The faces of #Rhodesandhisfeesmustfall movements

May 13, 2016

#Rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall movements were characterized by an unusual shape and unexpected faces in the crowd of protesters. The questions here are about the organisational structure and the type of people along the line of nationalities and race.

These social movements seemed particularly spontaneous, without a specific or particular structure. There wasn’t really a leader or there were too many leaders. These movements had a reticular and unclear structure which made it difficult for university authorities to act as seen in court orders obtained against more that 12 groupings and individuals (e.g.: Rhodes must fall, #feesmustfall, #outsourcing must fall, left students movement, UCT transcollective, SRC, SASCO, PASMA, Patriarchy must fall, EFF students, in addition to specific students or person) understood to be contributing in the protest throughout the country. But who were the presidents of #Rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall? Who were their spokespersons? The answer is: no one in particular. That even created an issue with articulating the demand of the movement. Organised student leadership had to catch up and seemed to be a sort of an articulated echo box to the loud noise coming from the crowds. This is not to say that their influence was not noticeable, but to emphasize that they didn’t really plan for that.

The demands were simple in their expression but very complex in their articulation: 1- Rhodes and what he represented that was symbolized by his statute had to fall; 2- Tuition fees should not increase in 2016. #Rhodesmustfall was all about the transformation of South African society since the end of Apartheid; while #feesmustfall riding on that momentum made their demand suggesting that the slow pace of economic transformation was placing an unbearable strain on the youth, which came in one accord against higher education economic policy relaxation. Various movements in addition to many non-aligned students and sympathizers flowed into these basic, heartfelt and all across board demand.

The faces of the protest were emotionally affecting. When the crowd of protesters walked from Wits University, a beautiful young woman, newly elected president of the SRC, led marches; in Cape Town when the crowed went to parliament white students formed a human shield and the move succeeded in taming police vigour against protesters; in the crowd there were many foreign (non-South African) student who genuinely and dynamically partook in the action; also, there were many other people who were not students at all but felt that this was also their fight; and even so some divergent elements who were not there in support of any cause joined the action. This is not to point at particular people but to show the symbolic of young women contributing in the building of the future of the country; to show a kind of unity of sentiment bestowed by the studentship beyond social positional origin, country of origin, or academic status (student or not); and to emphasize that not everyone in the crowd was there for the cause.

Another element of these protests was the remarkable use of social media in organising actions with schedule of protest, main messages, and tips to avoid violence; informing the studentship with spontaneous citizen journalism offering live reports with pictures and videos on the actions; raising resources like transport, beverages, and food; and trying to influence public opinion via impromptu online forums or discussions.

In summary, #Rhodesandhisfeesmustfall showed that there is a young South Africa that demands a faster pace of economic transformation in the country, and now they know their power.

NB: This is a personal take on the social movements #Rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall, and it does not reflect or support or repress the views of any party but the author’s.

#Rhodesandhisfeesmustfall movements

March 21, 2016

 

It all started with an upset student of the University of Cape Town throwing feces over a famous Cecil Rhodes’ statute then down the stairs of UCT’s infamous Jameson Hall. The #Rhodesmustfall protest started in March 2015 and in April 2015 the statute was removed accompanied by various transformation initiatives at UCT and in all South African Universities. On the 12th October 2015, as Universities were preparing fees hikes, Student at the University of Witwatersrand started a sitting to protest against a fee increase that would be unbearable for students from underprivileged backgrounds. In less that 3 days, students in universities all over the country were calling for “no fees increase in 2016”. #Feesmustfall students marched to Parliament and less than 2 weeks later, the president was instructing for fees not to be increased in 2016 and the creation of a commission to look into the possibilities of a free higher education in the country.

