Saturday, August 20, 2016

Out of Touch

“people were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved and people are being used.”
This past week has been an infant nightmare, the coming week seems like a teenage nightmare and the week after that will be full grown drunken adult (very difficult to handle). Yes, yes, test week is upon me and there’s nothing I can do but prep myself for it. This past week was not a nightmare just because I had a handful of deadlines but also because four years ago this week the Marikana massacre happened.

The events leading to and following the Marikana massacre were a direct result of the fact that management was (and is still) out of touch with the people that are on the ground. I read a quote by John Green earlier this week that said “people were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved and people are being used.” I don’t know how long ago he (funny if it was a she John Green) said this, but at I find this most applicable today.

I think the biggest problems with the way that employers or managers or whoever try to solve challenges and unrest in the work place are:
  •  The fact that they are out of touch with the people. Their inability to empathize with their subordinates.
  • Their inability to deviate from traditional methods of solving unrest. They use mediation and negotiation techniques that were being used a century ago.
  • They’re not creating a spirit and culture of loyalty to their company or brand.
Source: Mobile Toilets

Perhaps the class gap between the workers and management is the reason that mediation is always such a sham. I’ve been in situations where people (who will most probably be in leadership positions someday) say things like “They should have worked harder when they were younger, they wouldn’t be cleaning toilets if they’d worked hard” or when people litter and they say “I’m creating employment”. There’s no way that these kind of people will be leaders that can sympathize or empathize.

I’ll give you an easy example of management that is out of touch and I hope this example doesn’t get me in trouble. The working conditions of car guards at (or in, not sure which is applicable) Stellenbosch University. I took photos of their supposed office, or room or whatever the thing is really. I think there are a few of them around campus, but the reality is that it’s not just Stellenbosch but all over the country, guards and security persons work under similar conditions.

We put the people that are responsible for or safety and security in spaces that are no bigger than a mobile toilet and we expect them to not only take their job seriously but also to take pride in what they do (because if we don’t expect them to take pride in what they do we really don’t expect them to do their jobs properly).

What about this 1m2 area will make the man (or woman) working here want to protect you or your car or your cat or whatever you are protecting? The man can’t even make a cup of coffee (and God knows winter in Stellenbosch is dreadful). If you can install a switch for the boom gate in the damned cubicle I see no reason why you can’t install a plug for him to boil a kettle for a cup of tea. Is giving a man some leg space too much to ask?

Keeping in mind what miners actually do on the daily basis, and the fact that on average the miner gets paid around R4750 the Marikana uprising should have come as no surprise to Lonmin management. In fact, it should have been something that they had prepped for! Inflation is a living beast, and the cost of living in South Africa is rather unfortunate, but Lonmin management should have prepped for the uprising or perhaps simply handled it better. There are many ways that the lives of many could have been saved over those few days.

In that situatuin one could have negotiated a deal with one of the leading supermarkets, like pick ‘n pay (my ‘p’ still doesn’t work so I can’t get uppercase ‘p’), Checkers, or Shoprite. Negotiate a discount (of say, 20%) on all products for Lonmin miners. This way they're ensuring that a basket of goods for the miners is a bit cheaper, and on the other hand they are guaranteeing Checkers (or whoever) a few million customers. The mining sector employs around 13 million people!

One could also donate money to a few schools (where miners are concentrated) where children of miners could go for a discounted amount (don’t say basic education is already free in South Africa, basic education that’s free is just that! Basic! And very few of those children make it to university, this is the reality). This not only ensures that the children of your employees get a better education but you’re also taking a chunk off your tax. It's a win win.

I could vent about this for days (because that's what this is really, me, venting) about a thousand other injustices, but all that's left to say is it really doesn’t take much to make someone happy. Especially someone that is in a dire situation. All it takes to make someone else happy is a desire and will. The problem is that management doesn’t care. They have no reason to take care of their subordinates, however, in the end not caring costs more than caring. Until management decides to care we can expect a lot more uprisings (if this is even a word). 


 Subscribe to Stellies Afro Chick:
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Celebrating Women’s Month

Neglect doesn’t even begin to cover the way I have been treating this blog but hopefully that will change. A lot of things have happened since I last posted something: I have a new nephew and a niece (yes new because I have like 621 older ones, kidding), Melania Trump happened, Brexit happened and the ‘p’ on my laptop stopped working and just two days ago South Africa celebrated the 12th national women’s day.

South Africa’s national women’s day commemorates the 1956 protest against the Urban Areas Act of 1950. The protest was led by (among others) Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams. The month of August is dedicated to not only celebrating women who’ve played a significant role in shaping South Africa's past and its future but also to celebrate the seemingly ordinary woman that has survived a world designed to accommodate the man. Although South Africa has made great strides since the march of 9 August 1956 it has yet to see a female president and women are still marginalized.

Source: SAHistory
Source: Allan Grey Orbis Foundation
Source: Google Arts and Culture
Although formal red tape around women entering industries like engineering, medicine and law enforcement has been removed, a virtual tape still exists. Evidence of the fact that there is a glass ceiling in these industries is the fact that of the total number of engineers registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa, only 11% are women and only 4% are professional engineers (Marna Thompson). Marginalization of women does not manifest itself in occupation choices and career progress only but also in the sexualization, abuse and objectification of women.

The marginalization, sexualization and objectification of women seems to see no end. Although there are many fighting to see women treated as equals with men, treated with dignity and respect and see the violence against women and children come to an end, rape culture continues to make bold faced appearances and rearing its grotesque head. Women are still payed less than men (for doing the exact same job as men) in many sectors and rape incidents are still on a hike.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who finds social media and social networks (such as Facebook and Instagram) a little sexist. Women still cannot post pictures with their nipples showing on Facebook or Instagram without being banned (temporarily) from either social network. Breastfeeding in public is still considered shameful and inappropriate by some (as if they’ve never seen boob before, and they were not nurtured by the same organ they now find ‘inappropriate’). “What did she think would happen when she wore a skirt that short” is still a phrase spoken regarding female rape victims. And I’m still 1 of (at most) 20 girls in my class of at least 150 students.

Sure, there are various organizations and movements dedicated to improving the woman’s prospects and circumstance. Organizations like WomEng (which I was fortunate enough to be a part of this year). And movements like #EndRapeCulture, #1MillionGirlsInSTEM and many others. However, progress remains slow and tedious. But, as the saying goes, anything worth anything takes time. But to what end is all this effort?

As much as I care about all that I have mentioned above, I also can’t help but wonder if it’s worth it. Obviously this statement does not relate to anything that has to do with rape or violence against women and children. But I mean all the fuss we make about having women in Engineering and what not all. Is it really worth it trying to get girls to want to be lawyers and whatever? Are we not forcing nature and changing the dynamics of the universe for nothing? Don’t get me wrong, I love engineering. I dream of nothing else but to solder all day and burn my fingers and do cool stuff that will change the way that humanity does things. I’m all about the engineering life, but is the engineering life for me (and other women)? What if we’re working so hard to get 1 million girls in STEM only to have 500 000 of those depressed (even though they are in STEM)? This is not me being an anti-feminazi but it’s worth a thought.

Even though I have my qualms about how far we are to take this ‘career women’ movement there is no doubt that there is still a lot of work to be done. To at least give women equal opportunities in the tech industry (and let the paint or whatever if they don’t like it), and to reduce crimes against women and children. I do believe that women bring a fresh perspective to things in general and are therefore an integral part of any process. But most importantly I think women deserve freedom, freedom to do whatever they want regardless of what it is that they actually want.

 Subscribe to Stellies Afro Chick:
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner