The Power of Knowledge

It is now over 3 months since I started self isolating. There have been 1,293,608 people tested in SA. The statistics are:

The highest percentage of deaths in SA are within mine and Norman’s age brackets. The Western Cape, where we live, has by far the highest number of positive cases as well as the highest numbers of deaths. This is why we continue to self isolate and avoid going out.

This week I had Tuesday off of work as it was Youth Day. Norm worked as he is juggling 5 different projects at the moment and is terribly busy.

As mentioned in last week’s blog, Youth Day is rooted in protests over education, the protests were called the Soweto Youth Uprising and occurred in 1976. The students were marching peacefully and it is estimated that 20,000 students took part in the protests. They were met with fierce police brutality. The number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 have been made. This image captured by photojournalist Sam Nzima is now famous as a symbol of this protest. It shows Antoinette Sithole and Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying and 12-year-old Hector Pieterson moments after he was shot by South African police.

Hector pieterson.jpg

The images of the riots spread all over the world, shocking millions. The photograph of Hector Pieterson’s dead body caused outrage and brought down international condemnation on the Apartheid government.

During the years of apartheid the only education allowed for South African blacks was via segregated black only schools. The government also changed the funding system to fund the black schools by only the taxes black parents paid which resulted in very limited funding due to the poor employment opportunities for blacks. The government felt that black Africans only needed to have sufficient education to allow them to fill the roles that they were deemed to be suitable for, namely those of labourer, worker, or servant. The Bantu Education Act also required all Africans to study Afrikaans, the language of the oppressors.

The philosophy of all oppressors is to limit the access or the quality of education for the masses. The logic is that knowledge is power and could result in the oppressed having awareness of their rights and that knowledge could trigger future rebellions and therefore must be limited.

The same laws applied in many states in the US and served as a means to keep the slaves illiterate and therefore unable to communicate via the written word. After the slave rebellion led by the highly literate Virginia slave Nat Turner in 1831, the state’s laws changed. As a direct response to Turner’s largely successful uprising, legislation passed deeming it illegal to teach black Americans to read and write, whether they were enslaved, free, or of mixed race.

Many might argue that the attempt to keep people of colour uneducated is continuing both in SA and the US.

“The South African education system, characterised by crumbling infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and relatively poor educational outcomes, is perpetuating inequality and as a result failing too many of its children, with the poor hardest hit” according to a new report published by Amnesty International.

Many of the schools in the deprived areas of South Africa are without a proper structure to keep the children safe. Almost a thousand of the schools do not have running water and almost 4,500 do not even have inside toilets. There have been several children who died using the long drops or pit latrines as they are called here.

A row of pit latrines

Can you imagine a tiny little body hovering over that hole, falling in and not being able to get out? That would be a horrific way to die.

Some schools in the rural areas are what they call ‘tree schools’ where there is no structure at all.

NOT-SO-GREAT OUTDOORS Pupils at Makangwane Secondary in Limpopo are studying under trees because their school building is falling apart.

In the US, from 1896, the Fourteenth Amendment had declared that all children were entitled to ‘separate but equal’ education. However the schools for black children vs white children were most often not of an equal standard. This law was challenged in 1954 in the court case Brown vs Board of Education where the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional and schools were ordered to be integrated. The Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

Nonetheless, many southern states continued to resist integration until they were forced to do so. Louisiana was one of these states and the school district implemented an entrance exam that was designed to prevent black students qualifying to attend a white school. Six students passed this exam but two of the children’s parents were afraid for their child’s safety and decided to keep them in the black schools. The other children’s parents decided that they would have their children attend the all-white schools in their neighborhoods. Ruby Bridges was one of these students. Ruby had to be escorted through hordes of angry protesters by US Marshals.

Ruby Bridges - Facts, Quotes & Movie - Biography

Ruby’s face became famous as a result of the protests and press about the desegregation but she suffered terribly at this school. None of the other children would have anything to do with her, she played alone, ate lunch alone and only one teacher was willing to teach her. The Bridges family also suffered for their courage: Ruby’s father Abon lost his job, and grocery stores refused to sell to her mother Lucille. Her share-cropping grandparents were evicted from the farm where they had lived for a quarter-century. 

Many of the US schools in predominately black areas in the states are still rated among the worst in regards to the quality of education available. You read of amazing teachers who make a difference in the lives of their students but sometimes they are swimming against the tide. The schools in the poorer areas are often under funded and under resourced.