For the next weeks, I will be reflecting on #Rhodesandhisfeesmustfall movements as I want to call the matching of the two most impressive social movements (#Rhodesmustfall and #Feesmustfall) that South Africa has seen in the last 20 years. Never before in such a short period of time was such a number of people mobilized to demand and obtain from government to act according to their will. They were from all races, mostly young, all social classes, all cultural background and from all over the country, and speaking with one voice. Many questions come to mind but these few seem to point at something important in the history of the whole continent: How did it come to be? Who started this? Who provided the resources? What was the opportunity? What is it precluding for the future of democracy in South Africa?

This is a personal take on the #Rhodesmustfall and #Feesmustfall social movements in Cape Town with a focus on some of their characteristics and the anti-colonialist discourse that underpins them.

The Entrepreneurship Btech Research Expo 2014

October 19, 2014

The Entrepreneurship BTech Research Expo 2014 with the theme of exposing research innovation and depth of entrepreneurial minds, turned out to be a memorable experience. The event was held on the 25th September 2014 from 9am till 4pm in the Engineering Building of CPUT Cape Town campus. BTech students came in their numbers, smartly dressed, put up expressive research posters and confidently presented in defense of their on-going research projects to panels of experienced researchers.

The event effectively showed case of the innovativeness and the talent of the students who interrogated issues in family businesses, micro-entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, small business financial management, entrepreneurship finance, entrepreneurship education and educational entrepreneurship. The topics brought forward were all estimated by panel members as further researchable as master degree projects and potentially publishable after the integration of some corrections.

some Smiley 2Smiley

 

 

The Entrepreneurship Btech Research Expo 2014 was designed as a mini-conference with 3 venues: 1 venue was displaying the posters and the 2 others were the theater for the presentations to the panels. The event was organised and managed by Mr Laban Bagui who lectures the research methodology course and Mrs Nicole Arendse, the secretary of the department; and supported by all lecturers in the department of Entrepreneurship and Business Management which assisted with their time, advices and various resources. The panels were constituted by experienced researchers:
– in the first presentation venue: Dr Chux Iwu (Session chair), Mrs Shameema Raja-Yusuf, and Mr Kafui Aheto, Mr Laban Bagui, and Mr Afolayan Ayodeji; Working panel1
– in the second presentation venue: Mr Chris Cupido (Session chair), Dr Moira Bladergoen, Dr Andre Van Den Berg, Mr Sera Thlomola, and Mr Moses Nyathi.Chris-SeraWorking panel2
It was a great moment in the year, for BTech students; let now look forward for the BTech Research Expo 2015, with more to offer.

Attending the “Open Data Now” 2014 unconference in Cape Town: a little report

July 3, 2014

The South African “Open Data Now” 2014 unconference was held in Cape Town – South Africa between 30-06-2014 and 01-07-2014.
The event welcomed people from government, business, academia, NGOs and individual activists with an understanding of issues related to open data and the technical aspects assumed.

WP_000864Discussions were organised in groups and attendees could freely move from one group to the next one and equally contribute from their experience.

On the first day of the event (30-06-2014), it was all about setting up the agenda for further discussion. The attendees were asked to suggest relevant and important topic which needed brain storm. Quickly, the walls were covered with ideas.

Wall of ideas

At first, most people pointed at opening government data strongholds; at least getting an access to it: But it appeared that the South African government was already doing some significant efforts in availing data to the public. Further, it had to be mentioned that government data was sometimes out of date.WP_000859

Discussions hovered over the implementation and compliance issues of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and of the Protection Of Personal Information (POPI) act as they structure the condition for access to information from public and private entities, as well as the environment for dealing with individuals’ personal information.

It was acknowledged that ultimately it would rest on government to protect people (citizens)  data.

Pressing items included educating the broader public about open data and the many benefits and responsibilities inherent to it, looking into opening private institutions data vaults, improving data presentation (data visualization) for a better uptake by citizens, looking for funding for the many initiatives concerned.

WP_000872

At the end of the event, attendees pledged to take some action to foster open data for positive social change.

