Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: political (Page 1 of 26)

After the Rush – a reflection on the looting on Mandela Day

I haven’t written a blog post in months. It is a space, for many personal reasons, that is no longer a good one for me. But today I felt the words calling at my brain in an uncomfortable and relentless way so I have come back to this space, to Megan’s Head, to vent, warn, share and explain what I am feeling, post-the-near-apocalypse.

I have always felt like we were teetering on the edge of what finally happened in KZN and Gauteng. To say I was waiting for it is a bit of a stretch, but I often let my mind go to where a person living in poverty, disillusioned with false promises, would see their last straw. I wondered often what it would take. I looked at my envy at my neighbour’s new car, and imagined the envy of the poor and disenfranchised, when they saw my clothes, or shoes, or car, or house. I know the disbelief when car park attendants ask me for money and I say, quite literally, “I don’t have change.” Let that sink in.

I shared the horror and fear and shock at the images of insanity, and violence and mob mentality that went on and on for a week. I was scared. I could hardly believe my eyes, The combination of planned disruption, opportunism, desperation, daring, and boiling over of resentment, rage, helplessness, disgust, self loathing, suspicion of law and law makers was a powerful and explosive poison. The lack of proper intelligence, state security, policing, and governance was blatant and painful. The cost has been immeasurably high.

And now, today and this week, come the mop up operations. And I see the warning signals with hideous Casandra like prophetic vision. There is an attempt to go back to before. The shared singing-while-we-sweep videos, the mom and pop teams handing out bread, the ‘give what we can’ social media campaigns are all jostling for prominence. Huge (brilliant, successful and totally needed) charity machines like The Gift of the Givers, and even the smaller ones getting nappies and formula and medicine to those in dire straits have jumped in to help in a powerful way.

But people cannot go back to what was before. With the levels of unemployment what they are, with children in poverty, with households not eating, with informal settlements flooded, with desperation a daily lived experience, the rainbowism of charity and its celebration is dangerous. It placates the middle class and privileged. It returns the status quo. Charity excuses the government in the moment. Charity is the shortest of short term solutions. Charity steps in where disaster management should. It is 67 minutes in a lifetime. It is a bandaid on cancer, it is a mask on a person sleeping in a gutter. It cannot and should not be celebrated. Those with privilege are desperate to share the ‘human story’ of goodwill, and yet these moments that are just human kindness really, and should be the absolute minimum response when things go badly for someone, cannot be relied on. They are not always.

So. We need a universal minimum wage. We need proper free education and healthcare. We need free or subsidised transport as long as people are still living in Apartheid townships and informal settlements. We need land appropriation without compensation. We need dignified housing. Until the system changes we are pissing in the wind, hitching the wrong way up a one way, and sleeping with one eye open, because there are always people with much less, who need more just to stay alive. I also have to say it, and it needs to be heard. White South Africans, stop being surprised. Of course the have-nots want what you have. Why shouldn’t they? Maybe it is time to stop flaunting. Maybe it is time to start sharing, in a real and meaningful way. Charity is not what I’m talking about.

As you were.

Open Letter to City of Cape Town regarding Cissie Gool House

This is an open letter to the City of Cape Town, mayor Dan Plato, the DA run municipal government of Cape Town, the ward councillors and developers with any agency around who gets to live where, when and how.

I live two blocks away from Cissie Gool House. I walk past every day when I walk the dogs. I know people who live there. What an amazing and almost miraculous thing has happened there over the last four years. A community of sidelined, separated, unseen, and needy people have done the unthinkable, in a building abandoned and left to decay. Children play. Washing hangs from makeshift lines. A veggie garden has sprung up.

I am not naive. I live in Woodstock. Petty crime, drugs, theft and even gangsterism are part of this neighbourhood. It always has been like that. Neighbours two houses up were bust for having a dagga farm behind closed doors. The police are ‘invited’ to my street on many weekend nights when the students’ parties get out of hand. We look out for each other. We know each other. We wave. Mostly. Those behind new high walls, not so much.

I know that people in streets close to Cissie Gool House have complained about noise, parties, fighting, drugs. Like me. It’s normal.

