given they seem to gloss over all the problems and try to focus on what they want to do in the future although most people are cynical of all the promises because they don't seem to come to fruitition."
CORRUPTION A HUGE PROBLEM
Mr Neil Champion, a golf official and former political activist, said Zuma should be given a chance to iron out the problems facing the people. He was especially concerned about the corruption affecting the country.
"He needs to ensure that he appoints people who have to be monitored and fight the corruption that is destroying our country.
"There are people in positions who hold these positions and they forget that what we are building is not for ourselves but for the future of our children. "That's what we fought for and our children's future depends on how the president addresses these issues."
SOUTH AFRICANS BECOMING RESTLESS
A political science lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban - Dr Bheki Mngomezulu - is of the view that South Africans are becoming more and more restless because of the challenges they face in their everyday lives. He highlighted the current power outages and the economic challenges facing the country.
"So those are some of the issues that the President will have to address to allay fears telling the nation that Government is in control," he said.
"But some of the issues have to do with him as a person. There are people saying that he's not fit for office and as a result some opposition parties are even saying that there must be a vote of confidence on the President.
"So he will have to, without necessarily defending himself, will have to demonstrate to the nation that he's in fact hands on."
A senior official of the Economic Freedom Fighters (or EFF) in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Reggie Ndlovu, said Zuma should tell the nation how the black majority would be able to take control of the economy of the country.
"Economic freedom in our life time is what we want the President to talk about thoroughly in his state of the nation address," he said.
"We also want to be the participants of all economic institutions that are in existence in the country. We don't want to just eat the crumbs from the white monoply capital. He has to have details around that."
Ndlovu also said it was time Zuma handled the transfer of land to the people.
Zuma and his fellow leaders say they have plans in place for the economic upliftment of the previously disadvantaged and are not concerned about threats by the EFF to disrupt the state of the nation address. They say those who do not follow the rules of the National Parliament will have to face the consequences.
South Africans at large are not too entralled with the threats of disruption of Zuma's state of the nation address. The people want to listen to what Zuma is going to do practically to improve their lives rather than be fixated with what they call "the antics of Julius Malema and his MPs".
Sunday, February 8, 2015
By Subry Govender
South Africans have once again participated in their tens of thousands in the annual Kavady religious ceremony throughout the country on Tuesday, February 3 and Sunday, February 8.
The Kavady ceremony, which was brought to the country by our indentured forefathers and mothers along with other cultural, religious, musical and educational norms and values, was observed by devotees at almost every temlpe throughout South Africa. The devotees and their family members and friends thronged temples in towns such as KwaDukuza, Tongaat and Verulam on the North Coast, in Phoenix, Chatsworth, central Durban, towns such as Isipingo, Umzinto, Park Rynie, Sezela and Port Shepstone on the South Coast, Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith, Dundee, Newcastle, and other small towns in the midlands and Northern Natal.
There were also similar scenes in the Johannesburg-Pretoria region, where there's a very high concentration of people who have moved from KwaZulu-Natal. There were also Kavady ceremonies in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London.
I had the privilege of attending the Kavady ceremony at the Shri Subramaniar Alayam in Umdloti Drift in Verulam where more than 1 500 devotees, both young and their parents, sought the blessing of Lord Muruga on Tuesday, February 3, and on Sunday, February 8. Here I found the young especially being involved in not only carrying the Kavady on their shoulders but also pulling the chariots with their bodies fully pierced with needles.
It was wonderful to see the young men and women demonstrating so much enthusiasm and commitment for the ceremony. The parents I spoke to expressed their satisfaction that their children will now carry the Kavady ceremony into the next millenium.
(Mr Simon Moonsamy with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson)
Mr Simon Moonsamy, who was with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson, said participating in the Kavady provided his family with a great deal of spiritual upliftment and "connection to all that is good and positive in this world".
"We find a great deal of joy and happiness when we involve ourselves in the Kavady ceremony. Lord Muruga guides us in this world."
(Mr Mervyn Chetty, wife and two sons)
A young man, Mr Mervyn Chetty, who participated along with his wife and two sons, said involvement in the Kavady provided them with absolute peace of mind and commitment to all that was good.
"We find that Lord Muruga makes us to lead simple and pure lives. This is a time of reflection and to help others," said Mr Chetty.
(Mr Dixie Pillay and his son, Prevasen)
Mr Dixie Pillay, who was with his 17-year-old son Prevasen, said he had been involved in Kavady for the past 50 years and now wanted his children to be involved as well.