Learn more about it at:

http://opendatanow.code4sa.org/

http://www.code4sa.org/ 

Contact:  Adi Eyal at adi@code4sa.org or Kelsey Wiens at kelseywiens@gmail.com

 

Farewell Tata Madiba: Feeling the loss of an African son…

December 30, 2013

nelson-mandela

On the 5th of December 2013, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa went on television to announce the loss of the great son of South Africa, hero of the struggle against apartheid and former president of South Africa Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

The emotion spread around in a blink of an eye.

In the moment, many self-denied it: “that can’t be possible…” The mighty freedom fighter is immortal… It all tasted like a betrayal, like an abandonment: why and why now?

Many just burst in tears now that the inevitable that has been lurking around for sometimes has finally broke in to take away the most beloved child;

Many finally shed that tear melt with sorrow and relief, since the old man quenched of life, going in and out of hospital, somehow silently agonising for living and silently calling out to be relieved, was heard… but now for the bereaved, he will no longer be around;

Many laughed and smiled and cried, overwhelmed by the feelings of the moments shared with him when he was still there…

Many brought flowers, sang songs, said prayers, named someone or something after the legend…

All over the world, many celebrated the iconic human being and hailed the hero in countless tributes calling for him to join the pantheon of the gods.

The whole country mourned heavily for 10 days, flags down, with countless testimonies, tributes and memorials.

Dignitaries from around the globe flocked in the stadium of Soweto where thousands were gathered for a last salute to signify his utmost importance for the whole humanity.

Morning Madiba at Cape Town city hall.

Mourning Tata Madiba at Cape Town City Hall.

Among other things, the city of Cape Town held memorials at the city hall where he first addressed the public as a free man… And a grand and free commemorative concert was organised at the Cape Town stadium on the 11 December 2013 from 4pm to 10 pm.

He was buried in Qunu (Eastern Cape Province – South Africa) on the 14th of December 2013. Born in 1918, he was lay to rest 95 years later.

At this eve of the new year 2014, I felt the need to look behind and I remembered Madiba; but since I can’t pretend to have been there by his side in his long walk to freedom, my emotions glided to the thoughts of what he meant to me and to many out there. Madiba ideas call for unity in the difference, for understanding for one another, for the acknowledgement of our strength and weaknesses, and the growth of goodness in all of us.

I didn’t know the man but I couldn’t help to feel like losing a member of my very family… Go well Tata Madiba!!!

Do not hesitate to learn more about Tata Madiba at:

http://www.nelsonmandela.org 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela

http://madiba.mg.co.za/

Read the autobiography of Nelson Mandela:  A Long Walk to Freedom:

SAICTED Flash MOOC event

October 14, 2013

Saturday, 12th October 2013 was one of these warm and cold days of Cape Town; and it was no time to chill online. The SAICTED Flash MOOC was taking place on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cl4bsfen957eju6skonh0abt17k) and at http://saictedmooc.wordpress.com/. It was a collaborative and learning experience between mostly experts and which was set to make history for it novelty and it innovativeness. The event run for 8 hours from 9am to 5pm. It was hosted by the South African NRF (National Research Foundation) funded project investigating “Managing ICTs in South African Education” (also called SAICTED), led by Prof. Andrew J. Bytheway.

The SAICTED flash MOOC was happening over a distributed environment including Google+, YouTube, WordPress and Wikispace.

– The discussions happened on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/113579976171057111278/posts) using YouTube videos as seed contributions;

– Discussions were summarized in digests on http://saictedmooc.wordpress.com;

– and the Wikispace (http://saicted.wikispaces.com/), where the contributions are integrated in the SAICTED project to contribute in its deliverables (Reports, reference model and publications).

There were three main activities: Referencing, Experience sharing and peer reviewing.

Discussions were conducted within 5 communities: Education perspective, Management perspective, Technology perspective, African relevance and Implementation approaches. 31 topics were engaged with and over 500 contributions made. Main focuses of interest included Education, Technology and Africa.

