South Africa in Rocky Waters

By Tazorodzwa Mnangagwa ’16

In a recent interview with the Al Jazeera English Network, outspoken South African opposition figure Julius Malema, threatened to use “…the barrel of a gun” as a last resort if necessary to remove the ruling party—African National Congress (ANC)—from government. Malema, 35, and leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is not a stranger to controversy in South African politics. At a press conference in 2010, Malema, then head of the influential ANC Youth League (once headed by Nelson Mandela) chastised a BBC reporter accusing him of being an ‘agent’ of the west. The EFF leader’s recent remarks have sparked international interest and concern, especially as they came a few days before South Africa’s 22nd Freedom Day Celebrations and crucial local government elections this August.

Despite Malema’s threats, his sentiments resonate with an ever increasing share of South African’s who feel that the ANC has been too slow in delivering its promise for better living standards, especially for the Black majority, since the end of apartheid in 1994. According to the African Development Bank, the top 10% of the population (majority White) controls about 58% of the country’s wealth. This puts South Africa amongst the world’s most unequal societies. With 16.8% of the population living on less than $1.90/day compared to 15.1% in 2008 according to the World Bank, it is clear that poverty levels in South Africa are on the rise. GDP growth has also dropped to 1.5% in 2015 from 2.2% in 2013. These statistics show the difficulty that the ANC faces in addressing the country’s challenges, making it easier to comprehend why sentiments by the EFF continue to resonate with so many Black South Africans.

 

In order to recover from its current crisis, one critical factor needs to be addressed if South Africa is to remain politically and socially stable, namely political corruption. One of the most recent scandals that have rocked the country involves the current President and leader of the ANC, Jacob Zuma. President Zuma, 74, was recently found guilty by the country’s highest court for misappropriating public funds. It is alleged that Zuma spent $23 million dollars on ‘security upgrades’, which included building a swimming pool, a cattle enclosure, and an amphitheatre, at his private residence. This resulted in massive street protests by Malema’s EFF and South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, headed by Mmusi Maimane. Maimane and Malema recently worked together and pushed a motion in the South African Parliament to impeach President Zuma. However, they were unable to reach a two-thirds majority needed despite working with all other opposition parties as the ANC have an overwhelming parliamentary majority.

Despite surviving impeachment, Zuma’s actions have brought into serious question the political will that the ANC has to fight poverty in South Africa. One of the main policies that the ANC has implemented to address inequality is the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program. The BEE is an affirmative action program that gives an opportunity for Black South Africans to access funds and shares in businesses that were predominantly dominated and held by White South Africans. Despite its successes, the BEE has been seen as ineffective. This is largely due to the fact that business opportunities and deals have been largely given to those that are politically connected to the ANC. Malema’s EFF party advocates for a more radical and socialist solution—is to nationalize all gold, diamond, and iron ore mines. The EFF also advocates for the redistribution of land that is has been controlled by White South Africans, who make up less than 15% of the population.

It remains to be seen how South Africans respond to the current situation and policies of the ANC and EFF. The August local government elections will act as litmus test for both parties. In order to restore public confidence, there is urgent need for the ruling African National Congress to address corruption within the government. Furthermore, more proactive measures must be taken to address the economic inequality within South Africa. Failure to act, coupled with high levels of corruption, would rationalize Malema’s radical rhetoric and potentially plunge Africa’s second largest economy into chaos.

SONGS 2 PLAY LOUD WHEN YA FEELING QUIET

Hello St. Olaf! So, while we all know how much you enjoy our weekly blog posts, we have something very new and exciting for you: WEEKLY PLAYLISTS! For every week of this semester, a lovely member of our committee will be curating a playlist that drops EVERY FRIDAY. Brought to you just in time for the weekend!

This week’s playlist is curated by our very own Franny Carroll! Keep reading to find out what Franny has to say about her playlist and, of course, to check out her playlist titled SONGS 2 PLAY LOUD WHEN YA FEELING QUIET!

hello!!!!

tonight I’m all!!!!!! Alone in my room!!!!!!! 

Enjoy,

franny

You can find our other MEC-curated playlists on our Oleville, Facebook, and on our newly created Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/user/st.olafcollegemec!

STOCHELLA REVEAL

It’s here. It’s happening. All of your dreams are coming true. On Friday May 13th, Stochella is bringing together your favorite events from the past few years (did someone say Electric Run?? Did I hear Highlighter Pause dance??) plus so much more!

Whether you’re into jamming to campus bands, playing games on the quad, eating s’mores, getting free swag, or just generally having the TIME OF YOUR LIFE, mark your calendar now for the event of the year. Check out the official page at Oleville.com/Stochella to get the details on when and where everything will be going down, and we’ll definitely see you there.

DCC Diversity Conference is tomorrow!

