Demanding death

30 05 2008

by Leila Dougan

The entrance to her funeral parlour boasts monthly deals in the same manner a local coffee shop would advertise their daily specials. Ronel Mostert is preparing for the season of death, winter, which she says is her busiest time.

Deaths tend to increase in winter due to the colder climate, affecting weaker immune systems which often leads to death. Owners of funeral parlours are aware of this business opportunity and prepare by stocking up on coffins, gravestones and flowers. Read the rest of this entry »


Funeral homes are in high demand

27 05 2008


by Syanda Ngcobo

The increases of funeral home in Grahamstown, does mean there are more deaths than elsewhere. Grahamstown is a small town with about 150 000 population This small town have more than ten funeral parlours and the 11th one is coming soon. The most question that comes to the minds of  journalists, is Grahamstown experience more deaths than any town in South Africa?

 One of the owners of Funeral parlours says Grahamstown experience more deaths during winter season. She says there are more deaths in winter because people especially this time of the year poor and old people tend to die more because they lack heater and do not have proper nutrition and no proper shelter. Old people die because of cold weather while young ones die because of HIV/AIDS. Some young people kill one another when there are drunk. This is not a phenomenon problem facing Grahamstown citizens only, but is threat for the whole South Africa  No one can argue that many people are not dying because of HIV/AIDS.

 One may say that lose for another is the benefit for the other person, it is a zero sum game, because the more people die the more funeral parlour making tons of money. On the other side the poor residents have to go to banks and cash loans to borrow money to cover funeral expenses. One of the funeral parlours directors said that when more people dying he make good money. People would come buy coffins, hire hearse, bus (sometimes) thumb stone. The industry is very busy in Grahamstown,

Some people believes that its about time to go back to their olden ways of burying their loved ones. One of the Grahamstown residents says it was much better during time of Makana because people were covered with cow’s skins, or old blankets, but today funeral has become a form of a party or something. If you do not have money to make a funeral to be on the standard you become a laughing stock to the whole community. So, if you do not have money you have to go and borrow it, but at the end you end up left with nothing to eat.

 Some Grahamtowns citizens do not like to hear the idea about new funeral service that has been build. They use our death, pain and suffering to rich themselves. One of the resident even said these people have something to do with growth of death in their town. Why do we have lot of funeral parlours and they make them feel uncomfortable especial the ones that are build in the townships

However the directors of these funeral homes do not only give customers what they have paid for, but they also offer emotional support to mourning families.


Play with fire

23 04 2008

by Leila Dougan

Fire dancers are not synonymous to pyromaniacs. Pyromaniacs play with fire to feel control over the element. Fire dancers play with fire to make it look beautiful.

Fire poi, one of the many forms of poi, originated in New Zealand and has since spread to areas all over the world, including Grahamstown.

A group of Rhodes University students have continued the art and are teaching others to dance with the otherwise dangerous element. They have organized fire poi workshops alongside African drumming sessions on a weekly basis. This is where I learnt how to fire poi and what follows is a brief fire poi guide. 

For me, the most difficult aspects of fire dancing were the co-ordination of the poi and learning how to dance with objects (on fire) in my hands. I overcame this by starting with practice poi, because it allows you to find the movement of the poi while experimenting with the movement of your body.

I suggest anyone wanting to learn fire poi start with practice poi. 

Practice poi can be made with two tennis balls and a pair of long socks. Push each tennis ball into the foot of each sock and tie a knot at the top end of the sock. A handful of sugar beans (which can be purchased at your local supermarket) is an alternative to the tennis balls. Anything soft that will not detract from the momentum of the poi will do.

Practice poi are really helpful because fire poi hurt (a lot) when they hit you. I gave myself a concussion when I started practicing with fire poi straight away.

After you have learnt a few movements and tricks comfortably with practice poi you can move onto fire poi. Fire poi are made from chain and wick. The wick part of the poi is soaked in kerosene or paraffin for 3-5 minutes; the excess paraffin is spun off the poi and then lit.