“Two-thirds of minority students still attend schools that are predominantly minority, most of them located in central cities and funded well below those in neighboring suburban districts. Recent analyses of data prepared for school finance cases in Alabama, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and Texas have found that on every tangible measure—from qualified teachers to curriculum offerings—schools serving greater numbers of students of color had significantly fewer resources than schools serving mostly white students. ” according to research done by the Brookings Institution.

Add to these challenges the fact that many children in South Africa and in some areas of the US go to school with no breakfast and no lunch you can hopefully see the challenges. As they say, you cannot teach a hungry child.

I am finding social media a challenge at the moment. People posting to defend their right to fly Confederate flags or objecting to the removal of the racist icons such as Confederate statues or Aunt Jemima obviously have no empathy. People are caught up in their own feelings rather than looking at the history and symbolism of these things. These changes are not for you, they are to make other people feel less marginalised. Can you imagine seeing a statue celebrating the people who imprisoned your ancestors? I have unfriended and unfollowed so many people this week. One school mate actually posted rubbish about Rayshard Brooks, the man who was shot in the back by an Atlanta cop. This guy was denigrating Rayshard’s character almost as if to say he deserved to die. WTF?? I do not care who you are or what you have done you do not deserve to be shot in the back.

I un-followed another for talking about ‘liberal snowflakes’. If caring about the rights of other people makes me a snowflake then so be it. I will make snow angels. And fuck you dude and your misogynistic agenda. I see through your hate.

Another example of why people are protesting is that there have been 6 people of colour found hanging in the USA since May 27. A woman, four men and a teenage boy have been found dead from separate hangings in Portland, Oregon, Southern California, Houston and New York City. So far those which have been investigated were deemed to be suicides but the rate of suicide among black men is very low and if they were to choose to kill themselves, do you think they would choose to hang themselves, a historic symbol of hate for blacks?

The six separate incidents are fueling fear and suspicions about the possibility of lynchings. Hopefully their deaths will be properly investigated and the murderers identified and brought to justice. A few more racists off the streets can only be a good thing.

On Wednesday night President Ramaphosa addressed the nation again. This time it was not to loosen the ties that bind us to our homes but to lament the high incidence of gender based violence in South Africa. More than 20 women and children have been murdered in South Africa in recent weeks.

One of these is Tshegofatso Pule, a beautiful 28-year-old pregnant woman whose body was found stabbed and hanged.

Man accused of Tshegofatso Pule's murder confesses to previous ...

A man has been charged with Tshegofatso’s murder. They were not in a relationship, the man claims that he was paid to kill her.

Naledi Phangindawo was another beautiful woman who was murdered. She lived in Mossel Bay, the same town where my daughter Lily lives with her husband. Naledi was murdered by the father of her children.

Naledi Phangindawo.

Nompumelelo Tshaka, Nomfazi Gabada, Nwabisa Mgwandela, Altecia Kortjie and Lindelwa Peni are young women who were killed by men. Age of the victim is not a deterrent as a 89-year-old grandmother was killed in Queenstown, a 79-year-old grandmother was killed in Brakpan and an elderly woman was raped in KwaZulu-Natal. Two 6 year old girls were also murdered. On Friday the body of a woman was found that was so badly burned she cannot be identified.

According to Ramaphosa, around 51% of women in the country have experienced violence at the hands of their partners. Cases have spiked since the country eased lockdown restrictions in June. Ramaphosa tentatively linked the GBV to the fact that the government had allowed access to alcohol, however South Africa has one of the highest femicide rates anywhere in the world. More than 2,700 South African women and 1,000 children were killed last year, according to police figures.

But some experts say a culture of domestic violence is deep-rooted in South Africa’s apartheid era where women and children faced high levels of violence and that criminal justice and policing systems alone cannot fix the problems. The community must speak out against this violence and men must acknowledge the anger and demons that drive them to abuse others.

A school friend shared with me that Skipper Dunn, a police officer from the town I grew up in, was fired for racist posts on Facebook. He had suggested that ‘a hanging is in order’ for several black men who were charged with a heinous crime against an elderly black woman. By no means am I defending the crime, I am saying they need to be trialed and sentenced accordingly. Innocent until proven guilty should be the basis of all aspects of the justice system, even at the point of arrest. Dunn also posted several other racist comments about Rayshard Brooks. This is the sort of man that African Americans encounter if arrested. These toxic individuals need to be removed from office.

