Words, Visions, Dreams, Voices of an African Woman Expressed by Thulisa Qangule
I think we’re all at that point where we’re forced to review things.
What does it mean to be a part of the black middle class in South Africa?
I recall a time when I was ‘put-off’ watching Generations because it was simply UNREALISTIC.
I STOPPED watching! *covers eyes*
The storyline at that time involved this super-fast ascend by Khapela and Khethiwe to the Higher Echelons.
Hello!!! Babysitter and garderner, I respect optimism but also within realistic boundaries.
Was I the only one asking: ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’
Suddenly, that person who has been working as a domestic worker for a year, or twenty, and maybe even forty is overwhelmed by this crescendo of optimism.
‘If Khapela and Khethiwe can do it, so can I’.
Why does it help to get caught up in this moment, this suspension of disbelief when reality will slap me across the face again, in less than half an hour?
I understand the role of the artist and art itself as a motivating factor, an agent, a tool to lift people’s spirits when needed. I understand it so well that I am fully aware that Superman was created after the World War and people needed a collective hero in order to keep the faith.
Exhilarating isn’t it?
Yet, this very tendency to over-gloss our art, the social airbrushing that we’re doing by not telling our stories in an accurate a manner as is possible is DAMAGING!!!
The Cosby Show was said to have been part and parcel of the American Government’s Public Relations Strategic Plans/Executions. It was meant to give the impression of perfect black families in America. Dr. Huxtable and his wonderful family. The wife was beautiful, the kids were all cute and smart neh.
So, we all thought black Americans were tall, slender, attractive, middle class and well educated like the ones on The Cosby Show.
A round of applause for Prapaganda pushers. A round of applause INDEED!
When one got to find out that America had “shanty towns” which are equivalent to our Squatter Camps, Ghettos/Hoods, Socio-Economic issues, people on welfare, trailor-park living individuals.
I felt DECEIVED, BETRAYED, my TIME WASTED being fed stories that were pushing somebody’s agenda and a LIE.
I don’t think those strong feelings would have struck had that show been more realistic.
Let’s NOT repeat this mistake here in South Africa.
I respect Yizo-Yizo, Tsotsi, Sarafina!,Zone 14, Jerusalemah, Tsotsi, Intersexions and many more that have felt more like Edutainment, and less like fantasy.
Even Isidingo felt more ‘real’, more ‘tangible’ you know.
Georgie Zamdela seems like a real character that one could meet on the street. The Matabane’s had that vibe you get from a lot of black families.
A mining town, yes, this strikes the cord with many.
People in this country travel by Bus, Taxi and Trains.
People have continued to face challenges with unemployment, AIDS, accessibility to certain amenities, even with the great progress that’s been made.
I think we’ve reached a point in our development (if South Africa was a newborn in 1994, then we’re 20 years old), we don’t want any sugar-coatin, give us the truth, the facts.
Perhaps in whatever year the Soapie began, we were unfamiliar with our freedom and we were all in this dreamy,hazy, honeymoon phase. Not anymore.
I don’t know how many people sit in jobs where growth is promised and it never comes due to capacity issues, resulting in people spending years and years in one position.
On Generations, characters are portrayed in a manner that sortta kinda implies that you can move from zero to hero in a few weeks in this life, for as long as you’re either married to, sleeping-with or related to, someone high up.
Has anybody noticed how these ‘somebody high-ups’ all seem to have Mafia-like ties and strings and dirty secrets? What’s happened to the hard working clean folk who don’t have rooms where they’ve kidnapped ex-wives whose wombs they will chop away at the slightest hint of diloyalty? Must there be such extreme villains?
Indeed #sifunukwazi #wewannaknow
When we’re faced with issues around Marikana. When we know we’re in this state on an invisible socio-economic implosion. People watch this soapie and form erroneous ideas of what black middle class, or black upper middle class is like for that matter.
When was the last time anyone in Sandton, Camps Bay, Morningside, Dainfern or anyone of those so-called larnie places actually woken up to have this English Breakfast or Dinner served at the family Dining Table, with all family members present?
People are chasing meetings, or generally, pressures and tensions that tend to rise in many a black family prevent that.
Siqalo Court…even the unemployed in South Africa according to this soapie have FULLY FURNISHED apartments neh. *sigh*
And I have seen partially furnished apartments in the Northen Burbs of Johannesburg. Please tell me again about this wealthy, opulent country and economy!
What’s our current economic growth looking like?
-but we have people eating out, wining and dining daily- in this soapie.
It is disturbing, because any outsider who comes here looking for a taste of South Africa or the South African Lifestyle, will watch that be fooled.
Here’s a rude wake up call, some people are going to be depressed after living their lives modelling their aspirations on things that float several degrees above reality.
It is just NOT REAL!
So, I hope that what’s happened to the cast is a good enough wake-up call about the reality of South Africa.
Art Imitates Life.
In this instance, the lives of the artists spoke volumes too.
Exploitation of people is spreading across sectors, its has become more than just a Marikana issue.
We can no longer say its just an issue experienced by our nurses in the health sector or teachers in the education sector.
What has happened to that cast is a scary reflection of the lack of security that our current middle class has, especially the black middle class.
It has become clear that one is easily 1 paycheck away from poverty, any day away from unemployment- because of the attitude that says: ‘you can go jump, there are many more people looking for your job’
There is, at that level, nothing that has taken place with the cast of Generations that hasn’t or isn’t on the verge of taking place, nation-wide and/or across sectors.
If we’re going to stand up against what’s happened to the Generations cast, then we need to prepare our spades, wheelbarrows and tools in due time because then it looks like we’ll be doing more than just raiking and trimming here and there, but perhaps engaging in a much bigger dialogue or debate about the real state affairs of the economy of this country.
I am done saying what I am saying, for now.
Noise is attractive. It calls for attention. It can even begin sounding as if it is creating something new, while it is not.
I am thinking here of Generations TV soap’s catch phrase #Sifunukwazi, as it garners support for its come back on the TV screen this Monday, 1st December. This is after unceremoniously dismissing almost its entire cast for daring to express their grievances. In any other field, say education, if teachers were all fired for demanding pay increases there would’ve been havoc. Indeed even those who took up their jobs as replacements would have been subject to disapproval, if not violence.
Now we watch as the SABC asks us to be excited about the return of the programme with this kind of reputation. They have succeeded in doing so, given the power of the media to lull the senses of our critical faculty.
In a country where…
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