Kamala Harris, the current Vice President of the United States of America (Source: Wikipedia)
The story of the Vice President of America today is one that we can say is as a result of strong legislation and a long standing and deeply rooted culture of the United States of America, as well as her democracy, which has evolved over the years.
The eventual passage of the 19th amendment, over a 100 years ago, enabled an all-inclusive voting rights which made possible the feat which we all celebrate today – a Woman occupying the office of the Vice President of the United States. This goes beyond a pass mark in our ‘democratic’ institutions, one we have always hoped for, or a nod at inclusion and diversity. What we see here is a new dawn in America’s politics.
Kamala Harris, the current Vice President of the United States of America is a multicultural woman; with black, Jamaican, and Indian descent. Her story is one of possibilities and a spirited passion for the American democracy. Her political triumph pinpoints a significant landmark in her successful career even as she keeps making history.
Harris’s Mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, had arrived in the United States from India in 1958 as a 19-year-old; who through grit and hardwork went on to become a biologist cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, who came from Jamaica was a lecturer at Stanford University.
Vice President Kamala Harris was born in 1964, She had a normal childhood till she was 7 with her younger sister Maya when her parents unfortunately separated. She continued her educational studies not withstanding and attended Howard University, a historically black university in the capital city of Washington, D.C.
Harris proceeds to California for her furtherance in education in Law, by attending the law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law through its Legal Education Opportunity Program. While at UC Hastings, during her stay in the law school she served as president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated in 1989 thereafter she joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s office where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.
In the year 2002, Harris showed interest in running for District Attorney of San Francisco against two other contenders. Harris went on to win the keenly contested race with 56% of the vote, becoming the first black elected a District Attorney of San Francisco.
Going forward to 2010, Harris was elected as the Attorney General (AG) of the State of California! Therefore, becoming the first female and first African American to hold the post. She went on to write a book titled; Smart on Crime, this book was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism in the United States and the world in general.
In the year 2014, a new chapter in Harris’s life was opened, as she got married to Attorney Douglas Emhoff. Harris was then chosen to be recruited for the U.S. Senate for a seat that belonged to a woman retiring.
2016 marked another triumphant run in the record book of groundbreaking accolades. Kamala Harris, this time won the senatorial election by a landslide based on her situating policies calling for criminal- justice and immigration reforms, increase of minimum wage, and protection of women’s reproductive rights. As the pattern has been from her law school days, she became the first Indian American in the U.S. Senate.
Harris went in to announce she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 which Joe Biden clinched. But In August 2020, Biden chose her as his running mate for the presidential election, thus the first black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. Heading on to the November 2020 elections, she became the first woman to ever be elected Vice President of the United States. And by January 20, 2021 she was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States.
Kamala Harris is a role model in diverse ways as most of her notable milestones were stated above. Very inspiring to women around the world irrespective of race, ethnicity or country, she has a model of international repute, though of black and Indian descent.
However, despite what might seem as remarkable progress in our collective journeys towards gender equality and inclusion, women are still starkly underrepresented in leadership positions, most especially in the top echelons of power. This gap is not just a United States problem, but a global issue. Nevertheless, every win counts! As in the resounding words of Neil Armstrong, “this is one small step for man, and a great leap for mankind.”
We have successfully overcome the setback of relegating women to the kitchen. We have seen that a woman can get to the zenith of her career if she so wishes with hard work and perseverance.
Kamala categorically stated in her victory speech “But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
A historical new era is born in the United States of America with high hopes and aspirations for endless possibilities.
Article by: Remi Duyile
Church Economics: will this develop Africa?
Church Planting (Image: Africa Inland Mission, Europe)
Africa is a continent that is blessed with an abundance of the world’s natural resources compared to other continents and with these, one is at pains to explain why Africa is not the most prosperous developed continent but instead, it houses poverty, unemployment and diverse underdevelopment. Africa happens to be one of the most religious continents with its people believing that God is the giver of all things. For Christians, the bible contains many verses that speak to how the people should prosper but one wonders why Africa continues to lag behind in various development aspects and the people living in misery. The question that begs an answer is, are church principles of success failing?