Captain Dave Scroggins said “It is important that everyone understand Officer Dunn certainly enjoys the First Amendment Right to post his opinions. However, when those posts or opinions detract from his ability to effectively serve the community it is in the best interest of the community that he no longer be assigned those duties.” No apology for offence was issued by the police department. The fact that Dunn was comfortable enough to post those hateful comments shows that the culture in the department is most likely aligned to his way of thinking. I posted a public comment on the police department post and of course have been batting away ignorant responses for days.

It makes me ashamed to admit that I am from Georgia. All of this hatred and bigotry causes me so much sadness, anger and heartache. It can be overwhelming. Writing about it all helps me, I cannot imagine not having an outlet to gather my thoughts and help me process all of this turmoil.

Monday morning Panda would not eat his breakfast and Navajo would not leave him alone, he kept following him around and sniffing him and generally annoying him.

By Monday we were out of meat, vegetables and milk so Norm did his weekly foray out into the world. He took Navajo with him which led to morning chaos and yelping, leaping and wiggling. (And that was just Norm!)

I had a terrible day at work on Monday, it was full of stress and frustration. After I finished work I had my usual session sitting in my throne staring contemplatively at my mountain. The dogs love it when I sit outside, this time they decided they needed to announce that fact to the world and barked like lunatics.

Norm had bought some chicken tenders and I decided to attempt to make my own chicken fingers. I did not have breadcrumbs but I had several packets of ground almonds that Norm had bought by mistake when he was supposed to be buying almond flour. I dipped the chicken tenders in beaten egg, then rolled them in the ground almonds. I put them in the fridge hoping it made the coating set while I started on the vegetables. I boiled some pumpkin chunks then once they were cooked I pureed them and added some cinnamon and butter. I fried green beans in butter and garlic and steamed some cauliflower. While the veg was cooking I heated some coconut oil and fried the chicken tenders.

Because they would not all fit in a pan at once I put the oven on very low and put the first batch in the oven while I fried the others. When I went to put the dish back in the oven after refilling it I mistakenly picked it up with my bare hands and badly burned all of my fingers. Dang it hurt! But a brave soldier carries on so I ran my hand under cold water and finished making dinner.

The food was all very yummy and we both loved the pumpkin cooked like that. I will make that again! The chicken was really moist but I felt the coating did not get crunchy enough. Maybe I should have fried it longer but I think that is just the difference between the almond coating and flour.

I probably should have spent my day off on Tuesday doing something productive or worthwhile but I didn’t. I stayed in bed late, drank copious amounts of tea and watched telly. And I loved every minute of it. The animals were all full of the joys of life however and were being ever so energetic.

I had minced beef to use that night and decided on tacos. I love tacos but Norm hates to eat with his hands and always just makes his into a taco salad. I fried the mince until it was browned, then added one and a half packets of the El Paso taco seasoning and stirred it into the meat, then almost covered the meat with boiled water and let it simmer to thicken. I opened a tin of speckled beans and mixed in the other half of the packet of seasoning. I chopped up lettuce & tomatoes, grated cheese and put some fromage frais and salsa into bowls. I made guacamole with mashed avo, paprika and lots of garlic.

Taco Tuesday makes for a Happy Kitten. ❤

A day off in the work week always confuses the mind. It took me ages to get to sleep that night and then I was a bit tired most of the following day. I still had to cook dinner however and I roasted a pork fillet. I coated it with dijon mustard, honey and butter and added some mushrooms to the pan. I made caramelised apples with a tiny touch of cinnamon to go with it. For my vegetables I steamed the other half of the bag of cauliflower and roasted sweet potato chunks in coconut oil.

The pork was full of flavour and very tender. The apples went so well with it, just a touch of sweetness is always a good combination with pork.

I had back to back online meetings on Thursday which I find very tiring. It does not help that I have to deal with Lola showing her affection.

In one of the sessions while I was trying to take notes Lola decided it was her role to defend me by slaying my ink pen. That was a challenge to script my notes and it hurt when she caught my fingers. She is such a funny thing.