Law enforcement have been gathering for daily meetings at the park across the road from the main entrance to Cissie Gool. They are a ‘show of force’ and it is unsettling and nasty. I know that they are getting ready to evict the occupants. It is coming, I just don’t know when.

And every day my fantasy is exactly the same. Imagine if, instead of the bullying, violent evictions that will leave the building abandoned again, while those who represent the city pretend to be ham strung in the area of providing social and low cost housing in the city and close surrounds, the city sat down with the occupants and said, how can we make this a viable reality? How can we help you? Imagine. Imagine how much less the city would have to spend. Imagine how much less policed this would have to be. Imagine. Imagine people in the area bringing their children to Cissie Gool aftercare. Imagine people going to pick veg, or plant veg. Imagine going to the party instead of complaining about it. Imagine. Imagine spending the littlest amount possible to make Cissie Gool House an official low cost housing option, with those who already occupy it being part of the decision making process. Imagine. Imagine people living legally, close to where they work. Imagine people not having to leave their neighbourhood, after many were forced out of previous accommodation because of rampant gentrification and price hikes. Imagine solid community engagement. Imagine a solution instead of a fight. Imagine metro law enforcement sitting inside the fence. Protecting not harassing. Imagine something like District 6, but not being torn down. Imagine. This is our chance to do it differently.

I implore you ‘stakeholders’ to embrace, engage, discuss, be solutions driven. That is what I want from elected officials. Work for me. Work for us.

Woodstock resident

Megan Choritz

Karima Brown, Balls and What Ifs

I exhaled the breath I was holding for Karima Brown. I exhaled and had a cry. I did not know Karima Brown, but I really looked up to her. She had big balls, and I was always amazed and a little envious at how fearless she seemed. Even when she was in the thick of scandal and controversy. Even when her opinion was totally unpopular. She was loud, clear, brilliant, dogged, impatient, impassioned and dedicated. I can’t imagine anyone filling her boots and I am going to miss her.

And now to flip over to something completely different. I was looking at posts in her honour on Facebook when I saw an article posted by an Australian friend about the Australian attorney general and the allegations of rape against him. It is an extraordinary article that looks at the phrase “what if he didn’t do it?” and its implications; how his life could be destroyed if he was innocent. Then it turns it to the survivor – the ‘what if’ that people are NOT asking. What if he did do it? And there lies the rub. This life; this destroyed, unbelieved, endlessly ruined, damaged, disgraced, scarred life is sacrificed at the altar of his reputation. And that, my friends, is the bottom line. That is the whole story.

So in the wake of Woody Allen’s abuse story recycling, is it not enough to ask, what if he did do it? What if he did? That is where the horror lives. That needs to have as much weight at least, if not more, than the what if he didn’t.

But reputations are considered more important than the possible victims of rape, assault, molestation, violence, anal penetration while unconscious, and a myriad versions of these. In fact, reputations seem to be the only thing considered. Just ask, what if he did?

Enough is enough. There are not enough good reasons why anyone would make this horror up (and I am not saying it doesn’t happen), but honestly, are we then obliged to believe every man who denies allegations against him? Come on. Come on friends. That’s not how it works and you know it.

The Split

Yesterday, on my way back from an indefinitely shut SARS office I witnessed a line of people, going around the block, to the SASSA building. These people expressed in physical sloping, the unlikeliness of success. I saw a line of desperation. A line of hunger. A line of no future, just a bleak and terrifying present.

And while I was looking at this line I was listening to an economist on the radio talking about how the COVID pandemic was highlighting the importance of life insurance, and how we all need to be frightened into making the right investments. This white, educated, articulate man was talking as if the country was made up of people like him. Only people like him. Life insurance? There was no hint of irony in this man’s perspective. There was no vague nod to the fact that he was talking for and to the 1%. He spoke with the authority of pure blindness to the reality of our country and its suffering majority. And it was terrifying. Because in that moment I saw that hunger trumps decency, that crime is a desperate act, and that life can be not worth having. This is wrong. This is fundamentally, hideously wrong. This conversation should not be had on public radio at the same time that desperate people are queuing for R350 that they have already been told is not there for them.

