Archive | September, 2011


27 Sep

“You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them”. The author of these thoughtful words was one of Africa’s prize possessions. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist made it her life’s mission to empower and more importantly teach country women to plant trees. This extraordinary individual was the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Maathai was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her outstanding work on sustainable development, democracy and peace. “She started a group in 1977, encouraging women to collect native tree seeds in the wild, cultivate them and set up tree nurseries for livelihood and paid them a small sum of money for any trees they planted”. Her goal was to ensure that poverty stricken families had access to firewood for cooking and water to drink.

She came to the realization that all was a meaningless struggle without having a democratic, accountable government. During the course of her commendable and inspiring life, she fought vehemently against government corruption and corporations that benefit from profits and development at the expense of their population. “Time and again, post-independence African governments have be n unprincipled or blatantly corrupt, beholden to only a small set of cronies or elites”, “Too many in leadership positions have plundered national resources, persecuted political rivals and citizens who dared to question their actions, and even stoked violence within and across national borders, all the while crushing the hopes of ordinary citizens to make an honest living. Few have consented to share power freely or supported development of a vibrant civil society”.

Her profound work and determination was seen as a thorn in the side of government in the 1980’s and 1990’s. She was charged with treason, was harassed and beaten numerous times. But this did not deter her or break her spirit.

After successful protests in 1989, she was elected to parliament in 2002. This exemplified her perseverance and strong-willed nature. She was elected as part of the Opposition Rainbow Coalition who then defeat the ruling Kenyan African National Union Party.

In 2010, when the new Kenyan constitution was being drafted, she along with the Green Belt Movement successfully pushed for the inclusion of a clause guaranteeing Kenyans the right to a clean and healthy environment. Maathai not only campaigned for environmental change but also climate change, portraying her love for the preservation of our beautiful earth.

This exceptional woman sadly passed away on September 26, 2011. We as fellow African women should look to her life’s work for inspiration. She changed her environment one tree at a time. Her contributions to saving our planet and her achievements are recognized by many, but how many of us (up until today) recognize her efforts. We always (myself included) look across the vast seas for inspiring female role models who empower others. What we fail to realize is that we have these extraordinary female role models on our doorstep, fellow African women like Wangari Maathai. It only takes one person to initiate change and with role models like Wangari Maathai as an inspiration, change can be achieved.

“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other”– Wangari Maathai (1940-2011).


Dixon, R. (2011).Wangari Maathai dies at 71; Kenyan Environmentalist. Los Angels Times,0,1217652.story

[Accessed online: 27 September 2011]


Our Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng…

22 Sep

The name Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng now Chief Justice of South Africa, has been on the lips of many South Africans or interested parties. He has been part of our country’s judiciary system as a judge for a period of 14 years. Before being appointed as Chief Justice, he served in the North West High Court as a judge of the Labour Appeal Court and Judge President of the North West High Court followed by an appointing to the Constitutional Court in 2009- President Jacob Zuma

Most of you are well aware that his unexpected nomination to this Honourable position caused a huge stir in political circles and other networks. Many debated whether or not he personified justice at all and whether or not he is the most suitable candidate for the highest position in our judiciary system.

He was lambasted by many a folk and these criticisms positioned him and constructed his identity as an individual in an unsavoury light. This blog will now look at the manner in which he was constructed in light of his nomination and election of Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Mogoeng’s “limited” tack record as a judge has been scrutinized in great deal. In light of some of his judgements, people have constructed him as a conservatist and homophobe. He was also portrayed as unwilling and unable to explain his judgements in past trials he presided over,-Jaqcues Rousseau (2011). Stephen Grootes (2011) in his article Mogoeng responds to criticism claims that the Chief Justice made sexist rulings while serving in Mafikeng.  Chief Justice Mogoeng Moegeng’s response to these lambasts were “people only referred to the three cases that he presided over and went through other cases where he imposed stronger sentences for rape”. He also said that “unfairly criticised”-Stephen Grootes, 2011.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is also constructed as a religious man who stands by his believes. Jacques Rousseau (2011) in his article The JSC hearings on Mogoeng Mogoeng postulates that it might be problematic for the Chief Justice to separate his faith from his duties as a jurist. He goes on further to say “it is difficult to trust that a Chief Justice who believes that homosexuality is a sickness and that it can be cured.” In a Mail and Guardian editorial of August 19, Penned by Mac Maharaj, cited by Jacques Mogoeng stated that “…it is true that we cannot “treat [Mogoeng’s] beliefs and practices…as disqualifications, expect when a specific belief or practice conflicts with other provisions of the Bill of Rights.”.