In these online meetings we never use our cameras and I always try to keep myself on mute but last week I had taken off mute to answer someone and forgot to put it back on. I yawned very loudly while the client was presenting some information on Data Governance and the whole group heard me. I was mortified and immediately apologised. Despite my apology, I was told off by my project manager for my ‘meeting etiquette’, as if I had done it deliberately. Even I am not THAT rude!

Thursday the wind picked up and it was lovely to have the doors open and the cool breeze coming in. Usually there is either no wind or hurricane level winds in Cape Town so a bit of mediocrity was just right. However on Friday afternoon the wind picked up and it became a bit of a howler for a bit. Before the wine picked up in the late afternoon on Friday it was a gorgeous sunny day with very little wind and it was hard to concentrate on work.

But I did manage to keep my head down and focused and I actually made good progress on my deliverables in between my conference calls.

Friday was a day which many in the USA are advocating as a National public holiday. Juneteenth is an day which observes the end of slavery in the U.S. and marks the day (June 19, 1865) when news of emancipation reached people in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed the slaves almost two and a half years earlier, and the American Civil War had ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent. I would be very surprised if the current racist president would recognise this date as a national holiday, if he does it would be purely an attempt at gaining votes from POC, however I am sure his little tribe of nationalists are busy doing the analysis on whether by recognising that day they might lose more votes from the other fascists or whether they would gain more from appealing to POC. For him it is all about either his ego or about gaining votes (which I guess is also driven by his ego?).

This week several excerpts from Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton new book ‘The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir’ were leaked to the media.

In it Bolton said that he was “hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations”.

Bolton also alleges that Trump implored Chinese president Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 US presidential election. Maybe Russia were not so willing to assist this time around?

Trump also sanctioned the Chinese concentration camps. The US State Department estimates that more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups have been detained by the Chinese government in internment camps, where they are reportedly “subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and death.”

But we all know about Trump’s own concentration camps for immigrants. He could obviously not take the high ground on that issue and due to his inherent racism I am sure he loved the idea as it suits his own bigoted views of white superiority.

Trump sued to try and halt the book being published but a judge ruled that publication can proceed. I cannot wait to read it! But I struggle so with my vision I will buy it for Norm and let him read the good bits to me in his sexy Scottish accent. #WinWin

The dogs all went to the groomer on Friday afternoon. They hate going and Pixie turns into a growling gremlin when Norm picks her up and Panda hides. Navajo loves to go in the car and when they arrive he trots down his ramp and into his designated cage on arrival. I guess he does not have the dreadlocks to deal with that the furry little poms do. They all three looked so fluffy and smelled so gorgeous when they got home. Norm gave them a treat as a reward for their cooperation.

I was happy to see the end of this week even though it was only 4 work days long.

On Friday we treated ourselves to a take away and I chose my usual favorite, sushi from K1 in Hout Bay. I had my top 3, salmon roses, prawn roses and bamboo roses with prawns. It was so divine.

While Norman was out getting the food we had a security alert come through that there were protests in Hangberg and that properties were being demolished again.

The rumours on the street (I have no validated source for this) is that allegedly the property which was demolished was designated land for the development of a shelter of some sort and that the person who was supposed to run the shelter was the one who kept reporting to the city government that the land was occupied. This person owns a crèche in the same area and her day care facility was burnt down by Hangberg residents in retaliation for her reporting the presence of the shack that was on this land.

I will update you if I get any confirmation from a definitive source about these rumours.

I was obviously very tired on Saturday as I slept til almost 10am! I did not even hear Norman get up with the dogs. Once I woke Pixie and Panda came back to bed with me.

When I finally got up it was nice and cool and the wind had died down. It was misty and the clouds were sitting on top of Table Mountain.

It was perfect weather for faffing about in the garden. Caitlin had given me a little birdcage and I found a tin that fit perfecting in it and I planted some succulents in it.

I put it on the front patio with my other transplants which are all growing so nicely.

I took a little bowl that my Mom gave me a hundred years or so ago when I was on my royal blue and Japanese phase. It had a little silk rose flower cluster in it which held more dust than beauty after so many years.

I planted a sprig in it and put it in the window with my other bits and pieces.

This window makes me happy. Each piece has a memory linked to it. For example, the fat lady given to me by my daughter Lily, the hanging fairy my girls and I bought in Camden Market, the bird cage I bought from my friend Mel, the small globes from my son Trevor and daughter in law Amber, the flying pig Norm and I bought on our 20th anniversary trip, the large globe from my son in law Josh and all of the little bits my Mom has given me over the years.