Be sure to get used to the weight of your fire poi before lighting up by practicing with unlit fire poi. Before using your unlit fire poi, wrap the wick area of the fire poi with cling-wrap to prevent the wick from fraying. Just don’t forget to take off the cling wrap before soaking and lighting the poi.


Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when playing with your fire poi:


DON’T do it alone. Always have someone around incase something goes wrong.

DON’T use gasoline. Kerosene or Paraffin is best to use.

DO learn some basic movements using practice poi before moving on to fire.

DO wear tight-fitting, non-flammable clothing that covers your arms and legs. Fire poi does not burn the skin because the flame generally bounces off, but the hair on your skin does burn, and it smells!

DO tie back long hair.

DO fire poi sober. After half a bottle of wine I set my (flammable) jersey and hair on fire.

DO practice fire poi outside.

DO spin off excess paraffin/kerosene before spinning your fire poi.

DO take breaks in between fire dancing and do not fire poi too often in one night because the fumes are unhealthy.


So now that you know how to start mastering the art of fire poi grab some socks, two tennis balls and start spinning.

“Take it off, take it all off!”

11 04 2008

By Bianca Silva

 Photo source:

“Take it off! Take it off! Take it off!” Whilst that may sound like a rather intriguing opening line to a blog piece I assure you that when it is being shouted out by a large mass of females in a club with one day left until the weekend, it is enough to drive fear into the very soul of anyone sober.

For some unfathomable reason I thought it would be fun to go a once-off College evening where boys were stripping (just down to their underwear) and I thought it was for charity, I may have been wrong though. Perhaps I am just optimistic and thought it would be fun and done in good taste. However half-way through the night I couldn’t help but feel as if I was in a butchery and the half exposed male specimen on the make-shift stage was just a piece of meat being hackled over. They looked like half-helpless prized cows which if not sacrificed to one of the “goddesses” (or any diva in tiny clothes with organs freshly marinated by the free punch) then that poor man would be ripped to shreds, like stale left-overs thrown to enraged Tasmanian devils. 

Now to understand the full extent how much that grosses me out you must know that I am a vegetarian. You should also know that whilst I fully respect animal rights, that is not why I am a vegetarian, meat simply makes me feel ill, as does the thought of it. So far fish is the only thing I can stomach. Back to my tangent…

Now I suppose it would be possible to pull Sigmund Freud or some other theorist out of your handbag and say that the women enjoy those nights so much because for a change they are not being objectified. It was Plush who said, “Women walk around with mace in their bags, just a piece of meat waiting to be tagged, oh I can believe this happens in my land, I can’t believe the value of the Rand.” Whilst I’m all for feminine rights I still can’t wrap my head around this ‘objectify each other thing’ and call me old fashioned or bad at maths but when did two wrongs make a right? If you could rank how much we (as a society) value human beings by using a currency, I think we would be using Zimbabwean dollars. Sadly Zimbabwean jokes are still priceless.

Last year I wrote an article on child trafficking. The story looked at how there was no legislation which criminalised child trafficking and how if this was not rectified by 2010 it could be a big problem. The scary thing is that we need to tell people child trafficking is wrong. To me it’s such a strange concept that people can be bought, modern day slavery anyone? Although we claim to have slavery it there are still people who hand out money and things happen, often very inhumane things. We have human rights organisations, we are humans and yet we cannot stop human rights violations from happening. People marry for money, people have sex for money, people strip for money and people will even willingly lose their dignity for money. Either we have a very weak currency or very desperate people.

Whilst there is no harm that was done to the “strippers” last night and it was all done in good spirit (or for many I am sure, too many spirits), there is still something that smells rotten about it. But perhaps I’m just a jaded individual, or perhaps the human butchery really does stink. Anyway you decide.

3,2,1…just in time! Whew!

11 04 2008

By Karen Thome

 Photo source:

I’m been at university for about two years now, and in that time I can honestly not think of a time where I have ever done work in advance to save myself the stress and fatigue of pulling an all- nighter. fact is, I am notorious for leaving my work for the last minute, and I know many other students who are the same. I always beat myself up about it, telling myself I wasn’t diligent enough, and not enough of an eager beaver.

