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Heritage Day 2020

Heritage Day is a recognition that having so many cultures coexisting in one country has the potential to divide; so rather than focusing on what makes us different, why not celebrate all the things that unite us despite our differences?

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Heritage Day 2020 Asante Afrika
Heritage Month
11 / 100

Hazel Lifa

The 24th of September is formerly known as Shaka Day in KwaZulu, a day where the Zulu people commemorate the legendary Zulu king; a day the Zulu clan felt was worthy of becoming a public holiday. Unfortunately, the new South African Parliament thought it best to omit Shaka Day altogether from the Public Holidays Bill.  The decision was a source of conflict as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which has a predominantly Zulu membership, objected to it. A compromise was reached and thus the birth of Heritage Day. The need to preserve Shaka Day by the Zulu people showed how they valued their heritage and individuality, a principle that inspired a nation with diverse cultures to celebrate both their individuality and shared cultures too. South Africans were given a day where they could celebrate their uniqueness, but also appreciate the beautiful melting pot that is their nation.

Former President Nelson Mandela stated; “When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.” Heritage Day is a recognition that having so many cultures coexisting in one country has the potential to divide; so rather than focusing on what makes us different, why not celebrate all the things that unite us despite our differences?

The purpose of the day according to the South African government’s website is; “Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.”

Taking on this stride makes the Rainbow Nation an example for the African continent that mirrors the country in the vastness of cultures. The relevance of this day this year is elevated by the past alarming and dividing transgressions over the past few months besides the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A few months ago we saw Miss South Africa hopeful Bianca Schoombee under fire for racist comments which she tweeted as far back as 2014. The 21-year-old model’s odds were promising until twitter ‘investigators’ found the controversial tweets.

Heritage Day 2020 Asante Afrika
One of Bianca Schoombee’s controversial racial tweets

Schoombee’s online trail points to a possible issue with the youth’s perception of those who are different from their peers – the very opposite of what Heritage Day seeks to accomplish. It is concerning to say the least, to think that some South Africans are fostering such a negative mentality. 

As we mull over these counterproductive sentiments, let us look forward to the braai culture that has been tied to National Heritage Day. Many can argue that there is nothing more South African than lighting up a fire and having a good old fashioned braai. The National Braai Day initiative was developed by Jan Scannell, who believed in it so much that he quit his job in finance to focus on this initiative.

Happy National Heritage Day, let us come together and celebrate our vast cultures this Braai Day.

Below: Heritage Day Picture Exhibition showcasing South Africa’s rich and diverse cultures.

Heritage Day 2020 Asante Afrika
XiTsonga Traditional Attire

Our Heritage Month Video pick:

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Lifestyle

Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

Ugandan citizen and gifted photographer Kagonyera Busingye shares some of his finest pictures of Uganda – the Pearl of Africa.

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Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
13 / 100

Photo Exhibition by Kagonyera Busingye

What makes a pearl so precious? 

Precious Pearls are a rare find in Nature. Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, is a rare find among the 50 plus countries found on the continent. Pearls are the only gems that are formed and located within a living creature. Uganda is that Gem found in the living creature called Africa.

Uganda is like an exceptional natural pearl created by Nature with no need for polishing or cutting by man. Uganda is, as has been said, “Gifted by Nature.”

Uganda boasts of stunning landscapes, crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, tropical rain forests, semi-arid savannah, primates, birds and much more.

Ugandan citizen and gifted photographer Kagonyera Busingye was kind enough to share some of his finest pictures of the Pearl of Africa.

Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Kampala by Night
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Bwebajja, Entebbe Road (Kampala)
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
River Nile
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Ssezibwa Falls (Located 35km East of Kampala in District of Mukono)
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Nyakasura Falls, (Fort Portal)
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Rubirizi District Tea Plantations
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Mount. Sabyinyo in the Virunga Mountains Vocanic Range
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa Asante Afrika
Lake Mutanda (Kisoro District)

Follow Kagonyera on Twitter and Instagram, @buskago

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Art

Hello Spring

Spring is about how everything literally comes to life in Spring; there’s more energy, more colour, and the glow on everything is just amazing. Fashion is bold and colourful, free and beautiful. Makeup is dewy and vibrant, while the air feels alive as the first shoots of life come forth. 

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9 / 100

AN OPTICAL ILLUSION

By Renée Seckel

Despite a one week delay, spring is finally here and we’re ever so excited! Here to remind the world of the beauty of spring is our cover feature, Renée Seckel, a professional make-up artist who specialises in optical illusions but also does regular fashion and bridal makeup.

Anyone who has ever met Renée will tell you just what an amazing and talented artist she is, beautiful both inside and out. She is a passionate, driven, creative and goal-oriented person with the energy of a 16 year old. She is a mother and a wife, and family means everything to her. When she’s not doing makeup, Renee loves singing at her church and she absolutely loves cooking and baking too.

To say that Renée nailed her “Hello Spring” exhibition is a complete understatement. 

Tell us more about the inspiration behind “Hello Spring”.

The inspiration behind “Hello Spring” is about how everything literally comes to life in Spring; there’s more energy, more colour, and the glow on everything is just amazing. Fashion is bold and colourful, free and beautiful. Makeup is dewy and vibrant, while the air feels alive as the first shoots of life come forth. 

What fascinates you about this line of work? 

I absolutely love creativity and thinking out of the box when I create different makeup looks, especially optical illusion work and special effects. 

Which two season makeup trends interest you the most?

I love the lower-liner trend and the red smoky eye. 

How do you stay abreast with the latest beauty trends?

I keep learning. We never stop learning, no matter how old you are. I make sure I go onto social media and follow other makeup artists and allow myself to draw from them too. 