Prayer alone is not enough
Prayer is no substitute for hard work. It seems most of the African population has been made to believe that attaining success can be acquired miraculously through prayer and church dedication other than mixing that with hard work. It is against this background that Africans can buy a business building, break it down in order to build a church and spend most of their time praying for jobs. While it is good to have faith that when one prays, their requests could be accepted, the same bible says “faith without works is dead” which implies that one ought to put efforts beyond faith.
The bible does not support laziness and this can be seen from Proverb 6 vs 6-8, where the bible asks one to learn from the Ant to be wise and hard working. It reads “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!, It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” The verse illustrates that an Ant will prepare for the winter while it is still summer in order to ensure that, when times are tough and work is not possible, they have enough to eat. The bible further tells Christians to work for 6 days and rest on the seventh day but it seems that hard work has been replaced by only prayer with people spending most of the time praying than working.
The bible also says in 1 Timothy 5:8 that ‘But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. This verse tells us that even the bible does not favour poverty. In the actual sense, Christians are supposed to be the richest people in the world, to show the world how rich their God is but instead it is the other way round. We see a lot of people going to churches to pray for success and wealth which they don’t work hard for but want it to come on a silver plate. It is important to run to God for wealth and all, but also, people ought to pray for wisdom on how to work hard and see opportunities because prayer alone will not bring food on the table, it will not give clothes to wear or other things that need finances. If Jesus worked as a carpenter, Paul worked as tent marker and other Christians of old, why should abandon work, education, commitment and believe in miracles only?
Church as solution provider
A church is a gathering of people with similar religious beliefs who meet in a common place to worship. As the people gather, each one comes with their own problems that they hope to present before their God in prayer with a hope that it gets answered. The bible has several references where God worked through other people to address the needs of his people. In these days, however, when one presents their challenge before fellow congregants, the most common responses would be ‘God bless you’, ‘it shall be well’ or ‘we shall pray for you’ with no practical help given. Sadly, some solutions could be with the fellow church members.
The church houses so many unemployed people and many employers, it houses the rich and the poor, it houses the skilled and the unskilled. Financial challenges could be addressed by members sharing their income, unemployment could be provided by those that have opportunities to offer and other solutions could be within and do not necessary depend on prayer alone. If church members put resources to start businesses, to create employment, provide school fees, brainstorm solutions to national problems among other things, the improvement in the lives of the people would be so great that the nation would benefit. However, the status quo rarely considers the needs of their people but rather focus on lessons that may not even be applicable and relevant to meet the needs of the people.
Actually, the bible has in several instances referred to the fact that religious people neglect the needs of their people. It would be important that solutions that need prayer alone are separated from the solutions that can come from among the people. Other than just preaching the gospels, identifying the needs of the people and finding solutions would help people be solution providers for others also.
It is sad that some religious leaders have taken advantage of their members by swindling them of their hard earned income in the name that they would pray for them if only they brought money. If religion is to work for Africa, it would be important to get all the principles of success, apply them correctly and work to ensure that they work for the people. We cannot pray ourselves out of poverty, unemployment or under development. Now is the time to think beyond church economics but rather pick the principles and apply them correctly for our prosperity.
By: Nchimunya Muvwende An Economist
Transitional Justice: Evaluating the Importance of Reparation, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation- A South African Perspective
Image source: Days Of The Year website
According to Benyera, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the end of Apartheid. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence and injustice during this time could come forward and be heard at the TRC. Further to this the perpetrators of violence would give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution.
The TRC hearings made international news and many sessions were broadcast. The TRC played a crucial role in the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa and, despite some flaws, is generally regarded as very successful.