So- I decided to do an experiment, and I started an essay 3 whole days before it was due! I handed it in about 8 hours before the deadline and was quite pleased with myself. I had always told myself i would do this one day, and now I had finally done it! But then a terrible feeling of disatisfaction started to overwhelm me…this was hopelessly confusing! What could this mean? I had finally done something that for so long I had been unable to do, and now I wasn’t feeling so great about it.

Then it came to me, doing work in advance completely removes the rush out of a deadline. Essay writing isn’t all that fun so one needs something to keep the thrills coming. There is great satisfaction that comes with looking at one’s watch, clicking on “print” and waiting for the oh so sweet words of that pop- up, “printed successfully”. And even more pleasure in testing out one’s sprinting skills and landing your four pages of blood sweat and tears in that wooden box, which holds your fate- just on time! And then comes the best part… crawling into bed and having a well deserved, deep sleep.

So what I want to know is, Who agrees with me? Am I just being sadistic? Or do we need to create a rush out of the mundane? is procrastination a sport for the brave?

Gay moms and dads please sign up

10 04 2008

By Nqobile Shoba

I must admit I hadn’t really thought much about this topic until I had a very interesting conversation with a close gay friend of mine. Sitting and chatting we came across the topic of gay adoption. I was interested to hear from him that he didn’t believe in gay adoption, and did not want children of his own. NO CHILDREN!! I was shocked?! Then I realised that he may just have a point.

We all know that the idea of gay marriage has been a hotly contested over the recent years. Statistics from a study published in the January 1996 issue of Developmental Psychology found that children raised by a homosexual parent were much more likely to experiment with homosexual behavior themselves. The question one should then ask is , is there anything wrong with imitating your gay parents? If we are a society that has in fact accepted the idea of homosexual relationships and homosexuality then why not let gay men or couples adopt children? I mean lets look at the facts . There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of children in South Africa alone, that need loving homes. It wouldn’t be so bad if all of them could at least be taken in by loving parents who could provide them with food, shelter, clothes, education… the essentials in life. If that couple happens to be gay, then what? Keep the child in a foster home for its whole childhood life in the hopes that someday it will find loving parents in a heterosexual couple’s home? I mean lets be realistic, what are the chances that a couple that is fully able to conceive is going to want to adopt a child? 

However If a gay man is willing to admit that he does not believe in a child being raised by gay parents then could we not then say in some respect the idea of a gay couple raising a child is not normal at all? Im not saying all gay people or couples agree with that statement, but you have to admit it makes you think doesn’t it? What I’m trying to ask is do you think its normal for gay couples to raise children?

Let me know what you think…

Facebook and its false hooks

9 04 2008

By Nompumelelo Ngubeni

Apparently depression levels have escalated amongst South African university students since the inception of Facebook. Well, that’s of the 179 friends I have on Facebook, a good 75% of them are depressed. What has caused this acute and in some cases severe depression you may ask? The “fabulous, exciting and amazing” lives of others! Imagine this scenario: you reunite with an old high school friend on Facebook who was fat and boring and as a result you were her only friend cause you felt sorry for her. Now she has pictures up of herself and cool-looking people in every second club in joburg. Weight all gone, glasses replaced with contact lenses and boring wiped off with a wide seemingly genuine smile. Erm? When did all of this happen? You, the previously popular person are fat and boring with no interesting friends.

There are just too many things to deal with: a recent ex-boyfriend who has changed his relationship status to: “In a relationship with…” while yours still says “single”. Friends who’ve added the “places I have travelled” application and circled seven international countries, four of which you have always wanted to visit but will never be lucky or rich enough to visit. The worst is probably being subjected to people’s well-being updates when the last thing you want to read about is just how happy other people are with their lives because of this that or the other.

As I said, these are stories that I have heard from the 75% of my Facebook friends and these are just the only ones brave enough to say something about it. What we forget though when we’re engulfed in self-pity and sometimes the verge of suicide is that it is all constructed!