"Being involved in Kavady is a wonderful spiritual experience for our family. We want to ensure that what our forefathers and mothers brought with them from India is never forgotten.
"We live in a multi-cultural society and it's wonderful to see our people promoting their belief in Lord Muruga in their thousands," he said.
(Mr Veeran Naidoo offering blessing to the people)
A former teacher and social activist, Mr Kanie Kisten, was present at the Kavady was there to provide assistance to his son-in-law, Mr Veeran Naidoo.
"I have my two daughters, their husbands and their children here participating in the Kavady. It's wonderful to see our children being fully involved in something that our indentured forefathers and mothers brought to his country from India," he said.
(Ms Shireen Naicker, Ms Kavitha Amichand and Mr Murugan Gengan helping to serve the people with food)
The Umdloti Drift temple, which was built more than 115 years ago, has been hosting the Kavady religious ceremony for just as long. One of the senior officials, Mr Danny Chetty, said their forefathers and mothers had sacrficed their lives in order to ensure that the temple promoted their religious and cultural values.
"We have now taken over from where they left off and are fully committed to ensuring that the Kavady ceremony is a major event at our temple," he said.
(Mr Reggie Naidoo and colleague who assisted in the provision of meals to the devotees and others who participated in the Kavady)
The Shri Siva Subramaniar Alayam offcials should be praised for the efficient manner in which the Kavady was organised on the two days of February 3 and 8. In addition to catering for the spiritual needs of the devotees and the thousands of family members and other participants, the temple also provided sumptuous meals.
One of the officials in charge of the meals, Mr Reggie Naidoo, said all the preparations and service was carried out by volunteers.
"There is something in the Kavady ceremony that promotes the good in all people", he said,
(Tamil scholar - Mr Sammandan Saragesar)
A Tamil scholar and spiritual leader, Mr Sammandan Saragesar, said he was very pleased to see the huge numbers of people who participated in the Kavady ceremony.
"It's a joy to see that the young people have come in their droves with their parents. It's also wonderful to see different linguistic groups who are participating. It's restricted only to the Tamil people," he said.
Mr Saragesar, who has his roots in the former Mount Edgecombe Estate, said Kavady was a time of moral victory over immorality; positivity over negativity and the triumph of good over evil.
"Although we live in a material world, it's great to see that Lord Muruga through the Kavady brings us to earth.
"I can see a great deal of rejuvenation among our people. This is a blessing for us. I am now very positive that what our forefathers and mothers brought to South Africa will grow forever in our people."
(Micky Subrayen and Kugen Subrayen)
Two brothers, Mr Micky Subrayen and Kugen Subrayen, who belong to a pioneer Verulam family, were also there with their families.
"We are also thrilled that our young people are joining in the Kavady. This demonstrates that we have to actively encourage our children to become involved in our rich spiritualness", said Kugen Subrayen.
Friday, February 6, 2015
103 RD ANC ANNIVERSARY - A TIME FOR REFLECTION AND ACTION AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT, POVERTY, CORRUPTION AND MORE CORRUPTION
NATAL INDIAN CONGRESS AND UDF LEADERS (FROM LEFT) - GEORGE SEWPERSADH(LATE), BILLY NAIR (ANC, UDF AND NIC NOW LATE), ARCHIE GUMEDE (UDF AND ANC LEADER), M J NAIDOO, AND MEWA RAMGOBIN
The oldest liberation movement and political party in Africa, South Africa's ruling African National Congress (or ANC), recently observed its 103rd anniversary on January 8 2015. Although the event is a major milestone in the struggles in South Africa for a free and non-racial democracy, doubts have been raised about whether the ANC of today still follows the values and principles of its founders and leaders of the calbire of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu after it was established on January 8 1912. Subry Govender compiled the following report on its 100th anniversary in January 2012 and believes that very little has changed over the past two years.
The ANC has for decades been the political movement that the masses in South Africa looked up to, to bring about not only their liberation from racial oppression, but also as a political party that would promote their social and economic upliftment and well-being in the post apartheid South Africa.
But on its 100th anniversary and on the 18th year as a ruling party, what is the state of affairs?
"The ANC for us with its vision, with its commitment to liberation, with its commitment to non-racialism and unity was and remains, under the current circumstances the only organisation or political formation that can do this in South Africa, the only organisation that can give protection to an enduring peace in our country," said 79-year-old Mewalall Ramgobin, a former struggle leader who served the ANC in the new parliament for 15 years since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
He added: "So its historical role should not be redefined but must be entrenched again and again and again."