I spent the rest of the day setting up my new laptop and downloading all of the tools I need for work. I was going to cook but was too distracted and it was 6pm before I realised it. We just went to get take aways from Massimo’s just up the road. Norm had spaghetti and meatballs and I ordered a pancetta pizza without the mushrooms.

It was delicious. I think Massimo makes the best sauce in Cape Town.

The weather turned colder and it started pouring with rain on Saturday night but we were wrapped up cosy inside with the beasties.

Today is Father’s Day. Caitlin is coming over to the house for a socially distant visit and to drop off Norm’s father’s day gift. I hate that I cannot give her a big Mama Bear hug but at least we get to hang out.

To detach from the reality of the chaos Norm and I started a couple of new series this week. We just finished watching ‘Collision‘. It is on Amazon Prime and was made in 2009 but it was very interesting.

It is about the investigation of a multi-vehicle accident which uncovers all manner of secrets. It follows the stories of 10 different people before and after the accident. I give it 4 and a half Kitten Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

We also started watching Season 3 of Marcella, a show which I have blogged about before. We were so happy to see they filmed a third season.

It is often hard to watch as it touches on some tough topics, but the acting is top class and it is so well done (other than Anna Friel looking like Bambi on ice as she attempts to walk in heels.) The fact that it is filmed in Belfast is a bonus for me, getting to see the familiar background settings and hearing the accent makes me happy. I think when life is uncertain familiarity brings comfort.

When on my own I am watching series 5 of ‘Queer Eye‘ which has just been released on Netflix in SA. This series the team is based in Philadelphia.

I felt that two of the ‘guys’ are not looking their best in this series.

I adore Jonathan but I always sense a deep sadness and melancholy hiding under his cheerful and flamboyant personality. He has put on a bit of weight in this series and insists on wearing crop tops with his wee belly sticking out. I am all for wearing whatever the feck you want but considering it is a make over show one of the other guys should tell him to put it away. But he can rock a frock and heels better than I can (or the aforementioned Anna Friel)!

Antoni is looking a bit pale and clammy and has dark circles under his eyes like he is either not getting enough sleep or he is not healthy. I know that he has struggled with addiction in the past so I hope he has not gone down that road again. Of course it appeared to be hotter than all the circles of hell in Philly for the episodes I watched so maybe it is just good old fashioned sweat!

I really love this show but it is such a tear jerker. I cry every episode at least once and for some episodes I am misty eyed for most of the show. They seem to really transform people’s lives not just their outward appearances. (Yes I get the irony of my jab about Jonathon’s belly. Whateva.) The guys appear to be able to get down into the core of what is stopping people moving forward with their lives. I wonder whether the people on the show undergo some sort of psychological interview with a health care specialist as I doubt the guys on the show have the time to get down into that level of knowledge of a person’s psyche in that short period they spend with them.

Regardless, I love the show and feel so happy for the people whose lives, outward appearances and homes are transformed and their paths unblocked.

I also spotted that a new series of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars was available and I started watching that yesterday while Norm was working. I am watching on Netflix but the only trailer I can find is for VH1. Live with it.

I would like to end on a positive note so I want to share this video of Masaka Kids Africana dancing, they always perk me up. You can subscribe to their channel HERE.

Anyway I have had a lovely relaxing weekend and I hope you have too. I hope that you are coping with all of the chaos and uncertainty at this time.

The universe is shifting and darkness is being brought to the light. Just try and get through this transition and have high hopes for the new life at the end of this shift. Picture how you want your life to be when the dust settles. I hope that I am able to continue working from home after we go back to ‘normal’. I hope that people continue to reduce their carbon footprint. Instead of flying several hours for a face to face meeting, to utilise the many online applications to do so. I hope that the BLM protests lead to changes in the way that POC are treated around the world. I hope that the current trend towards right wing leaders flips to a more just, more humane approach.

For now, check on your friends and family who are isolating at home alone or those whom you know have health issues, whether mental or physical. Try not to go out unless you have to and if you do, wear a mask to protect yourself and others.

Until next time, socially distant Kisses from the Kitten. Much love to you all. x0x0x0x0x0

2 thoughts on “The Power of Knowledge

  1. Pingback: Unity Is Power – Kitten in the City

  2. Pingback: The Reading List – Kitten in the City

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