The August Agenda: A Celebration of Violence in South Afrika?

By Shabashni Moodley (@shabash)

Shabashni Moodley writes on Asanda Benya’s remarkable research that documents the multiple interconnected struggles The Womyn of Marikana were living within before the 2012 massacre occurred and how, three years later, they are still confronting the same struggles. Benya unravels the discriminatory language niching practices ‘migrant’ Womyn encounter when they arrive in Marikana.

Last Sunday – 9 August 2015 – we were instructed to celebrate Womyn’s Women’s day. This Sunday – 16 August 2015 – we move onto the next item of the August Agenda: Mourn the Massacre of Black Bodies in Marikana.

This emotional paradox is the general condition of South Afrika – a nation that can not transform itself or its past hence, it provokes what Lebo Mashile describes as “the overarching post-Apartheid narrative of erasure in the name of feeling good about freedom.”

The insistence that we ‘celebrate women’ is directly proportional to a patriarchal, neo-colonial, corporate agenda that simultaneously seeks to harm, hollow- out and vulnerabilize Womyn. It makes life a living hell for Womyn by commodifying their bodies, alienating their bodies, over-burdening their bodies, using excessive force against their bodies, thereby, pushing them to submit to exploitation.

It does this to the Womyn on the farms of DeDoorns, Franshoek Estate and Klapmuts. It does this to the Womyn Traders on the streets of Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town by confiscating their livelihood goods. It does this to undergraduate Womyn who are raped during orientation week at universities. It does this to Womyn who use transactional sex to secure a place in university residences. It does this to black-lesbian-queer-trans Womyn by raping and murdering them. And, it does this to the Womyn of Marikana.

Asanda Benya’s remarkable research documents the multiple interconnected struggles The Womyn of Marikana were living within before the 2012 massacre occurred – three years later and, they are still confronting the same struggles. Benya unravels the discriminatory language niching practices ‘migrant’ Womyn encounter when they arrive in Marikana. They come in search of work in the mines but, are confronted by a paternalistic bureaucratic web.

The mines require ‘migrant’ Womyn to submit proof of community based residence which must be attained from the head of the community or local chief. The ‘migrant’ position, of the Womyn, prevents this from happening therefore they form domestic partnerships with men who work in the Marikana mines.

Benya attends to the invisible labour reproduced by Womyn which, enables men to work in the mines such as searching for water, managing the home, sourcing food, care-work, nursing injuries from underground accidents, emotional labour, secondary involvement in the flow of work underground etc. She also describes the work Marikana Womyn had to do during the strike and, after the massacre.

Beyond providing emotional strength and psychological care for the striking (men) workers, the Womyn had to organize themselves to deal with the consequences of massacre. This, involved transporting dead bodies to homesteads in the Eastern Cape, mobilizing marches for justice, seeking compensation, representing/ attending the Farlam Commission on behalf of the men, listening and finding the confidence to question what they were hearing during the commission.

They also had to do the labour of resistance by fighting for their right to be included in the commission  because  Jacob Zuma and Ian Farlam saw no relevance in the Marikana Womyn contributing and participating in the proceedings. James Nichol, the legal representative of the Marikana Womyn, describes the indifference shown to the Womyn by the Farlam Commission and, how the Womyn gradually found the courage to challenge this isolation by publicly speaking out at Marikana Commemorations and doing the labour of conscientizing South Afrika about their realities.

The conduct of Ian Farlam particularly, his attempt to disregard and invisibilize the voice of Marikana Womyn is dripping with patriarchal power. It is concerning that this patriarch who seeks to erase the voice of vulnerable Womyn also holds a position on the council of UCT.  His ethical bankruptcy can no longer be tolerated. Ian Farlam must be, immediately, removed from UCT’s council. His continued presence on UCT council makes students, staff and the general UCT community complicit in the violence against the Womyn of Marikana – such complicity will become a life-long burden for everyone associated with UCT.  #FarlamMustFall

In the meantime, the Womyn of Marikana continue their struggle in a patriarchal, neo-colonial, corporate run South Africa that will continue to insistent that we ‘celebrate women’.

For the Rhodes Must Fall Movement in lieu of Asanda Benya’s talk ‘The Invisible Hands; Women in Marikana.’

 

32 Comments
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