It was an exciting experience.

Madiba 95th birthday celebration Cape Town exhibit

August 19, 2013

The city of Cape Town celebrates Nelson Mandela aka Madiba 95th birthday with an exhibit recalling starling moments of the life of the living icon. The multimedia exhibit is on display at the concourse level of the Civic Centre from the 30th June 2013 to sometimes in April 2014. It features various elements including:

Image

An empty cage suggesting that the hero and South Africans have broke free from the bondage of apartheid.
Then there is a stretch of pictures recalling “the long march to freedom”.

Image
And words, words, words of Madiba …. calling for unity, calling to lookout for each other for this new South Africa belongs to everyone who lives in it.

“I have fought against white domination, I have fought against black domination…” can be heard from one screen displaying one of his addresses.

Pictures of Madiba with leaders of the struggle against apartheid, with leaders of the world, with women and with children.

And in the middle of the exhibit an august and stylized image of Madiba joyfully dancing.

Image

Looking at that picture, after walking the walk of the free man, I can’t help to think about Martin Luther King’s “Free at, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Let celebrate with Madiba, “we are free at last”.

Popping up at the Rubyfuza 2013

February 11, 2013

Spontaneously attending the Rubyfuza2013 conference (I must say that I was tipped about it), I found myself in a room full of mostly young Caucasian male. I suppose women would prefer real rubies…(Nothing wrong with that.) It was on the second day of the  conference (meant to happening between the 7th and the 9th of February 2013) in one of Cape Town hotels on Strand street. The attendance mainly made of developers, certainly amounted to more than 100 people with many (usually those with other commitments) just showing up and leaving quickly.

Image

Presenters covered Ruby emphasizing its importance as important web development platform, the community around the language, and some pitfalls that developers should be aware of. They also strongly emphasized the criticality of nurturing the developer creativity with further learning, a greater understanding of the end-user or business customer, a lot of collaboration (e.g: Github) and to try out ideas with pet projects (preferably all the stupid ones first).

It was a very instructive event and I definitely thought that Ruby on Rail would be a good bet in my future web service developments. There is plenty of tutorials on that programming language on-line (e.g: www.tutorialspoint.comwww.ruby-doc.orgguides.rubyonrails.orgwww.ruby-lang.org, etc.). I just need to get started now😉.

Visiting Riebeek Valley Special School

September 3, 2012

What a beautiful place Riebeek West is! And at the Riebeek Valley Special School (RVSS), people are amazingly warm and welcoming. I volunteered to spend a weak at the school, motivated by my master’s research supervisor Prof. A. Bytheway. He saw there an opportunity for me to get away from research and revive a taste for the real all around me. He didn’t have to ask twice: I was on the road.

The object of the visit to the Riebeek Valley Special School (RVSS) was to avail some help to teachers at the school so that they could benefit by practising some e‑skills.

RVSS is a facility supported by government, the community and various industrial players with the goal to provide for children with learning difficulties between 14 and 18 years of age a way to get an education able to open for them opportunities for employment.

The school is situated on the lower slopes of Kasteelberg, overlooking the small Swartland Town of Riebeek West; at about 6o km north of Cape Town.

The principal of the school, Mr J. Petersen, is a passionate educator betting with society that the learner under his care will become against all odds, productive community members. He is surrounded by a staff that shares his vision for the pupils and cares about them as if they were their own.

On arrival at the school I received a warm welcome by the principal (Headmaster) Mr J. Petersen

My activities consisted in workshops with teachers and their classes of learners around the use of the eBeam tool in their teaching (a hands on approach). It was interesting to see the various skills offered to learners at the school including agriculture (as long as there is ground there must be an opportunity to grow some food), woodwork (making doors, tables, cupboards and other essentials), motor mechanics (practical around fixing cars), catering (preparing future chef), life skills (personal presentation, interaction with others, faith, etc.) and more.

eBeam is an interactive technology made by Luidia Inc. that transforms any flat surface into a dynamic workspace and allows users to digitize and interact with whiteboard and projected content. This tool has great potential for improving teaching and learning for learners.

