Baobabconnections is an online youth project which started out earlier this year. Through the web-based platform, conscious youth share information about globalisation. Contributors include hiphop artists from South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.
Below is the first in our series of reprints of stories from the Baobabconnections website.
'We will never be able to rise above or overcome our adversities unless we snap out of this victim mode that they got us trapped in.'
In this essay, South African MC Devious talks about gang members, real people and real problems.
In the online video interview, Devious further illustrates the challenges that youth face in his township Mitchells Plain. Interesting fact: the person driving the car and adding his views is Shamiel, the old school South African hip hop dj who in 1996 inspired us to start out the Africanhiphop website!
Look and listen to South African MC Devious breaking it down (Capetown, December 2001, interview by Dominic and Yehudi of Baobabconnections). The music that plays inside the car is by Devious with Ken Ring and a number of Norway emcees, and a bit of Roots Manuva.
Click here to look at the broadband Windows Media version of the film (for fast internet connections).
Click here to look at the smallband Windows Media version of the film (for slower internet connections).
If you prefer Real Media, then you can click here
Gangsterism, poverty and globalisation
Written by A. Van Rooy (Devious 1st) for Baobabconnections.org - reprinted with permission
I am a strong believer in the truth and therefore I don't beat around the bush when it comes to exposing it. I also believe in telling it like it is. "No sugar coated fairy tales". Strictly undiluted realness. When I say real, I mean real people, real situations and real emotions. I feel it's important to write about our reality. As it is important for you to acknowledge it.
For those of you who might be wondering what gangsters has got to do with globalization I suggest you pay close attention.
Allow me to enlighten you about the formation of gangs on the Cape Flats.
Numerous gangs have been occupying the Cape Flats from as early as the late 1800s up until this very day. The fashionable explanation for the formation of these gangs is "APARTHEID". These gangs came about mainly after the vast removals of people- under the Group Areas Act-from places
such as District six in the 1970s. These removals resulted in family structures being broken down as people were randomly removed and relocated. They were often moved further away from the city and away from job opportunities. (quote:-Pinnock 1987:418-434)
The fact that people were placed in barren areas on the Cape Flats in overcrowded groups of flats where family values were unstable left the youth with limited choices. Unemployment was increased due to a lack of education seeing that kids weren't motivated enough to attend school and many had to drop out due to a number of unfortunate circumstances. The Cape Flats has always been a typically violent area where gangs seem to thrive on instability, poverty and unemployment. Forcing people to seek money via illegal means. People began to except that they were victims of their environment, apartheid, poverty etc. Trapped in "victim mode" the people began to believe and/or except that there were no escape from their
Thus far, from all the research that I have gathered on the subject I seem to come across the factors that the formation of gangs occur in urban areas and are closely associated with poverty, social instability and unemployment.
That was then, this is the here and the now, but we are still face to face with the exact same issues. The same struggle and the same hustle continue. Parents still fear for their children who have to walk these gang-infested streets on their way to school everyday. How do we recover from centuries of being brainwashed? There was no solution then and there seem to be no solution now. It gets worst, as the people at the bottom of the ladder remain the target of capitalist conglomerates, mass media and politics. What the fuck!!!!
Sometimes reality can be disturbingly funny. Just to think that outside my window as I'm sitting here there ages of thirteen and fifteen, smocking and drinking their lives away. Most of them are into hard drugs already. Some of them already know what a prison cell looks like from the inside. I sometimes watch and listen as they convey their experience to their young friends. I'm not a prophet, but it doesn't take a prophet to predict where the majority of these kids will end up." The prison or the cemmatary. "These are our options or so it seems. This is what we are leaded to believe .We don't know this, but we are unconsciously infected with the subliminal poison.
Apartheid is gone, but racism is not. South Africans know this, but we are influenced other wise. Again mass media and politics play a major role in this. Politicians over here hosted the Truth Commission. This is where most of the predators who committed the atrocities in apartheid aregranted amnesty for spilling the beans on their ringleaders. Was this supposed to erase or ease the suffering of the victims and their families? I don't know. I wonder if they do.
I feel that the needs of the people weren't met. You see no attention was played to the hateful and racist meditations imbedded deep in the sub-conscious mind of the people. No therapeutic method was used to do help erase this.
Getting back to gangs
The youth is the primary target of gangs, because there are no proper recreational facilities in the townships. Kids often find themselves in a situation where they are bored. On the other hand parents are desperately struggling either to keep their children indoors or other wise occupied. They work their fingers to the bone in order to do so. Allow me to explain. Thousands of parents in townships put themselves in debt in order to buy t.v.'s, v.c.r's and cd-players etc. Seeing that they can seldom afford to buy it in cash. These products are extremely expensive and in most cases parents must buy on credit." The credit trap" I don't even need
to mention the names of the companies who distribute these household products and appliances.
My point is this: Thousands and thousands of people who can't even afford to support these companies are infact doing so in order to keep their kids out of harms way. Yet these companies are giving back nothing in return.
What about building some proper training or recreational facilities in these communities. What about sponsoring school in these communities. What about providing the people with the skills and expertise that they deserve don't have excess to? Instead parents are forced to buy their TV's, VCR's and cd-players etc. Thinking that this would be affective .Not realizing that these products are used as direct outlets for the propaganda of mass media. (The cycle continues)
Too many problems
Too many issues, so much hatred and anger, so much confusion and propaganda.
So much lies, deceit, poverty and pain.
So little motivation, so little hope, so many people believing that they are victims.
I have learnt that we will never be able to rise above or overcome our adversities unless we snap out of this victim mode that they got us trapped in. (This is part one, I advise you to stay tuned for the sequel)
Final word: "My opinion"
The concept of race being defined in accordance to skin colour is bullshit. We are all part of one race and that is "THE HUMAN RACE" created in the image of the "MOST HIGH"!!, but I don't need to remind you of this .You know this, but the key is not to forget!!!!!!! Division is our downfall. ONE HEART, ONE MIND, ONE BODY, ONE SOUL.
Written and researched by: A. Van Rooy (Devious 1st) - also check out the interview on Devious' background as an artist at Africanhiphop.com
What do you think about this article?
At Baobabconnections you can share your ideas with a growing network of people around Africa and the rest of the world. Visit the Baobabconnections site, become a member (it's free) and get in touch with people from Ghana, South Africa, Netherlands and other places!