It is clear from the length decision making process that careful consideration was taken in the appointing of this position. “The interview of Justice Mogoeng was no doubt the longest, most transparent and most robust ever undertaken by a candidate for Chief Justice or for any other public position in the history of this young democracy”-President Jacob Zuma. But this lambasted man now holds the highest most honourable position in  our judiciary system and we will have to wait and see what his term of office will be like.



Grootes. S. (2011). Mogoeng responds to criticisms.


President Jacob Zuma .(2011).President Zuma appoints Justice Mogoeng as Chief Justice of the Republic


Rousseau. J (2011) The JSC hearings on Mogoeng Mogoeng


Picture courtesy of:



19 Sep

Kimberly Kardashian (Kim K/ Kim Kardashian) is the most talked about reality star in recent times. She is a beautiful 30year old woman who has captivated many around the world. To be sincerely honest, I am one of her biggest fans. But I have recently asked myself; what about her has captivated me? How do the media contribute to the perception of her in my mind?  What do the media construct her as and how do they achieve this?

So this blog will attempt to answer these questions.

Kim K is a fashion icon, reality star, business women, model, daughter, sister and recently a wife. According to a feature article in the Cosmopolitan (Cosmo) September 2011 issue, “She is the spokeswoman for a weight-loss supplement, the co-founder of, the Kardashian Kollection, a new fashion line… and, of course she continues to star in Keeping Up With The Kardashians and its spin-offs”. She along with other celebrities has made a woman with curves a sexy thing to be. After all she is most known for her curves and ‘rocking body’. Kim and her family have mastered marketing in a unique manner. They have extremely public lives which open them up to lots of scrutiny but in the face of adversities they pull together and become one army.

The media specifically paparazzi are obsessed with her whereabouts and daily activities. She has magazine cover spreads in various magazines for example Cosmopolitan September Issue 2011, People’s Magazine September, 9 2011 to name but a few. They focus on her aesthetic features, her success, her relationships, her family, her career; privacy does not exist. Her aforementioned Cosmo feature, states “When we ask about the sacrifices she makes because of her fame, Kim says she doesn’t consider them sacrifices. She believes her loss of privacy is an acceptable side effect of her success”. Kim has an exemplary work ethic and is often described as a workaholic, “The girl is non-stop. There should be more credit given to her for her work ethic”- Lala Vazquez in Cosmo September 2011 cover feature.

In many tabloids she is constructed as superficial. They often exaggerate and fabricate stories about the Arminian beauty for increased readership. In Touch Weekly suffered the wrath of Kim, when they published fabrications claiming Kim cheated on her then fiancé (now husband) Kris Humphries, with NFL star Bret Lockett- OMG by Yahoo. I can infer that constantly being in the public eye not only opens her up to not only scrutiny but also opportunists. The most recent scrutinized event in Kim’s life was her fairy-tale wedding to NBA star Kris Humphries. In a tweet mocking the adorable couple it was said “I guess we’ll see if Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasts longer than the HP touch pad”- Channel 24 a sub-structure of News 24 in an article criticized her for “reportedly earning up to $18million from her wedding”. They also in an article scrutinize the reported $420 million worth of freebies the couple received. Kickbacks from private events (such as weddings etc) are a common occurrence in the glamorous life in Hollywood. Celebrities like the Beckhams are paid for exclusive pictures of their weddings and children as birth. In my opinion the publicised nature of Kim and Kris’s wedding was overdramatic but as Kathie Lee Gifford was quoted as saying “It was typically Kardashian, over-the-top, crazy, but ultimately it comes down to family”- Channel 24.

However, not all publications portray her in that light. Others offer us her fans and audience a glimpse of her as a loyal friend “But I can count on her. She is easy to talk to and always makes time to pick up the phone and offer advise”- Lala Vazquez (Tv personality and friend) – Cosmo September 2011 cover feature.

Kim Kardashian will always be in the public arena captivating us, her audience. Like other celebrities, she will always be criticized for her accomplishments and her mistakes. Her fashion sense and beauty will captivate many for years to come. But it’s her drive for success, and self-motivation that will  keep me fascinated for years to come.


Lang, T. M. (2011). Kim Kardashian to sue In Touch Weekly. (2011). Harsh criticism of Kim Kardashian’s wedding finally hits the net.

Bangshowbiz- Channel 24. (2011). Kardashian pockets $18m from wedding.

Henderson. K (2011). Keeping up with Kim. South Africa: Cosmopolitan

Pictures courtesy of: nyc/attachment/66108988/