The mandate that the TRC was given was to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, reparation and rehabilitation. The TRC had several members which included; Archbishop Desmond Tutu (chairperson), Dr Alex Boraine (Deputy Chairperson), Mary Burton, Advocate Chris de Jager, Bongani Finca, Sisi Khampepe, Richard Lyster, Wynand Malan, Reverend Khoza Mgojo, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Dumisa Ntsebeza (head of the Investigative Unit), Wendy Orr, Advocate Denzil Potgieter, Mapule Ramashala, Dr Faizel Randera, Yasmin Sooka and Glenda Wildschut.
TRC AND RECONCILIATION ACT
TRC was set up by an Act of Parliament, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act. This Act gives effect to the aim of TRC which is to:
- make proposals for measures that will give reparation to victims of human rights violations; and
- rehabilitate and give back the human and civil dignity of people who suffered human rights violations.
Further to this the Act also says that the Committee on Reparation and Rehabilitation must endorse and provide recommendation to the President in terms of ways of assisting victims. It is the President and Parliament, and not this Committee, who will decide what to do and how to do it. The recommendations from the Committee will be in the Final Report sent to the President after the Commission has completed its work.
Therefore the role of the Committee is to make recommendations which deal with interim reparation which is for those that require immediate assistance because of the gross human rights violations they suffered.
The Act requires the President and the Ministers of Justice and Finance to establish a President’s Fund. Victims who qualify for assistance will be paid from this Fund.
The importance of reparation, reconciliation and rehabilitation can be described as what can be done to assist victims overcome the damage that they suffered and to make sure that these human rights violations or abuses never happen again. Although this could include money, a financial payment is not the only form of reparation and rehabilitation that the Committee recommends. The Committee looked at individuals, communities and the nation as a whole when making recommendations to achieve reparation and rehabilitation.
In terms of Compensation section 1 of the Promotion of National Unity Act 34 of 1995 defines reparation as any kind compensation, ex gratia payment (payment in favour of), restitution, rehabilitation or recognition which would mean that government is responsible for the payment of reparations. The (TRC report vol. 5, 1998. Ch. 5) stipulates the following five elements of the reparation and rehabilitation policy:
1. Urgent interim reparation: These reparations are more focused on individuals with urgent financial or services need and there was a small budget to facilitate it. The urgent interim reparation was the first form of monetary reparations and it was meant for approximately 17 000 victims who were in dire need of help (Daly 2003: 378).
2. Individual reparation grants: These kinds of grants were those paid to Individual victims of human rights violations for a period of six years would receive monetary reparations. These reparation grants needed to promote three goals, namely,
According to Daly 2003, it was of paramount importance to recognise the victims’ suffering and restore the victims’ individual dignity, facilitate service delivery and subsidise daily living costs.
MECHANISMS FOR RECONCILIATION
According to the Justice site, the committee on TRC had come up with guiding principles which then aided with proposals that prompt and promote reconciliation these included the following;
Development centred: A development-centred approach means that individuals and communities are helped to take control back. To take control of their own lives through the dissemination of information and the use of knowledge particularly with regard to available resources and to help them use these resources in the way that benefits them most.
Simple, Efficient and Fair: All the available resources were used in a way that would give the most benefit to the people who receive them.
Culturally Appropriate: The process of rehabilitation needed to be sensitive to the religious and cultural beliefs of the community.
Community-based: Community-based services and delivery should be strengthened and expanded. For the people by the people.
Capacity Development: Local capacity building as well as the delivery of services were addressed as part of addressing the imbalances of the past.
Promoting Healing and Reconciliation: The aim of TRC was to bring people together and to promote understanding and reconciliation.
The TRC land reform programme consisted of three components that were adopted: According to an article by Diale the components were as follows; first, the restitution of land to those that were dispossessed of land after 1913; second, redistribution to rectify the racially skewed distribution of land which was resultant of colonial and apartheid policies, and; third, tenure reform for those whose tenure was insecure because of past discriminatory laws and practices.
