White UCT students form a human shield between the police and the peaceful black student protesters. The police stopped arresting, attacking, stunning and tear gassing students as soon as the protective barrier was formed. This is white privilege in South Africa in the midst of a stand against university fees increase, a nationwide protest to emphasise that education is a basic need and not a privilege. However it is a beautiful thing to see the unity of South African students against the government, something like the stand against the apartheid government before 1994. To paraphrase the late Nelson Mandela “if the ANC (African National Congress) does to you what the apartheid government did, do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government”. This is a revolutionary time, history is being made in South Africa and I am proud to see the strength of our youth in the midst of an injustice.

Maya Angelou’s poem for Madiba

His day is done.
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.
Our skies were leadened.

His day is done.
We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.
Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.

We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath.
Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant.
Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.
Would the man survive? Could the man survive?
His answer strengthened men and women around the world.
In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago’s Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City’s Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison’s doors.
His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.

He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.
Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom.
When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela’s former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.
We saw him accept the world’s award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

Yes, Mandela’s day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.
He has offered us understanding.
We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say thank you.

Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

We will not forget you, we will not dishonour you,
we will remember and be glad that you lived among us,
that you taught us,
and that you loved us all.


Architecture is a Human Right: Makeka Design Lab Rebuilds in Post-Apartheid South Africa

On the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, in the chaotic context of the Khayelitsha district where the expansion of informal settlements runs unchecked, the Thusong Civic Center designed by Mokena Makeka of Makeka Design Lab represents a move towards making architecture a human right for all a tool for helping to improve peoples’ lives. The Center is part of ongoing attempts to integrate Khayelitsha into Cape Town, after years of segregation resulted in a sprawling settlement with little access to government services. Makeka designed a simple and sustainable architecture that aims to give a sense of permanence in a region where everything appears transitory and fragile, offering residents much-needed social and educational resources like sports grounds, offices, exhibition spaces, and an urban public park. Makeka Design Lab is one of over 100 firms taking part in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial this fall. 

While on missions trip to Uitenhage, Port Elizebeth we ran a holiday club for the one local charities supported children of +- 200 in a local township. (informal settlement) Sadly this picture was one that impacted me most about the trip which when asked what happened a young boy told me that the elder of the two in the picture’s brother was killed by a white policeman and he was pulling his young friend away because it was not safe to trust the white people. In my mind, this is what is really happening in South Africa. Not racism, but incident based hate for your fellow man. We all seem to have our demons. 

National Women’s Day

On 9 August 1956, thousands of South African women of all races marched in protest against the Apartheid government’s pass laws, which required people of colour to carry special documents permitting them to work and be present in White areas. The march was led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams.

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The women laid down bundles of signed petitions at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and sang a protest song Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.). 

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Sixty years later, South African women face a different set of problems. Rape culture is a massive problem, but recent student movements such as the RU Reference List show that South African women are as brave as ever. 

You strike a woman, you have struck a rock.


Twenty years after the beginning of multiracial democracy in South Africa, the Born Frees—the first generation of the so-called rainbow nation—have come of age. While they have inherited a free country from parents who have fought long and hard against apartheid, theirs is a story of growing up in a democracy that is complex and young. They grapple with enormous issues—access to education, gang violence, corruption, HIV/AIDS, and income inequality, to name a few. More than half of the nation’s 18-25 year olds are unemployed. 

Photographer Krisanne Johnson has been awarded a 2014 Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography for her project ‘South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Youth.’ Read more about Krisanne and the project here.

It concerns me that it has become such an issue for people that Nelson Mandela is dying. The man is 94, he has lived a long and brilliant life. He does not deserve to become an insect under the microscope if this it is for him. He is not the only thing in this world maintaining the post apartheid South Africa. When he passes the world will not revert into what it was because we have been educated to move forward with ourselves as the human race. He helped educate us much in way other great men have, but also our parents and other elders. One man does not maintain an ideal. 

A little letter I wrote to President Obama as a reaction to the recent inhumane detainment and torture of over 200 Palestinian children, including a US citizen. 

Dear President Obama, 

I would like to challenge your current political ties with Israel. If someones was bullying one of your daughters say, young Natasha. And you had to be diplomatic with her bully what would you say to those pleading vulnerable eyes of hers, knowing she can’t protect herself but her father could and he chose to put his arms around her bully and comforted them instead. What are we teaching the children of Palestine by not responding to their desperate cries?  Now I’d like you to understand that you have the power to rally world leaders to support Palestine. Instead of seeking political gains I’d like to challenge you to seek humanity instead. 

Best regards,

The cold the tired the restless, the wounded, the dead unheard voices of Palestinian children. 

White South Africa Is Small

A piece of narrative social commentary for Matador Network.

I MUST be giving off bad vibes, because I’m on a Paris to Durban flight full of white Southern Africans and it still takes the woman sitting next to me five gin and tonics before she feels bold enough to talk to me.

Read more HERE.

Photo by Werner Vermaak


2016 Alexia Grant Winners Announced

The Alexia Foundation today announced the winners of their 2016 grants. Aaron Vincent Elkaim was awarded the Professional Grant for his project “Where the River Runs Through,” about the impact of Brazil’s hydroelectric projects on the Amazon’s communities and ecosystems.

The First Place Student Winner is Nathaniel Brunt, whose project “#Shaheed” studies the war in Kashmir, its fighters, and the relationship between technology and the representation of the conflict.

Reportage photographer Alvaro Ybarra Zavala received a Judges Special Recognition award for “Colombia, The Parallel State,” which examines the impact of sixty years of war on civilian populations.

Finalists for the Professional Grant were Reportage Emerging Talent Adriane Ohanesian for “The Last Lives, Rebel Darfur,” Brendan Hoffman for “Brotherland: War in Ukraine,” Krisanne Johnson for “Post-Apartheid Youth,” and Asa Sjöström for “Moldova Silent Land.”

See more from these projects on the Alexia Foundation’s website.

The Alexia Foundation was created in 1991 in remembrance and celebration of Alexia Tsairis who was one of 35 Syracuse University students murdered in the terrorist bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland when returning home from their study abroad program in London.

Captions: Top, a group of boys climb a tree on the Xingu River by the city of Altamira, Brazil. One third of the city will be permanently flooded by the nearby Belo Monte Dam. Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim. Below, thousands of people gather in Kakapora, Kashmir for the funeral of 21 year old Talib Ahmed Shah, a Kashmiri Lashkar-E-Taiba militant. Photo by Nathaniel Brunt.