DCC’s 2nd annual spring conference is TOMORROW! This year’s them is “Defining Diversity: Examining the Intersectionalities and Deconstructing the ‘Ideal Ole’.” Come join us and your fellow students at 10 AM in Trollhaugen for a faculty-led discussion of the “ideal Ole” at our school and the interaction of different types of identities on campus. Refreshments will be served, so no excuse please! Ain’t nothing like a good strong dose of intersectionality for your Saturday leisure, amirite?

Featured VN Org: SCC

St. Olaf Cancer Connection (a.k.a. SCC) is a service organization designed to provide cancer-related opportunities in the areas of volunteering, cancer education and awareness, outreach and fund-raising for not only the St. Olaf community, but also residents of Northfield and surrounding areas. SCC plans, organizes, and runs the Northfield area Relay For Life. This year, St. Olaf has put on a variety of events including Relay for Life, a Breast Cancer Survivor Panel, Stovember (“No Shave” November), Coaches vs. Cancer, a Holiday Gift Drive for the Children’s Hospital, and other education and outreach events.

Relay for Life was on April 22nd from 6PM to Midnight and was filled with inspirational speakers, wacky games, and incredible musical and dance performances. Together, over 200 participants raised more than $21,000 for the American Cancer Society. This money will go to fund the American Cancer Society’s life-saving research, awareness, and outreach. We are so thankful for the support of St. Olaf and the Northfield community, as well as the hard work and dedication of our incredible volunteers!

New members are welcome at any time! For more information about our events and how to get involved, please contact any of the presidents:

Ellen Sutter (sutter@stolaf.edu)

Anna Hjerpe (hjerpe@stolaf.edu)

Lucas Groskreutz (groskrel@stolaf.edu)

McAllister Stephens (stephenm@stolaf.edu)

SO SUBLIMINAL.

Hello St. Olaf! So, while we all know how much you enjoy our weekly blog posts, we have something very new and exciting for you: WEEKLY PLAYLISTS! For every week of this semester, a lovely member of our committee will be curating a playlist that drops EVERY FRIDAY. Brought to you just in time for the weekend!

Our playlist this week was curated by ME, otherwise know by the name of Emily Rose Anderson! As the creator of MEC’s THE PLAYLIST PROJECT, I thought it was about time that I tried my hand at curated a playlist. SO I DID AND HERE’S WHAT I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT.

Hi!

So, if I had to describe my playlist, I would say that SO SUBLIMINAL. speaks to my current mood. . . .

SO- adverb 1. To such a great extent. 2. To the same extent.

AND

SUB·LIM·I·NAL- adjective 1. Below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m feeling so very chill or spacey, you pick. In any case, here is a relaxing playlist that you can zone out to for a bit before the music pulls you into a “threshold of sensation or consciousness.” Enjoy.

Emily

You can find our other MEC-curated playlists on our Oleville, Facebook, and on our newly created Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/user/st.olafcollegemec!

REMEMBERING PRINCE.

Hello St. Olaf. As I’m sure you’ve heard the very sad news, Prince – the Minnesota-born music legend – passed away this morning.

In response to this heartbreaking news, MEC has curated a playlist that compiles a handful of Prince’s greatest hits so that we can all celebrate him and the wonderful music he made in his lifetime.

Furthermore, because only a small portion of Prince’s music is represented in this  playlist, definitely be sure to seek out Prince’s music beyond our playlist titled: REMEMBERING PRINCE. As a playlist of 10 songs never usually does any musical artist justice, 10 songs certainly do not justly represent Prince but can only celebrate a small part of him and his musical influence.

 

Featured Volunteer Org: SOS

This year has been a time of reinvention for the social work organization Serving Our Society. Along with the new leadership of Romario Smith and Emma Goodwin, these two have also worked throughout the year to pair volunteer opportunities with topics for open dialogue during meetings. Some volunteer activities SOS has arranged throughout the year are Social Work Month events, American Indian Clean Up Day, and Relay for Life. SOS hopes to finish out the year strong by offering a weekly meeting in town (location TBD) for students to engage in conversation regarding events on campus and around the world and possibly arrange a few more volunteer opportunities off campus.

IMG_0983

Featured VN Org: SARN

The Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN) is a CONFIDENTIAL source on campus. Our principal concern is making sure that survivors of sexual, relationship and emotional violence find their needs and concerns met with compassion and competence at St. Olaf College. Our two pain pillars are education and advocacy. Advocates are in the SARN office (BC 113) Monday-Friday during chapel and community time and on call everyday from 8pm-8am (507-786-3777). Or if you rather put your thoughts into words beforehand or meet at another time feel free to shoot us an email at sarn@stolaf.edu. This email ONLY goes to the two co-chairs and our advisor Steve O’Neil who is the director of Boe House. 
 