ANTI-APARTHEID LEADERS - ARCHIE GUMEDE, ARCHBISHOP DENIS HURLEY, MEWA RAMGOBIN AND DOUGIE PLANNING THE STRUGGLES IN THE MID-1980S.
During the anti-apartheid struggles, Ramgobin was banned and house arrested by the former regime for 20 long years and tried for High Treason in the late 1980s along with eight other leaders of the now disbanded United Democratic Front (or UDF).
He's of the view that there are no other political parties in South Africa at the moment who will be able to promote true non-racialism and democracy and also promote the aspirations of the poor and the disadvantaged. But at the same time he's realistic that the ANC on its 103rd anniversary is caught up with a number of aberrations that are contrary to the to the principles pursued by leaders of the calibre of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu. If it fails to take stock of this then it will be in trouble. "If the leadership of the African National Congress does not reflect on the weaknesses it suffers at the moment then the ANC is going to be in trouble. It is against this background that I say that the only thing that is permanent is change and if the change does not take place for the better and if the ANC lacks the capacity to move from the aberrations of the current situation in terms of delivery, unemployment and our fight against corruption then I think the ANC is going to be in trouble."
(POLITICAL ANALYST ZAKHELE NDLOVU)
A senior political analyst and lecturer who is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, Zakele Ndlovu, agrees with the ANC veteran. He goes one step further and claims that many people have joined the ANC after 1994 just to promote their own interests at the expense of the dispossessed masses.
"All sorts of shady characters have infiltrated the organisation and I think this has contributed to the ANC not living up to expectations. I think some people have simply lost their sense of morality, their sense of what is right and wrong. I think we need people of integrity, people who are going to add value and not fleece the country."
Ndlovu is of the view that many of the ANC leaders today have aped the values of other leaders in Africa and other parts of the world who have become "power" hungry. Some of the leaders have become arrogant and believe they could rule forever.
"Look the ANC has now been in power, this is that 21st year. I think after a while after you have been in power for a while, you and as time continues, the ANC does not want to lose power. Look at the case of Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe and Frelimo in Momzambique. These parties don't want to give up power. In South Africa I think the terminology of labelling opponents as counter revolutionaries is working for the ANC and this shows that they don't want to give up power."
The 103rd anniversary official pomp and ceremony was held in Cape Town and there were other programmes in other parts of the country. Most ANC veterans, political analysts and others believe that the anniversary is an appropriate time for the current ANC leadership to take stock of itself. But even if they do this - questions have been raised as to whether the current leadership will clamp down on self-aggrandisement, hunger for political power, self-enrichment and self-accumulation and corruption.
Many believe the ANC will rule for another decade or so but at the same time will become its own enemy.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
FIVE YEARS AGO I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY OF INTERVIEWING THE MUSICAL GENIUS, NDABKONA PATRICK NGCOBO, WHO DIED AT THE AGE OF 43 IN HOSPITAL ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1.
IT WAS A VERY SAD OCCASION BECAUSE I HAD SPOKEN TO HIM AT A TIME WHEN HE WAS ILL AND ALMOST FORGOTTEN BY THE COMMUNITY HE HAD HELPED TO PROMOTE TAMIL MUSIC. HIS LIFE WAS A FASCINATING ONE.
THIS IS THE ARTICLE THAT I HAD WRITTEN:
PATRICK NGCOBO FORGOTTEN BY THE PEOPLE
By Subry Govender
A musical genius, who played an important role for more than 20 years in promoting Tamil music and even travelled to India to qualify as a Karnatic singer, has become a forgotten personality - marginalised and disregarded by the very community he had become part of.
The fascinating and enriching life of Ndabkona Patrick Ngcobo, who in the mid-1990s learnt under the tutelage of the great south Indian musician K J Yesudas in Chennai, took a downturn four years ago when he became ill after being diagonsed with TB.
Nobody keeps in contact
"Nobody keeps in contact with me. I am forgotten you can say," the 39-year-old musician and singer told me in an interview at his one-room home in the former "Indian-African" area of Gillitts, west of Durban.
He lives in his humble abode with a family member. His mother, two sisters and their children live in a wood and iron house next door.
To get to his house, I had to park my car on top of a hill and walk down a steep embankment. For anyone who lacks fitness, the walk down the embankment could be quite a task.
"Thank you for coming, Subry," Patrick Ngcobo greets me with a wide smile.
