Monthly Archives: June 2015



Race matters. It is evident everywhere. From the persisting structural racism manifested in everyday moments to the indiscriminate police brutally black bodies are subjected to. 21 years of democracy and South African youth too are burdened by race. This is what one young South African woman and #AshleyKrielAlumni has to say:


My blackness is a scar,

An unspoken mystery,

With a blood-drenched history.

My voice,

Nothing but an echo from afar.

My body’s a male canvas.

Public property,

Captive soul,

Prisoner to this body

To these bones, this skin, this Black skin, to this Blackness that is me.

I often feel like a human dartboard;



Taking stabs from every direction.

Pierced by violent reinforcements of masculinity,

Bearing the burden of Blackness like an unwanted foster child.

Motionless, taking stabs from every direction.

Supposedly emotionless,

Even as tears slow dance across my face,

All you see is Blackness,

And in silence I cry.

You see, the colour of my skin is not human enough so I need to bleed constantly to disprove my Blackness. I need to revisit the scars and recreate the wounds.

My blackness is a scar,

An unspoken mystery,

With a blood-drenched history.

My voice,

Nothing but an echo from afar.


(Snalo Mbombo)

Snalo Mbombo

Snalo is a young woman who was born and raised in the Eastern Cape and currently studying towards a degree in English Literature and Linguistics at the University of the Western Cape



I am not an African.

So if you know me personally and you have read the above statement you probably never thought of hearing that from me. [In April] I spent time with 29 other young South Africans. No one older than 32 and out of the 30 selected young people I was one of three white people who attended. The rest of the people was a mixture of Black, Coloured, one Indian and one Person with Ableism. The workshop was presented by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR).

The camp’s aim was to create a space to talk to other races face to face about the themes Justice and Reconciliation.

Saying what we want and how we want to.

It started off as any other camp with small-chat served as a starter on the bus there, a really mammoth and intense main meal that we didn’t finish while making us feel quite bad afterwards and a dessert we’ll be talking about forever in reference to it being the best we’ve ever had.

In one of the sessions we were speaking of what makes us African and what defines us as African. It was going quite well until we became very honest. Ferociously honest. A beautiful black woman sitting across me made the statement that someone cannot be an African if they are white because of the heritage we have inherited from our European forefathers.

Hearing this I broke. I wept. It was the same feeling I felt when my mom told me my father passed away. A part of me died.

Now let me put this straight. She wasn’t ‘one of those black people’ that doesn’t like white people. This was a safe non-toxic space. This was an honest opinion. Said in love. No bitterness. She was merely saying what her heart said.

But it broke me.

The beautiful coloured woman next to me was wiping my tears of with her fingers as if it was her own. I could hear her blood flow through her hands and fingers. We were one. Just like the beautiful black woman across from me. I could hear her heart beat from across the room as she was stating what she did.

Why was this hurting so much though? What was it in me that squeezed out those salty tears?

To be viciously honest I cannot answer that. I just don’t know what it was that particularly hurt me. All I know is that it ripped out my identity and spat on it. Everything I am busy becoming since approximately 2012/2013 has been centred on the fact that I belong in Africa.

That I am from its luscious red soil. That I am proudly African. That I am welcome here.

This statement drilled into my heart like a jack hammer. That the colour of my skin could depend my identity really collided with my beliefs about Africa, people and God. I didn’t have to be a part of the Emzabalazweni/ Umzabalazo (struggle) to know how it felt to struggle for freedom. Yes, I don’t have the physical lashes on my back to prove it, but the guilt on my mind is struggle enough. For me and many other white South Africans.

The fact that we carry this guilt in itself is a sign of our Africaness. It is Africa’s welcoming arms that makes her who she is.

Her honesty also brought me some healing though. Her honesty, while painful, helped our dialogue to continue into a constructive building of our relationship although I did not agree with her. I could hear her heart and many other peoples’ hearts in Africa. I could see her pain.

I am born an African. I was raised an African. I am African by choice. I cannot run back to Europe when I feel like Africa is getting too much for me. The only place I can run to is inward and upward. To my neighbouring African brothers and sisters. From Cape to Cairo. From Madagascar to Morocco. To Azania (Africa).



 reblogged from:!AFRICAN/cmbz/554715e60cf23d01646ebdb0


Crafting Change Agents





Thursday evening the 28th of May I was inspired to witness a session in what is a continuous dialogue happening internationally among the 20 something youth of today.

The evening was an open platform for conversation around race and identity initiated by the American youngsters from the #craftingchangeagents #youthdialogue movement, supported by the @_IJR_ #AshleyKriel program conveners for the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town.

It was an evening at the Districts Six Museum was opened by a short film on the Nama, an indigenous people in South Africa and followed by the open dialogue in which critical, unashamed points of view were expressed in a very respectful manner. There was a comforting atmosphere for youth from Africa and America to honestly voice their fears, frustrations as well as hopes and aspirations for themselves and those around them.

There was a surprisingly fresh approach to the Coloured Identity among various local youth on the evening as well as the recent police brutally weighing heavily on the American youths psyche. By these youths using art in the form of poetry, film and open discussion to deal with the injustices they are experiencing, they are making tremendous steps forward in influencing all those around them with a new found sense of hope towards more just societies all over the world.


Many of the local youth on the evening gravitated towards an opportunity for a discussion like this through the Ashley Kriel program, engaging youth all over South Africa in dialogues on various platforms. Ashley Kriel was Cape Flats youth leader murdered by the apartheid regime in the 1980s. He is recognized as the archetypal representative of student and youth leadership in the conquering of apartheid, from the Cape Flats. Ashley Kriel is finally becoming every new generation’s symbol of youth activism in the Western Cape.

Similarly the American youth present on the evening all gravitated to the evening via a movement which largely draws their motivation identifying with the recent black youth in America being killed by white officers of the law. They are literally becoming the voices of those which cannot share their experiences of injustice and calling the perpetrators to moral persecution.

A new generation of soldiers of justice are coming up on the horizon of a new dawn, a new day, a different way. This is a generation of inclusion and compassion, spearheaded by powerful women with focused streams of consciousness and the diligent will to execute them.

May this be a swift cleansing process  of the current male dominated chaos we are surviving right now via this new way of engaging with one another as humane beings exploring their sense of Self.

Ruben Engel

Artist and Activist