“…everything literally comes to life in Spring; there’s more energy, more colour, and the glow on everything is just amazing.”

Should we be on the lookout for beauty trends from you?

Most definitely! I recently launched my ‘Lashes by Renée Seckel’, so I’m excited to grow my brand.

Do you have any advice for upcoming makeup artists?

Never allow the negative opinions of people to shift your focus, keep your eye on the goal and allow that negativity to grow you. People’s opinions will always be their opinions and they are entitled to them and you cannot change that, but don’t respond to their call of negativity or allow it to alter your walk… straighten your back and keep walking!

Hello Spring Asante Afrika
Hello Spring Asante Afrika
Hello Spring Asante Afrika
Renée Seckel

Interviewed by Bubbles Mlangeni

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Careers

Struggles of an African University Student During the Covid-19 Pandemic

For African students in foreign universities, never has it been clearer that they were indeed in foreign lands.

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Struggles of an African University Student During the Covid-19 Pandemic Asante Afrika

Rorisang Moyo

It is no coincidence that systematic inequalities reared their ugly head when our tertiary institutions were put to the test. For less privileged institutions, the Covid-19 pandemic confirmed that the institutions were on crutches and the pandemic basically took those crutches away. They were left with no leg to stand on. For various African students scattered all over the world, life touched them differently. Some encountered nuisances at close proximity with some people protesting a virus. In the same world where others could do this, some were begging to return to contact learning where online learning systems were nonexistent.

The elitism in tertiary education became clearer when universities that were historically privileged/ formally white institutions managed to transition easily from hybrid learning to online learning. This was a result of years of more allocation of resources being directed towards financing more privileged race groups. This is not an incident of history in the South African context, which means that at any given point pre-pandemic, students at historically white institutions had more resources.

When it became clear that students were not going to be having any contact lectures, the more privileged universities managed to loan laptops to students who did not have access to them. For countries that had more money to spare, data was provided for students to enable them to continue with online learning. This model of assisting the student assumed that if the student did not have a gadget for online learning, once they had it, they would be in a place with good network and electricity to power those gadgets. It assumed that a student had a smart phone to be able to use the free data that they received.

For African students in foreign universities, never has it been clearer that they were indeed in foreign lands. In cases where aid was available to them, for example, data allocation, for those who had returned to their home countries, such amenities were no longer available to them. For some students who are doing post-graduate studies, more time at home meant that they managed to think about what they could do with their degrees. It was a time to work on the hobbies that they took for granted that presented financial gain. This was particularly useful in fields like content creation where experience gained from practicing one’s craft is essential. Understand that while African students go to foreign universities for better employment prospects, legislation in those places is set up in a way that jobs prioritise locals. One has to be the best of the best to justify being chosen over a local. This pandemic frustrated students in their path of achieving greatness as many on-campus opportunities were paused, for example, societies that could have been valid work experience for their résumés.

In the haste to move out of university residences where many assumed that they were just leaving for two weeks and returning, many left their academic resources. Learning became difficult when they could not access these resources. Some had to rely on online library resources which had a time limit and some did not have access to online library resources at all.

For historically privileged universities where the poorest student would be in close proximity to wealth, they returned home to be reminded of all that they did not have. Back at the university, the access gap could be bridged through the use of on-site resources. However, when they returned home, the future was bleak once again. “No student will be left behind”, it was claimed. The truth is that despite all these efforts to equalise students, it was not easy.

For countries with less to no money at all, learning stopped indefinitely. For countries like Zimbabwe where the rural areas are places where there is no internet connection whatsoever and even where there is access to the internet, one would need to sell an organ to buy data. The online learning model itself being something that was created mid-pandemic, still a work in progress. No one was prepared for it; not the students who had to absorb the information, nor the lecturers who had to learn to teach using online resources. This is a time where tertiary institutions learnt that they were ill equipped for a pandemic. Who can blame them, considering they are located in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs), where a vast majority of the population is living on less than a dollar a day? The situation was hopeless and all they could do was fold their arms and hope that people live through the pandemic to tell the tale.

“Even if it was baking banana bread for 100 days and having a sudden interest in colouring books – if you found something to do with yourself, that was a win.”

Amidst all this stress and confusion as to when the academic calendar would start and end, a lot of people’s mental health was on a downward spiral. The acknowledgement of their mental state and what they are feeling was dependent on their surrounding environments being conducive for them to express their feelings. Amidst financial stresses and the sense of uncertainty that came with not knowing what the future held, while faced with death and Zoom funerals amongst other tragedies, a lot of people felt as if their lives were falling apart. It took awareness to acknowledge how and what they were feeling. For some universities, mental health support was accessible through dialing in to 24-hour hotlines. While this was good in maintaining the functionality of the system virtually, it is sad to note that this wasn’t something that most institutions could provide.

What is the future of prioritising mental health in our institutions? Is mental health treated as urgently as other sicknesses that people can see like a bruise? It might look like institutions are failing students in this regard, but the fact on the ground is that there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the subject of mental health itself. There is a lack of understanding around why taking care of one’s mind is important.

It was not all doom though, many people had time to broaden their horizons in terms of reconnecting with old hobbies and starting new ones. Even if it was baking banana bread for 100 days and having a sudden interest in coloring books – if you found something to do with yourself, that was a win. Even if all you did was manage to get up, take a shower and look out the window, that is still fine. You do not have to change the world every day.

In this phase of our lives where nothing is in our hands, we learnt that tomorrow was not promised. We slowed down – and it might have come at a large financial and emotional cost, but we were lucky to survive it all.

Struggles of an African University Student During the Covid-19 Pandemic Asante Afrika

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