We have to shift. We have to move. We have to transition. It is far too late. There is no more time. Life insurance? No. We need a new plan for the poor, the desperate, the unseen. And we need those who talk about life insurance to keep quiet for 5 minutes and listen.

The Great American Trump Horror Festival

(A South African perspective of the American election)

It is the Sunday before the US elections and I am entirely over invested in it. I watch MSNBC on Youtube like a crack addict. I watch like I’m rubbernecking a multi-car pile up in slow motion. I watch with a Cassandra like gloom that nobody believed Trump could win the last time and the same people believe (with only slightly more fervour and commitment) that he cannot win again.

The reality, the sickening, gruesome, painful reality is that in so many states the race between pure evil and lies, and a caring human being is neck and neck. What this means is that there are people in USA who have, do and will vote for the sociopathic, idiotic, narcissistic, thieving, lying scumbag that Trump is. Why? Why would another human being choose evil? Why have Trump and his sycophantic, parasitic arse creeping team got this far? Why do the media, the legal system, the writers, the debate organisers, the advertisers buy in to the false notion that rules can be followed?

It is clear that Trump does not adhere to a single rule or uphold a single moral standard. He has said it himself. He is a racist, misogynist, derelict, abusive, violent, self serving dictator who has done nothing for the American people at large and has protected the interests only of the super wealthy and other world dictators. This isn’t a secret. This is what he has done. So why are people, however shyly, admitting to having voted for him again? This should not be a tight race. There should not be battleground states. There should not be cavalcades of Nazi reminiscent, armed and violent white supremacists driving through the cities. What the actual is happening there?

Yes, I know the Republicans have jimmied the elections with the electoral vote. Yes, I know that they have thrown massive stumbling blocks to force the election to go their way – post office debacles, ballot point reductions, threats of voter day violence, spreading the false threat of socialism (as if), but how could even the Republicans want this batshit crazy blot on their usual ‘moral code’ to win?

Trump has granted permission for every American who has had a fear, or a moment of greed, or deep sense of entitlement to be their absolutely worst selves, and many (almost half) have chosen to be this rather than to be a decent human being. And I am sickened by it.

My 2c worth? I think Trump is going to win this election, or steal it. He is not playing by the usual rules and nobody is challenging him. The system is already broken. Welcome to the Divided States of America.

Lost Property – a virtual, live, global connection

I could feel it in my body the whole week and finally, when Jaci de Villiers (friend and director), Zane Gillion (co-actor) and Gys de Villiers (hero and stage directions reader) met on Zoom for a rehearsal of my play Lost Property I freaked out. My technology was horrible (internet woes), I struggled with my glasses and the screen, I couldn’t work out how to sit, or what angle, and I was a proper mess. Our rehearsal dissolved and I was scared and horrified. What would happen on the day, Saturday, when we would do a live reading?

I really had to think hard about what was wrong. Of course, it was more than one thing, but one of the biggest things was that my body and heart were remembering and wanting to be in the physical world of Jersey City, performing live, at a live festival. That’s what was going to happen pre-COVID. The other thing, a big thing, is that the play is one of the most prophetic pieces of writing I have made and it does make me all strange and weird, but that is a story for another day.

Our rehearsal on Friday went really well – I had (temporarily it turned out) sorted out my internet connectivity, had given myself a big fat pep talk and I reminded myself why I wanted to do this work in the first place.

And so on Saturday at 6pm we went live. Yes I froze a couple of times. No, it wasn’t serious. Yes I had all the usual performer fears and nerves. No, they didn’t get in the way of delivering our connection, characters and intentions. And we performed our hearts out, on Zoom, at a virtual, international festival of political work. We had an audience. We had positive feedback. And it was amazing.

Obviously I still want to get to Jersey City to do a proper run. Obviously I would love to do a run in South Africa. But being part of this festival is amazing. A global, network of theatre and art people from all over has been built and brought together by artistic director of the Jersey City Theatre Centre, Olga Livina, and it is amazing. Check out the website. See what’s on offer. Free talks, amazing shows from around the world. Connect, engage, celebrate VOICES from those who struggle to speak, in politically ravaged countries from around the world.

 

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