In conversation with teachers in their classes, it appeared that they were keen to using the technology (ICT) in their teaching and in their reporting, but were lacking the skill to do so effectively. They expressed the desire to be trained gradually. They already had a certain acquaintance to ICT and showed interest about how they could use them. They had access to a computer and for certain of them even had laptops that they brought along at work. They suggested having family members and friends being e-skilled.

The learners engaged rapidly with the eBeam and showed interest for other capabilities of that platform, including going on-line (WWW) to research content, communicating with other users online, using other sources of material like images, video clips and audio. They said to be interested in having the eBeam in their classroom.

The visit at the Riebeek Valley Special School (RVSS) showed a lot of activities on between 20th and the 22 of August 2012. Mainly teachers and learners attended workshops regarding creating familiarity with using the eBeam in classes. Some teachers also benefited from that visit to set up their computers for their academic and administrative duties.

For more information about the school and how to participate in that initiative, please contact:

Mike Herzfeld

PO Box 85, Riebeek Kasteel 7307, South Africa

Telephone: +27(0)224481126

Email: mike.rvss@yahoo.com

Jeffrey Petersen                     

Telephone: +27(0)224612241

Email: riebeeckvss@telkomsa.net

 

Website:

https://sites.google.com/site/riebeeckvalleispesialeskool/Home

http://www.e-beam.com/home.html

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/

Leaflet:

http://www.riebeek.co.za/Images/June2012/Leaflet2.pdf

 

Measuring the measures which measure Community Informatics knowledge

November 22, 2011

A historical European city where every stone shout a bit of a human adventure; an Italian end of autumn with threats of inundation, and an economical and political seism: that was the stage and the atmosphere for the conference.
CIRN Prato 2011 conference was an opportunity for gauging the edge of understanding and innovation in the field of Community Informatics (CI), as it theme was suggesting: To measure or not to measure?
The conference was held, between the 9th and 11th of November 2011, at the Monash University Centre in Prato situated in the historic centre of the city. Sessions were divided in the various rooms with very Italian names like Sala Grolo, Veneziana or Toscana. The program included a Phd Colloquium chaired by Dr. Peter Day; an insightful workshop directed by Dr. Peter Brodie Miller on how to set up Telecentres and CTC; and a very exciting Unconference event which interrogated how to go about delivering CI using indigenous knowledge, theories or instinct chaired by Dr. Aldo de Moor.
The organisers, chaired by Larry Stillman and Aldo de Moor, brought us Prof. Geoff Walsham and Dr. Andy Williamson who delivered key notes speeches respectively around the elements of institutionalisation in digital inclusion projects in developing countries; and around the fact that UK government is playing catch ups with suitable legislation and eParticipation uptake, and that there is a need for a civil servant championing e-engagement processes.
Participants came from around the world: UK, USA, Ireland, Switzerland, Italia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon (for those I can remember).
Refereed stream contributions went to tackle the issue of measurement touching the use of theories, hypothesis testing, case studies, storytelling, benchmarking and other maturity models, for issues related to digital inclusion, innovative interactive media (public display), activism, development, and eParticipation.
Dr. Day who was coming from Kenya where he runs a CI program as a visiting Professor, subjugated the audience with pictures and clips of local communities getting to championing their own way to go about spreading ICT for development initiatives around. And Prof. Fiorella de Cindio visited the venue and added her voice to the common feeling of the need to look for and develop community champions for the uptake of ICT.
The gathering to get some answers has created more questions, thrusting debate to continue beyond this year Prato event, amongst CI practitioners and academics; until next year when progress will be again garnered in order to envision a new way forward, new questions.