The Restitution of Land Rights Act, No 22 of 1994, geared the Chief Land Claims Commissioner which would oversee the Regional Land Claims Commissions, which subsequently investigate cases and take them to the Land Claims Court for settlement. Because of the slow initial rate of delivery, the Restitution Act was amended in 1999 to provide for administrative settlements of claims: the Land Claims Court which would be used only in those cases where agreement could not be reached – as in the Dukuduku land claim.
Dukuduku Land Claim case
The Dukuduku forest in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is subject to one such claim to land restitution, which remains unsettled for over 10 years. The Dukuduku forest was supposed to be incorporated into the wetland park as an World Heritage Site. The forest houses many subsistence farmers, of which some form part of the group of land claimants. There is an interplay of community and authority and in so doing setting the pace of where claims for historical redress materialises both in processes of land restitution and in the acquisition of land through ‘illegal squatting’.
Knut G, suggests that Dukuduku forest encompasses and explores the strongly desired and well deserved restoration of lost rights to land and resources and the formalisation of these rights which then draws on both our past and the present to form a caveat with its intricately woven complexity it defies such straightforward processes. The land claim process feeds into existing struggles and creates new ones, and in this way, the larger cause of the land claimants – to obtain recognition of property claims and land belonging – is infused by conflicts external and internal to the community of claimants.
In closing, redressing the imbalances and injustices of the past require countries to find ways of emerging from conflict and repression by addressing human rights violations. Transitional justice is entrenched in accountability and redress for victims. Ignoring massive abuses is an easy way out but it destroys the values on which any decent society can be built. Therefore the toughest balancing act must be engaged by finding a balance between the law and politics of the past and in doing so putting victims and their dignity first, it signals the way forward for a renewed commitment to make sure ordinary citizens are safe in their own countries – safe from the abuses of their own authorities and effectively protected from violations by others.
Written by: Dr. Kim Lamont-Mbawuli
Sunsets and Waterfalls Book Launch: Restoring Hearts for a Better South Africa
Sunsets and Waterfalls Founders, Cindy Jacobs and Toni Erasmus (Source: Toni Erasmus)
Being plunged straight into an unprecedented global pandemic and having been challenged with the devastating realities of our country, Sunsets and Waterfalls (S&W) saw an opportunity in realising that South Africans hold the answers to their own generational outcry. With that being said, straight out of a pandemic, Sunsets and Waterfalls (S&W) was birthed. Founded by Cindy Jacobs and Toni Erasmus, S&W is a platform for South African women, children and families – empowering all to share their raw and real stories.
These two women have a shared vision to drive change at both grassroots and government level, where they aim to develop and impact South Africa and her leaders to restore the soul of our nation by tackling the core issues of our nation- one story and one heart at a time.
On the 1st and 2nd of May 2021, Jacobs and Erasmus launched their poetry book “Sunsets and Waterfalls”, a poetry book designed to connect and empower all people to own their raw and real stories. The book is a compilation of over 300 poetry pieces and 300 impactful line art illustrations by Carter Constant, depicting the raw and real-life events and stories of two women who have bravely overcome the traumatic experiences and enlightenment of their broken hearts.
“We need young leaders with new ideas, new approaches and empathy to effect meaningful change.” This was the view of Melene Rossouw, co-founder and director of the Women Lead Movement, speaking at Gallery South, situated in Muizenberg on Sunday, 2 May 2021 – one of the events of their weekend launch.
Young as they are, they recognise that this is not an exclusively personal and individual journey. They know that the soul of the nation, South Africa, is deeply wounded, and they seek to enable people in local communities to become active change drivers who can pursue social change at both grassroots and government levels.
“I’m really honoured to be sharing this day with both Toni and Cindy,” said Rossouw. “In my brief but deeply insightful engagement with these two exceptional leaders, I was transcended in both mind and soul,” she said. When she met them, Rossouw was immediately struck by the young women’s authenticity born of their ability to consciously explore their own wounded histories, personal and political.
“We want the entire South Africa to join in as we believe: When hearts unite, mountains move!”
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