April is Sexual Awareness Month and we have multiple events planned! Tuesday April 19th is Yoga for Healing with Jen Grant in the Black Ballroom at 6:30p.m (Wellness Swiped). The healing process is unique for every individual and yoga is one of the many forms of healing. Join us and bring some friends for a relaxing evening. April 26th will be the Candlelight Victim Vigil at 8p.m. in Boe Chapel. This moving event honors the lives lost due to sexual violence. Our final event is the annual Survivor Panel on April 28th at 7:00pm in the Sun Ballroom (Wellness Swiped). Fellow Oles will share their stories of survival , putting into perspective how sexual assault affects our community and the importance of supporting survivors. We would love to see you at one or all of these events and are always open to hearing your concerns and thoughts!
 
In addition to a month packed of events SARN is sponsoring the Caf Fast this semester! Donate your breakfast meal on Saturday April 23rd 100% of the proceeds go to HOPE Center in Faribault which aids survivors of sexual and domestic violence. HOPE Center provides the training for advocates twice a year for no cost and this is a great way a community to say thank you. Overall there are a lot of upcoming exciting things happening! The advocates are what truly make SARN so special.Two of our advocates even won Leaderships awards last week, shout out to Eleanor Worley ’16 and Connor Phelan ’16. 
IMG_4522IMG_4523

Jonathan Haidt’s “What an Asshole” Remark is Wrong

Posted Anonymously

Within the last 10 years, United States politics have become hyperpolarized. Jonathan Haidt, in his speech, “What on Earth is Happening to our Country? The Moral Psychology of Political Division,” argues that Congress is extremely polarized and describes this polarization as a “disaster.” While Haidt provides a detailed explanation of the reasons for this polarization, he gives an example that college campuses reflect this hyperpolarization in his Atlantic article. I will give a response to his argument criticizing political correctness and trigger warnings on campuses and argue that political correctness and trigger warnings are not necessarily bad.

According to Haidt, the founders failed to predict hyperpolarization in Congress, which is one of the major flaws of the constitution. They assumed that politicians would work together on issues. They did not foresee parties as ideologically divided to the point of inability to work with each other. Historically, after the Civil War, parties became hyperpolarized. This changed after World War I; it was a period of the least polarization. Politicians with different views worked with each other on issue bases and were able to compromise on legislations. Since the 1970s, political polarization has increased, and according to Haidt, this phenomenon accelerated during the era of Bush and Obama. This polarization has made it very difficult for politicians to work with each other. According to Haidt, this polarization has transferred to people. Under the current polarization, people have less warmth toward people from the other political side.

Haidt implies that college campuses have reflected this polarization. In many instances, students tend to call things offensive and shut down different points of view. Haidt avoids using the term “Political Correctness,” however; he describes this term as coined by the media. Sometimes students send professors emails claiming certain materials are offensive. In Haidt’s article, “The Coddling of The American Mind,” he states, “it is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.” He also mentions examples of comedians, Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher, refusing to go to college campuses because students are “oversensitive.” He also criticizes micro-aggressive words by saying, “small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless.” He implies that we should ignore micro-aggressions, and reacting to words that we deem as offensive by saying “what an asshole?” and move on with our lives. He also sees trigger warnings as not necessary because this does not prepare students for the real life.

Haidt gives a very appealing argument, yet it offers dangerous implications. Firstly, he sees thinking twice before speaking as bad. While Haidt may argue that some people do not have malicious intent when they speak, thinking is not dangerous; it merely requires students to be more careful and respectful when speaking. Words are very important and could be used to harm and belittle others. People can go rampant trading insults and slurs that may show hatred, ignorance and prejudice. Secondly, he argues that the best way to handle hate speech is to be silent about it. This is wrong because the best way to educate the other is to present a speech that challenges the person ideas, beliefs and provide evidence to overcome their ignorance. Being silent on hate speech is similar to participating in it. You cannot stop oppression by being silent on it. Stereotypes need to be removed from the society. This is a point in the society where the society needs to show mature growth and leave stereotypes that may hurt others.

Contrary to Haidt’s argument, trigger warnings are very important on college campuses. There exist diverse students with different experiences and thinking. Some scenes/literature may release traumatic experience to certain students. Rape survivors, and people suffering from PTSDS may not want to relive these experiences. It is important that professors are sensitive to students’ anxieties. Trigger warnings do not limit professors from teaching certain materials but they show professor respect and accommodation to students.

There needs to be a reform to decrease political polarization and increase ideologically diversity in Congress. College is a great place to discuss ideas, rally and be active. Political Correctness in colleges is not necessarily bad. Similarly, using trigger warnings to protect students from traumatic experiences is important. Being respectful to the other and thinking twice before speaking are simple signs of decency. College is a place to learn, think, and challenge our beliefs. It is a place to develop citizens more understanding and accommodating to our multicultural society.