"I thought you will not find this place."
We sit down on two chairs outside his house and Ngcobo relates his cross-cultural life - of how he became interested in Indian - particularly Tamil music; of how he rose to become a sought-after singer for musical shows at temples and special functions; his travel to India to further his music and learn the Tamil language; and becoming a presenter of Karnatic music on radio.
Grew up in an Indian-African community
Patrick Ngcobo was born to working-class parents at Gillitts in 1971. He was the eldest of three brothers and two sisters. Gillitts was a mixed community of African and Indian people and he became very interested in Indian music through the inter-action of his family with the local Indian people.
As a young boy he used to sing Chutney songs and became quite popular among the locals.
He attended the Botha's Hill African Primary School but only completed standard five.
"From my early life I only became involved with the Indian community. Because of the poor conditions at home, I started work at the age of 16 for Nithia and his family in Chatsworth - selling potatoes and tomatoes.
"I worked here for a year before moving to Wyebank where I stayed with a friend called Ashwin Maharaj. He and his family treated me very well and I stayed here for for five years.
"Ashwin then found me a job with Toolrite Precision in Pinetown where I worked as a cleaner and machinist.
The factory was owned by Jeevan Govender and he also invited me to stay with his family.
"Mr Govender was very good to me - giving me time off to to continue with my singing career."
Ngcobo said his career in Tamil music took a dramatic turn for the better when Mr Jeevan Govender invited musicians, Krish Murugan and his brother, Tony Murugan, to listen to him singing Tamil songs.
"They were amazed and immediately invited me to join their band, the Nilavani Entertainers. I was with the band from 1988 to 1993. We used to sing for special functions and at temples. At that time I received payment of about R30 for singing at special functions.
K J YESUDAS
"In 1991 K J Yesudas came on a tour to South Africa and I was invited to sing at one of his shows at the City Hall in Durban. He was really stunned that I could sing so beautifully in Tamil. He immediately invited me to visit India so that he could take me under his wing."
He said in 1993 the late Sunny Pillay's son, Karthigasen, who had just returned from India took him under his wing and began teaching him the intracies of Karnatic and other music.
"I was with him for a year. It was a learning experience for me," said Ngcobo.
(PATRICK NGCOBO WITH K J YESUDAS)
THREE YEARS IN CHENNAI
"One of the people who attended the Yesudas show at the City Hall was Mr Siva Govender of Clairwood. He was also thrilled with my performance and he said he would help me with my travel to India. In February 1994, Mr Govender made arrangements for me to travel to Chennai with his cousin, Nanban Nayagar, who was a Nagaskaran musician.
"We spent nearly three years in Chennai, learning under Yesudas and performing in various shows. I even won a first prize at one of the shows," he said.
On his reurn in 1997, Ngcobo returned to work at Mr Jeevan Govender's factory while at the same time performing at special shows - promoting the Tamil language and music. He learnt to speak Tamil fluently during his stay in Chennai.
He performed all over the province and in 1999 even travelled to Brazil with Mr Satchu Anamalai to perform in Rio De Janerio.
While his talents were recognised and appreciated by the community, he found that he was not making any headway in building his future. He resigned from Mr Govender's factory in 2000 and started his own grass-cutting business.
"I was doing very well and I even bought a house in New Germany. My musical career also became more enjoyable when in 2004 I was contracted by Lotus FM to present the Karnatic show for one hour on Sunday nights.
"I married my second wife, Veronica Mabuza in 2006 but unfortunately she died a year later.
"At this time I became ill and spent three months at McCords Hospital. But despite my sickness I continued with my singing and presenting my radio show.
"But in 2009 things took a downward turn when my business began to suffer and people were no longer contacting me. My radio programme was also cancelled in March this year with the managers not telling me why the programme was being done away with.
"I was forced to sell my house and move here to Gillitts because I could not afford it any longer. I built this one room house only recently. One good thing about this place is that I have returned to my roots.
"What is really affecting me is that no one from the different organisations or the musicians keep in contact with me. Only Segai Kisten of Mount Edgecombe is in touch with me.
"I am really disappointed and disillusioned. It seems people forget too easily."
Ngcobo said his health had now improved and he would like to continue singing and performing at special shows.
"What I really would like to do is to travel to India to record Illairaja and A R Rahman songs for movies. Singing is my life and that is what I would like to continue to do. I would also like to continue with the radio show on Karnatic music." ends - ms/pt/dbn